Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush's Iraq Pep Rally

It's ironic to see George Bush stumping his Iraq policy at the Naval Academy. For someone who leaned heavily on family connections to avoid military service, Bush seems eager and willing to use the military as a prop. At the time of Bush's speech, the Iraq War body count was over 2,110. Aparently, none of those 2,110 families have the same connections that the Bushes do.

The speech was the President's attempt to put some "meat on the bones" of his Iraq stragety. It was also an attempt to re-frame the Iraq debate, which in recent weeks has seen the calls for a speedy US withdrawl gather steam on Capital Hill and beyond. And while Bush did okay style-wise, seeming alert and engaged, his speech was woefully short on substance. Our President's attempt to clarify the confusion surrounding the actual number of Iraqi security forces was unsuccessful in my opinion. Whether there are two or three or a hundred battle-ready Iraqi batallions, they still remain entirely dependant on Coalition Forces for recon, logistics, and back up fire power. Bush reminds us several times during the half hour speech that "progress is being made". He also makes a passing reference urging "all Americans" to read a thirtysomething-page document on the Whitehouse website. Media reports suggest that there is nothing substantitive or new in the 30+ pages, which doesn't surprise me. If there was something compelling to share, surely the President would have done so in his speech. But i am frustrated that I tuned in for some answers about Iraq and i get a 30 page reading assignment instead.

The rosey and upbeat assesments that the President provides are predicated on a lot of things that are far beyond his control. And until George Bush realizes that there can be no solution to the insurgency in Iraq without a diplomatic and economic component, the situation will continue to detoriorate. As it stands, the US military remains a target in Iraq. The President has lost his way. And every time he opens up his mouth I feel less safe.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

How Medicaid Saved My Life!

It is with some trepidation that i share with you all a story about how Medicaid saved my life. But this message is an important one, so here is go.
In february 2003, after a decade-long battle against methamphetimine use, I finally sought out treatment. At the time, I was woefully under-insured and those twenty-eight days that i spent in a drug treatment facility in West Philly simply would not have been possible without the assistance of Medicaid. As I sit here and type away, I definitely consider myself lucky to have nearly 3 years sober and a new lease on life. But in retrospect, it seems doubly lucky that i got help when I did. I remember how my doctors and drug councelors repeatedly stressed durning rehab that "these types of places and treatment options simply may not be here a year from now!" I have to admit, that grim prospect seemed unlikely to me then, yet looking back, those warnings have mostly come true. And the republican plan to slash Medicade funding in a feeble attempt to balance the budget will only make things worse for the low income Americans.

Like many addicts, I come from an alcoholic background. Both of my dearly departed grandfathers & my father returned from WAR with substance abuse issues. It remains my firm belief that their wartime experiences contributed mightily to their tendancy towards alcoholism.
With ~15o,ooo American troops in Iraq and Afganistan, it seems reasonably certain that many will return stateside with a predisposition for chemical dependance. AT A TIME WHEN WE SHOULD BE SPARING NO EXPENSE TO PREPARE FOR THIS EVENTUALITY, THE REPUBLICAN-LED CONGRESS WANTS TO FIX ITS BUDGET MESS BY DENYING LOW INCOME AMERICANS ACCESS TO DRUG TREATMENT. A rather galling lack of priorities if you ask me, but this example highlights the moral imperative of keeping Medicaid off of Congress' chopping block.
After all we ask of Vets and their families, for us to NOT provide a robust network of social services for them is SHAMEFUL! It's also terribly unpatriotic.
It is difficult and painful for me to contemplate where i might have ended up if not for the drug treatment services that Medicaid provided for me. But I'm still here, and the good fight goes on!!
I urge you to contact your members of congress and give them an earful. Don't be timid to harass these guys, remember they work for you.
If you're not sure how to contact your voice on Capital Hill, check out this link, click on your state and that state's congressional contact info will appear.
bookmark that link!!!!

Friday, November 25, 2005


Nice to have a long holiday weekend to relax. One project i am tending to this weekend is a little war protest that i hope others will become excited about, too. I am taking little plastic army men and writing the words "BRING ME HOME" on a little piece of masking tape then sticking it onto the little plastic soldier's base.
I have about a dozen plastic soldiers in my coat pocket at all times and place them about randomly wherever I go: one in the produce at the grocery, another on the shelves at the videostore, the restroom at the gas station or a restaurant, and so forth. This seems like a mindful form of protest, butI have to admit I get a bit of a high from doing it. I hope that people will find these small toys with their message, and they'll get to thinking. that's really the modest goal of this for me.
i bought several 100-toy bags of army men at the dollarstore and my friends andrea, peter, brian as well as my boy greg have helped me out a great deal by taking a few dozen and spreading them 'round a bit. my mother was excited to help too. she took 50 because she says this war reminds her of vietman. we all know how that turned out.
i should note that this is a totally unoriginal idea. i heard a story on NRP about a retired lady in chicago who took to doing this because she wanted to do something to register her discontent. here is a link to her story.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Muchas Gracias Sr. Chavez!!

Massachusetts Democratic Congressman William Delahunt has announced a deal with the Venezeulan government that will provide ~12,ooo,ooo gallons of low-cost heating oil to low income Massachusetts residents. After face to face meetings in Caracas with Venezeulen Pres. Hugo Chavez, the deal was struck over Congress' August break.
Chavez has long been a thorn in the side of the Bush Administration because of his close association with Cuba's Fidel Castro among other things, (namely in my humble opinion that Chavez lavishes his country's oil wealth on the poor.)
Maybe Chavez is a bit of a thug as the Bushies would suggest, but he certainly has Bush's number, so for that he's a hero in my book. Watching Bush and Chavez do their "fandance" has been hilarious.
If an American Congressman wants to broker a deal (in this case with Citgo, an American subsidiary that gets all of it's oil from South America) to secure low cost heating oil for his constituents, then I say BRAVO! Hey, I used to live in Boston, and winters up there are no joke!!!
This arrangement seems like a no brainer.
Chavez' so called petrodiplomacy may just be a case of a Catholic country providing energy assistance to a state with a high concentration of Catholics.
an interesting caviat:
Citgo is one of a handful of options that Americans can choose if they are looking to NOT support the Saudi economy. The others are SUNOCO, CONOCO, HESS, B/P Phillips, and Arco.
The following companies :
Shell, Chevron/Texaco, ExxonMobile, Amaco and Gulf
get their oil nearly exclusively from Saudi Arabia.
Listen, I have nothing against the Saudis, I just refuse to buy their oil.