Archive for disabled

The Perfect VA Secretary Replacement For Shinseki

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VA Veteran's Administration

Okay, there's a big job opening now in the Washington area -- a cabinet post. It's the position of running the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There's probably not a less desirable position right now as the scandals and systemic problems have blown wide open. There's trouble in this most important Veterans division and it's not going to be solved by the normal political appointment to someone who's been faithful to the president and gets tabbed onto the cabinet to fulfill a political favor.

This time it's different. Whoever takes this job is most likely going to fail. At best, he or she will be under such scrutiny that they'll be tested beyond most mortal breaking points.

Let's face it, the VA is on life support. Without a heart transplant, the patient will never recover.

So what's a president to do? Fortunately President Obama is getting a lot of suggestions. Here are the top five, according to a report from The Hill: (abridged)

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal who was forced to resign from his position as a top commander in Afghanistan [because he couldn't control his personal staff], Retired Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli who served in the Obama administration as the former vice chief for the Army, Retired Admiral Michael Mullen who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff in both the Bush and Obama administrations and finally, Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) who is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress.

All of these folks are serious contenders to replace VA Secretary General Shinseki. And all of them are WRONG.

First off, the problems with the department are not military. They are organizational. They require a man or woman who can handle the demands of building a corporate structure from the ground up. The new leader doesn't need to know how to handle a weapon or understand the horrors of war. They need to understand a monetary bottom line and hospital administration. We saw what a stellar job General Shinseki did during his stint. He may have been a terrific military general and leader, but he didn't have a scintilla of skills in hospital administration. He was clueless as are the other military leaders on this list. So strike off McChrystal, Chiarelli and Mullen. Brave military personnel, sure. But knowing how to build a hospital's cost-effective flow chart, not so much.

That leaves Reed and Walz. Start with Reed. A lawyer, he might be able to see some of the issues but again, this isn't a legal problem, it's structural. And even more important, the control of the Senate is in the balance this year. No reason for another Democratic-held senate seat to be put in play. So Reed's out.

Finally that gives us Walz. He's a good guy, a military background capping out at sergeant. Hardly admiral or general, but again, rank isn't the issue here. This is a hospital and health care problem. When Walz wasn't in the army, he was teaching history. Good for him. And good for us. But not good for the job at hand.

So where should Obama turn? Why to the Republicans, of course. As this is a thankless job and there's really no one outside of the political realm with the skill set to handle it, there are two choices. One is grab a hospital administrator from a flourishing medical organization or... wait for it-- pick a sitting GOP senator. Even one not up for reelection this year. Put their seat into play to increase the chances for the Democrats to keep control over the Senate.

Here are a few names --Roy Blunt. Maybe take him out of the Senate and his state's Democratic Governor, Jay Nixon will appoint a Democrat there. Or how about a lady like Kelly Ayotte? Maybe this whole thing needs a woman's touch. And coming from New Hampshire, with a Democratic Governor, she could be replaced with a Democrat. Certainly John McCain and Lindsay Graham would be losing their shadow, but if it's for the good of the country they could never vote against her. The same could be said for Senator John Boozman from Arkansas or Mark Kirk from Illinois. Both their states have a Democratic governor.

Obama should see this opening as a legacy opportunity. He can save the back half of his second term if the Senate stays blue. The VA isn't going to be fixed over night, but with a Republican in the position of having to fix things, it's never going to work and yet the GOP won't be able to stymie any legit chances to make changes, even if it's going to cost money. Remember, 44 senate Republicans voted against increasing the VA's budget.  So this becomes a win-win for Democrats and more importantly, for our brave veterans.

Hopefully Obama and his advisers are listening.

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Houston Police & DA's Office Break The Law - Toss 26 Year Military Veteran Into Street

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veteran   Aryeh Ohayon and his dog Bandit

A veteran who has a trained and licensed service dog was recently denied service in a Houston, TX restaurant. That could be just a bit of confusion on the part of the restaurant as to the law. So the disabled Army and Navy veteran, who served his country for 26 years, did what he thought he should do to rectify the situation. He called the police.

Sadly they came. Why sadly? Because they didn't know the law in their state. According to The Raw Story:

Last year, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill that made it a misdemeanor to refuse entry to service dogs, irrespective of the disability of their owners.

So this seems quite clear. The vet, Aryeh Ohayon, was within his rights to be served and his being accompanied by a service dog should not have been cause for his embarrassing and unceremonious removal.

But the police officer wasn't the only one ignorant in Houston that day.

Houston Police claim that the officer who responded to the call contacted the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and was told that Thai Spice Buffet II was allowed to bar the door to Ohayon because it is a private establishment.

Ah, the old, "private establishment" excuse. That and the right to religious practices are the two catch phrases hate groups use to discriminate. Fortunately with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of a discriminatory bill yesterday, a signal went out loud and clear that being a private establishment doesn't exempt you from discrimination laws.

Kudos to Governor Brewer (R - Arizona). Also kudos to Gov. Rick Perry (R -  Texas) for signing the bill which would allow the military veteran or anyone else with a service dog to enter and be served in any establishment.

But a big "Boo," "hiss" and "up yours" to the Houston police and the Harris County DA's office for not knowing the law they're sworn to uphold. They should at the very least apologize to this brave man who served us all in the military for over a quarter of a century.

Oh, and if you think this is an isolated event, Raw Story adds this:

This is but the latest in a string of refusals to allow service dogs to accompany veterans with mental disabilities like depression or PTSD. Last August, police in New Jersey kicked Jared Goering and his service dog, Gator, off the boardwalk, mockingly asking him if “all veterans get service dogs.”

Later that month, a Massachusetts establishment kicked James Glaser and his dog, Jack, out, claiming that his reason for having him wasn’t “legitimate.”

More on the KHOU-TV website.

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Parents & Courts Condone and Encourage Child Bullying And Harassment

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Levi Null

So this is what society has  come down to. Encourage bullying and terror.

Say you're blessed enough to become a parent. Sadly, your child is born different -- with a disability. Perhaps autism, Asperger Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Tourettes or one of many other afflictions.  Wish, will and pray as you might, you hope that by the time they reach school age, they'll be well enough to attend. To be as much like one of the other kids as possible.

You get to the point that you believe this will be a solution. Perhaps integration into a social environment of school peers will be the panacea. At least, you figure your child will be protected, be kept safe.

But what happens when you realize your prayer isn't answer and hope is not a viable option? You find yourself up sh**s creek without a paddle. You've been deserted. And not just by the kids (who we know can be cruel) but by the teachers and the school officials as well.

How do you stand by when you report your child's abuse to the school and they side with the bullies? How about when they even blame your abused child as bringing it on himself?

Then you, as the heartbroken parent find you're faced with public ostracism over Facebook, blaming you for your child's behavior. Does this seem fair? Just? Right? How do you think you feel when you find the bully kids posting videos on the Internet of  their abuse which also shows teachers in the background witnessing this harassment and just turning their backs?

The cherry on this disgusting sundae comes when the parents of the bullies defend their kid's offensive actions on TV news, and they get hundreds of responses, applauding their support of their bullying kids.

Watch this story of 13 year old Levi Null, from the Melcher-Dallas school district in Texas.

The message here is that sadly, ignorance and inhumanity is passed down from generation to generation. What we do as parents matters. As the parent of both a boy and a girl, I know how hard it was to reprimand them, and I did it sparingly but judiciously. I did it to make them better children. But not doing anything or worse, condoning such bad behavior leads to a total deterioration of society.

Just over a month ago I reported on a 12 year old girl, Rebecca Sedwick in a post on how cyber bullying led her to climb up a grain silo and jump to her death.

HERE'S AN UPDATE on this related story. The two kids who drove Sedwick to her suicide were suspended from school but just yesterday, the court made their determination on any charges, reported by the New York Daily News:

Charges against two Florida girls accused of bullying a 12-year-old former classmate to her eventual suicide will be dropped, local authorities announced Wednesday.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd confirmed Wednesday evening that two of Rebecca Sedwick's accused cyberbullies, 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw and a 13-year-old girl, will have their charges of aggravated stalking dropped.

Is this the fair signal to send in addressing an epidemic of harassment and bullying?

Parents condone it. Courts refuse to condemn it? Buckle your seat belts. We're in for the proverbial bumpy ride.

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Gun Control. It's Nothing More Than A Passing Fancy

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Blind with gun

A few weeks ago I wrote a post, That's Like The Blind Shooting Blind, about the gun purchases in Iowa by three residents. They all passed a background check, they paid their money and walked out of the store legally with their weapons. End of story. Well, not exactly. The reason I wrote about it was that fact that all three of these people were blind. Yup, they were unable to see.

But the law was the law, and the Americans With Disabilities Act, the anti-discrimination legislation prohibited these folks from being denied their second amendment right, at least on a federal level. So they bought these guns and now are able to roam the streets, perhaps to even become contemporary Charles Bronson, vigilante-types from DEATH WISH -- all five of them -- the movies, not Charles Bronson. He was one of a kind.

Charles Bronson

After the press, along with myself, were agog over this certain flaw in the law, it was only a matter of time before the legislature in Iowa fixed this hole. After all, there are already rules that prohibit or restrict some people from carrying or buying guns. States have been able make those restrictions. Certainly the precedent for denying one's second amendment rule has already been established and upheld.

So what's the hold up (intentional pun)? Actually there isn't one. There just isn't any interest.

In Iowa there isn't any interest from keeping a blind individual from packing heat, roaming the streets.

There isn't interest? Are you sh##ing me?

Yes, that's the truth. From the legislative folks in their state house all the way up to the Governor. When this "flaw" in their law was pointed out to them, they gave all kinds of excuses, but the bottom line is "We're not going to change the law."

When it comes to confounded amazement, nobody does it better than Rachel Maddow. So here's her report on visionaries in the state house in Iowa, which ironically is known as the HAWKEYE STATE.

So, with all of the gun craziness in the US, Iowa stands firm. I'm going out on a limb here and saying that the question of sanity in lawmaking is coming under question here. Now either the Governor of Iowa, Terry Edward Branstad is a certifiable loon, or I am.

If the country is so insane as to allow this kind of blind justice, I'm ready for my straight jacket and a visit from the men in white coats. It's safer in a sanitarium that walking innocently on the streets of Ames or Des Moines.

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That’s Like The Blind Shooting Blind.

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Blind ak-47

No matter how delicately or diplomatically I write this, I'll surely offend someone. But I’m going to try to be as delicate as possible. As I’ve written before, there’s a difference on intent and impact.

Here’s the issue – the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA was established as a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. Yes! I back that 100%.

Or did. Until I heard that Iowa was issuing gun permits to blind folks. It's right here in the Des Moines Register:

The permits allow legally blind applicants to purchase weapons and carry them in public. Per state law, any attempt to deny an Iowan these rights based on physical ability would be illegal, reports the Des Moines Register.

Second amendment strict interpretationists claim this right is guaranteed under the constitution. No limits. But amazingly, the application for a permit to carry isn't available in Braille, so the applicants must rely on someone else filling it in  for them. But have no fear, they can shoot if they feel like it. Is some sort of connect missing here for you as well as for me? We're talking about walking in public armed. This is not a case of protecting one's home... and even then I'd have my suspicions.

Okay, take a step back. A gun is a lethal weapon. So is a car. You can’t get a license in Iowa to drive unless you pass a vision test. So why should you be able to point and shoot a gun if you can’t see what’s in front of you?

Here's how NEWSY has covered this situation:

Maybe it's time that we use logic over political correctness. I feel deeply for anyone with an affliction, infirmity or disability. I just think arming the blind could put more people at risk, including the blind gun holder of accidents, minor to fatal. Everyone deserves protection, but we were not all blessed with sight. And maybe we're not all blessed to have the right to a gun.

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Live Streaming Video- President Obama Speaks at the Disabled American Veteran National Convention 12n

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Video Mid Day Distraction- Flipper the Cat

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Via WT. Sniff.

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