Remembering 2013, My Eighth Year Of Blogging (Part Three)

Last year around this time, I thought about Seinfeld.  More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Third Season Of Seinfeld On DVD was enjoying a surge of page views in the final third of 2012, an awfully strange development for a piece written and posted in 2008.  Like most of my writing in that period, it was pretty much ignored when first seen on my old Windows Live Spaces site, so to have it belatedly find an audience years later on WordPress was lovely.

And it reminded me that I had some unfinished business.

My good friend, Rob, had repeatedly warned me for months in 2007 that he was planning on loaning me his Seinfeld box sets so I could write about them.  As the year drew to a close, he insisted I take the season one & two set home with me, so I did.

Because I’ve seen these shows 800 million times on Television, doing reviews of all the episodes was not going to happen.  But as I watched this first box, I learned a lot about the show.  And that became the start of a new blog series:  Interesting Things I Learned While Watching Seinfeld On DVD.  There were also a lot of unanswered questions which led to a second:  Unsolved Mysteries Of Seinfeld.

From January to April 2008, I posted two-part trivia pieces and an unsolved mysteries item for all but one of the first three box sets (season three was the exception) that covered the first four seasons.  But by the time I got to season five, I was quite depressed and having irregular sleep over an unrelated matter.  (Long story.)  Although I finished watching everything on the box, I wasn’t up for writing about it.  As a result, the project was shelved for the next four and a half years.  Eventually, as 2008 progressed, I fully recovered but up to that point, I had moved on to other ideas.

Three days after I posted Remembering 2012, My Seventh Year Of Blogging (Part One), Rob and I got together.  In the piece I mention contemplating a return to the series because of the surprise popularity of that aforementioned third season trivia item.  He read it and decided to loan me season five again.  He even threw in season six, as well.

A week later, I decided to do what I hadn’t done all those years ago.  I would take meticulous notes throughout the screenings.  (Previously, with the exception of jotting down points during the Notes About Seinfeld features, I relied mostly on my memory, double checking where appropriate.)

It was amazing how much I had forgotten about season five.  True, some of it was familiar but a lot of it wasn’t, which, ironically, was a good thing.  Feeling so much better than in the summer of 2008, I was finally able to write about what I had learned, albeit the second time around.  Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Fifth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Fifth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD followed Unsolved Mysteries Of The Fifth Season Of Seinfeld in mid-January.

Then, after several consecutive days of screenings in late February, there was Unsolved Mysteries Of The Sixth Season Of Seinfeld, Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Sixth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Sixth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD.

Once these two box sets were returned to Rob in March, he loaned me the final three (seven, eight and nine).  Rather than take a long break between each set, I went from one right to the other.  Unsolved Mysteries Of The Seventh Season Of Seinfeld, Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Seventh Season Of Seinfeld On DVD and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Seventh Season Of Seinfeld On DVD all surfaced on April Fool’s Day.

Unsolved Mysteries Of The Eighth Season Of Seinfeld, Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Eighth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Eighth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD all popped up on April 14 while Unsolved Mysteries Of The Ninth And Final Season Of Seinfeld, Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Ninth And Final Season Of Seinfeld and More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Ninth And Final Season Of Seinfeld were first showcased five days later.

Season seven was returned to Rob that same month.  The next time we get together, he’ll get the rest back.  My thanks to him for suggesting doing something with all of his box sets in the first place.  It was great to finally finish these trivia pieces after all this time.  Collectively, all 15 postings generated more than 2100 hits this year.  May that total grow significantly in 2014 and beyond.

Speaking of popular pieces, What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed And Gene Simmons? remains the most accessible entry in this website’s entire history for the third straight year.  More than 5000 hits in 2013 have brought its overall total to almost 22000.  Nothing else comes remotely close and that includes the home page.

The second biggest piece of the year was How CM Punk’s Original “Pipe Bomb” Foreshadowed Several Key WWE Storylines from 2012.  It added over 1900 hits to last year’s total of 258.  29 Things I Love About Storage Wars (over 1500 added; over 6500 overall), my 2006 review of the Kurt Cobain biography, Heavier Than Heaven (over 900 added; it now stands at over 1100), and Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience (over 500 added bringing its overall total to more than 4000) round out the Top 5.

Like any year, 2013 had its share of tragedy.  Natural disasters, shocking criminal cases, heartbreaking accidents, and, of course, celebrity deaths.  Regarding that last category, I eulogized two of my all-time favourites:  alt-rock pioneer Lou Reed and film critic Roger Ebert.  May they both rest in peace.

Speaking of shocking criminal cases, there’s the peculiar story of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody, two troubled souls from British Columbia who found themselves arrested this summer for allegedly planning a terrorist act.  I find the case to be extremely problematic and wonder if I’m not alone in feeling that way.  Why The “Foiled” B.C. Plot Sounds Like A Bogus Sting lays out my argument.  The trial will be one to watch in the new year.

What will likely not be worth watching in 2014 are the weekly WWE prime time shows.  After putting up with overlong broadcasts, distracted announcers who can’t stop bickering long enough to strictly call the action in the ring and lacklustre angles for more than a year, I stopped watching Monday Night Raw in late October.  (I’ve haven’t watched much Smackdown in the last several months, either.  I’m sticking with the DVDs, though.)  Long before that, in March, I asked Why Is WWE Advertising R-Rated Movies During PG-Rated Raw?

Meanwhile, between February and August, I made predictions for every WWE pay-per-view:  Elimination Chamber, WrestleMania 29, Extreme Rules, Payback, Money In The Bank and SummerSlam.  So, why didn’t I continue on with this?  Let’s face it.  I’m a lousy prognosticator.  Just look at my Oscar picks this year, if you don’t believe me.

My pay-per-view trivia pieces (The Royal Rumble, Money In The Bank, Hell In A Cell), my two-part series on WWE superstars with the longest championship droughts (a bit out of date now), my five-part series on the 2013 Slammy Awards, Why Austin Aries Should Be Fired From TNA and 9 OMG! Moments The WWE Overlooked For Its 2011 DVD Set were less dependent on non-existent foresight and therefore, much better.  In total, there were 30 pro wrestling entries on the site this year.  Expect that total to come way down, though, in 2014.

Let’s talk about the movies.  Besides writing online essays like 4 Controversial Movie Castings That Ultimately Resulted In Triumph and the two-part series, The 5 Worst Film Franchises Of All Time, I continued to offer the occasional review.  Zero Dark Thirty, The Three Stooges remake, The Purge, Spice World, Earth, Beetlejuice, Breaking Dawn – Part Two, Texas Chainsaw, Sinister, Dredd, Flashdance, Zombieland, American Wedding and Inglourious Basterds appeared alongside previously published assessments of Paranormal Activity, Assassins, Jennifer’s Body and The Unborn.  All but one of those last four originally seen on Monkeybiz.ca.

In the end I screened slightly more than twice as many films as I did last year and eight times as many good ones.  Here’s hoping that trend continues well beyond 2014.

Speaking of previously published reviews, I also dipped into my personal archives to share some music critiques.  The very first posting of 2013 was this college-era assessment of Brian Eno and Jah Wobble’s Spinner.  That was immediately followed by MonkeyBiz reviews of Krash Karma’s Straight To The Blood, Gringo Star’s Count Yer Lucky Stars and Wilson Semiconductors by The Howling Hex.  Later on, evaluations of Morrissey’s Years Of Refusal and the When You’re Strange Soundtrack (featuring the music of The Doors) were put up here, as well.

And that brings me to this:  my favourite comment of the year.  On June 11th, a first-time reader responded most favourably to this 2012 Monkeybiz review I reposted on my site in late April:

“I play in a band called Yukon Blonde. You reviewed our record Tiger Talk, so for the very first time, I’m writing to someone who reviewed our record!

Somehow, I ended up reading some of our reviews online tonight.

[snip]

I ended up on yours which was the second review I read and I had to email you about your review of our song My Girl. You really nailed it and understood exactly what I wrote about. I’ve been interviewed time and time again and most oftentimes I get the question, ‘So why are you promoting drunk driving?’. It’s honestly really frustrating. I mean, you really nailed all of the songs, but I really started to doubt whether or not the story in the song was clear to anyone but me. Well, you got it so it might be safe to say that maybe some people out there do too.

Anyways, I’m just emailing you to thank you. It’s quite refreshing to see someone take the time and do their research before writing about something…”

Those were the kind words of Jeffrey Innes, Yukon Blonde’s frontman and chief songwriter.  Thanks, Jeff, and all the best to you and your bandmates in the new year.

By the way, expect a few more MonkeyBiz repostings of other past CD reviews in early January.

Besides reviving these old pieces, I wrote about Daniel Lanois’ early assessment of the next U2 album (which is now scheduled for a March release) and compiled silly, satirical song lists for failed New York Democratic Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and embarrassingly catfished football star Manti Te’o.  Music remains a big passion of mine and I hope to convey it here more often.

Although The Writings Of Dennis Earl didn’t quite top last year’s overall hit count, thankfully it did improve over 2011’s total, albeit slightly (a 500-hit difference, actually).  As of now, the site has generated pretty close to 24000 hits for the year, down by more than 2000 from 2012.  Followers have increased by more than half (up to 94 from 42 at the end of last December) and since the site moved from Windows Live Spaces to WordPress, it has generated just over 75000 in a little over three years.  Not bad but far from where it should be.

So after nearly eight years of doing this, what’s next?  Where do I go from here?

That’s a big question I hope to have a great answer for in 2014.

In the meantime, thanks to all who posted comments, sent emails, clicked “Like” and became followers in 2013.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
6:34 p.m.

Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 6:34 pm  Comments (1)  

Remembering 2013, My Eighth Year Of Blogging (Part Two)

As Sophia Bush refused to admit beyond the “theoretical” that I was right about President Obama (and Lance Armstrong, for that matter), I had no problem hammering away at her lying, bullying “hero”.

In May, I sarcastically suggested a list of Songs To Ease President Obama’s Worried Mind as his Presidency began to crumble in the midst of so many political earthquakes.  Then, just days later, I posted Pussy In The White House, perhaps the most critical political poem ever put in this space.  The title had been around for ages (I had long hesitated to use it) but with so much internal rage boiling inside me over Obama’s personal betrayal of his own so-called liberal beliefs, and with his plans to make an important national security speech around that same time, I went for it.  In the midst of an intense, unrelated migraine, it took about 4 days to put together.

It hasn’t been seen by many but it proved influential.  Just a couple of weeks later, The Guardian and The Washington Post started publishing shocking stories about the NSA’s secret mass surveillance programs, thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaking of official documents.  As the story began to unfold, I came to a seemingly premature conclusion:  this scandal is The End Of Obama.

But as the spring transitioned into summer (and my dreaded migraine finally went away; thank you, Aleve), it was increasingly clear that Snowden was singlehandedly incinerating the President’s already shaky credibility.  Why The Obama Administration Is Scared Of Edward Snowden, Obama’s Latin American Insult A Clear Sign Of Growing Desperation, How Edward Snowden Destroyed The Obama Presidency and Why President Obama Can’t Distance Himself From The Growing NSA Scandal each expanded upon my original argument as more and more bombshell stories exposed the lies and blatant deception of his thoroughly corrupt administration.

Just before the NSA was put in the hot seat, Rolling Stone Magazine publicized an important United Nations report on Obama’s most controversial counter-terrorism policy:  drones.  I decided to highlight some of the more stunning revelations in Shocking Quotes From June 2013 Report On Obama’s Secret Drone War, a four-part series that I wish had been more widely viewed.

As 2014 arrives, all eyes are on the President’s decision regarding all those NSA recommendations from his handpicked advisory committee.  Based on his performance this year, it would be foolish to think that the die-hard mass surveillance fan will suddenly reverse course and make overdue changes with restrictions and new regulations.  Then again, I’ve been wrong many times before, so we’ll have to wait and see.  Intense public pressure would definitely make a difference here.

We’ll also be awaiting the fate of Justin Carter, a silly teenager who made a terribly unfunny Facebook comment and is facing serious criminal charges for it.  After a recent defense motion to dismiss the case was rejected, Carter, who, thanks to the kindness of an anonymous stranger is out on bail, is not yet out of the woods.  I wrote about his unfair dilemma in July.

Speaking of unfair, there was no justice for Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old shot and killed by George Zimmerman in a maddening case full of doubts, contradictions and poor press coverage.  But imagine how much worse it would’ve been if Martin, an African American, was Muslim instead.  I speculated that the reaction of the public would be far less angry based on the way this community continues to be treated in America alone.

You can’t say there wasn’t plenty of anger directed towards Paula Deen, the controversial Southern chef.  Sued by a former employee, a white woman, over sexual and racial harassment (which was quietly dismissed), the 66-year-old Food Network star couldn’t quite escape the admission she made about using the nastiest of all racial epithets, among other questionable decisions.  Despite a series of tearful apologies, she lost all her shows, her book deal and a number of her endorsements.  She has kept a low profile ever since.  Too bad it wasn’t for her longtime advocacy for fatty, unhealthy foods, as I noted in The Forgotten Paula Deen Scandal.

Which brings us to Rob Ford.  The embattled Mayor of Toronto had already been the subject of much controversy in the early months of 2013 when Gawker and The Toronto Star reported on the now infamous crack video in May (which has yet to be released).  I wrote five pieces about his embarrassing dilemma:  Songs For Rob Ford, Unanswered Questions About The Rob Ford Crack Video Scandal, What Will Be The Last Straw For Rob Ford?, Why The Ford Brothers Won’t Save The Sun News Network and Rob Ford’s Secret iPod Playlist.  Six, if you count his inclusion in Winners & Losers Of 2012 (Part Seven), which, despite its considerable length, still managed to not mention other memorable moments of the scandal like Ford’s home parking lot freakout against the media’s presence there, his hypocritical mockery of a fellow councilman’s drunk driving issues and the time he dragged his poor wife through a supremely crowded press scrum when he could’ve taken her through a back exit.

Two questions:  could he possibly survive all this madness long enough to 1) run a re-election campaign next October and 2) actually win?  Surely, the odds are not in his favour.  Right?

Anyone?

Moving on.  What is the deal with the media’s love affair with Pope Francis?  Just because he says some atypical things doesn’t make him an atypical pontiff.  Quite the contrary as 8 Reasons Pope Francis Isn’t A Liberal Reformer fully demonstrates.  I’m hoping this bogus honeymoon comes to an immediate end in the new year.

Getting back to political poetry, President Obama and Sophia Bush weren’t the only targets of my rhyming barbs.  Bob Somerby, AKA The Daily Howler, also felt the cold steel of my literary jabs in Bitter Old Man, which employs the, at times, conspiratorial Baltimore comedian’s most annoyingly overused catchphrases in a mocking manner and thunders at his blatant hypocrisies.  Once one of the most influential bloggers in American politics, he’s become the tired, old, out-of-touch crank who thinks the barely watched Rachel Maddow is worth harping on more than the corrupt, vindictive Obama, the most powerful man in the world, who he thinks is a good and decent person.  (Ms. Bush would love that false characterization.)  Irritatingly repetitive, witless, painfully jealous of those more successful than him, culturally snobby and obsessive, I’m ready to tune him out for good now.

The Land Of Antipathy is about Amanda Marcotte and her miserably awful coverage of the bungled Duke Lacrosse rape case from several years ago (as well as her tribal hostility towards conservatives and others she doesn’t agree with).  Prejudging the defendants before the case was even tried, once the case collapsed she lashed out at her critics saying they were pro-rape.  I’m not kidding.

Look, it’s true.  In most sexual assault cases, there is a real victim and at least one real assailant.  But despite that, even those accused of sex crimes deserve their day in court.  You still have to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt to get the conviction.  I say that even as a guy who is adamantly against rape.  Interestingly, Somerby has been critical of Ms. Marcotte, as well.  (I’ll admit it.  He has had his moments.)  Public Image Ltd. fans will appreciate the recurring reference to Rise that opens each verse.  By the way, the alleged victim in the Duke case was convicted of killing her boyfriend years later.

Other political poems I wrote this year include The Sleeping Majority (about the Gitmo hunger strike), Blissful Denial and Union Of Ignorance (both knocking those who ignore the criminal actions of Obama).

Pretentious Snob is about Robert Christgau, the veteran rock critic.  Like Somerby, his work often drives me mental.  The first verse was written last year as the diatribe-in-progress sat unfinished for months.  Finally, I figured out a way to finish it in early 2013.  The line “You gave a four-star review to a shrieking groupie” is a reference to a review of a Yoko Ono compilation entitled Walking On Thin Ice.  Another line – “What’s wrong with playing more than three chords?” – refers to his deep disdain for prog rock and heavy metal, two underappreciated genres.

Always/Never is about a fictional, abusive relationship.  Stuck, The Loop and The End Of Obsession deal with the difficulties of breaking the cycle of depression while Mental Cleansing offers possible solutions.  When my aforementioned migraine was hurting me the most, I wrote Riding The Waves Of Pain to cope.

A few days later, it was gone for good.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
3:43 p.m.

Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 3:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Remembering 2013, My Eighth Year Of Blogging (Part One)

For two and a half years, Sophia Bush has disappointed me.  She foolishly defended the assassination of Osama Bin Laden by parroting discredited Obama Administration talking points on her Twitter account.  She hasn’t admitted that maybe it was more than a little dumb to continue defending Lance Armstrong even when the evidence of his doping became overwhelming and undeniable.  (She’s offered no public comment about his belated confession, either.)  The “passionate environmentalist” hasn’t said anything about President Obama’s plans to drill in the melting Arctic nor his love for oil and gas exploration.  And she has long ignored his questionable record on civil liberties both here and abroad.

When 2013 began, it had been six months since I wrote You’re Not As Smart As You Think You Are, a highly critical poem that lambasted Ms. Bush for her total lack of interest in holding her “hero” accountable.  Since nothing had changed, in late January I followed up with Hot Girl Bubble which was even more scathing.

Shortly thereafter, following much contemplation and internal debating, I finally joined Twitter.  (Follow me @DennisCEarl.)  In between writing original thoughts about various subjects and linking to some of my blog postings as well as noteworthy news articles that caught my attention, I would criticize Ms. Bush.  In March, after posting two consecutive, snide tweets about her, she responded.

It was a total shock.  Ms. Bush has said she reads every tweet sent her way but naturally, she doesn’t respond to all of them.  (I wouldn’t be surprised if we were talking about thousands of messages from fans and critics every single day.)  So, I marvelled that she took the time to write me five consecutive tweets.  It meant a lot to me personally since I’ve long enjoyed her work on One Tree Hill (I’m finally caught up with all nine seasons) and have immense respect for her charitable endeavours.

Unfortunately, instead of addressing any of my criticism, she wrote, “If you dislike me and my opinions and my passions so much, why do you constantly mention me?  And how exactly do you dislike my opinions & passions so much if you don’t even follow me, to know what they are?”

Instead of directly responding on Twitter, I wrote How Sophia Bush Misses The Point Of My Criticism in this space instead.  When I posted the link on my Twitter account, I made sure Ms. Bush saw it.  The next day, she responded with eleven additional tweets.

This time, she told me to “grow up” and that I “sound[ed] like a petulant child who is upset he isn’t getting his way”, even though the great John Cusack has also criticized Obama in numerous “articles” similar to mine that, according to Ms. Bush, “have been poignant and brilliant”.  She also erroneously claimed that I knocked her charity work, a strawman argument she found “deeply insulting and offensive”.  She said that she had “many more discussions with news outlets and friends around my dinner table alike than you will ever know.”  What those alleged discussions actually entailed went unmentioned.  Maybe the NSA has the transcripts.

Ultimately, I added additional comments to the piece and decided not to inform Ms. Bush on Twitter that I did so, which was probably a mistake.  Then again, what would be the point?  She believes what she wants to believe whether it’s factual or not and nothing I will ever say is going to change her incredibly stubborn mind.  Life is too short to live in a state of constant frustration.

Not long after this brief exchange, I wrote a poem about it:  Silence Isn’t Justice.  Then, in April, still aggravated by the whole thing, I posted Sophia Bush, The Queen Of Consistency after finding numerous contradictory tweets and public comments she had made in online news articles.  One commenter took exception to it.  She claimed my “obsession” with Ms. Bush “is a little disturbing.  If I were her, I would file a restraining order.  Get a life, asshole.”  (Love is louder, lily18teen.)  My response to her speaks for itself.  Another poem, I’m Your Conscience, appeared in early May.

A month later, I was opening up a tweet on Ms. Bush’s official account when I received a message I had never seen before:  “You are not authorized to look up related results for that Tweet.”  I turned to Google to find out what this meant.

She blocked me.

Ms. Bush hadn’t tweeted me in two and a half months despite the fact that I never did stop hammering her both here and on Twitter.  Never one to back down from an Internet argument, it seemed out of character for her to completely ignore me altogether.  But ignore me she has done since those two memorable days in March.  Why Sophia Bush Blocked Me On Twitter, which surfaced days before my 38th birthday, pretty much argued that since she was completely unable to substantially refute much of anything I had written, her best option was to disengage with me altogether.  She’s so in love with her denial I’m surprised she hasn’t married it.

It was very hard not to consider this a personal triumph.  Think about it.  A major celebrity activist who prides herself on being well-versed on political issues didn’t make any serious attempt to debunk a single one of my criticisms.  Why?  Because she couldn’t.  I had all of my facts right.  And because I’ve been such a goddamn pest about all of this, hence the “petulant child” crack she made, there was no way she could ever successfully shut me up, either.  Unlike Sarah Palin, I know what I’m talking about.

Indeed, in late July, despite knowing full well that she wanted nothing to do with me, I still posted Questions For Sophia Bush, perhaps the most adversarial offering presented to her to date.  That was followed by Sophia Bush’s Lack Of Concern For Persecuted Gay Patriots in August.

Finally, in October, as her “unicorn”, President Obama, was drowning in a rising ocean of startling NSA revelations, among numerous other scandals, I couldn’t help but rub it in one last time.  What Do You Think Of Your Hero Now? is pretty much self-explanatory.

So, looking back now, was it all worth it or did I completely waste my time?  Honestly, I have decidedly mixed feelings today.  As great as it was to argue with a prominent Hollywood celebrity on matters of such importance, it saddens me that it ended in unresolved bitterness on both sides.  (Well, more me than her, it must be noted.  She got over all of this a little too quickly.  Try as I may, I can’t get over it.)

When Ms. Bush knows an issue cold, she’s the smartest person in the room; articulate, passionate and a force for positive change.  She’s someone you want as an ally.  But when she doesn’t, it’s infuriating and downright embarrassing.  She needlessly hurts her own credibility by not listening to smart, alternate points of view respectfully (regardless of how coarse it may sound) and refusing to allow herself to broaden her limited perspective.  Perhaps if she stopped viewing any forthright criticism of her thoughts and actions, or lack thereof, as personal attacks, she might learn something and grow as a human being.  I will never understand how she can willfully turn a blind eye to what her own government is doing to innocent people here and around the world.  (If George W. Bush was doing this, does anyone believe she would stay silent?)  But that is the dangerous choice she’s made and she is the one who has to live with her own ignorant indifference to the reality of the American empire.  As much as I’m loath to admit it, she’s not my problem anymore.  I can’t be her conscience if she’s long tuned me out.  (And, quite frankly, why should I be?)  It’s clear she has no shame in being an outright hypocrite.

That being said, it still bothers me that she thinks I criticized her charity work when I did no such thing.  For the 5000th time, I admire her philanthropic spirit.  Always have and always will.  What I did do was knock her inconsistency on human rights issues.  If Joseph Kony’s actions in the Congo are worth screaming about, why not the war crimes and human rights abuses of Barack Obama, her own fucking President?  Gitmo, the drones, the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, the wars on whistleblowers, the press, drug addicts, the poor and Muslims are scandals far too big now for even the most partisan supporters to completely ignore anymore.  So why doesn’t Ms. Bush ever speak out about any of them?  Oh, that’s right.  She has to be “passionate” about things that affect her “personally”.  And besides, she’s worked with him on some unspecified initiatives, so no criticism.  How ballsy.

Martin Luther King Jr. quotes are sometimes tweeted or re-tweeted on her official account from time to time.  But unlike Ms. Bush, the civil rights icon was more than willing to criticize American foreign policy when executed by a Democratic President.  One of his most famous quotes – “America is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” – referring to Vietnam and LBJ, curiously is not on her account.  Neither is the one where the great man talks about how we are all extremists.  We either choose to be extremists of love or extremists of hate.

Ms. Bush once tweeted to me, “The world is a scary place,” in defense of Obama.  (That and “the man is not perfect”.)  It’s made even scarier by her complete silence on his moral failings.

To hell with her.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 30, 2013
12:32 a.m.

Published in: on December 30, 2013 at 12:32 am  Comments (1)  

What Rocked In 2013

1. David Bowie’s The Next Day.  Slowly recorded in secret over two years, it marked his first proper studio album in a decade.  Even in his mid-60s the British legend can still reel you in with his ageless vocal and a sharp, melodic hook.

2. Edward Snowden.  His heroic whistleblowing may finally lead to the end of the American Surveillance State and the Obama Presidency.

3. The song Howard Wolowitz performs with his friends for his beautiful wife Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory.  Very sweet and very funny.

4. I joined Twitter in January.  It’s been a lot more fun than expected.  Wouldn’t you agree, Sophia Bush?

5. Alberto Del Rio’s brutal assault on former personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez on Raw.  Way to generate heat, amigo.

6. The Rob Ford crack scandal.  Now the whole world knows what Toronto has endured for 13 years.

7. The Canadian Senate expense scandal.  The beginning of the end of the Stephen Harper era.

8. Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt.  22 years after Ten, they continue to produce fine albums.

9. The dangerous Paula Deen finally got yanked off the air.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t for her unhealthy recipes.

10. Bruno Sammartino made up with Vince McMahon and got inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.

11. Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars book.  Essential reading, especially for you, Ms. Bush.

12. Nine Inch Nails’ Hesitation Marks.  Can’t wait for the Greatest Hits next year.

13. Matt Striker was fired from WWE.  What took so long?

14. The Shield.  Too bad they’re about to split up.

15. All the great movies I finally watched this year:  Earth, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Blade Runner, Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Citizen Kane, The Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition, Return Of The Jedi: Special Edition and Inglourious Basterds.

16. Sophia Bush blocked me on Twitter.  This is what you do when you can’t win an argument.

17. The Strokes’ Comedown Machine.  Julian Casablancas channels Prince in a surprisingly convincing manner.

18. Receiving a complimentary email by a member of Yukon Blonde for my rave review of their Tiger Talk CD.  Thanks, Jeffrey Innes!

19. Kevin was named Canada’s Worst Driver Ever.  He burned his license at the end of the finale.  Now about that new car he bought…

20. Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine.  Not only is it their best album in years, Heaven is one of their all-time greatest singles.  Deeply moving.

21. Lance Armstrong finally admitted to drug cheating on Oprah’s Next Chapter.  Only took ya 20 years, asshole.

22. Stoker.  From the director of the original Old Boy and written by the star of Prison Break, it’s a smart, creepy little thriller that deserved a much bigger audience than it received during its Spring theatrical release.  The beautiful Mia Wasikowska has a bright future.

23. AJ Lee won the Divas Championship at Payback in June.  Six months later, she’s still holding the gold.

24. President Obama backed off his dumb public campaign to drop bombs on the already beleaguered Syria thanks to a strong international backlash and an olive branch from Vladimir Putin.

25. Glenn Greenwald.  A longtime critic of the American Surveillance State, the former Guardian columnist got the scoop of a lifetime when, after a long courtship, he received Edward Snowden’s secret NSA documents.  2014 will be even bigger for him, thanks to his upcoming book.

26. Batkid.

27. CM Punk vs. Ryback in a ladder match for the WWE title on the first Raw in January.  Originally scheduled for TLC 2012, it was rebooked on free TV and was one of the best matches of the year.

28. Jamie Foxx’ very funny “Channing all over your Tatum” song that he performed on the post-Oscars edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live.  I still can’t get the chorus out of my head.

29. John Oliver’s three-month summer stint substitute hosting The Daily Show.  Some nights, he was even better than Jon Stewart.

30. The Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the United States Supreme Court.  A huge victory for the LGBT community and gay bi-national couples, in particular.

31. Rand Paul’s epic filibuster protest of Obama’s immoral weaponized drones.  It put this criminally neglected issue back in the spotlight where it belongs.  (Sadly, it didn’t derail the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director.)

32. I bought a new CD player that sounds great.  (Only one minor complaint:  there’s no way to know how much time is left on a track.  The counter only counts up, unfortunately.)

33. The Score (now Sportsnet360) finally started airing Monday Night Raw live without that unnecessary 15-minute tape delay.  Too bad I stopped watching it altogether.

34. Seth McFarlane’s performance hosting the Oscars.  He was surprisingly funny and can really sing.

35. Jim Parsons won his third Emmy playing Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory.  A career-defining part if ever there was one.

36. The awesome John Cusack helped establish the Freedom Of The Press Foundation, a much-needed adversarial journalism organization.  Take notes, Ms. Bush.

37. Lady Gaga’s incredibly supportive tweet of Chelsea Manning after her unfair conviction.  Sophia Bush stayed silent.

38. Antoinette Tuff.  Her remarkably calm demeanour saved countless lives.

39. Taram Killam’s hilarious speech critic on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update.  The funniest thing he’s ever done.

40. The Carlos Danger theme song for Anthony Weiner’s alter-ego on The Daily Show.

41. The fast food worker protests.  They deserve a living wage, so give it to them.

42. The end of Windows Live Messenger.  I don’t miss it.

43. Justin Bieber’s relentlessly negative press regarding all of his dumb antics in 2013.  He’s a sexist jerk whose time in the spotlight is almost done.

44. Zeb Colter & Jack Swagger’s sly YouTube video message to Glenn Beck.  It put the whiny ignoramus right in his place.  Much praise to Colter as well for his often sharp, sometimes very funny, WWE promos.

45. Mick Foley’s WWE Hall Of Fame speech.  Loved the shoutout to the underappreciated Damien Sandow.

46. Antonio Cesaro’s giant swing.  It’s more over than he is.

47. The growing world criticism of Israel’s hypocritical mistreatment of Palestinians.

48. The rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight.  May the rest of their lives be a lot happier and safer.

49. Ready To Die by Iggy & The Stooges.  A big lie.  There’s still plenty of life in the greatest frontman in rock history.

50. Franz Ferdinand’s Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.  They take forever to put out new albums but they’re always worth singing along to.

51. Rob Van Dam, Goldust and Chris Jericho returned to the WWE.  (Look for Batista to come back in late January.)

52. Pussy Riot and the Arctic 30 were released from Russian prisons.

53. All the other good movies I saw this year:  Zombieland, Sinister, The Deer Hunter, Lawrence Of Arabia, True Crime, Gorky Park, Superman II, American Wedding, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Jimi Plays Berkeley, The Wild Bunch and The X-Files.

54. Atheist In The Foxhole, Joe Muto’s insightful, amusing memoir of his near-decade stint at Fox News.  (He was Gawker’s short-lived “Fox Mole” last year.)  A lot more fair and balanced than his former place of business pretends to be.

55. The final Stefon appearance on Saturday Night Live.  A fitting end for Bill Hader’s funniest original character.

56. Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a Yemeni, anti-Al Qaeda journalist, was finally freed after Obama, deeply unhappy about his critical coverage of American drones two years ago, wanted him silenced.  He should never have been locked up in the first place.

57. Mechanical Bull by Kings Of Leon.  It’s as radio-friendly as Only By The Night.

58. The Chicago Black Hawks won the Stanley Cup.  Suck it, Bruins.

59. Zero Dark Thirty lost most of the Oscars it was up for.  It had to settle for a single technical gong that it had to share with Skyfall.

60. Texas Senator Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster over a needlessly overreaching anti-abortion law.

61. The Paul Heyman/CM Punk feud.  Great back-and-forth promos, brilliant build to the Punk/Lesnar SummerSlam match (which was terrific in its own right), compelling storytelling overall, with the exception of the ending.

62. The increasing acceptance of legalizing medical and recreational marijuana by the American public.  The death spiral of the drug war has begun.  (A special shoutout to CNN for their fascinating documentary on the remarkable powers of medical weed.  May it lead to the end of useless, heartless prohibition once and for all.)

63. Mark Henry’s fake retirement swerve on Raw.  The best promo he’s ever delivered.

64. Randy Orton powerslamming Rob Van Dam out of a Rolling Thunder during a Triple Threat number one World Heavyweight Championship contender’s match on Smackdown.  A spot so good they did it again in a later one-on-one match.

65. The stadium that looks like a vagina.  It’s actually pretty cool looking.

66. The Oscar acceptance speeches by Best Actress Jennifer Lawrence and Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway.  Both sweet and heartfelt.

67. Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 29.  The best match of the show, it was even superior to CM Punk vs. The Undertaker.

68. Bray Wyatt’s promos.  The best new character in the WWE.

69. The Rhodes Brothers won the tag team titles from The Shield.  A welcome second chance for The Bizarre One and a nice babyface reboot for Cody after his disappointing Sandow program.

70. AJ Lee’s fantastically brutal promo on the Total Divas cast on Raw.  No wonder she’s still the Divas Champion.  No one else is worthy.

71. Alberto Del Rio’s World Heavyweight title defenses against The Big Show at The Royal Rumble and Christian at SummerSlam, two seriously underrated encounters that deserved more praise.

72. The worldwide backlash against the NSA.  Long overdue.

73. The resurrection of the street protests.  International authoritarian governments should be very afraid.

74. Catfish.  The only MTV series where you actually learn something about the human condition.

75. Malala.  I wish I was as smart and compassionate when I was her age.

76. Canada’s anti-prostitution laws were struck down unanimously by the Supreme Court.

77. Stephen Colbert’s hilarious segment on the local Florida TV station that fell for an obvious prank regarding a Korean plane crash.  His fake names were even funnier.

78. Jeremy Scahill’s appearance on The Tonight Show.  His passionate, factually based outrage over Obama’s war crimes is sorely lacking in the mainstream press.

79. President Obama’s lousy approval ratings.  May they continue to plummet.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 29, 2013
7:09 p.m.

What Sucked In 2013

1. Nelson Mandela died.

2. Roger Ebert died.

3. Lou Reed died.

4. Monday Night Raw became completely unwatchable.

5. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to military prison for 35 years because she exposed American war crimes.

6. CM Punk lost the WWE Championship to The Rock at The Royal Rumble in a match that did not live up to expectations.  Not even close.  Punk should still be the champion.

7. Evil Dead.  Not an improvement over Sam Raimi’s overrated original.

8. The Bella Twins returned to the WWE.

9. The Miz’ babyface run.  He gave you no reason to root for him.

10. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper hasn’t been prosecuted for lying to Congress.

11. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford didn’t resign his office and hasn’t been arrested for any of his publicly disclosed legally dubious transgressions.

12. Dolph Ziggler’s unfortunate concussion which led to an abbreviated World Heavyweight Championship reign.  His unpersuasive face turn is even worse.  Like The Miz, he hasn’t changed anything about his character.

13. The media’s blatant misrepresentation of Pope Francis.  He’s no liberal reformer.

14. Howard Stern’s misguided support for the NYPD’s discredited, discriminatory Stop and Frisk program, which is now thankfully on the decline.  Maybe if he was Black or Hispanic he would understand the outrage.

15. George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin.  A botched, overzealous prosecution got in the way of real justice.  We may never know the whole story.

16. My nasty migraine that lasted for weeks back in the late Spring.  (Thanks to my doctor for suggesting Aleve.  That shit works.)

17. U2’s next studio album didn’t get released.  (It’s out in March.)

18. Austin Aires wasn’t fired from TNA for being a sexist dick to ring announcer Christy Hemme on Impact Wrestling.

19. Paul Walker died.

20. Jeffrey Toobin’s dopey comments about Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda.  Why has he been taking the government’s side on the mass surveillance issue?  Is he really this ignorant about the importance of whistleblowers and respecting privacy?

21. The new WWE Championship belt.  It did the impossible.  It made me nostalgic for the Spinner strap.

22. Evan Bourne still hasn’t returned to the WWE.

23. The firing of Jim Ross.  Is it his fault Ric Flair can’t be muzzled?

24. Renee Young on Vintage.  She’s even more annoying than Matt Striker.  I can’t watch it anymore.

25. Gitmo remains open despite a mass hunger strike involving most of the unconvicted detainees that caused a firestorm of controversy for much of the year.  (It’s still active today but with fewer participants and no more military updates.  The truth makes America look bad, you see.)

26. The unlawful force feeding of many of those same detainees.  Obama loves torturing innocent people just as much as Bush and Cheney ever did.

27. Cory Monteith died.

28. Along with the aforementioned Evil Dead remake, all the other awful movies I screened this year:  Zero Dark Thirty, Grown-ups, Beastly, House At The End Of The Street, Friday After Next, 50 First Dates, Texas Chainsaw, Beetlejuice, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, The Three Stooges remake, Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke, No Time For Sargeants, Meet Monica Velour, The Gate, The Purge, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Hold Your Breath, The Apparition, Spice World, Paranormal Activity 4, A Haunted House, Nanny McPhee and all 7 Saw movies.

29. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West hooked up and are now procreating.  Please make it stop.

30. The American federal government shutdown.  Way to piss off America, Republicans.

31. Dennis Rodman’s bizarre friendship with ruthless North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un, a man who just had his uncle executed.

32. Curtis Axel.  Even the great Paul Heyman couldn’t get him over.

33. The Boston Marathon bombing.  Watching the footage of the bombs going off is still deeply unsettling.

34. The death of Paul Bearer.  Rest.  In.  Peace.

35. Tiger Woods started dating Lindsay Vonn.  She must have a bad memory.

36. James Gandolfini died.

37. The Egyptian military coup.  America truly doesn’t want Muslims to control their own destinies.  The Muslim Brotherhood are far from perfect but they were democratically elected.  How are they exactly “terrorists”?

38. The flood in Calgary.

39. The massive fire on the boardwalk on the Jersey Shore.  More heartbreak for citizens and business owners after the treachery of Superstorm Sandy last year.

40. Ted Cruz’ incredibly stupid filibuster against the Affordable Care Act.  A total waste of time and extremely self-serving.

41. An important element of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was struck down by the American Supreme Court.  It needs to be restored, pronto.

42. Despite winning the WWE Championship twice, Daniel Bryan never got a chance to have a lengthy title run.  Maybe in 2014.

43. The Bangladesh tragedy.  A jolting reminder of the importance of unions and the heartless indifference of greedy corporations.

44. The North American ice storm.  Shades of 1998 on a thankfully much smaller scale.

45. The tragic train explosion in Lac Megantic, Quebec.  Completely preventable.

46. Rolling Stone/Buzzfeed reporter and author Michael Hastings died.

47. Detroit filed for bankruptcy.

48. All the insane fuss over George, the Royal Baby.  Nobody cares.

49. The unfair prosecution of Justin Carter.  Drop it already.  He’s been punished enough.

50. The excessive coverage of the Jodi Arias murder trial.

51. Glenn Greenwald left The Guardian.

52. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruthless crackdown on LGBT citizens in his own country.

53. The mysterious murder of American teen Kendrick Johnson.  Will it ever be solved?

54. Alberto Del Rio’s half-year run as a babyface.  It was botched from the start and never recovered.

55. Alec Baldwin still can’t keep his temper in check.

56. President Obama’s drones are still killing innocent civilians.  Where is the accountability?

57. The nine hour detention of David Miranda, Greenwald’s husband, by British airport authorities.  If they thought this would stop the former lawyer from continuing to report on the NSA’s bullshit, they completely miscalculated.

58. Omar Khadr and John Kiriakou are still in prison for doing absolutely nothing wrong.  Barrett Brown and Jeremy Hammond are also being punished but for committing honourable acts of civil disobedience.  Free and pardon them all.

59. The DVD player in my TV only loads discs when it wants to and rarely on the first attempt.  (I know.  Woe is me.)  Got to figure out how to upgrade to Blu-Ray.

60. All the thousands of Americans murdered and wounded by guns since Newtown.  When will the madness end?

61. The typhoon in the Philippines.

62. Rhianna reunited with Chris Brown.  Thankfully, it was short-lived.

63. Howard Stern’s cluelessness on Edward Snowden.  When you find yourself agreeing with Scott DePace, dog beater and inventor of the Video Caddy, there’s something wrong with you.

64. Jean Stapleton died.  We’ll miss you, dingbat.

65. The Canadian penny was discontinued.  A major pain in the ass for retailers.

66. The phony controversy over Rolling Stone putting one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers on its cover.  That same picture was used on the front of The New York Times earlier, so where was the anger then?

67. Storage Wars: Canada.  One spin-off too many.

68. John Cena and Randy Orton continue to get world title pushes.  Why?

69. Sophia Bush’s absolute refusal to criticize President Obama.  What will it take for her to wake up to reality and stop being such a big baby about my harsh comments?

70. I bought a new VCR/DVD combo player that was incompatible with my barely existing TV/DVD combo player.  Thankfully, it was returned for a full refund.  Still, what a huge disappointment.

71. Lara Logan wasn’t fired from 60 Minutes for her erroneous Benghazi report.

72. The return of Anthony Weiner’s penis.  Why is a married guy seeking other opinions?

73. Megyn Kelly of Fox News claiming she was just joking when she said Santa and Jesus are white.  No, you weren’t.

74. Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s awful comments about blacks and gays, and his support for marrying underage teenage girls.  Maybe it’s time for him to go back on drugs.

75. Aaron Swartz killed himself.  Shame on you, Department of Justice, for pushing him into an awful decision.

76. Time Magazine and The Advocate naming Pope Francis Person Of The Year.  Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, respectively, were more deserving.

77. Careless Teens.  See what you did, Jackass?

78. The Mali mall massacre.

79. The crackdown on Turkish protestors.

80. Nia Moore on The Real World: Portland.  What a fucking psycho.

81. President Obama remains in office despite imprisoning whistleblowers, investigating journalists, force-feeding mostly innocent hunger striking Gitmo detainees, and ordering the murders of Muslims without proof of wrongdoing via drones.  Where is the outrage?

82. The awesome Reeva Steenkamp, so much more than just a beautiful woman, was tragically murdered by her boyfriend, the once inspiring Paralympian Oscar Pistorius.  Will he get away with it?

83. The Huffington Post’s Bob Cesca.  Why is he more critical of Glenn Greenwald than Barton Gellman when they’ve reported on the exact same things?  And why is he downplaying the significance of Edward Snowden’s revelations?

84. Crossfire returned.  Was it really missed these past nine years?

85. Rand Paul’s plagiarism scandal.  Absolutely no excuse for it.

86. Alex Rodriquez was able to keep playing for the New York Yankees despite being caught using performance enhancing drugs.  Again.

87. The relentless criticism levelled against Seth McFarlane regarding his performance as Oscar host.  Feminists, I love you.  You’ve done so much good for the world, even today, but you’re wrong about this one.  He wasn’t sexist.  He was funny and clever.  (When he said you wouldn’t let things go, you proved him right.)

88. The Edmonton Oilers.  I can’t even watch their televised regular season games anymore.  Too depressing.

89. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats lost to The Saskatchewan Rough Riders in The Grey Cup.

90. Sophia Bush complained that I criticized her charity work.  Wrong.  I criticized her chronic inability to hold her “hero” President Obama to the same standard on human rights abuses as convenient villain of the moment, Joseph Kony of the Congo.  Her paraphrasing of my words is grossly inaccurate and deeply insulting.

91. CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s embarrassing prime-time interview with Amanda Knox.  Why is he so obsessed with her sex life?

92. Knox and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are being retried in Italy in the Meredith Kercher murder case despite already being cleared and the real culprit already serving his sentence.

93. The ongoing sequester in America.  Far more damaging than the three-week shutdown.

94. Nigella Lawson’s awful year.  Choked out by her soon-to-be-ex-husband in public, accused of being a cokehead in a lawsuit.

95. The Rock vs. John Cena at WrestleMania 29.  I thought it would be better than their WrestleMania 28 encounter.  I was wrong.

96. Manti Te’o got catfished and covered it up.  Many can relate but few will admit it.

97. The media overhype over the nonexistent “Knockout Game”.  Stop scaring people.  That’s the NSA’s job.

98. The shooting death of Sammy Yatim by police while he was having an episode on a TTC streetcar.  What happened to peaceful negotiations leading to surrender?

99. The murder of Tim Bosma.  And for what?  His pick-up truck?  Despicable.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 29, 2013
6:18 p.m.

Winners & Losers Of 2013 (Part Seven)

Winner:  Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald & Barton Gellman

He saw things that greatly disturbed him.  But rather than wait for someone else to act, he went public himself with support from two respected journalists and an acclaimed filmmaker.

When then-29-year-old Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Edward Snowden decided to become a whistleblower, little did anyone know, including himself, just how significant and influential a public figure he would ultimately become in the second half of 2013.

As President Obama struggled to control the narratives on controversies involving Benghazi, the IRS, Gitmo, Chelsea Manning’s court martial, deportations, spying on the press, the war on terror and drones, Snowden’s revelatory disclosures to these carefully selected journalists (who, in turn, would share them with their trusted colleagues) would undermine the President’s credibility like never before.

In early June, Snowden hosted documentarian Laura Poitras & then-Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald in his Hong Kong hotel room to discuss why he had sent them top secret documents retrieved from the National Security Agency, his former place of business.

For several months, starting in late 2012, Snowden had been trying to alternately convince them online that he was legit and that it would be worth both their time and energy to come see him personally.  Before meeting him in China, Greenwald was expecting to encounter an old man.  He was shocked to see someone even younger than him.

But that was only the beginning.

In Snowden’s room, Poitras set up a camera and Greenwald grilled his new source for hours making sure his claims held up to severe scrutiny.  Sufficiently satisfied that he could now trust this young, technological wizard (who had previously taught him how to use encryption online), he immediately went to work.

Shortly thereafter, The Guardian posted its first blockbuster story, as did freelancer Barton Gellman’s paper, The Washington Post.  (Gellman was given some documents by Poitras.)  Then, another.  And another.  And another.

At first, Snowden’s identity was protected.  But not long after the release of these game changing articles, he outed himself.  (The Hong Kong interview was then posted on The Guardian’s website and also aired on CNN.)  The Obama Administration scrambled to charge him in secret under the unconstitutional Espionage Act, a World War I-era law that needs to die already.  Media pundits like The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen and The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin condemned Snowden’s actions citing his non-existent reckless self-absorption.  Meet The Press host David Gregory wondered why Greenwald himself wasn’t being charged, as well (but curiously, not Gellman or Poitras).  Several NSA-lovin’ Republicans and Democrats smeared him as an outright “traitor”.  Others thought he should be killed.

All would end up eating their words.

Before he even became a household name, with Chelsea Manning’s cruel confinement very much on his mind, Snowden was already on the move leaving his six-figure job, beautiful girlfriend and cozy life in Hawaii far behind.  Now wanted by the Department of Justice, it was time to leave Hong Kong for good.  While in the air en route to Moscow, the Obama Administration, in a typically petty move, revoked his passport before he landed.  This meant that the whistleblower would end up stranded in a Russian airport for his 30th birthday during a unwanted pit stop that lasted roughly 40 straight days.

Infuriated that China would not turn over Snowden before he left, the Obama Administration urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to play ball.  Remarkably, he refused, as well.  In fact, Russia granted the former NSA contractor temporary political asylum for one year.  Snowden’s original plan was to end up in Cuba but without a passport, he was stuck.

When Bolivian President Evo Morales was trying to land for a pre-scheduled refueling before heading home from a Russian energy conference in early July, the plane was forced to land elsewhere so it could be inspected.  So desperate to find Snowden onboard, when the local Austrian authorities (at the insistence of the Obama Administration) realized their mistake, it became a very public embarrassment.  President Morales was thoroughly pissed off and along with two other South American leaders, openly offered asylum to Snowden.  He even filed an official complaint with the United Nations.

Meanwhile, The Guardian and The Washington Post, as well as international outlets in collaboration with the indefatigable Greenwald, kept reporting on the NSA documents.  It turns out that the intelligence community aren’t just spying on supposed terrorists and not always on their own.  In collusion at times with professional spies and hackers from Australia, Britain and Canada, they’re also secretly snooping on world leaders (especially allies), global charities, economic enterprises, international embassies, media organizations and ordinary citizens thanks to secretly infiltrating cell phones and websites through secret arrangements with major telephone and Internet conglomerates, and their own hacking capabilities (the latter of which, thankfully, has its limits).

For their part, a good number of freaked out libertarian Republicans and liberal Democrats in both the Senate and the House Of Representatives joined forces to propose a whole slew of bills to curb the NSA’s mass collection of metadata among other questionable activities.  One early attempt to defund the metadata program was defeated by just 7 votes.  Despite intense lobbying by the White House and American intelligence, privacy-minded politicians and their supporters know they have the momentum right now.  It would’ve never happened without Edward Snowden.

As the damning disclosures continued to pour out of the media, Obama was forced to talk out of both sides of his ass.  Claiming that he welcomed a debate on secret mass surveillance (which he had never mentioned out loud once in the four years he had been running the country), he tried to fool the public into thinking he was eager to rein in the out-of-control NSA.  A closer inspection of his reform proposals revealed inconsequential cosmetic changes, at best.  Put bluntly, Obama wants the status quo to be maintained, no matter what.  He supports mass surveillance of the entire world.

Late in the year, he announced the formation of a five-man advisory committee that would look at the current programs and make recommendations for changeComing on the heels of a significant court ruling in December, many were surprised that the Obama-connected investigators didn’t go entirely along with the President’s long discredited assertions.  (However, regarding the metadata program, they would prefer it if telecomms held the information while the government seeks warrants on a case-by-case basis.  Here’s a better idea:  why not just discontinue the useless, unconstitutional program altogether?)  Already rejecting one of their 46 recommendations, instead of making substantial changes to protect civil liberties, Obama is planning to make what will likely be a transparently empty announcement that won’t mean anything sometime in January.

All the while, Snowden, who had won a few whistleblower awards throughout the year, was looking more and more vindicated by his courageous actions.  Richard Cohen of The Washington Post admitted he was wrong to denounce him.  Even The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin, sounding more like a government spokesman than an adversarial journalist these days, conceded that Judge Leon’s negative court ruling on the metadata program and the advisory board’s recommendations greatly helped the whistleblower’s cause.

As the President licks his considerable political wounds in Hawaii, he needs to accept reality and drop his draconian prosecution against Snowden.  (He should also abandon his dumb war against all whistleblowers altogether.)  With Gellman and Greenwald each releasing critical NSA books this Spring, Poitras working on another adversarial documentary about his administration, the promise of more reputation-damaging disclosures to come and all those intelligence reform bills pending in Washington, it’s difficult to see how a conviction would have any worldwide support.  It’s also difficult to see the NSA continue to operate in its current, unrestricted form, despite his stubborn intentions to keep controversial, ineffective procedures relatively intact.

For his unfathomable courage in leaking these shocking secrets and their equally strong determination to report on them despite intense governmental pressure and interference, Snowden, Greenwald, Gellman and Poitras deserve our most appreciative thanks.  Without all four of their efforts this year, the American global surveillance state would remain a powerful, dangerous secret.

Loser:  Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

To citizens of the biggest municipality in the Great White North, he’s long been a hypocritical faux conservative long on awful, discredited rhetoric and short on sound policies.  But to the rest of the planet, he is now the biggest joke in public office.

Even before Gawker and The Toronto Star exposed him as a drug war phony, he had already overcome an earlier scandal, this one involving a financial conflict of interest.  After a judge temporarily ordered his removal from office over misappropriated taxpayer funds in December 2012, the decision was overturned on appeal a few months later.  Regardless, Ford remained at City Hall the entire time.

In March, The Star reported an embarrassing incident involving the Mayor at the annual Toronto Garrison Ball the previous month.  A black-tie benefit for the Canadian military, Ford reportedly showed up late completely sloshed and speaking incoherently.  He was in such a bad state, he was politely asked to leave.

Also in March, former political rival Sarah Thomson claimed that Ford groped her while high on cocaine at another public event.

Meanwhile, while badgering lobbyists for contributions to his football foundation, it was publicly noted that their presence in Toronto politics had tripled in numbers.  Ditto the number of complaints about them.  For someone who got elected on stopping the left-wing “gray train” at City Hall, it was becoming obvious that he didn’t mean the right-wing variety.

In April, a clumsy Ford accidentally walked right into the lens of a cameraman’s camera at City Hall, a clip that became great comic fodder for ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel and Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart.  More importantly, he also snubbed a visiting Prince Philip by no-showing a ceremonial event for the Royal Canadian Regiment (despite being shown the proper protocol on how to deal with the visiting Royal Family member), he once again refused to participate in the LGBT community’s annual Pride parade but did offer to teach women about politics.  No one took him up on the offer.

Then came the big Gawker story.  Ford had been videotaped on an iPhone smoking crack cocaine from a pipe.  It was recorded by an alleged Somali-Canadian drug dealer in what police described as a crack house.  And it was for sale.  Gawker ended up raising $200000 on Kickstarter to purchase it but over time, the unknown person in possession of the video freaked out over all the publicity the article had already generated and rescinded the offer.  The money was donated to four Canadian rehab centres instead.

The Toronto Star already knew about the video having had a couple of reporters see it a number of times themselves but for some inexplicable reason they kept hesitating to publish their account.  The Gawker scoop forced their hand and we learned more damaging details, like Ford calling federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau a “fag” and making disparaging remarks about black people.

Ford had a glorious opportunity to set the record straight but instead decried the “allegations” as “ridiculous” and part of an ongoing smear campaign against him by The Star.  Curiously, Ford and his brother Doug, a fellow councilman, refrained from doing their weekly two-hour radio show on CFRB at that time.  The silence raised understandable suspicions, even from political allies and supporters.

Finally, a week after the scandal began, Ford called an impromptu press conference in his cramped media room at City Hall declaring, “I do not smoke crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.”  He also denied the existence of the crack video he claimed he hadn’t seen.

The public, the media and city council were not satisfied, and as a result, the story refused to die.

Reports surfaced that Ford acknowledged to staff that the video indeed existed but he knew where it was and that it was safe.  His chief-of-staff, Mark Twohey, was fired for suggesting he go to rehab.  That same week, more staffers departed.  Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday resigned his seat on council and got a new job as a provincial MP in a perfectly timed by-election.

In an extremely rare display of agreement, all four Toronto newspapers – The Star, The Globe & Mail, The National Post and even The Sun (who defended Ford for years because of his mythologized “fiscal conservative” image) – editorially urged his resignation.  They did this repeatedly but the Mayor refused to go away.

In the summer, Toronto police conducted a series of raids as part of a one-year investigation against local drug gangs.  Dubbed Project Traveller, the media fought for weeks to have the official police report of their allegations unsealed so they could report the findings.  Ford’s longtime friend and personal driver, Sandro Lisi, was arrested on extortion charges and for dealing with illegal drugs.  Police allege that he used threats to try to retrieve the now-infamous video and sold marijuana on the street.  Secret surveillance revealed numerous contacts between him and the Mayor.

More shocking revelations about Ford would surface as two additional sets of previously redacted court documents would be released on two different occasions.  Among them:  drunk driving, peeing on the side of the road near a school, threats of violence, sexual harassment, heroin use, marijuana smoking, cavorting with prostitutes, using staff to run personal errands, possible financial support of the crack house where he was taped and exorbitant staff raises.

Then came the biggest blow of them all.  During a sadly appropriate Halloween press conference, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced in very carefully worded language that a deleted video file law enforcement had successfully retrieved matched the description depicted back in those original Gawker and Toronto Star reports.  Suddenly, the man who claimed it didn’t exist wanted it released.  More staffers resigned.

After weeks and months of denial, out of nowhere, he finally admitted to reporters, “Yes, I’ve smoked crack cocaine,” but denied he was addicted.  He ineptly blamed his actions on “one of my drunken stupors”.  During a council session, when asked if he bought illegal drugs, after a comically long pause, he said, “Yes, I have.”.  One late night show inserted the Final Jeopardy theme music into the clip.

In the most memorable moment of the entire scandal thus far, while wearing a Toronto Argonauts jersey (the team had a Grey Cup semi-final play-off game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats which they lost), during a jam-packed mid-November press scrum outside his City Hall office, Ford bluntly refuted on live Television one of the police-reported sexual harassment allegations put forth against him in a manner that became a late night comedian’s wet dream:

“It says I wanted to eat her pussy [regarding staffer Olivia Gondek] and I have never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I’m happily married and I’ve got more than enough to eat at home…”

During a memorable episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart urged parents to wake up their kids and get them out of bed to watch this disappointingly bleeped historical moment.  After it was played, he hilariously flipped out (“What?!?”) and pleaded with Ford to “drop the mic” and call it a day.

But the Mayor refused to end on a high note.

A growing number of City Hall protesters started demanding his exit.  CFRB ended the call-in radio show he co-hosted with his brother Doug.  They got a new TV gig on the struggling Sun News Network not too long afterward but, despite decent ratings, it was cancelled after only one airingCouncillers voted to strip him of much of his powers which had real-life consequences just before Christmas when Ford refused to declare a state of emergency after a nasty ice storm knocked the power out of hundreds of thousands of local homes and businesses.  (If he had, new Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly would be in charge.)  While most of the electricity has since been restored, tens of thousands spent Christmas deeply inconvenienced and will continue to do so likely to the end of the week.

With the mayor’s antics attracting international attention, stupid moments like the incident where he inexplicably ran into fellow councillor Pam McConnell and that bizarre video of him channelling Hulk Hogan in an unexplained rage were emblematic of how incredibly embarrassing this whole situation had become.  For some unknown reason, police would not lay any charges on the man responsible for their budget and who has been completely uncooperative with their investigation into Lisi and the drug gangs.

Then in December, Ford falsely insinuated that a Toronto Star reporter, who investigated a story about the Mayor buying property near his home last year, was a pedophile without actually saying the word.  After foolishly delaying taking legal action against him, Daniel Dale finally filed a libel suit.  It took two tries for Ford to fully retract all the lies he said about him before Dale dropped the case.

In spite all of this, His Stubbornness refuses to go quietly into the night.  He has repeatedly vowed to stick around and actually run for re-election next October.  (When he was losing his powers, he actually suggested a snap election this past November which was thankfully ignored.)  How in the world does he expect to win when both the Sandro Lisi trial and Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle’s book about him are coming in February and are each likely to have lasting impacts on his political career in 2014?

Maybe you have to be in a drunken stupor to understand.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, December 26, 2013
10:54 p.m.

CORRECTIONS:  According to Glenn Greenwald’s No Place To Hide book, Barton Gellman actually didn’t go to Hong Kong to meet Edward Snowden in his hotel room, as I erroneously mentioned in paragraph four.  That mistake has now been deleted.  In that same paragraph, I wrongly stated that that was the moment when Snowden handed Poitras & Greenwald the top secret NSA documents.  (More on this down below.)  “Hand over” has been replaced with “to discuss why he had sent them”.

Paragraph five has also been revised.  It originally mentioned that the NSA whistleblower had been trying to “alternately convince” Gellman and Greenwald “online that he was legit”.  That’s wrong, as well.  It was Poitras & Greenwald he was contacting.  Gellman was given documents Snowden handed over to Poitras months later, much to Greenwald’s consternation.  (To be fair, he has been laudatory of Gellman’s pieces.)

In paragraph six, I originally wrote, “Before meeting him on the street in China, Greenwald was expecting to encounter an old man.”  According to No Place To Hide, they actually met in a conference room in Snowden’s hotel.  I’ve now dropped “on the street”.  Regarding paragraph seven, I asserted, “Sufficiently satisfied that he could now trust this young, technological wizard (who had previously taught him how to use encryption online), he graciously accepted the documents (as did his colleagues) and on the flight back to Brazil, marvelled at its contents with Poitras.”

The second half of that sentence is not quite right.  Before they even met Snowden, he had sent Poitras the complete set who then gave an identical set to Greenwald.  (He was actually given a few sample documents via computer in Brazil after requesting some proof that Snowden was real.)  It was on the 16-hour flight to China, not the flight back home, where he first poured over as much of the full set as he could.  All of that has been dropped and replaced with the more accurate “he immediately went to work”.  I’ve also tweaked paragraph eight and added the important detail of Poitras giving Gellman some of the NSA documents.

My apologies for all of these mistakes.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
2:10 a.m.

Published in: on December 26, 2013 at 10:54 pm  Comments (1)  

Winners & Losers Of 2013 (Part Six)

Winner:  Veteran Alternative Rockers

If rock and roll is truly dead, then these longtime acts didn’t get the memo.

Just eight days into the new year, the long absent David Bowie announced his first new studio album in a decade on his 66th birthday.  Released in March, The Next Day proved that old age is no obstacle for one of the great pioneers of alternative rock.  Curiously recycling the artwork for his influential Heroes LP (with big white squares covering the front and back covers which feature album and song titles, respectively), the only bad number on the standard edition is the album’s first single, Where Are We Now?, which surfaced shortly after his surprise announcement.  Sadly, he let longtime friend and producer Tony Visconti do all the talking about it.  Bowie’s a much better interview.

Recorded slowly and quietly over a two-year period (totally out of character for the once prolific, fast working superstar), it was one of the most acclaimed records of the year.  It’s also been nominated for a Best Rock Album Grammy.  Second single, The Stars (Are Out Tonight), is up for Best Rock Performance.

Bowie made a surprise cameo on Reflektor, the epic title cut on the latest Arcade Fire release.  The best band to ever come out of Montreal continued to delight with this eclectic, strangely funky double set, their fourth full-length release.  Other standout cuts include Here Comes The Night Time, It’s Never Over and Porno, the last of which evokes early Peter Gabriel.

The same month Bowie’s Next Day was issued, another important British act were marking their return.  Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine is their first album since 2009’s Grammy-nominated Sounds Of The Universe.  Featuring the sublime single Heaven, it’s their best collection in years.  Middle age has not mellowed their moving, often melancholic melodies.  Why they’re still not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is an irritating mystery.

Also in March, The Strokes presented Comedown Machine, a bit of a departure from their usually straightforward garage rock sound.  Singer Julian Casablancas takes a huge risk singing in falsetto at times.  He could’ve sounded ridiculous but thankfully doesn’t, as Chances, the record’s best song, aptly demonstrates.  It’s not their finest effort but it’s nice to see them evolve more than a decade away from Is This It.

It had been six years since Iggy Pop reunited The Stooges for their first studio LP in more than 30 years.  But after the untimely death of lead guitarist Ron Asheton in 2009, their future seemed doubtful.  However, after a phone call was made to James Williamson, Iggy & The Stooges, the Raw Power version of this deeply influential proto-punk band, was reborn.

In April, they released Ready To Die, a tight collection of sexually charged rockers, tender treatises on mortality and a surprising amount of bitterness.  Approaching 70, the eerily chiselled Pop has not lost any of his timeless vocal vigour nor his contemptuous rage.

In June, after a six-year absence in their own right, Queens Of The Stone Age finally released the follow-up to the marvellous Era Vulgaris.  It takes a few listens but Like Clockwork is a stunner.  Featuring welcome, ecclectic cameos by Elton John and Trent Reznor, and the return of Dave Grohl on the skins (he last appeared on Songs For The Deaf), there isn’t a bad song to be found here.  Glad to see the great Josh Homme, the Carl Wilson of the 21st Century, finally overcome his personal demons to lead the way in making what might be the greatest record he’s ever created.  He’s never sounded more in tune with himself.

In August, after a four-year break, Scotland’s danceable Franz Ferdinand returned with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions.  Good hooks, good lyrics, good album.

After taking some time out to score a couple of David Fincher movies, one of which led to a surprise Academy Award, and to work on a side project, Trent Reznor finally got around to putting out another Nine Inch Nails album in September.  The Grammy-nominated Hesitation Marks is more evidence that nearly 25 years after Pretty Hate Machine, he is as vital as ever.  How he got Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham to play ax on a few tracks I’d love to know.

Kings Of Leon might really be the kings of radio-friendly hard rock.  Mechanical Bull is loaded with accessible gems like Supersoaker, Temple and Wait For Me.  Five years after they broke through with Only By The Night, these four sons of a Southern preacher are eager to stay relevant in an era of annoying, empty dance pop.  With Mechanical Bull, they’ve succeeded.

Finally, there was Pearl Jam, the sole surviving band of the 90s grunge explosion.  Lightning Bolt picks up right where they left off with 2009’s Backspacer.  An entertaining mix of hooky rockers and lovely ballads, there’s still some bombast left in Eddie Vedder’s distinctive vocals.  Now if only there were as pissed off at Obama as they were at W.

Loser:  The Conservative Party Of Canada

It was a completely avoidable scandal, a classic case of the cover-up being worse than the crime.  But leave it to the micromanaging Canadian Conservatives to dig their own political graves with tiny shovels.

In late 2012, three Conservative Senators were being audited for irregularities regarding their expense claims.  Mike Duffy, the former CTV journalist, was caught trying to claim a summer home as his personal residence.  He also tried to get reimbursed for Conservative fundraising ventures declaring he was actually doing “Senate business” and even attempted to apply for a Prince Edward Island health card even though he doesn’t live there full-time.

Pamela Wallin, another former CTV journalist, who is supposed to represent her home province of Saskatchewan actually resides in Toronto which is against the rules.  She got caught declaring hundreds of thousands of dollars in inappropriate travel expenses.  Patrick Brazeau, already in trouble for a serious domestic violence incident involving his wife, pulled a Duffy, as well.  (So did Liberal Senator Mac Harb, the only one who actually resigned from serving in the Senate.)

Unfortunately, when the audit on all these Senators was complete, an important part involving Duffy’s reluctance to be fully cooperative was magically removed from the final report.  Once that became public knowledge, the story, which had been quietly brewing for a year, entered the mainstream.

Soon, we learned that Duffy didn’t pay back the $90000 he owed with his own dough.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Chief Of Staff Nigel Wright cut a cheque for him on his behalf.  Wright eventually resigned.  At the time, Harper declared that he reluctantly accepted him quitting.  But during a later radio interview, he claimed he fired him, greatly confusing a key part of this story.

As NDP Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair peppered Harper and the Conversatives in Parliament day after day after day with tough, direct questions (as did many other MPs including Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau) without getting anything but mostly the same, phony, robotic talking points in return, the scandal grew.  Wallin and Duffy were kicked out of the Conservative caucus.  (Brazeau had already been forced into independence months earlier.)  A re-audit was conducted.  And after Harper started further distancing himself from Wright and the three Senators, Duffy fired back with some damning allegations about the PMO, claiming that there was a second cheque, this one to cover his legal fees, and that he was coached on how to deal with the media.  He backed it up with documentation.

Meanwhile, the RCMP were called in to investigate.  Their official allegations have kept the scandal very much alive.  About a dozen or so Conservative officials, we’ve learned, knew about the Duffy cover-up.  However, it’s still not certain if Harper himself knew.  It seems preposterous that he didn’t.

In the end, after a long debate, the Senate voted to suspend Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin for the remaining two years of their current term without pay.  (Along with Mac, all have declared their innocence despite reluctantly starting to pay back these wrongfully declared public expenses.)  And Harper’s Conservative Party has lost a lot of credibility.  (They promised to be more ethical than the Liberals.  Ha!)  Furthermore, most Canadians don’t believe the infamously controlling Conservative leader was unaware of what Nigel Wright and Duffy were up to.  And long dormant talk of abolishing the unelected Senate arose yet again.

If all of this weren’t bad enough, secret documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed Canada’s creepy alliance with the American spy agency, a scandal that’s sure to grow substantially in 2014.

With talk of Harper not running in the next election (something he adamantly denies), what are the chances his seriously damaged Conservative Party will be re-elected in 2015?  Barring some unforeseen circumstances, it might be time for him and his cronies to think about political retirement.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
6:15 p.m.

Published in: on December 24, 2013 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Winners & Losers Of 2013 (Part Five)

Winner:  Jennifer Lawrence

The honeymoon continued for this quirky Kentucky beauty in 2013.

The media darling of the moment earned her second Oscar nomination for playing Bradley Cooper’s love interest in the acclaimed late 2012 hit, Silver Linings Playbook, which raked in over 200 million in international box office receipts.  On the night of the ceremony, she was named Best Actress.  Despite accidentally tripping up the stairs to the stage in order to accept it, her respected speech was gracious and typically self-deprecating.  In a classy gesture, she wished fellow nominee Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) a Happy Birthday.  (She turned 86 that night.)

As the year drew to a close, Lawrence returned as Katniss in the second Hunger Games film.  In its first month of release, it has already accumulated more than 750 million worldwideReviews have been overwhelmingly positive.  And there’s a lot of buzz for her supporting performance in David O. Russell’s just-issued American Hustle (will she get her third nomination?) which is expected to be a major Oscar contender.  It’s her best reviewed film this year and has already made back half its budget, as of this writing.

With appearances in the next installments of the X-Men and Hunger Games franchises plus a reunion with Cooper in the Great Depression drama Serena coming next year, even if she decided to run over an autistic child high on heroin while farting on a puppy, expect the world’s love affair with her to continue unabated.

Loser:  President Obama

It’s not easy presiding over a crumbling empire.  But the 44th American President did little to stop his nation’s steep decline in 2013.  In fact, he may have expedited it.

Not long after being sworn in for his second term, his administration would become consumed with scandal.  Despite promising to shut it down within a year of his first term, the still open Guantanamo Bay gulag was thrust back into the spotlight when most of the remaining detainees (half of whom have been cleared for release – twice – years ago) commenced yet another hunger strike to remind the world of their horrifying, never ending dilemma.

At first, the administration downplayed the numbers.  Then, they decided to force-feed the most resistant, a cold, unethical practice not approved by either the American Medical Association nor the various human rights groups who outright condemned this ghastly torture.  During a major speech in late May, President Obama openly addressed the image program Gitmo presents to the world:

“…history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to end it. Imagine a future 10 years from now or 20 years from now when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not a part of our country.

Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike…Is this who we are? Is that something our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave our children?”

As far as Obama is concerned, yes it is.

While the bogus military trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cronies drags on unconstitutionally, since that Spring speech only four Gitmo detainees have been transferred to other countries.  (The transfer of two Algerian prisoners was in itself controversial.)  158 still remain in Cuba.

Meanwhile, Obama’s ongoing war on the press intensified with the revelation that the Department of Justice was secretly investigating the phone lines of Associated Press reporters during one of its many leak investigations.  (Fox News reporter James Rosen and New York Times National Security Correspondent James Risen were also unfortunate targets of this vindictive regime.)  When Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, was detained by nine hours in Britain’s Heathrow Airport, the Obama Administration was given a head’s up and stayed out of the way, effectively giving their blessing to the intimidating measure.  The journalistic backlash was swift and severe with the President ordering his Attorney General Eric Holder to reform DOJ guidelines on dealing with the press in order to calm the gathering storm.  It didn’t exactly work.  There was even more anger when Obama insisted on using his own White House photographer rather than lensmen of the press when doing official government business.

Then came Edward Snowden.  In June, the former NSA/Booz Allen Hamilton intelligence analyst leaked an indeterminate amount of secret documents to filmmaker Laura Poitras, then-Guardian journalist Greenwald and Washington Post freelancer Barton Gellman while in hiding in a Hong Kong hotel room.  The result:  dozens and dozens of bombshell articles in numerous newspapers and websites, as well as on TV news programs, around the world detailing what the American government is really doing in the name of “fighting terrorism”.  (Basically, they’re spying on everybody, friend and foe, and have been lying about it for years.)

Obama and his corrupt minions were caught completely off-guard by the constant flood of damning stories of mass global surveillance that would dominate political coverage for the rest of the year.  Instead of admitting that maybe, just maybe, that the brave whistleblower was fully justified in doing what he did, Obama was outraged by the protocol breach and wanted him extradited for prosecution.  Snowden is the eighth person to be secretly indicted under the unconstitutional Espionage Act under this ruthless administration even though he never leaked the documents to foreign governments.  Considering his absolute lack of options for a possible Espionage Act defence and the awful fate that befell Private Chelsea Manning the same month the first batch of NSA stories surfaced, he was absolutely right to seek temporary one-year asylum in a country hostile to the U.S.:  Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  (He had little choice.  America cancelled his passport while he flew there.  He was hoping to end up in Latin America.)

As the civil war in Syria raged on, the President suddenly declared that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons on civilians (a controversial claim that was never fully proven) and the American military needed to intervene right now because this had crossed his imaginary “red line”, a phrase he had used during a White House briefing in 2012.  But after the British Parliament rejected getting involved themselves, Obama lost a key ally.  With the American public not at all hungry for more jolly little wars in the Middle East, Obama’s prime-time war pitch was rejected.  Were it not for Secretary Of State John Kerry’s off-hand suggestion during a press conference about the Syrian regime handing over their chemical weapons to be destroyed, there’d be even more suffering in that country than there already is.  (Where is the international push for a ceasefire?)

Which brings us to the Affordable Care Act, the watered down health reform law that was ready to take effect in the fall.  However, when October 1st rolled around, the first day Americans could sign up for new insurance plans, the official ACA website crashed due to the high volume of traffic amid numerous technical glitches, an enormous fuck-up that, despite some eventual repairs, is still frustrating citizens today.  (SNL joked in a sketch that 6 people signed up through the site that first day.  Little did they know, that was actually true.  To be fair, millions more have now successfully selected their plans, despite these technological frustrations.)

Then came all the cancelled plans.  Obama had specifically promised during his initial push for the law that Americans who already had insurance could keep it.  In an alarming number of cases, that turned out to be false.  PolitiFact named this the “Lie Of The Year”.  Furthermore, in some instances, ACA insurance rates are actually higher than the cancelled ones.

Then, there’s the uncomfortable matter of Obama’s drone policy.  Despite promising to take every precaution before launching strikes on alleged “terrorist targets”, civilians are still getting murdered.  The supremely secretive leader has never allowed a full accounting of this and other controversial policies since taking office nearly five years ago.  And don’t get me started on his desire to drill for oil and gas in the melting Arctic, his low tax policies for the rich and the lack of urgency to prosecute torturers, lying spies and Wall Street crooks.

During his final White House press scrum of 2013, the President was asked if this was his worst year in office.  It’s a good thing he demurred at the suggestion.

Why?  Because the worst is yet to come.

Winner:  Daniel Bryan & The Shield

Did anybody in the WWE have a better year than the bearded one and the hounds of justice?

While Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, three talented athletes who can talk, triple powerbombed some of the biggest names in the business in the early months of 2013 – Randy Orton, Sheamus, The Big Show, Ric Flair, The Undertaker, Ryback – Daniel Bryan and his unlikely partner, Kane, were enjoying the second half of their equally unlikely tag team title reign.  Well, The Big Red Monster was perfectly satisfied.  The Yes Man, on the other hand, was deeply insecure about being perceived as the weak link of the team, which led to the usual bickering this otherwise unified team had grown accustomed to.

On pay-per-view, Team Hell No successfully defended their titles against Team Rhodes Scholars at The Royal Rumble and Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston at WrestleMania 29.  Meanwhile, The Shield were racking up a number of impressive victories in six-man matches on TV.  It was only a matter of time before both teams collided in the ring with the titles on the line.

That moment arrived at Extreme Rules in May.  While Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston to snag the United States Championship, Rollins and Reigns overcame Bryan and Kane to snatch the tag belts.  Team Hell No would soon split up with Bryan now singularly focused on overcoming his perceived shortcomings.

And that’s when Beardmania erupted.  Thanks mostly to his countless TV encounters with various members of The Shield in both singles and tag matches, the former American Dragon exhilarated crowds with his high-octane offensive flurries and increasingly likeable personality.  Soon, the angry weak link schtick was dropped and The Yes Man became the new uncrowned People’s Champ.

The Shield would go undefeated cleanly until Hell No and Randy Orton beat them in a very good six-man match on Smackdown in June.  Nonetheless, the men in black would maintain their respective title reigns throughout the rest of the summer as Reigns and Rollins defeated teams like The Usos and The Prime Time Players while Ambrose survived challenges from Kane and Rob Van Dam.

In the build to SummerSlam, WWE Champion John Cena handpicked Bryan to be his opponent in the main event of that show.  In something of a throwback to the CM Punk face turn in the summer of 2011, the number one contender grew some big balls declaring the Leader of the Cenation a mere “entertainer” and himself a “professional wrestler”, one who would go back to working the indie scene if he was ever fired again, something he felt was beneath the WWE Champion.  Showcasing a ferocious passion never seen in his promos before, it caught the attention of Cena who fought back hard during the best moment in the build, a lengthy verbal exchange on Miz TV just days before the pay-per-view.

Then came the match itself which was terrific.  Cena deserves a great deal of credit for wrestling with a serious injury (one of his elbows had a ball of fluid on it which was later removed in surgery) just to get Bryan over in a big way.  Unfortunately, Special Guest Referee Triple H pedigreed the new champion and Money In The Bank briefcase holder Randy Orton covered him to take the belt.  Stupid.

At Night Of Champions, Bryan regained the title but thanks to a fast count by the referee that night Triple H stripped him of the gold on the following Monday Night Raw.  (Also stupid.  There’s been no payoff to that story, either.)  After a rematch resulted in a no-decision at Battleground (damn you, Big Show) the WWE title remained vacant until Hell In A Cell when Bryan’s real-life trainer Shawn Michaels superkicked him right out of the title picture.  Orton has held the belt ever since and thanks to his victory over then-World Heavyweight Champion John Cena at TLC, he’s now the unified WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

As for Rollins and Reigns, in the autumn they started a feud with The Rhodes Brothers which led to a critically acclaimed match at Battleground.  (The Shield lost to Goldust and Cody who got their jobs back.  Long story.)  Their five-month title run drew to a close when The Brotherhood, as they’re now called, won the straps in an uneven match on Raw.  (The second half being far more entertaining than the first.)  Ambrose remains the U.S. titleholder.

With Bryan stuck in a mid-card feud with The Wyatt Family (but still making his presence known to both Cena and Orton), and cracks starting to show in the once united Shield front as they tangle with former ally CM Punk (who looks ready to face Triple H again), it’s not certain if all this momentum these four grapplers enjoyed in 2013 can be maintained from beyond.  Regardless, with 10 Slammys between them this year and 5 championships, no one else on the roster could touch them.

Loser:  Paula Deen

It took years to build her cooking empire but only one word to bring it all down.

Southern chef Paula Deen was the lovable Food Network host with the bad reputation for making incredibly unhealthy food.  (She once suggested that kids eat high-calorie desserts for both breakfast and lunch.)  For two years, she kept her Diabetes diagnosis secret until it was exposed by The National Enquirer.

Then came a discrimination lawsuit in early 2012 from a former employee who claimed sexual and racial harassment within the confines of a violent, hostile workplace.  At the time, it was a little-seen story.  But after The National Enquirer published shocking quotes from her deposition in the Spring of 2013, the shit hit the fan.

Deen admitted she had used the word “nigger”, as did her brother who allegedly showed hard core pornography to their employees.  She also confirmed that she wanted to have black people dressed as slaves for an outdoor plantation wedding, a plan that was thankfully shelved because the controversial cook was worried about how it would look in the media.

Once the story got picked up by the mainstream press, Deen cancelled a Today Show appearance (she eventually rescheduled) and channelled Jimmy Swaggert with one teary-eyed YouTube apology after another in the vain hope that the story would not hurt her brand.

But hurt her brand it did.  Her multi-cookbook publishing contract was cancelled, endorsement deals were scrapped and The Food Network, already looking for a reason to cancel all three of her low-rated shows, yanked her off the airwaves.

Although she ultimately won her civil case, the damage was done.  May she never return.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
5:25 p.m.

Published in: on December 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Winners & Losers Of 2013 (Part Four)

Winner:  Zombies

The horror genre was very kind to Hollywood studios this year.  Ditto the undead.

45 years after the release of the influential Night Of The Living Dead, zombies continue to play a major role in American pop culture.  In fact, you could argue that they might be bigger now than the genre itself.

In February, Nicholas Hoult, the kid who melted the hearts of Hugh Grant, critics and movie fans in the very funny About A Boy, became a not-so-cannibalistic adult zombie in Warm Bodies, the critically acclaimed dramedy about his unlikely romance with a human.  Co-starring John Malkovich, the film took in a surprising 120 million in international box office receipts.

In June, Brad Pitt found himself in the middle of a worldwide zombie invasion in the summer blockbuster World War Z.  It received mostly respectable reviews and ended up being the most commercially successful horror film of the year.

Which brings us to The Walking Dead.  The cable Television series has exploded in popularity since its third season which began in October 2012.  Averaging more than 10 million viewers a week, the third season finale that aired in March 2013 was seen by almost 13 million alone.  (In its abbreviated first year, it averaged a little more than 5 million every week.)  Season four began nearly a year later and the ratings have continued to climb.  The premiere was watched by slightly more than 16 million fans, an unheard of number for a cable program.  To put this in perspective, it’s generating almost as much interest as The Big Bang Theory, the very funny CBS sitcom often found near or at the top of the weekly Neilsen ratings.

Beloved by fans, critics are just as enamoured with its plotlines.  Season four wraps up this coming March while season five commences next fall.

Until the public grows completely disenchanted with these lumbering, demonic connoisseurs of human flesh, the undead’s pop culture invasion will live on in the foreseeable future.

Loser:  San Diego Mayor Bob Filner & New York Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner

Can you judge a man by his creepy smile?  In Bob Filner’s case:  yes.

Back in the summer, the Democratic Mayor of San Diego found himself embroiled in a scandal of his own making when he was accused of sexual harassment by not one, not two but almost 20 different women, some of whom were at one time part of his staff.  (And that was just one of his ethical dilemmas this year.)  Despite a flimsy attempt at an apology (I’m sorry but I did nothing wrong), Filner repeatedly declared his innocence and his intention to remain Mayor.

As more and more victims came forward with sordid tales of inappropriate comments, unwanted touching, groping & kissing, and sleazy voicemail messages, the calls for him to resign grew louder and stronger, especially from members of his own Democratic Party.  Filner’s solution was to seek help from a sex therapist, a transparently phony gesture that lasted less than a week.

Inevitably, the city negotiated a settlement with Filner, in connection with a lawsuit filed by one of his victims, so he could bow out somewhat gracefully.  Then, he gave his contradictory, self-serving resignation speech which prevented any chance of that happening.  Facing the possibility of several years in prison for his actions against three unidentified victims, the twice-divorced 71-year-old (who was actually engaged at the height of this scandal; his ex-fiancé, unsurprisingly, called it off) settled for a plea deal that keeps him out of jail, places him on three years of probation, keeps him under house arrest for three months and bans him from political life forever.

When they make the inevitable movie, give Dennis Quaid a call.  He needs the work.

Meanwhile, former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner was hoping to mount a major political comeback in New York.  What he got instead was an even more embarrassing scandal than the one that turfed him from his office two years ago.

To recap, in 2011, the newlywed Weiner was trying to send a private picture of his bulging member to another woman on Twitter that accidentally went public.  The story immediately caught the attention of the conservative press.  The then-Congressman claimed that he was hacked and that wasn’t his dong.

Wrong.  In an embarrassing, teary-eyed press conference shortly thereafter where he announced his resignation, he admitted he lied to avoid being humiliated.  The silly cover-up made his dilemma that much more embarrassing.

But all of that was just a prelude to this year’s race for the New York Mayoralty.

As Weiner started rising in the polls (he was actually an early frontrunner), more pics of his pole surfaced online.  This time, it was free from its cotton prison.  Early on in his campaign, Weiner warned that this was going to happen.  What he didn’t say was that he didn’t learn his lesson from two years ago.

It turns out that he never did stop sexting women he’s not married to on the Internet, even after getting caught the first time.  One such online playmate, Sydney Leathers, later spilled the beans to Howard Stern claiming that Weiner was insatiable and just wouldn’t leave her alone.  She went on to make a porno.

As history started repeating itself, Weiner, famously ill-tempered and clearly worn out from all the bad press, started to lash out and act like a total dick to reporters.  His favourability ratings plummeting, Weiner ultimately finished 5th out of 9 candidates in the Democratic primary.  He achieved less than 5% of the popular vote.  Democratic nominee Bill de Blasio, who got more than 40%, would go on to become NYC’s next Mayor in an enormous landslide.

Once again, the undistinguished, compulsive Congressman was rejected by the electorate for all the wrong reasons.

Winner:  John Oliver

In the history of The Daily Show, there have only been two full-time hosts – Craig Kilborn and Jon Stewart – and no substitutes.  That all changed this past Spring when Stewart, who has anchored the news parody program for almost 15 straight years, announced a three-month summer sabbatical to make a movie in the Middle East.

Instead of weeks and weeks of reruns, however, someone else would steer the comedic ship in new episodes.  Longtime British comedian John Oliver, who has been an affably cheeky Daily Show correspondent for the past seven years, would be the temporary new captain.

Fortunately, the return of Anthony Weiner’s penis, Bob Filner’s creepy behaviour, Paula Deen’s racism, the endless NSA scandal and all that peculiar fuss over the British Royal Baby gave Oliver, his writing team and fellow correspondents plenty of inspiration for some of the funniest segments on the show this year.  I was particularly amused by his occasionally recurrent homage to John Cena’s “You Can’t See Me” hand gesture and the Carlos Danger theme song the show came up with for Weiner’s nom de horndog.

Both the media and the public agreed that Oliver was so good, maybe Stewart could take his time making that movie overseas.  In the end, the American neophyte director returned to the anchor chair the day after Labour Day and the British ex-pat went back to his usual tomfoolery like excessive air humping and sharp, sly, satirical questioning during his pre-taped reports.  During the final show of 2013, Stewart paid tribute to his departing colleague (Oliver will be hosting his own show on HBO in the new year besides continuing his weekly Comedy Central stand-up series) with an unusual mixture of sweet sincerity and highlight-packaged hilarity.  By the end of the final clip, Oliver was an apologetic puddle of tears.

No need to be sorry, Mr. Oliver.  The Daily Show won’t be the same without your smart, silly antics.

Loser:  Sylvester Stallone & Arnold Schwarzenegger

Two 80s action icons well into their 60s learned a valuable lesson from the American moviegoing public in 2013:  stick with The Expendables franchise.

In January, the highly controversial former Governor of Calleefornya played a sheriff preparing to take out fleeing drug runners in The Last Stand.  Despite receiving mostly good reviews, North American audiences were completely disinterested.  The next month, the man who gave us Rocky Balboa appeared in Bullet To The Head.  Directed by Walter Hill, this anti-buddy crime thriller stars the former Rambo as an aging, tattooed hitman out for revenge after the murder of his longtime partner.

Helping him in his thirst for violent retaliation is a by-the-book Korean detective (Sung Kang) who’s investigating the murder of a corrupt ex-cop, someone the Stallone character bumps off in the film’s opening scene.  A miscast Christian Slater plays a sleazy attorney in alliance with a shady African national (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) over some uninteresting real estate plans.

Confusing, unpersuasive, uninvolving and witless (although my dad was deeply amused by one of the supporting villains being named after him), it’s no wonder the film divided critics and scared off filmgoers.  The idea that Stallone could ever kick the ass of Jason Mimoa (Conan The Barbarian), a ripped giant of a man decades his junior, is only one of the film’s many problems.

In October, Stallone & Schwarzenegger joined forces for the prison thriller, Escape Plan.  Co-starring Jesus himself (Jim Caviezel from The Passion Of The Christ), critics were mixed.  Although the film found a receptive audience overseas, North Americans could care less.

Stallone has one last chance for a domestic hit this year.  On Christmas Day, he boxes Robert De Niro in the action comedy Grudge Match.  If the early critical pans are any indication, he shouldn’t get his hopes up.  Plus, the film will be facing stiff competition that day.  (JANUARY 1, 2014 UPDATE:  It had a terrible first week.  It will be lucky to recoup its entire budget, let alone make a profit.  More critics have panned it now.)

Is it any wonder Schwarzenegger is prepping sequels to Conan, Twins and Terminator while both men will appear in the third Expendables movie next year?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
2:36 p.m.

Published in: on December 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Winners & Losers Of 2013 (Part Three)

Winner:  Zero Dark Thirty

Military slang for 12:30 a.m., this epic two and a half hour dramatization of the American military’s 2011 hunt for Osama Bin Laden was an overwhelming critic’s fave late last year.  When it went into wide release this past January, it became the most talked about film in the country.  When all was said and done, ZDT made over 130 million worldwide.  (It was made for 40 million.)  Furthermore, it ended up being nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow) and Best Actress (Jessica Chastain).  Many professional observers believed it was the Oscar frontrunner.

Loser:  Zero Dark Thirty

The media were wrong on both counts.  It’s a terrible, irresponsible piece of shit and thanks to all the controversy surrounding its depiction of torture as being helpful to locating the Al Qaeda leader (a highly disputed plot point), not to mention the classified information the filmmakers were somehow allowed to see without any consequence to the leakers, plus the accepted script revisions “suggested” by the CIA, ZDT only took home one golden gong:  Best Sound Editing, which it had to share with the James Bond sequel, Skyfall.

Winner:  Dolph Ziggler

The former Spirit Squad member began 2013 with the beautiful AJ Lee by his side and a Money In The Bank briefcase in his hand.  (He would add a bodyguard, Big E. Langston, later on.)  He was the number one entrant in the Royal Rumble in January and lasted nearly 50 minutes throwing both The Godfather and the returning Chris Jericho over the top rope to the floor.  (Ziggler was the 27th man to be eliminated.)

The night after WrestleMania 29, following almost nine months of teases and delays, The Show-Off finally cashed in his MITB briefcase on then-World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio in an electrifying impromptu match on Monday Night Raw in April.  It took roughly five minutes but he captured the gold following a Zig Zag.

Loser:  Dolph Ziggler

Just a few weeks later, during a Smackdown segment, the new WHC was accidentally kicked so hard in the head by his former tag team partner, Jack Swagger, he suffered a severe concussion that resulted in a three-day memory loss.  This unforeseen circumstance meant Ziggler wouldn’t be able to defend his newly won title in a Triple Threat ladder match at Extreme Rules in May.  (Del Rio beat The Real American in an “I Quit” match to become the number one contender instead.)

At Payback in June, Ziggler not only dropped the title to the man he beat, he also switched roles.  Mexico’s Greatest Export reverted to his villainous ways and The Show-Off became a fan favourite.  Unfortunately, like The Miz, Ziggler didn’t really tweak his character all that much to trigger the appropriate response.  (The right time for him to turn face was when he won the title on Raw in front of a super-hot crowd.)  He also dumped AJ, now the Divas Champion.  Furthermore, his feud with his ex and former bodyguard (now a babyface InterContinental Champion), was just terrible.

Since then, he’s been stuck in the mid-card wasting away while also-rans like John Cena and Randy Orton remain in the main event picture.

It’s not fair.  He deserves better.

Winner:  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

He won the WWE Championship from CM Punk at The Royal Rumble in January, despite the efforts of The Shield.  He beat Punk again in a rematch at Elimination Chamber in February.  And he revived his 2012 feud with John Cena whom he faced in the main event of WrestleMania 29, which was seen in more than a million homes on pay-per-view.  The entire live event generated a reported 72 million, the highest in the company’s near 50-year history.

Also in February, Snitch debuted at number one in its first weekend.  In March, the delayed G.I. Joe sequel, Retaliation, took in 375 million globally, about 70 million more than its predecessor.  In April, he co-starred with Mark Wahlberg in Pain & Gain which earned almost 90 million worldwide.  And in May, he returned for the sixth Fast & Furious movie which earned surprisingly strong reviews and almost 800 million in international box office receipts, making it the most successful installment in the series to date.  As a result of all this, he was named the most bankable star of the year by Forbes magazine.

Loser:  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

The Rumble encounter with Punk was a snoozefest.  The EC rematch, unseen by me, wasn’t well received, either.  Johnson dropped his gaudy WWE Championship belt to Cena at WrestleMania 29 in a match that was worse than their non-title clash at WrestleMania 28 (the 2012 broadcast was shown in 1.3 million homes on PPV, a record that remains intact).  Because of an untimely injury, an angle with Brock Lesnar, that was to begin on the very next Monday Night Raw, was scrapped due to the fact that The Great One needed immediate surgery.  Who knows when The People’s Champ will return to wrestle again.

Snitch was a modest grosser that divided critics.  Pain & Gain split reviewers, as well.  G.I. Joe 2 was poorly reviewed while Empire State went straight to video.

Winner:  Blurred Lines

It was the biggest song of the year, the indisputable anthem of the summer.  This irresistibly catchy, sexually provocative dance collaboration with T.I. and Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes debuted at number one on Billboard and stayed there for three straight months.  It has sold six million copies thus far in North America alone.  According to a recent Oprah’s Next Chapter, it topped the singles charts in more than 100 countries.  The uncensored version of the equally popular video has been viewed almost 240 million times online.  Thicke’s live performance of the song with Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards was the most talked about event on Twitter this year, not only supplanting all the online chatter about Beyoncé’s half-time performance at the Super Bowl but also topping everything else since the site went online almost a decade ago.  And the song has been nominated for a couple of Grammys including Record Of The Year.

Loser:  Blurred Lines

The estate of Marvin Gaye believes it sounds a little too much like the late R&B star’s Got To Give It Up.  (Thicke admits it was a major influence on the track but denies any charges of plagiarism.)  Music publisher Bridgeport Music, which owns the copyrights to funk pioneer George Clinton’s material, thinks it’s a rip off of Funkadelic’s Sexy Ways.  Before either party had the chance to file a copyright infringement lawsuit, Thicke beat them to it with his own litigation.  As of right now, this legal dispute remains unresolved.

The MTV performance was heavily criticized for its hyper-sexualized presentation (although Cyrus received most of the blame because of her amusing twerking schtick).  The song was banned from being played at a number of colleges and universities in America and the UK.  And feminists were outraged not only by the video where the male artists are fully clothed and the women are topless but also by the controversial lyrical content which they argue promotes rape, an incendiary accusation that will be debated for decades to come.  One such organization named the Canadian singer “Sexist Of The Year“.

Winner:  George Zimmerman

In the summer, he was acquitted of murdering unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in the second degree, a verdict as predictable as the understandable worldwide outrage that followed its unveiling.  The prosecution might’ve had better luck securing a manslaughter conviction.  Right from the start, Zimmerman had nothing to worry about.

Loser:  George Zimmerman

You would think after beating this high-profile murder rap he would keep a low profile.  Well, you don’t know Zimmerman.

On July 28th, just 15 days after he got his freedom back, the former Florida neighbourhood watchman was pulled over for speeding.  He admitted to having a concealed gun in his glove compartment.  He was let off with a warning.  In early September, he was pulled over again for going over the legal speed limit.  No hidden weapon this time.  He was ultimately given a $256 ticket.

Then came the domestic violence accusations.  A week after the second speeding incident, Zimmerman was arrested for threatening his wife (who had just filed for divorce) and attacking her father.  Sadly, the case collapsed when video evidence captured on an iPad was irretrievable thanks to the former watchman obliterating it before police took it into custody.  For her part, Shellie Zimmerman backed off on wanting him prosecuted.  (Perhaps this is what changed her mind.)  Furthermore, it wasn’t their first violent altercation.  Then, in November, he was arrested again regarding a scary incident involving his new girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe.  Florida police weren’t accepting his version of events at face value so he was charged with “domestic aggravated assault with a weapon, domestic battery and criminal mischief.”

Once again, the victim had a change of heart and wanted the whole thing to go away.  On December 11th, she got her wish.

Right now, Trayvon Martin’s killer is the luckiest man on Earth escaping all these serious charges.  But for how much longer?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 22, 2013
10:45 p.m.

Published in: on December 22, 2013 at 10:45 pm  Leave a Comment