Monday, October 5, 2009


The Founding Mothers and Fathers of our nation were wary of banks and landed interests. Why?

Because they knew all too well the corruption of Europe – the divine right of kings, the poor houses and the generally abysmal conditions of life for most, except the gentry who lived off the land they owned by rank and title and on the backs of their peasants.

Our Founding Mothers and Fathers sought to create real democracy, wherein everyone, created equally by God, was entitled to a piece of the pie. Of course, some would always have a larger piece, but not the whole damn thing.

What we have today is a far cry from the democracy envisioned by those who laid the foundations of our land. What we have today is a plutocracy, an oligarchy, run and ruined by the wealthy 1 percent who have manipulated the markets, gained control of the financial engines of government and thus powerfully influence both courts and legislatures.

It’s a horrific picture, when one dares to look at it for what it really is, rather than through the rose colored glasses the wealthy have shoved onto our faces, the hope that we, too, could, one day, be wealthy – the power of the American Dream. But that’s the point – it’s just a dream, and though millions toil away trying to reach it, and millions pretend they have, borrowing themselves silly on credit, which, of course, the big boys have arranged, only to further deepen our debt and enslave us further – just like the peasants of old. And if that’s shocking, check out – one of the slimiest devices ever invented – tens of thousands workers worth more to their company when dead than alive.

Where’s a prophet when profits become obscene?

Where’s a prophet when religion fails to offer anything but salve to the conscience and a narcotic to the mind?

Here comes an ungainly figure, with rumbled clothing and baseball hat, a man from Flint, Michigan – reared in the heartland of the FDR middle class, knowing full well how men like his father built this great nation, with the help of FDR, unions and a government that knew how to tackle the big boys and put them in their place.

Michael Moore, standing in front of the AIG building in Manhattan with a bullhorn making a citizen's arrest, wrapping crime-scene tape around a Wall Street skyscraper ... searching out the crimes of the wealthy against our nation (click HERE for a trailer).

Oh, how the big boys hate all of this, and they’ve spent billions to undo the social victories of FDR (check out his Second Bill of Rights), emasculate the middle class and bust the unions, all the while blaming the unions for high costs of production, while they suck off millions for themselves, lay off workers, shutter plants, outsource manufacturing – because the wealthy couldn’t care less where a product is made nor the worker who makes it. And who needs the middle class? Not the wealthy, that’s for sure.

See Michael Moore’s “Capitalism” – and America, let’s grow up to be the nation envisioned by our Founding Mothers and Fathers, let’s take a second look at FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, and if you happen to be a Christian, or something akin thereto, take a look at the Bible again – and ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” when it comes to Bank of America and all the rest of the boardroom scoundrels who’ve pillaged the land and looted the public treasury, laughing all the way to the bank and sneering at the rest of us from their position of privilege?

Wake up America!

This is a serious business, because there are domestic enemies plotting even now to undo our Democracy. No, not the guy with the beard, but the smiling dolt with the spray-on tan and the pink tie, the head of Countrywide. And the goons and gargoyles of big biz who have bowed the knee to Mammon and sold their soul to the Devil. And their political toadies who manipulate the laws and the purveyors of cheap big-box religion who soothe the soul of the people with spiritual nostrums about heaven and self-improvement nonsense, lest The People wake up and see the horror.

Am I wrong?

Hope so, and then who cares?

But what if I’m right, and what if Michael Moore is the Prophet of our time, calling attention to the moral breakdown at the highest levels of our society?

You see, it's not the poor guy on the corner or the young girl selling herself; it's not gays and lesbians and doctors who do abortions. No, they’re not the problem.

The hyper-wealthy are the problem.

They’ve always been the problem.

And as long as good government comes to the side of The People and balances out the power of the wealthy, we all have a chance, even the wealthy.

Yes, even the wealthy, who, if left alone, devour themselves, right along with all the rest of us. They need as much protection from themselves as The People need protection from them!

So, who needs FDR’s vision? And Michael Moore’s penetrating analysis of society? We all do, but it’s up to The People to raise a cry for justice.

If you see only one film this year, see Michael Moore’s “Capitalism.” Because he's a man who truly loves America!

The Informant

Steven Soderberg has pulled off a remarkable feat – telling a serious story from a comedic point of view, using Marvin Hamlisch music as a comedic device overlay for a sad and pathetic story – greed run amok in ADM and the tangled, fanciful dreams of a schizophrenic executive who wants to bring ADM down while scamming the company of millions.

Based upon the incredible book by the New York Times writer, Kurt Eichenwald, the story unfolds as if it were a novel. It’s hard to believe that the goons at the top could be so craven, so greedy, so far removed from real life, ensconced in their Midwest empire, cheating every American, 5 cents at a pop, for every bottle of Coke and every Chicken McNugget … as suppliers of fructose (corn-based sweetener) and Lysine, a growth hormone essential to meat production.

Getting back to the Hamlisch music, which is brilliant, reminded me of “The Sting.” The folks who saw it with me felt as if the music were an artificial overlay. One said, “I think they finished the film and weren’t satisfied – so they pasted the music on top of it.”

For me, it fit Soderberg’s experimental style. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film where music played such an important role – more than supporting the story, but actually telling a counterpoint story – as we watch bunch of buffoons parade around as if they were important, when, in fact, they’re only clowns, albeit a bloodthirsty crew.

I thought it a brilliant casting coup to have Tom Smothers portray Dwayne Andreas, head of ADM. Though but a cameo roll, it captured much of the story for me – the whole ADM world – full of small self-important, entitled, men clowning around; the tragedy of it all - they had neither the moral nor intellectual stature to see themselves for what they were.

Profits and profits alone motivated them. And together with their worldwide competitors, they set about fixing prices, artificially allotting production quotas and setting price to boost their profits on the backs of working men and women around the world.

By the way, the ADM story is perfectly counterpointed in Michael Moore’s latest, “Capitalism.”

Matt Damon captures the insane mindset of Mark Whitacre who wanted to expose ADM for some weird amalgam of moral sensitivity, greed and an ambitious dream to be the heroic savior, and eventual head, of ADM.

Lucas McHugh Carroll brilliantly captures the naiveté of Whitacre’s Midwest wife – a decent sort of woman, but unable to push her way through the tangled web of wealth and comfort. She defends her husband to the end.

One of the saddest pieces of the story (both the book and the film) is how the ADM sharks (attorneys) set out to destroy the case by going after the FBI agents driving the investigation – one of whom is played by Scott Bakula who carefully captures this earnest young agent with a keen sense of justice and doing it right. But in a world of sharks, even the good are eaten alive.

As part of the shifting landscape in America, as we discover how evil the world created by Reagan and deregulation, how the big boys have looted the economy and pillaged the public good, “The Informant” tells one critical piece of the story. That all of this stuff could happen in America boggles the mind, but the America we know today is a far cry from the America envisioned by the Founding Mothers and Fathers, and a million miles away from the social victories won by FDR for The People, yes, the People.

Worth seeing?

For sure! But if you want to wait for Netflix, go ahead.


It’s a lot of fun, and I love Woody Harrelson in his devil-may-care, toughg-guy role as one of the few human beings alive who isn’t interested in eating another human being; what he craves above all else is Twinkies, and, excuse me, Snowballs won’t do – he doesn’t like coconut – it’s not the flavor, just the texture.

The second role goes to Jesse Eisenberg who does his usual, but brilliant, young Woody Allen fussbudget, angst-driven nerd who survives with a long list of rules, such as “double tap” (you’ll have to see the movie) and “never be a hero.”

Their counterpart is played well by Emma Stone and Abigail Bresslin as two clever, survival-bent sisters, on their way to a west coast amusement park rumored to be free of zombies. While Harrelson plays by his brawn, Eisenberg by his caution, the girls play by their wits and take advantage of male gullibility (sorry guys, that’s the way it is).

In such a world, there can be no intimacy: so names are never used (with one exception in a rare tender moment), so they’re named after their hometowns, or destinations or whatever: Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg), Little Rock (Breslin) and Wichita (Stone). 

The zombies, shades of every Fifties B movie, are ravenously hungry for human flesh – aren’t they all? And though overwhelming in numbers, they’re easy to kill because of their obsession. Hmmm.

This is, in many respects, your typical road movie, within an apocalyptic world. Will they or won’t they? While the two teams seek to undo one another at first, there grows a grudging realization that they might just do better working together.

The film ends at the amusement park amid a pile of dead zombies, and this reflection from Columbus, “If you don’t have friends, you might as well be a zombie.”

For me, the story is a parable of America – have we become a nation of zombies, devouring one another to satisfy an unending ravenous appetite? Has fear taken such a hold that intimacy is impossible? That names, real names, no longer count? And is there a place free of zombies? A safe place for us?

Technically, the film is well done! What can I say. Of course, it’s a B movie, so don’t press it on details (such as, if the world is now filled with zombies, how can the power grid still be working to light the amusement park and run the rides?)

Sure, it’s light entertainment, but it’s fun to watch with a lot of laughs.

See it in the theater? Yeah, I think so.

And be careful of the zombies – they’ll eat ya’ alive!