Another Tea Party attack against blacks, Latinos, and
By Jean Damu
Party and the Tea Party Express are on a roll, if the
pundits and pollsters are to be believed.
They say the
opportunity will exist after the mid-term elections for
them to be in a position to undo some of the positive
legislation passed by Democratically controlled
congresses. At the top of their hit list—undo the
healthcare reforms and privatize social security, as
well as the VA hospitals.
Why should anyone
besides veterans care about privatizing the VA?
care because VA hospitals arguably are not only the
nation’s best providers of healthcare, but also because
the VA hospitals are the best argument for a
nationalized healthcare system.
Many seem either
not to know this or not to care.
This begs the
questions: Are some Democrats, progressives and members
of the left so contemptuous of anything having to do
with the military they are willing to sacrifice the best
argument for nationalized health care in the US rather
than admit the VA medical care system is, as some say,
among the best in the US? Do Democrats agree with the
Tea Partiers that government is so dysfunctional it
can’t do anything right?
Michael Moore, in his wonderful 2007 agi/prop film,
Sicko, an astonishing expose of the US medical
system and its pimp, the insurance industry, visited
Canada, Great Britain, Cuba, and other countries
exposing what he thought were far better healthcare
systems than our own.
Then in a real head
scratcher Moore informs us, “There is actually one place
on American soil that has free universal health care.”
Moore, ever the
showman, takes several 9-11 responders, who were then
suffering debilitating health problems due to their long
exposure to toxic conditions at the bombing site,
offshore to the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba. From a
small outboard with bullhorn in hand, Moore demands
naval authorities provide his friends the same excellent
healthcare provided the “evildoers,” imprisoned there.
But why didn’t
Moore simply walk across the street in any large US city
to examine any VA hospital? Veterans who choose to
participate receive free universal healthcare in
virtually every large city in the US. Currently there
are about 1400 VA medical centers in the US.
honestly examining the VA system, Republicans and Tea
Partiers are falling over themselves joining the
movement to decry any shift toward socialized medicine.
Republican senatorial candidate from South Carolina, Tim
Scott, thinks the VA hospitals should go under the
knife. Ken Buck, the Republican Party and Tea Party
Movement’s candidate for Senator in Colorado recently
added his voice to those of John McCain, Republican
Senate candidate in Alaska Joe Miller, Delaware’s
reformed witch practitioner Kathleen O’Donnell and
numerous others from that sector of the political class
who think the VA medical care system should be
This, they say,
will down size big government.
Just days ago
Arizona Tea Party/Republican candidate Sharron Angle
says she no longer supports the privatization movement.
reasons, correctly we have to admit, government
involvement in healthcare is a step toward socialism and
he wants nothing to do with that. Never mind that the VA
hospitals are among the nation’s best.
Curiously, very few
who normally oppose and ridicule the deep thinkers of
the Tea Party Movement, have taken the time to address
this issue. When Sarah Palin falsely and demagogically
raised the false specter of death panels in regards to
pending health care reforms no one pointed the VA and
asked her, “Where are death panels?”
Almost anyone who
has come in extensive contact with the VA medical care
system will tell you that despite what Hollywood and the
media would have us believe, it is a successful and
valuable model for health care delivery in the US and a
worthy argument for nationalizing the nation’s medical
addition to the system’s socialistic character Tea
Partiers and increasing numbers of Republicans are
attacking the VA system because blacks, minorities and
poor whites make up the bulk of the clients.
think the VA clients are voiceless and will not fight
back. In a moment we will see this is not necessarily
This raises another
question. Do Tea Partiers think veterans don’t like
judging by their silence, everyone else on the other
side of the political spectrum, Democrats and
progressives, also think this is case.
In fact, nothing
could be further from the truth.
In a 2003 study the
prestigious New England Journal of Medicine found that
VA hospital patients, more than private hospital
patients, “are more likely to be in poor health, to have
a low level of education, disability, or low income; to
be black; and to have higher rates of psychiatric
illness. These characteristics are associated with
receiving poorer quality care.”
But instead of
receiving poor medical care the New England Journal of
Medicine concluded that by every criterion VA hospitals
are outperforming private hospitals.
of the VA healthcare population, poor, under-educated,
black and Latino, exposes the Tea party movements’ goal
of privatizing the VA as being not only racist but in
addition is also part and parcel of the of the insurance
of VA medical centers has not always existed.
In the early 1970’s
with the return home of large numbers of Viet Nam
veterans VA delivery programs were so outmoded,
understaffed and negligent numerous incidents across the
nation played out with veterans carrying guns into the
VA offices demanding better, more attentive treatment.
If lives were not lost in the spontaneous outrage,
lives were threatened on both sides of the VA desks.
A generation ago
the VA was a national embarrassment and disgrace.
Over the years as a
result of congressional bi-partisan embarrassment and
bi-partisan agreement (an agreement that existed until
approximately 2008 when John McCain suggested it would
be cheaper to provide medical vouchers to veterans and
to close the hospitals) VA hospitals have transformed
themselves into the only known federal institutions in
which their constituents almost universally would say,
“The government cares about me. “
For instance, years
ago the VA system computerized their records systems.
This allows any veteran enrolled in the system to walk
into any one of the VA’s 1400 medical facilities and
have his entire medical history available to the on site
personnel. This is important because doctors can avoid
ordering repeat MRI’s or other unnecessary tests.
is considering allocating $2 billion in order for the
nation’s other hospitals to computerize their records
But the system
isn’t just a warehouse to store patient data. More
important it has safeguards to improve quality care. The
system warns providers, for example, if a patients’
blood pressure goes beyond a targeted level, or if he or
she is due for a flu shot or cancer screening.
associate professor of health policy at the Harvard
School of Public Health and a staff physician at the VA
hospital in Boston says that as a result of these and
other changes made at the VA hospitals, “Over the years,
quality goes up, but the cost stays flat, compared to
the rest of the country.”
This of course
exposes the lies of John McCain and others who say it
would be cheaper to privatize the VA. It would be just
In an article
published by the Hudson Institute, one of the nation’s
leading cheerleaders for the Tea Party point of view,
Betsy McCaughy, a former Lt. Governor of New York wrote,
“Dr. James Bragian, director of the National Center for
Patient Safety at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, points
out that the VA is a leader in safety initiatives
ranging from preventing injuries related to falls to
fighting one of the most feared, drug-resistant hospital
infections, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
In 2002 the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System launched a
pilot program that reduced such infections a stunning
85%.” Since then that program has been instituted
The above incidents
only give a keyhole size view into the VA system.
Obviously not every facility is run at the same level of
efficiency and some facilities, like most of the US
infrastructure, are wearing out due in large measure to
an inattentive Congress. But there is no denying the
system is working at a level at which most private
hospitals can only aspire.
Jerry McNerney (D)
from California’s San Joaquin Valley’s 11th District is
one politician who seems to understand the value of the
VA healthcare system and has generated political support
from unusual quarters as a result.
successfully delivered federal funding for increased
brain traumatic injuries for veterans and funding for a
new veterans care facility in the San Joaquin Valley
that will make medical care more accessible to veterans.
As a result Dave
Norris, the former state commander of the VFW, and the
Warriors Watch Riders of Ca., a politically active,
pro-military motorcycle club filmed an endorsement for
McNerney that recently aired on northern California
and Warrior Watch Riders would have voted for McNerney’s
about the predicted Tea Party tidal wave, should pay
You can see McNeney’s ad here:
McNerney launches first TV ad.
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* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
If you like this page consider making a
* * *
Negro Digest / Black World
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
/ January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
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(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
posted 11 October 2010