Huff and Puff

As a small consumer rights organization that works on issues of corporate accountability and access to the courts, it's not always easy to command attention. That's why we usually say "thank you" - even when right-wing "think tanks" or corporate trade associations point out our work. And even when they're a little cuckoo about it.

The Manhattan Institute, an organization with a budget about 18, 20 times the size of ours, talks about us a lot. We're always very polite with our shout outs, or at least light and entertaining about it, even when they hate on us.

I recently wrote a satirical blog post here about one of their studies. It must have cost them lots of time and money to write this thing given the wowzer reaction to my blog post! (here, here)

Their study (I admit I called it "trashy") basically claims that trial lawyers - the kind who might represent you and your family should you be screwed by your insurance company - and consumer groups like us, aren't really fighting for the average guy. Rather, Corporate America and their lobbyists are. But since we're controlling the government, lawmakers refuse to do the "right thing," i.e., wiping out injured people's legal rights and immunizing corporate wrongdoers (that is, more than they already have).

One the one hand, some of their response (like their initial study) seems kinda creepy, like when they go in extreme detail arguing that it's just fine when women who have been drugged and raped by co-workers for a military contractor, or are victims of other violations, have no access to the civil courts. (I think they really hate this John Stewart piece.)

But the rest was, well, sad. In some ways, I wished I lived in their delusional world. That way, I wouldn't have to think about actual problems like record unemployment, (which may receive a little help from a bi-partisan Senate bill written by Sen. Harry Reid), an appalling health insurance situation (90 million uninsured or underinsured), record numbers of foreclosures, two wars that have now killed over 5,000 Americans, a popular car manufacturer that may have knowingly risked your family's life to boost its profits, record corporate lobbying on top of the Citizens United decision. (Sorry, didn't mean to be such downer.)

But I'm a sympathetic person, and I thought, there must really be something wrong with these people. They live in a world possessed by a fear that transcends all logic. And one, I might add, without a sense of humor. (After all, when I said, "these kinds of organizations exist to finally give voice to the real victims in life -- the mom and pop tobacco companies, gasoline conglomerates, and insurance providers, for whom earning a bajillion dollars a year is not what it used to be," that's supposed to be funny!)

I wondered where this pathological fear came from. How did it happen? So I called my comedy writer friend, Ann, because after all, who is better qualified to psychoanalyze a situation than a comedy writer. (In the 1990s, Ann and I worked together on Michael Moore's very funny show TV Nation, on which I also worked with Huff Post founding editor Roy Sekoff.)

We decided that whatever childhood experiences normal people have, they just had something else. As small boys (seems they are mostly boys), they were scared in a different way than normal people. Here's how I think it happened.

We're all familiar with childhood fairly tales, like Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. Well, their parents must have read them a different version - repeatedly. Like for example, their Little Red Riding Hood probably went: "'My, what big teeth you have!' To which the trial lawyer replied, 'The better to eat you with,' and swallowed her whole."

Or perhaps Three Little Pigs went:

Consumer advocate: "Little pig, little pig, let me come in."

Little Pig: "No, no, by the hair of my chiny chin chin."

Consumer advocate: "Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in."

They probably got an edited version of the Wizard of Oz, too, the one where one of us scares Dorothy and the others instead of the Wicked Witch: "Well, the last to go will see the first three go before her. Hahaha. And her mangy little dog, too."

No wonder they're scared - I'd be scared of us too!

So I've changed my mind about the guy who launched this Shock and Awe offensive against me. I think all these neo-con "think tank" guys deserve our sympathy. Let's help them return from Bizarro World. We have a sense of humor over here. I know they'll like it better!

And in case you doubt my sincerity, I have a history of trying to "give to those who take." As we said on TV Nation, it's time to reach out and help those less fortunate - the poor, the homeless - and the rich. Enjoy!