Monday, September 29, 2008

"I'm sorry, madam, we only have alcohol on board"

We returned home from Sri Lanka last night, roughly 9 p.m. It's a little frustrating that an hour and ten minute flight requires 6 hours of travel, but that's the way it is.

Sunday was our lazy day. We slept in a bit, had a leisurely breakfast, took the kids to the pool, got sunburned (bad bad mom, didn't pack sunscreen... what was I thinking??), had leftover pizza for poolside lunch, packed up and left the hotel after late checkout at 3. We made it to the airport in roughly 35 minutes. Just to let you know, it's a 45 minute trip from the airport to the hotel and that's how long it took the way in. Our co-traveler went in another car with other Chennai families, and they arrived at the airport 10 minutes before us. I can't say I was at all impressed with the driving on Sunday. It was Indian-driving by choice. Colombo roads are well-paved, cars tend to stay in their lanes while people stay on the sidewalk, crosswalks are obeyed (heck, crosswalks exist), there was no need to treat our shuttle run like a race.
Check-in was quick, immigration not so quick especially without a Diplomatic line and with someone with passport issues in front of us, and the Duty Free was extensive as far as little Colombo goes. We bought iced mocha things from the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Yup, that's the rough life in Colombo.
The flight was uneventful once we took off. Before that though, we were all in an emergency exit row. In fact, within two emergency exit rows right next to each other, there were 5 kids. Rebecca stayed under the radar, but the other 4 kids were shifted about to have adults in the row instead. I can't say we're too impressed with Sri Lankan airlines check-in agents, and this flight overall was average. An older plane, 3 seats to a side, the snack food was unpalatable even for the veggies on board, and not even a magazine was present in each seat pocket. There was the Duty Free catalog and I found the perfect watch I've been looking for along with a couple other items. I filled in the little Duty Free shopping card, and had it returned with "I'm sorry, madam, we only have alcohol on board." Then perhaps the catalogs should be revised, reduced or simply removed.
Rebecca and Nicholas made a mad dash off the airplane to the nearest bathroom as the flight is so short there's about a 10-minute window when it's OK to use the restroom. We caught up to them before Immigration. Our bags didn't take forever off the carousel, we're usually practically the last bag off the plane, and the car was waiting for us outside. The cats weren't dead, though the fish was. Don't feel bad for the fish. We got our Siamese fighting fish (along with 3 others) in spring 2007. Ian said they wouldn't last the night. The other 3 passed at different times over the past 18 months, but this one just hung on, even when all he did was lay on the bottom of the bowl. It was his time.
We're home, we're sunburned, the kids are back in school, I did my morning stint at the Consulate and now I pack myself up to get the kids for their dental appointments.
Vacation is over.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

If you get sunburned, you had a good time.

Katherine's two big races were today. She did great. Breaststroke really is her stroke, she had good enough times in Chennai to race in the 12 and unders in Colombo and placed 13/17 in the prelims. For the 200m freestyle, a long hard race, she was too slow for 12 and unders, so was placed in 15-18 and finished 2nd to last in the prelims, but finished and looked good during the whole race, slow but steady.

There's more now about Saturday... go read.

Ian only got to watch about 1/2 hour of the presidential debate before breakfast and departure. We arrived back at OSC before 9 a.m. with plenty of time to catch some awards given out from the previous day, and before the rest of the races. Katherine was in 50m breaststroke, Holli (our co-traveler's daughter) was in 50m butterfly and both girls were in 200m freestyle. We also watched the 50m freestyle beforehand.
McDonald's was calling us. Because our kids didn't make it into the finals, we didn't feel the need to sit by the pool for another 6-7 hours. And in fact we heard later that it didn't wrap up until after 6 due to a break in the finals for "fun swims." Who planned that? Did the kids who were racing the 200m finals afterwards really want to expend energy playing "Beat the Coaches"? Yeesh. So we didn't stay, we went to lunch. McDonald's has beef. Halal beef, so it tastes different, but still beef. And a playland. And hot apple pies. Not pizza puffs as the deep fried goodies turn out to be in Chennai, but actual apple pies. It was all so very yummy. Afterwards we realized the food really wasn't that good, being McDonald's and all, but it didn't matter when we ate. Then, it was very very yummy.
We moseyed on over to Chris and Anne's home for a break. Rebecca and the boys ran around the yard (by this time they were a complete embarrassment to bring around as their Big Bad Blue shirts were on day 2 of sweat and playgrounds and playlands and big grassy areas with trees to climb), as well as worked on a puzzle and chilled out with some playstation time. Chris and Anne put together a 3000 piece puzzle of an old world map and had it framed during their time in Kuwait. It's easily 4 1/2 feet across, and quite impressive.
With some shopping yet to accomplish, we returned to ODELs. I replenished my tea stocks, didn't even try to resist the LUSH urge, and bought swimming trunks for the boys like racers wear. I could see how being in a small town like Colombo could get tiring but for us, seeing DeliFrance was quite a treat and there are quite the deals to be found in clothing. Apparently Sri Lanka has a deal with clothing manufacturers. They can have their clothes made in Sri Lanka for cheap, but something like 10% of the clothes get held back and sold on the local economy for local prices. Clothing tagged for $48 could be bought for $6. Chris and Anne mentioned also that visiting the manufacturing floors is quite a sight. Since we didn't do much in the way of touristing we missed it, but you know, I could see a Foreign Service tour there. Not right now, probably not within the next 10 years, but at some point, sure. There are things to see and do, and even in downtown everything looks cleaner and smells far better than any place in Chennai. Sitting by the hotel pool with the salty sea breeze was very close to bliss.
Also recommended was a store called Paradise Road. It's very Pier-1 and we picked up a couple little souvenirs. What was more fun was the Gallery Cafe next door. The ambiance was so pleasant, in an open courtyard with squishy seats and wrought-iron everything. It really doesn't take much to make us happy. The homemade frozen ginger beer was tangy like drinking a spicy ginger snap. I heard the milkshakes were good too. Jonathon didn't get one, and very nearly went straight to bed as soon as we returned to the hotel, for all the mischief he got into over the course of the day. He almost didn't get to go swimming in the evening with his new trunks.
We were hungry again by the time dinner rolled around, and went back to the poolside Italian place for dinner since the kids were swimming and soggy anyway. It was a good day all around. No pressure, no real commitments, just time to enjoy a break from home.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Immodium works

Last night we had dinner at the Japanese place downstairs. Tepanyaki is a wonderful thing, but it seems to not agree with me. Or I should say, beef... it's not what's for dinner. I feel pretty yucky.

After a restless night of running to the bathroom and waking up with a black tongue coating, we had a leisurely breakfast before driving out to OSC. We're spending our time with another Chennaite staying at the Hilton, and since neither of our girls swam today we didn't feel too much pressure to rush or even spend the whole day by the pool. Tomorrow both our girls have their heats in the morning.
We stayed by the pool for a few hours, at least through the swimmers' lunch period, and saw some of the warm-ups for the afternoon races. One thing we all noticed watching this meet was how technically advanced the other schools were compared to ours. Their strokes were more deliberate and practiced, the flipturns were tighter, they all wore caps and goggles. They drilled during warm-up, flipturn after flipturn after flipturn. Dive after dive after dive. Honestly, it was quite impressive. They even had cheers. Or maybe that was just Delhi and Bombay, they had enough to keep them going all day every day.
OSC is 50 years old and is showing its age. The school is a little cramped, even though it has roughly 400 students. AISC is very into linear and flat, OSC had odd-angled pathways, tiered and sloped roofs, a koi pond tucked in here, a playground tucked in there, and stairs everywhere. It also had a lovely library and is in the process of building a new gymnasium. I can say this though, our pool totally beats their pool. Though they had built-in covered bleachers, we have more room for our lanes, deeper water, and more space on the pool deck. Yup, AISC's pool rocks. Now if there was someplace for spectators to sit.
The school sold snacks, t-shirts, hats and assorted swim gear. I'm intrigued by the shammy/sammy used by divers, swimmers and all forms of athelete. It works like (or maybe is, just marketed differently) a chamois for the car, soaking up puddles of water with ease. If my girls continue with swimming, it's something to remember. We didn't buy any pool gear, but we did show our support for OSC by purchasing caps (more out of desperation) and shirts (go Geckos!).
We'd had enough pool time, and went to the local mall/department store, ODELs. It's a lovely place, not nearly as big as Citi Centre but also not as crowded, and it has a LUSH and a DeliFrance... and a sushi stop... and a wine store... and some really good deals on Sri Lankan manufactured name brand clothing. Think IZod capris for $6. I saw some really great swim trunks for the boy, but didn't get them. Nicholas bought... a stuffed dog. Did the dog have a "Sri Lanka" patch? No. Did the dog look like a Sri Lankan street dog? No. It was just yet another little stuffed dog to join his pack. I can definitely see how ODEL would get boring after 2-3 years of having it as the main shopping zone, but for us it was quite a treat. Oh, and a gelato shop just outside. I don't know if the gelato is actually better than ours at Citi Centre, but the shop was definitely cleaner and a more pleasant experience.
Any swim parent knows that after sitting poolside, you're wiped out without having swum a lap. We returned to the hotel and I let the kids cool off with a swim before our friends from Manila met us for dinner at the poolside Italian restaurant. Chris was in Ian's A100 class and went to Manila "with" us and Anne was an FSN in Manila. They got married last week! Oh yeah, we wondered too why they couldn't have held out one more week for us. The pizzas were pretty good, and they had a design-your-own-pasta option that the kids opted for. Kristin, our Chennaite travel buddy, also had dinner with us, so we had a nice big table.
Dinner didn't last past 9, and we all crashed hard after that. Afterall, there's the debate to wake up for tomorrow.
Oh, and my tongue is no longer black. Apparently it's a side effect of pepto.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Greetings from Ceylon

How odd to travel with 3 children. Katherine is traveling with the swim team so while we saw her at the airport (after a frantic phone call where she didn't have her passport... we had it), and on the plane, and waved goodbye at Colombo immigration, that's it for us until Sunday night. We are here as spectators, not in charge. She'll stay with her host family, eat with her team, hang out at OSC, we just come for the races and the rest of the time is ours. The Colombo Hilton is fine, more than fine when the rooms are comped by Hilton points. We plan to swim, eat, and watch some swimming. No touristing, we're on vacation.

We did visit the Embassy tomorrow, and plunder the commissary there. Treats and snacks galore. I told the kids they could have a soda, we came out with 2 bags of goodies and a case of Diet Cherry Coke.

Colombo is only 70 minutes past Chennai, we can walk to the ocean from the Hilton, and the Maldives require quarterly visits from the Consular Chief. Not a bad gig, really.

Monday, September 22, 2008

This Post Approved By The Government Of India

The Indian government doesn't agree with my copy of The Economist, and told me so.

I recently changed my subscription to The Economist from US-based to India-based. Same content, albeit in a different order, but most importantly I get it two-three weeks earlier, since I'm not waiting for it to come through the pouch. Now I get it straight to my door, the same day it's released.
Only today did I notice another change. In an article about the troubled tribal areas on the Pakistani-Afghan border, there was a map of the region. The map was large enough to include a small part of India, including Kashmir. The Kashmir area had dotted lines that denote the part administered by Pakistan, and Jammu & Kashmir, which is recognized as part of India.
Your history on this may be a little bit fuzzy, but here goes -- when the British partitioned India (Hindustan) and Pakistan in 1947, they allowed most of the local leaders, or maharajahs, to decide which country they would join. For the most part, this followed religious beliefs -- majority-Muslim areas became Pakistan, and majority-Hindu areas became India. As with many British colonial initiatives, it didn't go smoothly. The leader of one major area, Kashmir, opted to go with India. India welcomed them, but Pakistan insisted that older UN resolutions dictated a vote was necessary, and didn't recognize India's control. This has resulted in numerous military clashes, minor and major, usually around the "Line of Control" that separates Kashmir, from 1947 to today.
Obviously, India is pretty sensitive about this. So sensitive, that they put a big purple stamp on my magazine over the map, which (barely) reads: "THE EXTERNAL BOUNDARIES OF INDIA AS DEPICTED ARE NEITHER CORRECT NOR AUTHENTIC." It's not professionally printed, it's just an ink stamp. I wonder what The Economist's circulation is in India, and how many people has this as their job???
Apparently I'm not the only one that thinks this is silly.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Malaria is on the rise in India

No, none of us have it, thank goodness.

This story from from the indianexpress says that while 86% of the malaria cases in the world happen in African, of the other 14% in the world 80% are in South Asia and Southeast Asia.
You know what makes me shake my head though? This and thoughts like these: "However, there is good news. Owing to urbanisation in Asia, forest habitats of disease spreading mosquitoes are rapidly being destroyed."
Well, yay for deforestation!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Guess where we Won't be tonight. Go ahead, guess.

You'll never guess.

Dear Chennaites for Change,
We are excited to have this chance to invite you to meet Kim Reed from the Obama campaign and hear her speak. The event will be held this Thursday, September 18th at 7:30pm. It will be at the Anokhi café** on Chamiers road near the Park Sheraton ( The event will run from 7:30-9:30 PM.
Come listen to Kim speak and also hear how we can help get Obama elected, even from Chennai. The 2000 election was ultimately decided by 537 votes in Florida so every effort counts! Also, if you haven't registered yet, this will be your last chance to register for an absentee ballot.
Kim is based in Washington D.C. and is the primary liaison between all overseas Obama supporters and the campaign. As Executive Director of Americans Abroad for Obama, she works closely with Democrats Abroad groups around the world, and we are incredibly lucky that she is making a campaign swing through India, to help us organize our last India voter registration efforts, and to get us ready to actively help elect Obama all the way through 4 November. There is LOTS we can do from India!
If you haven't requested your absentee ballot yet, come to the event and we'll help you, or go to to download and print out your form. Every form must be mailed to your county office in the US in order to receive the ballot. We are advising Democrats in India to mail your registration forms BEFORE 20 SEPT to ensure that you will meet state deadlines. Do not delay, and tell every US citizen you know who resides abroad.
Presidential Debates
We are also planning to screen at least one of three presidential debates, which are listed below. Both Sridhar and I are out of town for the first two, so if anyone is interested in helping organize a screening party, please contact us! We are also looking for volunteers to help with other campaign activities.
1. Friday, September 26, 2008
at the University of Mississippi's Gertrude C. Ford Center in Oxford, Mississippi, moderated by Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor of The NewsHour on PBS.
This debate will focus on Foreign Policy & National Security.
2. Tuesday, October 7, 2008
at Belmont University's Curb Event Center in Nashville, Tennessee, moderated by Tom Brokaw, special correspondent for NBC News.
This debate will have a town-hall meeting format.
3. Wednesday, October 15, 2008
at Hofstra University's Hofstra Arena in Hempstead, New York, moderated by Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation.
This debate will focus on Domestic and Economic Policy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Yesterday was a long day.

For 7.5 hours, we did this: Big Bad Blue. The girls had it longer, they were at the school by 7:30, we didn't show up until 9. Nicholas and Jonathon did their soccer from 9:30-10:15, then Nicholas played until 4:30 during the meet while Jonathon went to a birthday party then hung about with the neighbors' at their house. We returned home with enough time for showers and a quick clean-up before folks arrived for Game Night at 7. Scattergories went over really well, we had a good little crowd (10 guests + a few kids), and kicked everyone out at 9:30. Literally kicked them out. I'm such a terrible hostess, but at 9:30 after the last round I said Thanks for coming and everyone got the hint.

Apparently the birthday party went well. Jonathon did not come home with a technicolored chick, thank goodness.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 Years Ago

It's hard to believe that Jonathon was but a month old when the Twin Towers fell.

Nicholas was 1 1/2. Rebecca only 3, and Katherine just starting school. What a world they have now, huh? All I know is that 7 years ago, the world changed again and not for the better IMO. Every generation has a scary issue, Terrorism is ours and it's not going away any time soon.
September 11 is now known as "Patriot Day." I don't know what Patriot Day really means though. Is it remembered by patriots? For patriots? Should we do something patriotic? Is it the day the Patriot Act was enacted? Honestly, I don't think September 11 needs a name. The date is enough.
Each year the Consulate sponsors a blood drive on September 11. I gave last year and the bloodmobile folks remembered me. It's easy to recall the woman who warns you about lightheadedness and a potential for passing out. I don't think I've ever passed out, but I do know I've come close and just the idea of giving blood with the warm tube laying along my arm makes my heart race and my head reconsider. I like the idea, I don't like the process.
Of course before any large amount of blood is taken, a small amount is pricked to check hemaeglobin. It's a funky test in India. Pricked, capillaried and dripped into a little glass of blue liquid. I don't know what the blue liquid is, but the viscosity determines how quickly the blood drops sink to the bottom. A quick descent means plenty of iron making the blood heavy. My blood sort of floated like a feather to the bottom. Out came the digital hemaglobin reader.
12.5 g/dL is the cut-off. Under that and you're considered anemic. Equal to or above, you're good to go. Even after my bowl of oatmeal for breakfast with vitamin and omega-3 chasers, I just made the 12.5 g/dL. I think that's also what led to the slightly longer donation time and the mild lightheadedness afterwards. She made me chug a juice box of mango juice (eeeeeeew, mango juice), eat a banana and lay down a little longer. I was able to leave with my cookies, after convincing the blood mobile folks I wouldn't pass out on the way back to the office.
Ian gave too. You know, we give when we can because once we step back on U.S. soil no one will touch our blood. It's a side effect of living overseas in the places we do.
A moment of silence for all those lost 7 years ago.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What the...??

Earthquakes strike Japan and Indonesia

'200 villages destroyed' as quake hits Iran

Quake ratlles northern Chile

Feeling Lonely

OK, I'm obviously contradicting myself here, but yes, one can feel lonely among friends. Actually, I think it has more to do with feeling like I'm coming down sick again. After crashing hard into a 3-hour nap yesterday afternoon, sleeping poorly last night and not being able to focus this morning, all I want to do is get these Motrin working on my pounding head and crawl into bed. But I'm still feeling lonely, which is weird. Weird. That's me. The gray rainy days aren't helping either. Perhaps St. Petersburg might not be a great Post for me, so here's hoping we don't get it.

It's probably not helping that I'm reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I'm not quite getting the book yet. A father and son (no names), are trudging about a devastated world, starving, freezing, avoiding groups that would eat them. Ash rains down night and day. Sporadic spoken sentences are usually no longer than 5 or 6 words, and often limited to 1 or 2 words. There are apparently no apostrophes is this dark world. After 2/3 of the novel, I'm still waiting for something to happen. Perhaps that is the point of the book, waiting for something when there is no history and no future. Trying to understand the will to live, the battle against death, when there is nothing to live for? Here's hoping the book group that gathers next month can enlighten me.

Need to brighten things up. What we need to do is have people over for an informal dinner. Time to pencil that in and see who's free and when.

I guess there's other news going on in the world. Let's see what's on my radar this week.

There's the Large Hadron Collider test going on right now. Leave it to Ian to lighten the idea of potential annihilation. Here's what he passed around the office today:
"In my ongoing attempt to out myself as the biggest geek in the Consulate....
Today scientists from CERN (CERN invented lots of cool stuff, like the World Wide Web) will switch on the "Large Hadron Collider," a 27 kilometer loop straddling the borders of Switzerland and France that will accelerate particles to nearly the speed of light, then smash them into each other. Apart from the inherent coolness of seeing fast things go boom, the scientists hope that the crashes will help them discover hidden particles, including "dark matter," that may explain the force of gravity.
If you haven't already fallen asleep, this CERN employee rap video will explain the science.
Now some people are trying to stop the experiment, worried that the collider will create tiny black holes that would obliterate space, time and our world.
In the event that the collider destroys the universe, Thursday will be an admin day."
Provided the universe does not implode, the election will continue. I realize that living outside the U.S. gives us an odd view of the world (from full-time stateside Americans who have never lived abroad), but I found the "Obama win preferred in world poll" article on quite fascinating. It states that a poll of 22,500 people in 22 foreign nations would prefer to have Obama as the next U.S. President, by a four-to-one margin. Obviously they don't get to vote and I'm sure there are plenty of Americans who would say "Who cares?" to what other nations would want in our election. But as someone who lives daily with others, on foreign soil surrounded by foreign press and foreign frustrations, it matters to me. It matters to me how our nation is considered around the world, it matters to me how our actual presence (yes, I mean us specifically and those like us in the State Department and military) is seen. The views of the rest of the world matter.
And then there's the hurricane. Half a world away from us, yet always in our thoughts. It's been a tough year already for the U.S. and even moreso for the Caribbean nations. And to think we've only hit "I".

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


With the disasters affecting millions of people each year, Tom Henderson came up with an idea for a box full of materials to provide 'shelter,' 'warmth,' 'comfort,' and 'dignity' to the hardest hit.

"Nobody can buy our boxes, they are only available for free." Free by way of donations.

I've added a link to the ShelterBox donation page under the Give A Helping Hand header.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Jonathon & Nicholas Ride

I haven't said it nearly enough, but the one thing I really really like about Chennai is our community. Some would say the Consulate community is insular, perhaps even cliquish (um, however that's spelled), but honestly that's not the case.

We welcome "outside" folks to our activities, it's just that within our little group (steadily growing little group, I might add) we try to keep ourselves very busy and we truly enjoy each other's company. Yesterday was the school picnic and though I came home with a headache from talking to people for 4 hours, I have never, not ever, had the chance to be in a place long enough to be comfortably part of a group. The kind of group that is an instant little party no matter where we are. The kind of people who pull up a chair and hang out by the pool and here's the kicker, think I have something to add. The kind of people who all have something in common, even if we've only just met. The kind of people who don't expect much in return, just pass on the good stuff and help each other through the rough patches. We have plenty of rough patches, things that just plain don't work right here in Chennai, but we're in it together and that does make a difference.
It's the one huge thing I will miss about Chennai when we leave next summer. I get along with just about everyone I've met (inside the Consulate and out), and I enjoy talking with all of them.
Which brings me to this morning. It started a little rough. Not a good night's sleep and woke up at 7 to kick our sleepover guest out the door (sorry J!). Then there was the makeup tennis lesson since yesterday morning it rained just enough to make the court slick. Another family was at the court when I arrived as they too were making up yesterday's lesson. They live in our neighborhood and had biked over, two adults on bikes, one kid on a bike, and one kid left to run alongside since he can't ride without training wheels yet. Jonathon was intrigued by the big lovely Schwinns. Mrs. Neighbor let him pedal while she ran alongside and he was hooked. After my tennis lesson, we twisted off the rusty training wheels from his bike, tossed the broken handbrake into the basket, pumped up the tires, and he was off.

We now have a free bike riding 7 year old. Perhaps this will encourage his 8 year old brother to try?
I sat and watched my friends play tennis while Jonathon made his way in circles around the CGs parking lot. Of course he wanted to show Ian too, so later he brought the bike back out, and other friends were at the tennis court, so while he pedaled around we chatted with them.
On weekends like this one, I remember that Chennai is really a great thing for us.
So Nicholas was not to be outdone. In the afternoon while Jonathon was playing at the neighbor's house, Nicholas snuck onto Jonathon's bike, and took off.

We've taken off his training wheels now, aired up his tires, and need to oil his very rusty chain, but he's ready to ride on his own set of wheels.

Nikon D90

I have a very nice Canon Rebel SLR. I don't carry it around much because I don't like the little lens it came with, and the telescopic lens is huge and heavy. It hurts to use. I'm wimpy. And no, I don't want another camera, certainly not until I make this one pay for itself somehow, but that doesn't mean I can't read up on what's new in the world of photography. And to that end, the article in the IHT about the new Nikon D90 caught my eye.

"What you get in return for looking like a tourist, of course, is the potential for absolutely stunning photos. Thanks to factors like high-quality, interchangeable lenses, a huge light sensor and high-speed circuitry that virtually eliminates shutter lag, the pictures you get from an SLR generally make pocket cameras' output look amateurish." But more than that "when you press the Live View button on the D90. You hear a little clack - that's the mirror flipping aside - and a live video image appears on the screen. Now you can shoot photos at angles where holding the camera to your head just wouldn't work; it comes in handy more often than you might think.

Live View is the key to the breakthrough feature of the D90, the secret that turns it into a completely new kind of recording instrument, the trick that will attract creative people who would otherwise have no interest in a $1,000 camera. Ready?

The D90 is the first SLR in the world that can record video.

High-definition video, at that. Stunning, vivid, wide screen, 1024 x 720 pixel, 24-frames-per-second video, with the color and clarity that only an SLR can provide."

Oops, Here's Biden's Convention Speech

It wasn't until Palin's speech that I realized I'd missed Biden's.

To correct my oversight, read Biden's transcript here:

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thanks. Thank you.
I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
You know, folks, my dad used to have an expression. He'd say, "A father knows he's a success when he turns and looks at his son or daughter and know that they turned out better than he did." I'm a success; I'm a hell of a success.
Beau, I love you. I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud of the son you've become; I'm so proud of the father you are.
And I'm also so proud of my son, Hunter, and my daughter, Ashley.
And my wife, Jill, the only one who leaves me both breathless and speechless at the same time.
It's an honor to share the stage tonight with President Clinton, a man who I think brought this country so far along that I only pray we do it again.
And last night -- and last night, it was moving to watch Hillary, one of our great leaders, a great leader of this party, a woman who has made history and will continue to make history...
... a colleague, my friend, Senator Hillary Clinton.
And I am truly honored -- I am truly honored to live in a country with the bravest warriors in the world.
And I'm honored to represent the first state, my state, the state of Delaware.
Since I've never been called a man of few words, let me say this simply as I can: Yes. Yes, I accept your nomination to run and serve with Barack Obama, the next president of the United States of America.
Let me make this pledge to you right here and now. For every American who is trying to do the right thing, for all those people in government who are honoring the pledge to uphold the law and honor the Constitution, no longer will you hear the eight most-dreaded words in the English language, "The vice president's office is on the phone."
Barack and I took very different journeys to this destination, but we share a common story. Mine began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then Wilmington, Delaware.
My dad -- my dad, who fell on hard times, always told me, though, "Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up." I was taught -- I was taught that by my dad. And, God, I wish my dad was here tonight.
But I thank God and I'm grateful that my mom, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden is here tonight.
Mom, I love you.
You know, my mom taught her children -- all the children who flocked to our house -- that you're defined by your sense of honor and you're redeemed by your loyalty. She believes that bravery lives in every heart, and her expectation is that it will be summoned. Failure -- failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.
As a child -- as a child, I stuttered, and she lovingly would look at me and tell me, "Joey, it's because you're so bright you can't get the thoughts out quickly enough."
When I was not as well-dressed as the other kids, she'd look at me and say, "Joey, oh, you're so handsome, honey, you're so handsome."
And when I got -- when I got knocked down by guys bigger than me -- and this is the God's truth -- she sent me back out and said, "Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day." And that's what I did.
You know -- and after the accident, she told me, she said, "Joey, God sends no cross that you cannot bear." And when I triumphed, my mother was quick to remind me it was because of others.
My mother's creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you.
My parents taught us...
My parents taught us to live our faith and to treasure our families. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough. That was America's promise.
And for those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream.
Ladies and gentlemen, but today, today that American dream feels like it's slowly slipping away. I don't have to tell you that. You feel it every single day in your own lives. I've never seen a time when Washington has watched so many people get knocked down without doing anything to help them get back up.
Almost every single night -- almost every single night, I take the train home to Wilmington, Delaware, sometimes very late. As I sit there in my seat and I look out that window, I see those flickering lights of the homes that pass by, I can almost hear the conversation they're having at their kitchen tables after they put their kids to bed.
Like millions of Americans, they're asking questions as -- as ordinary as they are profound, questions they never, ever thought they'd have to ask themselves.
Should Mom move in with us now that -- now that Dad's gone? Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars just to fill up the gas tank, how in God's name, with winter coming, how are we going to heat the home? Another year, no raise. Did you hear -- did you hear they may be cutting our health care at the company?
Now -- now we owe more money on our home than our home is worth. How in God's name are we going to send the kids to college? How are we going to retire, Joe?
You know, folks, that's the America that George Bush has left us. And that's the America we'll continue to get if George -- excuse me, if John McCain is elected president of the United States of America. Freudian slip. Freudian slip.
And, folks, these are not isolated discussions among families down on their luck. These are common stories among middle-class people who worked hard their whole life, played by the rules, on the promise that their tomorrows would be better than their yesterdays.
That promise is the promise of America. It defines who we are as a people. And now -- and now it's in jeopardy. I know it. You know it.
But John McCain doesn't get it. Barack Obama gets it. Like many of us, Barack worked his way up. His is a great American story.
You know, I believe the measure of a man isn't just the road he's traveled; it's the choices he's made along the way. Barack Obama could have done anything after he graduated from college. With all his talent and promise, he could have written his ticket to Wall Street. But that's not what he chose to do. He chose to go to Chicago. The South Side. There he met men and women who had lost their jobs. Their neighborhood was devastated when the local steel plant closed. Their dreams deferred. Their dignity shattered. Their self-esteem gone.
And he made their lives the work of his life. That's what you do when you've been raised by a single mom, who worked, went to school and raised two kids on her own. That's how you come to believe, to the very core of your being, that work is more than a paycheck. It's dignity. It's respect. It's about whether you can look your children in the eye and say: we're going to be OK.
Because Barack made that choice, 150,000 more children and parents have health care in Illinois. He fought to make that happen. And because Barack made that choice, working families in Illinois pay less taxes and more people have moved from welfare to the dignity of work. He got it done.
And when he came to Washington, I watched him hit the ground running, leading the fight to pass the most sweeping ethics reform in a generation. He reached across party lines to pass a law that helps keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. And he moved Congress and the president to give our wounded veterans the care and dignity they deserve.
You can learn an awful lot about a man campaigning with him, debating him and seeing how he reacts under pressure. You learn about the strength of his mind, but even more importantly, you learn about the quality of his heart.
I watched how he touched people, how he inspired them, and I realized he has tapped into the oldest American belief of all: We don't have to accept a situation we cannot bear.
We have the power to change it. That's Barack Obama, and that's what he will do for this country. He'll change it.
John McCain is my friend. We've known each other for three decades. We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism John demonstrated still amaze me.
But I profoundly disagree with the direction that John wants to take the country. For example, John thinks that during the Bush years "we've made great progress economically." I think it's been abysmal.
And in the Senate, John sided with President Bush 95 percent of the time. Give me a break. When John McCain proposes $200 billion in new tax breaks for corporate America, $1 billion alone for just eight of the largest companies, but no relief for 100 million American families, that's not change; that's more of the same.
Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history -- a half trillion dollars in the last five years -- he wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. But he voted time and again against incentives for renewable energy: solar, wind, biofuels. That's not change; that's more of the same.
Millions of jobs have left our shores, yet John continues to support tax breaks for corporations that send them there. That's not change; that's more of the same.
He voted 19 times against raising the minimum wage. For people who are struggling just to get to the next day, that's not change; that's more of the same.
And when he says he will continue to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq when Iraq is sitting on a surplus of nearly $80 billion, that's not change; that's more of the same.
The choice in this election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier; they require a wise leader, a leader who can deliver change the change everybody knows we need.
Barack Obama will deliver that change. Barack Obama will reform our tax code. He'll cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people who draw a paycheck. That's the change we need.
Barack Obama will transform our economy by making alternative energy a genuine national priority, creating 5 million new jobs and finally freeing us from the grip of foreign oil. That's the change we need.
Barack Obama knows that any country that out teaches us today will out-compete us tomorrow. He'll invest in the next generation of teachers. He'll make college more affordable. That's the change we need.
Barack Obama will bring down health care costs by $2,500 for the typical family, and, at long last, deliver affordable, accessible health care for all Americans. That's the change we need.
Barack Obama will put more cops on the streets, put the "security" back in Social Security and never give up until we achieve equal pay for women. That's the change we need.
As we gather here tonight, our country is less secure and more isolated than at any time in recent history. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole with very few friends to help us climb out. For the last seven years, this administration has failed to face the biggest forces shaping this century: the emergence of Russia, China and India as great powers; the spread of lethal weapons; the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water; the challenge of climate change; and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front against terrorism.
In recent days, we've once again seen the consequences of this neglect with Russia's challenge to the free and democratic country of Georgia. Barack Obama and I will end this neglect. We will hold Russia accountable for its actions, and we'll help the people of Georgia rebuild.
I've been on the ground in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms: this administration's policy has been an abject failure. America cannot afford four more years of this.
Now, despite being complicit in this catastrophic foreign policy, John McCain says Barack Obama isn't ready to protect our national security. Now, let me ask you: whose judgment should we trust? Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he said only three years ago, "Afghanistan we don't read about it anymore because it's succeeded? Or should we trust Barack Obama, who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan?
The fact is, al-Qaida and the Taliban -- the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 -- have regrouped in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoed Barack's call for more troops.
John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.
Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he rejected talking with Iran and then asked: What is there to talk about? Or Barack Obama, who said we must talk and make it clear to Iran that its conduct must change.
Now, after seven years of denial, even the Bush administration recognizes that we should talk to Iran, because that's the best way to advance our security.
Again, John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.
Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he says there can be no timelines to draw down our troops from Iraq that we must stay indefinitely? Or should we listen to Barack Obama, who says shift responsibility to the Iraqis and set a time to bring our combat troops home?
Now, after six long years, the Bush administration and the Iraqi government are on the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home.
John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.
Again and again, on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama was proven right.
Folks, remember when the world used to trust us? When they looked to us for leadership? With Barack Obama as our president, they'll look to us again, they'll trust us again, and we'll be able to lead again.
Jill and I are truly honored to join Barack and Michelle on this journey. When I look at their young children -- and when I look at my grandchildren -- I realize why I'm here. I'm here for their future.
And I am here for everyone I grew up with in Scranton and Wilmington. I am here for the cops and firefighters, the teachers and assembly line workers -- the folks whose lives are the very measure of whether the American dream endures.
Our greatest presidents -- from Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy -- they all challenged us to embrace change. Now, it's our responsibility to meet that challenge.
Millions of Americans have been knocked down. And this is the time as Americans, together, we get back up. Our people are too good, our debt to our parents and grandparents too great, our obligation to our children is too sacred.
These are extraordinary times. This is an extraordinary election. The American people are ready. I'm ready. Barack Obama is ready. This is his time. This is our time. This is America's time.
May God bless America and protect our troops.

Friday, September 5, 2008

For all the Chennai Expats Out There

And really, for American expats** around the world too. If you hadn't noticed yet, it's campaign season, and at the end of the campaign is a national vote. If you're living outside America, you can still vote, but it takes a bit of planning. In Chennai there are several ways to gather information about your home state's voting procedure, I've included the most pertinent behind the cut tag.

Or if you want to talk to someone in person, there will be a voting registration assistance booth at AISC from 12-5 tomorrow (Saturday, 6 September) during the Welcome Back to School picnic.

**Expat: a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence.

Straight from American Citizen Services (ACS) through me to you:
New Website for Overseas Voters
We encourage you to visit the newly redesigned Federal Voting Assistance Program website at, the official U.S. government website for overseas voters. The updated website features an automated Voter Registration and Ballot Delivery tool that will greatly improve the vote-by-mail process.
There are two options for overseas voters using the FVAP website:
· Visit and click "Get Started" to be directed to an online Federal Postcard Application and instructions for your state; or
· Visit and click "Use our New Automated Tool to Register/Request a Ballot" under Quick Links in the lower right-hand corner of the home page. You will be redirected to, a fully automated site that requires you to create a user account and password.

Voter Registration & Requesting an Absentee Ballot

Voters who have not yet registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot should do so now using the FVAP website. You may also pick up a hard copy of the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) from any U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
You should also complete a new Federal Postcard Application if you have moved or changed your name since the last time you voted.
Your local voting officials should mail your absentee ballot 30 to 45 days before the November 4 general election. Return your voted ballot as early as possible. Be aware of your state's ballot receipt deadline, as well as any postmarking requirements.
Emergency Ballots
The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) serves as an emergency ballot for voters who registered in time but fail to receive an official ballot from local election officials. You can access the FWAB using as well.
The Voting Assistance Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai is also always available to answer questions about absentee voting. To contact the Voting Assistance Officer, call 044-2857-4000 or send an e-mail to

McCain's Convention Speech

The conventions are done, but the final big hurray was McCain's speech.

Read it in its entirety:

"Thank you all very much. Tonight, I have a privilege given few Americans - the privilege of accepting our party's nomination for President of the United States.
And I accept it with gratitude, humility and confidence.
In my life, no success has come without a good fight, and this nomination wasn't any different.
That's a tribute to the candidates who opposed me and their supporters. They're leaders of great ability, who love our country, and wished to lead it to better days.
Their support is an honour I won't forget.
I'm grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history, and keeping us safe from another attack many thought was inevitable - and to the First Lady, Laura Bush, a model of grace and kindness in public and in private.
And I'm grateful to the 41st President and his bride of 63 years, and for their outstanding example of honourable service to our country.
As always, I'm indebted to my wife, Cindy, and my seven children.
The pleasures of family life can seem like a brief holiday from the crowded calendar of our nation's business.
But I have treasured them all the more, and can't imagine a life without the happiness you give me.
Cindy said a lot of nice things about me tonight.
But, in truth, she's more my inspiration than I am hers.
Her concern for those less blessed than we are - victims of land mines, children born in poverty and with birth defects - shows the measure of her humanity.
I know she will make a great First Lady.
When I was growing up, my father was often at sea, and the job of raising my brother, sister and me would fall to my mother alone.
Roberta McCain gave us her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength, and her belief we are all meant to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country.
I wouldn't be here tonight but for the strength of her character.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you, who helped me win this nomination, and stood by me when the odds were long. I won't let you down.
To Americans who have yet to decide who to vote for, thank you for your consideration and the opportunity to win your trust. I intend to earn it.
Finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters.
We'll go at it over the next two months. That's the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us.
But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us.
We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other.
We're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights.
No country ever had a greater cause than that, and I wouldn't be an American worthy of the name if I didn't honour Senator Obama and his supporters for their achievement.
But let there be no doubt, my friends, we're going to win this election.
And after we've won, we're going to reach out our hand to any willing patriot, make this government start working for you again, and get this country back on the road to prosperity and peace.
These are tough times for many of you. You're worried about keeping your job or finding a new one, and are struggling to put food on the table and stay in your home.
All you ever asked of government is to stand on your side, not in your way. And that's just what I intend to do - stand on your side and fight for your future.
And I've found just the right partner to help me shake up Washington, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.
She has executive experience and a real record of accomplishment. She's tackled tough problems like energy independence and corruption.
She's balanced a budget, cut taxes, and taken on the special interests. She's reached across the aisle and asked Republicans, Democrats and Independents to serve in her administration.
She's the mother of five children. She's helped run a small business, worked with her hands and knows what it's like to worry about mortgage payments and health care and the cost of gasoline and groceries.
She knows where she comes from and she knows who she works for.
She stands up for what's right, and she doesn't let anyone tell her to sit down.
I'm very proud to have introduced our next Vice President to the country. But I can't wait until I introduce her to Washington.
And let me offer an advance warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second Washington crowd - change is coming.
I'm not in the habit of breaking promises to my country and neither is Governor Palin.
And when we tell you we're going to change Washington, and stop leaving our country's problems for some unluckier generation to fix, you can count on it.
We've got a record of doing just that, and the strength, experience, judgment and backbone to keep our word to you.
You know, I've been called a maverick - someone who marches to the beat of his own drum.
Sometimes it's meant as a compliment and sometimes it's not. What it really means is I understand who I work for.
I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself.
I work for you.
I've fought corruption, and it didn't matter if the culprits were Democrats or Republicans.
They violated their public trust, and had to be held accountable.
I've fought big spenders in both parties, who waste your money on things you neither need nor want, while you struggle to buy groceries, fill your gas tank and make your mortgage payment.
I've fought to get million dollar checks out of our elections. I've fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes. I fought crooked deals in the Pentagon. I fought tobacco companies and trial lawyers, drug companies and union bosses.
I fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq, when it wasn't a popular thing to do.
And when the pundits said my campaign was finished, I said I'd rather lose an election than see my country lose a war.
Thanks to the leadership of a brilliant general, David Petreaus, and the brave men and women he has the honour to command, that strategy succeeded and rescued us from a defeat that would have demoralized our military, risked a wider war and threatened the security of all Americans.
I don't mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I've had quite a few tough ones in my life.
But I learned an important lesson along the way. In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.
I fight for Americans. I fight for you.
I fight for Bill and Sue Nebe from Farmington Hills, Michigan, who lost their real estate investments in the bad housing market. Bill got a temporary job after he was out of work for seven months. Sue works three jobs to help pay the bills.
I fight for Jake and Toni Wimmer of Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Jake works on a loading dock; coaches Little League, and raises money for the mentally and physically disabled. Toni is a schoolteacher, working toward her Master's Degree. They have two sons, the youngest, Luke, has been diagnosed with autism.
Their lives should matter to the people they elect to office.
They matter to me.
I fight for the family of Matthew Stanley of Wolfboro, New Hampshire, who died serving our country in Iraq. I wear his bracelet and think of him every day.
I intend to honour their sacrifice by making sure the country their son loved so well and never returned to, remains safe from its enemies.
I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party.
We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us.
We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption.
We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger.
We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies.
We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.
We're going to change that. We're going to recover the people's trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire.
The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics.
We believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential from the boy whose descendents arrived on the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers. We're all God's children and we're all Americans.
We believe in low taxes, spending discipline and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk takers and letting people keep the fruits of their labour.
We believe in a strong defence, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and judges who dispense justice impartially and don't legislate from the bench.
We believe in the values of families, neighbourhoods and communities.
We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans - government that doesn't make your choices for you, but works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself.
I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them.
I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them.
I will cut government spending. He will increase it.
My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them.
My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.
Keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs.
Cutting the second highest business tax rate in the world will help American companies compete and keep jobs from moving overseas.
Doubling the child tax exemption from $3500 to $7000 will improve the lives of millions of American families.
Reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs will let you keep more of your own money to save, spend and invest as you see fit.
Opening new markets and preparing workers to compete in the world economy is essential to our future prosperity.
I know some of you have been left behind in the changing economy and it often seems your government hasn't even noticed.
Government assistance for unemployed workers was designed for the economy of the 1950s. That's going to change on my watch.
My opponent promises to bring back old jobs by wishing away the global economy. We're going to help workers who've lost a job that won't come back, find a new one that won't go away.
We will prepare them for the jobs of today. We will use our community colleges to help train people for new opportunities in their communities.
For workers in industries that have been hard hit, we'll help make up part of the difference in wages between their old job and a temporary, lower paid one while they receive retraining that will help them find secure new employment at a decent wage.
Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained.
But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.
When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them.
Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.
Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I'm President, they will.
My fellow Americans, when I'm President, we're going to embark on the most ambitious national project in decades.
We are going to stop sending $700bn a year to countries that don't like us very much. We will attack the problem on every front.
We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we'll drill them now.
We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas.
We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.
Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power.
But Americans know better than that.
We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet.
It's an ambitious plan, but Americans are ambitious by nature, and we have faced greater challenges. It's time for us to show the world again how Americans lead.
This great national cause will create millions of new jobs, many in industries that will be the engine of our future prosperity - jobs that will be there when your children enter the workforce.
Today, the prospect of a better world remains within our reach. But we must see the threats to peace and liberty in our time clearly and face them, as Americans before us did, with confidence, wisdom and resolve.
We have dealt a serious blow to al Qaeda in recent years. But they are not defeated, and they'll strike us again if they can. Iran remains the chief state sponsor of terrorism and on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons.
Russia's leaders, rich with oil wealth and corrupt with power, have rejected democratic ideals and the obligations of a responsible power.
They invaded a small, democratic neighbour to gain more control over the world's oil supply, intimidate other neighbours, and further their ambitions of reassembling the Russian empire. And the brave people of Georgia need our solidarity and prayers.
As President I will work to establish good relations with Russia so we need not fear a return of the Cold War. But we can't turn a blind eye to aggression and international lawlessness that threatens the peace and stability of the world and the security of the American people.
We face many threats in this dangerous world, but I'm not afraid of them.
I'm prepared for them.
I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it should not do. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it.
I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don't.
I know how to secure the peace.
When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house.
A Navy officer rolled down the window, and shouted at my father that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbour.
I rarely saw my father again for four years. My grandfather came home from that same war exhausted from the burdens he had borne, and died the next day.
In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home with me.
I hate war. It is terrible beyond imagination.
I'm running for President to keep the country I love safe, and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has.
I will draw on all my experience with the world and its leaders, and all the tools at our disposal - diplomatic, economic, military and the power of our ideals - to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace.
In America, we change things that need to be changed. Each generation makes its contribution to our greatness. The work that is ours to do is plainly before us. We don't need to search for it.
We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy, from the way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network, from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children.
All these functions of government were designed before the rise of the global economy, the information technology revolution and the end of the Cold War.
We have to catch up to history, and we have to change the way we do business in Washington.
The constant partisan rancour that stops us from solving these problems isn't a cause, it's a symptom. It's what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not you.
Again and again, I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as President. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again.
I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not.
Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn't think of them first, let's use the best ideas from both sides.
Instead of fighting over who gets the credit, let's try sharing it.
This amazing country can do anything we put our minds to. I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.
We're going to finally start getting things done for the people who are counting on us, and I won't care who gets the credit.
I've been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. But I have been her servant first, last and always. And I've never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I didn't thank God for the privilege.
Long ago, something unusual happened to me that taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. I was blessed by misfortune.
I mean that sincerely. I was blessed because I served in the company of heroes, and I witnessed a thousand acts of courage, compassion and love.
On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission over North Vietnam. I hadn't any worry I wouldn't come back safe and sound. I thought I was tougher than anyone.
I was pretty independent then, too. I liked to bend a few rules, and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I did it for my own pleasure, my own pride. I didn't think there was a cause more important than me.
Then I found myself falling toward the middle of a small lake in the city of Hanoi, with two broken arms, a broken leg, and an angry crowd waiting to greet me. I was dumped in a dark cell, and left to die.
I didn't feel so tough anymore.
When they discovered my father was an admiral, they took me to a hospital. They couldn't set my bones properly, so they just slapped a cast on me.
When I didn't get better, and was down to about a hundred pounds, they put me in a cell with two other Americans. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even feed myself. They did it for me. I was beginning to learn the limits of my selfish independence. Those men saved my life.
I was in solitary confinement when my captors offered to release me. I knew why. If I went home, they would use it as propaganda to demoralize my fellow prisoners.
Our Code said we could only go home in the order of our capture, and there were men who had been shot down before me. I thought about it, though. I wasn't in great shape, and I missed everything about America. But I turned it down.
A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. I'd been mistreated before, but not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after I'd been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it.
But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me.
When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn't know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me.
Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had the honour to serve with. Because every day they fought for me.
I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here.
I loved it for its decency, for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's.
I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need.
My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.
If you find faults with our country, make it a better one.
If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher.
Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed.
Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.
I'm going to fight for my cause every day as your President. I'm going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach.
Fight with me. Fight with me.
Fight for what's right for our country.
Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.
Fight for our children's future.
Fight for justice and opportunity for all.
Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.
Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.
Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here.
We're Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.
Thank you, and God Bless you. "

Thursday, September 4, 2008


And after you read Palin's speech, you can read an AP report pointing out several large issues in which her points are at variance with reality.

Palin's Convention Speech

The Republican Convention is in full swing.

If you haven't heard it, you should read Sarah Palin's speech:

Mr Chairman, delegates, and fellow citizens: I am honoured 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. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organiser," except that you have actual responsibilities
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 calibre of the man himself - the determination, resolve, and sheer guts of Senator John McCain. The voters knew better.
And maybe that's because they realise 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 - 11 September - 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 haberdasher 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 organiser," 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 defence 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 pay checks 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 organiser.
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 honourable 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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back to School Nights

Last week we had the elementary school BtSN, tonight we had the middle school BtSN. It makes for a long day, but at least we're done until next year and whatever the next school might have.

I'm impressed with the French teacher, a bona fide French woman who was as amazed at the kids' lack of communication skills as the rest of us. She's intent on getting them speaking, ASAP. And she's a bundle of energy with a sense of humor. A good mix.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Obama's Convention Speech

Even if you're not a Democrat. Even if you are, but don't want Obama.

If you missed the telecast, read the transcript:

"To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation.
With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for presidency of the United States.
Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest -- a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and yours -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Bill Clinton, who made last night the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.
To the love of my life, our next first lady, Michelle Obama, and to Malia and Sasha -- I love you so much, and I'm so proud of you.
Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story -- of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.
It is that promise that has always set this country apart -- that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.
That's why I stand here tonight. Because for 232 years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women -- students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive.
We meet at one of those defining moments -- a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.
Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.
These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.
America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.
This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.
We're a better country than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for 20 years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.
We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.
Tonight, I say to the people of America, to Democrats and Republicans and independents across this great land -- enough! This moment -- this election -- is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight. On November 4, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."
Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and our respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.
But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Sen. McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.
The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives -- on health care and education and the economy -- Sen. McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this president. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisers -- the man who wrote his economic plan -- was talking about the anxieties that Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."
A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud autoworkers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and they give back and they keep going without complaint. These are the Americans I know.
Now, I don't believe that Sen. McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?
It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.
For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy -- give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is that you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. You're on your own. No health care? The market will fix it. You're on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps -- even if you don't have boots. You are on your own.
Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America. And that's why I'm running for president of the United States.
You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.
We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president -- when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of go down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.
We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off and look after a sick kid without losing her job -- an economy that honors the dignity of work.
The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great -- a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.
Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.
In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.
When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.
And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business or making her way in the world, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.
Now, I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped my life. And it is on behalf of them that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States.
What is that American promise?
It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.
It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, to look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.
Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves -- protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and science and technology.
Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.
That's the promise of America -- the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president.
Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.
You know, unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.
I'll eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
I will, listen now, cut taxes -- cut taxes -- for 95 percent of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.
And for the sake of our economy, our security and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East. We will do this.
Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and by the way John McCain's been there for 26 of them. And in that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil that we had as the day that Sen. McCain took office.
Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.
As president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced.
America, now is not the time for small plans.
Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. You know, Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American -- if you commit to serving your community or our country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.
Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their job and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.
Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.
And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have the exact same opportunities as your sons.
Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime -- by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less -- because we cannot meet 21st century challenges with a 20th century bureaucracy.
And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility to provide love and guidance to their children.
Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility -- that's the essence of America's promise.
And just as we keepour promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next commander in chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.
For while Sen. McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats that we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell -- but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.
And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush administration, even after we learned that Iraq has $79 billion in surplus while we are wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.
That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a president who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.
You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice -- but that is not the change that America needs.
We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans -- have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.
As commander in chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.
I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.
These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.
But what I will not do is suggest that the senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and each other's patriotism.
The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America -- they have served the United States of America.
So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.
America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose. That's what we have to restore.
We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. You know, passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. But this, too, is part of America's promise -- the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.
I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
You make a big election about small things.
And you know what -- it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.
I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.
But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's about you. It's about you.
For 18 long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us -- that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it -- because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.
America, this is one of those moments.
I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. Because I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I've seen it in Washington, where we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorist.
And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and the young at heart, those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day even though they can't afford it than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.
You know, this country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
Instead, it is that American spirit -- that American promise -- that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.
That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours -- a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.
And it is that promise that 45 years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.
The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.
But what the people heard instead -- people of every creed and color, from every walk of life -- is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.
"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."
America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise -- that American promise -- and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America."