Americans with Disabilities Act anniversary thread

The Americans with Disabilities Act became U.S. law 20 years ago this week. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, the law's key author and sponsor, keynoted an anniversary celebration in Iowa City yesterday. He called for further action, in particular personal attendant services for those who need them. But there's no question that the ADA improved the lives of millions of Americans. As Harkin told the Cedar Rapids Gazette a few days ago,

“Before the ADA, life was very different for folks in Iowa and across the country,” Harkin said. “Discrimination was both commonplace and accepted.”

After 20 years with ADA, “we recognize that people with disabilities — like all people — have unique abilities, talents and aptitudes,” he said, “and America is better, fairer and richer when we make full use of those gifts.”

However, Harkin sees the need to do more to help people with disabilities live outside of institutions and to help them gain employment.

I remember when Congress was debating this law, and some Republicans warned that new regulations on businesses would wreck the economy and spark endless lawsuits. However, President George H. W. Bush's administration ultimately decided not to go to war against this bill, and compromise language exempting small businesses from some requirements satisfied most Congressional Republicans. The final version of the ADA passed the Senate on a 91 to 6 vote in July 1990. Most Republicans joined all the Democrats present in voting yes.

Bipartisan support for ADA continued when Harkin worked with Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah to "preserve the intent of the ADA after several court rulings weakened its standards." The ADA amendments act of 2008 passed by voice vote in the House and unanimous consent in the Senate. Last week a Senate resolution recognizing the ADA's 20th anniversary and celebrating "the advance of freedom and the opening of opportunity" this law made possible passed by a 100 to 0 vote. That indicates how far out of the mainstream Rand Paul is; the Republican Senate candidate from Kentucky believes the ADA goes too far and is unfair to business owners.

Harkin became an advocate for people with disabilities in part because his brother Frank was deaf. Probably most Americans have at least one friend or relative who has directly benefited from the ADA. The accessibility guidelines for curbs, doors and entrances have allowed my wheelchair-bound friend to take her son to the park, to preschool or to a coffee shop. Before the ADA, a mother in her situation would have been unable to enjoy those things.

This thread is for any comments about the ADA or continuing barriers faced by people with disabilities.

Rand Paul’s Kentucky Problems

Most of Repub Senate nominee Rand Paul’s “gaffes” have been over national issues – calling the President un-American for criticizing BP, attacking the Civil Rights Act, presenting himself as a board-certified doctor when the board is pretty much just his family, etc. As Tip O’Neil said, though, all politics is local – and Paul has just as many problems with Kentucky politics as he does national politics.

Democrat Jack Conway’s campaign sent out the following email today, highlighting Paul’s attacks on local farmers and his lack of knowledge about Kentucky agriculture and history:

According to the Courier-Journal:

"Renewing his attack on federal farm subsidies, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul told a Kentucky Farm Bureau audience Thursday that three agriculture companies have received a total of more than $1 billion in aid…But, in fact, the 'companies' are all cooperatives that are owned by thousands of farmers. And the federal payments have gone to the farmers who own them over the past 15 years - as the Paul campaign later acknowledged in an interview."

In fact, Paul's spokesperson Jesse Benton told the C-J: "I don't know what a co-op is."…

Last week, in Details Magazine's profile, Paul's ignorance of the state he is running to represent in the Senate was once again apparent when the reporter - a non-Kentuckian - asked about the significance of Harlan County in history:

"'I don't know,' he [Paul] says in an elusive accent that's not quite southern and not quite not-southern. The town of Hazard is nearby, he notes: 'It's famous for, like, The Dukes of Hazzard.'"
 
The reporter did a little digging and found out Paul was wrong: "Harlan County, Kentucky, it turns out, is famous not for the Duke boys, or for the Hatfields and McCoys, as Rand Paul speculated, but for its violent coal battles."

This follows an earlier AP story that highlighted Paul’s growing unpopularity with Kentucky’s poor. Paul quoted Soviet materials to make a bogus point about American poverty while bashing programs incredibly important to the state’s citizens:

Paul's recent remarks at his first forum with Democratic opponent Jack Conway stirred some anger in impoverished pockets of Kentucky, where as many as a third of residents live in poverty.

The libertarian-leaning Paul addressed the issue of poverty by alluding to a decades-old, anti-American propaganda film by the Soviet government designed to criticize the free-market system…

Charles Hardin, a Democratic judge-executive from eastern Kentucky's Magoffin County, said Monday that Paul's comments rubbed him the wrong way and he criticized Paul for relying on "anecdotal tales."

Two polls released in the last two days show this to be a close race: CN|2/Braun Research has Paul leading 41-38, and Rasmussen has Paul leading 49-41. I’d never heard of Braun Research before, but their methodology seems more sound than Rasmussen’s – they use live interviewers rather than phone buttons and a three-day frame rather than one day. One encouraging CN|2 finding: "Conway scored higher with women than Paul did, 42.5% to 35.9%."

To help defeat Paul and elect a true progressive, help Conway out at our ActBlue page.

Oil Spill Tracker

If you haven't seen this before, it's a pretty cool widget from the PBS NewsHour. It also comes in a version with the six live video feeds:

The good news is that BP, not that they can be trusted to tell us this kind of information but whatever, is now hoping to have the spill contained as early as the day after tomorrow (Monday) and relieved within two weeks. They've been ahead of schedule thanks to sheer luck so far, but are now intentionally speeding things up and multi-tasking - perhaps dangerously so - to take advantage of a short window of good weather.

In other BP-related news, Repub Senate candidate Rand Paul continues to be an uninformed apologist for BP.

Paul said Thursday that BP should pay for the Gulf cleanup, but that [the] Obama administration's sharp rhetoric could help imperil the company.

"I don't want them to go out of business when they can't pay for the mess, and that's what that kind of rhetoric could do," he said. "I want BP to be in business so it can afford to pay for the mess."

BP said this week it has spent $3.12 billion so far in response to the spill, including attempting to contain oil, paying claims and reimbursing the U.S. and local governments. By comparison, BP posted $17 billion in profit from its vast operations around the globe last year....

[Democrat Jack Conway, that state's attorney general, said,] "Accountability is not going on national TV and saying that it's un-American to go after British Petroleum. Accountability is not having a world view where you think the government basically should never touch business whatsoever."

Help Conway out at ActBlue.

Oil Spill Tracker

If you haven't seen this before, it's a pretty cool widget from the PBS NewsHour. It also comes in a version with the six live video feeds:

The good news is that BP, not that they can be trusted to tell us this kind of information but whatever, is now hoping to have the spill contained as early as the day after tomorrow (Monday) and relieved within two weeks. They've been ahead of schedule thanks to sheer luck so far, but are now intentionally speeding things up and multi-tasking - perhaps dangerously so - to take advantage of a short window of good weather.

In other BP-related news, Repub Senate candidate Rand Paul continues to be an uninformed apologist for BP.

Paul said Thursday that BP should pay for the Gulf cleanup, but that [the] Obama administration's sharp rhetoric could help imperil the company.

"I don't want them to go out of business when they can't pay for the mess, and that's what that kind of rhetoric could do," he said. "I want BP to be in business so it can afford to pay for the mess."

BP said this week it has spent $3.12 billion so far in response to the spill, including attempting to contain oil, paying claims and reimbursing the U.S. and local governments. By comparison, BP posted $17 billion in profit from its vast operations around the globe last year....

[Democrat Jack Conway, that state's attorney general, said,] "Accountability is not going on national TV and saying that it's un-American to go after British Petroleum. Accountability is not having a world view where you think the government basically should never touch business whatsoever."

Help Conway out at ActBlue.

Does Rand Paul Want To Abandon NATO?

A new Rasmussen poll shows Democrat Jack Conway just seven points behind Repub Rand Paul in KY-SEN, 49-42. The news of this flimsy lead comes on the heels of a failed money bomb attempt where Paul raised far less than he had been able to do before his comments regarding the Civil Rights Act and the BP oil slick.

Paul just doesn’t know when to stop digging. From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul said Wednesday that the United States needs to continue rolling back its defenses in Europe and allow counties there to foot the cost of defending the continent.

"You know, it's been 70 years since World War II and I think that the expense for defending Europe really should be borne by Europeans and there should probably be changes as to how many troops" are deployed there, Paul said in response to a question on Germany on WHAS radio's Mandy Connell show.

First of all, though we haven’t “defended” Europe in decades, doing so would be part of our NATO treaty obligations, and asking NATO to step up its commitment to our defense in Afghanistan makes this the wrong time to criticize our role in the organization. Second, many if not most of our installations in Europe are about deployment and logistics, not European defense. As the Courier-Journal article goes on to point out, Germany is home to “Landsthul Regional Medical Center, the largest American hospital outside the United States and the destination of seriously injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Either Rand Paul is suggesting we abandon NATO, which would make sense given his father’s criticism of the UN, or he doesn’t know a thing about policy but is still willing to run off his mouth, which would make sense given Sarah Palin’s endorsement of her.

Paul’s opponent, Jack Conway, has been a part of our Act Blue page since before the primaries. It’s almost as easy to support him as it is to oppose Paul.

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