Archive for the ‘Personalities’ Category

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Special Thanks from the Deaf Democrats

July 9, 2009

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It has been a month since the Deaf Democrats blog published a special tribute to Marcella M. Meyer, the last of true Deaf warriors. The outpouring has been rather huge, and this tribute became our most popular posting, with the highest number of hits ever for a single posting. This goes to show the kind of impact Marcella M. Meyer has had on our lives.

Ever since the special tribute came out, a memorial service honoring Marcella M. Meyer took place at the Greater Los Angeles Agency for the Deaf (GLAD) on Sunday, June 14th, with approximately 350 people in attendance. Furthermore, the Los Angeles Times newspaper ran two obituaries on her, one in the regular obituary section and the other one as a feature story published after her memorial service.

As further evidence of Marcella M. Meyer’s widespread reach to people from different walks of life, the Los Angeles City Council proclaimed this past June 14th (the day of her memorial service) as Marcella M. Meyer Day throughout the whole city. On June 23rd, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors closed its meeting with a tribute to Marcella and issued a proclamation in her honor. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is currently working on a special feature honoring her to be included in the next NAD NEWS issue.

The family of Marcella M. Meyer has been deeply touched by all this and some family members have not realized the extent of Marcella’s influence until now. The Deaf Democrats editors want to thank everyone for expressing their sentiments through various avenues. It is still a challenge for many of us to comprehend a world without Marcella M. Meyer; however, we can take great comfort in knowing that our lives have been made richer by her impact on us all!

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 250 WORDS!
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors

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MARCELLA M. MEYER, The Last of True Deaf Warriors

June 8, 2009

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The day of May 26, 2009 brought another milestone into the history of the Los Angeles Deaf Community and everywhere else, with the passing of Marcella Mae Meyer. As one of the founders and as the CEO of the Greater Los Angeles Agency of the Deaf (GLAD), Marcella brought upon incredible changes affecting the lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people everywhere.

Affectionately known as MMM, Marcella M. Meyer deserves this special tribute from the Deaf Democrats editors because of her steadfast behind-the-scenes support of this blog. Marcella had been a long-time supporter of the Democratic Party and held the distinction of being the first Deaf delegate to the California Democratic Party convention. Another compelling reason is that the current chapter in our Deaf history would not have been made possible without Marcella breaking barriers in a very GUTSY manner.

Marcella M. Meyer, (1925-2009), now belongs to a group of legendary Deaf leaders who stood at a pivotal period in our community history, leaders such as Frederick C. Schreiber, Don Pettingil, Ed Carney, T.J. O’Rourke, Jerry Jordan, Frank Bowie, Boyce Williams, etc. This group led the Deaf Community at a watershed point when civil rights, services and access came flooding into our community. One of Marcella’s enduring legacies stemmed from her creating the Greater Los Angeles Agency of the Deaf, Inc. (GLAD), using a concept derived from a Leadership Training Program position paper at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). There at GLAD, Marcella M. Meyer reigned supreme for 24 years.

Marcella M. Meyer used the GLAD platform to bombard the world with legislative and social changes. Her favorite means of bully-pulpiting were her renowned feature, Marcella’s Musings, in the GLAD News magazine, and at GLAD Council meetings and staff meetings. She provided a true and fine example of the famous conventional wisdom: Whatever happens in California, the rest of the nation will follow.

Among Ms. Meyer’s early victories was winning a legal battle for the right to sit on a jury, a precedent picked up by the rest of the nation; another victory involved the legislation requiring telephone companies to impose surcharges on all consumers to establish a telephone access fund. This resulted in both a statewide relay service (California Relay Service) and a free TTY equipment distribution program, with both models being copied by other states.

One of Marcella M. Meyer’s most colossal battles brought changes to the sign language interpreting evaluation systems. This all began when she challenged the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and its interpreter evaluation process by establishing a GLAD interpreter evaluation system. Her creation was adopted by the California Association of the Deaf (CAD) and then by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). This process evolved with RID and NAD merging their evaluation systems into one, now known as National Interpreting Certification (NIC) system. These are only a few examples of Marcella’s achievements.

Also, one can say that Marcella M. Meyer was the very original queen of social justice, as she had the foresight to set up innovative programs dealing with issues that no one dared to touch — issues such as mental health, substance abuse, women’s issues, HIV/AIDS, smoking cessation, to name a few. More often than not, the issues and practices that she advocated would end up becoming buzz words or concepts in the mainstream society. One cannot help wonder where she got all her insights into the needs of our community and the world. Marcella herself was the epitome of this adage: A good leader leads people to where they want to go. A great leader leads people to places where they feel uncomfortable going.

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An excerpt from the GLAD News magazine
upon Marcella M. Meyer’s retirement…

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Marcella M. Meyer was such a trailblazer that she left a transforming impact on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. However, all her efforts and victories did not come without blood, sweat and tears. Her brash manner in creating social changes oftentimes ruffled feathers everywhere she went, as she seemed impatient with conventional methods and would rather see concrete results in the shortest time possible. An example of the legacy of her driving force was the acquisition of the current GLAD headquarters / community center at a historical landmark building in a Los Angeles suburb.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri during the Roaring 20’s, Marcella M. Meyer grew up and lived in a world where job opportunities for Deaf people were limited to manual labor such as printing, dry-cleaning, factory work, housecleaning, etc. Also, Marcella’s life paralleled that of the 20th century American history, being a factory worker during the Second World War and holding several different jobs during the booming postwar economy. Additionally, Marcella was one of the people who contributed to the creation of the postwar baby boomer generation by bearing three hearing daughters, with her first husband. During the 1960s, after going through two marriages, she took her daughters to California to start a new life which included another marriage, this time to Lenny Meyer, a teacher at Selaco High School in Downey, California.

Nowhere in Marcella M. Meyer’s life story up to this point was there any indication of the greatness she would achieve later in life, the qualities that would propel her to national and international stages. However, a close examination on the latter part of her life shows that the tipping point most likely came from her three daughters. They got involved in social issues of the day and causes such as the women’s liberation movement, and they brought a social awakening and political awareness to their mother. The rest was HERSTORY!!

Of all her achievements, Marcella M. Meyer often said that her greatest accomplishment was the raising of her three daughters – Jamalee Plank, Coleen Ashly and Michele Balfe. This statement of Marcella’s is not too surprising because of her renowned mothering instincts which she also shared with the Deaf Community. These days, stories from countless Deaf women and men abound about her incredible mentorship which included her pearly words of wisdom, her earthy and sometimes bawdy sense of humor, along with barrels of tough love!

Marcella’s daughters have taken on her superb mothering instincts while raising Marcella’s five grandchildren. Now some of her grandchildren are following Marcella’s example in providing active public service, including a granddaughter becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), a grandson in the military, and an attorney granddaughter who recently argued before the Ohio State Supreme Court.

Marcella M. Meyer was one amazing woman who rose to the challenges of her times and who responded in a splendid manner and turned our community upside down. To give her our due honor and to remember her with reverence, a memorial service will be conducted at the Greater Los Angeles Agency for the Deaf Headquarters (2222 Laverna) on Sunday, June 14th, 2009, starting at 2 p.m. Also, you can read her obituaries in two newspapers, Los Angeles Times and Kansas City Star.

(Editor’s note: After the memorial service honoring Marcella M. Meyer at GLAD, the Los Angeles Times ran another obituary, this time with a feature story on her.)

To Marcella M. Meyer, the last of true Deaf Warriors, we doubt if we will ever see the likes of you again. We shall miss you TERRIBLY!

(Written by Christine “CB” Buchholz and Vikee Waltrip)

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Marcella M. Meyer with her daughters —
Coleen Ashly, Michele Balfe and Jamalee Plank

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We at the
Deaf Democrats blog encourage you to visit the condolence book below and add in your comments.
(If you don’t see the condolence book,
click on “# comments” below to open it.)
In observance of our famous tradition,
please keep your comments to 350 words.
Yes, 350 words instead of 250 words this time! Thanks!

And long live Marcella M. Meyer, through each one of us!!

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Where is the October Surprise?

October 25, 2008

With all the fast-breaking political news on a daily basis these days, one question keeps looming — where is the October surprise? This term usually keeps everyone – including the candidates, their campaign staff, reporters and whoever else – on their toes.

A classic American political term, “October surprise” refers to a news event that can impact the outcome of an election, particularly one for the presidency. This term derives from the fact that elections are held in November, and any event occurring during October has a great potential to swing votes. These October events, as history has shown, can be either manufactured or as occurring beyond anyone’s control.

The October surprise first emerged in October 1968 during the presidential race between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. The incumbent Democratic President Lyndon Johnson announced a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam, at a time when polls showed the Republican candidate Nixon in a comfortable lead. Johnson explained that progress had been made in the peace negotiations and he believed that the war would be over before the election in November. Well, the war did not end, but this announcement almost erased Nixon’s lead, down to only 500,000 popular votes over Humphrey on Election Day.

Four years later, when President Richard Nixon raced against Senator George McGovern, his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made a startling announcement that “peace was at hand” with North Vietnam, due to a major breakthrough in the Paris peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese. With the help of this announcement, President Nixon defeated McGovern by a 20-point popular vote margin in one of the largest landslides in American history. The irony of this announcement was that the war continued until 1975, three years later, only after Nixon resigned from office due to the Watergate scandal.

Eight years later (1980), Democratic President Jimmy Carter attempted to create an October surprise by organizing a commando mission into Iran to rescue the American embassy hostages held there, a mission that collapsed when several helicopters crashed into each other, killing some commandoes. Then the Iranian government came out with its own October surprise, that the hostages would not be released until after the American election, a surprise that favored the Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. The hostages were eventually released, on the day of Reagan’s inauguration. This fueled suspicions that Reagan himself might have made a deal with the Iranians prior to the election, suspicions that have never been proven or disproved to this day.

The 1992 presidential election was overshadowed by an October surprise when Caspar Weinberger, former President Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, for participating in the transfer of missiles to Iran and then lying to the investigators about his role in this transfer. This announcement jeopardized President George H.W. Bush’s re-election chances, losing to Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas. The Republicans angrily accused the Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh over the timing of the indictment for political purposes. On Christmas Eve, before leaving the White House, President Bush pardoned Weinberger several days before his trial was scheduled to begin.

A few days before the November 2000 election, a Fox News reporter discovered an old report that Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush had been arrested for drunk driving in Maine in 1976. Bush held a press conference immediately to confirm this incident, resulting in his poll standings being affected greatly. However, this only led up to a very hotly-contested presidential race that ended up in the Supreme Court deciding in his favor against Vice President Al Gore.

In the 2004 presidential election, two October surprises came on the scene. On October 29, the Arabic news agency Al Jazeera aired a video of the terrorist Osama bin Laden who claimed, “Your security does not lie in the hands of Kerry, Bush, or al-Qaeda… Your security is in your own hands.” This is believed to have helped President Bush’s campaign as it thrust the war on terrorism back into the public eye.

The second 2004 October surprise took place on a 60 Minutes broadcast with this remark: “Prince Bandar enjoys easy access to the Oval Office. His family and the Bush family are close. And Woodward told us that Bandar has promised the president that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election to ensure the US economy is strong on Election Day.” In other words, this promise from the Saudi prince helped deliver a Bush victory.

The most recent October surprise occurred in the last national election two years ago, again through two different events — North Korea’s underground test of a nuclear weapon and the other event being the Mark Foley scandal, in which the Republican congressman resigned over sexual computer messages with underage congressional pages. The Foley scandal broke on September 28, 2006 and dominated the news in early October.

ELECTION YEAR 2008

This year has been rather unprecedented in terms of record-breaking fundraising efforts and voluminous news events, so much events that media pundits are still filtering to see if an October surprise, one or several, has already taken place. On the surface, one can say that it is the economy on the brink of collapse, or the government bailout, which effectively nationalized our financial institutions in the socialist fashion. What about Sarah Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe makeover? Joe the Plumber? A McCain campaign worker lying about being beaten up by an Obama supporter? Or is there a real October surprise still waiting to happen?? But then again, we may not see one in during the month of this October.

Looking back to the last election cycle, news came out that the Saddam Hussein trial verdict would be rendered on November 5, 2006, just two days before the U.S. midterm elections, leading Tom Engelhardt of liberal magazine The Nation to dub it the “November Surprise.” Maybe we ought to wait for a “November surprise” instead of an “October surprise”??

Will it be October? Or November?? Still holding my breath…

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 250 WORDS!
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors

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Be proud of who you are…

March 11, 2008

by Bryen

I’m a Deaf man.  I also have Usher Syndrome, thus making me a Deaf-Blind man.  As a person, I’m proud of who I am.  I like who I am, and what I represent in the environment surrounding me.  My Deafness, my Deaf-Blindness later in life are all part of the building blocks that make me Bryen.

When I meet people, people know that I am Deaf.  It’s an undeniable truth, and one that I would never, ever want to deny.  It is what makes me Bryen.

So, I’m greatly puzzled by the reaction of the Obama campaign to statements made by Geraldine Ferraro, the first major female Vice-Presidential candidate in modern political history.  She stated, “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman he would not be in this position.”

For some reason, this angered the Obama campaign, instead of pleasing them.

You cannot deny that Obama is African-American.  You cannot deny that Hillary Clinton is Female.  And you cannot deny that each of those qualities helped the respective candidate.

I find part of Obama’s appeal is the fact that he is an inspirational African-American who has overcome the odds of prejudice to become within reach of becoming leader of the Free World.  I find the same is equally true of Clinton, a Female who is within reach of becoming leader of the Free World as well.

I find these to be qualities.  Their experiences as an African-American and as a Female is what helped make them who they are today.  Just as my Deaf Culture is what helps make me who I am today.  I rejoice in who I am.

Ferraro made another statement today responding to David Axelrod’s call to have her ejected from the Clinton Campaign.  “Let me also say in 1984 – and if I have said it once, I have said it 20, 60, 100 times – in 1984, if my name was Gerard Ferraro instead of Geraldine Ferraro, I would never have been the nominee for vice president.”

I couldn’t agree with her more.  I remember the rush and thrill, as a young boy, attending a Ferraro rally in 1984 in Evanston, Illinois.  I was witnessing a defining moment in history.

As each of us evaluates and determines which candidate we cast our vote for, we examine every quality of that candidate.  Every aspect, every life-defining moment, every experience.   There is no way that your race, gender, religion, physical abilities, political affiliation doesn’t define who you are today.

Barack Obama is African-American.  Hillary Clinton is Female.  What a wonderful moment in history we are witnessing here.  Can’t we please rejoice this fact instead of being angry at those who have pointed this out?

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 200 WORDS!
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors

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Deaf Man Runs for U.S. Senate!!

February 29, 2008

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THIS JUST IN — We the DEAF DEMOCRATS editors got a forwarded e-mail message from one of our readers, and it opened like this:

“David Wylie is running for KY Senator for 2008! He graduated from Ohio School for the Deaf in 1988.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!”

As this reader pointed out, it was not certain which party in Kentucky David Wylie was running as a candidate for. Nevertheless, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to you, David Wylie!! You can read more about him at David Wylie for Senate.

Are there any other Deaf & Hard of Hearing candidates running for office? Do let us know!!

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 200 WORDS!
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors

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SHOCKER! The Wicked Witch of the Right Wing Endorses Hillary!!

February 2, 2008

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by CB Buchholz

Numerous media outlets and Internet bloggers are buzzing over the fact that Ann Coulter came out in support of Hillary Clinton, a Democratic contender, over John McCain!! Yes, ANN COULTER, the very same blonde Ann Coulter who has been spitting out venom across the American political landscape in the past several years. Ms. Coulter announced her endorsement while appearing on the Hannity and Colmes Show, a renowned conservative TV talk show, on Thursday, January 31st.

With Alan Colmes interviewing her, Ann dropped the bombshell, saying she preferred Hillary Clinton to John McCain. Flabbergasted, Colmes asked her if she was serious about voting for Hillary, and deadpanned, she said YES! Some of the reasons she explained:

“I will campaign for her if it’s McCain…

“…because John McCain is not only bad for Republicanism–which he definitely is–he’s bad for the country…

“Hillary is absolutely more conservative. Moreover, she lies less than John McCain, she’s smarter than John McCain. When she’s caught shamelessly lying, at least the Clintons know they’ve been caught lying. McCain is so stupid he doesn’t even know he’s been caught…”

With such comments as these, that’s why many jaws are dropping these days! In case you wonder why we the DEAF DEMOCRATS editors call Ann Coulter the “Wicked Witch of the Right Wing”, here is what she is famous or infamous for…

She called Muslims “ragheads.”

She recommended poisoning Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens — “We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens’ crème brulee.”

She proposed a “New McCarthyism,” explaining that the entire Harvard faculty should be fired for being traitors and that liberal books should be burned.

After Bill O’Reilly, a conservative TV talk-show host suggested the U.S. might need to pull out troops from Iraq, she disagreed and wrote, “The invasion of Iraq has gone fabulously well.”

At one time, she called Senator John Edwards a “faggot.” Another time she wished Senator John Edwards would be “killed in a terrorist assassination plot.” This provoked a counter-attack from Elizabeth Edwards, his wife, who called in the MSNBC Hardball show that Ann Coulter appeared on and confronted her before a national TV audience.

Last year, Senator Hillary Clinton accused Ann Coulter of making a “vicious, mean-spirited attack” on outspoken 9/11 widows whom Ms. Coulter described as “self-obsessed” and “enjoying their husbands’ deaths.” Coulter also called these four New Jersey widows “The Witches of East Brunswick,” after the town where two of them lived in.

Her new book is coming out now – “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans!”

Now you get the picture of who Ann Coulter is… This explains why her endorsement of Senator Hillary Clinton came as a huge shocker! Our Deaf eyes find all this very suspicious… Is Ann Coulter playing the “Weakest Link” game? What we mean is that she may have viewed Hillary as the weakest of the Democratic candidates and therefore would make it easy for any Republican candidate to trounce in the November presidential election… Thus she made this endorsement in order to make the Democrats vote for Hillary during the primary season and make her the Democratic nominee. This is our thinking…

We will love to hear what you Deaf and Hard of Hearing voters have to say about this. Is Ann Coulter’s endorsement sincere or just another example of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” (Hillary Clinton’s famous phrase)??

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 200 WORDS
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors

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The Kennedy Factor

January 28, 2008

by CB Buchholz

Today, Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island came forward with Caroline Kennedy to embrace and endorse Senator Barack Obama in his campaign to secure the Democratic presidential nomination. Our Deaf eyebrows are raising big-time!! Will this Kennedy Factor help or hinder Barack Obama?

Right now the media is buzzing over the Obama endorsement from several members of a prominent American dynasty while some other family members (former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) have already endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton. This opens up speculation over whether there is a “split” within the dynasty, to which Kathleen Kennedy Townsend responded on MSNBC News today saying anyone should come participate in their family dinner discussion so to see how much disagreement there was within the family, just like any other “normal family.”

As the media reports it, one of several reasons the Kennedys came out today was to try to salvage the damage the Clintons caused in the past couple of weeks over the racial issue, starting right before the Nevada caucus. It was not only the Kennedys but some other prominent Democrats, including John Kerry, who have been coming out to endorse Barack Obama as well, a “movement” already noticed by the DEAF DEMOCRATS editors prior to today.

The DEAF DEMOCRATS editors assumed that maybe it was the Democratic Party’s way of setting up Obama for Super Tuesday and we questioned the wisdom of such move. Up to this point, our Deaf eyes have been detecting something like a “voter rebellion” against the Establishment, and several states already proved this point so far. Now the Democratic Party machinery seems to be stepping in for Obama, and we are wondering if this will backlash against the party for “coronating” a candidate, REGARDLESS OF WHOM, before we find out what the will of the American people is, especially after Super Tuesday next week?!! That’s why our Deaf eyebrows are raising very HIGH!!!

We are not sure if this implies a power vacuum within the Democratic Party since we still don’t have a clear-cut frontrunner yet. We still remember vividly how in 2000 the Al Gore camp tried to get rid of the Bill Clinton camp within the party, which led to the current estrangement between both men. Maybe what is happening today is only a reflection of the going-ons behind the scenes, with several camps vying for power and dominance within the party.

Let’s wait until after the Florida primary tomorrow and the Super Tuesday drama next week to see if the Kennedy Factor will make any difference or not. In honor of the Kennedy family’s love for competition, let’s put on our sweatclothes and get ready for the game, or get your popcorn popper ready for couch-potatoing, depending on your preferences! Yes, the DEAF DEMOCRATS will be there to call play-by-play action!!!

For Deaf and Hard of Hearing voters in the Super Tuesday states, HAPPY VOTING!!!

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS UNDER TO 200 WORDS

Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors