Friday, June 29, 2007


We saw Sicko tonight. I had heard that it is Michael Moore’s best film ever and I totally, emphatically have to agree. While I appreciate his usual techniques, with his stunts and gotcha moments and feigned shock, I also think from a political viewpoint that sometimes his humor gets in the way of his points. This time, however, he stands back and allows the humor and pathos and irony to arise from the situations themselves, not from any stunts he pulls. Well ok, there is one major stunt, and it is a good one—he takes a bunch of people, including a few sick 9/11 rescue workers, to Cuba for healthcare—but generally he stands back and let his subjects make his points for him.

He quickly introduces the premise that it’s not just the uninsured who are desperate for healthcare in the US; even the insured in this country are getting dangerously substandard care. He then slowly builds a case that a healthcare system that is set up to profit the most by providing less and less care is designed to and thus doomed to screw over its patients. There were so many moving moments, from the opening sequences where a man without insurance sews up a large cut on his leg and another man explains how he cut off the tips of 2 fingers but could only afford to reattach one, to scenes of an older couple, insured yet still bankrupted by healthcare costs, moving in with their daughter, to a mother describing how her sick toddler died after being taken to an out-of-network hospital that refused to treat her, to a woman describing how her husband was denied a bone marrow transplant and died. There are enough of these stories that I began to cringe every time an older home video showed up on the screen; it meant we were going to hear another story about someone else killed by bureaucracy.

In between these stories Moore visited Canada, England, and France to show how socialized medicine functions in those countries. HINT: We don’t see the nightmarish waits and substandard care that our HMOs tell us exist. The comparison becomes painful. Moore gives us stats on how our system now ranks 37th in the world, how we are the only Western nation without subsidized healthcare for all people, how we have the infant mortality rate of a third world nation, how profits for healthcare companies and drug companies keep soaring while treatments gets worse and worse.

Moore questions why socialized medicine is seen as such a boogeyman in this country while socialized education, libraries, firefighters and police departments are seen as good things. (The looming hammer and sickle at this point provide some of the funniest moments.) Best of all though is the way that he relates socialized medicine to values that are in the American ethos, and connects our healthcare system to our entire way of life—our political passivity, our debt, and our fear. Near the end he has quick clips of people in various circumstance talking about how neighbors pull together to help each other (we see a community searching for a lost child, a woman taking meals to shut-ins, men rebuilding a house) and compares this to other countries where healthcare is included in that sort of sentiment. It seems like a nonpartisan sentiment to me, to want good healthcare for every one of my fellow Americans, and for even for non-Americans who wander in too (the scenes where Canadians talk about their experiences getting sick or injured in this country, and discuss how they will not come here without buying special insurance, should be painful to anyone who wants to be proud of this country). I think this sentiment should be nonpartisan, but I am sure after I post this and travel around the blogs reading reviews, that I will see plenty of those if-you-think-France-is-so-great-why-don’t-you-move-there and everything-Michael-Moore-says-is-fiction and if-we-socialze-medicine-they’ll-come-for-our-entire-way-of-life-next posts from people who make this a partisan issue.

And my God, if it has to be partisan, I am glad I am on the side that votes for not having children and adults die because they have no insurance, or because they have insurance, but they are at the wrong hospital, or they have insurance, but insurance company reps have quotas for how many claims they are supposed to deny, in short, the side that votes for LIFE.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Small, out of date bragging

Last month, for the first and probably last time ever, I landed a diary on the recommended list on dailykos. That was pretty cool.

Liberal media my a**

PBS has hired Frank Luntz, a partisan hack who has been previously reprimanded for unscientific manipulation of polls, to comment on tomorrow's Democratic debate. Details and links to emails if ya wanna protest:

John Edwards party tonight

This is where I’m going tonight.
It was a close call between John Edwards and Asia, but Edwards finally beat out the chance to hear "Heat of the Moment” live.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Activism, politicking, backslapping

Just pasting in from email:

The latest shindig for them what has money to toss at Tim Kaine's PAC:

Please Join Moving Virginia Forward In Honoring Tim Kaine
And Celebrating the Sounds and Tastes of Virginia

The Sounds and Tastes Celebration Gala will be held on
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 7 p.m.
At the Jefferson Hotel
In Richmond, Virginia
Valet parking will be available.
Business attire is appropriate.
Sponsors ($5,000) receive 2 tickets to the VIP reception at 6pm and 2 tickets to the General reception.
Friends ($1,000) receive 1 ticket to the VIP reception at 6 p.m. and 1 ticket to the General Reception.
Democratic Activists ($125) receive 1 ticket to attend the General Reception.

And 2 volunteer opportunities with Planned Parenthood:

Sex Education and Community Outreach Training
Wednesday, July 11, 6:00-8:00 pm3415 Floyd Avenue, Richmond
Throughout the summer, volunteers will attend festivals and community events like the Watermelon Festival and the 17th St Farmers Market to help educate Richmond about our REAL Sex Ed Saves Lives Campaign. Topics covered at the training include: Planned Parenthood's services, How to talk the pro-choice talk, and much more information about our sex ed campaign. Even if you don't feel comfortable approaching strangers, there are many other ways you can be involved. Registrants for the training are asked to bring $7 to purchase a Protect Women's Health t-shirt. Pizza and drinks will be provided.

Volunteer Night of Action
Thursday, July 12, 6:00-7:30 pm
3415 Floyd Avenue, Richmond
As volunteers help identify tons of new Planned Parenthood supporters, those supporters are asked to sign a postcard to their legislator. As we collect hundreds of postcards from Richmonders who support REAL Sex Ed, we need your help to prepare them to send to local officials. Food and drinks will be provided, as well as good friends and fun. No experience necessary!

Why I love Save Richmond dot com

It seems that surface knowledge of the boondoggle that is the Virginia Center for Performing Arts has reached the ears of even the Richmond Citizenry that doesn’t pay attention at all, some of whom keep breathlessly keep feeding me details that I read about two years ago on Save Richmond.

It seems that the Times-Dispatch has the same problem with news lag.

In case you aren’t keeping up, the project is still a disaster, sucking money from the public coffers, lurching around with no accountability to the taxpayers and no reference to the art community it is supposed to be supporting.

If you can stand the pain, take Save Richmond’s EZ 2 Love Our City Quiz.
This is my favorite question:

5. The Virginia Performing Arts Foundation’s contract with its longstanding consultant, AMS Planning & Research, is up for renewal this summer. Which of the following is NOT an accomplishment of this consulting firm?

A. Advised and wrote the original plan for Miami’s Carnival Performing Arts Center, which has now gone $250 million over budget, with monthly costs bloating from an original estimate of $306,000 to more than $616,000.
B. Advised the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, which opened in an unfinished state, and with cost overruns that contributed to a $30 million debt.
C. Claimed that the shows presented at University of Richmond’s Modlin Center would have no effect on Richmond’s arts center project because the Modlin was “at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.”
D. Hired Michelle Walter to advise the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation not long after she resigned as the Chief Operating Officer of the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation.
E. Still clears $10,000 a month from the Richmond project.
F. All of these are AMS accomplishments.

(The answer is F, but you knew that, didn’t you?)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Trying to get up to speed…

I’m trying to find all my old favorite links, and noticing that in addition to the recent primary (I’ll post about that soon) there seems to be quite a bit going on in Richmond this week.

For starters, Books on Wheels has a Mo'Book Mo'Bike Mobile. A project springing from Chop Suey Books, it is “a traveling ‘library’ and bike repair shop.”

We have created an organization called Books on Wheels and are attempting to give away as many books, bike parts, and bike repairs that we can. Basically, we will hold bi-monthly events throughout Richmond at which we will park the bus and welcome anyone to bring us their bicycle for repairs, tune-ups, or inspections. This service will be free, and while they are waiting they are encouraged to go through a selection of books which they can take for free. This is an entirely non-profit venture, one which we hope will spread the love of reading and the accessibility of books, encourage alternative forms of transportation, and share skills in bike maintenance and up-keep.

And according to Diversity Thrift’s website,

The GAY COMMUNITY CENTER OF RICHMOND'S 12,000 square foot DIVERSITY EVENT AND BINGO HALL is scheduled to open on Sunday, July 1st

And Style Weekly has an internal memo from the Richmond Police that suggests there are arrest quotas (which the department calls “goals”) for, in this example, trespassing in Gilpin court.

And Next Saturday (June 23rd) is both the 5th annual Richmond Vegetarian Festival (Noon to 6pm, Azalea Gardens at Bryan Park) and Juneteenth.

Signs of life

When I turned this blog into a clean slate, I really didn’t know if I would ever start it up again. The internet is full of people sounding off about politics; when I quit writing in Jan 06 it seemed that all of a sudden were so many Richmond blogs doing what I was doing that I knew one more or less wouldn’t make that much difference.

Last summer there was a frog in our yard who used to sit under our downspouts and holler; he made quite the echo chamber of it and seemed very impressed with himself. Some days when I blogged, I felt like that frog, only maybe without his charm. So after I hadn’t posted for a few months and knew I wouldn’t come back for a while I just wiped the thing clean (there’s something so sad about an out-of-date blog). Deleted it and saved nothing. Felt good. Didn’t really miss it for a long time. At first I was too busy dealing with various family crises, then on a more life-affirming note, I decided it was damn well time I finished my dissertation. And I finished, and settled this and that. And still, with so much settled, I didn’t start writing again. I wondered about adding the point of adding more echoes.

What makes me write again is that recently Vance said he sorta missed my blog.

I find that sweet and funny. I mean, being that we’re married and live together and whatnot, he hears all my political opinions, at length, at all hours, so I am not sure what he has missed. But that’s the little push I needed. So here I go again.

NOW I wish I had saved all my old links...