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Sunday Soliloquy:Tales of a Welfare Program Dropout May 31, 2009

"The Problem We All Live With" by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

"The Problem We All Live With" by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

The famous Norman Rockwell painting above depicts perhaps one of America’s youngest civil rights activists, Ruby Nell Bridges. At the age of five, Ruby participate in the desegregation of the New Orleans School system. Ruby is bravely known as the first African-American child to attend William Frantz Elementary School, and the first African-American child to attend an all-white school in the South. Ruby was in kindergarten when all of this happened and I would often look at this painting as a child and wonder what was next for her. Did she have dreams of going off to college to become a doctor or a lawyer?  You know when you grow up in an African American home, particularly one where your parent did not finish high school, there is always this push to ‘”stay in school” . During the 1970′s this usually did not imply high school. I remember many people in my neighborhood who dropped out at the age of 16. They had babies, they got tired of the teachers, they want to be free. Most of these people were women and they were on public assistance. Of course living this life had it’s advantages. You got to be a stay at home mom. You could watch Erica Kane on All My Children while your kids were outside playing hopscotch and making babies of their own.  The alternative, was working for the federal government or the city. Every woman perked up at the thought of dating a postal carrier, or a CTA bus driver those were all respectable jobs.  Staying not depressed, in shape and focused on finding a job was mentally exasperating for both my mother and I. Her “success mode” was sporadic and short lived.  When my mother was not spiraling down the self-pity rabbit hole, she could surprisingly  respond to life’s difficulties with great consternation. She would temporarily halt her criticism of the work force by taking the B train downtown. I don’t know exactly were she would go- it was a federal building- most likely the Daley Center and she would take a test to obtain her dream job as a caseworker for the welfare department. A caseworker, I would think is the person that occasionally would visit our apartment  in order to:

1. make sure that we deserved welfare.

2.make sure that I am really my mother’s child.

3. Make sure that we did not own anything; and finally

4. to make sure that my mother was not shacked up with a man.

My recollection of welfare caseworkers were that these were usually very uppity black women with big Afros and nice clothing. They made us fill out a lot of paperwork. Some were mean, especially the whites ones. Looking in our bedrooms for signs of…oh I don’t know men sleeping in our bed.  Sometimes they would ask us about other neighbors who were on welfare by repeating rumors about Barbara Ann had a new Cadillac and possibly was double dipping.  In ghetto speak “double dipping” is when a person is on welfare and working at the same time. This was quite easy to do if you were lucky enough to get a hold of a deceased person’s social security number. Those times were all very “Claudine -esque”. Claudine was a 70′s film in which Diahann Carrol portrayed a single mother raising six children in the projects of Harlem. James Earl Jones played the role of her frustrated boyfriend.  The following scene is a quite revealing about the welfare system and the black male’s role as a provider.

A typical schism of caseworkers was to pit one recipient against another in return for extra food stamps or in my mother’s case, overlooking that my grandmother was paying for me to go to parochial school.  Yes how did Afrocity managed to attend private school first through fifth grade while on welfare?

While this is a liberal cartoon mocking the GOP's fear of welfare cheats, fraud and welfare queens were rampant .

While this is a liberal cartoon mocking the GOP's fear of welfare cheats, fraud and welfare queens were rampant .

Our caseworker allowed this somewhat minor transgression and pretended that I was attending a free Chicago Public School. Before I go any further, I want you to know that that was the worst thing my mother ever did as far as sordid ADC welfare fraud was  concerned. She never doubled dipped, or gave birth to children who oddly disappeared to a distant aunt, never to be seen again until the caseworker showed up.

Okay, I was “borrowed” once by a welfare queen that was sleeping with my brother. Her name was Debbie and she was a Cook County welfare legend, she had ten kids on state assistance and only 5 were really hers.  My brother paid me two ice cream truck visits to keep my mouth shut about it to mother, and stand in as a Debbie’s daughter Fay.

Fay was supposedly born in 1967 so I was younger. Who actually were the real Little Debbie’s and the fake ones, I could not discern. We were all black kids between the ages of newborn and fourteen.
The caseworker that day was a John Boy- white male. Debbie’s home , if you can call it that was a housing project on Chicago’s South side. I had just mapped my way to her bathroom when John Boy caseworker shows up.  Five year old Afrocity had business to do but Debbie dragged me out into the living room before I could pull down my bloomers.

Everything was fine until John Boy asked me where I slept.

“In the bed.” I said with snark. WTF?

“Which bed?” he asked.

No one told me that a pop quiz was involved. Being a five year old who slept in the same bed as my mother, I looked at Deb and answered: “In her bed.”

Passing that test with flying colors earned me a bag of ghetto snacks and an ass whooping from mother. She found out because my brother should have told Debbie that I was not able to hold my pee for very long. I wet myself when the case worker was there. Good thing Deb was as classless as she was a lying gutter skank, because her green paisley sofa was covered in plastic. I hated that but at least it was not soiled due to my momentary incontinence. Mother knew something had gone awry in a flash when she saw that my pink ruffled panties had somehow turned into toddler’s training pants. My brother was the real culprit so why did I get a spanking? My major offense: taking candy and canned Dinty Moore beef stew from a stranger.

Needless to say, I had no idea why my mother wanted to be a welfare caseworker because  they caused so much trouble for people like us. I never had to worry about it because mother never became a caseworker. She failed the test on four occasions, taking it for the last time in 1978. My brother was in the army, she had no babysitter for me and would leave me home alone with the TV on while she took the test in a room with 200 or so other people. Her last try was probably her most emotional. There was a blizzard and she trudged in over 10 feet of snow only to find that the test site was closed. Silly kid as I was, I dumbly asked her if she had brought me anything from downtown, perhaps some candy from Marshall Fields.

“Is that all you can think about? Is candy?”  Her face told me the story. “I hope your teeth fall out.”

I believe it was about two years later when I first asked her why didn’t she work like the people she watched in the soap operas? She was always a bit defensive about it and explained that blacks could never get a fair shake…without going to college.  This explained the most pronounced of her life’s agendas: Afrocity would be a college graduate and indeed I would be after a long struggle. Ironically, beyond verbal encouragement, my mother did not do much to help me get into college.  There was no nest (we had just been evicted again and living with my uncle Gavin),  let alone a nest egg that was put away for my post secondary education. The only major presence in my life was a woman who had spent most of my life thus far on welfare. In 1988 with high school graduation fast approaching, I knew that my life was about to turn a sharp corner. Welfare typically ends once a child turns 18 or leaves high school- which ever comes first.  Adherence  to my mother’s words of wisdom was undying , even at the age of 17 when most teenagers become more of a pain than a joy. However here it was the eleventh hour of filing college applications and FAFSA forms, she was suddenly AWOL. 80654_Full She was obviously interested in my success but she did not know how to tell me to get there beyond high school. I would be in my thirties before I forgave her coldness as I struggled to fill out the forms for financial aid all on my own. It became complicated to get her to sign anything. Soon, I gave up and missed the deadline. The first year after graduation, I was sitting in the bedroom with mother watching the Oprah Winfrey show and getting food stamps in my own name.  By my own definition, I was a loser. Admittedly,  it was fun for a while. hanging out with mom, catching up on the soaps, going to the public library to pass away the time. Being a bibliophile, I checked out classics that I was never assigned by my teachers. Hard Times by Dickens, War and Peace, Sons and Lovers – all in my tote bag and read on the North Ave. bus as I went to career education class. This was some bogus thing that the state made you do when you were over 18 and on welfare without children.  Caseworkers would tell us how to dress to find a job at McDonald’s.

I would get put back in my inferior place when I asked if there was anything to help us get pay for college. Within this class was a mixture of former drug addicts and girls who wanted to become hair dressers. This “scene” reminded me of sitcoms about recent immigrants in those citizenship classes. The only difference was that I was already American but in a foreign land. The fun of hanging out melted away when I had to lie to my white classmates that went to college. Holiday breaks would bring calls from returning friends. It would also bring a self deprecating awkwardness to my demeanor whenever they would discuss the fun they were having at college. With college comes freedom, exciting trips to Cancun, sororities, intellectual confidence and a future.  Time to get off your ass Afrocity. Time to go to school. How else would I overcome the restrictions of a racist and patriarchal society?  Questions still remained. How would I pay for it? Would I stay in Chicago or leave my mother behind. I was all she had.  Would she hate me for abandoning her to a life of financial uncertainty. Mother was only getting general assistance because I was her daughter. If I left, she would have no form of income.

Eventually I made the right choice and thanks to a Democrat named Claiborne Pell, I receieved a federal grant that helped pay for school.

Claiborne Pell (D-RI) was a U.S. Senator 36 years and was the force behind a grant program that has helped millions of Americans like me attend college.

Claiborne Pell (D-RI) was a U.S. Senator 36 years and was the force behind a grant program that has helped millions of Americans like me attend college.

Today, I still owe $120,000 in loans for both my undergrad and graduate degrees. I pay it off month by month. Because of this, I will never own a home but my education is far more valuable to me.  Yes, I am a conservative but I do have the humility to admit when a Democrat has helped me. I am not totally against government aid, I simply believe that the helping hand of Uncle Sam should teach individuals self-reliance.

EducatedBlackWoman

I was using the Pell grant to ensure my future success. I believe that this is different from welfare.  Like the black elitist  Ivy League culture that President Obama is a part of, you would think that ensuring the college education of more African Americans is something that would be on his agenda. Not so fast. Barry never fails to bring an element of mystic and WTF? to his actions. I was browsing the Black Agenda Report and found this interesting piece of information from a radio transcript of commentary by executive editor Glen Ford:

First Black President Cuts Funds for Black Higher Education

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Obama should be given a brief refresher course in the history that makes direct aid to Black schools necessary.”
Barack Obama encourages people to believe that he deserves to be remembered as the “Education President.” However, Obama will definitely not go down as a friend of historically Black higher education. Historically Black colleges and universities – HBCUs – take a $73 million hit in Obama’s educational budget. The cuts are even more disturbing, since education as a general category is a big winner in the president’s economic stimulus plan.
Obama’s people claim that an increase in maximum Pell Grant monies for low-income students will help all educational institutions, including historically Black ones. But that’s not quite true. Even if every one of the 132,000 Pell Grant students that attend HBCUs collected the maximum $200 extra dollars in Obama’s budget, that would only make up for one-third of the administration’s cuts to the Black schools. In other words, Obama’s slightly rising tide of Pell Grants will not sufficiently lift historically Black higher education boats.
The $73 million loss would have an outsized impact on the 105 Black institutions, many of which are on perennially shaky financial ground, and all of which have been hit hard by the current economic crisis. Although Black schools make up only three percent of total U.S. college enrollment, they account for one out of every five undergraduate degrees awarded to African Americans. It would be difficult to find anyplace in the federal budget where $73 million has a more concentrated impact on the fortunes of a particular ethnic group.

The Obama budget actually increased direct federal aid to heavily Hispanic schools, from $93 million to $98 million.”

A direct comparison might be made with colleges that traditionally serve large numbers of Hispanic students. However,the Obama budget actually increased direct federal aid to these schools, from $93 million to $98 million. Native American higher education, on the other hand, gets the “Black” treatment: a decrease in federal funding to Indian schools.


The Obama administration’s callous disregard for Black colleges is even more curious, considering the president’s constant quest for areas of bipartisan consensus.

ObamaUnderTheBusTour08Who would have thought that Obama and his mantra of “CHANGE” would include throwing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) under the bus? I thought the tour ended in 2008. It obviously continues in 2009.

Autographed Letter Signed,
AFROCITY

 

Saturday Toons: Green Insanity and the Fiendish Plot of Doctor Chu May 30, 2009

hell and basket

At this precise moment in history a fog of confusion has settled over everything concerning energy and our environment . The issues and ethical concerns are difficult for me to navigate. I am lost and confused. Can you tell me how to get… how to get to “Sanity Street”???

I always “try ” and I use that term loosely, to be conscious of ways to help the environment. I will not go into the financial specifics of my contributions to our planet’s green wellness, but I recycle bags, and place trash into to proper bins when one is available. I have energy efficient appliances. I turn lights on only when necessary which is easy at times because I prefer candle light to lamps.

At the threshold of environmental awareness, I was a preteen.  Eight pack “no deposit, no return” soda pop bottles morphed into plastic liters. My mother was ticked off because she missed the old nice cold hour glass shaped bottle of Coke. She was even more annoyed that her brown paper grocery bags had gone all plastic on her. How much these new developments actually helped the environment was not a concern to me. All I knew was that the plastic bottles were more convenient and lighter to carry. I didn’t have to worry about breaking them.  I could use the plastic bags later for dog poop and cleaning out the litter box.  Those bags help when your Maine Coon cat leaves a clump of Texas sized litter waste for you.

During the mid-1990′s, my dates would often take me to those cool IMAX movies at the Natural History Museum. The films wear aesthetically stimulating but they had a definite agenda. My first IMAX film was something about the rainforests and the general uncertainties surrounding increased human intrusion. After viewing such beautiful trees and exotic animals, I began to modestly contribute $5 taken directly from my student bank account once a month to save our rainforests. Okay, so there was a guy from Greenpeace waiting for suckers like me to exit the theater but  I was doing something and this made me feel better about myself. Gone were my cans of hairspray and air freshener. I was in the loop and fluorocarbons were hazardous to wildlife. Mother was still old fashioned and used Right Guard deodorant aerosol formula!!! How could she? Poor, sad  environmentally ignorant mom.  As a child all she ever had to worry about was an atomic bomb.

I do give her “props” for making me give up all that strawberry flavored Quick milk after the 1970′s RED DYE # 2  scare.quick

Speaking of healthy environmentally helpful food, shopping at Whole Foods was the also the hip and right thing to do. So what if it killed my checking account? No I am not a vegan or allergic to gluten. I don’t have celiac disease  or lactose intolerance but I was supporting some farmer in Duchess County by purchasing those purple potatoes. While living in NYC, Saturday afternoons sometimes meant shopping the farmers market in Union Square. Well truthfully, I did not go there specifically for the green market…There was a Sephora nearby and a Filene’s Basement one thing led to another and there I was buying a jar of clover leaf honey from some guy with overalls and rotten teeth. Those yellow tomatoes and honey would find their way to my crisper bin, where they would often spoil before I got around to using them or be tossed out when I moved. Who cares if I wasted $24.00?  I was the perfect environmentally concerned liberal who did not vote in the 2004 election.

fool aid
That was then, this is now.

Now I am lucky if I remember to buy those funny looking light bulbs. My building is a luxury high-rise with ONE trash chute to dispose everything: cans, bottles, cardboard boxes, used diapers. Where it all goes nobody knows and I don’t think my neighbors care.

Though I still “try” every now and then to don my do-rag and get green, I am admittedly a failure. I own a very huge burlap plastic lined bag that says: RECYCLE, TO SAVE OUR BIRDS, ANIMALS, CHILDREN AND EARTH. Yet I never seem to get my green act together enough to have it handy when I am buying groceries as most of my shopping is done impromptu and under extreme digestible duress.

Once I am actually  in the store and I see the goody two shoes green moonbats bagging their own organic chard and Tom’s toothpaste, do I smack myself upside the forehead “Shit, I forgot to bring the damn reusable bag that I paid $37 for at some third world novelty store in Madison, Wisconsin. The bottom line is I am a very passive environmentalist, if I remember to help, I do. If I don’t (shrug shoulders), oh well. Nevermind the woman behind me in line snuffing her nose at me because I forgot my bags and quietly choose paper. You know the type, she makes her own dog food for her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is also a vegetarian, just like his mommy. Her basket is filled to the brim with environmentally correct food. Not one boneless split chicken breast  in her cart has been exposed to fluorescent light. Those applewood maple sausages were made all by hand in Lancaster Country, PA.   By blind Amish people. Give me a break lady. Can’t you see I have bought some acai berries and Wolfgang Puck vegetable broth. I don’t have my reusable bag. It is at home damn it. I was well intentioned when I bought it, so there! I will take my brown toilet paper and leave knowing that I made a damn good effort to be green.

shittle

My confession today makes Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu recent advice to paint our rooftops white all the more laughable to someone like myself can’t even manage to bring a reusable tote to Whole Foods. As you can expect there are others who feel the same sense of indifference that I do.

This article by Rich Galen at Townhall.com gave a great answer to Dr.ChU:

On February 10, 2003 – five months after the 9/11 attacks, but while we were still reeling from the anthrax attacks – the Department of Homeland Security sent out a press release which included the following:

How To Prepare For a Biological Attack

Assemble a disaster supply kit, including:

- Battery-powered commercial radio with extra batteries

- Non-perishable food and drinking water

- Roll of duct tape and scissors

- Plastic for doors, windows, and vents for the room in which you will shelter in place.

To save time during an emergency, sheeting should be pre-measured and cut for each opening.

- First aid kit

- Sanitation supplies, including soap, water and bleach

You may remember that point three – a roll of duct tape and scissors – was greeted with generalized hilarity, scorn, contempt, distain [sic], and ridicule to mention but a few of the reactions among the very members of the press corps who were scared you-know-what-less about being the next recipient of a letter in the city room which puffed white powder when opened.

The other day, the current Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu was speaking at the “St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium” in London which, if it is not the most pretentiously named meeting on the planet, it must be among the top five, told his laureateal colleagues that we should paint much of the world white to reflect heat back up into space and, thus, cure global warming.

I am not making this up. Ok. I made up the word “laureateal” but the rest of this is true. From the London Times:

Building regulations should insist that all flat roofs were painted white, and visible tilted roofs could be painted with “cool-coloured” paints that looked normal, but which absorbed much less heat than conventional dark surfaces. Roads could be lightened to a concrete colour so they would not dazzle drivers in bright sunlight.

See? It’s not as stupid as it first seems. Neither was the suggestion that you pick a room in your house you could seal off against anthrax, or pneumonic plague, or smallpox as dumb as the popular press made it seem.

The difference? The duct tape suggestion came from appointees in the administration of George W. Bush. The paint-it-white idea was suggested by an acolyte of B*A*R*A*C*K O*B*A*M*A so it is, by definition, good.


Yeah I do remember those first post 9/11 years:

Cavity

But does this sound any much better?


Hmmm, Painting our rooftops white. I agree with Rich Galen that there may be some semblance of sanity and logic in the idea. I know the liberal position would be to embrace this with open moonbat wings. I could take the easy route and say I am a Republican, therefore I am against it. Instead I will be honest. I think most will be too darn lazy to crawl on their roof to do this. Also what happens when someone comes along later and says that painting our rooftops white is not environmentally safe? You know they will. Weren’t the plastic grocery bags at one time thought to be good for us?

Dr. Chu, I am not mocking you. I sincerely understand your concern but I have too many greater things to worry about. Like what the hell is happening to the children in America? Why do we care about people like “Octomom” and John and Kate Plus Eight? Why are liberal celebrities adopting children from foreign lands instead of adopting any of the thousands of kids in the American foster care system?

renee-zellweger-candyMany of those kids are even MINORITIES. If it is so cool to be white and adopt a dark skinned child from another country, why not try adopting a child of color from your own country for a change? Plenty of African American and Latino children are in foster care homes waiting for someone like Madonna and Angelina Jolie to adopt them.  Madonna put down your Marc Jacobs custom made leather handbag and pick up a phone to call Adopt US Kids You could also channel your inner green monster and donate money to create jobs for our troubled teens by having them paint rooftops white? That is not a bad idea you know.

Now which way was that to Sanity Street?

Bad parent 3

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Obama’s Wonderland:Will Health Care Reform Spawn the Next Great Culture War? By Jenn Q. Public May 29, 2009

Alice

By Jenn Q. Public

Cross-posted at http://www.jennqpublic.com/

When I turn 35 I will have my first mammogram.

In the United States, mammography is recommended for breast cancer screening every one to two years beginning at age 40.  The best available evidence suggests that mammography screening among women aged 40 to 74 reduces breast cancer mortality.

But due to a few minor risk factors, three doctors have suggested I undergo a baseline mammogram at 35. I’m not thrilled with the idea of having a technician I’ve never met manipulate my breasts into squishing position, but being felt up and flattened out sounds a lot better than being dead, so I’ll take my chances.

Of women who receive annual screening mammography beginning at age 40, six out of 10,000 over a decade will have their lives saved.  Breast cancer will be detected and cured in many more, but regular mammograms will only make a life or death difference for six of every 10,000 women in that group.  Mammograms are of extremely high value to those women and their families, but don’t offer much bang for the buck when it comes to the other 9,994 women.

And wringing more bang from every health care buck is reason enough for Canadian and British recommendations that women wait until age 50 to begin receiving screening mammographies.  In these countries where cost-effectiveness studies influence health policy and medical practice, six saved lives aren’t worth the substantial costs associated with all those extra mammograms and the false positives they sometimes produce.

alice 12

Canadian women are offered routine mammograms every two years, but only from age 50-69 because “evidence is not conclusive” that routine mammograms benefit younger and older women.  Doctors have some leeway with regard to high risk patients.

In the United Kingdom, mammograms are recommended every three years beginning some time between age 50 and 53.  Based on guidelines developed by the Orwellian-named NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence), the National Health Service insists that for women under 40, “mammograms should only be used as part of clinical trials into screening and that they shouldn’t be used under age 30 at all.”  According to NICE, “Healthcare professionals should respond to women who present with concerns but should not, in most instances, actively seek to identify women with a family history of breast cancer.”

It is hardly shocking that the breast cancer mortality is 9 percent higher in Canada and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom.  Nine of 10 middle-aged American women (89 percent) have had a mammogram, compared to less than three-fourths of Canadians (72 percent).  And British and Canadian patients wait for care about twice as long as Americans.

There are indeed valid criticisms American health care, but one area in which we excel is that we don’t base guidelines for care on cost-utility analysis. That’s why the U.S. ranks first in providing the “right care” for a given condition and has the best survival rate for breast cancer.

Obamacare may force Americans to give up those bragging rights.

The “right care” may soon be defined in part by how much that care costs. Health care reformers acknowledge the impossibility of implementing universal health care without introducing cost containment measures, and Democrats are enamored with a method used by the British called “comparative effectiveness research” (CER.)

AliceandtheCheshireCat3AARP CEO and CER proponent Bill Novelli describes comparative effectiveness research as “a wonky term that just means giving doctors and patients the ability to compare different kinds of treatments to find out which one works best for which patient.”  And at its best, that’s just what CER does.  CER is not inherently bad.  For example, it can help doctors cut through seductive pharmaceutical advertising to identify older, less commonly prescribed drugs that are just as effective as newer, more expensive ones.

But with CER, the devil is in the details.

CER can lead to one-size-fits-all medicine and encourages a purely analytical approach to care that is not always beneficial to the patient. The mythical average patient overshadows the individual patient, leaving most of us with about as many options as a public school cafeteria at lunchtime.

And in the UK, NICE includes cost as a determining factor in the comparative effectiveness studies that inform clinical guidelines.  Determinations about whether citizens will have access to drugs, tests, and procedures are based on cost per quality of life year (QALY.)

The QALY score is a fairly crude metric that takes into account both the number and quality of years a medical intervention is expected to add to a patient’s life.  Here’s the upshot of using QALYs to determine cost effectiveness:

On the QALY scale, 0 means you’re dead, 1 means you’re in perfect health, and varying levels of debility fall in between. Imagine two groups of people, one with a QALY of 1 and the other with a score of 0.5. An expensive technology brings a year of life to both groups. But in the second, that technology would be counted as having provided only six months, and thus be twice as expensive. It may be deemed too costly for that patient group.

alice_17651_lgThe older you are, the sicker you are, the more disabled you are, the less cost effective it is to treat you.  And if the cost per QALY of a medical intervention you need exceeds £20-30,000 (around $32,000 – 48,000), you’re out of luck.  Drugs, particularly end-of-life treatments, are routinely rejected for use due to poor cost-effectiveness.  And screening tests, like the mammograms American women take for granted, are severely restricted to ensure expenditures remain under the cost per QALY threshold.

Liberal proponents of health care reform accuse conservatives of paranoia and fear mongering about health care rationing.  Critics of CER are demonized as extremist spewers of far right talking points who don’t care about improving clinical effectiveness.  Surely a uniquely American flavor of a CER board would never 41a_king_in_courtbecome as proscriptive as NICE.

But it seems conservative anxiety (and perhaps a bit of healthy paranoia) is more than warranted by Washington Democrats singing the praises of cost-cutting comparative effectiveness studies.  Bear with me while I review some of the health care rationing talk in CER clothing coming from inside the beltway.

The stage for CER to become a significant component of health care reform was set when President Obama’s stimulus bill passed with a $1.1 billion appropriation for CER.  In April, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced a budget amendment to ensure that CER would be used appropriately:
Statement of Purpose:

To protect all patients by prohibiting the use of data obtained from comparative effectiveness research to deny coverage of items or services under Federal health care programs and to ensure that comparative effectiveness research accounts for advancements in genomics and personalized medicine, the unique needs of health disparity populations, and differences in the treatment response and the treatment preferences of patients.

The amendment was defeated 54-44.

Last week, members of the New Democrat Coalition proposed HR 2505, a bill to establish a new government bureaucracy called the Health Care Comparative Effectiveness Research Institute.  The Institute would prioritize research based on both clinical and economic factors, including “the effect or potential for an effect on health expenditures associated with a health condition or the use of a particular medical treatment, service, or item.”  This would not be a problem if there were safeguards to ensure that best practices are not interpreted to mean the least expensive practices.

Officials at National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced a stimulus-funded initiative to integrate cost-effectiveness into clinical research.   “Cost-effectiveness research will provide accurate and objective information to guide future policies that support the allocation of health resources for the treatment of acute and chronic diseases across the lifespan,” according to the call for proposals.

Back at the White House, President Obama has been paying lip service to the clinical benefits of CER.  At the same time, he recently lamented that “the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill … there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place.”  That, he explained, was part of the need for “some independent group that can give you guidance” on the ethical dilemmas involved with rationing end-of-life care.

alice 4During her Senate confirmation process, Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius declined to voice her support for prohibiting the use of comparative effectiveness data to withhold care from patients. Her ideas echo those of Tom Daschle, the tax-dodging health policy wonk who wrote in his book that the U.S. “won’t be able to make a significant dent in health-care spending without getting into the nitty-gritty of which treatments are the most clinically valuable and cost effective.”

Then there’s Peter Orszag, Obama’s director of the Office of Management and Budget and a major player in crafting health care reform.  For the most part, Orszag’s commentary on CER has been limited to lauding its ability to improve patient care while reducing waste.  But when asked a few months ago if the Obama administration has a position on empowering the CER board to make reimbursement decisions, Orszag said, “Not at this point.”

But perhaps of greatest concern is a January House report that included the following statement on CER funding:

By knowing what works best and presenting this information more broadly to patients and healthcare professionals, those items, procedures, and interventions that are most effective to prevent, control, and treat health conditions will be utilized, while those that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed.

Sound familiar?  Cough, NICE, cough, ahem.

And as Jim DeMint explains, “CER is only one step in the Obama administration’s insidious plan to take over American health care … for our own good.”

But would CER really lead to health care rationing in the United States?  Of course.  That’s pretty much the point.  The debate is not about whether or not CER would be used for rationing, but rather, whether rationing is ethical and useful, and how far we’re willing to go to save a buck and level the economic playing field.

If health care reform shapes up as many Democrats anticipate, CER Institute guidelines will initially apply to the public insurance option expected to be the centerpiece of the Democrats’ proposal. But eventually they would slide down the slippery slope into the private sector. A public insurance option would also ride roughshod over the already anemic competition among overregulated private sector insurers, making the survival of private insurance unlikely.  As in the United Kingdom, recommendations will become rules and suggestions will become mandates in order to contain the costs of universal coverage.

alice_05a-caterpillarTo what extent will this result in government control of the doctor-patient relationship?  Ultimately, a bureaucratic board will determine when, how, and whether or not you and your family receive care.

Comparative effectiveness research will no longer be just a political hot potato; it will be the basis for the next great American culture war.  Instead of clashing over God, guns, and gays, we’ll battle over the monetary value of human life, the sanctity of doctor-patient relationships, the right to medical self-determination, and my favorite hot button issue, the duty to die.

Would cases like Terry Schiavo’s be decided based on financial considerations?

Where will fetuses fall on the QALY scale?  How about the elderly or people with Down syndrome?  Will they automatically receive limited treatment due to limited resources?

Will smokers be eligible for chemotherapy?  Will overweight people have restrictions placed on cardiac care?  Will we feel differently about those decisions when we’re footing the bill for everyone?

And you thought the abortion debate was contentious.

Obviously these questions address the most extreme examples of what could happen if we continue on our current path toward universal health care.  But government efforts at cost containment through CER may push us toward debating these issues sooner than we think.  Hopefully we’ll never see the day when questions like these go beyond an academic exercise.

first-knaveMeanwhile, I’ll be saving up for a date with a mammography machine in one of those thriving medical tourism meccas.  I hear Costa Rica is a breathtaking location for a 35th birthday celebration.

Autographed Letter Signed,

JENN Q. PUBLIC

*Jenn Q. Public  is  an ALS guest commentator. She describes herself as “a reluctant republican and recovered democrat who has struggled for years to reconcile my liberal upbringing with a reality that inspires right-of-center beliefs”.

Please visit her blog “Jenn Q. Public



 

Curator’s Corner: A Rose By Any Man’s Name Is Still Her Rose

Filed under: Women,Women's Rights — afrocity @ 12:55 AM
Tags: , ,

31_artichoke

I dedicate this post to Dr. Boston Boomer a newly minted PhD. Congratulations Dr. Boomer. My PUMA sister.

As difficult as the collective trauma is to reconcile, there is a remedy to save women who were left behind by history. You visit your local archive and save them one letter, one diary, one note at a time.

Throughout my career as an archivist, I have not cared for one collection that did not contain a woman, a minority, or a child that was just screaming to be recognized. But there she was buried in a pile of manuscripts, some man’s daughter. An unnamed wife, Mrs. Herbert Hoover. Mrs. Finley Calhoun. Some slave, a servant, a mute.

SP 201969The university, my professional home, offers many opportunities for women past and present.  Internships are invaluable to the career of a budding curator.  The high-heel clad foot gets in the door, followed soon by a vintage plaid 50′s skirt from Oona’s in Cambridge, MA. A brown body, narrow hands, a face, curious brown eyes, a mouth. Before you can say Bobbi Brown, you are in. A new girl in the old boy’s network. There I was processing the letters of Henry James, James L. Lewis and a famed botanist. The latter collection was one of my favorites and my most challenging.  A history buff, I possessed no formal training in botany. Biology yes, as I braved two terrible years as a pre-med major.  Still, the specimens of amber, spore prints, orchids had my do-rag covered head spinning with the nomenclature of crytogamic botany. In order understand how to process that collection, to present it to the scholar, I had to become that botanist. Of course he was a man and so was the subject of nearly every collection I have worked with up to this point. Botany pertains to nature who is a mother. Or so we are told. How odd that the history of botany does not include more women. This was the irksome thought I held as I read reference texts on botanical taxonomy.  The beautiful names of flowers- freesia, peony, rose. It was hard to imagine the absence of woman in such a world of beauty, such detail, delicacy, fertility and reproduction.   The field notes  of a botanist often reveal very little about his family unless they are somehow related to fungi. Sample collecting during inclement weather, meticulous writing and insects offer very little to a “delicate flower” such as a woman. Unless that woman is Jane Colden.

Botanical Drawing by Jane Colden

Botanical Drawing by Jane Colden

Jane Colden ( 1724-1760), is considered to be the first female botanist in America.  She was born in New York City to botanist and New York Lieutenant Governor Cadwallader Colden . Her father educated her at home and curiously in the fields of Hudson Valley. Following her father’s desire, Jane was trained as a botanical assistant of sorts, her father’s apprentice in his ambition to become a great botanist. In the home, Jane was known as her father’s daughter but in the field she developed an escape from the suppression and vulnerability so inherent to being of the “weaker sex” during the 18th century.

Drawing of a leaf by Jane Colden

Drawing of a leaf by Jane Colden

Jane diligently recorded undiscovered flora and fauna of the Hudson region in her field notebook and delivered what was considered to be the most comprehensive botanical record on the region of its time, containing over 300 specimens. Jane’s skill in formal Linnean taxonomy was so keen that she eclipsed the abilities of her father.

ColdenPaintings

Jane was allowed to communicate with the greatest botanists in American and Europe, however, it was through Jane’s father that this communication was allowed.  This arrangement may appear as one of gender biased restraint by today’s standards. Quite the contrary, for it was a familial partnership ideally suitable to both parties. Mr. Colden was allowed to expand his circle of influence in the discipline of  botany while Jane became respected as a botanist in her own right.  Traveling botanists would find the company of the two Coldens rather enjoyable. In 1756 one of Jane’s descriptions was published in a respected European journal, making her the first woman to do so.

It is believed that Jane discovered the gardenia while strolling one day. She alerted her father who shared her description of the flower (along with one of his earlier ones)  to a friend. While the descriptions of both father and daughter were published, Jane’s discovery was challenged by her scientific contemporaries. She subsequently, never received her due of full recognition, accolades, or historical significanceuntil recently.

Jane was married in 1759 to Dr William Farquar.

She died one year later during childbirth in 1760.  She was only two weeks shy of turning 36 years old.  I discovered Jane Colden after I processed the papers of a famous male botanist and wondered about the dearth of female context and input in the field , both literally and figuratively. I questioned my own legacy as a historian, archivist, curator… someday when I am long gone will they remember me? What will happen with things that never were? Jane was cheated out of naming the gardenia, Hillary Clinton was cheated out of the Democratic nomination. Where will these stories live decades from now? Who will dig through the dusty archives to find them?

Almost immediately, Jane Colden comes to mind whenever I visit a botanical garden.  A serene jaunt to the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago was a favorite childhood excursion. I could not read the Latin names. Linnean taxonomy meant nothing to a five year old. Smells and bright colors was what I could relate to. I wonder if I have ever walked by one of  Jane’s discoveries without noticing as child. Did I ever walk by Jane while fanning myself at the New York Botanical Garden as an adult?

In Alice Walker’s   famous novel, The Color Purple,  the character “Shug”  makes a memorable quote:

“I think it pisses God off when you walk by the colour purple in a field and don’t notice it.”

I believe that the same could be said for those who do not notice or appreciate women and their contributions to our society.

Congratulations on your Phd. Boston Boomer. I recognize and appreciate all you have done and will do for women everywhere.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

If you would like to learn more about Jane Colden, there is a great article in the Journal of Women’s History  by Sara Stidstone Gronim entitledWhat Jane Knew: A Woman Botanist in the Eighteenth Century” Volume 19, Number 3, Fall 2007. If you would like a pdf copy of the article, please contact me and I will be glad to share it. Jane’s drawings and manuscripts may be accessed at the Museum of Natural History in London.

Gardenia Plant

Gardenia Plant





 

Thursday Stitch N’ Bitch: White Go Go Boots, Prop 8, Hell and a Handbasket May 28, 2009

Basket weaver girlGood morning ALS readers. I want to apologize for neglecting you over the last couple of days. It is not easy maintaining a blog solo. Creating Autographed Letter Signed, is the best thing that has happened to me since I have come out of the closet as a conservative. For the past several days, I have been extremely angry, which translates into blogger’s  block. Afraid that  will write something that will offend readers, I let my feelings marinate for a bit before taking to my keyboard. Unfortunately my method did not work this time and I am still pissed off but here  am at my keyboard with so many awful feelings still leftover from current events.  But that is what Thursday Stitch N’ Bitch is for right?

Today we are not stitching anything so put your needles away. Registration has just opened for basket weaving 101. There is even an underwater version of the class being offered. Hurry! Seats fill up fast.

When it became clear to me that Obama would win the presidency,  I hoped that my fears about him being an inexperienced puppet for the left would be disproven. I was wrong. Very wrong. It is far more worse than I have ever imagined. Is it just me or is our country increasingly becoming unrecognizable?  First let’s talk for a bit about Sotomayor. I don’t give a damn about her and Republican’s should not either. However, I do think there s something to this “new racism” that is quite unsettling. Funny how when it is a liberal in question, it suddenly becomes PC to exploit ones underprivileged or racially diverse background as a skill set, yet if someone from the right utters one word about their cultural journey like RNC chairman Michael Steele, or Sarah Palin (yes diversity goes beyond race), Condeleeza Rice or  Joe the Plumber, the left goes bonkers and attempts to prove that they are a demon from outer space.

This is my new PUMA image. Afrocity is going to hell in a handbasket in style.

This is my new PUMA image. Afrocity is going to hell in a handbasket in style.

Several weeks ago, I had a conversation with an Obamabot friend.  I was trying not to bring up politics but you know that never works and there we were discussing prop 8 and abortion. She was surprised that I was pro-choice and had hopes that I was “coming back around” to the Democrats. Don’t choke on your goat cheese panini, that boat has sailed my dear. The more I am around the multitudes of Democrats in this city, the more I feel like a fool for having ever supported them. The smug sanctimonious “my way of life is better than yours and the government must help every body bullshit”  makes me dry heave. This talk of taxing potato chips and soda pop, panting rooftops white to save us from global warming. American obesity is all so fucking paramount too since ya know North Korea is like testing Nooclear weapons and we can all eat lots more with that gaping hole in our stomachs. I am angry that the feds are buying General Motors. We are looking more and more like the former Soviet Union every damn day.

I was recently regaled with a tale from a former black drug addict about the drive he participated in during the 1960′s to get African Americans to switch from the Republican Party to the Democrats. How is that working for us?  He then continued by saying that he hopes Obama gives his family some money. Ha! Fat Chance. The Obama will save us mantra is so  tongue n’ cheek for the black community now. Sticking a bony hand into that mailbox hoping to grab a pony must be old by now.  This brings me back to my liberal friend and Prop 8 and the disturbing questions surrounding blacks and their hatred for gays.

Look, it is not a race thing. You guys know that I have an entire database of mom stories. I say this will all honesty. There has never once been a time that my family has ever said that they disapproved of homosexuality due to the fact that most homosexuals and lesbians were white.  Don’t misunderstand, the disapproval was still there and something I have had to battle against in my own psyche.  Mother told me my first homophobia story when I was six years old. That winter brought the UGGs of my time…Tiny white snow boots. I was obsessed with having a pair but mom resisted my pleas. While walking down State Street, I would plant myself in front of Baker’s Shoes, just staring at the boots. They would look so cute with my parochial uniform and I would be just like the other girls in class. It all came to a head one day when I pitched a fit and mother had to drag me away from Baker’s into Woolworths. She was looking for a bra and Woolworth five n’ dime bras as cheap as it may sound, were a luxury for her.  She proposed that I go into the basement section to look at the toys she would never buy me. Nope, I sat there on the floor under a rack of girdles. She was gonna watch those tears dry on my face.  I had half expected to get pulled into a public bathroom for an impromptu spanking when she took my hand and sat me at the red leather bar stool in the luncheonette. Woolworth’s cheeseburgers were my favorite. Not fair. I smiled as mother rolled her eyes at me. I would continue to stage my own sit in for the boots. It was my civil right to have a pair but nothing said I could not eat a tasty meal while staging my non-violent protest.  Gleefully, I ordered my cheeseburger with extra pickles with fries and a rootbeer float. Mother got a bowl of cottage cheese on top of lime jello (she was always dieting).  The counter waitress was slicing a pizza for another customer as I began to twirl round and round on my barstool, kicking my feet. How lovely I would look in those white snow boots.

sit in

“I would never order pizza here.” Mother said with a look of disdain.  She was a Chicago pizza snob.  I ignored her thinking about my imaginary white boots. Around and around attempting to balance myself without having to grab onto to counter and feel all that old bubble gum that was stuck underneath. Someone called my mother’s name. It was a man’s voice , I turned to look but I was dizzy from all of the barstool twirling and fell on the floor into a pair of long brown legs wrapped in white go go boots.

“Oh my lord!”  The man said to my mother. “Child, I haven’t seen you since the riots.”

My mother didn’t notice me on the floor she seemed embarrassed. “Jackie where have you been?”

Jackie was “happy” and flapping his arms about hugging me my who just stood there stiffly.

“Who are you?”  I asked the man wearing a dress and the white boots I wanted to own.  Mother realized I existed and introduced me to Jackie. “Jackie is my best friend from the old neighborhood before you were born.”

“We were thick as thieves”  Jackie said loudly.  Standing there like dummies I jumped back on the stool, my cheeseburger was there. Jackie took the stool next to me with the waitress staring at him. His coat dress was a pretty white fur with camel fleece trim at the bottom. He sat his orange suede bag next to me.  “I will have a slice of sausage pizza and a Tab.”   Jackie said.  I looked at my mother to say the Woolworth’s pizza was nasty but she had picked up a pepper shaker and was putting way to much on her cottage cheese.  I said it for her. “Woolworth’s pizza is in-fear-ri-or.”  Inferior was my big word of the week. This was a game mom had invented for me.  Jackie looked at me. His hair was what we called “chemically processed” . Very wavy and had a hairnet over it.  He looked a bit like Prince during his “Little Red Corvette” days You know that album with Prince naked riding a unicorn?  That was Jackie.

70's style“Your momma never liked the pizza here. We have been coming to this Woolworth’s since the 40′s. That is a long ass time your momma and I been knowing each other.” Jackie stared at mother. “I helped you out a lot. Got you out of plenty of messes. I even spoke to you when you was carrying your son and gave you a place to stay when your daddy kicked you out of his house for being pregnant. Why you go an’ lose me like that?”  Jackie looked hurt. The waitress was taking too long just standing there with the slice of greasy pizza on a plate.

Mother would not look at Jackie, just the green jello and curdles of cheese. “You lost yourself when I saw you kissing a man in the back of a car on Pulaski. My daughter is here so I won’t say much about what it is that you are but you if sew the wind and you reap the whirlwind .”

Jackie shook his head “mm, mmm,mm. Now you found God but your kids don’t have a daddy still,” he said getting up.

“You don’t want this pizza no more?” The waitress asked . “I still have to charge you for it because I put it on a plate.”

Jackie threw down a 10 dollar bill which was enough to pay for all of us. He pushed the pizza towards me and mother reached across me real fast and pushed it away. “She does not like it either.”

Jackie started humming a song loudly and switched away from white boots and all. I would never see him again.  As for my mother, she was silent until she said ” You will never wear any white boots okay?”

I could only nod. That was just as well since Christmas was almost upon us anyway and I would want other things.

“White boots and dime store pizza is for sissies and loose women. You don’t want to look like a whore and go to hell in a handbasket do you?”

“No, momma.”

Jackie was a “sissy” I thought as I finished off my fries.  Sissies are men who wear women’s clothing. Flip Wilson wears women’s clothes when he plays Geraldine on his comedy show. Therefore he is a sissy. All sissies and whores go to hell just like the Beatles for playing rock music and wearing pants that are too tight.

Got it mom.

How easily the seeds of hatred are planted. And we were Democrats too. My mother was right there when the Chicago Eight raised hell in Grant Park. She felt most at home being a liberal but somehow it never translated to her forgiving Jackie for kissing a man. Jackie was African American but he could have been Caucasian and her reaction would have been just the same. There is no mental debate here. 80% of blacks voting for Prop 8 is not an issue of racism for them.

For Dummy 2

My mother mad Jackie lose heart over her strong religious belief that homosexuality was morally wrong. She did not care that he was black like her. He was not equal because he was not moral. This was the flaw in her liberal character. Bayard Rustin was a pivotal figure in the civil rights movement. How many of you have heard of Baryard Rustin? Bayard was African American. Bayard Rustin was Martin Luther King Jr.’s chief adviser. Bayard Rustin orchestrated King’s epic “March on Washington”. Bayard Rustin was also gay.  Bayard Rustin’s memory suffers from amnesia- the collective kind. African American’s have done very little to remedy this situation. Bayard Rustin is was a black man so let’s stop it with the accusations of racism. It is not helping matters.

My date and I at senior prom. 1988.

My date and I at senior prom. 1988.

Dirt cheap entertainment but thrilling is my Ipod. I have a tendency to listen to one song over and over again, depending on what mood I am in. Lately that song has been “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones. The song is appropriate to the American situation, this down spiral nook we have gotten ourselves into. I miss my mother,I miss my grandmother. I miss Martin Luther King and I didn’t know the guy. I wish he was here to wake my fellow African Americans up from this Kool Aid comma. I miss everything that was before this election, something has turned us all into racists. Eventually, I got past the things my mother taught me. My best friend in high school was gay. Tall, dark and strikingly handsome, he was a lot like “Jackie” helping me when mom and I got evicted from our apartment in 1987. I never told mother that he was gay but I think she knew and did not want to complicate the matter and chase away the only friend I had. He was my prom date and she seemed excited as she gathered the train from my fluffy dress snapping pictures. I miss the days of bubble gum pink prom dresses, nasty greasy Woolworth’s pizza and white go-go boots. My handbasket is fireproofed with memories of better times, independent will and the remembrance that we were once allowed the freedom to say what we wanted to say without being called racists.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Pulp Friction: California SSC Rules in favor of Prop 8 by Cynthia Yockey May 26, 2009

Strange PathThe following article by Cynthia Yockey is cross posted at A Newly Conservative Lesbian.Com:

At his blog, Legal Insurrection, Cornell law professor William Jacobson has an even-handed analysis of today’s decision by the state Supreme Court of California upholding Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage by defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. (See here for the decision.) Prof. Jacobson writes, “The Court rejected the notion that the People, through Constitutional amendment, could not restrict the right to marry,” and quotes material that in essence says, “Homosexuals can have civil unions that are separate but equal to marriage, so we find that heterosexuals can reserve the word ‘marriage’ for themselves and define it to describe only their legal unions.”

Prof. Jacobson points out that this sends the matter back to the political arena where lesbians and gays must persuade the majority of Californians to repeal Prop. 8 if they want the word “marriage” to include same-sex civil unions.

Gay Patriot — specifically Gay Patriot West, who lives in California — approves of the decision and hopes that lesbians and gays who are disappointed will find ways to be civil toward the opponents of their equality to create grounds for persuading them to support marriage equality in the future. I am troubled by the court’s support of majority rule in limiting equality for minorities, but I agree we must be civil about it.

I don’t know what the response of the National Organization for Marriage is to the decision, but on their Web site, here’s is one of the talking points they recommend for defeating marriage equality for same-sex couples:

Language to avoid at all costs: ‘Ban same-sex marriage.’ Our base loves this wording. So do supporters of SSM [same-sex marriage]. They know it causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls. [Emphasis mine.] Don’t use it. Say we’re against ‘redefining marriage’ or in favor or ‘marriage as the union of husband and wife’ NEVER ‘banning same-sex marriage.’

Screen shot from the "Marriage Talking Points" page of the Web site for the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage equality.

Screen shot from the "Marriage Talking Points" page of the Web site for the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage equality.

The way I read this is that NOM and its allies know they can speak in code to defeat same-sex marriage AND civil unions and that they use this code-speak to win over people who would never otherwise deny equality to homosexuals. But their true intention is expressed in their words, ” ‘Ban same-sex marriage.’ Our base loves this wording.” They love it because that’s what they want to do. So I expect that they will not rest with their success on Prop. 8, but will use it as leverage for repealing same-sex civil unions.

I’ve read the statistic that 85 percent of blacks voted in favor of Prop. 8 in order to defeat same-sex marriage. It occurs to me that black opposition to same-sex marriage is a safe expression of an intense and virulent anti-white racism because the majority of people who are openly lesbian or gay are white. I suspect this anti-white/anti-gay hatred — if I am correct and it exists and is widespread — is founded in Black Liberation Theology. But whatever foundation it has, homosexuals are the safe white people to hate and the minority that can safely be denied equality. No good is going to come of either of those things.

warped

What I hope that the organizations fighting for civil rights for homosexuals will do to win the hearts and minds of a majority of the electorate to vote in favor of equality for lesbians and gays is to work hard to make it safe for more people to come out to their families, friends, colleagues and church congregations. That will make it difficult-to-impossible to demonize us. And when people find out that people they already know and respect or care about — or who are their children or other relatives — are gay or lesbian, the case for denying us equality starts to melt away.

Autographed Letter Signed,

CYNTHIA YOCKEY

We thank and welcome Cynthia Yockey as an ALS guest commentator. You can find more of her writings at her blog: A Newly Conservative Lesbian

According to Cynthia’s “about me page”:Never the same

I am a 55-year-old lesbian and over the course of the presidential campaign in 2008, my political views transformed from those of a lifelong liberal, Democrat and global warming believer to those of a fiscal conservative who rejects theories of anthropogenic climate change because we are so totally NOT more influential on the climate than the sun, sunspots, the ocean and ocean currents. (Ever the heretic wherever I go, even as a liberal, I wanted a nuclear power plant on every block, due to my love of cheap electricity and my aversion to freezing in the dark, so no change there.)

When I learned in November 2008 that Barack Obama had announced his intention to purge the Democratic party of everyone with common sense centrists, and because I’m not wishy-washy because I did not want to register as independent or undecided — plus I have had bitter experiences at the hands of liberal fascists when I tried to get them to observe their stated principles and figured a change of scene would do me good — I decided to try my fortunes among Republicans and registered as a Republican in December 2008.

I feel better already.

I am more than a little embarrassed that my liberal views were transformed into conservative ones by repeated encounters with facts and math. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in politics, I was. I grew up reading newspapers and news magazines and watching Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid! I read the columns of that prissy adulterous anti-gay hypocrite and gasbag respected conservative George Will. I was a small town newspaper reporter covering politics for the Harford Democrat from 1980 to 1982!

However, since all of my friends except Cuban Diva BFF are liberal Democrats, I knew I had to research my new point of view. I spent over 100 hours online researching Obama, Black Liberation Theology, global warming/climate change, liberalism and conservatism.

I finally saw that there is a tipping point in the amount of taxes you have to pay to support the federal, state and local governments after which you have lost ability to support yourself and your family, to create and grow your business as an entrepreneur, and the right to use your own money for yourself and the causes YOU want supported, which often are causes that never would be supported by government.

That was the moment I accepted fiscal conservatism as my personal lord and savior. - Cynthia Yockey

 

Breaking News: Obama Picks First Latina Supreme Court Justice

Filed under: Supreme Court — afrocity @ 8:09 AM
Tags: , ,

peeps

Breitbart.com
May 26 07:43 AM US/Eastern
By BEN FELLER
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -

President Barack Obama tapped federal appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, officials said, making her the first Hispanic in history picked to wear the robes of a justice.
If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor, 54, would succeed retiring Justice David Souter. Two officials described Obama’s decision on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.

Administration officials say Sotomayor would bring more judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice confirmed in the past 70 years.

A formal announcement was expected at midmorning.

Obama had said publicly he wanted a justice who combined intellect and empathy—the ability to understand the troubles of everyday Americans.

Democrats hold a large majority in the Senate, and barring the unexpected, Sotomayor’s confirmation should be assured.

If approved, she would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the current court.

Sotomayor is a self-described “Newyorkrican” who grew up in a Bronx housing project after her parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico. She has dealt with diabetes since age 8 and lost her father at age 9, growing up under the care of her mother in humble surroundings. As a girl, inspired by the Perry Mason television show, she knew she wanted to be a judge.

A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, a former prosecutor and private attorney, Sotomayor became a federal judge for the Southern District of New York in 1992.

As a judge, she has a bipartisan pedigree. She was first appointed by a Republican, President George H.W. Bush, then named an appeals judge by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

It is no surprise that Obama chose a woman and I am pleased with that but what she stands for is unknown to me besides hearing that she is extremely liberal. Frankly, I prefer the Supreme Court to have a bipartisan feel, meaning a mixture of both conservatives and liberals. Their job is to uphold the law according to the constitution. If appointed, I would see her as just another liberal replacement for Souter. Congratulations to Sonia Sotomayor, good luck during confirmation.

Here is Karl Rove saying a few things about Sotomayor seems as though conservatives will be against her. I will look into this later. I do agree with conservatives that Obama’s “empathy” statement is somewhat troublesome . “Empathy” really has nothing to do with law or logic.


There was also much fodder made about her statements in this video. Sotomayor’s “We don’t make law” statement raised a few eyebrows.

 

Memorial Day Evening Solioquy: He Will Not Be Forgotten Part II May 25, 2009

wall panel

This is part II of a special Memorial Day post about the veterans who have touched my life. I dedicate today’s post to “Willy”

Beginning in the mid 1970′s, I began to notice that my mother had a sex life. Being a single mother must have been a lonely life. As her eight-year old guardian I looked at her dating from an altogether different perspective. She was not loose or a tramp and I could probably count the number of boyfriends my mom had during my childhood on one hand. She rarely dated, but when she did I gave her hell for it. No relative wanted to babysit me when my mother was on a date. I would cry and spend the evening standing at the window waiting for her to come home. Occasionally, there were times when she did not. Sleeping all night with your head on a cold window sill is not the best way to cope with separation anxiety…even if your grandmother does stick a pillow underneath you. It was not long before my mother got with the program. All dates must be chaperoned by little Afrocity. I mean how many times did I have to tell her that she cannot be trusted to be on her own?

Okay, so the boyfriends were pissed. Mother used my protective streak as a litmus test. If Afrocity liked him. He was good. The problem was that my mother and I had totally different taste in men. I would go for the older 50-ish father types (surprise, surprise). She would go for the types that walked on four legs. During the summer of 1977, my mother was dating another male of the canine persuasion.

Soldier 2

His name was James. Now to be fair, James was not necessarily a dog. He was a loser. But to my mother, he had a job as a mechanic which meant he was not a loser. When you are on welfare anyone with a job is not a loser. Her daughter had higher standards however, and to me James was a loser who drove a beat up navy blue Oldsmobile, had bad teeth and lived with his mother, two sisters, her three kids, and his brother Willy. This story is dedicated to Willy.

My job as chaperon was an interesting one. Sometimes it meant trips to the drive in movies, other times it meant going to a nice restaurant. The there was the proverbial “win over the kid” date to the circus. Despite the yucky guys, I would at least get a good time out of it. However, in her avoidance of loneliness, mother would occasionally take the “no date” route. Very much sleeping together and very little dating. James was definitely a trip on route friends with benefits. Sure they had one initial date but the following dates were not dates at all unless you want to count going over to his building code violating multiple family brownstone and having sex. I don’t call that a date. My mom did and like a good chaperon I followed.

James’ family was strange. About fifteen family members lived in this dwelling with certain parts of the family living in apartments. In the basement garden apart was his sister Jeanie. She was pathetic and had four kids–all by the same married man. Her kids were nice enough. Kim, her oldest was 9 years old and had a pretty face but she was about 150lbs. Then there was Dion and Leon, a pair of fraternal twins. Finally there was a baby whose name I cannot remember who was about one. Having other kids provided entertainment for me so I tolerated them. Jeanie as also pregnant again by the same married man who came to visit her on Saturday night to have sex throw her a twenty dollar bill and leave.

On the first floor was James mother Pam. I remember her as being a nice woman who loved my mom and thought she would make a nice wife for James. I forgave her for that lapse in sanity. Her fireplace mantel had become a shrine for family portraits and milk glass. She was also into velvet art. The first floor was also occupied by Leigh and Kevin. They were also fraternal twins of about 27 (guess it ran in the family) and had obviously not left the nest.

James had the entire 2nd floor to himself. Quite frankly the only thing I can remember about it was the iron post pre-war looking bed. The bed that he slept with my mother in. The bed with the plain dingy white sheets that covered my mother’s nudity once when I walked in on them. It was after midnight and I wanted to go home. I knew that she was someplace in the dump. The hallway was dark but I could see a light from under the doorway. Mother never cared when I walked in on her at home, why would it be different now? I was utterly mistaken. Of course James cursed at me and told me to shut the @*&#@ door. I just stood there. Sleeping with my mother did not give him parental rights over me. Afrocity’s orders come from high above or under the sheets depending on how one looked at it.

“We need to go home it is late. I fell asleep downstairs on the sofa.” I informed her. “I want to be in a bed.”
And a bed I got. Down in the basement with Jeanie and her four kids. Yes little Afrocity stuffed between a sweaty obese pre-teen, two fraternal twins and a one year old baby- all in one full sized bed, in my underwear. The things I go through for my mother. As many nights as I would endured this, there was not one night that I slept the entire way through which brings me to the third floor of the brownstone and Willy, the focus of my story.

hand of a visitor to the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall reaches out to touch the name of a family member who had died in the Vietnam War (AP Photo/Phil Coale).

hand of a visitor to the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall reaches out to touch the name of a family member who had died in the Vietnam War (AP Photo/Phil Coale).

Willy was James’ older brother. He was an alcoholic. By the way, Willy was really his name. I know that seems rather cliche to have a drunk named Willy but it was short for “William” so that is what we called him. Willy lived on the very top 3rd floor all by himself. I was instructed never to speak to Willy. These were direct orders from mother. Willy’s alcoholism did not sit well with my mother. He was sort of a loose cannon, cursing at Chicago police cars as they drove by. In the morning you could find either Willy or his bottles of malt liqueur on the concrete porch. But something bothered my mother more, something else about Willy that was entirely prejudiced on her part. Willy was not only an alcoholic, he was also a recently returned Vietnam veteran. Being 1977, the memories of the Vietnam War were still raw as well as anti-war sentiments against the soldier’s. Vietnam vets are often “shell shocked” she would tell me. “They are crazy and they rape little girls…Stay away from Willy…See how he drinks?”

All of it really made no sense to me since my brother would come home from the army and he was perfectly sane still. There was the matter of Uncle Fred and Gavin.  Willy seemed perfectly harmless to me. His face was kind, his complexion was a golden brown and unmarred. Standing at 6 foot 3, he was like a gentle alcoholic giant.

For the most part, I listened to my mother’s warnings and stayed away from Willy until one day, he gave me money for candy when I was sitting bored on Pam’s sofa waiting for my mother to finish having sex, fighting or whatever she was doing upstairs with James. Willy just came over to me and handed me a silver dollar.  He smiled, “There is a corner store on Homan Ave.”    I was hesitant at first, but his big brown eyes made me feel safe. Mother never said I could not take money from a Vietnam soldier. One silver dollar could buy a load of candy back then and I came back to the sofa loaded with chips and caramels, Mello Yellow soda pop.

Silver Dollar

The candy was great and sweet, it was that guilt tummy ache afterward… I told myself that it was only the one time. The only trouble was it would not only be the one time. Willy would see me and give me a silver dollar seven more times. Five of those times, he came to me while I was playing or it was in my dolly purse when I woke up. The final two times, it was I who sought out Willy on the 3rd floor, the place my mother had instructed me not to go. It was not a question of my disobedience, it just happened. All of Jeanie’s kids were sleeping in the basement. We were one big sweaty mass of brown skin. Arms, legs, and a pacifier in my face. July was the height of summer in Chicago and the un-air conditioned brownstone. I sat up in the bed as much as one could with four other kids there. With no headboard , I could only lean my head against the wall. I was beginning to think this chaperoning my mother was a bad idea until I was startled by something crawly running down my face. Frantically slapping at it, I screamed jumping out of the bed and stepped on the one year old’s head, which made him cry, which made me afraid that I would get into trouble, which made me run from the garden apartment, upstairs to the 2nd floor where my mother was with James with the door shut. James was decoratively inclined enough to have a carpet fragment in front of his door, my intention was to sit there in my underwear and wait till morning.

I awoke to something different, the smell of crackling bacon and singing. Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” was on the record player. I was in a strange bed. This I knew because it was a lot bigger an cleaner than the one in the basement. The window had no curtains which allowed me to see the Eisenhower expressway, the same view from Pam’s apartment only higher up.  This meant I was Willy’s apartment. Slowly moving from the bed I followed the bacon smell into the kitchen, passing one of those black cat clocks with the moving eyes and tail. It said 9-ish.  Willy had the table set with Dessert Rose plates, there were three plates on the table along with beautiful silverware.  I walked up to the table when Willy saw me.  He was cracking brown eggs.

“You fell asleep on the job  soldier.”

I was about to speak when the reason for the additional place setting stumbled into the room. It was some floozy woman with a bad Diana Ross Mahogany styled wig on her head which was turned sort of sideways. She wore a red nylon negligee and plopped down at the table.

“Who is she?”  the woman asked. “I thought you ain’t got no kids”

“I don’t. ” Willy answered. “Just shut up and eat there ain’t nothing to be jealous of.”

I slid into a chair and ate my bacon and fried eggs. Scrambled was the way I preferred them with cheese melted on top. Willy never asked me how I liked my eggs and I was too unfamiliar to be rude enough to ask.  The woman ate like a horse, sopping up the egg yolk with bread (something I have never understood to this day). Leaving a clean plate, she went down the long railroad hallway disappearing into the bathroom.  Willy took up the plates.

“Those are pretty plates,” I said shyly.

Golden Teaspoon Much Like the One Mentioned In This Post

Golden Teaspoon Much Like the One Mentioned In This Post

He looked at the plate in his hand. “They belonged to my grand mammy.”  He looked at me. “Want to see something?”

Without letting me answer, he went to the pantry dragging a big noisy army green cloth duffel bag behind him.  He loosened the drawstrings. Inside was dishes and silverware. Old tarnished silverware. We sat and looked at the different patterns. He told me that some was from the slave master’s house. Stuff his relatives had stolen when they were set free. One piece in particular caught my fancy. A tiny teaspoon that was gold with tulips on the handle.

“You want it?” Willy asked me. I shook my head. I could not take things from strangers especially Vietnam vets without my mother’s permission.

“Go on, take it.” Willy set the teaspoon in hand.  Bashful, I got up and walked around the kitchen. I wanted to know how he came up with so many silver dollars so I asked him. That brought out a smaller army green bag. This one was filled with silver dollars. To me it looked like millions. I would later find out it was a little over 300.  “Wow, you are rich.” I proclaimed.  Why couldn’t my mom be with Willy instead of James. So he is an alcoholic but he is nice and has money. I had just stuck my hand in the bag of dollars when a loud knock was at the door. Willy left me in the kitchen holding the bag of coins. It was my mother. I could hear her cursing all the way down the hallway. This brought out the floozy who asked “Who the fuck is she?”

There I was in the kitchen of a crazy  war vet, in my panties and tee shirt. My mom was furiously calling Willy all kinds of perverts.  He called her a “neglectful bitch”. I could not argue with that. She carried me out and home on the subway. We would not see James for a few weeks after that which was fine by me. But I missed Willy and wanted to go back.

Vetnam Vets memorial“Are you going to see James again?”

I had an agenda which served my mother well. She was lonely and in someways I was making her feel that it was okay to be weak and crawl back to him.  My wish was granted and soon I was back at the brownstone but things were different this time around. I would stay in Willy’s pad. Unorthodox as it sounds, I was actually in better hands at his place than I ever was downstairs in Jeanie’s house of adultery.  Soon mom warmed to Willy because he gave her silverware too.  They would talk about James and how he should keep my mother because “she was a good woman”.  If I developed amnesia surrounding James the loser, I could live with that. His family was growing on me- sort of.

Summer was coming to an end but Willy’s drinking was not. That  August, I had my eighth birthday party at Pam’s place. Willy was barbecuing outside. He called it a beer recipe but he drank most of the ingredients.  Burnt ribs was a crime punishable by hanging for some, especially my mom who spent most f our food stamps on the food. Willy passed out in a rattan chair. Well at least the cake and ice cream was good.

Pam stood over the chair and looked at her drunken son. “I wish he had stayed home but they would not let him.”  Pam meant Vietnam. “He ain’t never been the same since he come back home. Drinking and carrying on. I told him to take advantage of those loans and get a house or go to school but that devil’s poison won’t get you no damn place but in the ground.”

On the way home, mother manipulated the situation to give me yet another tirade against Vietnam vets. “They drink and sometimes kill their wives when they come home…”

I didn’t care what she had to say. I liked Willy and my uncle Gavin was a alcoholic too so there.

veterans11The next time we went to the brownstone, Willy was not there. The apartment door was locked. No sound, no light underneath the door. They told me he went on a trip “down south”.  That’s funny I thought, “down south” is where black kids go during the summer when their parents get sick of them.  Two more weeks went by and no Willy.  By mid September, mother and James broke up for good.  I would not see the brownstone again.  Maybe I could call them, but mother would not let me. I still had my teaspoon and the other silverware from Willy but I had given up.

One night in November, the doorbell rang. It was Jeanie and James. Willy had died the month before of pneumonia and liver failure. They did not come to tell my mother. They came to tell me because Willy had left me the bag of silver dollars. Over 300 silver dollars.

“Willy would go to the bank and ask for them when he got his vet check.” Jeanie explained. “He knew he was dying and said to give the bag to Afrocity. We didn’t even know he had it. To tell the truth I was angry because he could have given it to my kids but I ain’t about cross my brother…I don’t want that on me, you know?”

The adults all looked at me. I felt bad for Willy. The dollars seemed stupid now.

James showed us pictures from the funeral. It was a military funeral, open casket. In the Polaroid, there Willy was dead and pale.  It was true. I will never forget him. Yes, I knew him for only four months but Willy is among  my top ten people who have made a positive impact on my life.  I would never be prejudiced against a war veteran again.

As for the silver dollars, my mom took me to First National Bank of Chicago where I opened my first bank account and bought a savings bond. She was good about letting me waste the money on myself. She never asked for a dime of it.  I wish I could tell you that I still have the golden teaspoon. Three evictions will cost you your dignity and belongings.  The teaspoon was lost in an abandoned storage facility so I have nothing left of Willy but the memories.

I wanted to give him life today by telling you this story.

Thank you. Happy Memorial Day

Autographed Letter Signed,

Afrocity

 

Colin Cleansing Needed On Aisle 44 May 24, 2009

Colin 44

Uh-oh. He’s back. Will someone please tell Colin Powell that we would like him to take his Kool Aid and hopenchange joints to a land far, far, away from the Republican Party.

colin_powell_obamaFrom FoxNews.com:

Powell Defends GOP Credentials, Calls for More Inclusive Party

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell shoots down criticism from talk show host Rush Limbaugh and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell took on Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh Sunday, shooting down their accusations that he had abandoned the Republican Party while continuing to dish out advice to the GOP.

Powell, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” touted his Republican credentials and urged his party to be more moderate and inclusive. He was answering back after Limbaugh called on him to join the Democrats and Cheney said he thought Powell had already left the GOP.

“Rush will not get his wish and Mr. Cheney was misinformed. I am still a Republican,” Powell said, noting that he “voted solidly for Republican candidates” for president for 20 years, spent 10 years of his life serving in Republican administrations and spoke at two GOP conventions.

“You know, neither (Cheney) nor Rush Limbaugh are members of the membership committee of the Republican Party. I get to make my decision on that,” Powell said. “And so I will continue to work in a way that I think is helpful to the country and helpful to the party.”

shut_the_fuck_up

Mr. Powell I hate to be the one break it to you and I am sure I am not the first to tell you this, but you are an embarrassment only to yourself. If you really want to be helpful to your country as well as your party (whichever one that actually is) please crawl back into your RINO hole and pray that Barack Obama at least remembers to send you an invitation to the Who’s Who amongst African Americans dinner at the White House. I would give Barry a nudge if I were you because he has a tendency to drive over those who help him. Just sayin’. Thank you for serving our country but please shut the fuck up and stop allowing yourself to be a Meghan McCain or a Levi Johnston – aka sad GOP media pawn for the left. It is really painful to watch. It really is.

You tube video of Colin exhibiting RINO derangement syndrome below. Watch if you can take it.

Autographed Letter Signed,

Afrocity

 

You’ve Come A Long Way Baby: Go Danica Go!

Filed under: Women — afrocity @ 1:03 PM
Tags: , , , ,
Historic Indy 500

Inaugural Indy 500 Race on May 30, 1911. Nope, no women here.

This Memorial Day weekend also means the INDY 500 race. I don’t know about the rest of you but I am pulling for 27 year old Danica Patrick who could soon become the first female to win the race. She has already won the coveted Japan 300 race and is now poised to take her historic moment by the steering wheel.

Women were not allowed to race in the Indianapolis Speedway until 1971. Janet Guthrie was the first woman to enter the Indy 500 in 1976

Janet Guthrie became the first female to compete in the INDY 500. April 6, 1978  (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, File)

Janet Guthrie became the first female to compete in the INDY 500. April 6, 1978 (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, File)

February 1976–Arlene Hiss becomes the first female granted a competition license by the U.S. Auto Club

February 1976–Arlene Hiss becomes the first female granted a competition license by the U.S. Auto Club

If you get a chance please watch the race. This is a video of Danica’s recent interview on Fox Business News. Go Danica Go.

Autographed letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

 
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