Tag Archives | US Election 2012

Ann Coulter Calls President Obama “The Retard”

So, after the Presidential debate last night, Ann Coulter tweeted the following: “I highly approve of Romney’s Ann Coulterdecision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

I shouldn’t be shocked. She’s proven herself this classless before, as evidenced by this tweet from September 26: “Great video: head of GOProud interviewed by retarded person on MSNBC”.

Stay Classy, Ann Coulter *rolls eyes*

No, I shouldn’t be shocked by bullying by Ann Coulter. I’ve heard enough awful things from her just over the last couple of months to convince me that I’d be quite happy never hearing another word from her again. But I am shocked. And furious. I’ve gotten over my initial anger and disgust, but last night I was livid. I cried. I cried because her statement is so, so hateful, on so many levels. I think that Varda over at “The Squashed Bologna” nailed it: http://www.squashedmom.com/2012/10/dear-ann-coulter-this-is-who-you-insult.html

I feel powerless in the face of such blatant bigotry.

I have no idea how to deal with it.

And I’m so angry with myself that I’ve let Ann Coulter, a woman for whom I have no respect to begin with, get under my skin like this.

Too Tired

I’ve been having some trouble lately.

I have about four blog posts that need to be finished, and I just can’t seem to do it.

They’re all good posts, too. One is about how the sidewalks along the main street in my village have been ripped up due to construction for almost a month now, making it impossible for anyone in wheelchairs to pass and increasingly treacherous for mothers with strollers, and anyone with mobility or balance impairments. In a town where largest population demographic is senior citizens, it’s affected a lot of people. So why make the decision to rip up the sidewalks on both sides of the road at the same time so that vital businesses on the main street like a bank, grocery store, and two department stores, let alone the one truly accessible restaurant are all but cut off to a large part of the village’s population? I don’t know. I haven’t heard any justification provided to the public. I can’t decide whether the municipality just truly didn’t think about how this would affect people, or whether they did have an idea and just decided to it anyway.

Quite frankly, based on my past experiences trying to discuss disability issues when they come up in this town and hearing about other peoples’ experiences trying to discuss them, I’m afraid to ask. I’m afraid that in my municipality, my status as a person with disabilities means that I really don’t count, and that makes me sad.

I’m scared that my status as a person with disabilities in this province, this country, this world, means that I don’t really count, and that makes me sad.

I can advocate for myself. I can speak – loudly, if I need to. I can use this blog to bring attention to the way that people with disabilities suffer awful injustices…and the way that so many of them achieve great things in spite of those of those injustices. But lately writing a post about making English muffin pizzas feels like all I can manage.

And that makes me sad, and a little scared…because, as I wrote about in my Thanksgiving post, we’ve come so far…and yet last night someone thought it was okay to call the President of the United States the R-word. Granted, it was Ann Coulter, who appears to have very little sense about these things. But we all know that it’s not just Ann Coulter using the R-word. I’ve heard workers in my field say, “That’s retarded”, for God’s sake, and I hear it’s use defended all the time. Ann Coulter isn’t the whole problem by a long shot.

But I’m tired. So, I’m going to take a two week hiatus and regroup and get my head on straight on again. I’ll be updating the Facebook page and Twitter, and writing a weekly blog post about my kitchen adventures (by the way, for those that don’t check the Facebook page, I used my leftover mushrooms to make a messy-but-tasty omelette last night), but I’m going to going to take the time to…not watch the news, lol, and do some journal-writing, and get myself back in a more positive space.

I hope you’ll all be here when I get back. Stay tuned for Operation: One-Handed Chef updates. And please keep on Ann Coulter about this issue, because her disrespect is unacceptable in this day and age.

Sarah

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Update on NFDI2012 (National Forum on Disability Issues)

For a summary of what’s been going on with NFDI2012, see http://www.nfdi.org/ or my post on the conference: NFDI2012http://www.girlwiththecane.com/nfdi2012/

Presidential Candidates Sending Representatives to NFDI2012

As of yesterday, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney confirmed that they will be sending representatives to NFDI2012 to present their respective campaign’s position on Americans with disabilities. Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy, Jr. will represent Barack Obama, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will represent Mitt Romney.  Senate candidate Sharrod Brown (Ohio) will also send Rep. Nancy Garland as his representative. Republican Senate nominee Josh Mandel (Ohio) has not confirmed whether he will attend or send anyone in his place.

Former CNN White House correspondent, anchor and Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno will moderate.

Press Release: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/president-barack-obama-former-massachusetts-gov-mitt-romney-sending-representatives-to-columbus-ohio-sept-28-to-speak-to-americans-with-disabilities-170974711.html

All seats are filled for the event, being held at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio on September 28. You can still “attend” NFDI2012 via webcast, however. Visit the website to sign up.

If you have concerns about disability issues, you need to hear what the candidates have to say in order to make an informed decision when you vote. Listening to these representatives is likely the closest you’re going to get, given the fact that disability issues were given only a passing nod in Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, and not mentioned at all during the Republican National Convention. Please take advantage of this opportunity.

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NFDI2012 – Tell the Candidates That You Want To Hear from Them!

Okay, I know that I said no more politics for a while. But this is important. And if you’re trying to make a decision about who ndfi2012to vote for in the upcoming US Election and you’ve got concerns about disability issues, this really is something that you should know about: The National Forum on Disability Issues (NFDI2012) is happening on September 28 in Columbus, Ohio, and the push is on get Obama and Romney to attend. Attend if you can, and get the candidates there!

The National Forum on Disability Issues – NFDI2012

I didn’t know that NFDI2012 was happening until the organizers approached me over Twitter last week.

From the website: “The National Forum on Disability Issues is an historic nonpartisan event. The 2012 event builds on the success of the first ever forum organized by the disability community in 2008. The forum will focus on the disability positions of the 2012 Presidential candidates. Candidates for the U.S. Senate seat from Ohio will also be invited to participate. The candidates will be given the opportunity to provide their positions on a wide variety of disability issues directly to the disability community.”

Personally, I think it’s a fabulous idea. Besides the little nod to people with disabilities in Clinton’s speech, there’s been no talk from either candidate about why the 57 000 000 people with disabilities in America should vote for either of them. I know that I have questions:

  • How do the candidates plan to get the people with disabilities that can and want to work, into the workforce?
  • How does the education of students with disabilities factor into Obama’s plans to strengthen the education system?
  • How will Romney make sure that people with disabilities who can’t work and can’t aare able to afford medical care if he overturns the Affordable Health Care Act?
I’m sure that you’ve all got great ones that you can add to the list.

Help Get the Candidates to NFDI2012!

Obama and Romney have been invited to NFDI2012, as have Ohio candidates for US Senate Josh Mandel and Sherrod Brown. None have committed yet to attending. Obama sent a representative in 2008, and Republican candidate John McCain participated via satellite.

NFDI2012 has provided letters on their website to send to each candidate telling them that you’d like them to be there, and as well as other social media contact media information for them, at http://www.nfdi.org/invite_candidates/.

I follow @nfdi and frequently retweet their awareness tweets about NFDI2012, which often also go to the candidates as well.

Why Do I Care About This?

Why do I care so much, given that I’m Canadian? Because people with disabilities in Britain are dying right now because of the catastrophic cuts that their current government has made…because I’ve seen what happens in Ontario when governments drastically cut supports (any Ontario readers remember Mike Harris and his Common Sense Revolution?)…because I fear that more cuts are coming, sooner than we’re prepared for…and because I hear rhetoric from America right now that makes me think that if Americans with disabilities (and those who love them, support them, and advocate for them) don’t demand some answers from candidates while they have the chance, they’re not going to be able to make a truly informed decision on Voting Day.

As much as possible, you need to know what might be coming down the tubes when you vote for either candidate.

We don’t have an opportunity like this in Canada when federal elections come around. I don’t believe that Britain does either. Be at  NFDI2012 – September 28th in Columbus, Ohio (you can “be there” via webcast, too – I’m signed up to do so), and let your candidates know that you want them to be there, too.

More information:

http://www.nfdi.org/

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/09/13/presidential-forum-disability/16447/

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Forward! (Obama’s DNC Speech)

And, after I comment on Obama’s DNC speech, I take a break from politics for a while. Promise. :) Obama's DNC Speech

Oh, Obama…

So, having missed Obama’s DNC speech when it originally aired, I took some time out of my Sunday to listen to it.

I have to admit that this point I’m kind of tuning out on the economics when people give these speeches. It seems like both sides can manipulate the numbers on job creation and the economy to either make Obama look terrible or to defend what he’s done. And I realize that there are a whole lot of people that think that this election should be about nothing but the economy, but if I was a voting American, I wouldn’t be one of them. So there’s my bias going into this (like anyone who reads regularly doesn’t know that I’m biased towards the Democrats, but it’s good to get these things out there.)

Now, all that being said…if I was an undecided voter – say, the Canadian just starting to learn about American politics that I was four years ago – I think I would have found Obama’s speech a little confusing. I was a little confused by it myself after following American politics and Obama’s message for four years. I felt like I had to fight too hard to put the pieces together.

Clinton Nailed It

When Clinton put it in front of me, I got it: “If you want a winner-take- all, you’re-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we’re-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.” Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian (and therefore socialist, I’m told), but that got my heart a-thumpin’.

And I eventually got that message listening to Obama’s DNC speech as well. But I had a couple of “Where’s he going with this?” moments before he got there, when he was talking about:

  • How America was all about “the promise that hard work will pay off; that responsibility will be rewarded; that everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules”
  • How Americans “insist on personal responsibility, and we celebrate individual initiative.  We’re not entitled to success. We have to earn it.  We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk- takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known.”

I went and found these passages in particular in a transcript of Obama’s DNC speech, because they really threw me off. I understand that he’s talking about the American Dream.  I thought that Obama understood, however,  that there’s a large segment of the American population (and the bulk of people with disabilities fall into this category) that get a much more limited shot at at the American Dream because of the place they occupy in society and the resources available to them because of the place that they occupy on society. And I’m not just talking about monetary resources. I’m talking about having advocacy skills to help get your kid with disabilities into a good school, for example, or the confidence in herself that a woman needs to get herself out a domestic abuse situation. There are all kinds of “capital” in this society.

Obama’s DNC Speech: Bottom Line

Like I said…Obama’s DNC speech eventually struck a chord in my idealistic heart. He deserves kudos for addressing education, the student loans programs and for renewing his commitment to health care reform and to strengthening Social Security. I think his appeal to being good citizens was his way of trying to tie it all to Party values neatly and concretely, as Clinton did…but I really did feel like I had to work a whole lot harder to get there.

And there was no mention in Obama’s DNC speech of people with disabilities. I won’t hold this against him. You can’t mention everyone in one speech.

But Clinton worked us in. Just sayin’.

Transcript of Clinton’s DNC Speech:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/us/politics/transcript-of-bill-clintons-speech-to-the-democratic-national-convention.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www

Transcript of Obama’s DNC Speech:  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/06/transcript-obama-speech-at-dnc/

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Gabby Giffords and Emotional Manipulation By the Democrats

I don’t usually blog on the weekends, but last night I saw video of Gabby Giffords saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention, and I knew right away that I had stuff to say about it. Stuff that’s not likely to make me popular, but…I’ve never worried about that before, so….gabby giffords

Before we get into that, though, some quick words about the DNC. Wow. I missed both Biden’s and Obama’s speeches because I was talking to a good friend on the phone, but I plan to watch them on YouTube this weekend. But I saw just about all of the other major speeches, and the tone of this convention was, for me, a one-eighty from the RNC. It was energizing, hopeful, focused on Obama’s accomplishments instead of ripping on Romney (for the most part), and really just a pleasure to watch. I’m not going to pretend that the party doesn’t have it’s shortcomings (aptly covered by Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” over the course of the week. He’s always been good at demonstrating that he can rip into whatever whatever party is in power when they deserve it), but aren’t we talking about the lesser of two evils at this point? It looks to me like the Democrats are the lesser by a *substantial* margin at this point.

But back to Gabby Giffords.

Gabby Giffords Pledges Allegiance

Readers may remember that former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head during what was presumed to be an assassination attempt on her in Tuscon, Arizona in 2011. She survived the attempt, but was critically wounded. She has spent the time since the shooting on recovery: surgeries to repair the damage caused by the bullet, physiotherapy and occupational therapy to restore function to her left side,  and speech therapy. Gabby Giffords now walks with a cane, has problems with her vision, and still goes to speech therapy to address issues with aphasia.

Her story of recovery is certainly inspiring, and it was great that she could be at the DNC. I didn’t see Gabby Giffords recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but the clip that I saw and the activity on my Twitter feed told me that people were certainly affected by it. People talked about her strength, her bravery, and how they were crying.

I admire Gabby Giffords too. But I didn’t cry. I thought, “So, the Dems paired a person with disabilities with the Pledge of Allegiance to create a “tug-at-your-heart-strings” moment.  Looks like it worked.”

I realize that it’s not quite that simple with Gabby Giffords because she was also a public figure who was the victim of a terrible unfairness and this one of her few public appearances since the shooting. But doesn’t that create even more of an argument for emotional manipulation?

Willing to Admit Crankiness

Not that there weren’t a whole lot of moments at both conventions that were designed to play on peoples’ emotions. Every time a speaker tried to do the “call and respond” or tried to get people to chant something, that’s a big-time play on peoples’ emotions. I often found myself in danger of getting swept away by the emotion in particularly the DNC.

And I do admit that I’m a little hot-under-the-collar about using people with disabilities to manipulate public perception this week anyway. I caught a Facebook discussion about a company that apparently gave itself a pat-on-the-back via social media for using children with Down’s Syndrome in its advertising. The person who started the thread was upset because she said that if she’d not read that the model had Down’s Syndrome, she never would have known, and that if the company wants to give itself for kudos for using a model with Down’s Syndrome it should at least use a model that looks like he/she has Down’s Syndrome.

The issue for me was that the company felt the need to point out that they use kids with Down Syndrome in our advertising. Like that makes them a better company? Or like it’s a defense against accusations of wrongdoing?

“We’re good people…we use kids with Down’s Syndrome in our advertising!”

Like they deserve a medal for incorporating diversity in their ad campaign?

Do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because it makes you look better.

Democrats, Meet Me At Camera Three

You don’t deserve a medal for giving a woman with disabilities such a prominent place in the DNC.

You do get kudos for Bill Clinton being the first speaker at either convention to mention people with disabilities.

If you really want to honour people like Gabby Giffords, who have the will to live as full a life as possible with disability (and there are many of us), put policies in place that allow us to, and that allow the people who care about us to assist us to. For all disabilities.

Obama, I’ll be watching your speech to see what you have to say about this. I desperately want to believe that you want to help.

(P.S. Miss Giffords, from one person with one-side weakness to another…you look like you’re doing great. Keep up the fine work.)

More on Gabby Giffords: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabrielle_Giffords

An interesting blog post on the myth that all people with Down’s Syndrome look the same: http://ellietheurer.blogspot.ca/2011/04/myth-all-people-with-down-syndrome-look.html

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Thoughts on Mitt Romney’s RNC speech

Must blog about Mitt Romney’s RNC speech…must blog about Mitt Romney’s RNC speech.Mitt Romney's RNC speech

I’ve been trying to do this since Friday morning.  Damn Mitt Romney’s RNC speech…it’s given me a nice case of writer’s block.

I know you’re probably all sick to death of hearing about Mitt Romney’s RNC speech, but indulge me a bit. Regular readers will know that I’m an American politics junkie, despite my Canadian citizenship, and I’ve been very restrained about writing about Election 2012 for quite some time.

I watched most of the evening coverage of the Republican National Convention, last week, despite some moments during the speeches that felt like they were causing me physical pain. Mitt Romney’s RNC speech actually had only a few fleeting seconds where I felt that way, which surprised me. Actually, Thursday night was relatively pain-free. I admit that I was getting a little bored by the time Clint Eastwood showed up, so I wandered off to make a snack and missed the full effect of Invisible Obama…and I started channel-surfing halfway through Marco Rubio’s speech…but I listened to everything in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech.

Halfway through Mitt Romney’s speech, I tweeted, “But what are you going to do for people with disabilities, #MittRomney?”

Nothing About People With Disabilities in Mitt Romney’s RNC Speech

Not that it surprised me mightily to hear nothing about people with disabilities in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech. I don’t expect to hear anything about us in Obama’s speech next week at the Democratic National Convention. Canadian politicians don’t talk about us either.

But I feel like there should be some concerted thinking going into how to win the vote of people with disabilities and the people who love them/work with them/are concerned about the issues affecting them. After all, US Census data shows that approximately 20% of Americans have a disability. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html That’s a lot of voters, Mitt Romney, especially when you consider that the families of these people and people that work with people with disabilities will be evaluating your position on disability issues as well.

As Powerful as the US Gov’t Is, It Still Has *Some* Power

Discussing Mitt’s plan to bring the USA back to prosperity with a friend, I pointed out that I’ve heard nothing, in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech (or in anything else he’s said) about what he’s going to do about the fact that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is nearly twice what it is for people without disabilities. He said that he that there wasn’t much that the government could do about that.

I take issue with that. You can’t legislate what people think and feel, no. But you can certainly legislate that they can’t discriminate or cause harm on the basis of it, and there’s precedent for the federal government stepping in on cases where this is happening:

  • Declaring that groups have protection against discrimination in the workplace, hate speech, and hate crimes.
  • Recently, sending the Department of Justice to investigate whether New York City’s extremely low number of accessible taxis was in violation of the ADA.
  • Even more recently, starting the process to phase out sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities.

Just something to think about.

Matters of Employment

In Mitt Romney’s RNC speech (in all his speeches, in fact) is, he’s talking about getting people back to work and cutting entitlements. If he wants to get people with disabilities working and off income supports, he’s going to have to acknowledge that employers are going to have to be willing to accommodate needs. When I worked in special education classrooms, the schools had to work around the fact that I couldn’t assist with lifts and transfers when working with students in wheelchairs. Sometimes this was a struggle to coordinate, but I was good at my job in all other areas, so schools didn’t mind moving things around for me a bit – but they did need to be willing to work with me, or the job wouldn’t have worked. Employers will need to keep in mind that they need to approach hiring people with disabilities in this manner – they can get very good, very qualified people, but may need to bend on things like permitting extra breaks or allowing an employee to work from home once a week, allowing a nurse to come into the office for half an hour once a day to assist an employee with health needs, or doing a staff education session on how to respond when someone is having a seizure.

Some people are going to need supports if they’re going to work. Look at Anthony in my previous entry. He’s started his own business (and I’ve heard from Mike that they’re swamped with requests!), but he needs some support to keep things going. And speaking from my experience, most of the people with intellectual disabilities with whom I’ve worked need either some agency or one-on-one support to get and keep a job. If Romney’s goal is getting them employed and off income support, he has to be willing to spend some money on supports somewhere else.

And some people have disabilities that simply don’t allow them to work. Unless the US government is prepared to have them starve/freeze to death, there has to be money for them to keep themselves alive. They didn’t ask to not be able to support themselves, and charity/churches/community simply can’t handle all the needs of these individuals (in addition to those of all the other individuals in communities who are living in poverty). Besides, not everyone has a family or community to support them, and faith won’t keep you warm and fed.

There was a promise in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech that he would “help you and your family”. I just don’t know if, for families that have people with disabilities in them, that would be the case if Mitt Romney were elected. But this is all conjecture. Since there was no talk about people with disabilities in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech (or any of his other speeches) how’s anyone to know what his position is?

We’ll see how Obama fares this week at the Democratic National Convention.

 

 

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A Bit of a Feminist Rant for a Friday, and Why I Now Feel Better

feminist

For David, Marc, Marsha, and Tracy…and Phil Rockstroh

A Very Good Day

In many ways, yesterday was a very good day.

The business that I’ve just opened, Running Steps, (http://www.runningsteps.ca/) is being very well-received. I got some very positive feedback yesterday on my website, and I may already have a small writing job. Talking about my business on Facebook has put me in touch with some old friends to whom I haven’t spoken in years, and doing some other marketing has brought some new friends into my life.

I had a very enjoyable lunch with my father and I got some adorable pictures from my sister of my now seven-month-old niece, Gillian. I know that I’m biased, but I think that she might just possibly be the most adorable baby ever:

And Yet… (Here Comes the Feminist Rant)

I did get myself good and upset, however, about some of what’s going on in America (from a feminist standpoint).  Romney’s sudden decision this week that he would get rid of Planned Parenthood as President, coupled with a bill in Arizona proposing that employers have the right to require female employees to prove that they’re not using birth control for sex before covering it under health plans, left me feeling sad and angry and…raw. It seems like a feminist nightmare. I don’t want my niece and the young girls that I’ve worked with in my career worked with growing up in a world where the most powerful nation in the world feels that women’s sexuality is something to be controlled, and where their bodies are war zones. I don’t want that trend spreading to Canada. Like the commentary I wrote on Britain’s Welfare Benefit Reform legislation, none of this affects me as a Canadian – except that it does.

Thankfully, I have friends, both male and female, that eventually talked me down from the shaking, teary mess that threatened to overwhelm me several times during the day.
And eventually I found something, from brilliant essayist Phil Rockstroh, that spoke to me as disability advocate, a feminist…and just as a person:

https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/14-6#.T2EvdphYajI.facebook

My take-away from this essay was the following, and it’s something that I think I’ll come back to again and again…especially on days where I feel powerless, or where I feel like my small efforts to make a difference in this world make no difference at all:

“How then is it possible to withstand feelings of powerlessness? Put one foot in front of the other. Write one word after the next on your protest sign. Make your life a flaming arrow aimed at the dry and rotted heart of the system or make your own heart a warm hearth of compassion for its victims, as you negotiate its cold realities. Thus, hope becomes a process of engagement, not a comforting lie; not the stuff of public relations hustlers and political hacks but a quality of honest conviction and persistent labor; and not a cynical marketing tool.”

Thank you, Mr. Rockstroh. I needed that.

Happy Friday

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Why I Write About Welfare Benefit Reform in Britain

Welfare Benefit Reform: Tuesday

Well, it seems clear that Britain’s movement to fight welfare benefit reform and deep cuts to disability income supports suffered a major blow on Tuesday.

http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/2012/02/warning-toxic-government.html?spref=tw

I don’t know all the particulars. I still don’t totally understand it all. I know that some legislation (which already went though at one level of government) to mitigate effects of the cuts on the children with disabilities was struck down at another.  Classy. I’ve been reading on Twitter about some awful language from the Conservative Members of Parliament about people with disabilities: “the great unwashed”, “retards”, people that think disability is a “lifestyle choice” and so forth.

Stay Strong, Britain…

I still don’t understand all  of what’s gone on here and what continues to go on. What’s struck me the most about the whole thing, and its plainly visible in the post of Sue Marsh’s to which I’ve posted (and the comments on it), is the desperation. Sue put together the Spartacus Report to try and show the British government the impact of the proposed welfare benefit reform, and has put countless hours into coordinating people and efforts even while hospitalized. I’ve read a lot of her stuff lately, and I don’t doubt her when she says that she’s not going to give up – but I’ve also never heard her sound so desperate.

Read this too from the woman who has been working with Sue. Desperate.

http://benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.com/2012/02/death-of-decency-wrb.html

Why British Welfare Benefit Reform?

I’ve been asked why I’ve been writing on the welfare benefit reform situation in Britain. A lot of my Twitter followers (and the people I follow) are involved with the disability community in  Britain, so I see a lot about it. There seems to be a perception that people using Britain’s income supports are all “scroungers”, and the government seems determined to deal with the inevitable few who abuse the system by punishing everybody who uses it.

And you don’t have to understand all of it to appreciate that people are very, very frightened of losing support that allows them to live and being told to go out and find jobs when they legitimately can’t work.  As Sue says in her post, “Yes, even Blair backed down from sending cancer patients to the jobcentre.”  Apparently this government isn’t prepared to.

I write about what’s happening in Britain, to the best extent that I can, because I hear the “they’re all scroungers” attitude from politicians in Canada and the United States, too. It has reached a fever pitch recently, particularly in the United States with the election approaching.   I’ve heard Republicans talk about cutting food stamp programs, refer to people on social support programswelfare benefit reform as “raccoons” who will  just keep coming back as long as you feed them, and suggest that people with disabilities could have their needs met through the generosity of churches and community groups instead of  having them rely on income assistance.

In Ontario, monthly ODSP support still keeps individuals below the poverty line. And yet the focus on the very small amount of people who manage to abuse the system to get as much money out of it as they can, rather than the vast majority who can barely afford to both pay rent and eat each month.  I also remember, several years back now, when Ontario Premier Mike Harris declared that people make a choice to be homeless, which always leaps to mind for me when I read stuff like, “Disability is a lifestyle choice”.

What’s happening in Britain could easily happen in Canada or the United States, too. And yet I’ve not heard or seen one news story about it here.

I write about what’s happening in Britain with welfare benefit reform because it’s a current event that potentially affects us all. Disability news needs makes to make the world news too – let’s do what we can to make sure it does!

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Bella Santorum Hospitalized

Bella Santorum, daughter of Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, has been hospitalized. Bella has Trisomy-18, a genetic condition characterized by intellectual disability and severe health issues.

More information on Trisomy-18: http://www.trisomy18.org/site/PageServer

Rick Santorum has cancelled campaigning events on Sunday to spend time with Bella at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be on the road so much when one has a child with health issues, and I hope they have a good day together.  Let’s hope for Bella’s speedy recovery.

http://nbcpolitics.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/28/10261476-santorum-cancels-events-to-be-with-sick-daughter

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Rick Santorum Strikes Again

I Know…Again With Rick Santorum…

Rick Santorum

Okay, okay, I realize that I’ve been writing a lot about Rick Santorum lately. I’ve got a lot I could say about the rest of the Republican Presidential hopefuls as well, trust me – the prospect of any of them as US President makes me glad that I live in Canada, frankly. But Santorum always seems to bring it back to a disability issue, and this is a disabilities blog, so he just always gives me a lot to work with, bless his heart.

This time it’s his comments to Piers Morgan on Friday, January 20 about rape that have got me irked.

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/01/23/409242/santorum-to-rape-victims-make-the-best-out-of-a-bad-situation/

A Blast From My Past…But This Is Now

As I’ve said in this blog before, I used to be an evangelical Christian and pro-life. I was a teenager, and life was very black-and-white back then.

Life is one big blur of grey now. I know women who’ve had abortions for a variety of reasons – some of them have been raped. In my work, I’ve never had to support a woman with an intellectual disability who’s been pregnant because of rape, but I’ve been in a couple of positions over the years where I’ve had to help women with intellectual disabilities deal with a sexual assault. It’s heart-breaking to have to watch any woman come to terms with “Why me?” and to have to work through flashbacks, and through shame and guilt, and to help them change perceptions that what happened to them was somehow their fault. When a woman’s cognitive capacity to understand these questions and feelings is lowered, it can feel impossible to to help them out of the personal hell that a rape creates.

And yet, on top of this, Rick Santorum suggests that rape victims “make the best of a bad situation” if a rape results in a pregnancy and carry the fetus to term. I wonder if that’s what he’d want for his disabled daughter, Bella Santorum, if she were ever raped (not that I’d *ever*wish something so horrible on her or anybody)? To put that pressure on top of her, after everything that her body and mind would already be struggling to understand and process?

“Make the best of a bad situation” is just too disturbingly close, as commenter Jim Spice said, to  “Relax and enjoy it.”  And it’s too big a burden to ask of any woman, Rick Santorum, but particularly of those that may not be able to understand what has happened.

Now, that being said…if a woman with an intellectual disability is pregnant as a result of a rape, makes her own medical decisions, and says, “I want to keep the baby”…different story. Different story altogether.

Sigh

Rick Santorum…I want to write something nice about you. Promise American citizens something good regarding disability issues so that can I say something complimentary and then keep you out of my blog!

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