Category Archives: Politics

Marco Rubio is the GOP Saviour – Only Not So Much…

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In 2011, a young Latino from Florida was elected to the US Senate.  His name was Marco Rubio. Rubio rode into prominence on the backs of and with the support of the Tea Party movement; he was the extreme right’s response to Obama. He was young, good looking, articulate, and… Brown.  A perfect poster boy for the Tea Party’s rebuttals to any claims of racism. You could almost hear it –  Surely we cannot be as racist as the rest of the country believes we are if we own support this guy, Marco Rubio!

Over the last three years, Rubio has worked diligently to separate himself from the more extreme factions of the Tea Party party while maintaining his GOP conservative principles and credentials.  More recently, he was recognized in Time magazine as The Republican Savior to which the Senator promptly and “modestly” responded via Twitter (and I paraphrase) that Jesus is the only Saviour.  That said, he’s relished the spotlight and has played up to the notion that he can turn the party’s image.

The GOP has had high hopes for Rubio. He is now the poster boy for GOP diversity, a son of  Latino immigrants, coming from a family of modest means, and having benefited from student loans and government programs for his educational attainment and subsequent success. His own mother is a current recipient of Medicare.  All government sponsored programs based on policies that Rubio would oppose based on a fiscally conservative GOP agenda.  While I am loathe to call him a hypocrite, I would argue a level of inconsistency and hypocrisy in Rubio’s positions over the last several years.  He’s done a bit of the Romney flip flop enough to lead us to wonder what his real positions are.

In his rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) speech, Rubio proceeded to crash and burn… horribly.  Now I will stipulate (as have others) that is not easy to follow the SOTU, especially when that person’s last name is Clinton or Obama.  But if you accept the task and are seen as the second coming of the GOP (and we all know the GOP needs a major shift), you better be able to handle it when the cameras come on and its time to speak.  I felt awkward FOR Rubio. It was uncomfortable and an important moment for the GOP fell apart.  If Rubio is supposed to the be the new face of the hip cool conservative who knows who Tupac is (and allegedly listens to him a la Paul Ryan’s playbook) and this was supposed to be a bi-partisan introduction akin to a blind date, then we were introduced to a sweaty, nervous, shaky, and uncomfortable disaster.  And the chemistry was off. And it was a let down.

First impressions mean a lot.  They matter. Especially to someone who doesn’t really know you.

Let’s look at Rubio’s response to the SOTU. He noted that his parents immigrated to the US, yet his original position on immigration reform was decidedly anti-immigrant, until recently, and it’s still questionable. Rubio benefited from many of the government programs that made him the “successful” person he has become, only now, he would like to cut many of those programs that offer opportunities for low and middle class people coming up behind him.  Rubio offered JFK and Ronald Reagan up as supporters of free enterprise as a means of growing the middle class arguing Obama is opposed to the notion.  Only it is VERY obvious that Obama has more in common fiscally with Reagan than any current sitting Republican member of  Congress, in fact, given an introspection of the Reagan’s policies of the 80’s relative to today’s current GOP climate, he never would have made it out of California much less to the presidency (you can thank Republican Jeb Bush for that bit of insight).

So what now?

It is time for the GOP to seriously reflect on who they are as a party.  This really is a historical time for the party to consider who they wish to be, what they wish to represent, and how they plan to get there for the long haul.  Its not that difficult.  There is a strong history of reform in the Republican party until they decided to be the party of old, white, and privileged.  Putting forward members of the party who have more pigment will not help the party.  Re-establishing itself as a more moderate and sane party would go a long way for attracting a more diverse group of people.

The Democrats managed to do this successfully during Clinton’s years in spite of the fact that some of Clinton’s policies were decidedly unhelpful to many people of color.  Yet, their perception of Reagan/Bush played a huge role in how the two parties were viewed among African Americans and Latinos in this country.  So Democrats were able to enact welfare reform legislation under Clinton that hurt more than helped the poor and communities of color who were impacted.

So Republicans, Rubio is not your saviour, he doesn’t even come close. You will have to find a more sincere way of revamping and retooling your image, by actually doing it.  You will have to align more with the middle, you will have to take a page from Meagan McCain’s book, you will have to made some hard decisions. You will have to get rid of the Tea Party/GOP image.  You will have to become more bipartisan and not because you feel that you have no choice, but rather because democracy and accountability calls for it.

Rubio can be helpful to the GOP, he can be a leader in the GOP, but as far as being its saviour? Mmm, not so much….

Aside

I am no expert in health care policy but I do know what it cost to be fat and sick. I know that if I did not have health insurance it would cost a lot more and I would be in much worse shape than I am now.  I think that healthcare policy requires a more comprehensive common sense approach only made complicated by the lobbyist for this industry.

I also know that in this country there is less emphasis on  preventative care and a major emphasis on medicinal maintenance when someone becomes ill.  There is a pill (and profit) connected to every conceivable condition – conditions that by and large can be avoided if we had a different relationship to food and health.  In 2009, health care accounted for 16% of America’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the expectation that this will increase by nearly 10% by 2025.  We have a population that is living longer with chronic conditions driving up overall costs associated with health care.  Overall, we have a more obese and less healthy overall population in this country.  And the health care lobbying efforts have ensured that our leaders continue health care policy to place emphasis on maintenance rather than prevention.  

Prevention advocates argue that using such an approach in the context of healthcare policy would result in reigning in increasing healthcare costs and creating a more healthy society.  “The Trust for America’s Health reported that prevention programs could save the country more than $16 billion annually within five years, a return of $5.60 per dollar invested.  The Commonwealth Fund estimated that reduced tobacco use and decline in obesity would lower national health expenditures by $474 billion over ten years.” At a time where we are talking about reducing deficits and spending, this is an opportune time to really focus on this issue.


Unfortunately, though many Americans are indoctrinated to eat and drink to excess the wrong things, the real problem is that our policies and national leaders protect the very companies that benefit financially from our illnesses; this means the capacity to advocate for a sensible approach to health care policy against these powerful corporations is more than difficult.  For example, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2005 there were 535 members of Congress compared to 2,084 health care lobbyist; this means for every member of Congress, there was approximately 3.8 lobbyist lobbying them on behalf of various drug and health insurance companies.  Further, according to OurFuture.org, in 2004 the health industry was credited with giving approximately $14M to 11 members of Congress who were created with negotiating the Bush Medicare Plan

So what are the costs associated with chronic disease in America?  Let’s take my personal favorite chronic illness, diabetes.

Diabetes

There are a total of 25.8 million children and adults in the United States which means that 8.3% of the population has diabetes with approximately 7 million undiagnosed.  As of 2010,  1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people 20 and over.  This is part of the reason why there has been a substantive increase in the number of diabetes related advertising and why we’ve begun to experience a sense of “normalcy” relative to diabetes.  Rather than focus on preventing Type 2 which is largely tied to weight, we are being socialized to learn to live with it.  There are approximately 79 million pre-diabetics in the United States; for diabetes drug companies and companies that produce lancets, blood glucose readers, and diabetes related products, that’s a lot of potential customers and money.

 After adjusting for population age differences, a 2007-2009 national survey data for people diagnosed with diabetes, age 20 years or older showed that 7.1% were non-Hispanic Whites, 8.4% were Asian Americans, while non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics made up 12.6% and 11.8% respectively of those diagnosed.

There are a host of other related conditions associated with diabetes including:

Heart disease and stroke

  • In 2004, heart disease was noted on 68% of diabetes-related death certificates among people 65 years or older.
  • In 2004, stroke was noted on 16% of diabetes-related death certificates among people 65 years or older.
  • Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes.
  • The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes.

High Blood Pressure

  • In 2005-2008, of adults aged 20 years or older with self-reported diabetes, 67% had blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg or used prescription medications for hypertension.

Blindness

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years.
  • In 2005-2008, 4.2 million (28.5%) people with diabetes 40 years or older had diabetic retinopathy, and of these, almost 7 million (4.4% of those with diabetes) had advanced diabetic retinopathy that could lead to severe vision loss.

Kidney Disease

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of new cases in 2008.
  • In 2008, 48,374 people with diabetes began treatment for end-stage kidney disease in the United States.
  • In 2008, a total of 202,290 people with end-stage kidney disease due to diabetes were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant in the United States.

Neuropathy

  • About 60% to 70% of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage.

Amputation

  • More than 60% of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.
  • In 2006, about 65,700 nontraumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in people with diabetes.

Morbidity and Mortality associated with diabetes:

In 2007, diabetes was listed as the underlying cause on 71,382 death certificates and was listed as a contributing factor on an additional 160,022 death certificates. This means that diabetes contributed to a total of 231,404 deaths.

Cost of Diabetes

The total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2007 was $174 billion, with $116 billion for direct medical costs, and $58 billion for indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature mortality). After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.  Does anyone see the economic benefit for prevention here?

The American Diabetes Association created a Diabetes Cost Calculator that takes the national cost of diabetes data and provides estimates at the state and congressional district level.  Factoring in the additional costs of undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes brings the total cost of diabetes in the United States in 2007 to $218 billion.  In my lovely borough of Brooklyn, in the 11th Congressional district where I live, the total cost of diabetes for people in Congressional District 11 in 2006 is estimated at $551,100,000. This estimate includes excess medical costs of $376,200,000 attributed to diabetes, and lost productivity valued at $174,900,000.  For the entire state of New York in 2006, the cost is estimated at $12,860,000,000. This estimate includes excess medical costs of $8,676,000,000 attributed to diabetes, and lost productivity valued at $4,188,000,000.  So clearly, this is a chronic disease that can wreck havoc on someone physically if they aren’t maintaining it, but the costs associated with this disease is astronomical.

I could have used cancer, heart disease, or some other chronic diseases in the same vein to prove what should be obvious to everyone.  It cost so much more to our government and our society to be chronically ill than to take a comprehensive policy approach to preventative healthcare in this country.  The Obamas have worked hard to create an awareness of this through Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, but we have to do more as leaders.  As Americans we need to change our mindset and relationship to food and we need to demand that our leaders on both sides of the aisle engage in real leadership by reforming how health care policy is done in America.

2013: Prevention as a Healthcare Policy in America

Shooting in Newtown CT – why we should be sick every day it happens…

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Newtown, CT – A quiet New England town where the people of the town could never have imagined that on a calm December afternoon, 20-year-old Adam Lanza would kill his mother, take her gun and car, drive over to Sandy Hook Elementary school, and commence to killing 26 people.  20 of them small children between the ages of 5 and 10…  and 6 adults.  By the end of that day on December 14, 2012, Lanza would have killed 28 people, including his mother and himself.

Children who were killed by a man with mental health issues, children who would never have the opportunity to grow up, experience life, have children, and go through the aches and pains of adolescence…  I do not want to hear about gun safety laws.  I do not want to see the politicizing of this issue (which every politician is already doing).  This is a traumatic event and those kids have to process it.  This is a horrific event and many of us are left, again, to ask why?  Why would a 20 year old snap so completely that he would take the lives of small children.  This is disgusting, this is unacceptable, this is horrific, and this was a mass murder. 

I’ve become desensitized to these types of tragedies.  As a parent, tragedy is easier to manage by simply not connecting to it.  However, I think that’s part of the problem. From the shootings at Virginia Tech to former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford to James Holmes to Columbine to China… And many others…  We have been dealing with violence on a massive scale… globally, nationally, and locally.  But here are several things we are NOT talking about… Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and parts of Manhattan…  The streets of Chicago, Atlanta, Newark, Jersey City, Oakland, and so many other local urban communities where these tragedies occur every day unnoticed, un-noted, and where babies and children are killed, where teens and adults are killed, every day… in parks, basketball courts, bodegas, in front of stoops of their homes, in their homes watching television or even sleeping… places that are also supposed to be safe.

As Eminem once noted in his lyrics for The Way I Am, “…Where were the parents at? 
And look at where it’s at middle America. Now it’s a tragedy, Now it’s so sad to see. An upper class city having this happening…”  I don’t know why Lanza did what he did, I don’t know why Holmes did what he did, I don’t know why Jared Loughner did what he did, I don’t know why Seung-Hui Cho did what he did.  I also don’t know why there are killings daily that go unspoken in New York City… I don’t know why Connecticut is more of a tragedy than a child killed in a park in Spanish Harlem or Brownsville…

 
There is one thing that is pretty clear in all of this…  A tragedy, whether on a massive scale or of an individual, is a tragedy and we are all responsible for this condition.  Whether we are desensitized to it, or we say “what a shame” without acting… we are all responsible for it.  It is no longer right to go by the adage “snitches get stitches”when communities and babies are being killed in poor and urban communities.  It is no longer right that we do not comprehensively address the mental health issues associated with the violent massacres that we are experiencing nationally.  We have a problem…  and we need to be sick of the tragedies enough to be angry… angry enough to do something… and strategic enough to push for systemic changes within our system…  
 
Until then, we’ll continue seeing these tragedies occur.  And we’ll cry about it, grieve about it, temporarily bond over it, and then move on…   until it happens again.
Aside

If there is anyone in the world that I believe has a credible opinion of Susan Rice…. It’s Madeline Albright.  Rice is a former classmate of Albright’s children and Albright has had the opportunity to interact with Rice since she was 4 years old.  That (to me) actually gives Albright a fuller and more comprehensive notion of the type of person Rice may be. So when Albright declares the situation as “ridiculous“, then it goes without saying that it’s possible that it is ridiculous.

I have heard in personal conversation and in multiple articles that Susan Rice is blunt and has sharp elbows. Well, yes, she may. But it’s not like Condoleezza Rice was necessarily the most beloved or diplomatic diplomat in the world.  And its not like she did not speak out of turn regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s); after all, she was given intelligence information and testified that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had WMD’s.  This is what led to the Iraq war.  And in spite of this major misstep, Condi Rice still became the Secretary of State.  It is worth noting that the two men (Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham) who went after Susan Rice with incredible hostility defended Condi Rice for the very same actions.

So what does that tell us?

Like her, hate her, or feel ambivalent about her, the reality is that Susan Rice was thrown under the bus and the witch hunt was led by Senators Graham and McCain.  To her credit, Rice withdrew her name understanding the politics of this situation.  Rather than play politics and be forced to fight for a position that many thought she was qualified for, Rice opted to remove herself from the distractions.

For that I respect her.

As for Senators McCain and Graham, they will soon find themselves not relevant in politics. They have both damaged their credibility and hurt their party.  This will also hurt Obama, though less so.

On November 27th when this issue first began bubbling I tweeted that the GOP wanted Kerry to replace Clinton as Secretary of State in order to get a second shot at the Mass Senate Seat for Scott Brown (they believe in spite of losing to Elizabeth Warren, he can win it). The GOP also will want a republican to take Patreaus’ place as head of the CIA (Hagel’s name is now being floated)…  This is now being discussed on news channels.

While all of this political chess playing could then help Obama regarding the

 fiscal cliff discussions and may give the GOP a temporary win in the present, the party engaged in a witch hunt and the gamble will not pay off in the long run.

The GOP has suffered significantly since their November election losses.  This does nothing to aid them in repairing their party’s public perception.  And so they will keep losing. (Since I’ve written this, it seems that an independent report cited the State Department for being grossly negligent with providing security in Libya…  so how does Rice own that?)

The Susan Rice Witch hunt … And why it only hurts the GOP

The Politics of Sexual Identity

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Last week, Politker, published a story about the wife of  NYC Public Advocate (and Mayoral candidate) Bill De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray and her past as a lesbian.  McCray’s response to the report, “In the 1970s, I identified as a lesbian, and wrote about it.  In 1991, I met the love of my life, married him, and together we’ve raised two amazing kids. I’m reminded every day how lucky I am to have met my soulmate.”

My initial reaction to this was the same one I had when De Blasio first began showcasing his wife African American wife and biracial children more prominently in campaign literature.  Eh,  ok, but so what? So what because this is clearly (in my opinion) a personal matter between a husband and wife and not necessarily for public discourse.

Is this really a scandal? Among younger people, something like this really is not news or overly scandalous based on the (incorrect) assumption that the majority women have had a same sex “college experience”.  While many females I know like to boast that they’ve kissed a girl, most women in my generation have gone no further or are out the closet and open about their sexual preferences.

According to a 2002 study done by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC)  and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCFHS) based on 12,571 in-person interviews:

  • 4% of females reported having had a sexual experience with another female in the past 12 months.
  • 11% of women admitted to a same-sex sexual experience in their lifetime (vs. 4.1% of women ten years prior who admitted to having had oral sex with another woman).
  • 3% of women admitted to having had sex with both males and females in the last 12 months.

Additionally, women have been more open about exploring their sexual identity.  For example, in the same study cited, among those who had sexual relations with another woman, nearly two-thirds (65%) ultimately considered themselves heterosexual.

According to a May, 2011 Gallup Poll, roughly 25% of adults in the US are estimated to be gay or lesbian.  If that is the case, one could argue that as a society we are increasingly open to those who aren’t considered “straight” and not every woman who identified as “straight” has always engaged in “straight” sex.

So not every bisexual female or lesbian who has always identified accordingly may have ended up with a partner, mate, or spouse that fit neatly into their own concept of their sexuality.  So De Blasio is hardly the first guy to marry a not-so-straight woman, other women have married not-so-straight men…  It’s all become fluid and we know that in this time and age of sexual experimentation, some of us won’t be completely straight at the end of the day but we all seek to find an honest and loving connection to another human being.

I don’t think (or care if) Chirlane McCray is straight, I think she happens to be in a relationship with her soulmate, who happens to be a guy (gasp!).  I don’t think McCray is confused or has moved away from her core principles regarding civil and human rights by virtue of the fact that she has maintained an active role as an outspoken advocate of civil rights for the GLBT community (as has her husband). I don’t think McCray has been “cured” nor has she ever claimed such foolishness as indicated by Andrea Peyser.

I think this is less about McCray and more about the fact that generally, people like others to be categorized. Some of us like to categorize folks nice and neatly as Black, White, Latino, fat, skinny, rich, poor, etc… We like to see the world in black/white, either/or terms because the grey area tends to make us uncomfortable.  We like to push our notion of right and wrong on others because of our own discomfort with fluidity.

Here are some facts in black and white.

1. McCray wrote an article about her experience and growth as a Black woman who identified as a lesbian at that time.  It was groundbreaking to do so coming from her ethnic background and was brave.

2. The article she wrote for Essence magazine was written over 30 years ago.  It was only a mere 20 years ago that Madonna was taking nude photos with Big Daddy Kane… Put it in perspective…

3. McCray later met an interesting (and handsome) Italian guy by the last name of De Blasio who piqued and shared her interest.  The two later got married and had kids  – does it really matter what she was doing sexually before she got married? Are we asking him about his past relationships? No? Moving on.

4. If McCray was looking to experiment with men, she could and would have done it a lot differently.  If her relationship with  De Blasio was a front, it would not be where it is today, 18 years later.

5. Anyone that has been around Mr. De Blasio and his wife can see clearly they love each other and have a very good dynamic based on mutual respect, friendship, and a deep knowledge of one another (most of us WISH we could have that).

6. McCray and De Blasio are loving and caring parents who have set a good example for their kids about relationships and humanity whether they be multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic, multisexual, multi-whatever.  And the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

De Blasio’s desire to become mayor should lead us to pick apart and research his political history.  Using that as a measurement of his capacity to lead this City should be the emphasis.

Finally, at the end of the day, McCray and De Blasio did not issue anyone of us an invitation into their bedroom, so perhaps we should stay out of it.

America Nears El Tipping Pointo – With Ignorance

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In a recent articles in both the Huffington Post and  Latina magazine online, Ann Coulter is highlighted as attacking hispanics.  You can read her entire musings here.  As always, Coulter  serves as the conservative right’s “in your face “attack dog”.   The fact that she’s considered pretty perhaps makes it easier (and more scary) for some to sit there and listen to her ignorant pronouncements; pronouncements that serve to stir the emotions of many on both sides.  We’ve all heard snippets likes “Our Blacks are so much better than their Blacks.”  Snippets meant to incite, meant to gain publicity, divide, and meant to get her paid.

Coulter does not care about this country.  She may argue differently, but ultimately, her words and rhetoric speak far louder.  She is paid to be hateful, something that she seems to enjoy doing when you watch her on conservative news programs. The sad part in all of this is that Coulter will often mix in “facts” without citing the sources; this means that more often than not, her facts are pure fiction. I continue to submit to those who bother to pay attention to her diatribes that rather than have an emotional reaction to her statements, it’s important to understand the purpose of the statements and dissect them appropriately.

I refer back to my November 17th blog where I critiqued and discussed the need for the Republican party to evolve and become more inclusive.  Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal have both moved forward in publicly decreeing the need for Republicans to move past this election cycle. These men along with the McCain women have noted that the party must diffuse  the perception that it cannot move past this election loss with grace and dignity.  The party itself has to take the long view to ensure its sustainability by no longer pandering to extremist. In fact, this notion was bolstered more so by Speaker of the House John Boehner’s decision to remove Tea Party Republicans from key financial committees in the House.

In fact, in spite of Coulter stating clearly on the Sean Hannity Show  that the Republicans should cave to Obama on the issue of taxes because “We lost the election“, she and the most conservative among the GOP can’t seem to let this election go.  So they write what they write without any real logic or reasoning…  just emotion.

And while that is good for rallying up the crazy crew, it provides no value or service to the citizens of this great union.  In fact, Coulter’s recent musings about Latinos is straight out of Lee Atwater’s 1981 Southern Strategy play book with respect to using her scribes to speak to her constituency in code.  The underlying message is that by 2024 “you” (Whites) will be the minority and that is a scary thing.  Why? Could it be because connected to that message is the subliminal and irrational fear that “they” may treat “us” like “we’ve” treated “them”?

Let’s take a moment and really look at what Ann Coulter is saying.  After all, she is no Rachel Maddow, when she talks, it’s more like verbal vomit and not necessarily factually based.

“What the youth vote shows is not that young people are nitwits who deserve lives of misery and joblessness, as I had previously believed, but that America is hitting the tipping point on our immigration policy.  The youth vote is a snapshot of elections to come if nothing is done to reverse the deluge of unskilled immigrants pouring into the country as a result of Ted Kennedy’s 1965 immigration act.  Eighty-five percent of legal immigrants since 1968 have come from the Third World. A majority of them are in need of government assistance.”

  • Ok, let’s look at this. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act was passed and we saw it’s implementation in effect by 1968.  This means in a 44 year period (1968-2012)  Coulter can’t speak to which ethnic groups have come here during that time?  Ms. Coulter said a majority of them are in need of government assistance but there are no facts as to how many received any assistance.  There is no data to support how many received assistance in 1968, 1978, 1988, 1998, or even 2008.    This matters because while Mexicans were Latin America’s largest immigrant group after the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, there was also an influx of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern immigrant groups as well.  However, Coulter speaks of no other immigrant group.  Why is that?
  • Further, according to data provided by the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, over 9/10 of “subsidies” go to the elderly, disabled, and working households. “Federal budget and Census data show that, in 2010, 91 percentof the benefit dollars from entitlement and other mandatory programs went to the elderly (people 65 and over), the seriously disabled, and members of working households.  People who are neither elderly nor disabled — and do not live in a working household — received only 9 percent of the benefits.” (Source: CBPP) So how much actually goes to immigrants?
  • Additionally, according to a 2008 article in Bloomberg Businessweek entitled, “Immigrants Are More Likely to Be Entrepreneurs”, there is conclusive evidence based on a survey of 2.054 companies, that immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs by establishing a small business niche in local communities.  50% of Silicon Valley engineers and tech startups were founded by immigrants in comparison to 25% nationally. “Now, a November 2008 study by Robert W. Fairlie, a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, gives the strongest evidence to date that critics of open-immigration policies have misjudged the impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy.” (Source: Bloomberg Business Small Business, Immigrants are More Likely to Be Entrepreneurs-  on November 25, 2008)
  •  Coulter completely fails to define “third world”.  Are we talking third world in terms of political and civil rights? Or in terms of economics and the country’s Gross National Product (GNP)?  Or perhaps she defines third world in the context of human development, poverty, or freedom of the press.

This distinction matters.  It matters because  when you attack an ethnic group and set them up to essentially have to defend itself against lies and distortions, you need to be prepared to support your lies with facts.  While snippets and sound bites sell books and get you a place on television, the truth always comes to light. However, I suppose the ignorant and extremist will cling onto the mistaken notion that Hispanics and Latinos are the same. Immigrants from another country of origin who speak the same language, have babies out of wedlock, lacking in formal education or civility… Except we aren’t.  That’s like suggesting all eastern Europeans are essentially one in the same, especially if they share a common language.  Except, they aren’t.

“That profile has nothing to do with recent Hispanic immigrants, who — because of phony “family reunification” rules — are the poorest of the world’s poor.  More than half of all babies born to Hispanic women today are illegitimate. As Heather MacDonald has shown, the birthrate of Hispanic women is twice that of the rest of the population, and their unwed birthrate is one and a half times that of blacks.”

  • Again, facts are skewed and distorted.  Heather MacDonald’s 2006 article can be found here .  The fact is that she focuses on the Mexican population and uses the term “hispanic” interchangeably with Mexicans.  Additionally, the reasoning (fear) behind the MacDonald report is in part a concern for family values and structure but more importantly to bring home the notion of fear with respect to a White minority in America. “The dimensions of the Hispanic baby boom are startling. The Hispanic birthrate is twice as high as that of the rest of the American population. That high fertility rate—even more than unbounded levels of immigration—will fuel the rapid Hispanic population boom in the coming decades. By 2050, the Latino population will have tripled, the Census Bureau projects. One in four Americans will be Hispanic by mid-century, twice the current ratio. In states such as California and Texas, Hispanics will be in the clear majority. Nationally, whites will drop from near 70 percent of the total population in 2000 to just half by 2050. Hispanics will account for 46 percent of the nation’s added population over the next two decades, the Pew Hispanic Center reports.” (Source: Heather MacDonald – “Hispanic Family Values”, City Journal, Autumn 2006)

The reality is there are disparities among Latinos related to class, culture, politics, policy, and socioeconomic status. and immigration reform.  Similar to that of other immigrant groups who came here, including Germans, Polish, Jews, the Irish, the English, Italians, etc.  Things change with the passing of each generation.  For example, contrary to the claims of Coulter and MacDonald, a November 30, 2012 Pew Research Center study has shown that birth rates among Americans have in fact dropped with Latinas showing the largest decline.

Coulter claims that by 2024, America will have a white minority.  It is inevitable.  And not something to fear.  The factors that will bring about this reality aren’t just a growing Latino population, but an increase in multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-racial relationships that have produced non-White babies, including Barack Obama and my own child.  By in large, many of these households consider themselves progressive households because at their core, their relationships have been considered “progressive” in a society that so long been seeped in institutionalizing racism.

Ms. Coulter, in your article, you skew your facts in order to form a more perfect distortion that Obama won because the majority of our fellow Americans voted for him.  Now it is time for you and your extreme right to consider working with the party moderates to determine how to better at engage the party and diversify the membership. Again, as you acknowledged on Sean Hannity’s show, “We lost the election, Sean.” So get over it and move on with it.

Until then, this married with one child American born legal Latina with a Master’s degree thanks you for the amusing chuckles you provide and the opportunity to respond with data to your insidious claims.

Respectfully,

Akilah Rosado-McQueen

The dirty “F” word – Feminism

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So, when did the “F” word (Feminist) become bad? And why? I was reading a very interesting piece at Salon about female “celebrities” increasingly denouncing any claim to being feminist.  This has been an increasingly discussed topic for a number of reasons.  First, when someone like Katie Perry claims female empowerment but denounces the label of feminist, it carries weight with young girls across the globe.  The message is to not be labeled feminist.

But here’s the rub.  By its own definition, that IS what feminism is.  So either Katie Perry is setting a clear example of public ignorance or she has no clue about what feminism is (which is the same thing and thus is she proven to be ignorant).  Feminism, according to Merriam-Webster is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” or “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”.   So the Spice Girls were feminist, Madonna is a feminist,  P!nk (who is THE absolute coolest feminist to my mind) is a feminist… ANY human being who believes in equality between the genders and female empowerment IS a feminist.

There can be no argument that the work of the women’s suffrage movement, Gloria Steinem, Ntozake Shange, Madonna, Hillary Clinton, and many others broke the barriers that has allowed these idiots to cast off the title of feminism as though its a dirty word.  But the reality is that these women who are in their 20’s, famous, and role models, now, more than ever need to embrace the strengths and empowerment of this mind set because of their influence.  And because, at it’s core, women need to be reminded of how much it took for us to get where we are.  The old Virginia Slims commercials had a tag line “You’ve come a long way, baby.” (Yes, I am dating myself, so what!)  And this tag line spoke to many of us who felt strong and empowered enough to kill ourselves slowly on cancer sticks.  But more importantly, it reminded us, that through it all, adolescence, adulthood, motherhood… we come from a sisterhood and that sisterhood has come at a price.  We have to accept a collective history of rising from inequalities to empowerment, from social pariahs to independent women (thank you Destiny’s Child).

Why we would choose to dismiss feminism and the title of feminist as a relic of the past when we have many other barriers to our progress ahead is ignorant and borders on mental dysfunction.  We have to know our collective past to be on the correct future path.  We must not ever take for granted that every time we vote, go to work, and choose to be a single mother meant that someone fought for and in some cases died for our collective right to do so.  Some also fought and died for our collective rights to do whatever the hell we wanted to our bodies, whether it was establishing safe ways to ensure termination of unwanted pregnancies, dress as we wished without ridicule or judgment, and speak out against the many abuses our sisters still suffer in African and Middle Eastern countries.

Fuck that, I am a 40 year old FEMINIST of Caribbean descent living right here in Brooklyn.  I want my 10 year old to be a feminist or whatever she wants to be  as a result of my struggles and those that came before me.  Just as long she as she understands her history and avoids being as ignorant as a Katie Perry or Carla Bruni-Sarkozy or any female that has decided being so is somehow negative.  You have the right to say you aren’t a feminist, but DO NOT stand on the side lines and pronounce that you aren’t a feminist but yet you believe in the very principles feminism extols.  What is that?

Now, it is worth noting that feminism in 2012 is not what it was in 1960, 1970, 1980, or what came out in the ’90’s.  But we evolve based on the situation and conditions we face in our society.  Why do you think there was an uproar over Rush Limbaugh’s dumb comment about Sandra Fluke?  That was feminism people.  A bully of a man trying to intimidate a woman through words and actions and not applying the same standard to himself.

I own my past, my sisterhood, my strengths, and I rise up to advocate as a woman, an empowered woman.  I don’t smoke Virginia Slims (anymore) but I have come a long way, baby.