Patricia Nell Warren

California Budget Cuts: It's Apparently Okay to Kill People If You Don't Know Who They Are

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | August 11, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Politics
Tags: California budget cuts, California HIV/AIDS cuts, Institute of Medicine, Steinberg v. Schwarzenegger, uninsured deaths

Thehealthcare2.jpg other day, two L.A. friends of mine visited the Hollywood Forever cemetery and stopped dead in their tracks when they noticed a gravestone with this epitaph: "My son had no medical insurance, that's why he's here today." They went back with a camera, and brought me the photo to the right. Clearly the solitary death of one 29-year-old man had hit home with one grieving family.

But uninsured death evidently has a different impact when it goes collective and statistical, meaning "we don't know the victim personally." In spite of all the uproar about California slashing its health services, many Americans have blandly ignored the fact that hundreds of thousands of people have been dying prematurely for many years because they had no health insurance and were denied access to free healthcare. Apparently it's okay for any state government -- and California isn't the only one -- to wipe out a whole raft of human lives with the stroke of a pen. And the inflation of health costs by the medical and insurance industries, which massively contribute to these deaths, have also been "okay."

The other day, Sarah Palin weighed in on Obama's healthcare plan, alleging that it called for "death panels" that would decide which persons should die. What rock has this woman been living under? Government has already been making those death decisions, going back to health-related cuts that started during the Bush era.

Faces Behind the Figures

Uninsured deaths usually fit into one or more of the following categories: poor, elderly, homeless, unemployed, disabled. Often they're non-white and/or female. Adults and children alike die of untreated life-threatening medical needs, including HIV/AIDS. Already in the early 2000s, deaths of AIDS patients were noted in West Virginia and other states when ADAP started narrowing the availability of treatment to low-income PWAs.

In 2002, the Institute of Medicine admitted to an estimated 18,000 uninsured Americans nationwide who died that year. By 2006, the IOM's estimate had risen to 22,000, with an estimated total of between 137,000 and 165,000 dying between 2000 to 2006. In California alone, an estimated 19,000 died during that time.

Today, my guess is that the real-life total of uninsured deaths exceeds the estimates, and may now be topping 30,000 a year. For comparison, the CDC estimates that around 36,000 Americans die every year of flu-related causes. Right now the nation is in meltdown over 436 confirmed deaths from swine flu. But the deaths in that administrative epidemic called "no health insurance" are evidently way less important.

In California, Families USA looks at the numbers and says, "California has the highest average number of people dying due to a lack of health insurance of any other state." The organization estimates that around 3000 Californians a year die from lack of healthcare -- compared to a total of 3467 killed in combat in Iraq since the war began in 2003.

Today these death stats are driven higher, faster, by economic crisis that has put countless thousands more Americans on the street. There is no accurate head-count on the number of homeless people, or the percentage of them who die of untreated health problems. Our only clue to homeless deaths are the nameless bodies collected weekly from the streets, back alleys, public parks, etc, leading to local headlines like "Homeless man found dead in San Antonio River." Another clue is the rising count of bodies left unclaimed at the morgue by poor families who can't afford to pay for the cheapest kind of funeral. At the Los Angeles County coroner's office, where corpses are really piling up and must be cremated at public expense, the rate is up by 36 percent since last year.

I also question whether the IOM statistics include suicides of people who can no longer bear the burden of untreated medical pain or depression.

Thirty-thousand-something is a lot of people to cross out with the stroke of a pen.

Kuehl's Report on California

For more clarity on the lethal impact of California budget cuts, it's worth looking at a recent report by former State Senator Sheila Kuehl, an open lesbian who -- while in office -- distinguished herself for courage, honesty and dedication to human issues. In her news-list, Kuehl's outrage comes through loud and clear as she analyzes the last-minute health-related budget cuts that were done personally by Governor Schwarzenegger:

"All in all, [the Governor] shaved an additional $489 million dollars from the budget he was signing, and these were the cruelest cuts of all, because 250 million of the cuts took the programs in the arena of Health and Human Services into newly dangerous and anemic waters.

"He took nearly $80 million dollars more from the fund that pays for workers who deal with abused and neglected children. This cut could not come at a worse time, since so many counties are experiencing the tragic consequences of their inability to field sufficient workers to identify children at risk. He cut $60.6 million from funds used to pay for MediCal eligibility workers at the county level.

"He took an additional $50 million dollars from the Healthy Families program, further devastating the one program that allows poor parents to get any kind of health care for their children ($179 million had already been cut in the budget amends and, with this additional cut, more than 900,000 children could be affected, statewide). The Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (affectionately or not called Mr.MIB), is meeting to figure out how to deal with these cuts and may begin disenrolling tens of thousands of kids each month.

"He slashed an additional $50 million (284 million was already gone in the budget amends) from services to developmentally delayed children under the age of three, the best time to get services to these kids for a lifetime of functionality.

"He virtually killed a number of domestic violence shelters around the state, especially in poor, rural areas, by cutting an additional $20.4 million dollars from 94 domestic violence shelters and services centers, putting women and children all over the state in even greater risk of harm. Many shelters are making plans to close. He took an additional $6.3 million dollars from services to our poorest senior citizens.

"He devastated AIDS/HIV services in the state by completely eliminating local assistance funding, slashing $52 million from the state Office of AIDS budget, in addition to the $30 million reduction in the budget amends. This means an 80% cut in HIV-related educational services, an 80% cut in prevention services, a 70% cut in counseling services, a 70% cut in testing services, a 50% cut in primary medical care, a 50% cut in home care and a 20% cut in housing aid. He terminated every dollar of the office of AIDS' therapeutic monitoring program, leaving 35,000 working and middle class people with AIDS with no payments for viral load testing and drug resistance testing.

"Remember, these were his own blue-pencil cuts, never agreed to or heard by any legislator. In many cases, these were the services that an exhausted Sen. Steinberg and Speaker Bass were convinced they had saved earlier in the week."

A special concern for the LGBT community is how the California cutbacks affect people with HIV/AIDS. The cuts are sparking fierce protests by AIDS activists up and down the state. Especially hard-hit are black and Latino gay and bi men, whose situation is revealed in Jeffrey King's moving post yesterday. In his recent protest letter to Governor Schwarzenegger, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano opined that the proposed cuts "could kill most of the more than 150,000 HIV-positive Californians."

What Are the Legal Remedies?

Fortunately the law-dogs were quick to start barking their alarms. On Friday, August 7, the "exhausted" Senator Darrell Steinberg, who is President Pro Tem of the State Senate, announced that he would be suing Governor Schwarzenegger. He contends that, in July, the Governor violated his constitutional authority in making line-item vetoes to portions of the Legislature's budget revision.

"We elected a governor, not an emperor," Steinberg said. "In making these line item vetoes the Governor forced punishing cuts on children, the disabled and patients that he couldn't win fairly at the bargaining table. And in doing so, he overstepped his constitutional authority."

Senator Steinberg was citing an opinion by the non-partisan 93-year-old Legislative Counsel Bureau, which had just announced that the Governor had no right to unilaterally undo the budget agreement -- that he was violating the checks and balances contained in the California constitution.

Steinberg is so furious that he says he'll use his own campaign funds to pay for the lawsuit, which will be filed in San Francisco Superior Court. According to the announcement by Steinberg's office, other plaintiffs may be added. The Governor's office responded with a statement that Schwarzenegger's cuts were entirely legal.

So the battle is shaping up -- and it's clearly a re-run of last year's dismal budget battle, when the California legislature opted for deep cuts in Medi-Cal. As a result, a whole phalanx of health-industry and patient-advocate organizations sued in state court. And they won -- getting a court order that restored the cuts.

If Senator Steinberg wins this new lawsuit, how will California scratch up the dough to continue covering healthcare for these many thousands of potential casualties, including people with HIV/AIDS?

The state is foundering on the verge of bankruptcy, with banks already refusing to honor the IOUs that state workers are being given in lieu of paychecks. And so far, California has refused to take actions that would raise significant new revenues, like the proposed tax on offshore oil exploration that the Governor declined to impose. Foremost among funding opportunities is legalizing and taxing marijuana, which would bring in an estimated $1.4 billion of new tax revenues. After all, pot is already the state's #1 cash crop, and California has already legalized the use of medical marijuana. Earlier this year Tom Ammiano introduced a bill that would legalize pot and regulate it in the same way that alcohol is regulated.

But so far, no breakthroughs are happening on the cash-flow front. So for the moment, a certain number of uninsured people will continue to die.

We need to take that headstone in Hollywood Forever cemetery and multiply it across the landscape by roughly 30,000 if we are to get a visual picture of a vaster tragedy that -- so far -- has no epitaph of its own.
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(Photo by Tyler St. Mark)

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I lived in San Francisco the year Ronald Reagan was elected governor--and watched his line-item veto devastate what was then one of the world's greatest public education systems.

The cuts to my brother's public school's budget were nothing compared to the cuts to the state college and the University of California. I attended Lick-Wilmerding high school and though it was nominally a private school, it was endowed and managed to escape.

A number of years later, I watched from Canada as Proposition 13 did its robopilot deed to the budget, and the residents, of California.

I was wondering when you were going to point to a new revenue source, but then, the effects of budget cuts, as you correctly point out, really mean very little until they move up from the marginalized to the middle-class--or as the middle-classes drop out of their increasingly precarious perch.

After generations of the losses of the very things that permitted California to birth Silicon Valley, that, too, really wasn't of much concern to the wealthy--those David Sirota has called the Me First, Screw You Crowd. (MFSYC)

What is the connection between the invisible, status anxiety, as we might put it, among the middle-classes and the Me First, Screw You Crowd?

The only stories allowed to be heard, at least since Ronald Reagan, have been the MFSYC, which itself has been part of the American Dream and rugged individualism that anyone can become rich, so no one wants to put any limits on the wealthy, because one day, everyone will be there.

As improbable as this seems.

So, the very sources of revenue that might address the very real concerns you point out, well, what we get are welfare queens, or more traditionally, the undeserving whose death is really their own fault.

This is not, of course, my perspective, but it has made the United States a very callous country, and is the deep seated class polarization and conflict we discussed in comments to your previous post.

In one of the many videoed segments on the health care town hells as the right is calling them, I saw a woman declaring that "we can't afford health care for all."

This woman, it seemed to me, is one of the very people who would benefit not only from Medicare for all but from the very programs you mentioned, the very ones I have watched cut in California in the past several generations.

The anger, fear and disaffection of the Birthers, the Deathers, the anti-abortion people and the Tea Baggers is very real. And there is movement between these groups--and on to more violent, and less public, organizations and less formal groupings.

Much of these groupings is facilitated by Fox and Glenn Beck in particular, but enablers include Republican elected and party officials and, of course, Sarah Palin.

For generations, the elites--and yes, it is class war--have been enlisting the disaffected through perception management to fight for them by closing down the very possibility of their--the elites--from paying anything approaching their fair share.

I hear the criticism--this is socialism.

Very well!

As the state withers away due to starving, the famous starve the beast strategy of the Right, as the Left makes a resurgence--not Obama, of course--the elites, if they even begin to sense an attack on their MFSYC status, they will seek the help of the disaffected.

And this seems, not a new phenomenon, but one that is almost as American as apple pie.

O yes, class warfare has been raging in America at least since FDR became a "traitor to his class."

And guess who has been winning--and winning so thoroughly that most believe it is such a part of the very fabric of your society that, well, whenever there is a glimmer of a positive change, we get town hells.

What is coming next?

Jessica, you're definitely right about the very real anger out there, among the tea-baggers. If this element eventually carries the day, politically, they will have to do what the Republicans failed to do so far...which is to fix a healthcare system that is obviously broken. If they won't fix it Obama's way, they'll have to fix it their own way.

Among other things, they'll have to address the corruption and fraud in the hospital system, which (for instance) drives the cost of a few stitches in the emergency room into thousands of dollars. And unfortunately, since their movement is being driven by lobby groups that take money from insurance companies and "medical management firms," I don't know how they will ever fix the corruption that is driving costs so high.

If neither the Democrats or the Republicans ever fix the system, it will leave a lot of other Americans (non-teabaggers) angry and frustrated. Will we ever get angry enough to REALLY hold the feet of our legislators to the fire about healthcare and health insurance? I wonder. So many Americans have become curiously passive about reacting to emergency situations.

Disappointment leads to disaffection, Patricia, as I am sure you understand.

My point in what must seem either a pleasant walk down memory lane, or a boring dissertation on history--who reads history these days--is that current budget cuts in California, and elsewhere, are nothing new.

On the contrary, they are part of a long ongoing trend that, in California, long a liberal state, has destroyed the very foundation of, among other things, the conditions that allowed the creation of Silicon Valley, not simply the result of rugged individualists but of a strong public education system and government support for certain industries.

Yes, I'm looking back 40 odd years, but it is this foundation of constant cuts to the services you mention--these were not the first--that reinforces the despair of the constantly growing underclass.

However, it is only now as the former middle-class joins this underclass--what is rarely reported--that something new is happening.

The fears and status anxiety of many is, as we are seeing day by day with accelerating ominousness--a man who brought a loaded gun to Obama's town hall was rewarded with an interview on FOX--being stoked by the Right and Right wing nuts in both the media and among elected officials.

As the Left begins to stage a comeback--I fervently hope it does--that is the most dangerous moment. When the conservative elites, finding their position destabilized, reach out to the very mobs now being created, that is the noxious brew whose results we have not tasted in our lifetimes.

Obama, sadly, not unexpectedly, is not this resurgence--he is simply another scion, certainly servant, of the conservative elites.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 12, 2009 1:18 PM

When the conservative elites, finding their position destabilized, reach out to the very mobs now being created, that is the noxious brew whose results we have not tasted in our lifetimes.

That’s true as far as it goes. There is a whiff of fascism in the air as Republicans and Reagan Democrats play ruff 'n tuff at the town halls, but that’s all it is. Just a whiff. Not a stench. There's no SS, no SA, no bully boy murder squads. Just a little shouting, shoving, some mild threats and a whole lot of racism of the kind begun by the Clintons, McCain and Palin during the campaign. The same kind of political roughhousing went on during the Prop 8 debate in California and the Democrats didn’t seem to get upset about that.

And aside from insisting that everyone’s civil liberties be maintained, we have no stake in this debate. Obama sold out on health care and lots of people on both ends of the political spectrum are enraged about it. This debate between a rightwing Obama administration and rightwing Palinites and Reagan Democrats is just political maneuvering by two equally bankrupt gangs. And ironically, the Democrats are ordering the arrest of critics of Obama’s fake plan while they leave the rightists alone.

This is the disaffection that I believe is the most dangerous outcome of all of this.

It is the impasse in the political system that these betrayals presage that is the most ominous possibility.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 12, 2009 4:07 PM

I think the disaffection about the economic failure, if the economy doesn’t correct itself, will turn in increasing anger and then rage. Now it's manifested in the debate over Obama's fake health care plan, and as many people are angry on the left as on the right about his plan.

Those emotions will spill over into the debate on the war as the coffins begin to come home from Afghanistan. Because of the insistence of GI’s and the Iraqis US forces in Iraq have been withdrawn from the cities but it’s unlikely that the puppet government there can make it without them.

Then comes the even more explosive question of millions of people running out of unemployment benefits with no jobs to go to. Those and other welfare measures were cut in 1996 by Bill Clinton, super liberal and the jackass who gave us NAFTA, deregulation, DOMA and DADT with the overwhelming support of Democrats and Republicans.

Polarization is almost guaranteed to deepen if the various crises, especially the economic failure, show no sign of solution. Everything depends on that and the evidence, IMO, isn’t clear yet. But if the recession becomes an intractable depression it’ll become clear with a few years that there are only two ways out.

First is the imposition by the extreme right of an undemocratic state aimed at continuing the wars, imposing ever harsher austerity measures and crushing union independence.

Second is the hard left solution of total expropriation of the wealth of the rich, the creation of instructions of economic democracy to govern economic and political life and the withdrawal and demobilization of all US troops from the 150 countries where they now operate over 750 bases.

If we cut our ties to the Democrats and build an independent, socialist left rooted in the struggles of youth, workers, ourselves, immigrant workers, minorities and women we should have no problem winning when push comes to shove.

Thank you for this. Very well done.
I am appalled that people can be tricked into acting against their own interests, but I suspect that race is the motivating factor--anything that this President does becomes intsnatly evil because he is behind it.

President Obama is no socialist; Segolene Royal is a socialist.....and to me, far hotter than President Obama....

Rick Elliott | August 12, 2009 2:20 AM

I am personally appalled by the above-mentioned budget cuts CONAN THE BARBARIAN made to the California budget. These are not "icing on the cake" cuts that have been made--one's that won't hurt but a few. Many will be devastated. It makes me wonder what good ole Rick Perry might have in store for my home state--half seriously referred to as "the Former Republic of Texas." Here public services are already so dismal that--almost across the board--they rank in the bottom ten states.
I'm wondering what the cuts in the rest of the California state budget look like: highway construction and upkeep (particularly those highways to nowhere except some obscure state senator's home. Or what about law enforcement, prison costs.
But there's one teensy-weensy wonder I have, having looked at that gravestone featured prominently at the top of the article. In 2003 in the backwater of East Texas it cost me almost $500 just to have my father's name, birth/death dates added to a double granite marker already laid for my mother--almost $500 just for the engraving. My guess that stone for the unfortunate young man without insurance cost upwards of $10,000--maybe $15,000. It's dimensions would make a vast difference. Also marble--which this appears to be--could run the expense to possibly double that amountor more. How might that money have made a difference in the healthcare of the young man? I'm appalled by the Grand Austrian's cuts, but I'm also appalled at a family whose priorities are on headstones instead of health.
One of the soapboxes I mount is the ridiculous amounts spent on funerals. When my wife died in 1991, the total cost was $2000, including a functional casket, transport from Texas to North Carolina, and a committal service. The obituary had her name, her relation to me and time and place for the memorial worship that took place in the sanctuary where I was pastor. My grinchiness already appeared when the final sentence of the obit states, "No flowers will be accepted. Memorial gifts to the church or one's favorite charity are appreciated. Why spend money for elzborate flowers that will be seen for maybe 30 minutes and abandoned on the grave? her memorial worship was on December 23. The first hymn was Joy to the World and the conclusion was Hayden's Thine Is the Glory. I sat in the middle of the congregation surrounded by caring people.
When my father died in 2003, he had a moderate estate. But we followed his instructions: cremation followed by memorial worship in the congregation where he was one of the most respected members. Total cost--$1500.
The focus on Resurrection was the final note of both.
Once I accompanied a young widow to the funeral planning for her husband who'd killed himself. I told the funeral director the family had very limited means. The first casket shown was solid walnut--$30,000. I pointed to one costing about $1500. The director shook his head and said that one didn't have the "50-year guarantee against leaks." I did all I could do to keep from bursting out laughing at his pious greed. But I couldn't keep my mouth from dropping open for a full 30 seconds. Then he moved to flowers, starting out at $1000. I told him a member of my congregants had a beautiful garden and would be making the casket flowers herself. He actually blustered, "I don't know whether the cemetery will accept--homemade flowers. I retorted, "We'll risk it--she's downtown's leading florist.
I quickly added no limos would be needed and that the service wouldn't be at the chapel, but at my congregation's sanctuary. His attendants wouldn't be needed. This almost caused the funeral director apoplexy. I must say I enjoyed his consternation over my intervention on behalf of a woman who'd not been working to care for her for six months after his birth
I served that congregation for 13.5 years, my congregants were never messed with again by that funeral home or any others in the city of 1.1 million.

Rick, I noted the same thing that you did -- the gap between what is obviously an expensive burial and a young man who had no health insurance. But we don't know the circumstances, so there are no real grounds for any conclusions. Something in the tone of the epitaph gives me the feeling of a genuinely grieving family. So perhaps the family were not able to do anything about the young man's situation, for some reason. Perhaps he was estranged from them in life. When it was all over, they could only claim the body and bury him in the style that they felt appropriate.

About the California budget, and what else was cut or not cut -- you will find a lot of great additional information in Sheila Kuehl's excellent forensic analysis at her website.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 12, 2009 6:27 AM

Excellent post.

We get so tired of the lame partisan "let's all forgive Obama" posts after each new failure. It's getting tiresome. There have been so many of them.

It's time to discuss the issues and let that discussion lead where it may.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 12, 2009 6:32 AM

What happened in California is a worst case scenario, but similar drastic austerity measures flowing from the Obama Administrations policies are happening all over the county. (Most of the state deficits could be paid for by a few days of what it costs to pursue Obama’s wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

According to Pauline Vu of Staff Writer

“Nevada’s health insurance program for children no longer provides eye check-ups and glasses. Rhode Island raised the premiums for some families receiving Medicaid. South Carolina’s Medicaid program has ended dental X-rays for children under 8 and breast and cervical cancer screenings for women under 40.

As state public health programs reach a crisis point — with surging demand and shrinking state budgets — officials say that only a federal bailout will prevent more and deeper cuts to the state-provided medical care relied on by the lowest-income Americans.”

And the NY Times reports that

“Michigan cut its welfare rolls 13 percent, though it was one of two states whose October unemployment rate topped 9 percent. Rhode Island, the other, had the nation’s largest welfare decline, 17 percent.

Of the 12 states where joblessness grew most rapidly, eight reduced or kept constant the number of people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the main cash welfare program for families with children. Nationally, for the 12 months ending October 2008, the rolls inched up a fraction of 1 percent.

The deepening recession offers a fresh challenge to the program, which was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 amid bitter protest and became one of the most closely watched social experiments in modern memory.”

It’ll get much worse, as Lucy Dadayan and Donald J. Boyd of the Rockefeller Institute report:

“State personal income tax collections fell by 26 percent, or
$28.8 billion, in January-April of 2009, compared to the same period a year earlier. Thirty-four of 37 reporting states saw declines.”

And to make things worse the ‘shadow welfare state’ provided by union health and welfare plans and unemployment compensation is being decimated by Obama’s union busting drives, particularly against the UAW, the jewel in the crown of the American labor movement. Several states are seeing even sharper increases in poverty as union jobs, benefits and wages disappear. Some of the worst hit are California, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.

Employment is in a steep decline. On August 7th the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “In July, the number of unemployed persons was 14.5 million. The unemployment rate was 9.4 percent, little changed for the second consecutive month.

Among the major worker groups, unemployment rates for adult men (9.8 %), adult women (7.5 %), teenagers (23.8 %), whites (8.6 % ), blacks (14.5 %), and Hispanics (12.3 %) were little changed in July.”

The BLSs rate is based on those collecting compensation, but they also publish another rate, based on all those unemployed, compensated or not. It’s not 9.9%, its 15.9% or a seasonally adjusted rate of 16.4%, the highest rate since the Great Depression.

Take Heart. All is not lost! Amid the gloom and doom of soaring poverty, unemployment and death rates, there are little rays of light shining forth.

David Cho and Brady Dennis of the Washington Post reported on Sunday, March 15, 2009 that Insurance giant American International Group will award hundreds of millions of dollars in (executive) employee bonuses and retention pay… “ And AlterNet ran a piece on February 25, 2009 by Matt Corley of think Progress entitled “Busted: Bailed-Out Bank Blows Millions on LA Parties. Northern Trust received $1.6 billion in bailout funds and announced in December that it was eliminating 450 jobs because “the macroeconomic environment has been extraordinarily difficult.”

Nevertheless they were able to spend “a fortune last week in L.A. hosting a series of lavish parties and concerts with famous singers… Northern Trust flew hundreds of clients and employees to L.A. and put many of them up at some of the fanciest and priciest hotels in the city. We’re told more than a hundred people were put up at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills…“

For a quick review of how’s of the effects of the economic (and by extension, the political) dictatorship of the rich check out

Yes, horrific stuff is going on in other states as well. And I agree that ending our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq (and keeping ourselves out of any new wars that come along) would help cover the deficit.

I wouldn't go so far as to say it's "Obama's war" -- I think it's important to make it clear that the Republicans got us into both those wars. But I AM deeply disappointed and disgusted that Obama isn't getting us out of them as quickly as he should be.

Going beyond that -- America is going to have to stop its grand-standing generally, about being everybody's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that will provide endless gushes of money, for wars or foreign aid, for the rest of the world. We can't do that any more -- not without harming our own economy and our own people.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 12, 2009 12:58 PM

I disagree about whether or not it’s Obama‘s war.

In point of fact it’s been the Democrats war as well as the Republicans all along. The origins of the war are economic empire building and the political and military policy has been the same no matter which gang of political hustlers is running the show.

The war is all about and only about hegemony for US companies over the output of the petroleum products in the region. The US has been meddling heavily in SW Asia since FDR met with the Saudi autocrats in 1945. The Truman Doctrine in 1947 announced that the US would inject itself in South Asia. “Oil’ and the “Mideast” were constant agenda items at Truman’s NSC meetings. By Eisenhower’s time the US was intervening militarily and through spy agencies to overthrow the elected government of Iran to grab their oil and install the vicious Pahlavi autocracy, invading Lebanon and backing the zionist colony in Palestine full tilt.

US policy continued down the same path under successive Democrat and Republican administrations until Haddam Hussein made a grab for the breakaway province of Kuwait. Then things began to escalate drastically and the mass murders began. The first, under Powell and Bush1, was the murder of 100,000 plus fleeing soldiers, mostly draftees, in the kill box using HE artillery, napalm, cluster bombs and all the other horrors of modern mass murder. Clinton followed up with the mass murder of roughly 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a direct and sole of his monstrously inhumane embargo on food and medical and sanitary supplies. Then Bush 2’s invasion and occupation killed roughly another half million Iraqis and Afghans. Now it’s Obama’s turn but it’s been a bipartisan show for the last 65 plus years.

It’s FDRs war, and Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton and now Obama have escalated it to incredible proportions. It’s not war now, its genocide, and mainly against civilians, babies not exempted.

The 1006 election saw a majority of Democrats returned to both the House and the Senate--who proceeded not to do anything substantive about the war(s).

This is a root of disaffection.

Obama had put himself on record that all that was needed to change--I think he was specifically speaking about health care, though I believe it can be generalized--was for Democrats to control the House, the Senate and for a Democrat to be in the White House.

Well, I don't think anyone can deny that he has achieved this goal.

What will happen if health care reform is enacted, but without a substantive public option. Certainly single payer is off the table.

And with the backroom deal with Big Pharma indicating that Big Pharma doesn't need competition anymore than health insurance companies need competition (which is what a true public option would have provided, what will be the disaffection felt when this rather bait and switch is realized by the people.

More deep seated class polarization and conflict.

Maybe Ralph Nader was right?

If we're going to extend the chain of blame farther back in time, where U.S. foreign aggression is concerned, you do have a point about both parties.

However, why stop at FDR? Republican President Theodore Roosevelt did with Latin America what FDR did with southeast Asia -- established a precedent of our "right to intervene," and made it more feasible by finishing the Panama Canal.

Oh, and let's not forget how we got Texas, California and a sizeable chunk of the Southwest away from Mexico at gunpoint in 1848.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 12, 2009 4:12 PM

I'll see your Mexican war and raise you the Indian wars.

Now it's under the right comment.

Memorable article Patricia. It hits home because the circumstances could be that the person mentioned could be anyone we know. Many I know do not have health care insurance and are just one catastrophic sickness away from dying.

I wonder how Ahnuld feels about being recalled.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 12, 2009 1:25 PM

Is there any substantive movement in that direction?

We need to begin making these sellouts, of both parties, pay a *political price for their political crimes.

A Taxpayer Revolt organization announced that it was filing for a recall in April 2009. Check it out at
If you search under "Schwarzenegger recall," you'll find a lot of discussion. I imagine that the movement is grinding forward, especially because of all the additional anger around cuts in CA education, not just healthcare.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 12, 2009 3:34 PM

I'll see your Mexican war and raise you the Indian wars.

I for one am in favor of a universal health care for every American. I think somewhere in time, when we look back on this, we will come to the conclusion that having basic health care for all is a fundamental American value and a Constitutional right. That is if we can get the fascist party (Repubs) to admit they are wrong.

Being a card carrying Liberal, to me it is wrong to put profit ahead of saving peoples lives...Period!