Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Michael Moore injures Wolf Blitzer in cage match

When Laura and I walked out of the Arclight in Hollywood after seeing Michael Moore's Sicko, I scanned the floor ahead for rusty nails, sharp-toothed dogs, falling satellites -- anything that might necessitate a trip to Kaiser. Laura would probably tell you I'm a bit of a hypochondriac. That couldn't be further from the truth. It seems to me hypochondriacs like going to the hospital, whereas I avoid the hospital like the plague since I'd surely catch something in the waiting room. It's not that I have some pathological aversion to germs, it's that like most self employed, non-unionized people, I have to fund my own health insurance and I can only afford basic coverage. That means I have high deductibles, high prescription fees and while I haven't checked, I'm fairly certain I have to pay for that paper gown that won't close in the back. That gown, by the way, is representative of my insurance: if I think my ass is covered, I'm wrong.

Anyway, over green salads at the Arclight's Charcoal Bar & Grill, Laura made me promise that if anything were to happen to her, my second call would be to 9-11 -- my first would be to Kaiser (the HMO Nixon fell in love with -- just go watch Sicko already), so we wouldn't end up like a woman in the film whose ambulance ride after a car wreck wasn't covered because she hadn't first called her insurance provider. While she lay unconscious in the street (or the mangled car, it wasn't clear which).

Imagine my relief when CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta dispelled all the horrible myths Michael Moore had subjected us to:



What relief! What glorious deliverance from fear and anxiety! Thank you, thank you thank you, CNN, for reminding me that while we don't live in the best of all possible health care systems, it couldn't get all that much better anyway. While I may despair at the high deductibles and live in fear that they'll count that skinned knee I had when I was four as a "pre-existing condition" should I ever need a knee replacement -- at least I don't have to live with the frustration that comes with knowing we could have a much better system than we have if we'd only cut out the profit motive. I love you, CNN.



D'OH!

...Oh, wait a sec, Moore can't prove any of this, can he? Of course he can't. Dr. Gupta, after all, is a journalist, and CNN is the most trusted name in news. I'll just go check Moore's website. No way he could have posted the so-called "evidence" he promised Wolf.

D'OH!

3 comments:

Paul said...

Two polarizing viewpoints - seems everything's extreme now.

Getting through the Moore interview was painful - a few good moments, though. He doesn't deal in sound bites? Right. He wants "free" healthcare? Did he flunk Econ 101 - TANSTAAFL? Someone's paying for it, somewhere. When I lived in England the Brits I worked alongside paid 18.5% of their wages for the National Health. All workers. Not higher for "rich" Brits and no National Health tax for "working class" Brits. Everyone paid. And while they could get appointments - followup treatments were another matter. A woman I worked with paid for her gall bladder surgery - because she faced an eighteen month wait.

That's not to say we don't need to overhaul our system - we do - but citations to other systems get pretty silly. There are advantages and disadvantages in all systems.

BTW - about a year ago I went to the Stat Abstract of the US - showed healthcare spending was about $5k per person. Fun with numbers - do you include hospital construction in the costs? Drug research? You can come up with any number to make the point.

I'm saying cut the rhetoric and stop playing loose with "facts" - Moore wanted to talk about Iraq - makes me wonder why he didn't want to talk about Sicko. He doesn't have the best track record in granting interviews to those who challenge him.

Oh, the earlier topic - impeachment. You'd impeach Pres Franklin in the middle of WWII? Interesting. Then there's Pres Lincoln during the Civil War. He makes Pres Bush seem like a real civil libertarian by comparison. Now that could have generated some great unintended consequences. Maybe impeach Pres Jefferson for his actions during the Barbary war?
Pres Buchanan during the Utah War? The what, hundreds of times the US has sent military forces to protect "US interests?" Go to war, get impeached. Gets a bit tiresome, doesn't it?

Darrin Bell said...

"Two polarizing viewpoints - seems everything's extreme now."

I'm not sure what you mean. What are the two polarizing viewpoints to which you refer?

He doesn't deal in sound bites? Right.

It took him more than ten minutes to say what he wanted to say. I can see people saying that's "long-winded," but I don't immediately see how you can say that was a soundbite.

He wants "free" healthcare? Did he flunk Econ 101 - TANSTAAFL? Someone's paying for it, somewhere. When I lived in England the Brits I worked alongside paid 18.5% of their wages for the National Health.

Have you seen "Sicko"? Moore mentions that citizens in these countries pay for national healthcare through higher taxes over and over again in that film. He also mentions how none of them have to worry about losing their homes or going bankrupt due to costly medical bills during their senior years. He also mentioned how much we pay now in taxes purely to cover emergency procedures that wouldn't be necessary if people could afford preventive care.

For all we know, it would be a wash. We won't know unless we try.

"A woman I worked with paid for her gall bladder surgery - because she faced an eighteen month wait."

My mother's been waiting for three years for abdominal surgery as she tries to convince Kaiser to cover it. She'll be waiting the rest of her life for knee surgery (she's lost all of her cartillage in the meantime) because her HMO is refusing to cover it. I'll take 18 months over never any day.

"That's not to say we don't need to overhaul our system - we do - but citations to other systems get pretty silly."

I'm not sure what you're saying here. Are you saying that citing what works in other systems is "silly"? What exactly do you find silly about it?

There are advantages and disadvantages in all systems.

...As Michael Moore dutifully points out in Sicko. There just seem to be so many more disadvantages to ours.

"BTW - about a year ago I went to the Stat Abstract of the US - showed healthcare spending was about $5k per person. Fun with numbers - do you include hospital construction in the costs? Drug research? You can come up with any number to make the point."

True.

"I'm saying cut the rhetoric and stop playing loose with "facts""

How exactly has Moore played fast and loose with facts?

"Moore wanted to talk about Iraq - makes me wonder why he didn't want to talk about Sicko..."

Have you seen the film? It pretty much speaks for itself. I agreed with Moore that it was far more important to talk about how the Media seems to portray Moore as someone who fudges the facts, but the arguments they use are easily disproven. It was also important to point out that the last time they "debunked" a film of his, his claims turned out to be accurate (perhaps most importantly, the Walter Reed tragedy).

"He doesn't have the best track record in granting interviews to those who challenge him."

Why do you say this? As far as I'm aware, he only declines to appear when it's taped. He insists on appearing live. That makes sense to me, considering he has an adversarial relationship with the mainstream media and no reason to trust that they'll air his criticism of them.

What's wrong with that?

"Oh, the earlier topic - impeachment. You'd impeach Pres Franklin in the middle of WWII? Interesting."

Bush's wars are not WWII. We haven't lost Europe, and the US and Britain are not in mortal danger. Suitcase nukes don't exist, dirty bombs wouldn't kill many more people than 9/11, and in the worst case scenario, we'll end up with car bombers killing dozens of Americans per year. I don't mean to casually dismiss the threat of terrorism, I only mean to take a step back and put it in perspective. Unlike the threat we faced during WW2, our civilization is not in peril.

And just as importantly WW2 never threatened to drag on indefinitely. With every battle fought, we knew the end was either nearer or further - it was quantifiable in a way Bush's wars are not. Were I around at the time, I would have favored impeaching Roosevelt as soon as the war ended (he would not escape justice), especially since under his watch we were making definite progress. These current wars don't seem likely to end in treaties signed on battleships - they seem more likely to drag on as the Cold War did, with no clear wins or losses, for generations. In that case, waiting for the war's "end" would be a case of justice deferred, justice denied.

"Then there's Pres Lincoln during the Civil War. He makes Pres Bush seem like a real civil libertarian by comparison."

Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus and backed down when Congress stood up to him. Bush has not. Furthermore, the Constitution grants the President emergency powers in case of insurrection so Lincoln had at least the claim of a Constitutional basis for his actions. Has there been an insurrection on Bush's watch that I failed to notice?

"Now that could have generated some great unintended consequences."

Yeah. Impeaching Lincoln after the war (which like WW2 had a defined ending in sight) would've had unintended consequences. With Lincoln out of the picture, maybe Reconstruction would have been prematurely snuffed out and we would've ended up with an entire century of legalized discrimination in the South.

...Oh, wait.

"Maybe impeach Pres Jefferson for his actions during the Barbary war?
Pres Buchanan during the Utah War? The what, hundreds of times the US has sent military forces to protect "US interests?" Go to war, get impeached. Gets a bit tiresome, doesn't it?"


Did any of those presidents violate laws or the Constitution in the process? If so, I would think any American who believes in law and order (not to mention justice) would be more tired of Presidents violating the Constitution than they would be of punishing those violations.

I'm tired of our constantly trying and sentencing drunk drivers, for instance, but if they're going to keep drinking and driving, we have no choice.

Paul said...

Lots of good topics here. Let me clarify a couple points you asked about - not cherrypicking - but breaktime's about over -

Polarizing viewpoints - I gathered from your comment the doctor said everything's fine - I had the impression Moore said the system's flat broke. Both strike me as extreme.

Sound bites - Moore said early on in the interview, when Blitzer asked him to answer a question - that he didn't deal in sound bites. Maybe that's a reason for live interviews - avoid the questions? I just think it's possible to answer a question in a short time - rather like filmmakers edit comments to fit in the allotted time?


"Free" care - haven't seen "Sicko" yet. The "Free" comment he made was from the interview you linked. I'm glad he made the point that everything costs - many I listen to seem to think the gov't is some independent entity, like GM, and it creates programs and generates from thin air the funds to pay for them.

You had a good point - unexpected, severe illness is, I believe, one of the leading causes of bankruptcy. My wife is recovering from a severe illness - without a very good, and very expensive, insurance policy we'd have had no equity left in our home, retirement funds would have been drained, and I'd have been applying for every credit card I could get my hands on. That's just insane. The point about overall spending is spot on - one either has a program from an employer, one pays for an expensive program (or not so expensive, depending upon one's zip code - a point I hope he made in the movie) or one receives government assistance and so qualifies for care that could... lead a middle class family towards bankruptcy? Or one does without and prays ill fortune doesn't happen. It's nuts.

That's pretty terrible, what your mother's going through. My point was, under our hodgepodge system, such occurrences do occur, but not with every insurance carrier across the entire system. A fully nationalized program (I know, an undefined term that means different things) such as Great Britain's means such problems occur across the board. To wrap up another question - my point about the silliness of comparisons is to honestly evaluate these systems, take the best, improve on the average, and avoid setting up the systems that result in problems. Not glossing the others' problems to give impetus to fixing our problems.

Regarding the "facts" - just seems it'd take little time to answer the critics. Taking the time to discuss Iraq gives the appearance (to me) that he's avoiding the questions that his movie generated.

Sorry I don't have the reference, I saw on one of the Sunday shows a piece about some independent filmmakers who were doing a film about Moore - inconsistencies with his lifestyle and public image - rather along the lines of his GM film - and Moore would absolutely not meet with them. Too bad. I recognize all these people are human, that there will be conflict between what they preach and how they live. But when they hold up a standard for others to follow they should at least be willing to discuss, publicly, what they see in the mirror.

I'm not sure what you mean by "Bush's wars." The only one I'm aware of that was voluntary, that he launched, so could bear his name, was Iraq. He shoulda listened to Gen Powell - military's always the last to advocate war, civilians are the first to push it. My point was not length of conflict or the relative seriousness of the military action as a criteria for impeachment. It was that many, many Presidents took action, some in good faith, others not so, that could result in impeachment if the same standards as apply to our current President were applied. It just seems much is driven by antipathy towards Bush. The warrantless wiretaps - calls from overseas terminating with the US - still under court review. Seems to me a policy disagreement shouldn't be criminalized. Especially if the overall tenets of the program are held Constitutional and the violations are more administrative.

You may want to do a bit of research on Atomic Demolition Munitions - relatively small, low-yield atomic munitions. They don't fit in a suitcase and are not carried by one person as with a suitcase. The term refers to size, not weight or comparable portability.

I suppose your assessment about the danger to Western civilization depends upon the length of the timeline and assumptions about future actions. Samuel Huntington wrote "Clash of Civilizations: Remaking the New World Order" in the early '90s. He was tagged by some as an alarmist, bigot, etc etc. The book has started selling well again - it now seems remarkably ahead of its time.

I'm not sure if your timeline example referred to Iraq or the general war against Islamic jihadists. I've generally viewed Iraq as somewhat of a sideshow - so using the comparison of WWII against the jihadist struggle - well, WWII was a classic military conflict waged by nation states. The jihadist war is an ideological war - nonstate - comprising people from many cultures and backgrounds. By its very nature it's fundamentally different from WWII or any other war we've fought - or for which our military and diplomatic functions are structured.

Glad to hear you would have waited until the end of hostilities in WWII.

I seem to recall from my studies Lincoln also arrested newspaper editors - didn't he try to have one shipped south? I was referring to actions other than the popular habeas corpus cites. I'm not sure any President nowadays would want to invoke the "insurrection" argument - interesting how citing a Constitutional provision would lead some to call for impeachment, isn't it?

My Lincoln comment (I seem to recall his VP was a hardliner who did much to set back progress in the South) was along the lines of "what if the VP thought the Civil War shouldn't have been fought - so if Lincoln were removed and he'd have taken over... negotiate a truce, let the South go on it's own way..."

My point with the few examples I cited from other Presidents is that applying the standards discussed today, one can state a case that Presidents conducted "war" without a Congressional declaration (I know, it's debatable if that's even necessary), dispatched American military forces to protect American economic interests, took Congressional authorization and greatly expanded it past the original intent, conducted war against US citizens to gain their land and bring them under control of the government and violate their rights, etc etc. When the level of animosity is high enough, nearly any action could be seized upon as a "high crime."

A book you may enjoy is Walid Phares' "Future Jihad." He's from Lebanon (or "The Lebanon" as our British friends would say), an academic who's lectured on Islamic militancy for quite a while. Also might make some rethink just what the term "ally" means when applied to the Saudi royal family -

Well, I've blown break time for the rest of the week. Glad you're back, moved in and enjoying your new home.

Cheers -