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Last night I went to a showing of Michael Moore's film Capitalism: A Love Story at a local Unitarian Univeralist church. It was billed as:

Community Forum: showing film "Capitalism: A Love Story by Michael Moore," followed by Dr. Robert Fitrakis leading discussion of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision which allows corporations to financially support political candidates.

Interestingly, a bulletin board at the church informed me that one of their members is Robert Letcher, Ph.D., the man afflicted by Parkinson's disease who was harrassed by teabaggers during a demonstration in Columbus:

I asked an an old guy working at the church & he confirmed that Letcher is a member. He smiled and said that since the incident Letcher is much more energetic and upbeat.

Well, right on cue who did I see in the hallway than the man himself:

I talked to him for a few minutes...

Note the walking stick, also seen in the infamous video:

I said, "nice Gandalf staff," the walking stick having a wizard head carved into the handle. He said that it was a gift from his karate instructor, and proceeded to lift his hands up in the air and balance on one foot in a kind of tai chi pose. More energetic indeed!

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2000 and in retrospect had been having symptoms since around 1995. He said that during the confrontation he was a little worried that if it had gotten physical, he might have been killed, as he has a soft spot on on the top of his head from some brain surgery.

He recommended I look up some of his articles he's written over the last year or two for LA Progressive. Check out his author page on that site, where he is described thus:

Robert A. Letcher, Ph.D. is a political economist who describes himself as "an academic without portfolio, writer, political activist, and Qigong practitioner who tries to help people learn".

While clearly glad of the attention he brought to the cause of health care reform and revealing the attitudes of the teabaggers, he offered that he's somewhat "mortified" at his notoriety.

Later, in the Q&A period after the film, he said that he lived in Flint, MI at one time and wrote for a newspaper there. In an article for in 2008 he writes:

I told them that I had been working in sustainability for 27 years, including managing a recycling program in Michael Moore’s Flint and writing the major portion of the first chapter on recycling ever included in a professional solid waste management handbook (see The Solid Waste Handbook: A Practical Guide , William D. Robinson, editor; McGraw- Hill. Feb 25, 1986)

The man gets around.

UPDATE: From a comment below by StepLeftStepForward, check out the letter from Dr. Letcher to Deep Brain Diarist.

Originally posted to jmknapp on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 09:04 AM PDT.

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