Friday, 29 June 2007

Debbie Schlussel's Review of SiCKO I found abdiel's review of Schlussel's review of Live Free, Die Hard via Sadly, No! (Just so you know who I blame.) When I clicked over to Schlussel's site, I noticed his favorite solecism ("It's hard to believe this third sequel to 1988's Die Hard is the fourth in a series") wasn't there. I assumed he'd juiced the stupid for effect, not that she'd edited it after he brought it to her attention. Diligent procrastinator that I am, I read some of her other movie reviews and, needless to say, I can state with certainty that she edited it after he brought it to her attention. Consider her review of SiCKO. She first argues that "HMOs are ... socialized medicine." (I'm no proponent of E-Prime, but her copular slaughter almost convinces me to tack about.) This isn't a good argument, but it has the benefit of being an arguable one. The same can't be said of this: We already have the unworkable system of bad medicine that Moore wants. SiCKO is many things, but there's one thing it isn't: a defense of the status quo. HMOs may be (but really aren't) a form of socialized medicine. That's a (debatable, but wildly incorrect) fact. The claim that "Moore wants the unworkable system of bad medicine we already have" leaves me at a loss, so I'll quote Dorothy Parker: There are times when images blow to fluff, and comparisons stiffen and shrivel. Such an occasion is surely at hand when one is confronted by Dreiser's latest museum piece, Dawn. One can but revise a none-too-hot dialectic of childhood; ask, in rhetorical aggressiveness, "What writes worse than a Theodore Dreiser?"—loudly crow the answer, "Two Theodore Dreisers"; and, according to temperament, rejoice at the merciful absurdity of the conception, or shudder away from the thought. Sadly, the comments to her review leave no room for rejoicing. Shuddering is another story entirely. Moving on: The saddest spectacle in contemporary politics is not, as is often argued, to be caught unawares in one's own hypocrisy. No, the saddest spectacle is to be caught unawares in one's hypocrisy immediately after dismissing someone else for theirs. Case in point: Schlussel anecdotally berates Moore for this moment of self-deprecation: You're right. What can I say? I'm a hypocrite. Who says I'm consistent? She then notes that "personal anecdotes by [sic] former Michael Moore employees [concerning the] lack of appropriate benefits and healthcare" show that his self-deprecation cuts quicker to the truth than he intended. Those anecdotes bear witness to Moore's great lie. He is a hypocrite who wants Americans to do as he says, not as he does. Anecdotes like the one which opens her essay and the ones related by disgruntled employees speak hard truths to even the most jaded powers. They are completely different from those Moore employs in his coverage of Canadian healthcare: Moore shows us the short waiting time and zero cost of healthcare for his friends and relatives in Canada, just a quick drive...
The Real Victim in the Jena Six Case: David Duke I've been to Jena. It's an hour north of Bunkie, where I road four-wheelers with anti-semites; and an hour west of Kingston, Mississippi, where I'll some day own land once tilled by slaves.* For the past few weeks, I wanted to write about the Jena Six, but didn't know what to say. How many ways can a person not express surprise?** (Besides, Kevin's mensch-work assuaged my compulsion to address the issue, as through him I found Sylvia, Vox, and Elle.) This isn't to say I haven't been reading and researching. I have. Yesterday, at a popular online forum to which I won't link, I found David Duke complaining about media coverage of the case. He quotes this (from an article no longer online): Still others, however, acknowledge troubling racial undercurrents in a town where 16 years ago white voters cast most of their ballots for David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who ran for Louisiana governor. Then complains: Well that proves the White folks of Jena must be a really bad bunch. They voted for me about 75 percent. This is one more biased article meant to instill White guilt and shame. In Jena, Blacks a quite small minority commit most of the crimes and many of them are quite beastly, but Whites are the ones painted as devils here! When I talk about the South to people whose experience of racism is almost wholly institutional, they accuse me of trying to change the subject.** Not the case. Only 25 percent of the white population didn't vote for an outspoken white supremacist. This bears repeating with thunder: Only 25 percent of the white population didn't vote for an outspoken white supremacist. Let me put this another way: in the 2004 election, La Salle Parish (of which Jena is the seat) voted overwhelmingly for Bush, to the tune of a 80-20 margin. In the 2003 gubernatorial election, however, Democratic candidate Kathleen Blanco took La Salle by a 60-40 margin over her Republican opponent. Remarkable, no? Not really. This was her opponent: Most of the time, you see his first name in quotation marks, lest anyone forget "Bobby" Jindal's first name is Piyush. However, I will agree with Duke on one thing: the AP article on Mychal Bell's conviction stating that he was found guilty by "an all-white jury" suggests some sort of judicial misconduct. That's not entirely fair. An all-white jury couldn't be avoided: no blacks answered the summons for jury duty. Moreover, given that Jena is 85 percent white (as is La Salle Parish, if they chose to expand the jury pool), it's statistically unlikely a black person would be chosen. Of course, the history of systematic disenfranchisement (only registered voters are summoned) and the whole jury-of-your-peers thing merit consideration ... * Ironically, this land was first settled by immigrants from New Jersey. (That's right: those Swayzes.) It took three centuries, but that land will eventually be back in good Jersey hands. The North shall rise again. **...

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