Actor-writer-director Tom Laughlin, whose production and marketing of his 1971 movie Billy Jack set a standard for breaking the rules on and off screen, died Thursday at a Thousand Oaks, California, hospital of complications from pneumonia. He was 82. Laughlin was in his mid-30s when he created Billy Jack with his wife and collaborator, Delores Taylor. The title character was an anti-war Vietnam veteran who was half-white, half Native American and a practitioner of martial arts. In recent years, Laughlin wrote books and attempted to make another Billy Jack movie. "There had been lots of interest and deals would sort of come together and not happen," said his daughter Teresa Laughlin. "One of the prime reasons that he couldn't get a deal was his failing health and, I think, his inability to come to terms with that. In his mind's eye, he remained Billy Jack."
Anti-minimum wage conservatives are in full gloat over a recent report in a Seattle magazine that lots of Seattle restaurants have closed lately or are due to close in the next weeks or months. read more
Defying the Republican-run Congress, President Barack Obama rejected a bill Tuesday to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, wielding his veto power for only the third time in his presidency. "The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously," Obama said in a brief notice delivered to the Senate. "But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people." The move sends the politically charged issue back to Congress, where Republicans haven't shown they can muster the two-thirds majority in both chambers needed to override Obama's veto.
"American Sniper" lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society -- the gun culture, the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate right as a "Christian" nation to exterminate the "lesser breeds" of the earth, a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of critical thinking and artistic expression. Many Americans, especially white Americans trapped in a stagnant economy and a dysfunctional political system, yearn for the supposed moral renewal and rigid, militarized control the movie venerates. These passions, if realized, will extinguish what is left of our now-anemic open society.
Max Fisher, Vox: Fox News is not exactly known as an ally of the Obama administration, especially when it comes to disputes between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, or disputes between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet two prominent Fox News hosts, Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith, harshly criticized Boehner and Netanyahu on Friday for secretly arranging a Netanyahu speech to Congress that is transparently aimed at undermining President Obama, and set up without the White House's knowledge.