Saturday, February 22, 2014

The CRPD and Senator Chambliss

Senator Chambliss, from Georgia, is on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Vice Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is retiring at the end of 2014. What do these facts have to do with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities( CRPD)? Several things come to mind.

First, Senator Chambliss' work in the area of intelligence both in the House and Senate give him a sense of the importance of credibility, accuracy, cooperation, and timeliness when dealing with partners on intelligence. He understands the importance of connections among facts and among nations. Could not the ratification of the CRPD help in these matters? Ratification would clearly help our standing on the world stage in many arenas including those impacted by intelligence. It would surely not harm, but likely enhance, our collaboration with others. If we were to not ratify the CRPD other nations would question our true position on disability and human rights. And, who's to say this would not extend to how other nations view our position on intelligence gathering? Perhaps they would anticipate and expect that we would put limits on our cooperation and intelligence gathering simply for political reasons.

Second, Senator Chambliss has spent a lot of time with military personnel and their families. He knows the sacrifices they make and he knows the help they need. He also most likely knows that many veterans organizations strongly support the ratification of the CRPD. He clearly knows that there is an easier path for military personnel and veterans who go overseas if the country they are visiting or stationed in is on the same footing with regard to disability related issues as the U.S. This common footing will be more likely once we ratify the CRPD. Senator Chambliss' positions and votes with regard to military personnel and veterans have been based on a strong commitment to them, not to some political position.

Third, since Senator Chambliss is retiring this year he is reflecting on what will shape his legacy. Surely he wants to be remembered as a thoughtful statesman, a results-oriented legislator, and a man committed to helping his constituents access opportunities that strengthen them, their communities, and the broader economy. Ratification of the CRPD will make the world a better place far into the future. New opportunities will open up for businesses and people with disabilities, including veterans, across the world.

We need Senator Saxby Chambliss on the side of ratification of the CRPD. His record would suggest that is where he should be. Please contact him, especially if you are from Georgia, and ask him to join in support of the ratification of the CRPD. If you are a veteran or member of the military please contact him and ask him to support the ratification of the CRPD. He cares. Help bring him to our side.

Here are his telephone numbers:

Washington D.C. Office: 202-224-3521
North Georgia Office: 770-763-9090
East Georgia Office:  706-650-1555
Middle Georgia Office:  478-741-1417
Toll free: 800-234-4208
South Georgia Office:  229-985-2112

Like him on Facebook and leave him a message (Saxby Chambliss).

Send him an email by going to and hit the "contact me" link.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Friday, February 21, 2014

CRPD: Two Suggestions Whose Time Has Come

Some Senators have single, substantive objections to the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Other Senators have not voiced either support or objection because, as they point out, they have not seen the text of a draft resolution on the CRPD. We can work with these two circumstances. We can turn things around, build momentum, and achieve ratification within a reasonable amount of time.

First, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez, has a good sense of who the single-issue Senators are. I urge the Chairman to ask each of these single-issue Senators to give him draft language on that one issue. Perhaps, the Chairman could ask those Senators with the same single issue to submit something jointly to him. Another option -- the Chairman could choose to reach out to one single-issue Senator on each issue for draft language just to save time. Either way, if agreement is reached on even one issue, then that's one more valuable vote. These single-issue Senators, to whom the Chairman reaches out, need not be on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Second, once the Chairman has a draft of the CRPD resolution, he should share it with everyone, Senators on and off of his committee. The single-issue Senators, who contributed to it, should be recognized in what is circulated.

Transparency, openness, and evidence of partnership are tools that will help us get to ratification.

These two suggestions should be embraced with vigor right now. They are worth trying. The status quo is in need of a jolt.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The CRPD and Conventional Thinking

No one who has read any of my earlier posts doubts where I stand on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I am for it, and the sooner the better. The latest conventional thinking is that it is better if a mark up and floor action occur after the primaries and the Supreme Court Decision in the Bond case. Huh? Does anyone think that politicians who win out over Tea Party candidates will be more inclined to support ratification? Or, that if they lose to such candidates they will be more likely to support ratification? The former will want to shore up their base. The latter will be too depressed to care. As for the Bond case, it was absurd that the federal government got involved in a love triangle that should have been left to the state. By the time the Supreme Court rules, carves new legal precedents or chooses not to, and the CRPD opponents write legally convoluted arguments to connect it to the CRPD, we will be into the summer recess and all politicians will be campaigning for the mid-term elections. Does anyone really think the CRPD will be on ANYBODY's radar by then?

Conventional thinking also says that the time we have till the end of June can be put to good use -- sharing lots of personal stories connected to the CRPD and working on getting to 67 Senators or more for a successful vote. Finally, conventional thinking says we must keep the pressure on the Senators -- show them we have lots of momentum. The problem is momentum builds when people see progress. It is impossible to build or sustain momentum when there is a strategically calculated lull or vacuum.

Tony Coelho has said, "Get mad!" Well, maybe he's right. Waiting till July and making contact with Senators, knowing that nothing will happen till then, assumes that we are stupid or as the Brits would say, "One sandwich short at a picnic."

Thank you.
Common Grounder