Friday, August 1, 2014


This is my 100th blog post.

By contacting Senators back home during the August recess in great numbers we can increase the volume on the CRPD. Doing so has value but we must remember that is a tactic not strategy.

We must be strategic in August.  It is very important in August that people, who know Senators personally and who also support the CRPD, talk to Senators. People in great numbers, who also happen to have disabilities, and big signs saying, "VOTE YES ON THE CRPD", make a great photo op or back drop, but the most important thing will be quiet conversations between senators and people they know.

People who support the CRPD, know Senators personally, especially veterans and business people, are the ones who can have those quiet conversations. Again, with Senators, not staff.

The message that these people deliver is also very important. The message must be fact-based. That means numbers and information from official documents. Information shared shouldn't sound like talking points. That means it must include something about the Senator or things that are important to him. Three areas that will probably have the most traction generally are: the value of the CRPD to veterans who choose to go overseas for any reason; business opportunities that will be gained if the CRPD were ratified; and U.S. standing in the world improving, if ratification were to happen, on a whole range of human rights issues.

Other things that are part of an effective strategy are -- a compilation of information gathered; timestamps on each piece of information acquired; a centralized place to keep it; a willingness to share it; and, most importantly, a willingness to gather it in the first place. If our August strategy includes these components we will more likely have a shot at a ratification vote in September.

I know we have learned a lot and done more in the last months, especially July, to secure ratification of the CRPD. The biggest lesson we learned is that we did not do enough, the right things, or a combination thereof to get a powerful vote in July.

So now we have a chance to be honest with ourselves and be smart over the next five weeks -- the Senate will be back in session on September 8, 2014. Then, the Senate will work for just three weeks, and go out again to campaign for the fall elections. If the Senate chooses to return to Washington, D.C. after the elections, called a "lame duck" session, we need to remember that Republicans have a strong aversion to voting on treaties in a lame duck session.

All this means we have only three weeks in September to get a vote on ratification. And if the Senate were to have a Republican majority as the result of the November 2014 elections, we probably would not see any action on ratification through 2016.

Bottom line is we must go all out in August 2014. If you are not someone who knows a Senator personally, please check out my two blog posts on six degrees of separation. Better yet, buy my book --

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The CRPD and the Gentlemen from Tennessee

Yesterday in the Washington Post Dan Balz had an interesting article on the statesmen, who have held or hold statewide office, in Tennessee. The trigger for the article was the recent funeral of Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee and the pending primary challenge faced by Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Balz and the people he interviewed claim that Tennessee has a long legacy of electing Republicans, who work across party lines, endorse consensus building, and recognize that governing, not just speech-making, is part of the job. The men that Baltz included in the list, as similar to Howard Baker, are Tennesseans who practice these principles -- the current Governor, Bill Haslam, Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), and Bill Frist, former Senate Majority Leader, also my former boss.

Senator Bill Frist supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). If you read his piece you learn compelling reasons to support CRPD ratification from a Republican in the Howard Baker tradition.

In the Balz piece one statement from Governor Haslam stands out. Haslam, who was mayor of Knoxville before being elected governor in 2010, got a start in politics as an intern in Baker’s Senate office. One of his jobs was to reply to constituents about Baker’s support for the Panama Canal Treaty. The letters, he recalled, ran 100-1 against the treaty. “I was sitting there thinking, ‘Why in the world is our guy for this?’” he said. “It was actually a great lesson. ... He honestly thought it was the best thing for the country.”

I suspect if Governor Haslam were a Senator he would vote for ratification of the CRPD. Ratifying the CRPD is certainly in the best interest of our country.

Senators Alexander and Corker, having been characterized as being in the Howard Baker mold, have a powerful opportunity in the next few hours – urge the Senate leadership to hold a vote on the CRPD tomorrow. Talking about getting the right kind of attention. Talking about doing the right thing, given the opposition and timidity of others. Wow. They would have 54 million new friends. They would be saying -- facts not fear, facts not pandering, and facts not political posturing -- are the things that inspired them to act in a fine, long-witnessed, Tennessean tradition.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CRPD: Why There Should Be a Senate Floor Vote this Week

We need to know how where each Senator stands.

We need to recognize that there will never be a better time for a Senate floor vote on the CRPD.

The opposition wins if there is no vote this week.

There will never be greater support for the CRPD than we coordinated this time.

The general public, the media, Democrats and Republicans see other issues as being more worthy of their time and attention than ratification of the CRPD.

Messaging matters. All messages have been delivered. Those that want to avoid/stop action on the CRPD have had enough traction to keep us from 67 public endorsements of the CRPD.

The CRPD ratification leadership team should be camping out in Majority Leader Reid's office demanding a floor vote.

The Democrat leadership in Congress should be camping out in Majority Leader Reid's office demanding a floor vote.

The Republicans in the Senate, who support the CRPD, should be camping out in Majority Leader Reid's office demanding a floor vote.

The Republicans in the Senate, who oppose the treaty, should be camping out in Majority Leader Reid's office demanding a floor vote.

The business leaders, who support the CRPD, should be be camping out in Majority Leader Reid's office demanding a floor vote.

The veterans groups' leaders, who support the treaty, should be camping out in Majority Leader Reid's office demanding a floor vote.

The rest of us need to call Reid's office demanding a vote (202) 224-3542.

U.S. democracy is a unique creature. It works if we are engaged. We can live with the results of a floor vote this week. The uncertainty of no action this week is not an outcome we should accept.

Thank you.
Patricia Morrissey