Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I'm Starting A New Blog

I'm starting a new blog, and I will probably stop using this one. I haven't decided what to do with all my old posts. I may move them over to the new blog, but for now here is the link to my new blog: Bryan Arnold Blog

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The McCainstream Media

I've been lazy about posting lately, but I haven't stopped thinking about things to post. Right now, I don't have time to truly break my lazy streak, but I do want to make a few points.

1. We should stop calling it the Mainstream Media and start calling it the McCainstream Media.

2. We need to drive home the idea that McCain = Bush. I would frame the concept in this way: that the Republicans have figured out a loophole to the two-term limit (the 22nd Amendment) on Bush by nominating McCain.

Also, pointed out this article by Michael Moore which I wanted to link to.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Waterboarding Torture

Just so we are all clear, and so there is no confusion, it is "waterboarding torture," not "waterboarding."

The Bush administration has committed the illegal act of waterboarding torture.

Impeachment is the only correct response.

Yesterday, The Constitution Died

Yesterday, The Constitution died.

Yesterday, the Senate voted to de-criminalize the crimes of the White House and the telecommunication companies.

Yesterday, I lost all the hope that I gained after the Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006.

Yesterday, I lost faith in my country... again.

Yesterday, most people didn't even know about what the Senate did.

Yesterday, the Sensational Media was too busy to inform the public about this attack on our rights and the rule of law.

Yesterday, I sent the following message to Sen. Reid and many other Senators:
If telecom immunity passes, our Constitution will be effectively dead, and its blood will be on your hands.

Have you no shame? No decency? No respect for the rule of law? No respect for your oath to defend the Constitution?

We are lost. The Democrats are lost. They won't stand up for our rights and Bush and the Republicans our trying to take them away.

What hope is left for us? Where do we go now for leadership? Where do we go to restore our country to its former glory?
Yesterday, I wondered why I bother to contact members of Congress.

Yesterday, I started to question why I try to change things.

Yesterday, my hope for impeachment hearings faltered.

Then yesterday, I realized that the fight isn't over.

Then yesterday, I realized that we have to work to get the House to deny amnesty for the telecoms (and, by default, Bush).

Then yesterday, I watched Australia apologize to the Stolen Generation, and I realized that we can't give up no matter how long it takes.

Then yesterday, Donna Edwards defeated Al Wynn, and I realized that we can defeat politicians who choose corporations over the people.

Then yesterday, I saw votes for Democratic candidates outnumber votes for Republican candidates by huge margins, and I realized that we can succeed.

Then yesterday, I began to hope again.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

U.S.A. Guilty of Torture

I have not written a post for this blog in quite some time. Partly, this was because of being busy or lazy or both, but mostly, it was because of the tremendous amount of disappointment and hopelessness that I felt due to the lack of action by the now Democratic-controlled Congress to hold the Bush administration accountable for their crimes.

Where is the IMPEACHMENT?!

The people, this country, our Constitution require impeachment if we are to retain our freedom, our democracy, our ideals.

And now this:

U.S. Acknowledges Use of Waterboarding
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats demanded a criminal investigation into waterboarding by government interrogators Tuesday after the Bush administration acknowledged for the first time that the tactic was used on three terror suspects.

In congressional testimony Tuesday, CIA Director Michael Hayden became the first administration official to publicly acknowledge the agency used waterboarding on detainees following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

[...]Hayden said Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002 and 2003. Hayden banned the technique in 2006, but National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell told senators during the same hearing Tuesday that waterboarding remains in the CIA arsenal — so long as it as the specific consent of the president and legal approval of the attorney general.
Congress, there is NO excuse for not beginning impeachment hearings.

I want my country back.

I want my country to be one that does not torture. Impeachment is the only way to bring that about.

If Congress fails to begin impeachment hearings IMMEDIATELY, every member of Congress is violating their oath to defend the Constitution and they are guilty of supporting these vile acts of torture.

I'm waiting, Pelosi. I'm waiting, Reid. I'm waiting, Obama. I'm waiting, Clinton. I'm waiting for you to lead. I'm waiting for you to do what you were elected to do.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Debating Universal Public Health Care With A Conservative

I try to avoid getting into debates with conservatives, not because I am afraid to stand up for what I believe in, but, rather, because I tend to be "long-winded" when the debate takes place online which is very time-consuming and I don't have a lot of time to spend. Plus, time spent doing such things is usually wasted because, as this study shows, conservatives don't deal well with change, so it is a waste of time if you expect to change their minds (not that it's impossible, just don't expect it to happen).

As a side note, I think this might explain why conservatives are so hopelessly devoted (like the song from the movie Grease) to the Republican Party. Or as Al Franken puts it, Republicans love their party the way a child loves its parent: uncritically and blindly. (How else could we explain the many conservatives who willingly would sacrifice American ideals, human rights, and freedom in exchange for authoritarian ideals, torture, and a law-breaking presidential administration.) Democrats, on the other hand, love their party like an adult loves its parent: critically and analytically.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I recently succumbed to the temptation to engage in a debate with a conservative (who was not my father for once), and I spent enough time on it that I wanted to post what I wrote so that it might not have been a complete waste of time.

I won't post what the conservative in the debate wrote because I haven't asked for his permission to do so (nor do I plan to), but my responses should be sufficient to help you guess at what was written by him.

The topic was health care, and here was my first response to what the conservative initially wrote (edited to ensure anonymity and proper grammar):

[...][I]t really infuriates me when conservatives accuse Democratic (with a capitol 'D') voters of "pretzel logic."

Pretzel logic is voting for Republicans who campaign on their belief that government doesn't work and then, when elected, ensure that the government doesn't work by bankrupting it (which is what Bush is doing). If they actually tried to make government work, then they would negate their entire belief system. It makes better sense to put your trust in someone who has trust in the American government and is willing to make it work. Democratic voters don't distrust the government; we distrust Bush and the people like him who are trying to destroy our government to
"prove" their self-fulfilling belief that government doesn't work.

Pretzel logic is wanting to continue a for-profit health care system with greedy private insurance companies who's goals are to make money, not keep their customers healthy. It makes more sense to have a health care system that is health-driven, not profit-driven.

Pretzel logic is believing the lie that our profit-driven health care system is somehow better than the universal health care system that EVERY OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED NATION has that produces better results, a healthier general public, longer life expectancies, and lower overall cost. I don't understand conservatives who claim they want fiscal responsibility, but then ignore the BETTER results for a LOWER price
that public health care systems in other countries get.

Pretzel logic is saying other countries have long wait times. The long wait times thing is a myth. It exaggerates the wait times in other countries and ignores the wait times in our own country. My dad had to wait a month to see a specialist after having a transient ischemic attack (a mini-stroke), so don't believe the hype on wait times. Other countries have a sensible triage system that treats patients according to the urgency of their health needs. It's not like they have thousands of people dying because they can't see a doctor in time. That is what happens in OUR country. We have thousands of people dying each year because they can't afford to see a doctor at all. So I never want to hear another lie about the wait times in other countries when people in our own country our dying from waiting until it is too late because they have no insurance. The lack of compassion for those in our country without health insurance makes me physically ill and makes those people
without health insurance physically dead. There are serious consequences for our lack of universal public health care, and we need to take them seriously.

Pretzel logic is thinking it is okay for our government to be in charge of public roads, public schools, public police, public fire departments, public military, and so on, but somehow public medicine is the most evil concept ever conceived by mankind (despite the fact that we already have public medicine for some people through Medicare and Medicaid). If the government does such a good job with all these other public needs, why is it so hard to believe that a universal health care system run by our government would be desirable by the MAJORITY of Americans (55-65%, depending on what poll you look at)?

I wrote a post about this topic and Sen. Clinton's health care plan (which is a government mandate for everyone to buy health insurance (like how we have to buy car insurance), not a government run health care system, and not a good idea, in my opinion) on my blog. You can tell from the title (Worst Universal Health Care Plan Ever) that I am not a fan of her health care plan:

Of course, that response elicited a response from the conservative, and here is my response to the response to the response (again, edited for blah blah blah):

[...]Anyway, since you asked, I feel compelled to answer your questions.

1. How much am I willing to pay out of my paycheck for public health care?

Well, looking at my paycheck, I already pay about 7% on health and dental insurance, so 5% sounds like a bargain.
Note: I recently recalculated that percentage. I pay over 8%.
But this is before I account for deductibles and co-pays. Some people pay more than they make if they have serious medical issues like cancer. So, if you gave them a choice between paying, say, 300% of their paycheck and paying 5% or 10% or even 20%, I am certain they would not choose 300%.

According to an article from The New Yorker (

"Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized world’s median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year."
Wow! Americans spend more than DOUBLE the world's median on health care. But wait there's more:

"What does that extra spending buy us? Americans have fewer doctors per capita than most Western countries. We go to the doctor less than people in other Western countries. We get admitted to the hospital less frequently than people in other Western countries. We are less satisfied with our health care than our counterparts in other countries. American life expectancy is lower than the Western average. Childhood-immunization rates in the United States are lower than average. Infant-mortality rates are in the nineteenth percentile of industrialized nations. Doctors here perform more high-end medical procedures, such as coronary angioplasties, than in other countries, but most of the wealthier Western countries have more CT scanners than the United States does, and Switzerland, Japan, Austria, and Finland all have more MRI machines per capita. Nor is our system more efficient. The United States spends more than a thousand dollars per capita per year—or close to four hundred billion dollars—on health-care-related paperwork and administration, whereas Canada, for example, spends only about three hundred dollars per capita. And, of course, every other country in the industrialized world insures all its citizens; despite those extra hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year, we leave forty-five million people without any insurance."
You ask me if I would be okay with more of my paycheck going to taxes. The answer is yes, if it meant we spent less overall. Public health care would save money for our country and for all Americans. The question I would ask you is: why don't you want to save money?

Other countries spend less on universal health care, but we spend more and more every year. From The Raw Story (

"US Health Insurance Costs Rise Nearly Twice As Fast As Pay: Survey

The cost of health insurance in the United States climbed nearly twice as fast as wages in the first half of 2007, with family coverage costing employers around 1,000 dollars (714 euros) a month, a poll showed Wednesday.

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 6.1 percent in 2007, while wages went up by 3.7 percent, the Employer Health Benefits Survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust showed.

The 6.1 percent rise in health insurance premiums marked a slowdown from the rate of increase last year, but also strongly outpaced inflation, running at 2.6 percent.

'In 2007, the increase in health insurance premiums was about twice the rate of inflation and not quite twice the increase in workers' pay,' Kaiser vice-president Gary Claxton said in a webcast.

Premiums for family coverage have surged by 78 percent since 2001, while wages have gone up 19 percent."
That is what happens when health care is PROFIT-DRIVEN rather than HEALTH-DRIVEN. Costs spiral out of control. So much for free market competition keeping prices low for consumers, huh? This is what happens with deregulation of public needs. Right now, I'm listening to a report on the radio about how pro-energy deregulation people are now regretting their stance in Ohio. I lived in California when deregulation of power companies caused energy prices to sky rocket and numerous brownouts. That was in the good old days of Enron. Now they REALLY knew how to exploit deregulation.

I am all for strongly-regulated free market capitalism, but not when it comes to public needs like utilities, roads, schools, police, fire departments, judicial system, et cetera.

2. Do statistics exist for people dying in the U.S. from lack of insurance?

I'm glad you asked because the cost of human life is way more important than the cost of money. Yes, statistics exist, and they are harrowing.

From USA Today (

"18,000 Deaths Blamed On Lack Of Insurance

By Steve Sternberg, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — More than 18,000 adults in the USA die each year because they are uninsured and can't get proper health care, researchers report in a landmark study released Tuesday.

The 193-page report, "Care Without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late," examines the plight of 30 million — one in seven — working-age Americans whose employers don't provide insurance and who don't qualify for government medical care.

About 10 million children lack insurance; elderly Americans are covered by Medicare.

It is the second in a planned series of six reports by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) examining the impact of the nation's fragmented health system. The IOM is a non-profit organization of experts that advises Congress on health issues.

Overall, the researchers say, 18,314 people die in the USA each year because they lack preventive services, a timely diagnosis or appropriate care."
18,314 people die YEARLY from lack of health insurance. That is horrific. It is disgusting. It is wrong. I don't know about you, but that is not something that I am willing to live with in the greatest country in the world.

Many people like to claim that this is a Christian country. Well, if that is the case, then how are over 18,000 people dying each year from a lack of medical care. From what I remember in Sunday school, Christ was pretty concerned with taking care of the sick. As a Christian, I think that we should be taking care of the least of our brethren and making sure everyone has health care coverage.

So far, I've shown that other industrialized nations get BETTER health care for LESS money. From what I can tell, conservatives want WORSE health care for MORE money. It defies logic.

3. Your concerns about giving health care to the lowest bidder is moot. That is not at issue here. We don't have contractors bid on running public schools, fire departments, or our law enforcement. Why would we have contractors bid on public health care?

Also, the reason why public schools, public police, public fire departments, and other public services are public is because we need those services to focus on their jobs and not on maintaining profit margins for stock holders.

As an example, it would not make sense to have privatized fire departments because if people couldn't afford to pay the fire department when their house is on fire, then their house would burn down. And yet, this is what is happening to people without health insurance, only it is their lives instead of their houses that are being destroyed.

4. Competition does not belong in the health care industry, at least not in the way that you mean. Competition in our current health care system is driven by profits. With health care providers, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies, a significant portion of that money goes to advertising, not to Research & Development, because they are in competition with other entities. Other countries don't have this problem. Competition in other countries are driven by health. For example, doctors in England are given paycheck bonuses when they get their patients to quit smoking. If you want competition, it should be for health, not greed.

Your idea that health care would plateau or decline is false. That has not happened in other countries because they don't let that happen. Their governments support scientific research, as opposed to this country where we can't even get our government to support stem-cell research.

5. You say that you don't want the government running our health care system and that we should let the insurance companies, doctors, and hospitals figure it out. Well, they already have it figured out. They figured out how to squeeze more money out of the American people. Every other industrialized nation has already figured out how to solve the problems we have today. They solved those problems with public health care.

6. As for people that cannot pay for health care, gratis and payment plans are short-term and expensive. Do you know who ends up paying the difference? We do. When doctors and hospitals are required to perform expensive services for people who can't afford them, it drives up medical costs and insurance premiums.

Here is what happens. Billy has no health insurance. Billy gets sick, but doesn't go to the doctor because Billy has no insurance. Billy gets sicker. Billy still doesn't go to the doctor. Billy gets really sick and passes out. Billy's family calls an ambulance. The ambulance takes Billy to the emergency room. Doctors at the hospital try to save Billy's life with expensive procedures and machines and tests. Billy dies. Who pays the ambulance? Who pays the doctors and nurses? Who pays the hospital? Not Billy. Not Billy's family, they have no money. The hospital has to make up the difference so they raise their prices on customers who HAVE health insurance. The health insurance companies don't want to lose their profit, so they raise their premiums and their co-pays and their deductibles. Americans lose more of their hard-earned paychecks.

Now here is what would happen if we had public health care. Billy is covered by public health care. Billy gets sick. Billy goes to the doctor. Billy gets cheap medicine and cheap preventative care. Billy gets better. Hospitals don't need to raise their prices. Private health insurance companies don't have to worry about profit margins because they don't exist. Americans get to keep more of their money for themselves. They spend money on other things. The economy grows.

Now what conservative could be against Americans saving money and a growing economy? And what human being could be against preventing Billy's death?

Well, take a look at the White House. That's who is against all that. Take a look at the Republicans and in Congress. They're against all that too. These so called fiscal conservatives are against saving money. These hypocrites are against saving human lives. No, they want US, the hard-working American public, to keep paying more money while their stock portfolios increase and they get more campaign contributions from insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and health care provider groups.

And the Democrats are not much better because they say they want universal health care coverage for all Americans, but some of them, like Hillary Clinton, want to continue to give all our hard-earned money to greedy insurance companies through mandating that we all buy health insurance, and the other ones are too spineless to provide public health care which is what the majority of Americans (55%-65%) want. The majority of Americans want it, but some Democrats are afraid some mean conservative talk show host will call them names like "socialist" or "commie." What they don't realize is that conservatives will call them those names regardless. At least if they provided public health care for all Americans, the majority of Americans would be on their side and be inspired to continue to vote for them. As it is, Americans are frustrated with the lack of action on this issue.

This is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and if the majority of Americans want public health care, then we should have it. Instead, we get a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations, and a very small minority in power (the politicians) is willing to do the bidding of the corporate lobbyists because of all the money they donate to political campaigns.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States states, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

I would argue that we need public health care if we are going to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty. We need public health care to live up to the ideal that all men are created equal. If we want to uphold the standards that this nation was founded on, we need to remove corporate influence from our government, and remove profiteering from our health care system. Because this is America, and Americans deserve better.


P.s. I am sorry for the length of the e-mail, but this is a topic that I am very passionate about. I've had to live without health care before. I know how scary it can be.
That e-mail was probably my best contribution to the debate (and obviously influenced by Michael Moore's SiCKO), so if you feel satiated, now is a good time to stop reading this post.

The conservative did respond again, but the response was more of a friendly farewell. He did concede that I made some good points, but he was ultimately not convinced that the U.S. should have a universal public health care system.

So, maybe the whole debate was a waste of time, maybe not. I don't know. Anyway, here was my final response (once more, edited for blah blah blah):

Well, right, I didn't mean to imply that Democratic politicians don't have stock portfolios. They can be just as easily influenced by campaign contributions and stock portfolio increases. That's why I dislike Hillary Clinton's health care plan. She receives a lot campaign contributions from the health insurance companies, which explains why her plan mandates that everyone buy health insurance from them. However, I still tend to be in opposition to Democrats much less than I am to Republicans.

Also, I appreciate that Al Gore is working to fight global warming, but carbon offsets are not a good solution in my opinion. If you ask me, buying carbon offsets while using fossil fuels is like if I bought some bullet-proof vests for some people and then went around shooting other people. That wouldn't make sense.

It is not uncommon for people to do what Al Gore is doing, pushing something that he is financially invested in. Everyone does that. That's business. The problem I have is when people in charge of our government push things they're financially invested in through legislation or executive order, like how Cheney pushes Halliburton. It's unethical.

In any case, you and I probably won't end up agreeing on much, but at least we agree that politicians in power need to spend more time working for the American people rather than themselves. You should hear my rant on why we need publicly-financed elections to oust corporate influence from government. :) However, you would probably rather talk to my father. You and he have a lot in common politically, and you would probably find more agreement with him. He's been the unfortunate recipient of most of my rants, and would probably be glad to know that he's not alone anymore.


(for now)

Bush Isn't Even Trying To Catch Bin Laden

There are no words to express how furious this makes me. There is nothing I can say about this that would satisfy my outrage. I am speechless.

Did The White House Miss A Chance To Catch OBL Again?
By: Nicole Belle on Thursday, October 25th, 2007 at 12:14 PM - PDT

[...]I’d think that it would be in the public’s interest to know how well we are going after known enemies before they create even more in Iran, wouldn’t you?

Col. David Hunt (ret.) on (I’m citing the relevant portion if you don’t want to give them the hits):

Besides, these things are of little consequence when you realize how we missed, squandered, screwed up, made a mess of and were massively risk adverse - again - when we did not kill Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan just two short months ago.

We know, with a 70 percent level of certainty - which is huge in the world of intelligence - that in August of 2007, bin Laden was in a convoy headed south from Tora Bora. We had his butt, on camera, on satellite. We were listening to his conversations. We had the world’s best hunters/killers - Seal Team 6 - nearby. We had the world class Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) coordinating with the CIA and other agencies. We had unmanned drones overhead with missiles on their wings; we had the best Air Force on the planet, begging to drop one on the terrorist. We had him in our sights; we had done it. Nice job again guys - now, pull the damn trigger.

Unbelievably, and in my opinion, criminally, we did not kill Usama bin Laden.

You cannot make this crap up; truth is always stranger and more telling than fiction. Our government, the current administration and yes, our military leaders included, failed to kill bin Laden for no other reason than incompetence.

The current “boneheads” in charge will tell you all day long that we are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan to stop terrorists there so they do not come here. Nice talk, how about - just for a moment - acting like you mean what you say? You know walk the walk. These incidents, where we displayed a total lack of guts, like the one in August, are just too prevalent. The United States of America’s political and military leadership has, on at least three separate occasions, chosen not capture or kill bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahri. We have allowed Pakistan to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda. We have allowed Al Qaeda to reconstitute, partially because of money they (Al Qaeda in Iraq) have been sending to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Losing The Debate? Change It.

Sometimes, I feel the need to put in a post just because I don't want to forget something. This time, the thing I don't want to forget is a post by georgia10 on DailyKos:

Over There
[...]On the merits, the GOP knows full well that it has lost its audience. Poll after poll shows that when it comes to issues, Americans overwhelmingly support the Democratic agenda. Political survival then depends on misdirection from this fact. At any cost.

The most common form of misdirection employed by the idea-barren Republican Party is to avoid talking about ideas altogether. And the most common method used to accomplish this goal? Deflecting attention from the policy to the personal.

And oh, what masters of deflection Republicans have become. A debate about whether to invade Iraq becomes a debate about whether Joe Wilson's undercover CIA wife hooked him up with a sweet junket overseas. A debate on stem cell research becomes a debate about whether Michael J. Fox exaggerates his symptoms. A debate about the right to privacy becomes a debate about whether Terri's blinks were voluntary. A debate on Iraq policy becomes a debate about how mean people are to General Petraeus. A debate about health care becomes a full-blown investigation into the lifestyles of 12 year old Graeme Frost and 2 year old Bethany Wilkerson. A debate about curbing global climate change becomes a debate about how many compact fluorescent light bulbs Al Gore has in his house. A debate about the shameful level of poverty in this country becomes a debate about how much money John Edwards spent on a haircut. A debate about who's qualified to be president becomes a debate about who does or does not wear a lapel pin. A debate about executive accountability becomes a debate about whether Representative Stark hurt Mr. Bush's feelings.

Knowing that they cannot emerge victoriously out of a battle of ideas, Republicans latch on to individuals instead. Public figures and private citizens alike are fair game as the right-wing noise machine turns its cacophony-creating media apparatus in non-discriminating fashion upon any individual, any prey that can serve to distract even for one minute from the utter vapidity of the Republican platform today.