Here is an article that summarizes that latest state of the healthcare reform bill. Overall, it appears that a public option may happen, which I am inclined to favor to provide for more competition in densely populated, basically non-competitive healthcare insurance markets. Thoughts?
Healthcare Reform – Will There Be A Public Option? October 25, 2009
So – for people who think I only criticize Obama, when it comes to gay issues, here is a post for you. Do you all remember the $787 billion 2009 Stimulus Package that Obama passed early in his administration? Do you remember Obama stating that his administration would be accountable to the reporting, i.e. outlays and outcomes, “every dime” of how these dollars were used? Well, Mr. President – if the recent report that your adminstration released is any indication of accounting for “every dime” there is a lot to be desired. Here are the highlights:
- The reporting for the amount of jobs that are created/saved as result of the stimulus package are full of errors.
- The government expects the recipient’s of the stimulus money to correct mistakes
- It appears that government agencies do not have the power to alter statistics for which it disagrees with the recipient.
Anyway, read the last link for more details. Side note – doesn’t it seem like this type of story should be on the news as opposed to this ridiculous balloon story?
Given my love for the theatre, I am often asked, “what should I see in NYC?” Well, I was just there this past week and I thought I would give all of you a few highlights from the trip:
1.) The Understudy (Not Recommended: 5.0/10; Recommended if you LOVE Mark-Paul Gosselaar) I saw this play in its preview period so it may improve, but overall the script does not quite live-up to the great performances from the actors. This show marks Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s NYC stage debut and I must say he is BEYOND IMPRESSIVE! Also, while I always thought he was “cute boy next door” I must say that he is absolutely gorgeous in-person!
2.) Jane Krakowski @ Feinstein’s (Recommended: 7.5/10): I saw Jane Krakwoski (Jenna on 30 Rock, Elaine on Ally McBeal, Tony Award Winner for Nine) perform her debut NYC cabaret act. Jane was a total sex kitten – very Eartha Kitt! Also, I sat two tables away from some members of the 30 Rock Cast (Jack McBrayer (Kenneth) and Judith Friedlander (Frank). Here is the NY Times review for her show.
3.) A Steady Rain (Recommended: 8.5/10): I had seen this play in Chicago in its original incarnation. Well, it is now playing in New York with Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in the title roles. Overall, this play is quite powerful and Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman acquit themselves well with on qualified exception. Daniel Craig achieves in this play what Hugh Jackman does not quite achieve – he becomes completely absorbed in his role and one believes that he is a Chicago cop from the beginning whereas Hugh Jackman never quite surrenders completely into his role. This somewhat lack of surrender is what keeps this play from being a 10 out of 10 for me, but it still packs a wallop of a punch. This Chicago Tribune review states it best.
4.) Next to Normal (Highly Recommended: 9.5/10): I have seen this musical during one other trip to NYC and I just had to see it again. The score has a great rock-edge and this original cast sings it with skill and aplomb, illustrating the lives of this tortured family with dexterity. Here is the NY Times review that reviews this show best. See the below Tony-performance clip that showcases the best number from the show:
Kylie Comes to Chicago and She’s AWESOME! October 12, 2009
So, Kylie Minogue opened her US Tour in Chicago this week and F and I were there to dance our butts off! Here is a video from her new song that is just FUN (It was great running into you randomly, SM)! BTW – This woman is a cancer survivor – now that is WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!
Obama gave a speech to Human Rights Campaign (the HRC is the largest LGBT political action committee in the USA) this weekend. Overall, I must say that I did not have high hopes for this speech and Obama even managed to fall well below those expectations. He said all the right things. He pledged to end don’t ask don’t tell. However, he gave no timeline for when any of these developments will occur – and that is the disappointment. Now, I understand that Obama came into office with a lot on his plate. I by no means expected him to solve all LGBT issues by now. However, I think he could have at least placed an executive order that stopped discharging of soldiers for being LGBT for the time being during wartime until we have time to have the appropriate national debate.
Obama has always talked about the “urgency of now.” However, when it comes to LGBT issues, he sets no deadlines. Then, the HRC publishes this statement: “I’ve written that we have actually covered a good deal of ground so far. But I’m not going to trot out those advances right now because I have something more relevant to say: It’s not January 19, 2017. That matters for two reasons: first, the accomplishments that we’ve seen thus far are not the Obama Administration’s record. They are the Administration’s record so far . . . I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will look back on the President’s address to my community as an affirmation of his pledge to be our ally. I will remember it as the day when we all stood together and committed to finish what Senator Kennedy called our unfinished business.”
2017??? WTF??? I mean – I get it. We need to look at Obama’s record in the long view and I hope he delivers and I can say he’s the best president that the LGBT community has ever had. However, why doesn’t the largest LGBT PAC in the US hold the president accountable to making something happen in his first term? Pathetic . . . See a post by Andrew Sullivan that states this one much more eloquently than I can.
Obama Awarded Nobel Peace Prize October 11, 2009
Well – I had not planned to discuss Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I really did not think that I had a lot say about it. However, it has brought many reactions from many people (See this NY Times article that summarizes). So, I figured that I would post a few thoughts. Overall, does it seem a bit early? Yes. Is it deserved? Yes. So, you may be asking – why do I think it is deserved? I suppose when I heard that Obama had won I instantly thought – “Wow – that was unexpected (I sense Obama felt the same).” However, then I reflected upon what Obama has moved this country past and how he has changed America’s reputation in the world. So, I felt that it was time to reflect upon those items.
1.) He has pledges to close Guantanamo Bay, which is a human rights travesty that should make all American ashamed. I will not exhaust this one too much, but here are three simple facts. a.) We tortured people here (by the way – read this great open letter from Andrew Sullivan to George Bush that asks him to take responsibility for this travesty. b.) We kept shoddy records of why these people were in Guantanamo in the first place. c.) Because we managed this place poorly, it damaged the US reputation in the world.
2.) He has engaged America with the Muslim world (a much needed step for peace).
3.) He has helped us redefine race relations within this country. I still believe that his speech about race that he gave during his campaign in Philadelphia is one of his finest.
Overall, here is a quote from an Iraqi (Hussein Ali Harrif, the head of the artistic education department at the University of Baghdad) that I feel summarizes this award succinctly: “He really deserved it, he is more than a politician. Even though not enough time has passed for a full judgment, we can see that through his speeches, some decisions he made and his legislation that he is trying to mend the faults which his predecessor has created. Obama is trying to make his words meet his acts and he has a genuine intention in building good human relations, especially with the Muslim world.”
In the end, Obama still needs to deliver. I think this award says we believe in his promise and recognize how quickly he changed the mood of the world. If anything, I think it places more accountability on him, which is never a bad thing!
Healthcare Reform – Is There A Libretarian Option? October 3, 2009
In many ways, a lot of you know that I am somewhat libertarian in my political leanings. So, I found this past issue of Atlantic Monthly fascinating that proposed a very libertarian option for healthcare reform. Given the current political landscape, the article admits that we can probably not move to this option right away, but once we expand coverage (what I have come to realize is the most important part of this current legislation – thanks for getting me there NV) we should consider this more consumer-directed option. Here are a few highlights . . .
- Replace our current web of employer-based insurance and government-based insurance with a single program for catastrophic and chronic condition insurance with fixed premiums based solely on age
- Realize that consumers drive down the price of healthcare. Has Lasik surgery become cheaper? Yes. Why? Consumers shop for the best quality at the best price. Have MRIs become cheaper? No. Why? Consumers rarely shop for a procedure that insurance will cover.
- Maintain government safety nets for the poor
- Mandate healthcare savings accounts for working Americans where they contribute a percentage of their post-tax income based on age
It’s a long article, but it is the worth the read. For me here is the money quote:
“I hope that whatever reform is finally enacted this fall works—preventing people from slipping through the cracks, raising the quality standard of the health-care industry, and delivering all this at acceptable cost. But looking at the big picture, I fear it won’t. So I think we should at least begin to debate and think about larger reforms, and a different direction—if not for this round of reform, then for the next one. Politics is, of course, the art of the possible. If our health-care crisis does not abate, the possibilities for reform may expand beyond their current, tight limits.”