Friday, March 11, 2011

When the political is personal

I apologize in advance if I make no sense.

I’m all jacked up right now on albuterol and codeine.  I didn’t sleep last night.  My ribs and throat and ears hurt from all the coughing.  I look in the mirror - and this may be the codeine talking - but I SWEAR I see Charlie Sheen looking back at me.  Except without the tiger blood.  Or the goddesses.

So, I was going to call in sick to Hopeful Parents this month.  But I can’t.  Instead, I need to channel my drug-induced inner Charlie Sheen and give you a full-force, all-out, face-to-the-camera rant.

Something is very wrong in New Hampshire.  Or something is very wrong in the current political climate in our country.  All I know is, something is very, very wrong.  There is a pendulum swinging away from hope and change, and it seems to be heading directly at my son.

There were two news stories this week – both out of New Hampshire – that prompted this rant.  The first was from a budget committee meeting in Conway, in which the topic was funding for special education.  In this video footage of the meeting, budget committee member Ray Shakir makes his case:

“The individual responsible for special education said at one of our meetings that there was no such thing as an uneducatable person.  I would dispute that fact.  There are certainly individuals that are uneducatable… I am simply suggesting to you and everybody else that there should be a line drawn where the taxpayer is responsible to educate certain people.  I am not suggesting by any means that we should not educate people with disabilities at all.  I’m just suggesting to you that there should be a point at which taxpayer considerations should be paramount… that there are people in this community – many, many people in this community – that are living day to day that cannot afford to spend money on people who are and, for all intents and purposes, will be living on the government dole for the rest of their lives.  That’s all I’m saying… That’s the way it is.  You people are divorced from reality.”

Remember that Shakir’s words were not captured on hidden camera or in a secret recording over drinks with supporters, which, certainly, would have been bad enough.  Instead, Shakir shared his vitriolic opinion with pride, in a public forum, to a room full of citizens, fully aware that he was being captured on film by the local news team.

And if these are the things he is saying on camera, what is he saying behind closed doors?

Who are we electing?

And why are we electing them?

Why are we electing people like New Hampshire state representative Martin Harty, who, according to the Concord Monitor, this week said the world would be better off without “defective people.”  He further clarified his statement, saying, “"You know the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions - the defective people society would be better off without."

Harty then offered his solution:  "I wish we had a Siberia so we could ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population."   He later characterized it as “a joke.”

Good one, huh?

Both of these incidents occurred in the same week in which the New Hampshire state legislature began hearings on proposed budget cuts that far exceed the dramatic cuts already proposed by the Governor.   The House proposes cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services that would have devastating effects on families of children with special needs.

These examples come from one state in fifty, but the issues are not unique to New Hampshire.  People are frightened in the current economic climate, and some are too quick to protect their own interests by ignoring the interests of some of the most vulnerable members of their communities.

But there are voices of reason.  If you watch the video from the Conway budget committee meeting – and I hope you will – you will hear the impassioned voice of a citizen at the microphone, who responds to Shakir’s unfathomable diatribe, saying, “Mr. Shakir, you are physically making me sick right now...  What you are saying, Mr. Shakir, is immoral, unethical, and illegal.  I demand your immediate resignation from this budget committee.”  The crowd erupts in cheers.

A petition is underway calling for the resignation of Martin Harty.

This afternoon, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch issued a press release , in which he urges the House to reconsider their proposed cuts, saying, “I am deeply disturbed by the apparent direction of the House Finance budget. These proposals would seriously impair the operation of state government and services that the people of New Hampshire need.”

We need to empower the voices of reason.  We need to become them.  Whether we live in New Hampshire or elsewhere, we need to stay engaged, speak out, write letters, and take a stand.

We need to rant on behalf of our children - even if we’re all jacked up on albuterol and codeine and operating on a few hours sleep - even if we’re sore and we’re tired and it all seems like more than we can manage.

There are people out there – people in positions of power - who make no sense.

We have to take them on.

 

When she’s not jacked up on albuterol and codeine, MOM-NOS blogs at Mom – Not Otherwise Specified. Today she’s trying to set her own health concerns aside to send healing thoughts and comfort to the people of Japan, and to all who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

22 comments:

  1. A note if you try to watch the video from the Conway budget committee hearing: the first 30 seconds are in freeze-frame. Just scroll forward to the :30 second mark.

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  2. I watched the footage posted yesterday of Shakir's in-your-face ugliness... I believe the parent at the mic got it exactly correct - "...ignorance is the worst disability."
    You may have been Charlie-Sheening-it today, Mama, but you got it right ;0)
    xo

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  3. I LOVE you jacked up on albuterol and codeine, woman. Please rant away because otherwise the haters win. I am deeply afraid of where this country is headed right now. Last night at dinner, after watching the news, my husband sighed and said to me in the saddest voice "Our country is broken isn't it? Can it even be fixed?" I hear the words from Hitler's Germany coming out of American elected officials and I quake, i just quake.

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  4. It is inexcusable that elected officials would say these things. Our world is such a scary, awful place...it makes it hard to find the goodness, though I know it exists out there somewhere!

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  5. Hi I always follow your posts and this time I just had to comment. OH MY God. Please help us.
    .I am in a complete state of shock. I mean really?? Inexcusable is absolutely right.

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  6. I think sometimes this outrageous ugliness needs to come out to spur all of the good people into action. And I naively believe there are more good people than bad. Hope you (and we all) will feel better soon.

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  7. Thank you for writing so passionately. Infuriating, insulting, defaming, horrifying, not to be tolerated.
    Obama spoke about bullying yesterday. Bullying is alve and mean in NH.

    Hope everyone reads this,

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  8. Rant away. Thank you for posting it. I fear what the future holds but I know there are lots of good people (like you) that will fight for our rights and give us a voice. Thank you Mom-Nos!

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  9. Mr Shakir in Conway, along with many others just like him, are folks who have decided to live out their 'golden years' in New Hampshire. They are turning NH into a retiree state (much like Florida) and have the time and money to be a permanent 'volunteer' legislator which gives them the platform to change our state. These people have the in your face attitude of 'I have mine, to bad about you'.
    Educating these people is a nice thought, but they don't care. It is all about THEIR money and they are not wanting to spend it on our children.
    More unfortunate is the fact that they are beginning to outnumber us.

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  10. Disgust. I too had my own run-in with blatant ignorance this week. I see a theme emerging, though like those who commented before me, I do have hope that there are more good than bad, ignorant, vile, serpentine people in the world. It is beyond unfortunate that individuals like Mr. Shakir and Martin Harty hold positions of power in the world. Both should be ousted immediately. A friend of mine, in an effort to comfort me after facing my own ignorance this week, sent me these words:
    "Let me say, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, that true revolution is guided by great feelings of love." Che Guevara
    We've got to start our own revolution here. Discrimination and hatred cannot be accepted, nor tolerated by the world.
    Thank you for sharing, Mom-NOS. You fight the good fight, Mama.

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  11. Okay. Let's stop pussy-footing around. This isn't about a few individual misinformed and/or completely bigoted individuals, and it isn't just about defunding the things our special needs families need to flourish, or even survive. This is part of a big, organized movement, funded by a number of ultra-ultra-ultra wealthy families and individuals, to take this country back to the 1800s.
    Think I'm nuts? Here's an article from a Seattle newspaper outlining how the movement to overthrow the so-called death tax got started and is being maintained:
    http://www.seattlepi.com/business/268001_estatetaxes26.html
    This is connected as well to the current efforts to take away collective bargaining rights from public sector workers. It's all of a piece.
    And if you, dear reader, have voted for a Republican in the last few years, you're a little part of that piece. Sorry.

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  12. Ohio Mom....you hit the nail on the head. Momnos, feel better soon. Even jacked up on meds, you're awesome.

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  13. this is my motto : when u are on a mission it's not who is behind you, but who is right up there with you that counts the most, that way you don't have to look back,just forward to your victory.. NEVER LOOK BACK
    let keep spreading the word,rally against people like this. support OUR kids We are stronger than people like this,OUR kids have made us that way,REMEMBER WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERE IS A WAY!!
    Both of these "people"SHOULD BE MADE TO "STAND" IN THE SHOES OF OUR KIDS,AND SEE WHAT IT IS LIKE.MAKE HIM SPEND A FEW WEEKS IN DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS THAT OUR KIDS HAVE TO GO THROUGH JUST TO LIVE A "NORMAL" LIFE,AND HE CLAIMS TO BE A CHRISTIAN? HE HAS NO COMPASSION,AND SHOULD BE THROWN OFF THAT BOARD,and out of the government I HAVE WORKED AND HAVE KIDS AND GRAND KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS AND HE IS SOOO LUCKY I CAN'T GET DOWN THERE CAUSE I WOULD GIVE HIM A PIECE OF MY MIND HE WOULDN'T SOON FORGET.LETS PLAN A RALLY AT HIS HOUSE AND IN CONCORD AND BRING ALL OUR KIDS AND GET THE NETWORK TO SHOW UP

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  14. Ohio Mom got it right. Unless you're one of the top .05% of the US population that has the majority of the wealth in our country, you're voting against your own best interests if you vote Republican or Tea Party. Google "Koch Brothers" for more info.

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  15. I'd heard about Harty and wanted to cry. Reading what Skakir said also makes me want to cry. It amazes me that people are willing to accept when some people claim that certain people aren't valuable or even acceptable members of society. I hate to be all, remember the holocaust, but jeez, remember the holocaust?
    I'm so glad you wrote this. This is why we need to keep writing and talking and fighting. We need to make it so it is not okay for these public officials to say these things and so that it is not okay for people sitting at home to quietly agree.
    Feel better soon.

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  16. That parent at the mike was also our local pediatrician, Richard Laracy. Not only did Dr Laracy receive a standing ovation from the crowd, but the budget committee's proposed 11% cut in the school budget was defeated soundly. I am very proud of my community and in no way does Ray Shakir represent the masses.

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  17. Thank you, Karen. Dr. Laracy is a hero. I'm glad you were able to identify him here.

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  18. Thank you Momnos for reposting this story . Conway NH is a small town and we only have one TV station in the state so our local news tends to get buried under the weight of "news" from the big towns of Concord, Manchester , Nashua ,etc. I was at that meeting. This is not the first meeting Shakir has voiced those opinions. He has yet to respond to either letter in the local paper requesting his resignation and the budget committee has yet to issue any public statement on this, either in support of shakir or distancing themselves from his opinions. I guess they are hoping it will all just go away if they ignore it long enough. Thank you for reporting this and hopefully giving the story a little more life in the news cycle. as the mom of 2 children on the spectrum I wept with dispair and shook with anger when I heard him say what he said at that meeting. I hope you feel better soon, I have a feeling we will all need to put on our best charlie sheen face soon to suit up to do battle for our children.
    as a ps the woman with the salt n pepper hair behind Dr Laracy supporting him is Jackie Sparks who runs a WONDERFUL inclusive daycare/preschool/kindergarten for all children called Children Unlimited. My youngest has gone there for 3 years now and made wonderful progress while being allowed to be a normal child to the best of his ability. She doesn't get enough recognition for the good things she does in the valley for our children so I wanted to give her some now.

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  19. Shakir still thinks he did nothing wrong.
    His Response

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  20. Thanks for posting that link, Genenut. Shakir's hubris is staggering.
    In other news, though, Martin Harty has resigned.

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  21. Thank you for posting this. I live in a state which has been at the center of all this controversy lately and I am terrified about what the impact is going to be on my son with special education needs. When the bigger picture is dismissed as having *only* to do with unions or teachers, people overlook the real issues, as previous posters have stated. There is a heavily funded effort to take our country back to the days of feudalism and it's so damn scary.
    Thanks again for the recognition. let's all fight like crazy and hope that the pendulum will start to swing the other way soon.

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  22. We should never discriminate people with developmental disabilities. It is a unwritten law that we need to apply empathy and a helpful hand.

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