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Gaudete in Latin is the imperative: "Rejoice!" and it is always what the third Sunday of Advent is called.

We may not feel much like rejoicing today, with the terrible news that has come from Connecticut, and we may not know what we can do about it, if anything. The question of the theodicy, that is, why do bad things happen to good people, is not something that I can give the answer to: the best minds down the ages have not been able to settle the question and I am far from the best mind around.

I don't pretend to console anyone. The question that John the Baptist is asked in Luke's Gospel, "What then should we do?" is pertinent, though. Those who do not profess any belief in God will probably not get a lot of comfort from my sermon, to be delivered tomorrow. So I have put most of it under a cut, which if you are interested you may pursue.

Dec. 16, 2012 Gaudete Sunday/3rd Sunday of Advent
Sermon delivered at St. John the Evangelist, 10AM.
First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18 Epistle: Philippians 4:4-7; Gospel: Luke 3:10-18

“And the crowds asked him: ‘What then should we do?’”

In the name of God, the one, the Undivided Trinity. AMEN.

The rest of the sermon is under the cut. )
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The problem of guns in the United States continues on, thanks to the Supreme Court's decision that carrying a gun is a constitutional right. The difficulty is that some people take this to mean a Federal license to kill. A mother on a SEPTA bus in Philadelphia slapped her misbehaving son, and was reprimanded by another passenger, who threatened to turn her in for child abuse. She called her friends, who met the bus at a later stop. She got off, and they opened fire. Thanks to the SEPTA surveillance cameras, we can see it all. Make sure you watch when the elderly lady belatedly drops to the floor of the bus a second before a bullet whizzes through the bus just where she had been standing. Thanks to Ron's Log for this.
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I have been astonished at the interest here in the midterm US elections. Normally there is subdued coverage of any US election not a Presidential one. However, this year the BBC suspended its Radio 4/World Service broadcasts from last midnight to cover the election results, and the news that the Republicans have now captured control of the House of Representatives is top news in the bulletins.

Thinking about the results, I believe that they are troubling to me personally, but also predictable. They may even help the President win a second term. Here are my thoughts.

From the vantage point of the United Kingdom, US politics this year seems to have been dominated by nutcases. The Tea Party seems to be running high in the water, and their rhetoric of getting the government off our backs and reducing the amount of government in total is very attractive to people who feel overtaxed, under-represented, and aggrieved at government's activities intruding on all our lives. However, in this rhetoric has been planted the seeds of their own destruction. Once they get in, the Tea Partiers will find that being in government makes them important, influential, and powerful. Rather than reducing the size of the government, they will want to increase it, so as to increase their own status. This happens every time someone who wants to "reduce the size of government" is elected to government. So in two years all these new Representatives and Senators will have been coopted by the system they were elected to slash and burn.

The President must bear some of the blame for the rout, of course. He has neglected many of the groups who elected him, and he spent too much time and political capital early on getting the health care reforms enacted. Now he will have little chance of repealing DADT or DOMA, thus permanently alienating the lesbian and gay and transgender people who worked to get him elected. However, he can now run in 2012 on a platform of accusing the Congress of doing nothing. Passing the blame over to Congress will be his salvation. In addition, if Sarah Palin were to be nominated for the Presidency in 2012, it is unlikely that even middle-of-the-road Republicans will be enthused about voting for her. Like so many Tea Party associates, she is ignorant, intolerant, and a rabble-rouser. Were she to be elected, there would be a serious problem with the Government of the United States starting at the top, possibly even greater than the rot which set in during the Nixon Administration. At least Nixon was passably intelligent.

Every time there is an election in the United States I feel relieved that I am here in the United Kingdom, where the National Health Service is sacrosanct and revered by the vast majority of citizens. I would never want to move back to the US and can foresee no circumstances in which I would do it.

Finally, every time there is a landslide one way or another, pundits (I'm not a pundit) say that the (Republicans/Democrats) are washed up, and a permanent (Republican/Democratic) majority is now assured. Bushwah. It has not happened any time after the Nixon landslide of 1972, and it won't happen now. People do not habitually vote for one party or another any more, generally. They vote their pocketbooks and their ideology, and the party that seems to promise that the former will be heavier and the latter will be lighter gets their vote. When that doesn't happen, they vote for the other lot next time. The Democrats are not a spent force, and the Republicans are not cruising back to power. The Tea Party will implode and fracture before the next election (believe me, it'll happen). Some of those elected yesterday will turn out to be as corrupt as the last lot. The electorate will move toward the center-left, as it almost always does, and Obama will be re-elected.

As a yellow-dog Democrat (perhaps the last one standing…) I am of course annoyed that my party has lost control of the House. But the next elections are only two years away.
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As a dual US/UK citizen, I have almost forgotten the lyrics to the US patriotic hymn "America" ("My country 'tis of thee/Sweet land of liberty/To thee we sing") as the lyrics I now normally sing to this tune are "God save our gracious Queen/Long live our noble Queen/God save the Queen!"

However, at the end of the 19th Century the American composer Charles Ives, as an 18-year-old organ prodigy, wrote Variations on America, which took the old tune as an inspiration for a tango, among other musical genres.

In honour of both my citizenships then, I found this video which presents various American images to the music of Charles Ives. Enjoy, and Happy Independence Day to all the USans among you.

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This has been a really tiring week.

First, the foot. It is still weeping. Not much blood, but quite a bit of clear fluid. The podiatrist said that the edges are having a hard time closing for healing. Well, my (internal) response was: Why did you people cut this thing out? It wasn't giving me any trouble and similar ones have solidified and then dissipated. So it's an iatrogenic problem. I really don't know what to do. It's frustrating, scary (will I have to take antibiotics for 6 weeks only? 9 weeks? 12 weeks? Until the cows come home? Will it heal eventually? When is "eventually"?), and annoying. Today is Pride Day here in London, and we're staying home because I couldn't march or stand for a long time. This is the fourth or fifth year I have missed London Pride. And, in this year where great strides have been made in LGBT rights (gay marriage in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Iowa; same-sex sexual activity legalised in India, and many that I have missed) and some steps backward (California), I want to be out there marching, demonstrating, and showing that gay men aren't all twinks and gym bunnies and that we don't automatically self-destruct when we reach age 30. I can't. My feet and body are not cooperating.

Monday we had the last of the Fairer Shares meetings for the deanery. These meetings set the rates at which parishes pay money to the diocese to keep everything (mostly clergy salaries) going. The deanery made out OK this time around, I think, with some parishes taking a hit because their collective income was higher and some benefiting because their collective income was lower. Raises in quota are capped at 10%. The Fairer Shares system works because it is not only fair, it's perceived as fair. Long may it continue.

Tuesday I went to the Diabetic Clinic for two appointments I hadn't been aware of before I left for the United States: one with a lipid doctor and one with a dietician. I dutifully turned up, had my height and weight measured (weight down 2 kg, height the same) and my blood pressure checked: 127/78 (I think). I was amazed. My blood pressure hasn't been that low in years when taken by a health professional.

I saw the lipid doctor and he wanted to redo tests that had been recently taken, and the dietician conceded that my problem was portion control and not necessarily what I eat. The dietician made me wait for an hour before he saw me. See my previous long blog entry for the rant.

Wednesday through Friday I attended an Electromind course called "Rapid Software Testing", conducted by Michael Bolton, one of the gurus in the neglected art of software testing. I found the course helpful but a bit chaotic (I think Michael might say that as I'm a Meyers/Briggs J, as opposed to his P, that's exactly what I would say.) There are lots of handouts (on a USB key), and slides (boy, has he got slides). There were lots of valuable ideas and methods introduced during the course. I would say that the people who need to take this course should be carefully selected. Test managers don't necessarily need to take this course, but would perhaps benefit from a course in managing rapid testers and the rapid testing methods. But, that's just my own personal opinion. The other 9 attendees seemed to enjoy it (as did I, I hasten to add) and got a lot out of it (as did I).

I suppose I have two reservations about it, having to do with the venue. The conference room was almost the furthest away from the front desk as you can get in this hotel (Crowne Plaza, near St. James Park). You needed a twenty-mule team and a 3-day supply of rations to get there—and my tongue is only partly in my cheek. Second, the lunch. When taking courses like this, the idea of lunch is to get it into you as quickly as possible so that those who have to keep an ear out for problems at their workplace can call in or take calls. On Wednesday, once we found the lunch restaurant (they hid it) we sat down, ordered as if we were dining out, and then took 1-1/2 hours to get served and finish up. When we got there on Thursday, they had the same menu as Wednesday. As lots of it was fish, this was particularly sad for me. The chef whipped up gnocchi and tagliatelle for those who didn't want the same old choices from Wednesday. Friday's menu was promised to be different and, lo! it was. Smaller. However, it took 1-1/2 hours to eat on Thursday and Friday. This put a crimp in our day, as Michael went on to 5:30 pm rather than ending at 5 pm as promised. On Friday this created a difficulty for me, as I had to get somewhere at 6 and Michael continued on until 5:40 pm. I just barely made it.

The place I had to get to at 6 pm was Piccadilly Circus, where HWMBO was waiting for me. We did dinner at Hamburger + on Dean Street, which has changed its sign to "Hamburger +" but, apparently, not its website. We have had some sad experiences there but we were trying to eat quickly in SoHo to get to the next event. The burger wasn't bad, and the onion rings were very good indeed. Full marks, Master Hamburger.

While HWMBO was ordering I was sitting at the window idly watching the street scene and who should come walking down the pavement toward me but Ian Hislop, who looked rather cross. I don't know whether that's his public face (look fierce to keep the adoring public away) or he was really cross about something. On Have I Got News for You he almost always looks cherubic. Anyway, I winked at him from inside the restaurant and that was it. The reason he was walking down that particular street is that Private Eye's office is a bit further up. And, oddly enough, as I was sitting there before he came along I wondered (again, idly) whether Hislop would walk by and there he was! I shall now wonder whether we'll win the lottery tonight.

We then walked to Wardour Street for a showing of some of Creative SINergy's short films in honour of Pride. They all had a LGBT focus (even if that was only because the director is gay or lesbian). They were all very good. The evening was titled "Short Circuit" and we enjoyed all the films immensely. The first one, "Summer" was especially good.

We had a drink beforehand in the screening room lobby and, of course, there were goodie bags included. Thanks to Brian Tan for getting everything together and straightening out our convoluted payment methods.

Today is the Fourth of July. My father used to ask "Do they have a Fourth of July in England?" and a few times I fell into the trap and started to explain that Independence Day wasn't celebrated here as we were on the other side. The answer, of course, is "Yes, one every year."

I have in the past talked about renouncing my US citizenship as I intend to remain here in the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future, and I see myself as British now rather than American. However, there is a part of me that won't ever leave the United States, really. For all the hassle that US taxes, getting my vote counted, and trying to get into the country without being cross-examined by the Rottweilers who staff the immigration counters, I guess that I really can't give up US citizenship now without feeling very sad and unsettled. I belong here AND there. While this is not unique, for me it's important to separate the hassles put in my way by silly US laws and ignorant immigration officials from the very great experiment that is the United States, one that is still going on 233 years later. It's fallible, it breaks every once in a while, and it's not always the best place to live, especially if you are not Caucasian, not straight or not US-born. It's not always a beacon to the world—heck, sometimes it's not even a beacon to itself. But, I can't escape it. When I hear The Stars and Stripes Forever, expecially when played at Trinity Church Wall Street by Cameron Carpenter something wells up that I can't explain here.

Today is also Pride Day here in London. I guess I'm proud of being HWMBO's husband (legally), being gay, being American, and being British AND American. Being all of these are the greatest blessings one can have, and I'm grateful for every one of them.
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It occurred to me this morning that I have been very remiss about finishing up the blog entry about my US trip.

There is a very long post with lots of pictures here cut for your convenience )

All in all, a good holiday, barring the foot troubles.
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Kind of like "What the butler saw!", isn't it?

I went to the lawyer today, as I said yesterday. Ferman Law is located near Bond Street Station, in a little road between Oxford Street and Hanover Square. I dressed in a suit with bow tie, of course, as I feel that professional consultations require good dress on both sides.

Mr Ferman is a dual citizen who practices immigration as well as other commercial law in the UK and US. He is articulate, and knows his stuff.

First I explained my situation, put forward in yesterday's blog post pretty thoroughly. My questions were:
  • What is the situation in regard to the Social Security money I paid in while I lived and worked in the United States?

  • When travelling to the United States as a person who renounced American citizenship, how much hassle is one likely to meet?

As far as Social Security is concerned, there is no change at all. The money will be there, and (at least as far as current law is concerned) will be paid out when I reach retirement age regardless of my citizenship status. There is $65,000 in this account, and I worked for 14 years in the US so I paid in more than the 40 quarters needed to vest the money.

As for travelling to the US, he advised that if I were to renounce, I should carry my letter from the State Department confirming renunciation with me when I travel, as some airlines will not accept a foreign passport from someone they think is a US citizen (again, my passport has "Massachusetts" as my place of birth) and when I get to the immigration counter, the Border Protection officer may ask for my US passport when he sees the place of birth in my UK passport.

He then asked if I had ever been arrested or convicted of a crime (I haven't). As an alien, I could be barred from the US were I to have a criminal record, were I a prostitute or a procurer, if I was infected with HIV or other communicable diseases, and several other reasons which escape me now. The online Visa Waiver website has the whole list of things.

I could also be barred permanently from the United States if I renounced my citizenship purely for tax reasons. Mr Ferman recommended that I write a statement giving my reasons for renunciation (not including tax reasons, of course) and that this be filed with the other papers at the Embassy.

My financial situation is such that no penalties, back, or continuing taxation will be necessary once I have renounced my citizenship. I will have to produce five years of tax returns and a balance sheet confirming that I have little or no resources or income, and no real property.

He remarked that the process is very paperwork-intensive, as the US is not eager to promote renunciation or make it easy.

The next available appointment at the US Embassy for renunciations is in August, 2009! They do about 10 a month, according to Mr Ferman, and this is more than any other US Embassy anywhere.

As it is a very serious and irrevocable act, they normally have a Consul, rather than a Vice-Consul or other lower official, conduct the interview. They want to make darn sure that you really want to renounce, so that later on if you change your mind, you cannot say that you were coerced or otherwise influenced against your will to renounce.

So what now?

I think I will wait until after my next trip to the US (May-the beginning of June) and then make the final decision. The fee for Mr. Ferman to do the paperworki is quite steep, so I may have to do it myself unless I get some paying work between now and then. None of it seemed to be particularly difficult, just time consuming.

Oh, and the final good news is that, in contradistinction to US visas, there is currently no charge for renouncing your citizenship.
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I have been moved by [ profile] keith_london's blogposts about the United States to finally go somewhere with renouncing my American citizenship. Tomorrow I'm off to the law firm of Gary Ferman, who specialise in citizenship and immigration issues. I'll be speaking with him about the consequences of renunciation, not particularly financial ones (since I do not have enough money or resources to trigger any of the horrid penalties that the US places on people who renounce their citizenship) but focussing on travel consequences.

For example, does it become more difficult to enter the US as a foreigner when you've renounced your citizenship?

I am doing this mostly to simplify my life. I now have to manage my affairs to take into account two different systems of law, tax, and citizenship. Why should I, a UK citizen, be barred from going to Cuba for a Caribbean holiday simply because I am also an American citizen? Why should my ISA (tax-free savings account in the UK) be taxable in the United States but not taxable here? Why should I have to put up with intrusive questioning at the US border even though I am currently a US citizen?

I realise this may make some readers of my blog uneasy. Well, imagine coming to the US four times in 2008 and, the fourth time, being suspected of money laundering and getting the third degree about what I do for a living, why I'm coming to the US, and how much money I have. I get no privileges from my US citizenship (besides the honour of being able to vote for Federal offices) and lots of grief. Better to give it up.

People have said to me, "Well, you never know—someday you may want to move back to the US."

To them I say, "Imagine, if you will, an unemployed software test manager who has had diabetes for more than 20 years and a heart attack 3 years ago moving back to the US from the UK. This person would go from totally free health care, including free medications, to having no health insurance at all and having to pay full whack for his health care and prescriptions. In addition, imagine that this person has a civil partner who is not a US citizen. Thus, in moving back to the US this person would have to forego living with his civil partner. After 11 years of partnership, this might be a bit of a hardship."

I think it is a clear choice. For younger people who are not ill and whose full-time job prospects (and health insurance benefits) in the United States are good, it might be a struggle. For me, it's clear. Living in the UK is my future. I am now a European. I benefit from a health care system that gives me first-class care which is free at the point of delivery, including all medication. I feel patriotic about the UK, and, for all its faults, I love it still.

Nothing will happen tomorrow except that I will be better informed about my choices and their consequences. After that, I shall make the final decision, and I will, of course, keep you all informed.

However, so that any super-patriotic USans might not get so upset they say naughty things in the comments that they might regret later, I'm screening all comments on this post.
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As much as I hate leaving my cosy London home for the Wild West, HWMBO and I are off to the US in May. HWMBO and I will be visiting my brother and sister in Massachusetts for a week starting probably the weekend of the 16-17 May. HWMBO will stay for a week, and leave the next weekend. We will probably be seeing [ profile] celloboi while we're there, as well as [ profile] rsc and [ profile] jwg and other friends of ours.

I, on the other hand, will be staying in the US for two more weeks. The week starting 25th May I shall be flying to Washington, DC to stay with our former flatmate and absolute sweetheart Brett (who is not on LiveJournal) for a week.

So, heads up, all you LJ friends in DC, I'm coming atcha. This means you, [ profile] urban_bohemian, you, [ profile] legalmoose, and you, [ profile] tim1965, and you, [ profile] mango_king, as well as [ profile] mouseworks and anyone else in the area. I have no itinerary or plans at the moment except to sightsee and enjoy myself. I have not been in Washington for more than 20 years, so it's time. We could have a drink/dinner or whatever. Would love to meet y'all.

Then, I'm taking the train up to New York City probably the 1st or 2nd of June to go to my 35th Columbia reunion. I really enjoyed the 30th, so I am really excited about this one. I don't have a lot of close friends in my class, but I enjoyed being on campus, doing the activities, and all that. The reunion starts on the 2nd or the 3rd of June, and goes through the weekend.

So, heads up to all my New York LiveJournal friends, as well as anyone else in the area. I'll be staying with [ profile] mc4bbs for part of the time, and on campus for part of the time. Then, back home on the 8th or 9th of June.

So don't be shy; I would really enjoy meeting you if you're around any of those three places.
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I think I had seen this somewhere, but had forgotten it. Senator Obama is a fellow alumnus of Columbia College, class of 1983. He is the first Columbia alumnus (of any school) to be elected President of the United States. The Roosevelts (Theodore and Franklin Delano) attended Columbia Law School but never graduated. And, of course, before he was President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of Columbia University.

As President Bollinger says in the press release, Columbiua alumni signed the Declaration of Independence, and have served as Mayors of New York and Governors of New York (as well as many other cities and states). But, this one is special.
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WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Here is the text of President-elect Barack Obama’s victory speech in Chicago on Tuesday, as released by his campaign:

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

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

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nov. 5th, 2008 04:06 am
chrishansenhome: (Default)
Senator Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States. My happiness knows no bounds.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
[ profile] jesus_h_biscuit has embedded part of a TV program (BBC something or other) where Tony Benn is his usual forthright self. Go there and watch it; it's priceless.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
John Cleese on Palin...Sarah Palin, that is.

chrishansenhome: (Default)
Aged nuns are holy women, with tons of experience, and lots of prayer behind them. This 106-year-old American nun who lives in Rome has registered to vote, and will be voting for the first time in about 52 years (she last voted for Eisenhower). But Eisenhower Republicans are few and far between these days, so she's not voting for one.
chrishansenhome: (Default)

I'm lucky that I won't have to live there after January 20th if the Repugs get in. Thanks to MadPriest for the tipoff.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
There are many unbelievable stories out there about both candidates and their supporters. But this account of a meeting in Starbucks takes the biscuit.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
William F. Buckley was a thinking conservative (even if I usually disagreed with his positions, you had to give him that). His son also writes for the National Review, which Buckley founded. It's surprising then that Buckley fils, although he knows McCain and even wrote speeches for him, is going to vote for Barack Obama.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
No comments necessary.

chrishansenhome: (Default)
I got my absentee ballot from California, and joyfully voted for Obama/Biden and Nancy Pelosi, who is my Representative (and also Speaker of the House). No Senate race in California this year.

Tomorrow I will joyfully post it. I always have to put a big "To:" on the front and "From:" on the back (which has my name and address printed on it) as the posties normally send it back to me unless I do, even though the stamps are on the "To:" side.

Now we wait to see what the rest of the country will do in November.

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