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Accessibility

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, Health, NaBloPoMo | Posted on 05-03-2012

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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

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, politics | Posted on 03-09-2011

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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?

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights | Posted on 08-05-2010

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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?

Oh, he was obviously such a terrorist!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights | Posted on 12-12-2009

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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?

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, politics, Sex | Posted on 04-12-2009

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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!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, politics | Posted on 03-12-2009

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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.

YAY!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, Health | Posted on 17-05-2009

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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!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, News | Posted on 16-04-2009

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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.

Proposition 8: The Musical!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, Humor | Posted on 04-12-2008

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Civil Rights Win in Florida

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, Education | Posted on 26-05-2008

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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?