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marcmagus: Ten the hard way (ten the hard way)
Monday, November 1st, 2010 06:12 pm

I spent my day Saturday going over my local ballot (the vote411.org ballot is quite handy, although the questions they asked weren't as revealing as I might have liked).

I live in Florida right now. We have a three-way race going on for our Senator. (Well, a lot more ways than that, but three major candidates.) If the polls are to be believed, Marco Rubio's going to run away with the thing. Which I'm not thrilled about. After looking things over, I decided I wanted to vote for Kendrick Meek, and not just because he has a (D) after his name. But Charlie Crist (former Republican, running unaffiliated, promises to caucus with the Democrats if elected) is polling better than he is.

There's been some discussion of whether Meek should withdraw and urge people to send their votes over to Crist to defeat Rubio. He hasn't. Crist, of course, would never even consider withdrawing and sending votes to Meek (but he did make announcements that Meek was going to encourage people to vote for him instead).

So, depressingly, as I looked at the empty ballot, I had to think about whether I was going to switch from voting for a candidate I think I can actually feel kind of good about to voting for a "lesser of two evils" candidate who has a higher chance of winning.

Even more depressingly, I was relieved to discover that if the current polls are correct, Rubio will win even if every Meek supporter switches over to vote for Crist. So I don't have to compromise my principles. Because the candidate I least want to see win is going to win no matter what I (and voters like me) do. Yay.

At least the Governor's race is close enough that votes are highly relevant.

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 02:43 pm

[I think this is about to become a series. Yay?]

I was thinking about this a bit more while I showered and washed my hair and shaved [I feel much better emotionally as a result, but my arm is hurting a lot more and it may be the only physical push I can accomplish today], and I realized that my hair is a political statement and action, and it's one that I'm not particularly excited to give up.

The cultural narrative that there's something wrong with long hair on men, and the new one emerging as demonstrated by my mother (see this comment) that shoulder-length hair is now manly, but longer hair is unacceptable because it's too girly is homophobia, is transphobia, and is mysogyny. Unapologetically wearing my hair "like a girl" (because apparently that's what most people think) and living my life is something I can do to combat problematic cultural narratives, and that is not something I want to give up.

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Friday, November 20th, 2009 11:52 pm

For anybody who doesn't know who Will Phillips is yet, go watch the CNN coverage. I'll be here when you get back.

If you don't have the time or can't view the video where you are for some reason, he's a 10-year-old who has decided he will no longer stand to recite the pledge of allegiance until the clause "liberty and justice for all" is fulfilled. The specific failure he perceives is that same-sex marriage is denied to those who desire it.

There's a lot of discussion about how adorable/cute/etc. he is, and sure, he is. A fact which is totally irrelevant, and which should ideally be removed from the discussion because it distracts and diminishes him.

Put simply, Will Phillips is a better man than I.

He observed an injustice and decided to respond with civil disobedience. He has persevered in face of ostracism from his peers. He has continued despite explicit instructions from authority to desist, and in spite of that authority being used to make his life more difficult. I would be shocked to learn that, in addition to the above [all stated in the CNN report], he hasn't been threatened either directly or indirectly. He continues, and carries himself well, despite the obvious discomfort the media attention is causing to his father.

So please, stop talking about how precocious he is. Call it like it is. Will Phillips is a hero.

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 07:17 pm

Call me shortsighted, but I don't want to elect a Senator based on how well they'll direct Federal money to my state, thus creating more jobs. I want to select them based on how well they'll enact appropriate legislation for my country.

This message paid for by television advertisements for the MA special Senatorial election.

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Monday, November 9th, 2009 11:48 am

New York State Governor Paterson has called for an extraordinary session of the State Senate for tomorrow, Tuesday, 10 November, 2009. He announced last Thursday that he will include his gay marriage bill on the agenda for that session.

Other than one email forwarded to me, I've been seeing surprisingly little call to action. I don't know if this is flying under the radar, if I've just not seen it, if people are still exhausted from Maine last week, or if I'm missing something else.

Regardless, a high fraction of my reading list are New York residents. Give your state senator a call, or at least drop them an email. You can get their contact info here.

Edit: added year to date

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 01:57 pm

A commentator after the debate last night suggested that McCain's proposed solution to the health care problem would result in a complete dismantling of the American health care system as we know it. My immediate thought, "Is that a bad thing?"

Seriously. Our "health care" "system" is a complete abomination full of half-assed misunderstandings of what it wants to be and how to get there. It can't decide if it wants to be a mandatory tax-payer funded charity or a voluntary free-market insurance program. The result is that it's the worst of both worlds, full of the inflated prices, random inefficiencies, and increased taxes often associated with bureaucracies and the cold, heartless, bottom-line driven uncaring of corporate greed.

On top of all that, because someone "cleverly" figured out that there were a bunch of advantages to making health care a job-related "benefit" (there are: collective bargaining advantages and untaxed income at the least), we have a system which makes it extra-difficult for people who don't earn their income from a single full-time employer to get any kind of insurance/care plan, and it pretty much denies people the ability to shop around for the best plan for their needs (because the choice in many cases is to use the plan your employer provides or throw away that money and buy another plan on top of it).

Oh, that reminds me of the other idealogical schizophrenia in our current system: insurance vs. care. If it's insurance, then it's paying some amount of money now against the unlikely event of a medical issue you would otherwise be unable to afford to cover. It makes sense for insurance not to cover pre-existing conditions; you're insuring against the unexpected, not the already known, or it's not really insurance. It also makes sense for them not to cover routine care or unnecessary procedures; you should be budgeting for these as well. [And they should be affordable, either because cost is low enough or income is high enough, or there's a major problem there.] Care, on the other hand, is there to take advantage of collective bargaining (and possibly unequal ability-to-pay based payments into a common pool) to ensure everybody who's part of the system has access to some agreed-upon minimum level of care available to them. It's actually more suited to routine care and minor needs than to major issues, and may not be able to deal well with emergency or expensive exotic needs (which one should probably separately insure themselves against). The problem with our system as it exists is that, again, it's a half-assed conglomeration of these two concepts put together, rather than in a way where each fills in for the deficiencies of the other, in a way that each inherits some of the deficiencies of the other (such as the care aspect of a plan not covering pre-existing conditions).

My current stance is that both sides of the ideological argument are right. Picking either one and going with it would be a drastic improvement over the crap we're attempting to live with right now. Both have major failures inherent which are unavoidable. The debates typically consist of each side pointing out those failures of the other and pretending the failures in their own system don't exist. There seriously doesn't seem to be any perfect system to handle this stuff at this scale, but there are systems which are less full of failure than ours.

It's very hard to enact change in a large system, and I rather despair that there's any way to untangle this huge mess and turn it into something reasonable, even if we could sufficiently settle the ideological disagreements underlying it all. It might well be that the only way to get to any system that works is to, in the words of Neal Stephenson, "...just let the damn thing fall over and build a tower that doesn't suck." Although how to keep everybody alive and healthy while we're building the new one is a tough question; not that we're doing such a great job now, but I'd hate for it to get worse just so it can get better. But would it be better to keep seeking local maxima (so never really getting more than a little better) just to avoid the short-term worsening? I couldn't say.