Saturday, August 22, 2009

Camera Obscura: (Part 2) "Inglourious Basterds" and "District 9" Reviews

As Lt. Aldo Raine, Brad Pitt southern-drawls his commands, telling his squad he ain't very happy he had to leave his home in the Smoky Mountains to fight these dirty Nazis - and when directly questioned about where his home is , he proudly declares "Maynardville". As in East Tennessee. I'm certain this is the first ever film reference to the town of Maynardville - and it was director Quentin Tarantino's movie "Inglourious Basterds" that made it happen.

Tarantino's take on World War II is also part of his continuing love story with film itself - reels and reels of 35mm film burn up the screen in the movie and they sure burn up Tarantino's heart, and I just love how he tells his love of filmmaking and storytelling. There's likely far more film references here than actual scenes of violence, but you don't have to be a consummate film buff to like "Inglourious Basterds" -- you'll just like it even more if you are.

This is not a summer movie big blow-up crapfest tied into a toy line - see "G.I. Joe" for that, and note that any one of Lt. Raine's squad would beat the living daylights out of every character in "Joe". It's not a CGI Digital 3-D crapfest either -- this is a movie, dammit, for people who love movies and great storytelling. He even made sure the audience sees those so-called "cigarette burns", marks in the upper right corner of the screen which tell the projectionist to change reels. Yes, Tarantino re-writes the history of World War II here, and his version is spectacular, funny and startling - there are no giant military battles here. This is a battle between hearts that burn at 24 frames per second.

When most of Hollywood's mainstream efforts have nearly all turned into rapid-fire cuts and edits and flying cameras, all meant to imply action and violence, Tarantino plants his camera, carefully composes shots akin to John Ford or Jean Renoir, and his characters talk to each other. Some filmmakers would have taken the opening of "Inglourious Basterds" and made it a blitzkrieg of camera angles and rapid editing - but Tarantino's opening scene is about 15 minutes which are incredibly suspenseful, brilliantly acted and written, and sets up the riveting characters of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa, aka The Jew Hunter, and a young Jewish girl in hiding, named Shosanna, who barely escapes that first scene alive. As Landa, actor Christoph Waltz certainly earned this year's Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

That first scene shows why Tarantino deserves the high praise he has received for the last 17 years: on the surface, it is a simple conversation between a French dairy farmer and a Nazi officer, but it has many more layers, right down to the life and death consequences fill every word and every gesture. Similar scenes of one-on-one conversation occur often in the movie, each one more suspenseful than the last.

Tarantino says in this interview with The Village Voice that Landa is best character he's ever written, and that's quite true. I was constantly fascinated and immensely entertained by the character and how vividly Waltz brought him to life. Shosanna, played by actress Melanie Laurent, also turns in a spectacular performance -- just as so many in this movie do, like Pitt and actor Michael Fassbender, as a British commando brought in to special mission to attack the Nazi high command officials -- what's more, he is recruited because he is a film critic, an expert in German cinema.

Music choices for the movie, as usual with Tarantino, are always unique, and his choices here are bold and brash - he repeats his usage of several Ennio Morricone soundtracks, and they underscore the scenes with wit and with pathos. He even works in one of my favorite songs ever created for a movie, David Bowie's blistering song "Putting Out Fire" from the remake of "Cat People" as Shoshna plots her ultimate revenge against the Nazis.

On a side note, in the VV interview mentioned above, Tarantino is asked again to name his favorite films, and he says that over the years, the movie that he likes best is Sergio Leone's "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" and I have to agree with him. Leone took one of American cinema's central genres, the Western, and turned it into something brand new. And Tarantino blends the Western and the War Film into something new, too, destined to be a masterpiece. Just like Lt. Raine wanted his work to be remembered.


I asked my friend Matt McClane to write up a review of "District 9", a sci-fi tale from producer Peter Jackson and director Neill Blomkamp. I just didn't have time to see it for this weekend's post but Matt has the skinny on how just good this one is at his blog, The McClane Tirade --
"This week I took a trip through District 9 and somehow made it out of there unscathed.

You guys have heard of that place, right? For my non-African readers and friends, District 9 is a cozy little spot in Johannesburg, South Africa, where this relentless and carnivorous evil corporation, Multinational United (or MNU) is keeping more than 1 million homeless alien creatures in a busted slum.

Apparently these poor guys basically crash landed on Earth about 28 years ago and the kind people of Johannesburg have been cool enough to let them hang out in the neighborhood until they fix their ship (or pretty much indefinitely).

I wish it was as nice as it sounds, but it's not. These super tall, super intimidating and super scary bug-looking aliens—called "Prawns" as a bad derogatory racial slur—have been shoved into the most horrifying ghetto in the history of busted ghettos. MNU was assigned to govern the district, but now it's evolved into a rich white guy's worst nightmare.

Now you've got the happiest place on the planet: malnourished, ravenous and very pissed off ostracized aliens piled on top of endless garbage, dead animals, thousands of cat food cans and an entire mob of black-market-dealing Nigerian maniacs with stockpiles upon stockpiles of deadly weapons.

I say that I've been there because I feel that I've actually been there. What makes the film, District 9, so unbelievably original is the complete and absolute realism in every single frame. Director Neill Blomkamp (an actual native of Johannesburg) uses some of the most interesting film techniques that I've ever seen. Using a methodical combination of "mockumentary style" hand-held camera footage with the most realistic computer generated special effects ever, he pulls you straight into these slums, even when you're absolutely terrified of going in there.

Make no mistake, though, your ass is going in whether you like it or not. The film grabs your eyeballs, carefully unscrews them from your sockets and yanks you straight into the most hostile environment possible. (He's also going to come back for your ears, just as a warning.)

He completely immerses you into a powder keg of dynamite, as the friction between MNU and the aliens has come to its boiling point.

The corporation and normal folks of Johannesburg have gotten pretty sick of these weird aliens eating all the rubber off their tires, ferociously devouring their pets and making life pretty rough for humans in general. It's not really a fault of the aliens, though. They don't have any leadership. All their superiors have gone to Prawn heaven, and now a million worker aliens have taken a permanent day off.

What do you do on your day off? Do you sell your super-high-tech & highly destructive alien weapons to Nigerian mob bosses for large payments of cat food? (Aliens LOVE cat food.)

If you do choose to sell these weapons, the joke is totally on the mob guys. Turns out, alien weapons can only be fired by aliens. (The guns, etc. are only activated with synced up with Prawn DNA.) In other words, if you're not a 8' tall alien bug, you're not going to be able to do a damn thing with that massive gun, other than brandish it at old people to give them heart attacks or have some nice pretend games of G.I. Joe in your back yard with your closest friends or family.

Anyway, with all this chaos, MNU has finally decided to kick the Prawns out of District 9 and move them over to a new and special place, which is basically an even more busted concentration camp. This just doesn't go over well at all.

This is the part where we meet our main man of the tale, Mr. Wikus van der Merwe. (I know, kickass name, right? I wish I was named that. Can you imagine visiting the "Van Der Merwe Triade" every day? I certainly can.)

Anyway, MNU agent Wikus has been given the wonderful task of heading up the Eviction Task Force, making him the most unpopular man in the District. This guy is absolutely awesome. He's basically a fantastic mix of Borat, Mr. Incredible's tiny insurance company boss from The Incredibles, and every mindless corporate-loving idiot you've ever met. The man doesn't care about these aliens, in fact, he pretty much hates 'em. In a few quick scenes, you really see how much disdain he has for these guys. Basically, the poor guy has no soul. And an awesome corporate hair cut.

So in we go with Wikus to the depths of District 9.

I know it seems like I've given most of the entire movie away, but I haven't. No really, I haven't, readers. I know, you guys are still mad at me for giving away too much about some ballet movie in Morristown, TN, but you're going to have to trust me on this one. We're just getting started. What I've told you is only the set-up.

To keep things nice and vague to not spoil anything for you, let me throw out some of my favorite points here. Also, I'll say this: if somebody spoils this movie for you and gives away any more of the plot than I have, you totally have my permission to donkey punch them in the bread basket.


1. The realism of this movie will shock you. It just feels so incredibly real. From the special effect work on the aliens, their ship, their weapons, etc., it's literally like you're really in the middle of this place, experiencing these things right beside our characters. While the run-of-the-mill viewers may think it's sloppy, shaky and extreme, us true movie fans know better. Every shot in this piece was skillfully set up for the most unsettling and realistic sequences we've seen since our uncles video taped us walking across the stage at high school graduation.

2. The aliens. Perfectly designed to be completely original, every single one of these guys has its own look, its own mannerisms and its own fashion sense. (Literally.) The way they sound will freak you out in a really good way. Their voices are fascinating.

3. Wikus van der Merwe, played by this new guy named Sharlto Copley. Let me tell you right now: this guy is my favorite actor of the year thus far. I have to really fight my brain like a deadly alligator to remember seeing a character go through such an amazing journey of change like this man does in this film. His character arc is unbelievable, and his charisma is just out-of-control captivating. You'll hate the guy, you'll laugh at the guy, you'll be disgusted by the guy, you'll feel for the guy, you'll believe in the guy, you'll root for the guy and you'll cry for the guy in the same movie. The transformation his character goes through is the most grueling, graphic and emotionally painful performance of the year, by far.

4. The social impact. The themes this movie throws around aren't fun and games. Just try to watch this film without having questionable thoughts about everything from our cultural identity and racism to our God-given rights as not only citizens... but as human beings.

5. The action. Make no mistake, this movie does not mess around. Seriously guys, this movie is seriously hard-to-the-core. This is not the Transformers or G.I. Joe. This movie isn't even Jean Claude Van Damme in Lionheart. No, this movie is jammed packed full of highly, HIGHLY realistic violence, terror and complete carnage. I literally felt like I was watching a Faces of Death movie at some points. The nature of the film and its visual presentation excels every scene from level 5 ("Oh man, that was crazy!") straight to level 11 ("HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, DID I JUST SEE THAT? THAT COULDN'T HAVE JUST HAPPENED; I THINK I'M NEARLY HAVING A HEART ATTACK RIGHT NOW"). It reaches this point by using extremely intelligent special effects mixed with amazing gore, astounding music and hard-hitting sound effects that will leave you completely exhausted (in a terrific way).

To end, I have to make one final, important point: this movie is highly original and startlingly intelligent. It really is, by far, one of the greatest science fiction movies I've ever seen in my entire life. While it's a vicious ride, it's definitely one worth taking.

Take it readers. Take it hard."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Camera Obscura: (Part One) Still Time To Win Free Movie Posters

You still have time to enter to win a set of six great new movie posters from classic Hollywood courtesy of Turner Classic Movies -- I have two sets of the six posters to give away, and to win all you have to do is enter your name in the comments section of this post -- all part of my celebration of my blog birthday. (Entry is open until midnight Aug 31st and two winners will be then selected at random.)

Today, TCM's Summer Under The Stars event makes a day of the films of Gene Hackman - one of the finest actors working today. For many years, he was a solid supporting actor in wide range of roles and some of his best supporting and leading work is highlighted tonite. First, there's "Lilith", a moody tale from director Robert Rossen about a woman (Jean Seberg) being treated at a sanitarium for schizophrenia. While Warren Beatty has the lead role in the movie, Hackman nearly steals the movie in scenes where he plays the husband to one of Beatty's former girlfriends. Rossen's movies always play with intense realism, and that's the kind of movie where Hackman shines.

When Beatty began casting for "Bonnie and Clyde", also on TCM tonite, he put Hackman in as Clyde's brother, a performance which earned Hackman his first Oscar nomination. Also tonite, TCM airs "The Conversation" by director Francis Ford Coppola - a dazzling movie with Hackman playing the lead role of Harry Caul, a specialist in spying and surveillance. This excellent mystery allows Hackman to play a very dour and nerdy character, a man with so many layers - and his role as spy gets turned against him as we see unknown forces strip away each of those layers, all to a devastating effect on Hackman. (His character here was the basis of the one he played in the Will Smith thriller, "Enemy of the State", another tale of spying and surveillance).

Saturday, TCM features the work of another legend, Sterling Hayden. Hayden is likely best remembered for the hilarious lunacy of Colonel Jack D. Ripper in "Dr. Strangelove", but he was a menacing tough guy in some great crime films like "The Asphalt Jungle", "Manhandled" and more. TCM also airs "Johnny Guitar", one of the oddest Westerns ever made. Hayden plays the title character who joins forces with actress Joan Crawford as they fight off attempts to steal her property and chase her out of town. But that barely describes this entry from director Nicholas Ray -- best to describe it as a David Lynch-style warping of a Hollywood Western with psycho-sexual twists and turns. It's a strangely compelling movie, often hypnotic and garish all at once. It's a must-see movie.

So enter the contest and win some free movie swag!!

And check back later today for Part Two of Camera Obscura and I'll have reviews of two new movies for you - Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds" and the new sci-fi film "District 9".

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ridiculous Health Reform Fear Number 10,432

Just when I thought I had all I could stomach from the deeply ill-informed lunacy from folks who think changing the way health insurance operates is Eeeeeevil Incarnate --- I finally found something that made me laugh out loud.

More Conservative Lies about Health Care In The U.K.

Via The Week magazine, this article by Robert Shrum:

"Opening an Atlantic front in their summer campaign of lies, conservative opponents of health-care reform have targeted the British National Health Service as a care-denying, euthanizing, broken-down caricature of "socialized medicine"—a portrait that bears no resemblance to reality or to President Obama’s far more limited proposal for reform."


"For unadulterated obscenity, however, it’s tough to beat the suggestion of Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley—one of the "reasonable" Republicans allegedly negotiating reform in good faith—that due to his colleague Ted Kennedy’s age, Kennedy would not be given treatment for his brain tumor in countries with "government-run health" like the U.K. It’s bad enough to exploit the illness of the leading champion of health reform to assail that cause. It’s even worse when, as Kennedy has said, the purpose of his—and Obama’s—reform is not to ration care, but "to ensure that someday, when there is a cure for the disease I now have, no American who needs it will be denied it."

Undeterred by facts, the disinformers have taken their fraudulent assault to the airwaves. The oxymoronic Conservatives for Patients' Rights, working with the PR firm that marketed the Swift Boat libels against John Kerry in 2004, have produced a series of fear-mongering TV ads about the British health system. One of them asserts: "If you have cancer in the U.K. you are going to die quicker than in any other country in Europe." The claim is based on flawed data; international trials show British cancer patients do just as well as those in other countries. A British woman who appears in the ads says she was duped into participating. She’s not in favor of dismantling the NHS, she says, but of providing it with more resources.

The deception shouldn’t be surprising. The founder of Conservatives for Patients' Rights is Rick Scott, a man the media too often fails to identify as the former CEO of Columbia Hospital Corporation, a giant HMO. He was forced to resign after FBI agents raided the company, which subsequently paid a $1.7 billion fine—the highest in history— for Medicare fraud. Rick Scott is for patients’ rights like Dick Cheney is for open government.

The mounting falsehoods have annoyed the British. When they launched a "We love the NHS" campaign on Twitter on Aug. 12, it was the most talked about topic on the service and has stayed near the top ever since. What had finally set the British tweeting were attacks on the NHS from one of their own, Daniel Hannan, a Conservative elected to the European Parliament who’s become something of a fixture on (surprise!) Fox News, where he toes the network’s anti-health-reform line.

Hannan was rebuked as "eccentric" by the embarrassed Conservative Leader, David Cameron, who insisted that he himself was "100 percent behind the NHS." The last thing Cameron wants is to revive the impression that Conservatives are hostile to the NHS, an attitude that has doomed the party in past elections.

The British aren’t indignantly championing a system that neglects their needs. As their Department of Health noted, life expectancy in England is a year longer than in the United States and mortality among children from birth to age five is a third lower. In a 2007 survey of health care in five advanced nations—Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Britain, and the United States—the U.S. ranked last. Yet every one of the other countries spends less than we do per capita on health care—in Britain about half as much.

The British would never willingly surrender their NHS. Nor will Americans retreat on health care once reform survives the current perils and passes into law. When families see that their care isn’t rationed and that their coverage can’t be canceled; when costs are brought down; when seniors find that their Medicare is not only safe but strengthened, then the fear-mongers will be punished at the polls. By 2016 at the latest, Republican candidates will be pledging, much like their conservative counterparts in the U.K., not to undermine national health coverage.

Of course, we won’t have a system like the NHS, no matter how relentlessly conservative critics may invoke it. We won’t even get the system Obama first proposed. Instead, we’ll likely end up with a compromise—provided it’s not defeated by a self-righteous reaction from the Left. In the end, I don’t believe it will be. As Sen. Kennedy has argued, the plan can be improved in the years ahead. Bill Clinton agrees: "We need to pass a bill and move this thing forward," he said.

Amid the torrent of falsehoods and the tumult of town halls, there came a twittering of truth from across the Atlantic. The Brits fought back over there. Once Barack Obama and the Democrats win their fight over here—and they will have to fight very hard—our system will still be different from Britain’s. But finally, Americans, too, will have a health-care system we can be proud of."

Thought For The Day

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”

Mark Twain

Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care In America - A Reality Check

Please read through the two following blog posts on the debate (or lack of it via Our Modern Media, which instead aims their cameras at train wrecks rather than dig into the facts and figures of a handful of proposed bills -- and recall that None Yet Have Been Voted On By Congress) --

First, some Facts:

Pathetically but predictably, the health care reform debate is not focused on health care or reform, but rather on imagery meant to trigger our reptilian responses. In another article, I shall address what the "debate" should really be about (hint: improved health!), but in the public interest, in the hopes of lassoing crocodile frenzy before it totally consumes its young, I offer help for those struggling with friends and family who may be shaken by what has occurred during our own August recess.

"This is not to suggest that those who already believe that health reform is designed to kill Granny, or that the government just wants to "take over" Medicare are salvageable. Rather, that there may be increasing numbers of people who do not buy the inflammatory rhetoric, but do not know how to respond (to themselves) otherwise.

Here's a little primer on addressing some of the most absurd claims:

1. The government -- i.e., not private enterprise -- wants to kill Granny. Let us get this straight. The government wants to kill Granny and, by implied contrast, private enterprise, that we all learned in Economics 101 exist for the sole purpose of caring for each and every citizen, will look out for Granny's well-being.

Is this the same private enterprise that sells death (cigarettes), needing to addict 15,000 new children per month just to maintain revenues? Or, is it the same private enterprise that resisted selling safe cars? Or, perhaps it is the same private enterprise that would never pollute our air or water, or, if they did, rush to clean it up before they hurt anyone? Or, maybe they mean the private enterprise that imported toxic toys for children? Or, the private enterprise that so generously donates candy and soda pop machines to public schools?

We actually do know the private enterprise they mean -- it is the private insurers who try not to insure people who are or may get sick, try to drop them from their rolls when they do, and deny every claim they can when they cannot drop you from their policies. That's the private enterprise that has been caring for you for years.

And what about the government? Perhaps the evil government they refer to is the one that determined cigarette smoking caused lung cancer in the first place; or the one that established pollution controls and standards for clean air and clean water; or, perhaps it is the evil government, out to kill Granny, that administers Medicare with less than a 5 percent administrative cost compared to 25-30 percent for private enterprise; or, the evil people at the Food and Drug Administration that ensure the integrity of the food supply and the safety (and potency) of drugs people take to combat illness?

Let us concede, however, that the government does deliberately kill people. It is called the death penalty. And, although the goal is not to have our own people killed, war usually does a pretty good job of ensuring people die. So, if Granny refrains from committing a capital offense, and does not -- like the Limbaughs and O'Reillys and Bushes and Cheneys and Kristols and Lowrys and Buchanans and Chamblisses who love war so long as they do not get called to fight it -- volunteer for the armed forces, it is not the government she needs to fear for her life.

2. We cannot afford it. Here's a shocker--we are affording it today, paying for it now. Hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies are not giving away treatment and medicine for free. They are not printing their own money (although the word "scrip" is indeed in prescription). They are getting paid.

Now, how can that be? Well, if you are among the 260 million Americans who have health insurance, you are already paying for the 47 million who do not. Health care providers overcharge you assuming a predictable percentage of bills will go uncollected. You see, along with your insurance exec's Gulfstream, you pay for the uninsured with your premiums for those higher charges.

But, you don't mind, do you? Because they never called it a "tax."

If we get universal coverage, there will be no unpaid charges. Charges per item or service could come down and, therefore, insurance premiums could come down -- unless of course the insurance execs wants a company yacht along with the Gulfstream, or just to report higher profits, then they won't. Wonder what a competing public option would do? Hmmm....

And, by the way, there are huge savings to be had just from improved efficiencies of a system in which total costs count more than the cost of one procedure or drug or intervention.

The secret reason they never called part of your premiums a "tax" is that if we ever got health care reform, and premiums declined, or at least did not increase more rapidly than other parts of the economy, then we might have called it a "tax cut." And one of the "Old Rules" is the only the right wing gets to say the word, "tax cut." (Are you listening, Bill Maher?).

But, they are correct that health care costs are spinning out of control and that one of the purposes of reforming the system is to reduce those costs. One of the best ways of reducing costs is improving outcomes. More on that in another article.

3. Let private competition solve everything: Imagining a world without Medicare

Ok, to test that hypothesis, let us examine what our world would be like without Medicare. One possibility would be that the elderly would be insured privately and randomly in the same plans as the rest of us. Care to guess how high your premiums would be if your plan carried those higher risk seniors?

Or, suppose no insurance company really wanted to insure the elderly and they were without insurance. Then Granny gets sick. Who pays? Do you let Granny go untreated? Does Granny "allow" you go bankrupt, and deprive your kids, her grandchildren(!), of their college funds, to pay for her care?

Or, suppose there are insurance companies only covering the elderly? Their insurance premiums would be ... oh, doesn't seem to work does it? Very few would be covered since it would be unaffordable, so we are back to no coverage.

How about this? Your children can be covered to the age of 18 under your policy. What about your parents getting covered under your policy once they hit 65? Think we are back to sky-high premiums with that one.

I know, I know, I know (says Newtie), let's give each Medicare recipient a lump sum, and let them go out and buy private insurance with it. For starters, about 20-30 percent of that is no longer going into actual care, but into "administrative" costs, so their coverage would decline.. Then again, if a person is ill, the insurer may not wish to cover him; if there were a law against such discrimination, we are back to both skyhigh premiums few could afford and the contribution coming from Medicare being insufficient.

Now, for the most likely scenario without Medicare. Granny is covered, premiums are higher but not outrageously. Why? Because when Granny does get ill, the insurance companies will deny coverage, or drop her. So, you can have the wonderful experience of paying higher premiums and then going bankrupt a bit sooner, all while Granny is wondering how she could allow herself to do this to you, and her grandchildren. Now that would really kill her.

4. The free market can solve everything, and at lower cost. No, it cannot. First, and most convincingly, it has not. Since most systems tend toward equilibrium, it might have been surmised that, after all these years, everything would have already been solved. The purists would say that there are government programs around (like Medicare) that have distorted the system so that free markets cannot reach an equilibrium solution. But, that is nonsense. See # 3 above.

Secondly, though, free markets are genetically incapable of providing high-quality, low-cost, health care for all. Why? Because most people incur most of their health care costs when they are old. By the time they are old, health care prices have risen (even if at a normal rate), whereas their incomes were earned way-back-when wages and salaries were not nearly as high. Hence, even if they had saved prudently for the inevitable rainy day, it is unlikely most people would have enough saved from wages during their youth and middle age to cover the costs that they are now charged in their old age.

In addition, the costs of an illness can be, and often are, catastrophic to individuals, and only the very wealthy would have the money to pay for the total costs of care.

Ok, the free-market-solve-everything crowd would say, they would all purchase insurance. But, that is today's system, not everyone purchases it, not everyone can afford it, and private markets in search of profits do what would be expected: they weed out those most likely to add costs.

5. Your health care will be rationed. Don't know how to break this to you, except to say it in a whisper -- your health care is rationed today. Insurance companies do not cover everything, and, when they do, it is often just up to a point. Medicare likewise has certain rules about the level of nursing care required to qualify for reimbursement.

For example, we now know that highly intensive, properly guided physical therapy can restore motor function in people after strokes. A different part of the brain is trained to take over motor control. Here is a real-life case: A professor had a stroke. He is otherwise young and vigorous, formerly a champion-level athlete. But, his insurance will not cover the costs of 12-16 weeks of the highly intensive physical rehabilitation required to recover motor function. He gets just 3 weeks, only one hour on alternate days, but not even at the facility closest to his home, he has to go to one the insurance company approved.

One of the benefits of a comprehensive system is that treating this man for 12-16 weeks so that he can recover his motor function is not only better for the patient but, in the long run, is also much less expensive than forcing him, because of lack of coverage, to remain partially paralyzed. For any given insurance company, however, it is not less expensive, because he is likely to get passed into a different company. Thus, outcomes are worse and costs are higher.

6. Medicare is bankrupt ... or will be in 2042.

Name the private insurance company who is funded for all the healthcare expenses it will have to pay for the next 33 years, and I'll buy you 3 cheeseburgers, freedom fries deep-fried in beef fat with all you can drink Mountain Dew."

Meanwhile, Vibinc voices a more urgent reality:

"I know this whole “death panel” thing has been going on for weeks now, but I’ve gotten to the point where I want to slap someone every time I hear them talk about Government pulling the plug on granny because she’s too expensive. What bullshit.

We already have death panels you douchenozzle, they’re called INSURANCE COMPANIES.

As The Memphis Liberal points out the Supreme Court has ruled that

Inducement to ration care is the very point of any HMO scheme.

The argument on the right is that you can sue an insurance company. Perhaps, but you’re still dead if you don’t get the treatment you need because some corporation hedged their bets.

It’s not like it’s ever happened before or anything.

Oh, and how does a lawsuit play with conservative notions that tort reform will magically fix what’s driving up the cost of healthcare. Come on people be consistent.

Nope, the reality is we’re talking about two different cultures. One that believes corporations are going to do what’s right for people and that the government can’t do ANYTHING right, and one that believes government’s role is to provide an equitable foundation for all Americans and that corporations are more interested in protecting shareholders than doing right by regular folks.

Which one sounds more realistic?

Seriously, conservatives have been working for 30 years to protect shareholders and corporations far more than help regular Americans. Their perspective is that if the corporation benefits, somehow so does everyone else. From the union busting that the Reagan Admin. engaged in, to trade deals that have sent American jobs hither and fro, with the help of conservative and largely southern Democrats that have served as compliant enablers, the conservative ideology has destroyed America’s manufacturing base and left us in a position where good jobs for regular people are going the way of the dodo. All the while this same “Conservative ideology” is largely responsible for a tenfold increase in the national debt over the past 28 years.

Somehow, this is supposed to provide a better quality of life for all us little people. But aside from making really affordable “cheap plastic crap” made in places most people couldn’t find on a map, the only real benefit has been the availability of second rate goods to people who used to make a first rate version of the same damn thing.

So when we apply this ideological difference to the healthcare “debate”, if that’s what you want to call it, you have some people talking about healthcare, and others talking about something else entirely. Sobeale hit on this back in June when talking about the difference between the left and the right on the healthcare debate.

Progressives want to give everyone healthcare. The other side wants to give everyone health insurance.

Healthcare. That’s what I’m talking about, not insurance. Insurance is the ONLY thing in the world you buy and pray you don’t have to use. Healthcare is something EVERYONE NEEDS, but that a growing minority of working Americans DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO. Sure, they can go to the doctor or the hospital, but if it’s something serious, they’ll likely go bankrupt. That’s the reality, and 50% of the people who go bankrupt every year are in that situation.

So now that the Healthcare industry has dumped some $130m since April into putting the kibosh on any plan that includes a “public option” by stirring irrational fears and mobilizing a vocal but largely uninformed group of people to disrupt anything and everything that might further the “public option”. The debate has shifted from providing healthcare to all Americans to providing Americans with insurance, something they don’t want to have to use.

This is just plain madness.

The right wing reactionaries that show up in force at Town Hall meetings across this nation are grounded in the same ideology that has helped bankrupt this county and millions of it’s citizens. They are not there to debate, they are there to debase the process, to incite fear, and ultimately, deny you a right to affordable treatment when you need it most.

This is not the huge movement that the media would play it up to be. They are not taking to the streets demanding that things stay the same. They are a couple of hundred people per district, out of some 600,000+ constituents, mobilized to make a good show of strength for a very short period of time. It’s media manipulation at it’s worst, and the media is playing the role of compliant enabler, just like those conservative Democrats who are paralyzed with fear anytime someone proposes a change that they might have to defend.