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Monday, October 28, 2013

Oprah impressed by Jack Baker's gay marriage activism in 1970s

Recent selfie by Jack Baker and Michael McConnell shown by Oprah Winfrey Oct. 27, 2013

PHOTO: A recent selfie photo of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell was shown by Oprah Winfrey as she expressed her amazement over how "brave" they had to be in the 1970's to fight for the right to gay marriage. After Oprah's other guests mentioned the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts in 2004 as being an inspiration for their own marriages, Oprah mentioned the history of the U.S. Supreme Court gay marriage case brought by Jack Baker in 1972 and also showed video clips and photos of their marriage ceremony and appearance on the David Susskind Show. (See all of this approximately 35 to 36 minutes into the show "Oprah's Next Chapter: Gay in Hollywood," Season 2, episode 41, (2013) on Oprah Winfrey Network as seen 9-10PM PT on Corvallis Comcast Cable channel 220 OWN Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. (See previous posts CA Prop 8 documentary mentions Baker's 1970 gay marriage case (8/28/13) and PQ letter on Jack Baker gay marriage activism vs. Steve Endean political goals (8/2/13))

Oprah's OWN cable channel featured this new episode of her show at the end of an entire day of gay-related programs, starting with a 4:30-6:30 PM rerun of her interview with Lady Gaga on being bullied for her gender variance. This was followed from 6:30-8:00 PM with Oprah's interview of Jason Collins, the first professional NBA ball player to come out as gay while still playing, and his non-gay straight twin brother. Then from 8-9 PM was a rerun of Oprah's interview of Neil-Patrick Harris, a former child TV star, who had been outed as being gay in 2006 by blogger Perez Hilton, along with his husband, David Burtka, who are both now fathers of twins. After the "Gay in Hollywood" episode ended, the OWN channel ran the documentary film "Bride Groom" by Linda Bloodworth Thomason from 10 PM to Midnight -- I have not had a chance to watch it yet, but I might blog about in the future.

I had not watched Oprah in years and so I had forgotten how every thing she does is filled with drama, heart, emotion and sometimes tears. Therefore, it was quite a compliment to Jack Baker that she would mention his story because it seems so boring, non-dramatic and analytical engineer-like compared to the usual human interest stories done by Oprah. I normally am not attracted to such a tear jerker style of programming, but I have to admit that all of the shows mentioned above were so well done that I watched them and the time seemed to fly by quickly because I was so absorbed in the stories.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Medicare Part B premium mysteriously still undisclosed - smells like dirty politics

I just watched the Oct. 25, 2013 U.S. House committee hearing on why the Website used by most States has been buggy and it wasn't system tested very much before rolling it out. (Oregon is using the site run by the Oregon Insurance Division for Obama Care Health insurance plans that start Jan. 1, 2014.) Of course, Republicans are shamelessly using this hearing as part of their campaign to undermine Obama-care, but equally shocking was the testimony that suggests the Obama administration is trying to hide the true costs by a last minute decision to not allow shopping without registering first. (I was surprised that no Democrat gave the excuse that they did this to prevent a denial of service attack by Republicans.) It will be interesting to hear the testimony of Obama's political appointee next week.

I've written before on healthcare politics: See previous post Oregon Obama-Care health insurance rates are designed-by-committee Dilbert cartoon (5/22/13)

A recurring thought I have had is that the demand for healthcare is effectively infinite because we all want to live forever, and therefore the issue with healthcare insurance is how society can best meet the sometimes conflicting goals of being both fair and compassionate in the way limited healthcare resources are allocated. Clearly, a capitalist free market system can be fair, in the sense that you can pay for the exact healthcare you want, however, such a system can lack compassion because many people who are in need may die because somebody with more money can have an optional medical treatment. Likewise, a totally socialist medical system could be compassionate because it can make sure those in the most need get the healthcare they need, but this could be unfair because it might happen only at the expense of everyone else who are not allowed to buy what they want in healthcare resources are limited.

I thought some more about these concepts when Aetna CEO Mark T. Bertolini appeared on MSMBC to discuss Obamacare and he pitched the idea that healthcare costs can't be managed unless Congress sets an overall budget for how much we want to spend in America on healthcare. Obviously, America is rich, but it can't afford to keep everyone alive forever. This thinking prompted my letter to the editor:

The Oct. 13 Associated Press story by Stephen Ohlemacher, "Social Security raise to be among lowest in years," speculated the government shutdown might be a reason for the delayed announcement of the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) that is provided by law to Social Security beneficiaries.

I smell dirty politics -- the same COLA factor is also used to determine "Original Medicare" premium increases that have always been available before September and printed in the approximately 200-page paperback book, "Medicare and You," mailed annually to all Medicare Beneficiaries so they can choose a healthcare plan during the open enrollment period in October. Mysteriously, for the first time in at least 15 years, page 4 says, "2014 Medicare premium and deductible amounts weren't available at the time of printing," but the book included prices for all of the privatized Medicare and Part D prescription drug coverage plans favored by Republicans.

Of course, on the Sunday talk shows, Republicans incited confusion by blaming mismanagement by Obamacare and they claimed Democrats were willing to accept budget cuts by changing the method used to calculate COLA, which nonpartisan economists say is already less than what elders actually face.

Shame on both Democrats and Republicans for neglecting the real issue -- we all want to live forever and allocating limited healthcare resources can't be done fairly and compassionately, by either Republicans' privatized healthcare systems or Democrats' socialized medicine plans, unless Congress sets an overall budget for healthcare.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Inaction of GOP, Democrats is suspect regarding health care info," Gazette-Times, Oct. 24, 2013, p. A1)

Here are some links to healthcare insurance information I've been reading:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Soldier's funeral bumps OSU drag queens off front page

Soldier's funeral bumps OSU drag queens off front page Oct. 21, 2013

PHOTO: a soldier's funeral bumps Oregon State University drag queen show off front page of the OSU student newspaper and the local Gazette-Times newspaper. See previous post OSU students discuss ethics of blackface, drag and definition of trans-asterisk (5/24/13) and the following articles and opinion pieces:

Friday, October 4, 2013

OSU student paper prints multicultural LGBT story next to crime reports

Barometer print layout Police Beat next to Bowling for Sol LGBT Oct. 4, 2013

PHOTO: The OSU student newspaper printed the "Police Beat" list of crimes reported on campus next to a story bout the Sol LGBT student group by Kaitlyn Kohlenberg, "Bowling with SOL, Multicultural LGBTQ group on campus hosts bowling night Thursday in MU basement," Barometer, Oct, 4, 2013, p. 2. I am sure this layout was done unintentionally in the deadline rush to press, but nonetheless it is deeply ironic given to the history of people in America, especially non-white people, who have a minority sexual orientation or gender identity being defined as criminals or dismissed as psychiatric cases. Fighting to overcome these negative stereotypes was a key strategy of early gay rights leaders. The above story is an example of the progress achieved over the last century because the biggest issue today appears to be how student groups can be more inclusive of people from all backgrounds. The editorial board is clearly sensitive to the meaning of this popular section (See Editorial, "Why we have a police beat," posted Sep. 29, 2013.)