September 1, 2009 archive

Health Care Desperation

Recently, with what is seemingly the whole political world anxiously awaiting the outcome of the so-called reform of health care in America, I’ve started to feel desperate, lonely, and hopeless.  And I’m as far from a teabagger as you can get!

If you’ve got two eyes and a brain, it’s impossible not to see that the corporate domination of our government is ruining any chance of true universal health care coming out of the “Obamacare” bill.  Pharmaceutical companies, the insurance industry, and their partners-in-crime shoved single-payer off the table and now they’re trying to do the same with the public option, a kind of single-payer-lite that is the last hope of many progressives for decent reform.  Obama and a majority of the Democrats in Congress have not been able to stand up to special interests enough to really protect the interests of the American people.  And perhaps they don’t want to.

Homeless in America


On any given night, 671,859 people are homeless in America.  More than 40,000 of us catch what zzz’s we can within LAs “Skid Row,” a 50-square foot block which is rapidly gaining prominence as ‘ground zero’ for homelessness in the U.S.

People experience homelessness for a host of reasons: unforeseen financial emergencies, addiction and mental illness, and – often – financial/economic distress.

Shannon Moriarty, who writes regularly in her series >End Homelessness, urges all of us to recognize and avoid the three euphemisms recently being used to identify the crisis: economic refugees, structurally challenged, and transient. The word ‘homeless,’ she writes, conveys specific images which in turn give rise to judgments and stereotypes.

“But the word “homeless” should mean nothing more than a person’s state of being at a moment in time,” she says. “It should not imply anything about a person’s character, work ethic, appearance, health, or intellect.  

“In other words, “homeless” means just that – not having a home.”

Early today Mark Horvarth, on a road trip across the US for InvisiblePeopleTV, interviews Steve Berg, Vice President of the National Coalition of the Homeless.

Haight Ashbury Homeless. 2009. Photo by Lizzy Phelan.

According to new figures compiled by the Coalition, California ranks second only to Florida in the number of attacks on homeless individuals: 22 homeless people were attacked in California in 2008, including 10 deaths. California Second in the Nation in Attacks on Homeless Aug. 21, 2009.  Due to increased violent attacks against the nation’s homeless population, the  Coalition is taking the lead in a countrywide campaign to include homeless in groups protected by federal hate crime legislation. After Maryland earlier this year expanded its hate crime laws to include attacks on the homeless, five other states are considering following the lead of Maryland, where earlier this year hate crime laws were amended to include attacks against homeless individuals and groups.

In July, nearly 86,000 YouTube videos portrayed situations which were degrading homeless people. The media is reporting that there is an increase in online videos that record beatings and violence against homeless people.

Ending Homeless writer Moriarty discusses why homeless are victims of“Bum Fight” videos:

“Bum fights” are videos of homeless people being beaten or forced into humiliating acts. Usually, those filming (and instigating the antics) use money or alcohol to lure homeless people into participating in these schemes, often with no knowledge that they will be posted on the web.”

A federal bill addressing violence against the homeless was introduced in Congress just prior to summer recess.

More from LA: Visit Holes in Safety Net Getting Bigger


Chicago Union Station. 2009. Photo by Neal Rauhauser.

Five homeless Chicago teenagers were awarded $2,000 college scholarships by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) for succeeding in school despite facing homelessness. Three of the students lived alone, without family, while finishing school.  


Scottsale, AZ. First Homeless Shelter

Family Promise recently moved its offices to Scottsdale after purchasing a small apartment complex near Scottsdale and McDowell roads. The property at 7221 E. Belleview St. serves as the Family Promise offices, and includes a family center as well as a place to help parents in the program look for jobs, work on resumes and list an address for their job search.

Within 60 to 90 days, about 70 percent of the families have found better housing and a job, Love said.

Homeless interventions traditionally involve a van picking up families from participating churches at 4:30 am and returning them in time for dinner by 5pm. Many programs are available for one to three months. Now, Family Promise’s transitional housing is available for six to nine months, with the hope that the additional time and support will assist more families in becoming self-sufficient.  

Photo by Neal Rauhauser


Be the changer or the changed

Boston Street Retreat: Episode One

“I spent the last three days and two nights sleeping out on the streets in Boston with no money, food, water, or anything other than the clothes on my back, a towel, a sweatshirt, my camera, and a street pack.

“It was the most powerful experience I have ever had; welcoming, frightening, relaxing, sketchy, beautiful, and inspirational.

I will be writing several blogs about the people I met the experience I had throughout the week so check back soon.”  

From the Streets of San Francisco

Haight Homeless. 2009. Photo by Lizzy Phelan.

Starting with 2003 when the 1993 SF Chronicle series Shame of the City,reporters and photographers began spotlighting the growing crisis of homelessness in the city. Even with Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Project Homeless Connect, the homeless crisis in this city escalates … and the SFGate has re-activated the ’03 series with new stories.

Homeless#2. 2009. Photo by Lizzy Phelan

The federal government has granted San Francisco nearly $9 million of the $1.5 billion Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HRRP)in federal stimulus funds aimed at combating homelessness through a program designed to intervene at the community level with preventive and re-housing measures. Listen to NPR: Some Stimulus Money Preventing Homelessness, July 2009

San Francisco Homeless 3.2009 Photo by Lizzy Phelan

Nine years ago, the National Alliance to End Homelessness stated: “As a nation, we do a lot to address homelessness-build shelters, distribute food and blankets and the like. What we don’t do is prevent homelessness or help people exit homelessness.” And though the funds from HPRP are not sufficient, the organization is hopeful in the about the change in direction towards prevention with rental assistance and housing search.

Live from New York

The New York City Rescue Alliance, a faith-based partnership of ministries and churches “focused on offering every man or woman living on the streets of New York an alternative to their plight” recently produced the powerful video Don’t Walk By, a call out to New Yorkers to reach out to more than 3000 city homeless city residents and who is my neighbor.  

“People sometimes ask, will the stimulus money we receive be enough to help us through this unprecedented difficult period of time? And, you know, I don’t know the answer to that. But what I do know is it would give us a fighting chance” ROB HESS (Department of Homeless Services, New York City) who plans to utilize most of the plans to use most of the $74 million in stimulus money his agency will receive to improve community centers as they deal with a growing number of families in need of assistance.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, DC Homeless. Photo by Neal Rauhauser

LA Homeless Blog: Can a new bill end homelessness for veterans?

Homeless Media

The Soloist

“Then picture your life unraveling at lightening speed, your confidence eroding, your grasp on reality slipping away. One day you’re at the Juilliard School of Music with a promising future and then, in just a few years, you’re homeless, living on the sidewalks of Los Angeles, serenading passers-by with rambling attempts at classical music.” from What ‘The Soloist’ Tells Us about Homelessness and Mental Illness

Take Action

1. 10 actions

2. Take the Pledge never to judge a homeless person link

3. Give Kids a Shot  Play word games and for each answer you get correct, the organization donate funds to purchase .01ml of vaccine for the GAVI Alliance

4. Add your archives, report in from your community, volunteer for a diary, or join our project.

Archiving Homelessness

One Brave Kossack: Medically Homeless Archive

Homelessness Poverty Blogs

InvisiblePeople TVInvisible People.TV Group Pool

“BrokenRoots is a group for bloggers/advocates interested in issues about and facing homeless people. Our goal is to a create a network of regional ‘stringers’ who can dispatch news and photos from communities across the country to report on the impacts of the economic crisis on the homeless situation. We welcome first person stories, analysis, and reporting. The DK BrokenRoots project team will discuss, create and promote Daily Kos diaries on these issues, connect bloggers; create projects, and share related news and resources.”


Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports the Groundwork is laid for new troops in Afghanistan. A classified report by Gen. Stanley McChrystal examining the “deteriorating situation” in Afghanistan has been submitted to the Pentagon, the U.S. Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and NATO.

    While the assessment did not ask for more troops, the Pentagon said such a request could come within weeks. In public remarks, McChrystal indicated he “would invest the United States more extensively in Afghanistan” and “he has emphasized protecting civilians over just engaging insurgents.”

    Obama has already ordered a 21,000 more troops deployed to Afghanistan, and “the prospect of a still larger deployment would test his commitment” to endless war. The White House is open to sending more troops to Afghanistan.

    But Obama “faces growing discontent among his liberal base, not only over the war but also over national security policy, health care, gay rights and other issues.”

    McClatchy reports the Pentagon is worried about Obama’s commitment to Afghanistan. McChrystal may request as many as 45,000 additional U.S. troops be deployed to Afghanistan.

    “Vice President Joe Biden and other officials are increasingly anxious about how the American public would respond to sending additional troops… Biden has argued that without sustained support from the American people, the U.S. can’t make the long-term commitment that would be needed to stabilize Afghanistan and dismantle al Qaida.”

    We are not getting a Bush-like commitment to this war,” said a senior Pentagon official.

    Meanwhile, the NY Times reports Brazen ballot stuffing casts new doubt on Hamid Karzai. Election fraud reports are growing against Afghan President Karzai. When the souther Afghan tribe called Bariz decided to back Karzai’s main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, they were not allowed to vote.

    Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali – the head of the Kandahar provincial council and the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan – detained the governor of Shorbak, Delaga Bariz, and shut down all of the district’s 45 polling sites on election day. The ballot boxes were taken to Shorbak’s district headquarters, where, Mr. Bariz and other tribal leaders said, local police stuffed them with thousands of ballots.

    At the end of the day, 23,900 ballots were shipped to Kabul, Mr. Bariz said, with every one marked for President Karzai.

Four at Four continues with legislation to allow the president to shut down the Internet, NCLB as a military recruiting tool, and Iran wants to talk nukes.

Found Words

During our move I discovered some papers which had not seen the light of day since we moved from Arkansas to New Jersey in 2000.  Truth is, they had probably even been buried by the time we left Arkansas.

They are presented here for whatever value someone may find in them.

For those who don’t find any meaning within them, I’m adding the graphic at the left, entitled Rai and Jiri, at Lungha.

The entire Tamarian phrase, you may recall is Rai and Jiri at Lungha. Rai of Lowani. Lowani under two moons. Jiri of Ubaya. Ubaya of crossed roads. At Lungha. Lungha, her sky grey.

It seemed appropriate with this piece.

(Click on image for larger view)

Veddy Interesting

For the record, when I wrote the essay Hurricane Weather recently, I had no idea about Hurricane Jimena. I was sort of grooving on the anniversary of Katrina.

But exactly two years and two days ago I was riding out Hurricane Henriette in a concrete bungalow in Todos Santos, Baja. One of the more impressive birthday presents the Universe has given me, lol. Even though it was a less than macho Cat 1 hurricane….I can now officially say I have been in a hurricane. Cool.

For nearly two weeks after Henriette, I had no electricity. I had just pulled into town and had an appointment for the day it hit to get the power turned on on the house I was staying in. The power guys were sort of busy for a while with other folks, so I was outta luck. And with no power, I couldn’t get the satellite dish hooked up….

And all of this was occurring JUST as we were trying to launch Docudharma. Each day the power was supposed to be on and each day the launch got moved back. We could have launched on Sept 11th….but we decided to wait for a day with a slightly better omen capacity.

I still don’t understand why people call me a drama queen, doesn’t everybody live like this?

So now…Jimena is just about to hit Baja, just like two years ago, and as I said in Hurricane Weather…we are waiting.


Yelling Louder WORKS! Senator Bennet’s and Mark Udall’s response to activism at work!

Earlier today wrote a diary about how the Bloomfield, Colorado Democratic party got up and Yelled Louder at their Senators and Representative.

    Well, I have now received my SECOND response from the Congressmen in question, first from Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO7)

, and now from Senator Bennet staff. Looks like Senator Bennet (D-CO) has gone public with his support of a Public Option.

Check it out here.

Michael Bennet supports a public option

This morning we released a video outlining Michael Bennet’s support for a public option.  I’ve embedded it here.  Watch it to hear Michael express his support for a public option in his own words.

During this work period, Michael has been traveling all across Colorado discussing the urgent need to reform our broken health care system.  He’s held town halls and discussions in Aurora, Durango, Edwards, Frisco, Grand Junction, Highlands Ranch, Ouray and Telluride.  Videos of these discussions can be viewed at…

Any health care reform bill should control costs, allow people to keep their own medical plan and their own doctor, increase competition, and increase coverage — all in a fiscally responsible way. Providing patients with a public insurance option — that increases competition and drives down prices — would help to achieve these goals.

Pledge your support for health care reform by visiting


New Media Director

Bennet for Colorado

Bennet for Colorado

    If I get a response from Senator Mark Udall from Colorado that will make it 3 for 3!

    Anyone who needed proof that Yelling Louder WORKS need look no further.

    So, as our fearless leader Buhdydharma encourages us to do, STAND THE FUCK UP and YELL LOUDER!

Image Hosting by

    Keep yelling, who knows who might here you annd what will happen!


Some Folks on the Left Got a Little Excited

In an interview last week with Michael Smerconish, The Undecider said, “Winning the election is just the start.  Victory in an election wasn’t the change that we sought.”

I don’t know what change you sought, Barack, but letting the losers of the election dictate policy is not the change we sought.  That’s innovative change, no doubt about it, but it’s not change anyone who voted for you can believe in.  

Philip Elliot . . .

That election came with Obama’s promise of the government insurance option, a provision that Obama’s team now calls “preferred” but not mandatory.  Obama declined to call it a deal breaker.  He said “the press got excited and some folks on the left got a little excited” when he and top administration aides made statements indicating that a publicly run health insurance option was just one of several alternatives.

Since then, Obama has faced increasing criticism from his left flank.  “And even though some White House advisers seem to have forgotten, the reason the public option has become central to reform is simple: We’re fed up with the insurance companies and we need real accountability for them,” liberal said in a message sent to its 5 million members. “They’ve had decades to fix the problems with our health care system, but they haven’t done it.”

One caller to Smerconish’s program said he sensed the administration was making a misstep. “I’m getting a little ticked off that it feels like the knees are bucklin’ a little bit,” said the caller who identified himself as Joe. “You have an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate, and you own the whole shooting match.  It’s very frustrating to watch you try and compromise with a lot of these people who aren’t willing to compromise with you.”

“Why can’t they just say congratulations?”

Crossposted at Blue Hampshire.

Today marks the first day of marriage equality in Vermont. It’s been a long battle since the state passed civil unions back in 2000. It’s also been a long battle for those who fought for marriage equality in the Granite State, the Pine Tree State (Maine), and other states who fought for it through the courts. But today’s a special day in Vermont and for all of us who believe in civil rights.

Below is a video of Rep. Jason Lorber (D-Burlington). I remember his speech very vividly as they were debating marriage equality on the House floor. It was hard to hold back my tears. Today is his day. “Congratulations” Rep. Lorber.

Rest In Peace

Marine killed in Afghanistan served country in many ways

Marine Sgt. Bill Cahir was a public servant his whole life.

He served as a congressional staffer, as a journalist, as a political candidate and, finally, as a Marine reservist in Iraq and Afghanistan.


“There it was,” Cahir wrote. “My last, best chance to serve.”

YES! CO Dems tell Udall, Bennet: No PO = No Soup For You! (Updated w/ comment by Rep. Polis)

  Crossposted at Daily Kos

    Be it resolved: The Executive Committee of the Broomfield Democrats on this date, on behalf of the party members, the county declares it’s support for President Obama’s call for a Robust Public Option health care plan . . . one  that is an intergal part of comprehensive reform that all Americans have access to quality basic health care irrespective of health conditions, socio-economic status or employment status. The present opportunity for true health care reform that meets the above objectives is too fragile and omportant to our nation for it to be lost to the politics of special interests.

    It should be clear by this proclamation that all elected officials and candidates for office desiring support of our party, either by financial or by ballot must evidence clear support for this resolution as stated. This applies to our Democratic colleauges Sen. Udall, Sen. Bennet and Representative Polis as well as any other candidates seeking office in the city and county of Broomfield, Colorado.

    We’re hammering Colorado Dems into line today.

    Join me below the fold to get in on the action.

Michibaggers: Here it Comes

The tea-baggers are coming to Brighton September 8th.  God save us all, I’m going.

Livingston County is about to be invaded by a national “tea party” group, funded by big-money corporate interests intent on attacking the programs of President Obama and Democratic leaders..

The so-called “Tea Party Express” will be at the Brighton Mill Pond Gazebo on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 3:30 p.m.

Please help us counter their negative, angry message by stopping by the Mill Pond area at 3 p.m. for our own rally in support of President Obama’s programs, especially health care. If you can’t be there right at 3 p.m., come as soon as you can.

Bring an American flag or wear an Obama pin or tee-shirt, if you have one–we still have a few available at the office. We will have some signs but more are always welcome.

We’re planning to be noisy, but rational, and not confrontational.

Please plan on joining us to show Livingston County that the real grass-roots support President Obama!


Judy Daubenmier, chair

Livingston County Dems

P.S. Visit our blog, Living Blue, for all the latest political news and views.

Docudharma Times Tuesday September 1

Huge wildfire shows little sign of slowing down

The Station blaze has destroyed more than 50 buildings and burned more than 105,000 acres of mountainous brush. Little hope of containment is seen as long as hot, dry conditions continue.

By Corina Knoll, Louis Sahagun and Rich Connell

September 1, 2009

A voracious 6-day-old wildfire that has destroyed more than 50 buildings and churned through more than 105,000 acres of mountainous brush showed only small signs of slowing Monday, and fire officials offered little hope of containment as long as hot, dry conditions continued.

The Station fire, the largest of several burning in the state, was plowing through dense hillside vegetation along the San Gabriel Mountains, cutting a remarkable swath that extended from Altadena into the high desert. On Monday, the fire advanced to the west, bringing new evacuations to Sunland-Tujunga and coming within a few miles of Santa Clarita.

Despite the fire’s sprawling dimensions, stretching up to 25 miles from east to west and 18 miles from north to south, aggressive ground and aerial assaults managed to contain the blaze to largely undeveloped areas.

Communism: Chocolates were a smuggler’s best friend

Robert Booth, Monday 31 August 2009 22.11 BST

Political funding doesn’t get more glamorous than this: the newly-released MI5 files reveal that diamonds and pearls looted by the Bolsheviks from Tsar Nicholas II were hidden in hollowed-out chocolate creams and smuggled into Britain to fund a revolutionary communist newspaper.

A top secret file on Francis Meynell, a director of the Daily Herald, reveals how in 1920 he was given £40,000 worth of gems by Lenin’s Soviet regime and smuggled them into the country to help keep the radical publication afloat.

Meynell’s file describes him as “an ardent Sinn Féiner and an extreme socialist who, in his youth, had tried, but failed, to derail a troop train. But his greatest coup came just as the Soviet Union began funding communist parties around the world”.

Load more