Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama's Victory Speech

Barack Obama speech
Full text of Barack Obama's speech
November 4, 2008

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics -- you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to -- it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington -- it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America -- I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you -- we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek -- it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers -- in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House -- a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn -- I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world -- our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down -- we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security -- we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright --tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America -- that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing -- Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?This is our chance to answer that call.

This is our moment. This is our time -- to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth -- that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.,0,524762.story

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's VP Acceptance Speech

September 3, 2008

Mr. Chairman, delegates, and fellow citizens: I am honored to be considered for the nomination for Vice President of the United States...

I accept the call to help our nominee for president to serve and defend America.

I accept the challenge of a tough fight in this election... against confident opponents ... at a crucial hour for our country.

And I accept the privilege of serving with a man who has come through much harder missions ... and met far graver challenges ... and knows how tough fights are won - the next president of the United States, John S. McCain.

It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves.

With their usual certitude, they told us that all was lost - there was no hope for this candidate who said that he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war.

But the pollsters and pundits overlooked just one thing when they wrote him off.

They overlooked the caliber of the man himself - the determination, resolve, and sheer guts of Senator John McCain. The voters knew better.

And maybe that's because they realize there is a time for politics and a time for leadership ... a time to campaign and a time to put our country first.

Our nominee for president is a true profile in courage, and people like that are hard to come by.

He's a man who wore the uniform of this country for 22 years, and refused to break faith with those troops in Iraq who have now brought victory within sight.

And as the mother of one of those troops, that is exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief. I'm just one of many moms who'll say an extra prayer each night for our sons and daughters going into harm's way.

Our son Track is 19.

And one week from tomorrow - September 11th - he'll deploy to Iraq with the Army infantry in the service of his country.

My nephew Kasey also enlisted, and serves on a carrier in the Persian Gulf.

My family is proud of both of them and of all the fine men and women serving the country in uniform. Track is the eldest of our five children.

In our family, it's two boys and three girls in between - my strong and kind-hearted daughters Bristol, Willow, and Piper.

And in April, my husband Todd and I welcomed our littlest one into the world, a perfectly beautiful baby boy named Trig. From the inside, no family ever seems typical.

That's how it is with us.

Our family has the same ups and downs as any other ... the same challenges and the same joys.

Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge.

And children with special needs inspire a special love.

To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters.

I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House. Todd is a story all by himself.

He's a lifelong commercial fisherman ... a production operator in the oil fields of Alaska's North Slope ... a proud member of the United Steel Workers' Union ... and world champion snow machine racer.

Throw in his Yup'ik Eskimo ancestry, and it all makes for quite a package.

We met in high school, and two decades and five children later he's still my guy. My Mom and Dad both worked at the elementary school in our small town.

And among the many things I owe them is one simple lesson: that this is America, and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity.

My parents are here tonight, and I am so proud to be the daughter of Chuck and Sally Heath. Long ago, a young farmer and habber-dasher from Missouri followed an unlikely path to the vice presidency.

A writer observed: "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity." I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind when he praised Harry Truman.

I grew up with those people.

They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America ... who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars.

They love their country, in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America. I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town.

I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education better.

When I ran for city council, I didn't need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too.

Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown.

And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves.

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening.

We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.

As for my running mate, you can be certain that wherever he goes, and whoever is listening, John McCain is the same man. I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment.
And I've learned quickly, these past few days, that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.

But here's a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion - I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people.

Politics isn't just a game of clashing parties and competing interests.

The right reason is to challenge the status quo, to serve the common good, and to leave this nation better than we found it.

No one expects us to agree on everything.

But we are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and ... a servant's heart.

I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States. This was the spirit that brought me to the governor's office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau ... when I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol' boys network.

Sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power brokers. That's why true reform is so hard to achieve.

But with the support of the citizens of Alaska, we shook things up.

And in short order we put the government of our state back on the side of the people.

I came to office promising major ethics reform, to end the culture of self-dealing. And today, that ethics reform is the law.

While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I didn't believe our citizens should have to pay for.

That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay.

I also drive myself to work.

And I thought we could muddle through without the governor's personal chef - although I've got to admit that sometimes my kids sure miss her. I came to office promising to control spending - by request if possible and by veto if necessary.

Senator McCain also promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest - and as a chief executive, I can assure you it works.

Our state budget is under control.

We have a surplus.

And I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending: nearly half a billion dollars in vetoes.

I suspended the state fuel tax, and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress.

I told the Congress "thanks, but no thanks," for that Bridge to Nowhere.

If our state wanted a bridge, we'd build it ourselves. When oil and gas prices went up dramatically, and filled up the state treasury, I sent a large share of that revenue back where it belonged - directly to the people of Alaska.

And despite fierce opposition from oil company lobbyists, who kind of liked things the way they were, we broke their monopoly on power and resources.

As governor, I insisted on competition and basic fairness to end their control of our state and return it to the people.

I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history.

And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.

That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are opened, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.

The stakes for our nation could not be higher.

When a hurricane strikes in the Gulf of Mexico, this country should not be so dependent on imported oil that we are forced to draw from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

And families cannot throw away more and more of their paychecks on gas and heating oil.

With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.

To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world energy supplies ... or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia ... or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries ... we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas.

And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: we've got lots of both.

Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems - as if we all didn't know that already.

But the fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.

Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines ... build more new-clear plants ... create jobs with clean coal ... and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources.

We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers. I've noticed a pattern with our opponent.

Maybe you have, too.

We've all heard his dramatic speeches before devoted followers.

And there is much to like and admire about our opponent.

But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate.

This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed ... when the roar of the crowd fades away ... when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot - what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger ... take more of your money ... give you more orders from Washington ... and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world. America needs more energy ... our opponent is against producing it.

Victory in Iraq is finally in sight ... he wants to forfeit.

Terrorist states are seeking new-clear weapons without delay ... he wants to meet them without preconditions.

Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America ... he's worried that someone won't read them their rights? Government is too big ... he wants to grow it.

Congress spends too much ... he promises more.

Taxes are too high ... he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan, and let me be specific.

The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes ... raise payroll taxes ... raise investment income taxes ... raise the death tax ... raise business taxes ... and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars. My sister Heather and her husband have just built a service station that's now opened for business - like millions of others who run small businesses.

How are they going to be any better off if taxes go up? Or maybe you're trying to keep your job at a plant in Michigan or Ohio ... or create jobs with clean coal from Pennsylvania or West Virginia ... or keep a small farm in the family right here in Minnesota.

How are you going to be better off if our opponent adds a massive tax burden to the American economy? Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election.

In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers.

And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.

They're the ones whose names appear on laws and landmark reforms, not just on buttons and banners, or on self-designed presidential seals.

Among politicians, there is the idealism of high-flown speechmaking, in which crowds are stirringly summoned to support great things.

And then there is the idealism of those leaders, like John McCain, who actually do great things. They're the ones who are good for more than talk ... the ones we have always been able to count on to serve and defend America. Senator McCain's record of actual achievement and reform helps explain why so many special interests, lobbyists, and comfortable committee chairmen in Congress have fought the prospect of a McCain presidency - from the primary election of 2000 to this very day.

Our nominee doesn't run with the Washington herd.

He's a man who's there to serve his country, and not just his party.

A leader who's not looking for a fight, but is not afraid of one either. Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the current do-nothing Senate, not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee.

He said, quote, "I can't stand John McCain." Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we've chosen the right man. Clearly what the Majority Leader was driving at is that he can't stand up to John McCain. That is only one more reason to take the maverick of the Senate and put him in the White House. My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of "personal discovery." This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn't just need an organizer.

And though both Senator Obama and Senator Biden have been going on lately about how they are always, quote, "fighting for you," let us face the matter squarely.

There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you ... in places where winning means survival and defeat means death ... and that man is John McCain. In our day, politicians have readily shared much lesser tales of adversity than the nightmare world in which this man, and others equally brave, served and suffered for their country.

It's a long way from the fear and pain and squalor of a six-by-four cell in Hanoi to the Oval Office.

But if Senator McCain is elected president, that is the journey he will have made.

It's the journey of an upright and honorable man - the kind of fellow whose name you will find on war memorials in small towns across this country, only he was among those who came home.

To the most powerful office on earth, he would bring the compassion that comes from having once been powerless ... the wisdom that comes even to the captives, by the grace of God ... the special confidence of those who have seen evil, and seen how evil is overcome. A fellow prisoner of war, a man named Tom Moe of Lancaster, Ohio, recalls looking through a pin-hole in his cell door as Lieutenant Commander John McCain was led down the hallway, by the guards, day after day.

As the story is told, "When McCain shuffled back from torturous interrogations, he would turn toward Moe's door and flash a grin and thumbs up" - as if to say, "We're going to pull through this." My fellow Americans, that is the kind of man America needs to see us through these next four years.

For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words.

For a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds.

If character is the measure in this election ... and hope the theme ... and change the goal we share, then I ask you to join our cause. Join our cause and help America elect a great man as the next president of the United States.

Thank you all, and may God bless America.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Dad's Birthday Speech

Check out the speech I wrote and delivered during my dad's 65th birthday party HERE.

Below is the speech I made during my dad's 60th birthday party. 

Good evening.

For the past year, I’ve thought about what I’d say tonight. Jokingly, when asked by my mom how long a speech about my dad would take, I replied ‘a few seconds.’ In all honesty, there is a whole lot to say about an extraordinary man.

I am honored tonight to be among friends and family who have gathered together to pay tribute to a great person. Yes, I do have a speech prepared, but unlike my dad, this speech will be much shorter, and it won’t go on a tangent.

If you ever wonder whether I am more like my mother or father, it would be clear to see that I am more like my mom. In zodiac calendar, we are both Dragons, while my dad is a Rat. Honestly, my mom and I are the quiet ones with strong opinions. My dad is obviously more vocal and loves to share his thoughts. My mom and I are reserved when it comes to our private lives, while my dad shares our lives with everyone. Of course, by the time the tenth person heard a story told by my dad, I can assure you it has no true validity; however, it is always fun to hear his tales the way he remembers them.

As you probably know, I am the only child. At times I wonder why they decided to only have one. But as the only child I was fortunate enough to have many brothers and sisters. What was great was that these brothers and sisters would be at my house for a couple of hours and then leave. What more can an only child ask for?

My dad’s students have been and continue to be a huge part of his life. The love and respect he has received from his students is obvious. At times I wonder why? Don’t you guys remember having to come over to the house to rehearse over and over again speeches, or make posters, or organize slides or PowerPoint presentations late into the night? Then to be water squirted by his annoying son. And your reward? You were given the honor of hanging lights from the roof during Christmas time. And if you were lucky you were called back to take down the lights after Valentine’s Day, “Jito… Eddie, me pedes alludar?” Thought you’d be guaranteed an ‘A’ if you helped with the lights? Wrong. Regardless, his students love, respect, and admire him as a professor, a friend, and role model.

Like many fathers to their sons, my father is my role model. I look up to him. I listen to his advice; although, to him and my mom it may not seem like it. He is what I aspire to be. Maybe not like a professor of economics, or a master of two languages, but as a civil servant, a community organizer, a great father, and an amazing grandfather.

Ever wonder who the disciplinary parent was in my family? My dad would discipline me, but for some reason I feared my mom and still do. Although my dad disciplined me, he showed a lot of love. He has gone through a lot with me, but he stood beside me and never gave up. I could only hope to be the father he was to me.

The love that he has for his grandson is priceless. Both understand each other, and in many ways they are very similar. Like my dad, my son loves to talk. He loves to say what he thinks. He is also very social like his grandfather. At first, he may be shy, but if given a few minutes, he can carry on a conversation. My son, who is 4 years old and 3 months, is extremely intelligent. He is able to count to 103, do short addition, complete the alphabets, and spell words—even his name. He loves outdoor sports. He’s a big fan of baseball--Go Express--track, and hiking. His mommy and I are very proud of our son and his accomplishments. We indeed made a beautiful child.

Five years ago, tonight, my wife and I were joined by many of you for our wedding and reception. When I first laid my eyes on her, I knew that she was the one. I didn’t know how I would get there, but I knew somehow she and I would be together. Like many of you, our life isn’t perfect. But like a lot of you, we survive because the love and respect we have for each other is strong. I am fortunate to have an incredibly smart woman in my life. She is not only the perfect wife for me, but she is also a wonderful mother to our son. And most importantly, she’s a fantastic cook.

Months before I asked my wife to marry me, my dad asked me if I loved her. I shyly responded “Yes” What I really wanted to say was “Hell, yes!” But being who my dad is, he understood what I felt back then and supported my choice.

With that said, I propose a toast to the honoree. To a person who is admired by many. To a person who inspires his students. To a person who has been a loving father and grandfather. To a person with a very sincere heart. For you to have health, happiness, and good fortune for the many more years to come. Salute!


Check out the speech I wrote and delivered during my dad's 65th birthday party HERE.

I've noticed that this is a pretty popular post to read.  Thanks for your interest. 

If you are stumped on your speech, check out Joan Detz' How to Write and Give a Speech and Richard Dowis' The Lost Art of the Great Speech.

I thought I would also add some pictures from the event for your enjoyment. 

Dad's Birthday Celebration 2008

Dad's Birthday Celebration 2008

Dad's Birthday Celebration 2008

Dad's Birthday Celebration 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Michael Phelps claims Gold Medal in 400 IM

Michael Phelps broke his own record to win his first Gold Medal for the 400m Individual Medley today.
Seven more medals to go. Go Phelps!
During the presentation of his medal, the Star-Spangled Banner, the US national anthem, was cut short leaving out "O'er the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave."

Lucky President

Originally uploaded by Sgt Hulka

I'd be profusely sweating too if I got to hug from Kerri Walsh.

President George W. Bush took time to visit Olympic athletes Kerri Walsh and Misty May Treanor.

In the meantime, a few thousand miles to the west, a military conflict between Russia and Georgia in the province of South Ossetia was occurring.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The 935 Part Two

For the past few weeks I have been taking the city bus to and from work. On the first of the month, I filled my gas tank with approximately $40. I still have a quarter of a tank left. I would estimate that since I started taking the bus, I have saved maybe $50.

Like many others, I decided to take the bus because of the high gas prices. I wasn't thinking about my carbon footprint, but rather my wallet. Although, I do have to admit that I actually like knowing that I am contributing a little to the positive health of the environment.

Yesterday, the ride up to my Park and Ride was packed. It was so packed that people were standing in the center aisle. I myself was standing and sandwiched between two people. The lady in front of me had a large tote bag that kept digging into my chest. The guy behind me kept brushing the back of his hand across my bottom. The lady next to me kept wanting to read what I was typing on my Palm Centro.

The 30 minute ride up north was very unpleasant and long. At one point, half way to our destination, the ride felt like a roller coaster. The bus made fast turns from left to right then left again. People standing were swerving and jolting in every direction. Many of us laughed in amusement. When we got to the stop, we all poured out of the bus.

So, is having the discomfort worth lessening my carbon footprint? I guess. But again, the primary reason why I am riding the bus is because it saves me money at the gas pump.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Nation of Whiners

...You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession... We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet... We've never been more dominant... We've never had more natural advantages than we have today... We have sort of become a nation of whiners... You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline...

Former US Senator Phil Gramm
July 10, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Diet Story

At the beginning of the year I made some new years resolutions. Like many other individuals who give themselves goals, many of which are quite difficult to accomplish, mine dealt with my weight.

Before January, I had unsuccessfully attempted tp gain control of my weight. When I initially weighed myself on January 9, the start of my diet, the scale registered at 158. That's a lot for someone who is only 5'4". Chances are I might have weighed a bit more since my waist 33 pants were feeling a bit snugged and I had started taking it easy with the food intake.

Now, I weigh 135, which is probably what I weighed when I got married. I feel great. I can go up and down the stairs without problems. My feet don't ache as much, and I'm not always hungry.

My diet involved black coffee before driving to work, a whole grapefruit--preferably ruby red--at around 10 am. For lunch I had one Lean Cuisine meal and either water or a diet coke. In the evenings, I only ate half of what I was served, and didn't have a dessert or a snack afterwards.

Honestly, the first few days was a challenge. I would wake up in the middle of the night starving, but I held out until the next morning. It was tough, but I managed through.

Within a month I lost ten pounds. My clothes began to fit loose and I had more energy than I did. I thought about quiting, but doing so would be somewhat cheating. My new year;s resolution was to loose weight not stop eating for a month and call it a diet.

I continued on and managed to loose another ten pounds within the next few weeks. Now I am enjoying a 31 waist, better fit clothes, and a much healthier lifestyle.

I don't eat sweets, although I do miss it; especially the Dunkin Donuts. I continue to manage my food intake--I only eat until I am full. I also walk a bit more during the day. The key is to keep active as much as possible.

My tips on how to loose weight:

  1. Weigh yourself with a scale;
  2. Determine your weight goal;
  3. Grocery shop for apples, pears, oranges, or grapefruits (women may want to keep away from grapefruit since some studies have linked them with breast cancer);
  4. Shop for vegetables;
  5. Purchase Lean Cuisine meals--check the Sunday ads for coupons;
  6. Switch away from butter and margarine to non-stick spray;
  7. Avoid sugar and milk;
  8. Switch from regular soda to diet soda or better yet, water;
  9. Drink water throughout the day;
  10. In the morning, eat a fruit;
  11. At lunch, eat one Lean Cuisine meal;
  12. In the afternoon, eat another fruit;
  13. At dinner, eat only half your plate serving;
  14. At night, if you are looking for a snack, eat a fruit;
  15. Weigh yourself daily or every other day; and
  16. When you meet your goal, stick with your healthy lifestyle.

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Visiting the Dentist

It was the time my son visited the dentist office, yesterday. We were both quite excited.

I was immediately impressed with the kid-friendly atmosphere. In the waiting area, kids can either read a book, watch TV, or play a video game. Now these days, it is expected to find a section in the waiting area dedicated for kids; however, the lobby is nothing compared to what's inside.

As we followed one of the dental assistants to meet my son's dental hygienist, we walked into an open area with three dental chairs that resembled massage beds lined up in a roll. Above each dental chair was a 19 inch flat screen television.

Ashley, my son's dental hygienist, greeted us. She asked my son what channel he'd like to watch. My son acting shy responded to whatever she suggested. As he laid on his back on the dental chair, she handed him sunglasses--which he loved--and headphones to listen to the TV.

As she worked on his teeth, he watched quietly and without incident. She scrubbed each tooth and cleaned any plaque that may have been sitting on his gumline. Afterwards, she provided him a report card on the status of his teeth. I'm proud to say he's got healthy teeth and scored quite high.

The only thing we should be concerned with is preventing cavities on his molers. He has yellow-brownish pigment known as regional odontodysplasia. The porous surface is more prone to cavities. Regardless, my son scored great for his first time visit to his dentist. I was quite proud of him.

Now, back to brushing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The 935

Today is the second day I've taken public transportation.

Although I have to admit I have been one who has found their vehicle as their personal haven after a days work, the 935 provides an opportunity for me to catch up with email and reading on as it transports me to the Park and Ride.

What's simply amazing to me is that the 935 bus is extremely fast. It takes me less time to get home riding the bus than driving my own car. How is that possible?

The other cool thing is that I am saving a bit of money. Whereas I would have probably had to gas my car up today, I'll be able to drive with half a tank for a few more days.

Interestingly, a recent federal report finds that less people are driving and more people are using public transportation. Could gas prices be the reason? I think so.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

MirrorMask is a fantasy movie about a 15 year old girl named Helena who wants to run away and start her own life. Through a fantasy quest in her dreams, Helena realizes that the life she lives is something to cherish.

This is an excellent family film. So, order the pizza, rent this movie, and enjoy the animated fantasy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Fountain

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What is man's deepest desire? Eternity. The idea of life beyond death. Life does not just end but begins.

Darren Aronofsky's mind-bending romance sci-fi movie, The Fountain, involve three time periods--the age of conquistadores, the present, and the very far future. The common thing in all three time periods is the idea of eternity--the tree of life.

I really don't want to spoil the story, so I'd rather recommend this movie for sci-fi buffs and see what others think.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Conversation(s) with Other Women

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Probably one of the best dialogue movies I have seen. The movie starts with a man flirting with a bridesmaid at his sister's wedding reception. The movie develops and reveals that the two actually have a past together.

The movie stars Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A More Perfect Union


Tuesday, March 18th, 2008/ 10:17:53 ET
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Flu Part Two

Well, I was afraid this would happen. My wife came back from Pittsburgh with the flu. When she got home on Saturday, she had a fever of 101. We went to the doctor and he prescribed Tamiflu for her.

She has been in bed for most of the Sunday and hasn't left the house.

Fortunately, her fever broke. However, she still is planning on taking another business trip tomorrow. Can't do much to stop her.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Influenza Virus

For the past several days, I have been tracing my steps back to figure out when I got infected with the flu virus. My wife and little boy were not affect, thank God. So, it must have been when I was alone at the grocery store or the bank.

It is spread through the air by someone sneezing, coughing, or speaking. The flu virus, which can live outside a body for no more than 48 hours, can be transmitted if a person touches a surface where an infected person sneezes or coughs. The flu virus can live longer on nonporous surfaces such as plastic, metal, or wood.

A person can be contagious one day before and up to five days after the infected person shows signs of the flu. I'm on day four.

On Monday, President's Day, I suffered with what I thought were server allergies. The following day (Tuesday) I woke up with a 102.5 fever. I felt absolutely aweful.

My doctor prescribed Tamiflu. My little boy's pediatrician agreed that he should be on Tamiflu as well, just in case.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent sleeping and resting. In the morning I would wake up, take a shower, and get dressed. I prepared my little boy's breakfast, got him ready for school, and then drive him to his daycare. When I returned home, I would change back into my lounge wear and crawl back into bed.

It's amazing what the flu can do to a person's brain. During the night, I would dream some weird stuff. At times I would wake up thinking I heard footsteps. These sounds were vivid and real, but no one was around and my little boy was sound asleep.

The past two days, I've had a metallic taste. Everything I smell or taste is metallic, even the water.

This morning (Friday), I woke up much better. I still have a slight metallic taste, but my headache is much lighter. Although I am feeling better, I am still worried that I might be contagious.

This afternoon, I have a happy hour with my professional organization, which I am going to have to skip due to my health.

I'm expecting my health to return to full recovery by tomorrow, which is exactly five days after I first showed symptoms of the flu.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Yesterday, I suffered with what I thought were allergies. I sneezed throughout the day and felt tired and soar. This morning I woke up with a 102.5 fever. This prompted me to schedule an appointment with my doctor.

My doctor asked me what my symptoms were--achy, sneezy, tired, fever, headache, chills, and a bit of dry coughing. He prescribed me tamiflu.

He was worried that if I was exposed to the flu virus, my family may be as well. He asked me to contact my little boy's pediatrician and see if they can put him on tamiflu as a preventive.

So, my son and I are on tamiflu. And the dog... well, he was prescribed amoxicillin for his teeth infection. He's actually doing better with the treatment. I received a call this morning from his doctor. Supposedly, his tests came back pretty healthy. The only thing he has questions on are his high thyroid levels.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Avatar

What would my avatar look like? I thought about it several hours until I found this cool website.

Since my hair is growing wild, I figured I would choose a hairstyle that best matched. My avatar's face matches mine--round with bushy eyebrows, and brown eyes. If my job allowed me to, I'd wear a t-shirt, black jeans, Sketcher lace up boots, and a trench coat.

Since Jonathan, my little boy, has been into the subject of fire and swords, I created his avatar to be a type of dragon slayer.

His hair is just as crazy as mine, except his looks cooler than mine.
And I created my wife's avatar to match her magical and beautiful personality.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My dog Chato

Originally uploaded by GCAUSTIN
Before I moved to Austin, my parents bought me a maltese. I was planning to move away from my hometown and they thought a pet would be a great companion. They were right.

At times I did wish I didn't have Chato--many of those times was when he peed or pooped on the carpet at my apartment. But we both had a bond that has lasted many years. He has been there throughout the good and bad times of my life.

Personally, I don't think I have been the best owner. I use to work late and often times never did take him out for a walk. The only outing he has known has been us going for a drive around Travis County.

I write about Chato because I am a little scared of loosing him. A few days ago, my wife and I woke up with him coughing and gagging. A quick internet search said he might have bordatella. I found comfort that this might just be a cold. However, an x-ray later, it seems it might be a little more serious. His vet said there is inflamation on the right side of his heart which causes pressure on his windpipe. This is devastating news for me.

The vet told me he was going to call me later next week to let me know what his tests show. I am hoping it is something minor or something that can be alleviated through medication.

Chato has been there through the most important times of my life.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Partial Simple Syndactyly

I'm trying to find information on partial simple syndactyly. My little boy has webbed toes between the second and third toe on both feet.

Doing a quick web search, I found that this is hereditary. My wife is of German, Iroquois and English descent and she has webbed toes too.

By posting this on my blog, I was interested in whether there were any other individuals with webbed-toes. I wanted to share information and determine if this characteristic is common in certain areas.