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Accessibility

When some­one asks, “Is (X place) acces­si­ble?” the answer is “no” if there are any stairs involved in get­ting there. It doesn’t mat­ter if every­thing inside X is on one lev­el but there are three “lit­tle” steps at the front door, or “just one flight of stairs out front.” Those “lit­tle” steps aren’t so lit­tle for those using scooter and wheel­chairs. The answer is also “no” if there is no whol­ly acces­si­ble bath­room near the main area. 

Just once, I’d like to arrive some­where to find a place tru­ly acces­si­ble instead of hav­ing some­one who’d claimed acces­si­bil­i­ty say, “Oh, I didn’t think about those lit­tle steps!” or “But that’s just one flight of stairs!” or some such stu­pid thing. Even though I hap­pen to be able to walk most of the time, if I’m using my scooter, there’s a rea­son for it. If I were to get off of it to walk up those few steps, where am I to store the scooter? 1 Plen­ty of oth­er peo­ple can­not walk up those steps. 

Why choose an inac­ces­si­ble place of busi­ness, any­way? Why are builders con­tin­u­ing to build inac­ces­si­ble res­i­dences? It isn’t expen­sive to build in acces­si­bil­i­ty in the first place, com­pared to ren­o­vat­ing for acces­si­bil­i­ty. Has all the talk of the aging of Amer­i­ca meant noth­ing with regards to home design? 

Every­one is just tem­porar­i­ly abled in the long run, any­way. If you buy or build a house, it pays to go ahead and con­sid­er whether or not it would still suit you if you were injured in some man­ner. Could you get around on crutch­es or in a chair? If (shock­ing thought) you were to want to enter­tain some­one who uses mobil­i­ty devices to get around, could that per­son even get in your front door? Any door? I’ve lived in places where the answer would be a resound­ing “No!” and even if we got the poor soul in through, say, the garage, she couldn’t get up to the liv­ing areas. 


1 A sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment.

The Hateful Tea Party, Its True Origins, and President Obama’s Accomplishments

I was chal­lenged in com­ments on a friend’s Face­book wall yes­ter­day “provide us with a speci­fic exam­ple of Tea Par­ty hate ful (sic) speach and some thing good that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has done for our coun­try.” The com­menters there also claimed that “THE TEA PARTY HAS NO REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS” and seemed to be under the impres­sion that it is a grass roots move­ment, which is a claim friends of mine have also made. Rather than post this infor­ma­tion in more than one place, I decid­ed to make one post in my blog and refer to it in the future.

First, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has accom­plished plen­ty of things dur­ing his term. I start­ed to make my own list, then decid­ed that it’s fool­ish to rein­vent the wheel. The most com­pre­hen­sive list I’ve found is here: Accom­plish­ments of Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. While some peo­ple may not think some of those things are accom­plish­ments, I doubt there’s any­one who can argue with all of them. I’d add to the list the fact that Osama bin Laden is dead. That hap­pened dur­ing Obama’s pres­i­den­cy. His peo­ple were able to keep a lid on the infor­ma­tion about bin Laden’s where­abouts and the oper­a­tion long enough to get that bas­tard. The fact that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell pol­i­cy in the mil­i­tary is over is pret­ty damned impor­tant, too.

Those accom­plish­ments look much bet­ter, too, when you real­ize two things:

  1. The IMF informed Pres­i­dent Bush that they intend­ed to audit the U.S. back in June 2008. Bush just put them off until the end of his term.
  2. While Oba­ma is often blamed for the mas­sive deficit, that’s inac­cu­rate. The 2009 fis­cal year began before Oba­ma even took office, and the bud­get for that year was almost entire­ly deter­mined by the Bush admin­is­tra­tion. There was an 88% increase in spend­ing dur­ing the years of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, com­pared to only a 7.4% increase dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. That’s why Bush inherit­ed a $128 bil­lion sur­plus from Clinton’s last bud­get, and bequeathed a $1.4 tril­lion deficit to Oba­ma.

I know per­fect­ly well that the tea par­ty (no caps) was orig­i­nal­ly billed as a grass roots move­ment about fis­cal issues and again­st big gov­ern­ment. Yes, gath­er­ings to sup­port Ron Paul’s 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign were called “tea par­ties,” and those issues were cen­tral to his cam­paign.

How­ev­er, there was appar­ent­ly no talk of a Tea Par­ty (note the caps) dur­ing those gath­er­ings, and after Oba­ma was elect­ed, the name was co-opt­ed for anti-Oba­ma ral­lies by Repub­li­can oper­a­tives, led by Dick Armey and mouth­piece Rick San­tel­li. Of course, if they’d said, “We’re orga­nized by lob­by­ists for big busi­ness, because guys like Steve Forbes and the Koch broth­ers don’t want mid­dle class peo­ple to have help pay­ing their mort­gages!” then mid­dle class peo­ple wouldn’t have been as like­ly to get involved. So the fic­tion of a “grass­roots move­ment” was care­ful­ly main­tained.

Even for those who might not believe that Free­dom­Works, the Koch broth­ers, etc. have always behind the Tea Par­ty, it must be dif­fi­cult to deny that “grass­roots” cer­tain­ly isn’t what the Tea Par­ty is about now. Any­one who wants to argue about it has only to look at Michelle Bach­mann, Rick Per­ry, and and their Chris­tian Domin­ion­ist views to know that. Of course, Per­ry also claimed in his book that Social Secu­ri­ty is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, despite the fact that the Supre­me Court ruled oth­er­wise in 1936, and Bach­mann signed a pledge that claims that blacks were bet­ter off when they were slaves, so their cred­i­bil­i­ty rat­ings are suf­fer­ing, as far as I’m con­cerned. By the way — that pledge thing is pret­ty darned racist, to me, and the rest of Bachmann’s well-known his­to­ry gaffes aren’t mak­ing things any bet­ter.

Michelle Bach­mann (head of the Con­gres­sion­al Tea Par­ty Cau­cus) worked for the IRS as a tax attor­ney before quit­ting to be a stay-at-home mom. So she’s nev­er had a job that doesn’t come with a gov­ern­ment pay­check, but she’s sup­pos­ed­ly again­st big gov­ern­ment? How very hyp­o­crit­i­cal. Bachmann’s hus­band runs a clin­ic that takes fed­er­al mon­ey to provide a form of ther­a­py to “cure” homo­sex­u­al­i­ty — ther­a­py that isn’t approved by the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion or the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion or, actu­al­ly, any accred­it­ing board. If any­body wants to tru­ly cut out gov­ern­ment waste, then pay­ing for that sort of thing should be stopped right away, and psy­chol­o­gists who file for reim­burse­ment for it should lose their licens­es and be arrest­ed for fraud. (Homo­sex­u­al­i­ty was ini­tial­ly sug­gest­ed for removal from the Diag­nos­tic and Sta­tis­ti­cal Man­u­al as a dis­or­der in 1973, and com­plete­ly removed by 1986. Dr. Bach­mann, if he actu­al­ly is a psy­chol­o­gist, should know that.) Michelle’s remarks about homo­sex­u­al­i­ty include such love­ly bits as say­ing that it’s “of Satan.” Yes, that’s big­otry.

Steve King (R-Iowa, mem­ber of the Tea Par­ty Cau­cus) has demon­strat­ed big­otry in his attacks again­st Barack Oba­ma before his elec­tion because of his mid­dle name (Hus­sein) and the fact that his father was Mus­lim. He has also shown him­self to be a racist by mak­ing claims that Oba­ma favors blacks—with­out pro­vid­ing any sub­stan­ti­a­tion, of course. His misog­y­nist vot­ing record speaks for itself.

Louie Gohmert (R-Tex­as, mem­ber of the Tea Par­ty Cau­cus), is a birther (crazy enough right there), who equat­ed homo­sex­u­al­i­ty with bes­tial­i­ty, necrophil­ia, and pedophil­ia dur­ing a debate on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (video clip). He also made a stu­pid­ly racist remark when com­plain­ing about one par­tic­u­lar bit of fund­ing — the infa­mous “moo goo cat pan” joke that fell flat. (He’s got so much crazy that we could spend a lot of time talk­ing about him. I imag­ine even the Tea Par­ty would be hap­py to lose him alto­geth­er. Search on “ter­ror babies” and you’ll see what I mean.)

One of King’s bud­dies in the Tea Par­ty cau­cus, Phil Gin­grey (R-Geor­gia), went to the Mex­i­can bor­der with King on a fact-find­ing mis­sion, and put his racist foot in his mouth by claim­ing that his desire to end birthright cit­i­zen­ship isn’t moti­vat­ed by xeno­pho­bia because, “if I had to choose from immi­grants across the globe, my favorite alien would be our His­pan­ic and Lati­no res­i­dents com­ing from across the South­ern bor­der. On June 22, 2011, Dr. Gin­grey, an OB-GYN, said: “Democ­rats like to pic­ture us as push­ing grand­moth­er over the cliff or throw­ing some­one under the bus. In either one of those sce­nar­ios, at least the senior has a chance to sur­vive. But under this IPAB [Inde­pen­dent Pay­ment Advi­so­ry Board] we described that the Democ­rats put in ‘Oba­macare,’ where a bunch of bureau­crats decide whether you get care, such as con­tin­u­ing on dial­y­sis or can­cer chemother­a­py, I guar­an­tee you when you with­draw that the patient is going to die. It’s rationing.” He knew per­fect­ly well that he was lying, but Repub­li­cans want to con­trol the way the mon­ey is spent, rather than to per­mit a non-par­ti­san board to con­trol it and achieve any cost sav­ings. You would think a fis­cal con­ser­v­a­tive would be in favor of cost sav­ings, but it doesn’t work that when polit­i­cal pow­er is at stake.!

At the state lev­el, we have Alaba­ma state sen­a­tor Scott Bea­son refer­ring to blacks as “abo­rig­i­nes.” After open­ing a speech by say­ing that “ille­gal immi­gra­tion will destroy a com­mu­ni­ty” he closed it by advis­ing his lis­ten­ers to “emp­ty the clip, and do what has to be done”.

David Bar­ton hangs out with sev­er­al Tea Par­ty fig­ures—Rick Per­ry is spend­ing Labor Day week­end with the guy. He claims on his tax records that he is an expert on African-Amer­i­can his­to­ry, but when ques­tioned about the fact that he reg­u­lar­ly address­es white suprema­cist groups (who adore him) he tried at one point to claim that he didn’t under­stand their lean­ings. One of his main claims is that Mar­t­in Luther King, Jr. made no sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the civil rights move­ment and that he and Thur­good Mar­shall should be removed from our his­to­ry books. Newt Gingrich’s spokesman, Rick Tyler, said, “I think David Bar­ton is one of the most knowl­edge­able teach­ers on Amer­i­can his­to­ry.” (Inter­est­ing, as Gin­grich is a for­mer his­to­ry pro­fes­sor him­self, and Bar­ton is only an “ama­teur his­to­ri­an.”) He’s pop­u­lar with Bach­mann, Beck, and Mike Huck­abee, too.

Then there’s just about every­thing Glenn Beck says — the man is anti-semit­ic, racist, homo­pho­bic, misog­y­nis­tic, you name it. He seems to adore com­par­ing any lit­tle slight again­st him­self or Fox News to the Holo­caust. If his man­i­curist slips up an caus­es dis­com­fort, she’s prob­a­bly accused of being Men­gele in dis­guise, or at least a descen­dant of his. He has stooped so low as to attack the president’s chil­dren and refer to the First Lady as the president’s “Baby Mama.” Any­one who cares to do so can find plen­ty of videos of him any­where, but I refuse to link to them. I don’t think there are any clips in which he opens his mouth that aren’t offen­sive.

Matthew Vad­um is a colum­nist who is extreme­ly sup­port­ive of the Tea Par­ty. He recent­ly pub­lished an arti­cle claim­ing that “Reg­is­ter­ing the Poor to Vote is Un-Amer­i­can”, equat­ing voter reg­is­tra­tion to giv­ing the poor “bur­glary tools.”

By the way, if you haven’t seen all the signs car­ried at Tea Par­ty ral­lies depict­ing the Pres­i­dent as a mon­key, or a witch doc­tor, or Hitler, then you haven’t been pay­ing atten­tion. There are plen­ty of places where I could find more, but I’ve had enough more than enough expo­sure to nas­ti­ness for one day.

Any­one who reads this post can no longer say that they’ve nev­er heard of any­one asso­ci­at­ed with Tea Par­ty say­ing hate­ful things, or that they’re not aware of any­thing that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has accom­plished dur­ing his pres­i­den­cy.

Where do first amendment rights go when you enter a courtroom?

I’m not even talk­ing about the rights of defend­ents or plain­tiffs, but those of peo­ple who are oth­er­wise present in a court­room who aren’t being dis­rup­tive. How much con­trol do judges actu­al­ly need in order to main­tain order in the court­room? At what point are they sim­ply being pet­ty tyrants? Read more

Oh, he was obviously such a terrorist!

Dr Peter Watts, Cana­di­an sci­ence fic­tion writer, beat­en and arrest­ed at US bor­der
Obvi­ous­ly, sci­ence fic­tion writ­ers are scary peo­ple. And his rea­son for being in Nebraska in the first place (help­ing a friend move) was high­ly ques­tion­able, so it makes total sense that the bor­der patrol would search his vehi­cle. Get­ting out of the car to ask a ques­tion was obvi­ous­ly a ter­ror­ist act, so the bor­der batrol beat him, pep­per sprayed him, and threw him in jail. After his wife paid his bail, they tossed him out in his shirt sleeves (obvi­ous­ly, his coat had to be impound­ed along with his car, com­put­er, and oth­er belong­ings as a threat to nation­al secu­ri­ty) in the mid­dle of the night, after charg­ing him with a felony, claim­ing that he struck a fed­er­al offi­cer (both the author and the pas­sen­ger in his car state that nev­er hap­pened). Now the man has to return from his home in Canada to face felony charges in Michi­gan.

Why make an exception for rape and incest?

I always look for­ward to Dr. Mar­ty Klein’s Sex­u­al Intel­li­gence newslet­ters, so I was tick­led to see one in my inbox today. But one of the head­li­nes took me by sur­prise: End Rape & Incest Excep­tions to Stu­pak Abor­tion Ban. Dr. Klein always has excel­lent analy­ses, and this one is no excep­tion.

If you’re again­st repro­duc­tive choice for so-called “moral rea­sons” (as if any­one get­ting an abor­tion or sup­port­ing its legal­i­ty isn’t “moral”), be con­sis­tent. If killing a fetus or even a fer­til­ized egg wan­der­ing around a woman’s body is the same as killing a per­son (the posi­tion of every anti-choice activist), why should it mat­ter how the fetus or fer­til­ized egg got there? Why is a fetus’ right to live dimin­ished because its father was a rapist or a sadist? After all, we don’t say the chil­dren of such men have few­er rights than oth­er chil­dren.

Stupak is back! Time to call your legislators again!

This time it’s in the Sen­ate, folks. In case you just crawled out from under a rock, I’m talk­ing about the Stu­pak-Pitts amend­ment to the Afford­able Health Care for Amer­i­ca Act that was orig­i­nal­ly intro­duced in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives by Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bart Stu­pak of Michi­gan and Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joseph Pitts of Penn­syl­va­nia, along with a long list of Con­gressper­sons. The bill tried to keep any fed­er­al funds from being used to pay for an abor­tion, but was also word­ed in such a way that it would have pro­hib­it­ed wom­en from pur­chas­ing pri­vate cov­er­age to cov­er abor­tions. That’s a ridicu­lous restric­tion on the repro­duc­tive free­dom of every wom­an who needs health care, and an even fur­ther eco­nom­ic restric­tion on what pri­vate cit­i­zens can pur­chase with their own funds. Wom­en would be los­ing cov­er­age they have now!

The let­ter I sent to my Sen­a­tors last mon­th was, like every­thing I send to Sen­a­tor Isak­son, not read as far as I could tell, because his office just respond­ed with a form let­ter bab­bling about his reli­gious beliefs. That’s a bit bet­ter than Sen­a­tor Cham­b­liss’ office, at least, which doesn’t even do that much. Still, that form let­ter was some­thing of a straw break­ing this par­tic­u­lar camel’s back, and it inspired me to write anoth­er let­ter back to Sen­a­tor Isak­son, one that he hasn’t respond­ed to at all. I’m not ter­ri­bly sur­prised, as I asked that he not respond at all if his only respon­se was going to be anoth­er form let­ter. Still, writ­ing it pre­pared me, to a cer­tain extent, to respond to the alert going out about the renewed Stu­pak amend­ment, which is why I men­tion it here.

Read more

YAY!

We were fair­ly sure of this right after I final­ly had my Social Secu­ri­ty hear­ing last mon­th based on the very pos­i­tive state­ments from the judge, but I didn’t want to jinx any­thing. We got the offi­cial let­ter in the mail today, say­ing that the deci­sion was “ful­ly favor­able!” SQUEE!

It will still take some time for that deci­sion to bounce around the bureau­cra­cy and get month­ly pay­ments start­ed, much less get the back pay from the SSA. Because the onset date was years ago, I should be eli­gi­ble for Medicare right away, but I’ll need to talk to the attor­ney about that on Mon­day.

I real­ly need­ed some good news, so the tim­ing is mar­velous.

This process has been an insane endurance con­test. The fact that the SSA has been absolute­ly obstruc­tion­ist through­out (and I know my expe­ri­ence is far from unique!) is ridicu­lous. The sys­tem demands that peo­ple who are most in need of help are least like­ly to get it in any time­ly fash­ion, because it takes so much per­sis­tence, jar­gon, and inside knowl­edge to get any­where. If you can do all those forms and gath­er all the records and so on by your­self, I don’t know that you should count as dis­abled! Even peo­ple with good sup­port in oth­er ways don’t always have some­one will­ing, able, and per­sis­tent who can and will spend the hours and hours of time to push a claim through.

I start­ed the fil­ing process for one rea­son: I need­ed sta­ble access to health­care so that I could get well enough to go back to work. Five years down the line, I’m not at all sure that I will be able to return to work, because my health has dete­ri­o­rat­ed so much that it may not be pos­si­ble to get back to an “abled” state. How many years of pro­duc­tive lives are being in the U.S. wast­ed for lack access to health­care?

I get annoyed every time I hear a talk­ing head refer to plans to “insure” every­one. That isn’t what we need! Plen­ty of peo­ple have health insur­ance and still don’t get the actu­al health care they need because they can’t afford the co-pays, or the insur­er won’t cov­er a par­tic­u­lar drug or ther­a­py, or there are pre-exist­ing con­di­tion prob­lems, or…

We need health care. Not divid­ed up by age (this for kids, that for seniors, some­thing else for work­ing age peo­ple, oh, right, the dis­abled here) by uni­ver­sal car, the same care for every­one, for the whole body, cradle to grave. (Who ever decid­ed that eyes and teeth should be sep­a­rat­ed out, any­way? That’s stu­pid.)

I read an art­cle about San Francisco’s health pro­gram last week – if I can find a link I’ll add it lat­er. It does just what I described, from what that arti­cle says. I don’t know how much it costs to join, but appar­ent­ly there’s a lot of out­reach to peo­ple who are oth­er­wise unin­sured. There are no pre-exist­ing con­di­tions.

Does any­one know of pro­grams like San Francisco’s else­where in the U.S.?

WTF? Georgia Senate Threatens to Secede!

Geor­gia Sen­ate threat­ens dis­man­tling of USA
They real­ly did, by a vote of 43 – 1. On April 1, but it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.

The res­o­lu­tion goes on to endorse the the­o­ry that states have the right to abridge con­sti­tu­tion­al free­doms of reli­gion, press and speech. Accord­ing to the res­o­lu­tion, it is up to the states to decide “how far the licen­tious­ness of speech and of the press may be abridged.”
(snip)
Final­ly, the res­o­lu­tion states that if Con­gress, the pres­i­dent or fed­er­al courts take any action that exceeds their con­sti­tu­tion­al pow­ers, the Con­sti­tu­tion is ren­dered null and void and the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca is offi­cial­ly dis­band­ed. As an exam­ple, the res­o­lu­tion specif­i­cal­ly states that if the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment enacts “prohibitions of type or quan­ti­ty of arms or ammunition,” the coun­try is dis­band­ed.

You bet­ter believe that I’m writ­ing to our state sen­a­tor right away. Yes, this non­sense was slipped in on day 39 of the 40 day leg­isla­tive ses­sion, but that is absolute­ly no excuse. Our rep­re­sen­ta­tives have no busi­ness vot­ing for any­thing they haven’t thor­ough­ly read, under­stood, and debat­ed. That’s their job!

Yet anoth­er rea­son I don’t want to live in Geor­gia any more. I seri­ous­ly think this is a back­lash again­st our elec­tion of a black Democ­rat to the pres­i­den­cy. I’m look­ing at blue states now.

Civil Rights Win in Florida

Months ago, I post­ed about Pon­ce de Leon High School in Flori­da ban­ning the wear or dis­play of any kind of gay pride sym­bols or words, claim­ing that they indi­cat­ed involve­ment in an “ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion.” I lat­er found out that the prob­lem start­ed last fall, when a les­bian stu­dent com­plained that she was being harassed. Instead of inves­ti­gat­ing or try­ing to stop the harass­ment, the school admin­is­tra­tion cracked down on any show of sup­port for her. The prin­ci­pal lat­er said that he was sure that gay pride sym­bols would cause stu­dents to visu­al­ize gay peo­ple hav­ing sex, lead­ing to dis­rup­tion.1

Any­way, Flori­da man­aged to get some­thing right, or at least one judge there did so. Oh, wait – he was a fed­er­al judge, not a state author­i­ty. Any­way, on May 13 he issued a per­ma­nent injunc­tion again­st the school! He told them that they must stop their uncon­sti­tu­tion­al cen­sor­ship of expres­sions of sup­port for gay peo­ple, and warned them not to try retal­i­at­ing again­st any­one involved in the case.


1 Damn, those are pow­er­ful rain­bows! Won­der what kind of porn they’d find in a raid of his house?