Saturday, March 27, 2010

Don't stop, Democrats!

This week, Democrats finally grew a pair and passed health care reform. The bill is far from perfect (many of us would prefer a public option, but we can takle that bridge later on in the year, and we will), but two things were proven: 1.) our government can still take on big issues and 2.) President Obama and the Democrats in the House and Senate have the spine and the will to stand by their convictions, instead of folding over like a piece of paper becasue Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh lie and distort the message that healthcare isn't a socialist plot to destroy America, but a right every citizen deserves; it shouldn't be a priveledge to prolong one's life when they get sick.

Anyway, I originally intended to make a long post about this occasion, but Bill Maher beat me to the punch.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To anyone who still believes we have the world's best health care system

To all the conservatives and critics who are trying their damned hardests to block health care reform, then claim that our for-profit health care system is the best in the world - here are some damning facts about the U.S. system of health care:

-According the World Health Organization, the United States ranks 37th in the world of health care performance, and ranks 72nd in overall health.

-Of all the wealthy, industrialized nations of the world, the United States is the only one that does not guarentee all of its citizens with some form of coverage.

-The gross domestic product (GDP) America spends on health care is over 17%. by 2019, we will spend almost 20% (that's 1/6th of the national economy) on health care costs.

-A report published American Journal of Public Health last year, finds that 44,000-plus Americans die every year becasue of a lack of health insurance.

-The U.S. Census Bureau states that 45.7% of Americans are not covered.

Our currents health care system is nothing to pat oursleves in the back for.
Insurance industries like Aetna, WellPoint, and Humana (to name a few) rake in quarterly profits of billions of dollars, while dropping their patients left and right for "pre-existing conditions."
Business goons, like Ron Williams, the chairman and CEO of Aetna, recieve $38.12 million in bonuses, and Angela Braly, the President and CEO of WellPoint, has $14.86 million in stock options. Meanwhile, American families are forced into bankruptcy becasue of rising medical and hospital bills they can't afford to pay on a regualr salary.
There's no hint of compassion or care in our health care system - you know, the ingredients needed in treating the sick, wounded, and dying in any society - it's sending a messge, basicallly saying: "I've got mine. You have some illness and you need help to cover costs? Fuck you, you're on your own."

Not only is this third-world status of caring for a nation's citizens, this is capitalism in its ugliest expression. How can anyone say that we have the world's best health care system and have a straight face while saying it?

If after all the evidence presented you still don't believe that our health care system needs to be reformed, here's an ugly story about how an insurance company cut a patient's coverage because he has HIV.

(Reuters) - In May, 2002, Jerome Mitchell, a 17-year old college freshman from rural South Carolina, learned he had contracted HIV. The news, of course, was devastating, but Mitchell believed that he had one thing going for him: On his own initiative, in anticipation of his first year in college, he had purchased his own health insurance.

Shortly after his diagnosis, however, his insurance company, Fortis, revoked his policy. Mitchell was told that without further treatment his HIV would become full-blown AIDS within a year or two and he would most likely die within two years after that.

So he hired an attorney -- not because he wanted to sue anyone; on the contrary, the shy African-American teenager expected his insurance was canceled by mistake and would be reinstated once he set the company straight.

But Fortis, now known as Assurant Health, ignored his attorney's letters, as they had earlier inquiries from a case worker at a local clinic who was helping him. So Mitchell sued.

Thankfully, Mitchell won his case, but the courts discovered it wasn't just Mitchell who had been dropped before for his medical condition.

Previously undisclosed records from Mitchell's case reveal that Fortis had a company policy of targeting policyholders with HIV. A computer program and algorithm targeted every policyholder recently diagnosed with HIV for an automatic fraud investigation, as the company searched for any pretext to revoke their policy. As was the case with Mitchell, their insurance policies often were canceled on erroneous information, the flimsiest of evidence, or for no good reason at all, according to the court documents and interviews with state and federal investigators.

Capitalism at its best, folks! [/snark]
The current healthcare bill in Congress is far from perfect. There's no public option to keep the insurance companies honest and provide competition, among other complaints. But it is a first step on the road to obtaining universal coverage. We've been debating about this for decades and this is the closest we've ever been. To me, it doesn't make sense to go against a bill that will cover 30 million more people who really need it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wicked cool!

Allow me to geek out and show two kick-ass trailers that will headed to theaters soon.

First one: Anyone who grew up in the 1980's remembers the film Tron. During its time, the movie was the standard in eye-popping visual effects. 25 years later, James Cameron's Avatar was what Tron in 1982: a bold, new vision of filmmaking. In 2010, the trailer to Disney's Tron: Legacy is - in a word - Un-fucking-believable. Cameron might have to give that tile back.

Then there's Iron Man 2, which looks totally badass. And Mickey Rourke is playing Whiplash!? Fuckin' A, I am so there!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Diamonds In the Rough: The 10 best movies of 2009 #6-10

6. The Hurt Locker - Any filmmaker could have made this into another forgettable war movie dealing with the Iraqi War, or preach to the converted about how unnecessary it is for the country, or make it into film that celebrates our men and women with mindless action and crappy dialogue. What makes The Hurt Locker the first memorable war picture about the quagmire a tour-de-force of gritty realism and breathtaking ferocity, is that Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal don't preach and refuse to pick a side. They show the soldiers as brave men under fire, but also as conflicted guys hoping they come back home alive. Jeremy Renner gives the standout performance of the year as IED specialist Sgt. William James, a man with an addiction to his profession, but struggles to adapt to his regular life back home.

7. The Informnat! - Matt Damon has great comedic chops (see his roles as butt-boy Linus in the Ocean's 11 movies, the infamous "I'm Fucking Matt Damon!" ballad with funnygirl Sarah Silverman and his scene-stealing supporting role as himself in the season six finale of HBO's Entourage) to complement his amazing body of work thought the years. Never has Damon been this good: his performance as real-life wistleblower and white-collar criminal Mark Whitacre is all parts pitch-perfect comedic timing and quietly devastating. Director Steven Soderbergh, along with screenwriter Scott Z. Burns take this tale of one man's brilliant con job of playing the big business wistleblower and lining his own pocket, and how he constantly lies to himself to the point where he believes the tangled web he wove.

8. District 9 - Not since Alfonso Cuaron's Children Of Men has there been a sci-fi movie that turns the genre on its head and manages to look stunning and thrills while doing it. First-time director Neill Blomkamp blends alien contact, apartheid, and third-world living into one exciting and visually stunning film that rarely lets up or slows down. The aliens in District 9 aren't the ones Speilberg wowed us with in War of the Worlds and E.T.; they're part lobster, part mutated roach, all 100% frightening. Sharlto Copley is brilliant as Wikus van der Merwe, the fall-out employee who starts out relocating the prauns to District 10, and through infection of an alien chemical, ends up sympathizing the race his company has gruesomely exploited. Far from a brave new vision
of science fiction, District 9 shows us the human condition and how fear of the unknown brings out humanity's ugly, cynical, and uncaring face.

9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Simply put: its the darkest, most haunting Potter movie of the six. There's a confidence David Yates excuses after handling Order of the Phoenix: he's more confident and comfortable in trying to cram a 600+ book into 2 1/2 hours. The actors, which have always been top notch by this large British cast, raise their game to a whole new level, particularly Jim Broadbant as Hogwart's newest Potions mater, Horace Slughorn; Rupert Grint's ever-perfect comedic timing as Ron Weasly; the beautiful Helena Bonham Carter playing Bellatrix Lestrange, one of Lord Voldemort's trusted allies, simmering with seductive menace; and Daniel Radcliffe's ever-growing maturity as the title character, to name a few. The standout is Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, played with soulful vulnerability and moral doubt as he prepares to become a hired assassin for the Dark Lord. What gives Half Blood Prince its haunting power is cinematogrpher Bruno Delbonnel, capturing vividly and beautifully the dark forces that are closing in around Harry's magical world like an albatross around its neck.

10. Up In the Air - Its a bittersweet comedy of the moment: self-recluse Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) travels across America to fire you from your job because the bossman (a snarky Jason Bateman) is too much of a pussy to fire you himself. After many years of flying from state to state firing people and selling them the bullshit that they're gonna be fine (not to mention all those frequent flyer miles he's got saved), Bingham's need for human connection stares him in the face. In comes Alex (Vera Farminga) a corporate big shot who shares a similar love for American Airlines, traveling light, and trade and compare credit cards. Props to director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking) for blending touching romance, top-notch humor, and a no-bull honestly look on the state of business leaving its workers hung out to dry without any hope or a safety net.

The Best of the Rest: An Education, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Capitalism: A Love Story, Crazy Heart, Invictus, Watchmen, Precious: Based On the Novel "Push," by Sapphire, Julie & Julia, and Where the Wild Things Are.

Right-wing racists say the darndest things

This was posted on Banned and Dangerous yesterday, and I wanted to post this on here.

The Founders were all White, Brilliant and smart. They created a Constitution for the White Children of Adam. There were no black founders. Our Founders considered Blacks beasts of burden.
If they had intended to include blacks they would have included blacks at the Constitutional Convention. In fact, they declared blacks as sub-human in the Constitution itself.

The US Constitution says Blacks are only 2/5 human. The Founders knew long ago that Blacks are Sub- Human apes..I say nothing. The US Constitution does.
Are we trying to make Humans out of Apes?
Why do we allow them a Black Caucus?
Why are they in Congress or in Higher Offices?
Why are they in Law Enforcement?
Why are we allow they to have Black History Month?
Why are we allowing them to get away with Affirmative Action?

Comment: This idiot also realizes that whites that were not well-educated and did not own land also joined slaves and women as people who could not vote, or were lower on the ladder in the eyes of the Founding Fathers in the early years of the United States, right?
He also realizes that, along with slaves and women, the people barred from attending the Constituitonal Convention were significant portions of his own race - i.e. poorly educated, non land-owning whites - the Founding Fathers supposedly made for their caucasion brethern. Only those who were rich, owned slaves, had land, and were highly educated attended. You know, the same people who wrote the freaking document!
By his rhetoric, me, ET, the Count, and this idiot would all be in the same boat: no represntation of any sort. And lets not forget that in the year 2010, whites are still the majority ethnicity group in the U.S. Somehow, its us "sub-human apes" that are taking everything away from Whitey.

News flash, white boy: you're not losing shit, so shut the fuck up!