Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sick Bastards In India Now Going After 5-Year-Olds

A five-year-old girl has died two weeks after being raped in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.  At least one person has been arrested in connection with the attack.  The young girl was found unconscious at a farm earlier this month, and was initially taken to a local hospital before being airlifted to Nagpur in neighboring Maharashtra state two days later.

Following news of the girl's death, opposition Congress Party activists in Madhya Pradesh held a rally in the state capital Bhopal and burned an effigy of the state's chief minister.

This is the latest in a spate of similar cases.  Earlier this month, the rape and abduction of another five-year-old girl in Delhi sparked protests.  She is said to be recovering slowly after she was kidnapped, raped, tortured and abandoned in a locked room for more than 48 hours, rescued only after neighbors heard her cries. Two men have been held over the incident.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Definition Of A Hero

Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro wasted no time in tweeting his reaction to the news that NBA center Jason Collins announced that he was gay (becoming the first American major-league professional to come out of the closet while still playing).

So Jason Collins is a hero because he's gay? Our standard for heroism has dropped quite a bit since Normandy.
 -- Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) April 29, 2013

Note from the Daily Dude:  Jason Collins is a hero because he open declared his homosexuality while still playing-- risking both his career and livelihood, as well as condemnation from douchebags like Shapiro.

So who exactly does Shapiro consider a hero?  How about radio host Mark Levin:

On the phenomenal @marklevinshow tonight to discuss 'Bullies'! Very excited. Mark's a hero. amazon.com/Bullies-Cultur...
-- Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 10, 2013

Or radio personality Adam Carolla:

@adamcarolla is my hero: hotair.com/archives/2011/...
-- Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 2, 2011

Or freshman senator Ted Cruz:

With Sen. Ted Cruz, Tea Party hero, in green room at @hannityshow! yfrog.com/mnk7sxuj
-- Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 9, 2013

or the guy who ran against Sherrod Brown in Ohio:

Hero Josh Mandel running an extraordinarily tight race in OH with terrible incumbent Sherrod Brown: rasmussenreports.com/public_content...
-- Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 15, 2012

Not exactly setting the bar that high, are you Ben?

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Underbelly Of Delhi

A five-year-old girl is battling for her life after being kidnapped and repeatedly raped by a neighbor in the Indian capital, Delhi.  The girl was taken hostage and attacked in a locked room for over 48 hours, police said.  She was rescued by a passer-by who heard her cries. No arrests have been made.  The five-year-old girl has been admitted to a city hospital in a critical condition.

"The girl was traumatized when she was brought to us. There were injuries to her lips, cheeks and chest wall. There were bruises on her neck," registered nurse Bansal, chief of Swami Dayanand hospital, told reporters.  Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said that police had launched a probe into the rape and "attempted murder" of the girl.

In a separate development, police in Delhi say they are also looking for a group of men who allegedly gang-raped a 19-year-old woman.

Reports say the woman, who works as a domestic helper, was offered a lift in a vehicle by the men and then allegedly sedated and raped.  She was found semi-naked by pedestrians on a road early the next morning.  Doctors at the city's Safdarjung Hospital said she that although she was suffering from trauma, there were no signs of external injuries.

Reports said the woman, who is married and comes from from Nepal, was on the way to her brother's house from her employer's residence in the up-market Defence Colony neighborhood when a car carrying the men stopped to ask her for directions and offered to drop her near her home.

Dead And Dead To Rights

Tamerlan Tsarnaev just before his autopsy

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev captured by ATF and FBI agents

Thursday, April 18, 2013

82 Minutes Of Clusterfuck

Buzzfeed helpfully breaks down how the media yesterday insanely tried to outscoop each other on the false story that a suspect had been arrested in the Boston Marathon bombing (CNN's coverage featuring the particularly obnoxious duo of John King and Chris Cuomo):

1:42 pm - AP: Breaks story that an arrest is imminent.
1:43 pm - Reuters: Investigators do not have the name of a suspect
1:46 pm - CNN: An arrest has been made, citing he AP report and a source
1:47 pm - CNN: Lord & Taylor video helps ID a “dark skinned male” as a suspect.
1:51 pm - Reuters: Reports CNN story that a suspect is in custody.
1:51 pm - ABC: An arrest "may be imminent."
1:55 pm - NBC: No arrest has been made; but there are persons of "great interest."
1:59 pm - CBS: Law enforcement is "very encouraged" by latest developments.
2:00 pm - FOX: An arrest has been made.
2:02 pm - AP: A suspect is in police custody.
2:03 pm - CBS: No arrest has been made.
2:05 pm - FOX: An arrest has been made.
2:06 p.m.: Boston Police-A suspect is en route to the Federal Courthouse.
2:08 p.m.: ABC-Authorities are "close to identifying a suspect."
2:09 p.m.: NBC-Repeats that no arrest has been made.
2:13 p.m.: CNN-A suspect has been arrested.
2:18 p.m.: CBS-No arrest has been made; suspect was ID'ed via cell tower logs.
2:24 p.m.: Reuters-No arrests have been made.
2:25 p.m.: Boston Globe-A suspect is being taken to US District Court
2:26 p.m.: Media descends on the Federal Courthouse in Boston.
2:32 p.m.: NBC-Reports that no arrest has been made.
2:33 p.m.: Boston Police Department-There has not been an arrest.
2:36 p.m.: Boston Globe-NO suspect is in custody and NO ONE is under arrest.
2:38 p.m.: CNN-Backtracks, saying that no arrest has been made.
2:42 p.m.: CBS-Suspect is a white male, describes clothing.
2:43 p.m.: FBI spokesman-No arrest has been made.
2:47 p.m.: AP-Backtracks, saying that no suspect is in custody.
2:49 p.m.: FOX-Backpedals, citing "conflicting reports."
2:58 p.m.: FBI written statement-No arrest has been made.
3:00 p.m.: CNN-Issues official correction on its Facebook page.

The Good (NBC, CBS) the Bad (Reuters, ABC ) and the Ugly (CNN, Fox, AP) . . .

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gandalf Not Among Thatcher's Mourners

On his blog, famed actor Sir Ian McKellan has reminded everyone that Maggie Thatcher's final contribution to British politics was her unsuccessful vote to prevent the repeal of the infamous Section 28.

Introduced by Thatcher's government in 1988, Section 28 mandated that local British authorities "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".

Britain's first anti-gay law in over 100 years caused panic in the LGBT community at the time.  It resulted in many gay-oriented student support groups at schools and colleges across the U.K. to close or self-censor their activities in fear that they could breach the Act. 

In the months prior to introduction of the measure, Thatcher appeased to her conservative base by openly mocking people who defended the right to be gay, insinuating that there was no such right.  During Thatcher's term, arrests and convictions for consenting same-sex behavior rocketed, as did queer bashing violence and murder, according to leading British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Ian McLellan had this to say about Section 28 and its stain on Thatcher's legacy:

Lest we forget, this nasty, brutish and short measure of the third Thatcher administration, was designed to slander homosexuality, by prohibiting state schools from discussing positively gay people and our “pretended family relations”. Opposition to Section 28 galvanised a new generation of activists who joined with long-time campaigners for equality.  Stonewall UK was founded to repeal Section 28 and pluck older rotten anti-gay legislation from the constitutional tree. This has taken two decades to achieve.

Pathetically, in her dotage, Baroness Thatcher was led by her supporters into the House of Lords to vote against Section 28′s repeal: her final contribution to UK politics. She dies too early to oppose Parliament’s inevitable acceptance of same–gender marriage.

During his 2009 election campaign, current British Prime Minister David Cameron (a longtime supporter of Section 28) finally apologized for the Conservative Party's introducing the law, saying that it was a mistake and had been offensive to gay people.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pro-Austerity Research Cited In Ryan Budget Is Riddled With Errors

"I was VP of my college Economics club!"
Influential research by U.S. economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff, touted by conservative policymakers pushing government austerity in the United States and Europe, is riddled with errors, according to a bombshell new academic study.  The new claims seriously erode the intellectual underpinnings of the pro-austerity argument -- and makes the real damage done by austerity in Europe and the U.S. in recent years all the more poignant.

"This is a mistake that has had enormous consequences," wrote Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "If facts mattered in economic policy debates, this should be the cause for a major reassessment of the deficit reduction policies being pursued in the United States and elsewhere."

The new paper, by Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, set out to reconstruct the findings of an influential 2010 paper by Reinhart and Rogoff, called "Growth In A Time Of Debt." Reinhart and Rogoff, of the University of Maryland and Harvard, respectively, claimed that economic growth slowed fairly dramatically for countries whose public debt crossed a threshold of 90 percent of gross domestic product.

The problem is that other economists have been unable to recreate Reinhart and Rogoff's findings. Herndon, Ash and Pollin now say they were able to do so -- but only by leaving out big, important pieces of data.  Using the same spreadsheet that Reinhart and Rogoff used for their research, Herndon, Ash and Pollin found that "Growth In A Time Of Debt" was built around a handful of significant errors. Correcting for those errors changed the findings dramatically-- average GDP growth for high-debt countries jumps from negative 0.1 percent to a positive 2.2 percent.

The most important error was a failure to include years of data that showed Australia, Canada and New Zealand enjoying high economic growth and high debt at the same time. Including all years of economic data boosts New Zealand's average economic growth rate under high debt to positive 2.58 percent (from negative 7.6 percent). Given the small amount of data used in Reinhart and Rogoff's original (flawed) study, this correction had a huge impact on the overall findings.

Shockingly, another error seems to be a simple failure to use an Excel spreadsheet correctly, as highlighted by economist Mike Konczal at the Roosevelt Institute's Next New Deal blog. In building a formula to calculate average economic growth rates, Reinhart and Rogoff appeared to leave off several lines of data in their original spreadsheet (oops!).

"We literally just received this draft comment, and will review it in due course," Reinhart and Rogoff lamely responded this week.

Even before the errors cited in the new study came to light, many economists doubted Reinhart and Rogoff's conclusion that high debt causes low growth, given the glaring chicken-and-egg problem at the heart of the research. Did these countries have slow growth because they had high debt, or did they have high debt because they had slow growth?

Beyond that, Baker notes, there were lots of other reasons to question Reinhart and Rogoff, including the fact that their gloomy conclusions about debt relied heavily on slow U.S. economic growth immediately after World War II. At the time, the U.S. was deep in war debt and dismantling its war machine. That relatively brief state of affairs was quickly followed by arguably the greatest economic boom in history.

Despite these questions, Reinhart and Rogoff's findings have been used frequently to justify austerity measures in the U.S. and Europe. Unsurprisingly, the 2012 version of the pro-austerity budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan cites Reinhart and Rogoff by name.   The GOP's myopic focus on government debt and budget deficits has contributed to severe cutbacks in government spending that have slowed economic growth and helped keep unemployment high.  In Greece, austerity measures forced into place as condition of a bailout, has only resulted in slower growth and higher debt burdens.

Monday, April 15, 2013

IRS Out Of Control

The Internal Revenue Service doesn't believe it needs a search warrant to read your e-mail.

Newly disclosed documents prepared by IRS lawyers say that Americans enjoy "generally no privacy" in their e-mail-- meaning that they can be perused without obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge.

That places the IRS at odds with a growing sentiment among many judges and legislators who believe that Americans' e-mail messages should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say e-mail should be protected by the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require search warrants for hard drives in someone's home, or a physical letter in a filing cabinet.

An IRS 2009 Search Warrant Handbook obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that "emails and other transmissions generally lose their reasonable expectation of privacy and thus their Fourth Amendment protection once they have been sent from an individual's computer."

The IRS continued to take the same position even after a federal appeals court ruled in the 2010 case U.S. v. Warshak that Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mail. A few e-mail providers, including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook, but not all, have taken the position that Warshak mandates warrants for e-mail.

A March 2011 update to the IRS manual, published four months after the Warshak decision, says that nothing has changed and that "investigators can obtain everything in an account except for unopened e-mail or voice mail stored with a provider for 180 days or less" without a warrant.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Overzealous Police Still A Threat To Average Americans

In an effort to combat petty theft, police in downtown New York City often leave "bait" items unattended  on subway platforms, on park benches, in cars — and wait to see if someone grabs them.  In the Bronx, authorities began using "bait cars" about six years ago to combat a chronic problem with car thefts and break-ins in working-class neighborhoods.  In most of these cases, police plant property — an iPad, a phone — in plain sight as bait for thieves but make sure the car is locked so that a suspect would have to take the extra step of breaking in before being arrested.

However, a recent court ruling throwing out a larceny case against a Bronx woman has cast a harsh light on such "bait" tactics, that critics say too often sweeps up innocent people.

According to court papers, 40-year-old single mother Deirdre Myers and her daughter Kenya (then a 15-year-old high school student) were sitting on the stoop of their apartment building when a highly unusual police sting unfolded.   The summer evening was interrupted by a bit of theater staged by police.  A dark car raced down the block before stopping, with another vehicle carrying plainclothes officers close behind. When the driver got out and ran, the officers gave chase, yelling, "Stop! Police!"

Myers' daughter, seeing that the driver had left the car door open, went over and peered inside to see some personal items that included what looked like a bundle of cash — in reality, a dollar bill wrapped around pieces of newspaper. The girl called her mother over when suddenly another set of police officers suddenly pulled up in a van and forced the teenager and her mother to the ground.

"Get on the floor? For what?" Myers recalled telling the officers.  The officers took them into custody, even though they never touched anything inside the car.   Charges were eventually dropped against the teenager, but her mother spent more than two years fighting charges of petty larceny and possession of stolen property.

After being cleared of the false charges, Myers (who prior to the incident had no criminal record) sued the city, claiming she and her daughter were traumatized by wrongful arrest.  Judge Linda Poust Lopez agreed, finding that there was no proof Deirdre Myers tried to steal anything — and that she was framed by a sting that took the "bait" tactic way too far.

A spokesman for the Bronx District Attorney's office conceded that the bait car had been left open/unlocked and said prosecutors would not appeal the judge's ruling. He declined to comment further.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mitch Snitch Glitch

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell  has been hit with an ethics complaint after a leaked tape revealed he was discussing with aides how to take on potential opponent Ashley Judd.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has asked the Senate ethics committee and the FBI to investigate whether McConnell was having a discussion about potential Judd weaknesses -- including her mental health and religion -- on government time.

“Using taxpayer-funded resources to pay staffers to dig up dirt on political opponents isn’t just an ethics violation, it’s a federal crime,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “As Sen. McConnell requested, the FBI is investigating the recording. A thorough and fair investigation necessitates the bureau also inquire into whether Sen. McConnell himself violated the law.”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beware Barack's Betrayal

President Barack Obama reneged on his campaign promise to protect Social Security and the middle class this week-- by shockingly unveiling a budget proposal that would change tax brackets and Social Security cost-of-living adjustments from being pegged to the Consumer Price Index to a "chained CPI," which is based on the assumption that inflation rises more slowly than the CPI (anybody who's struggled to make ends meet the last four years knows what crap that is).

Such a switch to "chained CPI" would reduce future benefit increases and push more taxpayers into higher brackets, a phenomenon known as "bracket creep."  For an average worker retiring at the age of 65, this would amount to a cut of $650 a year by age 75. At age 85, this would be a cut of $1,130 a year.

Americans for Tax Reform, the advocacy group that asks lawmakers to sign a formal "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," said this week that chained CPI violates the pledge.

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, leader of the organization, criticized the policy via Twitter, saying "Chained CPI is a very large tax hike over time."

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that chained CPI would reduce Social Security spending by $127 billion and increase tax revenue by $123 billion over 10 years.

When asked Friday if chained CPI represents a tax hike on the middle class, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "I'm not disputing that."

For me, that's the last straw for Obama.  I don't believe anymore that he cares enough about the elderly or the middle class-- and he's given the GOP a perfect talking point against every Democrat that voices even the slightest support for Obama's proposal.  Everyone needs to bombard their congressmen and tell them to protect Social Security and the middle class and abandon any and all support for Obama's attack on Social Security.

Senate phone numbers and addresses can be found here.  House phone numbers and addresses can be found here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Getting Over The Hump

Eat more chickn!
The government of Mali will be sending Francois Hollande  a replacement camel after the first, given to him as a gift, was unexpectedly eaten.

The French president had left the creature with a family in Timbuktu for safekeeping, after it was presented to him by local residents.  But it was promptly slaughtered and used in a stew.

France sent troops to Mali to regain the north from a loose coalition of militant Islamist groups.  During the young camel's handover ceremony, President Hollande had joked about using the camel "it as much a I can as a means of transport" around the Parisian traffic jams.  French officials had originally planned to transport the animal to a zoo in France, but because of the complex logistics it was decided instead to entrust the beast to a local family.

The French defense minister informed the president of the camel's death during a recent cabinet meeting, according to reports.  "As soon as we heard of this, we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel," an unnamed Malian official said.  "The new camel will be sent to Paris. We are ashamed of what happened to the camel. It was a present that did not deserve this fate."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

India Police Complicit In War On Women

Two female police constables in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have been suspended for detaining a 10-year-old rape victim.

According to reports, the girl had gone to the police station with her mother to lodge a rape complaint when she was detained.  She was released after several hours when local residents protested against her detention.

The girl was found lying unconscious in a field by her parents who alleged that she was raped by a 24-year-old local man.

Words From The Preacher Man

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thatcher Is Dead

Only a few minutes after the death of Margaret Thatcher today, British MP George Galloway took to Twitter writing "Tramp the dirt down." When one user wrote that the MP was 'unbecoming' in his choice of words, the 59-year-old fired back, "You're obviously a teenage scribbler then? Or one with no memory." In a further message on the social networking site, Galloway said, "Thatcher described Nelson Mandela as a 'terrorist'. I was there. I saw her lips move. May she burn in the hellfires."

Comedian Patrick Kielty tweeted, "Her final wish was to be cremated but we've no coal left."


High street wine merchant OddBins in Crouch End, London, landed in hot water after tweeting: "If for any reason anyone feels like celebrating anything we have Tattinger available at £10 less than usual at 329. Just saying..."

General secretary of the Durham Miners' Association David Hopper, who turned 70 today, said the death of Baroness Thatcher was a 'great day' for coal miners. "It looks like one of the best birthdays I have ever had," he added. "There's no sympathy from me for what she did to our community. She destroyed our community, our villages and our people. For the union this could not come soon enough and I'm pleased that I have outlived her. It's a great day for all the miners, I imagine we will have a counter demonstration when they have her funeral."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Good News On The Health Front

In an unexpected victory for women's rights advocates, a federal judge has ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make the morning-after birth control pill (known as "Plan B") available to people of any age without a prescription.  The order overturned a 2011 decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to require a prescription for girls under 17.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended last year that oral contraceptives be sold over the counter in an effort to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States. Opponents of prescription requirements say prescriptions can delay access to the drug.

"Today science has finally prevailed over politics," Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. "This landmark court decision has struck a huge blow to the deep-seated discrimination that has for too long denied women access to a full range of safe and effective birth control methods."  The American Society for Reproductive Medicine also supported the decision, applauding the stance that "science should guide policy."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fly The Un-Friendly Skies

United Airline's overreaction to a family's concern over some inflight entertainment led to a flight being diverted over "security concerns."

A family of four was traveling from Denver to Baltimore with two young sons, ages 4 and 8. During the flight, the PG-13-rated detective film "Alex Cross" was shown on drop-down monitors across the plane.  The family worried about their young children seeing inappropriate content in the film, which features scenes of torture, dismemberment and extreme violence.

"Alarmed by the opening scenes, we asked two flight attendants if they could turn off the monitor; but both claimed it was not possible," the family said.  After some back and forth between the family and the flight crew, the family reportedly relented to the movie being shown and did their best to engage their children to keep them from watching the movie.

"We asked if the captain had the authority to address this issue, but received no response," the children's father said. "Throughout these interactions the atmosphere was collegial, no voices were raised and no threats, implicit or explicit, of any kind were made. The flight continued without incident, while my wife and I engaged our children to divert their attention from the horrific scenes on the movie screens."

But shortly after that, the captain announced the flight was being diverted to a Chicago airport due to "security concerns."   When the family disembarked, they were questioned by law enforcement officials then booked on a new flight.

The family argues the captain overreacted to the incident.  "We understand that airline captains can and should have complete authority," the family said. "However, when this authority is used for senseless, vindictive acts, it must be addressed."

Friday, April 5, 2013

Saudi Court Unmoved By Pleas For Mercy

Amnesty International has condemned a Saudi court ruling sentencing a man to be paralyzed as retribution for having paralyzed another man as "outrageous." The rights group called the punishment "torture," adding that it "should on no account be carried out."

Ali Al-Khawahir was 14 when he stabbed and paralyzed his best friend 10 years ago.  Al-Khawahir, who has been in prison ever since, has been sentenced to be paralyzed if he cannot come up with one million Saudi Riyals ($266,000) in compensation to be paid to the victim.

"If implemented, the paralysis sentence would contravene the U.N. Convention against Torture to which Saudi Arabia is a state party and the Principles of Medical Ethics adopted by the UN General Assembly," Amnesty International said.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Roger And Out

Roger Ebert, the nation's most well-known film critic, passed away today at the age of 70.  Ebert, who reviewed movies his entire career at the Chicago Sun Times, was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize.  The show he co-hosted with Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune ("Sneak Previews") was what first got me hooked on movies, something which I will always be grateful for.

In 1975, Ebert was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize.  Passion, sarcasm and and spot-on wit were the hallmarks of his criticisms and writing.   In 2005, Rob Schneider insulted L.A. Times movie critic Patrick Goldstein for panning "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo", labeling the critic as unqualified because he had never won the Pulitzer Prize.  Ebert publicly intervened by stating that, as a Pulitzer winner, he was qualified to review the film, and bluntly told Schneider, "Your movie sucks."

At the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, a white audience member at a screening of Justin Lin's "Better Luck Tomorrow" asked how Asians could be portrayed in such a negative light and how a film so empty and amoral could be made for the Asian American market.  Ebert jumped up to defend the Taiwanese filmmaker saying,  "What I find very offensive and condescending about your statement is that nobody would say such a thing to a bunch of white filmmakers: how could you do this to 'your people'? This film has the right to be about these people, and Asian American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to represent 'their people'!"

In his review of Martin Scorsese's "The Passion of Christ", Ebert wrote that the MPAA's R rating of the film was "definitive proof that the organization either will never give the NC-17 rating for violence alone, or was intimidated by the subject matter. If it had been anyone other than Jesus up on that cross, I have a feeling that NC-17 would have been automatic."

Ebert concluded his review of Rob Reiner's 1994 comedy "North" in classic fashion:  "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it."

Ebert's wit and insight were also evident in numerous interviews and other writings throughout his 46-year career.  On film making:  “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough" . . . On life:  "Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you" . . . On the internet:  "Doing research on the web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly." . . . On human nature:  "A depressing number of people seem to process everything literally. They are to wit as a blind man is to a forest, able to find every tree, but each one coming as a surprise." . . .  On film reviews:  "Movies can be about anything.  So can our reviews."

And finally, on the subject of death, Ebert had this to say in 2010:

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear.  I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path.  I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state.  What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter.  You can't say it wasn't interesting.  My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip.  I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

In his last review, Ebert panned the made-for-tweens movie "The Host",  saying that it was was "top-heavy with profound, sonorous conversations, all tending to sound like farewells."   Ebert worked until almost the day of his death, working on reviews, updating his blog and preparing an upcoming book.   His last written words, posted on his blog two days ago, are heartbreaking to read: 

"So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."

Thank you for your life, Roger.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Debunking More GOP Bullshit

During the lead-up to the sequestration deadline, the GOP frequently warned the public that raising taxes the wealthy would snuff out the recovery. If the wealthy had to pay more taxes, they would spend less, invest less and give less to charity.   Well there is now evidence that those claims were pure bullshit.  

According to a new poll, a majority of people making $500,000 or more (those paying the higher income tax rate) said that the tax hikes have not impacted their spending, charitable giving or investment strategies.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mixed Messages From Men Who Wear Skin-Tight Pants And Slap Each Other In The Butt

Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has a few choice words for professional athletes who are concerned about the possibility of sharing a locker room with a gay teammate:  Grow the fuck up.

Kluwe, who has become an ardent ally for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) in recent months, has penned an impassioned editorial for CNN in which he says that "it's not right that we can't just accept someone for who he is."

Kluwe writes:

"It's not right that professional sports, and especially the professional sports media, have created an environment where gay players are willing to hide essential components of themselves as human beings in order to pursue their dreams, in order to not be a distraction. It's not right that our insatiable lust for sports coverage creates an atmosphere where someone would willingly subordinate his life to a backward and bigoted worldview in order to stay employed."

The prospect of openly gay players in professional sports has become a matter of heated debate in recent weeks, after 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver exposed his bigotry in a public rant, saying "I don't do the gay guys, man-- I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do."

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's April 1st-- We Have Our Fool

Donald Trump has unsurprisingly withdrawn his $5 million lawsuit against stand-up comedian Bill Maher.  The combover king,  whose NBC show hit a season low this week, first filed the breach of contract suit back in early February.  At that time, Trump claimed that Maher broke a written promise that he’d give $5 million to the charities of Trump’s choice if he could prove he wasn’t “the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.”

Trump says he accepted Maher’s pledge in writing the day following the broadcast, when he provided his birth certificate-- proving  he was not born of an interspecies mating.  

Now that Trump the Chump has realized it was a joke, the joke is on him. 


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