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is because of a scheduling conflict and my personal priorities.

Don't get me wrong.  I clearly value NN.  I presented panels at the first two conventions, then called Yearly Kos, in 2006 in Las Vegas and 2007 in Chicago, as well as additional panels in 2008 in Austin and 2012 in Providence.

This will be the 2rd time I have missed.

Last year conflicted with a once in a lifetime event - my 50th high school reunion.

This year conflicts with a moral obligation, as it did in 2010 in Las Vegas.

I will instead be in Wise Virginia, in the far Southwest of the Old Dominion, in the Appalachian Mountains, again volunteering at a free medical and dental fair co-sponsored by Stan Brock's Remote Area Medical and the Virginia Dental Association's Missions of Mercy.

Allow me to explain a bit.

In 2008 my cohort of the Political Leaders Program of the Sorensen  Institute of Political Leadership at the University of Virginia agreed to have a reunion the following year by volunteering at the Wise Virginia event.  We did so at our November meeting, and as it happens that Sunday the Washington Post magazine featured a cover story on the Wise event, about which I wrote in a piece I called This may break your heart - and it should.

I thought I was prepared for what I would encounter when I showed up to volunteer the following July, but I was not.  I wrote a series of diaries as a result of that visit, beginning with A different perspective on the health care debate after my first day of volunteering.  I wrote a number of other diaries as a result of that visit, most notably Now that the Wise Healt fair is over after I returned that Sunday.  To have a real sense of the impact Wise had on me, I suggest reading this piece, from which I quote only the following:

It is insufficient that I volunteered, although for me it was important, and I expect to go back so long as I am physically able.  That is, so long as we have this shame in our nation that the Wise health fair is necessary.  I need to be reminded, because it is my shame, that the nation in which I live, in which I pay taxes, can allow this scar upon the soul of the nation.
Each July since, except for last year when I was caring for my wife, I have returned to Wise to volunteer.   For a variety of reasons I considered not going this year.  My wife reminded me of this paragraph and insisted that if I were physically able I should go.  She is as usual right.

As I discovered when last there two years ago, the need for medical services has declined somewhat because of the Affordable Care Act, but not as much as it could have - the previous governor did not take the offer of expanding Medicaid coverage and the House of Delegates (and now the newly Republican controlled State Senate) have been attempting to block the current Democratic governor from doing so.

The Affordable Care Act does not necessarily, however, address the dental needs of poor people, so we expect the volume of services provided on the dental side to continue.

I am not a dentist.

I am a lay volunteer.

I may handle paperwork in dental triage, or escort patients, or take dirty intruments to be cleaned and obtain sterile replacements.

One of my tasks in the past has been to persuade one particular dentist to take a break for his own health.

I will see people I greatly admire.  Some have politics that in general would be anathema to people here, but on this issue of caring for all people we have no disagreements.

The most important thing I do outside of my marriage is my teaching.  This commitment to Wise comes next.

I am sorry to miss Netroots for a 2nd year in a row.  The schedule this year is very attractive.

But I am comfortable with my priorities.


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