Thursday, April 04, 2013


We all knew Roger was really having a hard time of it these last few years. The dead give-away was when he had the lower half of his face amputated as part of his fight with cancer.

Fight with cancer.


In the words of the late, great Warren Zevon, Roger' shit was fucked up.

Salivary glands.

Shit's fucked up.

Thyroid shit.

Shit's fucked up.

Shit shit shit.

Roger hung in there and enjoyed the last part of his life, against unbelievable do enjoy swallowing?...Roger couldn't.... and contributed some great insights for people who were paying attention.

Like Hitchens before him, Roger Ebert's cancer was public. He wrote about it. He wondered aloud about it.  He made some of us think about it. He made me think about it.

He was a Chicago Titan. Like Algren, Brooks, Studs, Royko, Kup,.... Roger Ebert is to Chicago what so many, almost countless others, have tried, and failed, to be.

He was ours.

There has been so much written today about Roger that anything I'd say is just more of the same.

Roger was an original. Along with Gene, another original, they created something from nothing. And that something has grown into an industry. That something has fed and watered so many Siskel & Ebert knock-offs it would take a month to list them.

Two guys sitting in the front row of the balcony, on the aisle, watching movies. And then arguing about them.

The greatest thing about "At The Movies" was Roger & Gene's astonishing ability to shake off an insult from 5 seconds ago and move on to the next movie. Laughing.

Roger's classes at Chicago and Champaign are the stuff of legend. Like taking a class on astrophysics with Neil Armstrong as your prof.

His movie reviews in the paper, online, and on TV have been the deciding vote for tens of millions of moviegoers.

A thumbs-up from Roger....was like the OK sign from Johnny.

The dude will be missed in these parts especially, but everywhere really.

Rest in peace Roger.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Petition

When I started my petition on Saturday evening, I told a few friends on Twitter about it. Being a gun owner, I figured there must be some middle ground between people who want a total ban on guns, and people who want unfettered access to any and all weapons.

So I picked assault rifles (which I've been told was the wrong choice of words...assault weapons would have been proper) and high capacity magazines.

"The goal of this petition is to make illegal the sale of assault rifles and high capacity magazines. While not an indictment of the 2nd Amendment, we feel the time has come to address the ambiguous language allowing citizens the right to bear arms. There can be no practical reason for non-military personnel to own these sorts of armaments."

That's the petition.

A needs petition needs 150 signatures to make the list on the WH website. It remains hidden up to that point, I guess so that they don't have a rolling list of stupid petitions bumping legitimate ones from the front page. We passed the 150 threshold around 9PM on Saturday, thanks to my friends from WSCR radio, and my fellow Scoreheads.

We wondered if we had a shot at 25,000 signatures within the 30 day window allowed by the White House, after which a petition is removed and must be restarted. If a petition does reach 25,000 signatures, the White House issues a reply.

I checked the petition on Sunday morning, about 12 hours after it first started, and we were up to 1500 signatures. That sort of startled me, although in hindsight I guess it shouldn't have.

We passed the 10,000 signature mark yesterday morning, and the 20,000 signature mark today at about 9AM...and we just passed the 21,000 about 10 seconds ago. A thousand signatures in 90 minutes. Jesus. There are signatures from every state in the union, Washington DC, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and numerous military bases around the world. Worth noting, the last 4 states to be represented were Montana, Alaska, Wyoming, and South Dakota....the last of which didn't sign in until Sunday night. WTF South Dakota?

Anyway, after crunching some numbers, I came up with this....In 64 1/2 hours we've collected 21,000 signatures. That's 3870 minutes since the petition was first posted. That works out to be 5.4 signatures per minute, every minute, since it went up. That works out to be one signature every 11 seconds.

At this rate, we should pass the 25,000 threshold sometime this afternoon.

So that was Thursday
We got our reply today....

Official White House Response to Urge Congress to advance federal legislation banning the sale of assault rifles & high capacity magazines.

A Message from President Obama about Your Petition on Reducing Gun Violence

By Bruce Reed
In the days since the tragedy in Newtown, Americans from all over the country have called for action to deter mass shootings and reduce gun violence. Hundreds of thousands of you have signed petitions on the White House's We the People petitions platform.
I'm writing you today to thank you for speaking up, to update you on an important development, and to encourage you to continue engaging with the White House on this critical issue.
First, you should know that President Obama is paying close to attention to the public response to this tragedy. In fact, he sat down to record a message specifically for those of you who have joined the conversation using We the People. Watch it now:

On Wednesday, the President outlined a series of first steps we can take to begin the work of ending this cycle of violence. This is what he said:
We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides. And as I said on Sunday night, there's no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. We're going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We're going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. And any actions we must take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts.
But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence, and prevent the very worst violence.
Vice President Biden has been asked to work with members of the Administration, Congress, and the general public to come up with a set of concrete policy proposals by next month -- proposals the President intends to push swiftly. The President asked the Vice President to lead this effort in part because he wrote and passed the 1994 Crime Bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime in America. That bill included the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

As the Vice President's Chief of Staff, I'm going to do everything I can to ensure we run a process that includes perspectives from all sides of the issue, which is why I wanted to respond to your petition myself. Two decades ago, as domestic policy adviser in the Clinton White House, I first worked with Joe Biden as he fought to enact the Crime Bill, the assault weapons ban, and the Brady Bill. I will never forget what a key role the voices of concerned citizens like you played in that vital process.

The President called on Congress to pass important legislation "banning the sale of military-style assault weapons," "banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips," and "requiring background checks before all gun purchases, so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all."

An issue this serious and complex isn't going to be resolved with a single legislative proposal or policy prescription. And let's be clear, any action we take will respect the Second Amendment. As the President said:

Look, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that's been handed down from generation to generation. Obviously across the country there are regional differences. There are differences between how people feel in urban areas and rural areas. And the fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible -- they buy their guns legally and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sport shooting, collection or protection.
But you know what, I am also betting that the majority -- the vast majority -- of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war. I'm willing to bet that they don't think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas -- that an unbalanced man shouldn't be able to get his hands on a military-style assault rifle so easily; that in this age of technology, we should be able to check someone's criminal records before he or she can check out at a gun show; that if we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown -- or any of the lesser-known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across America every day.

The President said it best: "Ultimately if this effort is to succeed it's going to require the help of the American people -- it's going to require all of you. If we're going to change things, it's going to take a wave of Americans -- mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals -- and, yes, gun owners -- standing up and saying 'enough' on behalf of our kids."
So let's continue this conversation and get something meaningful done.

If you have additional ideas and are interested in further engagement with the White House on this issue, please let us know and share your thoughts here:

Thank you for speaking out and staying involved.

Bruce Reed is Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden