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I am horrified by this recent story from Los Angeles, California! The L.A. County Sheriff is investigating the sexual assault of at least 10 women with severe disabilities. The Sheriff received 11 DVDs containing graphic videos of these men – these pigs – sexually assaulting women with disabilities.

Los Angeles officials seek the public's help in identifying these men depicted in drawings made using the videos
Full Story Here

 

As a disability advocate who has attended many trainings on the subject of safeguarding people with disabilities, I am painfully aware of the dangers our most vulnerable members of society face. Of course, being a parent of children with physical and developmental disabilities also makes this a personal issue. Most parents of kids with disabilities will tell you that the hardest thing about having a child with a disability is the worry they have about what will happen to their children when they are gone or no longer able to care for their kids. I know this is my biggest worry. Who will take care of my kids and keep them safe? It takes money – a lot of money – in order to properly care for a person with a disability; many require 24/7 care. It is impossible for most families to afford proper care on their own. For this reason, they need government assistance.

How does something like this L.A. story happen? I can guarantee that a big part of the problem is lack of services for people with disabilities. Sadly, when money gets tight, state budgets get cut. More often than not, it is our most vulnerable citizens who are hurt. Typical conservatives who want small government and low taxes don’t understand that cutting state spending puts people at risk. For example, here in Massachusetts, our DDS (Department of Developmental Services) is cutting back on staff for group homes. There are people in these homes who have serious mental and physical problems, yet the state is cutting out nursing care. Many homes have to share one nurse with several homes. This leaves clients being cared for by minimum wage, uneducated workers who are expected to take care of all of their needs, including the administration of medications. This is dangerous for both the health and safety of people with disabilities.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of the abuse and neglect that went on in large institutions back in the 60’s and 70’s. This led to a push to close these human warehouses in favor of smaller community settings. This was a step forward, however, if we keep cutting community services, we are going to hear more and more stories like this one in L.A. You can’t just stick people out in the community without the proper supports and safety nets in place.

Republicans, when you push for small government and lower taxes, you are jeopardizing the health and safety of the disabled, the poor and the elderly. How can you sleep at night? Some conservatives will say, “Oh, I don’t want services for people with disabilities cut, just cut out waste and the people who are cheating the system.” First, there are always going to be people who cheat a system, any system. That’s life, deal with it. But keep in mind that the corporate welfare and millionaire tax loop holes make social service waste look like a drop in the bucket. Second, when you cut taxes, people with disabilities will lose services. This is historically true and it’s happening now. Whether you like it or not, this is the way our government is currently set up. We have a two party system and a country divided. So, pick your side.

In my opinion, a country should be judge by how well it cares for it’s most vulnerable citizens. Put people before money and vote Democrat!

Dennis the Mennis

This past weekend, 39 House Democrats voted against the health care reform bill. It’s not surprising that 31 of the 39 defectors came from districts carried by John McCain in the presidential election. Here is an interactive graphic table from the New York Times that shows some interesting numbers: House Democrats Who Voted Against the Health Care Bill.

One democrat who voted against the bill is worth mentioning. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio voted no, because the health care reform bill did not go far enough. He stated on his blog, “America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America’s businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals.” Kucinich’s full explanation of why he voted against the bill is worth reading: Dennis Kucinich Explains Why He Voted No On Affordable Health Care for America Act.

This guy caught my attention during the presidential campaigns. Before the Presidential Primaries, I took one of those on-line political quizzes to see which presidential nominee matched my own political opinions. Although I supported Clinton at the time, my opinions lined up almost exactly with Dennis Kucinich. I also agree with Dennis regarding health care reform. In fact, the main reason I supported Hillary over Obama in the primaries is because Hillary had a better health care plan.

So, why didn’t I support Kucinich? I did not support him, because I didn’t think he had a chance of winning. Maybe not a good reason, but the game of politics is not an easy one to play. While I understand that Kucinich voted no on principle, it’s a darn good thing that his no vote did not cause this bill to fail.

One thing I’ve learned from having children with special needs is that sometimes you have to ‘play the game’, even if the game is stupid and unfair, and sometimes you have to compromise. This bill is not the answer to our health care problems, it is only a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, there is no way Kucinich’s own bill would ever pass into law at this time in history. But something has to change and some change is better than nothing. This bill includes a public option which is a key component to a better future for American health care.

Here is a list of the House Democrats who voted against the bill:

John Adler (NJ)
Jason Altmire (PA)
Brian Baird (WA)
John Barrow (GA)
John Boccieri (OH)
Dan Boren (OK)
Rick Boucher (VA)
Allen Boyd (FL)
Bobby Bright (AL)
Ben Chandler (KT)
Travis Childers (MS)
Artur Davis (AL)
Lincoln Davis (TN)
Chet Edwards (TX)
Bart Gordon (TN)
Parker Griffith (AL)
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD)
Tim Holden (PA)
Larry Kissell (NC)
Suzanne Kosmas (FL)
Frank Kratovil (MD)
Dennis Kucinich (OH)
Jim Marshall (GA)
Betsy Markey (CO)
Eric Massa (NY)
Jim Matheson(UT)
Mike McIntyre (NC)
Michael McMahon (NY)
Charlie Melancon (LA)
Walt Minnick (ID)
Scott Murphy (NY)
Glenn Nye (VA)
Collin Peterson (MN)
Mike Ross (AR)
Heath Shuler (NC)
Ike Skelton (MO)
John Tanner (TN)
Gene Taylor (MS)
Harry Teague (NM)

On to the Senate!