Independent's Eye by Joe Gandelman
Good-bye and good-riddance to 2014. As we move into 2015, what can we learn from how 2014 ended and how we're now "trending" in various areas? Here are a few items to watch:
Look for signs of President Barack Obama's REAL intentions. Not only were the results of the 2014 Congressional elections a "shellacking" for Democrats and Obama, a major paint job -- with four coats of black and blue paint. Now the question is whether Obama intends to spend his remaining two years nurturing compromises where he can get them, or looking for ways to embarrass, check-mate, thwart and weaken the Republicans who've spent his term stalemating his agenda, trying to destroy his legacy and demonizing him. By December 2015 who will have had the last laugh?
Will the Tea Party tail continue to wag the Republican dog -- or is the Republican dog now the Tea Party's tail? There are already signs that House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are headed into a political buzz saw in their dealings with Congress' most conservative members who favor confrontation, political brinksmanship and power politics over compromise, consensus and bipartisanship. Will Boehner and McConnell prove to be leaders who direct party members on a political path, or fearful followers and panderers obsessed with not losing support?
Notoriety means big box office. North Korea and its hacking buddies' attempt to keep Sony Pictures from releasing the comedy "The Interview" featuring a story involving the assassination of North Korea's very much alive leader Kim Jong-un utterly backfired. By hacking Sony and allegedly being responsible for making terrorist threats against movie theaters which subsequently pulled the movie, North Korea helped the flick shatter online movie sales records. Add its almost certain release on DVD, cable and overseas showings, and North Korea turned a reportedly lame and inept comedy into...big B.O. Get ready for some studio to announce a movie about a team of Navy Seals assigned force ISIS leaders to eat pork chops.
Hollywood may get more daring. Never underestimate Hollywood's ability to grind out predictable sequels, formula action pix and cookie-cutter kids' movies. 2014 gave us the film "Birdman," featuring a comeback-generating performance by Michael Keaton, filmed to make it appear to have been shot in one or a few continuous takes, with an ending that left moviegoers debating and guessing. It started off in limited release and immediately soared, with more theaters quickly added.
Acceptance of the quirky film is a sign that Americans don't only yearn for (God save us) more Adam Sandler movies. Another sign came in early 2015 with the hit release of the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's "Into the Woods." While Sondheim's famous complex scores that often seem to be fleeing traditional melody may make theatergoer's swoon, they're more of an acquired taste to others.
The pizza revolution will continue. Pizza remains one of the biggest offenders when it comes to unhealthy fast food. But consumers are now demanding more than just sauce and cheese on crust, and they're often getting it. Frank Peppe Pizzeria, the 90-year-old top ranked pizzeria from my home city of New Haven, has started to add restaurants in New York and Massachusetts. Pizza Hut revamped its menu with some unusual and often weird new flavors. When I went to Colgate University from 1968-1972, local pizza in the town of Hamilton, New York was terrible to tolerable. Today, Hamilton's pizza places offer r-e-a-l world class pizza flavor.
Will those mistreating women find zero tolerance? 2014 was a bad year for politician and celebrity sex harassers, offenders and exhibitionists in the U.S. and in Canada. Will 2015 end in the definitive implosion of comedian Bill Cosby, who is reportedly hiring private investigators?
Can several big corporations stay afloat? Will 2015 end with a big "buh-bye" to the greatly-ailing JC Penny and to Radio Shack?
Species going extinct: The Siberian Tiger and 14 other species may be gone by the of the year, mostly due to human negligence or aggression. The black rhino is almost extinct. The Republican RINO is extinct.
Copyright 2015 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He also writes for The Week's online edition. CNN's John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at [email protected] and can be booked to speak at www.mavenproductions.com. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joegandelman