Dover Bitch

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bush: You're on your own, suckers

The audacity of George W. Bush hit another peak today as the president spoke at Cleveland Clinic. DB found this statement to be pretty galling:

The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.

Just go to an emergency room. I wonder if Bush has ever had an experience like this one in Los Angeles this summer:

In the 40 minutes before a woman's death last month at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, two separate callers pleaded with 911 dispatchers to send help because the hospital staff was ignoring her as she writhed on the floor, according to audio recordings of the calls.

"My wife is dying and the nurses don't want to help her out," Jose Prado, the woman's boyfriend, told the 911 dispatcher through an interpreter.

He was calling from a pay phone outside the hospital, his tone increasingly desperate as he described how his 43-year-old girlfriend was spitting up blood.

That's what's on the news out here. Well, sometimes you don't die on the floor in the emergency room. You might get dumped out of a van in Skid Row.

But Digby flagged an even more obscene remark the president made today:

I like the idea of people making decisions that are -- that will, one, enhance their health, and two, save money. The doc told me that -- we were looking at one of these brilliant heart guys working for him. You're not going to believe the technology in this hospital, by the way. If you're a Cleveland resident, you ought to be proud of this hospital. It's unbelievable. (Applause.)

He said something pretty wise, though. He said, you can have all the technology that man can conceivably create, but if you continue to smoke, we're going backwards. If you're not exercising, if you're not taking care of the body yourself, all the technology isn't going to save your life. In other words, there is a certain responsibility that we have as citizens to take care of ourselves.

Have we ever had a president who has been more of an obstacle to average Americans' ability to make informed decisions about the food and products they consume? Or a president who has been less interested in protecting average Americans from dangerous products and food?

He sure talks like he cares. Remember this, from the second 2004 Bush-Kerry debate?

HORSTMAN: Mr. President, why did you block the reimportation of safer and inexpensive drugs from Canada which would have cut 40 to 60 percent off of the cost?

BUSH: I haven't yet. Just want to make sure they're safe. When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you.

And that's why the FDA and that's why the surgeon general are looking very carefully to make sure it can be done in a safe way. I've got an obligation to make sure our government does everything we can to protect you.

Despite his talk about personal responsibility, the president sure feels obligated to "protect" us when the drug companies' profits are a factor in the equation.

And what about the clear mandate his FDA and Surgeon General have to inform the public about risks? Just today we heard from former Surgeon General Richard Carmona:

[A]lthough most Americans believe that their Surgeon General has the ability to impact the course of public health as "the nation's doctor," the reality is that the nation's doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas. Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological, or political agenda is ignored, marginalized, or simply buried.

Don't expect to learn anything about the health of the planet, either. In fact, don't expect the government to tell you anything pertinent about your health, even if you are trying to save lives after a terrorist attack.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, the White House instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to give the public misleading information, telling New Yorkers it was safe to breathe when reliable information on air quality was not available.

That finding is included in a report released Friday by the Office of the Inspector General of the EPA, "EPA's Response to the World Trade Center Collapse: Challenges, Successes and Areas for Improvement."

No, it's up to you to make informed decisions without the government telling you anything you need to know. That's not Bush's job. That's for the private sector to do.

Except the Bush administration is working harder than ever to rescue the private sector from having to act responsibly or tell you anything.

Chris Waldrop, Consumer Federation of America-Food Policy Institute, Deputy Director, appeared on C-Span's Washington Journal last week:

The FDA has been underfunded drastically over the past five years. They can't keep up with the amount of imports coming into this country.


As an example, since 2003, the people in the field have... Those numbers have been cut by 12 percent. The imports that have come in, starting in 2003, there were 45 billion for food imports. They're now up to 65 billion and the FDA hasn't even gotten the money that's allowed them to keep steady with inflation rates.

That's the FDA that Bush tasked to work with his muzzled Surgeon General to keep us safe. Is your dinner made in China? Are any ingredients from China? Who knows? Nobody required to tell you does. There are no requirements that anybody tell you where your food comes from.

Don't expect the Consumer Product Safety Commission to do much for your health, either. The three-person board has been paralyzed with a vacancy since January and the former lobbyist Bush tried to put there withdrew his nomination because we finally have a Democratic Congress. And if you expect the Bush administration to do anything at all, expect it to just make things worse. Kevin Drum today points out that Bush is trying to loosen regulations on lead. Lead, fer crying out loud.

So when Bush says it's up to us to make smart decisions about how we treat our bodies, it's really up to us. For example, you could buy organic food:

WASHINGTON, DC, June 25, 2007 (ENS) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA, has changed the rules governing organic foods to allow 38 non-organic, agricultural ingredients to be used in foods that bear the government's "USDA Organic" label.


The Organic Consumers Association, OCA, says the new rule means that Anheuser Busch will be allowed to sell its "Organic Wild Hops Beer" without using any organic hops at all.

Sausages, brats, and breakfast links labeled as "USDA Organic" are now allowed to contain intestines from factory farmed animals raised on chemically grown feed, synthetic hormones, and antibiotics, the OCA says.

"It's disheartening to see how profit motivated businesses like Kraft, Wal-Mart and Anheuser-Busch have more sway over the U.S. Department of Agriculture than family farmers, independent organic producers, and consumers," said OCA National Director Ronnie Cummins.


Or you could avoid buying some old meat that was given the equivalent of several million chest X-rays and put back on the shelf. Just look for the irradiation label:

WASHINGTON - The government proposed today relaxing its rules on labeling of irradiated foods and suggested it may allow some products zapped with radiation to be called “pasteurized.” The Food and Drug Administration said the proposed rule would require companies to label irradiated food only when the radiation treatment causes a material change to the product. Examples includes changes to the taste, texture, smell or shelf life of a food.


Well, what if the private sector actually wants to tell Americans their products are safe?

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Arkansas City-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

George Bush, handed everything in life, has some nerve telling America that "there is a certain responsibility that we have as citizens to take care of ourselves." That rotten son of privilege has done nothing but make it harder for Americans to actually lead healthier lives on a healthy planet.

UPDATE: Bush video here at Crooks & Liars.

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