Why The Health Care Debate Is So Contentious

Even prior to the abortion issue being pointlessly dragged into the debate over health care reform the issue has been one of the most contentious debates I have ever seen in politics.

The question quickly becomes: Why?

I feel I have an answer, and it mirrors the matter of the abortion debate as well.

It is simple:

Both sides view the other as disingenuous and downright evil.

From the perspective of the anti-reformists all support for this bill is a disguised effort to destroy capitalism and / or expand the federal government to an unreasonable size.

From the perspective of the pro-reformists all rejection of this bill is a disguised effort to spread hatred, intolerance, racism and violence under the banner of a “tea party” and / or purely strategic politics of conservatives seeking to undermine all bills proposed under President Obama.

(There is, of course, a great deal more complexity at play here in both positions.)

In a situation where both groups view the other as “liars” there is no debate to be had. No discussion that will bare fruits. None.

The fear and lies surrounding this health bill entirely native to the rightwing has no bartering point from which to start from. There is no common ground to find with a person who lies about the record and rejects all evidence that does not compliment their existing preconceptions.

Throughout this year long national debate I have strived to pull the emotions out and put the facts in their place, but such actions only serve a purpose when there remains holdouts on both sides. In the course of this I have seen new levels of hostility directed at me personally more so then ever before in my experience.

I have never “unfriended” and “blocked” so many people in my entire ten-plus years on the Internet.

The incitement toward violence, the death threats, the partisan hate; all existed prior to the matter becoming national in the death threats against Democrats post-HCR. All of this existed in the venom directed at health reform advocates on a daily basis from individuals of a very low moral fiber and very poor understanding of democracy.

In matters discussing life and death, I’d rather not see so many and myself give in to fear; but it truly doesn’t surprise me in the least to see this country explode in mindless paranoia. Big changes equates to big fears, bad economy equates to paranoia on the rise.

In the solid matter of facts, this health bill is a net-positive for America.

But this issue will not lose any of it’s contentious nature no matter how many facts are interjected in the mass spreading of paranoid myths. For too many Americans it is simply easier to believe the worst, and the biased conservative media is sure to provide them endless piles of red meat.

Tea Party Death Threats & Vandalism

The fractious ultra-conservative Tea Party Movement has finally morphed from bazaar partisan rancor into death threats and vandalism against the Democratic health care reform agenda. The racist language directed at John Lewis, the homophobic slurs directed at Barney Frank, the coffin placed in Russ Carnahan’s lawn; the list of examples continues on.

Bigoted anti-Semitism has erupted in talk radio and Internet circles as the threats with possibly bullets behind them find their way to Eric Cantor’s office.

The Tea Party tactics that we see coming to fruition in all this recent hostility toward Democrats, and any progressive or liberal who does anything but stand mute, are designed to sour and squelch all civil debate over health care reform.

This is not and never was about taxes.

The Republican Party and the biased Fox News media have done nothing but prop up these radicals who exhibit these untruthful and violent features. Now these same hypocrites attempt to lay the blame for this vandalism at the feet of Democrats and those who support the health care reform agenda.

The far right has revealed itself as an anti-life and anti-freedom movement in this reform backlash, while the mainstream right reveals itself to be completely accepting of this domestic terrorism.

I want to see these Tea Party bloggers posting an address that is attacked with vandalism to be arrested on charges of willfully contributing to wanton destruction of private property.

Two conservative Tea Party activists posted the address of the home on the Internet on Monday, mistakenly believing it was the home of the congressman. One of the activists urged others to “drop by” and “express their thanks” for Perriello’s vote in favor of health care reform.

Tuesday evening, Perriello’s brother’s family smelled gas and discovered the propane line of a gas-powered grill on their screened-in porch had been slashed.

Repost: 3 Poems

Not A Love Poem

I don’t write love poems, because I don’t fall in love.

I don’t feel anything beating within, driving me crazy.

I don’t feel anything echoing around, stirring my soul.

There is no lion chasing me, I am running for fun.

I have no desire to find another, I am seeking a solitary life.

I cannot be herded into a pen of passion, I am too wild a creature.

I cannot be tamed to serving compassion, I am too vicious a beast.

I will not be bent into a blade of grass, I was molded of iron.

I will not be twisted into a spiral, I am more rigid than a diamond.

There is no wolf chasing me, I am running for sport.

I have not the will to chase this light, I am a man of simple thoughts.

I have not the will to fight this fight, I am a man of simple design.

These words don’t write themselves, these feelings don’t die.


Twenty-six years alive.

Nine years since I fell for her.

Nearly three years since she threw me out.

All that pain nearly twisted me back into a demon.

But I found something, something odd.

Pain is the only teacher that works on the stubborn.

With everything reaching it’s apex, crushing point upon me I have found the final degree.

Everyone we know is more precious than we ever thought but we are no more than what we can do for each other.

Love is not enough.

If we are to survive, at all, we must see what we can do for ourselves and for the world.

It is true vanity to desire to change the world.

It is true humility to wish to change yourself.

No matter what direction any of those we love takes our changing them only pushes them harder out the door.

The young hold all the answers and all the right questions.

This world twists too much on these simple human minds, we are but electrical firings in our deepest thought.

As we enter the world we are able to see it, undiluted.

Then we become faded and lost to this almost as quick as we gained it, to exchange the extreme identity we find appropriate.

Above all else, a child is prone to love.

This is what we lose as become more aware of all that is.

An open heart is punished by all in the mature world.

Yet that is the only nature of existence by which any life form should ever exist.

A pure force of good will and lacking the knowledge required to do serious harm to another’s heart and soul.

If those who draw blood around the world could feel, not the righteous screams from the lost, but an endless love coming from a sworn enemy.

They would place all weapons aside and leave the war making for the next.

Above all the nature of grace within innocence is what all that is true and real is composed of.

If these words were writ in snow, the sun would melt them in a glance.

If these words were writ in a riverbank, the water would rise to wash them as the earth churned.

If these words were cast to the sky, the air would smolder then burn.

If these words were carved to stone, the land would swallow itself whole.

If these words were made to flesh, a soul would cross the divide as the first breath came to be.

These words cast unto me. Forever shall be the same, forever within me.

Yes We Can Have Health Care!

We have talked about it.

We have fought about it.

We have gotten upset about it.

But now it’s over, and I called this shot from months back.

Some said I was counting my chickens before they hatched, others believed in my crystal ball.

But here we have it! Health Care Reform in the U.S. has passed!

And not a moment too soon.

11th Hour of U.S. Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON — After a frenzied push to nail down final commitments and resolve lingering disputes in their ranks, House Democrats today are poised to pass the most sweeping change to the nation’s health care system since the creation of Medicare nearly half a century ago.

President Obama has at long last starting stumping for health care reform and started speaking the truth to the power of the health insurance companies strangling American families worse and worse every year. Whatever strategic issues I have with Democratic Health Care Reform, the bottom line is the party and the president have stepped up to do the right thing and put forward the agenda of the American people instead of the agenda of Corporate America being placed in the highest priority. Whatever enhancements I myself would add to this bill (Public Option) it is nonetheless a step in the right direction and beyond that point, if we failed to complete at the bare minimum of this reform in the system there will be dire consequences on the overall national economic stability in years to come.

This is the eleventh-hour of health care reform in the U.S., and this political blogger is predicting we will see these reforms pass.

Good news, to be sure.

After more than forty years of inaction and failures to address this most important issue we shall at long last see moral standards in our health care system and some limit placed on the corrupt practices of the insurance companies.

Things I Didn’t Want To Show You


My heart should be pounding out of my chest, my knees should be shaking, my mind should be racing, but I feel kind of … peaceful … up here. Pigeons flutter out into the wind between these giants of steel, concrete, and glass. My feet inch closer to the edge. The wind should be up enough for kite flying in the park … that shouldn’t matter to me now … I’ll be falling soon.

I stand on the small granite lip before a two-hundred story plunge atop the tallest building I could find without fences or locked doors blocking off the roof. The cars below look like the small toys I once had, the people like specks of paint moving across a gray canvas of sidewalk. I can feel the wind doing what I want it to … pulling me closer toward the edge. My fingers are wrapped around a metal pipe just below the short granite wall running the parameter of the rooftop. With each slow second that passes I can feel my grip loosening.

Voices, probably police, are behind me but I can’t hear them. I can’t hear anything but the rushing of wind between the skyscrapers and the birds cooing and flapping their wings at both sides of my feet. The time, I hadn’t noticed before, the time up here is slowed. Like time itself is attempting to run underwater, to swim upstream. Every second an hour, every hour a day. I could have been on this ledge for a year, or a decade, by now. I could stay another decade or two for all the wondrous peace I’ve found.

Like the crack of a whip my reasons return. Not a soul in the god-forsaken city cares about me more than they care about a stray cat, or these filthy birds at my feet. I have no one close, not the way I want … not the way I need. Sure I have a mom and a dad and all that; it doesn’t matter now though. Everybody tells you you’re doing good if you got that but I think everybody has something more, something they hide from me, and they say all that crap to make people like me feel better. What good is someone if you can’t really talk to them? What good is life if you get nothing from it? … The quiet up here is really, peaceful. Not even the birds can make a sound anymore, every single sound muted except for the wind howling, and pulling.

Some are sure to say I was living in my fantasy of not having what I needed of this world. Some are sure to say I’m selfish and blind what the world holds for me. Some people are worth even less than I. There isn’t anyone in this life who wants to hear the infinite melancholies and ever-resilient droning; but I spared as much for the worst of them. There isn’t anyone not bound to love who did so for very long. They could say they love me when I’m gone but do they? People who love one another – even a little in the only way that matters – give all they have, every effort, every pain, every single word, to see those they love be complete and at peace in even the smallest way. She wouldn’t do that for me and I’ve done it for everyone I could ever have hoped to … everyone … so drained of anything that was ever whole.

These reasons mean nothing, I mean nothing, this day is nothing, this instant is nothing. The process of birth to death is nothing, nothing. I let some tension out of my fingers and lean out to look over the edge … only the tips of each of my fingers remain clutching that cold metal pipe. I can see each ray of sunlight bounce off the windows below, I can feel each singular beat of wings against the air as every bird takes flight at once – enveloping me in feathers, a bed of feathers – as a the pure taste of cold wind forces it’s way into my mouth. I spread my arms into the sky as a forceful gust pushes my chest and face back from the edge and then let my weight pull me over.


If these words were writ in snow, the sun would melt them in a glance.

If these words were writ in a riverbank, the water would rise to wash them as the earth churned.

If these words were cast to the sky, the air would smolder then burn.

If these words were carved to stone, the land would swallow itself whole.

If these words were made to flesh, a soul would cross the divide as the first breath came to be.

These words cast unto me. Forever shall be the same, forever within me.

CNN: Coffee vs. Tea

Coffee vs. Tea: A political movement is brewing

Washington (CNN) — The new Coffee Party movement deemed its official kickoff Saturday a “huge success,” with dozens of talks held at coast-to-coast coffee shops as members came together to discuss the issues most important to them.

Billed by many as an answer to the conservative Tea Party movement, the Coffee Party was born on Facebook just six weeks ago. While the group has become an instant hit online — it boasts more than 141,000 Facebook fans as of Saturday — gauging the success of this weekend’s coffee meetups was predicted to be an indicator of the group’s strength.

“Just like in the American Revolution, we are looking for real representation right now. We don’t feel represented by our government right now, and we don’t really feel represented well by the media either,” Park said last week on CNN’s “American Morning.” “It’s kind of a simple call to action for people to wake up and take control over their future and demand representation. And it requires people standing up and speaking up.”

Sound familiar? Tea Party activists use much of the same language in describing their year-old protest movement that’s steeped in fiscal conservatism and boiling-hot, anti-tax rhetoric.

“It’s a response to how they are trying to change our government,” Park told CNN, referring to the Tea Party. “It’s their methodology that we are against. We may want some of the same things, but their journey is so alienating to us.”

Paul Krugman: Health Care Now (+ Analysis)

This is the article and accompanying essay that drove me to talk about student peer review editing in a previous post.

Dr. Krugman explains his case on NYTimes.com:

The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.

The bottom line, then, is that this is no time to let campaign promises of guaranteed health care be quietly forgotten. It is, instead, a time to put the push for universal care front and center. Health care now!

And then there is this college essay of mine:

Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, wrote an opinion piece appearing in The New York Times where he argues strongly for social reform of health care access and ensuring affordable premiums for all Americans. The central thesis of this paper being that Krugman effectively conveys a sense of urgency in the health care social reform agenda by using a combination of rhetoric, “considering counter-examples” and a series of rational arguments that are all valid in nature. Written at a time when the Obama White House had yet to reveal its presidential proposal on health care reform, Krugman uses the economic forecasting of both his own make and that of the Obama administration to predict of likely “prolonged unemployment,” and warns of a “looming health care disaster” upon the horizon. Krugman believes the U.S. alone will share in this fate of a “health care catastrophe” in which basic medical care will not be available to millions as unemployment persists and the recession continues forward.

Krugman argues the banks and lenders were essentially sick and the government gave them medicine in the form of financial assistance, what kind of medicine and how much he sets aside by stating “I have problems with the specifics,” which was the right thing to do and now the American people are sick or in danger of becoming extremely ill so the government must provide medicine in equal fashion to all and not only the wealthy few. Krugman feels a measure of fair treatment must be shown clearly to Americans who have not benefited from government bailouts or other recovery measures taken by the government.

Working on the assumption that some members of “Mr. Obama’s circle” are advising to place health care on a low priority policy agenda Krugman considers a series counterarguments that would be likely proposed from that perspective. Considering the perspective that crisis and turmoil are not the time for committing to social reform is one of three examples of “considering alternative examples” on behalf of Krugman. He argues that times of turmoil are in fact the best time to engage in social reform by citing the actions of F.D.R. in the Great Depression and also by “seeking informed sources” in quoting White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to assess the current mood in the White House of placing health care in a top priority who is quoted as saying, “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” One could argue against Krugman’s position by saying that the national economy is unstable at this time and that any budgetary measures not solely centered on spending cuts should be resisted until marked economic stability can be seen. Krugman assumes that the issue of cost to be one of the possible arguments against health care priority in the Obama White House.

Instead of arguing the point that universal health care will save us money in the long term despite initial costs, instead the case is made that universal health care is costly indeed but compares that expense to other government expenditures in contrast against a prediction of the Commonwealth Fund of the cost of Obama’s campaign health care promises totaling $140 billion in federal spending. Krugman refers to $140 billion as “not a small sum,” but then compares this against the Bush-Obama recovery spending and cites this Commonwealth figure directly against that of the Obama stimulus small business tax cuts. I believe Krugman could have shown a contrasting numerical figure against the Commonwealth figure to enhance our ability to properly consider the “background rates” of the Obama stimulus tax cuts and the Bush recovery efforts in terms of the number of billions of federal dollars spent.

The third counterargument, and the one that Krugman suspects to be “the real reason” behind the then stalled health care agenda, is one of a political point of view that the people of America are focused on “the economic crisis” and it “is a bad time to pushing fundamental health care reform.” Citing the history of both the failure of Bill Clinton to complete reform and the success F.D.R. he calls this argument “precisely wrong.” He succeeded in strengthening his case by using “more than one example” of how a economic recession or depression is in fact the best time to do social reforms. This use of a fact based argument with multiple examples is a very sound and logical way to present his counterargument and effectively defeats this notion. In his saying “it’s possible that those of us who care deeply are reading too much into the administration’s silence,” there is a recognition of his strong personal investment in the matter thereby confronting the issue of personal bias possibly effecting the objectivity of the argument presented. This confronts the matter of “considering objections” and “making fundamental changes in advance” which is pivotal to weight of his argument as a whole.

By confronting the matter of objectivity outright and presenting this in his argument he clearly recognizes that “the truth as one sees it can still be biased.” Drawing upon a series of analogies between 1929 and 2009 which vary from extremely relevant to somewhat “relevantly similar examples.” First, he compares Social Security to the health care reform which is a strong analogy in that both are important life planning matters but not readily apparent in their importance such as basic needs like shelter or clothing. Second, he compares the current recession to the Great Depression which is a fair analogy to make for the two events in size and scope may differ greatly but the underlying global effects remain the same. Third, he compares financial bailouts and health care access which is relevant but less than concrete as the bailouts were a reactionary government measure while the “health care catastrophe” is yet to occur therefore the analogy is sound but lacks a concrete correlation between financial bailouts and working-middle class social safety nets in an absolute sense.

In conclusion, the argument for the priority of health care reform and the conveyance of a sense of urgency surrounding that agenda are presented in a logical and focused manner by Krugman. The credentials of the source of this argument combined with the use of historical arguments give a high level of validity to the position that Krugman is supporting. In a both tactile and ominous manner this case for reform resounds strongly with the reader for it is not a case of pure rhetoric, but rather a case of rhetoric backed by valid arguments and intelligent dissection of all plausible counterarguments to his thesis. Krugman’s diagnosis of the situation may be dire but the disturbing nature of the news does not make it any less important to listen to the doctor.



Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments. 4th. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2009. Print.

HuffPo: Texas Textbook Massacre

This recent development has me extremely enraged, in a time when I can afford no more of that emotion without bursting at the seams.

From the Huffington Post:

AUSTIN, Texas – A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.

The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum’s world history standards on Enlightenment thinking, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

Me and High Places

I hate heights.

I get sick just looking at this picture.

I couldn’t do that, what those kids are doing. I’d probably pass out if you made me sit there.

I grew up in San Francisco, and I’ve gotten seriously dizzy just looking up from this same angle. Looking down is nothing less than fearful for me, even in just a picture.

Recently I was talking about a bridge on the local college campus as “the bridge with ridiculous low railings” and the person I was talking to said:

What do you consider ‘ridiculously low’?

Heck, pretty much anything below my waist is too low!

But I’ve fought this fear from as far back as I can remember.

I rock climb, both indoors and outdoors. Scares the living hell out of me to get more than ten or so feet off the ground, but it still love climbing even minus the rope.

I peak out over the edge, sometimes crawling up to it, even when every part of me is screaming to just leave it alone.

I don’t think you can conquer this kind of fear, this isn’t fear of spiders or of social situations. I’m afraid of falling, or to be more specific the fall would probably be nice (not that opposed to sky diving even though I’m sure I’d have a nervous breakdown in the process) it’s the landing part that scares me.

Ever seen the movies where people fall to their deaths off buildings? Almost never done realistically.

If you reached critical velocity, you would be flattened in an instant. Not even worth putting that to a movie scene, no drama and splat. Just one second you are whole, the next you are liquid.

If you didn’t you would bounce, yup that’s right … bounce.

You would still die, but not before flying up into the air once again as a fleshy blob before returning once more to Earth.

People yell and scream about guns, disease, crime, predatory animals, extremist fundamentalists, insects, warlords, bio-terrorism, nuclear warfare, street riots, climate change, federal budgets…

But none of that scares me all that much.

Death itself doesn’t scare me that much, not as much as it should anyway.

But no matter how hard I try to beat it back I have to admit my fear is that of high places, and if you mess around and joke like you are going to push me I’m more likely to either hit you or start crying than I am to join in on the joke.

Quote of the Day

We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion – a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and… fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply.

– Edward R. Murrow

Suicidal Thoughts On The Internet

I just had a person share some suicidal thoughts with me while on the internet.

I am not that disturbed by it, perhaps I know this pain all too well.

The endless pit of apathy.

I offered only my simple perspective: it’s okay if things suck, it’s not okay to give up.

They mentioned they were switching meds for the night, so most likely that is all this was.

I’m hardly qualified to give anyone advice, I’m not exactly doing too hot here myself.

But I see no problem with reaching out and telling people that they don’t have to be alone, and remind them that internet can’t replace human interactions.

I feel though that there is a great deal of anxiety out there, and it needs to be validated. I feel it too. Some dreadful uncertainty about just about everything.

But some of us so often forget that there are real people on the other end of the these screens, and a cry for help is a cry for help.

I am not so cold as to ignore that, and I have found it to be nothing more than an issue of people needing to know that somebody gives a damn.

That somebody on this madness of the internet actually understands that not everything in the whole world is one big joke, that people matter. We shouldn’t ever give up on ourselves regardless of how ugly things get.