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Today the “news” announced that 26 years olds (up from 23) can now be insured on their parents’ corporate insurance plans as of today. My daughter is 24. She can get back on my plan. Except my company plan has to have it’s annual “enrollment period” which lasts for 4 months. So I can enroll her now but she can’t be insured until January and that will only last for another year and a half. Meanwhile our rates have gone up 17%. For many they have gone up well over 30%.

But I want to let all the corporate insurance companies out there know how much I appreciate their compliance with the law to allow my daughter to have health care for another 18 months. After all, we all owe our very existence to the corporate insurance industry. It is only by their willingness to let us pay outlandish premiums that we may live yet another day, at least until we actually do get sick and they deny coverage.

We must all pull together and do whatever we can to make sure the insurance industry continues to make its record profits for shareholders. These people need jobs. God knows they aren’t capable of doing anything productive for society. It’s a small price to pay that so many will die (45,000 annually – 15 times 9/11) so that so few may live so lavishly. The few, the proud, the greedy, the  shameful – the U.S. health insurance industry. Be proud and stand up for who you are.

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Got Healthcare Yet?

  1. Fact: In 2009 the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 46 million Americans did not have health insurance. That number was by then actually over 52 million and was reduced to 22 million with the passage of health care reform. But it has grown since then to 27 million and continues to grow.  If the reform measures are repealed (as Republicans want) it will be back in the 55 to 60 million range.
  2. Fact: A 2009 Harvard University and Ohio University study concluded that 45,000 Americans die every year for lack of health care. That number is 15 times (every year) the number killed in 9/11.
  3. Fact: The number one cause of foreclosure in America in health care debt. In America if you want to live and be treated for a serious condition, you have to fork over your house or die.
  4. Fact: 62% of all bankruptcies in America are due to medical debt.
  5. Fact: 1% of Americans own more than half of America’s wealth. Obama refused to consider a single payer healthcare system that would decimate the health insurance industry because it represents (along with all the medical debt credit industry) one-sixth of our economy. But with 1% owning half the wealth, that one-sixth is really only very small percent of the population.
  6. Fact: A single payer system (Medicare for all) is the only way to fix the U.S. health care problem.  As long as there is a for-profit health insurance industry in control of American’s health, only the very rich will be covered, and our medical debt and quality of health will continue to devolved.
  7. Fact: America ranks 37th in health care worldwide (based on infant mortality and longevity) – World Health Organization study.
  8. Fact: America ranks 52nd in heath care fairness – World Health Organization study. Cuba has better health care than the U.S. in terms of fairness.
  9. Fact: 39 other countries have universal healthcare coverage for all citizens. Many, even for those who aren’t citizens, but just visiting. Not so in America.
  10. Fact: America has the greatest health care technology, but only the rich can pay for it.
  11. Fact: Got Healthcare? Tough. This is America. Die.

Got Healthcare?

is a 91 minute documentary of people in the streets of Los Angeles in the summer of 2009 fighting for healthcare reform. Despite the passage of the new health care law in March 2010, 22 million Americans remained uninsured. The people who fought for reform won a band aid on our healthcare system. Now Republicans vow to repeal the health care reform law. Insurance companies are raising their rates by strong double digit percentages. Health care in America can hardly get better under theses circumstances. A single payer system is the only viable solution. This film tells you why.
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9248149&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0Got Healthcare? official website

I read a very disturbing blog on the film industry a few days ago by James Fair (lecturer in Film Technology at Staffordshire University).The thing that made me sick was the site of a corporatist organizational chart. If you’re anything like me, the site of these charts makes you want to puke (You may want to put your hand over it).

Bullshit Organizational Chart

Traditional Hollywood Failed Corporatist Organizational Structure

So here we have a film scholar (as if good filmmaking was ever a scholarly endeavor) telling us that business models are questionable in light of the artistic and creative aspects of filmmaking. Then he goes on to suggest there may be a better model out there, even though this one is working. But the current system isn’t working. It never did work. The film industry is having one of its greatest depressions. Even when it was on top, 50% of all industry product never made a profit.

The problem is not that we need a better business model. The problem is that even having a conversation about a business model is absurd, which brings me to David Lynch. When I listen to him talk about the process of making a film, there is no business model or organizational structure. You may say even he has departments run by department heads, which may be true. But in a truly harmonious film production these departments operate as single entities to fulfill their respective tasks, and like our scholar mentions, none of this is ever set in stone.

The problem that 99% of the film industry continues to have is that film is not a business, nor is it purely an art. It’s the business of making art, and that means that the art has to come before the business, since you can’t sell your art if you don’t go about making it first. This may depend on your definition of “art”, which is an abstract word much like love. I think of art as stuff that moves people emotionally and even physically. That has absolutely nothing to do with making money in itself. If the moving of people can be achieved then I think the money making potential is there. You don’t start out with the idea of having to make money and then come up with art that has that goal. That is not art. Nor should business have as its goal to make money without first having some higher purpose, to fill a need or fix a problem or help society.

Of course, failed American corporatism and its decades of authoritarian conservative ingrained tradition will continue to insist to its dying day that pure business models (regardless of product and with no other goal than money) are the way to go about doing any business, even art. But, like the Roman Empire, blind leading the blind (no one knows anything in Hollywood) kind of thinking is ultimate doom.

Pull out David Lynch’s Inland Empire DVD. You do have one right? There, not only will you find David Lynch show you a great quinoa recipe (maybe you eat too much meat to be able to make good films that can sell on their own merit) but you’ll also hear him talk about his artistic “business model”, which amounts to getting one idea, then getting another idea, and eventually putting these ideas together. But if you were to talk to a good sample of great artists, you’d find that each of them have different ways of doing their art.

Even most indie filmmakers have a model where they come up with a script, and even a cast an crew, and sometimes even make the film before they go about looking for an “executive producer” (since often the only real business aspect of films is the distribution after they’re made). They may or may not take notes from that producer. My understanding is that most indie producers act as patrons and seek to fund artists with no expectation of return. That is the traditional model of artistic endeavor around the world.

The one reason that any good films even exist in America, I think, is that there are indie renegades out their like David Lynch and there is also the independent spec screenwriter factor. Screenwriting can be done in a vacuum away from all the failed corporatist bullshit. So in that regard, screenwriters have the ability to be true artists, going about writing in whatever artistic way suits them (as George Lucas did far away from Hollywood). For that reason, we have some great screenplays in existence that Hollywood then gets it’s greedy clammy little hands on and plugs into its organizational chart to end up with something resembling art (so long as no dogs are killed).

Another fallacy about the chart above, with the quintessential executive asshole at the top, is that there is no marketing department. Anyone and everyone knows that in the Hollywood studio system marketing is god. They only make films that project (as proven under failed corporatist business formulas) to make money. So we end up with trilogies and sequel after sequel riding on the success of previous success. We see film stories (like Inception) ripped off of other films (like The Matrix) that worked and we see a plethora of remakes that are again remade on a regular ten year schedule, just like regular old white men on Exlax.

Fuck all that.

I ran into Alexia’s project, Adventures in Plymptoons ( a documentary on animator Bill Plympton), on IndieGoGo, where I was amused with her (and Bill’s) total irreverence to anything conservatively morally straight.  They have since launched a Kickstarter.com campaign to fund post production of the film. Check out Alexia’s trailer:http://www.youtube.com/v/fnrdO-_aXu4&hl=en_US&fs=1This was enough to get me to pony up $50 to help her out. We need more indie films like this and as an indie filmmaker I sincerely believe we should all help each other out. What goes around comes around. The bottom line being that if a couple thousand indie filmmakers help each other out that’s enough of an audience right there to launch a film to success. There are easily a few thousand indie filmmakers out there. Something like 5000 to 6000 enter Sundance every year, not to mention thousands of other film festivals. Billions of dollars are spent every year on indie films and only a handful of them ever see the light of day, even when they’re good. We have no one to blame but our collective selves.

Do you really like the crap coming out to the cineplex every week? Wouldn’t you rather see indie films out there? Well do something about it. Put your money where your mouth is. Support indie filmmakers. Buy their films. Demand to see then on OpenIndie.com. Chip in a few bucks at Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. We can do this. It’s a no brainer. Have you seen Ants? You know, that animation with Kevin Spacey as the bad ass grasshopper that controls hundreds of ants with his little gang, until they all realize they have him outnumbered and scare the shit out of him.

Well, we are the ants; we the indie filmmakers. The studios are the thug grasshoppers trying to control us. Why do we put up with their shit?

Alright, so anyway, I checked out Bill’s booth at Comic Com, where Alexia was a guest, and interviewed her, just for kicks. Check it out.
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=13605888&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00adef&fullscreen=1

The following post is from Dr. Irma Strantz with a important update on California’s SB810, a state bill that would allow a single payer healthcare system in California. The new federal law passed in March allows states to implement a single payer system. But the fight is not yet over.

This would eliminate the cruel unjust practices of California insurance companies in who continue to deny healthcare to people for the sake of profit, resulting in poor public health and even death to those who lack adequate health care, unlike every other modern industrialize nation in the world.


Have you heard that SB 810 passed by a vote of 13 to 6 on June 29th in the Assembly Health Committee?  The hearing lasted about an hour, with Senator Leno providing a strong defense for it’s passage and Health Committee Chair William Monning thanking him for keeping this healthcare reform vehicle alive, stating that it is “as timely as it has ever been”.  Among the “in-person supporters” who lined up and briefly testified were representatives from California Nurses Association, Physicians for a National Health Program – California, Health Care for All – California, League of Women Voters – California, California School Employees Association, California Teachers Association and California Labor Federation. The landmark health care reform legislation, previously vetoed twice by Governor Schwarzenegger, now proceeds to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for a hearing and vote in July or early August. Pending a successful Appropriations Committee vote, the bill will be heard by the full Assembly and if approved, will go to the Governor for signature.  That may happen in September.

Now what we need to do is write our Assembly members on the Appropriations Committee and urge their YES votes for SB810.  When the Assembly Health Committee staff summarized the bill, they showed more than 300 letters of support received from organizations and individuals throughout California!  Our letters make a strong statement, and thank you for taking the time to send one!  The Chair of the Appropriations Committee is Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes.  Local Assemblymembers Charles Calderon and Mike Gatto sit on that Committee and they should hear from us as well.

The mailing address for each of these three Committee members is: PO Box 942849, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 94249-0058.  For emails, you can use Assemblymember.Fuentes@assembly.ca.gov and then substitute the name for each of the others (i.e. Calderon, Gatto).

Thank you for your continuing efforts in support of SB810!

Irma Strantz, Director
Health Care for All – San Gabriel Valley Chap.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND GIVING TO THE RED CROSS.

I volunteered as an RN and also worked for Red Cross in the 1980’s. They are not that same organization since Elizabeth Dole became the first of several questionable ‘CEOs’ in the 1990’s. ARC DOES NOT ALWAYS USE THE MONEY COLLECTED FOR THE PURPOSE IT AS DONATED! ARC controversies ensued after 9/11, Hurricaine Katrina and after the SriLankin Tsunami. ARC has a much lower ranking with www.charitynavigator.org than many other worthy service groups and relief providers.

I did medical relief work in New Orleans just after the hurricaine…and the Red Cross was shameful in it’s hands off distancing from those in need. They even refused to give aid to Latino resident hurricane victims who didn’t have their ID’s. Gathering millions of dollars in donations, ARC sent trucks to the Common Ground Relief storage, attempting to take our donated supplies which we were distributing to areas in need that Red Cross wouldn’t even go to! Some Medical volunteers who came with the Red Cross defected to other groups due to frustration with the organization’s lack of genuine assistance to the disaster victims.

Read about these scandals /problems if you are interested. Articles from the LA Times, NY Times, Wash Post, Toronto Star detailing ARC transgressions can be found at www.commondreams.org . search.

1. Partners In Health
888 Commonwealth Avenue
3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02215
tel: (617) 432-5298
fax: (617) 432-5300
EIN: 04-3567502
Mail donations to:
P.O. Box 845578
Boston, MA 02284

RANK 66.98 ****

MEDICAL care. Dr. Paul Farmer and Tracy Kidder longtime Haiti advocates recommend this group. They have operated in Haiti for 20 years.
Mission

Founded in 1987, Partners In Health’s (PIH) mission is to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. The work of PIH has three goals: to care for our patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world. Through long-term partnerships with our sister organizations, we bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need and work to alleviate the crushing economic and social burdens of poverty that exacerbate disease. PIH believes that health is a fundamental right, not a privilege. PIH works in Haiti, Rwanda, Peru, Russia, USA, Malawi and Lesotho, and supports projects in Mexico and Guatemala.

2. Doctors Without Borders, USA
333 Seventh Avenue
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001
tel: (888) 392-0392
fax: (212) 679-7016
EIN: 13-3433452

RANK 61.22 ****
Providing trauma and surgical care.

Mission

Doctors Without Borders, USA (DWB-USA) was founded in 1990 in New York City to raise funds, create awareness, recruit field staff, and advocate with the United Nations and US government on humanitarian concerns. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. In 2007, MSF-USA raised $152.1 million and sent 200 aid workers to work overseas.

Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Haiti Earthquake Response – Doctors Without Borders
donate.doctorswithoutborders.org
Your gift today will immediately support emergency medical care for the men, women, and children affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Please give as generously as you can to our Haiti Earthquake Response and help us save lives.

3. Operation USA

Disaster relief & development since 1979

International : Humanitarian Relief Supplies

Operation USA
3617 Hayden Avenue
Suite A
Culver City, CA 90232
tel: (800) 678-7255
fax: (310) 838-3477
EIN: 95-3504080

RANK 68.30 ****

Mission

Founded in 1979, Operation USA helps communities alleviate the effects of disasters, disease and endemic poverty throughout the world by providing privately-funded relief, reconstruction and development aid. We provide material and financial assistance to grassroots organizations that promote sustainable development, leadership and capacity building, income generating activities, provide education and health services, and advocate on behalf of vulnerable people. Operation USA rapidly and expertly provides on-the-ground aid by sending vital life-saving supplies and cash grants to assist communities in rebuilding. Partnering with grassroots organizations, Operation USA specializes in reaching vulnerable populations who are in the greatest need, yet who are often ignored by governments and larger aid organizations.

4. Oxfam America
226 Causeway Street
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
tel: (800) 776-9326
fax: (617) 728-2594
EIN: 23-7069110

RANK 63 ****

Oxfam assigned to lead aid groups on water and sanitation Update: During the next two weeks, Oxfam will coordinate international aid groups on the ground in Haiti in the delivery of emergency water and sanitation services. Water is the most critical need in a country where this week’s earthquake left at least 250,000 people homeless.

5. United States Fund for UNICEF
125 Maiden Lane
New York, NY 10038
tel: (800) 367-5437
fax: (212) 779-1679
EIN: 13-1760110

RANK 61.55 ****

Mission

The United States Fund for UNICEF was founded in 1947 to support the work of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) by raising funds for its programs and increasing awareness of the challenges facing the world’s children. The oldest of 37 national committees for UNICEF worldwide, we are part of a global effort to save, protect and improve children’s lives. Every moment of every day, UNICEF is on the ground providing lifesaving help for children in need. We provide families with clean water and sanitation, we vaccinate against childhood illness, and we help protect children against malaria. We provide nourishment to fight malnutrition, and we care for children affected by AIDS. We protect children from abuse, and we give them an education. We are here to make sure that all children lead a healthy, humane, and dignified life.

I received the following information in an email from the ANSWER coalition:

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive stated today that as many as 100,000 Haitians may be dead. International media is reporting bodies being piled along streets surrounded by the rubble from thousands of collapsed buildings. Estimates of the economic damage are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Haiti’s large shantytown population was particularly hard hit by the tragedy.

As CNN, ABC and every other major corporate media outlet will be quick to point out, Haiti is the poorest country in the entire Western hemisphere. But not a single word is uttered as to why Haiti is poor. Poverty, unlike earthquakes, is no natural disaster.

The answer lies in more than two centuries of U.S. hostility to the island nation, whose hard-won independence from the French was only the beginning of its struggle for liberation.

In 1804, what had begun as a slave uprising more than a decade earlier culminated in freedom from the grips of French colonialism, making Haiti the first Latin American colony to win its independence and the world’s first Black republic. Prior to the victory of the Haitian people, George Washington and then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had supported France out of fear that Haiti would inspire uprisings among the U.S. slave population. The U.S. slave-owning aristocracy was horrified at Haiti’s newly earned freedom.

U.S. interference became an integral part of Haitian history, culminating in a direct military occupation from 1915 to 1934. Through economic and military intervention, Haiti was subjugated as U.S. capital developed a railroad and acquired plantations. In a gesture of colonial arrogance, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the assistant secretary of the Navy at the time, drafted a constitution for Haiti which, among other things, allowed foreigners to own land. U.S. officials would later find an accommodation with the dictator François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and then his son Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, as Haiti suffered under their brutal repressive policies.

In the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. policy toward Haiti sought the reorganization of the Haitian economy to better serve the interests of foreign capital. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was instrumental in shifting Haitian agriculture away from grain production, paving the way for dependence on food imports. Ruined Haitian farmers flocked to the cities in search of a livelihood, resulting in the swelling of the precarious shantytowns found in Port-au-Prince and other urban centers.

Who has benefited from these policies? U.S. food producers profited from increased exports to Haitian markets. Foreign corporations that had set up shop in Haitian cities benefitted from the super-exploitation of cheap labor flowing from the countryside. But for the people of Haiti, there was only greater misery and destitution.

Washington orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide—not once, but twice, in 1991 and 2004. Haiti has been under a U.S.-backed U.N. occupation for nearly six years. Aristide did not earn the animosity of U.S. leaders for his moderate reforms; he earned it when he garnered support among Haiti’s poor, which crystallized into a mass popular movement. Two hundred years on, U.S. officials are still horrified by the prospect of a truly independent Haiti.

The unstable, makeshift dwellings imposed upon Haitians by Washington’s neoliberal policies have now, for many, been turned into graves. Those same policies are to blame for the lack of hospitals, ambulances, fire trucks, rescue equipment, food and medicine. The blow dealt by such a natural disaster to an economy made so fragile from decades of plundering will greatly magnify the suffering of the Haitian people.

Natural disasters are inevitable, but resource allocation and planning can play a decisive role in mitigating their impact and dealing with the aftermath. Haiti and neighboring Cuba, who are no strangers to violent tropical storms, were both hit hard in 2008 by a series of hurricanes—which, unlike earthquakes, are predictable. While more than 800 lives were lost in Haiti, less than 10 people died in Cuba. Unlike Haiti, Cuba had a coordinated evacuation plan and post-hurricane rescue efforts that were centrally planned by the Cuban government. This was only possible because Cuban society is not organized according to the needs of foreign capital, but rather according to the needs of the Cuban people.

In a televised speech earlier today, President Obama has announced that USAID and the Departments of State and Defense will be working to support the rescue and relief efforts in Haiti in the coming days. Ironically, these are the same government entities responsible for the implementation of the economic and military policies that reduced Haiti to ruins even before the earthquake hit.

On March 20, thousands of people will march in Los Angeles to to oppose the wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. Tens of thousands more will march in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco at the same time. We will also demand an end the foreign occupation of Haiti and reparations to Haiti for the vast wealth that has been looted from the country by foreign imperialist countries.

Alexandra Fulton

Alexandra Fulton on the set of Eight-ish, my first festival submitted film.

I had a thought after listening to Tim Westergen on The Workbook Project talk about Pandora Radio and The Music Genome Project , and how that should be applied to films. Many filmmakers are frustrated with the rejections they get from film festivals. Arin Crumley and Susan Buice really shed a lot of light on this process with Four Eyed Monsters and the accompanying vlogs where they talk about the festival and marketing processes they went through. So add 2+2 and what you get is this: a gnome film festival.

If you’re not familiar with Genome, listen to Tim on the Workbook Project’s This Conference is being Recorded archives. The Genome project categories music, one track at a time into about 400 attributes with ratings in each one (as I understand it). As Tim says, this translates into a truly democratic form of music promotion based on these categories and based on comparing the music that a listener wants to hear with other music that has the same characteristics.

So there would really be no direct all encompassing human judgment factor on rating an entire film. It’s more on these individual traits. In film you could have categories like acting, actor, directing, director, photography, DP, genre, running time, locations, production company, on and on.

This makes so much sense for film festivals where fairness really is an important issue and one that is now clearly forsaken over branding, theme, diversity and other marketing factors that really are what drive film festivals.

Of course the Genoming [sic] of thousands of films submitted to festivals would be a monumental undertaking. So I think it would have to be something of a universal service for all festivals (like Withoutabox, which in fact already does this on a very small scale of non-merit factors), where you have a company categorize films and then you’d have festivals look at that database and select what they want. But again you could end up with festivals choosing films based more on marketing factors than quality or originality or other more merit type factors, and you’d also have to deal with devising a good objective way to rate acting, writing, directing and artist type performance.

Perhaps there could be a new wave of festivals that would choose film solely on the merit and quality categories, or at least those could be the primary factors with marketing playing a secondary role.

Another important point here is that filmmakers need and even crave objective feedback. This would give them that feedback and could even serve as a marketing information database for the entire industry. Filmmakers, studios, distributors and anyone involved with film production or distribution should be willing to pay at least something for such a service.

I’m both a filmmaker and an experienced data-driven software project developer and I think his would be really not a big deal to make happen. But it would cost. It would take a lot of labor to categorize films, and ongoing labor to maintain it; plus coming up with categorization strategies would also be a major hurdle. But probably Tim and the Gnome Project could help out with some insight on that.

I generally am skeptical about the “name” pundits and media stars like Olbermann, Maddow and all the experts they have on their shows that they repeatedly call on to explain things. Even though I generally agree with them, their shows always end up balancing the political spectrum as if the true place where the world should exist is somewhere between the right wing nut tea baggers and the progressives who want universal health care and an end to all war.

Think about that for a minute. What kind of world is it where we agree to accept war just to balance the political spectrum? Why isn’t war horrifically wrong and something that should never ever be resorted to as long as people can talk things out. It’s not like the middle ages where in order to negotiate you have to travel thousands of miles to meet with your foes. Every nation in the modern world has an open dialog with every other one. The fact that we attack territories like Iraq or Afghanistan to rid ourselves of “terrorists” is absurd. No group of people or enemy lives within the borders of any single country. If you attack them, they simply pick up and move to another territory, just as Al Qaeda exists in countries all over the world.

Paul Krugman - Nobel Prize Winning Economic Scholar

But back to the media pundits. Paul Krugman is one that I find a little less “balanced.” That’s a good thing. He attacked Obama for the selection of the same assholes that brought down our economy as the people to run our treasury and economics. He was left out to dry by the media for that, which indicates to me that he was doing something right. The media is owned by conservatives, even MSNBC, the one thought of as progressive. Olbermann and Maddow take their stories from their higher ups at MSNBC based on what is marketable to the progressive leaning audience. The fact that MSNBC is bent as far as it is toward progressives, indicates that progressives are actually close to center and not on an extreme end of the political spectrum. But when Olbermann talks about Limbaugh or the Fox News dickheads, he’s just giving them free advertising. If he truly thought they were of as little importance as they really are, he’d ignore them completely. They are nonentities and don’t exist in my world.

Now the Senate just passed a healthcare bill and Krugman is applauding that as a great step forward. Is Krugman trying to get back into the media spotlight by going middle of the spectrum here?

Krugman writes in the New York Times article, Tidings of Comfort, about the split of people into three distinct areas of the political spectrum: the far right teabaggers, the fiscal conservatives and the progressives, as if this defines left, right and center.

First, there’s the crazy right, the tea party and death panel people — a lunatic fringe that is no longer a fringe but has moved into the heart of the Republican Party. In the past, there was a general understanding, a sort of implicit clause in the rules of American politics, that major parties would at least pretend to distance themselves from irrational extremists. But those rules are no longer operative. No, Virginia, at this point there is no sanity clause.

A second strand of opposition comes from what I think of as the Bah Humbug caucus: fiscal scolds who routinely issue sententious warnings about rising debt. By rights, this caucus should find much to like in the Senate health bill, which the Congressional Budget Office says would reduce the deficit, and which — in the judgment of leading health economists — does far more to control costs than anyone has attempted in the past.

But, with few exceptions, the fiscal scolds have had nothing good to say about the bill. And in the process they have revealed that their alleged concern about deficits is, well, humbug. As Slate’s Daniel Gross says, what really motivates them is “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is receiving social insurance.”

Finally, there has been opposition from some progressives who are unhappy with the bill’s limitations. Some would settle for nothing less than a full, Medicare-type, single-payer system. Others had their hearts set on the creation of a public option to compete with private insurers. And there are complaints that the subsidies are inadequate, that many families will still have trouble paying for medical care.

Unlike the tea partiers and the humbuggers, disappointed progressives have valid complaints. But those complaints don’t add up to a reason to reject the bill. Yes, it’s a hackneyed phrase, but politics is the art of the possible.

The truth is that there isn’t a Congressional majority in favor of anything like single-payer. There is a narrow majority in favor of a plan with a moderately strong public option. The House has passed such a plan. But given the way the Senate rules work, it takes 60 votes to do almost anything. And that fact, combined with total Republican opposition, has placed sharp limits on what can be enacted.

There may not be a Congressional majority in favor of single payer, but there is (I think) a popular majority among all Americans in favor of it, or would be if they understood what it really is and were not misinformed by conservative owned media.

And that’s at the heart of what’s wrong in the U.S. government. It doesn’t act on the will of the majority. It’s not representative. This is one fact that pretty much all of these three groups agree on. Taxation without representation is alive and well.

The other point here is that progressives are painted as far left of center, when in fact they are more middle. With the extreme right moving into the spotlight in the Republican party it makes progressives perceived as being far right only because of a popular obtuse sentiment that these two groups have to be balanced.

Nothing could be farther from reality. Progressives don’t balance with right extremists any more than right balances with wrong. You might think that right does balance with wrong, and if so then you exemplify my point. If right balances with wrong then we should allow just enough crime to balance with the good that people do. If a hero saves a life then it should be OK to murder someone for balance.

And so for Obama and others to say we have to compromise and balance the political spectrum is completely absurd, irresponsible, and morally corrupt.

http://static.ning.com/socialnetworkmain/widgets/photo/slideshowplayer/slideshowplayer.swf?v=200912021300

Screenshots from the feature documentary film including over 60 cast members.

I interviewed over 60 real people in the streets of the greater Los Angeles area for this film. Nearly all of them were very articulate, intelligent, well informed thinkers that I like to think of as the documentary equivalent of A-list actors. All of them are in this slide show of screenshots from the film Got Healthcare?.

Cast list:

Lucia Brawley
President Barack Obama (archive footage)
Dr. Irma Strantz
Margaret
Cathy Roberts
Maureen Cruise RN
Karen McGee
June Caldwell
Jerry Caldwell
Henry Shaw
Greg Harrison
Dwight Williams
Elizabeth MacFarland
Maddie Gavel-Briggs
Steven Gibson
Melonie Magruder
Roxanne Morales
Patrick Briggs
Dr. Paul Papanek
Ray Gillis
Wesley Murphy
Dr. Jane George
Ellen Campbell
Sam Pullen
Tony Briggs
Patricia Harris
Bob James
Valerie
Evelyn Bennu
Susan Gregory
Aosta Dimos
Dr. Jo Olson
Betty Seidmon
Dr. Alice Chen
Secretary Kathleen Seibelus (archive footage)
Dr. Susie Baldwin
Dr. Casey Kirkhart
David Busch
Mr. and Mrs. Brian Foster
Stella Kim
Dr. Nikki Mihara
Michael Meloan
Jeff Goodwin
Joanna Joshua
Jasmin Romero
Gilbert Saucedo
Rhonda Hayter
Dr. Paul Song
Dr. Matt Hendrickson
Grigor Sarkisan
Shaylan
Carrie Bible
Valerie Bradford
Michael Moore (archive footage)
Sandra Cannon
Sheila Dvorak
Dr. Margaret Flowers (archive image only)
David Faubion
Matt Britt
Donna Green
Dr. Horace Williams
Joan Holtz
Tom Laichas