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Lauren Reichelt
Lauren Reichelt is the director of Health and Human Services for Rio Arriba County in Northern New Mexico, and blogs on health care issues for ePluribus Media and Daily Kos as TheFatLadySings.

“Sovereign Citizens:” The Right Wing Hate Group Behind the Attack on a Jewish Congresswoman?


by: on January 9th, 2011 | 15 Comments »

Crossposted on AlterNet

On Saturday January 8, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a 22-year-old man identified as Jared Lee Loughner. Congresswoman Giffords was Arizona’s first Jewish member of Congress. An individual identified as Jared Lee Loughner had recently posted a number of videos on YouTube including one that listed Mein Kampf as a favorite book.

At first glance the videos, which consist of incoherent white text on a black background, appear to be the ramblings of a lone, mentally ill individual. Upon closer inspection however, they spew the rhetoric of an anti-semitic, anti-hispanic, “Christian” right wing confederacy known as “Sovereign Citizens.” This loosely organized, little-known menagerie of militias, miscreants and misfits spawned such violent luminaries as Oklahoma City Bomber Terry Nichols and, more recently, father and son team Jerry and Joseph Kane who gunned down two Arkansas police officers during a routine traffic stop last May.

The Jewish Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have been tracking the “Sovereigns” for over a decade.

The Southern Poverty Law Center posted this instructional video on YouTube on November 1, 2010 to assist law enforcement officers to identify potentially violent “freemen” on the highway and to take appropriate precautions when approaching them. The video shows Jerry and Joe Kane mowing down two policemen in cold blood. It also shows Jerry Kane threatening to murder government officials prior to the shooting. This video should be shown to every police officer in America.


Organizing to Pass the Free Speech for People Amendment


by: on November 3rd, 2010 | 6 Comments »

As the two year reign of the Prince of Orange (Boehner) begins, my cochlea cringes in anticipation of the bombastic pre-2012 negative advertising Rove has promised to produce beginning November 3rd. We should consider a grassroots effort to amend the Constitution.

Linda Pedro, a friend of mine, led an eight mile pilgrimage through nsow and sleet in her wheelchair

Donna Edwards has proposed a 28th Amendment, titled the Free Speech for People Amendment very much like NSP’s own ESRA (the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the US Constitution). Perhaps the Network for Spiritual Progressives can help her start a movement!


Senator Tom Udall on Filibuster Reform


by: on October 28th, 2010 | Comments Off

Last night, Jon Stewart snagged an exclusive interview with President Barack Obama on filibuster reform which the President supports. A few weeks ago, I visited Washington and dropped in on my New Mexico Congressional delegation. Senator Tom Udall shared his thoughts on The Constitutional Option, a rules change he is proposing at the beginning of the next Congress to reform filibuster abuse. My exclusive video interview of Senator Udall on filibuster and health care reform is posted below.


How Health Reform will Lead to Single Payer


by: on October 8th, 2010 | 7 Comments »

This week I am in Denver at a different kind of Health Care Reform rally. Community Health Coalition activists from across the nation are meeting with one another and with the bureaucrats who write and enforce the regs. We are learning how health care reform regulations will be rolled out, what they will mean for our country, and how to incorporate them into our organizing practice.


Bishop Gene Robinson Speaks: “The Greatest Coming Out Story Ever Told”


by: on September 16th, 2010 | 4 Comments »

In this last installment of my interview with Bishop Gene Robinson, we discuss interpreting collective story in an inclusive fashion culminating in Gene’s interpretation of Exodus as “The Greatest Coming Out Story Ever Told.”

Feel free to check out the first two installments if you are so moved:
Morning Feature: Bishop Gene Robinson Speaks About Obama and “The Left”
Furthermore! Bishop Gene Robinson Speaks: From Tolerance to Empathy


Bishop Gene Robinson Speaks: From Tolerance to Empathy


by: on September 13th, 2010 | 4 Comments »

This diary is dedicated to Father Paco Vallejos, who has facilitated my own journey from tolerance to empathy.

Several weeks ago, I interviewed Bishop Gene Robinson, a leader in the modern civil rights movement for Tikkun Daily. Bishop Robinson, who delivered the inaugural prayer, is the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop. You can read the first installment of my interview about Obama and “the Left” here.


Why I Gave 20 Vials of Blood for a Blogger


by: on September 12th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

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. Nevertheless, last week, I underwent my first set of blood tests.

The donation center mailed a kit to my local hospital. I fasted and drank a dreadful bottle of orange sugar water. Over a four hour period, I gave up 20 vials of blood and a jar of urine for the cause.

I was surprised by my personal reaction to the tests: I felt suddenly and overwhelmingly guilty.


Bishop Gene Robinson Speaks About Obama and “The Left”


by: on September 7th, 2010 | 12 Comments »

A few weeks ago, the congregants of Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe were honored by a visit from Bishop Gene Robinson who delivered the evening’s d’Var Torah.

Bishop Robinson is the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop. He was invited to Santa Fe as Grand Marshall of the Gay Pride parade. When Rabbi Marvin Schwab learned from a colleague at St. Bede’s that Bishop Robinson might be barred from speaking in an Episcopal Church, he invited him to deliver the Friday Night D’Var Torah at Temple Beth Shalom. I remembered the Bishop from his inaugural prayer. His sermon was an inspiration. After services, my teenage daughter, who had complained incessantly throughout the long drive from Albuquerque about being dragged, dragged to Temple for her brother’s best friend’s eruv bar mitzvah, turned to me and exclaimed, “Oh My God! I’m so glad I came!”

I asked Rabbi Schwab why he had extended the invitation and what he thought the impact would be on our congregation.

I felt that what Gene had to say was important and it was important that the community have a chance to hear it and that Temple Beth Shalom would be a neutral ground where he could speak and say anything he wanted. I think it was great. I think in terms of speaking to tolerance, respect for people as human beings, to see human beings with respect to see beyond some of the nonsense and to see that everyone has a divine spark within them… This was a message that Gene could deliver with eloquence. We are a welcoming congregation. We have members that happen to be homosexual. This was a way of reaffirming for them that they really do have a place within our congregation and the greater community.

Rabbi Schwab lent me the Temple’s DVD recording of the d’Var Torah. The instant I figure out how to upload it to the web, I will embed it in a diary. However, Bishop Robinson was kind enough to grant me this interview for Tikkun Daily. The first installment of the interview, Bishop Robinson on Obama, follows below the break.


Changing Health Care Facts on the Ground


by: on September 4th, 2010 | 4 Comments »

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.


A Community Celebrates Its Impossible HCR Achievement


by: on September 2nd, 2010 | 3 Comments »

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)