Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Will It Be Obama Versus Rudy?

I'd prefer McCain, because McCain would be so easy to beat. A piece of cake, like I have said before. Rudy Giuliani would be a tougher opponent. But because of his stance on social issues, he will help the Republican Party grow up. Republicans were the segregationists back in the days. Today no mainstream Republican is. A Rudy candidacy will help move the ball along.

He has this aura about him from 9/11. And he was a pretty good Mayor before that. But he overplayed his cards, and ended up looking insensitive to minority sentiments. His plus would be that he has held an executive position, kind of like being that mythical southern state Governor. His minus would be that he still does not get it on the Iraq War: he keeps defending all of Bush' decisions. But his approach is much more nuanched than that of McCain, so he will make it harder also on Iraq. McCain's attitude is belligerent. I am that famous Vet, don't you know me, send in more troops. Giuliani, on the other hand, makes some good criticisms of how the war was implemented. The nation building part has been poor, he says. But he does not realize the primary challenge is political, not military. The question is is Iraq worth a trillion dollars? What will be Rudy's answer?

Obama is going to have to become more than an anti-war candidate. Pulling out troops has to be accompanied by hard political work, and he does say that, but he will have to emphasize more. The military vacuum will have to be filled with major political work. The Obama goal still is a stable, democratic Iraq.

And Obama will also have to compete with Rudy's Mayor image. You do that by exhibiting superior organization as you run the campaign. Obama is already doing that. His My.BarackObama.com is light years ahead of that of all the other campaigns. It has all the Web 2.0 details. Other campaigns are still Web 1.0 largely. For example, Hillary thinks a blog is writing on paper taken online. Not so. A blog is a blog is a blog. It is not just an existence in the space dimension. The real dimension in play is the time dimension.

So, yeah, Rudy will be beaten, but he will be tougher to beat than McCain, but his candidacy will help the Republican Party grow up on the social issues. And, by the way, I dig Rudy's accent.

And I like talk of moving by the big state primaries. Illinois said it will do it for Obama. New York has countered saying it will do it for Hillary. California, and Florida should do it. Big, diverse states have to matter early. Tiny, all white states have too much power right now.

Bottomline, Iraq will cost Rudy the White House.

In The News

Bob Dole: McCain Has Age-Old Problem NewsMax.com
Int'l community must prevent war in Iran - Russia FM RIA Novosti
Britney Spears claims entire wing of rehab
Actress Archives
Will the celebrity status of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama keep ...
Sioux City Journal
Obama cultivates cash, support in Ohio
Toledo Blade
New 2008 Poll: Obama Gains on Clinton, Giuliani Leads McCain LifeNews.com
Clinton, Giuliani lead Southeast in early poll
Clinton forgets to declare $5m family charity
Guardian Unlimited
Powermen strike, Bihar goes dark
Times of India
US Launches New Talks to Secure Iraq
ABC News
US to Attend Iraq Meeting Where Iran, Syria Invited (Update1) Bloomberg
US Joins Regional Talks to Secure Iraq San Francisco Chronicle
China's Black Tuesday Darkens World Stock Markets
SINGAPORE: Google to open R&D centre in Singapore
Asia Pacific Media Network
Google Adds Security to Hosted Applications
PC World
Microsoft says Google success was "wake-up call"
Microsoft still trying to answer Google's wake-up call ZDNet
Amitabh Bachchan's 'Nishabd' draws protest in Jalandhar
Apun Ka Choice
Big B gives Cong sleepless nights
US STOCKS-Indexes tumble on anxiety about China
US Soccer Approves 2018 World Cup Bid
Soccer Regularly Shamed by Fan Violence
Dell Puts Preinstalled Linux on the Table
Dell to Linux users: Not so fast Computerworld
Dell is making the Best Move To Sell Linux PCs TECH.BLORGE.com
Appeals Court to Consider Smith Burial
Why the year's best film won (nearly*) nothing Times Online
Scorsese Finally Joins the Oscar Club New York Times

Monday, February 26, 2007

Austin, Here I Come

In The News

Obama Ridicules Cheney's Iraq Comments Wyoming News, WY
Obama ridicules Cheney at Austin rally
Dallas Morning News (subscription), TX
Interest appears high in Barack Obama's Austin landing
Austin American-Statesman (subscription), TX a midday private fundraiser to be followed by the free outdoor event
Obama fires up Texas Dems at rally UT The Daily Texan, TX the stated goal to "kick ass" .... people of various ages, races and backgrounds .... Obama's magnetism extended all the way to Princeton Review's ninth-most conservative school in the nation, where a group of Aggie Democrats embarked on a trek from College Station across the geo-political spectrum. .....there hasn't been such an energizing political figure since Robert Kennedy. ..... "You don't often see such diversity at a political event," she said. "Hopefully we're starting a trend." ..... his 40-minute speech. ..... "We are less safe now than when this war began," Obama argued. ... "I knew that this Obama wave was sweeping the country," she said. "Now I know why."
Obama rallies thousands in Austin abc13.com, TX
Austin Crowd Largest for Presidential Hopeful Barack Obama
MyFox Austin
Thousands Cheer Obama at Austin Rally
MyFox Houston, TX
Thousands Cheer Obama at Austin Rally
MyFox Houston, TX
Barack Obama rallies in Austin
KHOU (subscription), TX
Obama stumps in Austin
News 8 Austin, TX
Obama Reels In Austin Crowd Dallas News
a lakeside venue used for rock concerts ..... The crowd – extraordinarily large for so early in a presidential campaign ...... "The American people are tired of being afraid," the senator said. ..... attended private fundraisers in Houston and Austin before Friday's midafternoon rally. ..... one rapper punctuated the chorus "Everything I do will be funky," with shouts of "Obama!" ...... The rally was an unusual burst of campaign activity long before Election Day .... "I said we should not give open-ended authority to a president because it would lead to an open-ended occupation," he said. ...... A top Clinton political supporter in Texas, former land commissioner Garry Mauro, acknowledged that Mr. Obama is charismatic but suggested the political newcomer is effectively auditioning for a second spot on the ticket. ..... "Now, keep in mind, this is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes. I'm sure he forecast sun today," he said amid the Austin rain. "When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems." ..... New Orleans "still looks like a war has been fought"
Obama staging rally in Austin on Friday Dallas Morning News (subscription), TX Obama-rama sweeps Austin today as Democrat Barack Obama brings his 13-day-old presidential campaign to the Texas capital for a rare political do next to Town Lake. ..... The capacity is 20,000. .... Obama, 45, is believed to be the first presidential aspirant to rally voters at Auditorium Shores, typically home to concerts, since President Reagan did in July 1984. ...... "When you have an opportunity to see people, you go," said Shaw, an associate professor of government. "It's like if you had a chance to see John F. Kennedy in 1960." ...... Obama's campaign has touched off an Internet boomlet, especially among students and young people. ..... Two weeks ago, UT law student Richard Cofer went on the "Facebook" site to launch UT Students for Obama. More than 500 have since joined ...... Obama, like President Clinton, connects with crowds and with individuals one on one. ..... he trails U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and John Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina and the Democrats' 2004 vice presidential nominee, in organizing and fundraising. ..... the pressure cooker he's just walked into ..... Garry Mauro, the1998 Democratic nominee for Texas governor, is helping Clinton, the former first lady. He said Obama will run a fascinating race: "I hope after this is all over that we'll never ask the question again, can an African American be elected president or vice president?"

Two Obama Events: Manhattan, Brooklyn

I went to the first Manhattan event for Obama that was a citywide thing, organized by New York City For Obama. First it was slated to be at Rudy's near Times Square where I have been going for Drinking Liberally. But soon too many had signed up and something more spacious was found. You could just feel the energy. We ended up in the East Village, I think.

Then I went to the first Brooklyn event for Obama. It was in Park Slope. I had planned on walking, but with my usual disorganization and last minute catchup, I boarded the train. I got reminded of the Brooklyn appeal. The place was just so much more spacious, the street outside quieter. Manhattan tends to be high tempo, crowded. You could just feel the energy.

Manhattan is for work. Brooklyn is for living.

When I landed in NYC, I sought out DFNYC and that was all good except Howard Dean was no longer running for president. I never got around to getting excited about the many local races the organization specializes in. The mayoral election got me excited, but apparently it did not excite DFNYC.

Since then I have been going to several groups.

Drinking Liberally DL21C Manhattan Young Dems

But only now I feel the energy and the sense of purpose. All these Manhattan groups have been disproportionately white. You can put people in the same room, but the boundaries stay. The Obama crowd is more colorful, more to my taste, more reminding of NYC to me.

I am a Brooklynite. I have been going to Manhattan events, because events by the same groups in the outer boroughs tend to be much smaller. I remember going to a Drinking Liberally event in Williamsburg, since I really like that place, it is more leisurely, it has this Mardi Gras, New Orleans ring to it, but I was a little late, and it felt like noone showed up. I did not meet anyone. Back then I had a car. I readily drove back.

It is that same democratic arithmetic that drives me to the Nepali political events in Queens. And the biggest Nepali events are easily larger than the big events of the major Manhattan progressive groups. Go figure.


This is a great tool. Gives Obama 2008 a clear edge. This is The Matrix that I had envisioned, only much better. It is really user friendly. It has also been good for my mailing list.


You add one listserv email address, and the larger ones now are hundreds strong. The largest is 2,000 strong.

I have been making some friends. I have also been pitching my business plan on the side to select contacts.

Obama 2008 feels like Race 2.0. Top income bracket professionals who have come to a strong realization that identity never goes away, is not supposed to go away relate to Obama 2008. It is not even about shared experiences in racism. It is just a realization that race continues to be a reality even when racism might not be around. There is healthy acceptance of one's heritage, a more muscular approach to remnants of racism.

For me it is global from day one. Obama is my Third World guy.

In The News

US says wants "incremental steps" to pressure Iran Reuters
Marriage registration now compulsory in Bihar
'The Departed' wins Oscars for best director, film
Google freebies give way to fees Seattle Times
Obama Speaks To A Crowd Of 3000 In Kentucky
All Headline News

Rice: Obama's Run Shows Black
Black Star News
Barack Obama Has Breakfast With Sold-Out House In Cincinnati
Clinton's too-calibrated response
Buffalo News
Beware the Dreaded "Clinton Machine" New Republic
Clinton-Obama spat 'sad,' Edwards tells ABC ABC7Chicago.com
Abortion Advocates Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton Lead Southern Poll
Nepal: Maoists return to camps demanding better living conditions
ReliefWeb (press release)
Strikes Resume In Southern And Southeastern Nepal
All Headline News
Byrd to Take Center Stage in Iraq Debate
Washington Post
5 Governors Agree to Work on Climate
Washington Post
Lalu lives upto expectations of Bihar people
Hindustan Times
Agriculture in Bihar set for a paradigm shift
Hindustan Times
Panel: Military Health System Needs Help
Washington Post
India Inc raises toast to railway budget 2007-08
China's Widening Income Gap
Google planning office war
Google in content deal with media companies
CNET News.com
Google Apps aims beyond Microsoft Office techworld.nl
3 French travelers slain in Saudi desert
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Google Partners With Dow Jones for Video-Sharing Program Editor & Publisher
Video + ads = Google's copyright fix? CNET News.com
Will Facebook hold out or sell out?
CNN International
Facebook Among Many 'Web 2.0' Companies Spurning Buyout Offers FOX News
Facebook.com faces dilemma: build or sell Sun-Sentinel.com
Government Support Critical to WiMAX Adoption in China
WM Experts (press release)
Microsoft buys health Web-search firm BusinessWeek
XM cuts its loss to $263m for quarter MSNBC
Dell to Sell Linux PCs PC World
BitTorrent Opens Online Store PC World
Americans Still Lagging Behind Europeans in Mobile Web Playfuls.com


26 February14:40United States House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., United States

26 February14:40Princeton University, Princeton, United States
26 February14:43New York University, New York, United States
26 February14:43Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, United States
26 February14:45Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, United States
26 February14:46Chinanet, China
26 February14:57Morgan Stanley Group Inc., United States
26 February15:27Stanford University, United States
26 February16:35Municipality of Metro Seattle, Seattle, United States
26 February17:12Purdue University, West Lafayette, United States
26 February17:18Voice of America, Washington, D.C., United States
26 February18:24The World Bank Group, Washington, D.C., United States

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Rare Email From Bill Clinton

From a guy who has sent out a total of two emails over a lifetime! This makes it three.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Iraq On My Mind

Badass Iraq vid

In The News

59 per cent women victim of domestic violence in Bihar: Survey Hindustan Times
Franken Confirms It; He’ll Run For Senate
Streaming Magazine
US Mint launching presidential $1 coin
The Decatur Daily
Vodafone has big plans lined up for rural India
Central Chronicle
Vodafone to invest £1bn in India Ireland Online
Al Qaida calls for attacks on US oil sources
China Passes Mexico as US Trade Partner; Democrats Concerned
Shi'ite militia lies low in Baghdad, hides weapons
Reuters AlertNet
Ani-American cleric Sadr reported seen in Iraq Los Angeles Times
Troops Sweep 3 Shiite Areas in Baghdad PushNew York Times
Google Opens Gmail Service to Everyone
Top Tech News
People: Salman Rushdie, Robbie Williams, Amitabh Bachcha International Herald Tribune
British author aims to clear myths surrounding Big B
Telugu Portal
Another shake-up at troubled Dell
Times Online
Hamlin to leave Dell
Washington Business Journal
Suit: Intel paid Dell up to $1 billion a year not to use AMD CNNMoney.com
Darwin Mr Popular again in Kansas
Study says spray flu vaccine better for children than shot
Boston Globe
Judge Says MySpace Isn't Responsible For Alleged Sexual Assault
Judge: MySpace Guiltless In Child Assault Washington Post
IBM Develops Faster Embedded RAM PC Magazine
Beyonce hits Swimsuit cover
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine to Back Sen. Barack Obama NewsMax.com
Clinton warns Bush not to attack Iran without congressional OK
Seattle Times
Barack Obama travels around the world
Version 2.0 of the Barack Obama Web site ready for prime time Chicago Tribune, IL
Obama and Clinton: Why They're "Not Enough" Huffington Post They have to live into stereotypes as they defy them. ..... Would Clinton have to prove she's "man enough" and "woman enough" simultaneously ..... Clinton has had to walk the line between projecting just the right level of femininity and warmth, as she retains her toughness. Of late, she has battled the "woman enough" perception by surrounding herself with children and talking about how she would be the first mother in the Oval Office. On the other side, she's proving her toughness with trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. ....... He told Charlie Rose, "If I'm outside your building trying to catch a cab, they're not saying, 'Oh, there's a mixed race guy.'" ..... "Is America too Racist for Barack? Too Sexist for Hillary?".
Clinton, Obama squabble over Iraq PopMatters Hillary Clinton’s presidential team took its first shot at Sen. Barack Obama Tuesday, criticizing her top rival for distorting her position on Iraq. ...... Obama, hitting Clinton in a sore spot for the second time, had belittled her plan to “cap” troops in Iraq, pointing out he wants to pull all forces from the country by March 31, 2008. ..... visiting the state on the heels of Clinton. ..... “Only Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the start and only Barack Obama has legislation that would, by force of law, begin a redeployment by May 1, 2007,” said spokesman Bill Burton.
Sen Barack Obama New face of US Politics
The Tide, Nigeria
Can Barack Obama Win the Black Vote?
Limbaugh: Obama Should ‘Renounce’ His Race And Just ‘Become White’ Think Progress
What Obama's Candidacy Will Mean For Black America Huffington Post Still others will want to know why he is raining on Hillary Clinton's parade. ....... will prove to be an uncomfortable test for African Americans because it will force Blacks to accept someone who is so different from the civil rights-based Black politics to which they are so accustomed........ the overwhelming majority of Black America will rally around Obama once they get to know him. ...... Universal health care, technological improvements for poor and rural communities, reforming the political system to make it fairer, energy independence, and ending the war in Iraq are all ideas that will play well in Black America. My point is that Obama, thankfully, represents a different picture of blackness. He is a worldly, well educated Black man married to a strong, well educated Black professional woman. Most rank-and-file Black people haven't had the variety of experiences that characterize Obama's life. ....... The extent to which Obama's candidacy is resonating with White America is amazing and seems to represent a sincere desire for something new and better in our politics. ...... There is no doubt that the sea of White faces that greeted Obama as he launched his campaign made some Blacks wonder how committed he is to Black people
Brown University coach is Obama's brother-in-law Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription)
Master tactician The Gold Coast Bulletin You don't get to rise like Lazarus the way he did in 1995 without the ability to choose your words carefully. ...... The trick for Howard is to steer the debate exactly where he wants it and if that means sending a rocket up the skirt of a US presidential candidate, then be sure that is exactly where he was aiming.
Sweet column: Hillary jabs Barack over his Iraq dig. Barack won't ...
Chicago Sun-Times, IL he will have his campaign "know" the records of his rivals "so we can compare and contrast." ...... Iraq is the defining issue at this opening stage of the 2008 presidential campaign and Clinton has had to defend the vote she made authorizing the war. ...... I think there's consensus among most Democrats that we shouldn't put more troops in, but I think where the American people are at and what I think good strategy dictates is that we begin the process of redeploying our troops." ...... "Only Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the start and only Barack Obama has legislation that would, by force of law, begin a redeployment by May 1, 2007, and have all combat forces out of Iraq by March 31, 2008."
The gloves come off Chicago Sun-Times, IL
Hawkish Hillary cooing like a dove Sarasota Herald-Tribune, FL Hillary Clinton, now that she is running for president, has done a complete flip-flop on Iraq, reminiscent of John Kerry's "I voted for it before I voted against it" comment. ...... on Dec. 15, 2003, Hillary said, "I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that was the right vote." ...... on Feb. 3 of this year, she said, "If I had been president in October of 2002, I would not have started this war." ....... To me, she's just another politician who is reading the latest public opinion polls.
Hillary Clinton Clashes With Barbra Streisand Over Cash? National Ledger, AZ Bill Clinton prevailed on him to help his wife. ...... Now it appears that Barbra Streisand is also a bit reluctant. .... Barbra is really impressed with Barack
Clinton, Obama squabble over Iraq PopMatters, IL
Excitement over Obama is justifiable Myrtle Beach Sun News, SC
Media Honeymoon Could Soon Be Over For Obama NBC5.com, IL as much as the media loves to create a darling, they also love to tear one down. ...... "We confront a set of decisions about the direction of our country that is going to determine where we go for the next generation, or two generations, or three generations," Obama said at the town hall meeting ......... the three-day campaign kickoff has lead to a bounce in the polls. ...... Clinton now leads Obama 28 to 23 points. ..... Obama will skip the first debate next week in Nevada ...... "The realities are that as a black man, Barack can get shot going to the gas station," Michelle Obama said. "You can't make decisions based on fear." ...... Michelle Obama added that her big request for her husband is for him to quit smoking. ..... "Please, America, watch," Obama said, laughing. "Keep an eye on him and call me if you see him smoking." ...... Many states are trying to move up their primaries, and Illinois leaders also want to do that. There is word that New York would also like to move up the state's primary, to help both Clinton and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who would be on the Republican ballot.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Something Special Is Happening

Wikipedia icon David Plouffe

Dear Paramendra,

Watch the announcement videoOver 15,000 people showed up in Springfield, Illinois and thousands more watched online as Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president on Saturday.

If you missed it, you can watch the speech online right now:


This announcement was different from any other in history. That's because, as Barack announced the campaign's start, over 50,000 new supporters across the country signed up and hit the ground running.

What makes our campaign unique is that supporters instantly became leaders and organizers using the totally new BarackObama.com. The new site has all the information and tools you need to take this campaign into your own hands, and across the country thousands of people have already begun to put these tools to use.

The new web site empowers you to build your own profile, network with other supporters near you, find local events or plan your own, create your own or join a grassroots group, and take campaign fundraising into your own hands. You can even chronicle your campaign experience on your My.BarackObama.com blog.

Here's an astonishing fact, unmatched by any presidential campaign in history: in the first 48 hours, supporters founded over 1,500 unique local and national grassroots groups in support of Barack's campaign.

Something special is happening. If you want to be part of it please explore the new BarackObama.com:


There will be a lot more to share with you in the coming weeks and months, but right now I want to get out of the way and do what we're going to do for the duration of this campaign: let Barack Obama speak for himself. You'll find the text of his announcement speech below.

Thank you for being part of this.


David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America


Full Text of Senator Barack Obama's Announcement for President

Let me begin by saying thanks to all you who've traveled, from far and wide, to brave the cold today.

We all made this journey for a reason. It's humbling, but in my heart I know you didn't come here just for me, you came here because you believe in what this country can be. In the face of war, you believe there can be peace. In the face of despair, you believe there can be hope. In the face of a politics that's shut you out, that's told you to settle, that's divided us for too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what's possible, building that more perfect union.

That's the journey we're on today. But let me tell you how I came to be here. As most of you know, I am not a native of this great state. I moved to Illinois over two decades ago. I was a young man then, just a year out of college; I knew no one in Chicago, was without money or family connections. But a group of churches had offered me a job as a community organizer for $13,000 a year. And I accepted the job, sight unseen, motivated then by a single, simple, powerful idea - that I might play a small part in building a better America.

My work took me to some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods. I joined with pastors and lay-people to deal with communities that had been ravaged by plant closings. I saw that the problems people faced weren't simply local in nature - that the decision to close a steel mill was made by distant executives; that the lack of textbooks and computers in schools could be traced to the skewed priorities of politicians a thousand miles away; and that when a child turns to violence, there's a hole in his heart no government could ever fill.

It was in these neighborhoods that I received the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith.

After three years of this work, I went to law school, because I wanted to understand how the law should work for those in need. I became a civil rights lawyer, and taught constitutional law, and after a time, I came to understand that our cherished rights of liberty and equality depend on the active participation of an awakened electorate. It was with these ideas in mind that I arrived in this capital city as a state Senator.

It was here, in Springfield, where I saw all that is America converge - farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. I made lasting friendships here - friends that I see in the audience today.

It was here we learned to disagree without being disagreeable - that it's possible to compromise so long as you know those principles that can never be compromised; and that so long as we're willing to listen to each other, we can assume the best in people instead of the worst.

That's why we were able to reform a death penalty system that was broken. That's why we were able to give health insurance to children in need. That's why we made the tax system more fair and just for working families, and that's why we passed ethics reforms that the cynics said could never, ever be passed.

It was here, in Springfield, where North, South, East and West come together that I was reminded of the essential decency of the American people - where I came to believe that through this decency, we can build a more hopeful America.

And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.

I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness - a certain audacity - to this announcement. I know I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.

The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we've changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King's call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more - and it is time for our generation to answer that call.

For that is our unyielding faith - that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.

That's what Abraham Lincoln understood. He had his doubts. He had his defeats. He had his setbacks. But through his will and his words, he moved a nation and helped free a people. It is because of the millions who rallied to his cause that we are no longer divided, North and South, slave and free. It is because men and women of every race, from every walk of life, continued to march for freedom long after Lincoln was laid to rest, that today we have the chance to face the challenges of this millennium together, as one people - as Americans.

All of us know what those challenges are today - a war with no end, a dependence on oil that threatens our future, schools where too many children aren't learning, and families struggling paycheck to paycheck despite working as hard as they can. We know the challenges. We've heard them. We've talked about them for years.

What's stopped us from meeting these challenges is not the absence of sound policies and sensible plans. What's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics - the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.

For the last six years we've been told that our mounting debts don't matter, we've been told that the anxiety Americans feel about rising health care costs and stagnant wages are an illusion, we've been told that climate change is a hoax, and that tough talk and an ill-conceived war can replace diplomacy, and strategy, and foresight. And when all else fails, when Katrina happens, or the death toll in Iraq mounts, we've been told that our crises are somebody else's fault. We're distracted from our real failures, and told to blame the other party, or gay people, or immigrants.

And as people have looked away in disillusionment and frustration, we know what's filled the void. The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests who've turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills, they get the access while you get to write a letter, they think they own this government, but we're here today to take it back. The time for that politics is over. It's time to turn the page.

We've made some progress already. I was proud to help lead the fight in Congress that led to the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.

But Washington has a long way to go. And it won't be easy. That's why we'll have to set priorities. We'll have to make hard choices. And although government will play a crucial role in bringing about the changes we need, more money and programs alone will not get us where we need to go. Each of us, in our own lives, will have to accept responsibility - for instilling an ethic of achievement in our children, for adapting to a more competitive economy, for strengthening our communities, and sharing some measure of sacrifice. So let us begin. Let us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation.

Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let's set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let's recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let's make college more affordable, and let's invest in scientific research, and let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America.

And as our economy changes, let's be the generation that ensures our nation's workers are sharing in our prosperity. Let's protect the hard-earned benefits their companies have promised. Let's make it possible for hardworking Americans to save for retirement. And let's allow our unions and their organizers to lift up this country's middle-class again.

Let's be the generation that ends poverty in America. Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let's do this.

Let's be the generation that finally tackles our health care crisis. We can control costs by focusing on prevention, by providing better treatment to the chronically ill, and using technology to cut the bureaucracy. Let's be the generation that says right here, right now, that we will have universal health care in America by the end of the next president's first term.

Let's be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil. We can harness homegrown, alternative fuels like ethanol and spur the production of more fuel-efficient cars. We can set up a system for capping greenhouse gases. We can turn this crisis of global warming into a moment of opportunity for innovation, and job creation, and an incentive for businesses that will serve as a model for the world. Let's be the generation that makes future generations proud of what we did here.

Most of all, let's be the generation that never forgets what happened on that September day and confront the terrorists with everything we've got. Politics doesn't have to divide us on this anymore - we can work together to keep our country safe. I've worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law that will secure and destroy some of the world's deadliest, unguarded weapons. We can work together to track terrorists down with a stronger military, we can tighten the net around their finances, and we can improve our intelligence capabilities. But let us also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will come only by rebuilding our alliances and exporting those ideals that bring hope and opportunity to millions around the globe.

But all of this cannot come to pass until we bring an end to this war in Iraq. Most of you know I opposed this war from the start. I thought it was a tragic mistake. Today we grieve for the families who have lost loved ones, the hearts that have been broken, and the young lives that could have been. America, it's time to start bringing our troops home. It's time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else's civil war. That's why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008. Letting the Iraqis know that we will not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace.

Finally, there is one other thing that is not too late to get right about this war - and that is the homecoming of the men and women - our veterans - who have sacrificed the most. Let us honor their valor by providing the care they need and rebuilding the military they love. Let us be the generation that begins this work.

I know there are those who don't believe we can do all these things. I understand the skepticism. After all, every four years, candidates from both parties make similar promises, and I expect this year will be no different. All of us running for president will travel around the country offering ten-point plans and making grand speeches; all of us will trumpet those qualities we believe make us uniquely qualified to lead the country. But too many times, after the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises fade from memory, and the lobbyists and the special interests move in, and people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.

That is why this campaign can't only be about me. It must be about us - it must be about what we can do together. This campaign must be the occasion, the vehicle, of your hopes, and your dreams. It will take your time, your energy, and your advice - to push us forward when we're doing right, and to let us know when we're not. This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose, and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change.

By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail.

But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible.

He tells us that there is power in words.

He tells us that there is power in conviction.

That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people.

He tells us that there is power in hope.

As Lincoln organized the forces arrayed against slavery, he was heard to say: "Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought to battle through."

That is our purpose here today.

That's why I'm in this race.

Not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation.

I want to win that next battle - for justice and opportunity.

I want to win that next battle - for better schools, and better jobs, and health care for all.

I want us to take up the unfinished business of perfecting our union, and building a better America.

And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I'm ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.