and then criticising them
LATEST JAN 25th 2012
archives are at the end

[Bear in mind the problems - click here to be reminded of a major one]

JANUARY 03 2008
This is a long process, and it starts now with the IOWA Caucuses. What is the most desirable result? A President and Vice President with these important qualities:
My preference would be Clinton+Obama. Between them they could get things done and take enough of the nation with them to achieve results. Now, how the long process that is under weigh could arrive at this I have no idea. Whether Clinton would serve as VP to Obama or vice-versa does not matter, they could make a good team. Of course they may not see it that way at all and we could end up with another ineffective or uninspiring product in charge, but I hope not. The world can't afford it.

Great store is put on the outcome of the IOWA caucuses, but we are in a more complex situation than previously and what happens there may give a clue to later outcomes or may, on the other hand, stimulate a reaction that could effect a reversal of fortunes in the later stages.

JAN 06 2008
Here's an interesting development. Obabma has attracted the youth vote (resulting in a very high turnout) and the votes of the unaligned and floating amongst those who would normally vote Republican but will vote Obama at this stage to spike Hilary Clinton who they fear or hate above all. If they can destroy her momentum at this stage (they reckon) then Obabama could take the Democrat ticket, and that might give a Republican a chance at the final poll way down the road, when those who think Obabma lacks experience could come out of the woods to vote. The only Republican America would elect as President in that scenario is McCain, and since he's much the best of their bunch by a mile, it could be worse. But we need Clinton+Obama - in any order - to turn America around.

JAN 08 2008
Clinton wins the New Hampshire Primary by about 39 to 36 percent over Obama. Quite close run. The others are nowhere. McCain wins the Republican vote easily. I think this is reassuring, The 3 best candidates have come to the top. Though it is far too early to draw any conclusion about the far-off final result, at least Americans are voting sensibly and boldly.

JAN 28 2008
Obabma gets the backing of Edward Kennedy. That is a setback for Clinton. While I would be happy to see Obama+Clinton in either order I am not enjoying them fighting each other. Bill's attack on Obabma has not helped. John McCain has credibility. If the democrats are not careful, we could end up with another Republican President and I think it is time for a change/

JAN 29 2008
McCain wins the Florida Primary easily over Romney - this gives Republicans a chance for the presidency. Hilary won her votes too, as she should. But her speech of thanks was a bit strained. No need to shout so much, she is better when she is calm and collected. Giuliani came third and should now back McCain. His speech was good, quiet, thoughtful and positive. His plea for 'less lawsuits' got seriously moving support from his audience. He's a good man. I don't know why Romney had to be in this race at all. His speech was bollocks. A lot of "America is the greatest country in the world, with the greatest cars", and how they now had to worry with competition with "Countries like Asia, and India..." A bigger pile of cliches was never delivered. But he's not giving up.

JAN 30th 2008
Giuliani backs McCain, as I thought, and in my view he would be McCain's VP if he won. Schwartzenegger is also endorsing McCain. All that remains to be resolved now, barring one of those unforeseen events, is the choice between Clinton and Obabma as the opposition.

FEB 5th 2008
The votes are coming on on Super Tuesday, but they are no nearer to pointing to a leader between Clinton and Obama. McCain looks like holding on to front runner for the Republcans. His stature and character are not in doubt, and his anti-pork-barrel stand is good, but I still think he is too conventional to realise a new and coordinated approach, and that means coordinated and promoted by Federal Government, is needed for the coming century to deal with environmental problems. Hillary made a much better speech today in New York after the counts projected a win, even though it is not all in; great stuff. Ah, Matt Frei agrees with me on that. Yes, it was a very good speech indeed.

FEBRUARY 7th 2008
This evening we have had to listen to Mitt Romney tell us that only the US, unique amongst nations, has ever fought wars and not taken the land of their enemies. He has clearly never heard of Britain. We have fought more wars without ever wanting to aquire territory than the US has, and won more of them, so lost less. This man's speches are one long eulogy on America as the hope of the world. Under him it would continue its decline and its leadership as humanity's greates problem, the drunk that keeps the economy of the global pub in business. Thank God today he steps down. He is not  bad man - just a walking cliche of American ignorance to match George W Bush. They can be proud they dumped him. Well done.

Obama is looking strong. At the moment he has momentum and he is gaining in confidence. He will start to pick up all those who want to be on the winning side. But as he gains confidence he gives less confidence to me that he understands the economy as it will need to be played if we are to limit runaway global warming. He thinks the price of petrol at the pumps is too high. It is ridiculously low, and that has been the reason for the collapse of the US automobile industry, as its well-paid managers always thought their gas-guzzlers would sell for ever. It had to hurt before America will make sensible vehicles, and it will have to hurt still more.

FEBRUARY 24th 2008
Oh God, Ralph Nader is going to do it again. The only hope is that the US public have been warned by what he did last time and even those who agree with his policies will give him the cold shoulder. The one way to make sure that few if any of Nader's sensible ideas get applied  by the next government (and there might be be or two amongst the populist garbage and even some that are essential) is to vote for man.

MARCH 5th 2008
Hillary Clinton has won in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. This keeps both her and Obabma in the frame. Since many would like them both on the presidential ticket, democrats are hoping they will refrain from damaging each other or developing a mtual antipathy that would make this impossible. In terms of the popular vote, Clinton may be ahead. In terms of states and delegates at this stage, Obama is in front.

MARCH 27th 2008
It has been apparent for some time now that Hilary Clinton had to rise to the occasion if she was going to win this race, but she has failed to do that. In my view she has lost it, and Obama has won it. Whether he can beat McCain in the big one is another matter.

MAY 6th 2008
Until this week nothing had happened to change my opinion, not even the trouble Obama faced with his weirdo preacher. It needed Clinton to rise to the occasion. Now in a way I had not anticipated, she has. She has turned what some saw as a state of denial into one of solid determination to hang in and and hang on till every voter has had their say. She has kept her cool, kept her head and decided that the massive popular vote she has in the country would be shamefully betrayed if she were to walk away before the end. Fair enough, but she has also decided to woo the electorate with what I see as pandering instead of telling the hard truth. Whatever form of financial assistance Clinton plans for those in need of a lifeline, giving them a break on gasoline tax is the very last way to do it. This tax is efficient to collect and the cost of fuel is the one thing to make the the development of more efficient vehicles a marketable prospect. A holiday on any other tax would do but not that one. I am depressed. It seems Clinton is stuck on her lifelong crusades of education and health care but still knows nothing of the economics and science of the real world. Sorry, but I hope Obama comes through, I have suddenly realised Hillary is a politician of the old school. She'd make a good VP for Obama though.

JUNE 4th 2008
Obama is through to a safe landing. Now he has the most difficult decison of all - will he offer the VP slot on the ticket to Hilary? She has to decide whether to take it. On the one hand together they have the mathematical chance to beat McCain in the Presidential election. On the other hand many may think Bill Clinton, who has had his day, is now a liability and a distraction they could do without. Hilary might do well to stick to her considerable position in the party, in NY and in the Congress and run for the presidency later. Obama might do well to pick a new face as VP. The problem will then be how to beat McCain as he collects all those who do not want too much change and too many unknowns...

JUNE 5th 2008
One way Hillary could help deliver Obama as President is to convince all those who supported her that Obama is both a changemaker and a safe pair of hands who will carry through the reforms she as advocated because he supports them anyway. She can then be more use to him as a leader in the Senate and of public opinion than she could ever be in the traditionally powerless role as VP. In my opinion that is now her best choice, best for her party and best for America and the world.

AUGUST 23rd 2008
Obama has chosen Joe Biden as his runner for VP. An experienced player. Presumably the calculation is that Biden will carry the support of those who want to see a new foreign policy guided with safe hands, of a fair proportion of Clinton voters, and of many in the House and Senate whose support will be required in legislation. This is a very pragmatic choice, but it is not necessarily one to to carry a big appeal to voters across the country - clearly Obama is relying on himself to do that, with Biden there to counter claims by McCain that he does not have the required experience.

AUGUST 27th 2008
Hillary Clinton has spoken eloquently in support of Obama at the Democrat Convention in Denver. To those who doubt, or say they doubt, that Obama is ready for the job I would say he is as ready or more ready than any previous President. He is informed and coherent (as opposed to the incumbent, though Bush is admittedly now slightly better informed than when he took office). He is educated and he is not noticably confused. He is in good health, happily married. he is a good organiser and has efficient and loyal lieutenants and supporters. He has shown good judgement on many levels. So it looks like the one charge that cannot be brought is that he is not ready. I haven't hear any other objections, so with that eliminated America should be able to get on and elect him.

AUGUST 28th 2008
Bill Clinton came on stage yesterday and said exactly what needed to be said. Not only that, it had more truth in it than bullshit. This man could have made a great president in my opinion if he hadn't been dragging the weed of embittered Republicans for his past 4 years, trying to destroy him and wasting his, and America's time. It was good to see him looking fit and well. His timing was good too, but best of all he had a lot to say about Barack Obama that relieves Obama from saying it again and tomorrow, therefore, gives him the chance to talk to his audience about them, their country, and what has to be done. It will not be just a toil, sweat and tears lecture but it will certainly be a call to rebuild and overcome some major problems and he will have to convince them that his administration will support them in that effort.

AUGUST 29th 2008
BBC Parliament was good enough to give us in UK direct C-Span coverage of the convention, so we had a chance to hear speakers uninterrupted by the usual maddening commentaries. There is no doubt Biden is an excellent choice for VP. He goes up several points in my estmation as being able to appeal to a wide swathe of voters across America. As for Obabma himself, he came over as a natural. To be fair to George W Bush he was never prepared for the Presidency, he was totally unequipped for it, and that is why his pretensions to the position were painful and embarrassing to witness. We can now stop being embarrassed for Americans and squirming in our seats when their President speaks.

On policy, I am not totally convinced that immediately taking out Osama Bin Laden is a good idea but I could be persuaded. Nor do I follow the reference to 'Russian aggression'. But this was a good-natured rally, and a truly democratic one. Obama is no demagogue and certainly no dictator or a man driven by personal demons or rigid ideology. In current idiom, he is able to get his head round problems. If America doesn't elect this guy, then they are in real trouble, not because he alone has the answers but because they haven't the judgment as a nation to pick the best man - and a good team.

McCain has picked Sarah Palin, the popular governor of Alaska, as running mate.  As a Reuters report says: "Palin, 44, was a relatively surprising pick, but one aimed at appealing to women voters who might have been disillusioned by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's decision to pick Biden as his No. 2 instead of Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York."

The more I think about this, the more I find it ludicrous and frankly an insult to the nation, rating as insignificant the knowledge and understanding and authority of all possible altenatives.

On the bright side for Republicans, after the election they will be able to say that the Democrats and Obama did not win, it was just that McCain lost it. Unless, of course, he has spotted in Governor Palin a very remarkable person who is destined to be acclaimed one day the first woman President of the USA. This would be unfortunate. While my first impression is that the lady is just nuts, I suppose it is possible to become governor of Alaska without any knowledge of the planet and its history or geography and, with an education neglected by both parent, schools, friends and colleagues, to be unaware of the biological facts of life but still sane and a nice lady. However this would not be helpful when acting as the political and military leader of the 'free world' who will have to assess the mentality of many national leaders who are also in a variety of states of confusion. She could also set women's claim to equality back quite a bit.

On second thoughts, Sarah Palin is completely nuts. Not only does she believe in The Flintstones, she does not believe human activity is responsible for the sudden acceleration in Global Warming. This is the end of John McCain's run for president, even though his supporters don't yet know it. It is beyond a joke. The Fiorina woman, his adviser, is clearly nuts as well - I have just been listening to her talking to a BBC correspondent.

When I started this part of the file on January 3rd 2008, I felt it would not be a disaster if Obama, Clinton or McCain were elected President. Having watched a some hours of the Republican Convention (including Joe Lieberman, a democrat, talking), I can't take any more. America faces many challenges right now but they are not primarily military. The are above all political, diplomatic and international and the military element they contain depends above all on strong alliances and an understanding of the wider world. The fight is for the world, not America, and the Republican party are dinosaurs. This convention and its speakers are embarrassing.  I say that as one who approved the removal of the Taliban and of Saddam Hussein and the eventual proper handling of the postwar situation in Iraq. But God Help America if we have any more Republicans in the White House in this generation.

I am sure Sarah Palin is a great govenor of Alaska, and achieving that post is to an extent a qualification for President of the US. But Barack Obama ran a presidential campaign against the most experienced and wealthy democratic opponents in history, and won. That was a national campaign and is most certainly a qualification for anyone who has to hold the top political office and show leadership and judgment. In spite of the fact that she believes humans and dinosaurs lived together and ther world was created 6,000 years ago the lady is not mad and is clearly a terrific manager. I just cannot accept that anyone unable to think freely should be influencing US foreign policy, and this nice but bossy woman would do just that and believe America has the right to dominate. She talks of Victory in Iraq, when the only success has come when the victory has been one on the policy and handling of the operations, a victory over the original incompetence of the US administration and the mishandling that turned so many into enemies.

As to the claim of these people to speak for God, the Republican Party of the 21st Century, as demonstrated by these speakers, is to Christianity what al Qaida is to Islam, with slightly less knowledge of what they are talking about. They may be honest and admirable in many ways, but until they can manage to step outside the American experience, and their version of it, they are better off kept away from the levers of world political power.

SEPTEMBER 5th 2008
Well there we have it - John Mc Cain's acceptance speech was as fine a speech as anyone could wish. To the point, gracious, no theatrical stuff. And if as he says he is prepared to put the boot into the pork barrels and the rest of his own old boys in Washington that will be fine. The best thing his running mate did was to junk the private jet she didn't need. But that same running mate must be doing a lot more talking than listening if she thinks her ideas on politics in general and life on this planet are acceptable in the 21st century even in America. She is getting cheers now but in the end she will lose women and mens votes in huge numbers, out-weighing those she has picked up, including many potential Republican floating voters. And I can't see Hillary's supporters voting for her - no way!

SEPTEMBER 9th 2008
All I can say now is this: if Americans elect John McCain because a significant number of men or women want to vote for Sarah Palin, then the theory "There is nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America" will be proved false, probably for ever. The Flintstones would be in a majority and breeding.

SEPTEMBER 13th 2008
I received this from a friend. What more is there to say?

> I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....
> * If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic,
> different."
> * Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, a quintessential American story.
> * If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
> * Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.
> * Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
> * Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

> * If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first
> black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive
> that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law
> professor,  spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over
> 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human
> Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a
> state of  13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the
> Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs
> committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
> * If your total resume is: local weather girl,  4 years on the city council
> and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as
> the governor of a ! state wi th only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to
> become the country's second highest ranking executive.

> * If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2
> beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real
> Christian.
> * If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your
> disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

> * If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the
> proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
> * If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other
> option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen
> daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.  

> * If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a
> prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community,
> then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent
> America's.
> * If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude",  with at least one DWI
> conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25
> and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from
> the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

> OK, much clearer now.

SEPTEMBER 26th 2008
Having listened to the McCain-Obama debate I would say no minds will be changed because of it. Obama is ahead at the polls just now, he has come off best over the credit crisis and the bale-out plan debate, but he was perhaps less impressive on the defence and military issues, at least for all those who consider that what went wrong in Iraq was not the invasion but Rumsfeld's appalling handling of the plans and execution of the post-invasion stage. This election is still wide open. If it was not for the injection of Sarah Palin a McCain win would not be a disaster; but I still hope Obama is the man because he will have the chance of a Democratic congress and the power to get things done.

OCTOBER 14th 2008
The financial crisis (covered elsewhere on this site) has brought Obama into the lead, largely because McCain is not seen as understanding it, Palin even less. There is discussion in Europe as to whether the US is losing its status as world super-power. There is much rubbish talked in the UK about the 'special relationship' being worthless. While it is true there are serious problems, I can assure the reader the 'special relationship' has in my lifetime been in the hands of people on both sides that valued it above all others. If it fell into the hands of others it could, it is true, fade. I listend to Justin Webb, the BBCs US correspondent, giving US culture a pat on the back for its dynamism and the belief that what had been achieved in the past was a clue as to how it could recover and retain its position. I hope he is right, but its not a done deal. I was move to drop a line, reproduced here:

I admire Justin Webb's knowledge of America, it is profound. But the main reason for American success is that they had a new, unused continent to play with and make an incredible mess anywhere they went wrong, without ever having to tidy up till now. When it comes to mistakes, they made them all, but it didn't matter because they were not sitting in the middle of Asia or Europe, ready to be taken over by the surrounding overcrowded hungry nations. They could draw on adventurous immigrants from all over the globe and lebensraum was never a problem. They virtually exterminated the small indigenous population and they got slaves to build up the economic structure.

Nothing wrong with that, all large empires had been built on slavery, but in this case it was different. Normally slaves were employees in a conquered nation, put to work rather than killed and grateful for it even if resentful. In the American case they bought slaves from traders who bought them mainly from tribal leaders in Africa who had them on their hands and found them the best form of trading commodity. The slave trade and shipment was often a very cruel process. It was that, the trading and transport in which the UK was involved, which when discovered by the general public and those with a Christian consceince led to the abolition of first the trade and then of slavery in North America.

In summary, I am afraid that Justin Webb is too flattering to American Culture and its dynamism. That played a part, but emerged only because they had America and its huge riches including oil and the rest to play with. The culture itself is the result of millennia of European, Middle East and Asian experience and character. The very short time over which the US has a collective historical experience has misled them into believing their modern culture is fundamental, different and the hope of the world. Sarah Palin epitomises this delusion.

There is nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America, but that is not to say it will be - just that that is the hope.  US society is very divided, vertically and horizontally, and could lose its way.

That's the end of my little rant for today. Whoever wins, they will have a hell of a job on their hands and unity will need to inform and guide the cultural dynamism.

OCTOBER 16th 2008
Obama came out a winner in the 3rd debate on TV with McCain, but I have to say I don't now have a great deal of confidence in Obama's foreign policy as formulated for the MIddle East or Afghanistan, or in McCain's foreign policy for the rest of the world. I am for talking with the Iranians, that's not my beef. I just find McCain's approach more mature in one way though too old fachioned and rigid in another. I just hope they have good advisors who can get up to date and break out of the whole US foreign poilicy mindset that in my view gets the message a decade or more too late every time and muddles the approaches that need to be different for different.areas, people and times. The one size fits all on democracy qualifications or classification as 'evil' has got to be abandoned.

OCTOBER 17th 2008
I have now had time to sit carefully through a full TV recording of the last Obama-McCain debate. When I started this file, I said it would not be a disaster if McCain won. I have changed my mind. It would be a disaster. He is in no way up to the job. He is completely lost and relying on the repetition of mantras that are increasingly irrelevant as guiding principles even when partially valid and not to be forgotten. His attempts to show Obabma voted against some worthy bills were frankly crooked and naive. He voted against the bills quite rightly because they were false and loaded with trojan horse ideologies. McCain's folksey blarney is not digestible. He's not fit for this job. When Obama nails his arguments McCain just smiles. But the rest of the time he is angry or blarney or lecturing in a very didactic and arrogant way. The world does not need this man as leader and nor does America as president.

OCTOBER 31st 2008
In spite of this: - unbelievably the outcome is still not a sure thing. The world just lives in hope.

NOVEMBER 3rd 2008
Reliable sources now predict an Obabama victory of historic proportions. They had better be right. The choice of Sarah Palin as running mate shows McCain in such an irresponsible, even cynical light that he is clearly not fit to be President himself. That a nation with such power could have a woman of such staggering inexperience and, let's face it, ignorance anywhere within spitting distance of national poltical influence is a thought that it is hard to live with. If this is not an Obama landslide for that reason alone, it will be very, very worrying for planet Earth. Women of America, I trust you to vote even if it means queuing all day, and vote Obama even if you are normally Republican and even if your husband is a Republican member of Congress! There is a point that has to be made here once and for all on the absolute limits of the qualifications required, even if there is always more to be learned on the job.

NOVEMBER 4th 2008
3:03 GMT - It is not going to be a landslide but it looks like a big win. Thank goodness the 'independents' have registered loud and clear that Palin was unacceptable. Many who would have voted McCain either stayed away or switched to Obama. It is also clear that America's women heard the call and many made it clear they did not want their gender's chance of future presidency scotched forever by a joke candidate as the first woman close to it and deliberately, knowingly aiming at it. That is now clear, but I am still disturbed that over 40% of Americans could vote for a ticket that included Palin.

Now we are hearing that it will be a nightmare for the Democratic party because, with a big majority in the House and Senate they will be held responsible for carrying through all their policies and for the results, intended and unintended and their effects on all US citizens. I think this is a pathetic point of view. The Party should welcome the chance to put into practice some radical policies that are needed now even if they were not needed earlier. The planet is in a new situation, as it the world economy. It s essential to understand this. If the reader will refer to the opening paragraphs of this file they will see that Obama, Biden and team have the ability to do this, to carry the nation with them.  We are now in the equivalent of World War III - it is not between nations, but against ignorance and the failure to pull together.  Those who think the market economy, important though it is, is the mechanism to drive this new economic model have never been involved in managing a war on this scale.

4:23 GMT  John McCains concession speech was the best of his entire campaign and for that I can forgive him his choice of running mate. She may have been a valid voice for domestic reform, and in so far that was needed, and it was, that is his excuse. More than I can say for many of his supporters who did not enjoy this speech.

NOVEMBER 5th 2008
Barack Obama's acceptance speech was short and sweet. He got the tone right, as suggested at the start of this file, in promising a tough time ahead. There are areas where he will have to move quite fast, though the transition period will avoid haste. There will be no reason for anyone to think he will lay on them burdens greater than they can handle, or for others to think he will be a soft touch to bail out top cats who like to think they are key.

Now it is time for Americans to ask themselves a few questions.

Those blacks who though Obama could not be elected should ask themselves why they thought that, because they were seriously wrong.
Those whites who thought Obama should not be elected should ask themselves why they thought that, because they were seriously wrong.

There are many other questions Americans need to ask themselves, such as: is it not possible to be at ease in this world without believing your nation is God's gift to the planet and the greatest civilisation on Earth, and repeating it out loud every day? The greatest Americans I have known were very modest men, two of them astronauts of matchless fame.

Perhaps one of the best things to come out of this election is a pioneering way of financing political parties whereby large numbers of small independent donors can match the power of smaller numbers of large donors. If a way can be found to use this and at the same time limit the funds spent on electioneeing, then it could be a model to use in the UK and Europe.

As far as Obama's political programme is concerned, ideology can take a back seat now while practical measures are taken to tackle both financial crisis and global warming. Arguments for/against big government, free market etc are utterly irrelevant. The hypocrisy that has been the basis of conventional political positions are to be dumped. As for handling foreign policy, since every mistake has already been made it could actually get better because it can't get worse and in Iraq has improved, even if fragile, thanks to Petraeus. Learning how to have Russia as an ally would make sense.

Finally there are those who wish Obama well but say the number and size of the problems facing the USA are such that nobody can deal with them, because they have a negative synergy. These people are most certainly wrong. It is precisely because there are so many real problems to be dealt with that action is politically possible where and when it was not before. The synergy of the actions can then become positive. To use a hackneyed phrase, it is not rocket science. It needs a broad knowledge of the world, the century and the way to draw on humanity's talents and imagination.

NOVEMBER 13th 2008
This can't be bad..

Biden picks former Gore aide as chief of staff

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Vice President-elect Joe Biden has picked former Al Gore aide Ron Klain to be his chief of staff, a Democratic official said on Thursday.

Klain is the latest ex-Clinton administration official selected for a high-profile job in the coming Barack Obama presidency.

A Washington lawyer, Klain was chief of staff and a counselor to Gore when the Nobel Peace Prize winner was vice president to President Bill Clinton.

His selection adds another layer of experience to Obama's White House. Obama has picked former Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel, a Democratic representative from Illinois, as his chief of staff.

Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta is playing a leading role in running Obama's presidential transition.

Biden was to pay a visit to Vice President Dick Cheney later on Thursday.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Bill Trott)

Sen. Clinton considered for top diplomat:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sen. Hillary Clinton, who lost to Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary, is being considered to serve as secretary of state in the Obama administration, NBC News reported on Thursday.

JANUARY 22nd 2009
I have refrained from any entries in this file for two months, as having been rewarded with my two choices (Obama+Clinton) as the two key players in the new administration,and Senator Joe Biden as a safe pair of hands in backup position, I think we can all say 'job done' as far as the choosing of America's leaders (the title of this file) is concerned. Now they have to cope with the domestic and global situation and they will need all the help they can get.

WASHINGTON – The first family settled into their new lives in the White House on Thursday as President Barack Obama won an important personal victory: He gets to keep his BlackBerry.

Obama will be the first sitting president to use e-mail, and he has been reluctant to part with his ever-present handheld device. Its use will be limited to keeping in touch with senior staff and personal friends, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

"I've won the fight, but I don't think it's up and running," Obama said as he walked through the White House briefing room Thursday evening to meet reporters.

FEBRUARY 13th 2009
Now we can see how things are shaping up. The bipartisan approach to the Credit Crunch Crisis has not washed with the GOP. Republicans are mentally incapable of free thinking. Obama has got his recovery plan through by the skin of his teeth, with detractors claiming thatit is not a plan, only a plan for a plan. To some extent that has to be true, and I am glad to hear the planners admitting they will be making some new mistakes. That's fine, as long as they get moving on two fronts, preventing deflation and attacking climate control, without any compromise at all of either.

We must realise that amongst the talented thinkers from the Democratic past are those who abolished the Glass-Stegall act - an action that more than any other put the banking world into a no-holds-barred contest - a race in which it is idiotic now to complain that banks took risks. In a competitive race in the corporate world, you drive as fast as you can to survive because those lagging are simply taken over by the leaders and swallowed, abandoned by their supporters. Nor can regulators be expected to forbid any contestant from pushing their vehicle to the limit. If free market competition is accepted, the referee must keep quiet unless the law is broken.

Bankers are all accused of greed. Anthony Worral Thomson, a UK chef attempting to expand his chain of restaurants (a business whose clients indulge their greed daily), accuses his bankers of going bankrupt through greed. In fact they, just like him, were trying to survive in a headlong race in a world dedicated to expansion and growth, pedalling like hell because their bicycle would fall over if it stopped. Now he has had to put some of his his restaurants into receivership. Tough.

FEBRUARY 14th 2009

Obama "now has a bill to sign that will create millions of good-paying jobs and help families and businesses stay afloat financially," said Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who was a leading architect of the measure.

"It will shore up our schools and roads and bridges, and infuse cash into new sectors like green energy and technology that will sustain our economy for the long term," he added in a statement.

Hours earlier, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell offered a different prediction for a bill he said was loaded with wasteful spending.

"A stimulus bill that was supposed to be timely, targeted and temporary is none of the above," he said in remarks on the Senate floor. "And this means Congress is about to approve a stimulus that's unlikely to have much stimulative effect."

Full report:

We shall see who is nearest the truth.

FEBRUARY 29th 2009

The real fight is now on. Refer to the opening paragraph of this file. Obama has to take America where powerful vested interests do not want to go. In the background there are planetary forces that will make these vested interests look like insignificant. They may fight to create a defensive version of feudalism. Obama will aim to rally a wider consensus to take on the global challenge. This is just the beginning of a real world war, not the one most people imagined..

AUGUST 4th 2009
Joe Biden has loosed off with some pointless and stupid remarks about Russia. I thought this guy, though gaff-prone, was really a safe pair of hands. Now he has given the Russians the impression that there are many who think like him that Russia is a busted flush, failing financially, democratically and sociologically, not to respected as a serious partner. This will make Obama's taks of showing that the Bush era of public back-slapping with 'my friend Valadimir' accompanied by not the slightest clue of what Russia is or what Russians need, was over. Russians will now deduce either there is a serious split in the administration on their view of Russia, or that Obama does not have the power to rein in old cold warriors. What a fool the man Biden is. I was wrong to ever think he had a brain.

SEPTEMBER 13th 2009
A day ago President Obama broadcast to America's children. It was a speech that both thoughtful and inspirational and very timely. It was well received by Americas children and most of their parents and teachers, and it smoked out and enraged what we can now see ever more clearly is a festering heap of damaged and resentful citizens who are stuck in a warped and miserable past.

So far there is not a single comment on this opinion at

Obama speaks to kids

Just think. The audacity of an American president who thinks it’s appropriate to propagandize America’s children with ideas about taking responsibility for their education, setting personal goals, working hard and staying in school.

One lesson learned in the recent controversy over President Barack Obama’s speech to public schoolchildren is that partisan politics continue to manipulate basic American institutions, even at the expense of children. Shame on public school administrators who side-stepped a real opportunity for leadership and relegated the decision about airing the speech to classroom teachers, or even worse decided not to air it at all.

Nationwide 7,000 students drop out of American high schools every day, and only 70 percent of students graduate with a traditional high school diploma, according to recent studies. It doesn’t take much introspection to conclude that American educators need all the support they can muster to encourage public schoolchildren to stay in school and take responsibility for their education. What better person to turn to than to the American president, who despite a challenging childhood — which incidentally is mirrored by many of today’s youth — has been able to become the leader of the most powerful country in the world?

It’s unfortunate that what some thought as a golden opportunity for school-aged children to hear from the commander in chief, others identified as a propaganda message for impressionable young minds.

While most county public school administrators walked the line of caution making no plans to broadcast the speech live, the administrators of the Friends School in State College, and all those who followed suit, should be commended for rising above the fray and doing what was best for students. The private school assembled students Tuesday for a big-screen presentation of the speech.

And it was the children who demonstrated that it doesn’t take age to understand the right thing to do. Students at the State College Friends School had a positive response to the president’s speech, and described it as “inspiring,” “interesting” and “good.”

Nine-year-old Lily Plute said, “I thought it was interesting that he took time out of the day to give a speech to us.”

OCTOBER 3rd 2009
Sometimes Americans just make one want to cry. There was never the slightest chance Chicago would be chosen for 2016 Olympic Games. Given the global priorities and changes, from climate change to the new financial realities and solutions, the case for a South American venue was unbeatable and unstoppable. All the other continents had already hosted the games and, in the case of some regions and countries, too often already. The kindest thing to do was to vote the US out in the first round rather than pretend it was a contest between the North and South America or Chicago and Rio.

For Obama it posed a bit of a problem. As a Chicago man, he could hardly have declined to back the bid. As President, he would have got some flak for not backing the US. Yet he must have known it would have been a seriously bad move to make a really hard sell when it was Rio that the whole world needed. He did exactly as he should, a sincere and well spoken bid on behalf of Chicago and his country but no arm twisting.

Now, we have to listen to hundreds of what we now have to include in what we call 'Americans', the type who more and more come to represent through their pathetic noise what the world sees as Americans. Conceited, ignorant, childlike, hysterical  pains in the arse who claim they are being humiliated if the rest of the planet does not agree wth their half baked ideas on everything from politics and economics to creationism and climate change.

It would have been a disaster if Chicago had won the 2016 games, not because of anything about Chicago, but because too many people in the US feel humiliated if they do not get their way. Leadership does not mean getting your own way, it means leading the world in which all can win, in the right direction. President Obama understands that only too well. The last thing anyone with any sense wants is to humiliate any country, but it is beginning to look as if the best thing for the world right now would be that a lot of Americans were to exhibit some genuine humility, for a great many reasons, none of which relate to not being awarded the 2016 Olympic Games which they should never have expected in the first place.

JANUARY 27 2010
President Obama has just finished his State of the Union speech. It was every bit as solid and on the ball as I expected. I have no comments, I just hope people were paying attention.

FEBRUARY 01 2010
Budget day in the US. I am a passionate supporter of going back to the moon but Obama and his advisors are right, now is not the time and the money is better spent otherwise.
Obama also kills his predecessor's signature space program to return astronauts to the moon. NASA had already spent $9.1 billion on the program, which was projected to cost $100 billion by 2020. Obama's new budget said NASA will be "launching a bold new effort" with an extra $1.2 billion annually for five years, money expected to be used to encourage private companies to build, launch and operate their own spacecraft for the benefit of NASA and others. NASA would pay the private companies to carry U.S. astronauts.

MARCH 22 2010
Triumphant Barack Obama has won his bitter battle to push through historic healthcare reforms hailing the vote as "a victory for the American people".
There is a hell of a lot to do and various states and the Republicans are going to fight to obstruct implementation. Certain regional variations may well be a valid way to test these changes out. Nevertheless it is a huge political achievement, for which Obama can take credit.

MAY 16th 2010
We have a new government in the UK now, and William Hague, a great talker who I do not admire, will have gone to meet Hilary Clinton today. I will be interested to see how that goes.

Harold Evans (yes, that one, the journalist/editor/pundit) has said something that intrigues me. He is a man who belives in the 'special relationship' though realises it has its us and downs. He was very upset when Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office, but I think he has misundestood that. It was an embarrassment for most of us that George Bush made much of its presence, as if to think they had something in common. It was surely right of Obama to remove it. Evans thinks he should have just put it in another room in the Whitehouse, but that would be have slightly ambigous and have had a demotional element. I think it was quite right to send it to the UK on the Grounds that it was administrations of Roosevelt and Truman and Ike for whom it was symbolic. To have had it as a dominant theme in Obama's Whitehouse (and any bust of Churchill would dominate) would have been both presumptious and inappropriate.

Now, Clinton must discuss with Hague what the new 'spin' (and I use that word for the first time, significantly, on this web site) to put onto the short, medium and long-term commitment to the military operations in the middle-east and S.E. Asia. At the moment, spin is all that can be adjusted, but they will also be planning the next policy review on these operations and their viability and alternatives depending on progress or the lack of it on the Afghan/Pakistan border, Kandahar and Helmand.
[A separate entry on The Special Relationship comes up later - here.]

AUGUST 19th 2010
Although the crazy Sarah Palin is against the building of a Mosque near to 'Ground Zero' in New York, that does not mean Obama is right in giving it presidential approval. America is definitely not ready and not in the mood for such openhearted generosity which would be symbolic more than practical, there being plenty of mosques in New York already. The campaign being launched against it is as daft as the idea to build it, but Obama should just have said 'Americans are not ready for this. Lets get some stability and genuine respect into interfaith relations for which, frankly, their is no great precedent other than grudging tolerance and an apprecation of the finer points as practised by the finer human examples'. I am disappointed with Obama. Leadership requires timing and persuasion. he has failed to persuade and the timing stinks.

OCTOBER 28th 2010
he 2010 midterm election will be held on Tuesday, November 2 with at least 36 of the 100 seats in the Senate being contested and all House seats coming up for election.

The democrats are going to take big hits unless those who supported Obama on his election turn out now in force to sustain him. Listening to various sources of news and opinion it would look like he will lose those who think he is not moving hard enough to avoid depression, those who think he has moved too strongly will desert him as well. Most registered and habitual Republican voters will return to  their roots. So it looks bad. On the global perspective there is not doubt that Obama has brought more sense to international affairs in general. If this election diminishes his chance of firm and progressive domestic government the US will be stuck again in the deadlock that prevented previous presidents from managing the country's infrastructure in a coherent manner.

NOVEMBER 3rd 2010
Democrats have lost their majority in the house but survive in the senate. On the whole, Obama has received a big kicking, but that is hardly surprising. Children do not like the doctor who sticks the needle in and gives them medicine without any sugar.
I don't see how even a cooperative GOP could help Obama continue with a sensible domestic policy because to get one to work it has to be strong an consistent. A compromise where the least effective of the Democrat's policies and the least effective of the Republican policies are all that can get through the House on the one hand and past the Presidential Veto on the other is unlikely to deal with the situation.

The only logical way forward was to let Obama and those of his team who understood the flaws in the old economic model to work through the upgrade and re-boot. This election has crashed the system, which will now run in SAFE MODE only, if at all. There is no way a trickle-down effect will get the immense amount of Quantitative Easing into a vibrant, growing economy because there is no coherent national plan. Freedom, given to a nation of inappropriatekly educated people, overprivileged by modern technology and economics they do not understand, who claim they need no government, will not spread wealth or health. However, America is home to many remarkable people. To predict what will happen next is now not possible.

DECEMBER 23rd 2010
Some progress at the end of the year in congress. But its like walking through treacle.
However I see the letters to the New York Times indicate some very strong approval of the way Obama has been managing recently.

JANUARY 10th 2011
It is impossible to prove a direct connection between the appalling right-wing political ranting by bloggers and radio jocks and the actions of this deranged man but when you have a fairly deranged woman like Palin getting as near to political influence as she has, it is not possible either to be surprised when amongst the simple-minded are some who believe what they say.
It would indeed be lovely if the size of the state, federal government and public finance could be reduced with respect to the private sector but this is conditional, as are all things. In the next decade, we will traverse a completely new phase in commercial as well as political development. What was required before is not what will be required in the immediately foreseeable future in any of the high-income, developed nations. There will have to be either very enlightened growth in private enterprise or increasing governmental control of choices amd market forces. At the moment, I cannot see any chance of government taking a back seat.

JANUARY 21st 2011
Republicans are desperately trying to scupper Obama's health reforms but the truth is they are rapidly gaining popularity with the public. They will not be reversed, so Republican opponents will try to 'prune'.


The content was right in all its priorities, the delivery was right in very way, the applause was directed at the key points so I only hope it was sincere. It was a very thoughtful address and that was what was needed.  I have written this at 22:11 Washington time before the speech ended. I shall not wait up to here the media opinion.

MAY 11th 2011
Two developments in Obama's favour.

1. Osama Bin Laden was hunted down in a speculative, bold operation by US Seals, shot and buried at sea. A lot of useful intelligence was gained from the place he was hiding in Pakistan.
2. Newt Gingrich has decided he might run for the presidency. I really can't manage a comment on that other than to say that although Monty Python sketches often end up as truth, I didn't really expect Family Guy to become reality. No matter how many people may not support Obama with enthusiasm, with the likes of Palin and Gingrich batting for the GOP surely he can't fail to get a second term!

MAY 19th 2011
This is definitely leadership.

JULY 10tth 2011
Republican members of congress whose ignorance of the more real world (in which human finance is an epiphenomenon) is frightening, are playing a game of chicken with their nation's future and, along with it, the financing of the rest of the 'world-as-we-know-it'.

And then there is the cloud of uncertainty that surrounds ETF Securities, where nobody know how many people are able to claim on reserve assets at the same time without bringing the house down. Naked credit default swaps and other attempts at hedging to take the risk out of investment are all based on a hopeless fallacy.

It is not by taking risks that we can cause the next crash, it is trying to make money while avoiding the proper risks involved in moving society and the economy forward.

JULY 26th 2011
Republicans, notably the Tea Party, are more concerned on defeating the Democrats and Obama than they are on the interests of their own country and the world economy. Their ignorance is truly staggering, as is their ill will.

AUGUST 1st 2011
At the last minute a very second-rate proposal is on the table to be agreed tomorrow to allow the US Government to borrow enough to keep payng the routine bills. many people see it as a cave-in by the President but with people like that to deal with, what can you do. The ratio of debt to the economy of 70% is largely due to the bail-out after the economic collapse, and the ridiculous tax-cuts for the wealthy made by the Bush administration, so the spending cuts demanded by the Republicans make much less sense than they thnk they do structurally. These people are absurd and unless they straighten up and fly right they will be in big trouble.

Neither the jobs crisis or the real budget crisis are deal with by this temporary fix. Dumb, or Dumberer?

AUGUST 2nd 2011
The Senate passed the useless package.  Obama made a brave speech. Wall Street reacted just as it should, looking at the economic situation. The US AAA Rating has been preserved but unemployment is 9% and growth is going nowhere. Obama got the saving of the credt rating done but 70% of the American people thinks the politicians are ridiculous. The Tea Party idiots didn't even vote for the compromise bill whose only use was to preserve the AAA. Gotta preserve their ideology of course!

The Bush tax-cuts expire in 2013 thank God. And because facts are facts, in the long run the Republicans are in the shit and Obama will be re-elected.

Turns out Standardand Poor decided to reduce the US credit rating from AAA to AA+ - this is more in the interest of S & P than anything else as they were made to look fools with their performance before the collapse of the sub-prime market. Their action today will give the Chinese and Indians a chance to complain and warn but, frankly, if the Chinese wish to place their reserves elsewhere the choice is theirs. They are hoist on their own to a certan extent if they do.

SEPTEMBER 14th 2011
Now we settle into the scenario we have go used to, whereby the Republicans prevent a Democratic administration from getting through the vital policies it needs in the run up to the next election. They would rather destroy America than let Obama and the Democrats succeed.

SEPTEMBER 19th 2011
Obama puts a reasonable programme forward. The Republicans rubbish it as expected.

NOVEMBER 22nd 2011
Super Committee convened to face the economic meltdown fails to agree. What a bunch of buck-passers. As made clear so often, the GOP would sooner bring down the Democrats than work with them for the good of the country.

JANUARY 11th 2012
We are now some way into the run-up to the next Presidential election. No need to repeat my views on Mitt Romney. He could play the Presidential role of course but he is still the man whose blinkered view created the gas-guzzling US economy, who believes there are no limits, and whose campaign manager's overweight presence says it all. If Americans elect him they will get what they deserve.

Obama has at least for the moment appeared to have sold out to the economic establishment, probably because he has not been able to build an alternative, but I think there is more to his management than meets the eye. Unlike his opponents, Obama is no fool. That alone could get through to the voters.

JANUARY 25th 2012
Yesterday we had the 2012 State of the Union address. Here is a comment from Britain's Daily Mail

The key passage from Obama was this: 'We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by.  Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.'

That's code for class warfare and trying to ensure equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. Obama is genuine in and open about his belief that government is a force for good. His actions also show that he finds it distasteful that some individuals are rewarded more for their success than others, though he masks this with the kind of rhetoric he used tonight.

When Obama uses the word 'fair', as he did eight times tonight, that's code for the redistribution of wealth.

Read more:

I have to say I heard no 'class warfare' whatsoever in Obama's address. I heard pragmatism in spades. Romney is happy in his dreamworld which he has made work for him, and which may even have had the occasional benefit for others - as is the case when anyone gets stuff done rather than sitting on their arse, even if their motivation is idiosyncratic and far from universal in its applicability. I think this is still Obama's time and with luck a new generation of Americans will give him the job again.


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A look at the past leadership as it was seen at the time

and what actually happens subsequently

What can I say. It was a fluent speech. G.W.B's tribute to the military in Iraq and Afghanistan was worthy and genuine. This is a man who means well. He has absolutely no idea why he has made so many enemies in addition to the genuinely malevolent and violent and fanatical. He has no idea how the totally undisiciplined economic policy of his country, which has indeed kept the global economy going, for which we are grateful, has been based on the most irresponsible use of materials and land and resources imaginable. This is a man whose economic follies have been allowed to continue by a head of the federal resrve who managed the behaviour of his government and the nation like a skilled bartender manages a drunk.

 Luckily, globalization and a technological revolution has so expanded the global supply of goods and services that the massive inflation that would otherwise have been caused by his econmic policy has been avoided. He deals with every mistake by rolling it over into another bogus initiative. His new technology announcement is too little, too late, unless he adopts a new global approach. The man is technologically and financially illiterate, and assuming his speech was written for him his advisors must be too, unless they will craft whatever is necessary for the evening's entertainment.

But hey, look what we would have to put up with if America was not the leading nation. Maybe we can still say "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America", but if what is right with America can't wake them up to the damage they do as well as the good, and the proper lead they are utterly failing to give in business integrity and ecological behaviour, it really will be tough going. He talked endlessly about the security of America and 'protecting our people' as the ultimate aim. He never once mentioned protecting the planet other than by overthrowing tyranny and destroying the growers of drugs whose consumers are his own fellow Americans. If their only addiction was oil, that would be better.
It was a brilliant and stirring speech delivered with superb confidence; it was brave and forthright and, I fear, totally meaningless. Nevertheless it is what nature and history require of him as part of the march of time. The universe is perfectly self designing, just not pain-free.

That was my impression at the end of his address. Some other comments the next day:

The Washington Post:  Bush showed "little ambition to tackle some of America's challenges at home or abroad." The newspaper noted that Bush's ability to enact new initiatives is limited by policies taken over the last six years including the cost of tax cuts and health programs, and the war in Iraq.

The Los Angeles Times: "The president hit the right notes, some of them even surprising, but the president often musters laudable principles to avoid specifics or deflect unpleasant realities."

In his speech the President said the Federal Govt, had committed $85 billion to 'the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans'. That's careful wording. Lets see where funding actually goes.

House panel clears emergency war funds

By Vicki Allen Thu Mar 9 2006, 12:01 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A House of Representatives committee on Wednesday rejected the Bush administration's new initiative to promote democracy in Iran as it approved $71 billion in emergency funds mostly to finance the wars in Iran and Afghanistan.

The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee granted the administration almost all of the $67 billion it wanted for the wars, and ordered that some $1.3 billion be used to upgrade armor on Army vehicles after the Pentagon was criticized for skimping on those protections for troops in Iraq.

Lawmakers also took aim at several of President George W. Bush's plans for $4.1 billion in emergency foreign aid.

The emergency spending package which totaled $91 billion also included $19.1 billion in relief for the hurricane-battered U.S. Gulf Coast.

The committee cut most of the $75 million Bush sought for new pro-democracy efforts in Iran, calling the plan announced with fanfare last month poorly justified. The committee instead funded existing pro-democracy programs for the country now locked in an international standoff over its nuclear program.

Lawmakers also slashed most of the $62 million in aid the administration wanted for Afghanistan because the State Department has not declared that the Kabul government is fully cooperating with efforts to fight the country's poppy trade, which yields most of the world's heroin.

At Democrats' urging, the committee added $50 million in aid to Liberia, on top of $128 million already approved, to show support for the new president of the war-torn country, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first elected woman leader.

Lawmakers also agreed to put into law a block on aid to the Palestinian Authority unless the new government being formed by the militant group Hamas renounces terrorism and recognizes Israel's right to exist, backing Bush's stance. The amendment would not impede humanitarian relief to the Palestinian people, lawmakers said.

The war funds for the Pentagon would come on top of the $320 billion the White House budget office said has been allocated so far, and costs are expected to climb to around $500 billion by next year with the bulk going to Iraq.

"I believe in the end DOD will get virtually everything it asks for. It almost always does," said Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the committee's top Democrat and a critic of Bush's Iraq policies.

The committee's evening meeting was interrupted twice by Iraq war protesters, who were forcibly removed from the room.


The full House was scheduled to vote on the spending package next week, but the bill could get caught in a showdown with Bush over an amendment to block a Dubai company's bid to manage six U.S. ports, a deal approved by the administration.

Shrugging off Bush's veto threat, the committee voted overwhelmingly to include the ports measure on the must-pass spending bill.

The Senate is starting work on its version of the spending package, with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice slated to make their pitch for the funds to its Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

The House committee approved almost everything the Pentagon wanted in its $67 billion plan.

But in the wake of complaints that the Pentagon has been slow to field fully armored vehicles in Iraq, the committee ordered that $850 million be used to upgrade armor on Army combat vehicles and that those be made available to National Guard forces. It also more than doubled funds the Pentagon sought for newer, safer Humvees, adding $480 million.

The committee provided $4.85 billion the Pentagon sought to train and equip Iraq's and Afghanistan's own security forces, but rejected the $1 billion it wanted for various construction projects related to force training.

January 31, 2006

9:12 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: Today our nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King. (Applause.)

Every time I'm invited to this rostrum, I'm humbled by the privilege, and mindful of the history we've seen together. We have gathered under this Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and national achievement. We have served America through one of the most consequential periods of our history -- and it has been my honor to serve with you.

In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of goodwill and respect for one another -- and I will do my part. Tonight the state of our Union is strong -- and together we will make it stronger. (Applause.)

In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom -- or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy -- or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting -- yet it ends in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people, the only way to secure the peace, the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership -- so the United States of America will continue to lead. (Applause.)

Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal -- we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On September the 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer -- so we will act boldly in freedom's cause. (Applause.)

Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies in the world. Today, there are 122. And we're writing a new chapter in the story of self-government -- with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan, and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink, and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half -- in places like Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran -- because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom, as well. (Applause.)

No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam -- the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder -- and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder.

Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan, or blow up commuters in London, or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it. (Applause.)

In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat. By allowing radical Islam to work its will -- by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself -- we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own courage. But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil. (Applause.)

America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire. Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed and move this world toward peace. We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or captured many of their leaders -- and for the others, their day will come.

We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan, where a fine President and a National Assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a new democracy. We're on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory. First, we're helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency will be marginalized.

Second, we're continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom. And, third, we're striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy. Iraqis are showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be their allies in the cause of freedom. (Applause.)

Our work in Iraq is difficult because our enemy is brutal. But that brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In less than three years, the nation has gone from dictatorship to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections. At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning over territory to Iraqi security forces. I am confident in our plan for victory; I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people; I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning. (Applause.)

The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels -- but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

Our coalition has learned from our experience in Iraq. We've adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction. Along the way, we have benefitted from responsible criticism and counsel offered by members of Congress of both parties. In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek your good advice. Yet, there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. (Applause.) Hindsight alone is not wisdom, and second-guessing is not a strategy. (Applause.)

With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison, would put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country, and show that a pledge from America means little. Members of Congress, however we feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the American military in this vital mission. (Applause.)

Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices -- and showing a sense of duty stronger than all fear. They know what it's like to fight house to house in a maze of streets, to wear heavy gear in the desert heat, to see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb. And those who know the costs also know the stakes. Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: "I know what honor is. … It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to…. Never falter! Don't hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting."

Staff Sergeant Dan Clay's wife, Lisa, and his mom and dad, Sara Jo and Bud, are with us this evening. Welcome. (Applause.)

Our nation is grateful to the fallen, who live in the memory of our country. We're grateful to all who volunteer to wear our nation's uniform -- and as we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America's military families. (Applause.)

Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital, but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, and protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote.

The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election -- and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections. And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace. (Applause.) Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform -- now it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity. (Applause.)

The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon -- and that must come to an end. (Applause.) The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. (Applause.) America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.

Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran. (Applause.)

To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, and fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, and organized crime, and human trafficking, and the drug trade.

In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life. Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security, and dull the conscience of our country. I urge members of Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the compassion of America.

Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism here at home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us. Fortunately, this nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, the military, and homeland security. These men and women are dedicating their lives, protecting us all, and they deserve our support and our thanks. (Applause.) They also deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized crime -- so I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act. (Applause.)

It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack –- based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed. The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again. (Applause.)

In all these areas -- from the disruption of terror networks, to victory in Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions -- we need the support of our friends and allies. To draw that support, we must always be clear in our principles and willing to act. The only alternative to American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world. Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values that gave us birth. American leaders -- from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan -- rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.

Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy -- a war that will be fought by Presidents of both parties, who will need steady bipartisan support from the Congress. And tonight I ask for yours. Together, let us protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead this world toward freedom. (Applause.)

Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world.

Our economy is healthy and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs -- more than Japan and the European Union combined. (Applause.) Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.

The American economy is preeminent, but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors, like China and India, and this creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people's fears. So we're seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy -- even though this economy could not function without them. (Applause.) All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction -- toward a stagnant and second-rate economy.

Tonight I will set out a better path: an agenda for a nation that competes with confidence; an agenda that will raise standards of living and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future, because we intend to shape it.

Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing. And our economy grows when Americans have more of their own money to spend, save, and invest. In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has left $880 billion in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses, and families -- and they have used it to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. (Applause.) Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome.

Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we've reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending, and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year, and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. (Applause.)

I am pleased that members of Congress are working on earmark reform, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects. (Applause.) And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto. (Applause.)

We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turn 60, including two of my Dad's favorite people -- me and President Clinton. (Laughter.) This milestone is more than a personal crisis -- (laughter) -- it is a national challenge. The retirement of the baby boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices -- staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending.

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security -- (applause) -- yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away. (Applause.) And every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.

So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American. With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. (Applause.) To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. (Applause.) And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally, and reduces smuggling and crime at the border. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. (Applause.) Our government has a responsibility to provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. (Applause.) For all Americans -- for all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, and help people afford the insurance coverage they need. (Applause.)

We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors. We will strengthen health savings accounts -- making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get. (Applause.) We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance. (Applause.) And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice -- leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB/GYN -- I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. (Applause.)

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. (Applause.)

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.) By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. (Applause.)

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people -- and we're going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce an American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science. (Applause.)

First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.

Second, I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit -- (applause) -- to encourage bolder private-sector initiatives in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life -- and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come. (Applause.)

Third, we need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We've made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world. (Applause.)

Preparing our nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative, and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.

America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.

In recent years, America has become a more hopeful nation. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row. (Applause.)

These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation -- a revolution of conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a role. Wise policies, such as welfare reform and drug education and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record. (Applause.)

Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They're concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. They worry about children in our society who need direction and love, and about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster, and about suffering caused by treatable diseases.

As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists wrong before -- and we will do it again. (Applause.)

A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under the law. The Supreme Court now has two superb new members -- new members on its bench: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. (Applause.) I thank the Senate for confirming both of them. I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench. (Applause.)

Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24 years of faithful service to our nation, the United States is grateful to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. (Applause.)

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale. (Applause.)

A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust. (Applause.) Honorable people in both parties are working on reforms to strengthen the ethical standards of Washington -- I support your efforts. Each of us has made a pledge to be worthy of public responsibility -- and that is a pledge we must never forget, never dismiss, and never betray. (Applause.)

As we renew the promise of our institutions, let us also show the character of America in our compassion and care for one another.

A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction and love. Through the Helping America's Youth Initiative, we are encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child -- and this good work is being led by our First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.) This year we will add resources to encourage young people to stay in school, so more of America's youth can raise their sights and achieve their dreams.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency -- and stays at it until they're back on their feet. So far the federal government has committed $85 billion to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We're removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We're providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived.

In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child, and job skills that bring upward mobility, and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity. (Applause.)

A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can be prevented, and treated, and defeated. More than a million Americans live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African Americans. I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act, and provide new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicines in America. (Applause.) We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS, and come closer to the day when there are no new infections in America. (Applause.)

Fellow citizens, we've been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We've entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. Sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore. Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing.

Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward -- optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of the victories to come.

May God bless America. (Applause.)

END 10:03 P.M. EST

NOVEMBER 8th 2006
This morning we are waiting to hear, after the Mid-term Poll, if the Democrats are going to take the Senate as well as the House (which the have wrapped up already). Nobody want's America in a confused state. Nobody with any sense (including Saddam Hussein since yesterday) wants anything in Iraq but a reconciled, unified state. This looks so difficult now that paradoxically it may be near the breaking point that makes it possible, but we cannot tell. Nor can we guess if removing Bush, Rumsfeld et al would assist or hinder progress. The only lesson to be learned is don't elect people like this ever again. Their enemies abroad may be every bit as violent and loathsome as they think but it seems more likely that Rumsfeld and his ilk underestimated the fanatical ferocity of their opponents. Arrogance has been their biggest failing, though they would call it leadership and moral maintenance. "Stuff happens" is their motto, and it happens because non-Americans just don't understand liberty or the price that needs to be paid for it. What they seem to have forgotten is that a condition of liberty is a responsibility to control corruption and ensure competence, not just rely on the brute power of the dollar and the genius of brains the US has sucked from Europe for  many years. Their second biggest failure has been negligence.

6:00 pm     Donald Rumsfeld has resigned. That makes sense. It can't hurt the military or the situation in Iraq. The Democrats have (I think) got evens in the Senate as well as taking the House. I am not in the least surprised. In Clinton and Gore we had a President and Vice President fit for purpose (Clinton had stopped his relationship with Lewinski ages before the Republicans made it an issue). The US can have qualified people again to lead it. The best one can say for Bush is that he is behaving responsibly and with dignity now - he should just never have been in the job at the time a world statesman was needed. However, he was Nature's Saddam Removal Tool and as such he did the job. We now need to see if we can stop the Bush-managed cure being worse than the disease.

NOVEMBER 9th 2006
The Democrats have won the Senate as well as the House. They have arrived just in time to be given the responsibility for clearing up the mess and paying the bill. So much for their political programme, or much of it.  Bush says he is open to suggestions on how to deal with Iraq. From this I assume that up till now he was not open to suggestions or advice. That could be why it all went wrong. We have introduce some sort of exam before you can stand for the job of President of the USA.

My advice now: you will have to tap the very best of the American character. What has to be done in Iraq now has to be immensely positive, fearless, adventurous yet properly run financially and logistically. A lot of stolen funds have got to be located too, and used to good effect. Alternatively you can (i) cop out like Ken Adleman, say it was all somebody else's fault, and leave as soon as possible or (ii) carry on as now, for a long, long haul.

NOVEMBER 12th - Remembrance Sunday               - THE REVENGE OF NED FLANDERS -

is a good opportunity to reflect on exactly how the heartland of America has moved, even at a time of military engagement, to rebuke those who have led them to today's uncomfortable state. In my entry WHY BUSH WON AND KERRY LOST I explained how Bush's 'moral majority' whose minds are similarly 'uncluttered' followed him trustingly into the polling booths. Although Bush has acknowledged he took a 'thumping' this time it is wrong to think America as a whole disapproves of the removal by force of Saddam Hussein, any more than do 80% of Iraqis. It is corruption and incompetence that has caused the rebellion. For many of Bush's majority, Saddam was removed on moral grounds at great cost to both America and Iraq. As they learn about the corruption and incompetence in the planning and execution of the rebuilding of Iraq, and the domestic exposure of church leaders and politicians at home, the disgust of many who have voted Repubican for generations is equalled only by their embarrassment at the memory of how it was the  Republicans hounding of Bill Clinton on what they considered important moral grounds that characterised the only contribution, if such it was, of their party to the State of the Union in those days.

This morning on BBC Radio 4, "A Point of View" from Tim Egan described with clarity the 'Revenge of Ned Flanders'. I could not have put it better. These people have had enough of being accused of fighting a war about oil. They know that the only value petroleum has is due to the invention of vehicles, machinery and products of Western Civilisation. Without that, oil would have remained and still remain under the deserts of the Middle East and even the New World. They know that when alternatives to oil are required, it is their technology which has and will in future provide the means of discovery in Nature. They know the invasion o
f Iraq was about oil to the extent that the oil there was about to make Saddam Hussein the richest and most unaccountable man in the world. They are more than a mite pissed off that the nation who led man to the moon has been held up as lacking in both morality and competence by the leaders they supported without question. They are waking up to the failure of these men to face the truth of Global Warming, let alone the truth about their management and execution of foreign policy.

JANUARY 24th 2007
Last night's State of the Union speech by G.W.B. proposed a technical fix to reduce reliance on oil and some reduction of CO2, The economy was in good shape, said Bush, and he asked Congress to give him a chance with his final 'surge' in Iraq to get Baghdad under control. His credibility is low, but his audience was not about to take this particular occasion to tell him.

The Senate responded next day with a committee that came up with a cop-out resolution that was rightly condemned by Richard Lugar as having no effect other than to give America's allies and enemies the clear knowledge that America is divided over the war and over what to do next. It voted against his new policy in Iraq while offering not alternative policy. There is further full Senate debate and a resolution to come. They are not binding, they just leave Bush isolated.


JANUARY 29th 2008
Since that entry a year ago, much has happened. The Bush administration has been forced to admnit the reality of global warming, that human activity is responsible for the critical tipping, that the US is per capita the biggest culprit. The Bush administration is hooked on tecnical fixes rather than personal contributions by eating less and wasting less or stopping any growth, however inappropriate. The 'Americam Way' is going to to be ploughing on as usual, applying technology in an attempt to clear up the mess left behind and limit the catastrophic damage created as the US marches on. The only improvement we have is that he has moved beyond steps to reduce dependence on oil to ideas to arrest global warming.

Having said that, I have to admit that the 2008 State of the Union Address, given at a time when the US economy is in a big mess, with homes being repossessed and the dollar collapsing, is as masterly a piece of speech writing as I have ever witnessed. It was brilliantly delivered, as if the man had written it himself. It is true that after 7 years of catastrophic incompetence this man has learned a lot. Too late, but he has learned a lot. Still not enough, but a lot.

President Bush Delivers State of the Union Address
Chamber of the United States House of Representatives
United States Capitol

      State of the Union 2008

9:09 P.M. EST

Madam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: Seven years have passed since I first stood before you at this rostrum. In that time, our country has been tested in ways none of us could have imagined. We faced hard decisions about peace and war, rising competition in the world economy, and the health and welfare of our citizens. These issues call for vigorous debate, and I think it's fair to say we've answered the call. Yet history will record that amid our differences, we acted with purpose. And together, we showed the world the power and resilience of American self-government.

 All of us were sent to Washington to carry out the people's business. That is the purpose of this body. It is the meaning of our oath. It remains our charge to keep.

The actions of the 110th Congress will affect the security and prosperity of our nation long after this session has ended. In this election year, let us show our fellow Americans that we recognize our responsibilities and are determined to meet them. Let us show them that Republicans and Democrats can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time. (Applause.)

From expanding opportunity to protecting our country, we've made good progress. Yet we have unfinished business before us, and the American people expect us to get it done.

In the work ahead, we must be guided by the philosophy that made our nation great. As Americans, we believe in the power of individuals to determine their destiny and shape the course of history. We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens. And so in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free peoples to make wise decisions, and empower them to improve their lives for their futures.

To build a prosperous future, we must trust people with their own money and empower them to grow our economy. As we meet tonight, our economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty. America has added jobs for a record 52 straight months, but jobs are now growing at a slower pace. Wages are up, but so are prices for food and gas. Exports are rising, but the housing market has declined. At kitchen tables across our country, there is a concern about our economic future.

In the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth. But in the short run, we can all see that that growth is slowing. So last week, my administration reached agreement with Speaker Pelosi and Republican Leader Boehner on a robust growth package that includes tax relief for individuals and families and incentives for business investment. The temptation will be to load up the bill. That would delay it or derail it, and neither option is acceptable. (Applause.) This is a good agreement that will keep our economy growing and our people working. And this Congress must pass it as soon as possible. (Applause.)

 We have other work to do on taxes. Unless Congress acts, most of the tax relief we've delivered over the past seven years will be taken away. Some in Washington argue that letting tax relief expire is not a tax increase. Try explaining that to 116 million American taxpayers who would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800. Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm. I'm pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders. (Laughter and applause.)

Most Americans think their taxes are high enough. With all the other pressures on their finances, American families should not have to worry about their federal government taking a bigger bite out of their paychecks. There's only one way to eliminate this uncertainty: Make the tax relief permanent. (Applause.) And members of Congress should know: If any bill raises taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it. (Applause.)

Just as we trust Americans with their own money, we need to earn their trust by spending their tax dollars wisely. Next week, I'll send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces 151 wasteful or bloated programs, totaling more than $18 billion. The budget that I will submit will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012. American families have to balance their budgets; so should their government. (Applause.)

The people's trust in their government is undermined by congressional earmarks -- special interest projects that are often snuck in at the last minute, without discussion or debate. Last year, I asked you to voluntarily cut the number and cost of earmarks in half. I also asked you to stop slipping earmarks into committee reports that never even come to a vote. Unfortunately, neither goal was met. So this time, if you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half, I'll send it back to you with my veto. (Applause.)

And tomorrow, I will issue an executive order that directs federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by Congress. If these items are truly worth funding, Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote. (Applause.)

Our shared responsibilities extend beyond matters of taxes and spending. On housing, we must trust Americans with the responsibility of homeownership and empower them to weather turbulent times in the housing market. My administration brought together the HOPE NOW alliance, which is helping many struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. And Congress can help even more. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, modernize the Federal Housing Administration, and allow state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. (Applause.) These are difficult times for many American families, and by taking these steps, we can help more of them keep their homes.

 To build a future of quality health care, we must trust patients and doctors to make medical decisions and empower them with better information and better options. We share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. (Applause.) The best way to achieve that goal is by expanding consumer choice, not government control. (Applause.) So I have proposed ending the bias in the tax code against those who do not get their health insurance through their employer. This one reform would put private coverage within reach for millions, and I call on the Congress to pass it this year. (Applause.)

The Congress must also expand health savings accounts, create Association Health Plans for small businesses, promote health information technology, and confront the epidemic of junk medical lawsuits. (Applause.) With all these steps, we will help ensure that decisions about your medical care are made in the privacy of your doctor's office -- not in the halls of Congress. (Applause.)

On education, we must trust students to learn if given the chance, and empower parents to demand results from our schools. In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams -- and a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.

Six years ago, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and today no one can deny its results. Last year, fourth and eighth graders achieved the highest math scores on record. Reading scores are on the rise. African American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs. (Applause.) Now we must work together to increase accountability, add flexibility for states and districts, reduce the number of high school dropouts, provide extra help for struggling schools.

Members of Congress: The No Child Left Behind Act is a bipartisan achievement. It is succeeding. And we owe it to America's children, their parents, and their teachers to strengthen this good law. (Applause.)

We must also do more to help children when their schools do not measure up. Thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our Nation's Capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America's inner cities. So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids. We have seen how Pell Grants help low-income college students realize their full potential. Together, we've expanded the size and reach of these grants. Now let us apply that same spirit to help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools. (Applause.)

 On trade, we must trust American workers to compete with anyone in the world and empower them by opening up new markets overseas. Today, our economic growth increasingly depends on our ability to sell American goods and crops and services all over the world. So we're working to break down barriers to trade and investment wherever we can. We're working for a successful Doha Round of trade talks, and we must complete a good agreement this year. At the same time, we're pursuing opportunities to open up new markets by passing free trade agreements.

I thank the Congress for approving a good agreement with Peru. And now I ask you to approve agreements with Colombia and Panama and South Korea. (Applause.) Many products from these nations now enter America duty-free, yet many of our products face steep tariffs in their markets. These agreements will level the playing field. They will give us better access to nearly 100 million customers. They will support good jobs for the finest workers in the world: those whose products say "Made in the USA." (Applause.)

These agreements also promote America's strategic interests. The first agreement that will come before you is with Colombia, a friend of America that is confronting violence and terror, and fighting drug traffickers. If we fail to pass this agreement, we will embolden the purveyors of false populism in our hemisphere. So we must come together, pass this agreement, and show our neighbors in the region that democracy leads to a better life. (Applause.)

Trade brings better jobs and better choices and better prices. Yet for some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the federal government has a responsibility to help. (Applause.) I ask Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs. (Applause.)

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. (Applause.) Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil. Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded. Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions. (Applause.) Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power. (Applause.) Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future. (Applause.) Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. (Applause.) <---- Amazingly, the applause here was half-hearted. The idea of helping China and India with US technology did not seem to appeal. Yet this is our ony hope, globally.

 This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride. (Applause.) The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy-efficient technology. (Applause.)

To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Last year, Congress passed legislation supporting the American Competitiveness Initiative, but never followed through with the funding. This funding is essential to keeping our scientific edge. So I ask Congress to double federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on Earth. (Applause.)

On matters of life and science, we must trust in the innovative spirit of medical researchers and empower them to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries. In November, we witnessed a landmark achievement when scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. This breakthrough has the potential to move us beyond the divisive debates of the past by extending the frontiers of medicine without the destruction of human life. (Applause.)

So we're expanding funding for this type of ethical medical research. And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves. And so I call on Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life. (Applause.)

 On matters of justice, we must trust in the wisdom of our founders and empower judges who understand that the Constitution means what it says. (Applause.) I've submitted judicial nominees who will rule by the letter of the law, not the whim of the gavel. Many of these nominees are being unfairly delayed. They are worthy of confirmation, and the Senate should give each of them a prompt up-or-down vote. (Applause.)

In communities across our land, we must trust in the good heart of the American people and empower them to serve their neighbors in need. Over the past seven years, more of our fellow citizens have discovered that the pursuit of happiness leads to the path of service. Americans have volunteered in record numbers. Charitable donations are higher than ever. Faith-based groups are bringing hope to pockets of despair, with newfound support from the federal government. And to help guarantee equal treatment of faith-based organizations when they compete for federal funds, I ask you to permanently extend Charitable Choice. (Applause.)

Tonight the armies of compassion continue the march to a new day in the Gulf Coast. America honors the strength and resilience of the people of this region. We reaffirm our pledge to help them build stronger and better than before. And tonight I'm pleased to announce that in April we will host this year's North American Summit of Canada, Mexico, and the United States in the great city of New Orleans. (Applause.)

There are two other pressing challenges that I've raised repeatedly before this body, and that this body has failed to address: entitlement spending and immigration. Every member in this chamber knows that spending on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is growing faster than we can afford. We all know the painful choices ahead if America stays on this path: massive tax increases, sudden and drastic cuts in benefits, or crippling deficits. I've laid out proposals to reform these programs. Now I ask members of Congress to offer your proposals and come up with a bipartisan solution to save these vital programs for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)

The other pressing challenge is immigration. America needs to secure our borders -- and with your help, my administration is taking steps to do so. We're increasing worksite enforcement, deploying fences and advanced technologies to stop illegal crossings. We've effectively ended the policy of "catch and release" at the border, and by the end of this year, we will have doubled the number of border patrol agents. Yet we also need to acknowledge that we will never fully secure our border until we create a lawful way for foreign workers to come here and support our economy. (Applause.) This will take pressure off the border and allow law enforcement to concentrate on those who mean us harm. We must also find a sensible and humane way to deal with people here illegally. Illegal immigration is complicated, but it can be resolved. And it must be resolved in a way that upholds both our laws and our highest ideals. (Applause.)

 This is the business of our nation here at home. Yet building a prosperous future for our citizens also depends on confronting enemies abroad and advancing liberty in troubled regions of the world.

Our foreign policy is based on a clear premise: We trust that people, when given the chance, will choose a future of freedom and peace. In the last seven years, we have witnessed stirring moments in the history of liberty. We've seen citizens in Georgia and Ukraine stand up for their right to free and fair elections. We've seen people in Lebanon take to the streets to demand their independence. We've seen Afghans emerge from the tyranny of the Taliban and choose a new president and a new parliament. We've seen jubilant Iraqis holding up ink-stained fingers and celebrating their freedom. These images of liberty have inspired us. (Applause.)

In the past seven years, we've also seen images that have sobered us. We've watched throngs of mourners in Lebanon and Pakistan carrying the caskets of beloved leaders taken by the assassin's hand. We've seen wedding guests in blood-soaked finery staggering from a hotel in Jordan, Afghans and Iraqis blown up in mosques and markets, and trains in London and Madrid ripped apart by bombs. On a clear September day, we saw thousands of our fellow citizens taken from us in an instant. These horrific images serve as a grim reminder: The advance of liberty is opposed by terrorists and extremists -- evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule.

Since 9/11, we have taken the fight to these terrorists and extremists. We will stay on the offense, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to our enemies. (Applause.)

We are engaged in the defining ideological struggle of the 21st century. The terrorists oppose every principle of humanity and decency that we hold dear. Yet in this war on terror, there is one thing we and our enemies agree on: In the long run, men and women who are free to determine their own destinies will reject terror and refuse to live in tyranny. And that is why the terrorists are fighting to deny this choice to the people in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Palestinian Territories. And that is why, for the security of America and the peace of the world, we are spreading the hope of freedom. (Applause.)

 In Afghanistan, America, our 25 NATO allies, and 15 partner nations are helping the Afghan people defend their freedom and rebuild their country. Thanks to the courage of these military and civilian personnel, a nation that was once a safe haven for al Qaeda is now a young democracy where boys and girls are going to school, new roads and hospitals are being built, and people are looking to the future with new hope. These successes must continue, so we're adding 3,200 Marines to our forces in Afghanistan, where they will fight the terrorists and train the Afghan Army and police. Defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda is critical to our security, and I thank the Congress for supporting America's vital mission in Afghanistan. (Applause.)

In Iraq, the terrorists and extremists are fighting to deny a proud people their liberty, and fighting to establish safe havens for attacks across the world. One year ago, our enemies were succeeding in their efforts to plunge Iraq into chaos. So we reviewed our strategy and changed course. We launched a surge of American forces into Iraq. We gave our troops a new mission: Work with the Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people, pursue the enemy in its strongholds, and deny the terrorists sanctuary anywhere in the country.

The Iraqi people quickly realized that something dramatic had happened. Those who had worried that America was preparing to abandon them instead saw tens of thousands of American forces flowing into their country. They saw our forces moving into neighborhoods, clearing out the terrorists, and staying behind to ensure the enemy did not return. And they saw our troops, along with Provincial Reconstruction Teams that include Foreign Service officers and other skilled public servants, coming in to ensure that improved security was followed by improvements in daily life. Our military and civilians in Iraq are performing with courage and distinction, and they have the gratitude of our whole nation. (Applause.)

 The Iraqis launched a surge of their own. In the fall of 2006, Sunni tribal leaders grew tired of al Qaeda's brutality and started a popular uprising called "The Anbar Awakening." Over the past year, similar movements have spread across the country. And today, the grassroots surge includes more than 80,000 Iraqi citizens who are fighting the terrorists. The government in Baghdad has stepped forward, as well -- adding more than 100,000 new Iraqi soldiers and police during the past year.

While the enemy is still dangerous and more work remains, the American and Iraqi surges have achieved results few of us could have imagined just one year ago. (Applause.) When we met last year, many said that containing the violence was impossible. A year later, high profile terrorist attacks are down, civilian deaths are down, sectarian killings are down.

When we met last year, militia extremists -- some armed and trained by Iran -- were wreaking havoc in large areas of Iraq. A year later, coalition and Iraqi forces have killed or captured hundreds of militia fighters. And Iraqis of all backgrounds increasingly realize that defeating these militia fighters is critical to the future of their country.

When we met last year, al Qaeda had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq, and their leaders had just offered American forces safe passage out of the country. Today, it is al Qaeda that is searching for safe passage. They have been driven from many of the strongholds they once held, and over the past year, we've captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaeda leaders and operatives.

Last month, Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who have turned on al Qaeda and admitted that coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated. (Applause.)

When we met last year, our troop levels in Iraq were on the rise. Today, because of the progress just described, we are implementing a policy of "return on success," and the surge forces we sent to Iraq are beginning to come home.

This progress is a credit to the valor of our troops and the brilliance of their commanders. This evening, I want to speak directly to our men and women on the front lines. Soldiers and sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen: In the past year, you have done everything we've asked of you, and more. Our nation is grateful for your courage. We are proud of your accomplishments. And tonight in this hallowed chamber, with the American people as our witness, we make you a solemn pledge: In the fight ahead, you will have all you need to protect our nation. (Applause.) And I ask Congress to meet its responsibilities to these brave men and women by fully funding our troops. (Applause.)

 Our enemies in Iraq have been hit hard. They are not yet defeated, and we can still expect tough fighting ahead. Our objective in the coming year is to sustain and build on the gains we made in 2007, while transitioning to the next phase of our strategy. American troops are shifting from leading operations, to partnering with Iraqi forces, and, eventually, to a protective overwatch mission. As part of this transition, one Army brigade combat team and one Marine Expeditionary Unit have already come home and will not be replaced. In the coming months, four additional brigades and two Marine battalions will follow suit. Taken together, this means more than 20,000 of our troops are coming home. (Applause.)

Any further drawdown of U.S. troops will be based on conditions in Iraq and the recommendations of our commanders. General Petraeus has warned that too fast a drawdown could result in the "disintegration of the Iraqi security forces, al Qaeda-Iraq regaining lost ground, [and] a marked increase in violence." Members of Congress: Having come so far and achieved so much, we must not allow this to happen. (Applause.)

In the coming year, we will work with Iraqi leaders as they build on the progress they're making toward political reconciliation. At the local level, Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds are beginning to come together to reclaim their communities and rebuild their lives. Progress in the provinces must be matched by progress in Baghdad. (Applause.) We're seeing some encouraging signs. The national government is sharing oil revenues with the provinces. The parliament recently passed both a pension law and de-Baathification reform. They're now debating a provincial powers law. The Iraqis still have a distance to travel. But after decades of dictatorship and the pain of sectarian violence, reconciliation is taking place -- and the Iraqi people are taking control of their future. (Applause.)

The mission in Iraq has been difficult and trying for our nation. But it is in the vital interest of the United States that we succeed. A free Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven. A free Iraq will show millions across the Middle East that a future of liberty is possible. A free Iraq will be a friend of America, a partner in fighting terror, and a source of stability in a dangerous part of the world.

By contrast, a failed Iraq would embolden the extremists, strengthen Iran, and give terrorists a base from which to launch new attacks on our friends, our allies, and our homeland. The enemy has made its intentions clear. At a time when the momentum seemed to favor them, al Qaida's top commander in Iraq declared that they will not rest until they have attacked us here in Washington. My fellow Americans: We will not rest either. We will not rest until this enemy has been defeated. (Applause.) We must do the difficult work today, so that years from now people will look back and say that this generation rose to the moment, prevailed in a tough fight, and left behind a more hopeful region and a safer America. (Applause.)

We're also standing against the forces of extremism in the Holy Land, where we have new cause for hope. Palestinians have elected a president who recognizes that confronting terror is essential to achieving a state where his people can live in dignity and at peace with Israel. Israelis have leaders who recognize that a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state will be a source of lasting security. This month in Ramallah and Jerusalem, I assured leaders from both sides that America will do, and I will do, everything we can to help them achieve a peace agreement that defines a Palestinian state by the end of this year. The time has come for a Holy Land where a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine live side-by-side in peace. (Applause.)

We're also standing against the forces of extremism embodied by the regime in Tehran. Iran's rulers oppress a good and talented people. And wherever freedom advances in the Middle East, it seems the Iranian regime is there to oppose it. Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas' efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range, and continues to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon.

Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you. We respect your traditions and your history. We look forward to the day when you have your freedom. Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, cease your support for terror abroad. But above all, know this: America will confront those who threaten our troops. We will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf. (Applause.)

On the home front, we will continue to take every lawful and effective measure to protect our country. This is our most solemn duty. We are grateful that there has not been another attack on our soil since 9/11. This is not for the lack of desire or effort on the part of the enemy. In the past six years, we've stopped numerous attacks, including a plot to fly a plane into the tallest building in Los Angeles and another to blow up passenger jets bound for America over the Atlantic. Dedicated men and women in our government toil day and night to stop the terrorists from carrying out their plans. These good citizens are saving American lives, and everyone in this chamber owes them our thanks. (Applause.)

And we owe them something more: We owe them the tools they need to keep our people safe. And one of the most important tools we can give them is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they're planning. Last year, Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, Congress set the legislation to expire on February the 1st. That means if you don't act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We've had ample time for debate. The time to act is now. (Applause.)

Protecting our nation from the dangers of a new century requires more than good intelligence and a strong military. It also requires changing the conditions that breed resentment and allow extremists to prey on despair. So America is using its influence to build a freer, more hopeful, and more compassionate world. This is a reflection of our national interest; it is the calling of our conscience.

America opposes genocide in Sudan. (Applause.) We support freedom in countries from Cuba and Zimbabwe to Belarus and Burma. (Applause.)

America is leading the fight against global poverty, with strong education initiatives and humanitarian assistance. We've also changed the way we deliver aid by launching the Millennium Challenge Account. This program strengthens democracy, transparency, and the rule of law in developing nations, and I ask you to fully fund this important initiative. (Applause.)

America is leading the fight against global hunger. Today, more than half the world's food aid comes from the United States. And tonight, I ask Congress to support an innovative proposal to provide food assistance by purchasing crops directly from farmers in the developing world, so we can build up local agriculture and help break the cycle of famine. (Applause.)

America is leading the fight against disease. With your help, we're working to cut by half the number of malaria-related deaths in 15 African nations. And our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is treating 1.4 million people. We can bring healing and hope to many more. So I ask you to maintain the principles that have changed behavior and made this program a success. And I call on you to double our initial commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS by approving an additional $30 billion over the next five years. (Applause.)

America is a force for hope in the world because we are a compassionate people, and some of the most compassionate Americans are those who have stepped forward to protect us. We must keep faith with all who have risked life and limb so that we might live in freedom and peace. Over the past seven years, we've increased funding for veterans by more than 95 percent. And as we increase funding -- (applause.) And as increase funding we must also reform our veterans system to meet the needs of a new war and a new generation. (Applause.) I call on the Congress to enact the reforms recommended by Senator Bob Dole and Secretary Donna Shalala, so we can improve the system of care for our wounded warriors and help them build lives of hope and promise and dignity. (Applause.)

Our military families also sacrifice for America. They endure sleepless nights and the daily struggle of providing for children while a loved one is serving far from home. We have a responsibility to provide for them. So I ask you to join me in expanding their access to child care, creating new hiring preferences for military spouses across the federal government, and allowing our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children. (Applause.) Our military families serve our nation, they inspire our nation, and tonight our nation honors them. (Applause.)

The strength -- the secret of our strength, the miracle of America, is that our greatness lies not in our government, but in the spirit and determination of our people. (Applause.) When the Federal Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787, our nation was bound by the Articles of Confederation, which began with the words, "We the undersigned delegates." When Governor Morris was asked to draft a preamble to our new Constitution, he offered an important revision and opened with words that changed the course of our nation and the history of the world: "We the people."

By trusting the people, our Founders wagered that a great and noble nation could be built on the liberty that resides in the hearts of all men and women. By trusting the people, succeeding generations transformed our fragile young democracy into the most powerful nation on Earth and a beacon of hope for millions. And so long as we continue to trust the people, our nation will prosper, our liberty will be secure, and the state of our Union will remain strong. (Applause.)

So tonight, with confidence in freedom's power, and trust in the people, let us set forth to do their business. God bless America. (Applause.)

END 10:02 P.M. EST

MARCH 3rd 2008
Here is an excellent summary of the candidate's current positions from Reuters:

Obama and Clinton neck and neck in Ohio, Texas

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent  Reuters - Mon Mar 3, 1:08 AM ET

Hillary Clinton and rival Barack Obama are running neck-and-neck in Ohio and Texas one day before their crucial Democratic presidential showdowns, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle poll released on Monday.

Clinton, fighting to save her presidential bid after 11 straight wins by Obama, desperately needs victories in the big-state battles to keep her candidacy alive and face the Republican candidate in the November election.

Obama, an Illinois senator, has a slim advantage on Clinton in both states, although the leads are within the poll's margin of error of just under 4 percentage points.

Obama leads 47 percent to 44 percent in Texas, as Clinton gained 1 point overnight in the polling conducted by Zogby International. He leads 47 percent to 45 percent in Ohio, a turnaround from Clinton's 1-point advantage on Sunday.

Obama has wiped out big leads in the last two weeks in both states for Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, but in the final days of the race neither candidate has managed dramatic shifts.

"There are no big movements, no great swings, these are just very tight races," pollster John Zogby said. "At least for now it doesn't look like either one of them is going to be winning in a blow-out."

Republican front-runner McCain, however, appears headed to easy victories in both states. He has big double-digit leads over his last major rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

McCain, an Arizona senator, is moving closer to clinching the Republican presidential nomination and has built an insurmountable lead in delegates, who will choose the nominee at the party's September convention.


Both Democratic candidates have maintained the voter coalitions in Ohio and Texas that fueled them in earlier contests, with Clinton winning women, older voters, traditional Democrats and Hispanics while Obama attracts men, young voters, blacks and independents.

In Texas, Clinton continues to hold a big lead among the state's sizable bloc of Hispanics and has an edge in the state's heavily Hispanic south and conservative west. Obama is strong in the cities, but the two have battled back-and-forth in east Texas and now run even there.

"It really is looking like east Texas is the place to watch in the popular vote, whoever wins there could have the edge in the state," Zogby said.

Clinton moved ahead slightly in Ohio among voters who made their decision in the last few days -- a possible sign Obama's momentum could be slowing after days of Clinton attacks on his readiness to become U.S. commander-in-chief.

In Ohio and Texas, 6 percent of Democrats are still undecided on the day before the primary.

In the Republican race, McCain leads Huckabee 61 percent to 28 percent in Ohio and 53 percent to 33 percent in Texas. The other remaining Republican candidate, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, had 6 percent in Texas and 5 percent in Ohio.

McCain leads handily in nearly every voter category and in all regions of both states. He even leads in Ohio among those who call themselves very conservative, although Huckabee leads in that category in Texas.

McCain has faced a revolt among some conservatives unhappy with his past stances on immigration, tax cuts and campaign finance reform, although it has done little to slow his march to the nomination.

The rolling poll was conducted Friday through Sunday. It surveyed 761 likely Democratic voters in Ohio with a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points, and 748 in Texas with a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

The poll of 675 likely Republican voters in Ohio had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points. The survey of 628 voters in Texas had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

In a rolling poll, the most recent day's results are added and the oldest day's results are dropped to track changing momentum. The poll will continue one more day.

(Editing by Jackie Frank)

(For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at


OCTOBER 8th 2008
Listening to the second Obama / McCain debate, Obama was wrong-footed on Pakistan. He saw that and came back to clarify his position. He also gave McCain things to answer. McCain got out of his hole by saying he had been joking. He is also right in emphasing "Talk quietly and carry a big stick" is indeed very important. Failure to talk quietly has been Bush's undoing. Obama must note that. It is a mistake to threaten to go into Pakistan to take out Bin Laden. All threats of that nature are very, very counterproductive. Apart from that Obama won the debate on all points - but on that he damaged himself for no good reason. McCains grumbling about Putin simply shows that he has no idea whatsoever what it takes to run Russia, hold it together and stop it being sucked into an American free-enterprise financial morass that would then collapse. Incidentally it is only the Oligarchs that have lost millions in the stock market crash, most Russian citizens have lost nothing. A lot of them are unfortunately dependent on the oligarchs for their employment. If it was not for Putin it would be many times as many. Both McCain and Obama haven't a clue about Russia - in fact almost no Americans have, just as they didn't during the cold war.

FEBRUARY 24th 2009
Obama's recovery program will not and should not cause the US stock market to recover.
The stock market is invested in the old economy, a flawed economy, an unsustainable economy.
It has to recover by investing in a new economy, the one promoted by a recovery programme, a dose of comamnd economy, globally coordinated, in which private investment can slowly take a share and consumers benefit from without running into debt, or being part of a bubble which gives them comfort as capitalists, but as part of a globally sustainable growth of employment and wage earning linked to a green economy. A new comfort.
It will not resemble the old economy, which has to die.
This is still not understood.

MAY 21 2009
Is Dick Cheney right when he says closing Guantanamo will bring new dangers to America? Yes he is. But Obama is also right that NOT closing it will make more enemies and therefore bring more danger. So the answer is there will be more danger anyway. Why should we be surprised?.Of course if incidents occur because of changes made by Obama, he will get the blame. Nothing new there either.
Is Dick Cheney right about waterboarding being effective and NOT torture? The answer is yes, it could have been. It was introduced to avoid torture. But it has probabkly been misused and abused and its worth is now dubious. We must move on. Congress will have to approve the new measures and changes as and when they are worked out.

JANUARY 21 2010
The lights went out in Massachusettes
The late Ted Kennedy's seat has fallen victim to the mass turn out of all those who never wanted Obama anyway plus all those coat-tail hangers and opportunist supporters who thought he would have something up his sleeve for them, plus all those who find Nancy Pelosi a pain in the backside which she certainly is, along with all the wheelers and dealers in Congress wherever they sit. I suppose I have to give credit to Mr Scott who ran a clever campaign fro the Republicans.

Obabma seems to have had little choice but to turn working out the details of is healthcare bill to the professionals in Congress. Professional in what, one might ask. They have managed to annoy nuch of the electorate and fail to explain to many of the rest. So he will have to go carefully on that one. One thing is certain, the present arrangements are a racket that makes some people unnecessarily rich and fails others completely. The status quo is not sustainable.

All in all Obabma's performance so far as been pretty good. No section of the community thinks it has benefited unfortunately aprt from theose who didn't vote for him and never would, because the others including many of those who voted for him are unaware of the disasters he has avoided because they are still facing the disaster that remains. That must go for quite a few in agriculture. But if they think voting Replublican and tying the hands oif this President will help them then they deserve al they will get. WAKE UP AMERICA - THIS COULD BE YOU LAST CHANCE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO FOLLOW GREECE, ROME AND OTHER POWERS DOWN THE HILL. Did I hear someone say France and Britain and Germany? Russia? Well we all have ways of overreaching ourselves....different, but the overreach is common.

Go up the page to find Obabma's election and more 2010 and 2011