My Jaw hath dropped, and I dunno where to find it…

October 30, 2008 at 6:17 PM (Uncategorized) (, , )

A candidiate for president, during a regular sort of stump speech last night…(The Obama-Clinton rally) showed more political acumen than normal.

When Obama was closing his speech he mentioned a list of groups of people that have, past or present been at odds, and began the list by saying that polarized partisanship, or divisions based on difference didn’t have to last. “It doesn’t have to be:”

Democrat vs Republicans

Liberals vs Conservatives

Young vs Old

Black vs White

Straight vs Gay

and then…

“Disabled vs Non Disabled”

I give him language amnesty. Maybe he’ll be saying “people with disabilities” or writing “PWD’s” by the middle of his first term.

This wasn’t a rally at an Independent Living Center, or a photo-op at a rehab hospital, or a speech by a normally couldn’t-give-a-sh!t politician cornered by an Adapt protest in or near a government building.

This was a candidate speaking at one campaign rally….and he included us, as part of the whole…

It seemed easy, not forced. (I’m hoping he didn’t just see a gimp in the sixth row and have a quick flash of “Oh, I ought to mention this…”)

I was startled, shocked. I’m so used to people with disabilities being taken for granted by the left, and used to jam the Duty to Give Birth idea onto the country by the right….

Maybe, this isn’t an aberration. Maybe he (or someone on his staff) ‘gets’ it.

We’ll see…

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Cancer, disclosure,fitness to lead

October 20, 2008 at 11:24 AM (Uncategorized) (, , )

Caveat: I’m no McCain supporter.

Caveat II: For any job tha’s less than running a country, I strongly believe disclosure of medical problems should be voluntary. If one’s doctor makes it perfectly clear that one can perform certain job duties with the condition, then the condition should be immaterial to whether or not a job is conferred. I’ve seen firsthand that even a voluntary disclosure can have emotionally disastrous results for an employee and for those who chose him.

This is no ordinary job.  (FWIW I would have liked to have seen more on Obama’s and Palin’s health too,  Biden has been fairly detailed about it…)

You have to pick people to run the Army, Navy and Air Force and give the final word on their deployments.

You have to keep long hours. It’s your responsibility to make sure you sleep when you can, eat correctly as far as possible, get some excersize in, because it’s your responsibility to stay fine tuned enough to do the job the voters select you to do.

Side effects of any medicine you take must impair judgement as little as possible to maintain health, because nobody wants the American President less than clearheaded, medically speaking.

You have to have a hand in reinventing health care and energy policy.

You have to pick people to assist with Cabinet posts…handle an economy that’s acting bipolar.

You have to ‘handle’ the Congress to some extent. (a bagful of angry cats comes to mind.)

You have to project calm competency and civility to people you don’t like 23 out of 24 hours a day, (I would hope that some moderately private bitching in the West Wing at the end of the day is tolerated, ’cause even the nicest Commander in Chief would not be healthy in his/her head if they didn’t have a moment to let loose) travel long hours to meet with foreign leaders, many of whom irritate you to no end, and some you’d rather spit at than talk to.

It would have been beyond me, even in the later half of my chemotherapy when I had returned to work, to have handled any of the above in a competent manner let alone all of them.

In and of itself that says nothing about McCain’s ability to handle the workload if another melanoma should appear.

(and for him, after freakin’ *torture* … Cancer in and of itself would be much less daunting, I expect.)

(Oh, and one line in the Times article *does* peeve me off. During his imprisonment after some particularly severe beatings, he did attempt suicide, so they raise concerns about why he’s never been diagnosed with any mental disorder.)


If you’re being *tortured* it makes perfect sense that at one point you might try and end your life.  No need for underqualified underpaid therapists to talktherapy you into anything, no need for meds *only* on that basis.  If afterwards you also have longterm PSTD, that co workers, family, friends, believe is impacting you in a way that means you cannot function, then *yes* supports are in order.

On balance though I believe Senator McCain is uniquely required to disclose his history and potential scenarios that might affect his ability to function, remove him from office due to significant impairment or lead to his death in the next eight years…

Because the younger, healthier half of the ticket…

Is in no way qualified to take over for him, *which* *would* *be* *her* *job!*

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Red Flags in El Paso County

October 12, 2008 at 10:28 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

From The Colorado Independent’s open letter to Governor Ritter

I wouldn’t have thought that El Paso County actually had that many, but, per the letter,

we also have more than 80,000 registered Democrats

Probably concentrated in the area of Old Colorado City, and other towns immediately south or west of the Springs, like Manitou Springs, right at the foot of Pikes Peak…
But the gentleman in charge of the elections there only does 75% of his job. He sends out mail in ballots as required, but is less than specific about the amount of postage needed :

In addition, Balink’s office has sent out more than 120,000 mail-in ballots, but with no warning to voters that the envelope will require 59 cents in postage to be delivered. The envelope merely says “adequate postage necessary,” with no indication to the public that more than a typical stamp is needed.

If voters in El Paso County do not choose mail in, they can vote early at only three locations. The malls at the northern and central part of the suburbs, and downtown. (Early voting or voting registrations near college campuses were either limited or scurbbed altogether.
To be fair to the county…the access to the three early voting locations is nowhere near as limited as it used to be for low income people or non drivers…the public transportation system is available many more hours and days than ten years ago, and connects to all three early voting locations mentioned above from Manitou and the south end of town.)

Denver, and it’s neighboring counties have many more early voting locations….

And, the voting machines in El Paso County ?

They’re the Diebold brand. You know, the kind that became famous…in Ohio, when the company CEO promised he could “deliver” the election to George W. Bush.

…the key to maximizing turnout (which may be Diebolded into being irrelevant, but we’ll see) … is a real effort to publicize the early voting and ways to get to the polls on Election Day that don’t involve a car, and a movement to get those to the polls that would be unaware of or unable to indepentently exersize their rigt to vote…

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Speculative Fiction

August 28, 2008 at 9:40 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

One of the reasons I love(d) speculative fiction by Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke,Ellison,Robinson…is that it ended up showing parts of our future remarkably clearly.  40, 20, 15 years ago, ‘science fiction’ writers wrote about things and projects that exist now.

(Although they clearly missed the boat by pouring their love of gagetry into the jet packs and flying cars we were all supposed to have by 1978.)

Recently, I’ve loved another kind of  speculative fiction,… The political kind.

Aaron Sorkin’s work caught my attention with the movie ‘The American President,’ and then during “The West Wing”‘s run, when, if I was only permitting myself one hour of primetime TV, that was it.

In Sorkin’s world, it’s ok to be smart, and witty and earnest, and full of many specific policy plans (Since this was TV instead of reality most of the wonky stuff actually passed.)

But I honestly believe that some unintentional prescience was at work….hear me out.

We have seen the many many real people who worked for the Democratic campaign, and helped to put Mr Obama in this moment.

Some fictional people ended up paving the way for his candidacy as well…

Without self deprecating but direct fictional President Andrew Shepherd…political junkies wouln’t have suddenly noticed a 10% drop in their cynicsm when they left the theater…and began a bit of hope…(Even the Republican hopers, the genuine guys for whom ‘straight talk’ is not a political tool)

And further…with the fictional president Bartlett of the West Wing, an economist, devout Catholic and tenacious fighter for the so-called ‘liberal causes’ Education, Jobs, Crime reduction, international peace negotiations…and more…  Lots of us left of the NeoCons watched that and said, “Why can’t we have a real president at least half as foccussed and committed as that guy?”

…And his sidekick, tough, plain speaking Leo McGarry…an unabashed pragmatist  who said exactly what he felt, just a bit too often, who kept the adminstration’s focus steady, particularly during the manufactured crises, that any TV show must have in May and November…

Sorkin was writing about an America that *could be* if some fundamental things changed.

When I see Barack Obama, and Joe Biden (who I don’t like much personally, but think will make a great campaigner and a  decent vp), I see resonances with all of the three fictional guys above

And in the last season, Alan Alda as Republican candidate Arnold Vinick was   clearly riffing on the 2000 era John McCain (except for that part about being pro choice)

And the historic candidacy  of the young charismatic Hispanic candidate, Matt Santos….played by Jimmy Smits

I’m glad Sorkin wrote that stuff, because when that gets out into the ether, it can be a small small part of the evolution of this election.

In otherwords, without Bartlett, McGarry, Santos….

Would we have been as ready for Obama/Biden?

I don’t think so.

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Our votes?

May 13, 2008 at 11:18 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

By 2001 the National Council on Disability noted:

“14 million people of voting age who have a disability are unregistered voters
People with disabilities vote at a rate 11 percent lower than the general population
81 percent of voters who are blind or have visual impairments rely on others to mark their ballots
An estimated 20,000 of the nation’s 170,000 polling places are inaccessible to voters who use

In 2001 the General Accounting Office published this report, (PDF ) showing the work needed to make the voting process accessible to mobility impaired, cognitively impaired, or visually impaired,)

In 2004 the PBS series POV expanded on this:

… 47% of disabled people interviewed reported difficulties in finding an accessible path to the voting area and 11% indicated that a person using a wheelchair would only be able to enter if they agreed to be carried into the building. 52% of polling places did not have an appropriately-sized voting booth for persons in wheelchairs. 81% did not have ballots available in alternative formats for the blind or visually impaired so they could vote privately.

and the kicker, that makes this quite relevant to the current general election *and* where we find ourselves vis a vis the current administration and it’s policies toward the rest of the world, and the people of the us:

“If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as people without disabilities, there would have been 3.2 million additional voters in 2000.”

Who knows?

I do know that *this particular election* has come the closest to what persons with disabilities are hoping for:

Some ‘patient overcoming’ from GOTV efforts. Some ‘truly inspirational’ behavior on the part of the able bodied.


Some of the cynics within the disability community believe that this is just another election for the rest of you. And that we will remain just as invisible after all the hype dies down, and that Clinton’s more Clinton, or Obama’s statement of policy will be forgotten or compromised beyond recognition in the name of political expediency. In other words the constituency with the least ‘visibility’ as a group will be one of the ones that gets thrown under the bus with regret…and again those of us with the least capability and resource to endure hardship will be asked directly or indirectly to suck it up.

Prove those cynics wrong. Make sure that people with disabilities that you know, and complete strangers with disabilities in your precinct have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

I also believe that the constituency of the American left does include some folks who determine that keeping the nursing home industry as it is, in effect warehousing people is important to their job security as caregivers. There has to be a dialogue between caregiver reps, states, unions and persons with disabilities to drive home the point that community based service provides better outcomes, is less expensive and leaves PWD’s less vulnerable than institutionalization….

First and foremost, we have the *right* to vote.

Secondly, the rest of you *need* us to vote. Yes you do. One in five, another constituency to help assure the political future that many are working towards.

I ask earnestly that you consider the accessibility and transport issues for those of us registered already. And if in any remaining states, more can get registered, that there is a targeted effort to do so. We can help each other. Just as long as we don’t remain invisible.

Crossposted at Kos

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