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Monday, November 25, 2013

Obama-care 'customer experience' onerous as IRS tax forms

Here is my latest letter concerning the health insurance political debacle (Note: I used the word sound-bite in my letter, as submitted, but an editorial mistake changed it to sound-byte, which is ironic, given the topic, but not a joke I intended to make!)

President Obama's recent apologies for cancelling rip-off health insurance, laudably in order to benefit everyone, didn't acknowledge or explain why so many peoples' favorite healthcare plans, which fully meet the Affordable Care Act standards, are also being cancelled only because the individuals unwittingly requested a change during the last three years, including minor changes that provided better coverage, such as requesting a lower deductible within the same plan.

I was unable to confirm this reason for cancellation, despite having spent hours over the last three years asking insurance providers and reading mainstream newspaper stories, until after insurance companies recently mailed out legal notices citing specific paragraphs in Federal regulations, comprising thousands of pages, which even the mighty Google search engine can't find with plain-English explanations on any official government Website.

I credit Obama for acknowledging during his recent press conference that these types of "legal complexities" will still be a problem, even if the Website is fixed, however, sound-bite journalists are not reporting it.

Sadly, I now expect the "shopping experience" for health insurance under Obama-care will be literally onerous as filling out IRS tax forms online!

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Even if ACA website fixed, issues with health insurance won't be," gazettetimes.com posted Nov. 25, 2013, p. A7)

UPDATE Nov. 29, 2013: The editor also ran the following correction and an apology for the newspaper's change of a word in my letter from as I submitted it. Apology accepted, especially because one of my three spell checkers tried to automatically correct the spelling of "sound-bite" to "sound-byte." The newspaper's spelling change caused my friends to check on me and joke that I would be thrown out of the professional engineering and computer society I have been a member of for over five decades and disowned by the Stanford University, Oregon State University and Hewlett-Packard organizations I have worked with to design the first personal computers and printers.

The Gazette-Times changed the spelling of a word in my letter ("Even if ACA website fixed, issues with health insurance won't be," Nov. 25, p. A7) from as I submitted it, "sound-bite journalists," to "sound-byte journalists." This is ironic, given the subject and a byte is eight bits in computer lingo, but I did not write this joke. Editor's note: We do apologize (Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Spelling change gave letter unintended irony," Gazette-Times, Nov. 29, 3023, p. A7)

UPDATE: 12/1/2013 - confirmation of my letter appeared in the local newspaper, but it was buried on the continuation page: Ryan Kost, Politifact Check Oregon, "Health care promise had expiration date," Sunday Oregonian, Dec. 1, 2013, p. B1, B2, posted online as "Did Rep. Kurt Schrader flip flop on whether folks could keep their insurance under Obamacare?" at politifact.com/oregon/

Some other random thoughts I had that I didn't include in the letter: This situation makes Obama look either clueless, like the "Dilbert" cartoon boss, or deceptive, like the stereotypical used car salesman, only intent on trying to further Obama's otherwise praiseworthy political agenda of healthcare for all.

A former U.S. Senator, who was the ranking Republican on the committee responsible for the Affordable Care Act, on CNBC accused U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy's Democratic staff members of writing the bill and regulation to intentionally eliminate grandfathered health plans as quickly as possible in order to get everyone covered by Obama-care, and also he accused them of intentionally designing it without any cost-containment so that it would fail in the direction of the single-payer model that they really wanted in the first place. (See CNBC Squawk Box Nov. 11, 2013, 5:30 AM PT)

Another clue of the politics involved were revealed in the article by Joshua Green, "Marco Rubio's New Plan to Unravel Obamacare," BusinessWeek, Nov. 25 - Dec. 1, 2013, p. 27-28 businessweek.com posted online Nov. 21, 2013. This article finally explained why the Obama administration keeps mentioning the need to sign up more young people. Although I don't generally agree with the political methods of Senator Marco Rubio, his Senate Bill, to abolish the "risk corridors" in Obama-care, directly addresses the reason Obama-care needs to sign up young people -- if they don't, Federal tax payers are on the hook for bailing out the health insurance industry, just like taxpayers did for the banks under President Bush's misguided policies of letting free market competition self-regulate the banks.

Of course, if Rubio was truly sincere about helping out, the article also points out that he could more easily "write a bill stipulating that risk corridors must be budget-neutral." This is another tragic example of letting private businesses keeping all of the profits and leaveing taxpayers responsible for all of the risk.

Also, on CNBC Nov. 25, 2013, an insurance company actuarial expert claimed that Obama-care changed the pool ratio of young to old in a way that would raised average premiums for young people, with the assumption they would get tax breaks, and lower premiums for older people. Once again, if not enough young people sign up, then the insurance companies -- actually taxpayers -- would be stuck paying for it. Likewise, this is another reason the law was written to eliminate as many grandfathered health insurance policies as possible.

See my previous posts Oregon Obama-Care health insurance rates are designed-by-committee Dilbert cartoon (5/22/13) and Medicare Part B premium mysteriously still undisclosed - smells like dirty politics (10/24/13) for my earlier thoughts on health insurance politics.

Perhaps not coincidentally to Sen. Kennedy's desire for single payer, many of the other articles, opinion pieces and letters to the editor in my liberal college town are pitching a single payer model for health care, which I to me seems just like a polite way to avoid talking about how we ration health care, in the most fair way possible, to meet the infinite demand for healthcare:

Finally, and totally off the subject, the article by James Day, "Neighbors, preservationists save 1912 Corvallis schoolhouse," Gazette-Times, Nov. 21, 2013, p. A1, A5 said, "In the 1910 Census, the Corvallis population was listed at 4,552, up 150 percent from 1900. Just 10,663 people lived in Benton County. The 1912 bond election for the Van Buren Street bridge was the first in which women could vote after statewide suffrage. Mrs. Gun Hodes cast the first ballot. Oregon Agricultural College had approximately 2,800 students enrolled in all programs in 1912. Source: Benton County Historical Society"

Monday, November 11, 2013

OSU Professor of German, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Corvallis Queer Film Festival

Berlin university students carrying away the library from the home of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld on May 6, 1933 for a May 10-11 Nazi book burning. New York Herald Tribune, May 17, 1933

PHOTO: Berlin university students carrying away the library from the home of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) on May 6, 1933 for a May 10-11 Nazi book burning, (New York Herald Tribune, May 17, 1933) See previous post Magnus Hirschfeld Book notes 37 to 39 - final post (11/2/10) for my notes Magnus Hirschfeld's research work on homosexuality.

Princeton University Library bookplate and title page of 1914 book by Magnus Hirschfeld, Die Homosexualit├Ąt des Mannes und des Weibes' scanned by Google Books from library copy owned by Princeton University

PHOTO: title page and Princeton University Library bookplate in book by Dr. med. Magnus Hirschfeld, Arzt für nervöse und psychische Leiden in Berlin, "Die Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes," Louis Marcus Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1914, First Edition, Original from Princeton University scanned by Google Books. (download PDF of the first German edition from Google Books) See English language translation of Magnus Hirschfeld, translated by Michael A. Lombardi-Nash, Ph.D., "The homosexuality of men and women," Prometheus Books, 2000. See previous post Magnus Hirschfeld Book notes 37 to 39 - final post (11/2/10) for my notes on this book.

Nearly a Century has passed since when Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld first published his research book on homosexuality in 1914, which led the Nazi Party in 1933 to burn his research institute and send him into exile in France where he died in 1935 at the age of 67. Incredibly, Hirschfeld's pioneering research work was largely rejected by Stonewall-era American gay activists probably due to the lack of a good German to English translation. A good translation did not become available until the year 2000: Magnus Hirschfeld, translated by Michael A. Lombardi-Nash, Ph.D., "The homosexuality of men and women," Prometheus Books, 2000. (See my previous post Magnus Hirschfeld Book notes 37 to 39 - final post (11/2/10) for my notes on this book.)

My Grandfather Elmer Kraemer (See Wikipedia) was a famous German chemist, who led the team of chemists who invented nylon, and he was lecturing at the University of Berlin when the book burning of Magnus Hirschfeld's library occurred. I clearly recall my Grandmother Kraemer and my school textbooks describing this incident as being due to Hirschfeld being Jewish, but it is clear from historical records that the Nazi's were equally exploiting for propaganda purposes the fact Hirschfeld was gay and doing research Nazis said was promoting disgusting homosexual behavior and it was anti-Christian. The Nazi book burning of Magnus Hirschfeld's library alarmed my Grandparents enough for them to quickly leave Germany with my father on a boat for America.

To honor Magnus Hirschfeld, I am the founding benefactor of the Oregon State University Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund for research concerning humans or animals with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity, (See previous post OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement (1/4/12)) As a result, I've been happy to see the formation of a new OSU department that might be a good home for some of my research funding being made available to any academic department at OSU. (See previous post OSU School of Language, Culture and Society is perfect for OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund (2/19/12 revised 6/9/13)) I've also noticed two new Professors whose research is related to the mission of my fund: Oregon State University Queer studies Associate Professor Qwo-Li Driskill (see previous post New queer studies professor, OSU Magnus Hirschfeld Fund and OutHistory mentioned in student paper (6/7/13) and "Bradley Boovy Assistant Professor of German and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies," Oregon State University Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies who introduces himself as follows:

"I came to Oregon State in Fall 2012 after completing my Ph.D. in Germanic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. My research bridges cultural history, history of sexuality, queer studies, and gender studies and is informed by cultural studies and queer feminist perspectives. In my current project I examine transnational networks of exchange and collaboration in postwar gay publishing in West Germany, Western Europe, and the United States. I'm particularly interested in uncovering the ways in which these networks relied on and reinforced nationalistic and racialized ways of knowing and speaking about postwar gay male experience. In other words, how was gay identity in the postwar period constructed as exclusively White in the Western European and US-American contexts (i.e., the places where postwar "homophile" publishing was most visible)? And how do those racial legacies continue to inform dominant expressions of gay male identity to date?

"I teach courses both in the World Languages and Cultures Program and the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. In WLC I teach upper-division German courses along with courses on German-speaking cultures and media. My WGSS courses focus on men and masculinities and queer film. I am collaborating with colleagues from across campus to develop a minor in Critical Men and Masculinity Studies, which we hope to launch in Fall 2014."

(Quoted from "Bradley Boovy Assistant Professor of German andWomen, Gender, and Sexuality Studies," Oregon State University Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, accessed Nov. 1, 2013)

Also see Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Oregon State University "Program Faculty" accessed Nov. 1, 2013, which includes Mina Carson, PhD Associate Professor, History, Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul, EdD Director, Women's Center, Brenda McComb, PhD Professor, Forestry. Environmental & Social Justice; Transgender Studies, Brent Steel, PhD Professor, Public Policy. Gender & Environment, Gender and Politics, Vicki Tolar Burton, PhD Professor, English. Feminist rhetoric and writing; feminist approaches to religion.

Coincidentally, see the press release by Bradley Boovy, Mark Floyd, "Inaugural Corvallis Queer Film Festival to begin Nov. 11," News and Research Press Telase from Communications Oregon State University, posted Nov. 6, 2013 and the newspaper's printed notice: "Darkside Cinema hosts Corvallis Queer Film Festival," Gazette-Times, Nov. 7, 2013, p. B3. The event is sponsored by the Oregon State University School of Language, Culture, and Society and the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program in the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University.

Speaking of gay films, see the review by Daniel Borgen, ""Bridegroom": The Year's Most Important Film You Probably Haven't Seen Yet," pqmonthly.com posted October 31, 2013 - "Bridegroom . . . opened this year's Gay and Lesbian Film Festival-and, as has become customary for the fest, the first night's film played to a packed, emotional house."

I aw Bridegroom earlier on Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable channel while looking to see her coverage of Jack Baker's gay marriage activism. I said I might say more about it, but the PQ review probably better reflects the film's very positive impact on younger and less jaded viewers than me! (See previous post Oprah impressed by Jack Baker's gay marriage activism in 1970s (10/28/13)).

Note that the first documented case of a gay faculty member at OSU dates from 1935, when Professor W. Dorr Legg was hired by OSU. He would later become famous as one of the founders of the homophile movement in the 1950's that predated Stonewall. See previous posts W. Dorr Legg OSU archives records 1935-1942 (7/31/10) and OSU professor recognized equality hypocrisy decades ago (6/5/12).

Also, see previous post OSU Scholars Archive has PDF of OSU gay history from OutHistory dot org (11//2/13) -- Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University Gay Activism 1969-2004," outhistory.org posted May 6, 2010 is the new link after the site was moved from the City University of New York to the University of Illinois Chicago. For a PDF copy as originally posted, see "MSS Thomas Kraemer" ScholarsArchives&OSU Oregon State University Special Collections & Archives Research Center and URI:http://hdl.handle.net/1957/43450 accessed Oct. 26, 2013 that Redirects to Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University gay activism 1969-2004," Oregon State University ScholarsArchive@OSU accessed Oct. 26, 2013 part of OSU "Collections Pertaining to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People in Oregon," Oregon State University Archives accessed Oct. 19, 2013.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

OSU Scholars Archive has PDF of OSU gay history from OutHistory dot org

Thomas Kraemer OSU gay history as posted in OutHistory.org in 2010

PHOTO: scanned image, as originally posted in 2010, of my OSU gay history: Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University Gay Activism 1969-2004," outhistory.org posted May 6, 2010, which started by showing a two-page newspaper story from 1976 of Corvallis gay women coming out and wanting to get married. It was donated for public use to the OutHistory.org Web site started by gay historian Jonathan Ned Katz at the City University of New York and then moved in 2013 to Prof. John D'Emilio at the University of Illinois Chicago, where a new Web site design broke the permanent link to it and the accessibility features built into modern browsers and PDF readers. To make it more accessible to OSU students and the public, my original history, including the embedded accessibility text, as it was printed to PDF in 2010, is available via the permanent handle URI:http://hdl.handle.net/1957/43450 that redirects to the page Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University gay activism 1969-2004," Oregon State University ScholarsArchive@OSU Oct. 26, 2013. (See ScholarsArchive@OSU -- FAQ for Center for Digital Scholarship and Services and their PDF brochure, plus the student newspaper story by "Freeware for mind: Open Access hits OSU", dailybarometer.com posted Oct. 15, 2013 printed as Gabi Scottaline, "Open source academia: Open Acess at OSU," The Daily Barometer, Oct. 16, 2013, p. 7)

Note: The Web page Oregon State University "Pride Center History," accessed Nov. 1, 2013, still includes an older link to the OutHistory piece by Thomas Kraemer. Also see my donations to the "Collections Pertaining to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People in Oregon," Oregon State University Archives accessed Oct. 19, 2013 that has stored some original printed copies of Thomas Kraemer Speech and Blog -- History of OSU Gay Student Groups 1976-2006, as documented through a speech and blog by Thomas Kraemer -- see previous postThomas Kraemer, "OSU queer history month speech," thomaskraemer.blogspot.com posted Sep. 30, 2006 that also has an old broken link to my OutHistory piece.

Another thing lost in the move to the new Web site were the excellent comments by Brian S. Varley, BA OSU 1986, who asked why I hadn't included more history from the 1980's to 1990's -- I agree and I had hoped to add to this history, but my health may force me to leave this task to somebody else -- doing this history would make a good Masters thesis topic for a student. I am glad that I did the older history first because it required me months of work to exhaustively read every local newspaper to find things that were not indexed anywhere. I would hope that the more recent events will be easier to find using more modern digital indexing methods. The reason I decided to do the older history first was I had been humbled by meeting with pre-Stonewall gay pioneers whose history I had ignored when I was younger. In particular, Randy Wicker and Jack Nichols both gave me a much broader view of gay history. (See previous post Jack Nichols biography with blurb of my book review (2/17/13))

Some specific people and events that Brian S. Varley mentioned included Karune Neustadt, Rev. Lois Van Leer, Merry and Harry Demarest, Annabelle Jarmillo, Attorney Jeanne Smith (who I should note wrote Thomas Kraemer's will and OSU foundation legal documents) Tom and Kip and others who were involved in fighting the Oregon Citizen's Alliance anti-gay Ballot Measure 8 that later was declared unconstitutional and followed by Measures 9, 13, 19, and 02-06. Measure 8 led to the rise of a group called "After 8" that hosted the Harvey Milk Award Event in Corvallis. Brian noted how the mid 1980's brought official support of the OSU Associated Students Group funding in 1984-1985. Brian and Evee were the GALA Presidents who were encouraged by the GLBT leaders he named as Tom, Kipp and Eddie Hickey. The many articles in the local newspaper and student newspaper need to be found and catalogued -- I had to spend several months full time in the OSU Archives and do exhaustive searches by reading every issue spanning many years to get the documents seen in my history. Brian recalled how in the mid 1990's how Neustadt and Rev. Lois Van Leer's relationship went public nationally when they appeared on TV and in print, including the Phil Donahue TV show and Time Magazine. He noted that their public exposure resulted in frequent death threats. In 1992, the Corvallis City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which he added seems like nothing today, but he joined others holding signs in front of City Hall. Brian didn't mention it, but another more recent thing I wanted to document, but I was only able to mention in the timeline, is all of the work leading up to the OSU Pride Center and the changing notions of gay or queer students.

Ironically, when I started writing my history of OSU in 2000, the items Brian mentioned seemed like recent events and I felt an obligation to dig deeper into the past and provide a broader perspective of gay history to OSU students. The opportunity I had to talk to some early pre-Stonewall gay pioneers made me realize how each generation likes to think everything is new and they often miss the common threads of human nature that have existed for all time. The more recent events that Brain mentioned are important and need to be documented as part of OSU gay history.

My history received many views after it was mentioned in the student newspaper opinion piece by Irene Drage, "Rainbows, glitter, short-shorts in the pride parade," Barometer, Tuesday, June 4, 2013 (Irene Drage is a senior in English). Drage mentions that Thomas Kraemer is the founding benefactor of OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund for research concerning humans or animals with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity. She describes how she learned that LGBT people rarely have a family member who can pass on their cultural history like other minority children usually have.

Kristina Schafer of Portland, Oregon also called me to give me positive feedback -- she plans to send me a letter via U.S. email so that I can send her my OSU History.

See previous post Thomas Kraemer, "OSU professor recognized equality hypocrisy decades ago," tomsosu.blogspot.com posted Jun. 5, 2012 to see the copy of a letter signed by Oregon State University Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture W. Dorr Legg that was scanned from the original paper OSU personnel files that are now stored on microfiche in the OSU Archives, Corvallis, Oregon. Karl McCreary of the OSU Archives was able to show me Legg's OSU personnel file and give me a copy under an Oregon Public Records law concerning older files becoming public after enough time. This letter proved Legg resigned from OSU during World War II, when the student population had dropped, and he became a Christian minister at the military Camp Adair in Corvallis. This file eliminated the confusion that some back East historians had concerning whether Dorr was a Professor at OSU or at the University of Oregon. Also, the gay activist Michal Petrelis filed a Freedom of Information request with the FBI that showed the source of this confusion about Legg -- Legg's FBI file erroneously stated Eugene, when all of the addresses the FBI documented where Dorr lived were clearly in Corvallis and not Eugene. See previous post "FBI files on gay OSU professor 1956" (7/7/10).

See previous posts: