Saturday, February 24, 2007
The one question you will not hear the media ask even rhetorically is “Who would Al Qaeda want to see elected in 2008?” A question like that is unimportant, anti-intellectual and plain unfair. Al Qaeda isn’t voting and the issues are too complicated to simply make it a matter of who the enemy wants to face.
One question you will hear is “Who would the Europeans like to see as President?” You won’t necessarily hear the question asked, but you will hear the answer all over the place. Many in the European Union are eager for a greater partnership with the United States after the strain caused by the Invasion of Iraq.
Do you notice how Democrats beat up on Republicans for months and then when a Republican suggests that the Democrat war plan will lead to defeat, they’re accused of questioning the patriotism of Democrats. Pelosi tried that this week with Cheney. Does it not occur to Democrats that no one even thinks of it as a patriotism question until they bring it up and then many of us ask ourselves, “Do the Democrats really want us to win? What is their plan for victory?”
During the late 30s when FDR was trying to get us into the European War, 90% of Americans wanted no part of it. They didn’t care about Europe or the rest of the world. They had already saved the continentals during World War I, thank you very much, and were in no hurry to do it again. Pearl Harbor comes and suddenly the 90% is on the other side and we have no choice but to kick enough ass so that we can be left alone for another generation. We began by thinking of World War II as something not American and then turned around when events proved the necessity of it. The most striking thing is how we were unified as Americans back then.
Something has changed over these years to which the Left has united around much of the world and they see the United States as the threat to peace and safety. These people are like the kids who breezed their way through college on daddy’s dime and then returned home only to be ashamed of daddy for not being as enlightened as Dr. Scratchensniff.
I tend to think they walk a tightrope about whether their decisions are patriotic and I think they are constantly thinking of justifications. If they hear anything that they take to be a question of their patriotism they really get on their hind legs and start barking, don’t they?
If I were the VP and Pelosi accused me of questioning her patriotism I would say, “I wouldn’t question your patriotism, Nancy, because I don’t know what’s in your heart. I was raised that being patriotic meant wanting to see your country win the war and elected officials were duty bound to do everything they could for the cause of victory. If patriotism means something different to you then please define it so that I can be sure to spot it when it materializes.”
If the DEMS are thin skinned about this patriot business they can put the question to rest by adopting policies that make Al Qaeda deathly afraid of them. Short of that, “politics ain’t beanbag” said Tip O’Neill and the shoe will fit until they stop wearing it.
Micket Kaus has some common sense ideas about getting good teachers:
It's easier to hire good teachers if you can fire bad ones. Competent people want to work for competent organizations. Which offer would you be more likely to take: "Come work for our school district. We weed out the deadwood and we're doing a great job preparing our kids," Or "Come work for our district and spend your life beating your head against a bureaucratic wall."
Yes, teachers should be paid more--but it's weird that an idealistic liberal would think good candidates are only motivated by money. (And if you could fire bad and mediocre teachers then school districts wouldn't have to spend a big chunk of any pay raise boosting the salaries of ... bad and mediocre teachers).
Weed out bad old teachers and expand the pool of potential good new teachers by allowing certification of people who haven't met the mindless credential requirements fiercely defended by the unions.
I think Rush was the first one to say our education systenm is not about teaching kids but employing people. You often hear how tough it is to be a teacher. Being a student is even worse. You're stuck with whoever the machine sorts you into and your entire experience with a subject can be ruined with a half-assed instructor.
We have a lot of people that would make excellent teachers that wouldn't hassle themselves with the certification process and locked-in pay scales. What talented and ambitious person is going to join an organization where pay is determined simply by longevity? Lynnette would seem to an exception that rule, but her determination is working her into a lot of opportunities outside the classroom. I can't imagine her working for the school system in 5 years.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Recently, my son Donovan came to me with an outrageous story. He reported that his computer teacher had designed a new "learning" exercise for the class. Basically, the kids were tasked with creating a Presidential Jeopardy Game (at this point I was scratching my head as to what this had to do with computer class----but read on). The class was split up into groups. Donovan's team won the first round; thanks in large part to Donovan getting every question of the opposing team correct. Then the teacher decided to give everyone a "fair chance." She announced that Donovan knew TOO much about politics, presidential history, and current events. It wasn't fair to the average ignorant 13 year old. (Not to mention that he also reported to me that he took digs at the teachers Liberal politics on more than one occasion). So she took Donovan off the team and made him watch. I've never been more angry about a teacher action in all my life. But did Donovan cry or go home pouting? No! Instead he wrote a great essay and began distributing around school on Friday. Genius! I plan on talking with the teacher next week. Here is Donovan's essay, word for word, exactly as he wrote it:
The World is Conservative!
(Or at least it should be)
An Article by Donovan Saunders,
Conservative Republitarian & Honorary Junto Boy
The world of today does not realize that the Conservative way is actually very beneficial to all countries. A new age of children are being taught by their teachers and parents that the world should serve them, and they do not have to work as hard as everybody else to be successful. Well here is a hint: that is called Communism.
Former Soviet Russia, Red China,
; all of these said countries are run by Communism. For those who do not know, Communism is a form of government where all people are the same. They have the same amount of money, clothes, food, everything. That means that a janitor gets paid the exact same amount as a highly respected government official! That should not be right. North Korea
was founded on Democracy, but we are not a pure democracy. We have a mix of a Republican and Democratic society, hence the two partisan groups. Pure democracy would mean that we would have to vote on every single issue and there is only the president as a leader, with some branches that manage certain areas. A pure republic would mean that we elect officials to a senate and they decide on issues. Now, a balance between the two is very good. If the government is too partisan, we will be unbalanced. America
The Democratic society of today believes too heavily on socialism. Liberal Democrats believe what communists believe: the government is there to take care of us and we should all burn the money, go on welfare, and live a so called “happy life”. The people of
tried that. Soviet Russia , or the United Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), fell because the people realized that there was no point in working. Since all people get the exact same in communism, the people just sat back, accumulated pay, and did nothing. In doing so, there was no body to work and so the economy failed. Russia
Could you imagine a
like that? Communism sounds all well at first. But, it brings destruction. Let us say that the government suddenly changed to communism. Everybody was paid $40,000 a year. Is it bliss? No. Doctors pay would go down from six digit numbers to $40K; their private practices would become government run. The doctors would object, go on a strike, and so there is no healthcare. Military wages would even up, so that a raw recruit would be paid as much as a general. Military would object and refuse to fight; no national defense. With just those two things gone, the USA would be gone in a second. What about entertainment? Computer programmers get paid a fair amount of money. Their pay would go down. They would quit, demanding more pay. No more I-pods, computers, or anything that takes a silicon chip to run. USA
But, thanks to industry and democracy, we are not like that. We have capitalism. Capitalism is an economy based on private owned companies that work for profit on a free market. That means that we can make any amount of money and the only penalty we pay for it is taxes. Even taxes are good for the
; without taxes, there would be no money to run the country. This is good because the doctors, computer programmers, military, and everybody else that works can make their own living. USA
But that is not to say that there is not some amount of socialism; that is called welfare.
Welfare helps people that are unable to work, live in poverty, or are just not making enough to live on for whatever valid reason. Welfare provides money for those kinds’ of people. Once they can make a living on their own, their welfare is discontinued and they start making their own living.
The Conservative style of government strongly approves capitalism. With capitalism, we have order and everything will not be property of the government. Unless you would like communism and socialism to take over
, take control of everything you own, and micromanage your life, vote conservative. The best conservative parties are the Republicans and Libertarians; a mix of the two is a Republitarian. Libertarians fight for liberty and are an off-shoot of the Republicans. The Libertarians believe in the old Republican standards: a small central government and letting the states govern its own people, all the while participating in the national government with a capitalist economy. This is the very best way to go. America
The War in
, War on Terrorism, all of these wars. They are for a good reason. War in Iraq is for oil; without oil, gas would border $5 a gallon. The War on Terrorism is obvious. We are not wasting troops. Yes, three thousand Americans have died in Iraq . But think about this for a moment: look at the Civil War. In the Civil War, more than 750, 000 Americans that died. That is food for thought. Iraq
So the world is conservative, or at least it should be if it has some sense. Stay with freedom and liberty, and vote Conservative, for a free
As a father, you are never quite sure if you are getting through to your kids. Donovan makes us all proud. There is indeed hope for the next generation.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I am coming around to Dude's way of thinking, that the government withholds information that it does not trust me to know. A few minutes ago it occurred to me, "Hey, didn't someone shoot five people in a Utah mall the other day? Whatever happened to that story?" So I checked foxnews.com - no story. CNN.com - no story. MSNBC.com - nothing. ABCnews.com - nothing. Then I went to the Salt Lake Tribune's site and found dozens of stories but almost no references to the killer and no meaningful profile of him. In these random-gunman stories, aren't we typically bombarded for weeks with First Middle Lastname of the killer and his photo at every turn? Dozens of stories on the tragedy in the Salt Lake Trib but none specifically about the killer. In a story titled "Emotionless killer gunned down victims randomly," just this:
The expression on his face never changed. Not as he walked into the crowded mall. Not as he began to fire. "He wasn't yelling or saying anything. He was just loading his gun and blasting away," said Trolley Square mall employee Jaron Dansie.
An article titled "Trolley Square: Suspect rarely seen by his neighbors" names the killer, Sulejman Talovic (somehow not your standard Utah name), and provides this account:
Police say the gunman met his first two victims in the parking lot, firing off two rounds as they fell.
"Die, motherf-----," Talovic said to them, according to one witness.
Don't we typically look for a motive when someone says, "Die, motherf-----" and starts shooting at strangers?
This important article urges Utahns "not to turn against Bosnians." Against Bosnians? Is there an American somewhere with a beef against Bosnians?
Eventually at fark.com I found a link to some local news site with this sentence buried in the 8th paragraph.
A family friend, who didn't want to be identified, told us Talovic's upbringing may have played a role. He was a Muslim-Bosnian, born in war-torn Bosnia.
Now that is a totally new invention as far as I can tell, a religion-hyphen-countryman. I don't recall seeing news references to Presbyterian-Americans or Buddhist-Chinese. Is the intent to make the Muslim element blend into the Bosnian element and somehow disappear or get diluted? I would guess that the reason the family friend "didn't want to be identified" has more to do with the Muslim part than the war-torn Bosnia part, and why the family friend didn't want to be identified may be the more interesting angle.
Somebody doesn't want me to know that the guy who emotionlessly shot down as many Americans as he could manage is a Muslim. That last article and all the other reporting I skimmed played up the Bosnian angle and in most cases did not even mention the Muslim angle, or even the killer's name, lest you draw your own inference. Now I ask you - if it had been a white Mormon kid who shot up a mall, would we or would we not be subject to round-the-clock coverage of this Big Story? And hmm, what would be the reason why this story is not getting that kind of treatment?
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
We read all kinds of articles making bold predictions and offering up the consensus view and conventional wisdom. Rarely do we see revisit those predictions and wisdom to assess how good our forecasting is. This ESPN article looks back at how wrong the preseason NFL punditry was, as well as a range of non-football prognostications.
Then there was the incredible ESPN.com meta-forecast. Twelve fulltime pro football pundits predicted the Super Bowl outcome. Their forecasts: Colts over Panthers (predicted six times), Panthers over Colts, Colts over Seahawks, Seahawks over Colts, Panthers over Patriots, Seahawks over Broncos, and Bengals over Cowboys.
Twelve tries, all wrong! No ESPN expert forecast the Bears to make the Super Bowl, while 10 of ESPN.com's 24 projected Super Bowl entrants failed to make the playoffs. Also from the meta-forecast: Michael Smith had Michael Vick as MVP, Mike Golic had Bill Parcells as Coach of the Year and Merrill Hoge had Nick Saban as Coach of the Year.
My own preseason pick, if I remember correctly, was Colts over Seahawks. Prior to the playoffs, I had Colts over Bears by 10 in the Super Bowl. I picked all but two playoff game winners correctly with the exception of SD over NE and Eagles over Saints (with the qualification that I thought Philly would lose but I wanted to root for them). Not bad overall. Heading into baseball season, I always take the under on "Pirates number of wins, season" as well as "Pirates number of wins vs. Astros" and "Pirates number of wins vs. Cards." Nothing is surer. (Which I shouldn't say, since one o' yins will take the three minutes to prove me wrong.)
Rethink your investment strategy for 2007:
The very first Wall Street Journal edition of 2006 had as its lead story an article predicting a bad year for stocks. "Expect below-average returns again in 2006," was the banner quotation, from Jeffrey Kleintop, chief investment strategist at PNC Advisors. During 2006 the Dow Jones Index rose 16 percent. The final Wall Street Journal edition of 2006 featured a wrap-up proclaiming "a blockbuster year" for stocks. The first Wall Street Journal of 2006 also contained a table in which 33 high-profile Wall Street, hedge fund and corporate economists -- people who draw spectacular salaries for making economic forecasts -- predicted the coming 12 months. Their consensus was that 2006 would end with unemployment at 4.9 percent, the federal funds rate at 4.75 percent, the Euro at $1.20 and the Dow Jones "somewhere between 11000 and 11999." The year ended with unemployment at 4.5 percent, the federal funds rate at 5.25 percent, the Euro at $1.31 and the Dow Jones at 12463. Note: Considering the Wall Street Journal predicted 2006 would be a bad year for the stock market, I find it unsettling that in the first edition of this year, the same newspaper predicted 2007 will be a good year for the stock market.
Who could have predicted (especially at Newsweek!) that the average marrying age would increase significantly over the next generation or that the thought of being killed by a terrorist would become much less remote.
In June 1986, Newsweek ran its infamous "Marriage Crunch" cover story, which pronounced that a college-educated career woman of age 30 had only a one-in-five chance of winning a husband, while an educated professional woman of age 40 had essentially no chance. At a time when this must have sounded funny to someone at Newsweek, the magazine declared that a single 40-year-old career woman was "more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than to find a man who would say "I do." Twenty years later in June 2006, Jeffrey Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal checked to see how these predictions stood the test of time. Women aged 30 to 40 in 1986 when Newsweek declared them unmarriageable are aged 50 to 60 now, Zaslow reasoned. Crunching Census Bureau stats, he found that 90 percent of college-educated American women between the ages of 50 to 60 have married at least once. Zaslow tracked down the 10 career-shark single women who were named in the 1986 Newsweek cover story as certain spinsters: eight later married.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Earlier Today Drudge had a transcript of Czech President Vaclav Klaus dispelling man-made climate change in an interview with a Czech paper. Of course, those Czechs have seen all that collectivism masquerading as enlightenment too many times to count already. Here are couple of moments worth reading
Q: IPCC has released its report and you say that the global warming is a false myth. How did you get this idea, Mr President?•
A: It's not my idea. Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so. It is not fair to refer to the U.N. panel. IPCC is not a scientific institution: it's a political body, a sort of non-government organization of green flavor. It's neither a forum of neutral scientists nor a balanced group of scientists. These people are politicized scientists who arrive there with a one-sided opinion and a one-sided assignment. Also, it's an undignified slapstick that people don't wait for the full report in May 2007 but instead respond, in such a serious way, to the summary for policymakers where all the "but's" are scratched, removed, and replaced by oversimplified theses.• This is clearly such an incredible failure of so many people, from journalists to politicians. If the European Commission is instantly going to buy such a trick, we have another very good reason to think that the countries themselves, not the Commission, should be deciding about similar issues.•
Q: How do you explain that there is no other comparably senior statesman in Europe who would advocate this viewpoint? No one else has such strong opinions...•
A: My opinions about this issue simply are strong. Other top-level politicians do not express their global warming doubts because a whip of political correctness strangles their voice.
But you're not a climate scientist. Do you have a sufficient knowledge and enough information?•
A: Environmentalism as a metaphysical ideology and as a worldview has absolutely nothing to do with natural sciences or with the climate. Sadly, it has nothing to do with social sciences either. Still, it is becoming fashionable and this fact scares me. The second part of the sentence should be: we also have lots of reports, studies, and books of climatologists whose conclusions are diametrally opposite.• Indeed, I never measure the thickness of ice in Antarctica. I really don't know how to do it and don't plan to learn it. However, as a scientifically oriented person, I know how to read science reports about these questions, for example about ice in Antarctica. I don't have to be a climate scientist myself to read them. And inside the papers I have read, the conclusions we may see in the media simply don't appear. But let me promise you something: this topic troubles me which is why I started to write an article about it last Christmas. The article expanded and became a book. In a couple of months, it will be published. One chapter out of seven will organize my opinions about the climate change.• Environmentalism and green ideology is something very different from climate science. Various findings and screams of scientists are abused by this ideology.•
Q: Isn't there enough empirical evidence and facts we can see with our eyes that imply that Man is demolishing the planet and himself?•
A: It's such a nonsense that I have probably not heard a bigger nonsense yet.•
Q: Don't you believe that we're ruining our planet?•
A: I will pretend that I haven't heard you. Perhaps only Mr Al Gore may be saying something along these lines: a sane person can't. I don't see any ruining of the planet, I have never seen it, and I don't think that a reasonable and serious person could say such a thing. Look: you represent the economic media so I expect a certain economical erudition from you. My book will answer these questions. For example, we know that there exists a huge correlation between the care we give to the environment on one side and the wealth and technological prowess on the other side. It's clear that the poorer the society is, the more brutally it behaves with respect to Nature, and vice versa.• It's also true that there exist social systems that are damaging Nature - by eliminating private ownership and similar things - much more than the freer societies. These tendencies become important in the long run. They unambiguously imply that today, on February 8th, 2007, Nature is protected uncomparably more than on February 8th ten years ago or fifty years ago or one hundred years ago.• That's why I ask: how can you pronounce the sentence you said? Perhaps if you're unconscious? Or did you mean it as a provocation only? And maybe I am just too naive and I allowed you to provoke me to give you all these answers, am I not? It is more likely that you actually believe what you say.
Friday, February 09, 2007
I usually delete the entire barrage of email fw's but this one was not bad.
>>The priest asks, "Is that you, little Johnny Parisi?"
>> "Yes, Father, it is."
>> "And who was the girl you were with?"
>> "I can't tell you, Father, I don't want to ruin her reputation."
>> "Well, Johnny, I'm sure to find out her name sooner or later, so you
>> may as well tell me now. Was it Tina Minetti?"
>> "I cannot say."
>> "Was it Teresa Volpe?"
>> "I'll never tell."
>> "Was it Nina Capelli?"
>> "I'm sorry, but I cannot name her."
>> "Was it Cathy Piriano?"
>> "My lips are sealed."
>> "Was it Rosa Di Angelo, then?"
>> "Please, Father, I cannot tell you."
>> The priest sighs in frustration. "You're very tight lipped, Johnny
>> Parisi, and I admire that. But you've sinned and have to atone. You
>> cannot be an altar boy now for 4 months. Now you go and behave
>> Johnny walks back to his pew, and his friend Nino slides over and
>> whispers "What'd you get?"
>> Johnny replies "Four months vacation and five good leads!!!"
Sunday, February 04, 2007
A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT (2004) – Audrey Tautou is engaged to a soldier thought dead during World War I. She doesn’t believe it and spends the film trying to track him down. It’s a simple enough story and lot more gory than you might expect. The winning Tautou is a good guide for the trip if you don’t mind the subtitles. You can probably figure the answer to her quest but the actual resolution was little less than Hollywood.
SIMPATICO (1999) – Jeff Bridges and Nick Nolte star in this film based on the Sam Shepherd play about a couple of guys who rose in the horse racing industry in not the most ethical ways. Bridges is now a successful horse breeder and Nolte plays his disheveled persona haunted by the past. Sharon Stone reminds the audience that pretty just gets softer but sexy can oh so often lead to haggard. Those three characters are shown in present day and played by younger actors in many flashbacks. Albert Finney is very good in a smaller role. Shepherd’s frequent device of taking two opposing characters and have them turn into one another is present here for the good or the bad depending on how many times you’ve already seen it done.
WINGS OF DESIRE (1986) – Wim Wenders film set in West Berlin features and angel that slowly realizes that he’d rather be human. Shot mostly in black and white and spoken in German with some really good WWII era footage mixed in. The film offers a quit dreamlike quality that really brings you into the slow action. Peter Falk is featured as himself making a movie during the story.
CITY OF ANGELS (1998) A remake of Wings of Desire. Nick Cage is an Angel living on earth who falls in love with doctor Meg Ryan who is crushed after losing a patient. Despite the generally negative reviews I thought that it captured a decent tone, is visually interesting, and the relationship as it unfolds between the leads is compelling. I wasn’t in love with the resolution, but I think it suffers mostly in comparison to the German original.
+THE QUEEN (2006) – Stephen Frears brings to life an elusive figure with depth, kindness and insight. Helen Mirren is great as the queen and although I cared very little then or now as to how the Royal Family handled Dianna’s death, I enjoyed the politics of the whole affair and sympathized with the Royal Family’s situation. Without taking anything away from Diana who always seemed a caring person, Elizabeth II went through World War II in a time when she couldn’t really be sure that her country would remain in tact. The royal family had the duty of being strong for the nation through their quiet dignity and this Diana reaction must have really been unsettling. How things change. The portrayal of Tony Blair also gives this dish some sauce and it was an enjoyable 2 hours altogether.
CHILDREN OF MEN (2006) – I read a really interesting review of this 1990s novel a few weeks ago that said it was a modern day classic more relevant than BRAVE NEW WORLD. The book was written by PD James, British Baroness and author of many detective novels who decided to write a change of pace story. What if you lived in a society where worldwide infertility meant that no new babies have been born for 18 years? Here you get to find out following hero Clive Owen and stopping by for laughs Michael Caine. It moves swiftly and the nonstandard resolution won it an Oscar nomination for best screenplay.
L’AVVENTURA (1960) – Michelangelo Antonolini’s breakout film that made the Sight and Sound top ten poll in 1962, 1972 and 1982. The plot is simple. Members of the Italian Upper Class take a boating trip, stop at an island, and misplace one of their party. On the surface the story is about their search for the missing member, but as the story goes along she is less and less important to the people than their current mundane pleasures. Similar, I suppose, to Renoir’s RULES OF THE GAME the story of bored affluent people getting through their lives.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006) – This is a good enough movie, but I think it’s Best Picture nomination is simply filling the minimum 1 indie film per year quota much like IN THE BEDROOM that has all but been forgotten from movie minds. Greg Kinnear continues to surprise me with the amount of work he gets, here as the father and wannabe motivational leader. I’m also surprised that a casting director thinks that Kinnear would ever marry anyone like Toni Collette. The usually reliable Alan Arkin gets to chew some scenery as does the increasingly likable Steve Carrell. Abagail Breslin as the title character shows herself a decent kid actor. I will probably appreciate the movie more if I ever have kids and/or broken dreams.
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006) – Based on the book that Trish just read, Meryl Streep plays the title character as an unforgiving fashion magazine editor that seems to have been nominated by virtue of a look here and an emotion there. Or it could be that she’s simply Meryl Streep. Anne Hathaway reprises that thing she does when she begins a movie as the plain girl and is Eliza Doolittled up in short order. I’m surprised that the movie made over $100 million considering that Streep is hardly box office magic and so few people read books while the plot is predictable and so-so inspiring. Maybe it works better for 20ish females or those who have been so in the past. The movie makes gives Streep pathos and ability while showing her harshness as a product of being a female in the tough business world. The book simply made her as a mysterious figure that didn’t seem to be doing any work and yet yielded much power and wrath. The difference seems to be one of comedy (the book) versus melodrama (the movie).
IDIOCRACY (2005) – The notorious Mike Judge film that has sat on the shelf for two years trying to find distribution eventually found home video instead. The follow-up to OFFICE SPACE has a few clever things going for it, namely the future of a society where dimwitted people breed like roaches and smart effective people are always putting it off. Luke Wilson is cast well as the modern day average guy who is frozen for five hundred years only to wake up as the smartest guy on the planet. The shame of the movie is the people in the future are just a little too stupid and Wilson doesn’t get a chance to exploit his genius in a way that might have been fun. Somehow this future society of fools has great technology that seems to trump everything Wilson tries. No explanation as to who created this technology although there is one funny part about how Gatorade replaced water much to the detriment of plant life. It’s a real stinker and the idea done right would have been a classic.
Friday, February 02, 2007
As an original screenplay this movie would have needed a great deal of work to comply with the usual leftwing prejudices necessary for production. As a true story I’m assuming that the real Chris Gardner didn’t allow any of that. How else do you explain a struggling single father trying to get ahead without any help from government institutions? The businessmen in the film that give him an opportunity are all portrayed as generous and decent people despite Gardner’s lack of formal education and color.
There closest things to a villain in the movie is his wife that doesn’t believe in him. Making his challenge tougher is his insistence in raising his son as a single parent rather than have him grow up without a father. Despite everything against him and only his own wits and will, he realizes his dream.
A couple of other things that go against the liberal orthodoxy are the hippy girl that steals from him and an obviously mentally deranged homeless guy that society allows to walk the streets. He himself is not forced to the streets because of evil capitalism, but the IRS that empties his bank account, ostensibly to make the country “more fair.” Even then it’s not the government to the rescue, but a church mission that gives him shelter.
The movie is an inspiration that gives a person hope that the pursuit of happiness is worthwhile and attainable. In America these stories are not unusual, but they rarely get told because the establishment is more invested in the people that are left behind.
Politically it shows that conservative movies are remotely possible in mainstream Hollywood if the story is great and a powerful star is willing to appear, assuming still that no identified Republican is singled out for praise. It also helped that the foreign born director, Gabriele Muccino, making his Hollywood debut was probably not up on the current Hollywood bugaboos.
Will Smith is winning in the main role so you care about him and how it unfolds. The son of Will Smith proves to be solid too. Nothing about the movie stands out as exceptional save the fact that it isn't disappointing which these days is more and more rare.