Why I Gave 20 Vials of Blood for a Blogger

Unless you have been blogging at community sites such as Daily Kos and Streetprophets, you probably do not know that a blogger who calls herself Kitsap River needs a kidney. Some of us contributed to the community quilts Sara R made for River and her husband, CharlesCurtisStanley. For the past year, I have been (somewhat ambivalently) completing requirements necessary to donate a kidney to River. River lives far from me, and even if she lived nearby, she is not someone I would have been likely to cross paths with. We frequent different worlds.

Changing Health Care Facts on the Ground

Big things seem to happen on Wednesdays. A week ago Wednesday, we opened up a brand new innovative Health Commons in Rio Arriba County. A week from Wednesday, the Rio Arriba Community Health Council is meeting to untangle a Gordian knot caused by conflicting regulations attached to state and federal funding streams. If we can solve the puzzle, we can form new alliances and relationships…bringing America closer to single payer health care…permanently. I am the Director of Health and Human Services for Rio Arriba County. Instead of meeting with a select group of providers behind closed doors to negotiate an end to our community’s complete lack of mental health services, I am inviting the public to participate in the discussion.

A Community Celebrates Its Impossible HCR Achievement

For years, Rio Arriba County has been the butt of jokes about its high overdose death rates and its supposed lack of coordination between providers. But on August 25, over 350 people showed up at my office (a huge crowd for a working day in Espanola!) to celebrate our town’s health care reform success. (More)
We were joined by our county commissioners, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), state legislators, our Secretary of Health, children, reporters, friends, musicians and a truckload of shelter dogs. We danced, listened to northern New Mexico folk music, feasted, heard speeches and adopted pets, all to celebrate an extraordinary local achievement. And while we were at it, we published op-eds and secured coverage in three newspapers and a radio station explaining the benefits of health care reform.

A Turn off Fox News Letter to the Editor

I have been trying to counter the planned negativity promoted by Fox News and corporate interests by standing up to it at every opportunity. Bullying tactics are only effective if individuals allow themselves to be bullied en masse. When specific individuals refuse to be bullied in a public manner, they lessen the effectiveness of the intimidation. The time to stand up is in the beginning, before the bullies completely delegitimize the rule of law. This week, I stood up to the bullies in two small ways that I would like to share in the hopes that others will follow suit or (even better!) improve upon them: I told my favorite Congressman at a town hall that I disagreed with his sudden unexpected choice to address substance abuse and mental illness as a law enforcement issue; and I wrote a letter to our local newspaper defending this same Congressman from a writer who compared him to Hitler.

Defusing Negativity

If you have followed my recent posts, you know that I believe the recent right-wing push towards extreme bigotry and hate-mongering is a sign of desperation. America’s demography is changing. it is growing younger and browner. At the same time, population is shifting from the northeast and midwest, to the so-called sunbelt: states with large Hispanic population. The Bush regime recognized the growing importance of the Hispanic vote, and worked aggressively to reach out.

A Bar Mitzvah on the Jewish Frontier

I live in Espanola, New Mexico, a town of 9,000 people, mostly Hispanic and Native American, with a lot of churches but without a Jewish synagogue. I live in an agrarian mestizo community: most of my neighbors are of mixed Spanish and Native American descent dating from the arrival of Juan de Onate in the 16th century. Leaders in my community worry about passing their cultural heritage on to the next generation in the face of industrial encroachment. Rio Arriba County reminds me of Israel at the time of Akiva, immediately preceding the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. Although I invited my Hispanic Rio Arriba colleagues to my son’s Bar Mitzvah, none came.

Alan Grayson, Progressives and the Regulatory Process

As the Progressive movement has grown, we have become increasingly proficient at influencing the passage of legislation. We’ve learned to place strategic calls and ads as bill move through committee. We’ve learned about reconciliation and other parliamentary procedures. We have pushed stimulus funding, a health care reform bill, and a financial regulatory reform bill over the legislative finish line. But alas!

Why Repubs are REALLY Targeting Hispanic Immigration

Immigration policy and the Hispanic vote have been a point of contention for Republicans since the beginning of the 21st century. President Bush, to his credit, attempted to pass an immigration policy that would have allowed a guest worker program (and incidentally, broadened the GOP tent), but was stymied by right wing elements in his own party. The strategy was inspired by shifting Congressional demographics and, had Bush succeeded, he might have delivered Republican control of Congress for decades. Demagogues like Rush Limbaugh who rely on an openly racist base for ratings won the day. The party narrowed and took a sharp turn to the right.

A Man, a Mugger and a Cat

In 2008, Julio Diaz retrieved his wallet from a mugger by taking the man to lunch. Meanwhile, a cat in the Amazon rainforest lures its prey by crying like a baby monkey. Coincidence? Julio Diaz is a New York social worker. He gets off the subway every evening at six and eats at the same restaurant.

The Second Coming of Martha Coakley

Having infuriated Democrats with her astonishing loss of Ted Kennedy’s long-held Senate seat to a suburban truck-drivin’ pin-up populist, Martha Coakley is back. But this time she’s racking up a series of impressive legal victories for liberals. She has won a $102 million dollar settlement against Morgan Stanley, taken on insurance companies for paying hospitals based on political clout rather than quality, and successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Athough unchallenged by the GOP in her November race for Attorney General, Coakley is campaigning vigorously. Could she be positioning herself to recapture the MA Senate seat from Scott Brown for the Dems?