Sicko: The Incredible Condescending San Francisco Chronicle

In an article on Michael Moore’s new movie Sicko, Victoria Colliver asks (emphasis mine):

The Friday opening of “Sicko” prompts the inevitable question: Will people really want to spend 123 minutes of their precious leisure time watching Michael Moore dissect what ails the American health care system?

I think “precious little proletariat leisure time” might have been a bit more effective.  But I nitpick.

The lack of coverage for millions of Americans, and the shitty greed-driven coverage the rest of us get is an issue that we’ve all likely butted heads against at some point in our lives.  It is an issue that determines how well we live to an incredible degree.  I think we can spare the 123 minutes Victoria.

In addition to those 123 minutes, I’d challenge you to spend one more hour.  That’s it, just one hour.  Go to the movie with a group of friends and family.  Then go out for dinner and talk.  If this is anything like Bowling for Columbine, there will be a lot to discuss.  All indicators point to this being a hell of a ride.

Trailer

Discourse is one of the cornerstones of a free society, and it is the most essential political currency.  The silence on this issue has left us too poor to afford the change we desperately need.  This movie is a step towards getting us back on track.  There is no need to underestimate Americans and assume we won’t spend even a little bit of time on an issue as important as this.  Our health is what’s at stake.  Not only will people “really want” to spend their time at this movie, its going to bust box office records for a documentary.  This weekend is opening weekend, and you know the pundits and the analysts will be watching this movie like hawks.  Let’s give them something to look at.

New Driving Tax: Virginia Lawmakers Are Strange

I saw this in Leesburg Today, and I just had to add my two cents (emphasis mine):

Rust also explained that the law applies to Virginia residents only because of a constitutional issue that prevents the state from imposing civil remedial penalties on nonresidents. Loudoun’s legislative liaison, Eric Link, surmised the issue involves the fact that driving is considered a privilege in Virginia to residents, while out-of-state drivers, have a right to be on the road; however, he had not consulted with legislators about that.

Wow. In Virginia, your rights are our privileges.

Del. Tom Rust (R-86), who authored the abusive driver legislation with Del. Dave Albo (R-42), said the objections to the fees have only surfaced recently, while the idea of the fees has been floating around the state for more than two years.

“Never did anybody show up and raise any of these objections,” Rust said, referring to the time during which the General Assembly considered the fees and took public comment. “We didn’t hear from anybody.”

Isn’t it strange that people are more likely to object to the laws they hear about in the news?

Become a Socialist, Its Easy as Pie!

Apparently believing government should in some way regulate business makes you an automatic socialist.

Hmmm.  So that makes me one.  And yet I oppose “Socialist Roads”.

A socialist opposing socialist road taxes?  How dash clever of me.

Or perhaps not everyone who criticizes Ron Paul is a socialist.

Real Cowardice From the Far Right: Threats vs Free Speech

I was reading another thought provoking post by David of Orcinus about hate.  Specifically, about a neo-nazi who made a clear threat against an African-American journalist:

A white-supremacist Web site angered by a Leonard Pitts Jr. column alluding to the murder of a white couple posted The Miami Herald writer’s home address and phone number — leading to threats against the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner.

When Herald Managing Editor/News Dave Wilson asked Overthrow.com to delete the address and phone number, site editor Bill White replied: “We have no intention of removing Mr. Pitts’ personal information. Frankly, if some loony took the info and killed him, I wouldn’t shed a tear. That also goes for your whole newsroom.” 

As David notes, this isn’t about speech, it is about violence:

This is not a free-speech issue. Threats and intimidation are crimes in every state, and a crime by its nature is not a form of protected speech. I’m not certain why authorities haven’t taken White’s threats seriously, but their inaction, unfortunately, speaks volumes.

It is common to hear right wing pundits rhapsodize about various bits of violence being perpetuated against reporters, editors, entire news organizations.  What I don’t think they realize is precisely what they are saying about their own positions and character.  When faced with an argument you disagree with, there are a number of ways you can tackle it.  Like head on, for instance.  Or in the case of a far right idealogue, you do your damndest to engage in personal attacks and borderline threatening behavior.  Then when someone criticizes you on the issues, you shrilly claim any such commentary is attacking you, while avoiding the issues.

The only people who fall for that are already on the ground in a stupor.

Upon reflection, these tactics are horribly ill suited towards actually moving people to vote.  What you have instead are Republican voters who eat around the gristle of these antics, and vote based on issues that are important to them.  Eventually some get fed up with more hard fat at the expense of real meat, and vote opposition.  Worse, this line of attack opens you up to a royal whooping should your opponent have a shred of rhetorical savvy.

What would happen if the tables turned, and Mr Pitts published Mr White’s personal information in the paper?  Would Mr Pitts be fine with that, or would he immediately start whining and sue?

The position of a neo-nazi is one built out of a deep seeded sense of inferiority that desperately clings to a group identity to provide the recognition life has not afforded.  This fear and angst can fuel very hateful speech and action.  But it also makes one extremely vulnerable to a well orchestrated counter attack.  Mr White is a coward, and the need to appeal to violence against an individual, rather than directly address the offending commentary on its own merits, broadcasts just how full of shit he really is.

If the only thing you have left is “I hope someone shoots reporter/justice X”, you’ve got nothing, and you are letting the whole world know it.  Don’t expect the world to sit on its haunches and let that pass.

Why Ron Paul is a Corporate Candidate

“And its spent for very special reasons because corporations end up controlling the government.”  Ron Paul (via LewRockwell) on overseas spending.

For a serious candidate to say something like this is flooring.  How very natural for Ron Paul to assume the role of rebel candidate, opposed to the corporate forces that are censoring him.

But is he really for people first?  When the chips are down will Ron Paul side with us or with the multinationals?

Neither.  And the end effect of this is not unlike a zookeeper staying out of a dispute between a bengal tiger and a toddler.  Who do you think has the power advantage?  In effect Ron Paul’s policies would let corporations run wild.

As Thom Hartman notes (via Sara, emphasis mine):

The first myth Hartmann wants us to puncture is the myth of the free market, which has been elevated to the level of a religion. He invoked Grover Norquist — who famously said that he wanted to shrink government down to where he could drag it into the bathtub and drown it — and noted that New Orleans was what ended up getting drowned instead.

“Why does the Bush administration replace competent people with ideologues?” asked Hartmann. The answer lies in the essence of the conservative worldview. Conservatives believe that corporations are morally neutral; but human beings are essentially evil. Given that equation, it’s obvious that corporations are thus morally superior to human beings, and thus should be given greater rights and dominance. Government, on the other hand, expresses the will of the people — and since people are inherently evil, government is inherently evil as well.

Liberals, on the other hand, generally agree on the moral neutrality of corporations; but they believe that people are fundamentally good. “This is the fundamental cleavage between these two world views,” notes Hartmann, pointing out that this worldview is clearly reflected in the preamble to the Constitution. “Our founders’ six stated purposes reflect this belief — that government exists to lift people up to their highest potential.” We provide for the common defense in order to protect ourselves from the handful of bad apples in the bunch; but the rest of the document, asserts Hartmann, is about maximizing human opportunity.

On the other hand: “The free market is just a euphemism for large multinational corporations controlling the planet,” he concluded.

The appeal to a market utterly free of regulations and limits, the libertarian ideal, is a world where might makes right.  What must be understood is that this world has existed before.  As amor mundi observes (emphasis mine):

Ron Paul looks to me like the oldest story in the 20th Century American playbook: yet another market fundamentalist libertopian who believes civil libertarianism is compatible with corporate capitalism. If that is the new “21st Century Democracy” then the facile “friendly fascism” peddled to earnest saucer-eyed privileged Americans by Ayn Rand (“America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business”), Ronald Reagan (“Government Is the Problem”), Bush I (“The New World Order”), Clinton (“The Era of Big Government Is Over,” NAFTA, workfare, deregulation), Bush II (“Our MBA President,” PNAC, the Unitary Executive) then the new 21st Century democracy looks an awful lot like the old Robber Baron “democracy” to me, but this time with the tools at its disposal to render the planet an uninhabitable radioactive, Greenhouse, pandemic sewer of goo.

There is a fundamental disconnect between an anti-corporation stance and support for the free market.  You cannot be both.  If you are truly going to stand up to the abuses of large multinationals, then you are talking about regulating the market.  If you are going to let those multinationals continue without any checks to their power, you are at the very least unworthy of the anti-corporate populist mantel.

Ron Paul isn’t so much against a corporate state as he is against the state.  If companies want to spend those same vast somes on “overseas spending”, would he regulate away the free market to prevent it?  Or does the same action, if performed by individuals acting under the auspices of a corporate entity suddenly become unethical once it is government in the driver’s seat?

If Ron Paul were to win, he may very well act to decrease the influence of corporations on government.  He would also reduce government to such an extend that corporations would no longer need to influence government to run the world their way.

The government envisioned when this country was founded, was one of the people, for the people, and by the people.  To stand up to the corporations and politicians who have perverted that is noble, but the solution to a leaky roof isn’t to tear down the house and sleep in the rain.  The solution is to either fix the damn roof, or build a better house.

We need to take our government back, and Ron Paul is not the candidate to help us do that.  He’ll just crumple it up and throw it in the circular suggestion box.

Patriots Blog Against Theocracy!

July 1st to 4th will see another Blog Against Theocracy, this time focusing on the patriotism of separation of Church and State:

We’re going to be holding another blogswarm during the Fourth of July week, July 1-4.

A blogswarm is where a group of bloggers from all venues agree to post on the same topic. Our loosely framed topic for this swarm is “the separation of Church and State is patriotic.” But this is about blogging, and we’re not trying to herd anyone. Post on church/state separation, against theocracy, and you’re participating.

If you need resources, let me point you to two. Talk2Action is a blog specifically on current church/state issues. And the First Freedom First website not only provides tremendous resources, their petition is an excellent way to point your readers to ACTION on endorsing our Constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state.

It should be a rip snorting good time. Dive into Faith Based Affordable Housing, or get historical and blog about the importance of church state separation over time. Its all good, and all welcome. Let’s get this party started!

Matthews Gets Historic (Is Still an Ass)

Matthews has his undergarments in a concerned twist over the possibility of a woman President with (gasp!) female advisors.  When he is caught in the act, he pulls out a double edged excuse (MediaMatters via Pandagon):

Asked by Time managing editor Richard Stengel, “What are you suggesting by asking does this diminish her as a commander in chief by being surrounded by women?,” Matthews replied: “No, the idea that it — well, let me just get historic. We’ve never had a woman commander in chief.”

Let’s get historic for a moment, shall we?  Would Matthews be concerned about a black commander in chief?  We’ve never had one of those before.  Chris digs himself in deeper:

… that final decision to vote for president, a woman president, a woman commander in chief, will be an historic decision for people. Not just men, but women as well.” Turning to New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, Matthews added: “Elisabeth, you’re always thinking about these things.”

Wow.  Concerned with appearing sexist, Matthews makes the brilliant move of turning to the nearest female reporter to get her take on things.  You can just picture him with big puppy eyes and a clipboard, asking for signatures:  “Will you endorse my sexism?  If a women endorses it, it won’t seem half as bad”.

Things just kept going downhill:

Bumiller referred to Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher — women who were elected to lead Israel and the United Kingdom — and said: “[W]e all remember these women. … I think we can get there.” Matthews responded, “But we’ve got Patton and John Wayne on our side.”

First, since this is a historical vote, then there aren’t many American examples to draw from, are there?  But to the point, Matthews is raised two elected leaders, and responds with a Major General and an Actor.

Mr. Matthews follows outright sexism with a flimsy attempt to cover his own ass, and only ends up showing how much of one he truly is.  Whether Clinton would make a good President has everything to do with her positions and her ethics, and nothing to do with her gender.  But by playing the electability card, Matthews is trying to push the idea of a female President out of the mainstream.  No one likes voting for a loser, and that is precisely how he is framing her with his laughable attempt to “get historic”.  However when pressed for the reason women advisors, or even a women President, would be in any way problematic, Chris guiltily tries to shift the frame.

So let me pose a question to Mr. Matthews:  Let’s pretend you didn’t cower away from Stengel’s question.  What is it about the gender of Clinton’s advisors that is so damn worrying?