DailyKos, Obamacare, and Caleb Howe

August 1, 2013 / 12:26 pm • By Dr. Melissa Clouthier


So the Daily Kos kids are being their typical selves: piling on their ideological opposition during a time of trouble to score political points. Caleb Howe, a military veteran, wonderful writer, and friend has been going through some difficult times that have culminated in him being in critical condition in the hospital.

For a lefty who makes everything political, this was the response:

So of course you want to repeal Obamacare. And what the fuck is your apparent “solution”? A tin cup on your website?

He says this as though a tin cup is a bad thing. Charity is a good thing. It comes from people’s hearts. Caleb and his family know they are loved. Every donation (well, most) is a message of goodwill and kindness.

Unlike medicare, medicaid and now Obamacare, charity is less likely to be abused, overused, or overextended. Who wants to exploit their friend’s love? No one. Well, no decent person.

And no decent person would so enjoy the suffering of another person.

Since this has been made into a political discussion, it’s worthwhile to point out that conservatives believe in helping the truly needy. This is what Medicaid was for–not as a catchall insurance program for everyone.

Also, here’s what the hospital will do for Caleb or anyone in a similar situation: they’ll assess his ability to pay and then bill him a small amount each month until they forgive the debt or it’s paid off. I’ve known people who pay $5 a month. Most hospitals were/are have Christian and charitable missions.

That’s America. It’s not a perfect system, to be sure. And improvements to the health care system were needed, but to claim that Obamacare would make Caleb’s situation better and ignore the harm that’s already being done by the legislation, is just willful political exploitation.

Worse, than the political, though, is the personal. The coarsening of our interaction and dehumanization is the biggest loss. Money comes and goes but community bonds and compassion abide. Well, I’d like to think they do, anyway.

Giving a dollar out of spite so you can say something nasty to man who might die and saying it in a place where his wife, children, and extended family will read it, well. What it says about you trumps any political point you hoped to make.


Those raising money for Caleb are almost to $25,000. Please help if you can: Go Fund Me.

On a personal note, Caleb’s girls are dancers and quite good and that’s expensive. Having a dad who can’t work means losing opportunities. These donations will help them pursue their dreams while their dad gets well.

Wishing Caleb and his family wholeness and healing.

  • Breeanne Howe

    Thank you Melissa. Our family has been touched beyond words by the support of our friends. Daily Kos has no hope of bringing us down.

  • areyou

    you are exactly what is wrong with America and should feel great shame. Jesus would be disappointed in you and you will surely burn in hell for your lack of morals

  • republican hypocricy lives

    can you explain to me how the hospital can give Caleb medical treatment below cost without anyone having to pay extra to make up the difference.

  • Fuckyouasshole

    You’re a piece of shit. Health care is so expensive because of leeches like you. We pay for our insurance and costs rise because of you RINOs.

  • Quellian

    Sure, the hospital will forgive the debt… and then jack up the prices for the rest of us. Then, we will have to pay higher insurance premiums ON TOP OF medicaid and medicare costs. So, no, you people aren’t the solution. You are the problem.

  • Griffon

    Wow. that’s one windy cop-out, Melissa.

  • Just some guy laughing at this

    So glad people could donate all that money from the goodness of their heart with it meant to go to this man’s medical treatment, only to be told that it will instead go to his kids’ dance lessons.

    Stay classy.

  • no way

    is this serious?

  • tjaninan

    let the reddit army swarm

  • tjaninan

    let the reddit army swarm

  • billmoore

    Really? You’re really making this argument and you don’t see how ironic and a bit idiotic it is?


  • Tanagram

    I’d like to apologise for the insults and jibes from my fellow Redditors and supposedly left-wing commenters. Believe it or not, we aren’t all godless commies. Anyone who has a serious medical problem and is struggling to cope with it deserves support.

    What you and Caleb don’t seem to grasp is why people react like this. Don’t you see how irreconcilable, how deeply wrong it is, to talk about the support of your community while advocating free-for-all capitalism? Can’t you tell?

    This is a serious question. On the one hand, you have rugged individualism, grab-what-you-can and damn the rest. Then suddenly it’s A-OK to ask the ‘community’ for help, that same community which doesn’t exist any other time.

    I’d really appreciate some kind of explanation here. Thanks.

  • ktappe

    “He says this as though a tin cup is a bad thing”

    It isn’t to us, but it is to you. A tin cup is socialism. And of course you and he both announce that. So why are you using one?

  • Sean

    What a piece of shit you are. I hope you die in a fire.

  • Melanie Somers

    “The truly needy”. Me.

  • Howard Treesong

    This is a fantastically infantile take on health insurance and how it should work. It’s small wonder so many people like the writer are against it when they have such poor understanding of what universal health care is and what it is supposed to do.

    You are a poster child for the people who prey on the sick and the infirm such as yourself to speak up against your own best self-interest.

    Your solution is to spend scarce monetary resources and give them to a hobby. So, not only do you not understand the strategic importance of good health care policies, you also do not appear to have even a basic grasp on how to spend scarce resources on vital budgetary needs. Did you suffer a brain injury (and I’m not hoping you did nor am I making light of it), it would explain a lot.

    The policies you defend were not designed by people like you. The people who want to keep you away from universal health care are not people who would give you the time of day.

    By not paying the hospital you are making sure the hospital will raise prices for everybody else, which also seems to be a point that is totally lost on you.

    Get well soon, Caleb.

  • ceddy45742

    Political ideology aside. Seriously? You’re collecting money for dance lessons? You had me until that popped up. Who do you think is paying for the medical bills if he is not?

  • Podd Socks

    Raising money to help someone is a decent and noble thing.

  • john

    Wow you are a hypocrite piece of shit. You would kill a person if that allowed you to score a point against those nasty “lefties”.

  • ceddy45742

    Was that necessary? I don’t agree with skipping out on medical bills. Or collecting donations for dance lessons under the guise of helping a person in grave condition. But you are being rude and obnoxious which doesn’t do anything to support your position.

  • GadF1y

    Funny, Mr. Howe doesn’t seem terribly charitable himself.


    Explain to me again why anyone should give a sh*t about this guy?

  • ceddy45742

    Wow! Any compassion I had for this situation just evaporated. Thanks for the link. If I were a believer in Karma I would say that this may be the poster child for it.

  • ProjectMelton

    You want us to donate money to his kid’s dance lessons so he can skip out on his hospital bill? Seriously?

  • Cal Hobbes

    And raising money, supposedly to help alleviate his medical costs, and finding out the money was frivolously wasted on his spoiled daughters’ dance lessons, is that “a decent and noble thing” too. In my mind, that is blatant fraud, no better than a con man or internet scam. Christians, eh? You shall be cast out, no matter how many ways you pray for forgiveness. Unholy fundies. Typical.

  • xardox

    All the time while accusing the nasty “libtards” of doing exactly what she was doing. Projection.

  • Seldona

    That is just pathetic. Those tweets were simply vile.

    It goes to show who the bigger, more civilized, man here is though. I don’t see a single tweet from Ebert celebrating this jerk’s cancer.

  • Dallas Move

    Socialism at work. He racks up huge medical bills and when the hospital “forgives” his debt the rest of us have to cover it. Worst of all, he actually could pay off some of his bill but opts instead to stick it to us so his kids can dance. What wonderful “conservative” values. SMH

  • A Friend

    First of all, I’m very sorry for your friend and his condition, as well as for his family. But I do feel the need to respond to some of the points you’ve brought up, in the interest of open discourse.

    You point out that charity is a good thing, and I don’t disagree. But let’s not forget that not everyone without health insurance has access to a platform to help them raise $25,000. Even if they did, $25,000 is nothing compared to the cost of long-term medical care. You say that the hospital will eventually forgive their debt, and that might be true… Or it might not. Many people have their medical bills sent to collections, ruining their credit over bills they cannot hope to pay. But again, even if the hospital forgives their debt, that cost is passed on to the rest of us. Personally, I don’t mind contributing to the healthcare of others; I mind the wasteful inefficiency of our current state of affairs. Through Obamacare or (even better) a single-payer system, we could actually pay LESS overall and help MORE people.

    Lastly, you say “but to claim that Obamacare would make Caleb’s situation better”, which confuses me. This is not an idle claim. Had Obamacare already been in full effect, Caleb would have been insured either at no cost (if his state chose to expand Medicare coverage) or at a cost he could afford, and none of this would be an issue for him. How would that not make his situation better? Would it not be a comfort to his family to not have to worry about bills and debt collectors? Would it not ensure more dignity for Caleb than begging for charity on his website? You suggest in your closing that the money donated will help fund Caleb’s daughters’ dancing, which would only be possible if Caleb and his family were absolutely counting on the hospital forgiving his debt. That cost is passed on to all of us. Given the choice between subsidizing Caleb’s care through increased hospital costs and insurance premiums for everyone, and doing it through Obamacare, which also makes preventative care and other medical assistance available, I’d choose the latter every time.

    Caleb fought tooth and nail against the very law that would in this case have benefitted him and his entire family. Please don’t let your ideology blind you to the lesson that can be learned from his sad situation.

  • Zachary Jacobs

    Godless is irrelevant, and you don’t need to bring religion into this to make your point. It is clear that you’re on the same side as the “godless commies’ but apparently you don’t even know what a communist is. It’s like you’re throwing the people you agree with under the bus just to appeal to this fool, and for no good reason. He isn’t worth your breath, much less the insults you throw at those who support your beliefs, here.

  • ceddy45742

    I interpreted the comment “godless commies” as sarcasm

  • ceddy45742

    The best reply I’ve seen

  • Tibbly

    Conservatism is the great hypocrisy of our time. So many ‘patriots’ standing on their own two feet… Until they can’t. Until they need a bank bailout or disaster relief or someone to pick up their medical bills.

    Some things never change.

  • beedogs

    Christ, conservatives are just absolutely disgusting and incredibly naive people. What a pathetic combination of failure.

  • reginald lowe

    I can confirm. “godless commies” was definitely sarcasm.

  • Lore

    You. Are. A. Moron.

  • ChristianLove

    The author is insane and is dispensing irresponsible advice.

  • Wunjo

    Mellisa has no rebuttal to any comments that oppose her naive viewpoint on the state of U.S. Healthcare. Its amazing how many smart people came to rip her line of reasoning apart. Seems her blog is only aimed at what I like to call the “television opinion” people, trying to incite a knee-jerk reaction with raw aggression and cold logic. Its amazing at all the disarming rebuttals and astute reasoning that was put forth. I’m sure Melissa will toss more shrewd jokes at the “lefts” but what she doesn’t realize is America is becoming smarter than what shes paid to type. We see the left-right paradigm for what it is, her mass appeal is non existent and her aggressive statements will get her nil in the ever expanding minds of the youth, who will tear her “Greasing the wheels” statements into shreds. Good luck Mellissa, but luck will do you no good when you are against those with worldy proof and broad understanding. πŸ™‚

  • GoesAroundComesAround

    Two points: first, Caleb is in the hospital with liver issues — is this possibly related to his tweet where he says “Wife just revealed twe have fifth of vodka in freezer. That means I’m about to say things about Roger Ebert that Media Matters won’t like”.

    He then writes, an hour later: “I was about to slap the taste out of @ebertchicago’s fat face, but then I remembered. And I was like … sweet.”

    (Roger Ebert has a kind of cancer that forced his jaw to be removed surgically)


    “You know, @ebertchicago, I’m not as expert on flag etiquette as you. Tell me, which do I fly when you die of cancer?”

    Sounds like a lovely man, a real “Christian” — drinks himself into an abusive stupor and mocks people with cancer, then begs for charity when he gets liver cirrhosis. You’re seriously defending this scum?

    Pics: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2010/05/08/redstate-blogger-howe-mocks-roger-eberts-cancer/164397

  • jesus h Christ

    hope this pole smoker dies

  • whatdidijustread

    I don’t understand…. why is it wrong for the government to fund health care but OK for a hospital for foot the bill? The government is supposed to, albeit theoretically, represent the community who benefit from giving people healthcare, keeping them healthy, productive and relatively un-miserable. The hospital is supposed to provide that health care. It does not benefit from providing free health care and not being paid for the services, expertise and resources it provides. I can not for the life of me see how this is consistent with the right-wing doctrine of user-pays.

  • ceddy45742

    Maybe still in bed. comments didn’t start rolling in until about 12am EST

  • ttakins

    Yeah, everyone has the ability to appeal to charity in such an effective manner therefore universal healthcare is a bad thing!

  • Timothy Bambrick

    Truly disturbing logic from the mind of a sociopath.

  • usedtobeRight

    I have a good friend who is black, unemployed, and similarly without health insurance. She was just diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and needs a bone marrow transplant. She doesnt have a website but shes raised a few thousand from the community. Any other ideas? Will the hospital go ahead and save her life and forgive the debt? She doesn’t need money for dance lessons.

  • Bootstraps

    I bet if Caleb bootstrapped hard enough he wouldn’t have to be a leech on the American people with his socialist handouts that the hospital will be giving him. Cmon man. Stop being a pinko commie! I don’t want to pay for your medical treatments through my higher insurance premiums.

    Maybe you should just hurry up and die so you can stop being a drain on the economy since you’re too poor to afford health care.

  • Thom Burke

    THIS is the problem with America! Scumbag hypocrite conservatives.

  • cr0ft

    How preposterous – as if the medical cost didn’t wind up burdening the US taxpayer one way or the other.

    The only difference is if it happens in an organized and affordable way – like via a single-payer solution, which would slash medical spending from the current nation-breaking 18% of the GDP to perhaps 10-11% of the GDP, or if it happens in this extravagantly expensive system where every step in the chain of providing health care is in it for profit.

    I will never cease to be amazed at how the right wing loons living in their own bubble of anti-reality can keep ignoring facts they dislike.

    I hope Howe pulls through, but if he does it will be because he totally ignored the rules of the system he champions when those rules became a nuisance to himself, which means his integrity-level is about nil.

  • tokyoburns

    “And no decent person would so enjoy the suffering of another person.”

  • nah

    Also, soaking in the ad revenue this post has generated.

  • TrueTeaBagger2013

    RomneyCare and ObamaCare were designed to prevent people like Caleb from “gaming” the system like he is doing. (When someone doesn’t pay for insurance -like the rest of us- and gets very sick…only to have the hospital lose out on payment or have the gov’t somehow reimburse them—-THAT’S Gaming The System). He was merely a Cheater and now he’s a Parasite.