Debbie & Dana & Tom & Ernst, pt III: Healthcare, Iraq, and Prop. 8


In today’s video snippet, Dana defends Proposition 8: “I would suggest that we do not change the definition of marriage in our society in order to make a small number of people more comfortable about themselves…”

Click “read more” for the candidates’ answers on Healthcare, Iraq, and Prop. 8.

Topic 3 of 7: Healthcare

Debbie and Tom support a single-payer system (which, nationally, means supporting John Conyers’ HR676); while Dana and Ernst think even more privatization is the ticket.

DEBBIE: Her doctor friend has 92% overhead, and a lot of that is just for trying to get paid what they’re owed; doctors are no longer making enough to pay off their med school.  SIngle payer modeled on Medicare, would replace this with more like 3% overhead.  We can’t continue to let insurance companies take 20-30% and then deny coverage.  We must optimize healthcare rather than insurance profits. (big applause)  France has #1 system while spending half as much.

[In her rebuttal time she told the story of a man with money but no insurance who tried to pay for his healthcare with his own money and found that he had to pay a lot more than the insurance companies would have to.  She hears tragic stories every day from local citizens screwed over by ins. companies.  America can do better and has to do better.]

ERNST:  I am a Libertarian.  Health care should be PRIVATIZED.  It’s not the FEDERAL GOV’T’s (FG) job to insure us all.  If we didn’t have free handouts for everyone who lives here or comes here, legal or not, we wouldn’t have to put a fence on the border.  (I guess this is the Libertarian solution to immigration – make American life unattractive enough to repel people.)  Universal healthcare never works, we should be responsible for ourselves.  Should be easier to become a doctor so there could be more competition.  REGULATION is a big part of the problem and so is the FG involvement via Medicare and Medicaid.

DANA:  Our healthcare needs reform, but not more gov’t involvement, not single-payer.  If you want efficiency don’t look to the gov’t.  Most people from countries who provide universal care come here for healthcare.  (??)  One reform we need is a tax write-off for individuals who insure themselves.  We need to streamline drug approval (relaxing FDA standards.)  Also lawyers making too much profit on malpractice cases – we need “tort reform.”  And thirdly, stop giving care to the ILLEGALS!! (cheers from up front and tiny flags waving!)

TOM:  Well… I would never turn away someone from an ER, “illegal” or not, and I know of no religions that would condone that.  My view on healthcare is simple:  it is a HUMAN RIGHT.  We’re the only industrialized country that doesn’t provide hc for its citizens.  So what if there are waits in some of these countries – there are waits here too!  I haven’t heard of one person in France or Canada that would switch with our healthcare. (This was a bit of a hyperbole; and drew incredulous gasps from Dana’s crowd; but it is certainly true that a MAJORITY of folks from those countries wouldn’t trade. – V) Give everyone Medicare.  (Cheers.)  We could afford this if we cut back military spending.  Military bases in 100+ countries around the world.  If we all had jobs and healthcare that would be true security – don’t let them keep you scared of terrorists.

Topic 4 of 7: Withdrawal from Iraq

(All four candidates want to get our troops out of Iraq sooner rather than later, but Tom, Debbie and Ernst showed disappointing restraint not reminding voters what a cheerleader Dana was for the 2003 invasion.)

ERNST: I would withdraw all troops from Iraq in a safe way.  Our military should not be used as the world’s police.  We should concentrate on defending ourselves, not solving the world’s problems. We need to close down our bases around the world, cut down on all these unnecessary expenditures.

DANA: (Defensively, he repeats this several times:) I think there’s a legitimate debate as to whether we should have gone into Iraq.  I uh, uh, uh, a lot of DEMOCRATS voted for it too!  Like John Kerry, like … uh, lots of Democrats and Republicans.  Of course lots of mistakes were made since then.  (the classic passive tense.) Of course once we were in we should not have retreated and waved a WHITE FLAG, as that would have encouraged our enemies.  By now, though, we’ve given the Iraqis plenty of time to fight off the bad guys in their society and they have a chance for democracy now.  At the very least, they should be paying the entire bill for our military operations there.  (He HAS been pushing for that in Congress – V)  They need to stand up for themselves.  We need to be moving toward a withdrawal “at a quick pace.”

TOM: I’m the only veteran up here, and the military wants to come home.  I would withdraw all troops immediately.  Ridicules the flypaper theory “We’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here” – how cowardly is that?  We have bases in 130 countries, it’s hugely expensive.  Doesn’t agree with attacking Afghanistan either, and brings up uncomfortable story of Dana giving the mujahideen Stinger missiles in the 80’s.  Our “enemies” don’t dislike our way of life, they just don’t like our military bases in their country.

[During rebuttal: Most Americans would agree that the military should only be used for defense; but in my lifetime it’s almost always used offensively.  Now we’re in a period of our history where “pre-emption” has become OK. Strike first and then figure out what we’re doing later.  We’re not even counting casualties. Our military is being used as security guards to make sure the corporate takeover of Iraq and Afg. goes smoothly.  9/11 was an attack by Saudi-Arabians.  Can Dana explain the Stinger missiles to Afghanistan in the 80’s?]

DEBBIE:  The 2003 invasion of Iraq was reckless and out of touch, and allowed Al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan and Afg.  It has not made us safer. Of course we have to leave Iraq, but in a responsible way (see  Foolhardy to think we can foist our systems and way of life on others; everyone comes at things in their own way.  We’ve lost our leadership and respect in the world over these eight years.  We must leave Iraq, we are there for oil, we have to focus on the terrorists who are in Pak. and Afg.  Not necessarily send in troops.  This is a new kind of war.

[During rebuttal: We need a political surge, not a military one.  Due to our military buildup we’ve been skimping on security at home – police, infrastructure, port security.  We need to think about medical waste, infectious diseases, biological terrorism.  Spending 11 billion a month in Iraq, we can’t focus our resources at home on real security.]

Topic 5 of 7: Proposition 8

(All candidates oppose this anti-American initiative, with the notable exception of Dana.)

DANA: You can hear and see his statement up above.  It seemed as forced and insincere as it was nonsensical and offensive.  Maybe it is a warning sign when Dana prefaces a statement by saying, “And I say this in a spirit of good will, and with (touching left breast) a good heart.”  Maybe that’s the way he prefers to launch into characterizing the legalization of same-sex marriage as “making a small number of people feel comfortable about themselves.” (The video stops before the loudest booing of the debate.)

TOM:  Most of you out there, those of you who aren’t waving little flags (Oh by the way, it takes a lot more to be patriotic than just waving a little flag.)  [Lots of applause for that aside.] We all have friends and relatives who are gay, one of my daughters is gay. [To one horrified old Republican in the front row: “Sir, if you and I happened to fall in love, we should be able to marry.”  Below, Tom blows the gentleman a kiss, to his mortification and the crowd’s delight.]

I will be happy and proud to walk down the aisle with my daughter when she finds the perfect partner.

DEBBIE:  I support marriage equality and agree with Greenhut of the Register for once.  America and Calif. are changing and it’s time to move on past these divisive issues.  It’s wrong to use Constitutional amendments to limit our liberty rather than give us more liberty.  You can’t tell someone who they can love, and you can’t define what a family is any more. My mother was from Alabama and I remember seeing colored drinking fountains; you really have to walk in someone else’s shoes to understand being discriminated against.  I have a lot of gay friends and I know how much this means to them.

ERNST:  I don’t think the GOVERNMENT should be defining marriage!  Marriage is a religious institution, and religions should determine who they want to marry or not.

DANA: [during “rebuttal”]  I’d just like to ask this question while we still have some time, I hope we get the answer [from Debbie] about whether or not she DID take a stand against the bail-out and then changed her mind.  {boos and yelling]

One more exciting, hair-raising segment to go!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.