Re: Presidential Forum

Thomas Cagle (nh-adapt@juno.com)
Sun, 21 Nov 1999 10:09:52 -0500


>                      jfa@jfanow.org
>
>          Presidential Forum Sponsors List Growing
>
>Clyde Terry writes:
>
>"To all Disability organizations and other interested entities. The
>organizers of the Open Forum on Americas Agenda need your help. The
>presidential Candidates Open forum Scheduled in New Hampshire for Nov. 
>20th is gaining steam with Al Gore committed to attend.

First let me say I am unaffiliated, there is no party that has shown
itself to me to hold the issues I see dear close. Left on my own I
register as an independent at every opportunity. 25 years of New
Hampshire residency has only exacerbated this. New Hampshire encourages
'indy's' to select a party affiliation on primary day to enhance the
chances that the field be reduced to at least a group that have some idea
of the issues before NH voters and, voter turn out be enhanced as a
result of this unique opportunity.

Yesterday was a first, it broke new ground. A group of widely diverse
disabled voters and organizers attended a forum sponsored by GSILF, PVA,
DD Council and many others. It had flaws, no really pointed question were
asked, resulting in a far less than ADAPT donnybrook. That's OK the
attendee's were by-in-large yankees, who refrain from direct action. A
pick handle is not a union card in NH.

I am and many of the attendee's are to my certain knowledge are voters
with a singular focus. "How do I get my government to listen to me, and
meet my discrete needs, for no one sized program will fit all of us. We
know too often from brutal first hand experience that our government can
spend obscene amounts of money on us with little practical to show for
the endeavor". We are this century's reconstruction, in who's name an
ocean of money has been spent, often with only our confinement to show
for the effort. The tension in the room was palpable. It did not have a
convention's party atmosphere.

I know that I and I have every reason to expect that many other of the
attendee's had sent questions either by mail or e-mail to the speakers.
My head count put over 200 people in the room.

First let me comment on one the people who made no appearance. George W
Bush, not only was not present he made no indication that he had any
interest in attending. His absence and his previous unwillingness to
withdraw from Olmstead, plus his over all posture of being antagonistic
to even what past Commissioner of TX-HHS have given testimony on the cost
effectiveness of community placement for PWD (the C-SPAN piece with that
commissioner was most enlightening), marks him as a rigid segregationist.
Locking us away and doing a 'love run' for MDA' is not compassionate
conservatism, it's confinement for campaign contributions, and we're the
chattel. Our sentiment on this issue is neither requested or important.
George I give you a "DNC" (did not complete) grade, you never showed up
for class or testing.

Albert Gore was the only person to attend in person. He came with
claque's in tow and tried to give a warm and personable presentation to
his pitch. Mr Gore has made his stand on freedom of speech issues well
known I did not expect much from him. He delivered rather more than I
expected from him, speaking with at least some knowledge of the funding
streams and costs of our integration. I do expect that a careful text
reading of his speech will show several gaps. One that remained with me
is his belief that ADA has succeeded in reaching universal suffrage for
us to vote, and if he pushes--industry with a partnership drive, that our
employment woes will be resolved shows that he has what he does for
disability awareness is too sheltered by sycophants who have been telling
Al too much of the wrong stuff. We come draped in the total spectrum of
abilities and disabilities. Some of us will NOT return to work soon, or
to white collar jobs, or at a full time schedule. He omitted that we can
fulfill a needed volunteer labor spectrum that may well offset our
expense to a degree. He missed that portion too that any labor a disabled
person makes for the public welfare has other offsets. I am thinking now
of several people I supported in the past who did tasks like delivering
meals on wheels. The synergism of one disabled person supporting another
makes all of the participants more independent and makes each person a
better citizen. Civility and citizenship is earned not made by decree or
business partnership. Al, ya' gotta do some more homework. I give you a
"C" please do some extra credit homework to bring up this grade.

Bill Bradley attended by teleconference. First let me say that this forum
had been rescheduled, He did make plans to attend the first meeting time.
Senator Bradley was one of the people I had high hopes to see some spark
of inventiveness and a willingness to look at our integration as a net
physical gain. I must say I left very disappointed. He showed a
fundamental lack of what legislation he had a hand in passing meant,
confusing IDEA ADA and 504. Particularly as they applied to people with
disabilities directly. His awareness of the discreet and distinct needs
of PWD showed most clearly is his appraisal of voting enfranchisement,
his solution was fundamentally flawed and short sighted (vote by mail).
In defense of Bill's poor presentation he clearly had NO grooming. Even a
pet gimp on his staff could've greatly assisted him in refreshing him how
the laws he had a hand in passing applied to disabled people. The
question of Peter Singer (Bill Bradley IS a trustee of Princeton) was
presented to Bill in the mildest of fashions, this is where he had an
opportunity to both refuse to comment on his trusteeship and distance
himself from euthanasia of PWD, something he did not do. In
political--talk when a politician simply avoids a topic he knows a
community has a stake in, he not in support of that groups position.
Until Bill Bradley stops telling fuzzy stories about his dad, and starts
getting on one side or the other of the physician assisted suicide debate
I have to presume he supports it, to my detriment. I give Bill a "D" for
not doing his homework or study, thereby being ill prepared for
examination.

John McCain was also present by teleconference. Mr McCain may be as close
as we get to having a truman-esque candidate this election. Like or
despise him he is passionate about what he thinks he is endeavoring to
do. His antiestablishment republicanism played like fresh air to people
who wear daily the yoke of agency regimentation. His stance was enhanced
by knowing when to quit, of all the politicians John took the fewest
questions. Brevity may have been his best defense. He did answer some of
the right questions right, endorsing increased spending for VA, for all
the wrong reasons, omitting VA's PCA program entirely. I give John McCain
a "C" for at least being somewhat conversant on our issues.

I will no doubt provoke some ire among my readers due to my marginal
marks of all the politicians present at this first ever disability forum.
I am not surprised that such powerful driven men would be so uninformed
of issues pertinent to our minority. Nobody has ever even thought to work
the wards and rehab centers before, in this way. I applaud that such an
endeavor was even attempted by the agencies involved. I will begrudgingly
forego this time asking more hardball questions. IDEA was only lightly
touched VR, and the 8th circuit's miss-steps were unquestioned, to our
loss. Until these guys get the bar-tab for the 8th circuit in particular
no one is going to do much about our civil rights.

To my jaundiced eyes there are two clearly superior choices in Al Gore
and John McCain, partisan aficionado's have one to pick from column 'A'
and one to pick from column 'B'. It's something anyway. As Andy Jackson
once said "vote early, and vote often".

Tom C

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