Benecio del Toro as Che Guevara in 'Che'

Surprising exactly no one, Steven Soderbergh’s film Che, which lauds the late Cuban pro-communist revolutionist and U.S. leftist icon Che Guevara, has won praise in Cuba, one of only a couple remaining explicitly communist regimes in the entire world. Reuters quotes an attendee at the annual Latin American film festival in Cuba as lauding the film’s truthfulness in presenting Guevara as a hero:

"It’s great. It really reflects the life of Che and his fight in Bolivia and how he was assassinated," said Eugenio Martinez, a retiree at one screening. "It’s satisfying to see that his fight was not in vain."

Absolutely. Life in Cuba is gooo-od!

Who was behind the ugly public trashing of Alaska governor Sarah Palin through unnamed McCain campaign sources after the election, when it seemed unlikely to do anybody any good? Qui bono is often the first step in solving a mystery, and a very interesting and important story from a South Carolina website has the answer: former staffers in Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Romney and his team greatly fear Palin as a rival for the 2012 nomination, and with a full 80 percent of Romney’s staff having joined the McCain campaign after Romney withdrew, it appears that one of their goals was to undermine the vice presidential candidate in order to remove a potential future rival from Romney’s path.

Very clever, Mitt, and we will remember it four years from now.

Cementing U.S. audiences’ explicit preference for positive, upbeat culture, the new CBS TV mystery show The Mentalist recently hit number 1 in the weekly ratings.

Aided by its schedule position regularly following NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigation Service, another very popular CBS series that combines sometimes grim mystery elements and lighthearted, amusing byplay among a small team of highly competent detectives, The Mentalist has been the most popular new series on average throughout the year.

NCIS has become the model for several new television crime series on CBS, and it has proven an immensely successful formula in tackling serious subjects in an optimistic, cheerful way. It’s a very positive cultural trend.