Sunday, May 20, 2007

Health, Wealth, and Newt Gingrich

Something is terribly wrong. An article in today's LA Times, tells the shocking story of a Mexican American woman, Edith Rodriguez, who died in the ER at Martin Luther King-Harbor hospital. The woman had visited the hospital three times, in a very short period seeking treatment. On her final visit, she was rebuffed and refused by hospital staff, allowed to writhe screaming in pain on the floor for hours and then accosted by police, (for disturbing the peace?) who were unable to carry out the arrest, as the woman expired before they could get her to the patrol car.

Sicko! That says it all. What an appropriate name for Michael Moore's new film. A review on CNN recounts another sad LA story in which psychiatric patients are discharged the prestigious University of Southern California hospital put in a cab and let out a shelter near skid row. No wonder there's such pessimism and insecurity in the country. A new AP poll shows it's reached a new low: In this regard, Alan Fram and Kevin Trevor Tompson write:

It's gloomy out there. Men and women, whites and minorities -- all are feeling a war-weary pessimism about the country seldom shared by so many people. Only 25 percent of those surveyed say things in the U.S. are going in the right direction, according to an AP-Ipsos poll this month. That is about the lowest level of satisfaction detected since the survey started in December 2003.

No wonder candidate Barak Obama, according to the Washington Post, at a New Hampshire college commencement address called for overcoming cynicism and a new civic engagement. According to the Post, Hillary Clinton also used the occasion of commencement address in New Orleans to put forward a program to address the ongoing crisis facing every day people. The Post writes that:

Obama offering words of inspiration and hope for a new politics of citizen engagement that can transform the country, and Clinton providing a blueprint for putting government to work to deal with the problems afflicting ordinary Americans.

Both Democrats, stand in sharp contrast to another commencement address given at Liberty University in Virginia by former House speaker, Newt Gingrich. Gingrich in a 20 minute ramble to attack three central enemies of US imperialist empire: Islam and Communism, (from without) and "radical secularism" from within. Imagine that. Not a word in the speech dealt with the crisis in health care, the devastation in New Orleans, the genocide in Darfur. The real world suffering of God's children were conspicuously absent. Gingrich it is rumored may be planning a run for presidency.

The ultra-right Republican demagogue also used the occasion of the commencement address to heap praise on the recently deceased Jerry Falwell. Falwell may be gone but his message, accord to Newt, lives on in the form of Liberty University and its student and graduates. The university boasts and undergraduate class of 28,000 students and has graduated 120,000 since its founding, "120,000 seeds of Christianity" according to Gingrich.

As the presidential season heats up one can only hope that good men and woman of faith and non-believers alike will unite to take on the crisis in the corporate health care system that created the indifference that led to the death of Edith Rodriquez, a crisis that is material as well as spiritual. In overcoming they might look to the likes of Gingrich and company and their abuse of religion as ongoing source of the despair that eats away at the human soul.

joe sims

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