Loving the sacred through word and image. The Canonization of John Paul II Sunday April 27…

Archive for August, 2008

The way is made by walking…

Buy the book here: Amazon

I’m going to add to the discussion about politics because so many of you have as well. We need a woman vice president, Sara Palin, like we need a hole in our heads. I hope this choice that McCain made severely backfires on him. I am sure that many of Hillary’s supporters will not vote for him just because of his VP pick. Obama really needs to capitalize on this. America needs to vote. Everybody needs to vote. Presidential scholars and many other people are questioning her qualifications to be “second in command” God forbid the old man croak, we could see Sara becoming President of the United States. “Where is Gina Davis when you need her?”

We are T-minus 2 days and counting until the beginning of the Fall term at Concordia University. And I am well on my way to finishing my Pastoral Ministry Certificate. The schedule goes something like this:

  • Gospels and Acts Biblical Study (Downtown) 6:00 – 8:15 p.m. Monday
  • Pastoral Ministry (Loyola Campus) Ugh I must commute!! 6:00 – 8:15 p.m. Wednesday
  • Introduction to XT Ethics (Downtown) 6:00 – 8:15 p.m. Thursday

We are ready for school now. I still have to pick up my books on Tuesday, no big issue. Yesterday and today were spent shopping for new clothes and shoes for school. We got some good deals at Old Navy and that was very kool. We went out for lunch at the Central District food court at the Eaton Centre.

We made a stop at Indigo booksellers to round out our downtown excursion and I picked up a book and renewed my I-Rewards membership, which is a good deal because I never leave that store without buying a book or two. So we are reading “The Way is made by Walking” by Arthur Paul Boers, a pilgrimage Along the Camino de Santiago. This would be the second book that I have read in preparation for my journey to Compostela next Spring. The other book was by Paulo Coelho named “The Pilgrimage.” I was disappointed by that read. It wasn’t as good as The Alchemist.

Pilgrimage is a spiritual discipline not many consider.

Aren’t the destinations far? Don’t they involve a lot of time and walking? Just a few years ago Arthur Paul Boers wasn’t thinking about pilgrimage either. But he began to sense a deep call from God to walk the five hundred mile pilgrimage route known as Camino de Santiago, ending in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, at the cathedral that is said to hold the relics of the apostle James.

In these pages he opens to us his incredible story of renewed spirituality sprining from an old, old path walked by millions before him. It’s a stroy of learning to pray in new ways, enbracing simplicity, forming community, living each day centered and focused, depending on God to provide. Joined by hundreds of others from all over the world, Boers points the way to deeper intimacy with God — a way made by walking in faith.

Arthur Paul Boers is associate professor of pastoral theology at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. He is an ordained minister in the Mennonite Church USA and a Benedictine oblate at St. Gregory’s Abbey in Three Rivers, Michigan.

This should be an interesting read. I was standing there looking at books in the Chrisrianity section of the Religion department at the book shop and at first I picked up a book by Henri Nouwen, but it seemed short and came with a cd to listen to. This book was stuck between other volumes on the shelf and I happen to glance over it and I immediately picked it off the shelf and looked at the picture on the front cover and I knew that this was the next book that I was going to read. It just resonated with me strongly. That’s how it always works, when looking for something to read. Books usually jump off the shelf, so to speak, there is some immediate resonation between the text and the reader. I’ve read so many books this past year that I am going to need to buy another book case to house them, because they are stacked all over the place in my bedroom and on the shelves of the one bookcase we do have.

So that’s all for this installment … more to come, stay tuned…


Barack Obama – in his own words…

Market Watch – The Wall Street Journal Digital Form

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 the 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 to yours — Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made 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 Sasha and Malia – I love you so much, and I’m so proud of all 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 two hundred and thirty two 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.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for twenty 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 American people, 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 like the last eight. On November 4th, 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 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 ninety percent of the time. Senator 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 ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten 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 – Senator 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 advisors – the man who wrote his economic plan – was talking about the anxiety 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 auto workers 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 give back and keep going without complaint.These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don’t believe that Senator 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 five million dollars 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 one hundred 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 – you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.

Well it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.

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 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 to 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 who 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, 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.

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 me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

What is that 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, 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 new 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.

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 will 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 cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% 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 ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. 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 as the day that Senator 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 dollars 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 five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever 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. 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 your 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 jobs 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 exactly the 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 twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth 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 for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that’s the essence of America’s promise.

And just as we keep our keep our 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 Senator 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 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. 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 a $79 billion surplus while we’re 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 eighty 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 it is not the change we need.

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 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 – our sense of higher purpose. And 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 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. Passions 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. 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 the 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 nay-sayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you.

For eighteen 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. 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, when 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 terrorist hands.

And I’ve seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in 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 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.

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 forty five 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.


Bill and Hillary, at last, leave the stage

Roger Simon- POLITICO

DENVER — The Clintons have left the building. Finally.

Bill Clinton did his bit for Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, just as Hillary had done her bit the night before. And now, at long last, they are getting off the stage so Obama can get on.

It is not a moment too soon. For a convention devoted to the nomination of Barack Obama, there has been an awful lot of attention lavished on both Clintons. But the Clintons have returned the favor.

The theme of Bill’s speech could easily be reduced to one word: Ready.

“Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world,” Bill said. “Ready to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States.”

But Bill Clinton is also a charmer. It is his greatest political gift. And he was charming Wednesday night.

“The campaign generated so much heat, it increased global warming,” he said of the primaries. “In the end, my candidate didn’t win. But I’m very proud of the campaign she ran: She never quit on the people she stood up for, on the changes she pushed for, on the future she wants for all our children.”

Along with praising his wife and supporting his party’s nominee, Bill had one great task: to begin his own redemption.

Although his reputation had survived impeachment virtually untarnished — at least among Democrats — it did not survive his wife’s campaign. Never famous for self-control in private, he showed a lack of it in public, delivering finger-wagging accusations in New Hampshire that Obama’s campaign was a “fairy tale” and making racially tinged comments about Obama in South Carolina.

Wednesday night, however, Bill recognized the historic importance of Obama’s nomination.

“His life is a 21st-century incarnation of the American dream,” Bill said. “His achievements are proof of our continuing progress toward the ‘more perfect union’ of our founders’ dreams.”

Bill talked about the “humanity” of America and said: “We see that humanity, that strength, and our future in Barack and Michelle Obama and their beautiful children.”

Some African-Americans, who had been among Bill’s greatest supporters, were shocked and saddened by the role he played in the primary campaign. In the beginning, he thought he would be his wife’s ambassador to black America, but he ended up by being her ambassador to white, rural America. (After all, before Bill was called the “first black president,” he was called the “Bubba” president.)

Some in Hillary’s campaign still believe Bill was misused, his role never clearly defined. “She didn’t want to be seen as Bill’s third term,” a Hillary adviser said. “He was in a rage over how they used him.”

He was in a rage over a lot of things during the campaign, and even those who count him as a great president and a good friend admit that his political victories and political skills come from a different era of American politics.

“He was not used to the 24/7 news cycle and people with cell phones recording what he said at every stop,” a close associate of his told me. “But you can’t blame Bill Clinton for the loss. At end of the day, he was a huge plus.”

Now, both Clintons have a chance to be a plus for Obama. But one of the greatest contributions they can make is to leave the spotlight. There can be only one nominee.

Conventions are a time for unity and good feelings, however, and the crowd received Bill very, very warmly Wednesday night.

Basking in the applause, he said: “I love this.”

And who says Bill Clinton doesn’t tell the truth?


DNC Review

What an amazing day it was to watch democracy in action. We spent the better part, well, the entire night watching the proceedings take place. I’ve given you all the transcripts from the major speakers over the last two nights. It was a history making moment this evening when Barack Obama was nominated as the first African American man by acclimation.

The last two night have been a Clinton love fest. First Hillary rocked the Pepsi Center in Denver last night with her impassioned speech in support of Barack. And then tonight we heard from Bill Clinton who spoke very eloquently and masterfully that Barack is “ready to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States, that He is ready to lead the nation and is ready to be the next President of the United States.”

Joe Biden stepped up to the podium after the most amazing introduction by his son Beau. It was just an amazing night of speeches. I think Joe spoke to everyone in his speech and he shared some very important facts of life. He said:

…that you are defined by your sense of honor, and you are redeemed by your loyalty. She believes bravery lives in every heart and her expectation is that it will be summoned.

Joey, God sends no cross you cannot bear.” And when I triumphed, she was quick to remind me it was because of others.

My parents taught us to live our faith, and treasure our family. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they try.

In his speech he spoke to the desire of a nation and to the deires of her people. Change is the constant theme of this convention and that so many powerful people have steeped up to encourage voters to elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

We have been given a view of the present day and the current administration and we have also been shown what needs to happen to make the United States great again. All of us have a voice and the right to vote. And the time is now to speak up and go into our communities to make sure that every able bodied voter goes to the poll in November and we must elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

“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.

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.”

and to close this post I leave you with the final thoughts from Joe Biden’s speech:

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.

Be a part of history in the making. Use your God given right as a citizen. VOTE…


Excerpts of Sen. Joe Biden's speech at the Democratic convention

Los Angeles Times Link Here
Beau, I love you. I am so proud of you. Proud of the son you are. Proud of the father you’ve become. And I’m so proud of my son Hunter, my daughter Ashley, and my wife Jill, the only one who leaves me breathless and speechless at the same time.

It is an honor to share this stage tonight with President Clinton. And last night, it was moving to watch Hillary, one of the great leaders of our party, a woman who has made history and will continue to make history: my colleague and my friend, Senator Hillary Clinton.

And I am honored to represent our first state — my state — Delaware.

Since I’ve never been called a man of few words, let me say this as simply as I can: Yes. Yes, I accept your nomination to run and serve alongside our next President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

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 their pledge to uphold the law and respect our Constitution, no longer will the eight most dreaded words in the English language be: “The vice president’s office is on the phone.”

Barack Obama and I took very different journeys to this destination, but we share a common story. Mine began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then Wilmington, Delaware. With a dad who fell on hard economic times, but who always told me: “Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up.”

I wish that my dad was here tonight, but I am so grateful that my mom, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, is here. You know, she taught her children — all the children who flocked to our house — that you are defined by your sense of honor, and you are redeemed by your loyalty. She believes bravery lives in every heart and her expectation is that it will be summoned.

Failure at some point in everyone’s life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable. As a child I stuttered, and she lovingly told me it was because I was so bright I couldn’t get the thoughts out quickly enough. When I was not as well dressed as others, she told me how handsome she thought I was. When I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, she sent me back out and demanded that I bloody their nose so I could walk down that street the next day.

After the accident, she told me, “Joey, God sends no cross you cannot bear.” And when I triumphed, she was quick to remind me it was because of others.

My mother’s creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. You are everyone’s equal, and everyone is equal to you.

My parents taught us to live our faith, and treasure our family. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they try.

That was America’s promise. For those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream and we knew it.

But today that American dream feels as if it’s slowly slipping away. I don’t need 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 night, I take the train home to Wilmington, sometimes very late. As I look out the window at the homes we pass, I can almost hear what they’re talking about at the kitchen table after they put the kids to bed.

Like millions of Americans, they’re asking questions as profound as they are ordinary. Questions they never thought they would have to ask: Should mom move in with us now that dad is gone?

Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars to fill up the car?

Winter’s coming. How we gonna pay the heating bills?

Another year and no raise?

Did you hear the company may be cutting our health care?

Now, we owe more on the house than it’s worth. How are we going to send the kids to college?

How are we gonna be able to retire?

That’s the America that George Bush has left us, and that’s the future John McCain will give us. These are not isolated discussions among families down on their luck. These are common stories among middle-class people who worked hard and played by the rules on the promise that their tomorrows would be better than their yesterdays.

That promise is the bedrock of America. It defines who we are as a people. 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.


Former President Bill Clinton's speech at DNC

Remarks as prepared for delivery to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday by former President Bill Clinton:

Rocky Mountain News Service

I am honored to be here tonight to support Barack Obama. And to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden, though as you’ll soon see, he doesn’t need any help from me. I love Joe Biden, and America will too.

What a year we Democrats have had. The primary began with an all-star line up and came down to two remarkable Americans locked in a hard fought contest to the very end. The campaign generated so much heat it increased global warming.

In the end, my candidate didn’t win. But I’m very proud of the campaign she ran: she never quit on the people she stood up for, on the changes she pushed for, on the future she wants for all our children. And I’m grateful for the chance Chelsea and I had to tell Americans about the person we know and love.

I’m not so grateful for the chance to speak in the wake of her magnificent address last night. But I’ll do my best.

Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she’ll do everything she can to elect Barack Obama.

That makes two of us.

Actually that makes 18 million of us because, like Hillary, I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.

Here’s why.

Our nation is in trouble on two fronts: The American Dream is under siege at home, and America’s leadership in the world has been weakened.

Middle class and low-income Americans are hurting, with incomes declining; job losses, poverty and inequality rising; mortgage foreclosures and credit card debt increasing; health care coverage disappearing; and a big spike in the cost of food, utilities, and gasoline.

Our position in the world has been weakened by too much unilateralism and too little cooperation; a perilous dependence on imported oil; a refusal to lead on global warming; a growing indebtedness and a dependence on foreign lenders; a severely burdened military; a backsliding on global non-proliferation and arms control agreements; and a failure to consistently use the power of diplomacy, from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America to Central and Eastern Europe.

Clearly, the job of the next President is to rebuild the American Dream and restore America’s standing in the world.

Everything I learned in my eight years as President and in the work I’ve done since, in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job.

He has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose. He has the intelligence and curiosity every successful President needs. His policies on the economy, taxes, health care and energy are far superior to the Republican alternatives. He has shown a clear grasp of our foreign policy and national security challenges, and a firm commitment to repair our badly strained military. His family heritage and life experiences have given him a unique capacity to lead our increasingly diverse nation and to restore our leadership in an ever more interdependent world. The long, hard primary tested and strengthened him. And in his first presidential decision, the selection of a running mate, he hit it out of the park.

With Joe Biden’s experience and wisdom, supporting Barack Obama’s proven understanding, insight, and good instincts, America will have the national security leadership we need.

Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world. Ready to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States.

He will work for an America with more partners and fewer adversaries. He will rebuild our frayed alliances and revitalize the international institutions which help to share the costs of the world’s problems and to leverage our power and influence. He will put us back in the forefront of the world’s fight to reduce nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and to stop global warming. He will continue and enhance our nation’s global leadership in an area in which I am deeply involved, the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria, including a renewal of the battle against HIV/AIDS here at home. He will choose diplomacy first and military force as a last resort. But in a world troubled by terror; by trafficking in weapons, drugs and people; by human rights abuses; by other threats to our security, our interests, and our values, when he cannot convert adversaries into partners, he will stand up to them.

Barack Obama also will not allow the world’s problems to obscure its opportunities. Everywhere, in rich and poor countries alike, hardworking people need good jobs; secure, affordable healthcare, food, and energy; quality education for their children; and economically beneficial ways to fight global warming. These challenges cry out for American ideas and American innovation. When Barack Obama unleashes them, America will save lives, win new allies, open new markets, and create new jobs for our people.

Most important, Barack Obama knows that America cannot be strong abroad unless we are strong at home. People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.

Look at the example the Republicans have set: American workers have given us consistently rising productivity. They’ve worked harder and produced more. What did they get in return? Declining wages, less than one-fourth as many new jobs as in the previous eight years, smaller health care and pension benefits, rising poverty and the biggest increase in income inequality since the 1920s. American families by the millions are struggling with soaring health care costs and declining coverage. I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other severe conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn’t afford health care and couldn’t qualify their kids for Medicaid unless they quit work or got a divorce. Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of? What about the military families pushed to the breaking point by unprecedented multiple deployments? What about the assault on science and the defense of torture? What about the war on unions and the unlimited favors for the well connected? What about Katrina and cronyism?

America can do better than that. And Barack Obama will.

But first we have to elect him.

The choice is clear. The Republicans will nominate a good man who served our country heroically and suffered terribly in Vietnam. He loves our country every bit as much as we all do. As a Senator, he has shown his independence on several issues. But on the two great questions of this election, how to rebuild the American Dream and how to restore America’s leadership in the world, he still embraces the extreme philosophy which has defined his party for more than 25 years, a philosophy we never had a real chance to see in action until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and Congress. Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades were implemented.

They took us from record surpluses to an exploding national debt; from over 22 million new jobs down to 5 million; from an increase in working family incomes of $7,500 to a decline of more than $2,000; from almost 8 million Americans moving out of poverty to more than 5 and a half million falling into poverty and millions more losing their health insurance.

Now, in spite of all the evidence, their candidate is promising more of the same: More tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will swell the deficit, increase inequality, and weaken the economy. More band-aids for health care that will enrich insurance companies, impoverish families and increase the number of uninsured. More going it alone in the world, instead of building the shared responsibilities and shared opportunities necessary to advance our security and restore our influence.

They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more. Let’s send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America: Thanks, but no thanks. In this case, the third time is not the charm.

My fellow Democrats, sixteen years ago, you gave me the profound honor to lead our party to victory and to lead our nation to a new era of peace and broadly shared prosperity.

Together, we prevailed in a campaign in which the Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be Commander-in-Chief. Sound familiar? It didn’t work in 1992, because we were on the right side of history. And it won’t work in 2008, because Barack Obama is on the right side of history.

His life is a 21st Century incarnation of the American Dream. His achievements are proof of our continuing progress toward the “more perfect union” of our founders’ dreams. The values of freedom and equal opportunity which have given him his historic chance will drive him as president to give all Americans, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability, their chance to build a decent life, and to show our humanity, as well as our strength, to the world.

We see that humanity, that strength, and our future in Barack and Michelle Obama and their beautiful children. We see them reinforced by the partnership with Joe Biden, his wife Jill, a dedicated teacher, and their family.

Barack Obama will lead us away from division and fear of the last eight years back to unity and hope. If, like me, you still believe America must always be a place called Hope, then join Hillary, Chelsea and me in making Senator Barack Obama the next President of the United States.


Democrats Officially Nominate Barack Obama

ABC News.Com Link Here

Democrats made it official tonight in Denver, when party delegates formally nominated Barack Obama as their 2008 presidential candidate — the first African American ever nominated by a major party.

The traditional state by state roll call went on until about 6:40 pm eastern, just after the network newscasts went on the air on the east coast.

The roll call included several delegates cast to Sen. Hillary Clinton, whose name was formally put into nomination, even though she did not win the primary battle. By previous agreement by the Obama and Clinton camps, the roll call was halted and Obama was nominated by acclamation.

Midway through the alphabetical roll call, New Mexico yielded the floor back to Illinois, which had passed its turn previously, so that the candidate’s homestate could be the final state to cast its vote. Illinois, represented by Chicago Mayor Bill Daley, then yielded to the state of New York “home of Hillary Clinton.”

And finally, the junior Senator of New York representing her state, moved to declare Obama the party nominee by acclamation.

“I move that the convention suspend the procedural rules and suspend the further conduct of the roll call vote, all votes cast by teh delegates will be counted, and that I move Senator Barack Obama of Illinois be selected by this convention by acclamation as the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States,” Clinton said.

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives spoke next in accepting the motion to suspend the roll call and nominate by Acclimation Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for the Presidency of the United States. And with that Barack Obama became the first African American Presidential Nominee. We saw it happen live on the East coast during the ABC World News – newscast.

It is a very good day … History was made today in Denver Colorado…


Hillary Clinton's speech at the Dems convention

Courtesy: The Associated Press Link Here

I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.

My friends, it is time to take back the country we love.

Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines.

This is a fight for the future. And it’s a fight we must win.

I haven’t spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women’s rights at home and around the world … to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.

And you haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.

No way. No how. No McCain.

Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president.

Tonight we need to remember what a presidential election is really about. When the polls have closed, and the ads are finally off the air, it comes down to you — the American people, your lives, and your children’s futures.

For me, it’s been a privilege to meet you in your homes, your workplaces, and your communities. Your stories reminded me everyday that America’s greatness is bound up in the lives of the American people — your hard work, your devotion to duty, your love for your children, and your determination to keep going, often in the face of enormous obstacles.

You taught me so much, you made me laugh, and … you even made me cry. You allowed me to become part of your lives. And you became part of mine.

I will always remember the single mom who had adopted two kids with autism, didn’t have health insurance and discovered she had cancer. But she greeted me with her bald head painted with my name on it and asked me to fight for health care.

I will always remember the young man in a Marine Corps T-shirt who waited months for medical care and said to me: “Take care of my buddies; a lot of them are still over there … and then will you please help take care of me?”

I will always remember the boy who told me his mom worked for the minimum wage and that her employer had cut her hours. He said he just didn’t know what his family was going to do.

I will always be grateful to everyone from all fifty states, Puerto Rico and the territories, who joined our campaign on behalf of all those people left out and left behind by the Bush Administration.

To my supporters, my champions — my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits — from the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

You never gave in. You never gave up. And together we made history.

Along the way, America lost two great Democratic champions who would have been here with us tonight. One of our finest young leaders, Arkansas Democratic Party Chair, Bill Gwatney, who believed with all his heart that America and the South could be and should be Democratic from top to bottom.

And Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a dear friend to many of us, a loving mother and courageous leader who never gave up her quest to make America fairer and smarter, stronger and better. Steadfast in her beliefs, a fighter of uncommon grace, she was an inspiration to me and to us all.

Our heart goes out to Stephanie’s son, Mervyn, Jr., and Bill’s wife, Rebecca, who traveled to Denver to join us at our convention.

Bill and Stephanie knew that after eight years of George Bush, people are hurting at home, and our standing has eroded around the world. We have a lot of work ahead.

Jobs lost, houses gone, falling wages, rising prices. The Supreme Court in a right-wing headlock and our government in partisan gridlock. The biggest deficit in our nation’s history. Money borrowed from the Chinese to buy oil from the Saudis.

Putin and Georgia, Iraq and Iran.

I ran for president to renew the promise of America. To rebuild the middle class and sustain the American Dream, to provide the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford the gas and groceries and still have a little left over each month.

To promote a clean energy economy that will create millions of green collar jobs.

To create a health care system that is universal, high quality, and affordable so that parents no longer have to choose between care for themselves or their children or be stuck in dead end jobs simply to keep their insurance.

To create a world class education system and make college affordable again.

To fight for an America defined by deep and meaningful equality — from civil rights to labor rights, from women’s rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families. To help every child live up to his or her God-given potential.

To make America once again a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.

To bring fiscal sanity back to Washington and make our government an instrument of the public good, not of private plunder.

To restore America’s standing in the world, to end the war in Iraq, bring our troops home and honor their service by caring for our veterans.

And to join with our allies to confront our shared challenges, from poverty and genocide to terrorism and global warming.

Most of all, I ran to stand up for all those who have been invisible to their government for eight long years.

Those are the reasons I ran for president. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.

I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges. Leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America.

This won’t be easy. Progress never is. But it will be impossible if we don’t fight to put a Democrat in the White House.

We need to elect Barack Obama because we need a President who understands that America can’t compete in a global economy by padding the pockets of energy speculators, while ignoring the workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas. We need a president who understands that we can’t solve the problems of global warming by giving windfall profits to the oil companies while ignoring opportunities to invest in new technologies that will build a green economy.

We need a President who understands that the genius of America has always depended on the strength and vitality of the middle class.

Barack Obama began his career fighting for workers displaced by the global economy. He built his campaign on a fundamental belief that change in this country must start from the ground up, not the top down. He knows government must be about “We the people” not “We the favored few.”

And when Barack Obama is in the White House, he’ll revitalize our economy, defend the working people of America, and meet the global challenges of our time. Democrats know how to do this. As I recall, President Clinton and the Democrats did it before. And President Obama and the Democrats will do it again.

He’ll transform our energy agenda by creating millions of green jobs and building a new, clean energy future. He’ll make sure that middle class families get the tax relief they deserve. And I can’t wait to watch Barack Obama sign a health care plan into law that covers every single American.

Barack Obama will end the war in Iraq responsibly and bring our troops home _a first step to repairing our alliances around the world.

And he will have with him a terrific partner in Michelle Obama. Anyone who saw Michelle’s speech last night knows she will be a great first lady for America.

Americans are also fortunate that Joe Biden will be at Barack Obama’s side. He is a strong leader and a good man. He understands both the economic stresses here at home and the strategic challenges abroad. He is pragmatic, tough, and wise. And, of course, Joe will be supported by his wonderful wife, Jill.

They will be a great team for our country.

Now, John McCain is my colleague and my friend.

He has served our country with honor and courage.

But we don’t need four more years … of the last eight years.

More economic stagnation … and less affordable health care.

More high gas prices … and less alternative energy.

More jobs getting shipped overseas … and fewer jobs created here.

More skyrocketing debt … home foreclosures … and mounting bills that are crushing our middle class families.

More war … less diplomacy.

More of a government where the privileged come first … and everyone else comes last.

John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn’t think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it’s OK when women don’t earn equal pay for equal work.

With an agenda like that, it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart.

America is still around after 232 years because we have risen to the challenge of every new time, changing to be faithful to our values of equal opportunity for all and the common good.

And I know what that can mean for every man, woman, and child in America. I’m a United States senator because in 1848 a group of courageous women and a few brave men gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, many traveling for days and nights, to participate in the first convention on women’s rights in our history.

And so dawned a struggle for the right to vote that would last 72 years, handed down by mother to daughter to granddaughter — and a few sons and grandsons along the way.

These women and men looked into their daughters’ eyes, imagined a fairer and freer world, and found the strength to fight. To rally and picket. To endure ridicule and harassment. To brave violence and jail.

And after so many decades — 88 years ago on this very day — the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote would be forever enshrined in our Constitution.

My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for president.

This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.

How do we give this country back to them?

By following the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.

And on that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice.

If you hear the dogs, keep going.

If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.

If they’re shouting after you, keep going.

Don’t ever stop. Keep going.

If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going.

I’ve seen it in you. I’ve seen it in our teachers and firefighters, nurses and police officers, small business owners and union workers, the men and women of our military — you always keep going.

We are Americans. We’re not big on quitting.

But remember, before we can keep going, we have to get going by electing Barack Obama president.

We don’t have a moment to lose or a vote to spare.

Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hang in the balance.

I want you to think about your children and grandchildren come election day. And think about the choices your parents and grandparents made that had such a big impact on your life and on the life of our nation.

We’ve got to ensure that the choice we make in this election honors the sacrifices of all who came before us, and will fill the lives of our children with possibility and hope.

That is our duty, to build that bright future, and to teach our children that in America there is no chasm too deep, no barrier too great — and no ceiling too high — for all who work hard, never back down, always keep going, have faith in God, in our country, and in each other.

Thank you so much. God bless America and Godspeed to you all.


Water or Lack There of…

The Olympics are over. I am bummed. It was such an exciting two weeks. Being a spectator from half way around the world was a fantastic time. Hearing one’s national anthem played as the flags went up is such a thrill for me. I am sad that it is over with. Now we look forward to 2010 here in Canada. Hopefully by then we will have the ability to go to the Olympics in our own country to really experience the games in our own back yard.

Today was weird. I did not sleep well last night and first thing this morning, the noise started and never abated. When I finally got out of bed, I did my morning ritual and started my day. Hubby got in the shower before I did and that went well, as usual. When it was my turn, I got into the shower and turned on the water and it started to trickle, so I turned up both dials full tilt and started washing. Little did I know that they were working on the pipes downstairs and I got shampoo in my hair and the water went off…

I was like “FUCK!!!”

We keep a bunch of two litre bottles of water in the bathroom for this kind of emergency and to flush to toilet because you never know when the water is going to go off in this building. So I reached over behind the toilet and grabbed a bottle of water – which was ice cold, and I started dumping it over my head to wash the shampoo from my hair and rinse off, and I got cold water shock from the bottle. What a nightmare…

I went to shave and the water was still off and so i dumped another bottle of water into the sink and shaved and wouldn’t you know it, I knicked myself twice. I thought, is this how the day is going to be??? So I got dressed and ready to go for coffee and as I got to the first floor, I went to check the mail, and in the mail was a collections letter for $280.00 for a service that I never had. I left hubby to take care of it, so I set off for my day. What else is going to go wrong today???

One of my sponsees was waiting at the diner for coffee and he tells me that he is quitting his job and moving from his home to another section of the city. Now he has had a sweet deal seeing he works at a church doing maintanance and upkeep, he lived rent free for his services. Now he’s tired of responsibility and he can’t keep up with all the work load that he was given. So he has to give 30 days notice and has to find someplace to live. When he moved from his home into the church, he gave up his furniture and appliances because he would not need them where he was going [to the church]. Now he has to replace all those things that he once owned again. Furnishing an apartment here is not cheap. Washers and dryers and stoves are not cheap. But, this is what he wants to do, so now we are waiting for him to find a place to live so that we can help him move back out …

In order to keep it, we must give it away…

Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you—until then.

I have banked enough time in the program that today I have something to give away. My sponsees trust me to talk and to fellowship with. I work each day to stay in the moment and live in my day and it is because of the program that I can do that and I can share my experience with others to help them in their days. We had a full house for the meeting tonight. It was good to see so many familiar faces. We have a bumper crop of newbies with days and hours of sobriety so this was a good topic for tonight, those of us with some time can help others stay in the room to get time. Each week our group members work with newbies to show them that there is light after the drink.

I have a few more days left of vacation before the grind begins next week. I hope in the coming weeks that this transition period I am in will make itself known to me – the times are changing and so is the weather. The nights are cooler – soon the trees will begin turning and Fall will be upon us. This is my favorite time of the year because everything changes from here on out … This procession of Summer into Fall into Winter is a most glorious time. Because God makes himself known through the process of the seasons in a very visual way. And won’t it be glorious…

So the day started with a bang… but it is ending on a good note.


Transcript: Edward Kennedy's DNC speech

CNN.Com Politics

Edward Kennedy: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Caroline.

My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here.

And nothing — nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.

I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.

As I look ahead, I am strengthened by family and friendship. So many of you have been with me in the happiest days and the hardest days. Together we have known success and seen setbacks, victory and defeat.

But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you — I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate when we begin the great test.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

For me this is a season of hope — new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope.

And this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.

Barack Obama will close the book on the old politics of race and gender and group against group and straight against gay.

And Barack Obama will be a commander-in-chief who understands that young Americans in uniform must never be committed to a mistake, but always for a mission worthy of their bravery.

We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor, but when John Kennedy called of going to the moon, he didn’t say it’s too far to get there. We shouldn’t even try.

Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge, and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon.

Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And we can do it again.

There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination — not merely victory for our Party, but renewal for our nation.

And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.


Olympic poll says Canadians happy with athletes, China and TV

Four members of Canada’s gold medal-winning men’s eight rowing team show off their hardware after arriving at Vancouver International Airport Monday. Left to right, Dominic Seiterle, coxswain Brian Price, Adam Kreek and Malcolm Howard. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

79 per cent satisfied with athletes; 72 per cent liked how CBC covered Games

When rower Krista Guloien led a contingent of 100 Canadian Olympians returning from Beijing down the escalator at Vancouver International Airport Monday she found a country more than satisfied with how the Summer Games turned out.

A new Canadian Press/Harris Decima poll shows Canadians happy with everything from the athletes’ efforts at the Games, the organization of events by the host country, China, and the Olympic coverage shown on CBC television.

Canada won 18 medals in Beijing (three gold, nine silver and six bronze), the country’s second-best performance ever at a non-boycotted Games. (The Atlanta Games in 1996 produced 22 medals.) And that left everyone in a good mood.

“In the run-up to these Games, it wasn’t clear whether broad attention was going to be captured, and obviously it wasn’t clear whether people were going to come away pleased with the outcomes,” said Bruce Anderson, president of Harris Decima.

“As it turned out, the general sentiment is that the Games were a success, Canada’s athletes performed admirably and the coverage provided by the CBC was well regarded, too.”

Among the highlights of the survey of more than 1,000 people across the country:

  • Canadians were satisfied with the performance of the national team in Beijing. Fully 79 per cent of those surveyed were either very satisfied (26 per cent) or satisfied (53 per cent). Only nine per cent were dissatisfied.
  • China’s efforts at organizing and running the Olympics met with a solid majority of support as 66 per cent of those surveyed said they were either very impressed (31 per cent) or somewhat impressed (37 per cent). A total of 21 per cent were either not too impressed or not impressed at all.
  • Television coverage by CBC Sports, English and French, also received high marks. Seventy-two per cent of Canadians who answered the survey thought the coverage was either excellent (35 per cent) or good (37 per cent). Just one in 10 believed the coverage to be fair (eight per cent) or poor (two per cent).

Across the country, 77 per cent said they watched some portion of the Games on television, with the average person taking in 13.76 hours (the survey was taken between last Thursday and the closing of the Games on Sunday).

Those who watched the Games had the highest number of positive reactions toward the athletes, organizers and the CBC.

A sample of this size has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent 19 times out of 20.


Text of Michelle Obama's speech at the convention

Courtesy: Associated Press

OBAMA: As you might imagine, for Barack, running for president is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother Craig.

I can’t tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I’ve felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life.

At six-foot-six, I’ve often felt like Craig was looking down on me too — literally. But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn’t looking down on me — he was watching over me.

And he’s been there for me every step of the way since that clear February day 19 months ago, when — with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change — we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that’s brought us to this moment.

But each of us also comes here tonight by way of our own improbable journey.

I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend.

I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.

I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world — they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future — and all our children’s future — is my stake in this election.

And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

My dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing — even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder.

He and my mom poured everything they had into me and Craig. It was the greatest gift a child can receive: never doubting for a single minute that you’re loved, and cherished, and have a place in this world. And thanks to their faith and hard work, we both were able to go on to college. So I know firsthand from their lives — and mine — that the American dream endures.

And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he’d grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he’d done when he first moved to Chicago after college. Instead of heading to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down, and jobs dried up. And he’d been invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.

The people gathered together that day were ordinary folks doing the best they could to build a good life. They were parents living paycheck to paycheck; grandparents trying to get by on a fixed income; men frustrated that they couldn’t support their families after their jobs disappeared. Those folks weren’t asking for a handout or a shortcut. They were ready to work — they wanted to contribute. They believed — like you and I believe — that America should be a place where you can make it if you try.

Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “The world as it is” and “The world as it should be.” And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and settle for the world as it is — even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we know what our world should look like. We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves — to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?

It’s the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls, in town squares and high school gyms — people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had — refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.

It is because of their will and determination that this week, we celebrate two anniversaries: the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.

I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history — knowing that my piece of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me. All of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work. The same conviction that drives the men and women I’ve met all across this country:

People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift — without disappointment, without regret — that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they’re working for.

The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table. The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it.

The young people across America serving our communities — teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day.

People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters — and sons — can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

People like Joe Biden, who’s never forgotten where he came from, and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.

All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do — that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.

That is why I love this country.

And in my own life, in my own small way, I’ve tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That’s why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us — no matter what our age or background or walk of life — each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation.

It’s a belief Barack shares — a belief at the heart of his life’s work.

It’s what he did all those years ago, on the streets of Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and afterschool programs to keep kids safe — working block by block to help people lift up their families.

It’s what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard working families, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.

It’s what he’s done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs and benefits and health care — including mental health care.

That’s why he’s running — to end the war in Iraq responsibly, to build an economy that lifts every family, to make health care available for every American, and to make sure every child in this nation gets a world class education all the way from preschool to college. That’s what Barack Obama will do as President of the United States of America.

He’ll achieve these goals the same way he always has — by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn’t care where you’re from, or what your background is, or what party — if any — you belong to. That’s not how he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us — our belief in America’s promise, our commitment to our children’s future — is strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.

It was strong enough to bring hope to those neighborhoods in Chicago.

It was strong enough to bring hope to the mother he met worried about her child in Iraq; hope to the man who’s unemployed, but can’t afford gas to find a job; hope to the student working nights to pay for her sister’s health care, sleeping just a few hours a day.

And it was strong enough to bring hope to people who came out on a cold Iowa night and became the first voices in this chorus for change that’s been echoed by millions of Americans from every corner of this nation.

Millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams; that Barack will fight for people like them; and that Barack will finally bring the change we need.

And in the end, after all that’s happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he’d struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father’s love.

And as I tuck that little girl and her little sister into bed at night, I think about how one day, they’ll have families of their own. And one day, they — and your sons and daughters — will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They’ll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time, in this great country — where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House — we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

So tonight, in honor of my father’s memory and my daughters’ future — out of gratitude to those whose triumphs we mark this week, and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment — let us devote ourselves to finishing their work; let us work together to fulfill their hopes; and let us stand together to elect Barack Obama President of the United States of America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.


Beijing Games come to a close

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Sixteen days, 204 countries, thousands of athletes, 43 world records and countless lasting memories.

The Beijing Games officially came to an end Sunday with the closing ceremony, as China said goodbye to the world with a spectacular show featuring fireworks, song and dance and the athletes themselves.

It was a fitting end to an Olympics that shone on China, a country with a poor record of human rights and where the government’s wariness of dissent and free speech has not wavered, but also a nation that opened itself to the world for these Games.

The International Olympic Committee, whose selection of Beijing as host in 2001 was widely criticized by the global community, said its choice had been vindicated.

“Tonight, we come to the end of 16 glorious days which we will cherish forever,” IOC president Jacques Rogge told the capacity crowd at the National Outdoor Stadium and the global TV audience.

“Through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world. These were truly exceptional Games,” Rogge said, before declaring the Olympics officially closed.

Liu Qi, the head of the Beijing organizing committee echoed Rogge’s sentiments, saying the Games were a “testimony to the fact that the world has rested its trust in China.”

Human rights groups disagreed

“The reality is that the Chinese government’s hosting of the Games has been a catalyst for abuses, leading to massive forced evictions, a surge in the arrest, detention and harassment of critics, repeated violations of media freedom, and increased political repression,” said Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch.

“Not a single world leader who attended the Games or members of the IOC seized the opportunity to challenge the Chinese government’s behaviour in any meaningful way.”

The closing ceremony also looked ahead, to the 2012 Games in London.

Rock musician Jimmy Page’s electric guitar seared through the Bird’s Nest Stadium as English pop star Leona Lewis sung the Led Zeppelin classic Whole Lotta Love. English soccer star David Beckham then emerged and kicked a soccer ball into a crowd of performers on the stadium floor.

Karen Cockburn, who won a silver medal in the women’s trampoline event, served as Canada’s flag-bearer, leading the Canadian contingent of athletes onto the stadium floor.

The Beijing Games marked Canada’s third-best performance at the Olympics — Canada won 22 medals in 1996 in Atlanta and 44 in 1984 in Los Angeles, which were boycotted by the Soviet Union and several Eastern Bloc countries.

“The Chinese have not only put on a great show tonight, they also did an excellent job overall. This was China’s Olympics, it was well-deserved, and it is effecting positive change here,” Canadian kayaker Adam van Koeverden told CBC Sports.

The show came to a close with a duet featuring Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and Chinese soprano Song Zuying, followed by a barrage of fireworks and confetti that filled the air.


Openly gay diver wins gold

By Maggie Hendricks- Fourth Place Medal

Diver Matthew Mitcham, the only openly gay male athlete in the Beijing Olympics, won gold in the 10m platform. He beat Chinese favorite Zhou Luxin by 4.8 points, preventing China from sweeping gold in diving events. Mitcham is the first Aussie to win diving gold since 1924, but that’s not the only thing that makes him a trailblazer.

He is hardly the first gay athlete to compete but he is one of the first to be out while competing. American diver Greg Louganis did not share his orientation until his diving career was over. To Mitcham, he is just living his life as a gay man and as a diver, and there is nothing extraordinary about that:

“Being gay and diving are completely separate parts of my life. Of course there’s going to be crossover because some people have issues, but everyone I dive with has been so supportive.”

Though he wants to be known as more than a gay man, the LGBT community is proud of their star. At OutSports, a sports Web site that focuses on the gay community, his win is front-page news. The Web site brings up a good question — will NBC mention Mitcham’s orientation during tonight’s broadcast?

To Mitcham, that doesn’t seem to matter. He has gold, and has reached his goals: “I’m happy with myself and where I am. I’m very happy with who I am and what I’ve done.”

UPDATE: NBC did not mention Mitcham’s orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes’ significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards‘ fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh‘s wedding ring debacle.

Photos via Getty Images


Roll call of honour: Canada's medal winners

Canada’s Carol Huynh celebrates after defeating Japan’s Chiharu Icho during their women’s 48kg gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 16, 2008. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images)

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Kayaker Adam van Koeverden’s silver-medal performance on Day 15 of the Beijing Games pushed Canada’s medal tally to 18 — three gold, nine silver, six bronze.

With no Canadians scheduled to compete Sunday when the Games close, Canada’s medal haul equals the total from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The Beijing Games marks the country’s third-best performance at the Olympics — Canada won 22 medals in 1996 in Atlanta and 44 in 1984 in Los Angeles, which were boycotted by the Soviet Union and several Eastern Bloc countries.

Here’s a look at all of Canada’s medal winners:

Day 15: Van Koeverden paddles to silver

Canadian Adam van Koeverden won the silver medal in the K-1 500 on Saturday, finding some redemption after a dismal performance in the 1000 metres the day before.

“It was a great moment and the feeling is mostly relief,” he told CBC Sports. “Yesterday, I just didn’t feel like myself. Today, I was climbing back up, getting it back a little bit, but that last 200 still didn’t feel like me. It was a struggle, a well-fought struggle, and I’m really, really happy.”

Van Koeverden had a commanding lead for most of the race but, with about ten metres remaining, he was edged out by former training partner, Australian Ken Wallace, who clocked a time of one minute and 37.252 seconds.

Tim Brabants (1:37.671) of Great Britain claimed the bronze.

Day 14: Canada’s Sergerie kicks to taekwondo silver

Karine Sergerie fought her way to Canada’s best-ever finish in taekwondo, winning silver in the 67-kilogram event.

The 23-year-old from Ste-Catherine, Que., lost a close gold-medal bout to the defending and reigning world champion, South Korea’s Kyungseon Hwang.

The bronze medallist at the 2004 Olympic Games, the South Korean beat Sergerie 2-1, scoring her final point in the last 30 seconds.

“The gold medal was the dream for me. I’m happy that I have the silver and I hope my country is proud of me, but this silver just pushes me even harder to come back and win that gold medal,” Sergerie told CBC.

Day 14: Canada’s Hall wins bronze in C-1 1,000 canoe race

Canadian Thomas Hall won a bronze medal in the C-1 1,000 canoe race, moving from fourth to third in the final 200 metres. He finished in a time of three minutes and 53.653 seconds.

Hall caught Vadim Menkov of Uzbekistan in the final 200 metres and finished about half a second ahead of him to reach the podium.

“I’m ecstatic. I don’t know what else to say,” Hall told CBC Sports. “I knew I had the ability but I didn’t know if I really had it on today. I’m really thrilled and I couldn’t be happier.

Day 13: Lamaze wins equestrian gold for Canada

Equestrian Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ont., won the gold medal in the Olympic individual show-jumping competition.

Riding a horse named Hickstead, the Canadian defeated Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson in a jump-off to earn Canada’s third gold medal of the Beijing Games.

The victory was sweet redemption for Lamaze, who missed out on the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the 2000 Sydney Games due to positive drug tests. He’s also a member of the Canadian team that won silver in the team jump competition in China.

“When you give people chances and allow them to come back from their mistakes, great things happen and I’m a perfect example that you shouldn’t give up on people,” an emotional Lamaze told CBC Sports.

Day 13: Heymans wins silver in 10-metre platform

Canadian diver Emilie Heymans turned in her best-ever individual Olympic performance, capturing a silver medal.

Heymans, who hails from St-Lambert, Que., secured her second-place standing with a stellar fifth and final dive at the National Aquatics Center, for a total score of 437.05.

“I’m just really happy. It’s hard work for my entire life that came through now,” Heymans told CBC Sports after matching fellow Canadian Alexandre Despatie’s showing in men’s springboard. “I trained really hard for this and I’m just really happy that I finally get a medal in my individual event.

Day 11: Canada’s Lopes-Schliep wins hurdles bronze

Canadian Priscilla Lopes-Schliep won a bronze medal in the 100-metre hurdles final, a race won by Dawn Harper of the United States.

Harper was timed in 12.54 seconds, with Sally McLellan of Australia taking silver.

Lopes-Schliep, of Whitby, Ont., ran in 12.64 seconds, the same time as McLellan, but officials ruled that McLellan was ahead by mere thousandths of a second.

Day 11: Despatie wins silver in men’s diving for Canada

Alexandre Despatie won Canada’s third medal on Day 11, finishing second in the men’s three-metre springboard diving competition.

Despatie, a 23-year-old native of Laval, Que., finished with a total score of 536.65 points from six dives to claim the silver medal.

He also took the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Games.

“My silver medal is gold to me because of all the bad things that happened to me this year,” said Despatie. “I was able to get it together.”

Day 11: Burnett wins silver in men’s trampoline for Canada

Canada’s Jason Burnett won silver in men’s trampoline.

Burnett, 21, was the second finalist on the trampoline and earned a score of 40.70 for his routine, which featured a degree of difficulty of 16.8 – the highest in the final.

The three-time Canadian champion from Toronto told the CBC that playing it safe with an easier routine wasn’t even a consideration.

“No, definitely not,” Burnett said. “This is the Olympics. This is it. Why play it safe?

“You might as well put it all on the line and go for broke, and it paid off today with a silver medal.”

Day 11: Canada’s Whitfield takes silver in triathlon

Canada’s Simon Whitfield captured the silver medal in the men’s triathlon.

Whitfield, who lives in Victoria, mounted a furious rally to briefly take the lead late in the closing sprint before being overtaken over the final stretch by Germany’s Jan Frodeno.

“I kind of fought my way on there, and I thought there’s no time like the present,” Whitfield said. “I tried to make it a battle of pure willpower. I gave it everything I had.”

Day 10: Canada wins silver medal in team jumping

Canada earned a silver in the team jumping competition, giving veteran rider Ian Millar his first medal in his ninth Olympic appearance.

Canada was tied with the United States with 20 penalty points at the Hong Kong equestrian venue, but three American riders went through the course perfectly in a jump-off.

Millar, 61, led Canada into the tiebreaker round with a perfect ride on In Style. Millar was due third in the jump-off, but the Americans ensured he didn’t have a chance to go again.

“The support we’ve had all year, everybody’s recognized that we had a shot at this thing, such enthusiasm, such support, and that’s a big motivator to us,” Millar told CBC Sports. “We all say thank you very much to those who support it and those who believe in us.”

Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, Ont., and Eric Lamaze of Schombeg, Ont., also competed for Canada. Henselwood rode Special Ed, with Lamaze on Hickstead.

Day 10: Canada’s Cockburn lands silver in trampoline

Canada’s Karen Cockburn won the silver medal in the women’s trampoline, her third Olympic medal in the event.

Cockburn, of Stouffville, Ont., earned a score of 37.00 for her routine, which had a degree of difficulty of 14.4, to earn Canada its eighth medal overall of the Games.

“It feels amazing,” Cockburn told the CBC. “I was just honoured to be here competing in my third Games for Canada and to come out again on the podium with a silver medal… I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, but I’m really happy.”

Day 9: Gold-medal redemption for Canadian men’s eight

The men’s eight rowing team finished the job they started four years ago by winning a gold medal.

Canada led wire-to-wire in the final race at Beijing’s Shunyi Olympic rowing park. Taking the silver was Great Britain and taking the bronze was the U.S.

Canada finished in a time of five minutes, 23.89 seconds.

“We never stopped, we just kept on pushing, every stroke,” said coxswain Brian Price.

Day 9: Women’s double sculls win bronze in photo finish

Canadian women’s lightweight double sculls rowing pair Melanie Kok and Tracy Cameron clinched the bronze medal in a photo finish.

Kok and Cameron finished in six minutes, 56.68 seconds, behind Kirsten van der Kolk and Marit van Eupen of the Netherlands, who won the gold, and Sanna Sten and Minna Niemenen of Finland, who took silver.

The race came to such a close finish that the result was in doubt for several seconds before the Canadians realized they had beaten the Germans by 0.04 seconds.

“We had to find a little something extra to get beyond them,” Cameron told the CBC. “Just close your eyes and go.”

Day 9: Men’s lightweight four win Canada’s 2nd bronze of day

The Canadian lightweight men’s four won Canada’s second rowing bronze.

The crew of Iain Brambell, Jon Beare, Mike Lewis and Liam Parsons finished in five minutes, 50.09 seconds at Shunyi Olympic rowing park.

Canada used a late surge to grab a medal, and almost moved into second place in the final leg

Day 9: Canada’s Ryan Cochrane swims to bronze

Teenager Ryan Cochrane won Canada’s first Olympic swimming medal since 2000, taking bronze in the 1,500-metre freestyle.

The 19-year-old from Victoria finished third in a time of 14 minutes 42.69 seconds.

Fourth-place finisher Yuriy Prilukov mounted a furious campaign for the bronze over the final few laps. But the Russian was held off at the end by Cochrane, who had battled Hackett for first place for much of the race.

“I knew that [Prilukov] could catch me because he did in the 400 [freestyle],” Cochrane told CBC Sports. “I knew I just had to give my all.”

Day 8: Wrestler Verbeek captures Canada’s third medal

Canadian wrestler Tonya Verbeek won the second Olympic medal of her career and Canada’s third of the Beijing Games on Day 8.

The Beamsville, Ont., native won bronze in the 55-kilogram weight class, beating Ida-Theres Nerell of Sweden by a score of 1-0, 1-0 in one of two bronze medal matches.

She was smiling after the match, despite finishing one medal position below her 2004 Athens result. “I won a match to get the bronze and you’re losing a match to get the silver,” Verbeek said. “So it is a different feeling.”

Day 8: Canada’s Huynh grapples to gold

Wrestler Carol Huynh of Hazelton, B.C., won Canada’s first gold medal on Day 8.

The 27-year-old captured gold in the 48-kilogram freestyle weight class over Japan’s Chiharu Icho by a score of 4-0 and 2-1.

“This is unbelievable,” she told CBC Sports following the medal ceremony. “I knew I wanted to go in with supreme confidence in my abilities, and not doubting myself one second. That’s what I did, and I wrestled the match of my life, and it was awesome.”

Day 8: Canadians row to silver medal

The Canadian men’s rowing pair Scott Frandsen and Dave Calder ended Canada’s Olympic medal drought on Day 8.

The pair won a silver medal on the water at Shunyi Olympic rowing park on Saturday, the first Canadians to reach the medal podium in Beijing.

“It was a tough race, we tried to ignore the fact that we haven’t had a medal yet as a country, and just focus on our two [kilometres],” Calder told CBC Sports after the race.

“We can come off the water knowing we had a great race,” said Frandsen.


Van Koeverden takes silver

Adam van Koeverden dominated his semifinal heat in the K-1 500, though he didn’t post the fastest overall time. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Adam van Koeverden won the silver medal in the K-1 500, finding some redemption after a dismal performance in the 1000 on Friday.

Heading into the Games, he was considered a medal favourite in this race because he was the defending Olympic and world champion, and had won all three races on the World Cup circuit this season.

But in the hours before the 500 final, there was some concern he wouldn’t be in top form for the big race; he suffered a crushing defeat on Friday, finishing eighth in a field of nine paddlers in the 1000.

“I just didn’t have it,” a distraught van Koeverden told CBC Sports after that race. “It’s a hell of a time not to have it. It’s the worst 1000 metres I have put together in years.”

Van Koeverden was one of the strongest medal contenders heading into that race. He won two gold medals and one bronze in three World Cup races this season. He also claimed the bronze in the 1000 at the 2004 Athens Games as well as three silvers (2003, 2005, 2007) at world championships.

*******************************************

Adam van Koeverden defends his Olympic title in the final of the 500-metre kayak singles on Saturday, while two other teams of Canadian flatwater paddlers will try for medals in their events.

Canada has entries in three of the six finals at the Shunyi course on Saturday, the last day of paddling competition in Beijing. All races are at the 500-metre distance.

Richard Dober and Andrew Willows are set to compete in the kayak doubles final, while Andrew Russell and Gabriel Beauchesne-Sevigny race in the canoe doubles.

For van Koeverden, who served as Canada’s flag bearer at the Olympic opening ceremony, Saturday’s race presents a great chance to redeem himself.

The 26-year-old was considered a strong medal contender in Friday’s K-1 1,000, the event in which he took bronze at the 2004 Athens Games.

Instead, he finished eighth in a field of nine paddlers.

“I just didn’t have it,” a distraught van Koeverden told CBC Sports after the race. “It’s a hell of a time not to have it. It’s the worst 1000 metres I have put together in years.”

He paused for a moment then looked directly at the CBC television camera recording the interview. “I’m sorry,” he said, addressing viewers. “I don’t know what to say, I’m pretty speechless right now.”

Van Koeverden returns to the water as the prohibitive favourite in Saturday’s K-1 500 final (3:30 a.m. ET). The Oakville, Ont., native is the reigning world champion at his favourite distance, and is unbeaten in World Cup competition this season.

Van Koeverden looked impressive in Thursday’s semifinals, crossing the finish line in one minute 42.438 seconds, a boat-length ahead of his nearest competitior in the first heat.

Dober, Willows win convincingly

Croatian Stjepan Janic (1.41.689) posted the fastest run overall in winning the third heat. Steven Ferguson of New Zealand took the second heat in 1:42.238.

Times were relatively slow because the athletes had to paddle into a stiff wind.

“It was business as you said,” said van Koeverden, who in Tuesday’s heats broke his own world record with a time of 1:35.554. “It was tough. A headwind is always hard.

“It felt a little more like a final than the heat did, that’s for sure. We’re not going to see fast times today. But that is just the nature of the wind.”

Dober, from Trois-Rivieres, Que., and Willows, from Gananoque, Ont., look to have a shot at a medal in Saturday’s K-2 500 final (4:35 a.m. ET). The pair won their semifinal in convincing fashion Thursday, growing stronger towards the end and edging out the Polish boat that led the bulk of the race by 11-100ths of a second.

Russell, from Dartmouth, N.S., and Beauchesne-Sevigny, from Trois Rivières, Que., needed a dramatic finish to scrape into the final of the C-2 500 (5:05 a.m. ET). Coming on strong over the final half of Thursday’s semifinal, the Canadians crossed third to claim the last berth in the medal race.

Three other 500-metre paddling finals are on tap for Saturday. No Canadians are entered in the men’s canoe singles, women’s kayak singles, or women’s kayak doubles.


Official: Obama picks Biden for veep

By LIZ SIDOTI and NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama selected Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware late Friday night to be his vice presidential running mate, according to a Democratic official, balancing his ticket with a seasoned congressional veteran well-versed in foreign policy and defense issues.

Biden, 65, has twice sought the White House, and is a Catholic with blue-collar roots, a generally liberal voting record and a reputation as a long-winded orator.

Across more than 30 years in the Senate, he has served at various times not only as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee but also as head of the Judiciary Committee, with its jurisdiction over anti-crime legislation, Supreme Court nominees and Constitutional issues.

In selecting Biden, Obama passed over several other potential running mates, none more prominent than former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, his tenacious rival in dozens of primaries and caucuses.

The official who spoke did so on condition of anonymity, preferring not to pre-empt a text-message announcement the Obama campaign promised for Saturday morning.

Obama’s campaign arranged a debut for the newly minted ticket on Saturday outside the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.

Hundreds of miles to the west, carpenters, electricians, sound stage gurus and others transformed the Pepsi Center in Denver into a made-for-television convention venue.

Tucked away in one corner were thousands of lightweight rolled cardboard tubes, ready-made handles for signs bearing the names of the Democratic ticket — once the identity of Obama’s running mate was known.

While Obama decided against adding Clinton to his ticket, he has gone to great lengths to gain the confidence of her primary voters, agreeing to allow her name to be placed in nomination at the convention and permitting a roll call vote that threatens to expose lingering divisions within the party.

Biden slowly emerged as Obama’s choice across a long day and night of political suspense as other contenders gradually fell away.

First Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine let it be known that he had been ruled out. Then came word that Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana had also been passed over.

Several aides to Clinton said the Obama campaign had never requested financial or other records from her.

Other finalists in the veep sweepstakes were Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Texas Rep. Chet Edwards.

Among those on the short list, Biden brought the most experience in defense or foreign policy — areas in which Obama fares relatively poorly in the polls compared with Republican Sen. John McCain.

While the war in Iraq has been supplanted as the campaign’s top issues by the economy in recent months, the recent Russian invasion of Georgia has returned foreign policy to the forefront.

In addition to foreign policy experience, Biden, a native of Scranton, Pa., has working-class roots that could benefit Obama, who lost the blue-collar vote to Clinton during their competition for the presidential nomination.

Biden was elected to the Senate at the age of 29 in 1972, but personal tragedy struck before he could take office. His wife and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed when a tractor-trailer broad-sided her station wagon.

Biden took his oath of office for his first term at the hospital bedside of one of his sons.

On Friday, he spent the day at his home in Delaware with friends and family. The normally loquacious lawmaker maintained a low profile as associates said they believed — but did not know — he would be tapped. They added they had been asked to stand by in case their help was needed.

No sooner had word spread of his selection than McCain’s campaign unleashed its first attack. Spokesman Ben Porritt said in a statement that Biden had “denounced Barack Obama‘s poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing — that Barack Obama is not ready to be president.”

As evidence, Republicans cited an ABC interview from August 2007, in which Biden said he would stand by an earlier statement that Obama was not ready to serve as president.

Biden is seeking a new Senate term in the fall. there was no immediate word whether he intended to change plans as he reaches for national office.

Biden dropped out of the 2008 race for the Democratic presidential nomination after a poor finish in the Iowa caucuses, but not before he talked dismissively of joining someone else’s ticket.

“I am not running for vice president,” he said in a Fox interview. “I would not accept it if anyone offered it to me. The fact of the matter is I’d rather stay as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee than be vice president.”

He had stumbled on his first day in the race, apologizing for having described Obama as “clean.” Months later, Obama spoke up on Biden’s defense, praising him during a campaign debate for having worked for racial equality.

It was BIden’s second try for the White House. The first ended badly in 1988 when he was caught lifting lines from a speech by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.

In the decades since, he become a power in the Senate, presiding over confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominees as well as convening hearings to criticize President Bush’s handling of the Iraq War.

Biden voted to authorize the war, but long ago became one of the Senate’s surest critics of the conflict. Ironically, perhaps, his son, Beau, attorney general of Delaware, is due to spend a tour of duty in Iraq beginning this fall with his National Guard unit.

Obama worked to keep his choice secret, although he addressed the issue broadly during the day in an interview.

“Obviously, the most important question is: Is this person ready to be president?” Obama told “The Early Show” on CBS. Second, he said, was: “Can this person help me govern? Are they going to be an effective partner in creating the kind of economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally?”

And, he added: “I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policymaking.


Despatie wins silver in men's diving for Canada

Diver Alexandre Despatie of Canada won silver in the men’s three-metre springboard final at the Beijing Games on Tuesday. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Alexandre Despatie won Canada’s third medal on Day 11, finishing second in the men’s three-metre springboard diving competition at the Beijing Olympics.

Despatie, a 23-year-old native of Laval, Que., finished with a total score of 536.65 points from six dives to claim the silver medal Tuesday.

He also took the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Games.

“My silver medal is gold to me because of all the bad things that happened to me this year,” said Despatie. “I was able to get it together.”

He Chong of China won the gold (572.90 points) and countryman Qin Kai, the reigning world champion, took the bronze (530.10).

It was sweet redemption for Despatie, who was bothered by back problems in the months leading up to the Games. He also fractrured his foot while playing soccer in April.

“The hardest part of coming back from that injury was mentally,” Despatie said. “Physically we always do the training. Mentally it was very hard for me to stay positive and believe I was going to pull this off, believe that I was going to be able to come in, put six dives together, and perform.”

Despatie advanced to the final by finishing second behind He in the semifinals earlier in the day. Reuben Ross, a 22-year-old native of Regina, placed 18th overall with a six-dive score of 395.85 and did not make the final.

China’s He earned 11 perfect marks of 10.0 in the six-round final to take the gold.

China has won all six diving competitions at the Beijing Games with two events remaining.

“It is extremely hard to come into China and compete against them,” said Despatie. “They are so strong already. Being home just makes them that much stronger.”


Oui, Montreal tops in new Monopoly game

In this photo provided by Hasbro, ‘Mr. Monopoly’ stands on a large version of the global game board of the new ‘Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition’ after it was unveiled on the CBS Early Show in New York, Wednesday, August 20, 2008. In worldwide voting by fans, New York and London were the only cities to earn a property space on the board from their respective countries.

(AP Photo/Hasbro, Ray Stubblebine)

AP Report on Yahoo News

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. – Bye bye, Boardwalk. The Quebec metropolis of Montreal snagged the most expensive spot on a new global version of Monopoly, unseating the Atlantic City fixture as the board game’s most prestigious property.

Montreal will be joined by the Latvian capital Riga, which grabbed the game’s No. 2 Park Place spot, and 20 other world cities when Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition goes on sale later this month. Other cities featured include Cape Town, Jerusalem, London, Paris, New York, Rome and Taipei.

The latest version of the board game will be printed in 37 languages and sold in 50 countries, toy maker Hasbro Inc. said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, “Chance” and “Community Chest” cards will highlight global cultural fare, from Brazil’s Carnival celebration to Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day festival.

Created with Atlantic City street names in 1935 by Charles Darrow, more than a dozen versions of the game that allows players to become pretend real estate moguls are sold today.

Hasbro said nearly 6 million votes were cast during an online contest to name the cities featured on the global edition of the game.

Monopoly Here & Now will be available Aug. 26.


Askren's long wait for shot on Olympic mat ends in tears

By Elizabeth Merrill
ESPN.com LINK HERE TO STORY

BEIJING — The hair is unbearably short now. It is curly and cropped close to his cauliflower ears, the victim of a scissor-happy barber in Beijing. The woman wouldn’t stop cutting. Before Ben Askren knew it, 5 inches were on the floor.

This is how badly Askren wants to win a gold medal — he shed his coveted locks, his trademark — because the international guys like to pull on them when they wrestle.

“‘Vision Quest’ is a terrible, terrible movie,” Askren says during a deep-thoughts session from his room in the Olympic Village. “It’s just so stereotypical and ’80s.”

It is Monday afternoon in Beijing, less than 48 hours before the American will wrestle in his first Olympic match. He’s had a lot of time to think about hair, handball and bad wrestling movies, maybe too much. For nearly two weeks, while Michael Phelps won eight gold medals and 180 national anthems were played, Askren has been waiting. The night of the Opening Ceremony, wide-eyed and anxious, he asked a strange young woman to take a picture of him. The woman ended up being President Bush’s daughter Barbara.

Askren laughed it off. This is why matheads think he might go all the way — he is loose and unconventional.

He has heard about the betting line, the one that puts his gold-medal chances at 20 to 1. It is not that ridiculous. Askren is 24 years old, a baby in the eyes of grizzled superheroes like Russian Buvaysa Saytiev and Cuban Ivan Fundora. Saytiev is the gold standard; he won it all in Atlanta and Athens. If he takes this Olympics, he will be considered one of the greatest wrestlers ever.

Nobody at China Agricultural University Gymnasium, it seems, is talking about Askren. The preview sheet for the 163-pound (74-kilogram) freestyle field comes out, and Askren is not mentioned among favorites or challengers. There is one sentence about him at the bottom.

“Ben Askren is an outspoken young wrestler with limited international experience…”

It doesn’t rankle Askren.

“In my head, there is a 100 percent chance I’m going to win,” he says. “I think I should win every time I go on the mat.”


The thing about Askren’s hair is that it is always a conversation piece. When he was at the University of Missouri in 2006, he cut it into a mullet after nationals. He was a rock star in Columbia, easily spotted around campus with his wild, blond ‘fro.

His wrestling style was called “funky.” His long, lanky body allowed him to take chances. Askren became a two-time NCAA champion at 174 pounds and a four-time finalist. He still holds the NCAA’s single-season pins record and is the first Mizzou grad to become an Olympic wrestler.

When the local paper, the Columbia Tribune, did a Q&A with him called “The Ben Commandments,” he was asked if he was good enough to make the Olympics.

“No,” Askren said 17 months ago, “but I think I will be shortly.”

Two times a day, 12 years of workouts. Askren says making the Olympics didn’t hit him until he was asked to speak in front of a bunch of kids, telling them about how he got there. When he got in his car afterward, he started to bawl.


He bought a $27 suit at a silk store in Beijing, but he questions if it’s actually an Armani. He scaled the Great Wall. Now, Askren is bored. He must lose about 10 pounds in 26 hours. Normally, wrestlers hate talking about cutting weight, especially just before a match.

Askren simply shrugs. He’ll eat a small breakfast Monday, a couple of Clif Bars for lunch and a light dinner. He’ll sweat off the bulk of the weight he needs to lose in the sauna. He’ll also drop a few pounds with what he calls a “light” cardiovascular workout Monday night.

Fact is, he can’t do much today. If he walks around the city, he’ll expend too much energy. He can’t talk too much on his international phone, either, because it costs too much.

He will have an entourage of roughly 30 people in Beijing on Wednesday, friends and followers from Missouri and his hometown of Hartland, Wis. They love him for his humor, his swagger and the way his chin juts out before matches. At the Olympic trials this summer, some of his flock made up T-shirts that said, “Putting the Chin in China.”

Askren told them to leave the shirts home because he “didn’t want to make anyone upset” in Beijing. He has been wrestling internationally for only one year but was brimming with confidence at the trials, where he told reporters that he would win a gold medal.

“If I could compare him to one person …” says Martin Floreani of flowrestling.com, “he is to the wrestling world what Muhammad Ali is to the boxing world. He’s that much of an entertainer.

“He’s cocky, he’s confident, he’s brash. He’s outspoken and funny. People either love him or hate him. It makes him special.”


It is Tuesday afternoon, weigh-in time for Askren. He is not worried about making it. He scoffs at the notion that the scale might tip at 164. He’s come too far to not make weight.

The weigh-in room is in the warm-up area of the China Agricultural University Gymnasium. Askren lays face-down on a mat before stepping on the scale. He comes in perfectly, then draws a card to find out who he’ll be wrestling tomorrow. It is not good news. Askren picks No. 14, which means he will not get a bye and would have to face the Cuban in the second round and Saytiev in the third.

He says he is unconcerned about the draw, but is noticeably quieter than Monday. “I’m excited about it because I get to see exactly how good I am,” he says. “I’m ready to rumble.”

He says he doesn’t know when he’ll go to bed tonight. “When I get tired.”

He says he feels no pressure to win for the people of Hartland or Missouri.

“What I do tomorrow,” he says, “I do for myself.”

Askren watches the high jump on TV late Tuesday night before going to sleep. They get four Olympic channels in the village. He watched softball on Monday and let out an “Oooh” when someone got hit in the leg.

Most wrestlers hate being bothered the night before a match. An hour and a half before world trials last year, Askren chatted with Floreani about global warming while helpers scurried to fix his hair up in corn rows.

“I want to save my focus,” Askren says. “I know I’m ready. I know I have all the ability.”


The Askren cheering section is easy to find. They’re the ones in the middle of the bleachers, wearing bushy wigs and holding American flags. When Askren walks out to the mat at about 10 a.m., he looks up at his fans, sticks his chin out and smiles.

His Hungarian opponent takes a quick 2-0 lead, then Askren turns it on. He pins Istvan Vereb, slaps his hands together, then nods to the crowd.

In 20 minutes, after a quick rest on the mats in the warm-up area, Askren will be out again to face Fundora. He’s 32 and won a bronze medal in Athens.

The knock on Askren is he’s great on the offensive but struggles when wrestlers go after his legs. Fundora does that immediately. He is one of the best tacklers in the world. Fundora wins the first period 3-1, and the “USA” chants can’t help Askren. He falls behind 2-0, then 4-0.

He stands with his hands on his hips when it’s over and the Cuban moves on. Askren must now hope that Fundora beats the Russian so he can continue on for a bronze. It’s called, “Follow the leader.” If Fundora loses, Askren is finished.

Saytiev beats the Cuban, and Askren finally emerges behind the gates to speak to the media. The chin quivers. He starts to sob.

“I don’t know what you want to hear from me,” Askren says. “My dreams are crushed.

“I just wasn’t good enough. I sucked.”

Two weeks, and he’s done in two hours. Askren says he doesn’t know where he’ll go from here. There has been talk that he’ll try mixed martial arts, but his coach, Shawn Charles, is sure Askren will be back. He couldn’t end it this way.

After an awkward pause, Askren leaves. He has nothing else to say.


Saved by Zero …

The Fixx – Saved By Zero

Saved By Zero – I saw The Fixx my junior year of high school with The Animals and The Police at the Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami…


Dance the Night Away …

Van Halen-Dance The Night Away

Gitty on up to the planetarium and get ready for the Van Halen Laser Light show happening right now in a city near you !!! YAY !!!

Van Halen – Dancing In The Street


Road to Zion…

Petra: Road to Zion (with Lyrics)

This is a song from my Youth Group life so many years ago.


I'm in a place …

I haven’t felt the desire to write. Probably because I am afraid of a blank page and what that means. I have heard it said that “a blank page forces us into great acts of faith,” so here we go with an act of faith. As of late I have been feeling a little lost. A little without direction. I have this feeling that “Change” is coming and I don’t know when or where that is supposed to happen, nobody likes change, but I heard it shared tonight that we should “Calmly let things happen in our lives” from a woman who survived a bout with breast cancer. I think I will respect her advice and “calmly let things happen in my life.” Not that I haven’t done that already…

I feel disconnected from my degree work. I have been told that working on a certificate [where I am studying] is a very solitary journey, because certificate people fall between the cracks of the system, unlike B.A. programs and Masters work, we have to be self reliant on this part of our journey. I was warned long ago that it was my responsibility to keep myself busy and that I should find “good things” to do while I study, and I have done that.

This summer I have just gone with the flow of things. I felt somewhat challenged but in the same breath, I feel two things. One – that I am totally missing something that I should have been paying attention to or that Two – I am not grateful enough for what I have been given. I feel like I have fallen short on my spiritual practice, that I have missed something that I was supposed to learn. Or maybe I have learned something and I am just missing that lesson at the moment.

We are a couple weeks from the beginning of the fall semester and I know that I have a full course load coming and right now I am waiting word on my financial aide package which was taken from me by the government and I am not all emotional and insane with worry – is that a good thing or a bad thing? I have been told that people at the University are working on my behalf to restore the account so that we will have money to pay for rent, books and tuition. I am powerless over people, places and things and I can’t change anything myself, so I am not so fixated on a solution because that solution is going to happen in its own time, in its own way…

I’ve been working on prayer and meditation a lot lately. And I try to remain “in tune” with the spirit as spirit moves about me. I guess I have not been paying enough attention to it and that may be the cause of my dis-ease. Because when I am “in the loop” spiritually, I always know what to do next, I always get answers to my prayers in really tangible ways. Whether the answer is Yes – No or Not right now…

Last night I was standing on my balcony watching the rain fall across the cityscape and usually when I sit on the balcony I allow myself to spiritually wander. That is where I do my praying and meditating, for the most part. I was not really thinking about anything or anyone particular, I was just standing there and I heard a voice in my head and I heard the voice say “You need to pray for Brent.” Right here and right now. So I did.

I haven’t seen my friend Brent in a couple of months, since the last time he showed up at my home group, yet he is a character that plays prominently in my sobriety. We have been in the program almost the same amount of time, and he was a crucial player in my early sobriety, because we both have been following a spiritual path for some time.

A long time ago, we were both given a puzzle piece to solve, by a priest we both knew. He told us that “Montreal is where it all begins.” and with that, the old priest set us off on a path of spiritual discovery. The rest, they say, is history.

We have both been on this spiritual journey for some time. He took the Ignatian path, and I took the Anglican path. That is where I feel that I have either fallen short, or that something is coming and I can feel it deep in my bones. And that does not scare me like it used to. I try to “Calmy let things happen in my life as they are going to happen.”

It was my night of double duty tonight. I chaired two meetings at my home group. And it was my responsibility to find a speaker for tonight’s speaker meeting. I had gone out Sunday afternoon to another meeting to find me a speaker, and yesterday he called to cancel on me because of work. So I was left hanging – and this is where spirit stepped in to fill the void. Last night I prayed for Brent, because the voice of spirit spoke to me and told me to. I always pay attention to spirit, because there is always something to come from it.

I chaired the first meeting. And at 6:30 there were a few souls sitting in the room. And I dillied and dallied and spun my wheels for a few minutes and started the meeting a few minutes late to allow those people who always straggle in as I am reading the preamble come in. By the time we got to the topic, six people came in to join the meeting. Among those six people, was Brent…

Now was that a coincidence? Or was that Spirit?

A night ago, the voice told me to pray for him, and the next night he shows up unexpectedly at my meeting! That’s how spirit works for me sometimes. I hear the call, and I answer it, and by some coincidence they show up physically somewhere, usually in a meeting.

So after the first meeting, I walked up to him and said to him, quite boldly, “You are supposed to speak for me tonight.” I just knew, in my soul, that he was supposed to speak for me. And he graciously said yes. There was no two ways about it, I just knew that that was the choice I was supposed to make. So we prepped the hall for the next meeting and I settled in.

“Montreal might have been the city where it all starts, but it is not the end of the journey for Brent.” During his share he spoke about his spiritual journey and that he has felt the calling to move, away… All the way to Calgary in Alberta. That is a HUGE move, in my book. But like me, he is driven by spirit. The wheels were set in motion and he waited on God to show him what to do next, and one thing happened after another. He met a few Calgarians here in Montreal, who have helped him begin his move process. Now, I did not know any of this information before tonight…

I asked him if he “deciphered the code” and if he learned why “Montreal is where it all starts?” He shared with me his answer and we talked after the meeting on the way home tonight. He told me that I should work to maintain my spiritual connection. And be prepared for consolation and ecstasy. They come and go. His work on the Ignatian path has enlightened his life. And here I am feeling a little short on the take…

That’s the thing… Am I supposed to be somewhere already? I haven’t really consulted my map in a while, I’ve been enjoying the feeling of flying by the seat of my pants. I enjoy, for the most part, the feeling of freewheeling it, then again, it has its drawbacks. Because eventually I end up right where I am sitting, in this place of not knowing what comes next.

I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants for a few months now and I don’t really do well under these kinds of extremes. I may enjoy it while I am in it, in an insane good way, but eventually I want to return myself to some kind of discipline and regimentation. Not that my life is undisciplined or un-regimented. I follow the same regimen daily, like rote.

Staying sober this long, has afforded me the ability to work my steps unconsciously, I don’t carry around the baggage of the past, and I am not resentful of anyone. I am pretty even keeled. I stick to my program and it saves me on a daily basis. But like some I have heard tonight, I want to return to the times when miracles happened daily, and I long for the days when sobriety was new, when I was first learning how to “stay in my day.” That newness of seeing miracle and coincidence as something miraculous. The more distance I put between that time and today, the more I forget what it was like, and I need to be reminded again.

God knows what is in our hearts and thoughts before we even speak our words or voice our prayers. And last night, I was open to the stirrings of spirit and I was rewarded for that open communication with the God of my understanding. I was asked to do something, I did it, and now I know why I had to pray for Brent. And in speaking to him after the meeting, he felt blessed to speak about his path to the room tonight. He thanked me for my following the spirit as it moved in my life, because he got to speak what was in his heart as he did tonight. He jumped off script, as in What it was like, what happened and what it is like now. He spoke as spirit led him and it emboldened him. As if everything that he was going through as of late has been confirmed by God through the ministrations of someone else.

Does God walk among us? I think so …

So here I am, waiting on God to show me another spec of a miracle. Bring it on…

Sobriety is such a wonderful journey, when you pay attention to the path and the spirit.


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