Mulder’s Gut and Scully’s Butt: Looking Back on the Return Run of “The X-Files” and Forward to the Show’s Future

In the week since the season finale of the return run of “The X-Files” I have taken time to consider all six episodes as a unit and given some thought to the future of the show. Read on for my thoughts.

Mulder’s Gut and Scully’s Butt

Early in the finale, we see a series of still photographs that show how the two agents aged through the eight years “The X-Files” was originally on the air. Upon seeing them one could not help but ponder the hand that father time has dealt the show’s two leading characters. Gillian Anderson (who portrays Dana Scully) aged remarkably well in the fifteen years since the series was last on television. She has kept her figure, retained a very youthful looking face and was as sexy as ever in a scene in the “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” episode that was so steamy it made we wonder if I had accidently tuned into “The XXX-Files” instead of “The X-Files.” Could it be the alien DNA that explains why she has retainer her beauty so well?

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David Duchovny (who plays Fox Mulder), on the other hand, has really let himself go. Even when Duchovny appeared in business attire in the first installment of the season, it was obvious that he had a prominent gut. For this reason, I was surprised to see him in nothing but red Speedo underwear in the same “Were-Monster” episode in which Anderson looked so sultry.

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He looked even worse in “Babylon” when he was shown wearing no shirt and his stomach hung down so low that it sometimes covered his belt. It must be said, though, that he deserves to be commended for his willingness to appear in these two scenes for the good of “The X-Files” despite his appearance. Its further evidence that he is not one of those vain self-obsessed Hollywood/television types. Either way, I think both straight and gay people can agree that Fox Mulder in a state of undress is something we all could have done without seeing this season.

Duchovny has the wealth to hire a nutritionist and personal chef. His career affords him plenty of free time to work out. Looking his best is part of his job. His fans from “The X-Files” heyday who work regular jobs can be forgiven if they have “dad bods.” Duchovny is a dad who has no excuse for having a dad bod.

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In interviews Duchovny has always come across as a pleasant, down-to-earth person and so I do not want to just run him down without giving him his just desserts. He was the star of all six installments. Duchovny is that rare actor who can do drama and comedy and did both equally well this past season. I was particularly struck by how well he used facial expressions to deliver humor.

“The X-Files” in HD

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The first run of “The X-Files” ended in 2001. Watching in 2016 we were able to see the series on large, widescreen, flat HD televisions that project brilliant colors. The program was always visually sumptuous. These last six episodes were even more so due to advances in technology.

Product Placement

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Every episode had at least one scene that began with a Ford motor vehicle approaching from a distance and ended with a close-up on the front of the vehicle and the Ford logo. The coming of such blatant and reappearing product placement is an obvious evolution in television. Every day the percentage of us with DVRs is increasing and less and less of us are watching commercials because it is so easy to fast-forward through them. Advertisers will not buy commercial time if people do not watch their advertisements. Expect to see arrangements such as “The X-Files” had with the Ford Motor Company, in which Ford both bought traditional commercial spots and had their product featured in each episode as well, to become the norm. This does not bother me since it may lead to the eventual elimination of traditional commercials altogether. Furthermore, if done skillfully, product placement could even aid the viewer in her or his willingness to suspend disbelief when viewing a television program.

The Future of “The X-Files”

The return of the series was a hit! Although the ratings did trail off as the season progressed, it garnered far more viewers than was necessary for Fox to bring it back next year. News broke in the last week that suggests it is almost a lock that there will be a season eleven.

I want the program’s quality level to return to that of its glory days. For this to happen there will have to be more monster-themed episodes and less storylines centered around extraterrestrials and government conspiracies. There will also have to be less politics and lecturing of the audience.

Overall, the wring just needs to be better. In a vox.com piece, Todd VanDerWerff argued that it “would…be interesting to explore what “The X-Files” might look like if it were written by a woman, or a person of color, or someone barely in their 20s, who only knows the show from binge-watching it on Netflix?” (http://www.vox.com/2016/2/24/11104426/the-x-files-finale-recap-bad) Unilke VanDerWerff, I believe that what would make “The X-Files” most interesting is if the series hired the most talented writers available regardless of what demographic group they may fall into.

In my reviews of all six installments, I was at times quite hard on “The X-Files.” Despite its flaws, the show was still better than almost everything else on TV. It will be a long wait for the next fall television season and another string of what will hopefully be entertaining episodes.

 You may also want to follow my blog and follow me on Twitter (T.J.Kong @Ride_the_bomb).

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To What Degree are the “Collective We” Responsible for Homeless People in the United States

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Earlier in the month I offered my opinion in a blog post about the degree to which the ”collective we” are responsible for homeless people in the United States. Since my comments were made in a post about a television show, they would likely only have been read by those interested in the program. For this reason I decided to restate my arguments in this new blog post. Sixteen days ago I wrote:

Mayor Ed Koch and the ACLU

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“Just to what degree are “we” responsible for the homeless? Democrat Mayor Ed Koch, one of the most effective mayors any big city has ever had, came up with a solution to much of the problem of homelessness in the 1980s. Koch accepted what all reasonable people know. A great many street people live the way they do because they are severely mentally ill. Koch decided he would send out a large team of professionals to interview and medically examine the homeless. Those who were determined to be so mentally ill that they could not care for themselves would be institutionalized. If Koch’s plan had been implemented, a large portion of the homeless would have had a warm, safe place to live, healthy food and free health care. If at some time their mental health problems improved to the point that they could care for themselves they would be released. Unfortunately, the awful American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)… successfully stopped Koch’s plan in the court system. The next time you see a poor unfortunate soul shivering in the gutter while arguing with himself and stewing in his own bodily excretions, thank the august ACLU. Are “we” responsible for what the ACLU did? Only those amongst us who are supporters of the ACLU are responsible for that segment of the homeless population that is homeless due to severe mental illness.

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Homeless and Poverty

Some homeless are so because of poverty. A research study completed in the recent past showed that if a person living in the U.S. never gets arrested, completes high school and waits until marriage before becoming a parent there is a 93% chance that person will never spend a day in poverty and therefore never become homeless.  Only a minority of those who become homeless for economic reasons therefore become so for reasons other than bad life decisions. Since individuals have free will the collective “we” are not responsible for the bad choices some make which lead them into homelessness.

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Drugs and Alcohol Addiction and the Homeless

I believe that another portion of the homeless population can be attributed to drugs and alcohol addiction. During a visit to Manhattan late last year I walked about forty minutes north from Penn Station and noticed an average of one nodding off, begging opiate addict per block. It was unsettling to see how bad things have gotten under comrade Mayor Bill de Blasio in the world’s greatest city.

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As I have gotten older I have begun to wonder just how effective is drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Is the reason why Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) refuses to release statistics on how successful the program is because its success rate is so dismal? Perhaps some are just born with a physiology and psychology that is so heavily inclined toward addiction that throwing away their lives away on drugs and alcohol is almost an inevitability and no amount or type of rehab will save them. Are “we” responsible for the way people are born?

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I do believe that society can and should do a better job of treating mental illness and educating people about how to live their lives in a manner that allows them to avoid poverty. However, I nonetheless strongly disagree…[with the notion that]  the collective “we” are [very] responsible for homelessness and the homeless.”

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My Review of Episode Six (“My Struggle II”) of the Return Run of “The X-Files” (Some Spoilers are Revealed Below)

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Episode six (“My Struggle II”) of the return run of “The X-Files” closed the season on a down note. Its plot was so silly that it almost came across as parody. The fact is it was really not deserving of a detailed review and so I will instead just make some observations on the installment.

Scully Morphing into ET was Wonderful

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A scene early in the show that depicted Dana Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) face morphing first into an elderly woman and then into that of an extraterrestrial utilized a great special effect. It was the only highlight of the show.

The Episode’s Conclusion

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I saw nothing else that moved me to write about until near the conclusion of the episode. A fight scene between Fox Mulder, portrayed by David Duchovny, and a bad guy sent to kidnap him used sped up footage. It was a cheap trick that looked like it belonged in a martial arts movie. The same could be said for fight moves during the same scuffle that defied physics. Are the writer and director of the show fans of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?”

A Tired Theme Revisited

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During the installment and season’s big reveal, we are presented with the tired television and feature film theme of man destroying the world’s environment via global warming and other means. Did we really have to get hit over the head with that one again? Was it really the best “The X-Files” could come up with? Fans of the series expect a much greater level of creativity from the show.

How the Season was Concluded

Now on to the season’s conclusion. Major cliff hangers are acceptable for two-part episodes in the middle of a season. The cliff hanger on which the episode and season ended was completely unacceptable because it left way too many questions unanswered. The audience was cheated!

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The return of Agents Miller (Robbie Amell) and Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) makes it clear that “The X-Files” hopes to stick around for a long time and the intent is for Mulder and Scully to eventually hand the program over to them. The ratings this season were high. Several episodes in the Fox Corp began referring to the return run of the show as “Season 10.” There will be a season 11 but the show might not last beyond next season unless those behind “The X-Files” step their game.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter.

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You can email me at T_J_Kong@yahoo.com. I always welcome suggestions for blog topics.

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I believe in free speech and so I approve all blog comments. No exceptions.

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Thoughts on “The Walking Dead” Season 6, Episode 10: “The Next World”

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“The Next World” was unusually good even by the high standards of “The Walking Dead.” My thoughts are as follows:

Dr. Eugene Porter

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Not long into the episode Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) speaks the line “hunky dunky.” The expression is hunky dory. Was this some sort of error in the show? If “The X-Files” could broadcast an episode (“Babylon”) earlier this month in which we are shown two explosions from terrorist suicide vests being detonated and later show us that one of the two terrorists did not detonate his vest, “The Walking Dead” certainly could have let the line “hunky dunky” slip by. (For more on the continuity error in this “The X-Files” episode mentioned above see https://ridethebomb1.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/a-review-of-episode-five-babylon-of-the-return-run-of-the-x-files-some-spoilers-are-revealed-below/.)

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene

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Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene, had a short scene. It was long enough to reinforce something that has always been a feature of “The Walking Dead.” Though Cohan is a talented actress, she has never been able to get her Georgia accent down. Sometimes she sounds vaguely Southern. Other lines are pronounced by her with an accent that sounds like a person from the Midwest. Perhaps her trouble is explained by the fact that her mother is a native of Great Britain and Cohan spent the majority of her life in the United Kingdom.

“The Walking Dead,” HD and the Great Outdoors

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Almost all of this installment took place outdoors. The lush Georgia forest looked wonderful on my HD TV.

Jesus, “The Walking Dead” and Religion

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The highlight of the show had to be the introduction of Paul “Jesus” Rovia, portrayed by Tom Payne. The mysterious individual who tells Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) that his friends call him “Jesus” proved to be a compelling character. I am excited to see what part he plays in the story line of “The Walking Dead” going forward.

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“Jesus” also leaves me a bit apprehensive. He reminded me of a 2012 “The Walking Dead “episode which depicted a large number of walkers sitting in church pews. The not so subtle take away from the episode was obviously intended to be that all Christians are zombies. I have always wondered if polarizing political statements like this one were a factor in the series’ first showrunner being fired. It is my fondest hope that “Jesus” is not used by the writers of “The Walking Dead” to make a hack critique of Christianity and/or Christians.

Darryl and Jesus

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I did not quite understand why Daryl would feel such hostility toward “Jesus” from the very first moment he laid eyes on him. His leaping out of the truck to chase him down rather than just let him run off after “Jesus” topples from the top of the truck seemed inexplicable. Daryl’s rashness ultimately leading to the truck and all its supplies ending up at the bottom of a lake was poetic and filmed beautifully!

Rick and Michonne

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In the show’s final moments we see Rick and Michonne, portrayed by Danai Gurira, become an item. When the episode starts the wall around Alexandria is still being rebuilt.  Therefore Rick does not take much time to grieve the loss of his previous love interest on the show, Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge) before jumping into bed with Michonne. Could he not have waited a bit longer? I think the viewers would have wanted him to do so.

“The Next World” was a fun hour of television. I look forward to watching and blogging on next weeks’ installment. Check back in with my blog a few days after it airs if you are interested in my thoughts on it.

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A Review of Episode Six of “Mercy Street” (“The Diabolical Plot”)

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Episode six of “Mercy Street” (“The Diabolical Plot”) was the series finale. It was also an installment that was disappointing and the worst of the season.

Suspension of Disbelief

When the series has been at its best, it was difficult to tell where the history ended and the fiction began. That so much of what transpires on the show is either found in the historical record or has a historical parallel has been the production’s best selling point. It has been easy to suspend one’s disbelief when watching is like seeing a history book come alive.

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Some Plot Elements Were so Fantastical as to be Ridiculous

Unfortunately, aspects of the story told in “The Diabolical Plot” were so fantastical as to be ridiculous. We witness a fight between Dr. Byron Hale (Norbert Leo Butz) and Dr. Jedediah Foster, portrayed by Josh Radnor, over the use of Chloroform as an anesthetic during surgery. Chloroform was utilized as an anesthetic during the Mexican War of the late 1840s. It became an official aspect of the U.S. Army’s practice of medicine in 1849. Contrary to the impression one might have been left with after watching the episode, using chloroform as an anesthetic was not a newfangled idea during the Civil War. It was the norm. There was no major conflict in the army at the time between an “old school,” who did not believe in it, and doctors who embraced it. Perhaps the installment’s writers felt “The Diabolical Plot” needed a source of conflict between the two medical men.

Historical Authenticity Fell Short

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There is no historical basis for a plot to kill President Abraham Lincoln by blowing up a hospital while he visited it. It should be noted, however, that the 1865 plot that ultimately did the president in was not the only plot against him after his election.

There were other more minor areas where the show fell short of the mark as far has historical accuracy. James Green’s (Gary Cole) speaking of his hope of “Jeff Davis…marching on Alexandria” indicates that “Mercy Street’s” historical advisor[s] who reviewed the script either fell down on the job or was/were ignored. Davis was the president of the Confederacy. In the vernacular of the time, Green would have spoken of his hope of General “Robert E. Lee” marching on Alexandria and not Davis.

Period Handwriting

Anyone who has conducted research using manuscript sources from the Civil War period can attest to how different the handwriting of the time was from what we are accustomed to today. It is too bad we did not see this handwriting in all its glory in the note delivered to Frank Stringfellow, portrayed by Jack Falahee, that communicated to him: “Operation log cabin confirmed. 4 P.M. Today.” Instead we read it in the style of cursive that has been taught in American schools from about the last third of the twentieth century onward.

Civil War Codes

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One would have thought that Stringfellow’s fellow conspirators would have come up with a confirmation message that would not have been an obvious giveaway about the nature of the plot if it were to be intercepted en route. Some clever codes were used during the war and “Mercy Street” missed an opportunity to highlight this fact with the way the note was handled in the script for “The Diabolical Plot.”

Dr. Byron Hale

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Other aspects of the episode’s storyline would be implausible to a silly degree even in a show set in a different time period. That Doctor Hale could get caught influencing the hospital steward to get rid of the hospital’s store of Chloroform as part of a plot to undermine and get rid of the hospital’s executive officer (Dr. Foster) and still maintain his position at the hospital is laughable.

Laughable

Likewise laughable is the plot line involving Samuel Diggs (McKinley Belcher III) and Aurelia Johnson (Shalita Grant). Sam returns to Alexandria after rescuing Aurelia’s son from slavery. He journeys to her cabin only to discover her gone. Fortunately for him, he notices on the floor a piece of paper that sends him racing for a boat leaving Alexandria. He arrives at the dock just before Aurelia steams away for Boston and the family enjoys a reunion.

Alice Green and Aurelia

The installment was not all bad. The angelic looking Alice Green (AnnaSophia Robb) joining the secret pro-Confederate society The Knights of the Golden Circle near the end of the episode was a very interesting development. Aurelia coming upon the hospital steward Silas Bullen (Wade Williams) bleeding to death and not helping him because of what he had done to her in the past was a powerful scene. I do not regret the time I invested in “The Diabolical Plot.”

It has not yet been announced if the series will come back for next season. It will likely depend on the series ratings. The ratings for the premier episode were strong. I have not been able to learn about how many viewers the remainder of the season’s installments had.

My blog posts on “Mercy Street” have generated a large number of views and unique visitors for my blog. For this reason, despite the fact that the season is over, I will blog about the show again in the next two weeks so check back in of you are interested. Until then, you may wish to read my reviews of the other five eppisodes that are also found on this blog.

Thank you for the support!

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A Postmortem on the 2016 Democrat Presidential Also Rans as of February 21, 2016

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As of February 21, 2016, four Democrat politicians have dropped out of the presidential race. Below are my thoughts on the candidacy of each one. I cover them in alphabetical order by last name.

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Lincoln Chafee

Senator Lincoln “Bah humbug!” Chafee served as a Liberal Republican senator from Rhode Island from 2000 to 2006. After losing his seat to a Democrat, he switched his allegiance to the Democrat party, though he was officially an independent until 2013. No former Republican senator could ever hope to be the Democrat candidate for president. I must assume Chafee ran for the nomination only to burnish his resume and thereby increase his speaking fees. He may also be angling for a cabinet position in a future Democrat administration. Barring this, I do not see him continuing in politics.  Republican voters will not take him back and he could never beat a lifelong Democrat in an election.  He could turn up next in academia. I think he will be most remembered for trying to officially change the name of the Christmas tree at the Rhode Island State House to a “holiday tree.”

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Lawrence Lessig

Who?

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Martin O’Malley

Martin O’Malley is the quintessential career politician. I am not aware that he has ever held a real job like the rest of us. Because Secretary Hillary Clinton is a woman and the Democrat party has plunged off the left edge of the political landscape, O’Malley never had a chance. He won election to governor of Maryland in 2007 and presided over the state while things went to heck in Baltimore. O’Malley left office about three months before the Baltimore riots of April 2015 but deserves a share of the responsibility for the conditions in the city during the period that led up to them. No matter. He will go on to serve in some Maryland elected office or other. Its what career politicians do.

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Jim Webb

That Senator Jim Webb was another former Republican was the first strike against him in the eyes of Democrat primary voters. Worse for Webb was a long and honorable association with the U.S. military that did not culminate in a low point of his throwing his medals away on the U.S. Capitol. lawn. I believe he ran for president for the same reason that Chafee did. His prospects going forward are pretty much the same as Chafee’s.

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I believe in free speech and so I approve all blog comments. No exceptions.

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A Postmortem on the 2016 Republican Presidential Also Rans as of the Afternoon of February 20, 2016

As of the afternoon of February 20, 2016 eleven Republicans have dropped out of the presidential race. Below are my thoughts on the candidacy of each one. I cover them in alphabetical order by last name.

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Chris Christie

Chris Christie’s Liberal policies as governor of New Jersey did not help him. However, as a Republican from the North East he had to adopt such policies in order to win election. I believe the biggest factor in Christie’s failure to win the nomination was his figurative and literal embrace of President Barack Obama just a few weeks out from the 2012 presidential election. It was a shameful act. Christie had to have been aware that putting his arm around Obama and showering him with praise over his handling of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New Jersey would raise the president’s standing in the eyes of the public and make it harder for his fellow Republican Mitt Romney to win the presidency. I feel showing such disloyalty to one’s own political party is disgusting under any circumstance. The voters agree. Christie would make a good Attorney General. For more on Christie see: “My Thoughts on Presidential Candidate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie” (https://ridethebomb1.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/my-thoughts-on-presidential-candidate-new-jersey-governor-chris-christie/).

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Carly Fiorina

What hurt Carly Fiorina had to be that she has never held elected office. She would be a strong vice presidential pick. For more on Fiorina see “Can’t Figure Out Carly Fiorina” (https://ridethebomb1.wordpress.com/2016/01/23/i-cant-figure-out-carly-fiorina/).

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Jim Gilmore

Who?

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Lindsey Graham

Talk show host Jay Severin refers to him as Linda Graham.

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Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee was a Liberal governor of Arkansas. It is nonetheless surprising that someone who had a hit cable news show for many years and so was so good at connecting with the public would have fared so poorly in the race. He could find a place as a future cabinet official. I am sure Fox news would have him back.

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Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal was one of the brightest people running. He had all the right positions on the issues. Lack of enough charisma that was his undoing. I hope to see him as a member of the next president’s cabinet or a senator.

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George Pataki

George Pataki was a good governor of New York but there was never any reason to be excited about his candidacy.

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Rand Paul

I appreciate Rand Paul as a voice in American politics very much. However, he will never be any more than a Kentucky senator and the foremost spokesman for Libertarian ideals. For more on Paul see: “Senator Rand Paul’s Presidential Candidacy” (https://ridethebomb1.wordpress.com/2016/01/23/senator-rand-pauls-presidential-candidacy/)

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Rick Perry

Rick Perry did an excellent job as governor of Texas. The economy during the Obama years has been stronger in Texas than in any other state. Unfortunately, he never recovered from his temporary memory loss during a 2012 presidential debate. The type of brain hiccup he had happens to all of us. It was too bad for him his happen on national television.

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Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum is a moral man who performed admirably as a senator from Pennsylvania. The people of the Keystone state would be wise to send him back to the upper house.

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Scott Walker

Scott Walker has been a great Wisconsin governor. Among other things, he stood up to the public employee unions that are destroying the country. He deserved much more support than he got. It is a mystery to me why he did not get more traction.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter.

 You may also want to follow my blog and follow me on Twitter (T.J.Kong @Ride_the_bomb).

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 I also have a YouTube.com channel called: “Ride the Bomb!” See https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpauuMnQBSI2FWgFiScj2mw

I believe in free speech and so I approve all blog comments. No exceptions.