I very much appreciate Philip Dawdy's balanced and sympathetic article re the state's mental health system ["No Exit," Aug. 11]. We know it well, having a son with schizophrenia who has been in and out of Western State and group homes and is now struggling to live independently, assisted by public resources, family, and Section 8.
Our public system, though flawed, is very good, as are so many of the people working therein. And Western State is not a snake pit, as some would say. It has saved our son's life and given us hope for his future.
Ill Serving the Mentally Ill
Philip Dawdy has written a masterful reflection on the pain, isolation, and marginalization of the mentally ill ["No Exit," Aug. 11]. His depiction of Wei Li, a man afflicted by profound auditory hallucinations, is a poignant and sympathetic study of a human being whose tortured existence has been salvaged by a combination of new, more effective drugs and a supportive and caring case manager. Dawdy's story demonstrates that those who suffer from the ravages of schizophrenia and related disorders can be helped and maintained in settings more congenial than the impersonal warehouse models of traditional care. Yet for many, this is still the fate that awaits them.
Dawdy's reference to the 3,000 unnamed, numbered graves at Western State Hospital is a chilling reminder of our society's historical indifference toward those who suffer extreme psychological impairment. Those devastated by psychosis and similar severe problems were locked away and forgotten, an embarrassment to their families and a frightening specter to society at large. Many no doubt died as they lived, alone and locked within the asylum walls.
This article shows that people like Wei Li can be helped. It's also an argument for a publicly funded system of comprehensive care, one that can depend on proper fiscal support from one year to the next. Until such a situation arises, wherein food, clothing, safe shelter, and humane care can be guaranteed for all suffering citizens like Wei Li, we as a society will continue to ill serve this population. It does not have to be this way.
The Real Scandal
Obviously, the patients described in Philip Dawdy's piece are being treated unfairly, immorally, and illegally ["No Exit," Aug. 11]. So, what else is new? At least they're fortunate enough to have gotten into a hospital and can, apparently, remain there. They're lucky they're not being kicked to the curb.
Look out your window and you'll see any number of people who are as psychotic as Wei Li but couldn't get into Western State if their lives depended on it. Why? Because the decision to hospitalize is vested in the Regional Support Networks, which have a financial interest in denying hospitalization. The more people hospitalized, the less money the RSN gets to keep; it's that simple.
Run the numbers and you'll find that the RSNs have, in the decade and a half they've been in existence, grown like Topsy. A regiment of extremely well-paid bureaucrats greedily sucks up resources while an army of madmen (and madwomen) suck up garbage and sleep in doorways. What those bureaucrats do, for the most part, is figure out ways to deny mental health care to people who desperately need it.
Now, there's a scandal for you.
Reason to Hate
Nixon schmixon [Mossback, "Bashing the Bush-Bashers," Aug. 11]. Knute Berger's headed in the right direction but is just a little off the trail. Bush is not to be hated for selling our military to his war-contractor buddies, nor for raping the environment, nor for stripping the economy to his rich friends' further enrichment. Not even for attempting to emasculate unions, to subsidize exportation of American jobs, and to slip his religion into schools does he deserve our hatred. After all, his political party always does those things. Hatred (as Berger says, an ugly word) crawls all over Bush like ticks on a sick dog because of his snide, arrogant, hypocritical cheapness. I hate Bush because he treats me and my fellow Americans as though we were stupid, because he considers us losers and subhumans. Bush's mealymouthed lies, his two-faced sound bites, and his assumption that he's somehow more worthy than real people—those characteristics earn him my hatred.
It's War, Stupid
Nixon haters were not vindicated by Watergate [Mossback, "Bashing the Bush-Bashers," Aug. 11]. They hated Nixon, as Knute Berger says, long before Nixon got caught up in the cover-up of third-rate political shenanigans. They hated Nixon for a war he didn't start and because he was simply a Republican, just as the useful idiots on the left hate Bush because he is a Republican and for a war he didn't start.
Remember, the war started on 9/11.
Yes, Class War
OK, I admit it, I am an unabashed Bush hater [Mossback, "Bashing the Bush- Bashers," Aug. 11]. Will I apologize? No! Do I feel the need to do so? No! Do I feel any discomfort or shame? No!
I have been a liberal all of my life, but I now prefer the label of "social progressive." It sounds so much more, well, progressive. Besides, it puts a very positive spin on the term liberalism. We liberals, er, social progressives, are slow learners at times on the political battlefield, but I think that we have now begun to master the doublespeak of "positive spin" that the Republicans have been doing so extremely well. How else can we justify 50 percent of Americans still supporting our "military action" in Iraq that used to be our "pre-emptive war" against WMDs that morphed into our "liberation of Iraq from a dictator" and so on and so on.
Speaking as a 55-year-old guy who has worked hard all of his adult life, with a chronic disease, diabetes, no health insurance, no retirement plan, no 401(k), no $50,000 SUV, I can guarantee that this current election is very much about class warfare. I often wonder how the poor bastard outside my local supermarket selling Real Change feels about it. I wonder how the 100 people incarcerated at Western State Hospital ["No Exit," Aug. 11] feel about it. Liberals hate Bush—what's to understand? As the bumper sticker you see around town states: "If you aren't completely appalled, you haven't been paying attention."
I am writing in outraged response to the Weekly's suggestion that Oliver's Lounge in the Mayflower Park Hotel provides a complimentary happy hour that consists of serving "jalapeño poppers and Costco-style spring rolls" [Happy Hour, Aug. 11]. The insinuation being that we would provide less than top quality for our value-conscious and valued early evening imbibers.
How dare you! Costco-style spring rolls have no place in a sophisticated establishment the caliber of Oliver's Lounge. Costco-style spring rolls probably come bulk packaged in boxes containing 50 or more. Our spring rolls are individually crafted in petite lots of no more than 40 to a box. Our jalapeño poppers are even more carefully packaged, hermetically sealed inside a protective plastic pouch, then sturdily stored in durable cardboard. I could go on and on, describing in intimate detail every nuance of our spanakopita, pot stickers, and deep-fried onion rings—classic items often duplicated, but never lacking in consistency.
We are proud to serve the finest available packaged products fresh from our freezer. We believe they are worth every cent we charge for them. I hope this sets the record straight, and I will be expecting an apology for any implication that Oliver's Lounge is less than diligent in its standards of happy-hour excellence.
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