Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed

On the heels of the extraordinary documentary about cancer doctor Dr. Stanislow Burzynski, who’s been fighting the U.S. government  in court for 20 years to treat his patients with an effective cancer therapy, comes another equally powerful HBO documentary called Hot Coffee.  Documentary filmmaker Susan Saladoff paints a grim picture of the U.S. government, corporate America and the press stifling citizens from seeking justice through the courts. 

In the film, oilfield mega-corporation Halliburton prevents a woman from taking her abusers to court, even though she’s been brutally gang-raped and disfigured by Halliburton employees.  In another segment, malpractice caps--so called tort reform--prevent parents from collecting what the jury has awarded them to care for their son, born severely retarded and physically handicapped due to physician error.  And political mastermind Karl Rove, adviser to President George W. Bush, buys big-business judges and destroys judges intent on safeguarding the rights of ordinary citizens.

Bush himself makes a few appearances in the film, putting his foot in his mouth repeatedly. “In my line of work you have to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kinda catapult the propaganda,” he explains.

The title Hot Coffee refers to a McDonald’s case brought by a 79-year-old woman, Stella Liebeck, who was burned by the restaurant’s coffee.  Excoriated by the media and big business as a money-hungry opportunist in search of "jackpot justice," she was, in reality, a hardworking recent retiree who sustained massive third-degree burns that required extensive skin grafts and surgeries.  All she wanted from McDonald’s was for the company to pay for what Medicare didn’t cover.  When McDonald’s refused, they went to court. 

McDonald’s had incurred more than 700 complaints and injuries that its scalding coffee—held at 180 degrees—was too hot, but never did anything about it until Liebeck sued and won.  Still, she remained the butt of jokes.  And given the severity of her injuries, it's not surprising that she never fully regained her strength and has since died.

At least the coffee’s 10 degrees cooler.

What does all this have to do with ME/CFS?  Nothing and everything.  It's the same story of desperate and deserving people being marginalized and abused by the government, big business and the press.  Different insults; same result.

Take a look at the trailer:


  1. Thank you for writing this, Mindy. Unfortunately, I think it is true: the bigger the lie, the more it will be believed--if it continues to be told over and over again. People seem to get used to hearing it and just believe the myth. Look what happened to Elaine DeFreitas retroviral research.

    I think what the big liars were not aware of this time, trying to bury XMRV/MLV/HGRV research, is that there are a huge number of people suffering from the illnesses associated with these and we are watching, and this is 2011 not 1992 and we have ways to communicate. We will not go down easily.

    Patricia Carter
    XMRV+, 24 years M.E.

  2. This was the first case we read in law school not long after the case had concluded. I was shocked at the facts of the case- how McDonald's coffee was just like the Ford Pinto case- McDonald hired a burn expert after the 700 reports of burns who told McDonalds that the coffee does cause these horrible burns and will continue to. McDonalds decided to do nothing because it calculated that it would be more profitable not to do anything, ie profits from higher sales of hot coffee would be more than projected legal liability. McDonald's press people did an amazing job of portraying themselves as victims in the media when in fact they were the predators.

  3. By heating the water to 180 degrees, McDonalds was able to extract more coffee from the same amount of beans. That's where the profit came in and why making coffee with such hot water was their policy in spite of these often severe injuries. What the victim asked for in compensation was an amount equal to TWO DAYS worth of profit for MacDonalds coffee sales alone.

    If we can't get that then there will never be an incentive to put the care and safety of consumers on an equal ground with profit.

  4. I am aware of two other documentaries in the UK pipeline relating to the injustices served on pwme, but how wonderful it would be to have HBO cover the case form the US angle. Have overtures been made I wonder?

  5. Thanks for a great blogg entry Mindy,

    I tried to type a longr response but spelling is atrocsious today, so I'll stiks to......

    also thanks for the great comments,

    I found Shanes comment particularly enlightening.

    cheers fly

  6. "Different Minds, Same results" calls for different strategies and tactics. yes, learn from past success tactics and strategies from the past....but develop innovative winning strategies based on analytical and creative problem solving skills...How? Yet to be seen/determined...but being worked on....Horrible for this death and this outrageous treatment. Thak You for this article Mindy.

  7. Another film about cancer - Cut, Poison, Burn - is hitting the screens in NY and CA. http://store.nehst.com/cutpoisonburn.html

    Let all the evils that lurk in the mud hatch out (I Claudius, Robert Graves)
    then we can see and deal with them (me)

  8. Thanks, Jane. The trailer is terrific.

  9. Thanks Mindy once more for your insight and posting of this Hot Coffee.
    I recently watched another informative documentary on Dying for drugs

    something that needs disseminating.

    Yet another interesting link to a presentation from Jerry Leonard The Subversion of Modern Medicine Through the Proliferation of Treatment Guidelines I posted a link to it from my blog http://lookingatlyme.blogspot.com/2011/06/subversion-of-modern-medicine-through.html The actual link is rather long and may not work but here goes https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0BwWpe9s21nQ4ZWQ3NWNiNDMtYTVhZC00NDdlLTliM2ItZTBkZGM4ODllMDIx&authkey=CNWO8qMO&hl=en_US&pli=1
    My ME/CFS turned out to be Lyme Disease and after long term antibiotics I have made an amazing recovery pages 287 to the end of Jerry's presentation refer specifically to Lyme Disease

  10. As political watchers, we noticed early on in the Bush administration that the strategy du jour was to repeat a lie loud enough, often enough, and with blinding refusal to answer questions that would indicate that the truth may lay elsewhere...so that eventually, after hearing a thing ad nauseum, the public begins to believe it is so.

    This seems to have caught on as a viable instrument of obfuscation in every arena, most noticeably to us at this point the scientific arena.

    Truth has become a commodity. Facts should (apparently) not be allowed to stand in the way of agenda.

  11. As a former attorney, it used to make me crazy to try to explain to people why we ought not put caps on awards. Corporations are continually being favored in our justice system. It's a bad trend that's getting worse. Same old same old: money talks.

    And, yes, it's pretty obvious that the vocal members of the ME/CFS community are being targeted in a similar way.

    Thanks for writing about this important topic.

  12. Hi Mindy,

    please have a look here, and see what you make of this.
    it looks like the RCGP is at it again.
    July 2011: RCGP, a.k.a. the Mrs Simon Wessely College tries to reclassify ME/CFS again

  13. Hey great video, was very interesting, thanks for sharing!

  14. Coffee is hot. If you spill it on yourself you will be burned. It sucks but no one is responsible for that except you! No one owed that woman anything.

  15. anon @ 1:06pm - you sound a lot like a republican - they can spin anything to make it sound evil, and they do it over and over. how about you? ready to put your written bits where your name is?


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