Thursday, 15 January 2009

Wounded Warriors - Serving Our Community


Barack and his team have asked all those who plan to celebrate his inauguration next Tuesday to spend some time participating in a service project to benefit their communities. Across the US, people will be taking advantage of the Martin Luther Kind Day holiday on Monday to clean up local schools, plant trees, or visit hospitals.

Throughout the campaign, Americans Abroad participated as full citizens in this election, registering to vote, volunteering and casting their ballots in record numbers. I want to make sure that now we show the same commitment to service - Democrats Abroad asks Americans living overseas to write letters and send care packages to injured American service men and women in military hospitals.

These brave individuals have served their country and suffered for it. Whatever you think of the war in Iraq, one of the great disgraces of the Bush administration has been a failure to care properly for those who have been wounded in that conflict. Improving care for veterans, including creatign a new GI Bill and expanding the healthcare for those with mental illness related to their service was one of Barack Obama's signature issues in the Senate. Let's honor him by saluting the idea that our service men and women deserve our care and attention. And maybe a few chocolate bars and shampoo bottles wouldn't go amiss either.

For those who will be writing from home, please find the addresses to which letters, cards and packages can be sent directly, below. I'll be participating in DC as part of the Democrats Abroad global day of service - folks here in London can participate at the Texas Embassy on inauguration day.

Address for the Platoon (in Iraq):

1LT Lange-Geise
F Co (PFDR)/2-10 AVN
COB Speicher
APO AE 09393 USA

Care Packages: The wounded especially appreciate chocolate and cologne. Other items needed include: new DVDs (no extreme violence); new CDs (no violent lyrics or profanity); new portable CD players with headphones; new washcloths, hand towels and bath towel s (dark colors are best); lip balm (Mentholatum, chapstick, etc.); mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner and hair gel (travel size only); toothbrushes and bar soap travel holders; mint and cinnamon chewing gum; new duffle bags; new men's and women's boxer shorts/underwear; new sweatshirts and sweat pants; new T-shirts; baseball caps, etc.

Please Send to Care Packages to:

Staff Sergeant Scott Jordan
Wounded Warriors Landstuhl
Wendelinusstr Apt 4
Ramstein, Germany

Brook Army Medical Center
Attn: Gift Coordinator
3851 Roger Brook Drive
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234 USA
Note – this is where the amputee clinic is and some letters here would also be greatly appreciated

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington , D.C. 20307-5001 USA

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Got Questions?

Robert Gibbs, Obama's soon to be Presidential Press Secretary has some answers:


Look out for the answer on Universal Healthcare, starting at 3:10.

But my favorite is surely the final Q and A in the video, starting at 4:17 - a viewer asks if Obama will eliminate the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy in military recruitment, and Gibbs just says, "You don't here politicians give a one word answer very often - but it's yes."

Can't get much clearer than that.

Hillary Impresses in Her Senate Hearing

Time journalist Joe Klein appears to be well impressed:

I spent the day at the Clinton confirmation hearings and came away impressed, as always, with the woman's sheer ability to process information. Not a missed beat, not an "I'll have to get back to you on that..." It was several hours into the hearing that the full force of the new Administration hit me. Clinton was being asked by Senator Benjamin Cardin whether we could exert our influence on mineral-rich countries to share their wealth with their people. The Secretary of State-designate immediately brought up Botswana's "excellent work" in this area, the education and infrastructure programs that had been funded. And I thought: Botswana? Wow. We've got people who are really interested in governing--who really love public service, who understand that foreign policy means more than simply issuing threats--coming back to your nation's capital! Enthusiasm and care don't always result in wise policy-making, but we've seen how fecklessness and carelessness works.

As if we needed further reminding - the grown-ups are now (well, soon!) back in charge.

Cat Blogging...

I swear I am not making this up.

It seems House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office is totally down with the great traditions of blogging.

I salute you Nancy.

Monday, 12 January 2009

The Obamas Circa 1996

Wow. Here's an interview with Barack and Michelle back in 1996 - that's the year I graduated from College, Clinton was running for re-election and Barack had yet to serve in elected office. The whole thing is very striking, especially these painfully honest words from Michelle:

There is a strong possibility that Barack will pursue a political career, although it’s unclear. There is a little tension with that. I’m very wary of politics. I think he’s too much of a good guy for the kind of brutality, the skepticism.

When you are involved in politics, your life is an open book, and people can come in who don’t necessarily have good intent. I’m pretty private, and like to surround myself with people that I trust and love.

I have to tell you that on the one occassion I was lucky enough to meet and talk with Michelle, we had a conversation along very similar lines - she's just a very honest, straightforward person. Heaven help her.


When Michelle Obama asks, you kind of want to help out, don't you?

The Obama team has asked all of us to participate in a Day of Service surrounding the inauguration - this is a part of our effort to start having a positive impact on our country and our communities right from day one.

For those of us here in London, Democrats Abroad has arranged for an event where we can simultaneously watch the inaugural address and ceremony live, while writing letters to US service men and women who are recovering at the Landstuhl army hospital in Germany.

I really hope that you will all be able to participate - I think this is unique opportunity for us to give something back to our country and to our wider community of Americans far from home.

Join fellow Democrats from 4-6:00 pm on January 20th at the Texas Embassy to view the actual swearing in and attendant commentary. No admission charge. Cash bar.

In keeping with the Presidential Inauguration Committee’s wishes, you may join us too on that afternoon in our community service project, by writing letters to wounded service personnel at Landstuhl (the military hospital in Germany) and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Details of the National Day of Service (see section 2):

Date: January 20 (Tues)
Time: From 4-6 PM
Location: The Texas Embassy (1st floor), 1 Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, London, SW1Y 5DL

Nearest Tube: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus (located near the National Gallery)

What to bring? Stationary, postcards, your favorite pen. Limited supplies available.

Drink/Food: No admission charge -- full cash bar and food menu available throughout the evening. Note that it is also possible to eat at the restaurant downstairs before or after join us on the first floor.

RSVP: not needed! Just turn up!

Press Queries:

For Democrats Abroad UK members and their guests, and Americans abroad.

And another thing....

In furtherance of my thoughts on the Rick Warren, gay marriage, inaugural invocation thing let me also link to this interesting dialog between Hendrick Hertzberg and his readers and add a hearty "yeah! What he said."

In particular, let me reiterate in summary:

1) Opposing gay marriage is not the same thing as being homophobic.
2) That the position is wrong (and I do think it's poorly reasoned as well as morally wrong to oppose marriage rights) doesn't make the people bad.
3) If good people believe wrong things, the appropriate response is to tell them why you think they are wrong.
4) Politely.
5) Without assuming that this one wrong view makes them on universally bad or wrong.

Blessed are the Geeks...

for They Shall Inherit the Earth.

Not only is that the BEST title ever for an Economist article, it also describes one of the things that has made me most happy so far about Barack Obama's Presidential decision-making:

Scientists are getting some serious klout. Since "klout" is the base unit of all transactions in Washington DC and the scientific community has been on a starvation diet of klout for the past 8 years or so, I'd say they've earned it.

Three cheers for the reality based community! Weeee're baaaack.

On December 15th Barack Obama, the incoming president, announced that he was nominating Steven Chu, a Nobel-prize-winning physicist, to be his energy secretary. At the moment, Dr Chu is head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he has built up a big solar-energy-research project. He is also a strong advocate of research into nuclear power and foresees a world in which fossil fuels are largely replaced by other sources of energy.

On December 20th the president-elect followed Dr Chu’s appointment by nominating Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist at Oregon State University, as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the government agency responsible for studying the climate, and also for keeping an eye on marine life. Dr Lubchenco has been critical of the Bush administration’s lack of respect for climate science, and for its inaction on greenhouse-gas emissions. She is also concerned about marine pollution and the appearance in the ocean of oxygen-depleted dead zones caused by such pollution.

On the same day John Holdren, a physicist at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard, who is an expert in the fields of energy, the environment and nuclear proliferation, was appointed as the new presidential science adviser, and he will enjoy higher authority in that position than his Republican predecessor did. In 2007, when Dr Holdren was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), he argued publicly for swift action on climate change.

Geneticists, too, get a look in. Two of them—Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health, and Eric Lander, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—will be co-chairmen of the president’s council of advisers on science and technology. All in all, as Alan Leshner, chief executive of the AAAS, puts it, “we’ve never had a president surrounded in close proximity with so many well-known, top scientific minds.” All of them, he predicts, will have access to the president and influence on policy, or else they would have refused the jobs. Dr Leshner says that Dr Varmus has “no interest in being a potted plant. He is a very competent and smart person with tremendous judgment who would not waste his time.”

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Take your PIC*

Will you be elbowing through the heaving crowds in DC on Inauguration Day? Or dancing your heart out with your fellow expats here in London?

Enquiring minds want to know.

* That's the Presidential Inaugural Committee, to those in the know. Don't ya know.