Friday, July 30, 2004

Tom Ridge in the poorhouse?

According to CBS News, Tom Ridge is considering stepping down as Secretary of Homeland Security because he needs to earn money in the private sector to put his kids through college. Apparently his $175,000 annual salary isn't enough. Maybe he should have filed for financial aid. Bastard. Welcome to the world, Tom.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Bob Edwards got a new gig

I found this article over at CNN.com.

It seems Bob Edwards, the long-time host of NPR's Morning Edition is getting his own show on XM Satellite Radio. I still can't understand why Edwards was canned at NPR; he was the morning voice for years and NPR's explaination for his removal just seems a little fuzzy.

Anyway, good luck, Bob. I wish I had XM radio.

Al Sharpton speaks

I'm not a big fan of Reverend Al Sharpton. Sometimes I think he is a divisive presence. But after watching a little bit of his speach last night and reading the transcript, I think I like him a little more.

Here's what he had to say:

Thank you.

Tonight I want to address my remarks in two parts.

One, I'm honored to address the delegates here.

Last Friday, I had the experience in Detroit of hearing President George Bush make a speech. And in the speech, he asked certain questions. I hope he's watching tonight. I would like to answer your questions, Mr. President.

To the chairman, our delegates, and all that are assembled, we're honored and glad to be here tonight.

I'm glad to be joined by supporters and friends from around the country. I'm glad to be joined by my family, Kathy, Dominique, who will be 18, and Ashley.

We are here 228 years after right here in Boston we fought to establish the freedoms of America. The first person to die in the Revolutionary War is buried not far from here, a black man from Barbados, named Crispus Attucks.

Forty years ago, in 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party stood at the Democratic convention in Atlantic City fighting to preserve voting rights for all America and all Democrats, regardless of race or gender.

Hamer's stand inspired Dr. King's march in Selma, which brought about the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Twenty years ago, Reverend Jesse Jackson stood at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, again, appealing to the preserve those freedoms.

Tonight, we stand with those freedoms at risk and our security as citizens in question.

I have come here tonight to say, that the only choice we have to preserve our freedoms at this point in history is to elect John Kerry the president of the United States.

I stood with both John Kerry and John Edwards on over 30 occasions during the primary season. I not only debated them, I watched them, I observed their deeds, I looked into their eyes. I am convinced that they are men who say what they mean and mean what they say.

I'm also convinced that at a time when a vicious spirit in the body politic of this country that attempts to undermine America's freedoms -- our civil rights, and civil liberties -- we must leave this city and go forth and organize this nation for victory for our party and John Kerry and John Edwards in November.

And let me quickly say, this is not just about winning an election. It's about preserving the principles on which this very nation was founded.

Look at the current view of our nation worldwide as a results of our unilateral foreign policy. We went from unprecedented international support and solidarity on September 12, 2001, to hostility and hatred as we stand here tonight. We can't survive in the world by ourselves.

How did we squander this opportunity to unite the world for democracy and to commit to a global fight against hunger and disease?

We did it with a go-it-alone foreign policy based on flawed intelligence. We were told that we were going to Iraq because there were weapons of mass destruction. We've lost hundreds of soldiers. We've spent $200 billion dollars at a time when we had record state deficits. And when it became clear that there were no weapons, they changed the premise for the war and said: No, we went because of other reasons.

If I told you tonight, "Let's leave the FleetCenter, we're in danger," and when you get outside, you ask me, Reverend Al, "What is the danger?" and I say, "It don't matter. We just needed some fresh air," I have misled you and we were misled.

We are also faced with the prospect of in the next four years that two or more of the Supreme Court Justice seats will become available. This year we celebrated the anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education.

This court has voted five to four on critical issues of women's rights and civil rights. It is frightening to think that the gains of civil and women rights and those movements in the last century could be reversed if this administration is in the White House in these next four years.

I suggest to you tonight that if George Bush had selected the court in '54, Clarence Thomas would have never got to law school.

This is not about a party. This is about living up to the promise of America. The promise of America says we will guarantee quality education for all children and not spend more money on metal detectors than computers in our schools.

The promise of America guarantees health care for all of its citizens and doesn't force seniors to travel to Canada to buy prescription drugs they can't afford here at home.

The promise of America provides that those who work in our health care system can afford to be hospitalized in the very beds they clean up every day.

The promise of America is that government does not seek to regulate your behavior in the bedroom, but to guarantee your right to provide food in the kitchen.

The issue of government is not to determine who may sleep together in the bedroom, it's to help those that might not be eating in the kitchen.

The promise of America that we stand for human rights, whether it's fighting against slavery in the Sudan, where right now Joe Madison and others are fasting, around what is going on in the Sudan; AIDS in Lesotho; a police misconduct in this country.

The promise of America is one immigration policy for all who seek to enter our shores, whether they come from Mexico, Haiti or Canada, there must be one set of rules for everybody.

We cannot welcome those to come and then try and act as though any culture will not be respected or treated inferior. We cannot look at the Latino community and preach "one language." No one gave them an English test before they sent them to Iraq to fight for America.

The promise of America is that every citizen vote is counted and protected, and election schemes do not decide the election.

It, to me, is a glaring contradiction that we would fight, and rightfully so, to get the right to vote for the people in the capital of Iraq in Baghdad, but still don't give the federal right to vote for the people in the capital of the United States, in Washington, D.C.

Mr. President, as I close, Mr. President, I heard you say Friday that you had questions for voters, particularly African- American voters. And you asked the question: Did the Democratic Party take us for granted? Well, I have raised questions. But let me answer your question.

You said the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule.

That's where the argument, to this day, of reparations starts. We never got the 40 acres. We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres.

We didn't get the mule. So we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us.

Mr. President, you said would we have more leverage if both parties got our votes, but we didn't come this far playing political games. It was those that earned our vote that got our vote. We got the Civil Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the Voting Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the right to organize under Democrats.

Mr. President, the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is our right to vote wasn't gained because of our age. Our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs, soaked in the blood of good men (inaudible) soaked in the blood of four little girls in Birmingham. This vote is sacred to us.

This vote can't be bargained away.

This vote can't be given away.

Mr. President, in all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale.

And there's a whole generation of young leaders that have come forward across this country that stand on integrity and stand on their traditions, those that have emerged with John Kerry and John Edwards as partners, like Greg Meeks, like Barack Obama, like our voter registration director, Marjorie Harris, like those that are in the trenches.

And we come with strong family values. Family values is not just those with two-car garages and a retirement plan. Retirement plans are good. But family values also are those who had to make nothing stretch into something happening, who had to make ends meet.

I was raised by a single mother who made a way for me. She used to scrub floors as a domestic worker, put a cleaning rag in her pocketbook and ride the subways in Brooklyn so I would have food on the table.

But she taught me as I walked her to the subway that life is about not where you start, but where you're going. That's family values.

And I wanted somebody in my community -- I wanted to show that example. As I ran for president, I hoped that one child would come out of the ghetto like I did, could look at me walk across the stage with governors and senators and know they didn't have to be a drug dealer, they didn't have to be a hoodlum, they didn't have to be a gangster, they could stand up from a broken home, on welfare, and they could run for president of the United States.

As you know, I live in New York. I was there September 11th when that despicable act of terrorism happened.

A few days after, I left home, my family had taken in a young man who lost his family. And as they gave comfort to him, I had to do a radio show that morning. When I got there, my friend James Entome (ph) said, "Reverend, we're going to stop at a certain hour and play a song, synchronized with 990 other stations."

I said, "That's fine."

He said, "We're dedicating it to the victims of 9/11."

I said, "What song are you playing?"

He said "America the Beautiful." The particular station I was at, the played that rendition song by Ray Charles.

As you know, we lost Ray a few weeks ago, but I sat there that morning and listened to Ray sing through those speakers, "Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains' majesty across the fruited plain."

And it occurred to me as I heard Ray singing, that Ray wasn't singing about what he knew, because Ray had been blind since he was a child. He hadn't seen many purple mountains. He hadn't seen many fruited plains. He was singing about what he believed to be.

Mr. President, we love America, not because all of us have seen the beauty all the time.

But we believed if we kept on working, if we kept on marching, if we kept on voting, if we kept on believing, we would make America beautiful for everybody.

Starting in November, let's make America beautiful again.

Thank you. And God bless you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Obama who?

One of the Democrats's rising stars, Barack Obama gave the keynote address last night at the DNC. He was pretty impressive, even if he's never held a national office before. We'll see how he does.

Here is what he had to say:

On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely.

My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before.

While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas.

Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor my grandfather signed up for duty, joined Patton's army and marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west, all the way to Hawaii, in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two continents.

My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success.

They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential.

They're both passed away now. And yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with pride.

And I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my two precious daughters.

I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on Earth, is my story even possible.

Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted -- or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers and the promise of future generations.

And fellow Americans -- Democrats, Republicans, Independents -- I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college.

Now don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to.

Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon.

Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach our kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.

People don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry.

John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and service, because they've defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we've seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he'll offer them to companies creating jobs here at home.

John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves.

John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren't held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.

John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.

And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.

You know, a while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, 6-2 or 6-3, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week.

And as I listened to him explain why he'd enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all that any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us?

I thought of the 900 men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists.

When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated.

John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure.

John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we are all connected as one people.

If there's a child on the South Side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.

If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent.

If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief -- it is that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper -- that makes this country work.

It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America.

There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America -- there is the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states; red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it.

We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope?

John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here-the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it.

That's not what I'm talking [about]. I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope.

In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; a belief in things not seen; a belief that there are better days ahead.

I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity.

I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.

I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs, and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us.

America, tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do, if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president. And John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president. And this country will reclaim its promise. And out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

And here is what Bill had to say

After Jimmy Carter spoke, both Clintons were on, Bill and Hillary. I didn't get to see all of each, but I think if Bill ran for president against Dubya today, he'd win.

Here are his remarks:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be here with you.

I am honored to share this podium with my senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton. And I want to thank the people of New York for giving the best public servant in my family a chance to continue serving the public. Thank you.

I am also -- I'm going to say that again, in case you didn't hear it.

I'm honored to be here tonight. And I want to thank the people of New York for giving Hillary the chance to continue to serve in public life.

I am very proud of her. And we are both very grateful to all of you, especially my good friends from Arkansas, for giving me the chance to serve in the White House for eight years.

I am honored to share this night with President Carter, for whom I worked in 1976 and who has inspired the world with his work for peace, democracy and human rights.

I am honored to share it with Al Gore, my friend and my partner for eight years, who played such a large role in building the prosperity and peace that we left America in 2000.

And Al Gore, as he showed again tonight, demonstrated incredible patriotism and grace under pressure. He is the living embodiment of the principle that every vote counts.

And this year, we're going to make sure they're all counted in every state in America.

My friends, after three conventions as a candidate or a president, tonight I come to you as a citizen, returning to the role that I have played for most of my life, as a foot soldier in our fight for the future, as we nominate in Boston a true New England patriot for president.

Now this state, who gave us in other times of challenge John Adams and John Kennedy, has given us John Kerry, a good man, a great senator, a visionary leader. And we are all here to do what we can to make him the next president of the United States.

My friends, we are constantly being told that America is deeply divided. But all Americans value freedom and faith and family. We all honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

We all want good jobs, good schools, health care, safe streets, a clean environment.

We all want our children to grow up in a secure America leading the world toward a peaceful and prosperous future.

Our differences are in how we can best achieve these things in a time of unprecedented change. Therefore, we Democrats will bring to the American people this year a positive campaign, arguing not who is a good or a bad person, but what is the best way to build a safe and prosperous world our children deserve.

The 21st century is marked by serious security threats, serious economic challenges and serious problems, from AIDS to global warming to the continuing turmoil in the Middle East.

But it is also full of amazing opportunities to create millions of new jobs and clean energy and biotechnology, to restore our manufacturing base and reap the benefits of the global economy, through our diversity and our commitment to decent labor and environmental standards for people all across the world and to create a world where we can celebrate our religious, our racial, our ethnic, our tribal differences because our common humanity matters most of all.

To build that kind of world, we must make the right choices. And we must have a president who will lead the way. Democrats and Republicans have very different and deeply felt ideas about what choices we should make. They're rooted in fundamentally different views of how we should meet our common challenges at home, and how we should play our role in the world.

We Democrats want to build a world and an America of shared responsibilities and shared benefits. We want a world with more global cooperation where we act alone only when we absolutely have to.

We think the role of government should be to give people the tools to create the conditions to make the most of their own lives. And we think everybody should have that chance.

On the other hand, the Republicans in Washington believe that American should be run by the right people -- their people -- in a world in which America acts unilaterally when we can and cooperates when we have to.

They believe the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their economic, political and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on important matters like health care and retirement security.

Now, since most Americans aren't that far to the right, our friends have to portray us Democrats as simply unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America.

But we don't.

Americans long to be united. After 9/11, we all just wanted to be one nation. Not a single American on September the 12, 2001, cared who won the next presidential election.

All we wanted to do was to be one country, strong in the fight against terror, helping to heal those who were wounded and the families of those who lost their loved ones, reaching out to the rest of the world so we could meet these new challenges and go on with our democratic way of life.

The president had an amazing opportunity to bring the country together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in the struggle against terror.

Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice. They chose to use that moment of unity to try to push the country too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors had finished their work, but in withdrawing American support for the climate change treaty, and for the international court on war criminals, and for the anti-ballistic missile treaty and from the nuclear test ban treaty.

Now, now at a time when we're trying to get other people to give up nuclear and biological and chemical weapons, they are trying to develop two new nuclear weapons which they say we might use first.

At home, the president and the Republican Congress have made equally fateful choices, which they also deeply believe in.

For the first time when America was in a war footing in our whole history, they gave two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top 1 percent of us.

Now, I'm in that group for the first time in my life.

And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me.

But as soon as I got out and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I never thought I'd be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress.

I almost sent them a thank you note for my tax cuts, until I realized that the rest of you were paying the bill for it. And then I thought better of it.

Now look at the choices they made, choices they believed in. They chose to protect my tax cut at all costs while withholding promised funding to the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving 2.1 million children behind.

They chose to protect my tax cut, while cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of their job training programs, 100,000 working families out of their child care assistance, and worst of all, while cutting 300,000 poor children out of their after-school programs, when we know it keeps them off the streets, out of trouble, in school, learning, going to college and having a good life.

They chose -- they chose to protect my tax cuts while dramatically raising the out-of-pocket costs of health care to our veterans and while weakening or reversing very important environmental measures that Al Gore and I put into place, everything from clean air to the protection of our forests.

Now, in this time, everyone in America had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans. And most of us, almost all of us, from Republicans to independents and Democrats, we wanted to be asked to do our part, too. But all they asked us to do was to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts.

Now, if you like these choices and you agree with them, you should vote to return them to the White House and the Congress. If not, take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats.

We've got a different economic policy.

In this year's budget, the White House this year wants to cut off all the federal funding for 88,000 uniformed police officers under the COPS program we've had for 10 years. Among those 88,000 police are more than 700 members of the New York Police Department who put their lives on the line on 9/11.

With gang violence rising, and with all of us looking for terrorists in our midst and hoping they're not too well armed or too dangerous, the president and the Congress are about to allow the 10-year-old ban on deadly assault weapons to lapse.

Now, they believe it's the right thing to do. But our policy was to put more police on the street and to take assault weapons off the street. And it gave you eight years of declining crime and eight years of declining violence.

Their policy is the reverse. They're taking police off the streets while they put assault weapons back on the street.

Now, if you agree with that choice, by all means, vote to keep them in office. But if you don't, join John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats in making America safer, smarter and stronger again.

On homeland security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for weapons of mass destruction. It cost $1 billion. It would have been paid for under our bill by asking the 200,000 millionaires in America to cut their tax cut by $5,000. Almost all 200,000 of us would like to have done that, to spend $5,000 to make all 300 million Americans safer.

The measure failed. Why? Because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives opposed it. They thought our $5,000 was more important than doubling the container checks at our ports and airports.

If you agree with that, by all means, re-elect them. If not, John Kerry and John Edwards are your team for the future.

These policies have turned a projected $5.8 trillion surplus that we left, enough to pay for the baby boomer retirement, into a projected debt of almost $5 trillion, with over $400 billion in deficit this year and for years to come.

Now, how do they pay for that deficit? First, by taking the Social Security surplus that comes in every month and endorsing the checks of working people over to me to pay for the tax cuts. But it's not enough.

So then they have to go borrow money. Most of it they borrow from the Chinese and the Japanese government.

Sure, these countries are competing with us for good jobs, but how can we enforce our trade laws against our bankers? I mean, come on.

So if you think -- if you believe it is good policy -- if you believe it is good policy to pay for my tax cuts with the Social Security checks of working men and women and borrowed money from China and Japan, you should vote for them. If not, John Kerry's your man.

We Americans must choose for president ... we've got to choose for president between two strong men who both love their countries, but who have very different world views: our nominee, John Kerry, who favors shared responsibility, shared opportunity and more global cooperation; and their president and their party in Congress who favor concentrated wealth and power, leaving people to fend for themselves and more unilateral action.

I think we're right for two reasons.

First of all, America just works better when more people have a chance to live their dreams.

And, secondly, we live in an interdependent world in which we cannot possibly kill, jail or occupy all of our potential adversaries. So we have to both fight terror and build a world with more partners and fewer terrorists.

Now, we tried it their way for 12 years. We tried it their way for 12 years. We tried it our way for eight years. Then we tried it their way for four more. But the only test that matters is whether people were better off when we finished than when we started. Our way works better.

It produced over 22 million good jobs, rising incomes for the middle class, over 100 times as many people moved from poverty into the middle class, more health care, the largest increase in college aid in 50 years, record home ownership, a cleaner environment, three surpluses in a row, a modernized defense force, strong efforts against terror and a respected America in the world.

More importantly, more importantly, we have great new champions in John Kerry and John Edwards, two good men, with wonderful wives: Teresa, a generous and wise woman, who understands the world we're trying to shape; and Elizabeth, a lawyer and mother, who understands the lives we're trying to live.

Now, let me tell you know what I know about John Kerry. I've been seeing all of the Republican ads about him. Let me tell you what I know about him.

During the Vietnam War, many young men, including the current president, the vice president and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided going too, but instead, he said: Send me.

When they sent those swift boats up the river in Vietnam, and they told them their job was to draw hostile fire, to wave the American flag and bait the enemy to come out and fight, John Kerry said: Send me.

And then, on my watch, when it was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with Vietnam and to demand an accounting of the POWs and MIAs we lost there, John Kerry said: Send me.

Then when we needed someone to push the cause of inner city children struggling to avoid a life of crime, or to bring the benefits of high technology to ordinary Americans, or to clean the environment in a way that created new jobs, or to give small businesses a better chance to make it, John Kerry said: Send me.

So tonight, my friends, I ask you to join me for the next 100 days in telling John Kerry's story and promoting his ideas. Let every person in this hall and like-minded people all across our land say to him what he has always said to America: Send me.

The bravery that men who fought by his side in battle, that bravery they saw in battle, I have seen in politics. When I was president, John Kerry showed courage and conviction on crime, on welfare reform, on balancing the budget, at a time when those priorities were not exactly the way to win a popularity contest in our party.

John Kerry took tough positions on tough problems. He knows who he is and where he's going. He has the experience, the character, the ideas, the values to be a great president.

And in a time of change, he has two other very important qualities: an insatiable curiosity to understand the world around him, and a willingness to hear other views, even those who disagree with him.

Therefore, John Kerry will make choices that reflect both conviction and common sense. He proved that when he picked John Edwards to be his partner.

Now, everybody talks about John Edwards' energy and intellect and charisma. You know, I kind of resent him.

But the important thing is not what talents he has, but how he has used them. He chose -- he chose to use his talents to improve the lives of people like him who had to work for everything they've got and to help people too often left out and left behind. And that's what he'll do as our vice president.

Now their opponents will tell you ... their opponents will tell you we should be afraid of John Kerry and John Edwards, because they won't stand up to the terrorists. Don't you believe it. Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.

They go hand in hand. They go hand in hand, and John Kerry has both. His first priority will be to keep America safe.

Remember the scripture: "Be not afraid."

John Kerry and John Edwards are good people with good ideas, ideas to make the economy work again for middle-class Americans, to restore fiscal responsibility, to save Social Security, to make health care more affordable, college more available, to free us from dependence on foreign oil, and create new jobs with clean energy and a cleaner environment, to rally the world to our side in the war against terror, and to make a world with more friends and less terror.

My friends, at every turning point in our history, we, the people, have chosen unity over division, heeding our founders' call to America's eternal mission to form a more perfect union, to widen the circle of opportunity deep in the reach of freedom and strengthen the bonds of our community.

It happened every time, because we made the right choices.

In the early days of the republic, America was divided and at a crossroads, much as it is today, deeply divided over whether or not to build a real nation with a national economy and a national legal system. We chose to build a more perfect union.

In the Civil War, America was at another crossroads, deeply divided over whether to save the union and end slavery. We chose a more perfect union.

In the 1960s, when I was a young man, we were divided again over civil rights and women's rights. And again we chose to form a more perfect union.

As I said in 1992, I say again tonight, we are all in this together. We have an obligation, both to work hard and to help our fellow citizens, an obligation both to fight terror and to build a world with more cooperation and less terror.

Now, again, it is time to choose. Since we're all in the same boat, we should choose a captain of our ship who is a brave good man, who knows how to steer a vessel through troubled waters, to the calm seas and the clear sides of our more perfect union. That is our mission.

So let us go in tonight and say to America in a loud, clear voice: Send John Kerry.

God bless you.

Jimmy Carter at the Democratic National Convention

I love Jimmy Carter. The best ex-president the country has ever had (arguably second best behind William Howard Taft). Heard him speaking at the DNC last night; lots of interesting things to say. Here is the transcript of Jimmy's remarks:

My name is Jimmy Carter, and I'm not running for president.

But here's what I will be doing: everything I can to put John Kerry in the White House with John Edwards right there beside him.

Twenty-eight years ago, I was running for president. And I said then, "I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as competent and as compassionate as are the American people."

I say this again tonight, and that's exactly what we will have next January with John Kerry as president of the United States of America.

As many of you may know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles. At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace.

I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties, both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.

They knew the horrors of war. And later as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment, and they had a clear sense of mission.

We had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating wars of choice unless America's vital interests were in danger.

We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when issues involved our national security.

Today, our Democratic Party is led by another former naval officer, one who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty, and he served with honor and distinction.

He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of leadership. And I am confident that next January, he will restore the judgment and maturity to our government that nowadays is sorely lacking.

I am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I am ready to follow him to victory in November.

As you all know, our country faces many challenges at home involving energy, taxation, the environment, education and health. To meet these challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super-rich and their armies of lobbyists in Washington.

But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is even more important. It is to safeguard the security of our nation.

Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.

Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world.

Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people.

When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken.

After 9/11, America stood proud -- wounded, but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.

Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.

Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support.

We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights.

But recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice.

What a difference these few months of extremism have made.

The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war.

With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.

In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt. For the first time since Israel became a nation, all former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians.

The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.

Instead, violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region increasingly swept by anti-American passions. This must change.

Elsewhere, North Korea's nuclear menace, a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Hussein, has been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

These are some of the prices of our government has paid for this radical departure from the basic American principles and values that are espoused by John Kerry.

In repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.

First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs.

Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic.

Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country.

Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others.

And finally, in the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.

You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls.

When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.

Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people, or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America's role in the world.

At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul.

In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life.

And in many ways, the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all. But I am not discouraged. I really am not. I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.

And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they wish us well or ill: Do not underestimate us Americans.

We lack neither strength nor wisdom. There is a road that leads to a bright and hopeful future. What America needs is leadership. Our job, my fellow Americans, is to ensure that the leaders of this great country will be John Kerry and John Edwards.

Thank you, and God bless America.

summer is almost over

Well, it's been a long few weeks between the end of American Idol and the beginning of football season.

The pro training camps are starting up this week and the college kids are getting ready to play.

I love how the Big 12 is thinking of going to a 12 game "regular" season. That's 13 games for teams going to bowls and 14 for the teams going to the Big 12 Championship Game. What was the argument against Division I-A playoffs? That kids would be playing too often?

How about Ricky Williams retiring on Sunday? I guess the Fish are screwed. They were looking at maybe 11-5 after building their offense around Ricky, but now I guess they're probably going to go somewhere between 4-12 and 6-10 unless they can pick up a power running free agent (which isn't likely considering that Eddie George and Corey Dillon are off the market).

Still, I can't blame Williams; he's getting out after making a boatload of money and his body is still intact. I guess that after playing football for 20 years, he's probably just tired of it. You'd think, though, he could have made this decision a little sooner than 3 days before training camp starts.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Dinner and a movie

A funny thing happened Friday when I got home.

I walked through the door and the first thing Sarah said was, "Did you buy something over the internet and not tell me?"

Of course I would never do anything like that, but there was a box marked "seafood" with someone else's name on it sitting in the kitchen. Sarah said it was left on the doorstep when she got home.

The name on the package was "Steve Laraba", but the address was ours and the phone number was someone else's. There was a handwritten not on the box to leave it if no one was home, so UPS left it. The return address was somewhere in Maine.

We called the phone number that was on the box, but it was some guy on the west end who didn't know who Steve Laraba was and didn't order anything over the internet.

So we called the company that shipped it. Sarah talked to someone there who said, "Well, that's the address and phone number they gave us. Do you like seafood? If you do, go ahead and eat it. If not, throw it away. It's kind of pointless to have UPS come out and pick up something we're going to throw out anyway."

She thanked him and opened the box, which contained a styrofoam cooler, and ice pack and two live Maine lobsters wrapped in newspaper.

Sarah doesn't care for lobster; I love shellfish. So I had two lobsters for dinner on Friday. And I don't know who ordered them, but thank you.

I, Robot



We went to see I, Robot Saturday afternoon. It was good, not spectacular, but I'd pay $4.50 again to see it. The special effects are excellent and unlike many Will Smith summer vehicles, the plot doesn't get lost amidst the explosions and car chases.

Like 2001: A Space Odyssey, there are lots of questions about empowering machines to evolve and think, teaching them emotion and other similar classic science fiction themes.

The movie credits say the movie was "suggested" by the stories of Isaac Asimov, which means there is no clear delineation from one story to the movie (as in the cases of movies Total Recall and Minority Report); all that the movie really has in common with Asimov's short stories are the Three Laws of Robotics.

Still, like Asimov, the movie is very cerebral, and doesn't rely on overpowering displays of CGI and special effects. In many ways, the presence of the effects are much like robots in Asimov's world: pervasive, subconscious, and unnoticed until things go haywire.

I give it 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Entertainment news

Read and article at CNN that says Kirsten Dunst and her boyfriend broke up. She's available again!! Of course, that doesn't do me any good.

I also read that Britney Spears's fiancee's ex-girlfriend delivered their second child today. So after geting his girlfriend pregnant with their second child, this guy starts dating Britney.

What the hell is she thinking?!?!?!?

I think somewhere between the Mickey Mouse Club and the strip club she got knocked on the noggin and is stuck in a rut of bad choices.

Monday, July 19, 2004

All A.I., all the time

Well, not quite, but it looks like FOX is gearing up for the next season of American Idol.  Tryouts start in Cleveland on 4 August 2004.  Read more about it here.
 
One change for this year is the cap on the age up from 25 to 28.  I'm not sure this will make a big difference; the problem isn't with the older folks; it's with the younger ones.  The contest should only be open to people 18-30.  Kids, and remember they are kids, should not be competing against adults.  They either lack the maturity and poise (Carmen, Leah) or the stage presence and refined talent (John). 
 
If AI wants to show teenagers, have a "teenage idol" competition with a lower profile and not as hostile/judgemental an audience.  Otherwise, we're going to continue to see kids get torn to pieces and crumble under the pressure.



Friday, July 09, 2004

Kerry/Edwards

I don't know how I feel about the Kerry/Edwards ticket. Kerry isn't my favourite person, but I think he's a good guy. I like Edwards, not that his place on the ticket makes much of a difference; I'd vote for a sock puppett before I'd vote for Dubya.

I heard that Dubya was making fun of Edwards lack of experience, having served only one six-year term in the Senate.

"Hello, Kettle, this is the pot."

Last I checked, Dubya was elected for two terms a governor of Texas, and he quit halfway through the second term to become president. That's six years of experience as an elected official. And before that all he did was run a company into the ground and own a minority stake in the Texas Rangers.

I feel so much better with this man having his finger on The Button.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Cosby on the warpath

There's an interesting article at CNN.com. Bill Cosby has had some harsh words for the black community, and specifically black men, lately.

And like Larry Bird talking about whites in basketball, Cosby is right on. Cosby's remarks center on black people being accountable for their own situations and to stop blaming white people.

I think the "Simon Cowell Effect" is taking over the country.