Category: Women

Republicans are making their atrocious health care bill even worse to appease the far-right

If you thought the Trumpcare bill in Congress was bad, well, Republicans are now trying to make Trumpcare, which is the proposed legal vehicle for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provided millions of Americans with health insurance, a lot worse in order to appease members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of far-right Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Republicans have, since Monday, made two major amendments to the original Trumpcare bill.

The first is the so-called “manager’s amendment”. What the manager’s amendment, if enacted, would end the popular and effective Medicaid expansion a lot sooner than the original bill would have, allows states to raid federal Medicaid funds and use them for purposes other than Medicaid, and makes the Medicaid funding cuts from the original bill a lot more severe, giving state governments, particularly those controlled by Republicans, an opportunity to deprive large numbers of people of health insurance. ThinkProgress, a left-leaning website, gave a more detailed description of the manager’s amendment here.

The second is the Meadows Amendment, named after U.S. Representative and House Freedom Caucus member Mark Meadows (R-NC). Among other things, the Meadows Amendment would allow private-sector health insurers to:

  • deny health insurance to those with pre-existing medical conditions
  • force women to pay more money for the same exact health insurance that men receive
  • enact annual and/or lifetime limits on health care coverage
  • force people to pay money out-of-pocket for vital preventative care, such as mammograms and vaccinations

It’s not hard to understand why most Americans don’t like Trumpcare.

Paul Ryan and John Shimkus don’t understand the concept of insurance

It has become inherently clear that the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress have zero concept of how insurance is supposed to work. Broadly speaking, insurance is a method of protecting one’s self from financial loss, and insurance can be an individual policy (such as a car insurance policy through a private-sector entity like State Farm, GEICO, or one of their competitors), a group policy (such as group health insurance plans provided by employers through a private-sector health insurance firm to the employers’ employees), or a government policy (such as the federal Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program commonly called Social Security). Likewise, health insurance is a method of protecting one’s self from financial loss associated with medical expenses, and can be an individual policy, a group policy, or a government policy. In order for insurance policies to be financially sustainable, those who do not need the benefits of the insurance policy in question must, by buying into the policy (which can be by paying premiums, taxes, and/or other means), effectively subsidize those who do need the benefits of the insurance policy in question.

The problem is, Republicans, who want to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), don’t understand how a financially-sustainable health insurance policy works.

At a recent press conference, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin bizarrely claimed that health insurance doesn’t work if healthy people have to effectively subsidize people people who are ill and/or injured:

…He even lost the suit coat and broke out the PowerPoint on Thursday. It was like watching something on cable access late at night, or a flop-sweaty rookie substitute teacher, and it was hilarious—except for the parts where people will lose their health insurance and die, of course. And this is what he said and, peace be unto Dave Barry, I am not making it up, either:

Paul Ryan said that insurance cannot work if healthy people have to pay more to subsidize the sick.

As if Ryan wasn’t far enough out of touch with reality, the person who legally represents me and several hundred thousand other people in downstate Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives, John Shimkus, made the sexist motivation behind repealing the ACA publicly known in committee:

But Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois took the cake on Thursday night when he questioned why men aren’t exempt from paying into insurance plans that cover prenatal care. “What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” the congressman said. “Is that not correct? And should they?”

Let me ask a similar question: Why should women have to purchase health insurance for prostrate cancer treatments? Clearly, men never need prenatal care, and women never need prostate cancer treatments. However, if only women had to pay for health insurance covering prenatal care, such a system, regardless of whether the public sector or the private sector were to administer it, would be financially unsustainable. The same problem would be the result if only men had to pay for health insurance covering prostate cancer treatments. This is because a large percentage of women will need prenatal care for at least several months of their lives, so it would be only women who never get pregnant effectively subsidizing those who get pregnant any number of times in their lives. Health insurance covering gender-specific health illnesses/procedures can only be financially sustainable if both men and women pay into a health plan covering prenatal care, prostate cancer treatments, etc..

While I’d never run for public office myself, John Shimkus may legally represent all people in the 15th Congressional District of Illinois, but a significant minority of voters in the 15th district, including me, understand that Shimkus doesn’t understand how health insurance works.

Women’s March participant wins Urbana, Illinois mayoral primary

On January 21 of this year, millions of women in the United States and around the world participated in a series of Women’s Marches in protest of the horrendous policies of President Donald Trump.

Last night, the Women’s March scored its first major electoral victory in a Democratic primary for Mayor of Urbana, Illinois:

An eight-year Urbana city councilwoman who campaigned on the promise of improving economic development in Urbana is one step closer to becoming mayor.

Diane Marlin took the Democratic mayoral nomination by a landslide in Tuesday’s primary — piling up 2,427 votes to 12-year incumbent Laurel Prussing’s 1,510 and Evelyn Underwood’s 316.

Next up: An April 4 date with Republican Rex Bradfield in the consolidated general election.

Diane Marlin was a participant in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois Women’s March, and now she has defeated a longtime incumbent mayor of one of Illinois’s most progressive cities. I live in another municipality in Illinois, but I wish Diane well in the general election in her city!

The women of America are leading the opposition to Donald Trump

madison-wi-women-march-1-21-2017
Sign carried by a participant in the Madison, Wisconsin Women’s March (Photo taken by Kari Nelson and provided by Sarah Lloyd)

Ladies and gentlemen, the opposition to President Donald Trump is officially here!

Earlier today, millions of people across the United States and on all seven continents around the world (including Antarctica!) participated in Women’s Marches in Washington, D.C. and numerous other locales. The Women’s Marches are the single largest action by the women’s rights movement that I have witnessed in my lifetime by far.

Although I was unable to attend any of the Women’s Marches, here are some observations from the Women’s Marches (all of these are courtesy of either social media of participants or news sources with an online operation of some kind):

The opposition to Donald Trump is not going to be led by a single person. It’s going to be led by a large segment of the American people.

CAMP’S CONSTANT #1: If women are standing up for their rights, Piers Morgan is being a smug jerk

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of blog posts called Camp’s Constants, in which I will write about various things to expect from right-wing extremists and their enablers.


Former CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, who is now a media personality in his native Britain, is no feminist. Sadly, he proved that by taking to Twitter and delivering a screed that would make the far-right and rabidly misogynistic men’s rights movement proud:

Piers’s latest anti-woman screed comes the same day that an extremely large group of women’s rights supporters are descending on Washington, D.C. to take part in the Women’s March on Washington. Unlike what Piers wants you to believe, feminism is not a threat to the male gender, in fact, there are many men, including me, who strongly support the goals of the women’s rights movement. Reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, and eliminating sales taxes on feminine hygiene products are issues that I view as important. I believe that women should have the right to control their own bodies, receive the same pay that men receive for the same work, and not have to pay sales taxes on feminine hygiene products that they need.

Piers Morgan is a sexist jerk, and I’ll go ahead and predict that, if he holds a men’s march, there would be fewer than 200 people show up to participate. The vast majority of people here in America view the men’s rights movement for what it is: a desperate attempt to preserve the idiotic concept of male supremacy.

I hope that there is extremely large turnout for the Women’s March on Washington, and that many men and young people show up to support women’s rights and gender equality.

The 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

As 2016 comes to a close, I hereby present the 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards. The Person of the Year will earn a spot on the list of members of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner. Starting in 2017, listings of individuals on the list of recipients of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner will become separate from the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards.

PERSON OF THE YEAR – JENNIFER WEISS-WOLF

2016 was, all around, an awful year for progressives, both in the United States and worldwide. However, one bright spot in progressive advocacy is Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a women’s rights advocate from New York City. Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy for increased access to feminine hygiene products in public restrooms and advocacy for abolition of sales taxes on tampons and other feminine hygiene products has earned her support for her ideas from Democrats and even a few Republicans. States like New York and Illinois have eliminated sales taxes on tampon thanks to Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy, and Weiss’s hometown of New York City has mandated that tampons be made freely available in public restrooms of city schools, jails, and shelters. Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2016.

ELECTED OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR – BERNIE SANDERS

For the second time in consecutive years, Sanders, who represents Vermont in the U.S. Senate and unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, is the recipient of a ProgMid award. Although Sanders didn’t win his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and isn’t technically a Democrat, he has had a significant and largely positive impact on the Democratic Party. Sanders successfully pushed to make the national Democratic Party platform, which is non-binding for Democratic candidates, more progressive than in previous years and decades. Sanders helped bring progressive policies like making higher education truly affordable, single-payer health insurance, and expanding Social Security into the American political mainstream, even though none of those ideas will be enacted in the near future, at least at a national level. Furthermore, Sanders’s candidacy has led to the creation of the DNC’s Unity Commission, which will examine potential reforms to the Democratic presidential nomination process for the 2020 presidential election and future presidential elections after 2020. For his advocacy for progressive ideals and his efforts to improve the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders is the ProgMid Elected Official of the Year for 2016.

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – LILLY KING

While 2016 was a banner year for the far-right Vladimir Putin regime in Russia, one thing that did not go well for Russia this year was their performance in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Russia sent considerably fewer athletes to Rio than originally planned after the Putin regime was caught running a large-scale doping operation. Even worse for the Russians, they were completely embarrassed by Lilly King of the United States, who, after publicly criticizing Russia’s Yuliya Yefimova for doping, defeated Yefimova in the pool for the gold medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke swimming event. King was also a member of the U.S. team that won gold in the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay in Rio. For continuing the time-honored tradition of Americans defeating Russians in international sport, and for promoting ethical competition in sport, Lilly King is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2016.

PLACE OF THE YEAR – REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA

While the far-right has gained significant ground worldwide, Austria is, to an extent, an exception. Austrians rejected a far-right presidential candidate not once, but twice, in 2016. In the first of effectively two presidential elections held in Austria in 2016, left-leaning European federalist candidate Alexander Van der Bellen received more votes than far-right fascist candidate Norbert Hofer in a runoff election after no candidate received an outright majority of the vote in the first round of the first election. However, the Constitutional Court of Austria annulled the runoff results because Hofer complained of election irregularities, resulting in the runoff being re-held. Voters gave Van der Bellen an even larger majority in the re-run of the runoff, and Hofer finally conceded. For rejecting a fascist would-be head of state not once, but twice, in the same year, the Republic of Austria is the ProgMid Place of the Year for 2016.

 

CONCEPT OF THE YEAR – POLITICAL RESISTANCE

As I’m sure that virtually everybody who reads this blog knows, Republican Donald Trump won this year’s presidential election despite winning a minority of the national popular vote. Not surprisingly, I’ve seen more than a few people on the left, and even many establishment Democrats, call for a non-violent political resistance to the incoming Trump Administration. With a barrage of right-wing federal legislation likely to be enacted starting early next year, progressives are going to expect resistance from the Democratic minorities in both houses of Congress. Political resistance is the ProgMid Concept of the Year for 2016.

Business pledging to donate half of proceeds to Planned Parenthood selling “nasty woman” t-shirt

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post is NOT receiving payment from Google Ghost or anyone else to write blog posts about their products.


Last night, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is male, called Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is female, “such a nasty woman”.

Trump’s “nasty woman” remark about Hillary has already prompted at least two businesses that I know of to start selling t-shirts with the words “nasty woman” on them. One of them is a business called Google Ghost (apparently not owned by Google or its parent company, Alphabet), which is selling this women’s T-shirt. The shirt, which includes the text “NASTY WOMAN” inside of a heart-shape, is available in sizes ranging from small to double extra-large, and Google Ghost has pledged to donate half of the proceeds from sales of the women’s shirt to Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive health services to women and men. There is also a men’s version of the shirt, with men’s sizes ranging from extra-small to triple extra-large, and Google Ghost has also pledged to donate half of the proceeds from sales of the men’s shirt to Planned Parenthood.

This sounds like a great idea to raise money for women’s health!

(TRIGGER WARNING) Donald Trump reportedly walked in on undressed beauty pageant contestants

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a description of sexual harassment by an individual who is now a major-party nominee for the office of President of the United States. Reader discretion is advised.


On the heels (no pun intended) of the Donald Trump Access Hollywood scandal, in which Trump bragged on tape about grabbing women by their genitalia without their consent, another major scandal involving inappropriate behavior by Trump has hit the headlines. This time, KCBS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, is reporting on their website that Trump had walked in on undressed beauty pageant contestants who were competing in the then-Trump-owned Miss USA pageant and forced them to, as a former Miss Arizona put it, “go fawn all over him” while wearing little or no clothing:

As Miss Arizona, Tasha Dixon, then 18, competed in the Miss USA pageant, which was owned by Donald Trump for 19 years, along with the Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA pageants.

“Our first introduction to him was when we were at the dress rehearsal and half naked changing into our bikinis,” Dixon recalled. “He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked.”

She said she and her fellow contestants were put in an awkward position when “the owner come waltzing in when we were naked or half naked in a very physically vulnerable position and then to have the pressure of the people that worked for him telling us to go fawn all over him, go walk up to him, talk to him, get his attention.”

I firmly believe that Tasha Dixon is telling the truth. In particular, two reasons convince me that Dixon is being fully honest:

  • The CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, KCBS-TV, which is owned by the CBS television network as an owned-and-operated affiliate (unlike most CBS affiliates, which are owned by a different company than the CBS network itself), is running a report about this on their website.
  • There’s a 2005 recording of a Trump appearance on The Howard Stern Show, then a radio show syndicated to over-the-air radio stations, of Trump himself bragging about walking in on beauty pageant contestants in the dressing room.

Regarding the 2005 Trump recording, here’s a transcript of it, courtesy of KCBS-TV:

Trump: “I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else. And you know, no men are anywhere. And I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant. And therefore, I’m inspecting it. You know I’m inspecting it. I want to make sure everything is good.”
Stern: “You’re like a doctor.”
Trump: “Is everyone OK? You know they’re standing there with no clothes. Is everybody OK? And you see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.”

It’s clear to me that Trump walked in on female contestants in his beauty pageant while they were partially and/or fully naked. That kind of behavior is extremely inappropriate, and someone who engages in that kind of behavior does not belong in any kind of public office, especially the highest public office in the entire country.

(TRIGGER WARNING) Donald Trump videotaped making pro-sexual assault comments in 2005

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a description of part of a lewd conversation and information about a presidential candidate bragging about sexual assault. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


David Fahrenthold (link is to Twitter page) of The Washington Post has done some great investigative work on Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. Until earlier today, Fahrenthold has focused primarily on Donald Trump’s corrupt uses of his personal foundation.

However, Fahrenthold has now turned his attention to something that Trump did that was even more sinister than the corrupt dealings of the Trump Foundation.

Fahrenthold got his hands on a 2005 tape of Trump having a conversation with then-Access Hollywood host (now co-host of NBC’s Today show) Billy Bush, in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. Here is just a small sample of the lewd conversation:

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the (female genitalia),” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

Trump actually used a five-letter word beginning with the letter “p”, not “female genitalia”, in the actual conversation.

That conversation is a textbook example of how pervasive rape culture is in America. Donald Trump, in a videotaped conversation with a member of the media, bragged about sexual assault on camera and bragged about how famous people, such as himself, can get away with it. The truth of the matter is that no person in this country is above the law’s commands, and that kissing another person, grabbing another person’s genitals, sexual intercourse with another person, etc., without the other person’s consent is sexual assault, which is a criminal offense in every U.S. jurisdiction. Billy Bush is just as guilty of aiding and abetting rape culture as Trump is, because he goaded Trump into making degrading comments about women. NBC should fire him immediately from his current job.

I don’t have a wife, a girlfriend, a sister, a daughter, or a niece, but, if I had a wife, a girlfriend, sister(s), daughter(s), or niece(s), I would not let them anywhere near Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s sex tape hypocrisy

Recently, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed that former Miss Universe Alicia Machado has a sex tape. Such a sex tape is not known to exist. As it turns out, an adult entertainment tape including a cameo appearance by…you guessed it, Donald Trump…actually exists:

BuzzFeed News recently uncovered a relic from Trump’s past: a softcore video documentary made in 1999 called “Playboy Video Centerfold 2000.”

As might be expected from the title, the video features lots of shots of naked women dancing and posing, as well as touching themselves (and each other).

[…]

(Trump) appears in a brief cameo in which he opens a champagne bottle with the help of some playmates and then pours it on the Playboy bunny logo.

The scandal is not that Donald Trump appeared in a sex tape. I don’t have a problem with political figures appearing in adult entertainment shows, films, or videos, provided that they’re legally old enough to appear in any form of adult entertainment and that any sex acts that are associated with the show, film, or video in question is consensual.

The scandal is that Trump has accused (presumably falsely) a recently-naturalized U.S. citizen and winner of a beauty pageant of having a sex tape, while Trump himself has appeared in at least one adult video that I am aware of. That is blatant hypocrisy.