Category Archives: Current Events

Medicaid Block Granting is Going to Kill Us

Congressional Republicans recently introduced the American Health Care Act, or “TrumpCare,” a potential replacement for the ACA. This bill has the backing of Trump, Ryan, and other Republican leaders. The AHCA includes a proposal to convert Medicaid into a series of block grants as a way to save the government money on health coverage. Block grants are a type of federal funding that allocates a set amount to state governments to run programs like Medicaid. According to the Republicans, block grants will give more freedom to the states and allow more flexibility to be innovative. In theory, devolving more control to the states will allow local governments to more adequately identify which citizens need specific kinds of care. Unfortunately, these promises from the GOP don’t match the reality of what Medicaid block grants mean, especially for the low-income and disabled people who are dependent on Medicaid coverage to stay alive. … Continue Reading ››

How Kellyanne Conway Sits Doesn’t Matter

Recently, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway was photographed kneeling on the couch in the Oval Office, staring intently at her phone, as a crowd of dignified African American educational leaders in suits posed for a photo with President Trump. Some of the social media responses were genuinely funny, some were cruel, some posed serious concerns, and some were just plain ridiculous. But the overall picture they form is, not surprisingly, an unfairly judgmental one. Many commenters accused Conway of uncouthness and unladylike behavior. Many faulted Conway's upbringing. For example, one  comment I saw asked if she “even had a mother,” implying that anyone with parents would know better than to put their feet on the sofa. This is part of a much larger trend of judging human beings, particularly women, by their appearance and behavior at every moment. It's remarkable how much we believe we can tell about a person … Continue Reading ››

My Disability Does Not Make Me Too Dangerous to Own a Gun

“Just 4.5 grains- right there.” I stood next to my stepfather in his father’s garage, watching the scale as I measured gunpowder for the bullet cartridge we were assembling. While 9mm bullets can take more, this is the amount his father taught him when he was a kid. He helped me through assembling the bullet, the cartridge, and finally the primer. “If there’s ever an issue getting parts, this part is the part that will be hardest to source. You can reuse other parts, or make your own gun powder, but the primers aren’t reusable.” I didn’t grow up in a militia. This isn’t some cautionary tale. This is one of the basic rites of passage in my area: To have a family member train you in gun safety and use. It’s part of what it means to be an adult in Appalachian Pennsylvania. The day … Continue Reading ››

President Trump, There is no Autism Epidemic

I understand if it is hard to keep up with the news coming out of this White House. I don’t envy newsroom editors nor the White House Communications Office. With so much breaking news, you may have missed the episode this week where the President expressed his alarm with the growing rate of autism diagnoses. The President should be alarmed by what we have learned from the growing rate of autism diagnoses. As a former White House Presidential Appointee with a background of knowledge on both autism and how epidemics grow, I can tell you that he absolutely should be. But, it’s not for the reason that he thinks. On Tuesday, the President held a Parent-Teacher Conference Listening Session at the White House attended by Vice President Pence, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Senior White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway, and teachers and school administrators from across the country. One particular exchange … Continue Reading ››

ACLU Report on TSA SPOT Program Overlooks Risks for Disabled Travelers

On February 8, 2016, the ACLU came out with a study of more than 13,000 documents they received from a lawsuit leveled against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). What the ACLU discovered is that the TSA’s Screening Passengers By Observation Techniques (SPOT) program does not detect suspicious people or terrorists, is not based on any empirical scientific evidence, and is racially discriminatory. The SPOT program makes use of supposed Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs), which look at the nervous tics and behaviors of passengers making their way through crowded airports and try to find evidence of “stress, fear, and deception.” I read through the ACLU report and its associated lawsuit and had to agree: The TSA’s SPOT program was ineffectual at best and racially discriminatory at worst. There is one group of people that wasn’t mentioned in the ACLU’s report that is important for understanding how harmful the TSA’s program is: People … Continue Reading ››