OK, I have to be honest. I really wasn’t all too excited to see T3. Arnold’s what, 70 now? And a certain sick part of me didn’t want to see it, figuring my protest might convince him to stay out of the recall election.

However, much to my unsuspecting delight, I really enjoyed T3. It had all the values I like in a movie, and all within the first 5 minutes. To open the film you are exposed to a nuclear blast, foreshadowing for the inevitable Judgment Day. You’re then introduced to the new John Connor, and taken through some shots of his life, as he narrates. The best of these shots show him sitting on a bridge, sipping a Budweiser, which he then drops into the wash below. You then go see the introduction of the “Terminatrix,” a very hot Kristanna Loken, who like all Terminators, is beamed back in time naked.

All within the first five minutes, we the audience get nuclear blasts, beer, littering, shameless product placement, and nudity; all the makings of a fine film.

Sad as I am, the most notable part of T3 was the repeated shamelessness of the product placement. The Terminatrix drives a Lexus, Clare Danes, a Toyota Tundra, both of which get mentioned by name. I was half expecting Arnold to comment, while driving the Tundra, “it’s true what they say, the 2003 Toyota Tundra really is rugged but refined.” I’m sure it slipped right past most people, but I wanted to start cheering every time Toyota was plugged.

But it got worse, (or better, depending on your perspective). At one point, while driving a Hearst, fleeing the T-X, Arnold figures a way to ditch the T-X. As she’s clawing on top of the car, he simply drives underneath an oncoming big rig, stripping off the entire top of his car, but ditching the T-X in the process. As the sequence was unfolding, nothing was amiss. But as they cut back to the truck, it was a giant billboard for Xenadrine. Good job boys!

Ya, the Terminator was funny, had some great action sequences, and Arnold did do an above average job. But that all paled in comparison to the massive amounts of money that you know such little snippets made for the producers. A certain part of me gets happy when I know money is being made, and T3 put a big smile on my face.

Dean for them 'Rats

It’s par for the course for Republican political pundits to be cheering on Howard Dean. If Dean is the nominee, the logic goes, we get four more years. To that extent, I agree. But the law of unintended consequences might cause problems in the long run we don’t like nearly as much as Bush mopping the floor with Howie, and showing the Democrats where they can shove their ‘prescription.’ However, if Dean wins, the Democrats will have the inside track at the White House in 2008.

There are two factors at play here, neither one advantageous to conservatives. As Ramesh Ponnuru argues, the ascension of Dean to the forefront of the Democrat Party will be good for the Republicans in general, as we can then hug the center more and dominate the electorate, but at the same time, the leftward tilt of the nation is bad, bad, oh so very bad for conservatives.

If this were just a one-time thing, conservatives would begrudgingly take it and keep their mouths shut, by and large. The problem is, the political consequences of such a theory are too shortsighted. When a Party goes back to its extreme, it takes care of some house cleaning; it gets its base fired up again. Since the 60’s, both Parties have teetered back and forth, concerning themselves with simply winning for the sake of winning, and on standing for principles. It’s the latter that allows the former to happen. And Howard Dean, frighteningly, might be just the man to take the Democrats back to square one.

In 1964, Barry Goldwater set the Republican Party on fire. He got the ground troops fired up. Not only did he load the bases for Ronal Reagan 16 years later, but he set the stage for Richard Nixon in 1968. George McGovern did the same thing for Carter in 72, and the dynamic duo of Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis did it for Bill Clinton in 1984 and 1988.

The scary proposition isn’t so much that Howard Dean might beat President Bush. That’s doubtful for a number of reasons, least of which is the President’s great political ability to set the confines of a debate before the debate ensures, so no matter what the issue he is seen as a centrist. The scary thought is whether this phenomenon will spell doom for the Republicans in 2008. A leftward “lurch” may doom the Democrats now, but will ultimately get the Party’s base back in line. Right now it is difficult to find anything the Party really stands for. They’re FOR winning, and AGAINST losing, so far as anyone can tell. The problem is, an entire Party can’t stand on that alone for too long, or the whole house of cards comes crashing down.

Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and John Kerry might not give the Dems a snowball’s chance against W, but they surely could spell trouble for Jeb, Bill Owens, Bill Frist or whoever the Republicans run in 2008!