Sunday, November 4, 2012

Obama: Still the Best President Ever

Back in December of 2009, before Obama had completed his first year in office, before he signed health care reform into law, I wrote a post proclaiming that Barack Obama the best President in my lifetime. I also predicted that he is likely to be a better President than any successor I will live to see.

Three tumultuous years later, I am pleased to see that President Obama has lived up to my expectations. I am proud to stand by my initial assessment. I will enthusiastically cast my vote for his re-election on November 6.

We have a tendency the mythologize our presidents. But the office of the presidency does not come with the powers to shape the nation in accordance to your will. There is no enchanted staff, bestowed on inauguration day, that can be wielded to shine the blessing of full employment upon us all. Even the Hollywood-tale of the spellbinding statesman able to unite us, cow the opposition, and win the day with unimpeachable logic and soaring rhetoric -  is largely a myth.

Ultimately, inevitably, the President of the United States is just a person. The office itself is a job. The chosen individual is either good at it, or not.

By this basic, honest, standard Barack Obama has been an exceptional President of the United States. Over the past four years, day after day, on issue after issue, he has demonstrated an uncommon combination of wisdom, patience, competence, compassion, and leadership. He is good at this.

There are number of areas where the actions of this President have had a positive impact. On education, the environment, financial reform, immigration, the war on terror, clean energy, killing Bin Laden, foreign policy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, marriage equality, equal pay for women, women's reproductive rights, disaster relief, student loans... the list of positive achievements is long and impressive.

And there are two issues in particular that have touched us directly.

I've spent my career working for technology start-up companies. It has often, and recently, been the case that these small and new companies do not offer health insurance coverage with the job. Shopping for insurance for my family has given me an all-too-close perspective on the dysfunction of the current system and the urgent need for reform. We've been denied coverage, had family members rejected due to pre-existing conditions, and seen huge premium increases year after year. Even for people with money and good jobs, the system is broken. It hasn't worked. It especially hasn't worked for small businesses. My experience has left me with zero sympathy for anyone who has opposed health care reform and immense gratitude for this administration for seeing this through.

Everyone should be able to afford health insurance for their family. Thanks to this President that is will soon be a reality. It is inconceivable to me that anyone would want to throw it all away and return to the costly, nightmare, unstable system we've been force to live with.

The second issue is the economy. Our family has been fortunate enough to have weathered the Great Recession with relatively little personal hardship. But it's not hard to remember what things were like four years ago, when the financial crisis hit. I remember walking by the empty storefronts on my way to work. I remember wondering who was going to close next, and how this business or that new restaurant was going to survive. I remember personally laying-off one new hire and putting off on others while we cut back to see what would happen.

Are we better off now than we were four year ago? We absolutely are. I've recently left my job and signed on with a new one, not because I had to, but because there were new opportunities to pursue. In my little corner of the world, new businesses are opening.  New companies are hiring. Existing companies are seeing new opportunities. Entrepreneurs are dreaming and scheming once again.

Part of the recovery comes from the natural rhythms of the business cycle. But no small amount of credit is due to President Obama and his administration. They pushed through the stimulus bill that invested in roads, bridges, clean energy companies, and saved million of jobs. They provided assistance to the states to close budget gaps and keep workers on the job. They cut our taxes and put more money in our pockets. They supported an aggressive monetary policy that saved our financial system and insured banks were there with the capital and credit that businesses need to survive and to grow.

The last four years have not been easy. We have been cursed to live in interesting times. But we have been blessed to have Barack Obama as our President for the last four years. I am proud to support him for another term.

All people, all politicians, all Presidents are imperfect. But this one is as good as they get. We are lucky to have him. He has earned our support, our respect, and our vote.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Star Wars: A New New Hope

Not so long ago in the galaxy we call home, the assumption was that there would be no more Star Wars movies. Now we discover that a whole new trilogy is in the works. What do the Disney Star Wars movies have in store for us?

My imagination runneth over...

And so I offer you (and the Walt Disney Corporation) my vision of a new Star Wars trilogy.


After the fall of the empire, the galaxy struggles to avoid spinning into chaos. The first new generation of Jedi, lacking the mentors of the Jedi of old, struggle to harness the ways of the force and to avoid the temptations of the dark side.


Set about 20 years after the end of Episode VI., the New Republic is still in its infancy. The galaxy is more chaotic than ever with a multitude of squabbles among the member planets.

The old the Imperial Navy is now under the control the New Republic. Much of it is under the command of master strategist Grand Admiral Valorum . Valorum also controls Kamino, the cloning facilities, and the stormtrooper army. Valorum is a hero of the New Republic, but is fiercely anti-Jedi. He sees the history of the galaxy as a series of destructive wars and enslavement brought on by the eternal struggles between the Jedi and Sith.

Luke continues to struggle with the temptations of the dark side and has left it to Leia to form the new Jedi Academy. The academy struggles to create a new generation of Jedi with no capable mentors to lead them.


Luke: Luke is the galaxy's last trained Jedi. But he is well aware of the Skywalker legacy. Shortly after the fall of the empire, Luck formed a new Jedi Academy. It was quickly struck by tragedy. Assassins hired by Valorum, attempted to kill Luke. They killed a number of young padawan instead. Wracked with grief, Luke no longer feels fit to train Jedi. He grows beard and becomes a hermit.

Han and Lando: Han and Lando are now elder statesmen in the New Republic. Both are frustrated with the bureaucracy, chaos, and responsibility and long for the scoundrel days of old. They have inherited C-3PO and R2-D2.

Leia and Chewbacca:  Leia and Han are married with children. After Luke's grief-driven withdrawal, Leia has taken it upon herself to try and form the new Jedi Academy. She knows she is incapable of instructing Jedi, but is desperate that the next generation of force-sensitives, including her own children, receive proper instruction in the force. Chewbacca has joined her in trying to help form the academy.

Grand Admiral Valorum: This hero of the rebellion now commands much of the old imperial forces. The admiral feels that all Jedi and Sith are a threat to the galaxy and works to exterminate any force-sensitive beings.

Talaya Secura: A middle-age, Twi'lek woman. Talaya was a young padawan in the final days of the Republic. She escaped the purge of the Jedi and was able to remain in hiding during the dark times. As the only available Jedi with any formal training, she is the main instructor of the new Jedi Academy. She does not feel up to the task and struggles with her own darkness.

Jedi Academy Students: A mix of ages and species, including the Solo/Skywalker children. This force-sensitive group struggles to inherit the mantle of the Jedi Knights. They are much less disciplined than the Jedi  of old, have different aptitudes within the force (precognition, starship piloting, telekinesis, acrobatics, mind tricks). They don't yet have, or know how to construct, lightsabers. The Jedi Academy students are the protagonists of the trilogy.

Episode VII:

Open with the attack on Luke by Valorum's assassins. This leads the the death of the padawan and Luke's grief.

Then queue theme and the crawl.

Jump forward several years. Leia recruits Talaya and struggles to set up the academy. We meet the new students and see their training. Meanwhile, Han struggles to deal the formation of the New Republic. The new padawan struggle to learn the ways of the force. They want to have adventures and serve the New Republic, like the padawan of old, but are constantly held back.

Valorum sends out another set of assassins after Leia and Luke. They succeed and kill them both.

Talaya, Chewbacca and the students hunt down the assassins. They catch and defeat them. But are bloodied in battle. The students learn that Valorum was behind the attacks, and as they are drawn into the conflict and thoughts of revenge, they are also drawn closer to the dark side.

Episode VIII:

Open with a stormtrooper assault on the Jedi Academy. The students survive but the academy is destroyed.

This leads to a split in the students. Talaya leads the group that will become the Dark Jedi. They construct lightsabers and head out to take revenge on Valorum. The Light Jedi suspect the revenge mission will lead to the dark side. They stay behind to complete their training and avoid temptation. The Solo/Skywalker kids are split between the two groups.

The Dark Jedi hunt down Valorum and infiltrate his command ship. They overcome his assassins and stormtroopers and kill Valorum.

The Dark Jedi learn that in his quest to eradicate the Jedi, Valorum had amassed an archive of Jedi knowledge. This includes instructions on finding the lost Jedi/Sith training grounds on the planet Korriban.

With the death of Valorum, Talaya also assumes command of the stormtrooper army. The Dark Jedi prepare to travel to Korriban to rebuild the Jedi Order.

Episode IX:

The Dark Jedi overcome local authorities and take control of Korriban where they establish their new Jedi Order.

When the New Republic sends an armada to investigate, their ships are defeated. It is clear that the new Jedi Order has gone to the dark side and is a threat to New Republic.

The students of the Light Jedi led by one of the Solo kids, construct their own lightsabers and head out to confront the Dark Jedi.

The final confrontation pits the groups of students against one another. Some of the students are redeemed and return the light side. Others are killed. Ultimately, the light side is triumphant.

After the battle they reform the new Jedi Order, but first they destroy their lightsabers. They will neither serve the New Republic nor subjugate it. Rather than bringing peace to the galaxy the new order pledges to stay out of the fight and seek inner peace.