Friday, 11 September 2009

Nick Clegg Speaking to Democrats Abroad

And speaking of my wacky friends amongst the Liberal Democrat contingent, I would be remiss if I didn't let you all know about our event with their Esteemed Leader next week.

Nick Clegg will be joining Democrats Abroad members for a special one-night-only staged interview and Q&A on September 16th. This is part of our "Leaders and Influencers" series meeting with leading figures from British politics.

There are still some tickets left for Democrat Abroad Members. Get more info and book here:
If you aren't a Democrats Abroad Member, but you are an American living overseas, why not join?
Next month (October 15th) we'll be hearing from a decidedly different political figure, the man who some call the architect of New Labour but a friend of mine calls "The Devil Himself" - Alastair Campbell.

Personally I'm looking forward to hearing from both of them (and was very happy to be able to organise both) but can't imagine that the two talks will have much in common, not least because actual serving party leaders tend to be sparing with the expletives.

Do you reckon we should give Alastair a swear jar?
Book here:

What My Readers Are Trying to Tell Me....

Wow. I've just had a quick look at the list of keywords that people used to find the blog and it seems like there's some sort of message there.

Here are a couple examples:

46 million americans without health care, how many are illegal immigrants?

debunk obama care myths

facts and myths on obama care

healthcare facts fiction

obama care fact fiction

obama care for military fact fiction

obama health care fact and fiction

obama healthcarefacts will i pay for others

You guys, it would seem, have some questions!


Presumably a lot of these folks found me because of this post a little while back. I notice that the post was also linked to from Lib Dem Voice recently (thanks guys).

And ya know what? If health care myth debunking is what you need, health care myth debunking you shall have. Watch this space...


After a busy day of work today, with a client meeting in Birmingham and plenty of work to do on the train it wasn't until just before as my train was pulling into Euston station a little after 5:00PM today that I glanced at the newspaper and was reminded what todays date was. Or rather, what today's date meant.

Eight years ago, working for an American owned Internet startup in South Kensington, my colleague got a call from her 19 year old son who had been listening to the radio. Something had happened at the World Trade Center. We rushed to our computers to find out more. The Internet was slow, as apparently the entire Western world was doing the same thing. I managed to get BBC news' live feed up just in time to watch the second plane hit the tower.

Frantic calls home to my friends and family weren't working as the phone lines too were overstretched. Hotmail's Instant Messanger became my lifeline, checking in with everyone I could think of. When the third plan hit the Pentagon I was relieved to already have talked to my cousin - who at the time lived just a few blocks from there. And then the fourth plane, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania crashed, raising a lot more questions again - had it, too, been intended for Washington?

Bizarrely, as it was all happening a woman arrived at the office for a planned meeting to talk about our international product launch that was scheduled to take place at a convention in California the next month. My boss and I took the meeting, but both she and we were distracted and unfocussed. I'm sure they were both having the same realisation I was - that this may not matter. Would we be able to travel to the States in a month's time? Were we at war? If so, with who? Were more attacks coming? If so... why?

I got back to my desk just a few minutes before the second tower collapsed. Again, we were all frantically hitting the reset button to watch.

By this point they were announcing that all flights in the US were grounded, and all flights to and from the US were cancelled. My boss told us all to go home - no one was getting any work done - and I got on a Piccadilly line train filled with wide eyed Heathrow refugees heading back into central London. One of the people in my car was an airline pilot with an American Airlines uniform on - someone asked him a question about how security would cope with a crisis like this, and that seemed to have opened the floodgates, as I remember how we all instinctively huddled around and peppered him with questions. I think we just needed to talk to someone in some sort of authority. Bless him, he was very patient and calm.

We'll always remember that day - each of us with our own story to tell. It felt like the world was coming to an end.

It wasn't. 8 years later, we're still here, we're busy with our jobs, our families, we're trying to pass health care reform (or block it), we're trying to rebuild our economy, we've got a new set of problems and a new President to (hopefully) try and solve some of them.

We'll never forget, but our victory is in this:

Life goes on.

Love and hugs to all the 9/11 families today.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Sniff. Wish Teddy had lived to see that speech

Office of the Press Secretary

September 9, 2009

Below is the text of the letter from Senator Edward M. Kennedy
referenced by the President in tonight’s address to a Joint Session of

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for
your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute
your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our
family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these
difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories
of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that
while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President
who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the
great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched
across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated.
It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of
victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy
and determination.

There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are
already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I
learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat - that you will
stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the
time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding
that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But
you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material
things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake
are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of
social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that
soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all,
in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again
depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see
the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes,
we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and
not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your
campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a
new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a
young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me
great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another
generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand
with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream
lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will
be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for
generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,

"I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last."

Tonight, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress, urging the importance of comprehensive health insurance reform.

He concluded his remarks by reminding us that, "We did not come here to fear the future, we came to shape it."

Tomorrow, it is time for us to start doing our part.

We need to fix our healthcare system because it is a disgrace to let 46 million Americans live in fear that if they get sick, they can't afford to be treated. We need to fix this broken system because it's unforgivable that more than 60% of personal bankrupcies in the US arise from a medical emergency - and that many of these are from people who did have insurance. We need to fix our crazy system because with lifetime caps on payouts it's possible for a 10 year old child with Leukemia to use up her lifetime quota of insurance claimes before she even enters her teens.

We need to fix our system... because we can. Because it's bizarre to pretend that America has no choice but to be the most expensive health care market in the world at the sime time we are falling behind on life expectancy, infant mortality and rates of chronic diseases.

We have to fix our health care system because, frankly, it's downright unpatriotic to deprive Americans of the benefits enjoyed by citizens all over the world as a basic right.

Tomorrow morning, I want you to pick up the phone and call your Member of Congress and both of your Senators. I want you to tell them that you are a constituent, that you vote, that you care about this issue, and tell them why.

If your legislator is on the fence, ask them to clarify their position. But do it politely.

If your legislator has expressed opposition to reform, ask them politely to clarify how they propose to solve the problem of massively rising uninsured (especially as unemployment is exaserbating this problem) and unsustainbly high costs.

If your legislator is a supporter of health care reform, thank them warmly and let them know you'll remember their good work on this issue the next time you come to vote.