Sunday, July 1, 2007

'What can I do?' - SiCKO

SICKO, A Must See

Like him or not, Michael Moore has created a film that everyone can relate to and should take the time to go see. Sicko is a movie that should both shock and anger most Americans. I know that the great majority of people care more about Paris Hilton's imprisonment (Michael Moore was actually 'bumped' from Larry King Live the other night in favor of La Hilton!) or Lindsay Lohan's crash and burn, but this movie tells a story that affects everybody: health care. My advice to anyone who might read this is to just go and see it!

The movie is produced in classic Michael Moore style, combining heartbreaking, true life stories with snippets of pertinent, informative, and sometimes humorous sound bites. The movie opens with the story of a uninsured man who had to choose between repairing his middle finger ($60,000) or his ring finger ($12,000), which had been severed in a table-saw accident. Being a hopeless romantic, he chose the less expensive ring finger. After another couple of similarly tragic tales, Moore informs us that although these stories are sad, the movie is not about them. The purpose of the movie is to highlight not the 45 million or so without access to the system, but the rest of us who believe that we're protected from any sort of major health problem because we have insurance.

Here are some eye-opening highlights that scream for attention and action:

- Countless stories of unnecessary deaths resulting from beaurocratic red tape and denial of services.

- The premise that people who work for insurance companies are rewarded with bonuses and promotions based on the number of denials for treatments they issue. He showcases the 1987 congressional testimony of Linda Peeno, a physician: “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 millions and millions of dollars contributed by pharmaceutical companies, HMO's, physicians and other health care professionals to elected officials in our government. What for? Guess!

- The brainwashing of Americans into believing that socialized anything would lead to communism. You know, that communism, the evil of our times. At the same time, Moore points out that we already have socialized programs (fire departments, library systems, schools...even the post office), yet we've been led to believe that socialized health care is somehow evil.

- Moore takes us on visits to three countries: Canada, Great Britain, and France. All three countries have one form or another of universal health care. What we see in these episodes is quite unbelieveable to any American: cheap drugs, quality health care, incentives (to medical professionals in Britain) for prevention, free health care, doctors (in France) who are on call all night being dispatched around town to people in need of care (did I mention, it's free!), and countless other mouthwateringtoAmericans accounts.

Of course, Michael Moore can be somewhat of an exaggerator. He's often been accused of skewing facts to fit his views. That's part of his purpose! Sometimes you have to experience the extreme to get somewhere in the middle and that's what he does. I'm sure things in these countries are as perfectly rosy as Moore depicts them to be. Yet still what they've got is better than what we've got, that's for sure. The US ranks 37th out of 191 countries right behind Costa Rica. (All three countries in the film are ranked ahead of us, too. France is 1st. World Health Report, 2000.) Even Cuba, site of the most controversial footage in the movie, ranks just below us, at number 39.

For sure, everyone needs to see this movie. Take your mind off Brittney Spears for two hours and wake up!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Capitalism Sucks II

Okay, Bank of America is off the shit list. For now! After a second email (along with a threat to close out my account), they refunded my $39 late fee. And I'm not sure about the rate, though. We'll see. They said that this was a one-time 'courtesy' on their part. Don't worry. I learned my lesson. If you make the due date on a weekend, pay it by Friday.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Capitalism Sucks!

Growing up and going to school in these United States I was always taught that a capitalistic "Free Market" Society was the best way to go. The economic ideals of socialism and even communism were always regarded as 'bad' or 'evil'.

Now I'm no economist (far from it), but the way I see it capitalism sucks! At least today's incarnation of it. It seems to me that corporations get bigger and bigger and it is they, not 'the people' who rule the roost. Now I've had my run-ins with various corporations over the years, and I even worked for Citigroup, one of the largest financial institutions in the world, and as time goes on I'm beginning to realize that you cannot fight a corporation anymore. Even when you feel like you're in the right.

I'm currently having a problem I'd like to share here. I've had a credit card with another huge financial conglomerate, Bank of America, and l pay it as I pay most of my bills, through online banking. With Bank of America, I go directly to their website and process the payment there.

It just so happens that last month's bill was due on February 11th, a Sunday. I logged in on Saturday the 10th and paid my bill as I always do. Lo and behold I get a message, "Payment must be on a business day." I was forced to put the 12th (Monday) as the payment date.

No, mind you, the payment amount that was due was a whopping $17. I just got my new statement and BAM, a $39 late fee and loss of my 'promotional interest rate.' I immediately sent a message to customer service and guess what? I was basically told that "A late fee is assessed to an account any time the minimum scheduled payment does not post to the credit card account by the due date." No shit! Then I was given a laundry list of ways to make my payment like I'm some sort of idiot or something.

Like I said, I worked for Citibank for over 13 years. I know that making refunds, no matter how valid or invalid the charges were was "giving money away." I ended up leaving this career largely because of this type of attitude towards customers and fees. Bank of America is the same. By refunding my $39 and returning my rate to the original promotional rate, they're just giving money away. After all, it's not their fault they made the payment due on a Sunday, encouraged me all along to use their online banking, and then wouldn't accept my payment the day before it was due. Fuck them!

Am I wrong?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Republican Hypocrites Use Filibuster to Stop Debate


"Just give 'em an 'up or down' vote."

Threats of invoking the 'nuclear" option.

These are just some of the views of the Republican Congressional majority over the last six or so years about attempts by their counterparts in the Democratic minority to use Senate filibuster rules to block votes on highly suspect judicial nominees.

The Nuclear Option

May 9, 2005

As early as this week, a “nuclear option” could be invoked to remove the 200-year-old tradition of the Senate filibuster, the tool that empowers 41 or more senators to prevent a narrow majority from abusing its power. The filibuster is one of the only ways to encourage genuine bipartisan cooperation and compromise on important issues that come before the Senate. The nuclear option is currently being considered by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and being pushed by the Religious Right, who would like to confirm President Bush’s judicial nominees.

(Center for American Progress, )

Indeed, this was just two short years ago. Thankfully, the nuclear option never came to pass, as Republicans eventually got Roberts and Alito appointed to the Supreme Court. However, all of the ranting and raving that went on on the part of the Republicans has surely been forgotten. As the new Democratic majority has taken over and tried to open up debate on the Iraq issue (and many other topics neglected by the Republican Congress), many Senate Republicans, led by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell have filibustered debate on a non-binding resolution expressing disagreement over Bush's plan for sending more troops into Iraq. (By the way, many of them are already there!)

Now, once again the bill is non-binding...doesn't mean anything except to show some sort of unified stance by one coequal (?) branch of government over another, overreaching branch of government. In the four years this war has raged on, it seems that these questions, this dutiful oversight on the part of Congress, has not taken place at all. The President has had carte blanche to do pretty much whatever he's wanted to do, over the objections of many of the citizens of this country.

These tactics so decried by the Republicans over and over again during their tenure as majority party are now embraced by them to stop debate on "just talking about it." What a bunch of hypocrites! I've got a message for you idiots: WE'RE ALL AMERICANS! WHAT'S IMPORTANT HERE IS THE WELFARE OF OUR STATE, NOT WHICH TEAM WINS!

See corresponding story at Yahoo:;_ylt=AkJwBpUxmUtFE1kpLBeBPU_MWM0F

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hit and Run Drivers: The Lowest of the Low

My biggest rant has to do with the real terrorism out there: on America's roads. There are a lot of crazy and terrifying things going on out there, every minute of every day. This rant covers a lot of mini-rants, to which I'll post in the coming weeks and months.

For now, however, I want to share a story I read in my local paper this morning (Newsday, Long Island). It's about how this 18 yo moron and his equally moronic 18 yo girlfriend 'murdered' a 19 yo female student with mom and dad's $35K Nissan Armada (what the hell is an 18 yo doing driving around in a thirty-five thousand dollar tank, anyway!). The incident occured at the University of Connecticut on January 19th and the bastards were just caught yesterday, February the 15th.

It seems the kids were leaving a party at which, ugh, ALCOHOL was served (and consumed by the 18 year old driver of the Armada, et al). According to affadavits given, after leaving the party, one of the driver's friends dozing in the back seat "heard a loud smack and the car was jolted as if it was going through a speed bump." After some choice words by the driver, the girlfriend told him to "Go, just go..."

So the bastards went home and crashed, leaving the poor victim to lay in the street with massive trauma (she died two days later!). Leaving the scene was bad enough, but the tots let their secret carry on as news about the death and subsequent search began to arise. Allegations exist based on the affadavits that the boy driver's parents drove their Mercedes up to his college in upstate NY and drove the tank back down to Long Island to rid the vehicle of any incriminating damage.

Now again, these are allegations and not proven, but if this is all true, the boy, the girlfriend, and the parents should all be locked up for life. Their indifference and selfishness in this case deserves the ultimate sentence. I think hit and run drivers are the lowest of the low. I'll bet that nine times out of ten, they 'run' because they were under some kind of influence and are too selfish to take responsibility for the horror they created.

The full story can be seen at Newsday's website:,0,3644865.story?coll=ny-top-headlines

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith's Death

Anyone who's got a television or radio can attest to the virtual non-stop coverage of the death of our beloved wannabe starlet, Anna Nicole Smith. Now don't get me wrong, I feel for the tragedy that has befallen her, her son, and her young motherless daughter. The whole story is sad. However, does it warrant the attention it has gotten and continues to get? Aren't there more important things to cover that are newsworthy?

"Leave it to a crotchety old man on CNN to sum up how 95% of American news reporters felt last week. There's about 353 more important stories yet most channels had round the clock coverage on Anna Nicole Smith's death. I guess I can understand CNN and MSNBC, but when the Weather Channel had a roundtable discussion, that went going overboard." (Celebslam - )

Nah, I don't think there's enough coverage. More Anna Nicole!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

It's All About Perception!

Last year, I was finishing up my studies at SUNY Stony Brook with my Master's Project Seminar (more commonly referred to as a Master's Thesis). I had expected to have to write about my profession (teaching) which would have been boring for me, but as I was in a Liberal Arts program, I was told that I could write about anything that interested me. Well, ever since the presidential election of 2000, I've been somewhat scrutinous of the administration and how I felt people are persuaded into forming opinions based on sensationalism and partisanship as portrayed through media outlets.

So I began some intense, thorough research on the media and how it affects people's perceptions of the world. I think Americans take for granted that the news is the news and accept what they hear and read at face value. What many people don't realize is that what and how we digest news is decided upon by fewer and fewer people, many of whom share in the shared agendas.

My project, entitled "What Happened to the News?", got great reviews from both my professor and fellow students. It was entered into a competition for best written project seminar. (I have yet to know how it fared!) The process of writing this essay angered me and got me to thinking of all the crap out there that goes on in the world and how the media shapes what we see and what we don't see.

What I hope to do here is compile a list of my rants. Things that really bug me. The solution to staying informed, as proposed in my thesis, was to advise people to go out and get their news from various sources, not to just listen or read and accept what is given to them as important. The blogosphere is a great place to hear and share ideas about anything out there. So, I hope some of what I say here resonates. It is my attempt at news based on what I think is a unique perspective.

I appreciate any commentary you might want to share.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


As the title of this blog suggests, I will be using this space to share some thoughts on this crazy world we live in. I've always thought of myself as an optimist, but over the past several years, by optimism has dwindled greatly.

The way I see it, this world is majorly screwed up. In my daily travails, I encounter things that truly irk me, things that make this life so majorly fucked up! So naturally I've developed peeves, rants as you will, concerning many a topic. The world is full of hypocrisy. People are generally selfish! The government is so full of bureaucratic bull that it doesn't do its' job. There's so much bullshit out there that something's got to be done!

As I move along in this space and develop my ideas, I hope that some of you out there see things as I see them and post your own responses or thoughts about what I say. Hopefully we can begin a dialog that will raise awareness and move in a good direction.