Friday, November 11, 2016

Fairness and Donald Trump

Fairness and Donald Trump

On November 10, 2016, the "real" Donald J. Trump tweeted:

Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!

No, these are not professional protesters. These are people who are angry that Donald J. Trump is now the president-elect.

These are people Trump criticized and tried to marginalize.

These are people whom Trump supporters have been harassing, attacking, and vandalizing the cars, houses and businesses of.

And yet, while Trump claimed in his acceptance speech:

"Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people."

Thus far, we've seen little evidence of this.

Trump lacks the common decency, the cajones:

  • to acknowledge we live in a country with freedom of the press and free assembly
  • to tell his supporters to stop their harassment of people they've been carefully taught to hate
  • to be truly presidential which means acknowledging Americans have the Constitutional right to protest

Even John McCain, a man I frequently disagree with, had the guts to remind his audiences once the birther movement got started that President Obama was, indeed, born in America. That's something that Trump never had the courage to do in front of one of his screaming crowds.

While Trump is now claiming that he can be a uniter, the fact that he's already talked about bringing very polarizing people into his administration like Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie and Steve Bannon (of Breitbart fame) means his presidency is going to be all about pleasing loud, conservative, old, rich, white guys. More evidence a Trump administration will not be inclusive: The architect of the most racist law in modern American history has been named to Trump's team, Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state. The Trump team is also showing itself to be anti-science with proposal for climate-denying EPA head, Myron Ebell.

It's going to be a long four years. I'm sure I'll be one of those protesters from time to time, and I'm going to go because I have read the Constitution and there are times when I still wonder if Trump has. I will never purchase a Trump-related product, go to a Trump-related property, and generally avoid NBC which helped to make Trump a "star" with his reality show. Being president is not a reality show - it's reality, an ugly reality for those of us who know Trump and his people are going to ruin our country (but hopefully, only for four years).

The Southern Poverty Law Center is collecting reports of hate-incidents in the US. If you see vandalism or hear harassment or attacks, you can report them here: https://www.splcenter.org/reporthate and on Twitter using the #reporthate hashtag. Keep your smartphone camera at the ready - that's our strongest weapon against harassment.


Sunday, November 06, 2016

From Registered Republican to a Registered Democrat

Many women have been writing about how their experiences with misogyny have led them to support Hillary Clinton.

I whole-heartedly agree, though my experiences have been a little different. So I want to talk about my gender issues and how my politics have evolved over time.

I was never a girly girl, I was the classic tomboy. Now, I'd identify myself as "gender queer" - I never had much interest in dressing up or wearing uncomfortable shoes or make-up or pretending to be stupid to satisfy other people's beliefs about what a woman should be.

I was and am loud and fat and I never related well to other kids, got harassed and beaten up but also fought back and stood up for myself. Unlike most kids, I didn't automatically assume I was straight. I thought about it and realized I was straight (on the Kinsey scale, I'm probably more of a 1 than a 0). I wondered if I might be trans as I was a very aggressive girl, but I realized I was comfortable with my physical gender, it was more society's expectation around what a girl was that angered me.

So I was a straight girl interested in boys but they generally weren't interested back, though I've always had male friends. I didn't have the kind of sexual harassment most women report. I was more harassed about my weight and my hypersensitivty (struggled with depression from very early in childhood). But I decided I was going to have an interesting life, and not be afraid to try different things. Loved theater from an early age, sang in groups, loved travel early on, went to the movies a lot, and wasn't afraid to go do things on my own. I had some friends, but kept getting close to girls who would then move out of town. I was isolated much of the time so I read more which led me late in high school to find science fiction and science fiction fandom, a place where loud, fat, smart women were welcome. While there was some sexism in fandom, it wasn't as pervasive as it felt in the culture at large. Men did assume you were more sexually available, but they also seemed much better about taking "No" for an answer, at least from me, as I was never afraid to say "No" until I was damn good and ready to start a sexual relationship. No, I wasn't a romantic but I fell for the right guy anyway, someone who was smart, very independent, geeky and not into rigid gender stereotypes. So I've had a very happy personal life for the last 40 years despite a rather rocky start.

While I haven't had the blatantly sexist experiences that many women have, I've believed women who talked about the harassment and assaults that are all too frequent in this society. While a few women may lie about sexual assault, that pales beside the number of men who lie about sexual assault, or, in the case of Donald Trump, boast about sexual assault and then deny it.

As for politics, I grew up in Massachusetts, always a very liberal state, but my parents were registered Republicans (at least my mother was and I assume my father, who's always been very "don't ask, don't tell" on politics, is as well). So in the late '60s and early '70s, I was one of the few kids in my school who supported the Viet Nam War and Nixon. But, at the same time, I believed adamantly that all people in America deserved equal rights under the law. Scenes on TV of black kids in the south just a little older than me being attacked by whites with water cannons and dogs appalled me. I didn't understand during the '60s and early '70s that Republicans were fighting civil rights, not just "crime" as the law and order types kept insisting.

My first step in getting away from the Republican party was in 1973. I initially believed as my mother kept saying that Nixon was innocent in Watergate. But then I watched the Watergate hearings, and it was clear Nixon was guilty. So, at first, I believed that the corruption in the Republican party was limited to Nixon and some of Nixon's people. In those days, the Republicans, in theory, were pro small-government and pro business. And in those days, you could support the ERA, abortion rights and gay rights and still be a Republican. So when I registered to vote for the first time in early 1975, I registered as a Republican. It's pretty typical for kids to adapt the political party of their parents, and in that way I was quite typical.

In 1976 I voted for Ford over Carter, partially because I was a Republican but also because I felt pardoning Nixon was the right thing to do. Ford was a bit more middle of the road than Nixon was, but, I did another typical thing in college which was to become more liberal and start fighting for the ERA. It was clear that Republicans were not very supportive of the ERA. It turned out Ford was the last Republican presidential candidate I ever voted for, but...during the '70s I just didn't like Carter very much.

My second step away from the Republican party was to not vote for Reagan in 1980. Ford might have been OK politically but Reagan was definitely too far to the right and sounded like a war monger much of the time. I voted for John Anderson, the last time I voted for an Independent for president.

Gradually, I stopped voting for Republicans. I stopped registering Republican and registered as an Independent. Sometimes I'd register as a Democrat to support a Democrat in a primary, but I'd switch back to being an Independent after the primary. I last voted for a Republican at some point in the late '90s, and voted my first straight Democratic ticket in 2000.

My complete disillusionment with the Republican party climaxed during the 2004 election when Kerry lost to Bush. I've been a registered Democrat ever since. The Democrats are the party of the future, and the Republicans are the party of our racist, sexist, homophobic past. The Republicans have done nothing for our country in decades - they voted against the Violence Against Women Act, they voted against the Minimum Wage, they voted against better background checks for guns, they voted for invading Iraq (sadly, they had too much Democratic help there)...I will #NeverVoteRepublican ever again.

I want a government that works for the people. I believe rich people should pay more of their share - not the 90% tax rate on the wealthiest common back in the 1950s and 1960s when the US was economically stable. I believe there should be more of a "windfall profit" tax on people who make over a half million dollars a year. I believe government on all levels needs to be more responsive to the people and less responsive to special interest and themselves. I believe government shutdowns should be illegal.

People like to blame the behavior of Republicans on Donald Trump, but I do not believe that. Trump is just the ultimate Republican - fact free and working only for himself and for the continuing hold on governmental power by white men.

#ImWithHer

2016.11.10: And the results of the election demonstrate how easily led about 25% of the adult population are. Nearly 50% of the possible electorate failed to vote despite the fact that a Trump presidency is likely to lead to war, chaos, evisceration of environmental laws and the Health Care Act and re-normalized bigotry. I despair for our country but I will always fight the bigots and the know-nothings, even though more of them will be in power in the US.


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

How to Estimate Affordable Care Act Insurance Premiums (AKA Obamacare) Using https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/

How to Estimate Affordable Care Act Insurance Premiums (AKA Obamacare) Using https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/

Remember the initial chaos of the poorly-designed healthcare.gov Website? Well, overall, it is a lot better. But it's also really, really stupid in places.

Not everyone who wants to know how much health insurance will cost is necessarily going to be buying now. And it is now excessively difficult to figure out how to estimate your potential healthcare costs on the site.

There was no link for "estimating costs" so I just went through and opened an account, which was a huge waste of time.

After going through most of the motions, I called their helpline (you can't E-mail their helpline...sigh) and after a 16 minute wait, spoke to a very nice person...who had me make a few searches....none of which found anything helpful about estimating premium costs.

But, luckily, the helpline woman figured out the right URL pretty quickly even if it wasn't findable from search or the home page of healthcare.gov. She provided friendly and fairly fast customer service, but this should have been obvious information for her to have.

Any Website should make it easy to find things. The fact that "estimating premium costs" was not a findable search term on healthcare.gov means the people who developed the Website (which is otherwise pretty good) aren't thinking about search terms and didn't run thorough user testing.

Granted, you can't put every possible task on the top toolbar, but "Estimating Costs" is a very important concept for people looking for insurance.

So if you just want to estimate the cost of an ACA insurance plan for your state and age, go to: https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/. That provides all the information you need, and the information you need to provide is much less than the info for opening an account.