Would Obamacare Have Prevented Breaking Bad’s Walter White from Becoming Heisenberg?

One of my esteemed readers has left an astute and interesting hypothetical in the comments section of another post. If Walter White, whose cancer diagnosis was the catalyst to turn into a meth cook, had free health care, would he have, um, broken bad?

This idea – the medical costs made him do it – has been bouncing around, including in this widely circulated cartoon by Christopher Keelty.

So, what about it? Would socialized medicine have prevented Heisenberg? Would it have saved Jesse from deep soul torment (the kind that brings most of us to religion), Brock from ricin poisoning and whatever the heck happened to Hank and Gomez in that interrupted shootout last episode?

Could it be that easy?

Let’s break it down.

Walter White was a long term high school chemistry teacher in New Mexico*. Public school teachers, God bless ‘em, have some of the sweetest benefits in the country, including retirement, long term disability, and a stellar health care plan. New Mexico is no exception. Seriously, we should all be so lucky as to have such benefits. The private sector is not nearly so generous. (And, we all know, pensions and benefits for public employees is one of the things bankrupt states are fighting over to try to balance the books.)

So as much as anyone is in life, Walt was set with the best medical care money could buy.

As an aside, the same would be true for his D.E.A. agent brother-in-law. His medical care would cover treatment for the bullet injury to the leg of Ole Hank (may he rest in peace if the shootout didn’t end well). The show dealt with this relatively fairly, because his wife Marie wanted different, more expensive treatment than what the insurance provided.

Guess what, guys?

That happens under socialized health care. Like, a lot. The wealthy buy their way out of the system and into better care. Ask anyone from England.

So Obamacare wouldn’t have helped Hank either.

In fairness to the show, it wasn’t so much the medical bills that lured Walt into a life of crime. It was the desire to leave his family financially secure.

That’s a different issue than medical bills, isn’t it? One that Universal Healthcare couldn’t fix.

But it’s not unfixable. This is exactly why responsible people buy life insurance. If you roll the dice and don’t have that protection, that’s on you.

Also, that’s why responsible mothers like Skyler keep their accountancy skills up to date and perhaps keep their tabs on jobs. What was Skyler? Incompetent? Helpless?

We all know now she’s not. She’s pretty ruthless, truth be told. In fact, she would have been better off if Walt had died an honorable cancer death. At least she wouldn’t be looking at serious prison time.

The bottom line is that it was Walt’s pride, not his access to medical care, that led him down the road to perdition.

Which makes for a great, rich, deep story.

Just don’t try to base health care policy on it, m’kay?


*Like an idiot, I said in my first version of this post that the show was set in Arizona when anyone with half a brain knows it’s New Mexico. The error has been corrected. I blame Miley.

Read More:

Breaking Bad Season 6 Episode 1: Blood Money.

Breaking Bad Season 6 Episode 2: Buried

Breaking Bad Season 6 Episode 3: Confessions

Breaking Bad Season 6 Episode 4: Rabid Dog

Vote on how the series should end here.

Iran’s Oscar Conundrum

Howard Gensler over at the Philidephia Daily News has a brief but fascinating piece on Iran’s conundrum about receiving an Oscar for “A Separation:”




On the one hand, the country wanted to boast about how its film, “The Separation,” beat out the Israeli film “Footnote.”

(You may take out our nuclear program but we have an Oscar, so there!)

On the other hand, bragging about the Oscar would give validity to the importance of Western influences.

He goes on to talk about how the film has done well…in Israel. Two countries teetering close to war find common humanity at the movies.

Behold the power of free speech and art. It opens up conversations that politicians never can.

In the same vein, check out “This is Not a Film,” a documentary that was smuggled out of Iran on a flash drive hidden in a birthday cake. Forget Melies of “Hugo,” this is a filmmaker banned from creating his art for “propaganda against the regime.”

Here’s to more Iranian truth telling by making movies in the future.

Act of Valor Review: A Warrior Manifesto that Rejects Your Pity

The problem is not with the new “Act of Valor” movie that opens today. It’s a rousing manifesto. The problem is with some players in Hollywood and a segment of the American public who consider modern American soldiers something to be pitied rather than admired.

They respect the soldier in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Global War on Terror, just not what they do. There is an unspoken feeling that the American troops have been duped into something unsavory, as if looking for a better life or free education, they signed up and found themselves in an icky – if not downright dishonorable – war.

In “Act of Valor,” the soldiers speak for themselves and their message is loud and clear: We know exactly what we are doing. We consider it worthwhile. We consider it an honor.

Filmed over two and a half years during live-ammunition training missions with real, active-duty Navy SEALs, the film is pulse-pounding, exciting, and what we call bad-a&&, but it is also a rejection of and answer to the above attitude.

It begins with a letter written to the son of a soldier articulating the SEAL’s code of honor. Nothing about the code is ambivalent or apologetic. To be dangerous is sacred. To be strong and kill those who would hurt your family or the family of other Americans is heroic. They are the “damn few” who stand between us and violence.

Their first assignment – to rescue a CIA operative who has been captured by a mobster with terrorist ties – goes off with guns blazing. The thugs guarding the compound never see them coming. First, the SEALs parachute in, hitting their target with precision, then making almost no sound, they approach. They pick off the defenders silently, in one case – rising soundlessly from the water to catch a falling body just before it can make a splash. Once engaged in a gunbattle, they don’t hold back. Finally, with the wounded operative in tow, they speed toward their extraction point, pursued hotly. The enemies of America are met on a river bank by several boats of soldiers, guns blazing, lighting up the forest.


No one stops to emote over the fallen thugs who ambushed one CIA agent and used a power drill on the other.

Soon, information from the agent leads them to a global terror plot against American cities. They track elements all over the world, from Africa to Eastern Europe to Mexico.  We’re treated to some unbelievably cool action sequences: helicopters dropping boats full of men into the water, submarines rising for mere minutes before diving again, chases through South American slums.

There are some bad guys in the world.

The scary part of the movie? The bad guys are even badder, smarter, and more determined than depicted in the film. As the plot begins to unfold, it’s tempting to think it’s farfetched, that no one would put that level of resources or intelligence into killing Americans.

Then you think of how intricate and carefully plotted 9/11 was, and you feel a shiver of fear up the spine.

It’s even more tempting to think that the valor of the SEALs is exaggerated, until you remember things like the pirate hostage rescue or elimination of Osama Bin Laden. The directors assure us that the incredible, macho things shown, especially at the satisfying ending of the movie, are real, recorded acts of valor. They did not make it up.

It is true there are some weaknesses in the film. Navy ships and planes always seem to be in a perpetual sunset, like a postcard. The SEALs do a fantastic job of acting – for people who shoot guns for a living instead of reading lines – but there are times you’re painfully aware they’re not actors.

Critics have accused the film of being too much action and not enough character development. I take this to mean that critics would prefer the men anguished over their jobs and had some sort of crisis of conviction. This they do not do. The more cynical among us have a hard time believing that the soldiers, in their heart of hearts, believe in what they’re doing and in the code of honor they so effectively express. It’s a tough job, undeniably, but I’m guessing there is nothing more, nothing hidden, no inexpressible angst or existential horror.

Instead – and this is probably the thing to which certain segments object most – it makes you proud. Proud of the sacrifice and courage of our troops. Proud of America.

The film ends, as we knew from the beginning it would, with a military funeral. It ends with honor and patriotism. The credits do not list the names of the men shown in the film, but honor the 60 Navy SEALs lost in combat since 9/11.

We have no idea what they’ve done for us.

It’s time to stop pitying them and time to get behind them.


The film is rated R for realistic violence and some language. No nudity or sexuality.

Check out our RedState Movie Mafia Podcast.

Read More:

Navy SEALs from Act of Valor: We Feel Hollywood Misrepresents Us

The scenes in Act of Valor are Real, Directors Say

RedState Movie Mafia Podcast Now Available

Coming to you from the Nation’s Capitol, the RedState Movie Mafia is a trio of critics who approach popular culture from the right side of the aisle. Critics are usually BlueState, amiright?  Big Hollywood’s John Hanlon, Lauren Veneziani and myself wanted to put together something for the rest of the country, you know…the guys and gals who drive pickups and know their way around a Glock.

This week, we cover the Oscars, the year so far, and a little Navy SEAL movie opening this week called Act of Valor.

You can tune in here.

(Click the link and wait for your player to start.)

If you like what you hear, follow us on our newly minted Twitter handle: @RSMovieMafia

Navy SEALS from Act of Valor: We Feel Hollywood Misrepresents Us

How do real soldiers feel about the ways they’re represented by Hollywood?

Not so great, as it turns out.

“They felt that Hollywood misrepresented their community for so long that it would be great to get their story authentically told,” explained director Mike “Mouse” McCoy.

With Scott Waugh,  McCoy directs of “Act of Valor,” a film highlighting real Navy SEALS in their work tactics and code of honor. The movie follows a SEAL team as they rescue a covert agent and move to prevent the global terrorist plot she unearthed. Part action film, part warrior manifesto, it is an account from our armed forces on why they do what they do.

The two directors were no strangers to machismo. With long careers as stunt men in Hollywood and projects covering the world of motorcycle racing and surfing, they naturally seek out stories of strong men.

But when they started down the road that led to “Act of Valor,” they were unprepared for the caliber of men they met in the United States Navy SEALS, men who offered a glimpse of the reality behind the Hollywood myths.

“That was what hit us right between the eyes when we met with them,” added Waugh.

“What we were going in with was the Hollywood representation of the commando guy, some screwed up Rambo terminator guy. We met these men who were so humble and quiet, but so extremely intelligent, intellectual, down to earth. They were just so different than how they’d been portrayed it almost felt like a crime,” McCoy told me when we sat down in Washington DC.

“They’re fathers and husbands,” said Waugh, “These kinds of complex characters. A warrior on one side, yet literally one of us. They have the same problems we have has humans. Taxes, these relationships with their kids when they’re there.”

For McCoy, despite all his previous bruising manly jobs, there was something more intense about the SEALS. “You really connect with the brotherhood really how deep that goes. Wow. I’ve never seen that before amongst men: men who will step in front of a bullet for each other. Once again, the sacrifice became really apparent. Ten years of sustained combat deployments. But more importantly, the families and the wives. When we sort of connected with them and what their families had been through during this time, we were like the only way to really do service to this is with the real guys and real scenarios and have an authentic look. And then it became how do we do this, what does this look like?”

Waugh and McCoy filmed the SEALS over two years, working with their deployment cycles to catch the soldiers as they did training missions. Unlike most Hollywood sets, they used real bullets and live weaponry. It’s not your usual movie job. I’ll give you the directors’ description in a later post.

Update: Read about the making of the movie and why it’s the real deal.

Shock: People Don’t Know who Paul McCartney Is

Various version of this shocker are flying around the interwebs today. Apparently, Twitter Twits tweeted their confusion at seeing an older man singing at the Grammys last night.

It was none other than Beatles legend Paul McCartney, Sir Paul to us plebeians.

Many of those darn kids on Twitter simply didn’t know who that man was. I knew who he was, but while I respect his talent, but never considered him the high priest of all things musical.

The whole kerfuffle should be a sign to the Boomers, I’m a’thinkin’.

Baby boomers are used to defining culture for all of us, not to mention morality, politics, and buying patterns.

It’s just about over, though. The Boomer hold on thought, culture, and politics is weakening, and with the sad shrinking of their retirement accounts, buying patterns as well.

And the chink in the famous image of Sir Paul is merely a sign.