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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review of The Blind Side


That’s about all I can say about The Blind Side. It was a cute movie.

Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a large black teenager from a poor background with essentially no family support, is adopted by a rich, white family. The domineering mother figure, Leigh Anne Touhy (Sandra Bullock), cuts through all of the usual bureaucracy and gets him an education that allows him to go to college on a football scholarship.

If it wasn’t a true story, it probably would never have been made into a movie.

The film had a very Disney-esk feel to it, touching on but never really going too far into the pitfalls such a situation might encounter. But it didn’t try to be overly dramatic to its credit. It wasn’t hard to guess that the relationship would be seriously questioned at some point, and the NCAA provided the perfect villain.

No doubt, literary license was taken in the making of the film. The role of Michael’s adopted little brother in the recruiting process was good for some laughs, but a bit intrusive if it was depicted accurately. The final “show down” scene with the friends he grew up with has a moment where Michael avoids being shot in the head by almost blindly (no pun intended) knocking the gun away. Something about it came off almost as an ill-advised moment of slapstick, which certainly wasn’t the intent.

I certainly don’t understand what the so-called Oscar buzz was all about, for the film or Bullock. Then again, the film was ions better than Avatar, and I haven’t seen the other nominees or the winner in The Hurt Locker.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Health Care Bringing Out the Worst in Americans

Saying something original about the new Health Care Reform legislation may already be impossible for the so-called experts, and it certainly isn’t going to happen here. The closest I could come would be to acknowledge that I know very little about the new law, which I suspect is true of 99% of the population currently losing its collective mind.

Two years ago I would have shrugged my shoulders if I was asked if I really cared about my party affiliation. Quite frankly, I did not. But the insane response that has been generated by the Republicans to the new health care legislation, and quite frankly since the election of our first black president, has me relieved to have changed to Democrat shortly after the last election. Listening to some of the equally absurd reactions to health care of people from my new party, however, keeps me from celebrating.

People continue to hear sound bites, accept them as gospel truths, and are literally ready to commit felonies by threatening government representatives. This is political debate? This is how we react to democracy when we don’t get our way?

Racism is no doubt the underlying factor in this “debate” on both sides of the issue. People who rather clearly have never even voted before Barack Obama ran for president are suddenly marching in rallies to support him or to tell the world how he’s following in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler.

One individual said to me via Facebook, “I'll bet you that the gov't will eventually require abortions for babies with disabilities to avoid the costs.” I only wish this was an extreme example of the stupidity being spouted by critics of health care reform, but it’s pretty much par for the course. The same genius thinks global warming is a myth.

I saw another comment from a woman utterly convinced that she’ll no longer be able to take her son to the doctor of her choice, echoing the thoughts of many. Yet, if this commonly held belief had a shred of validity, the clause spelling out how the government was going to dictate which doctors people could see would be all over every Republican’s website. There’s simply been no basis for these types of assertions unless we’re to believe these people who took an interest in politics yesterday are suddenly Washington insiders. In fact, the majority of criticism of the new law seems to be based on the logic of what is “going to” happen as opposed to what actually became law.

Everybody with a keyboard is suddenly a constitutional scholar, or historian, or has the ability to see the future. The day after the bill was passed Facebook was filled with supposedly famous quotes. My favorite read, “Man is not free unless government is limited,” attributed to Ronald Reagan.

Great sound bite, no doubt. And if we’d all like to agree that the law of Darwin now rules the land, we can go with it. Just give me some time to gas up the tank.

Otherwise, what happens when Man is free to discriminate against others? I have been turned down for health care even though I’ve never had significant health issues because I have cerebral palsy. Is that ok? How about when employers use health care premiums as one more excuse not to hire people with disabilities?

The list, of course, goes on and on. To many, the answers to these questions actually seem to be “yes.” They’re generally the same people suddenly prattling on about the value of less government, which suits elitists who were lucky enough to be born white, able-bodied males.

Another popular “Obama is evil” argument is the outrage that the law eventually requires people to buy health insurance. Gasp! He’s taking our freedom, that socialist. Of course, none of these people think it’s taking away rights to require auto insurance. Why is that? Because it’s a ludicrous argument.

Obviously, I support the goal of the law and the idea that something needed to be done to begin cleaning up what we call a health care system in this country. That said, I don’t know if this was the absolute right way to accomplish the goal of making sure everyone has health insurance. I also feel confident that no one else knows at the moment either, certainly not the typical citizen. I would also point out that even supporters of the new legislation have said that it’s a first step to fixing a broken system.

However, I do know that this country needs to learn to discuss issues without the political spin, and damn soon. After the bill was passed, prominent conservative David Frum said, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we're discovering we work for Fox. And this balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.” Yet, this condemnation of the fraudulent news outlet seems to have gone by with little more than a mention from legitimate news sources and doesn’t seem to have impacted Fox devotees at all. In fact, Frum didn’t even seem to be condemning the notion that Republicans thought they ran a news organization that purports to be independent.

My understanding is that Frum’s own party turned against him for arguing with the idea of attempting to defeat President Obama’s health care reform instead of negotiating with Democrats to change the bill more to their liking. They wanted it to be his “waterloo.”

Maybe if providing health care as a right instead of a privilege had been their priority, we’d all be even better off. And maybe people like this could get a clue:

(Note: the above video has been marked private, and therefore unwatchable, at least once already. In case it “disappears” again, it depicts protesters against the bill mocking a man said to have Parkinson's. His support of health care is equated to a handout.)

The morons threatening Republican leaders are no better. I posted the below to quote the “genius” you can hear 40 seconds into the video:

And I think we can all agree these idiots are especially scary: