Little more than a gaggle of hacks and geeks.

Archive for November 2008

When Conservatives Hate the Troops

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A fictitious conversation between a conservative politician and I over the issue of healthcare:

Paleo: Sir, do you support the troops?

CP: Of course I love the troops. They are some of the best and brightest America has to offer. These brave men and women embody what it means to be loyal, to sacrifice, and to love one’s country. They are fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, they are real American heroes.

Paleo: Alright. Now, you know as well as I do that many of these real American heroes end up in war, and war is a messy thing. Unfortunately, many making it through the fog do so with injuries, whether they be physical, psychological, or even emotional…

CP: Of course. I have been to Iraq. I have been to Afghanistan. I have been to medical facilities around the world where our troops are being cared for. I have listened to their stories, and as a congressman I have promised to honor their sacrifice and commitment to liberty and freedom, both here and abroad.

Paleo: Well, it is interesting that you mention that. It actually touches on what I wanted to talk to you about. As you are well aware, many of these troops incur physical injuries that leave them  temporarily or even permanently disabled. And if they aren’t coming home with physical wounds, many are returning with service connected psychological disability. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bi-polar, anxiety and panic disprders, you name it. These are rampant!

CP: I am very aware of this problem. It pains me to see the extent of these ailments This is one of the many reasons I fight so hard for increasing funding for the Veterans Affairs. Their services are invaluable to the men and women who have served this country.

Paleo: Do you believe that the VA is providing top-notch health care?

CP: Absolutely. But I think that we as a nation have an obligation to continue assuring them this care. I have a consistent voting record to increase funding to the VA.

Paleo: So it is your position that the VA is providing top of the line health care?

CP: Yes.

Paleo: Is it as good as the type of health care provided to men and women who haven’t joined the military?

CP: Yes. The technology is state of the art, and the care they receive from the staff is very good.

Paleo: So you think that a single-payer system of socialized medicine provides health care that is just as good or even better than the private for-profit system?

CP: Um, well no. America’s health system is the best in the world, and it is the best in the world because it is a private system that relies upon competition.

Paleo: But you just said that the taxpayer-funded, socialized health care system known as the VA is top of the line, that their technology was state of the art, and that they provide excellent patient care.

CP: Yes.

Paleo: Then why did you backpedal by immediately declaring that very same system and the care it provides to be inferior to privately owned, for-profit health care facilities?

CP: The VA provides great services for our brave men and women…

Paleo: Yeah, yeah, I got that part. But it is inferior to the kind of health care that civilians receive in private, for-profit facilities.

CP: I never said that.

Paleo: Sure you did. Now, given that you believe private, for-profit health care is superior to the taxpayer funded socialized medicine of the VA, will you now fight for the complete privatization or abolition of the VA?


Paleo: Where is the answer to that in your playbook, sir?

Option 1:

  • If you believe that socialized medicine in evil.
  • If you believe that it provides inferior services over against private, for-profit providers.
  • If you want veterans to get the best care possible.
  • Then you will fight tooth-and-nail to completely privatize the VA.

Option 2:

  • If you believe the VA is providing the best possible care for veterans.
  • If you don’t wish civilians to be covered under a similar system.
  • Then you don’t mind civilians receiving inferior care for no other reason that their not having decided to join the armed forces.

Leaving the Realm of the “Have Nots”

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My Laptopasaurus Rex began showing the sure signs of extinction three weeks ago. First it decided to shut down for what appeared to be no apparent purpose. Then it stopped allowing me to get online. Worse yet, L Rex no longer recognized the drive used for the internet card.

In sum, the computer became little more than a glorified typewriter. I would type, save, listen to music, and watch DVDs. Oh, and I could play solitaire or pinball. Outside of these basic functions, the computer was relatively worthless.

So I bought a Mac. Figured that an elitist such as me ought to join the club of “haves” in the world of journalism and mass communication. I may even go full-blown arrogant and slap an Apple sticker on my Honda Element… well, not until I put an “I Love Latin Mass” sticker on my Mac.

Written by Paleocrat

November 27, 2008 at 12:34 pm

My Wife and I Turn Six Today

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angi-cartoonIt is rare that I ever feel that unsettling sensation of being unable to put thoughts or feelings into words. I believe it has happened to me once or twice before, both times ranking up there with moments best forgotten. But not this time…

Words are a dime a dozen. Sounds and symbols, all meant to convey thoughts and emotions. The problem is that most emotions are well more than a dime a dozen. Most of them, at least for those dramatic souls like me, are worth a fortune, or at least they feel as if they do. Memories and the emotions that come along with them tend to be a hefty burden that no amount of words can alleviate.

So here I am… here we are. We turn six years old today.

It hasn’t been easy, but you can toss the blame in my corner. I’ve fallen time and time again. I’ve broken promises meant to be forever. I’ve failed to live up to those expectations one may rightly have of the person they’ve chosen to marry. Time and time again… the only constants are my inconstancy… and your relentless resilience.

But it has been six years. Six years of love, tragedy, happiness and despair. Some may call it six years of madness. Others may call it six years of life. I call it six years of us, better or worse, for all it means, and for all its worth.

I’ve never been good with words. I’m even worse with acting out what I try to convey with sound and symbol. So rather than banking on this post bearing any real significance, let me assume that the day-to-day routine, albeit bittersweet, speaks louder than words. Let our experiences, good, bad, or indifferent, whisper sweet assurances of our unending love and our unconditional commitment to see this through to our last breath. Then maybe, just maybe, the life we live will make up for the words I simply can’t string together…

Happy Six Year Anniversary,
Mr. Good, Bad, and Ugly

Written by Paleocrat

November 26, 2008 at 11:07 am

The High Cost of Low Prices

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My radio program has been referred to by many on the right and the left as a propaganda campaign against free trade and capitalism. I would prefer to call it a truth crusade, but I presume any good propagandist would say as much.

Admitting as much places my endorsement of the documentary “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices” in the realm of predictability somewhere between the death and taxes. It is for this reason that I will restrict this post to a number of statistics and facts that I thought to be of special significance.

  • Wal-Mart drives down retail wages by $3 billion per annum.
  • Healthcare for Wal-Mart associates costs taxpayers $1,577,000,000 per annum.
  • Average Wal-Mart associate makes $13,861 per annum. CEO Lee Scott makes over $28 million.
  • Wal-Mart imports almost $20 billion from communist China per annum.
  • The 200,000+ Indian women from Bangladesh working for Wal-Mart make $0.13-$0.17 hourly.
  • 2004: Walton family received a federal tax cut equivalent to $91,5000 per hour.

Cutting to the chase: The film is most certainly worth your time. In fact, it should be mandatory for any and all local governments debating whether or not to bring Wal-Mart into their neck of the woods.

The Ills of American Healthcare

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American healthcare is a wreck. Cost for insurance is through the roof, employer-provided healthcare is going the way of the dodo, and close to 75 million Americans are left without any medical coverage. What should be done? Anything?

It must be granted from the outset that I am ill-equipped to discuss the intricate details of the healthcare industry. Like most Americans, I know very little about the ins-and-outs of healthcare. This isn’t to say we are completely ignorant. No, we are relatively familiar with the waiting rooms, the stack of forms to fill out, and the impersonal care of physicians. We are also all too aware of the increasingly outrageous costs for even the most basic medical care.

My initial glimpse into the system was when Angela and I had our first child. Samantha was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on May 22, 2004. I had recently been medically discharged from the military and was receiving healthcare from the Veterans Affairs (VA). This did not cover my wife, Angela, who decided to continue working for Staples in order to remain covered under their health insurance program.

Angela went on maternity leave just prior to her due date, and everything seemed to be flowing quite smoothly. That was, of course, until she had the baby. What Staples hadn’t told her was that when an employee goes on paid maternity leave, all but one thing remains the same. While they continue getting paid, and while they are assured their position upon return, the automatic withholding of funds for health coverage ceases. In short, rather than the employer withholding funds used for health insurance prior to cutting the check, they leave the withholding and payment up to the one on medical leave.

This omission was rather strange, and it was so for at least two reasons. First, Angela had worked at Staples for five years. She was a valued employee and had even been offered a high-paying position in a store soon to open in Connecticut. Second, if there was ever a time where an employee would be in need of such vital information, it would be when they are on leave for medical purposes.

Sadly, we only found this out after Samantha was born. Actually, it was about 15 minutes after she was born. Hearing from the nurse that we had no insurance was one thing, but being handed a bill of over $20,000 was something altogether different.

Staples insisted that it was not their responsibility to tell their employees going on medical leave that the medical coverage they had received for five years would no longer be taken out prior to cutting the check. Rather, it was the responsibility of the employee to ask whether or not the company would continue withholding the funds that they had been withholding for all those years, all of which were times when not on something referred to as medical leave.

Since this instance, we have had a number of bills. We have worked towards paying off outstanding bills, but accidents happen. Angela cut her thumb while doing dishes. She received a couple stitches, which also came with a bill for around $1,200. I took a ride in an ambulance which resulted in a little more than $600. They thought I was having a heart attack. The hospital hooked me up to a machine, drew blood, and diagnosed me with having stomach spasms that caused a chain reaction of unfortunate sensations that ultimately led to me hyperventilating and, consequently, having a heart-rate registering through the roof. After being discharged within an hour, I received a pleasant little bill for over $2,000. To make matters worse, the doctor laughed as I was told that a mere passing out would have resolved the problem, as my body would have tried to readjust itself.

Ambulatory care overreacts: $600
Doctor tells me I had gas pain: $2,000

So why am I talking about any of this? Why should you care? Maybe you don’t. But for those who have been dealt a tough hand in life, or any who know what it feels like to be shafted by employers in cahoots with insurance companies wishing to dodge any bullet from billing, or anyone who has had to pay thousands of dollars to be told that they don’t have a problem, this entire topic is meaningful. I would dare say that it is, or at least ought to be, meaningful for all Americans, as most all of us are in need of healthcare and will, in all likelihood, rely upon health insurance at some point in our days on earth.

As I admitted in the beginning of this uncharacteristically long post, I am ill-equipped to deal with the nitty-gritty of the healthcare debate. But I am most certainly someone with a vested interest in the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of not only me and mine, but also my fellow Americans. I am concerned enough, and compassionate enough, to begin looking into the matter with a critical eye, hoping that maybe we can come to a place, as a people, where care will be the first thing on the minds of medical providers and where bills are last on ours.

Written by Paleocrat

November 18, 2008 at 11:28 am

Wymyn Priests Gone Wild!

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I am being interviewed by a student doing a project concerning the ordination of women. After replying to her request, a friend and I wanted to search YouTube for video footage of “Wymyn Priest” ordinations. Much to my surprise, a search for “women priests” resulted in this.

Ah, it feels good to be #1.

Movie Reviews Pending

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I hope to have short reviews of these two movies finished by the weekend.


Written by Paleocrat

November 13, 2008 at 12:13 pm