In My Opinion

Line of the night…

Well, unless your camping, it’s kinda gross.

Adam Braverman to his dad in regard to wearing his shirt two days in a row.

Perfectly delivered, excellent writing.

 

Last year, I really enjoyed sharing my random thoughts as I watched the state of the union speech so I decided to do it again.

I love the state of the union speech.  It is such a time capsule, capturing the political landscape and always full of interesting moments.  I am always curious what the President has to say, whether I agree with some or all or none of it is really irrelevant.  Well, other than the amount of wine I need to consume to keep my blood pressure stabilized.

Please keep in mind that this is my random train of thought.  There are summarizations of what was said as well as my own opinion and commentary and it may not be clear what’s what. There may even be some grammatical and spelling errors, I didn’t do much proofreading.

Take it for what it is and watch the speech yourself. I encourage you to create your own running commentary and share it with the group. That would be really cool.

Oh yeah, I am so not interested in being yelled at for my opinions.  That’s what they are, my opinions.  Feel free to share yours, but disrespect will not be tolerated.

So here we go.  “Mr. Speaker,  The President of The United States ” …

I guess we should first note that many democrats and republicans are sitting intermixed next to each other.  This seems to be in a statement of good will during this time of strife, with the shooting and all.  I think everyone realizes that more civility is needed and that the violent rhetoric was a little out of line.  I would think they would feel this way personally, even if they won’t say it out loud.  Of course, there is a group of republicans that are refusing to participate.

It makes me sad that some people refuse to see the value of working together toward best solutions for the common good.

Let us all take a moment to send good thought out to Sen. Giffords and her family.  Tragedy.

Wow, I teared up just looking at that little girls father.

I always love that the vice president and the speaker have to sit up there and try to keep a straight face the whole time.

Governing is a shared responsibility.  Please please please can we start to work together and stop all this insane fighting.

Funny, all the corporations are making money again, but people and small businesses are suffering and my house just lost another 15%.  Your right Mr. President, I would like you to work together to fix this.

This is a changing world.  Other countries are kicking our butts. It is time to come to terms with the fact that there is no going back. It is time to embrace change and move forward folks.

I am so tired of hearing about how great we are.  Stop fluffing everybody’s feathers and start telling me what you are going to do to fix this and how you are going to get bipartisan support for that.

Out educate, Out innovate and Out build the rest of the world.

Winning the future…

1st step.  Encourage innovation.

It doesn’t just change our lives it is how we make our living.  Invest in research.  biomedical, information technology and green energy.

It’s like a good rock band, we have to constantly reinvent ourselves.

Hmm, I like that.  Take the money we subsidise the oil companies and give that money to people doing research and building clean energy technology. 2035, 80% electricity from clean energy.

What kind doesn’t really matter, let’s work together to get it done.

2nd step.  Education

Over half the jobs require more than a college education, while over a quarter of kids aren’t even graduating from high school.

Calling out to parents to take responsibility for their kids education.  Make sure your child does their homework, give accolades to those who do well in academic ventures, not just sports and entertainment.   Set a good example and instill a love of learning in your kids.  Be encouraging and supportive.

Success in not a function of fame, but of hard work and discipline.

Expectations should be high in school.  Must reform our school systems not throw more money at a bad system.  Here Here!!!!

Get rid of no child left behind and replace it with a better program.  Yay!!!!

Reform is a bottom up process, not a top down.  We must empower each child to acheive.  Tell them that they are smart and can accomplish whatever they put their minds to and guess what?  They will.

Give teachers some respect, would you.  And, guess what?  Being a bad teacher isn’t going to cut it any more.

Become a teacher, you country needs you.  But how are you going to make sure that being a teacher doesn’t require having a second job?

Boehner looks annoyed.

The goal.  The highest percentage of college graduates in the world.

Illigal imigration.  Needs adressing.  Difficult debate.  Let’s have it.

Step 3. What is step three? I don’t know but it starts about here.

Infrastructure.   We got a D in the quality of our infrastructure.  Sad really.

Re-double the efforts of the last two years and put americans to work.  Pick projects based on the economy, not the politicians.  Good luck with that.

Hee Hee.  He made a funny.

Oh dude, wake up.  You almost got caught with your finger up your nose.

Rigging the tax code to benefit the few.  Must change it.

It disgusts me that there are so many loop holes that a few corporations pay no taxes while other pay through the nose.

Boehner is not being very successful controlling his grimace.

Regulation is not the problem.  Protecting people is necessary, but I agree that we shouldn’t put undo burden on business.  But no rules is simply not an option.  You can not avoid that some people are greedy and selfish and will exploit people to make a profit.

Is that booing over the health care law?  tacky.

If you have better ideas, bring it.  Let’s here em.

Disagreeing and pointing out flaws is not even close to coming up with solutions.  Help solve the problems and stop you bitching.

Like so many people have stated in the past.  Are you going to be part of the problem or part of solution.  Really it is that simple.  Nothing comes of all this negativity, it just doesn’t.

Finally.  Live within our means.

Freeze domestic annual spending for 5 years?  Let’s cut what we can do without, but not on the back of our most vulnerable citizens.

Let’s stop pretending that cutting annual spending alone will be enough.  It won’t.  Cut excessive spending anywhere we find it.

Did you hear that?  Repealing the health care bill will increase the deficit by more than 250 billion dollars.

Malpractice reform is back on the table.

strenthen Social Security without slashing benefits or putting it at the hands of the stock market.

Say by by to the tax cuts.

Simplify the tax code, best for everyone.  Good plan.  Don’t repeal or extend anything.  Reform the whole damn thing.

I love the scale of his vision.  Go big or go home.  Think bigger

More competent government, imagine that?

Hey, it’s Gary Locke.

Ooh, another funny.  Hee hee.

Wow, re-org the federal government.  Well now, that is a current concept.  I think I was re-orged six times during my five years at a software company.  Can’t say whether it was good strategy or not.

He will veto any bill with earmarks.  Look at the grin on McCains face.

The Iraq war is coming to an end.  Over 100,000 troops home so far.

A little rose colored on the Afghan war, I think.  Gonna start bringing the troops home next year though and that is good.   Enough war please.

Oh god, here comes the stand up sit down portion of our program.  There should be rules about standing ovations and applause.  Let the man speak.

Well hello Patty.  Looks like people are starting to get tired.  Me too.  That can’t be a good sign.

Wow, those old generals look pissed about gay people serving in the military.

Get over yourselves people.  Stop being threatened by things and people you don’t understand.  Different than you does not mean evil or scary, just different.  You might be surprised how much you can learn from someone who feels, speaks, dresses or lives differently than you.

Solar roofing shingles.  Now that’s cool.

We Do Big Things.  We are country of ordinary people who dare to dream.

Well, not left teary eyed with inspiration, but a good speech none the less.  Big ideas, big arguments, big reforms.  I like that.

I agree that the first half of the speech was better than the second half.

Watch the speech now!

Part 1:

Part 2:

This deal that Obama has made with the republicans just rubs me the wrong way. I get that he did what he felt he had to do for those American’s struggling the most right now. That is understandable and by itself even admirable. And, if I felt that the republicans had even the slightest good intention, I would feel that the cooperation across the aisle would even be a good sign.

But, I don’t trust the republicans and I know that they will do everything they can to block any legislation that doesn’t benefit corporate America in the future so these efforts are really meaningless.

I have had something in my craw lately about social security.  It is one of the most important fundamental things we provide for our citizens.  Without it, the overwhelming majority of Americans would work their entire lives only to end up unable to keep their homes, take care of themselves or even slightly enjoy their well earned retirement.  And this is the best case, much more likely is that millions of people would be forced into poverty, destitution or worse.

What doesn’t make sense to me is that it has been said over and over again that removing the cap would completely eliminate the problem and instead they are talking about cutting benefits or raising the retirement age.  And in this new tax deal cutting funding to it by an extraordinary amount.  I just don’t get it.

I am so frustrated that people don’t seem to see the importance in taking care of each other, that in doing so we would lift the whole country up and build a solid foundation that will support us all and build a more prosperous country in the future.  I am tired of politics on both sides getting in the way of working together to find solutions to our growing problems.  It is time for them all to get their heads out of their asses and get to work.

Alright, enough ranting for one day.  I received the following email this morning and thought I would share.  Feel free to pass it on.

Top 5 Problems with the Tax Deal

Everyone knows that the “deal” that President Obama agreed to with Republicans will extend George W. Bush’s reckless millionaire tax bailout–but what a lot of folks don’t realize is that there are lots of other terrible parts of it, too.

Unemployed Americans desperately need their benefits extended to get by in this economy—so Republicans held them hostage to force through a slew of horrible economic policies in this deal.

Problem #1: The deal is a stealth attack on Social Security.

The deal will lower the payroll tax—the tax that funds the Social Security trust. This is a trap for Democrats. Republicans have been coming after Social Security for years and this cut is the biggest threat to the vital program in decades. It will cut one-third of Social Security’s funding this year alone and when we need to restore the payroll tax back to its current level, Republicans will cry “tax increases” and could gut it permanently. 1

Problem #2: For nearly one in three workers, it’s a tax increase.

Nearly 50 million working Americans—including all workers making less than $20,000 per year—and millions of federal, state, and municipal workers will see their taxes go up because of the deal.2

Problem #3: The deal has not one but TWO millionaire bailouts.

In addition to extending all the Bush income tax breaks for the top 2%, the deal will slash the estate tax. If Congress did nothing, next year the estate tax would be 55% and apply to everyone inheriting $1 million or more. But the deal reduces it to 35% and only people who inherit more than $5 million will have to pay. This second bailout will give a gigantic tax giveaway to a few thousand of the richest families in the country and add hundreds of billions to the national debt.3

Problem #4: Unemployment help is insufficient and inadequate.

While the deal extends unemployment benefits for another 13 months for people currently receiving it, millions of unemployed workers who’ve struggled the most and been out of work more than 99 weeks—since the giant Wall Street banks wrecked the economy—will get no help at all under the deal.4 It’s a gamble that there will be jobs in the next 13 months when the insurance runs out, but the tax cuts will go well beyond that. Better to just pass a stand-alone unemployment extension to help all struggling Americans.

Problem #5: Tax giveaways to the rich are a terrible way to create jobs.

Tax breaks for the rich are the least efficient way to create jobs and help the economy grow. In fact the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says extending all tax cuts would lower unemployment only 0.1% to 0.3% over the next year5 and that the cost of the tax deal would be $900 billion over the next five years.6

Sources:

1.”Tax Cut Deal A Hidden Threat To Social Security” The Huffington Post, December 8, 2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/tax-cut-deal-a-hidden-thr_n_793983.html

2. “Obama-Republican Deal Could Mean Tax Hike For One In Three Workers” The Huffington Post, December 10, 2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/10/obamarepublican-deal-coul_n_795187.html

3. “Estate tax deal: worst part of a bad tax compromise” The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Tax-VOX/2010/1207/Estate-tax-deal-worst-part-of-a-bad-tax-compromise

4. “Unemployment benefits: Extension won’t help ’99ers'” The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2010/1207/Unemployment-benefits-Extension-won-t-help-99ers

5. “The Deal” Paul Krugman, The New York Times, December 7, 2010
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/the-deal/

6. “CBO score shows tax plan ups deficit $900 billion in 5 years” CNN.com, December 10, 2010
http://articles.cnn.com/2010-12-10/politics/tax.plan_1_tax-cuts-tax-plan-bush-era-tax?_s=PM:POLITICS

Because I am one of the bare all – no holds barred bloggers who believes that sharing my life honestly is the right thing to do for both me and my readers, I feel it is very important to applaud others who do the same.

Not only is Tasha a brave and amazing blogger, she speaks to a topic that is close to my heart and a message that I think it is important for you, my readers, to hear as well. She learned to listen to her body and do what was best for her, even when it bumped up against everything she believed in and thought was right and true in the world.

Read Her Story

Life is not black and white and you can not and should not believe everything you read and hear. I am always amazed how we can suspend the use of our perfectly healthy and functioning brains to feed our belief systems. One thing I have learned over the last couple of years of struggling with my own battle with depression, anxiety and a bunch of familial bullshit is that no matter how much you believe something to be true that is not always the case.

It is so important that we learn to trust ourselves. Our minds and bodies yearn to speak to us, to tell us what is right and true for us, but so often we ignore them. We ignore that we are tired or sad or not feeling well and all the little ailments that we attribute to our lives or getting older or whatever our excuses might be.  We push aside our uneasy feelings and that little nagging tug that something here is hinky.  In reality all these little things are our bodies ways of speaking to us, of telling us that something isn’t right and that we should take a good look at how we are living and what changes our hearts know we need to make.

Instead of listening to these warnings, more times than not we ignore them until they turn into monsters that come back and bite us, sometimes with devastating consequences.  My mind and body were screaming and I just blatently ignored it, shoved it down until my whole world exploded.  Not necessarly the best way to go about it.

Read how Tasha learned this very same lesson

Learning this important lesson comes to each of us in it’s own way.  For Tasha it was her Vegan-ism, as much a doctrine as a lifestyle choice in her mind.  For each of us it will always be something personal and most likely painful.  Facing our personal truth is certainly not an easy task, but one that faced with bravery and an open heart will forever make us and everyone we touch better for it.

There are many things that I could say about being vegan or how I feel about the importance of quality natural animal protein sources, but I think the bigger lesson here is that if you listen, your mind and body will tell you what you need.  And if you refuse to listen, it will just yell louder, believe me.

And just one more little rant.  Be very careful how you judge others and what you believe from so-called experts.  We each have our own beliefs and our own reasons for them.  Do your own research, and I mean real research – not just asking your friend or your favorite talk show host, and listen to your gut.  If someone seems all over the top about stuff, there is probably a reason for it that has absolutely nothing to do with you.   And if you disagree about something with someone, no matter how vehemently, remember to have some respect.  Being an asshole only hurts you in the long run.

I came into this State of the Union address feeling angst and disappointment.   Disappointed in the President for not being stronger and the democrats in congress for being spineless and disgust at the pettiness of politicians on both sides of the aisle.  But mostly I feel pain for my fellow Americans and intense confusion at why we find it so difficult to care for one another.

We gather our pennies and reach into the deepest realms of our pockets and purses to help those in Haiti and our generous spirit also reaches out to disaster victims here at home in such profound ways.  We even go out of our way to help our neighbors when they are suffering, yet we refuse to provide even the most basic of health care for those that struggle among our own people and see educating our children as somebody else’s problem.

Caring for one another doesn’t just mean coming to the rescue when disaster strikes.  It means supporting one another, being tolerant of each other and lifting each other up so that we can all succeed and thrive.

I wish I shared the presidents hopefulness for our future, especially since I was so hopeful when he was elected.  I wish I saw more of this decency and resilience and care for one another that he sees.  This is a risky thing to say and please don’t bash me or call me names.  I do believe we are strong and the wheel of time will continue to turn and we will keep fighting and prevailing.  It simply pains me to see the state we are in right now, that’s all.

I wrote the following as notes to remind myself of what was going on during the speech so I would have talking points when writing this, but really with a little editing the running commentary was entertaining and compelling in it’s own right, so I left it like that.

Here we go…

Jobs gets everyone to their feet. Obviously we can all agree that creating jobs is a huge issue for the upcoming year.  Of course the differing ideas of how to accomplish that become painfully obvious when the most innovative, creative and I think best ideas are presented, the whole republican side of the room just sat there shaking their heads.

I like the idea of providing community banks funds to loan to small businesses.   This not only helps small businesses, but community banks are moderately small businesses too and this lifts them up in this economy as well.

And please please please can we please take away tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas.  Granted it might make things slightly more expensive, but it will provide jobs here and really, it is about time for all of us to get real with what things cost and what we can afford.

They need to find a better color of makeup for him.  He looks jaundiced.  His hands are this lovely caramel color and his face is the color of bile.   Get on it folks.

Nuclear power plants huh?  Off shore drilling?  bio-fuels and clean coal.  Who said he doesn’t listen to ideas from across the aisle?

Love the dig on climate change.  “Those that disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change”.  If we want to be the global power we see ourselves as we need to lead on a global level.  Set a good example on clean exports.  Increase exports.

Now I am  going to go off here for a minute and I understand that many will disagree with me and even get angry and want to say something nasty just to mix it up, but you aren’t going to change my mind about this so really, why bother?

Funny how the republicans want the “average American” to think that they are in their corner, yet any time something comes up that would help the “average American” or “hurt” big business, the republicans sit shaking their heads in disgust that the needs of the American people would come ahead of the greed of corporate America.

How so many are fooled by their retoric just blows my mind.  They aren’t interested in helping you keep your job or earn more money or put your kids through college or pay your medical bills.  They just aren’t.  What they say and what they do doesn’t mesh up and you all need to open your eyes.  Their only interests lie in discrediting democrats, getting reelected and lining the pockets of their monetary supporters.

Ok, I’m done.  Let’s get on with it.

“The best anti-poverty plan around is a world class education”.  Revitalize community colleges – Awesome!  Wow, big tax credit.  No more than 10% of income on student loans with forgiveness after 20 years or 10 if public servant.  Seems like a decent start, but doesn’t even put a dent in it.  I also think that continuing to throw money at this problem rather than reforming from the bottom up isn’t going to solve anything long term.  But that is a whole different discussion.

Health care reform must happen.  Duh.  Did her really wait this long to discuss this?

Hey!  There’s Gary Locke.

Side Rant Begin…

Small government you want?  Why then did the surplus turn into the biggest deficit ever?  Fact.

Don’t tell me what to do, you say?  But making choices about who I love, what I do with my body and whether my kids learn legitimate science in school is OK?

Let the states make these choices.  In my opinion fundamental rights are a place where the federal government should step in so that all of our citizens can depend on quality and affordable health care and an education that will further them in their lives.

Social security.  Why can’t we just lift the limit on social security tax.  It has been said that this would totally fix the problem and that a huge majority of Americans agree that this is what we should do, but yet it isn’t even on the table?

Side Rant End…

Hey!  There’s Patty Murray.

“It’s time to try something new”.  Common sense, a novel concept.  Invest in our people, imagine that.  The old way is no longer working.  Like a wise man once said, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

I appreciated that he spoke boldly and directly to both democrats and republicans.  To democrats, we have the largest majority in decades and the people expect us to govern, not run for the hills.  Come on you guys, get some work done and quit being a bunch of pansies (my words not his).  And to republicans, quit acting like children (my words not his).  Saying no to everything may be good short term politics, but it isn’t leadership.  It is time to govern and stop the petty political nonsense.

After listening to the speech I feel it was very good as his speeches usually are and I even found myself buying into this hope he spoke of at the beginning.  The hope that politicians will somehow overcome the status quo and see things reasonably.  That the lies will end and the republicans will see governing the people as a higher priority than destroying the democrats.  That the democrats will stand strong in their convictions.

And then I came back to the real world as I discussed the commentary with my husband.  Seems they both think that a week from now nobody will remember a word he said and that the hope that anything will change any time soon is naive and fool hearty.

What will it take to pull us out of this mess we are in?  What will it take to put the American people first?

This American citizen is cynical and angry, but like President Obama I have the slightest glimmer of hope that the strength and love of the American people will somehow prevail.  My heart is heavy and my mind cluttered.

Before I get started there are a couple of things I need to say about Landmark for preface and transparency.

  1. I have taken the first two Landmark curriculum classes.  The Forum and The Advanced Course.  I also signed up for and completed the first work day of the third and final course (Self Expression and Leadership Program – SELP) before ending my relationship with Landmark.
  2. I got it.  Landmark transformed me just as promised.
  3. I think that Landmark has a lot to offer just about everyone.

Ok, now that that is out of the way I also have to say that I strongly disagree with many of their practices.

The teachings are incredible and if you can give yourself over to the process then amazing things can happen in your life.

  • I have found and asked for forgiveness
  • I have released a ton of my baggage and see my past for what it was and not what I made it into.
  • I have new clarity on why I have acted the way I have, chosen the relationships I have chosen and made the choices I have made.
  • I can see what is holding me back and where my failures have come from.
  • I have learned how to express gratitude and ask for help.
  • I am more comfortable with discomfort.
  • My fear is subsiding.
  • I have joy in my life.
  • I have a new level of confidence  and know that I am fully prepared for whatever lies ahead and that what lies ahead is whatever I dream it could be.
  • So so much more.

You would think with all that and more I would be shouting from the rooftops that everyone should absolutely stop whatever they are doing right now and sign up to take these courses.  Unfortunately every time I speak of Landmark I have to add a ton of caveats about the downsides of this company.

Along side a very good curriculum is a very poor marketing plan.  They are constantly pushing you to bring people to the program.   And the further you get in the better the curriculum gets and the more they push bringing people in.   It is distracting and unnecessary and I have told them so.

I spent a lot of time during the Advanced course being angry about this, but I also try to remind myself that everything they do is orchestrated to bring up certain emotions and help you face your fears.  And the expectation of bringing people to the program definitely did that for me, ultimately helping me break my cycle with expectation and failure.  So, it’s not all bad.

But, I think all that could be accomplished without pressuring me to market the program for them.  I had serious work to do and all that bullshit was distracting from that.

The thing I don’t think they realize is that our stories are their best marketing tool and if they just gave us room to tell our stories to those we think might benefit from their program without any pressure or deception they might open up new space for themselves and be able to take their company to the next level.  Seems like they need to take some of their own advice.

If you are considering taking these classes please be aware of these tactics and just put them aside.  If you just let it go, give yourself over to the process and don’t take it too seriously there are tremendous benefits to be gained from taking this challenge on.

Always best to know what your getting into, I think.

If your interested…

I don’t know what it is like where you live, but in Seattle people drive like idiots.  Not a day goes buy that you don’t encounter some nimrod making a jack ass out of himself behind the wheel.  Now, I can’t say I am totally immune of the occasional buffoonery, but I generally think that I drive carefully with the appropriate amount of aggressiveness and a general awareness of what is going on around me.  And really, that’s all I ask of others.

I simply don’t understand why people find it so difficult to follow the simple rules and courtesies of the road.  It’s really not that difficult.

  • When you come to a yield sign, that means you have to slow down and look both ways to see if there is a car coming.  If there are no cars and only if there are no cars it is OK to proceed.  If there are cars present then you need to STOP and wait for the appropriate opening.
  • On the same theme, if you are taking a right turn on a red light this acts in a similar way to a yield sign.   Everyone moving has the right of way before you, even the people taking a U-turn at a designated U-turn light (yes that means you, you rude Genesee oil truck driver who nearly ran into me this morning).
  • If you are a slow driver DO NOT cut someone off when pulling out into traffic from a driveway or yield sign.  We all know what kind of driver we are, act appropriately and with thought to those driving around you.  Much like life, a little common sense and courtesy can take you a long way.
  • When merging onto the freeway, you are suppose to enter traffic going the freeway speed limit.  Pay attention and plan your speed ahead to make sure that you can enter traffic without disturbing the flow.  And for God’s sake, do not stop in the middle of the on ramp.  If you plan ahead and use your brain this will very rarely be necessary.  With that said, if you are in the slow lane and someone is trying to merge, get out of the way.  If you slow down or speed up just a little or change lanes if the next one is open this makes merging, which can be a scary undertaking sometimes, a lot easier for everyone.  
  • If you are sitting in traffic, let a car in and if you are in that lane that is still zipping along, get in when the opportunity presents itself.  Don’t be a greedy ass hole.
  • Please use your hands free devices.  Even months after the law was passed here, people are still talking on their phones while driving.  I swear every third car has some oblivious jerk chatting away.  This would also include, I would hope without saying, reading the paper, texting, putting on makeup and other generally non-driving related activities.

I could just go on and on and am kind of glad I started this list, because now when someone does something that drives my blood pressure through the roof while driving I can come here and add it to the list.  I would encourage you to do so as well.  I sure feel better.

Vent away my blogoshere friends.  This is a safe and non-judgemental environment.

I’m watching Larry King and they are talking all about twitter. So, in their honor, I was going to go and twitter something witty to my blog, but twitter is down. Crashed by the masses. Who knew a couple of celebs on Larry King Live could cause such a ruckus.

By the way, it’s really encouraging to hear that they are using their status on twitter to do some serious good.  Ashton Kutcher challenged Larry King to a race to 1 million twitter followers. The winner had to donate 10,000 mosquito nets to the malaria cause and the loser had to donate 1,000. Ashton Kutcher won. Other celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon as well to help with awareness for World Malaria Day.

Get the full scoop on CNN

This morning we sat as a family and watched the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.

Although words are not coming easily to me at this point, I am full. Full of hope for the future. Full of pride in my country. Full of love for everyone and everything.

I know I am not alone in my deep reflection on this moving experience. It amazes me and fills me with joy that such an inspirational and capable man has come to power at a time when we need it so badly. All things happen for a reason at the time it is most needed and I think that is the case here.

I was impressed with the strength of his speech, the message he sent to the world and most importantly his message to us, the American people. These are tough times for this country and we must all stand together and get ready to work hard beside each other building a new America.

You can’t help but feel there was a fundamental shift that occurred this morning and I can’t help but notice that I feel fundamentally different because of it.

Dear Mr. President: Be strong and follow your heart. Your judgement is sound and good and should be trusted as well as critically questioned. Surround yourself with smart and experienced people you trust and listen heartfully to them, but don’t let them sway you from the task at hand. We need you now to show us the way. Tell us what you need from us and we will be there, standing next to you. We need change, need to take responsibility for our actions and contributions to both the good and bad that is this time in this country, need to be inspired and led by you. You will be great and my hopeful and positive thoughts will be with you every step of the way.

For my own selfish reasons and for my personal purpose of always wanting to remember this day, I have quoted the text of President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech below.

Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

Following is the prepared text of President-elect Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, as provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

It’s so exciting!  Karli and I took Ian down to our local elementary school after dropping Ada at school this morning and proudly voted for Obama as well as many state and local issues. 

There weren’t any lines or crowds as we live in a small town (well actually a very small incorporated seattle suburb) with adequate polling locations and the majority of folks in our county vote absentee.  In fact, they are making us all vote absentee as soon as they can get the system in place.

I have probably said this before, but I think this is really unfortunate.  There is something empowering and inspiring about going to polls and making your voice heard along with others in your community.  It just seems more impactful in some way. 

But today is about anticipation and excitement and hopefully celebration.  This is going to be a day that will be remembered in our history and I plan on enjoying every minute of it.