"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman." Virginia Woolf

Monday, October 15, 2007

Alabama Code, Section 13A-12-200.2, 4, 12

Distribution, possession with intent to distribute, production, etc., of obscene material prohibited; penalties; distribution of fines.
(a)(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly distribute, possess with intent to distribute, or offer or agree to distribute any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for any thing of pecuniary value. Material not otherwise obscene may be obscene under this section if the distribution of the material, the offer to do so, or the possession with the intent to do so is a commercial exploitation of erotica solely for the sake of prurient appeal. Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) and may also be imprisoned in the county jail or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than one year. A second or subsequent violation of this subdivision is a Class C felony if the second or subsequent violation occurs after a conviction has been obtained for a previous violation. Upon a second violation, a corporation or business entity shall be fined not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) nor more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person, being a wholesaler, to knowingly distribute, possess with intent to distribute, or offer or agree to distribute, for the purpose of resale or commercial distribution at retail, any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for any thing of pecuniary value. Material not otherwise obscene may be obscene under this section if the distribution of the material, the offer to do so, or the possession with the intent to do so is a commercial exploitation of erotica solely for the sake of their prurient appeal. Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) and may also be imprisoned in the county jail or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than one year. A second or subsequent violation of this subdivision is a Class C felony if the second or subsequent violation occurs after a conviction has been obtained for a previous violation. Upon a second violation, a corporation or business entity shall be fined not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) nor more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

(3) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly produce, or offer or agree to produce, any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for any thing of pecuniary value. Material not otherwise obscene may be obscene under this section if the distribution of the material, the offer to do so, or the possession with the intent to do so is a commercial exploitation of erotica solely for the sake of prurient appeal. Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a Class C felony.

(4) If a person is held under this section in the county jail, one-half of any fines collected and due to be deposited to the State General Fund for violations of this section shall be paid by the Comptroller to the general fund of the county where the person is held for the operation of the county jail.
(Acts 1989, No. 89-402, p. 791, §4; Act 98-467, p. 893, §6.)

Prurient Appeal: Under the Miller v. California decision of the US Supreme Court, prurient interest appeal is determined by the average person applying contemporary community standards, that is, an average person must find that a given work appeals to the prurient interest of someone, not necessarily to the prurient interest of the average factfinder. The appeal to material's intended and probable recipient group is the determinative factor. Generally, the standard applied is the average adult standard. It is error to focus only on the most sensitive, least sensitive or younger members of the community. However, where the material is aimed at a deviant segment of society, it should be judged by its impact upon that group.

Definition of Prurient: marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire; especially : marked by, arousing, or appealing to sexual desire

Section 13A-12-200.4

Affirmative defenses.
It shall be an affirmative defense to a charge of violating Sections 13A-12-200.2 and 13A-12-200.3 that the act charged was done for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement purpose.
Section 13A-12-200.12
Special operating license for adult-only enterprises; advertisement; revocation of license.

(a) Any business establishment that operates as an "adult bookstore," "adult movie house," "adult video store," or other form of adult-only entertainment enterprise shall obtain in addition to any licenses required by existing law a special operating license, except that a video rental store that does not engage predominantly in and whose principle business is not the sale or rental of adult material, if it is maintained in compliance with Section 13A-12-200.5(2) or is located in an area restricted to adults. Persons who apply for the license shall provide on the application detailed information concerning ownership and financing, and pay an investigation fee of five hundred dollars ($500) to the county or municipality wherein the business establishment will be located.

(b) If granted the license, the local government, in its discretion, may restrict the type of advertisement that the business establishment can display outside the establishment.

(c) The license shall be revoked if the business establishment is convicted of violating this division.

(Act 98-467, p. 893, §8.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Third Wave and the Electronic Medium

For the last few days, I have been having a conversation with a professor about the the pros and cons of using Myspace, Facebook, Blogger, and Yahoo!Groups to promote and rely information about my university's feminist group. ..and what finds its way onto the Feministing blog today but how young feminists are connecting through the internet.

Myspace and Facebook are the trendiest of the group and probably what most 18-22 year old collegiate women are using these days. Blogger is not as socially driven and Yahoo!Groups is less suited to casual glances and scanning and to be effective, the people on the list must regularly contribute and read what others contribute. Myspace and Facebook take less effort by integrating social networking, flexible (though imperfect) design, video clips, and music into easily scannable profiles. They are much more interactive than other electronic communication options.

The downside to all of these options is, of course, that it requires an internet connection and access to a computer. For some of the students that attend my university, that is not a viable option. Access to computers and the internet has expanded dramatically over the last ten years and will continue to do so, but it cannot be expected that every latent or active feminist out there has regular internet access. Confining our communication to the internet or relying so heavily on it might result in a certain elitism, certainly less exclusive than previous generations, but it's definitely still out there.

The internet is becoming a defining utility and community of this generation. It is impossible to escape it. So what do we do about the people who are left out of it that still have a lot of themselves to give to this movement? How can we keep up with each other if our means of communications are so separate?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mobile since August 13, 2007My last blog was a little disorganized and I didn't really take the time with it that I usually do when writing a blog.

Mobile since August 13, 2007

Big thanks to Tyler and James for helping me get my stuff out of the UHaul and into the house. Your help was very much appreciated. And of course, moving day had to be eventful somehow*. Well, it was no hurricane but it was a torrential downpour that started about five minutes after the UHaul pulled into the parking lot next to the townhouse. I have never moved in a torrential downpour before, but let me tell you, it was not a lot of fun. And because I am just that lucky, the rain stopped approximately five minutes after the UHaul pulled away from the townhouse.

*Note: The first time I moved to Mobile: July 2, 2005, my roommate had a nervous breakdown from which he has yet to fully recover and Mobile County went through "mandatory evacuation" for Hurricane Dennis and I had to leave like two days later. Two months later, when I convinced my landlord to let me break my lease at the house, I moved into an apartment at Lafayette Square. My parents drove off with the Uhaul at approximately 4 p.m., by 10 a.m. the next morning I had lost power due to Hurricane Katrina and got to experience my first hurricane with little to no supplies.

It is unbelievably good to be back in school. I cannot express in words how happy I am so just think of it as a glow. I am all aglow. My nine hours this semester are: Comparative Nationalism with Mara Kozelsky, 20th Century US History with John Turner, and Major European Thinkers with Michael Monheit. Comparative Nationalism will probably turn out to be my favorite class this semester simply because of the subject matter. My major research paper will probably be Irish Nationalism and Gender, focusing on the involvement of women in the IRA and the independent groups they formed in response to the sexism they experienced within the larger nationalist organizations. US History involves a lot of small assignments which I do not enjoy as much as larger research projects, but we are talking a lot about religion in the US, which is a important subject to me and the other graduate teaching assistants are also taking it so there is a lot of camaraderie. Major European Thinkers will probably be my most challenging class because my history education has been fairly light on theory and this is more or less a philosophy course. My research paper will probably end up being on Simone de Beauvoir because of her work on feminism.

The teaching assistantship is turning out to be a lot of fun. It is a wonderful opportunity to make friends in the department and to get a new perspective on the department. It helps when I work with such kickin' people. On Saturday afternoon, I attended a speaking engagement organized by Feminists for Progress, the on-campus feminist group. The speaker was the Alabama president of the National Organization of Women. She spoke in hopes of inspiring a reorganization and rebuilding of the Mobile chapter. I will probably end up joining both the Mobile NOW chapter and the on campus group. Since both will be/are relatively new organizations, there is a lot of potential for growth and flexibility, a good chance for me to get my feet wet.

Outlook is pretty optimistic at the moment. Just have a good feeling about my direction in life. I do not feel as restless as I have been feeling for the past fifteen months or so which says something because I have been close to jumpin' ship many a day and saying to hell with all of my plans. But I am finally in a stable situation where I am doing something I love, I am around people I like,  and the work I am doing is leading me to better things. What I need to do now is to maintain my focus on school, work on building and maintaining healthy friendships, and be more consistent with my work out routine (which should and optimistically will involve): aerobic exercise 3-5 days a week, yoga/pilates at least 2 days a week, weights at least 2 days a week, which will lead me to where I want to be physically.

Perhaps it is my general optimism that leads me to this. After 16 months of being single, I think I am in a position mentally and emotionally to actually begin and maintain a good relationship. That being said, I do not think I will be jumping into anything carelessly, but the idea of a relationship does not send me running for the hills anymore and being emotionally involved with another person does not seem quite as intimidating as it did a year ago. So anything could happen.

Last night was BeerFest in Mobile. It was a lot of fun. Had quite a bit of good beer, cannot say I actually had a bad sample. BrewFest in Birmingham this summer had a better selection of beers but I wish I had gone to the night session instead of the afternoon session. And speaking of beer festivals, there is another festival in Pensacola on September 15th. The biggest advantage to this festival over BrewFest and BeerFest is that Florida does not have the same restrictive beer laws that Alabama does so there will be a selection of beers available to try that I have not had the opportunity to try yet. Additionally, several homebrewers' organizations will be there with their beers, so the variety is potentially endless and there is a good chance there will be beers available at this beer festival that are not offered at any other time during the year. So, just saying, it would be a unique experience to say the least, particularly for an Alabama resident who loves beer.

The Keys to Your Heart
You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.

In love, you feel the most alive when things are straight-forward, and you're told that you're loved.

You'd like to your lover to think you are loyal and faithful... that you'll never change.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was ruthless, cold-blooded, and sarcastic.

Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets.

Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

You think of marriage as something precious. You'll treasure marriage and treat it as sacred.

In this moment, you think of love as something you thirst for. You'll do anything for love, but you won't fall for it easily.

Friday, August 24, 2007

LifeSo I'm pretty happy with the way things are going right now. I've been having trouble sleeping lately, but you know why? Because I'm so anxious for the next day to be here so I can live it that I don't want to have to deal with that boring little thing called sleep. That's a pretty vast change from the way I felt about sleep say... three months ago.

This semester is going to be a bitch. The nine hours I'm taking in school aren't going to be easy and I've never had these professors before so I'm up for testing and trials. Still, I am more optimistic about the future than I have been in quite some time. The classes I'm taking are pretty interesting. 20th century US History, Comparative Nationalism, and Major European Thinkers. Not sure what I'll do in my US History class but I think my research paper in Comp Nat'l will be on women's activism and identity within Irish Nationalism. GoogleBooks and WorldCat pull up some pretty good books so if I can either get them through ILL or amazon/alibris for cheap, I'll be pretty happy.

Another good thing. Beer Fest. Excited about it. Going downtown with several members of the history department. Should prove to be fun and more than a little interesting.

And.. the Alabama NOW president is speaking at the UU Fellowship tomorrow at 2pm. I plan on going, think it will be good for me to meet the USA Feminists for Progress. See what kind of group they have going.

Think I'll get started on my readings for next week or finish cataloguing my books on GoodReads. Will report fully on BeerFest sometime Sunday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Boston was...

was amazing. I had a great time catching up with Jamie and Clayton. It's been a long time coming.

I also: had a world class dinner at the Boston Harbor Hotel, went whale watching, walked all over the city of Boston, wandered through the stacks at Harvard's main research library, people-watched and took silly pictures at MIT, enjoyed some delicious and completely new-to-me beer, met some great people (some of whom are from my own little corner of the world), and in general, had a smashing time that I hope to revisit sooner than later. Boston has not seen the last of me nor me of it if I have any say in the matter.

It's funny how some things come to people as easily as breathing does to others. It doesn't seem a matter of choosing but of acceptance. And with that comes a little peace.

P.S. First chance I get (when I can get this book out of storage), I’m re-reading this: Bauschatz, Paul: The Well and the Tree: World and Time in Early Germanic Culture, University of Mass, Amherst, 1982.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Tortoise and the Hippo

Owen and Mzee's Blog

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Jason Lynx
Date: Jun 28, 2007 9:12 PM

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NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the

tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong

bond with a giant male century-old tortoise in an animal

facility in the port city of Mombassa , officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about

300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki

River into the Indian Ocean , then forced back to shore

when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on

December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.
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"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a

male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to

be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu,

who is in charge of Lafarge Park , told AFP.

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"After it was swept away and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized.

It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother.

Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond.

They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added.

"The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it followed its mother.

If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive,

as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added.
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"The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and

by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their

mothers for four years," he explained.
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but by the moments that take our breath away."
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This is a real story that shows that our differences don't matter

much when we need the comfort of another.

We could all learn a lesson from these two creatures.

"Look beyond the differences and find a way to walk the path together."

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The strength of a unique male bond between a young hippopotamus and a 130-year-old tortoise will be tested later this spring when conservation workers introduce a female hippo to the mix.
The pending introduction serves as an intriguing plot twist to the unlikely story of a hippo and tortoise brought together at Haller Park wildlife sanctuary in Mombasa, Kenya, in the wake of the December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami. The conservationists hope the two hippos will bond with no objection from the tortoise, named Mzee. Such an outcome will allow Mzee's return to the safety of his original enclosure.
While other tortoises, monkeys, and antelope roam in that enclosure, Mzee has shown no affection toward any of them. But he has surprisingly become attached to the young hippo, Owen.
Owen, who weighed an estimated 660 pounds (300 kilograms) when he arrived at the park, was two-thirds the size of Mzee. He is now twice Mzee's size and still growing.
"He will grow to anywhere between three and four tons—he's gonna be a big male hippopotamus," said Paula Kahumbu, the general manager of Lafarge Ecosystems, the Kenyan environmental restoration firm that manages the wildlife sanctuary.
"He's already quite playful, already quite strong," she said. "He could injure Mzee at any moment. He's very childlike in his behavior. As he gets older he will get rougher. Mzee is not a flexible animal—he could be injured."
But how Mzee and Owen will react to the presence of Cleo, the female hippo, and a subsequent separation is unknown, Kahumbu said. If one cannot live without the other, some sort of accommodations will be made.
Tsunami Friends
For now, the hippo and tortoise are best buddies. The story of their friendship, formed in the wake of the tsunami, has been helping people in the region cope with their own losses, Kahumbu said.
When the giant waves struck the coast of Kenya, Owen was wallowing with his herd in the ocean near the mouth of the Sabaki River. Too small to escape the waves with his family, he was stranded on a coral reef.
The next day residents of the village of Malindi rescued Owen with fishing nets.
But his rescuers were unable to simply reintroduce Owen to another pod of hippopotamuses, because the oldest male would see him as a threat and kill him.
Conservationists therefore decided to transport Owen to Haller Park, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. There the hippo immediately ran to Mzee, a 130-year-old Aldabran tortoise who resides at the Haller Park sanctuary. The park is a restored ecosystem that also serves as an orphanage for abandoned wildlife.
At first the tortoise wanted nothing to do with the hippo, but Owen persisted. Some conservationists suggest that Owen, in search of a mother figure, may have been attracted to Mzee's round shape and gray color, which resemble an adult hippo.
The first night at the sanctuary, Owen fell asleep next to Mzee. The following morning photographer Peter Greste took a picture of the pair, which was subsequently published in newspapers around the world.
Hans Klingel is a zoology professor at the University of Braunschweig in Germany and an authority on hippopotamus behavior. He said given hippos' social nature, Owen's attraction to Mzee makes sense.
"They are social animals," he said in an email. "In that sense, they join whoever is available."
In the year since the tsunami struck, the bond between hippo and tortoise has strengthened, and now the two are inseparable. They rouse each other for meals, spend hours wallowing in the pond together, and snuggle up side by side each night.
According to Haller Park staff, Owen behaves more like a tortoise than a hippo. He eats tortoise food, such as leaves and carrots, and ignores the grasses that hippos normally consume. He sleeps at night, not during the day as wild hippos do. And he doesn't respond to hippo calls.
While Owen's attraction to Mzee may be explained by a baby's need for a mother figure, tortoises are not known for affectionate or social behavior, Kahumbu said.
Nevertheless, Mzee follows Owen around, nudges him to go for walks, initiates play in the water, and even stretches his neck out so Owen can give him a lick.
There has been growing evidence of physical communication between the pair, with Owen nibbling Mzee's back feet to get him to walk in a desired direction. The two have even developed a sort of vocal communication of their own, Kahumbu said.
The vocalizations are not the honking of hippos or the grunts and hisses of tortoises, but rather a soft whimpering that emanates from one and is mimicked by the other.
"It's very high pitched; definitely not a stomach sound, as some had suggested," Kahumbu said. "They're vocalizing towards each other."
What the animals are trying to communicate is not yet understood, but researchers think it is a contact call made to get the other's attention.
Introducing Cleo
Concerned that Owen's affection for Mzee may lead to an unintended injury, Kahumbu and colleagues are constructing a new enclosure at the sanctuary for Owen and the female hippo, Cleo.
The researchers hope Owen and Cleo will bond and take to their new grounds, which will be in the public view. They are also trying to accustom Owen to the presence of humans.
The move is expected to take place this April or May. At that time Mzee will be moved with Owen to the new enclosure to help keep the young hippo calm.
Once the two hippos are comfortable with each other, Mzee will be returned to his original grounds with other tortoises.
"We hope Mzee will not be too traumatized by being separated from Owen," Kahumbu said.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Elizabeth Ann (Bess or Bessie) Carter Smith Carson (12/7/1897).

Here's what I know:

Name: Elizabeth Ann Carter, later Smith, later Carson
Born: 12/7/1897 (or 1898) [SSDI]
Died: 3/16/1967 in Michigan [SSDI]

Marriage One: James Elias Smith, approx 1918 [JES WWI draft card]

Marriage Two: Alfred Ray Carson, approx 1940 [Port Arthur News, June 1940]

1900 Census: Bess lived in Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas. Lived with father W. Sherman Carter (b. July 1865), his mother Ann (b. Feb. 1832), siblings: Clara (Nov.? 1891), Matilda (Sept. 1892), Myrtle(?) (May 1895). Lists no mother, which makes me think that Bess' mother had died by then.

1910 Census: Bess lived in Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas. Lived with father W. Sherman Carter, his wife Ada M., and her siblings: Clara (18?), Tillie (16), William (5), James (3), Richard (2), Kelley (sp?)(1). All of the children were born in Arkansas.
W. Sherman Carter, born approx. 1865, born in Tennessee. Father born in Virginia, Mother born in Kentucky. Contractor/brickworks. The 1880 Census puts him (or who I assume is him) puts him living in Martins Store, Weakley County, TN with his mother Ann, father William, and two sisters: Sophia/Sofia (19) and Delia (12). [Died after 1956. He is fairly light complexioned, similarly to my father (the young teenager on the left), so I assume my great-grandmother's complexion and Native American heritage come from her mother's side of the family. I could be wrong, of course.] Below are links to pictures of my great, great grandfather:

--Sometime between 1910-1920, she had lost her left arm and right leg due to blood poisoning.

1920 Census: Bess lived in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas. Lived with James Elias Smith and their three children. According to the this census, her father was born in Kentucky and her mother born in Tennessee.

--Last child was born 1927. Husband James Elias Smith died/disappeared between 1927-1930.

1930 Census: Bess lived in El Paso, was a house servant for an Earl Barron. Shows that she is a widow. Her children stayed in the El Paso Protestant Children's Home. Her children are/were: James Everett Smith, Sr. (my grandfather), Clara Nell, Mabel Irene, Edward Charles, Annie Laurie, Wilma, and William Carter.

-1933-1940: Bess took children out of children's home and moved them to Port Arthur. Grandfather James Everett Smith joined CCC then the army.

1940-lived in Port Arthur, married Alfred Ray Carson, staff Sargent in US Army, born approximately 1912.

-lived in Port Arthur, TX for many years, then after death of A.R. Carson, moved to Michigan with son, Edward Charles.

-died 1967 in Michigan.

Notes: She was dark complexioned and my dad says that she was part Native American, but he doesn't know how much so or from what side of the family. Below are two links to pictures of my great-grandmother in 1942 with my aunt Patricia.

Questions: How did a double amputee marry a staff Sargent from a well known Port Arthur family who was 14 years younger than her? How did she meet him when she was living in Little Rock, then El Paso, neither of which are close to Port Arthur (east coast of Texas near Galveston)? Who was Bess' mother? Where was William Sherman Carter in 1870?

Posted to: Carter, Miller AR, Arkansas Genealogical Society, Arkansas Family History Association

Monday, June 4, 2007

Update as of June 4, 2007


It's almost June. Less than three months and counting until I move to

I alternate between wanting to be in Mobile-yesterday and wanting to put it off indefinitely. It's pretty much been this way since March/April.

I've met some amazing people in the last nine months, but
Birmingham seems to be a place of transition for most of them as well. My hope is that I can keep in touch with them, so when we all end up moving again (as I know I will do within the next two years), we may cross paths while we do so.

It seems impossible for me to stay still. My restlessness has only gotten worse in the last twelve months, as I'm sure I've mentioned more than once already. Because of this inclination, I think I have become a more unreliable (or less dependable) person. This may explain why I have met so many amazing people, but to some extent either I have held them or been held by them at a distance. Perhaps these people are just as restless as I am and in as much a period of transition as I am and so we are all holding the world at a distance. Maybe I only wish it is so because I hope there are other people craving and fearing emotional intimacy, as I am. I envy those who can fall back on consistency. I miss being around people who know me and who I know but we are all so scattered now.

As some of you may know, in the last month or so, I had to make an emergency family trip to
Dallas. My aunt went into a swift decline, after battling breast cancer on and off for 16 years, and passed on May 12, 2007. The sadness was tempered by a fight well fought; there is no one that could have fought harder and longer to stay with her family than my aunt did.

While I was in
Texas, I had the opportunity to visit my sister and niece. My sister, for the first time since she was 19, is now Melissa Anne Smith again. I am proud of her for reclaiming her family name, I hope it will be a source of strength and pride for her. Gods know, she needs the strength right now. My niece, Michaela, is going into the second grade this August and she is amazingly smart.

I have a few trips coming up before I move to Mobile. I just booked my flight a few minutes ago. I will be in Boston July 12-16 to visit my friends Clayton and Jamie. Jamie and I became fast friends in seventh grade P.E. because we were both too smart for our own good (or at least we thought so) and feminists to boot. Clayton and I met rather strangely in eighth grade, and maybe it's because we had such an unusual friendship in middle and high school that we have been able to keep up the way we do. It never seems to matter that we sometimes go two-six months without speaking, I still feel like he gets it and is one of the few that do. So I'm extremely excited about July and Boston. I love the new friends I've made in Birmingham, but there's just something about being around people who have known you for more or less half of your life and these are the only two non-family members in my life who can say that.

Then in August, or perhaps also in July, I will probably be making a trip to
Seattle to visit Chris. I need to sit down with him and talk about specific dates, but it will probably be right before my next move, after I've given notice at my job. Chris is one of those amazing people I've met in Birmingham in the last nine months, but unfortunately, he moved to Seattle a little over a month or so ago. Not that I will mind visiting him in Seattle
at all. It sounds like a wonderful city and I might even be able to see my friends Kat and KrisTina while I'm there. I was able to see KrisTina briefly when she visited Andrew and Jane last fall, but I haven't seen Kat since I visited Southlake in December 2001.

I am incredibly excited about my move to
. Finishing my master's degree has only become more important in my mind in the last year. I feel used up as a secretary. Having the graduate assistantship sounds immeasurably better. I've spoken with the professor I'll be assisting and the other T.A.'s for next year. They're a bunch of neat guys, though I think I might be the only female. It should make for an interesting year.

And getting to see Adam and Toni and Brannon and Eric again will be so great. I haven't been back to
Mobile since I moved last August and I do miss them. James and I will be sharing a townhouse near my old apartment complex, which is right down the street from the YMCA, a Starbucks, the local Barnes & Noble, etc. My friend Natalie from Birmingham might/will probably be moving to Pensacola sometime this fall and she might not be the only member of the Birmingham
crew moving down to the coast.

The future is still pretty murky right now and I'm not sure when it will clear. The unknowns in this equation definitely outweigh the knowns. I am staying as optimistic as I can be, knowing that when it doubt, books and hermitage are still fairly appealing to me.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Is Nancy Pelosi a bitch? I want your opinions.

Is Nancy Pelosi a bitch?

I'm very interested in seeing women achieving high positions in politics.

I'm also surprised when I hear women, not defending female politicians, but attacking them for being "bitchy".

Today at work: "Nancy Pelosi might as well be a man. She's such a bitch. If I had known she was going to be such a bitch, I would've rather seen a man in the position. She's totally turned me off. Why does she have to be so confrontational? So argumentative? Why does she have to talk so much? God, I can't stand her tone of voice. I don't like George Bush but I didn't think I would dislike a woman that much. I dislike her almost as much as I dislike Hilary."

So is Nancy Pelosi a bitch? If she were a man, would she be called an asshole? What makes her a bitch? Her aggressive personality? How should she act? If acting aggressive is being a man, then she should be more passive? Is that what women want out of female politicians?

So what's the story morning glory? What do y'all think?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Declaration of Rights for Women by NAWSA, July 4, 1876

While the nation is buoyant with patriotism, and all hearts are attuned to praise, it is with sorrow we come to strike the one discordant note, on this one-hundredth anniversary of our country's birth. When subjects of kings, emperors, and czars from the old world join in our national jubilee, shall the women of the republic refuse to lay their hands with benedictions on the nation's head? Surveying America's exposition, surpassing in magnificence those of London, Paris, and Vienna, shall we not rejoice at the success of the youngest rival among the nations of the earth? May not our hearts, in unison with all, swell with pride at or great achievements as a people; our free speech, free press, free schools, free church, and the rapid progress we have made in material wealth, trade, commerce and the inventive arts? And we do rejoice in the success, thus far, of our experiment of self-government. Our faith is firm and unwavering in the broad principles of human rights proclaimed in 1776, not only as abstract truths, but as the cornet stones of a republic. Yet we cannot forget, even in this glad hour, that while all men of every race, and clime, and condition, have been invested with the full rights of citizenship under our hospitable flag, all women still suffer the degradation of disfranchisement.

The history of our country the past one hundred years has been a series of assumptions and usurpations of power over woman, in direct opposition to the principles of just government, acknowledged by the United States as its foundations, which are:

First - the natural rights of each individual.
Second - the equality of these rights.
Third - that rights not delegated are retained by the individual
Fourth - that no person can exercise the rights of others without delegated authority
Fifth - that the non-use of rights does not destroy them
And for the violation of these fundamental principles of our government, we arraign our rulers on this Fourth day of July, 1876, - and these are our articles of impeachment:

Bills of attainder have been passed by the introduction of the word "male" into all the State constitutions, denying to women the right of suffrage, and thereby making sex a crime - an exercise of power clearly forbidden in article I, sections 9, 10, of the United States constitution.

The writ of habeas corpus, the only protection against lettres de cachet and all forms of unjust imprisonment, which the constitution declares "shall not be suspended, except in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety demands it," is held inoperative in every State of the Union, in case of a married woman against her husband - the marital rights of the husband being in all cases primary, and the rights of the wife secondary.

The right of trial by jury of one's peers was so jealously guarded that States refused to ratify the original constitution until it was guaranteed by the sixth amendment. And yet the women of this nation have never been allowed a jury of their peers - being tried in all cases by men, native and foreign, educated and ignorant, virtuous and vicious. Young girls have been arraigned in our courts for the crime of infanticide; tried, convicted, hanged - victims, perchance, of judge, jurors, advocated - while no woman's voice could be heard in their defense. And not only are women denied a jury of their peers, but in some cases, jury trial altogether. During the was, a woman was tried and hanged by military law, in defiance of the fifth amendment, which specifically declares: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital crime or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases . . . . of persons in actual service in time of war." During the last presidential campaign, a woman, arrested for voting, was denied the protection of a jury, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a fine and costs of prosecution, by the absolute power of a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Taxation without representation, the immediate cause of the rebellion of the colonies against Great Britain, is one of the grievous wrongs the women of this country have suffered during the century. Deploring war, with all the demoralization that follows in its train, we have been taxed to support standing armies, with their waste of life and wealth. Believing in temperance, we have been taxed to support the vice, crime, and pauperism of the liquor traffic. While we suffer its wrongs and abuses infinitely more than man, we have no power to protect our sons against this giant evil. During the temperance crusade, mothers were arrested, fined, imprisoned, for even praying and singing in the streets, while men blockaded the sidewalks with impunity, even on Sunday, with their military parades and political processions. Believing in honesty, we are taxed to support a dangerous army of civilians, buying and selling the offices of government and sacrificing the best interests of the people. And, moreover, we are taxed to support the very legislators and judges who make laws, and render decisions adverse to women. And for refusing to pay unjust taxation, the houses, lands, bonds, and stock of women have been seized and sold within the present year, thus proving Lord Coke's assertion, that "The very act of taxing a man's property without his consent is, in effect, disfranchising him of every civil right."

Unequal codes for men and women. Held by law a perpetual minor incapable of self-protection, even in the industries of the world, woman is denied equality of rights. The fact of sex, not the quantity or quality of work, in most cases, decides the pay and position; and because of this injustice thousands of fatherless girls are compelled to choose between a life of shame and starvation. Laws catering to man's vices have created two codes of morals in which penalties are graded according to the political status of the offender. Under such laws, women are fined and imprisoned if found alone in the streets, or in public places of resort, at certain hours. Under the pretense of regulating public morals, police officers seizing the occupants of disreputable houses, march the women in platoons to prison, while the men, partners in their guilt, go free. While making a show of virtue in forbidding the importation of Chinese women on the Pacific coast for immoral purposes, our rulers, in many States, and even under the shadow of the national capitol, are now proposing to legalize the sale of American womanhood for the same vile purposes.

Special legislation for woman has placed us in a most anomalous position. Women invested with the rights of citizens in one section - voters, jurors, office-holders - crossing an imaginary line, are subjects in the next. In some States, a married woman may hold property and transact business in her own name; in others, her earnings belong to her husband. In some Stated, a woman may testify against her husband, sue and be sued in courts; in others, she has no redress in case of damage to her person, property, or character. In case of divorce on account of adultery in the husband, the innocent wife is held to possess no right to children or property, unless by special decree of the court. But in no State of the Union has the wife the right to her own person, or to any part of the joint earnings of the co-partnership during the life of her husband. In some States women may enter law schools and practice in the courts; in others they are forbidden. In some universities girls enjoy equal educational advantages with boys, while many of the proudest institutions in the land deny them admittance, though the sons of China, Japan, and Africa re welcomed there. But the privileges already granted in the several States are by no means secure. The right of suffrage once exercised by women in certain States and territories has been denied by subsequent legislation. A bill is now pending in congress to disfranchise the women of Utah, thus interfering to deprive United States citizens of the same rights which the Supreme Court has declared the national government powerless to protect anywhere. Laws passed after years of untiring effort, guaranteeing married women certain rights of property, and mothers the custody of their children, have been repealed in States where we supposed all was safe. Thus have our most sacred rights been made the football of legislative caprice, proving that a power which grants as a privilege what by nature is a right, may withhold the same as a penalty when deeming it necessary for its own perpetuation.

Representation of woman has had no place in the nation's thought. Since the incorporation of the thirteen original States, twenty-four have been admitted to the Union, not one of which has recognized woman's right of self-government. On this birthday of our national liberties, July Fourth 1876, Colorado, like all her elder sisters, comes into the Union with the invidious word "male" in her constitution.

The judiciary above the nation has proved itself but the echo of the party in power, by upholding and enforcing laws that are opposed to the spirit and letter of the constitution. When the slave power was dominant, the Supreme Court decided that a black man was not a citizen, because he had not the right to vote; and when the constitution was so amended as to make all persons citizens, the same high tribunal decided that a woman, though a citizen, had not the right to vote. Such vacillating interpretations of constitutional law unsettle our faith in judicial authority, and undermine the liberties of the whole people.

These articles of impeachment against our rulers we now submit to the impartial judgment of the people. To all these wrongs and oppressions woman has not submitted in silence and resignation. From the beginning of the century, when Abigail Adams, the wife of one president and the mother of another, said, "We will not hold ourselves bound to obey laws in which we have no voice or representation," until now, woman's discontent has been steadily increasing, culminating nearly thirty years ago in a simultaneous movement among the women of the nation, demanding the right of suffrage. In making our just demands, a higher motive than the pride of sex inspires us; we feel that national safety and stability depend on the complete recognition of the broad principles of our government. Woman's degraded, helpless position is the weak point in our institutions to-day; a disturbing force everywhere, severing family ties, filling our asylums with the deaf, the dumb, the blind; our prisons with criminals, our cities with drunkenness and prostitution; our homes with disease and death. it was the boast of the founders of the republic, that the rights for which they contended were the rights of human nature. If these rights are ignored in the case of one-half the people, the nation is surely preparing for its downfall. Governments try themselves. The recognition of a governing and a governed class in incompatible with the first principles of freedom. Woman has not been a heedless spectator of the events of this century, not a dull listener to the grand arguments for the equal rights of humanity. From the earliest history of our country woman has shown equal devotion with man to the cause of freedom, and has stood firmly by his side in its defense. Together, they have made this country what it is. Woman's wealth, thought and labor have cemented the stones of every monument man has reared to liberty.

And now, at the close of a hundred years, as the hour hand of the great clock that marks the centuries points to 1876, we declare our faith in the principles of self-government; our full equality with man in natural rights; that woman was made first for her own happiness, with the absolute right to herself - to all the opportunities and advantages life affords for her complete development; and we deny that dogma of the centuries, incorporated in the codes of nations - that woman was made for man - her best interests, in all cases, to be sacrificed to his will. We ask of our rulers, at this hour, no special favors, no special privileges, no special legislation. We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Springtime means kittens

So, yeah spring is in the air. And it's really starting to become obvious:
a) Baby animals are starting to peek out
b) Plants, flowers, trees are blooming
c) My allergies are going freakin' nuts
d) Everybody seems to be hooking up, or at least, expressing a desire to do so

Enter Single Girl.

So I've been single for.. almost a year now (give or take a week). I haven't really expressed any sort of desire to be in a relationship since I've moved to Birmingham. The freedom is actually pretty refreshing. I'm not responsible for anyone's emotional well being. I never feel obligated to go out or stay in based on someone else's preferences. I can spend time with whomever I want, whenever I want, and don't feel awkward or wonder if someone else is comfortable with it. All in all, not a bad time.

And ok, I love Spring. Really: the moderate climate, the longer days, the breezy Sunday afternoons, crisp evenings.

But! For gods' sakes! It's (temporarily) making me reconsider my relationship status. Companionship, security, holding hands, knowing glances, cuddling on couches, meaningful sex. Starting to sound pretty good. Argh! But these are terrible reasons to get into a relationship, just for the purpose of fulfilling some subconscious biological desire. It'd be great for a month, but then what? It's like living at the beach. Oh man, being so close to the water and the sand and the sun.. oh, and then a frickin' hurricane comes and it doesn't sound so good to be near the water, the sand, and impending disaster. Ok, maybe that's a bit of a hyperbole, but still...

It's so peaceful being single. So uncomplicated. Why would I want to mess that up? Why indeed.

If only I was so easily convinced.

Warning: Feminist ranting ensues

Okay, feminist ranting may ensue.

It's Been Said: "You don't look like a feminist"?

It has been my experience that most men (no woman has ever questioned it) feel I do not look like a feminist. Or I don't talk like "one of those women." And I like men, right? Oh, then I'm definitely not like those lesbian feminazis.

Well guess what. Yeah, yeah, I kind'a am. And to my knowledge, the majority of feminists are hetereosexual women, though I cannot put my hands on the statistics to prove it. Either way, you'd be hard pressed to prove that I am (as a 5'3" fair complexioned, blonde, blue-eyed middle class graduate student) in anyway dissimilar from the demographics of feminists in the United States. In fact, first and second wave feminism had been criticized (by some third wave feminists) as being too white, too middle class, etc.

And then, because (though it's fairly representative of Third Wave Feminism) I wear bras, skirts, and sometimes make up, I don't refuse it when men open doors for men, and I am not afraid to speak frankly about sexuality, it is apparently hard for men to take me seriously as a feminist.

I'm not usually a ball-buster. I'm usually not, what I would even call for fun, a feminazi. I don't hate men. But I will bust your balls, I will strip you of your chauvinism and shove it down your throat, and I will educate you on your misconception if you laugh at my feminism and think the size of my breasts or the shape of my hips give you any right to disrespect me or disregard me. And I will look damn pretty doing it.

Note: The above only refers to chauvinist pigs who try to patronize and dictate scenarios without paying attention to whom they are disrespecting.

It's Been Said: "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." This is apparently misquoted from being in a speech given at the 1992 GOP convention. It is actually from a letter Pat Robertson wrote that was published in the Washington Post, opposing the Iowa Equal Rights Amendment. (See Post 23 August 1992).

Ok! I have no problem with women leaving their husbands (their monkey, not mine), practicing witcraft (ok, I'm Heathen, do you really think I would?), or becoming lesbians (I like men, but I'm cool with chicks that don't).

Destroying capitalism? I do not believe feminism as a philosophy or a movement seeks to do that. Amend capitalism, reform capitalism, etc., perhaps, but it's nothing social reformers haven't been doing for over a hundred years now.

Kill their children? I believe this is a ploy by Pat Robertson to connect abortion with murdering live human beings. I am completely opposed to murder, rape, the abuse/neglect of children, etc. Susan Smith (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Smith), Andrea Yates (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Yates), and Darlie Routier (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darlie_Routier) are mentally ill, co-dependant, etc. and hardly feminists. Abortion, however, is not murder. I can discuss, and given about 15 minutes of research, present accurate data about the types of abortive procedures usually performed and the misconceptions usually held by anti-choice activists (I refuse to use the term pro-life, as many of them use the term "pro-abortion", both of which are misleading terms, and this will probably appear in a later blog).

It's Been Said: Some chicks have a problem with being called feminists, because of the "connotations" it has.

Connotations? Well, when it all comes down to it, I'm sick of some of the connotations the word "woman" has. Or "liberal." Or… "democracy" even these days.

Though there are several feminist sub-cultures running around these days, there does seem to be a basic philosophy of, at least: truly equal protection under the law (hello 14th amendment), social, economic, and legal equality, fighting discrimination and double standards. You don't like the connotation of equality? Of being seen as something more than a vagina with legs? Go fuck yourself, you insult your species.

Go ahead, argue with me about this. I take no responsibility for your brain bleeding.

Coming Soon: My stances on corn subsidies, illegal immigration, American corporations, and fuel efficiency.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Were Vietnam vets really spit on as much as is commonly believed?

This came up in a recent conversation. I've tried to include articles from both sides of the argument.

Myth Making and Spitting Images from Vietnam

Vietnam déjà vu (Revisionists deny spitting on troops)

The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam

Spitting on Soldiers

The Myth of the Spat-Upon Veteran By Gabrielle Bernard, Winsted
(Article is no longer available, but google has it cached.)
Resolving The Spitting Debate

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Becoming the Third Wave by Rebecca Walker

I am not one of the people who sat transfixed before the television, watching the Senate hearings. I had class-es too to, papers to write, and frankly, the whole thing was too painful. A black man grilled by a panel of white men about his sexual deviance. A black woman claiming harassment and being discredited by other women…. I could not bring myself to watch that sensationalized assault of the human spirit.

To me, the hearings were not about determining whether or not Clarence Thomas did in fact harass Anita Hill. They were about checking and redefining the extent of women’s credibility and power.

Can a woman’s experience undermine a man’s career-, Can a woman’s voice, a woman’s sense of self-worth and injustice, challenge a structure predicated upon the subjugation of our gender Anita Hill’s testimony threatened to do that and more. If Thomas had not been confirmed, every man in the United States would be at risk. For how many senators never told a sexist Joke–How many men have not used their protected male privilege to thwart in some way the influence or ideas of a woman colleague, friend, or relative.

For those whose sense of power is so obviously connected to the health and vigor of the penis. it would have been a metaphoric castration. Of course this is too great a threat.

While some may laud the whole spectacle for the consciousness it raised around sexual harassment, its very real outcome is more informative. He was promoted. She was repudiated. Men were assured of the inviolabIlity of their penis/power. Women were admonished to keep their experiences to themselves.

The backlash against U.S. women is real. As the misconception of equality between the sexes becomes more ubiquitous, so does the attempt to restrict the boundaries of women’s personal and political power. Thomas’ confirmation, the ultimate rally of support for the male paradigm of harassment, sends a clear message to women: “Shut up! Even if you speak, we will not listen.”

I will not be silenced.

I acknowledge the fact that we live under siege. I intend to fight back. I have uncovered and unleashed more repressed anger than I thought possible. For the umpteenth time in my 22 years, I have been radicalized, politicized, shaker) awake. I have come to voice again, and this time my voice is not conciliatory.

The night after Thomas’s confirmation I ask the man I am intimate with what he thinks of the whole mess. His concern is primarily with Thomas’ propensity to demol-ish civil rights and opportunities for people of color. I launch into a tirade. “When will progressive black men prioritize my rights and well-being? When will they stop talking so damn much about ‘the race’ as if it revolved ex-clusively around them?” He tells me I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I scream “I need to know, are you with me or are you going to help them try to destroy me?”

A week later I am on a train to New York. A beautiful mother and daughter, both wearing green outfits, sit across the aisle from me. The little girl has tightly plait-ed braids. Her brown skin is glowing and smooth, her eyes bright as she chatters happily while looking out the window. Two men get on the train and sit directly be-hind me, shaking my seat as they thud into place. I bury myself in The Sound and the Fu7y. Loudly they begin to talk about women. “Man, I fucked that bitch all night and then I never called her again.” “Man, there’s lots of girlies over there, you know that ho, live over there by Tyrone’, Well, I snatched that shit up.” The mother moves closer to her now quiet daughter. Looking at her small back I can see that she is listening to the men. I am thinking of how I can transform the situ-ation, of all the people in the car whose silence makes us complicit. Another large man gets on the train. After exchanging loud greetings with the two men, he sits next to me. He tells them he is going to Philadelphia to visit his wife and child. I am suckered into thinking that he is different. Then, “Man, there’s a ton of fe-males in Philly, just waltin’ for you to give’em some.” I turn my head and allow the fire in my eyes to burn into him. He takes up two seats and has hands with huge swollen knuckles. I imagine the gold rings on his fingers slamming into my face. He senses something, “What’s your name, sweetheart?” The other men lean forward over the seat.

My instinct kicks in, telling me to get out. “Since I see you all are not going to move, I will.” I move to the first car. I am so angry that thoughts of murder, of physically retaliating against them, of separatism, engulf me. I am almost out of body, just shy of being pure force. I am sick of the way women are negated, violated, devalued, ig-nored. I am livid, unrelenting in my anger at those who invade my space, who wish to take away my rights, who refuse to hear my voice. As the days pass, I push myself to figure o u t what it means to be a part of the Third Wave of femi-nism. I begin to realize that I owe it to myself, to my little sister on the train, to all of the daughters yet to be born, to push beyond my rage and articulate an agenda. After battling with ideas of separatism and militancy, I connect with my own feelings of powerlessness. I realize that I must undergo a transformation if I am truly com-mitted to women’s empowerment. My involvement must reach beyond my own voice in discussion, beyond voting, beyond reading feminist theory. My anger and aware-ness must translate into tangible action.

I am ready to decide, as my mother decided before me, to devote much of my energy to the history, health, and healing of women. Each of my choices will have to hold to my feminist standard of justice. To be a feminist is to integrate an ideology of equality and female empowerment into the very fiber of my life. it is to search for personal clarity in the midst of systemic destruction, to join in sisterhood with women when of-ten we are divided, to understand power structures with the intention of challenging them. While this may sound simple, it is exactly the kind of stand that many of my peers are unwilling to take. So I write this as a plea to all women, especially the women of my generation: Let Thomas’ confirmation serve to re-mind you, as it did me, that the fight is far from over. Let this dismissal of a woman’s experience move you to anger. Turn that outrage into political power. Do not vote for them unless they work for us. Do not have sex with them, do not break bread with them, do not nurture them if they don’t prioritize our freedom to control our bodies and our lives.

I am not a postfeminism feminist. I am the Third Wave.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Union 2007: Brief Commentary and Civilian Reserve Corps?

No big surprise, but I watched the State of the Union address last night.
-Bush wore a blue tie (did you see it?)
-Both Obama and McCain were caught by cameras "resting their eyes"
-I don't think Hillary Clinton blinked.
-Nancy Pelosi couldn't stop blinking.
-It was always a race to see who could stand up the fastest in support of American soldiers or "the people": Cheney or Pelosi. Pelosi beat him a lot.
-I think that dude that saved that guy from the train in NYC should run for public office. He was great at waving and giving 'thumbs up', in fact, he couldn't stop doing it. Perfect politician material.

While much of it was a repeat of previous years, I did think this was interesting:
"A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time."

I'm seriously interested in finding out what he means by this and how he plans to establish such a corps. And I see I am not alone in this curiosity.

Wesley Clark made mention of his planfor a civilian reserve corps in October of 2003, which is more specific than any plan I've found thus far in the archives of whitehouse.gov, but if anyone has seen a detailed plan of implementing this new reserve corps, I'd be very interested to see it.

Additionally, *apparently* this was part of the National Security Strategy of 2006: "Developing a civilian reserve corps, analogous to the military reserves. The civilian reserve corps would utilize, in a flexible and timely manner, the human resources of the American people for skills and capacities needed for international disaster relief and post-conflict reconstruction.(Page 50)"

Bush apparently asked for a $75 million Conflict Response Fund in June 2006, which included the building of a civilian reserve corps: The Administration urges the House to fund the President's request for a $75 million Conflict Response Fund for reconstruction and stabilization response and for building a civilian reserve corps. The National Security Strategy clearly identifies the importance of addressing state failure and conflict and of building a civilian capacity to respond quickly. A civilian reserve would provide additional non-U.S. Government experts to augment current staff, and the Fund would also ensure that the Secretary of State, in consultation with Congress, could direct assistance quickly in a crisis. Building civilian capacity will reduce strain on military forces. The request complements and does not duplicate current or proposed related activities requested elsewhere in the Budget.(HR 5522)" The bill was passed in the House on 6/9/2006 and on 7/10/2006, it was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders, but I don't see where it was ever passed, so I guess it wasn't. If anyone has any information on this, I'd also appreciate it.

State of the Union 2007: Brief Commentary and Civilian Reserve Corps?

No big surprise, but I watched the State of the Union address last night.
-Bush wore a blue tie (did you see it?)
-Both Obama and McCain were caught by cameras "resting their eyes"
-I don't think Hillary Clinton blinked.
-Nancy Pelosi couldn't stop blinking.
-It was always a race to see who could stand up the fastest in support of American soldiers or "the people": Cheney or Pelosi. Pelosi beat him a lot.
-I think that dude that saved that guy from the train in NYC should run for public office. He was great at waving and giving 'thumbs up', in fact, he couldn't stop doing it. Perfect politician material.

While much of it was a repeat of previous years, I did think this was interesting:
"A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time."

I'm seriously interested in finding out what he means by this and how he plans to establish such a corps. And I see I am not alone in this curiosity.

Wesley Clark made mention of his planfor a civilian reserve corps in October of 2003, which is more specific than any plan I've found thus far in the archives of whitehouse.gov, but if anyone has seen a detailed plan of implementing this new reserve corps, I'd be very interested to see it.

Additionally, *apparently* this was part of the National Security Strategy of 2006: "Developing a civilian reserve corps, analogous to the military reserves. The civilian reserve corps would utilize, in a flexible and timely manner, the human resources of the American people for skills and capacities needed for international disaster relief and post-conflict reconstruction.(Page 50)"

Bush apparently asked for a $75 million Conflict Response Fund in June 2006, which included the building of a civilian reserve corps: The Administration urges the House to fund the President's request for a $75 million Conflict Response Fund for reconstruction and stabilization response and for building a civilian reserve corps. The National Security Strategy clearly identifies the importance of addressing state failure and conflict and of building a civilian capacity to respond quickly. A civilian reserve would provide additional non-U.S. Government experts to augment current staff, and the Fund would also ensure that the Secretary of State, in consultation with Congress, could direct assistance quickly in a crisis. Building civilian capacity will reduce strain on military forces. The request complements and does not duplicate current or proposed related activities requested elsewhere in the Budget.(HR 5522)" The bill was passed in the House on 6/9/2006 and on 7/10/2006, it was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders, but I don't see where it was ever passed, so I guess it wasn't. If anyone has any information on this, I'd also appreciate it.

State of the Union 2007: text of the speech

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And tonight, I have a high privilege and distinct honor of my own -- as the first President to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker. (Applause.)

In his day, the late Congressman Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. from Baltimore, Maryland, saw Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at this rostrum. But nothing could compare with the sight of his only daughter, Nancy, presiding tonight as Speaker of the House of Representatives. (Applause.) Congratulations, Madam Speaker. (Applause.)

Two members of the House and Senate are not with us tonight, and we pray for the recovery and speedy return of Senator Tim Johnson and Congressman Charlie Norwood. (Applause.)
Madam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

The rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour -- when decisions are hard and courage is needed. We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors underway, and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies -- and the wisdom to face them together.

Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate -- and I congratulate the Democrat majority. (Applause.) Congress has changed, but not our responsibilities. Each of us is guided by our own convictions -- and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we're all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this nation's prosperity; to spend the people's money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us. (Applause.)

We're not the first to come here with a government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people. Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on -- as long as we're willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done. (Applause.) Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and to help them to build a future of hope and opportunity -- and this is the business before us tonight.

A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy -- and that is what we have. We're now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs -- so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move, and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government, but with more enterprise. (Applause.)

Next week, I'll deliver a full report on the state of our economy. Tonight, I want to discuss three economic reforms that deserve to be priorities for this Congress.

First, we must balance the federal budget. (Applause.) We can do so without raising taxes. (Applause.) What we need is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. (Applause.) Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. (Applause.) I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and we can balance the federal budget. (Applause.)

Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour -- when not even C-SPAN is watching. (Laughter.) In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate -- they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You didn't vote them into law. I didn't sign them into law. Yet, they're treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process, expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress, and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session. (Applause.)

And, finally, to keep this economy strong we must take on the challenge of entitlements. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are commitments of conscience, and so it is our duty to keep them permanently sound. Yet, we're failing in that duty. And this failure will one day leave our children with three bad options: huge tax increases, huge deficits, or huge and immediate cuts in benefits. Everyone in this chamber knows this to be true -- yet somehow we have not found it in ourselves to act. So let us work together and do it now. With enough good sense and goodwill, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid -- and save Social Security. (Applause.)

Spreading opportunity and hope in America also requires public schools that give children the knowledge and character they need in life. Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, preserving local control, raising standards, and holding those schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap.

Now the task is to build on the success, without watering down standards, without taking control from local communities, and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools, and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose someplace better. (Applause.) We must increase funds for students who struggle -- and make sure these children get the special help they need. (Applause.) And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future and our country is more competitive by strengthening math and science skills. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America's children -- and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law. (Applause.)

A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. (Applause.) When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children. And we will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. (Applause.) But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.

And so tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income on payroll tax -- or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income. With this reform, more than 100 million men, women, and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills. At the same time, this reform will level the playing field for those who do not get health insurance through their job. For Americans who now purchase health insurance on their own, this proposal would mean a substantial tax savings -- $4,500 for a family of four making $60,000 a year. And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making health care affordable for more Americans. (Applause.)

My second proposal is to help the states that are coming up with innovative ways to cover the uninsured. States that make basic private health insurance available to all their citizens should receive federal funds to help them provide this coverage to the poor and the sick. I have asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work with Congress to take existing federal funds and use them to create "Affordable Choices" grants. These grants would give our nation's governors more money and more flexibility to get private health insurance to those most in need.

There are many other ways that Congress can help. We need to expand Health Savings Accounts. (Applause.) We need to help small businesses through Association Health Plans. (Applause.) We need to reduce costs and medical errors with better information technology. (Applause.) We will encourage price transparency. And to protect good doctors from junk lawsuits, we passing medical liability reform. (Applause.) In all we do, we must remember that the best health care decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors. (Applause.)

Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America -- with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we're doubling the size of the Border Patrol, and funding new infrastructure and technology.

Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border -- and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won't have to try to sneak in, and that will leave Border Agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists. (Applause.) We'll enforce our immigration laws at the work site and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers, so there's no excuse left for violating the law. (Applause.)

We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. (Applause.) We need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country without animosity and without amnesty. (Applause.) Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate, so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law. (Applause.)

Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America's economy running and America's environment clean. For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists -- who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, and raise the price of oil, and do great harm to our economy.

It's in our vital interest to diversify America's energy supply -- the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power, by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power. (Applause.) We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. (Applause.) We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol -- (applause) -- using everything from wood chips to grasses, to agricultural wastes.

We made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies here in Washington and the strong response of the market. And now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we've done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years. (Applause.) When we do that we will have cut our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.

To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 -- and that is nearly five times the current target. (Applause.) At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks -- and conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.

Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but it's not going to eliminate it. And so as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. (Applause.) And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (Applause.)

America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change. (Applause.)

A future of hope and opportunity requires a fair, impartial system of justice. The lives of our citizens across our nation are affected by the outcome of cases pending in our federal courts. We have a shared obligation to ensure that the federal courts have enough judges to hear those cases and deliver timely rulings. As President, I have a duty to nominate qualified men and women to vacancies on the federal bench. And the United States Senate has a duty, as well, to give those nominees a fair hearing, and a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. (Applause.)

For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger. Five years have come and gone since we saw the scenes and felt the sorrow that the terrorists can cause. We've had time to take stock of our situation. We've added many critical protections to guard the homeland. We know with certainty that the horrors of that September morning were just a glimpse of what the terrorists intend for us -- unless we stop them.

With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled: that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)

From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented, but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terror cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them. (Applause.)

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that's the case, America is still a nation at war.

In the mind of the terrorist, this war began well before September the 11th, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past five years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs, and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.

Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: "We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse." Osama bin Laden declared: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."

These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah -- a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.
The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. Whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.

In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers had ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people. (Applause.)

This war is more than a clash of arms -- it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and to come and kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom
-- societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies -- and most will choose a better way when they're given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates and reformers and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security, we must. (Applause.)

In the last two years, we've seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East -- and we have been sobered by the enemy's fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, they drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections, choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity that we should never forget. (Applause.)

A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon's legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia -- and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory. (Applause.)

We're carrying out a new strategy in Iraq -- a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we're deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we're sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. (Applause.) We didn't drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it's time for their government to act. Iraq's leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad -- and they must do so. They pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party -- and they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq's leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks -- to achieve reconciliation, to share oil revenues among all of Iraq's citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life, to hold local elections, and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secure. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally -- their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger. (Applause.)

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you've made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way. (Applause.)

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. And that's why it's important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. It's why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. We'll show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.

And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. (Applause.) Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. (Applause.) A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle because we're not in this struggle alone. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations. We're working with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq's government.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. (Applause.) With the other members of the Quartet -- the U.N., the European Union, and Russia -- we're pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive -- the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, we're pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. (Applause.)

We will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus, and Burma -- and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur. (Applause.)
American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger and poverty and disease -- and that is precisely what America is doing. We must continue to fight HIV/AIDS, especially on the continent of Africa. (Applause.) Because you funded our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the number of people receiving life-saving drugs has grown from 50,000 to more than 800,000 in three short years. I ask you to continue funding our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. I ask you to provide $1.2 billion over five years so we can combat malaria in 15 African countries. (Applause.)

I ask that you fund the Millennium Challenge Account, so that American aid reaches the people who need it, in nations where democracy is on the rise and corruption is in retreat. And let us continue to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope for lifting lives and eliminating poverty. (Applause.)

When America serves others in this way, we show the strength and generosity of our country. These deeds reflect the character of our people. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness, courage, and self-sacrifice of the American people. You see this spirit often if you know where to look -- and tonight we need only look above to the gallery.

Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Africa, amid great poverty and disease. He came to Georgetown University on a scholarship to study medicine -- but Coach John Thompson got a look at Dikembe and had a different idea. (Laughter.) Dikembe became a star in the NBA, and a citizen of the United States. But he never forgot the land of his birth, or the duty to share his blessings with others. He built a brand new hospital in his old hometown. A friend has said of this good-hearted man: "Mutombo believes that God has given him this opportunity to do great things." And we are proud to call this son of the Congo a citizen of the United States of America. (Applause.)

After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children's videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born, and in just five years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she is using her success to help others -- producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: "I believe it's the most important thing that I have ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe." And so tonight, we are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur -- Julie Aigner-Clark. (Applause.)

Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks, pulled the man into the space between the rails, and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he's not a hero. He says: "We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We have got to show each other some love." There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey. (Applause.)

Tommy Rieman was a teenager pumping gas in Independence, Kentucky, when he enlisted in the United States Army. In December 2003, he was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, Sergeant Rieman returned fire; he used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs -- yet he refused medical attention, and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy's position. For his exceptional courage, Sergeant Rieman was awarded the Silver Star. And like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and the gratitude of our entire country. (Applause.)

In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America -- and these qualities are not in short supply. This is a decent and honorable country -- and resilient, too. We've been through a lot together. We've met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead. Yet we can go forward with confidence -- because the State of our Union is strong, our cause in the world is right, and tonight that cause goes on. God bless. (Applause.)

See you next year. Thank you for your prayers.