Monday, April 27, 2009


Speaking of America's karma...

Everything is connected to everything else; there are no coincidences. Here's something else, along with the Israel-Palestine Wall, waterboarding, our national policy of domestic spying, "enemies list," and a few other awful things...that we're going to have to pay for—

Sunday, April 26, 2009


"Avoidable Mortality"

What a surprise! White people, in our society, live longer than non-white people. This is not due to racism, no, of course not, why the very thought is racist...

The following concerns African American and Caucasians. However, think "Indians" instead of African American and you'll basically end up in the same place as the article. The health disparities between races has a high economic and color correlation.
More African-Americans Die From Causes That Can Be Prevented Or Treated

ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2009) — Two-thirds of the difference between death rates among African Americans and Caucasians are now due to causes that could be prevented or cured, according to a new study appearing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The study, "Black-White Differences in Avoidable Mortality in the United States, 1980-2005," found that death from preventable or treatable conditions represented half of all deaths for individuals under age 65 and accounted for nearly 70 percent of the black-white mortality difference.

"People should not be dying prematurely from stroke, hypertension, diabetes, colon cancer, appendicitis or the flu. Our study shows that while much progress has been made, our health care system is still failing to meet the very basic needs of some Americans. Many disparities can be conquered by focusing more on public policies that promote prevention and by ensuring that all Americans have access to good quality health care," said James Macinko, who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the lead author of the study.

The major reason for the black-white mortality gap—representing about 30 percent of the gap for men and 42 percent for women—is due to conditions that have effective treatments, the study found. Disparities were most pronounced for conditions or diseases for which deaths can be prevented, such as diabetes, stroke, infectious and respiratory diseases, preventable cancers, and circulatory diseases like hypertension.

The conditions analyzed included premature deaths from common infectious diseases, cervical cancers, appendicitis, maternal deaths, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, peptic ulcers and traffic accidents, all of which could be avoided through medical care or health policy changes. The study suggests that the reinforcement of policies that improve access to quality medical care will be important to reducing death disparities.

"As the nation turns its attention to health care reform, we now know that much can be done to reduce racial and ethnic health care disparities and to improve the health care for all Americans," said Macinko. "We also have a lot to learn from other health care systems that measure performance based on preventable deaths."

To analyze the death disparity among African Americans and Caucasians, the scholar used "avoidable mortality," a commonly used measure of health system performance in Europe. It is defined as premature death under age 65 from conditions responsive to medical care, changes in public policy, or behaviors. Over the last decade, avoidable mortality has declined less rapidly in the United States than in other industrialized nations.

"Avoidable mortality gives us one way to assess the shortcomings of our health care system, particularly in the area of prevention," said Irma T. Elo, Ph.D., co-author on the report and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. "It can help to identify where preventable disparities are greatest and aid in directing resources to where they can improve the health of vulnerable populations."

Elo also serves as an affiliated-faculty member for the RWJF Health & Society Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Journal reference:

James Macinko and Irma T Elo. Black-White Differences in Avoidable Mortality in the United States, 1980-2005. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 2009; DOI: 10.1136/jech.2008.081141
Adapted from materials provided by RWJF Health & Society Scholars Program


Moral ground and sand castles in the tide

Of course, what I'm still thinking about is the moral question: Are we going to let Cheney, Yoo, Gonzales, Rummy, etc., get away with torturing people? Is the country actually going to take a moral stance and prosecute those shitheads?

It does echo the Dreyfuss case in France: will we protect the guilty because it's "best for the country," "move forward instead of dwell on the past," and other head-in-the-sand excuses, or will we, the United States, actually say enough is enough and these bastards aren't going to get away with it. I would bet we let them get away with their crimes and that the country will do it's absolutely most to keep any other country from prosecuting them.

And, maybe, this would be the historically consistent action. There's an awful lot of karma out there already, and it's going to fall on us sooner or later. It has to. The theft of land and genocide against the original inhabitants. Slavery. Jim Crow. The rape of the land we stole. Butte, Cripple Creek, Ludlow, Bisbee, the Couer d'Alenes, Pullman, Haymarket, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War...America has got away with a lot in not many years. I realize other countries have done the same damn thing. But that doesn't make it OK. "But, mom, everybody's doing it!" It didn't work for us when we were children, and it doesn't work for us as a nation. We grabbed the moral high ground when we tried German and Japanese after World War II. The reasons, the justifications, for that, have washed away like sand castles at high tide. When we become another has-been empire, subject to forces and powers utterly beyond our control, things will be better. Maybe even more just.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Remember when a "tea party" meant getting stoned?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Maybe not what was said, but yes, I do rememer tea parties. Not the hokey cowboy-hatted shit-kicking "tea parties" on April 15th; no. Tea parties were times to get dopey (yeah, OK, it's a pun), laugh, listen music, and try to get laid. Nobody was ranting about someone's supposed phony birth certificate, or the communist/socialist/liberal/Jewish/Chinese Communist/fascist conspiracy (did I leave out any Straw Men?) they saw taking over the country. Nor did pot-bellied cigar-chomping dry drunks proclaim what a great country this is. Maybe they did while getting sonted in Muskogee, but I don't know about that.

Well, we're in a time of major social earthquake-ing; people's savings have been wiped out by shoddy financial scams, a war is bleeding our economy to death, and there's got to be somebody to blame, right? Can't be my fault! I followed the rules, mostly! I always said the Pledge of Allegiance, went to church when it was convenient, gave my sons crew-cuts, bought the biggest car I could almost-afford, and knew when to shift the blame and pass the buck. How come I got screwed? Must be somebody's fault!

Hey, it worked for Hitler.

And Goebbels said the bigger the lie the easier it was to get the masses to believe in it. That was an incredible political truth. A lot more meaningful than something like "all men are created equal," or almost equal or kind of equal, as long as...they were men, white, owned property, spent money quickly,and didn't ask too many questions, knew how to follow orders, and so on and so forth.

So, times are tough and we need to find scapegoats. I'm sad to say it, but most people are pretty dumb and pretty shallow. Below average. Politics, I used to think, depended on intelligence; the more educated you were, the more liberal. No, it ain't true. The more fuckedup people are, the more reactionary they are. There seems to be a lot of fuckedup people out there.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Torture, karma and oh-oh!

This morning, along with a few million other people, I read the OLC's "torture memos." I watched Amy Goodman and guests talking about the implications of America's use of torture—the bug judge who now smiles benevolently from the 9th Circuit Court Bench. I started weeping at what the country has done.

Jesus fucking Christ. "We" —that is the government that represents us all— have gone off the deep end, completely, into the shit swamp. I keep thinking of the white South Africans, who during the years of Apartheid, smiled, watched TV, and went about their business. Yeah, or the Germans, who occasionally got irritated by the strange smells coming from those big kind of factory-like places that had recently been built outside of towns, who smiled, listened to the radio, and went about their business. Is there karma? You betcha. One way or the other, there's lotsa karma.

Bad enough with slavery. Bad enough with the Indians, the Chinese and Irish who built our big railroads, and bad enough, too, with the war in the Philippines and the Mexican War...How can anybody look at American history and say, "God has truly blessed this nation!" It's enough, Jim Harrison said, to make God puke. And after God is done puking...

Well, if Russia and Belgium and Japan and France and England and Germany keep on existing, maybe the U.S. will, too. For a while, at least. But it just seems like we're due for a good karma whipping.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Ammo hard to find, according to news reports

Today's Bull had an article about how hard the employees are working at Nosler, the bullet-making company. People are stocking up, as per instructions from the neo-fascist talk radio heads. I wondered about that. There is a lot of insurrectionary talk, and from what I've seen all the gun freaks (the serious ones) have joined up with the Republicans and Christians to "pertek their right t'bar arms." That ain't good.


Driving through the back lot of Bend Studios

Well, that's what this town is starting to look like: a deserted back lot at a movie studio. Sub-division streets with cheat grass growing in the curbs, a few lonely-looking completed houses, and tattered flags. Every block has for sale and for rent signs. Office buildings have "for lease" signs as big as the windows.

Our daily Bull has eternally optimistic reporting about the local economy. It's sort of sad, I think...for a few seconds before I snarl at their bullshit. Everything, according to the paper is right on the cusp of turning around, home sales are "looking up," and we won't mention the vacant house inventory—or the vacant office and retail space. I feel like I'm living in some bizarre replay of earlier times in America, when the boosters hustled the gullible, and things went boom and bust, boom and bust, over and over. It's the American dream: get in on the bust and get out on the boom. Good luck on that.

You cannot have a town, a city that grows and grows without a solid economic base. We never had that here. The forests turned out to be, surprise!, essentially a non-renewable resource. The trees were cut down much faster than they could replenish the forests. The climate is not good for agriculture—it's OK, but it snowed today, April 14th and that doesn't say much about a long growing season. Our water supply is limited; it's great country for antelopes and jack rabbits. There's no manufacturing to speak of, and the only commerce is retail. Tourists are our biggest economic resource. Don't get much tourism during a depression. Maybe a lot of people moving around, but they're looking to earn, not spend. No room here, sorry.

Another bubble has busted, another boom has ended.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


spend now, save later v. don't spend now, pay lots more later

While we're busy debating just how big bonuses for various CEOs should be, and the latest umpteen million dollar fighter jet squabble (not to mention Miley Cyrus's career moves), there are a few million people in this country who are really hurting. The old and the disabled.

We know that preventive care is cheaper and better—certainly morally better—that post-hoc care, like emergency rooms and nursing homes, mental health intervention costs less than imprisonment, and so on. I mean, there's just no argument about this. But. Nobody seems to care, really... Home health aides have lower costs to taxpayers than corrections officers; pre-school teachers don't cost as much as the court system. But, we'd rather wait for the crisis than take steps to prevent it. It's crazy.

The New York Times

April 12, 2009

States Slashing Social Programs for Vulnerable

PHOENIX — Battered by the recession and the deepest and most widespread budget deficits in several decades, a large majority of states are slicing into their social safety nets — often crippling preventive efforts that officials say would save money over time.

President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package is helping to alleviate some of the pain, providing large amounts of money to pay for education and unemployment insurance, bolster food stamp programs and expand tax credits for low earners. But the money will offset only 40 percent of the losses in state revenues, and programs for vulnerable groups have been cut in at least 34 states, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a private research group in Washington.

Perhaps nowhere have the cuts been more disruptive than in Arizona, where more than 1,000 frail elderly people are struggling without home-care aides to help with bathing, housekeeping and trips to the doctor. Officials acknowledge that some are apt to become sicker or fall, ending up in nursing homes at a far higher cost.

Ohio and other states face large cutbacks in child welfare investigations, which may mean more injured children and more taken into foster care. Despite tax increases, California has ended dental coverage for adults on Medicaid, all but guaranteeing future medical problems.

“There’s no question that we’re getting short-term savings that will result in greater long-term human and financial costs,” said Linda J. Blessing, interim chief of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, expressing the concerns of officials and community agencies around the country. “There are no good options, just less bad options.”

Arizona has one of the nation’s highest deficits in relation to its budget. As revenues sank late last year, forcing across-the-board cuts this spring, the child protection agency stopped investigating every report of potential abuse or neglect, and sharply reduced counseling of families deemed at risk of violence. Some toddlers with debilities like autism and Down syndrome are not getting therapies that can bring lifelong benefits. And here, as in other states, the drive to help disabled people live at home has been set back.

Mary Beth Thompson, 57, who lives in an apartment with two small dogs here, is on the growing waiting list for help. Seriously overweight, with chronic pain and weakness on her left side, she has trouble moving about and cannot step into the bathtub without falling, she said, displaying the cast on her broken wrist.

“I can’t even walk to do the laundry anymore,” she said from the chair where she spends most of her days playing with her dogs, one of which she has trained to knock the handset off the telephone so she can reach it when she falls.

Winona Conn, 75, who uses a wheelchair because of a paralyzed leg, has been on the waiting list for home aid for a year. “It feels like you’ve been shelved,” she said.

In Florida, recent modest cuts in home aid came on top of a growing backlog, while the number of people in need keeps climbing. State support for home and community services was reduced by $2 million in 2008, and the waiting list has grown to 50,000 from 30,000, said E. Douglas Beach, secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs.

Reluctantly endorsing another $1 million in cuts next year to salvage a different program, Mr. Beach told legislators, “It’s like trying to decide whether to give up your first-born boy or your first-born girl.”

Mary Lynn Kasunic, president of the Area Agency on Aging in Phoenix, described the potential consequences. “If you don’t give people a bath a couple times a week, change the linens and make sure they get their medicines, their health will decline much faster,” she said. “They end up in the emergency room in a crisis, and then in a nursing home.”

The Illinois governor’s budget proposal would scale back home visits to ill-equipped first-time mothers, who are given advice over 18 months that experts say is repaid many times over in reduced child abuse and better school preparation.

“We spend $1.2 billion a year on child welfare,” said Diana M. Rauner, director of the Ounce of Prevention Fund in Chicago, which channels government money to private agencies. “You’d think we’d spend a lot of money to keep people out of that system.”

Ohio’s proposed budget “will dramatically decrease our ability to investigate reports of abuse and neglect,” with some counties losing 75 percent of their investigators, said Joel Potts, director of the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association, which represents county officials.

New York State is using stimulus money and a tax increase to avoid most of the large cuts in child care, nurse visits to inexperienced mothers and other services that were originally proposed. But if revenues keep falling by the billions, “all bets are off,” said Karen Schimke, president of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy in Albany, which studies child and family issues.

As in many states, Arizona’s crunch came on fast and hard. In January, the newly seated Republican governor, Jan Brewer, had to cut $1.6 billion from a $10 billion annual budget — squeezing all the reductions into the final five months of the fiscal year ending June 30.

Arizona expects a $3 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year. In a speech to legislators in March, Ms. Brewer proposed to fill the chasm with $1 billion in spending cuts, $1 billion in federal stimulus money and — in a risky idea she floated after emphasizing her conservative credentials — $1 billion raised through “a temporary tax increase.”

Some Republican legislators still argue that state expenses are too large, while officials say that carving another $2 billion from the budget will wreak havoc. Ms. Blessing, of the Department of Economic Security, said her agency had already laid off 800 workers, including 15 percent of its child protection investigators, and imposed furloughs amounting to a 10 percent pay cut.

In one bit of good news for the department and its clients, the state has secured $18 million from the stimulus package to save child care subsidies for the working poor.

But some efforts to prevent child abuse, like in-home counseling of troubled families, have been deeply cut. This presents investigators with a stark choice: either remove children and put them in foster care or, as one case worker put it, “wait for something bad to happen.”

Idolina Moreno, 36, and her five children are still together and happier, she says, because they have been visited weekly for the last several months by a counselor who defused a simmering crisis. One daughter was angry and violent, Ms. Moreno said, and badly bruised the infant boy; Ms. Moreno admits to throwing a plastic bat to stop her. A school nurse called Child Protective Services.

Instead of removing the children, the agency called in a counselor who meets with family members both individually and together. “She’s been wonderful,” Ms. Moreno said.

Officials said it appeared likely that the counseling will continue for now. But she has also been told that special therapies for her mentally retarded 6-year-old son may be eliminated. “I don’t know what I’ll do if that happens,” she said. “I’m really worried.”

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Idiocy of the week?

Colorado is certainly an interesting state (of mind). Bad enough to have Focus on the Family, to be the site of Rocky Flats, the Air Force Academy, and assorted other odd-ball items. Apparently, the state also sees sex where it isn't. That's kind of an old American past-time, searching for smut. This, though, take the black belt in stupidity:

Woman's tofu license plate curdles in Colo.


DENVER -- One Colorado woman's love for tofu has been judged X-rated by state officials. Kelly Coffman-Lee wanted to tell the world about her fondness for bean curd by picking certain letters for her SUV's license plate. Her suggestion for the plate: "ILVTOFU." But the Division of Motor Vehicles blocked her plan because they thought the combination of letters could be interpreted as profane.

Says Department of Revenue spokesman Mark Couch: "We don't allow 'FU' because some people could read that as street language for sex."

Officials meet periodically to ensure state plates stay free of letters that abbreviate gang slang, drug terms or obscene phrases.

The 38-year-old Coffman-Lee says tofu is a staple of her family's diet because they are vegan and that the DMV misinterpreted her message.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Socialist? Obama? Hah!

There's still the lie, floating around the right-wing universe, that Obama is a "socialist" who wants to take over the banks, start a new currency, and so on and so forth. No doubt that's why he has people like David Axelrod and Larry Summers making decisions. Sommers, according to the Wall Street Journal (not exactly the American version of Pravda), got $5,000,000 in pay helping U.S. banks. The man is one of them, not a supervisor or watchdog. The administration, as much as I like Obama, is simply doing it's part of maintain the system; any reforms will have to be incidental.

And, by the way, no, there is no Chinese army ready to move up from Mexico. Nor is there any truth to the rumor that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree.

Friday, April 03, 2009


Things fall apart?

My sort of hope-free optimism isn't working too well.

I have the feeling that our crazed capitalist system may be so determined to...well, kind of like the last of the Nazis in the Berlin bunker, you know? Will the plutocrats, in their frenzy to preserve the ideology, actually let the country go to pieces, down the drain, flush the toilet, turn on the disposal? Yeah, I think they would, rather than change much of anything except the outside coat of paint. FDR went to the wall to preserve capitalism, and that's what's going to happen again, now.

Nobody seriously wants to change our system. They have too much invested (no pun intended, but it's OK there is one); all their lives they've been working within the corporate capitalist system. It's all they can see, all they know. They're in a mine tunnel they've dug in fragile rock and the tunnel is caving in. They took out the timber supports to speed things up and the ceiling is coming down. They're not going to do anything except throw in a few supports here and there and hope it's enough. Look, fellas, maybe we should try another way to dig this mine, maybe from a different direction or with a different set of tools. Who told us to dig here and dig this way, anyhow? Why don't we get rid of them and try something different? Not a perfect metaphor here, but you know what I mean. What's bad is that we're all in the mine tunnel, every one of us!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?