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Movie Review:  Michael Moore’s “SiCKO”

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Posted on Jun 29, 2007
sicko
movies.yahoo.com

Michael Moore (left) turns his lens on the U.S. healthcare industry in his latest movie, “SiCKO.”

“SiCKO,” Michael Moore’s latest film, will probably make you laugh.  It may make you cry.  You should leave the theater outraged.  It is a powerful and often humorous indictment of our health insurance industry, riddled with corruption and pitiless abuse of the sick by rapacious, profit-mad corporations.  But it is propaganda.  In “SiCKO,” as in all his films, Moore violates the contract between reporter and audience: to tell the truth.  His inaccuracies and lack of nuance give his detractors a glaring target to strike, making it easy for them to dismiss his message.

Michael Moore is an entertainer.  He reduces complex issues to a vaudeville act with transparent villains and heroes.  His goal is to amuse.  Facts are malleable.  He employs the techniques of advertising and propaganda, the same techniques that have corrupted our news and political campaigns.  Truth and fiction blur at both ends of the political spectrum.  You can believe what you want and discard what you don’t.  This illusion of truth and knowledge is far more dangerous than ignorance.  And although I happen to sympathize with Moore’s concerns, his methods only provoke the rupture of American society into two slogan-chanting camps.

In the film, Moore takes three small boats of sick Americans, including 9/11 volunteer rescue workers, to Cuba.  They receive, at no cost, the medical treatment they have been denied at home.  It’s a triumph of the socialized state.

“I asked [the Cuban doctors] to give us the same, exact care they give their fellow Cuban citizens.  No more, no less.  And that’s what they did,” Moore says. 

The sick Americans, in a montage underscored by swelling cellos and a pensive piano, receive MRIs, dental exams, lung assessments and ultrasounds.  All Cubans, the film implies, receive this kind of care.  This is not true.

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“The treatment Moore and the rescue workers receive in the film was done specifically for them, because they [the Cubans] knew it would make great propaganda,” Dr. Julio Cesar Alfonso, a Miami doctor who practiced medicine in Cuba for four years, said in a June 22 interview with The Miami Herald.

“The medical centers in Cuba that treat tourists and government officials and VIPs are very different than the ones that treat the general population,” Alfonso said.  “If you’re a Cuban citizen and need a prescription drug, most doctors either tell you to ask your relatives in the U.S. to ship it to you or recommend alternative herbal remedies.  That’s the degree of scarcity on the island.”

Life is not a Hollywood movie.  A Cuban watching “SiCKO” would recognize this segment for what it is: agitprop.

The United States has sunk to No. 37 on the World Health Organization’s ranking of health systems.  Moore’s camera pans down the list to zero in on the shameful No. 37.  It slides too quickly for most viewers to catch that Canada is No. 30, and the frame stops just short of No. 39: Cuba.

There is, despite this distortion and omission of facts, much in “SiCKO” that is worthwhile. The film is strongest when Moore allows ordinary Americans to tell their heart-rending stories about the abuse they suffered in our profit-driven insurance industry.

Julie Pierce, a middle-aged woman seated alone in her Kansas City living room, struggles to contain her emotions as she talks about her husband, who had kidney cancer.  His brother was a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant.  These transplants can halt and sometimes eradicate the disease.  An insurance company, however, denied the transplant, claiming it was experimental.  Her husband died. 

“He was my best friend, he was my soulmate, he was my son’s father. ... They took away everything that matters. ... You preach these visionary values, that we care for the sick, the dying, the poor, that we’re a healthcare that leaves no one behind.  You left him behind. ... It was as if he was nothing.  And I want them to have a conscience about it and I don’t think they do.”

Moore also interviews those within the monolith.  Linda Peeno, a former medical reviewer for Humana, says: “The very definition of a good medical director was somebody who could save the company a lot of money. ...  The doctor with the highest percentage of denial was actually going to get a bonus.  Any payment for a claim is referred to as a medical loss.  That’s the terminology the industry uses.  When ... you deny their care ... you make a decision that brings in money ... it’s a savings to the company.”
This let-them-die-for-profit ethic is contrasted against the testimony of a British doctor interviewed later in the film.

“We get paid by what we do, so the better we do for our patients, the more we get paid,” he tells Moore in a hospital corridor.  “If the most number of your patients have [desirably] low blood pressure, or if you get most of your patients to stop smoking, or you get most of your patients to have things like mental health reviews, or lower their cholesterol, then you get paid more.”

But, like the nightly news, Moore never allows us to linger too long on catastrophe.  It might depress us, and the point, of course, is to entertain.  When a Michigan woman poses as a Canadian in Windsor, Ontario, to receive medical care, Moore deadpans: “Yes, what Adrian was doing was illegal.  But we’re Americans.  We go into other countries when we need to.  It’s tricky.  But it’s allowed.”  This fragmentation reassures us, as it does on television.  Tragedy is always followed by a good joke.  This discontinuity, while it amuses and diverts, damages our sense that the world is a serious place.

Moore’s manipulative use of music—“SiCKO”  is almost entirely scored—provides the required emotional stimulation.  The music imparts the pace, the mood, the energy of the film.  Sometimes it is exciting and satirical.  Heroic brass blares as the three intrepid little boats of Moore’s sick Americans, flying large American flags, streak southward to Guantanamo Bay, “the one place on American soil that still had free universal healthcare.”  Suddenly canned elevator music and the seal of the Department of Homeland Security cut off the faux action movie.  Sometimes the cue is maudlin, as when the sobbing violins of Barber’s Adagio for Strings underscore Linda Peeno’s harrowing 1996 testimony before Congress about the abuses of managed care. 

“In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life, and thus caused his death.  No person and no group has held me accountable for this, because in fact what I did was save a company half a million dollars. ... I had one primary duty, and that was to use my medical expertise for the financial benefit of the organization for which I worked.”

The music inevitably frames Peeno’s words as courtroom drama.  There is no soundtrack in real life.  No violins were playing when Peeno made her testimony.  The music, ostensibly used to enhance the gravity of the situation, only prevents the audience from realizing the full, unadorned weight of reality.

Moore visits Canada, Britain, France and Cuba to compare the wreckage of the American healthcare system with these countries’ fairy tale dreams, in which “Everything is free!”  He discovers that in a British hospital, money comes out of the cashier’s window rather than going in.  Seated in a candle-lit bistro at a table of Americans living in Paris, he is overwhelmed, hands over his ears, by the incomprehensible lunacy of what they tell him of France: free healthcare, free child care, free college education, five weeks’ paid vacation, an extra paid week for your honeymoon, unlimited sick days, government-issued nannies, no, no, make it stop, make it stop!!!

The other countries are painted with broad, rose-tinted strokes.  All the Canadians, British and French interviewed have nothing but praise for their national healthcare.  There are no dissenting viewpoints, no investigations into the economics that make these systems possible.

There is an interview with a doctor in Cuba, Aleida Guevara, the pediatrician daughter of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, in which she wonders why an impoverished island nation is able to provide free healthcare for its citizens while the United States cannot.  Cuba’s massive Soviet subsidies in the 1970s and ‘80s of $4 billion to $6 billion annually, which kept the nation afloat and made this system possible, go unmentioned, as does Cuba’s subsequent decline once these subsidies ended with the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

The star of Michael Moore’s films is always Michael Moore.  “SiCKO” at first seems to be the exception.  His aw-shucks-gee-whiz persona doesn’t shamble into view until halfway through the film.  The first half of “SiCKO” is stronger for his physical absence, allowing us to focus on the personal suffering caused by our dysfunctional healthcare system.

But Moore’s narcissism is given full vent at the end of “SiCKO.”  He tells us, in a voice coy with false modesty, that he sent an anonymous $12,000 check to the man who runs “the biggest anti-Michael Moore website on the Internet” to pay his ailing wife’s astronomical insurance expenses.  This allowed the man—whose insulting blog postings to Moore fill the screen—to keep the website going and “run [Moore] into the ground.”  This would have been an admirable gesture if Moore had kept it anonymous.  But if it were anonymous, it wouldn’t be admired.  And Michael Moore’s films, however important their issues, are ultimately crafted to serve Michael Moore.

 

“SiCKO”
In theaters June 29
Rated PG-13
Running Time: 123 minutes
Written and directed by Michael Moore; edited by Christopher Seward, Dan Sweitlik and Geoffrey Richman; produced by Moore and Meghan O’Hara; released by Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co.


Eunice Wong is an actor based in New York City.  She trained at the Juilliard School Drama Division and received the 2006 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress.

 


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By cann4ing, July 10, 2007 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

I am truly disappointed that Bru wonders aloud whether Dennis Kucinich is “electable” and Jaki, after listening to Amy Goodman’s interview of Ralph Nader—available at http://www.democracynow.org/print.pl?sid=07/07/09/131226
laments that the chances of Mr. Kucinich getting the nomination are “pretty slim” given the power of money in Washington.

Jaki, you may have listened to Mr. Nader, but sadly, it didn’t sink in.  Consider the following from Nader remarks:

“I think the hope coming out of this conference is not only that we have a lot of solutions that we don’t apply in our country, because concentration of power in the hands of the few allows the few to decide for the many, but we have a large amount of unused democratic power, unused civi power, that can be unleashed, organized, to take back our government, if people stopped believing that they were powerless, which they are inbred in ever since we entered elementary school.  You know the old phrase, ‘You can’t fight City Hall.’

“But if we want a society where people have the opportunity to fulfill life’s possibilities, doesn’t that tell you what the priorities are, which is focusing on subordinating the corporate entity to the sovereignty of the American people…so that they are our servants, not our masters, so that they have to compete against other models of economic development, like cooperatives, like replacing the HMO…with full Medicare, like decentralized solar replacing more and more of Exxon and Peabody Coal and the nuclear industry, like a redefinition of efficiency in productivity as if people mattered….”

Nader’s was a restatement of Franklin Roosevelt’s, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Kucinich’s chances are as good or as bad as we believe them to be.  “Power to the People” means bypassing the conglomerated corporate media, as Michael Moore did with Sicko!  If each of us convinced just 5 individuals to link to the Kucinich web site, and each of those 15 convinced 5 more a piece, truth “can” prevail over the corporate-sponsored deception.

Sicko provides golden opportunity for channeling Americans into a movement for single-payer healthcare, and with it, a movement into the Kucinich camp.

The one area on which Mr. Nader and I disagree.  The reality is that there is a far greater chance of the People recapturing control of the party of the People, the Democratic Party, which has been hijacked by the corporatists of the DLC who masquerade as Democrats, then there is of a third-party candidate succeeding.  But that is a matter of tactics.  I wholeheartedly agree with his principles.

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By BruSays, July 10, 2007 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

Jaki, Ardee, Ernest and the many excellent contributors to this blog….

Have any of you caught the CNN Wolf Blitzer/Michael Moore interview yet? It’s all over the Internet. Michael was right smack in CNN’s face asking why on earth they’re questionning the verifiable facts presented in his movie “Sicko” just as they did his statements (which proved equally factual) presented in “Fahrenheit 911”? Why aren’t they asking the really hard questions about our health care system? Why weren’t they asking the really hard questions during the lead-up to the Iraq War?

Yet, despite Moore’s offer to challenge CNN’s resident “health expert” on the facts, despite Moore’s plea for intelligent review of our health care fiasco, and despite Moore’s request for CNN’s personal apology for accusing him of juggling the facts, Lou Dobbs has the audacity to close the interview with a comment that Moore holds a position further to the left than Cesar Chavez!! 

Ardee: Maybe, just maybe, a few more straws like this and the camel’s back will break, bringing about the changes of startling rapidity you spoke of. We The People can only hope (though I thought the Terry Schiavo event would be their undoing…or the stem cell veto…or the Scooter Libby commutation…or…).

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By ardee, July 10, 2007 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

Kudos, Jaki, on a fine reporting job. I only wonder where those who crawl out of the woodwork at the merest mention of Ralph Nader have gone?

Jaki:
First, Ralph said, we have to have election reform, starting with the stranglehold the establishment parties have on who gets to be on the ballot.  It has to be a more open system.

Then we need taxpayer supported elections, with no corporate or lobbyist contributions.

Then we need paper ballots at all levels from local to national, hand counted with checks and balances and security.

The whole system is fixed and as good as Dennis Kucinich may be on the issues, as is Ralph Nadar, We The People do not have a choice.

Ardee:

The Duopoly that maintains a stranglehold upon our political realm will fight such reform tooth and nail. It will be very difficult to overcome their entrenched ownership of the process. Especially hard considering the ennui of the American people.

Thus the first step must perforce be the awakening of our electorate to the true nature of American politics,namely; that all political effort is put forth for the corporations that finance the exceedingly expensive elections. That those elections are increasingly a sham due to black box voting machines with no paper trail may soon make the great expenditures unnecesary.

It might seem a hopeless case, as your final statement indicates:

We The People do not have a choice.


Here is where I must part company with your thesis. The People have all the power, everything lies in our hands. Once awakened, either by cathartic events or by inspirational leadership, change will occur with startling rapidity.

The question is not one of hopelessness but of which path will we each choose to take to achieve the goal we aspire after. As long as we continue to care and to strive we cannot fail. One might choose to remain within the Democratic Party and work to overcome the ill effects of the DLC on that once august body. It is not the path I choose, but it is a perfectly acceptable one, one that may actually succeed.

I prefer to work to grow a third party, one not beholden to corporate interests because it refuses to accept corporate monies. I understand that the mentality of the American voter , most Americans in fact, is for instant gratification, that no solution that requires time and effort seems attractive to far too many. It is attractive to me….

http://www.gp.org

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By Jaki, July 10, 2007 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bru…Ralph Nader also said that on the health care issue, which is what this particular blog has been focussing on, 18,000 people die per year because of no access (most are women and children), or, as he characterized it, six 911s!  Any chance we could get the folks out there to make that shift in consciousness?—SIX 911s every year because of our greedy corporatist health care-less system.  And that doesn’t count the botched jobs in hospitals (around 100,000 of those per year), malpractice, no insurance, etc.

But, you are right, the Sheeple are grazing on the pap the corp greedia feeds them, and 35 million are willing to enrich the phone companies to vote for an American Idolatry that also enriches many other corps.  Perhaps it will take six more actual 911-type attacks on our soil before anyone arouses from their entertain-me stupor…if ever.

Not a very hopeful situation.

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By BruSays, July 10, 2007 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

Jaki:

I feel your points were very well taken, as were Nader’s step-by-step plan. But, as you said, the deck is stacked against us. Again, it’s all about getting We The People (not just we the people on this blog) to pull themselves from American Idol and bring them back to the American Experiment.

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By BruSays, July 10, 2007 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

Ernest Canning:

I fully support your position on Dennis Kucinich. He’s had my support for years and I stand behind him, contribute to his campaign and voice my support where I can.

But there remains this question: Is he electable? I’m not convinced that the vast majority of Americans support his views on an issue-by-issue basis. I AM convinced that IF they had the facts, IF they were presented a balanced picture of the issues, IF they followed the dots, IF they actually took possession of their democracy…they’d be in Kucinich’s camp.

I’m afraid that’s a lot of IFs. We’re suffering from a complacent, detached and uncaring electorate that would rather be entertained than educated. Right wing talk show hosts understand this; our corporate media understands this; progressives are only now beginning to learn this.

Our challenge is that the progressive message is complex. It isn’t a knee-jerk “good versus evil,” “are you for us or against us,” or “black or white” message. Just reading Kucinich’s stand on the issues in his website clearly demonstrates that this man is a perceptive, thoughtful, reasonable and practical being. But he arrives at his conclusions - as we all should - only after lengthy thought and considerations.

I’m not convinced most Americans are willing to do the same. Just look at how long it took the majority of Americans to conclude the Iraq War was a mistake…over 3 years! Frankly, I suspect some of our disdain for the war isn’t even based on the lies and manipulations of this administration - it’s the sheer boredom of an ongoing conflict that no longer entertains us with “shock and awe.”

Still, your stand kicked me over to Kucinich’s website and another $100 gift. (Maybe there is hope!)

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By Jaki, July 10, 2007 at 1:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ernest…If you watched Ralph Nader being interviewed by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now! 7/9/07) at the conference to do away with Giant Corporations, you heard him say how the Democrats and Republicans have enacted laws to allow them to sue to keep 3rd party candidates off the ballot, which they did with Nader.  I think he said there were 21 law suits he had to
fight, winning most of them, but also costing dearly, including an $86,000 fee for transcripts he had to pay in his case fighting to get onto the ballot (which was upheld by Dem/Rep selected judges, of course).  I believe he said it was the first time this happened in American Electoral History.

The chances of Dennis Kucinich, whom I also admire and would choose to vote for, of getting the Democratic Nomination, given the money/power game in Washington, are pretty slim, don’t you think?

And Dennis has said he would not leave the Democratic Party.  Of course, he might be persuaded to change his mind, but then there’s that 3rd Party Problem.

First, Ralph said, we have to have election reform, starting with the stranglehold the establishment parties have on who gets to be on the ballot.  It has to be a more open system.

Then we need taxpayer supported elections, with no corporate or lobbyist contributions.

Then we need paper ballots at all levels from local to national, hand counted with checks and balances and security.

The whole system is fixed and as good as Dennis Kucinich may be on the issues, as is Ralph Nadar, We The People do not have a choice.

What would you suggest that is realistic in terms of a Kucinich candidacy?  I doubt the Democratic National Committee will listen to even millions of people.  They know where their bread is buttered.

Ralph hinted that Mayor Blumberg of New York may be a strong dark horse independent candidate, appealing to the disenchanted (with both parties), the libertarians, the undeclared.  He’s got the bucks all on his own.  Maybe there could be a Kucinich/Blumberg ticket that crosses party lines and is independent at the same time, that could pull the rug out from under the Big Two.

We need something/someone really different, really creative, and really honest who can beat the entrenched system at its own game and really bring home the bacon for The People.

It is not easy to see that happening the way the deck is stacked currently.

Ralph Nader said it would take 1 million people giving 800 million hours over the next two years working tirelessly in precincts across the country to change things.

This is part of what is meant by thinking in “we” terms.  When you calculate it out, it works out to each of those million persons giving a little over an hour a day.  What if there were two million or ten?
Then it might mean only an hour a week.

What is the possibility of real democracy worth?

Personally, I would definitely be one of those millions if there was a Nader/Kucinich ticket.  Now that is a Dream Team!

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By cann4ing, July 9, 2007 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment

ocjim, pessimism can defeat a movement.  The wonderful fact is that there is a candidate running for president who not only fully supports single-payer healthcare but on issue-after-issue is on the side of what the vast majority of the electorate actually want and need.  The problem is that the conglomerated corporate media refuses to link candidates to the issues that truly matter. 

Go to http:www.kucinich.us   Learn where Dennis Kucinich stands, then get everyone you know to do the same.  Also, to be better informed there is http://www.democracynow.org

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By ocjim, July 9, 2007 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment

In spite of the effectiveness and the truth of “Sicko,” I lament my belief that meaningful reform, that is a single payer system that eliminates the corrupt HMOs, will never happen. There must be enough people to pull together for the good of all for that to happen. Sadly, I have lost faith in the ability of Americans to come together for the greater good. I must admit that I am extremely bitter about the Bush-Cheney victory, though I believe they stole Ohio. But enough Americans voted for the corruption called Bush-Cheney that Rove was able to impact a key state.
I hope I am wrong. I would like to have hope our country will overcome this plague called Bush.

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By ardee, July 9, 2007 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment

Considering the Billions in play here one could understand and expect the voluminous propaganda screeds that will devolve the conversation re: health care issues into distortions about long lines, no equipment, higher taxes, poor treatment and now terrorist doctors.

All who are in the least bit familiar with the universal health care provided by much of the industrialised world know the criticisms to be blatantly false in almost every case. In the case of Germany the system is paid for by subscription, not taxes for one thing, about $200 per month for a family of four, with no copays and very inexpensive prescription charges as well.

Those who prattle about being “forced” to accept such care avoid the understanding that anyone can pay for her own coverage privately should they choose that option. We must weather the storm from the Bill O’Dwyers of the health care field as it is expected that he will do almost anything to protect his 1.7 billion dollar compensation package ( yup thats with a B).

A little bit of research soon shows the dire hardships that for profit health care is inflicting upon this nation. Fifty percent of all bankruptcies are related to catastrophic health issues and seventy percent of those bankrupted HAD health care, only to find that their treatments were declined and they were inconsiderate enough not to want to die on cue. Forty six million sans any care at all, including eleven million children. If that doesnt melt your heart perhaps you dont have one?

It is quite simple to open Medicare to the public, and even easier to make Medicare prescriptions a competitive thus cheaper product. All who oppose national care are captitalists arent they? So they should approve of such a scheme, shouldnt they?

As Mr. Canning noted, Dennis Kucinich is the only Democratic candidate whose health care proposals are rational and eliminate the profit motive that is costing our citizens such poor care and hardship. I say Health Care is a part of the commons and our care should be protected by the Constitution.

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By cann4ing, July 9, 2007 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

Paul Krugman’s July 9, 2007 New York Times editorial, “Health Care Terror” demonstrates the power of reasoned analysis when it strikes back at the insurance industry cheap shot artists.  It begins with the following:

“These days terrorism is the first refuge of scoundrels.  So when British authorities announced that a ring of Muslim doctors working for the National Health Service were behind the recent failed bomb plot, we should have known what was coming.

“‘National healthcare:  Breeding ground for terror?’ read the on-screen headline, as Fox News host Neil Cavuto and the commentator Jerry Bower solumnly discussed how universal health care promotes terrorism.

“While this was crass even by the standards of Bush-era political discourse, Fox was following in a long tradition.  For more than 60 years, the medical-industrial complex and its political allies have used scare tactics to prevent America from following its conscience and making access to health care a right for all its citizens.

“I say conscience, because the health care issue is, most of all about, morality.

“That’s what we learn from the overwhelming response to Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’....

“What outrages people who see ‘Sicko’ is the sheer cruelty and injustice of the American health care system—sick people who can’t pay their hospital bills literally dumped on the sidewalk, a child who dies because an emergency room that isn’t a participant in her mother’s health plan won’t treat her, hard-working Americans driven into humiliating poverty by medical bills.”

From “The New York Times,” part of the corporate media, we get Krugman’s reasoned analysis.  From “Truth”-dig, we get Ms. Wong’s hit piece.  What’s wrong with this picture?

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By cann4ing, July 9, 2007 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

Bru, what We the People can do is go to

http://www.kucinich.us

We the People can begin to support the “only” presidential candidate whom Michael Moore says “gets it” on health care, Dennis Kucinich.  “All” of the other candidates offer variations of bogus “universal health care” schemes that amount to subsidies for the health care insurance industry.

We the People can write/ to our representatives asking them to support H.R. 676 (Conyers/Kucinich) which would eliminate both for-profit carriers and HMOs, replacing them and their exhorbitant costs, with an efficient single-payer system. 

For that portion of We the People who live in California, “we” can go to   http://www.OneCareNow.org  which is the web site for the campaign to pass SB 840 (Sheila Kuehl, D. Santa Monica) which is the California state version of H.R. 676.

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By BruSays, July 9, 2007 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

Yikes…quite the lengthy blog here!

My apologies to any who may have already raised this question, but I ask - slightly off-topic: “OK, so Sicko raised a lot of questions. NOW what do we do?”

My pessimism (firmly rooted since November 2000) tells me that it’s going to be a tough battle because it’s all about the money:

A - The deep-pocket “Health Care Corporations” are going to fight single-payer advocates on every front.
B - The “Commercial Media,” who know where their advertising dollars come from (corporate sponsors, including the HMOs, etc.) are going to resist upsetting those sponsors, and…
C - The politicians who know their campaign coffers are filled, or certainly will be filled, by many of those same corporations. 

So, what are We The People going to do?

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By ardee, July 9, 2007 at 5:44 am Link to this comment

#85251 by rigo23 on 7/08 at 11:56 pm
(5 comments total)

Hey again, everyone still hanging out on this thread. I just got back into town today and saw a letter from my HMO, Michigan-based “not-for-profit” Health Alliance Plan (HAP) , in my mailbox.  They buried a reference to “Michael Moore’s new movie” in a letter letting us know just how much they do for us, the insured and the uninsured, and what more they are planning to do. How nice of the CEO to send me, a letter, asking me what more they could do.

Now that you mention it I heard an advertisement for Kaiser Permanente on the radio Sunday morning. Ive been with Kaiser for almost 40 years, three children born in one facility and three weeks ago a grandson as well (four in one hospital, I should get a discount!). In all that time Ive never heard an ad from them extolling how much they do for their membership…..

Already the exposure is making the grubs mill about frantically…just wait!

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By rigo23, July 9, 2007 at 12:56 am Link to this comment

Hey again, everyone still hanging out on this thread. I just got back into town today and saw a letter from my HMO, Michigan-based “not-for-profit” Health Alliance Plan (HAP) , in my mailbox.  They buried a reference to “Michael Moore’s new movie” in a letter letting us know just how much they do for us, the insured and the uninsured, and what more they are planning to do. How nice of the CEO to send me, a letter, asking me what more they could do.

I’m wondering if anyone else out there is getting these sorts of “damage control” letters from their HMOs, soliciting feedback, etc.

This sort of effort is actually in-line with what Blue Cross/ Blue Shield is doing with their recently leaked talking points memo here:

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/07/06/2344/


The tactic seems to be to distance themselves from “for-profit” providers, even though these “not-for-profits’” still pay many of their CEOs over a million-dollar salary and still have a bottom line.

Another tactic they seem to agree on in taking the wind out of Sicko!‘s sails is to blame the victim, the patient for his/her lifestyle choices that are supposedly the main cause of runaway costs.

It will be interesting to see if the talking heads in the MSM regurgitate the talking points from the BCBS memo.

It will also be interesting to see if Sicko! gets more screens.  It’s currently only playing on 700 odd screens across the country, but evidently doing really well on that limited number.  The blockbuster hits are all being seen on something like 4,000 screens.  Does anyone have any idea what or who determines the amount of screens to show the film on.  It would seem, given his per screen average revenue, that Moore’s film would be on as many screens as the blockbuster hits, if the bottom line is the goal.

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By ardee, July 8, 2007 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

Right you are , Mr. Canning, and they seek to smear those systems all over the world that provide good health care universally to all within their borders. One always reads about lack of modern equipment, huge raises in taxes, long lines, poor service and the entire nythology produced by the insurance industry to counter the threat to their billions in profits.

I hope those who go along with this dastardly lie never find themselves among the 46 million uninsured in this nation (eleven million children), or among the ranks of those who were forced into bankruptcy by health care issues, and seventy five percent of those folks HAD health insurance. They simply made the awful mistake of thinking it actually covered stuff like diagnosis and treatment, how silly of them!

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By Jaki, July 8, 2007 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ernest, I guess I still have a bit of the “old fashioned” concept of “conservatism” in my mind (not heart), which embraces some aspect of “conserving” resources rather than squandering them, which might engender some kind of intelligent debate re what kind of health care system would be possible/feasible/necessary. 

Reactionary Fascism is a whole other bag and more apt in defining the current batch of self-proclaimed “conservatives.” 

I am a long-time democratic socialist (who also loves the concept of Gaia) and believe the absolute mandate of any “government” should be
guaranteed essential care of its people, requiring
from each according to skill, talent and energy, and giving to each in accordance with need, equitable sharing of the wealth of the nation, avoiding stealing the wealth and resources of other nations. 

This means everyone has adequate shelter, food, clothing, medical care, and education, and military might comes last, if ever.  Hopefully, we will use our intelligence to learn better how to avoid it once the system has been replaced..meaning I have lost any hope that it can be changed from within by the “liberals.”

Another theft of the current neo-cons is the definition of the word “radical.”  In the 60s we who called ourselves “radical” believed the solutions to the problems of our country (world) had to get to the “roots” of the current inequities and oppressions (i.e., Capitalism, Imperialism, Racism, Homophobia, Male Chauvinism, Speciesism, and especially an inability/unwillingness to empathize, leading to a serious lack of compassion).  Most of us know that radical means root, but have allowed the term to be highjacked and therefore not included in our political identity. 

The current “conservatives” are not radical.  It is a complete misnomer and we ought to stop calling them The Radical Right.  Extreme does not equal Radical.

How we define and characterize things matters.  That’s why I advocated—in a previous Truthdig commentary in which I believe you were involved—stopping calling the Anti-Choice Forces “Pro-Life.”  They are not.  They seem to love war, in addition to cheering on the killing of abortion doctors. They are control freaks.  They are not Pro My Life or any other woman’s. 

I really appreciate your astute contributions to all of the debates on Truthdig.

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By cann4ing, July 8, 2007 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

Jaki, on the issue of health care, there is no valid “conservative” position that could give rise to honest debate.  It is impossible to muster an honest intellectual position that would support the continuation of a corrupt system that places the obscene profits of a minute fraction of the American people over the very lives of our many citizens.  That is precisely why Ms. Wong, and other health care insurance industry shills, find it necessary to resort to propaganda attacks on single-payer systems and smearing the messenger, in this case Michael Moore.

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By Jaki, July 7, 2007 at 11:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, I stand corrected—by myself. I took more time and carefully read the responses, rather than skim them.  Ernest Canning is a great read, especially if you think and absorb.  How lucky we are to have his contributions to the general debate here and elsewhere on truthdig. Ardee and others as well.  I’m grateful to be tuning back in at this time. 

I do still think right-wing personal attack articles should not be welcome on Truthdig, but Ardee was right, it has stimulated a fascinating historical and political discussion of a more general nature, but definitely related to the health care issue.  It really is important to put all the pieces together and clearly see the players, too, as historically revolving. 

Maybe Spinoza is right.

I would certainly not react so strongly if the author was simply presenting a “conservative” point of view on the subject. Then we could have a real debate, or conversation.

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By Spinoza, July 7, 2007 at 9:34 pm Link to this comment

You want good health care in the USA?  Overthrow the government, otherwise forget about it.

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By Jaki, July 7, 2007 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

#84601 by ardee on 7/06 at 2:35 pm
(229 comments total)

Ardee—I can see your point regarding the # of responses like mine, taking the “writer” Eunice Wrong to task for her “admittedly clumsy effort.” Yes, it definitely stimulated reactions to HER, but if it had been an intelligent review of the content of the film, we might have learned more and had an even more interesting, challenging, substantive discussion, with creative contributions on the topic that would add to the body of knowledge about our screwed up medical system, rather than the distraction of focussing on Ms. Wrong. 

Re her effort being “clumsy,” I tend to suspect her piece was bought and paid for by the insurance industry and was calculated to obscure the truth of the film and focus instead on irrelevant surface details of style and the personality of the filmmaker that play into the character assassination plot designed to keep people away from the theaters, as opposed to being innocent and “merely clumsy.”

I personally know people who say they “hate him” but admit they have never even seen one of his films.

I happen to enjoy Michael Moore’s personality (at least the public one) and totally admire and respect him for his courageous, creative, socially responsible contributions to our society, and think more of us should come to his support on a personal level, rather than allowing these mean-spirited characterizations of him to prevail.

Michael Moore is one of the Really Good Guys.  His efforts to educate the dumbed-down sheeple of this country are heroic and brilliant. He deserves a better quality review on Truthdig than this contribution from the shallow end of the gene pool.

I can see your heart is in the right place and agree with your contention that it stimulated
a worthwhile (this time) expression of awareness of the unsubstantial nature of Wrong’s “review,” but I sure hope this kind of hit-piece from the right won’t be repeated on Truthdig.  Bottom line, it is a waste of energy that might be used in more productive ways.
And I, too, got sucked in. Oh, well…

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By Frank Cajon, July 6, 2007 at 11:31 pm Link to this comment

Ernest, since you asked, my thread wobble was in response to a couple of blogs that seemed to lump my use of the ‘propaganda’ word as part of a right-wing attack on Moore’s movie. I thought it might be time to haul out the times I took blows from riot control cops, participated in draft card burning and things like that since the mere use of that bad word was getting me called out as a ‘right wing hit person’. I have a degree in political science, with thesis papers on the early French Communists and the conspiracy to drop the Hiroshima bomb on a civilian target on a Sunday morning at the same time as the Pearl Harbor attack. If anything my ideas are probably more liberally extreme than many people on this board want, such as having Bush psychiatrically committed, but if you were called a ‘right wing hit person’ in your first week on a new board wouldn’t you put some of your liberal credentials out there? As far as anti-Zionism, the guys I have problems with are the guys in other threads whose every fucking blog, regardless of the thread topic, is about the Jews blowing up the WTC, being behind Bush/Cheney, conspiring to take over the world, yada yada, its like being in Germany in 1933. In the case of the bloggers I am referring to (Godsend, one calls himself), yes, their anti-Zionism is straight out of the fascist manual. This is not to rule out reasonable criticism of both Israel and some Jewish writers and leaders, as well as of Evangelical Christians (who I feel are more problematic in America) but that is another whole discussion.

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By cann4ing, July 6, 2007 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

Rigo, I am both greatful and flattered by your kind words.  However, insofar as Truthdig is concerned, there is really no need for me to submit a “review” of Sicko! to Peter Scheer in the hopes he would post it.

Quite frankly, many of the comments, in addition to my own have exposed Ms. Wong’s piece as a cheap shot and a poorly reasoned effort to smear Michael Moore and the powerful message he has conveyed.  Some specific posts include comment #82841 in which I offerred a point-by-point rebuttal to Wong’s trash immediately after I had watched Sicko!, comment #83053 in which I responded to the effort by Tentaculata to inject another hit piece, under the bogus assertion that since it came from a Candadian it was somehow credible.  In comment #832323 Dr. Emanuel E. Garcia, who had previously practiced psychiatry in the U.S. and now does so in New Zealand added a personal account of health insurer interference in sound medical treatment for a woman who was suicidal.  Comment #84249 by Bruce Scottow provided a concise, to the point rebuttal, of Ms. Wong’s ill-conceived arguments, and in comment #84292 by “siccer, we have a rebuttal from the point of view of a documentarian.

While I remain disappointed that Ms. Wong’s below standard was deemed worthy of a post on Truthdig, I am in agreement that the one positive to come from this is the fact that it drew out some of the better commentary one might find on any web site.  It is the interaction amongst us that makes the forum work as an essential element of democracy.

I would encourage that you give voice to your concerns by going to writing your Congressman, asking that they support H.R. 676—the Conyers-Kucinich plan.  Please also check out http://www.kucinich.us
Mr. Kucinich is the only candidate running for President who, in the words of Michael Moore, “gets it.”  Indeed, if you go to his sight you will find that on issue-after-issue he is the one candidate who stands with the vast majority of the electorate on issue-after-issue.  You would never know that if the only thing you see is the infotainment that passes for news in the corporate media, whose idea of “coverage” is to tell us which of the corporatist candidates are leading in the polls.

Finally, if you live in California, go to http://www.OneCareNow.org  where an effort is now being made to pass a single-payer bill at the state level, SB 840 by Sheila Kuehl (D. Santa Monica).

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By ardee, July 6, 2007 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

#84570 by Jaki on 7/06 at 12:53 pm
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve read all the comments and it seems most, like myself, are utterly incredulous (and seriously disappointed) that Robert Scheer (and/or whomever else makes the editorial decisions) would not have chosen an intelligent, thought-provoking, truthful, professionally competent review of Michael Moore’s COURAGEOUS documentary, “Sicko.” (Would you take on the medical establishment? Most have no clue what kind of threats he faces constantly.)

I dunno, Jaki, 146 comments and counting seems to me to be a pretty good reason to post this “hit piece” , dont you agree?

Free speech issues aside ( but not very far aside) it is good to see so many expose the flaws and foibles of this sorry little screed. For a very long time such as this would have been simply accepted, ignored or, worse, believed. We are getting there when we see an almost universal outcry to an admittedly clumsy effort. How many, I wonder, were provoked to actually go and see this exdellent and in depth analysis of what is a national shame and a disgrace?

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By rigo23, July 6, 2007 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

I just wanna chime in and express my gratitude for intelligent discourse like this. 

Mr. Canning and several others are prolific in their responses, and yes, Mr. Canning, you are, shall I say, precise about the need for precision, especially with respect to how the word ‘propaganda’ is received by the general public, despite it’s strict constructionist definition.  It reminds me of the whole asocial vs. antisocial argument my coworker and I have.  If it hasn’t already happened yet, those two words will be widely accepted as equivalents when describing people who simply don’t socialize with others.  But I digress.

I’m having a difficult time trying to figure out what part of Ms. Wong’s review of this movie is NOT brazen propaganda. 

I mean, can ya get more authentic with the propaganda effort than interviewing a Miami doctor who practiced in Cuba?

Maybe Wong should review the “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and interview some rich Miami Venezuelans about how Hugo Chavez is running Venezuela.  I’m sure that’ll be fair and balanced.

I have a suggestion.  I propose that Mr. Ernest Canning writea review of this movie and submit it to TruthDig. He seems a lot more precise and fair than Ms. Wong and doesn’t seem like the kind that would resort to ad hominem in an honest critique.

In other news, check this out:

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?id=215

Looks like the insurance companies are taking this movie pretty seriously.  Release the talking points!

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By Jaki, July 6, 2007 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve read all the comments and it seems most, like myself, are utterly incredulous (and seriously disappointed) that Robert Scheer (and/or whomever else makes the editorial decisions) would not have chosen an intelligent, thought-provoking, truthful, professionally competent review of Michael Moore’s COURAGEOUS documentary, “Sicko.”  (Would you take on the medical establishment? Most have no clue what kind of threats he faces constantly.)

What I haven’t seen yet is a COURAGEOUS mea culpa and explanation from those responsible to those of us who voted Truthdig as best political blog for the Webby Awards.  It ain’t gonna happen again if you allow Eunice Wong’s personal-attack dog of the right-wing fascists kind of crap onto Truthdig.

Step up to the plate Scheer—you fucked up.  Admit it…in writing on this site.  Otherwise, your reputation and Truthdig’s go into the sewer.

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By Sylvia Barksdale Morovitz, July 6, 2007 at 9:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I could care less about Eunice Wong’s swarmy opinions of Michael Moore’s work.  He is doing a service to Americans in making his movies.  He is not only an intelligent gent but the facts of medical treatment in our country are put out for all to see.  How can she know what Dr. Alfonso told her about American tourists and VIPs receiving Cuba’s best medical care while its own citizens go without, is true?  There is no way she can know.
Yes, Moore adds some humor to offset the inherent grimness in his work.  It is a part of him that displays his own sadness of how we, the people are treated, while our leadership allows the medical establishment to charge prices that only the wealthy can afford.  It is a crime and a shame upon our country, the so-called wealthiest in the world.  Moore simply brings this out.  As for his so-called narcissism, is he so unlike other movie makers, producers and directors?  I think not.  I’ve yet to see a movie made by “annonymous.”
I’m happy to see, at the very least, that Wong gave him credit for having his audience leave the viewing outraged and better informed.

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By cann4ing, July 6, 2007 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

Frank, how did my simple suggestion that the word “polemic” as opposed to the word “propaganda” would better describe what you intended to convey about Michael Moore’s Sicko! produce a tirade on whether anti-Zionism equates to fascism?

I was not attacking your “liberal credentials.”  I was merely making a point about language and the need for precision.

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By Frank Cajon, July 5, 2007 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

Sorry for the bit or thread jacking below, but I was in a Libby thread and these damn guys are everywhere. What the hell does Dubya springing his gangsta buddies have to do with the Jew conspiracy to take over the world? Oh, well…
Back to this one, I fail to see in Wong’s whole review where she catches Moore presenting anything that isn’t true. I again wonder why Truthdig didn’t have a film critic writea decent review up to the standards of the board instead of this Ms Wong, whoever she is. Yeah, it’s propaganda. So what? So he uses music and editing? It is a movie. Even in documentaries music is used for effect and to create a sense of anticipation, alarm, whatever. The whole piece reads like the ramblings of a junior college student’s rejected film review submitted to a free press or similar. I used to writemovie and music album reviews that were better than this and got nothing but rejection slips. The health care system, circling the drain in America (my son is a physician and I am disabled so we have had some experience firsthand) is a big enough issue that a serious critical film by a master of revisionist propaganda deserves a better review than that.

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By Frank Cajon, July 5, 2007 at 8:35 pm Link to this comment

Hey, Ernest and others that don’t like my characterization of Moore’s flicks, a few points if you want to read ‘em:
1) I didn’t care for the review, while I would agree with the point about him making propaganda flicks this review wanders away from the movie and mounts a personal attack on Moore that seems grounded in political differences, I’m surprised to see it in this website
2) My own liberal credentials, if that bothers any of you, would include many years of outside looking in politics as an avowed socialist. I was involved in SDS, SWP until I got tired of getting hit up for money, P&F until they ran Angela Davis for a California office, marched for Cesar Chavez UFW movement, ardently opposed the Vietnam war in marches and sit-ins, and my Democratic party involvement has been limited primarily to being a precinct captain for George McGovern and doing similar work for Eugene McCarthy before he was betrayed. I strongly support a revision of the US constitution to eliminate the Executive Branch, choose a Prime Minister and socialize medical care, utilities and power, and education. I would like to see some of these changes in my own lifetime along with elimination of the death penalty, popular recall laws for all sitting US government officials and popular election of Supreme Court Justices for 8 year terms. The US should engage in military actions only when invaded or through negotiations overseen by the UN as peacekeeping forces. 
3) I have read this blog site for months and there is a range of opinion here from what I see as the sublime to the ridiculous, with my own views in some respect probably closer to the latter, though I in every respect feel that Bush and Cheney are ruining this country. While I certainly can see that some worried liberals might see me as backing the play of this very wrong reviewer by correctly calling Michael Moore a propagandist, answer me this: One thing that I see over and over again is the infiltration in many threads by fascists who blame the world’s woes on ‘Zionists’, and no one answers these fuckers with a dose of Heil Hitler/Bush reality. This is a phenomena that split me from the Socialist Workers Party, after the 7 day war, which they blamed of ‘Zionists’ and that the Israelis were waging a territorial war to conquer Palistinian lands. I felt that that was horse shit, that they had been invaded and kicked ass, and when they didn’t give the Golan heights back as a base for artillery shellings I thought it was out of intelligent self preservation. Now, in the last 12 months, Israel has some explaining to do, as it was willing to kill 10 civvies to 1 Hamas in southern Lebanon to rout out the embedded (albeit with civilian shields) Hamas terrorists in that area- and I on another board spent a month ripping them an asshole for doing it that way. There are no easy answers in the Israel/Palestinian situation, although the election of Hamas majority in the Palestinian election was an invitation to disaster and the Hamas takeover of Gaza will result in streets running red with blood, most of it civilian. Mistakes are being made on both sides.
I’m new here. If this is a reactionary, fascist, ‘down with the Jews’ board, I am outta here. Not because I am one or am particularly supportive of them, I just feel you can be liberal and NOT have to be anti-Semitic, or can you? Take a look at some of these crazy fucking blogs and tell me. If it’s just some cranks or lurker Nazis who like to see little snippets of Mein Kampf in the middle of a liberal blogsite, fuck ‘em, if it is more of a trend I’d appreciate an honest answer.

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By siccer, July 5, 2007 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a documentarian, I’d like to correct a fundamental error in Ms Wong’s review. She refers to Moore as a “reporter” and then proceeds to slam him for not being “objective” (as though anyone ever can be objective!). Michael Moore is not a reporter and does not pretend to be one.

Perhaps a better point of reference for the work now being done by documentary filmmakers would be the early American pamphleteers. Thomas Paine certainly felt no obligation to present “the other side” or to “avoid bias”! No one spends the necessary years or makes the inevitable sacrifices required to create a film just so they can “objectively” present “both sides” of their issue!

And for Wong to criticize Moore for using filmmaking tools such as music and humor to help him make his points? Simply ridiculous.

Now that a quarter century of media consolidation has successfully excluded most non-corporate voices from the larger discussion, we documentarians (and our online brothers and sisters) are a vital source of alternative points of view. Moore leaves out salient points? I can think of many salient points not included in Wong’s review. So what?

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By Bruce Scottow, July 5, 2007 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Attention Eunice Wong: “Sicko” was a MOVIE, not a congressional hearing.

Sure, Michael Moore is the star. Sure, he showcases those stories - with complementary soundtrack - that move his story forward. Sure, rightwing pundits will be falling all over themselves to punch holes where they can.

But, as a movie, he entertains as he educates. For me, one of the best messages he introduced was that we, as Americans, see absolutely no threat of encroaching Socialism with our fire departments, our police departments or even our library system. No one is shouting “socialism” or “communism” over these pay-as-you-go systems that provide for the common good. Yet the moment we open discussions about extending these same concepts into healthcare, people are up in arms (with the loudest complainers funded by the pharmeceuticals and health insurers) over intrusion of government into our private lives.

And Wong’s noting of Cuba’s overall ranking by the WHO as number 39 versus our rank at 37 is quite pathetic. That a country (as she herself confirmed) now stripped of Soviet aid, dirt poor, still suffering under U.S.-imposed embargoes, is able to rank within 2 positions of the rich, mighty and powerfull United States, is both a testament to their system as well as a shameful mark on our own.

Bottom line: Wong has personal issues with Moore and her issues clouded her review far, far more than Moore’s purported ego issues clouded his!

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By Clark Moss, July 5, 2007 at 5:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear free thinkers,

Truthdig has had a number of reviews that fit in with the conservative viewpoint. This review of Michael Moore fits into that category. I mention this because Truthdig has also had a number of moderately leftist writings. The website was created by a bourgeoisie liberal Robert Scheer. Mr. Scheer is typical liberal critic that will find lots of problems in the society. His solutions are bourgeoisie liberal. The liberals are not going to bring real progressive reform in this country. The capitalist order needs only liberals to make it right. So they think. Three USA presidents (the two Roosevelts and LBJ) that were liberals on domestic matters brought some progressive change. But the three presidents were fanatic killers and lovers of the capitalist order.

The capitalist way will always show its ugly face—unemployment, crime caused by unemployment and acute alienation. Lets not leave out the thousands of wars that have economic exploitation as its origin.

Yes, Mr. Moore uses propaganda in his films. But lets remember we live in a sea of propaganda. The Cuban healthcare system does not have our hi-tech medicare. But in Cuba, you will not die for lack of insulin and antibiotics the way countless Americans do. As for the USSR propping up the Cuban economy. The USA economic blockade has done much more damage to Cuba than the so called Soviet fair trade with Cuba. Cuban doctors are all over the world giving medical care. If Cuban care is so bad, then why is it used worldwide. By the way, Cuba makes a large number of the drugs that it uses. Why should Cuba pay high USA prices for drugs?

I will continue to read Truthdig and the Nation. I read them skeptically because they believe in the capitalist system. Then again, I read everything with skepticism. Be vigilant against the phony left.  CM

The only Independence Day that I will celebrate is an independence from capitalism day. Clark

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By Erik, July 5, 2007 at 5:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What in the world is going on—has TruthDig been infiltrated by right wing hitpeople? How in the world could TruthDig publish a slanderpiece like Eunice Wong’s review of “Sicko”, where in the world was the editorial review before this was posted? I’m shocked.

Moore is a propagandist? We’re immersed every day in an absolute sea of corporatist propaganda from TV and radio and film. Moore makes a movie suggesting an alternate interpretation, and HE’S the propagandist?

Wong doesn’t claim information in Moore’s movie is inaccurate, all the footage and comments and information are factually true—Moore can back all that up, no one, not even Wong, is claiming factual errors or doctored footage.

So what is their complaint? They don’t like the way he frames the information? They don’t like the conclusions he draws from the facts? This is crazy.

What is happening to TruthDig, is anyone minding the store? Why not call up William F. Buckeley and George Will, if we’re pushing right-wing interpretations of the world now, why not go to the people who make their ideology clear off the bat. For God’s sake don’t start tricking us into thinking anti-progressive sheep like Eunice Wong are on our side. Save TruthDig, my God, get her out of there and leave the right-wingers to their own publications, they run the show as it is, they don’t need your help.

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By cann4ing, July 4, 2007 at 10:09 pm Link to this comment

Frank, from Webster’s New Riverside Dictionary:

polemic:  (1) A controversial argument, especially one that attacks or attempts to refute an accepted opinion or doctrine….

Moore’s documentaries, in general, and Sicko! in particular, fit precisely within the Webster’s number one definition of a polemic.  As post after post demonstrate, Moore’s argument is certainly controversial.  In both a general and specific sense it seeks to refute the doctrines of laissez faire and social darwinism, at least within the health care field, if not in a broader sense as well. 

While you are quite correct that the word “propaganda” in its more archaic form entailed the “Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith,” in the 20th Century, the word propaganda became intimately associated with the politics of deception of totalitarian movements used as a means for indoctrinating the masses—especially encompassing the use of linguistic manipulation which became the inspiration for George Orwell’s “1984”.

Given the existence of a hard-right echo chamber that is ready to pounce on any mispoken word, and given the variables in propaganda’s connotations, I believe it far preferable not to add fuel to the fire by describing Sicko! as propaganda.  Your connotation is certainly not the one Wong had in mind when she used the word, “agitprop” to describe Sicko!  Your post can be technically correct, yet misunderstood by most individuals who read it. I do not believe that a technical linquistic correctness is worth the confusion that it engenders.  After all, the purpose of all language is to accurately convey what we mean to the reader.

Finally, I would point out that Moore, himself, described Fahrenheit 9/11 as a “polemic.”  I am fairly confident he would use the same word to describe Sicko!

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By Frank Cajon, July 4, 2007 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment

84072 Ernest: I like Moore’s flicks (except his voice-overs)-I have a feeling you probably do also. A ‘polemic’ is generally as I was taught a controversial ethical or religious doctrine or statement. ‘Propaganda’ has been given, unjustly, a negative connotation in our society but any collegiate dictionary will show that there is nothing anywhere in the definition of propaganda about ‘blinding masses to the truth’ or anything about spreading a false message. Moore is building a convincing argument to pursuade the viewers of his films that certain facts reflect a need for social and political change. They are made to ‘propagate’ an anti-gun lobby, or anti-Bush/Saudi war machine message. Let’s agree to disagree on semantics but I think he is the best propaganda movie maker of my generation. But I don’t like his sing-song voice.

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By cann4ing, July 4, 2007 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment

Frank Cajon, you need to understand the difference between “propaganda” in which emotional slogans are used to blind the masses from the truth and “polemics” which are a form of argument used to overcome conventional beliefs.  Moore’s documentaries are polemics.  They are not propaganda.

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By Woody Holland, July 4, 2007 at 6:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wednesday June 4, 2007

It seems that every news article, investigative report and national opinion that challenges the philosophy or religion of corporate capitalism is seen as morally, economically and politically wrong.

Michael Moore’s various films and books have accomplished a great service for the millions of working families in America.

Our country needs more journalists, reporters and investigators like Moore to point out the lies, untruths and distortions of reality provided by our society’s corporate capitalists.

I look forward to the day when all Democrats and Republicans who are allied with, Conservatives, Reactionaries, and Corporate Capitalist Lobbyists have been placed in six foot hole and their decisions and actions are left in the crap hole of history.

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By Frank Cajon, July 4, 2007 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment

First, I haven’t seen Moore’s flick yet, but don’t need to to realize that America’s health care system is a cluster fuck. I have always been behind socialized medicine in the US and the current Reich is owned by drug companies and HMO conglomerates that have prevented lower cost medications from being available from Canada, so I am sure Moore’s set piece won’t bother me.
But the fact is-and I have enjoyed his movies, and agreed with the politics behind them-Michael Moore makes very good propaganda movies. Bowling for Columbine was great propaganda for gun control and troubled teen counseling, but to call it more than that is a stretch. Fahrenheit/911 a well-put together attack on the Bush-Saudi connection at the root of the Iraq war and again, brilliant use of the arrogant and almost amazingly oblivious Bush I and II White House as a front for arms dealers and Saudi oil princes, even the disgrace of the 2000 election. I have enjoyed these movies, which are great propaganda because they present my side, which is the side that now most clear thinking Americans now take, on these issues, and I am glad he has done another piece on the health care mess. My one problem with Michael Moore’s movies is his tendency to use his own prissy, sing-song voice as the narrator of films. This makes parts of them that have real impact visually and viscerally (Bush sitting like an idiot, doing nothing in a school classroom while the Twin Towers burned, for example, when he should have immediately evac’ed and headed for a safe haven to direct our military options), sound like cheap attack ads we see every damn school board election every five minutes on TV. He should use a skilled actor without a firebrand reputation to lay out the facts and put the emphasis where needed, his voice sounds like a school kid teasing another. Michael, keep up your films. Sometimes a sequence comes off as lame but overall they are good wake-up calls to an America that watches TV shows glorifying torture and black-ops secret police when not watching lounge singer wannabes wail oldies offkey as they get fat on their couches. Keep cranking out the propaganda, Mike.

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By ardee, July 4, 2007 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

#83956 by Ernest Canning on 7/04 at 10:13 am
(523 comments total)

Ardee, have you noted that each academic rebuttal to Limbaugh ditto heads like nf derive a response that seeks to change the subject? 

Further, and sorry for the hijacking of this thread for a somewhat personal conversation, there are more patterns evident as well. For example, suddenly these neocons seek to don the mantle of Libertarianism as if this gives them an instant credibility to which they are certainly not entitled and do not earn with their sorry and basically uninformed little efforts. When listening to a true libertarian, like Ron Paul in that almost comical republican debate of the recent past, one quickly notes his intellect and grasp of the history of his own party and he was the only participant to display such. One also must perforce note the difference between a REAL libertarian like Paul and the phonies like nf and the (hopefully) recently departed Paolo.


Secondly, when challenged for their lack of historical backbone and their seeming ignorance of basic fact (like the Marshal Plan which nf seems not to understand at all, despite the link)and compared to a fumbling high schooler in his first debate, they always insist that they are senior citizens suddenly. It makes one almost miss that incorrigible but real neoconservative Marshall, he at least was almost honest, at least in his convictions if not his facts.

As a sidebar I would note the certain similarities between these types with especial emphasis on the identical phraseologies one finds they have in common…like that “see you at the polls” line that at least three of these phonies have used…there are others if one tracks them closely. It would lead one to believe that there are fewer of them than a name change might indicate. We already understand that, behind the bluff and bluster, there are damn few of them in our society, and thank Gaia for that!

I guess I should find some relief in that they arent that slime trail leaving racist who posts here far too often and who should have been banned at once for his effrontary to decency!

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By JC, July 4, 2007 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am utterly disgusted with Truthdig for printing this review of Moore’s film.  I guess you couldn’t get Rush, or O’Reilly, or other right-wing sickos, so you settled for this transparently hostile neo-con “actress”.  I thought you were better than that.

She quotes some former Cuban, now Miami, doctor on what’s REALLY happening in Cuba and expects us to believe him and accept his expertise on the subject???

This was trash.  Shame on you Truthdig.  No truth here.

Michael more is a National Hero and we need more of them and less self-righteous Corporate Sheeple like Eunice Wrong.

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By MAR, July 4, 2007 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wong and many others posting here miss the point. Michael Moore is like a court jester of old, pointing to wrongs using humor and exaggeration. The current court would certainly not entertain his entertainment. Most jesters had a serious message and used humour, satire, slapstick, whatever was available and appropriate. Michael has commented effectively on the issue of rampant presence of guns in the US (Columbine), the present administration and now the pathetically inadequate US health non-system. Of course rich Republicans don’t like it because they can go anywhere and purchase medical and surgical care directly or by expensive insurance. But these self-indulgent, greedy, and selfish people who are against taxes to support a universal health system nevertheless pay taxes for the obscene action in Iraq based on lies and hidden agenda.

Wong seems to be in their pocket. She should go back to reviewing movies and not pursuing her own agenda.

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By cann4ing, July 4, 2007 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

Ardee, have you noted that each academic rebuttal to Limbaugh ditto heads like nf derive a response that seeks to change the subject?  It began with posts from both you and I demolishing posts from the ditto heads that suggested that the idea of using our tax dollars to promote the general welfare of our citizens was not, as they suggested, un-American, but rather something conceived in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution; that it is the effort to pervert this noble goal into the hard-right conception that government exists only to further empower and enrich a select wealthy few that is at odds with the fundamental precepts of our Constitutional government.

Unable to meet that challenge, nf pulls out the canard that government is inherently inefficient, so we can’t entrust health care to government, we have to keep it in the hands of private enterprise.  When I responded by noting that government is as efficient or inefficient as the people we entrust with running it; that the hard-right has deliberatly run federal agencies into the ground and when I noted that the performance (or better described, “non-performance”) of private corporations in “reconstruction” in Iraq and New Orleans, nf responds with the right-wing echo chamber fabrication that the blame for the Katrina disaster lay with the State of Louisiana.  I responded with hard facts demonstrating that privatization and a criminal negligence on the part of the Bush regime lay at the core of that disaster.  When you added an additional response to nf’s assertion that the blame lie with the people of New Orleans because they live below sea level by pointing out the successes of the Netherlands and references to the “Marshall Plan,” nf, who chose to ignore the hard evidence in my posts, responds by again changing the subject to the question as to whether FDR should have responded sooner to the Nazi threat—ignoring that it was the right-wing Republicans who were the most vehement isolationists in the House and Senate in the 1930s, and, one might add, ignoring that, at the time, our current President’s paternal grandfather, Prescott Bush was doing business with the Nazis—something Prescott continued to do throughout the war, even while his son, George H. W. Bush was off fighting in the Pacific.

Posters who arrive late in the discourse sometimes wonder how comments can stray so far from the original article—here Ms. Wong’s attempted hit piece against the documentary Sicko!  Follow the thread and you will see why.

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By Paul, July 4, 2007 at 11:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Got a bad skin infection while living (quite illegally) in France a few years ago. Had to go to the hospital for treatment. Expert care, skin culture, antibiotics, follow-up. All free, no questions asked about my residency or eligibility. Later I got a bill for about $80.
Last month I passed a kidney stone, here in to USA. In extreme pain, I got a taxi to the Emergency Room where I waited for half an hour for paperwork, then another half hour for a resident. By the time he got to me the stone was passing, and the pain was getting better, so I refused a shot. They gave me a dipstick urine test (yes, there was blood) and a Vicodin & sent me on my way. A few days later I got 2 bills totalling $900. About 5 minutes of the resident’s time. Something is very wrong here.

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By nf, July 4, 2007 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

Well Ardee, I guess I’ve succeeded in raising your hackles to the point where the only escape you lefties have is to resort to ad hominem attacts - in this case attacts on someone you know nothing about. As I wrote in my last comment, you and I view life in this country quite differently and I believe want very different outcomes. With this in mind I can see how your comments drift off the subject at hand and into vitriolic remarks.

What would you like at this point ? Would you like me to dip to your level ? That won’t happen. I’m comfortable in a lifetime stretching back to the HST era of seeing this country at its best and worst. I’ve dealt with many of your ilk as distasteful as it is. You whine and cry because you can’t get your way.  Try the working life - you might like it.

See you at the ballot box.

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By Malachi Constant, July 4, 2007 at 10:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I saw Sicko twice.  I’m disapppointed in Truthdig for publishing this bullshit review.  I did notice in the movie that Cuba was listed 39th in health care, behind the US at 37.  I thought wow - a poor little country devastated by US economic sanctions is still managing to be competitive with the wealthiest nation on earth.  I also thought that I’d love to see just how close that margin is for myself, but I can’t, because I’m not permitted to depart from the land of the free to Cuba.  Being outraged at Mike Moore while skimming over the disgusting greed of the for-profit US healthcare system is disgusting.

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By ardee, July 4, 2007 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

#83857 by nf on 7/04 at 6:55 am
(6 comments total)

This is so nice, a history and geography lesson all at once.  Yes I’ve heard of the Maldives and Netherlands.  And its true, the Netherlands are doing famously with their water problems - and I’ll bet grateful that cat 5 hurricanes don’t reach that latitude. And it is true that the Europeans paid some of what they owed us for reconstuction. But what if your hero FDR had taken his head out of his ass somewhere around 1937 and realized what Hitler was up to. A pre-emption at that point might have saved a significant percentage of the 50 million killed during WW2 including many of your 25 million comrades in the good ole USSR.  But no, FDR waited until leadership was no longer needed.

I guess the truth is that my post was an attempted history lesson as your snarky and childish response indicate nothing was learned. Admit it, sonny you didnt even click on the link provided now did you? Pity that.You might understand, nf, that you are way out of your depth here, that many folks here actually research and ponder difficult questions and arrive, through diligence and hard work, at attempted solutions to them.

You, on the other hand, come here quoting simplistic Rovian garbage straight out of the Limbaugh playbook and think yourself a political pundit. I understand that you are very unaware of how tragic is your gullibility, how little you see that you have been lied to in enormous proportion, and that is sad indeed.

You seek to don the mantle of libertarianism but simply tar those worthy folks with your sophomoric and limited vision. You are in no way a libertarian, I have members of that worthy fraternity in my own family and know well their worth and their failings. They, unlike you, understand history , understand the role of economics in policy, have a clear if false vision for this nation that does not include a science fiction fantasy, inserted merely to get a dig in at FDR (how high school of you). They, unlike you, are worthy of debate. You are simply another n a long list of imbeciles who ignore the points of others in a rush to prove how truly sheeple-like you are. But thanks for the effort. I would suggest, after your High School graduation, that, if you do intend to go on to higher education, you pay particular attention to history and civics, subjects you seem sadly ignorant about currently.

Good luck in the future, sonny.

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By nf, July 4, 2007 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

This is so nice, a history and geography lesson all at once.  Yes I’ve heard of the Maldives and Netherlands.  And its true, the Netherlands are doing famously with their water problems - and I’ll bet grateful that cat 5 hurricanes don’t reach that latitude. And it is true that the Europeans paid some of what they owed us for reconstuction. But what if your hero FDR had taken his head out of his ass somewhere around 1937 and realized what Hitler was up to. A pre-emption at that point might have saved a significant percentage of the 50 million killed during WW2 including many of your 25 million comrades in the good ole USSR.  But no, FDR waited until leadership was no longer needed.

I’m not crazy about Bush, but I don’t hate him like you do. I do know that he’s the guy that runs the place for the next 18 months. Try to live with it and elect the socialist of your choice next year.  I of course hope you fail, because you and I live in two different countries.  I live in the one where one looks at the government as a necessary evil - useful for solving problems that are best handled by agencies like DOD or your local county records office - a libertarian approach.  You live in the one where there must be an agency for everything. Cradle to grave bureaucracy.

We obviously don’t want the same life experience. That makes it difficult to agree on anything. Without common values there is apparently no starting place for debate.

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By cann4ing, July 3, 2007 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment

Ardee, thanks for the compliment, and I love the “Faux Snooze.”  Fits right in with, “the more you watch, the less you know.”

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By ardee, July 3, 2007 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

Excellent rebuttal Mr. Canning. I would only enquire as to whether nf has ever heard of the Netherlands? Or Maldive? They thrive at or below sea level(50% of the Netherlands is below sea level yet they manage quite well thank you).

One might make mention of the port of New Orleans through which several billions in trade passes yearly, a good enough reason, it might seem, to reinforce the damn levees. But Bush cant find his ass in a well lighted room using both hands ( and one of Cheney’s)......

Oh as to nf’s silliness regarding an “independant Europe rebuilding itself after WW2” I wonder if they ever mention the Marshal Plan on Faux Snooze? Apparently nf slept through that portion of his history class at least…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

Please nf, think before you rant, you might just look less foolish.

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By cann4ing, July 3, 2007 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

nf, you really need to expand your knowledge base beyond the faux news from Fox.  The notion that the primary fault for the Katrina disaster lies with the State of Louisiana is a total fabrication of the right-wing echo chamber.

The scope of the disaster can neither be laid upon the State of Louisiana nor an Act of God.  Commencing 2001, billions of “federal” dollars slotted for the Southeast Louisana Urban Flood Control Project and the Army Corps of Engineers were diverted to homeland security and the war in Iraq while FEMA experienced both a brain drain and a loss of its ability to respond, in part, due to the prefereence for privatization of disaster relief.  Indeed, Bush’s first FEMA director, joe Albaugh, had taken the position that FEMA was an overblown entitlement program whose disaster relief work should be delegated to faith-based organizations.

Nearly a year after Katrina struck, investigative reporter Greg Palast uncovered one of the key reasons why so many people were left stranded in the wake of the storm.  Dr. Ivor Van Heerdeed, deputy director of LSU’s Center for the Study of Hurricans, was in a position to have helped the government significantly mitigate a disaster that killed more than 1,500 people in New Orleans alone, displacing some 770,000 residents.  The White House knew this as Van Heerdeen had personally briefed White House officials.  “We had the science.  We had really studied this thing.  We knew what was going to go wrong….Science was basically ignored all the way through the process.”

Dr. Van Heerdeen just doesn’t get it.  There’s science and then there are your friends.  Instead of turning to the pre-eminent hurricane experts at LSU, the administration awarded a $500,000 contract to a previously unkown company, Innovative Emergency Management (IEM), a company Dr. Van Heerdeen had never heard of before Katrina.  Unable to locate an IEM evacuation plan in New Orleans and curious as to “what type of evacuation plan would leave 127,000 to sink or swim,” Greg Palast decided to pay a vist to IEM’s headquarters in Baton Rouge.  “I couldn’t find their qualifications but i did locate their list of donations to the Republican Party.”  An IEM employee seemed stumped when Palast asked about the non-existent plans, but when Palast had the never to mention the donations, he and his camera crew were unceremoniously escorted out of the building.

Attorney Brad Bogart, a former New Orleans City Councilman, took a dim view of this deadly exercise in crony capitalism, referring to it as “reckless negligence, the kind of negligence for which an individual would be indicted, prosecuted, tried, convicted, and spend their life in jail.  Negligence that killed people, lots of people…”

Well, maybe not life in jail, after all George W would not doubt commute the sentence.

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By cann4ing, July 3, 2007 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

Here’s another quote for our brainwashed right-wing friends, nf and mlevass, who have bought into the laissez faire mythology as the true foundation of this nation.

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital.  Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.  Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much higher consideration.”  President Abraham Lincoln, 1861.

On the subject of the “so-called” efficiency of private enterprise, consider Naomi Klein’s Sept. 2005 observations while appearing on Democracy Now!

Klein noted that “reconstruction” is now a standing, multibillion dollar industry.  She described a Sept. 15, 2005 meeting in which members of the radical right, which included a Republican study group and the Heritage foundation, mapped out a strategy for turning the Katrina disaster into an opportunity to “experiment” in the application of neo-liberal policies.  This included a suspension of the Davis-Beacon prevailing wage laws, the conversion of the Gulf region into a “flat-tax free enterprise zone,” an opening up of the Artic Wildlife Refuge to oil explooration coupled with subsidies for the oil industry, all of which, according to Klein will entail a massive transfer of public wealthy to private hands paid for by radical cuts in such things as the Medicare prescription drug benefit, thereby re-victimizing the very people relief funds were intended for.

As part of this radical privatization experiment, New Orleans’s public school system was dismantled.  All of its teachers and employees were fired.  In June 2006 the U.S. Sec. of Education Margaret Spellings announced that $24 million in federal aid would be given to Lousiana solely for the development of private charter schools.  HUD then declared that more than 5,000 public housing units would be destroyed, replaced with, as noted by Prof. Bill Quigley, “mixed -income housing” which is a euphamism for privatization which will allow only “10% of the people who used to live there to come back, but it is a great bonanza for developers, for real estate people, for banks…”

Why does government perform so poorly under the Bush regime, because Bush has stripped it down to its bare essentials to make way for the disaster profiteers!

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By nf, July 3, 2007 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

Ernest Canning:

New Orleans first. The problem here lies most certainly with the State of Louisiana.  Why would they (Louisiana State Govt.) allow people to live and expand their city in an environment that is below sea level, and subject to devastating hurricanes and flooding.  Furthermore, why should our federal government commit funds to allow rebuilding in this area. One would think that these people would learn from this tragedy and go elsewhere to live - and it appears that many have done just this.

Iraq:

I think we both would agree that Iraq is a disaster. Reconstruction ? Who cares. They have the oil wealth to take care of that problem. Europe took care of its own after WW2. I agree with Christopher Hitchens that we must first concern ourselves with victory there. Sam Harris alludes to the possibility of genocide if all else fails. This is a country that needs to take responsibility for its own welfare at this point. We have done the dirty work.

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By cann4ing, July 3, 2007 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

Not very original, nf.  Michael Moore has already answered your less than educated critique.  Republicans spend their time complaining about the inefficiency of government then set out to prove it once they are in power.  If you really think private enterprise is more efficient, how do you explain the disaster which is supposed to be the “reconstruction” of Iraq and New Orleans.  Corporate swindlers are interested in only two things, money and power.  They will provide as little as possible and charge as much as they can get away with.

Comparative analysis reveals that the best medical delivery systems are single-payer systems.  The health of a nation’s people is not a commodity.

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By nf, July 3, 2007 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

There is no way anyone who understands the fiasco that the federal government has made of everything it touches can want socialized medicine.  The scammers are stealing the medicare/medicaid system blind.  Don’t be naive and influenced by the lefties who can’t understand this simple fact.  In truth, the lefties dominate the federal/state work force.  These are the same people who think the world owes them everything.  They exist on the backs of the regular working class.  Its fortunate that the working people in this country who have real jobs mostly understand the phony lure of socialism.

When one thinks of how awful the public school system in this country is, coupled with the lefts insistence to continue with publicly employed teachers belonging to unions that together with tenure protect their (teachers) incompetence, while at the same time blocking efforts for a voucher system, it is clear that they (the left) will back any system as long as it is run by the government (an entity that is not concerned with outcomes) and will try to prevent private enterprise (an entity that is wholly dependant on outcomes) from competing.

Made in America has it right.

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By loveinatub, July 3, 2007 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Dear Ms. Wong,

I was not swayed by your review of Sicko. I find Michael Moore as much of a narcissist as you and most other fellow actors! Acting is nothing but glorification of the ego. So for an actor to call another actor (and let’s face it we all play parts and Michael Moore plays his part in his film) a “narcissist” is hipocritical.

You are a first generation Chinese-Canadian but I’ve discovered living here in San Francisco that most Chinese Americans are conservative in their politics (which you come across as) and are highly opposed to government solutions to societal problems, in particular, free market problems. Many Chinese-Americans are conservative and it makes sense since their antipathy towards government stems from the absence of any humanitarianism in their own country, China. Ruled by dictatorship after dictatorship, many Chinese have been forced to rely on their own individual strengths to overcome their own challenges living under a repressive regime and those Chinese who immigrate to the U.S. or Canada bring with them a deep seated resentment towards government in general.

You are obviously opposed to democratic socialism and thus are opposed to single-payer health care. You are not fit to give a non-biased review of this film given your bias towards capitalism as the solution towards any problem. The U.S. healthcare system is on red alert, in case you haven’t noticed. Millions of Americans cannot afford health insurance and those who do have health insurance discover its limitations in covering their own illnesses very quickly. I’m sure if private insurance one day fails you, you might reconsider single payer healthcare and will look back at Michael Moore’s film with a bit more fondness that you show now and find that Sicko came along at a most propitious time in our nation’s history. Michael Moore should be thanked for shedding a spotlight on a healthcare system that works well for some and works poorly for millions.

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By loveinatub, July 3, 2007 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Dear Ms. Wong,

I was not swayed by your review of Sicko. I find Michael Moore as much of a narcissist as you and most other fellow actors! Acting is nothing but glorification of the ego. So for an actor to call another actor (and let’s face it we all play parts and Michael Moore plays his part in his film) a “narcissist” is hipocritical.

You are a first generation Chinese-Canadian but I’ve discovered living here in San Francisco that most Chinese Americans are conservative in their politics (which you come across as) and are highly opposed to government solutions to societal problems, in particular, free market problems. Many Chinese-Americans are conservative and it makes sense since their antipathy towards government stems from the absence of any humanitarianism in their own country, China. Ruled by dictatorship after dictatorship, many Chinese have been forced to rely on their own individual strengths to overcome their own challenges living under a repressive regime and those Chinese who immigrate to the U.S. or Canada bring with them a deep seated resentment towards government in general.

You are obviously opposed to democratic socialism and thus are opposed to single-payer health care. You are not fit to give a non-biased review of this film given your bias towards capitalism as the solution towards any problem. The U.S. healthcare system is on red alert, in case you haven’t noticed. Millions of Americans cannot afford health insurance and those who do have health insurance discover its limitations in covering their own illnesses very quickly. I’m sure if private insurance one day fails you, you might reconsider single payer healthcare and will look back at Michael Moore’s film with a bit more fondness that you show now and find that Sicko came along at a most propitious time in our nation’s history. Michael Moore should be thanked for shedding a spotlight on a healthcare system that works well for some and works poorly for millions.

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By S. Read, July 3, 2007 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

The real issue is that 45 to 50 million Americans do not have health care.  This is incredible when you take into account that the U.S. is the richest nation on earth. 

Some will try to politicize this issue, but this is not a right versus left problem.  It is simply a human rights problem that should be corrected. 

In Canada, where I am from, the health care system provides service to everyone.  The Canadian system is certainly not perfect.  For example, we do pay higher taxes to fund this service and I have read about wait times for certain procedures,  but I am grateful that I will not have to worry about coverage should I become ill. (For what it is worth, my families experience in the Canadian Health Care System has been very good)

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By elkbelly, July 3, 2007 at 12:30 am Link to this comment

I have just come from seeing the film, and like Ms. Wong, I too am a classical actor.  Both of us are members of the Screen Actor’s Guild, and there’s a good chance that Ms. Wong and I are in the same health network.  The similarities end there.  Ms. Wong misleads the reader into believing that Moore’s film is rife with “inaccuracies” and “ommissions.” 

                          Eunice:
“The treatment Moore and the rescue workers receive in the film was done specifically for them, because they knew it would make great propaganda,” Dr. Alfonso said in an interview with The Miami Herald.  “The medical centers in Cuba that treat tourists and government officials and VIPs are very different than the ones that treat the general population.”  A Cuban watching “SiCKO” would recognize this segment for what it is: agitprop.

The United States has sunk to No. 37 on the World Health Organization’s ranking of health systems.  Moore’s camera pans down the list to zero in on the shameful No. 37.  It slides too quickly for most viewers to catch that Canada is No. 30, and the frame stops just short of No. 39: Cuba.

                            Elk:
Well, I got a beef with you here, Ms. Wong.  First, I saw the movie, and I saw Cuba there on the list at number 39.  Second, what was that Cuban pharmacy in the film that had the medicine Ms. Cervantes needed for 5 cents? Was the entire pharmacy for VIPs/Visitors?  Was it a set constructed by Castro’s Department of Agitprop? 

                            Eunice:
Moore’s manipulative use of music… There is no soundtrack in real life… The music only prevents the audience from realizing the full, unadorned weight of reality.

                            Elk:
I’m having a hard time understanding how an actor in the professional theatre finds music manipulative and distracting from the weight of reality.  Surely, Ms. Wong, there was music in your productions of Antigone and King Lear.  Surely, this didn’t serve as a distraction from your performance or from the words of Sophocles and Shakespeare.  If I went to one of your plays and then said, “I liked it, but there is no soundtrack in real life.  That was manipulative and distracting,” you’d rightfully question my ability to concentrate, let alone my ability to differentiate between real life and a play.  I can parse a film’s subject as well as its auteur’s viewpoint, even critically think and listen to Barber’s Adagio, all at the same time. 

                            Eunice:
Moore visits Canada, Britain, France…There are no dissenting viewpoints, no investigations into the economics that make these systems possible.

                            Elk:
You say that as if there exists some dissenting viewpoint. A member of Canada’s Conservative party tells us that there is no dissenting viewpoint on universal healthcare.  The same in England where a former member of Parliment recalls Margaret Thatcher praising National Healthcare. 

                            Eunice:
The star of Michael Moore’s films is always Michael Moore.  Moore’s narcissism is given full vent at the end of “SiCKO” [when he appears again.]

                              Elk:
Are we critiquing the film or Michael Moore? Ironic that the closing paragraph, criticizing Moore as narcissistic, is followed by a description of Ms. Wong that mentions her Helen Hayes stage acting award…  If Moore’s appearance in his own documentary film makes him a narcissist, what do you call Bill Moyers or Edward R. Murrow?  I’ve come to understand what Michael Moore faces when he makes a film- not just Republicans, but Truthdig as well, attacking on the grounds of anything BUT the content of his film.  And all the while he maintaining his sense of humor.  I admire THAT, Ms. Wong.  Not his appearance.

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By TD, July 2, 2007 at 10:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with Mr. Canning…if anyone has the time, I very strongly recommend Congressman Kucinich and his website. Bravo Mr. Canning.

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By mrsanfran, July 2, 2007 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ms. Wong is an actress, how interesting. Speaking of a profession that takes liberal license with the facts.  She states that Michael Moore fails to point out that Canada is rated number thirty only 5 positions ahead of the good ole USA.  What she fails to mention is, health care is free in Canada to all its people and it still is ranked 5 positions ahead of the USA.  One of the big arguments made for keeping our expensive bloated systme is that oh yea you get quicker and better care.  Now we see that Canada is cheaper, covers everybody, gives better care, and the jury is out on the quickness.  I will take the Canadian system over the care I have now where I pay $600 per month and have to go to a gate
keeper.

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By cann4ing, July 2, 2007 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment

Dr. Garcia.  Your post is truly appreciated. 

As you are undoubtedly aware, the only comparisons provided by Sicko! are between the U.S. system and and those of Canada, the UK, France and Cuba.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who is the only U.S. presidential candidate who proposes a single-payer system that would eliminate both for profit health care insurers and HMOs, posted some comparative stats on his Web site.  The only one that touches upon New Zealand noted:  “Same day access to primary care physicians in the US (33%) is far less available than in the UK (41%); Australia (54%) and New Zealand (60%).”

Since you now practice in New Zealand, I wonder if you would be so kind as to provide us with greater detail, to wit:  Is it a single-payer system?  Are hospitals privately owned or government owned?  Do physicians, like yourself, work for the government directly?  Do profitability issues in New Zealand ever interfere with medical decision-making, or are medical treatment decisions made on the basis of sound medical judgment?  How would you compare the level of stress practicing as a physician in New Zealand to practicing in the U.S.?

Finally, I would encourage you to go to http://www.kucinich.us 

I think it would do wonders if you could share your story with the Kucinich campaign.  Thanks again for the informative post.

Ernest A. Canning, Attorney at Law

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By cann4ing, July 2, 2007 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment

The level to which some posters, like nf and mlevas, have been so thoroughly indoctrinated by the hard-right is truly astounding.  They seem to think that any plan to utilize the massive resources of what was once the wealthiest nation on earth for the benefit of “all” the people is an un-American Communist plot! (I use the were “once” because the U.S. is now a nation in serious financial trouble given the soaring debt created in large measure by massive tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent, run-away military spending that amounts to parasitic growth and the outsourcing of the nation’s manufacturing base courtesy of NAFTA and the WTO by our wealthiest citizens whose only loyalties are to their own pocket books).

I suspect that both individuals are probably too young to remember that it wasn’t always so.  Here are some quotes that provide a hint as to when and where we went wrong.

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”—President Franlin D. Roosevelt.

“The greatest challenge we face is the growing gap between the rich and poor people on earth.”—President Jimmy Carter.

“More than anything else, I want to see the United States remain a country where someone can get rich.”—President Ronald Reagan.

“I think in our system everyone should be a little greedy.”—Ivan Boesky.

“Crony capitalism is the name of the Republican game.  Their slogan is ‘take care of your friends and leave the risks of the free market for the suckers.’”—Robert Scheer.

While it may come as a shock to the likes of nf & mlevass, one of the core purposes of government, embodied in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, is to “promote the General Welfare.” 

When the government gives massive sums to the wealthy, as occurred in the $250 billion bail-out doled to the mismanaged savings and loan industry, the billions more given out over the years in subsidies by regional, state and local governments simply to get businesses to open up in their communtities, the millions of taxpayer dollars given to George W. Bush and his partners to build a stadium for the Texas Rangers—millions that ultimately permitted George W. to walk away with $14 million on a $600,000 investment, much of which he acquired by insider trading, or the $7 billion in subsidies given to the oil industry in 2005 despite the fact that oil industry profits had trippled in the first two years after we invaded Iraq, and these brainwashed ideologues don’t utter a peep.  They are untroubled by the no-bid contracts that have permitted the likes of Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater to litterally raid the federal treasury.

But asks those greedy pigs who have burried their hands deep within the public trough to give back so of wealth they acquired from the public treasury by way of taxes so to provide for the general welfare; suggest that we change the rigged and thorougly corrupt for-profit health care system which currently values the riches of the few over the very lives of our many citizens, and these brainwashed ideologues react in horror—Oh, my God!  Socialism!  Sorry, nf & mlevass, but it is your views, not Michael Moore’s, that are decidedly un-American.

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By ardee, July 2, 2007 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Garcia, thank you for:
#83233 by Emanuel E Garcia on 7/02 at 3:30 pm
A chilling account of a not atypical scenario, one that the advocates for our current debacle of a system overlook.

I have heard numerous tales quite similar with respect to denial of service and have also been informed by a mid level executive of Kaiser Foundation that the common practice is to deny expensive medical diagnosis and/or treatment, instead opting to hope that the patient dies before the lawsuit can be brought. What a marvelous system we have here in paradise.

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By Emanuel E Garcia, July 2, 2007 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Psicko: the Corporate Demolition of Inpatient Psychiatry


Not long after I graduated psychiatric residency and assumed a position as Attending Psychiatrist at a hospital that for decades had achieved renown for its pioneering humanistic treatment of the emotionally unwell, I was called in to admit a patient in crisis.

It was a Saturday evening and I remember vividly the woman who sat across from me in tears, accompanied by her hapless spouse.  She was overwhelmed to the breaking point by stresses (which in the interests of confidentiality I am not at liberty to describe) – and for the previous week she had barely slept or eaten.  Instead she was overcome frequently during these dark days by the urge to cry, and she did so, uncontrollably.  At her wits’ end she finally decided it would simply be better to end her life.  Fortunately, she confessed this to her husband and he convinced her to seek appropriate treatment, even if it meant hospitalization.

For her, as for most people, the thought of being ‘incarcerated’ in a ‘loony bin’ was almost worse than death, and it was only with great reluctance that she agreed to be cared for.  At length after securing her commitment to see the course of treatment through, I was indeed able to admit her, and in deference to her condition and needs directed her to our ‘open’ unit – the unlocked wing of our spacious hospital that resembled more a luxury suite than the prison block she feared.  I anticipated a brief hospitalization – a week or ten days at most, just enough to conduct a comprehensive assessment and to permit stabilization and arrange for outpatient follow-up.

On Monday morning I received a call from a representative of an organization I had never heard of before – an organization that was now assuming authority for the insurance carrier that covered my patient’s medical expenses.  This representative questioned me closely and none too courteously about my rationale for hospital treatment and informed me that her insurer would not pay – despite the fact that her coverage provided up to 60 days of psychiatric hospitalization. “What do you mean,” I expostulated incredulously, “she’s suicidal!”  “She’s not suicidal enough”  was the chilling reply.

Nevertheless, the patient remained under my care for a week until in my clinical judgment and the judgment of our nursing team she was safe and well enough to be discharged.  Neither she nor the hospital were ever reimbursed for the medical expenses to which her policy entitled her.

In that moment I recognized that a revolution was under way—one that killed inpatient psychiatry as we had known it.
 
It was all rather brilliant on the part of the insurance companies, this quiet coup.  To the consumer their policy booklets continued to offer decent coverage – typically 30 or 60 days of inpatient treatment. But in reality they had set up a gatekeeper.  What had in the past been a decision between doctor and patient had in one fell swoop been relegated to an intermediary whose duty was to make any psychiatric admission as difficult as possible and to press continually for a patient’s discharge if an admission were granted.  Day by day.  From a doctor’s perspective it was excruciating, humiliating and unfair.  From a patient’s perspective it was incomprehensible.



Those of us who treat the ‘least of our little ones’ – the almost universally scorned and feared, the poor and deranged and depressed, those most unseasoned in the fight for rights – will rejoice in Michael Moore’s brilliant new film Sicko.  It may just make our uphill battle a whole lot easier….



Emanuel E. Garcia, MD is a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who trained in Philadelphia and now practices in New Zealand.

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By Tony Vodvarka, July 2, 2007 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

Dear Evocatus, Forgive them, they know not of what they speak.  HUP HOLLAND!
    Tony Vodvarka, Hartly DE

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By Evocatus, July 2, 2007 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

#83145 by mlevass on 7/02 at 10:23 am
“Europeans go to the doctor for even the most minor medical conditions.  This is for a number of reasons.  1.  To get out of work 2.  Not many effective medicines sold over the counter.  3.  Unlimited sick days means no personal responsibility to minimize health risks.”

Dear Sir/Madam(?),

Thank you very much for your enlightened visions about Europeans.

Of course all Europeans are unethical people who try to cheat society.

You show examplery insight in the effectiveness of European medicines. You must be an excellent researcher and have published extensive and authorative studies in the Lancet about this subject, no doubt.

Of course those unlimited sick days are a joy for us Europeans. A doctor from the insurance company or the ARBO* service in NL wouldn’t dream of making an appointment with a sick person. We get sick just for fun and and for getting all those unlimited sick days. Wow, risking your health is top sport over here!

By the way could you please tell me what Europeans are? As far as I know they are human beings live in a geographical part of the world that is called Europe. That is all.

Ah, you mention Ukraine. May I ask how long you have been there? My family have lived there all their life, even before WWII. They tell me, me being a stupid NL-European of course, that health care has been steadily going down since the collapse of the USSR. That is what happens when you want to go capitalist.

Dear Sir/Madam** you are like a fleet of balloons, full of hot air, running out of fuel! with excuses to the balloons!

* Being the excellent researcher you are, please try find out about the ARBO system in NL. Surely you are better in explaining what that is then this misguided NL-European.
** Although I can not imagine you being a woman, they generally show more common sense then men. But then again miracles might be possible.

Ave, Evocatus

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By Tony Vodvarka, July 2, 2007 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Dear Editor, Has Ms. Wong, so critical of Moore’s method and style, considered the fact that, of the group he is attempting to influence, the American electorate, more than fifty percent are not normally interested enough in politics to vote, and forty percent are functionally illiterate?  How would she, presumably pure in reason and motivation, get through to these citizens?
    Tony Vodvarka, Hartly DE

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By peedeecee, July 2, 2007 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

The post by mlevass is a tissue of lies.

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By nf, July 2, 2007 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

By the way ardee, it always seems that when I encounter someone who wants something for nothing they invariably work in a government job.  Come on fess up - you’re a teacher or clerk at the DMV aren’t you ?

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By Bill Backolive, July 2, 2007 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

911truthdotorg, please let us converse from my email, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  I am semi computer literate and my computer is crippled, but the email is working. Yes, it is late to figure how to get the mob on into consciousness.

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By nf, July 2, 2007 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

Well ardee, your ideas will continue to lose at the ballot box as long as those of us who work for a living continue to vote. I believe that those who seek the benefits of living in a capitalist country (including those that enter our country illegally) will reject socialism for what it is - a failed scheme. I am self employed, pay for my own health care and expect nothing from you. What is it that you expect from me - health care now - what next - shall I pay for your car and home also ?

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By Larry666, July 2, 2007 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Fact is, no human institution is perfect.  There is no approach to health care that will please EVERYONE; however, in a society of many millions, it is important to provide at least a minimum of health care to all. 

The rich will always get the best of care, and that’s fine with me.  But just because you’re poor, you shouldn’t be penalized with chronic, untreated illness or even death.

I would rather pay higher taxes for universal health care than for an unnecessary war in which we invaded a country that was no threat to us at all.  Rescind the trillion dollar tax cuts (aka, service cuts) and pull the hell out of Iraq and let’s deal with our domestic problems before we try to conquer the rest of the world.

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By ardee, July 2, 2007 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

#83149 by nf on 7/02 at 10:42 am
(1 comments total)

Why don’t all you lefties who really want socialism and redistribution of income either by taxation or other means emmigrate to any one of those countries where these backward ideas are already in place.  Please leave the USA to those of us who like the original experiment laid out by the framers of the constitution. While you’re at it, take Michael Moore with you.

Thanks for participating but Sesame Street is down the block, you have obviously wandered into the wrong room…....My goodness , why some folks are so insistent upon showing just exactly how ignorant they really are escapes me….oh well, low self esteem I guess.

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By ardee, July 2, 2007 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

mlevass,
I find your post to be lacking in corroboration and contrary to my own personal experiences as well. Unemployment varies with the country and England has about the same rate as the USA while Italy and Germany are higher. I would seriously doubt that the blame for unemployment figures should be laid at the door of universal health care

I have found pharmacies in both England and Germany to be as well stocked as any here as well. The cost of prescriptions in every single European nation is dwarfed by the excessive charges found here as well.

As to waiting periods and health care costs you sound as if you are in the pay of an insurance company. In Canada perscriptions are both much, much less expensive and just as effective, the waits for an appointment are also dramatically lower, in one case familiar to me a two day wait for a specialist in Toronto whereas Kaiser can take up to four weeks.

Your spiel about MRI machines echoes that of a hit and run poster a week or so ago and is just as spurious as was his. He claimed there were only thirteen such machines in the whole of Canada and I discovered there were as many as that in one province, Saskachawan.

All in all one might ponder the tenor and content of your defense of a system like ours, wherein over 45 million men, women and children go without such coverage, those that have it go bankrupt upon discovering the severe limits of their expensive health insurance ( the chief cause of bankruptcy in the USA today is health care related) and the inefficiencies of a for profit system that thrives on denying diagnosis and treatment in favor of a bottom line.

We pay by far the most for our care and receive care in the neighborhood of 35th in the world. Your rants are become very familiar to such debates and seem rather bent towards propaganda in favor of the HMO’s and insurance industry profits than in relating truth and honest appraisal. I mean really, demeaning the reasons why European folks visit doctors, who are you trying to kid here? You havent the foggiest notion of why someone, anyone, anywhere takes a sick day. Nor, for that matter, do I have any reason to believe your citing of some mythic poll in which German doctors would rather be treated in the US. This flies in the face of a trend among those who can afford it to fly abroad for medical treatments of varying kinds.

‘Fess up , you work for an Insurance industry lobbyists, now dont you?

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By nf, July 2, 2007 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

Why don’t all you lefties who really want socialism and redistribution of income either by taxation or other means emmigrate to any one of those countries where these backward ideas are already in place.  Please leave the USA to those of us who like the original experiment laid out by the framers of the constitution. While you’re at it, take Michael Moore with you.

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By mlevass, July 2, 2007 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

I was in Europe for 15 years.  I have experienced health care systems in Germany, France, Belgium, England, Austria and the Ukraine.  I have also experienced health care in Canada, having been born there and lived there.

Socialized health care may seem rosy from a distance but it is far from ideal.  Nothing is free.  It is payed for by tax increases or money deducted from your monthly income.  In order to maintain the same standard of living, wages are increased to compensate so the citizen doesn’t “notice”.  Unfortunately,  this also increases the cost to employers, which then increases price of goods which forces employers to try to cut costs in order to the prices in check.  The cuts are always in labor.  Unemployment in these countries are almost if not double of the United States.  Coincidence?

Although the situations in emergency rooms in these countries are somewhat better than in the US, Medical offices not in hospitals or clinics are overfilled.  Europeans go to the doctor for even the most minor medical conditions.  This is for a number of reasons.  1.  To get out of work 2.  Not many effective medicines sold over the counter.  3.  Unlimited sick days means no personal responsibility to minimize health risks.  4. No worry about out of pocket costs (although some countries such as Germany have begun deductibles or co-pay to counteract the huge drain that has been placed on the economy by the health care system).

Stern, a German magazine like TIME, interviewed a large number of German doctors.  The doctors were asked, if they personally had to have medical treaments, where would the want the procedures done.
The interviewer did not elaborate the choices be German facilities and was shocked when more than 80% said they would choose any large hospital in the US.

A friend of mine in Canada had to wait six months for an MRI because most clinics and hospitals can not afford the MRI machines.  He was able to find one clinic that did have an opening but was in the next “med district”.  He was told that since it was out of his district and the clinic was not government funded, he would have to pay for it himself or wait the 6 months.  It has been 2 years since some of his vertebrae were damaged in a car accident.
He has been on pain medication and goes to physical therapy because the government denied him an operation hoping that he would not need the surgery.

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By lynette, July 2, 2007 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Everyone stay healthy. When I read comments like this one, I want to rip out my hair:

Well if you believe that we should redistribute the incomes of working america to provide free health care for everyone, why not just go all the way as apparently the left would like and just confiscate all income from families above say $60,000 per year, and redistribute it so that everyone will be totally equal - the ultimate socialist society. In that case you probably won’t have to worry about illegal immigration anymore.

This film is about working America. I am a working American making, in our two income family, far above that $60,000 per year, yet health care costs while fully insured nearly bankrupted us. I refinanced the house, ran up credit card debt, started a business and worked 80+ hours a week just to pay the $3000+ monthly copays and deductibles and ER visits and uncovered testing and on and on and on and on.

Pray you never get a chronic illness. Perhaps the systems in other countries aren’t perfect, but have we completely lost faith in this country to the point that no one believes we can do it better? What we lack is the political will of the people to do battle with the corporations controlling public discourse and policy.

Take back America, people. Stand up and fight on this issue, if nothing else.

http://www.SickoCure.Org

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By cann4ing, July 1, 2007 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment

Here comes tentaculata to bring us another hit piece, this time from Canadian Peter Howell, whose credentials are—“movie critic.”  Howell “the movie critic” bemoans that Moore presents only the negatives about the U.S. health care system—you know such silly little things like the 18,000 Americans who die each year because they have no coverage, the utilization reviews that kill and maim, people who worked hard all their lives, obtained coverage and were driven into bankruptcy when illness struck, obscene insurance company CEO profits, the poor bleeding patients who are dumped off on some of the meanest streets in downtown LA’s skid row, 9/11 responders, sickened by toxic air that the EPA said was safe, then tossed aside like yesterday’s news.  Of course, Howell the “movie critic” then fails to list a single positive thing he can say about the U.S. health care system.

Howell the “movie critic” complains that Moore only provides the positives about the government run systems in Canada, France, UK and Cuban systems, then fails to set forth a single negative.

Howell the “movie critic” tells us that Moore “fudged” the facts, then conveniently fails to mention a single “factual error” in Sicko! 

Howell “movie critic,” perplexed as to why any American, or Moore in particular, would regard George W. Bush as a “diabolical schemer, takes aim at the film’s hilarious sequence in which Moore calls out from a boat in Guantanamo Bay, asking for the same medical care for the 9/11 responders that they give to the “evil doers” for free.  Howell says that it doesn’t seem to occur to Moore that “if Guantanamo were to deny medical care to its prisoners, the U.S. would be in violation of international law and basic human rights.”

Oooohhh!  Now there’s a persuasive argument.  I mean who could imagine this administration being “in violation of international law and basic human rights”?  Did you ever see the pictures from Abu Ghraib, Mr. Movie Critic; ever hear of extraordinary rendition, water boarding or the CIA torture paradigm entailing the twin techniques of sensory disorientation and self-inflicted pain, ever wonder why so many of those Guantanamo prisoners were in need of rectal exams to begin with?  Did the “movie critic” ever read Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the Hamdan case where he described the very effort to unilaterally declare someone an “enemy combatant” and to subject them to Kafka-like “military tribunals” where evidence obtained by coersion can be admitted in transcriptform without the accused or counsel having so much as a right to know what it is as amounting to violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and as potentially constituting federal crimes under the War Crimes Act?

And, of course, there are people like tentaculata who think that all they have to do to discredit this fabulous documentary is to find either a Canadian or a Cuban exile to criticise it.

Thank you tentaculata for helping to prove my earlier point.  Ms. Wong’s hit piece is but the first salvo in a barrage of hard-right propaganda that will be leveled at Moore and Sicko! precisely because the corrupt U.S. “for profit” health care system cannot be defended on its merits.

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By Kent Billy, July 1, 2007 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you haven’t seen the movie and still move your mouth mimicking a baboon, rest assured that you can’t handle the truth and are as much a coward and a hypocrite as those who hit their chests with a bible and fill their pockets with poor people’s savings.

Yet, you’ll be hit sooner or later with the reality of a for-profit health care system that considers denying treatment a boost to the bottom line.

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By cann4ing, July 1, 2007 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment

Scoop, it is obvious from your post that you have not seen Sicko; that you do not have a clue as to the distinction between polemics and propaganda, and that you do not appreciate the degree to which cinematics can be legitimately used to underscore reality and the central message one is conveying.  Because we live in an age where the majority of our citizens acquire information from a combined visual/aural medium—an unfortunate development since it does not allow for an appropriate application of reason that is required by print and does not provide interactivity like the net—it is necessary for those who have an important message (e.g. Michael Moore) to convey that message through the medium of the documentary.  Where, as here, the content of the message is of manifest importance, it is also appropriate to provide entertainment with the message, which is what Moore accomplishes in brilliant fashion with his sarcastic humor.

In an earlier post, I set forth detailed reasons why I concluded that Ms. Wong has delivered nothing more than a hit piece, a cheap-shot bit of propaganda that does not merit even being posted at a site like “Truth"dig.  The fact that Mr. Moore chose the most effective medium available to convey his core message does not make it propaganda because there is no lie in the message conveyed.  The documentary is a polemic—a form of argument that was designed to dispel the myths generated by the propaganda that the corporate-owned media bombards us with over the airwaves every damn day!  Why is it Ms. Wong never stepped forward when the corporate media pundits were spinning us to death over false claims of WMD, acting light cheerleaders at the outset of the invasion of Iraq as the words, “Showdown Iraq”, “Target Iraq” and “Operation Iraqi Liberation” flashed across the screens of our TVs?

And there is nothing wrong with a documentary that is intended to convey such an argument.  As historian Howard Zinn so astutely has observed, “It is difficult to remain neutral when you are standing on a moving train.”

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By tentaculata, July 1, 2007 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

OH MY GOD!!!  Look what those goddamn Canadians are saying about our national hero!!!  THE TORONTO STAR must be a Right-wing, Big-Media-hack American-health-insurance-undercover-operative!!!  Why can’t those Canadians shut up and stick to two-dimensional platitudes about their idyllic health insurance system!!!

The Toronto Star
June 29, 2007

Michael Moore’s Sicko: Prescription for Trouble
by Peter Howell, Toronto Star movie critic
2.5 stars out of 4

Like the kid who chops his father’s prize roses to give his mother a bouquet, Michael Moore delivers his films with dirty hands.

He sparks valuable debate about such serious issues as gun abuse, politicized terror and corporate chicanery, yet he does so with little regard to factual accuracy or even simple fairness. He is a crusader without conscience.

His latest work, Sicko, a probe into American health care, is occasionally enlightening, frequently amusing and constantly engaging. Viewed strictly as satire, which is how all his films should be seen, it does a good job of mocking a system that’s clearly in need of an overhaul.

Sicko is also completely lacking in journalistic rigour, presenting only the negatives of for-profit U.S. health care and only the positives of the government-run Canadian, British, French and Cuban Medicare programs. As always, Moore makes unsupported assertions and uses out-of-context edits. The film is not a documentary, if that term is to mean anything more than unvarnished propaganda.

Moore’s many apologists, including journalists who should know better, give him a free pass under the “greater good” argument. Who cares if he’s careless about the details or ruthless about his accusations? He’s got a good heart! And he’s funny!

These same apologists don’t extend such courtesies to Moore’s chief nemesis President George W. Bush, whom the filmmaker manages to present as both the dumbest man on the planet and a diabolical schemer. When Bush and his cronies fudge on the facts, it can only be due to the vilest of motives.

A hilarious Bush malapropism opens Sicko, but this time the U.S. president isn’t the focus of Moore’s animus, as he was in the terror satire Fahrenheit 9/11. The millionaire filmmaker is out to expose the “powerful forces” of American health insurers and their political allies, whom he charges exploit pain for profit. (They include Sen. Hillary Clinton, Medicare lion turned HMO tame tabby, one of the few non-Republicans whom Moore skewers.)

As violins wail on the soundtrack and Moore’s hushed voice drips sympathy, we gape in horror at travesties of corporate medicine. A bankrupt Denver couple, drained of their life savings by hospital bills, is forced to move into a daughter’s home. A car-accident victim, having been knocked unconscious, is refused compensation for an ambulance because she thoughtlessly neglected to get advance approval for the ride. A man with a severed finger chooses to lose the digit rather than pay the $60,000 it would cost to have it sewn back on.

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By tentaculata, July 1, 2007 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment

PART II of THE TORONTO STAR review of SICKO (June 29) by Peter Howell, Toronto Star Movie Critic

These and many other sad and shocking stories are contrasted with scenes of the enlightened Utopias in other countries, where Medicare is “free” – if you ignore the fact, as Moore does, that high taxes and long wait times pay for that “free” care.

He once again presents Canadians as the cheery hobbits of North America, who live happily in the shire and look with fear upon the dark place below. Moore manages to find Canadians, including members of his extended family, who wait mere minutes for hospital treatments and surgeries, with no costs and few cares.

These would presumably be the same jolly Canucks he presented in Bowling for Columbine who don’t lock their front doors because there are no gun nuts north of the 49th parallel.

Moore goes golfing with an affluent Canadian who speaks movingly about Medicare and its founder Tommy Douglas. When a disingenuous Moore asks why wealthier taxpayers should pay for their poorer fellow citizens to be healthy, the golfer replies, “Somebody has to look after them.” The man then reveals himself to be a Conservative voter. Uncork the champagne in Ottawa!

Elsewhere on Moore’s tour of compassion, he introduces us to a British doctor who can afford a $1 million home and an Audi on his Medicare salary and French patients who are given free vacations and home-helpers thanks to government largesse.

Moore saves the biggest revelation for last. Rounding up several 9/11 rescue workers who claim to have been abandoned by their American health-care providers, he attempts to gatecrash the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Moore reasons that if the terrorist suspects imprisoned there can get free medical care, then so should the heroic warriors of 9/11.

When they are turned away – although we never actually see that – they throw themselves upon the mercy of Cuban authorities, who are only too happy to provide the 9/11 workers with “free” health care, courtesy of the comrades. Moore interviews the pediatrician daughter of late Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, who tells us that communism is better than capitalism.

Gosh, who could argue with such impartial counsel? Maybe the many Cubans who each year try to flee the island to become American citizens? Such things, as usual, don’t trouble Moore. Nor does it seem to occur to him that if Guantanamo were to deny health care to its prisoners, the U.S. would be in violation of international law and basic human rights.

And yet for all that, Sicko is still worth seeing – as long as the big grain of salt needed for it is put on more than just the popcorn.

Moore doesn’t have anything good to say about American health care, and too much good to say about other systems, but he’s once again poking a necessary stick into a rotting beehive. Just keep him away from your rose bushes.

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By Larry666, July 1, 2007 at 7:40 pm Link to this comment

Wake up, America!  For the past half century we’ve been conned, flummoxed, snookered, and bamboozled by the powers that be into thinking that we have to spend trillions of dollars on “defense,” while letting the nation’s health care hang fire. 

EVERY American should have quality health care, not just the whores in Congress and the rich.  The fact that the mentally and physically ill are dumped on skid row should make us all hang our heads in shame.  The fact that 18,000 plus Americans die every year because they cannot get the medical care they need is appalling.  That’s the equivalent of six 9/11s every damn year! 

Michael Moore could be making documentaries about the sex lives of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and other wastes of DNA; but no!  He’s actually trying to get us to grapple with an important issue—an issue that will affect us all at one time or another.  Whether you agree or disagree with his views, you must admit that he is at least TRYING to focus our attention on a vital matter.  Moore was right about Iraq; he is right about health care as well.  Give him his due.

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By M Gillespie, July 1, 2007 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment

Many Big Media hacks hate Michael Moore.  The Big Media mega-corporations view Moore’s phenomenal success largely outside the New York/Hollywood motion picture and television studio/star system as a threat to their income streams and hugely lucrative markets.  Michael Moore has been taking flak from Big Media hacks, hatchet-men (and -women) and apologists for years. See: http://www.mediamonitors.net/gillespie13.html

From Ms. Wong’s bio: “guest appearances on television include Law & Order (NBC), Sex & the City (HBO), Strangers with Candy (Comedy Central), The Job (ABC), and Deadline (NBC). Eunice is a member of the actors’ unions Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG).” 

Ms. Wong is not a free agent.  She is carrying water for, well, surely you can sort this out.  If you can’t, there’s no point in going any further with it.

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By ardee, July 1, 2007 at 5:42 pm Link to this comment

Some inciteful, factual and in depth critiques of this abysmal “hit piece”. I just gotta add this.

After excoriating Moore for lack of nuance and inacuracies she fills the rest of her propaganda piece with exactly that. Her “factual references to Cuban medical care is simply manufactured out of whole cloth and th elist goes on.

We as a nation spend far, far more on health care than any other industrialised nation on earth, and it mostly goes for profit not actual care. We are in the 35th percentile for the quality of health care, around 45th in infant mortality for gosh sakes! The HMO baord of directors, the insurance companies all make billions upon billions while we suffer thrid rate care, long lines and usuroius charges for prescription drugs. Nice work Ms. Wong you should be very proud, if indeed you arent a cover for some insurance company hack.

One story:

A gentleman in Buffalo was paying $140 a month for medicines for his severe allergies, his blindness had left him on a limited income and this was economically severe to say the least. Someone suggested he go to Canada as they had much less expensive medicines. He made an appointment with a specialist, for two days hence, whereas his HMO required weeks of waiting. He saw the specialist who prescribed a similar drug for his allergy, wrote a prescription and he paid a Canadian pharmacy $52 for a six month supply. He is now a happy camper, economically and allergy wise…This is, I assure you, a typical story not an exception (courtesy of the Thom Hartmann Show).

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By 911truthdotorg, July 1, 2007 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

#82691 by Billk Blackolive on 6/30 at 8:45 am
(Unregistered commenter)

The man’s work is heroic and in a schizoid nation he gets death threats. I watched him last night at PBS’s NOW, then on Larry King where a 60 yr. old caller-in was sniffing how this is the greatest country in the world and nobody should be putting it down etc.

Bill Blackolive -
Just a small addition to your post.

I heard MM on LK the other night too and this moron who you mentioned started off by saying that he doesn’t even have health insurance!!!  And he’s still bitching to Michael Moore!!

I saw Sicko yesterday and I have never been more embarrassed. We are anything but the greatest country on earth, unless you measure that by how many bombs or corrupt politicians we have.

Truly disgraceful.

I found it very appropriate how he mentioned that people are being kept in debt all their lives as economic slaves.

Google videos: 9/11 Press for Truth, Loose Change 2nd Edition, America: Freedom to Fascism

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By Max Shields, July 1, 2007 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

Ernest,

Yes, I’m well aware of our system. My point is that the centers of power is an elite ruling class and a predatory economic system which has gained the upper hand over the last 30 years, both domestically and globally.

Kucinich has hammered each of the systemic problems, their root causes with complete and thorough moral and intellectual honesty and integrity. Absolutely, health care, war, environment, poverty, energy, education, community are all of a piece.

But health care is a perfect example of the sucker job Americans opened themselves up to, a me-first, don’t need anything from the government, I got mine you get yours mentality. This enabled the privitization of health care, ushered in Reaganomics and its morphed children - Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and ???

Our problems are much deeper than the elites who rule or a particular war. None of this exists in a vacuum.

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By Scoop, July 1, 2007 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ms. Wong is not defending our abysmal, profit-driven health care system.  She is warning us about Moore’s techniques, a product of the sound bite, television age, which makes it impossible for us to reach outside the groups that embrace our own beliefs.  She grasps, as Neil Postman understood in “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” that Marshall McLuhan was right: the medium is the message.  The television age is dangerous. It substitutes emotion for knowledge, with the added illusion that emotion is knowledge.  Fox does this on the Right.  It does not make it acceptable, for those of us who care about social change, to do it on the Left.  We will only, if we mirror the other side, engage in a dialogue with the deaf.  Moore, as she grasps, is an entertainer.  I happen to share his outrage and his anger, as it is clear Ms. Wong does, but this does not prevent me from criticizing his decision to be a propagandist rather than a documentary film maker.  He is part of the sad drift into a world where we can all believe what we want to believe, where lies are true.  The reduction of the world into cartoonish simplicity, the decision to rely on image and emotion as a source of information, has already ruined our news, politics and religious life.  It is eating away at our educational system.  It is turning us into illiterates.  To deny, as Moore does, the complexity of the world, to paint Cuba or Canada or France or anywhere as a paradise, is not only bad reporting, but the very hallmark of the advertising age.  We need to fear this medium, for it rejects serious discourse.  It is anti-journalism.  It is show business.  Moore ultimately aids the very people we should be trying to defeat.  They can point to Moore’s failure to deal in nuance and truth.  They can raise his leading questions and manipulation of people and information for ideological ends.  And they can dismiss, because they are not wrong in these criticisms of technique, the core of his message as they solidify the corporate state at our expense.  Good journalism is effective and powerful because, when it is done right, it is hard to assail.  Moore fails us by refusing to do the hard work of serious, journalistic investigation.

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By cann4ing, July 1, 2007 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

Max, the “none of that passed” occured because corporate money, through the propaganda network aka conglomerated corporate media, set off a barrage of propaganda to defeat the 1992 Hillary Clinton effort to bring about a single-payer system.  That was covered in depth in Sicko! as was Hillary Clinton’s transformation into a shill for the healthcare insurance industry as she became the second largest recipient of the healthcare insurance lobby campaign contributions.

Healthcare is but one of a number of issues for which fundamental change will be required before this society can truly call itself “democratic.”

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By GW=MCHammered, July 1, 2007 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As one who’s been misdiagnosed my whole life and lost everything three times due mostly to missed or misprescribed spousal malady, I hold little good to say about American health care.

The last fiasco involved antidepressant-induced psychosis, the prescribing doctors, an ER, an endocrinologist and psychiatrist all with contrasting diagnosis and treatment. I finally typed up my galfriend’s symptoms, which doctor was treating her for what then handed copies to each. I don’t think any appreciated my effort to coordinate their so-called patient care. I even overheard one ‘professional’ lie over speakerphone about her diagnosis and treatment.

Long difficult story made very short, we finally whittled her down to one p-doc, a correct diagnosis and treatment, then he over-prescribed a med psychologists said she should never have been on. She flipped out, dragged me into court over med-provoked delusions and, as those experienced with the legal system know even when you win, you too-often lose. I lost her, the home we shared, and she temporarily lost her mind… again.

Trying hard to discover reasons for starting over a fourth time but frankly, despite a college education, other certifications and accompliments, the incentive has gravely withered. Now we need a Sicko rendition on the judicial mess in this country.

Be well but when not, avoid doctors and lawyers if at all possible.

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By Made in America, July 1, 2007 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well if you believe that we should redistribute the incomes of working america to provide free health care for everyone, why not just go all the way as apparently the left would like and just confiscate all income from families above say $60,000 per year, and redistribute it so that everyone will be totally equal - the ultimate socialist society. In that case you probably won’t have to worry about illegal immigration anymore.

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By Max Shields, July 1, 2007 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

#82881 by Expat on 7/01 at 6:47 am

I would suggest you look at the history of US health care. Privitization of US healthcare began many decades ago. The political and financial powers that have sustained it are still in place.

For example, we were not at war, the economy was “booming”, when, in the early 1990s, the opportunity to provide universal (and even single-payer) health care was before the Congress. As you know, none of that passed.

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By cann4ing, July 1, 2007 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

Pam points to the solution that is HR 676 but neglects to mention that the bill’s co-sponsor, Dennis Kucinich, is the only candidate running for President who advocates a single-payer system that would eliminate both HMO’s and for-profit carriers which account for 31% of the spiraling health care costs in this country.  “All” of the other candidates present variable schemes that amount to further subsidies for the insurance industry thieves.  Also, if you live in California, there is a bill pending, SB 840 (Sheila Kuehl) which seeks to do the same thing as HR 676 at the state level.  To get involved in the California campaign for a single-payer system, go to

http://www.OneCareNow.org

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By Pam, July 1, 2007 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

Sicko is an enlightening and thought provoking film, with Moore doing a fantastic job of exposing the shortcomings and downright failures of our system…
But did you know that there is already a Bill in the House that proposes a solution? Its called HR676: National Health Insurance Act and 70+ Reps have already signed on to it!
Go here: http://hr676.theunderrepresented.com/ to ask your rep to support this revolutionary legislation.
HR676 may not be the ultimate final answer to this massive problem, but we need to push Congress to continue the dialogue on this issue now!

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By DennisD, July 1, 2007 at 8:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Among the many questions Ross Perot asked during his run for the presidency was - How can the people that work for us(the empty suits and skirts we elect to office and anyone else in government)have better health care than the people who pay their salaries. An interesting question that went unanswered along with many others. We can add their retirement system along with that and I’m sure many other benefits as well.
Is it any wonder why the voice of any third party candidate is generally ignored or ridiculed by both parties. The first and only priority of our system is maintain the status quo.

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By Expat, July 1, 2007 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

#82808 by Max Shields on 6/30 at 7:14 pm

Non-Credo explains in plain language why “we” can’t afford descent medical care…the wars we fight use up all of the money! Hello?

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By Expat, July 1, 2007 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

#82841 by Ernest Canning on 6/30 at 10:42 pm

Bravo Mr. Canning!  Thank you for your diligence and obvious hard work.

As one living in a third world country with excellent (and cheap) medical care I know you have nailed it!!!  This crap by Wong (a hit piece)as you correctly say, is just that.
I just platz at the shit the American people are willing to put up with.  I left because I know I just can’t afford to stay.  But, I continue to fight the corrupt bastards from afar!  As a friend, long gone, used to tell me…“don’t let the bastards (in Washington) get you”!  I will fight on until the last breath!!!...unlike the sheep who used to be proud Americans!

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By Charles Merrill, July 1, 2007 at 7:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

His film points out an important truth, that in France, the government is afraid of the people because they protest, and in USA the opposite is true.  Citizens can stop filing taxes in protest as I do.  It’s been two years now of protesting and nothing has happened to me, a couple of form reminder letters from the IRS.  IRS is either scared or inept.  The religious institutions all want separation of church and state come tax time, but not the rest of the year in the making of laws or being taxed for health and welfare reasons.

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By John Cahill, July 1, 2007 at 12:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s see…the writer says the facts are bogus, yet your own website says CNN checked them, and they passed.  Meanwhile, her take on Moore is that he is principally an “entertainer.”  What is this woman smoking??  Say what you want about Moore, but anyone can see he believes in what he is doing.  This review is a lame and superficial “hatchet job” of the likes of Michele Malkin.  I predict big things in Ms. Wong’s future…on Fox.

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