Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vote 4 Beast of the Year 2009!

Who is The Konformist Beast of the Year?

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It's time for the annual pick of The Konformist Beast of the Year.

One nominee was chosen each month from May 2008 to April 2009. Here are the choices:

May 2008: Roger Clemens

June 2008: Robert Gates

July 2008: Barack Obama

August 2008: Hu Jintao

September 2008: Zbigniew Brzezinski

October 2008: The Wall Street $700 Billion Bailout Swindle

November 2008: Sarah Palin

December 2008: Al From

January 2009: Rick Wagoner

February 2009: Bernie Madoff

March 2009: Uwe Boll

April 2009: Rick Santelli

To see profiles on each, go to:

To vote for your pick go to:

Or send email to:

Beast of the Month - April 2009

Beast of the Month - April 2009
Rick Santelli
Pseudo-populist Cable Shill

"I yam an anti-Christ..."
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"

Populism in America is a funny thing. When it comes from the mouths of guys like Michael Moore, Jim Hightower or Greg Palast who focus their energy defending the little guy against corporate abuse and the collusion of big business and big government, the work gets either ignored or relentlessly attacked. When so-called populism focuses its ire on lesser (and often uglier) targets, on the other hand, it gets highlighted as something to take notice of.

Take Glenn Beck, for example. (And we really mean it, PLEASE take him.) He has become a leading doomsayer in the Obama hackathon that takes place daily on Fox News, and a ratings champ on the "We report, you decide" network. This despite (or perhaps because of) the fact any examination of Beck's rants would reveal a man who isn't a populist like often hyped, but rather someone who is utterly psychotic. Stephen Colbert recently had fun with this on his show, urging Beck to "crank up the crazy and rip off the knob!" He did so after Beck presented an apocalyptic scenario Colbert described as "the most terrifying fictional future I have ever heard yanked right out of someone's ass." He summed up Beck's future vision of America as a land of "ignorant, illiterate, whacked-out hillbillies with nothing to lose. Terrifying! But, more viewers for Fox News!" It's hard to believe that Fox, already the home of borderline personalities such as Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, could actually lower the bar for unhinged behavior, but, by golly, we gotta hand it to them, they have.

Then there's good old Rush Limbaugh, who is being touted as the new leader of the GOP. Limbaugh, much like O'Reilly, has long portrayed himself as a champion against the establishment, though already unconvincing after any comparison of his deranged oxy-fueled radio rants with Republican talking points memos. Besides this, it's hard to take seriously a multi-millionaire who has never worn blue jeans his entire life when he feigns to be a common man, especially when he froths about right-wing economics that screws the working class in favor of the rich.

Speaking of the working class, how about Joe Wurzelbacher, AKA Joe the Plumber, who was made into a working class hero near the end of the desperate McCain campaign? This after Joe whined to Obama about plans to raise taxes on people making over $250K a year (not a major working class concern.) To be fair, Joe W. deserves some sympathy after the Obama machine began illegally digging into his private files in order to uncover dirt after McCain used him as a political prop. However, Plumber Joe has since exploited his faux-celebrity status as a tool for reactionary political forces. Recently, he was hired by the Orwellian-named Americans for Prosperity to speak at rallies against the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to unionize. Actual blue collar workers managed to sneak in to the events and heckle Joe while wealthy right-wingers cheered on his anti-worker pandering. Plumber Joe, hope you're enjoying your Warholian fifteen minutes while they last.

Still, the most offensive faux-populist moment of recent has not come from Rush, Beck or even Joe W. Instead, the award must go to CNBC's Rick Santelli, The Konformist Beast of the Month.

Santelli was, until February 19th, a fairly unknown third-rate correspondent for the minimally watched CNBC business news network. That all changed when discussing Barack Obama's Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan to help nine million families avoid foreclosure with a $75 billion fund. On the network, he blasted the plan: "The government is promoting bad behavior... Why don’t you put up a Web site to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages, or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a chance to actually prosper down the road and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water... It's time for another tea party!"

(As he said this, Santelli was on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, and the traders who cheered him on appeared to be the wimpiest, most pasty-skinned mob since the Brooks Brother riot in Florida during the 2000 election.)

The so-called "Rant of the Year" was curious in many respects. Imagine, for example, if a cable news correspondent had pulled something similar about the Iraq War being a scam right before it was launched. Just what would've been the reaction to that? No doubt he/she would've been blasted for lacking journalistic objectivity and likely would've lost their job. Or perhaps for an even more recent comparison, when the Wall Street $700 billion dollar bailout was being debated in September and October, where were the Rick Santellis blasting the promotion of bad behavior and declaring the recipients of the boondoggle to be losers? Instead, all objectivity was thrown out the window and the swindle was pushed through with establishment media hysteria behind it, promoting bad behavior be damned. Yet suddenly, when the issue becomes providing $75 billion in aid to help victims of subprime loan scams keep their homes, outrage becomes acceptable. This, of course, is the bigger point: attacking trillion-dollar war rackets and Wall Street handouts isn't kosher, but calling poor and middle-class home owners "losers" while they struggle to remain afloat is okely-dokely.

The hypocrisy in this case is even worse: on the Website The eXiled, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine reported that General Electric, the parent company to CNBC, received $139 billion in government-backed loan guarantees to keep GE Capital from going bankrupt and sinking the GE empire, CNBC included, with it. That amount, incidentally, is $64 billion more than what nine million subprime victims Santelli mocked as losers are to receive in the Obama plan. Noting these facts, Ames & Levine sarcastically dismissed Santelli as a bailout welfare queen.

The response to Santelli's rant proves just how okay the media establishment was with his hypocritical stand. As Santelli frothed, the folks in the CNBC anchor booth chuckled as though it was entertaining truths. Quickly, the rant went "viral" on YouTube, which is quite unusual since media/entertainment oligopolies such as NBC normally ruthlessly suppress any free distribution of their copyrighted work over the Internet. The "viral" nature of the video was pushed on cyberspace by Matt Drudge, who seemed flushed with an excitement he normally gets only from gay porn. On CNBC's big sister MSNBC, it was promoted by smiling mouthpieces who gushed about the - here comes the "P" word - populist nature of his rant.

Of course, perhaps the fault here lies in the continuing promotion of the George Magazine philosophy which has turned politics into entertainment, reducing actual debate about substance and ideas into shallow celebrity cults of personality. In that context, Santelli is indeed a "populist" hero, as his manufactured celebrity status qualifies him for the name brand certification.

But laying the blame at the feet of poor John-John (who even in death has been the most influential man in journalism over the last decade, though that is definitely influence to the worst) wouldn't be honest. For it wasn't mere celebrity narcissism behind the promotion of the Santelli rant, but rather a heavily financed right-wing machine. A Playboy article by Ames and Levine links Santelli's demand for a "tea party" with a project backed by the deep pockets of the ultra-right Koch family. Santelli’s call for a "Chicago Tea Party" was a mainstream push for an Astroturf "grass-roots" campaign for “tea parties” nationally protesting Obama's economic policies from the right. The case made by Ames and Levine is pretty simple: if Santelli wasn't pimping out his minimal journalistic cred for major Koch bucks, he was definitely selling himself short.

Here's another case study to show how out of whack the framing of "populism" is in the USA: the telling reaction to the AIG bonus scandal. When it was revealed that AIG had paid $165 million out of $170 billion in bonuses to employees, there was legitimate widespread outrage in the public, outrage that was neither orchestrated nor anticipated. (And yes, let's ignore for a second that, at this point, $165 million is chump change for Wall Street.) Establishment politicians chimed in, feigning outrage as well, including Barack Obama, who unconvincingly pretended to be upset, even though his administration directed legislation allowing the bonus loophole. Faced with mass anger, Congress originally pushed for 90 percent surtaxes on Wall Street bailout company bonuses for anyone making over $250K, but after Obama declared opposition to the plan, it appears to be dead on arrival. (Obama's excuse, that to stop the bonuses from going through would interfere with legal contracts, oddly wasn't used when he forced UAW members take massive pay cuts in Detroit.) Quickly, the korporate media, rather than helping the AIG outrage go viral, tried to squash it, with Michael Gerson of the Washington Post decrying the controversy as "demagoguery" rather than genuine.

To be fair, there was some backlash against Santelli as well. Still, it seems the main source of any mainstream outrage against him was not for his crude dismissal of struggling homeowners, but rather for how his rant was an attack on Barack Obama, the patron saint of yuppie liberalism. (Tellingly, it was Jon Stewart, the leading media mouthpiece of yuppie liberalism, who smacked up CNBC the most, using Jim Cramer of the news network's Mad Money as a stand-in after Santelli wimped out on a Daily Show appearance.)

Meanwhile, after Team Obama later announced their trillion dollar "toxic asset" bailout for Wall Street, there was again no populist rant on cable news against subsidizing losers and promoting bad behavior. Putting it all together, let's note the pattern:

* $700 billion TARP bailout deal for Wall Street: Mass cheerleading for the plan

* $787 billion Obama Stimulus Plan that was somewhat aimed at the middle and lower class: Controversy and vigorous debate

* $75 billion Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan fund to help homeowners avoid foreclosure: Smug “journalist” denounces it as a plan to help "losers"

* Attempt to tax $165 million in bonuses at bailout recipient AIG: Controversy is denounced as "demagoguery"

* $1 trillion plan to bailout Wall Street's "toxic assets": No controversy whatsoever

It seems the only time any controversy is hyped in the mainstream press is when the recipient of the money is even partially the poor, the working class and the middle class. Meanwhile, though the public is indeed outraged by the massive swindle over the last year by Wall Street (with up to $9 trillion in government resources pumped in to these korporate parasites) blowhards like Santelli are trying to intentionally confuse the public, equating the Wall Street bailout with the stimulus package and focus the ire of rage against the poor and disenfranchised rather than the bankers.

Perhaps most important, there appears to be a concerted attempt by the right wing to frame Barack Obama's positions as far left, even though he has pushed more to give handouts to Wall Street than even the Bush Administration. With unemployment at 8.5 percent and rising, hopefully the image of Obama as the great progressive champion will soon be gone (and good riddance.) Until then, it appears that even Santelli isn't the worst example of phony populism coming from Chicago.

In any case, we salute Rick Santelli as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Ricky!!!


Ames, Mark and Levine, Yasha. "Backstabber: Is Rick Santelli High On Koch?" Playboy 27 February 2009 <>.

Ames, Mark and Levine, Yasha. "'Slick Rick' Santelli Is A Bailout Queen." The eXiled 3 March 2009 <>.

Ames, Mark and Levine, Yasha. "Victory Gloat: Ames & Levin Serve Up Santelli's Head on The Daily Show." Huffington Post 5 March 2009 <>.

Calmes, Jackie and Story, Louise. "Outcry Builds in Washington for Recovery of A.I.G. Bonuses" New York Times 19 March 2009 <>.

"CNBC's Santelli Rants About Housing Bailout." ABC News 19 February 2009 <>.

Donmoyer, Ryan J. "Dodd Blames Obama Administration for Bonus Amendment." Bloomberg 19 March 2009 <>.

"Doom Bunker - Glenn Beck's 'War Room'." 4 March 2009 <>.

Edwards, David and Webster, Stephen C. "Colbert Mocks 'Crazy Eyes' Beck with 'Doom Bunker' Segment." Raw Story 5 March 2009 <>.

Ford, Glen. "So President Obama Is Finally Pissed Off? So What?" Black Agenda Report 18 March 2009 <>.

Grey, Barry. "Wall Street Celebrates Government Windfall for Banks and Big Investors." World Socialist Web Site 24 March 2009 <>.

Oswald, Rachel. "Union Plumbers Heckle and Jeer 'Joe the Plumber' at Rally." Raw Story 31 March 2009 <>.

Ritholtz, Barry. "Rick Santelli’s Planted Rant?" The Big Picture 28 February 2009 <>.

Sirota, David. "Welcome to Double-standard America." Salon 21 March 2009 <>.

Spitzer, Eliot. "The Real AIG Scandal." Slate 17 March 2009 <>.

Friday, August 28, 2009

‘I made this movie as if it was going to be the last’

Michael Moore’s latest: ‘I made this movie as if it was going to be the last’
Diana Sweet
August 21, 2009

Two years after his last critique of the nation’s governing bodies in 2007’s ‘Sicko,’ agitprop documentarian Michael Moore is back with a new movie — and this time, his target is the economy. In a just-released teaser clip for Capitalism: A Love Story, Moore puts on his trademark baseball cap to go after corporate America.

“It’s a crime story,” Michael Moore says of his latest documentary, in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly. “But it’s also a war story about class warfare. And a vampire movie, with the upper 1 percent feeding off the rest of us. And, of course, it’s also a love story. Only it’s about an abusive relationship.”

“I made this movie as if it was going to be the last movie I was allowed to make,” the Michigan native concluded before adding “Oh, and by the way, it’s a comedy.”

The film is already up for the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, which takes place Sept. 2-12 in Venice, Italy.

Moore’s latest will also headline at the Toronto film fest in September.

A Bacon Sandwich That Uses Fried Chicken As "Bread"

Meg Marco
Fri Aug 21 2009

This is perhaps man's greatest achievement or evidence of our civilization's impending doom. Maybe it's both.

Meet the KFC "double down." Although no mention of it is made on and we have never seen an ad for it ourselves, we are being lead to believe that it is real by They have crappy cell phone camera footage of a commercial (from Omaha, apparently) for the mysterious beast, as well as photographic evidence of it in the wild.

The sandwich consists of two fried chicken fillets wrapped around bacon, cheese and Colonel's sauce. It apparently tastes like you think it would. An early-adopter explains:

That's it? That is the sandwich? That's not worth five dollars. Oh… oh my God. That is the best thing ever. I don't know what "Colonel's Sauce" is, but it is like a party in my mouth. This is completely worth the five dollars. Unfortunately I'm going to end up weighing 700 lbs after this, but it is simply amazing.

Have you eaten it?

Roubini sees "big risk" of double-dip recession

Roubini sees "big risk" of double-dip recession: report
Sun Aug 23, 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nouriel Roubini, one of the few economists who accurately predicted the magnitude of the world's recent financial troubles, sees a "big risk" of a double-dip recession, according to an opinion piece posted on the Financial Times' website on Sunday.

Roubini, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, said it appears the global economy will bottom out in the second half of this year, and that U.S. and western European economies will likely experience "anemic" and "below trend" growth for at least a couple of years.

Yet he warned that policymakers face a "damned if they do and damned if they don't" conundrum in trying to unwind their massive fiscal and monetary stimuli to keep the global economy from toppling into a depression.

He said that if policymakers try to fight rising budget deficits by raising taxes and cutting spending, they could undermine any recovery.

On the other hand, he said if they maintain large deficits, worries about excessive inflation will grow, causing bond yields and borrowing rates to rise and perhaps choking off economic growth.

Roubini said another reason to worry is that energy, food and oil prices are rising faster than fundamentals warrant, and could be driven higher by speculation or if excessive liquidity creates artificially high demand.

He said the global economy "could not withstand another contractionary shock" if speculation drives oil rapidly toward $100 per barrel. U.S. crude oil futures traded Friday at about $73.83.

Roubini said the anemic growth he expects would follow a couple of quarters of rapid growth, as inventories and production levels recover from near-depression levels.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Diane Craft)

Autobiography of a Monarch Butterfly Update

Autobiography of a Monarch Butterfly Update
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Categories: Conspiracy

Tags: MKULTRA Mind Control Book Jaye Beldo Meditation Biowarfare Conspiracy Autobiography Healing

Greetings Lava Cocktail Surfers,

Writing Autobiography of a Monarch Butterfly was difficult in itself-primarily because I had to relive many things in my past that I otherwise would like to forget. It was also a challenge to bring it all together into a coherent gestalt. Even harder was getting the work available to the public, a rite of passage almost as trying as what I had to suffer through in regards to MKULTRA: dealing with unethical publishers, a hydroponically deluded, Merovingian stoner unable to admit to their own incompetence (as well as not being very good at some ensuing curse work designed to sabotage the book) to outsourced labor equally as stoned and irresponsible, to dealing with totally hypocritical and insincere people, one who has publically claimed that they are compassionate towards mind control victims when in reality they are not. Not to mention being stalked and harassed by internet goons whose divinity is so very, very dwarfed, sad to say and most likely will remain so until the end of time.

Robert Sterling of The Konformist posted a blurb about the book under the "Entertainment News" category-quite ironic IMO and he even asked me if I was pulling an Andy Kaufman with this one during a recent phone conversation. Sad to say, I could not say yes and stated my reasons why I think there is a very high probability I was used in bio-warfare and mind control programs . He then asked me if I included the cornball pedophile Boxcar Willie in my book Again, sad to say, I could not say yes and regret not having it in me to fabricate such sensationalist BS. Perhaps I should have because I recently learned via Paul Krassner's book In Praise of Indecency, that Mark Phillips and Cathy O'Brien have sold over 20,000 copies of their Dunce Formation of America book. No doubt the review I wrote of that questionable work and the resulting flame with Philips helped to generate such sales.( Incidentally, their publisher had the gall to send me a press release of another book they wrote.) So, in order to make my auto-bio a commercial success, I'll have to include a perverted little tid-bit that I left out:

When I was five, I remember a black helicopter landing in the backyard and these Day-Glo frisbees shooting out the windows in all directions. I went outside, picked one up, turned it over and examined a photograph burned into the plastic of the Rat Pack dressed up like Mouseketeers but with very revealing S and M garb. Underneath the picture, was the phrase: Come to Our Love Party-You are the Chosen One. I looked up at the congealing clouds and could see Capt. Kangaroo holding hands with Father Flanagan. Perhaps I was to become Boy's Town child God, who would melt the character armor from the pelvic girdles of right wing Christians, politicians and businessmen-that's the message they conveyed to me although at the time I could not understand. They kept puckering their lips and expected me to follow the calisthenics. Then some Praying Mantis aliens wearing edible lingerie gave me a birthday cake with Sumerian hieroglyphs on it-a code to get the chamber door under Memphis Tennessee to open into the Illuminati's plush and inflatable romper room where a fetal Lady Gaga was enshrined.

Well, at least that vivid confession would get me on Coast to Coast or engaged in some prolonged etymological legerdemain with William Henry.

For me personally, the most difficult thing now is not the to-be-expected weirdness at large, but rather the utter indfference and inability of most people to even remotely empathize or even care about mind control victims. This certainly has been my post publishing experience. Even more difficult is dealing with the resentment of others who are unable or unwilling to get on the healing path. If you yourself are in the process of breaking free of mind control and/or addiction and are truly doing the work required to do so, make sure you prepare yourself for this kind of relentless and underhanded opposition to you becoming whole-from both human and non-human sources. The best thing to do, is to forgive those that oppose you, because they too fear change esp. if it is of a positive nature. More importantly, they do not have the capacity of understanding to accept mind control as being a real thing and MK perps certainly take advantage of this. The trials and tribulations will never end and you very well may be shocked beyond belief when you see the reality, the truth underneath well polished façades of "compassion". Just remember to always love yourself, be all-one instead of alone and become self-reliant as I have suggested all throughout Autobiography of a Monarch Butterfly.


Jaye Beldo

Coolest Las Vegas Concert of the Summer 2009

Def Leppard, Poison & Cheap Trick

Memorial Day Weekend
Saturday 09/05/09 at 8:00 PM
MGM Grand Garden Arena

For More Info:

Artificial life is only months away

From The Times
August 21, 2009
Artificial life is only months away, says biologist Craig Venter
Mark Henderson, Science Editor

Artificial life will be created within four months, a controversial scientist has predicted. Craig Venter, who led a private project to sequence the human genome, told The Times that his team had cleared a critical hurdle to creating man-made organisms in a laboratory.

“Assuming we don’t make any errors, I think it should work and we should have the first synthetic species by the end of the year,” he said.

Dr Venter, who has been chasing his goal for a decade, is already working on projects to use synthetic biology to create bacteria that transform coal into cleaner natural gas, and algae that soak up carbon dioxide and turn it into hydrocarbon fuels. Other potential applications include new ways of manufacturing medicines and vaccines.

Dr Venter’s prediction came after scientists at his J. Craig Venter Institute, in Rockville, Maryland, announced that they had developed a new method of transplanting DNA into bacteria, promising to solve a problem that has held up the artificial life project for two years.

The team took the first step in 2007 by implanting the genome of a bacterium, Mycoplasma mycoides, into cells belonging to a close relative, Mycoplasma capricolum. This transformed the host bacteria into Mycoplasma mycoides.

Last January the team built a bacterium’s entire genetic code from scratch. The next step was to transfer this synthetic genome into a host cell, using the 2007 transplant technique, to “reboot” it with genetic instructions written by humans. This has failed so far because the synthetic genome will not work when it is transplanted into host cells.

The new research, published in Science, has identified the probable reason for this failure and developed a new approach that should address it.

Natural bacterial genomes, such as the one that was successfully transplanted, are chemically modified by a process called methylation. When they are inserted into other cells this process appears to protect them against chemicals called restriction enzymes, which defend against viruses.

The synthetic genome, however, is not methylated, as it has to be grown in yeast, which does not provide the necessary chemical modifications, thus leaving it open to attack by the restriction enzymes.

In the new study, the Venter team grew the natural M. mycoides genome in yeast, under similar conditions to the synthetic genome, so that it had no methylation. These genomes failed to take when they were transplanted into host cells.

The team then remethylated the M. mycoides genome in the laboratory before placing it into the host cell. This time the transplants worked and the cells were rebooted as M. mycoides.

The success suggests that methylating the synthetic genome before transfer should allow it to take over host cells and reboot them with its DNA. Experiments in this have now begun.

Methylation should protect the synthetic genome against the host cells’ defences, much as drugs that suppress the immune system protect transplanted organs against rejection.

Hamilton Smith, a Nobel laureate who is another leader of the research, said: “I believe this work has important implications in better understanding the fundamentals of biology to enable the final stages of our work in creating and booting up a synthetic genome. This is possibly one of the most important new findings in the field of synthetic genomics.”

Dr Venter said the research was particularly important because it opened the door to altering algae and bacteria to perform useful functions.

“This could be one of the most powerful tools in biology,” he said.

'Too many questions are still unanswered'

Robalini's Note: Read between the lines and the truth is revealed: Megrahi was given "compassionate release" in exchange for dropping his appeals, which would've opened up previously suppressed evidence. The US and UK governments will never admit this, but their protest of his release is feigned. The evidence would likely confirm the case against Megrahi was a sham and the Libyans were framed to protect the real bombers...

Families' reaction: 'Too many questions are still unanswered'
By Jonathan Brown
Friday, 21 August 2009

The families of the British victims called for a full independent inquiry into the bombing yesterday.

In contrast to their American counterparts, relatives on this side of the Atlantic have remained sceptical of the evidence brought against Megrahi and voiced support for the decision to release him, although they spoke of their frustration that his decision to abandon his appeal may mean the true culprits are never brought to justice.

Jean Berkley, 78, whose son Alistair, a Lockerbie resident, was 29 when he died, said: "Our big disappointment is that he had unnecessarily dropped his appeal, because he didn't need to drop the appeal in order to have compassionate release," she said.

"We were attaching a lot of importance to the appeal. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review said there were grounds for the appeal and we cannot now hear the new evidence that made them come to that decision. We know very little really and we are not in a position to make a judgement. We are left with a mystery here."

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter, Flora, died on Flight 103, welcomed the Libyan's release and said he would now focus on other countries' roles in the attack, including Britain. "He should be able to go straight home to his family and spend his last days there," he said. "I don't believe this man was involved in the way he was found to be involved."

Martin Cadman, 84, whose son Bill, 32, was killed, said: "I'm very pleased he has been released on compassionate grounds because I don't think he was the right person to be there anyway. It is just righting a wrong."

Professor Robert Black, the Scottish barrister who helped devise the original trial format, said: "It gets him home to die, which has been his primary objective and I'm pleased – but saddened he will die a convicted man. The appeal which might have cleared his name was abandoned unnecessarily."

Common Sense 2009

Larry Flynt
Publisher of Hustler magazine and free speech advocate
August 20, 2009
Common Sense 2009

The American government -- which we once called our government -- has been taken over by Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich. They are the ones who decide our fate. It is this group of powerful elites, the people President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "economic royalists," who choose our elected officials -- indeed, our very form of government. Both Democrats and Republicans dance to the tune of their corporate masters. In America, corporations do not control the government. In America, corporations are the government.

This was never more obvious than with the Wall Street bailout, whereby the very corporations that caused the collapse of our economy were rewarded with taxpayer dollars. So arrogant, so smug were they that, without a moment's hesitation, they took our money -- yours and mine -- to pay their executives multimillion-dollar bonuses, something they continue doing to this very day. They have no shame. They don't care what you and I think about them. Henry Kissinger refers to us as "useless eaters."

But, you say, we have elected a candidate of change. To which I respond: Do these words of President Obama sound like change?

"A culture of irresponsibility took root, from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street."

There it is. Right there. We are Main Street. We must, according to our president, share the blame. He went on to say: "And a regulatory regime basically crafted in the wake of a 20th-century economic crisis -- the Great Depression -- was overwhelmed by the speed, scope and sophistication of a 21st-century global economy."

This is nonsense.

The reason Wall Street was able to game the system the way it did -- knowing that they would become rich at the expense of the American people (oh, yes, they most certainly knew that) -- was because the financial elite had bribed our legislators to roll back the protections enacted after the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

Congress gutted the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial lending banks from investment banks, and passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which allowed for self-regulation with no oversight. The Securities and Exchange Commission subsequently revised its rules to allow for even less oversight -- and we've all seen how well that worked out. To date, no serious legislation has been offered by the Obama administration to correct these problems.

Instead, Obama wants to increase the oversight power of the Federal Reserve. Never mind that it already had significant oversight power before our most recent economic meltdown, yet failed to take action. Never mind that the Fed is not a government agency but a cartel of private bankers that cannot be held accountable by Washington. Whatever the Fed does with these supposed new oversight powers will be behind closed doors.

Obama's failure to act sends one message loud and clear: He cannot stand up to the powerful Wall Street interests that supplied the bulk of his campaign money for the 2008 election. Nor, for that matter, can Congress, for much the same reason.

Consider what multibillionaire banker David Rockefeller wrote in his 2002 memoirs:

"Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure -- one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."

Read Rockefeller's words again. He actually admits to working against the "best interests of the United States."

Need more? Here's what Rockefeller said in 1994 at a U.N. dinner: "We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis, and the nations will accept the New World Order." They're gaming us. Our country has been stolen from us.

Journalist Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone, notes that esteemed economist John Kenneth Galbraith laid the 1929 crash at the feet of banking giant Goldman Sachs. Taibbi goes on to say that Goldman Sachs has been behind every other economic downturn as well, including the most recent one. As if that wasn't enough, Goldman Sachs even had a hand in pushing gas prices up to $4 a gallon.

The problem with bankers is longstanding. Here's what one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, had to say about them:

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation, and then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their father's conquered."

We all know that the first American Revolution officially began in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence. Less well known is that the single strongest motivating factor for revolution was the colonists' attempt to free themselves from the Bank of England. But how many of you know about the second revolution, referred to by historians as Shays' Rebellion? It took place in 1786-87, and once again the banks were the cause. This time they were putting the screws to America's farmers.

Daniel Shays was a farmer in western Massachusetts. Like many other farmers of the day, he was being driven into bankruptcy by the banks' predatory lending practices. (Sound familiar?) Rallying other farmers to his side, Shays led his rebels in an attack on the courts and the local armory. The rebellion itself failed, but a message had been sent: The bankers (and the politicians who supported them) ultimately backed off. As Thomas Jefferson famously quipped in regard to the insurrection: "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Perhaps it's time to consider that option once again.

I'm calling for a national strike, one designed to close the country down for a day. The intent? Real campaign-finance reform and strong restrictions on lobbying. Because nothing will change until we take corporate money out of politics. Nothing will improve until our politicians are once again answerable to their constituents, not the rich and powerful.

Let's set a date. No one goes to work. No one buys anything. And if that isn't effective -- if the politicians ignore us -- we do it again. And again. And again.

The real war is not between the left and the right. It is between the average American and the ruling class. If we come together on this single issue, everything else will resolve itself. It's time we took back our government from those who would make us their slaves.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quentin Tarantino picks favorite WWII movies

Quentin Tarantino picks favorite WWII movies
Friday, August 21, 2009

LOS ANGELES, (AP) -- With his own World War II flick, "Inglourious Basterds," hitting theaters Friday, Quentin Tarantino applies his exhaustive knowledge of cinema to single out five favorite World War II flicks.

Not necessarily a Top Five, this off-the-cuff list includes a couple of the well-known and loved war stories along with more obscure dramas, among them two that Tarantino himself did not know about until he started research for "Inglourious Basterds":

"The Great Escape" — Is there any cooler World War II premise than John Sturges' 1963 epic about a mass escape of Allied POWs from a Nazi prison camp, or a cooler cast than Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Charles Bronson and Donald Pleasence? "Probably my favorite war movie," Tarantino said. "That's one of the most entertaining movies ever made and was kind of the touchstone goal for ("Inglourious Basterds") to one degree or another. ... Make a World War II movie that's just entertaining, that you just enjoy watching the movie."

"The Dirty Dozen" — Robert Aldrich's 1967 saga is the ultimate example of the men-on-a-mission war subgenre that inspired Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds." Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas are featured in the tale of imprisoned bottom-feeders who get a second chance as part of a hell-raising Allied commando unit. Tarantino said this film deserves to be on his list "for its iconic cast alone." Tarantino went on: "I never follow the normal dance card that the genre or the subgenres I deal in usually play by. It usually is a situation where I sit down, OK, I'm going to do my `Dirty Dozen,' and that's what sits me down, but then I also know that hopefully, I will deliver the pleasure that is found in those genres, but I'm just going to deliver them very differently. It's going to become something else. I want it to become something bigger and more expansive than that given subgenre."

"Five Graves to Cairo" — Ten years before he made "Stalag 17," Billy Wilder directed this 1943 tale centered on an undercover British officer (Franchot Tone) and a woman (Anne Baxter) who helps run a desert hotel where Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (Erich von Stroheim) establishes his headquarters. "One of my favorite war stories, hands-down," Tarantino said. "Billy Wilder and (co-writer) Charles Brackett wrote their own story for it. It doesn't follow history. They came up with their own way. It's not even a very credible version of Rommel, either, but it's a fantastic version of Rommel."

"Tonight We Raid Calais" — John Brahm's 1943 adventure casts John Sutton as a British intelligence officer plotting to destroy a Nazi munitions plant in France, where he takes shelter with the family of a French farmer (Lee J. Cobb), whose daughter blames the British for the fall of France. The screenplay is an early credit for Academy Award winner Waldo Salt ("Midnight Cowboy,""Coming Home"). "One of the movies I discovered while I was doing research on this. A fantastic movie that I fell in love with," Tarantino said. "It has a couple of sequences that really seem like modern storytelling. It doesn't have a classical storytelling feel. Waldo Salt, they consider him the father of modern screenwriting. We can see it right in there. It feels like storytelling today."

"Action in Arabia" — Russian director Leonide Moguy made a few films in Hollywood during the war, including this 1944 thriller starring George Sanders as a reporter in the Middle East who's caught up in the Allied-Nazi struggle for the sympathies of the Arab world. "Another movie I discovered and fell in love with," Tarantino said. "I really love that movie, but you will notice, though, when I talk about these different films, it's not the collection of tanks and big-battle things. Even though I like that stuff, I'm more into the more story-oriented versions of the war."

Mozart may have died of strep throat complications

Mozart may have died of strep throat complications
Story Highlights
Exact cause of Mozart's death, at age 35 in 1791, is still a mystery
In 1791, edema-related deaths among younger men increased due to strep throat
But there are no accounts of Mozart having sore throat in his last weeks of life
Mon August 17, 2009
By Shahreen Abedin

So ill he could not move, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart supposedly sang parts of his final masterpiece, "Requiem," from his deathbed. Two centuries later, the exact cause of the Austrian composer's premature death, in December 1791 at age 35, is still a mystery.

Theories abound. It's known that his entire body was so swollen he couldn't turn over in bed; some say jealous rivals poisoned him, while others suggest scarlet fever, tuberculosis, or lethal trichinosis from undercooked pork.

Now, new evidence points to an altogether different conclusion: Mozart may have died from kidney damage caused by a strep infection, possibly strep throat.

Dr. Richard H.C. Zegers of the University of Amsterdam and his colleagues analyzed data from Vienna's death registry. Researchers had not previously analyzed the daily death registry -- begun in handwritten script in 1607 and maintained until 1920 -- for clues to Mozart's death.

Zegers and his team looked at information for 5,011 adults who died during three consecutive winters starting in 1790, as well as eyewitness accounts of Mozart's death, according to the study published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine.

"By looking at the patterns of death during Mozart's time and combining them with the signs and symptoms of his final disease, we have not one but two pillars on which our theory is built," said Zegers. "Although we can't be 100 percent conclusive, I'm convinced that we have come very near the exact reason he died."

The researchers found that there were more than 500 deaths related to edema, the swelling caused by fluid in the body's tissues. Edema was the third most common cause of death at the time, after tuberculosis and malnutrition/cachexia, a physical wasting-away that was possibly caused by cancer or diabetes. Your nutrition needs in your 30s, 40s, and 50s

During the winter of 1791, there was a spike in edema-related deaths among younger men, possibly because of an epidemic of strep throat, according to Zegers. He and his colleagues suspect that the epidemic's origin was the local military hospital, since crowded quarters are more conducive to the rapid spread of airborne bacteria such as group A Streptococcus, which can cause strep throat.

Strep throat can progress to rheumatic fever, which can lead to heart valve and joint damage; scarlet fever, which is characterized by a skin rash; and poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN), a condition that causes fluid buildup throughout the body because of kidney damage. How one doctor helps patients avoid kidney problems

Strep bacteria's serious side effects are why today's experts recommend testing and prompt antibiotic treatment of strep, which causes a fiery red throat, severe pain and a high fever. However, most present-day throat infections are caused by viruses (in which case antibiotics are useless), and they often go away without treatment or serious complications.

Dr. Martin Schreiber, the head of the nephrology and hypertension department at the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio, said that the researchers might be on the right track. "Is this plausible? Yes," said Schreiber. "But is it definitive? No."

Contrary to previous theories suggesting that Mozart died in extremely rare circumstances, the new study does have a more reasonable conclusion based on what was happening in the community, Schreiber said.

"Using the most credible sources available from that period, they're relying upon deductive reasoning. I'm not sure if there's a more scientific approach to doing this," he added.

Even though the death registry's data helps shed light on Mozart's cause of death, significant gaps still leave doubt.

Many people witnessed the composer's final days, but most of those accounts were published decades after his death. Historians have found no written accounts by Mozart's physicians, and have relied largely on medical reports by a doctor who was familiar with the case -- but didn't treat the composer.

Other sources used in the study include a biography written by the composer's wife's second husband, Georg Nikolaus von Nissen, and an eyewitness account given by Mozart's sister-in-law, Sophie Haibel, 33 years after his death.

Dr. Stephen Gluck, a nephrologist at the University of California, San Francisco, finds some faults with the new theory: There are no accounts of Mozart suffering from a sore throat in the last weeks of his life; nor were there reports of high blood pressure or blood in his urine. All are telltale signs of APSGN. Gluck adds that APSGN now occurs mainly in children and is nonfatal in most cases.

Mozart's cause of death is listed on the city's official registry as hitziges Frieselfieber, or miliary fever, a condition whose symptoms include a high temperature and rash. Zegers suggested this guess was made by a layperson instead of a medical authority because it was a term widely used to describe symptoms instead of an actual medical diagnosis.

Although a rash is a symptom of scarlet fever, which is also caused by strep bacteria, it's more likely that Mozart's death was due to strep throat, Zegers said.

None of the people who were with him during the last weeks of life reported that he had a rash, suggesting that he had the rash only at the time of his death. Scarlet fever's rash shows up the first or second day after you get sick and then subsides within six to nine days, said Zegers, so that condition is unlikely to have been the cause of death.

What's more, Mozart was reported to have had a fever in the fall of 1791, which may have been caused by the initial strep infection, the researchers say. Some strep complications can occur weeks after the initial infection, and it's possible that Mozart had a sore throat before or at the time of his death and it wasn't recorded.

A Museum Devoted to a National Snack Obsession

August 4, 2009
A Museum Devoted to a National Snack Obsession
By Gisela Williams
Currywurst may be Germany’s favorite snack food.

BERLIN There’s no doubt that Germans love their currywurst, a national fast food favorite that consists of fried pork sausage served with a sauce typically made from ketchup and curry powder. And there’s no other German city more obsessed with currywurst than Berlin. It is it often said that the dish was invented in the city by a woman named Herta Heuwer in 1949 (though Hamburg also claims to be the its birthplace). Soon the city will be celebrating the opening of a museum dedicated entirely to the humble snack.

The Currywurst Museum (Schutzenstrasse 70;, opening, on Aug. 15, is the vision of Martin Löwer, a marketing executive and passionate currywurst enthusiast who managed to raise the project’s five million euro budget from private investors.

Löwer expects 350,000 visitors a year. The museum’s location — next to the Checkpoint Charlie museum, a stop popular with bus tours and wandering tourists — should help.

But it’s still up for debate whether or not non-Germans be willing to pony up 7 euros to learn about the city’s favorite porky snack — especially since a sample of the dish is not included.

What one does get for their seven euros is entrance into a 12,000-square-foot space organized by themes like ingredients, celebrity fans, television and movies appearances, and history.

There is also a small theater showing a documentary called “Best of the Wurst,” a reproduction of a currywurst imbiss (snack shop), and a map of the world which shows where to buy currywurst in countries like Thailand and Argentina.

By the end of the year the museum also plans to open an attached but separate lounge that will offer (at a price) a sampling of several different currywurst recipes including sauces created especially for the museum by two of Berlin’s top chefs, Thomas Kammeier and Kolja Kleeberg.

Of course one could always take that entry fee and attempt a do-it-yourself currywurst tour of Berlin.

The city’s fanatics spend hours debating over the city’s best currywurst imbisses, but most agree on a few classics: Konnopkes Imbiss, under the Eberswalder U-bahn station in Prenzlauer Berg; Curry 36 in Kreutzberg; and Imbiss Ku’damm 195, in Charlottenberg, which serves champagne with their currywurst and is open through the night.

Oliver Stone revealing 'Secret History of America'

August 18, 2009
Oliver Stone revealing 'Secret History of America'

Oliver Stone is making his most ambitious stab at American history yet.

The controversial director is creating a 10-part documentary series for Showtime titled "Secret History of America."

Narrated by Stone, the series promises to focus on events that "at the time went under-reported, but crucially shaped America's unique and complex history of the last 60 years," according to Showtime.

Subjects will include President Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, the origins of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, to "the fierce struggle between war and peace in America’s national security complex."

The project includes "newly discovered facts and accounts" from the Kennedy administration, the Vietnam War and the great changes in America’s role in the world since the fall of Communism in the 1980s.

“Through this epic 10-hour series, which I feel is the deepest contribution I could ever make in film to my children and the next generation, I can only hope a change in our thinking will result," Stone said in a statement.

The director of other historical dramas like "JFK," "Nixon" and "Platoon" is currently working on "Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps" and couldn't be reached for further comment. The sure-to-be-discussed project will premiere on the network in 2010.

"We are very happy that Oliver Stone has chosen Showtime as the home for his provocative series about key unknown moments of American history,” Showtime programming president Robert Greenblatt said. “Not only has his name become synonymous with visionary filmmaker, but Oliver is also a fascinating storyteller always striving to shed new light on the human experience. His continuing curiosity about real events of the 20th century has now led him to a documentary series unlike any other, which is why it's perfect for our premium audience."

Another Fine Gesture

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- An amateur home movie has been discovered recently which apparently contains the last known film images of comedy legend Stan Laurel, once celebrated as half of the most famous comedy duo in the world: Laurel & Hardy.

The rare and historic eight millimeter film, which captures a playful Laurel displaying his trademark impish smile while scratching his head, is just two minutes in length and was taken at his Santa Monica apartment by James and Irene Heffernan, a Los Angeles couple who were acquainted with the film comedian in his final years.

According to Laurel's daughter, Lois Laurel Hawes, the film was made in late December of 1964, just two months before his death. A letter from Laurel to the Heffernans, dated January 15, 1965, mentions their yuletide visit when, apparently, the footage was shot.

Also featured in the brief home movie segment is Laurel's honorary "Oscar" award for Lifetime Achievement which was presented to him by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) in 1961.

Apparently lost and forgotten for decades among the numerous entertainment and travel home movies made by the active couple during the 1960s, this final footage of Laurel was not known to exist until several months ago and has never been viewed publicly.

However, the film's present owner plans to arrange for the landmark footage to be seen by Laurel & Hardy fans worldwide on June 16, 2010, which happens to be the comic's date of birth. According to actor/producer Tyler St. Mark, who purchased the remarkable footage from the Heffernan estate, "Stan Laurel performs a special gesture at the end of the film clip which was clearly intended for his millions of fans worldwide and so we will help him deliver his message 46 years later - on the 120th anniversary of his birthday."

Stickball, by P-vert

An exchange between Richard Metzger & Robert Sterling

Robalini: Hey, Richard, isn’t Dan the Record Man the dude you tried to stump with an obscure record? One of my favorite stories from you…

Metzger: That story has to do with Bleecker Bob and the dirty novelty record “Stickball,” done by an artist named “P-vert.”

For anyone who cares, Bleecker Bob who is (or was, he could be dead for all I know) an ill-tempered asshole who owned an eponymous record store in New York. One day I was in his store where my good friend Nate Cimmino was working at the time and BB said “Metzger, you’re so smug, you think you know everything, but you don’t know SHIT. I am the mogul of moguls. Name me any record title and I will tell you the artist, name me any artist and I will tell you at least one of their song titles.

Nate and I had each found a copy of this curious dirty novelty 45 called “Stickball” a few weeks before at Downstairs Records. We looked at each other, each knowing what the other was thinking, but I spoke: “Stickball” It was the most obscure thing I could think of, sure to stop him in his tracks.

Bleecker Bob laughed his loudmouthed Brooklyn wiseguy laugh. “YOU ASSHOLE!! I *AM* FUCKIN’ P-VERT! YOU TRIED TO STUMP ME BY NAMING MY OWN FUCKIN’ RECORD! HAHAHAHAHAHA….”

And indeed I had. He pulled a copy right off the shelf and proved it.

True story...

Cocksucker Blues

Cocksucker Blues: Rarely Seen Rolling Stones Documentary
Richard Metzger

The Rolling Stones
Robert Frank

Hard to remember it now, but it wasn’t until approximately 1987 that VCRs were commonplace in America life. I lived in lower Manhattan at the time and there were very few video rental stores then, too. The only ones I can recall are Kim’s Video (originally sharing space with a dry cleaner and now with several locations) and the New Video mini-chain, now a DVD distributor. By the following year, the “tape trading underground” was starting to organize itself (aided by the then burgeoning zine scene) and an unlikely character named “Dan the Record Man” became a key node in that machinery.

Dan the Record Man was probably in his late 60s when I met him, but he was in such terrible shape that he could have been much younger. He was a classic example of what eating SHIT 24/7—in his case dirty water sauerkraut and mustard slathered hot dogs sold by street vendors outside of the Canal Street flea market where his stall was located—could do to a human body. My god did he just reek of poor health and future strokes and heart attacks, but he was a super cool old guy who had been a dancer on Hullabaloo and knew everything about music and had records so rare it made my head spin. Case in point he had copies of “The Great Lost Kinks Album” as well as the live Yardbirds LP and the novelty record “Stairway to Gilligan” that Led Zeppelin’s lawyers had yanked off the market. Once he knew you were “cool”—he was really paranoid—he’d pull back the black curtains covering the top shelves in his overstuffed corner booth and show you the bootlegs (there were thousands) and the real treasure, the bootleg music videos.

Dan had EVERYTHING you ever wanted or could ever want. And if he didn’t have it, he could get it for you (he scored Nancy Sinatra’s TV special for me as I recall). Tapes were $20 and he’d do trade if you had something really good, but in keeping with his Gollum-esque character, you had to have two really good things in order to get one of his really good things for free. Those were his rules and you could fuck off if you weren’t prepared to play by them. Old school record collectors out there will feel me when I say: you did play by his rules. Otherwise you were cut off from so much illicit bootleg goodness.

Every once in a while you could surprise Dan with something incredibly rare. At the time I knew Dan, I was working in a digital video studio that ran Super8, 16mm and 35mm film transfers. On one occasion, photographer Robert Frank booked time to make a film transfer from his little seen documentary of the Rolling Stones’ 1972 American Tour with the title Cocksucker Blues. Cocksucker Blues had an injunction against it screening (unless for charity) because, well, it was a fairly decadent and quite unflattering portrait of them, let’s just say. The staff were told that under no circumstances could we make our own copies of what Frank was coming in to transfer. Yeah right! So, uh, this friend of mine, yeah this friend of mine, made copy, a copy I then traded to Dan, for, as I recall, a live video of David Bowie’s Heroes tour from 1978 and Bowie’s 1980 Floor Show performance from The Midnight Special. Whenever I see a bootleg DVD or Bit Torrent avi of Cocksucker Blues, I always look to see if it’s a generation or two away from the one I traded with Dan. Since that was easily the cleanest copy possible to have, most of them are my copy’s progeny (I can tell by a warble in the opening credits, but they’re cut too close in the below video for me to say about this version).

In any case, my rambling anecdote about the VHS tape trading underground of the late 1980s is because I wanted you to know that the legendary BANNED Cocksucker Blues documentary has been liberated and is now for viewing on the Internet:

PS: The quality is bad. It always was bad, as the film was shot on Super8 to begin with…

75 Comedy Films to See Before You Die

75 Comedy Films to See Before You Die
Monday, August 17th, 2009

Comedy films are the perfect remedy for when you’re feeling blue. Whether you’re a fan of romantic comedies, black comedies or action comedies, these movies will tickle your funny bone and make you forget your troubles (at least for a little while). Check out these 75 comedy films to see before you die, and you’ll be laughing in no time.

Best Parody Comedy Films

1. Casino Royale (1967) - Woody Allen leads an all-star cast in this send-up of the James Bond franchise.

2. Blazing Saddles - Mel Brooks directs and Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little star in this hilarious western which became the first film to feature farting.

3. Young Frankenstein - Mel Brooks delivers yet another classic parody. This time, Gene Wilder is Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, and Peter Boyle is his comedic creation.

4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - The boys from Monty Python make fun of the Arthurian legends with everything from taunting Frenchmen to killer rabbits.

5. Airplane! - Poking fun at the airline disaster movies which came before, Airplane! features Lloyd Bridges as an air traffic controller addicted to everything, Robert Hayes as a pilot who’s lost his nerve, and Leslie Nielsen who objects to being called “Shirley.”

6. This is Spinal Tap - Rob Reiner directed this mockumentary about three dimwitted heavy metal musicians and their disastrous tour of North America. When it comes to 75 comedy films to see before you die, this one is right at the top of the list.

7. Shaun of the Dead - Simon Pegg stars as a likable Brit trying to win his girlfriend back in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. If you’re a fan of the undead, you’ll likely consider this one of the best parody comedy films ever made.

8. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! - Based on the television series, Leslie Nielsen stars as bumbling cop Frank Drebin. Can he stop a plan to kill the Queen of England when she visits America?

9. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life - Monty Python is back in s series of sketches about life. Parodies everything from musicals to pirate films.

10. History of the World, Part I - The entire history of the planet is spoofed in this classic from Mel Brooks. My personal favorite is the scene featuring skeet shooting with human targets.

11. Top Secret! - Val Kilmer makes his movie debut playing an American pop singer who gets caught up in various intrigues which lampoon the spy genre.

12. Hot Shots! - Charlie Sheen stars in this film which primarily spoofs Top Gun, but also manages to make fun of Dances with Wolves and others.

Best Black Comedy Films

13. Network - A darkly comical look at the news media and their desire to get ratings at any cost. Howard Beal is one of the greatest characters in the history of cinema.

14. Fargo - The Cohen Brothers weave a story of kidnapping, murder, and betrayal. Despite the subject matter, it’s one of their funnier films.

15. Arsenic and Old Lace - Cary Grant stars as a recently-married man who learns his sweet aunts are poisoning elderly bachelors and burying the bodies beneath their house.

16. Being There - Peter Sellers plays Chance the Gardner, a simple fellow forced to make his own way after the death of his benefactor. While he only knows what he’s seen on television, others mistake this for some new brand of enlightenment.

17. Groundhog Day - Bill Murray stars as an arrogant television weatherman forced to live the same day over and over until he changes his ways.

18. Brazil - Described as a “dystopian satire,” Brazil follow the life of a frustrated young man mistaken for a terrorist by the totalitarian state. Terry Gilliam directs.

19. Igby Goes Down - A young man from a wealthy family rebels and meets an assortment of unusual characters in New York. Often overlooked, but certainly deserving of being included on a list of 75 comedy films to see before you die.

20. Heathers - A popular young girl (Winona Ryder) meets a mysterious new student (Christian Slater) and the school’s mortality rate begins to skyrocket.

21. Harold & Maude - A cynical young man begins a friendship and romance with an optimistic woman in her 70s.

22. Dr. Strangelove - Stanley Kubrick directs, and Peter Sellers takes on three roles in this anti-war classic. One of the best black comedy films ever made.

Best Gross-out Comedy Films

23. There’s Something About Mary - If you’re looking for the best gross-out comedy films, you can stop your search right here. Ben Stiller stars as a man trying to win the love of a girl (Cameron Diaz) he’s had a crush on since high school. But he’ll have to compete with a number of others to do so, including NFL legend Brett Favre. The “hair gel” scene is the most famous.

24. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut - The kids from Colorado hit the big screen and try to foil a plot cooked up by Satan and Saddam Hussein.

25. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective - Jim Carrey is a bizarre detective who specializes in animal cases. In this film, he must find out who kidnapped the mascot of the Miami Dolphins. Laces out, Dan.

26. National Lampoon’s Animal House - John Belushi stars as one of the members of the crude Delta Tau Chi fraternity house in this 1978 comedy classic from director John Landis.

27. The Aristocrats - Interesting documentary about a particularly obscene joke told by comedians to amuse themselves. Stars virtually every stand-up comic you can think of.

28. Caddyshack - Rodney Dangerfield is a wealthy boor who shakes things up at a local country club. Also stars Chevy Chase and Bill Murray. The scene with the Baby Ruth in the swimming pool is a classic.

29. Clerks - Kevin Smith’s first film deals with a pair of young men who hate their jobs and try to find ways to pass the time. Gross-out moments include a girl accidentally sleeping with a corpse.

30. Bad Santa - Billy Bob Thornton stars as the worst department store Santa ever. In fact, he has a particular fetish involving big-boned women and anal sex.

31. Dumb and Dumber - Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels play a couple of morons looking for love. You’ll laugh in spite of yourself.

32. American Pie - A group of high school seniors make a pact to lose their virginity prior to graduation. Includes a number of stars before they were famous.

Best Romantic Comedy Films

33. The Princess Bride - A dashing young romantic takes on an evil king to retrieve his true love. He must also face the power of Andre the Giant along the way, and the sword skill of Mandy Patinkin.

34. City Lights - A blind flower girl falls in love with Charlie Chaplin’s tramp in this classic silent film.

35. Annie Hall - Woody Allen’s legendary take on relationships. Christopher Walken has a small, but memorable, role.

36. Lover Come Back - Rock Hudson and Doris Day play rival ad executive in their second film together.

37. When Harry Met Sally - A comic courtship between Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan). Ryan’s fake orgasm is a restaurant is regarded as one of the most memorable moments in modern movie history.

38. The Philadelphia Story - A socialite plans to gets married, but her plans are thrown into disarray when a hunky journalist and her ex-husband show up. Stars Cary Grant, James Stewart and Katharine Hepburn.

39. Moonstruck - Cher stars as a bossy Italian-American who gets swept off her feet by the brother of the man she’s supposed to marry. Nicolas Cage and Danny Aiello also star.

40. My Man Godfrey - A screwball comedy about a down-and-out man hired as the butler to a wealthy socialite. Things really heat up when she starts to develop feelings for the man.

41. Roman Holiday - Audrey Hepburn is a princess who goes to Rome to get away from her hectic life. Gregory Peck is the journalist who meets and falls in love with her, not knowing her true identity.

42. Amelie - A French film about a shy waitress (Audrey Tautou) who sets out to change the lives of those around her for the better. Nominated for five Academy Awards.

43. Sleepless in Seattle - Tom Hanks is a lonely widower, and Meg Ryan is a woman touched by his call to a radio advice show on Christmas Eve. A hugely popular film when Meg Ryan was still viewed as America’s sweetheart.

44. Love Actually - A British film which follows the love lives of numerous characters leading up to the Christmas holidays. Bill Nighy is outstanding as an aging rock singer.

45. It Happened One Night - A socialite (Claudette Colbert) runs away from her pampered surroundings and happens across a reporter (Clark Gable) looking for a big scoop. Will he fall in love or just use her for a story? Regardless of the era, this is one of the all-time best romantic comedy films.

46. Manhattan - Another movie about relationships from Woody Allen. This time around, he’s a twice-divorced man dating a girl in high school.

47. Pretty in Pink - Directed by the late John Hughes, Pretty in Pink is about a poor girl (Molly Ringwald) who falls for a guy in a different social circle and the resulting consequences. Jon Cryer makes Brat Pack history as Ducky.

48. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star as a couple who decide to have their memories of each other erased. As Carrey’s character undergoes the process, his mind rebels and fights to hold on to the events, no matter how painful.

49. Breakfast at Tiffany’s - Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard star in this romantic comedy based on the novel by Truman Capote. Hepburn’s portrayal of Holly Golightly became her most famous role.

50. Sabrina - Audrey Hepburn, William Holden and Humphrey Bogart star. Playing against type, Bogart turns in one of the best performances of his career.

Best “Fish Out of Water” Comedy Films

51. Big - A kid wants to be an adult, and he gets his wish thanks to a mysterious boardwalk game. He awakes in the body of a man (Tom Hanks) and quickly realizes that he didn’t have it so bad.

52. Crocodile Dundee - A rugged Australian (Paul Hogan) experiences culture shock when he travels to New York City. Provided a major boost to Australian tourism and made Hogan an international star.

53. Tootsie - Dustin Hoffman plays an actor who masquerades as a woman to get a part on a soap opera.

54. Pretty Woman - Julia Roberts and Richard Gere star in this romantic comedy about a multi-millionaire who falls for a prostitute with a heart of gold.

55. Back to School - When his son has trouble fitting in, a wealthy businessman (Rodney Dangerfield) decides to show his support by enrolling in college. He’s soon romancing one of his teachers and earning the ire of another. Dangerfield’s comic timing makes this one of the best fish out of water comedy films.

56. Some Like It Hot - Considered by many to be the greatest comedy ever made, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe star. Lemmon and Curtis disguise themselves as women in an all-female band to escape from the mob. In the process, they both fall for the band’s lead singer, the sexy Sugar Kane (Monroe).

57. Stripes - Bill Murray and Harold Ramis enlist in the Army and cause all kinds of trouble (it’s all Murray’s fault, actually). Also starring John Candy, Sean Young and Warren Oates.

Best Anarchic Comedy Films

58. Duck Soup - The Marx Brothers wreak havoc in the fictional country of Freedonia. Widely considered to be their comedy masterpiece.

59. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - An all-star cast undertake a manic quest to find $350,000 in stolen cash. Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle and Buster Keaton are among the cast.

60. MASH - Brilliant-yet-mischievous doctors try to save lives and keep from losing their sanity during the Korean War.

61. The Jerk - Steve Martin in his first starring role in an outlandish rags-to-riches story. Considered one of the 100 greatest comedies of all time.

62. Bananas - Woody Allen plays a neurotic man (surprise!) who tries to impress his activist girlfriend and ends up leading a revolution in the country of San Marcos.

63. The Blues Brothers - Two brothers with an affinity for the blues team up to save the orphanage where they were raised. Stars John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd.

64. The Big Lebowski - After his rug is stolen, a stoner (Jeff Bridges) undertakes a quest to get it back. Another gem from the Cohen Brothers, and this one’s become a huge cult classic.

65. Nashville - Robert Altman’s musical takes a look at music and politics in Tennessee.

Best Action Comedy Films

66. Beverly Hills Cop - Eddie Murphy stars as Axel Foley, a tough cop from Detroit who travels to Los Angeles in order to investigate the death of an old friend.

67. Big Trouble in Little China - Kurt Russell braves Chinese gods, bizarre monsters, and an immortal sorcerer in order to help a friend. Wacky mixture of comedy, drama, kung-fu, romance and any other genre you can imagine. Directed by John Carpenter.

68. Kung Fu Hustle - Stephen Chow directed, produced and starred in this kung-fu comedy about a young man attempting to rise in the criminal underworld despite his inner heroic nature. And wait until you get a load of The Beast, the man known as the most dangerous assassin in the world.

69. Tropic Thunder - A group of actors (including Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr.) enter the jungle to shoot a war movie and end up crossing paths with real-life drug smugglers. Downey is especially good as an Australian actor who’s had his skin dyed in order to play a black soldier.

70. Rush Hour - Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are a mismatched pair of cops who team up to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Chinese official.

71. The Waterboy - Adam Sandler is a good-natured waterboy who manages to channel his inner rage and become a destructive force on the football field.

72. Midnight Run - Robert DeNiro is a bounty hunter tasked with catching and returning a mob accountant (Charles Grodin) who skipped bail. Of course, the mob want the man dead, so there’s plenty of action to be had.

73. Hot Fuzz - A overly-effective cop is transferred to the countryside, only to find that the locals are suddenly dropping like flies. Timothy Dalton steals the show as the sinister owner of the local grocery store.

74. Smokey and the Bandit - Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed transport alcohol across state lines, and Jackie Gleason is the sheriff dedicated to stopping them. Cool cars and a really awesome theme song.

75. 48 Hours - Eddie Murphy stars as a con who teams up with a veteran cop (Nick Nolte) in order to stop a psychotic criminal. One of the best action comedy films of the ‘80s.

Sony slashes price of PlayStation 3 by $100,0,2690520.story

Sony slashes price of PlayStation 3 by $100 to $299
The Japanese electronics giant, which is seeking to boost sales ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season, also unveils a sleeker, thinner model of the game console.
By Alex Pham and Ben Fritz
August 19, 2009

Sony Corp. slashed $100 off the price of its entry-level PlayStation 3 game console to $299 on Tuesday in an effort to goose sales ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season.

The Japanese electronics giant also unveiled a thinner model of the PS3 that packs a 120-gigabyte hard disk drive. The newer model, 36% smaller and 32% lighter than the 80-gigabyte version, is expected to hit store shelves by Sept. 1. The 160-gigabytye PS3 also took a price cut, and is now $399.

"This is a game-changing moment for us," Peter Dille, Sony's senior vice president of marketing, said in an interview. "There's a lot of pent-up demand for the PS3. It's been a tough economy, and a lot of people have been sitting on the fence waiting for the price cut."

The move was widely anticipated by a number of analysts, who said a price cut could help Sony regain momentum.

"A price cut is long overdue on the PS3," Colin Sebastian at Lazard Capital Markets said. "We expect an uplift in unit sales. But the question longer term for Sony is whether they can sustain market share gains, especially when competing platforms, such as the Xbox 360, lower their prices as well."

Although the PlayStation 2 was the dominant console of the last generation of devices, the PS3 so far has lagged behind Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, which has sold more than 30 million units worldwide, and Nintendo Co.'s Wii, which has sold more than 50 million consoles. Sony, meanwhile, has sold roughly 24 million PS3s as of June 30.

One of the main reasons has been the PS3's price: Sony launched the PS3 at $599 in November 2006. It lowered the price two years ago to $399, but that was still more than the Xbox 360, whose entry-level model cost $199, and the Wii, priced at $249.

Sony has maintained that the PS3's built-in Blu-ray disc player justifies the expense.

"Even in the tough economy, families have been reluctant to give up their at-home entertainment," Dille said. "For $299, you're getting a game machine, a Blu-ray player and a 120-gig hard drive you can use to download movies. It's a tremendous value."

Many in Hollywood have been eagerly awaiting a PS3 price cut in hopes it would boost sales of high definition Blu-ray discs at a time when the overall DVD market is contracting.

Blu-ray disc sales rose 91% in the first half of the year to $407 million in the U.S., according to the Digital Entertainment Group, an industry trade organization. However, that's still a tiny percentage of overall consumer spending of $9.73 billion on home entertainment in the same time period. The Blu-ray disc sales also did little to alleviate an overall drop of 13.5% in disc purchases.

CIA hired Blackwater for secret hit squad

Report: CIA hired Blackwater contractors for secret hit squad
Daniel Tencer
August 19, 2009

The specter of private contractors carrying out assassinations on behalf of the US government has been raised in a New York Times article that says the CIA hired contractors from security firm Blackwater to help carry out its recently-revealed hit squad program.

The article, which appeared at the Times Wednesday night, says that in 2004, contractors from Blackwater “helped the spy agency with planning, training and surveillance” in the secret program that, according to media reports, never became fully functional.

The CIA hit squad, ostensibly meant to target al Qaeda’s leadership in the years after 9/11, became public news when CIA Director Leon Panetta informed congressional intelligence committees about it in late June. Since then, stories have appeared linking Vice President Dick Cheney to the decision to keep the hit squads secret — a decision that may violate the National Security Act, which mandates congressional oversight of the CIA.

The involvement of Blackwater, however, is a new revelation. That the CIA used a private contractor for the program “was a major reason that [Panetta] became alarmed and called an emergency meeting to tell Congress that the agency had withheld details of the program for seven years,” the Times reports.

The Times writes:

It is unclear whether the CIA had planned to use the contractors to capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance. American spy agencies have in recent years outsourced some highly controversial work, including the interrogation of prisoners. But government officials said that bringing outsiders into a program with lethal authority raised deep concerns about accountability in covert operations.

Officials said that the CIA did not have a formal contract with Blackwater for this program but instead had individual agreements with top company officials, including the founder, Erik D. Prince, a politically connected former member of the Navy Seals and the heir to a family fortune. Blackwater’s work on the program actually ended years before Mr. Panetta took over the agency, after senior C.I.A. officials themselves questioned the wisdom of using outsiders in a targeted killing program.

Blackwater’s reputation was damaged beyond repair on September 16, 2007, when guards employed by the company killed 11 people in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. That resulted in the company being forced out of Iraq, and having to rebrand itself as Xe Services LLC.

Blackwater’s reputation was further damaged by revelations earlier this month that the company’s founder, Erik Prince, has been implicated in “one or more murders” by witnesses who gave depositions in a civil suit against the company.

According to the unnamed witnesses — who are testifying on behalf of Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater — Prince allegedly ordered the killing of at least one person who was planning to testify about “ongoing criminal activity” at the company.

How To Not Provide Health Care

Congress Deadlocked Over How To Not Provide Health Care
August 18, 2009 Issue 45•34

WASHINGTON—After months of committee meetings and hundreds of hours of heated debate, the United States Congress remained deadlocked this week over the best possible way to deny Americans health care.

"Both parties understand that the current system is broken," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday. "But what we can't seem to agree upon is how to best keep it broken, while still ensuring that no elected official takes any political risk whatsoever. It’s a very complicated issue."

"Ultimately, though, it's our responsibility as lawmakers to put these differences aside and focus on refusing Americans the health care they deserve," Pelosi added.

The legislative stalemate largely stems from competing ideologies deeply rooted along party lines. Democrats want to create a government-run system for not providing health care, while Republicans say coverage is best denied by allowing private insurers to make it unaffordable for as many citizens as possible.

"We have over 40 million people without insurance in this country today, and that is unacceptable," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said. "If we would just quit squabbling so much, we could get that number up to 50 or even 100 million. Why, there's no reason we can't work together to deny health care to everyone but the richest 1 percent of the population."

"That's what America is all about," he added.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said on Meet The Press that Republicans would never agree to a plan that doesn't allow citizens the choice to be denied medical care in the private sector.

"Americans don't need some government official telling them they don't have the proper coverage to receive treatment," Boehner said. "What they need is massive insurance companies to become even more rich and powerful by withholding from average citizens the care they so desperately require. We're talking about people's health and the obscene profits associated with that, after all."

Though there remain irreconcilable points, both parties have reached some common ground in recent weeks. Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) point to Congress' failure to pass legislation before a July 31 deadline as proof of just how serious lawmakers are about stringing along the American people and never actually reforming the health care industry in any meaningful way.

"People should know that every day we are working without their best interests in mind," Reid said. "But the goal here is not to push through some watered-down bill that only denies health care to a few Americans here and a few Americans there. The goal is to recognize that all Americans have a God-given right to proper medical attention and then make sure there's no chance in hell that ever happens."

"No matter what we come up with," Reid continued, "rest assured that millions of citizens will remain dangerously uninsured, and the inflated health care industry will continue to bankrupt the country for decades."

Other lawmakers stressed that, while there has been some progress, the window of cooperation was closing.

"When you get into the nuts and bolts of how best not to provide people with care essential to their survival, there are many things to take into consideration," Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said. "I believe we can create a plan for Americans that allows them to not be able to go to the hospital, not get the treatment they need, and ultimately whither away and die. But we've got to act fast."

For his part, President Barack Obama claimed to be optimistic, even saying he believes that a health care denial bill will pass in both houses of Congress by the end of the year.

"We have an opportunity to do something truly historic in 2009," Obama said to a mostly silent crowd during a town hall meeting in Virginia yesterday. "I promise I will only sign a clear and comprehensive health care bill that fully denies coverage to you, your sick mother, her husband, middle-class Americans, single-parent households, the unemployed, and most importantly, anyone in need of emergency medical attention."

"This administration is committed to not providing health care," Obama added. "Not just for this generation of Americans, but for many generations to come."

Obama Piddles Away the Public's Options

Wed, 08/19/2009
“It's all over but the funeral.” In abandoning the “public option,” President Obama has relinquished all claim as champion of health care reform, the content of which he first diluted and ultimately bargained away entirely. The forces of reaction, which were disorganized and on the defensive when Obama entered office, have been vastly strengthened by the president's “duplicitous backroom deals and back-stabbing of his most loyal supporters.”
Obama Piddles Away the Public's Options
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Obama seems to believe he can salvage a bill – any bill – and scribble the word “reform” on it.”

It became crystal clear that the insurance companies had prevailed in President Obama's health care fiasco the moment the White House coined the term “public option.” Plainly, a public alternative to private health insurance was always merely an option – just another bargaining chip in Obama's private and oh-so-friendly negotiations with the rich and ruthless. Now it's all over but the funeral.

The death of Obama's health care project was both ignominious and foreordained. This is what comes from duplicitous backroom deals and back-stabbing of one's most loyal supporters. What remains of the legislative mish-mash birthed by Obama and his congressional co-conspirators, are corporate bills. That's why the drug barons are spending $150 million to advertise for Obama's fraudulent brand of health care reform. And, although the insurance industry continues to publicly oppose the hollow shell that Obama's project has become, at this stage in the game they win whichever way the wind blows. If Obama's hot air balloon fully deflates, the health insurance companies will continue to enjoy the status quo they have so carefully engineered over the years. But if a bill emerges with provisions that force everyone to buy private insurance, the health care racketeers will add millions of new, subsidized customers.

“Obama gave everything away before the negotiations even began.”

Obama signaled that he is willing to engage in further compromise with his corporate friends, the guys whose company and confidence he so highly prized at White House health care forums, venues where single-payer advocates were not welcome. The problem is, Obama gave everything away before the negotiations even began. Now he has nothing left to trade, and not enough forces to rearrange the battlefield, having demobilized and dismissed the Left in favor of corporate Democrats like himself.

Still, Obama seems to believe he can salvage a bill – any bill – and scribble the word “reform” on it.

He has been reduced to the politics of semantics. He invites his election day supporters to leap into the river with him as he grasps at “slivers” and straws and calls them “reform.” Obama will describe passage of any legislation with the word reform attached to it, a victory. But his paper victory will represent a lasting defeat for real health care reform, which will have been discredited in the eyes of the public – for how long, no one can say.

But the damage is even more horrific. Obama has succeeded in wounding Medicare – and Medicaid and veterans health care and Social Security – more grievously than the Republicans could have dreamed of on their own. He entered office spreading hysteria about the cost of Medicare and other so-called “entitlements.” Now his little boat is sinking, but the Republicans have been reinforced in their age-old battle to privatize what's left of the public sphere. In the short space of 7 months, Obama has piddled and bargained away huge regions of the public's “options.”

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at