Monday, March 31, 2008

The Cantwell Club

The blog 2008 Democratic Convention Watch has an excellent running post called the Superdelegate Endorsement List, which keeps track of which candidates each of the 793 superdelegates support.  I have found it very useful for my Running List of Obama Endorsements.  Currently, about 214 superdelegates have said they would support Obama, 246 would support Clinton, and 333 of them are undeclared. (It should be noted that Obama leads among superdelegates who are elected officials, as opposed to DNC members.)

Recently, the site has decided that a fourth category is needed, which they call the Pelosi Club, after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  She has said
"If the votes of the superdelegates overturn what happened in the elections, it would be harmful to the Democratic Party...The way the system works is that the [pledged] delegates choose the nominee."  
Of course, Senator Obama is almost certain to end up with a majority of pledged delegates, so despite the fact that Speaker Pelosi has not endorsed either candidate explicitly, for purposes of tallying votes, she should be counted in the Obama column.

There are currently six other members of the Pelosi club, three like Pelosi who have not endorsed a candidate by name, two who have endorsed Obama (Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Former Sen. Tom Daschle), and one who has endorsed Clinton...Senator Maria Cantwell.

So Maria Cantwell, the Junior Senator from the state of Washington, is in a club by herself.  She is the only superdelegate who endorses Clinton, but will vote for Obama (absent a total collapse of the Obama campaign).  She has not renounced her endorsement of Senator Clinton, she has simply said that the will of the people is more important than her opinion:
"If we have a candidate who has the most delegates and the most states,” the Democratic party should come together around that candidate, Cantwell said. The pledged delegate count will be the most important factor, she said, because that is the basis of the nominating process.
With that one quote, she diminished Senator Clinton's lead in superdelegates by two (decreasing the number pledged to Hillary by one, and increasing the number who will vote for Barack by one).  

I think Senator Cantwell should be rewarded for respecting democracy.  If you concur, please  send her a message of thanks, or contribute to her campaign.  Just mention that you are doing it in honor of her starting the Cantwell Club.

I would like other superdelegates who have endorsed Senator Clinton to join the Cantwell Club.  They need not renounce their endorsement of Hillary to join the club, they can simply say that democracy is more important than their personal opinion and so they will vote for the winner of the pledged delegates.  An obvious candidate is the Senior Senator from the state of Washington, Patty Murray.  If you want to send a positive message encouraging her to join the Cantwell Club, contact her here.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Senator Obama's NYC Speech on the Economy

This is a detailed, thoughtful look at our financial situation from the underlying forces leading to the current upheaval to specific policy proposals on how to fix it.  Senator Obama describes the thinking on both sides, and charts a sensible middle path.  He conveys that he is as thoughtful and knowledgeable as he is inspiring.  He begins with a history lesson and ends with stirring rhetoric.

In other words, it is a typical Barack Obama speech.  Below is the full text.

March 27, 2008
TRANSCRIPT [from the NY times]

Obama on ‘Renewing the American Economy’

Following is the transcript of Barack Obama's economic speech at Cooper Union in New York, as provided by CQ Transcriptions Inc.


Thank you so much for being here.

Let me begin by thanking Dr. Drucker and Cooper Union for hosting us here today. I have to say that the last time an Illinois politician made a speech here it was pretty good. So...


... the bar is high. And I -- I want everybody to know right at the outset here that this may not be living for generations to come, the way Lincoln's speech did. I want to thank all our elected supporters who are here. I want to -- there are a couple of special guests that I'm very appreciative for being in attendance: Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board...


We appreciate his presence. William Donaldson, the former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. We thank you. And finally I want to thank the mayor of this great city, mayor Bloomberg, for his extraordinary leadership. At a time...


At a time when Washington is divided in old ideological battles, he shows us what can be achieved when we bring people together to seek pragmatic solutions. Not only has he been a remarkable leader for New York, he's established himself as a major voice in our national debate on issues like renewing our economy, educating our children and seeking energy independence. So, Mr. Mayor, I share your determination to bring this country together, to finally make progress for the American people. And I have to tell you that the reason I bought breakfast is because I expect payback at something more expensive.


I -- the mayor -- I'm no dummy.


The mayor was a cheap date that morning...


... and I figured there's some good steakhouses here in New York.



In a city of landmarks, we meet at Cooper Union, just uptown from Federal Hall, where George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States. With all history that's passed through the narrow canyons of Lower Manhattan, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on the role that the market has played in the development of the American story. The great task before our founders was putting into practice the ideal that government could simultaneously serve liberty and advance the common good. For Alexander Hamilton, the young secretary of the treasury, that task was bound to the vigor of the American economy. Hamilton had a strong belief in the power of the market, but he balanced that belief with a conviction that human enterprise, and I quote, "may be beneficially stimulated by prudent aids and encouragements on the part of the government." Government, he believed, had an important role to play in advancing our common prosperity. So he nationalized the state Revolutionary War debts, weaving together the economies of the states and creating an American system of credit and capital markets. And he encouraged manufacturing and infrastructure, so products could be moved to market. Hamilton met fierce opposition from Thomas Jefferson, who worried that this brand of capitalism would favor the interests of the few over the many. Jefferson preferred an agrarian economy, because he believed that it would give individual landowners freedom and that this freedom would nurture our democratic institutions. But despite their differences, there was one thing that Jefferson and Hamilton agreed on: that economic growth depended upon the talent and ingenuity of the American people; that in order to harness that talent, opportunity had to remain open to all; and that through education in particular, every American could climb the ladder of social and economic mobility and achieve the American dream. In the more than two centuries since then, we've struggled to balance the same forces that confronted Hamilton and Jefferson.: self-interest and community, markets and democracy, the concentration of wealth and power and the necessity of transparency and opportunity for each and every citizen. Throughout this saga, Americans have pursued their dreams within a free market that has been the engine of America's progress. It's a market that's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world, and opportunity for generations of Americans; a market that has provided great rewards to innovators and risk-takers who've made America a beacon for science and technology and discovery.

But the American experiment has worked in large part because we guided the market's invisible hand with a higher principle. A free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it. That's why we've put in place rules of the road: to make competition fair and open, and honest. We've done this not to stifle but rather to advance prosperity and liberty. As I said at Nasdaq last September, the core of our economic success is the fundamental truth that each American does better when all Americans do better; that the well-being of American business (OOTC:ARBU) , its capital markets and its American people are aligned. I think that all of us here today would acknowledge that we've lost some of that sense of shared prosperity. Now, this loss has not happened by accident. It's because of decisions made in board rooms, on trading floors and in Washington. Under Republican and Democratic administrations, we've failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practice. We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales. The result has been a distorted market that creates bubbles instead of steady, sustainable growth; a market that favors Wall Street over Main Street, but ends up hurting both. Nor is this trend new. The concentrations of economic power and the failures of our political system to protect the American economy and American consumers from its worst excesses have been a staple of our past: most famously in the 1920s, when such excesses ultimately plunged the country into the Great Depression. That is when government stepped in to create a series of regulatory structures, from FDIC to the Glass-Steagall Act, to serve as a corrective, to protect the American people and American business.

Ironically, it was in reaction to the high taxes and some of the outmoded structures of the New Deal that both individuals and institutions in the '80s and '90s began pushing for changes to this regulatory structure. But instead of sensible reform that rewarded success and freed the creative forces of the market, too often we've excused and even embraced an ethic of greed, corner cutting, insider dealing, things that have always threatened the long-term stability of our economic system. Too often we've lost that common stake in each other's prosperity. Now, let me be clear. The American economy does not stand still and neither should the rules that govern it. The evolution of industries often warrants regulatory reform to foster competition, lower prices or replace outdated oversight structures. Old institutions cannot adequately oversee new practices. Old rules may not fit the roads where our economy is leading. So there were good arguments for changing the rules of the road in the 1990s. Our economy was undergoing a fundamental shift, carried along by the swift currents of technological change and globalization. For the sake of our common prosperity, we needed to adapt to keep markets competitive and fair. Unfortunately, instead of establishing a 21st century regulatory framework, we simply dismantled the old one, aided by a legal but corrupt bargain in which campaign money all too often shaped policy and watered down oversight. In doing so we encouraged a winner take all, anything goes environment that helped foster devastating dislocations in our economy. Deregulation of the telecommunications sector, for example, fostered competition, but also contributed to massive over-investment.

Partial deregulation of the electricity sector enabled (inaudible). Companies like Enron and WorldCom took advantage of the new regulatory environment to push the envelope, pump up earnings, disguise losses and otherwise engage in accounting fraud to make their profits look better, a practice that led investors to question the balance sheets of all companies and severely damaged public trust in capital markets. This was not the invisible hand at work. Instead, it was the hand of industry lobbyists tilting the playing field in Washington as well as an accounting industry that had developed powerful conflicts of interest and a financial sector that had fueled over-investment. A decade later we have deregulated the financial sector and we face another crisis. A regulatory structure set up for banks in the 1930s needed to change, because the nature of business had changed. But by the time the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999, the $300 million lobbying effort that drove deregulation was more about facilitating mergers than creating an efficient regulatory framework. And since then we've overseen 21st century innovation, including the aggressive introduction of new and complex financial instruments like hedge funds and non-bank financial companies, with outdated 20th century regulatory tools. New conflicts of interest recalled the worst excesses of the past, like the outrageous news that we learned just yesterday of KPMG allowing a lender to report profits instead of losses so that both parties could make a quick buck. Not surprisingly, the regulatory environment failed to keep pace. When subprime mortgage lending took a reckless and unsustainable turn, a patchwork of regulators were unable or unwilling to protect the American people. Now, the policies of the Bush administration threw the economy further out of balance. Tax cuts without end for the wealthiest Americans. A trillion dollar war in Iraq that didn't need to be fought, paid for with deficit spending and borrowing from foreign creditors like China. A complete...


A complete disdain for pay-as-you-go budgeting, coupled with a generally scornful attitude toward oversight and enforcement, allowed far too many to put short-term gain ahead of long-term consequences. The American economy was bound to suffer a painful correction, and policy-makers found themselves with fewer resources to deal with the consequences. Today those consequences are clear. I see them in every corner of our great country as families face foreclosure and rising costs. I see them in towns across America, where a credit crisis threatens the ability of students to get loans and states can't finance infrastructure projects. I see them here in Manhattan, where one of our biggest investment banks had to be bailed out and the Fed opened its discount window to a host of new institutions with unprecedented implications that we have yet to appreciate. When all is said and done, losses will be in the many hundreds of billions. What was bad for Main Street turned out to be bad for Wall Street. Pain trickled up. And that...


... and that's why -- that's why the principle that I spoke about at NASDAQ last September is even more urgently true today. In our 21st century economy, there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street.

The decisions made in New York's high rises have consequences for Americans across the country. And whether those Americans can make their house payments, whether they keep their jobs or spend confidentially without falling into debt, that has consequences for the entire market. The future cannot be shaped by the best-connected lobbyists with the best record of raising money for campaigns. This...


This thinking is wrong for the financial sector and it's wrong for our country. I do not believe the government should stand in the way of innovation or turn back the clock on an older era of regulation. But I do believe that government has a role to play in advancing our common prosperity, by providing stable macroeconomic and financial conditions for sustained growth, by demanding transparency and by ensuring fair competition in the marketplace. Our history should give us confidence that we don't have to choose between an oppressive government-run economy and a chaotic, unforgiving capitalism. It tells us we can emerge from great economic upheavals stronger, not weaker. But we can only do so if we restore confidence in our markets, only if we rebuild trust between investors and lenders, and only if we renew that common interest between Wall Street and Main street that is the key to our long-term success. Now, as most experts agree, our economy is in a recession. To renew our economy and to ensure that we are not doomed to repeat a cycle of bubble and bust again and again and again, we need to address not only the immediate crisis in the housing market, we also need to create a 21st-century regulatory framework and we need to pursue a bold opportunity agenda for the American people.

Most urgently, we have to confront the housing crisis. After months of inaction, the president spoke here in New York and warned against doing too much. His main proposal, extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, is completely divorced from reality, the reality that people are facing around the country.


John McCain recently announced his own plan. And, unfortunately, it amounts to little more than watching this crisis unfold.


While this is consistent with Senator McCain's determination to run for George Bush's third term...



... it won't help families that are suffering and it won't help lift our economy out of recession. Over 2 million households are at risk of foreclosure. Millions more have seen their home values plunge. Many Americans are walking away from their homes, which hurts property values for entire neighborhoods and aggravates the credit crisis. To stabilize the housing market and to help bring the foreclosure crisis to an end, I've sponsored Senator Chris Dodd's legislation creating a new FHA housing security program, which will provide meaningful incentives for lenders to buy or refinance existing mortgages. This will allow Americans facing foreclosure to keep their homes at rates that they can afford. Now, Senator McCain argues that government should do nothing to protect borrowers and lenders who've made bad decisions or taken on excessive risk.

And on this point I agree. But the Dodd-Frank package is not a bailout for lenders or investors who gambled recklessly; they will take their losses. It's not a windfall for borrowers, as they will have to share any capital gain. Instead, it offers a responsible and fair way to help bring an end to the foreclosure crisis. It asks both sides to sacrifice, while preventing a long-term collapse that could have enormous ramifications for the most responsible lenders and borrowers, as well as the American people as a whole. That's what Senator McCain ignores. For homeowners who are victims of fraud, I've also proposed a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund that would help them sell a home that is beyond their means or modify their loan to avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy. It's also time to amend our bankruptcy laws so families aren't forced to stick to the terms of a home loan that was predatory or unfair.


To prevent fraud in the future, I've proposed tough new penalties on fraudulent lenders and a home-score system that will allow consumers to find out more about mortgage offers and whether they'll be able to make payments. To help low- and middle-income families, I proposed a 10 percent mortgage interest tax credit that will allow homeowners who don't itemize their taxes to access incentives for homeownership. And to expand homeownership, we must do more to help communities turn abandoned properties into affordable housing. The government can't do this alone, nor should it. As I said last September, lenders must get ahead of the curve rather than just react to the crisis. They should actively look at all borrowers, offer workouts and reduce the principal on mortgages in trouble. Not only can this prevent the larger losses associated with foreclosure and resale, but it can reduce the extent of government intervention and taxpayer exposure. But beyond dealing with the immediate housing crisis, it is time for the federal government to revamp the regulatory framework dealing with our financial markets.


Our capital markets have helped us build the strongest economy in the world. They are the source of competitive advantage for our country.

But they cannot succeed without the public's trust. The details of regulatory reform should be developed through sound analysis and public debate. And so I won't try to cross every "t" and dot every "i" in this speech. But there are several core principles for reform that I intend to pursue as president. First, if you can borrow from the government, you should be subject to government oversight and supervision.


Secretary Paulson admitted this in his remarks yesterday. The Federal Reserve should have basic supervisory authority over any institution to which it may make credit available as a lender of last resort. When the Fed steps in, it is providing lenders an insurance policy underwritten by the American taxpayer. In return, taxpayers have every right to expect that these institutions are not taking excessive risks. Now, the nature of regulation should depend on the degree and extent of the Fed's exposure. But, at the very least, these new regulations should include liquidity and capital requirements. Second, there needs to be general reform of the requirements to which all regulated financial institutions are subjected. Capital requirements should be strengthened, particularly for complex financial instruments like some of the mortgage securities that led to our current crisis. We must develop and rigorously manage liquidity risks. We must investigate ratings agencies and potential conflicts of interest with the people that they are rating. And transparency requirements must demand full disclosure by financial institutions to shareholders and counter parties. As we reform our regulatory system at home, we should work with international arrangements, like the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the International Accounting Standards Board, and the Financial Stability Forum, to address the same problems abroad.

The goal should be to ensure that financial institutions around the world are subject to similar rules of the road, both to make the system more stable and to keep our financial institutions competitive. Third, we need to streamline a framework of overlapping and competing regulatory agencies. Reshuffling bureaucracies should not be an end in itself. But the large, complex institutions that dominate the financial landscape don't fit into categories created decades ago. Different institutions compete in multiple markets. Our regulatory system should not pretend otherwise. A streamlined system will provide better oversight and be less costly for regulated institutions. Fourth, we need to regulate institutions for what they do, not what they are. Over the last few years, commercial banks and thrift institutions were subject to guidelines on subprime mortgages that did not apply to mortgage brokers and companies. Now, it makes no sense for the Fed to tighten mortgage guidelines for banks when two-thirds of subprime mortgages don't originate from banks. This regulatory framework...


This regulatory framework has failed to protect homeowners and it is now clear that it made no sense for our financial system. When it comes to protecting the American people, it should make no difference what kind of institution they are dealing with. Fifth, we must remain vigilant and crack down on trading activity that crosses the line to market manipulation. On recent days, reports have circulated that some traders may have intentionally spread rumors that Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC) was in financial distress while making market bets against the country. The SEC should investigate and punish this kind of market manipulation and report its conclusions to Congress. Sixth, we need a process that identifies systemic risks to the financial system.

Too often we deal with threats to the financial system that weren't anticipated by regulators. That's why we should create a financial market oversight commission, which would meet regularly and provide advice to the president, Congress and regulators on the state of our financial markets and the risks that face them. These experts' views could help anticipate risks before they erupt into a crisis.

These six principles should guide the legal reforms needed to establish a 21st-century regulatory system, but the changes we need goes beyond the laws and regulation. We need a shift in the cultures of our financial institutions and our regulatory agencies. Financial institutions have to do a better job at managing risk. There is something wrong when board of directors or senior managers don't understand the implications of the risks assumed by their own institutions. It's time to realign incentives and the compensation packages so that both high-level executives and employees better serve the interests of shareholders. And it's time to confront the risks that come with excessive complexity. Even the best government regulation cannot fully substitute for internal risk management. For supervisory agencies, oversight has to keep pace with innovation. As the subprime crisis unfolded, tough questions about new and complex financial instruments were not asked. As a result, the public interest was not protected. We do American business and the American people no favors when we turn a blind eye to excessive leverage and dangerous risks. And finally, the American people must be able to trust that their government is looking out for all of us, not just those who donate to political campaigns. I...


I fought in the Senate for the most extensive ethics reforms since Watergate, and we got those passed.


I've refused contributions from federal lobbyists and PACs. I have laid out far-reaching plans that I intend to sign into law as president to bring transparency to government and to end the revolving door between industries and the federal agencies that oversee them.



Once we deal with the immediate crisis in housing and strengthen the regulatory system governing our financial markets, we have to make government responsive once again to all of the American people. And our final task, in fact, is to make sure that opportunity is available to all Americans. You know, the bedrock of our economic success is the American dream. It's a dream shared in big cities and small towns, across races, regions and religions, that, if you work hard, you can support a family; that if you get sick, there will be health care that you can afford; that you can retire...


... that you can retire with the dignity and security and respect that you've earned; and that your children can get a good education and young people can go to college, even if they don't come from a wealthy family. That's our common hope.


That's our common hope across this country. That's the essence of the American dream. But today, for far too many Americans, this dream is slipping away. Wall Street has been recently gripped by gloom over our economic situation. But for many Americans, the economy has effectively been in recession for the past seven years. We have just come through...


We have just come through the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that was not accompanied by a growth in incomes for typical families. Americans are working harder for less.

Costs are rising, and it's not clear that we'll leave a legacy of opportunity to our children and our grandchildren. And that's why throughout this campaign I've put forward a series of proposals that will foster economic growth from the bottom up and not just from the top down. And that's why the last time I spoke on the economy here in New York, I talked about the need to put the policies of George W. Bush behind us, policies that have essentially said...


... policies that have essentially said to the American people, "You are on your own."

We need policies that once again recognize that we are in this together. And we need the most powerful, the wealthiest among us -- those who are in attendance here today, we need you to get behind that agenda.

It's an agenda that starts with providing a stimulus that will reach the most vulnerable Americans, including immediate relief to areas hardest hit by the housing crisis and a significant extension of unemployment insurance for those who are out of work.


If we can extend a hand to banks on Wall Street when they get into trouble, we can extend a hand to Americans who are struggling, often through no fault of their own.


Beyond these short-term measure, as president, I will be committed to putting the American dream on a firmer footing. To reward work and make retirement secure, we'll provide an income tax (sic) of up to $1,000 for a working family and eliminate income taxes altogether for any retiree bringing in less than $50,000 per year.


To make health care affordable for all Americans, we'll cut costs and provide coverage to all who need it. To put Americans to work, we'll create millions of new green jobs and invest in rebuilding our nation's infrastructure.


To extend opportunity, we'll invest in our schools and our teachers and make college affordable for every American. And to ensure...


And to ensure that America stays on the cutting edge, we'll expand broadband access, expand funding for basic scientific research, and pass comprehensive immigration reform so that we continue to attract the best and the brightest to our shores.


I know that making these changes won't be easy. I will not pretend that this will come without costs, although I have presented ways we can achieve these changes in a fiscally responsible way. I believe in PAYGO. If I start a new program I will pay for it. If I intend to cut taxes for the middle class, then we're going to close some of the tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy that are not working for shared prosperity.


So we're going to have fiscal discipline. I know that we'll have to overcome our doubts and divisions and the determined opposition of powerful special interests before we can truly advance opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. But I would not be running for president if I did not think that this was a defining moment in our history.

If we fail to overcome our divisions and continue to let special interests set the agenda, then America will fall behind, short-term gains will continue to yield long-term costs, opportunity will slip away on Main Street, and prosperity will suffer here on Wall Street.

But if we unite this country around a common purpose, if we act on the responsibilities that we have to each other and to our country, then we can launch a new era of opportunity and prosperity.

I know we can do this because Americans have done this before. Time and again we've recognized that common stake that we have in each other's success. It's how people as different as Hamilton and Jefferson came together to launch the world's greatest experiment in democracy. That's why our economy hasn't just been the world's greatest wealth creator, it's bound America together, it's created jobs and it's made the dream of opportunity a reality for generations.

Now it falls to us. We have as our inheritance the greatest economy the world has ever known. We have the responsibility to continue the work that began on that spring day over two centuries ago right here in Manhattan, to renew our common purpose for a new century and to write the next chapter in the story of America's success.

We can do this, and we can begin this work today.

Thank you very much.




Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Movies I've Seen

Time for a light-hearted interlude.  Below is a list of the top 250 movies from the Internet Movie Database.  Following the lead of another blogger, for fun I've marked in bold the 114 I have seen.  

Factoid: The list below is almost certainly unique--with 250 entries which could be bold or not, there are more than a googol (10100) possible lists! (More precisely, the number is  2250 which is about 10108.) 

  1. The Godfather (1972)
  2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  3. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
  4. Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo,
    (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) (1966)
  5. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  6. Schindler's List (1993)
  7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  8. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  9. Casablanca (1942)
  10. Shichinin no samurai
    (The Seven Samurai) (1954)
  11. Star Wars (1977)
  12. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  13. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  14. Rear Window (1954)
  15. Goodfellas (1990)
  16. Cidade de Deus (City of God) (2002)
  17. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  18. The Lord of the Rings:
    The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  19. C’era una volta il West
    (Once Upon a Time in the West) (1968)
  20. The Usual Suspects (1995)
  21. Psycho (1960)
  22. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop
    Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
  23. Fight Club (1999)
  24. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  25. Citizen Kane (1941)
  26. North by Northwest (1959)
  27. Memento (2000)
  28. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  29. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
  30. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  31. The Matrix (1999)
  32. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  33. There Will Be Blood (2007)
  34. Se7en (1995)
  35. Apocalypse Now (1979)
  36. Taxi Driver (1976)
  37. American Beauty (1999)
  38. Léon (The Professional) (1994)
  39. Vertigo (1958)
  40. Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
    (Amélie) (2001)
  41. American History X (1998)
  42. The Departed (2006)
  43. Paths of Glory (1957)
  44. M (1931)
  45. No Country for Old Men (2007)
  46. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  47. Das Leben der Anderen
    (The Lives of Others) (2006)
  48. Chinatown (1974)
  49. The Third Man (1949)
  50. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  51. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  52. Alien (1979)
  53. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
  54. El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) (2006)
  55. The Shining (1980)
  56. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi
    (Spirited Away) (2001)
  57. The Pianist (2002)
  58. Double Indemnity (1944)
  59. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
  60. Forrest Gump (1994)
  61. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  62. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  63. L.A. Confidential (1997)
  64. Das Boot (1981)
  65. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  66. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  67. Der Untergang
    (The Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich) (2004)
  68. Aliens (1986)
  69. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  70. Raging Bull (1980)
  71. Metropolis (1927)
  72. Rashômon (1950)
  73. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  74. Modern Times (1936)
  75. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
  76. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  77. Sin City (2005)
  78. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  79. Rebecca (1940)
  80. Det Sjunde inseglet
    (The Seventh Seal) (1957)
  81. All About Eve (1950)
  82. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  83. City Lights (1931)
  84. Amadeus (1984)
  85. On the Waterfront (1954)
  86. La Vita è bella (Life Is Beautiful) (1997)
  87. The Great Escape (1963)
  88. Touch of Evil (1958)
  89. The Prestige (2006)
  90. The Elephant Man (1980)
  91. Jaws (1975)
  92. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
  93. The Sting (1973)
  94. Nuovo cinema Paradiso
    (Cinema Paradiso) (1988)
  95. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
  96. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
  97. The Apartment (1960)
  98. Braveheart (1995)
  99. The Great Dictator (1940)
  100. Blade Runner (1982)
  101. Strangers on a Train (1951)
  102. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  103. Batman Begins (2005)
  104. Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) (1948)
  105. Le Salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear) (1953)
  106. High Noon (1952)
  107. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
  108. Ran (1985)
  109. The Big Sleep (1946)
  110. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  111. Notorious (1946)
  112. Back to the Future (1985)
  113.             Oldboy (2003)
  114. Fargo (1996)
  115.             Unforgiven (1992)
  116. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  117. Donnie Darko (2001)
  118. Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke) (1997)
  119. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
  120. Ratatouille (2007)
  121. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
  122. Yojimbo (1961)
  123. Per qualche dollaro in più
    (For a Few Dollars More ) (1965)
  124. The Green Mile (1999)
  125. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
  126. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  127. Le Notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria) (1957)
  128. Gladiator (2000)
  129. La Battaglia di Algeri
    (The Battle of Algiers) (1966)
  130. Into the Wild (2007)
  131. Die Hard (1988)
  132. Annie Hall (1977)
  133. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  134. Ben-Hur (1959)
  135. It Happened One Night (1934)
  136. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  137. Platoon (1986)
  138. The General (1927)
  139. Life of Brian (1979)
  140. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
  141.           The Killing (1956)
  142. Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) (1957)
  143. Les Diaboliques (1955)
  144. Amores perros (Love’s a Bitch) (2000)
  145. Finding Nemo (2003)
  146. The Incredibles (2004)
  147. V for Vendetta (2005)
  148. Heat (1995)
  149. The Wild Bunch (1969)
  150. Children of Men (2006)
  151.             Brief Encounter (1945)
  152. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  153. 8½ (1963)
  154. The Princess Bride (1987)
  155. The Graduate (1967)
  156. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
  157.             The Night of the Hunter (1955)
  158. The Big Lebowski (1998)
  159. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
  160. Juno (2007)
  161.           Crash (2004/I)
  162. Stand by Me (1986)
  163. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  164. Gandhi (1982)
  165. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  166. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  167. Snatch. (2000)
  168. Harvey (1950)
  169. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
  170. Kill Bill: Vol. 2
  171. The African Queen (1951)
  172. The Thing (1982)
  173. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  174. Trainspotting (1996)
  175. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  176. The Gold Rush (1925)
  177. Wo hu cang long
    (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) (2000)
  178. Groundhog Day (1993)
  179. Le Belle et la bête
    (Beauty and the Beast) (1946)
  180. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  181.             Scarface (1983)
  182. The Conversation (1974)
  183. Patton (1970)
  184. American Gangster (2007)
  185. Duck Soup (1933)
  186. Toy Story (1995)
  187. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens
    (Nosferatu) (1922)
  188. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  189. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
  190. Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari
    (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) (1920)
  191. The Terminator (1984)
  192. Sleuth (1972)
  193. Umberto D. (1952)
  194. The Hustler (1961)
  195. Stalker (1979)
  196. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  197. Glory (1989)
  198. Ed Wood (1994)
  199. King Kong (1933)
  200. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
  201. The Lion King (1994)
  202. The Exorcist (1973)
  203. Hotaru no haka (Tombstone for Fireflies) (1988)
  204. Spartacus (1960)
  205. Grindhouse (2007)
  206. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  207. The Lost Weekend (1945)
  208. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
  209. The Lady Vanishes (1938)
  210. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
  211.             Magnolia (1999)
  212. Stalag 17 (1953)
  213. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  214. Lola rennt (Run, Lola, Run) (1998)
  215. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  216. Frankenstein (1931)
  217. Big Fish (2003)
  218. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
  219. Out of the Past (1947)
  220. Casino (1995)
  221. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
  222. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
  223. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  224. Mystic River (2003)
  225. Du rififi chez les hommes (Rififi) (1955)
  226. Toy Story 2 (1999)
  227. Once (2006)
  228. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
  229. Hot Fuzz (2007)
  230. A Christmas Story (1983)
  231. Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs) (2002)
  232. Ikiru (Living) (1952)
  233. Dial M for Murder (1954)
  234. Manhattan (1979)
  235. Rope (1948)
  236. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  237. Young Frankenstein (1974)
  238. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
  239. Roman Holiday (1953)
  240. Les Quatre cents coups
    (The Four Hundred Blows) (1959)
  241. His Girl Friday (1940)
  242. The Searchers (1956)
  243. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
  244. Ying xiong (Hero) (2002)
  245. In Cold Blood (1967)
  246. La Strada (The Road) (1954)
  247. Le Samouraï (The Godson) (1967)
  248. Pirates of the Caribbean:
    The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
  249. Harold and Maude (1971)
  250. La Haine (Hate) (1995)


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama Sets Forth His Foreign Policy

Yesterday, just one day after his speech on race, Barack Obama spoke in North Carolina on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war and set forth his vision and five-point plan for foreign policy.  It is a logically argued, hopeful, powerful political speech.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Speech on Race

Here is a video of Senator Barack Obama's speech on race in response to the controversy surrounding his pastor, Rev. Wright.  Below is a transcript. Please listen to or read the whole thing—it is a candid and thoughtful argument that suffers if digested in small bites.  [If you need a downloadble file, I don't where one can get the whole speech, but here is a PBS NewsHour page with a  downloadable file with some excerpts of the speech and analysis (which I did not find that useful).]  Barack asks us to confront difficult issues and reject the politics of division. 


Philadelphia, PA | March 18, 2008
As Prepared for Delivery

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union." 

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787. 

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations. 

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time. 

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time. 

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren. 

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story. 

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible. 

It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one. 

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans. 

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn. 

On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike. 

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed. 

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam. 

As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all. 

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way 

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS. 

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity: 

"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters....And in that single note - hope! - I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories - of survival, and freedom, and hope - became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about...memories that all people might study and cherish - and with which we could start to rebuild." 

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America. 

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years. 

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. 

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love. 

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias. 

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality. 

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American. 

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. 

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students. 

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments - meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities. 

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods - parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement - all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us. 

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them. 

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings. 

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races. 

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time. 

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism. 

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding. 

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own. 

But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union. 

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny. 

Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change. 

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow. 

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper. 

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well. 

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies. 

We can do that. 

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change. 

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time. 

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together. 

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit. 

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned. 

I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election. 

There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today - a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta. 

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there. 

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom. 

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat. 

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too. 

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice. 

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley." 

"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children. 

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.