Child Caught in Political Crosshairs

9 01 2011

The 9-year-old was identified as Christina Taylor Greene. CNN affiliate KVOA said family members described her as “excited” about the political process, and that the desire to learn more about it had motivated her to go to the Gifford event for constituents.

Christina was born on September 11, 2001, the affiliate reported.

From CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/08/arizona.shooting.other.victims/index.html?hpt=T1)

This hits close to home.

During the Healthcare debate and subsequent election, my son attended a number of events for our Congressman– who is also on Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” list.

At best Palin (Angle, Limbaugh, O’Riley, Jesse Kelly (http://www.blogforarizona.com/blog/2010/06/jesse-kelly-event-is-this-wording-intentional.html) and so many others) were childish and irresponsible… at worst, they should be prosecuted under the Fighting Words Doctrine.

The fighting words doctrine, in United States constitutional law, is a limitation to freedom of speech as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In its 9-0 decision, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), the U.S. Supreme Court established the doctrine and held that “insulting or ‘fighting words,’ those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace” are among the “well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech [that] the prevention and punishment of…have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem.” From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighting_words)

While we don’t know the shooter’s motives  for certain or the influence of those who use reckless language on him, we do know that hate-filled, violence evoking language does result in harm… real harm… irreversible harm. It’s past time to tone it down!

I’ve always encouraged my son to have an opinion– to fight (politely!) for what he needs… to be involved. I can’t ask him to do that anymore.

When my son and I left one of the debates our Congressman held with his opponent, I felt well…  uncomfortable and decided that my son was done with politics until he can make an intelligent, informed choice for himself. While there were no threats, there was animosity towards him. (See 10/18/10 post)

Christina’s murder is too close to home… my heart aches for the Greene family and I know that there, but for the grace of God, goes my son… and my Congressman.





Mr. Boccieri is a Winner

3 11 2010

Last night John Boccieri lost an election– but he is a winner!

Over the course of two years, John Boccieri worked for the people he represents in Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. His courage of conviction, his prioritizing of policy over politics and his careful, thoughtful, prayerful votes have made my son’s life better. Because of Mr. Boccieri’s vote in favor of healthcare reform, it is now illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against the 1 in 70 boys diagnosed with autism.

John Boccieri is a winner.





Why Vote For John Boccieri?

2 11 2010

John Boccieri can tell you eloquently why you should vote for him in Ohio’s 16th District so, let me tell you why I voted for him.

Boccieri gets it. He’s a fiscal conservative who voted against healthcare reform’s first version because it was financially irresponsible. He voted for the second version because it had been revised/improved so that it will save tax payers money and assures that abortions will not be Federally funded. His vote FOR healthcare reform gave my son insurance. He has autism (a previously deniable pre-existing condition) and was on Medicaid. Now, you aren’t footing the bill for my son’s healthcare– I am. In a tiny little way, my family is proof of savings to taxpayers.

I’ve met him and know him to be genuine– not some slick politician. He looks you in the eye while he’s listening to what you have to say and is sincere with what he can or can’t do– what he’ll try to do– what goes against his grain…

John Boccieri is a dad. He understands parents who want what’s best for our kids– better for our kids…  He wants the same for his kids that we want for ours… and, he’s willing to do politically unpopular things to get that done.

I don’t agree with every vote he’s cast– any more than I agree with everything my husband does– but, I’m not going to ditch either. I voted for Boccieri because I really believe that he represents me– and, he’s able to do so because he listens to what I have to say…

Vote today. We are responsible for electing people who represent us– not people who we tolerate because we’re mad at the other guy. Vote today. Vote for the best person, the most genuine, the one like you. I believe that’s John Boccieri and he has my vote.





Boccieri Vs Renacci Debate 10/18/10

19 10 2010

Last night my little guy and I went to the final Ohio 16th Congressional debate.

This late in the campaign there really isn’t much new…

Boccieri voted FOR healthcare reform and as a result my son, who has autism, has insurance– Renacci would get rid of it– “Repeal and Replace”– however in a new twist; Renacci says he would keep the provision that gets rid of deniable pre-existing conditions. His website does not reflect this position change: http://www.renacciforcongress.com/Issues/Health_Care

Boccieri cites specific ways that the Stimulus has benefited NE Ohio (http://gis4.oit.ohio.gov/recovery/)  while Renacci just stomps his foot and follows Boehner’s lead… NO! NO! NO! (course when the  asked what he likes to do in his spare time he said golf…)

On Energy: Boccieri knows that green energy will provide jobs, clean the air and keep money at home. Renacci on the other hand (and the energy companies who fund his campaign) think that global warming is fiction so, he didn’t answer the question and the panel didn’t call him on it.

There was only one real stunner in this debate– when asked about their approval/disapproval of the Supreme Court’s “corporations as people” ruling– Boccieri said resoundingly that he disagreed with the ruling while Renacci did a little dance about how the Supreme Court knows about these things and he trusts them– so finally– he said he does agree with the ruling. (WHOA!!)

The truth is that he does not agree with all Supreme Court rulings… he disagrees for example with Roe vs. Wade… So… apparently he only trusts the Court when their rulings benefit him. (Renacci’s positions per Project Vote Smart : http://votesmart.org/npat.php?can_id=120678#20942 )

My main take-away (since I already thought Renacci is pretty out of touch and self-serving) was that Renacci followers are rude.  When J and I arrived, we saw a man putting a Renacci sign on each side of EVERY Boccieri sign along the road into the high school… during the debate, they were out-of-bounds– rude! And, towards the end, when Congressman Boccieri cited my son as an example of someone who directly benefits from healthcare reform, the Renacci supporter behind us said– “Who Cares that it helps that kid?!” Well, Rude Renacci lady, I CARE!

Don’t take my word for it… here is the debate:

http://static.cantonrep.com/elections/debate/





Who is Funding Renacci?

15 10 2010

I live in Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. I am a voter. I’ve had enough.

I don’t know all the gory details… something like “trust us– we have a system” is about all that we can get out of those who are throwing cash at republicans like the Shriners do at community parades… What I do know is that the American Chamber of Congress has a number of foreign members*  and that the president of this organization has said that there are benefits to outsourcing jobs and work overseas. (That sure makes me want to trust them…)

These are the people funding Republican candidates in 2010.

Ohio’s 16th Congressional District

Mr. Renacci received $1,383,840 in funding through 6/30/10. 

(http://www.fec.gov/DisclosureSearch/mapHSCandDetail.do?election_yr=2010&detailType=cand&cand_id=H0OH16097&category=searchCand&searchKeyword=RENACCI)

In the organizations category,one of  Renacci’s biggest  funders is Freedomworks** who believes that public schools need competition from the private sector, the only thing wrong with our former healthcare system is that people sue too much and that both medicare and social security should be privatized.. energy? It’s the fault of regulation that fuel costs so much.

 The individual donations (anybody who gives over $250 has to disclose who they work for) have come overwhelmingly from attorneys, and those who work for healthcare and insurance companies– Renacci wants to get rid of healthcare reform and replace it with the opening of state lines and Tort Reform… WHO does that benefit?!

Healthcare Reform is my favorite issue as any who have read my blog before already know. In a recent debate Congressman John Boccieri all but dared Renacci to take away the insurance card of a child with autism who was in the audience. Renacci talks about a “safety net” but refuses to define it. He refuses to say that children with developmental disabilities should be insured. He refuses to say that autism shouldn’t be a deniable pre-existing condition.

John Boccieri first voted against healthcare reform because the first draft was fiscally irresponsible and left doubt about funding of abortion. He voted  for the second version because it IS fiscally responsible  and assures that abortions are not publicly funded. He stood beside a child with autism when he announced his support of the second version.   (http://www.cbo.gov/publications/collections/health.cfm)  

Of course insurance companies don’t like healthcare reform! It forces them to be humane. In a perfect world business would do the right thing… they would forgo that third billion in profit to be compassionate… they would recognize that LIFE is a right as proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence.      

Don’t take my word for it. Read through Renacci’s funders–

http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/can_give/2009_H0OH16097

Check out the limited position he holds on issues–

http://www.renacciforcongress.com/Issues/

Then, ask yourself– WHO does Renacci speak for?

For the sake of comparison– here is John Boccieri’s FEC filings:

http://www.fec.gov/DisclosureSearch/mapHSCandDetail.do?election_yr=2010&detailType=cand&cand_id=H8OH16058&category=searchCand&searchKeyword=BOCCIERI

*International members of the American Chamber of Commerce:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/worklife/travelcenter/resources/article40332.html

**Freedomworks:

http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/can_give/2009_H0OH16097





From the Mouth of Babes

5 10 2010

 

We voted yesterday. I picked my son up from school and we went together to the Board of Elections. After some great conversation with the lady at the poll, he took the e-pen and card and together we cast our vote. Since we were the only two there (besides the really nice lady) we were able to talk.

My son has met Frances Strickland– and likes her– so he was thrilled to vote for Ted Strickland for Governor. We’ve talked about the obstructionism in the Senate so he wanted to pick Fisher for Senate. And, when we got to the congressional candidates– he immediately marked John A. Boccieri and declared “That’s our friend!”

Vote Early! Vote Often! Vote Boccieri!





No Regrets

3 10 2010

Yesterday I went to a house party for Congressman John Boccieri. I like him. He has done a lot of good and is willing to keep on working for us– in spite of threats and lies told by his opponent… headaches caused by the republican party who refuse to do anything constructive… the Senate who can’t even discuss bills passed by the House… It must be a horribly frustrating job! I certainly wouldn’t want to do it!!

Congressman Boccieri talked about some of the challenges, and a lot of the good things he’s been able to do.  If you’ve read this blog you know that the passage of healthcare reform directly affected my family and for his vote I will always be thankful.

As he wrapped up and opened to questions, Congressman Boccieri said that he has no regrets. He is proud of all the bills he has voted for– or against and that he is working hard to continue working for Ohio’s 16th District.  He challenged us to have no regrets… should have worked harder, talked to more neighbors, donated more… when election night comes along.

I’m going to take him up on that challenge. I will work harder than I have been, re-examine our budget to see what more we can donate, and fight the good fight to keep this good man in office. Will you join me?





Where’s The Parade?

23 09 2010

Today it became illegal for children with developmental disabilities to be discriminated against by health insurance companies– Yes! Mr. Biden! This IS a big F*#@%ing deal!!

But, where is the parade? Families celebrate silently and politicians who voted for it shy away from the topic unless they are defending their vote… the President has taken 6 months to start talking about it in earnest and republicans are lying about it. 

Insurance companies are having tantrums and refusing to play– that gets the attention of the media. Republicans are proclaiming they will repeal healthcare reform– that gets the attention of the media.

But where are the families who benefit from this law? Why are newspapers burying the story on page 5 when full page covers were given to protests prior to passage? Why are politicians campaign websites missing the healthcare link under “issues”?  The silence is deafening.

MY SON HAS INSURANCE TODAY BECAUSE OF HEALTHCARE REFORM!! Children with developmental disabilities– autism, down syndrome ( Sarah, that includes your son!)– can no longer be discriminated against! Short of a cure for autism, or truely effective treatment,  the end to healthcare discrimination is the biggest thing that can be done for children with autism (Autism Speaks)! So– where’s the parade?

I call upon those who voted for this law (Sherrod Brown and John Boccieri– MY  SON’S representatives)– for families who spent years fighting for this day– for teachers, doctors,therapists and advocates of children with developmental disabilities– for the media who championed this law– CELEBRATE!   This IS a Big F*#@%ing Deal!!





Political Advocacy: Giving my son a voice

22 05 2010

About a year and a half ago my husband went back to school and we found ourselves needing to purchase private insurance.  It never occurred to me that my son who has autism would be denied on that basis– but, he was–by more companies that I can count. I got mad and started the fight for change.

I made phone calls, sent emails, crashed meetings where I knew my elected officials were going to be, wrote letters to the editor, and spoke out whenever I could find someone who would listen. I emailed all my friends and family members asking them to write letters asking for insurance reform… I fought for my kid! 

As proposed reform laws moved to the back burner in my home State, I moved on to advocating on a Federal level. I told my story over and over again. I watched, read and researched. I followed the progress of Healthcare Reform through House and Senate continuing to make calls, send emails asking for a YES vote…

One evening in March  I got a call from Organizing for America asking that my son and I stand with my Congressman as he announced his support of healthcare reform and promised a yes-vote. We were there when our efforts paid off. We were able to thank him in person for his support– for helping our son.

There are lots of things to advocate for– laws, funding; big-ticket, high-profile, high impact needs– and, ones that improve the lives of future generations as well as day to day needs our children have for normalcy– accomodations at the YMCA, IEPs, reasonable volume at the movies… The more we educate our communities and our Nation the lower the stigma and higher the accomodations.

We need to learn how to effectively advocate so that our time and our efforts have maximum effect. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Be polite. Your attitude will transfer to the cause you are advocating for. Remember that the person you’re talking to is usually not the person who is going to cast the vote and you want that person to give your cause a favorable slant when speaking with the vote-caster. Practice the Golden Rule.

2. Do your research! Know what you’re talking about before you dial. Back up your claims with statistics– and use them. I’ve always found it helpful to have a cheat-sheet in front of me.

3. Ask questions— How does Senator/Congressman/Mayor/Councilman so-and-so feel about (insert your cause here)? How are they planning to vote? Why or why not? Follow up their comments with your views.

4. Be honest. If you don’t know– say you don’t know and promise to find out– then get back to your public official.  This is actually a good thing because it gives you an excuse to call or write back.

5. Tell your story— it shouldn’t be a play-by-play– keep to the outline version.  Politicians needs examples of real people who benefit from the law being passed– or repealed. They are people like us– parents, business people, community members, vets, customers…

6. Know who you’re talking to. What is their history? Do they have kids? How have they voted on similar issues? Use the similarities between you and them as a hook. If they can relate they are more likely take up your cause.

7. Offer to help. I’ve always believed that if I’m going to ask someone to do something for me, I must be willing to help them get it done– and, support them when they put themselves on the line for us.

8. Be Persistent! Any changes, progress or set-back is a good excuse to make contact again.

9. Double Dip. Do it all– call, fax, write, email, get an appointment, cast your votes on Facebook’s Visible Vote, sign polls, contact organizations associated with your cause (Organizing for America, Autism Votes, etc.)

10. Build relationships. Get to know your official and his/her staff– and, let them get to know you. Volunteer, go to public and private events, send birthday cards– be creative.

Although it varies by person/office– generally speaking, a personal visit has the most weight followed by a snail-mail hand written letter, then phone call, then email or fax. You can– and should– ask the staff member you talk to what works best for them.

To get an appointment all you have to do is ask for one. It’s really pretty easy– call the scheduler in their office and set it up.  You can meet with your elected official at their local office during a home visit– or at their government office. Typically summer time is “downtime” and therefore the best chance to chat. When you do get an appointment– Be respectful of their time— if they spent an hour with each of us they wouldn’t have time to cast votes or see their kids.

Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated. Our elected officials are people like us whose power is that which we gave them. When you think of these people like that, it’s easy to talk to them. 

I sometimes take my son along when I go on visits or attend rallys and, I do believe that he needs to grow up understanding the power of the common man’s voice. He needs to understand the value of his vote. He needs to learn to ask for what he needs. However, parents must weigh privacy against impact and education. Many private citizens have had their lives torn apart by becoming involved. Personally, we haven’t had any negative experiences as a result of our very public involvement and for that I’m thankful– but, it’s important for each person/family to consider this potential downfall.

My Congressman, John Boccieri,  is up for re-election. Our family is volunteering and donating to his re-election campaign. It’s important to us to keep this man who, despite personal threats, voted for our son to get insurance.  It’s important to us to have representation who “gets it”.  Whether we had gone to Washington to stand with him as he made his announcement of support for healthcare reform, we would be supporting our Congressman because thanks to John Boccieri, my son will have insurance on October 1, 2010.

As parents we have a powerful, passionate voice– one that knows the daily struggles, one that knows our children’s needs. Let your voice be heard!





New Healthcare Law: GREAT for autism

2 04 2010

April is Autism Awareness Month and a time to talk about issues that Americans with autism and their families must face. Awkward social and language skills, sensory disintegration, misunderstandings perpetuated by movies like “Rainman,” parents’ guilt for wanting a cure that would change our children and the stigma of “imperfection” is only part of it– insurance companies discriminate against those with autism in a real and deliberate way.

Healthcare reform is personal for our family because our son has autism.

The Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act benefits Americans with autism not only by putting an end to “pre-existing conditions” and, in-effect, removing the term from our language but also provides for behavioral health treatments that are proven to have significant benefits for those with autism.

According to Autism Speaks, “…behavioral health treatment is included as part of the essential health benefits package required in certain health plans. Behavioral health treatments were added to ensure that people with autism are provided with insurance coverage of medically necessary, evidence-based behavioral treatments, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. The reconciliation bill will require the following health plans to offer at least the essential benefits package: (1) plans offered by state-based exchanges, through which individuals and small businesses can purchase coverage; and (2) plans offered in the individual and small group markets outside the exchange.”

While some say that this law doesn’t go far enough, it goes farther than any law has gone before in ending healthcare discrimination. This benefits not only children with autism but, middle aged men with heart conditions and grandmothers with diabetes.

Over the course of the past few weeks there have been significant threats made against our elected representatives because of their support of healthcare reform. These reprehensible threats have not been limited to adults who are public figures– their children have been threatened! Congressman Boccieri’s family is at risk because he stood up for our children– for the 1 in 70 boys born today with autism who cannot get healthcare insurance.

Now it’s our turn, the millions who benefit from John Boccieri’s personal and political sacrifices, to proudly stand with him because he believes, as we do, that pro-life doesn’t end at birth.