Wednesday, January 4, 2017

You can trust us. We're politicians.

Well, it looks like the new gov'ment has decided to start the year off with a bang in the form of a traditional Congressional kerfuffle. Seems the Republicans in the House o' Representatives weren't too happy 'bout the idea of a bunch of regular folks looking over their shoulders while they're busy living up to the their responsibilities of passing laws 'n' making policy decisions to support their main constituency. (In this case, read "constituency" as, "lobbyists offering the biggest bribes".) Course, they got a point - how many of us can do our jobs with someone constantly telling us, "You cain't do that! It's illegal.", ever'time we try to do something we ain't supposed to just 'cause someones handing us great wads of cash to do it anyway? So they decided that, 'fore the latest crop of deep-pocket lobbyists descend on Washington, they should get their House in order and get rid of the Office of Congressional Ethics 'fore they started prying into their soon-to-be fatter secret bank accounts. Course, they do have a point. Why do you need an Office of Congressional Ethics when folks have known for years that Congress has no ethics, which certain members have proven time and time again?

But let's take a little deeper look into this thing. For those of you who might not be familiar with the Office of Congressional Ethics, they are an "independent, non-partisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against Members, officers, and staff of the United States House of Representatives" who review "a wide variety of allegations relating to earmarks, travel, financial disclosure, and legal expense funds". They are composed of "private citizens and cannot serve as members of Congress or work for the federal government" and consist "primarily of attorneys and other professionals with expertise in ethics law and investigations". (All quotes are taken from the official web site of the Office of Congressional Ethics.) So, they're basically a group of non-governmental professional citizens who make sure that members of the House and their staff are keeping their noses clean and investigating those who ain't. Another important thing to know is that they don't have any actual powers to do anything to the folks they's investigating. All they do is present the reports and findings of their investigations to the House Ethics Committee for further review and actions. Now, that may seem like nothing that should be raising this big of a fuss amongst so many members of the House, but the real kicker comes with what happens when their reports are sent to the House Ethics Committee - they are also made public. Not only are they made public but, according to the terms under which the OCE operates, they must be made public. I'm willing to bet cash money that it's that last part that has so many Representatives frothing at the mouth to get rid of the OCE. (And, in the spirit of the kind of fairness that certain politicians seem to believe in only in word and not deed, both Republicans and Democrats have been gunning to gut the OCE of its powers ever since day one.)

Still, looks like we ain't gotta worry too much 'bout it. Good old President-elect Grump has put an end to the House's shenanigans . . . for now. 'N', in typical Grumpian fashion, he did it with a scathing tweet condemning the Republican members of the House for their actions. He said that, with ever'thing else they got to work on, cutting taxes for the rich and repealing health care for ever'one and all that, did they really want to make this their number one priority? Course, if we take a closer look at what President-elect Grump really said, we might get a difer'nt picture of the whole thing. His exact tweet reads, "With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS" So, what President-elect Grump seems to be actually saying is that he agrees with the Members of the House that having an independent group making sure they play by the rules is somehow "unfair". It also appears that he is not saying that they shouldn't be trying to gut the OCE's powers - he's just saying they shouldn't be trying to do it right now. The betting on how long it is 'fore they return to this issue and try again at some later date starts now.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

Well, here we are at the start of a New Year, 'n' we all know what that means. For those of y'all that don't, it means recovering from any excesses you may have indulged in while celebrating the end of the Old Year. There is one small differ'nce with this New Year, though. Thanks to all the foolishness that was the Old Year's Presidential election, even those of us that did not indulge in the bacchanalian excesses of others is going to have to deal with the suffering of the New Year hangover. So, thank you to everyone who was complicit in helping to nominate a candidate who couldn't have won to run against a candidate that shouldn't have won. To the rest of ya'll, buckle up 'n' hang on. 2017 is shaping up to be one humdinger of a ride.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monuments o' Stone

This is a little something I jotted down back in November o' 2006 when they dedicated the monument to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. up in Washington.

I sure am relieved to hear they's putting up a monument to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington D.C. today. 'Specially after hearing that President Jr. said "on this ground, a monument will rise that will preserve his legacy for ages." I'd been beginning to worry that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy's in danger o' disappearing on us, but now we's gonna get us a pile o' rocks up in the capital to preserve 'em, I guess they's nothing to fear 'bout on that front. Plus, I'm sure it's a load off o' the mind o' other folks, too, 'cause now they ain't gotta worry 'bout passing no more laws to ensure civil rights ner making sure the current ones're enforced. In fact, maybe they can even start getting rid o' some o' them laws. I mean, they's paying $65.5 million dollars fer this pile o' stones to keep his legacy under, why cain't we just get a little more mileage outta 'em 'n' use 'em to store his ideals 'n' dreams 'n' accomplishments as well? It's a memorial, after all. That's what you put up to honor the memory of a person er event, right? So now we's gonna have this here pile o' rocks to remember him by, why do we need to remember him with words 'n' deeds 'n' actions?

'N' just why're we putting up a memorial to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fer anyway? Don't get me wrong, now. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man who accomplished a lot o' good, not just fer any one group o' people, but fer all o' humanity. But, great as he was, he was not the Civil Rights movement solely unto himself. They was lots o' other folks who were in that fight with him, before him, 'n' since him. Why're folks so anxious to th'ow up monuments to this one man on account o' the work he did fer Civil Rights but you don't see too many people running 'round trying to scrape up a bunch o' money to th'ow together a pile o' rocks to memorialize Civil Rights entire? 'N' I mean all o' Civil Rights, not just the Civil Rights o' any partic'lar group 'cause they ain't just fer any partic'lar group. 'N' I don't think Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was fighting fer the Civil Rights of just one partic'lar group.

We could have us a great big pile o' stones with statues 'n' quotes 'n' pictures. Maybe something like a great big Stonehenge kinda contraption with each o' the outside stones dedicated to one o' the individual fighters er groups in the battle fer Civil Rights like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 'n' Mrs. Rosa Parks 'n' Mr. Cesar Chavez 'n' the ACLU 'n' freedom riders 'n' the United Farm Workers 'n' even the Supreme Court 'n' such's that. Then, inside o' that ring o' protecting stones, we could have a ring o' stones dedicated to the legislation passed to protect the Civil Rights o' individuals: stones to Brown v. Board of Education 'n'Roe v. Wade 'n' the Civil Rights Act o' 1964. Then, in the center, the largest part o' the memorial could be gardens 'n' fountains dedicated to the single largest 'n' most important group involved in the struggle fer Civil Rights: the vicitims. They could be things like reflecting pools 'n' rose gardens 'n' cherry groves dedicated to folks like Matthew Shepard 'n' Malcolm X.

Ask me, that's the kind o' memorial they should be putting up in Washington D.C. Then again, with the one they's putting up fer one man costing something like $65.5 million dollars so far, it might be a bit expensive trying to put up something to honor all the thousands who we owe rememb'rances to 'long them lines. Maybe that's why they decided to just do a memorial to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. alone. Which makes me kinda wonder what he would o' thought o' all this. Seems to me, if you's to ask Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which he'd rather have, $65.5 million dollars spent on a pile o' rocks to preserve his legacy er $65.5 million dollars spent on education 'n' programs to keep his legacy alive 'n' moving forward, I get the feeling he might o' just preferred the latter. I never met the man, but, somehow, I get the feeling that, if I's to ask him, he'd say something 'long the lines o' "If you wish to build a memorial to me, build me no memorials of stone or steel, for they are cold and dead things and even stone and steel will crumble to dust in time. If you wish to build a memorial to me, build me a memorial of your words and your deeds and your actions to one another, for these are living, breathing things that will endure as long as you speak them and do them and pass them on to the generations to come.  If you wish to build a memorial to me, build me no memorial in the cities of man, for even the greatest cities can be destroyed and pass into the dust of time. If you wish to build a memorial to me, build me a memorial in your heart and in the hearts of all who cherish justice and truth and equality, for the hearts of honest and just men can never be destroyed and will last until the end of time."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

They Don't Write Westerns Like They Used To

United States Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry

A gang o' ruthless outlaws is preying on innocent folk somewhere in the desert south o' town. The federal agents get a tip as to where their hideout is, so they saddle up 'n' go looking fer 'em. They come across the desperadoes one night 'n' a shoot-out ensues. Law 'n' order prevails in the end 'n' the bad guys are brought to justice.

Sounds like the plot o' one o' those ol' black 'n' white westerns you can still find playing on some late night cable channel, don't it. Well, this weren't the plot to no movie. This is something that actu'ly happened south o' here night 'fore last. In this case, the bad guys was a group o' five real life bandits that've been preying on illegal immigrants 'n' drug smugglers crossing into the United States from Mexico, 'n' the good guys was members o' the United States Border Patrol. Unfortunately, this being real life 'n' not some Hollywood make-believe story, the ending don't involve the good guys riding off into the sunset.

True, the good guys won 'n' four o' the five bandits was brought to justice. (They's still looking fer the fifth one.) But it ended in tragedy with the death o' Brian Terry, one o' the Border Patrol agents. At some point during the gun battle, agent Terry was shot in the back 'n' died from his wounds some hours later.

Firstly, I'd like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a courageous, upstanding, dedicated human being who went far above 'n' beyond the call o' duty. I say "above 'n' beyond the call o' duty" not just 'cause he made the ultimate sacrifice o' giving his life in the cause o' justice, but 'cause he went beyond what was required of him by the agency he served. To explain what I mean by that, first let me quote the mission statement o' the United States Customs 'n' Border Patrol.

"We are the guardians of our Nation's borders. We are America's frontline. We safeguard the American homeland at and beyond our borders. We protect the American public against terrorists and the instruments of terror. We steadfastly enforce the laws of the United States while fostering our Nation's economic security through lawful international trade and travel. We serve the American public with vigilance, integrity and professionalism."

So, 'cording to this, it was agent Terry's duty to "safeguard the American homeland", "protect the American public", 'n' "serve the American public." But what agent Terry done wasn't done just fer the Americans. What agent Terry done was done to protect innocent folks irregardless o' where they was born er what country they was citizens of.

Even more'n that, what he done was done to protect some not so innocent folks as well. In spite o' what you may've heard in various news stories, these bandits weren't rampaging through American towns massacring, raping, 'n' pillaging law-abiding American citizens. 'Member, these bandits was preying on "illegal" entrants 'n' drug smugglers. But that didn't stop agent Terry 'n' his fellow agents from going after these folks.

Now, there is a secondly to this, but that's another story fer another day. I don't want to take anything away from the respect 'n' heartfelt thanks that folks like agent Terry 'n' others deserve fer putting their lives on the line to protect all folks from evils such as this. So I'll leave the ranting 'til another day 'n' just end by saying right is right. 'N' if you want to know what right looks like, take another look at that picture up there.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Time, Again

Well, it's that time o' year again when we folks in the United States of America go out 'n' decide what we want to complain about fer the next one er more years. The day we try to figger out who the smallest liar is 'n' whether er not we want to agree to vote ourselves another tax we can gripe about having to pay. The day we have to make an extra trip, carve a little extra time out of our busy schedules, 'n' put up with long lines full o' folks we normally wouldn't want to be within fifty feet of, just so we can put some marks on a sheet o' paper 'n' hope that enough other people're smart enough to put the same marks down so that our marks will actually count fer something. It's election day.

I was sharpening my tongue up fer a big ol' diatribe 'bout the sorry bunch o' folks we got to choose from this year. I was coming up with 'n' reviewing some, hopefully, witty 'n' scathing remarks 'bout the propositions they's trying to fool us into getting passed, er voting down. I was ready to lament the poor state o' the Arizona constitution, which they seem determined to keep hacking up, tacking on to, 'n' just generally rewriting ever' year. But then I read something last night that made me rethink the whole thing.

It was an article by Peter M. on his blog 'bout New England Folklore. Mr. M. said that, back in the early years o' this country, even 'for it was a country, folks used to vote in the fall fer their local officials even though the officials didn't take office until the next May. The day they took office in May was called "Election Day" 'n' was celebrated like a holiday. He says that, by 'bout the mid 1700's, the celebrations included such things as parades, parties, athletic events, 'n' even special cakes. The best part 'bout it was, it was a celebration 'bout the simple fact o' being able to elect folks. Nowadays, it seems like the only celebrating folks do 'bout elections is to celebrate that their side won er the other side lost.

So I read that. 'N' then I thought 'bout it a bit. 'N' then I thought 'bout it a bit more. 'N' then I thought 'bout all the time that has passed between then 'n' nowadays 'n' all the changes that have happened in this country 'n' the ways folks viewed the whole voting 'n' election processes during all those 250 to 300 years. Then I thought 'bout the way so many folks seem to treat voting these days.

I thought 'bout the stories I've read 'bout how they used to close down the bars 'n' taverns 'n' the pubs 'n' the buying o' liquor on election days 'n' how you couldn't buy a drink 'til after the polls'd closed 'cause going out to cast your vote was a serious, sober responsibility. Do they even still do that these days? I'd be willing to bet real money that I could walk down to the local grocery store 'n' buy a six pack er a fifth o' something er other 'n' wouldn't no one bat an eye. I bet I could walk into any bar in town at any time today 'n' watch folks getting drunker 'n' drunker as they watched the election news. I'd even be willing to bet that there'd be at least one person, already well past the "legal" limit, who'd suddenly stand up 'n' say, "Shoot! I ain't even voted yet," 'fore running out to the polls.

I thought 'bout the stories o' folks who would get dressed up in their Sunday best to go vote 'cause voting was so important 'n' serious as church. Now days it seems like folks just show up in whatever they happen to have on er whatever they can grab 'fore they head out. In the last Presidential election, there was even a few folks in line who hadn't even bothered to change out o' their bed clothes. (Although, I guess I should give 'em credit fer being so eager 'n' dedicated to vote in that one that they was willing to get up at all that early in the morning.)

 I thought 'bout all those folks back 'fore there were cars who had to walk er ride miles 'n' miles to get to where they was supposed to go to vote 'cause it was so important to 'em. So many of 'em today seem to treat it more like some kind o' chore er drudge than the right er privilege that it is. They seem to approach it like it's some sort of odious task, like having to clean the cat box er jury duty er something. The biggest thing these days seem to be all the folks signing up to early vote er vote by mail so they don't have to take that extra time out o' their day to go do it. Personally, I get a big shot o' pride walking up to that desk 'n' taking pen in hand to mark all those little circles. I stand a little taller when I walk out o' the building with my little "I Voted" sticker tacked onto my shirt. I ain't never seen it as a chore ner an imposition. I've always seen it as a solemn something I'm more'n proud 'n' happy 'n' honored to do.

'N' I thought 'bout the idea of a bunch o' dour, humorless Puritans kicking their heels up 'n' having celebrations 'cause the folks they got to pick was stepping into office, instead of a bunch o' folks someone else had lumped 'em with. Now days it seems like so many folks're so busy voting 'gainst something er someone they cain't take no joy in their decisions.  Maybe that's why we ain't having no parades ner parties ner even special cakes to celebrate the fact that the folks we get to pick're stepping into office. Maybe too many folks these days're feeling like they's stuck with a bunch o' folks someone else lumped 'em with 'cause they felt like they couldn't vote fer who they really wanted lest the "wrong" person wound up winning.

So I thought 'bout all this stuff 'n' I decided I was going to try 'n' learn a lesson from the way they viewed elections back in the olden days. From here on out, I'm going to try 'n' keep my sharp tongue in my pocket on election day. I'm going to try 'n' keep my civil tongue in my mouth on the days I get the privilege o' going to the polls 'n' jotting down my two cents' worth in the form o' little dots on a page. I'm going to try 'n' show the day the respect it rightfully deserves 'n', who knows, maybe next year I'll even make a special cake on the day. 'Sides, I got all the other days o' the year to take my sharp tongue out o' my pocket 'n' use it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'll Drink ('n' Drive) to That

Saw a story online 'bout a feller who lost an argument with a train the other day. The feller's name was Jason Michael Hair 'n' the altercation took place near Queen Creek, Arizona, which is a little southeast o' Phoenix. What happened was, he was speeding down the road, texting on his cell phone, 'n' broke right through the crossing arms and smacked into the side o' the train, which was already in the process o' crossing the road. One witness to the crash claimed that Hair had passed him, doing somewhere near 65 mph, so intent on his typing to whoever was on the other end o' the phone that he either didn't notice the train, er was unaware o' just how fast he was going 'n' couldn't stop in time. (Makes me wonder just what he was typing, too. "Hey! I'm going to try for one of those "Darwin Awards"!")

They said the crash was so bad that Hair had to be cut out o' the wreckage 'n' suffered a head injury. Now, you might be thinking, "Well, he got what he deserved for being so stupid, then," 'n' you might be right. The thing was, though, that his four-year-old boy was in the car with him. The son survived, too, but he also had to be cut out o' the wreckage 'n' was flown to a local hospital as a precaution. Whatever Hair may have deserved fer his stupidity, his boy sure didn't deserve to suffer fer it.

Anyways, this story got me to thinking 'bout the last time I was up fer jury duty. See, the case we was being considered to jury fer was a drunk driving case. (They didn't actu'ly say that, but when they start asking prospective jurors questions 'bout whether they've ever been convicted o' drunk driving er whether er not they er a loved one has ever been involved in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver, you kind o' get the indication that that's what the whole thing's 'bout.) More important, it was just after they'd started running news stories 'bout studies done on the dangers o' yapping on the phone er texting while you're driving.

So, once they'd picked their first dozen possible jurors 'n' sent the rest of us out in the hall while they questioned 'em a little more intensely, I sat there thinking 'bout those studies 'n' 'bout how they was some that claimed to show that yapping on the phone er texting while driving was least as dangerous, if not more so, than driving after a few drinks. Then I got to thinking 'bout how one o' these dangerous practices had been illegal fer decades while the other still didn't have no laws 'gainst it.

Well, that was the direction my thoughts was running in when it turned out that there was some o' the original twelve who'd been dismissed, so they come out to question some o' the rest of us more closely, me being one o' those they chose. They took me in 'n' sat me down in a chair 'n' started asking me 'bout the time I'd been in an accident 'caused by someone who had given all appearances o' having been three sheets in the wind at the time. (Never did learn what that feller's problem was 'cause he wound up pleading guilty to the accident 'fore it ever got to trial. But when the guy leaves the scene o' the accident 'n' then shows up fifteen minutes er so later, pushing his car in the opposite direction 'cause it ain't working so good no more, you got to wonder 'bout what kind o' state his mental faculties 'n' judgement abilities're in.) All those questions was fairly easy to answer, 'cause all I had to do was tell the truth.

Then the judge turns to me 'n' asked,"Is there any reason that you think you could not render a fair and impartial verdict in this case?" Well, I had to stop 'n' give that question some real consideration 'fore I answered it. I mean, here was a guy who was being tried fer doing something that was no more dangerous than what other folks was doing with no fear o' being hauled into court fer. So I told the judge that it just didn't sit right with me that this feller was facing the possibility o' legal repercussions fer doing something when there were studies that showed that something that was just as dangerous was considered perfectly fine 'n' legal.

To my surprise, the judge agreed with me 'bout how he also thought that yapping on the phone while driving should be just as illegal as driving while intoxicated. But, he said, as a judge, his concern had to be with the law, 'n' since the law 'lowed one o' those actions while outlawing the other one, he didn't get to choose which ones appeared in his court. So he changed his question a might 'n' asked if I could overlook my opinions on driving while yapping 'n' render a fair 'n' impartial verdict based strictly on the law as it stood at that moment.

I gave that a little more thought 'n' decided that, since I was a law-abiding citizen, it was my duty to see that the law was upheld 'n' render a verdict o' guilty if I felt that the prosecution had proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the feller had in fact been legally drunk at the time o' his apprehension. So that's what I told the judge. He thanked me fer my time 'n' sent me out o' the room while they brought in the next person to question. (I wasn't picked to serve on that jury, by the way.)

Since then, I've given the topic a lot more thought. Mostly what I've thought about was this: Where do my duties as a law-abiding citizen really lie? Is it merely to see that the law, all laws, no matter whether I agree with 'em er not, are upheld? Don't I, as a citizen who loves his country 'n' should be concerned 'bout the rights of all my fellow citizens, also have a duty to fight against laws that are unjust 'n' discriminatory? If a law singles out one group o' folks fer punishment while 'lowing other groups o' folks to get away scott free fer doing something that is just as bad er dangerous, what is my duty then? Do I side with the law, er with the citizens who are being discriminated 'gainst?

Isn't the law supposed to treat all folks equally? Shouldn't the law treat the drunk driver just the same as it treats the person who's yapping er typing on his phone while driving? 'N' what about the person who's so busy putting on makeup, er trying to read a road map, er eating, er yelling at the kids, er changing the station on the radio? (We actually did have a case like that a few years back where a young boy hit 'n' killed a lady on the side o' the road 'cause he'd looked down to change the radio. I don't 'member the partic'lars, but I'm pretty sure he got off with a lot lighter sentence than he would have if he'd had a couple beers in him.) Aren't those distractions just as dangerous as being drunk er texting?

'N' what about a law that penalizes folks fer what they might do? That's what a lot o' these drunk driving (er "driving while intoxicated" er "driving under the influence" er whatever else they call 'em) laws're actu'ly punishing folks fer. I would be willing to bet real money that most folks who get convicted fer such offenses did so when they hadn't actu'ly 'caused any accident yet. They were hauled into court simply 'cause o' what they might do.

Seems to me we should have just one law that applies to ever'body: a "driving while distracted" law, if you will. It would apply equally to anyone who has been drinking, anyone who is yapping on a phone, typing on a phone, putting on makeup, trying to read a road map, eating, yelling at the kids, changing the station on the radio, er whatever else it is they might be doing that takes their attention away from their driving. I just don't see how I can continue supporting anything less.

So, if I ever get in another situation where a judge asks me if I can offer a fair 'n' impartial verdict based strictly on the law as it stood at that moment, I guess I would have to answer with I could only do so if the law, as it stood at that moment, was fairly 'n' equally applied to all folks who could fit in the broader scope o' the spirit o' that law 'n' what it was enacted to protect us against. I'm willing to bet I wouldn't get chosen fer that jury, neither.

Monday, February 8, 2010

(mis)Interpreting the State of the Union Address (Part VIII)

The State of the Union

given by President Oprama

Weds. Jan. 27, 2010
What they said What I heard
That is the leadership that we are providing — engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We are working through the G-20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We are working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science, education and innovation. We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We are helping developing countries to feed themselves and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bioterrorism or an infectious disease — a plan that will counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad. That's the kind o' leadership I'm providing: ensuring the security 'n' prosperity o' those who agree with me, 'n' endangering the security 'n' destroying the prosperity o' those who don't agree with me. We are working through the G-20 to take control o' the global economy so we can tell other countries how they should be doing things. We are working with Muslim communities 'round the world to try 'n' drag 'em into our version of enlightenment. We've finally caved in to the views o' the misguided 'n' gullible masses to fight global warming. We are helping developing countries so they'll quit taking our food so we can maybe start charging decent prices so more Americans can afford a decent meal 'n' continuing to try 'n' teach 'em how to keep it in their britches so they won't keep spreading AIDS. We are continuing to scare folks with the threat o' bioterrorism 'n' pandemics so the chemical 'n' drug companies can continue to make outrageous profits off their unnecessary products.
As we have for over 60 years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right. That is why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild. That is why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan, we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran, and we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity. Just like we have fer over 60 years, we're doing this because it is America's destiny to rule the world. We also do it 'cause we're right, 'n' ever'body else needs to realize that. That's why we're helping folks in Haiti recover from their earthquake, so they'll think we're so wonderful they'll want to be like us. That's why we support girls wanting to go to school in Afghanistan, women marching 'gainst the gov'ment in Iran, folks who ain't corrupt enough to get a job in Guinea, so they'll all think we're so wonderful they'll want to be like us. 'Cause America must always stand on the side o' the way we define freedom 'n' human dignity.
Abroad, America’s greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it, that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else. Abroad, our greatest source o' strngth has always been American ideals. That holds true here. We find unity in diverse folks all acting 'n' thinking the same, drawing on the promise in our Constititution that all American citizens are created equal, long as you look kind o' the same as the majority o' other Americans, if you don't fight against the unconstitutional 'n' discrimanatory laws imposed upon you, that if you just do what you're told you will be treated like ever'one else. Course, you have to be a legal American citizen fer us to allow you to claim all those freedoms 'n' rights.
We must continually renew this promise. My administration has a civil rights division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws — so that women get equal pay for an equal day’s work. And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system — to secure our borders, enforce our laws and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations. We must continually beat you over the head with this idea. My rule has a division that is once again persecuting folks who are even perceived o' civil rights violations 'n' employment discrimination, 'long as their actions follow our definition o' what constitutes civil rights violations 'n' employment discrimination. We have finally strengthened the laws 'gainst hate crimes. This year, I'm going to make Congress 'n' the military finally repeal the don't ask, don't tell law so that gays who love their country just as much as the next person can finally serve openly in the military. We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws so women can finally make the same kind o' wages the fellers are making. 'N' we will continue to fight 'gainst the evil illegal aliens flooding our country. It don't matter that these folks are risking their very lives to try 'n' provide a better life fer their families. They ain't got no place in a society that encourages freedom 'n' prosperity fer all folks.
In the end, it is our ideals, our values, that built America — values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe, values that drive our citizens still. Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country. They take pride in their labor, and are generous in spirit. These aren’t Republican values or Democratic values they’re living by, business values or labor values. They are American values. In the end, it is these selfish, self-centered, 'n' self-righteous ideals 'n' values that built America: values that 'lowed us to to forge a nation made up of immigrants that now excludes other immigrants who share the same dreams, hopes, 'n' desires that brought those earlier immigrants from ev'ry corner o' the globe. Ever' day, Americans give what is due to their families 'n' their bosses. Time 'n' again, they help out the folks they know 'n' pay their taxes so they won't get tho'wed in jail. They do their jobs, no matter how much they may hate 'em, 'n' are generous in spirit, if not in material goods. These ain't just the values o' Republicans er Democrats, business er labor. They are the values of America.
Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions — our corporations, our media and, yes, our government — still reflect these same values. Each of these
institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people’s doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.
Unfortunately, most folks don't believe that our corporations, media, er gov'ment share these values. Each o' these groups have folks doing the important work o' trying to impose these values on others. But each time their selfish, self-centered, self-righteous actions are applied only to themselves, doubts grow. Each time lobbyists er politicians do something other than lifting this country up as a beacon to the rest o' the world that we won't let 'em claim fer their own, we lose faith. The more TV folks take what I say out o' context er show me doing the opposite o' what I say, our citizens turn away.
No wonder there’s so much cynicism out there. No wonder folks don't believe us.
No wonder there’s so much disappointment. No wonder folks don't like us.
I campaigned on the promise of change — change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change — or at least, that I can deliver it. I promised change we can believe in. Right now, a lot o' folks ain't sure they wan't the kind o' change I'm offering.
But remember this — I never suggested that change would be easy or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That’s just how it is. Remember this, I just promised change. I never said I would actually deliver on that promise. Democracy in a nation o' 300 million folks ain't easy. You cain't please ever'one. That's just the way it works.
Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do what’s necessary to keep our poll numbers high and get through the next election instead of doing what’s best for the next generation. Those of us in public office can ignore reality. We can focus on just getting re-elected the next time 'round, irregardless o' how much we damage the country doing it.
But I also know this: If people had made that decision 50 years ago or 100 years ago or 200 years ago, we wouldn’t be here tonight. The only reason we are is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard, to do what was needed even when success was uncertain, to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and grandchildren. But I also know this: if folks had thought this way years 'n' years ago, I wouldn't be here tonight. The only reason I'm here now is 'cause generations of Americans were'nt afraid to do the right thing, not just fer themselves er their own children 'n' grandchildren, but fer their fellow human beings, irregardless o' race, nationality, color, socio-economic status, gender, age, er even whether er not they even knew those other folks.
Our administration has had some political setbacks this year and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going — what keeps me fighting — is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism — that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people — lives on. I've had some political setbacks this year, I ain't going to deny it. But I wake up ever' day knowing it ain't nothing compared to the kinds o' setbacks folks all 'cross the country have had to face. That's what keeps me going: that spirit o' stuborness 'n' hope 'n' the fundamental decency 'n' fairness that is supposed to be at the core o' the American folks.
It lives on in the struggling small business owner who wrote to me of his company, “None of us,” he said, “are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail.” Now I'd like to give an example o' that from some letters I've gotten. I ain't actually read none of 'em, but I've been told that they were sent to me.
It lives on in the woman who said that even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, “We are strong. We are resilient. We are American.”
It lives on in the 8-year-old boy in Louisiana, who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti. And it lives on in all the Americans who’ve dropped everything to go some place they’ve never been and pull people they’ve never known from rubble, prompting chants of “USA! USA! USA!” when another life was saved.
The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people. That spirit o' fundamental fairness 'n' equality fer all folks may be on life support these days, but I believe it still lives.
We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize this moment — to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more. It ain't been an easy year. The Republicans have made a right hash out o' the last decade. But a new year has come. We's facing a new decade where I'm in control, not the Republicans. We ain't going to quit. I ain't going to quit. Get out o' my way 'n' let me do what I need to do to start anew, carry the dream forward, 'n' strengthen our union once more.
Thank you. God Bless You. And God Bless the United States of America. Now I'll close with the traditional statement, so the Republicans will have one less thing to beat me over the head with 'n' because I really do love 'n' care 'bout America 'n' the folks who live here. God Bless You. 'N' God Bless the United States of America.