Happy Birthday! My Little Tomboy in Drag

Written by Paul Zannucci on 8:02 PM


My baby girl turned six today. My love for her knows no ends.

DNC Convention.

Written by Paul Zannucci on 1:18 AM

Whenever there's a new transcript of a major speech to be had, we'll put it on the American Sentinel site so that it may be discected and used as amunition against the enemy.

To see the transcript of the Hillary Clinton speech at the Denver DNC Convention, go to: Transcript: Hillary Clinton DNC Covention Speech Denver

Watching Lousy Movies with My Childrens' Trust Fund Money

Written by Paul Zannucci on 11:17 AM

My wife and I are movie fans, but we have hardly seen anything since the birth of my little tomboy who will turn 6 tomorrow. Lately, we decided we were going to start making a point of having more time together and renewing our movie watching. So far, we aren't having much luck at finding good movies, but we are flying through the money pretty quickly (I absolutely have to eat popcorn if I'm going to a movie. I just do.)

I think our biggest problem is that I always pick the movies. Seriously, I can sleep at home through Jennifer Anniston making life decisions, my wife sniffling in the bed next to me. I don't need the enormous screen, the theater sound and the drum of greasy popcorn--just a pillow and a blanket. When I'm at the theater, I want to see big, loud stuff.

Hey, I'm just being honest.

The Happening

So our first trip was to The Happening by M. Night Shyamalan. He's never quite recaptured the magic he had with The Sixth Sense, but I've always enjoyed, to a degree anyway, his other lightweight garbage. The Happening was something else altogether. The dialogue was absolutely painful. When the audience winces through an actor's lines, that's a problem.

Secondly, the movie seemed to be missing things. Apparently Marky Mark's wife wasn't committed to the marriage. At least, this seemed to be an essential theme to the movie. But it just seemed to come out of nowhere, a completely undeveloped line of thought just tossed into the pot as a plot thickener.

(spoiler) And of course, there was the environmental factor. The point of the movie is that plants feel endangered by humans and start letting off toxic chemicals that make humans kill themselves.

Whatever.

The Dark Knight

This was an awesome movie. That's all I'm going to say about it at this point. I'm busy complaining.

Mirrors

I wanted to see this because I suspected that a scary movie with Jack Baur would be good. I was terribly mistaken. My wife and I got into a Dynasty type fight in the parking lot over which movie was worse. I said The Happening. She said Mirrors.

"You just don't remember how bad The Happening was," I said as we tumbled into a water fountain, our hands around each other's throats.

The worst part about Mirrors for me was the boredom, which is nearly the opposite of scary. For my wife it was all the gore plus the boredom. She only almost threw up once during The Happening. It was a constant struggle during Mirrors.

And as with most horror flicks, there were really puzzling behaviors and issues of logic. If you are scared, you don't pay as much attention to these problems. If you are merely puzzled and bored, they are fatal flaws. Only a complete idiot or James Bond would have continued wandering through the giant burned out building that is the primary location for the movie. I don't even think Jack Baur or The Dark Knight would do it. And the insanity at the end of the movie, which I won't go into detail about, is so far beyond logical thought as to be bordering on DNC Convention type logic.

Just awful.

Restaraunt Review: 12 dollar burgers and fries

Written by Paul Zannucci on 9:35 PM

So I'm at the hospital where my father's surgery has gone poorly, and I've had nothing but 72 ounces of coffee all day, and so I leave and head down to a restaurant I've never tried before, Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

I had considered eating there once before, but didn't because the wife and kids were along and a quick glance at the menu indicated that we would have to forgo our Disney trip to eat there. But now, coming down out of St. Mary's parking lot by myself, I thought I would have a go at it. Still, I was a bit shocked when the cashier said, "That'll be $12.10." My order: a cheeseburger, fries and Coke.

I didn't want to eat in the restaurant. I wanted to eat in the car where the comforting sounds of a local sports talk show could help distract me from thinking about Dad. So I ordered it to go and, eventually, they called me, number 92, to come grab my paper bag with the $12.10 unhappy meal tucked inside.

Sitting in my car, I turn on the radio and start to listen to the conversation regarding the SEC's new television package while I eat my fries. I always eat my fries first because they don't retain heat as long as burgers do and taste best when hottest.

The fries, which were advertised as being cooked in 100% peanut oil, tasted like they were cooked in 100% peanut oil. They were limp, oily and earthy and tasted like I'd made them from scratch at home with the oil at too low a temperature. They came in a 24 oz styrofoam cup. They were fine, but not great.

Thinking I was done with the fries, I reached into the bag and found what seemed like an awfully large amount of fries that had fallen out of the cup. A glance into the bag revealed that there were probably 5 large potatoes worth of fries lying in the bag, probably 3 times as many as were in the cup. I sprinkled salt in the bag and, ketchup long since vanquished, began eating the huge pile of limp, home style fries. Quickly, though, I realized that I was not going to be able to eat the hamburger if I didn't quit, so I gave up on the fries, which is always a hard thing for me to do. 40 years of the clean plate club went down the tubes.

The hamburger, which came with a large variety of options, many of which only an insane person would place on their burger, was too large to fit into the average sized mouth. Fortunately, it was no problem for me. The hamburger was big and, again, reminded me of something I would make at home, only about twice the size.

I suppose that the biggest problem I have with them is the cost. The food was fine, but for $12 I expect to be more than just overwhelmed with quantity (which I don't know would have happened had I eaten in instead of 'to go'). I expect to get true value, which includes a significant portion of quality.

Blog change

Written by Paul Zannucci on 12:02 PM

Due to putting all my political posts on American Sentinel, I've decided to change the name of this blog to Random Ramblings and open it up to, well, random ramblings.

A Medical Odyssey: Every Decision Matters

Written by Paul Zannucci on 10:42 AM


<--Lou Gehrig

We like to claim that luck, good or bad, drives a lot of our lives. We like to claim that where we are has everything to do with where we started, the color of our skin, the abuse of others. It is an essential base of the liberal mindset that most things are beyond our control. The truth is that decisions matter. I am currently experiencing a bad bacterial infection that just won't go away because it is being complicated and aided by TMJ. It's all a part of a medical odyssey that includes being told twice that I had a fatal disease. Strangely, I can relate it all, including this infection, directly back to two decisions I made as a youth, and one I made when I was older.

The first decision came in middle school when I took up a bet regarding physical prowess. I won the bet, which awarded me bragging rights and a set of matching inguinal hernias. The second decision came when I went off on my first "just the guys" outing at age sixteen. Without parents around, a gang of us decided to take a skiing weekend in the mountains of North Carolina. On the way, we stopped at a convenience store and purchased what every Southern boy needs at age 16, beer and snuff. I've always been able to put the beer down, but the nicotine held me hostage for over twenty years. I'm thankful, at least, that it was Skoal and not Marlboros.

Back to middle school, my parents took me to the doctor regarding my hernias. Way ahead of his time, the doctor said they were only small and just to keep an eye on them. That sounded good to me. Keeping an eye on them slowly moved to eyeing them with weary agony my senior year in college. Years of weight lifting and sports had ripped the left hernia wide open and made the right one a bit worse. The doctors agreed the left one needed work right away. The surgeon said the right one could continue to wait. One hernia gone and life goes on...and on...and on...

After college, most of the weight lifting quit. Exercise at the track was good enough. That right hernia grew very slowly. Every now and then it would give me problems when jogging or after a great deal of lifting, but it was mostly an afterthought. Something like fifteen years later (don't worry about the math), I contracted pneumonia--and not the "walking" kind. After a few months of nonstop, lung wracking coughs, my hernia was in pretty bad shape. I didn't have time for that, though, and just kept going. Exercise became nearly impossible and when I had to occasionally stop what I was doing to cram painfully trapped intestines back into my abdominal muscle cavity (not always indiscreetly), I decided to see the doctor. The hernia was about the size of a grapefruit.

Since I was going to be out of business for a couple of weeks (I refused laparoscopic surgery for the tried and true "open method"), I decided to multitask on my health and quit Skoal, a habit I hid from all but my wife, at the same time. So now I'm lying in bed, two hernias finally taken care of, wearing a nicotine patch.

Unfortunately, right before surgery, I had caught a cold. Coughing after hernia surgery is not recommended--the pain is excruciating. Between that and being laid up in bed, I decided nothing would be better than some tobacco. There would be time to quit later. I knew that ripping off the patch and using tobacco was dangerous, but I didn't care. I waited a few minutes then pulled out my emergency Skoal. True bliss. Maybe ten minutes later I had a coughing fit and something odd happened. A dark red streak of lightning appeared in my right eye's vision.

This was all I needed. Something weird with my eyes. I did some research and quickly ascertained that I had screwed up by overdosing on nicotine which constricted the vessels in my eyes. Combined with the blood thinning pain medication I was on after surgery, coughing caused a small vessel in the eye to leak. My vision was getting more and more obstructed. I called my eye doctor to see what he wanted me to do, and they wanted to see me right away.

One visit to the eye doctor got me an appointment with a retina specialist, though my vision was clearing. My theory that I had overdosed on nicotine while on blood thinning medication wasn't playing well. The retina specialist said it appeared I might have an underlying condition, likely atherosclerosis, and that I needed to see my internist. My internist couldn't see the vessels in my eye as well as the retina specialist. After ruling out causes like diabetes and Lupus, it was determined that my 136 cholesterol score was simply "too high for my genetics" even though I had no one in my family with heart disease. I must have hardening of the arteries, we thought, so I was put on Crestor. One month later my cholesterol was 63, and I was dying of rhabdomyolysis, that rare but dangerous condition you always hear about in the statin drug commercials.

I essentially lost the use of my arms and hands. The pain was tremendous. Not to worry, though. I was taken off Crestor and told my condition would improve. We would monitor my liver and when everything was back to normal, maybe we'd cut my dosage in half. Fast forward three months, and I was still having a difficulty gripping items and couldn't toss a ball a few feet to my toddler daughter. Blood tests showed that my muscles were still being broken down. Three months later, I was in a similar condition, and I started to have muscle twitches all over, non-stop, 24 hours a day. I call my doctor.

At the doctor's office, I'm told that ALS is likely my problem. A second internist comes in and examines me, arriving at the same conclusion. I probably have ALS. They call the premier neuromuscular specialist in the area and get me an appointment that's about three weeks away. I wander off in a daze and break the news to my family, my church, etc. There's still hope, but both doctors agreed that I likely was dying of ALS. That night I beg my way out of helping with Vacation Bible School because I'm so distracted. I go and sit in the chapel and pray instead. Later, not being officially diagnosed with anything, I go on a life insurance binge and buy $650,000 worth. I feel like I'm cheating and fear that the policies won't be honored. I don't really care. I'm just a dead guy waiting for confirmation from the neurologist.

Finally the wait is over, and I walk like a zombie into the neurologist office. They spend a great deal of time shooting electricity through my body, sticking me with long needles while watching a computer screen. Finally, they stop torturing me and the printer starts shooting out page after page of data. The neurologist is looking at the sheets (the pages are connected by perforations) as they come off the printer. Silently he examines them as I lay on the table. Finally, I can't stand it any more, and I say, "Pretty bad?"

"No, you're fine. I'm just looking through everything."

The feeling that washed over me at that moment was indescribable. I'd likely get to watch my 2 and 4 year old kids grow up after all. The neurologist told me it was the Crestor. That it caused long term changes that could take up to 18 months to get over--if you ever get completely over it. I was diagnosed with Cramp Fasciculation Syndrome caused by Crestor and sent on my merry way.

Not long after, I was told I didn't actually have hardening of the arteries after all. Maybe it had something to do with nicotine overdose and blood thinners.

I have since improved a great deal. I am no longer limited in any real way, but I continue to twitch and have pain and exercise takes a lot longer to recover from. In an effort to help my muscles and get more oxygen to them, I was put on a CPAP machine (I've always been a snorer). This was just recently. In fact, I purchased it right before I went on vacation to the beach. When you wear a CPAP at night, you have to keep your mouth shut. Apparently, during sleep I wasn't just shutting my mouth, I was clinching it. My jaw joints swelled and after swimming in the ocean and the pool, I caught a nasty bacterial infection that's not going quietly into that good night. My doctor told me yesterday I need to have a mouthpiece made by my dentist so that I don't have this happen again and gave me more drugs. Hopefully I'll be able to hear and chew soon. It's really annoying to have to suffer through this due to taking a bet in middle school, starting Skoal in high school, and ripping off a nicotine patch in frustration.

I can go back through my story here and find lots of people to sue. The store that sold me my Skoal even though I was underage; the manufacturer of Skoal; the doctors who incorrectly told me I had atherosclerosis; the people who make Crestor. And it sure would be nice if the government had paid all those medical bills. But me? I'm just glad to still be around and have a chance to make more decisions that will influence my future and the future of those around me--hopefully for the better.

By the time I was told that I likely had ALS, I had been off of nicotine for several months. Thinking I was dying and wanting nothing more than the comfort of that wonderful and terrible drug, I refused. As hard as it was, I saw no sense in piling a bad decision onto a bad situation. Now I'm free of the ALS fear and the nicotine, both.

Decisions matter, and I'm getting a tiny bit better every day--and it's coming from me. Isn't that better than expecting the government to come in save the day or to subsidize your own bad decisions? It sure feels better to me. And, yes, sometimes things don't go our way. Sometimes luck, good or bad, does play a role. Lou Gehrig stood before the New York Yankee fans, confirmed to have a disease that would soon be named for him, and told them he was, "The luckiest man on the face of the Earth." I have often felt shamed by that statement, that show of bravery. When that day comes for me, when either my decisions or circumstances create a situation that is too grave to overcome, I hope to go out as strongly, as positively, as did Lou Gehrig. Blaming no one. Just happy to have been here with a chance.

Statement by John McCain on the Crisis in Georgia

Written by Paul Zannucci on 2:35 PM

This is the press release from John McCain on the crisis in Georgia. It is a clear example of why we absolutely must elect McCain in November. This is no time for a hand-holding love-in. Russia is resurging. Jihad is still on the move. We need someone with character, leadership skills and experience.

Statement by John McCain on the Crisis in Georgia

Text: Remarks by John McCain to the National Urban League Annual Conference

Written by Paul Zannucci on 8:40 AM

By Press OfficeAugust 1, 2008

ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery to the 2008 National Urban League Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, today at 11:00 a.m. EDT:

Thank you, Marc, for the introduction. I appreciate your kind invitation and this warm welcome to Orlando and to the Urban League. Through all the business cycles and political cycles of almost a century, this organization has championed an agenda of economic growth and opportunity. You've never lost your sense of mission, or your commitment to bettering the lives of African Americans and of all citizens. I'm honored to be with the men and women of the Urban League.

You'll hear from my opponent, Senator Obama, tomorrow, and if there's one thing he always delivers it's a great speech. But I hope you'll listen carefully, because his ideas are not always as impressive as his rhetoric. And this is especially true in the case of the Urban League's agenda of opportunity. Your Opportunity Compact speaks of the urgent need to reform our public schools, create jobs, and help small businesses grow. You understand that persistent problems of failing schools and economic stagnation cannot be solved with the same tired ideas and pandering to special interests that have failed us time and again. And you know how much the challenges have changed for those who champion the cause of equal opportunity in America.

Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? Equal employment opportunity is set firmly down in law. But with jobs becoming scarcer -- and more than 400,000 Americans t hrown out of work just this year -- that can amount to an equal share of diminished opportunity. For years, business ownership by African Americans has been growing rapidly. This is all to the good, but that hopeful trend is threatened in a struggling economy -- with the cost of energy, health care, and just about everything else rising sharply.

As in other challenges African Americans have overcome, these problems require clarity of purpose. They require the solidarity of groups like the Urban League. And, at times, they also require a willingness to break from conventional thinking.

Nowhere are the limitations of conventional thinking any more apparent than in education policy. After decades of hearing the same big promises from the public education establishment, and se eing the same poor results, it is surely time to shake off old ways and to demand new reforms. That isn't just my opinion; it is the conviction of parents in poor neighborhoods across this nation who want better lives for their children.

Just ask the families in New Orleans who will soon have the chance to remove their sons and daughters from failing schools, and enroll them instead in a school-choice scholarship program. That program in Louisiana was proposed by Democratic state legislators and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal. Just three years after Katrina, they are bringing real hope to poor neighborhoods, and showing how much can be achieved when both parties work together for real reform. Or ask parents in the disadvantaged neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. whether they want more choices in education. The District's Opportunity Scholarship program serves more than 1,900 boys and girls from families with an average income of 23,000 dollars a year. And more than 7,000 more families have applied for that program. What they all have in common is the desire to get their kids into a better school.

Democrats in Congress, including my opponent, oppose the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. In remarks to the American Federation of Teachers last month, Senator Obama dismissed public support for private school vouchers for low-income Americans as, "tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice." All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?

Over the years, Americans have heard a lot of "tired rhetoric" about education. We've heard it in the endless excuses of people who seem more concerned about their own position than about our children. We've heard it from politicians who accept the status quo rather than stand up for real change in our public schools. Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent, and diplomas that open doors of opportunity. When a public school fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity.

We should also offer more choices to those who wish to become teachers. Many thousands of highly qualified men and women have great knowledge, wisdom, and experience to offer public school students. But a monopoly on teacher certification prevents them from getting that chance. You can be a Nobel Laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today because they don't have all the proper credits in educational "theory" or "methodology." All they have is learning and the desire and ability to share it. If we're putting the interests of students first, then those qualifications should be enough.

If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of Opportunity Scholarships, and alternative certification for teachers will all be part of a serious agenda of education reform. I will target funding to recruit teachers who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class, or who participate in an alternative teacher recruitment program such as Teach for America, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, and the New Teacher Project.

We will pay bonuses to teachers who take on the challenge of working in our most troubled schools -- because we need their fine minds and good hearts to help turn those schools around. We will award bonuses as well to our highest-achieving teachers. And no longer will we measure teacher achievement by conformity to process. We will measure it by the success of their students.

Moreover, the funds for these bonuses will not be controlled by faraway officials -- in Washington, in a state capital, or even in a district office. Under my reforms, we will put the money and the responsibilities where they belong -- in the office of the school principal. One reason charter schools are so successful, and so sought after by parents, is that principals have spending discretion. And I intend to give that same discretion to public school principals. No longer will money be spent on rigid and often meaningless formulas. Relying on the good judgment and first-hand knowledge of school principals, education money will be spent in service to public school students.

Under my reforms, parents will exercise freedom of choice in obtaining extra help for children who are falling behind. As it is, federal aid to parents for tutoring for their children has to go through another bureaucracy. They can't purchase the tutoring directly, without dealing with the same education establishment that failed their children in the first place. These needless restrictions will be removed. If a student needs extra help, parents will be able to sign them up to get it, with direct public support.

Some of these reforms, and others, are contained in a Statement of Principles drafted by a group dedicated to finally changing the status quo in our education system. The Education Equality Project has brought together leaders from all across the political spectrum, including school Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. Chancellor Klein is a strong supporter of charter schools, because he understands that fundamental reform is needed. As he puts it, "in large urban areas the culture of public education is broken. If you don't fix this culture, then you are not going to be able to make the kind of changes that are needed." Among others who share this conviction are Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, Chancellor Michelle Rhee of Washington, and Harold Ford, Junior. You know that a reform movement is truly bipartisan when J.C. Watts and Al Sharpton are both members. And today I am proud to add my name as well to the list of those who support the aims and principles of the Education Equality Project.
But one name is still missing, Senator Obama's. My opponent talks a great deal about hope and change, and education is as good a test as any of his seriousness. The Education Equality Project is a practical plan for delivering change and restoring hope for children and parents who need a lot of both. And if Senator Obama continues to defer to the teachers unions, instead of committing to real reform, then he should start looking for new slogans.

Over the years, the Urban League has brought enormous good into the life of our country -- by broadening the reach of economic opportunity. There was a time when economists took little if any notice at all of the poverty of black communities. Even in times of general economic growth, many lived in a per petual recession, and the jobs available didn't promise much upward mobility. Our country still has a lot of progress to make on this score. But with 1.2 million businesses today owned and operated by African Americans, more and more are no longer just spectators on the prosperity of our country. They are stakeholders. As much as anyone else, they count on their government to help create the conditions of economic growth -- and, as president, I intend to do just that.

Senator Obama and I have fundamental differences on economic policy, and many of them concern tax rates. He supports proposals to raise top marginal rates paid by small business and families, to raise tax rates on those with taxable incomes of more than 32,000 dollars, raise capital gains taxes, raise taxes on dividends, raise payroll taxes and raise estate taxes. That's a whole lot of raising, and for million s of families, individuals, and small businesses it will mean a lot less money to spend, save and invest as they see fit.

For my part, I believe that in a troubled economy, when folks are struggling to afford the necessities of life, higher taxes are the last thing we need. The economy isn't hurting because workers and businesses are under-taxed. Raising taxes eliminates jobs, hurts small businesses, and delays economic recovery.

Under my plan, we will preserve the current low rates as they are, so businesses large and small can hire more people. We will double the personal exemption from $3,500 to $7,000 for every dependent, in every family in America. We will offer every individual and family a large tax credit to buy their health care, so employers can spend more on wages, and wo rkers don't lose their coverage when they change jobs. We will lower the business tax rate, so American companies open new plants and create more jobs in this country.

There are honest differences as well about the growth of government. But surely we can find common ground in the principle that government cannot go on forever spending recklessly and incurring debt. Government has grown by 60 percent in the last eight years, because the Congress and this administration have failed to meet their responsibilities. And next year, total federal expenditures are predicted to reach over three trillion dollars. That is an awful lot for us to be spending when this nation is already more than nine trillion dollars in debt or more than thirty thousand dollars in debt for every citizen. That's a debt our government plans to leave for your children and mine to bear. And that is a failure n ot only of financial foresight, but of moral obligation.

There will come a day when the road reaches a dead-end. And it won't be today's politicians who suffer the consequences. It will be American workers and their children who are left with worthless promises and trillion-dollar debts. We cannot let that happen. As President, I'll work with every member of Congress -- Republican, Democrat, and Independent -- who shares my commitment to reforming government and controlling spending. I'll order a top-to-bottom review of every federal program, department, and agency. We're going to demand accountability. We're going to make sure failed programs are not rewarded ... and that discretionary spending is going where it belongs -- to essential priorities like job training, the security of our citizens, and the care of our veterans.

To get our economy running at full strength again, we need to stay focused on creating jobs for our people, and protecting paychecks from the rising costs of food, gasoline, and most everything else. Above all, we need to get a handle on the cost of oil and gasoline, and to regain energy independence for America.

All across our country, people are hurting. Small farmers, truckers, and taxi drivers are unable to cover their costs. Small business owners are struggling to meet their payrolls. The cost of living is rising, and the value of paychecks is falling. Yet even now, with the price of gasoline still around four dollars per gallon, the Congress has done exactly nothing.

Most Americans understand that producing more of something will lower its price. And if I am elected president, this nation will move quickly to increase our own energy production. Last month, the President finally lifted the executive ban on offshore oil and gas exploration, and called on Congress to lift its ban as well. Lifting that ban could seriously lower the price of oil -- and Congress should get it done immediately. We need to drill more, drill now, and pay less at the pump.

Under my energy plan, the Lexington Project, we will also make use of America's vast coal reserves. As president, I will commit this nation to a concerted effort to make clean coal a reality and create jobs in hard-pressed regions. And America will pursue the goal of building 45 nuclear power plants before 2030, which will generate not only much-needed electricity but some 700,000 jobs as well. We will also accelerate the development of wind and solar power and other renewable technologies, and we will help automakers design and sell cars that don't depend on gasoline. Production of hybrid, flex-fuel, and electric cars will bring America closer to energy independence. And it will bring jobs to auto plants, parts manufacturers, and the communities that support them.

Regaining control over the cost and supply of energy in America will not be easy, and it will not happen quickly. But no challenge to our economy is more urgent. And you have my pledge that if I am president, we're going to get it done.

Our country is passing through a very tough time. But Americans have been through worse, and beaten longer odds. The men and women of the Urban League know more than most about facing long odds, and overcoming adversity. For 98 years, this organization has been at the center of the great and honorable cause of equal opportunity for every American. I'm here today as an admirer and a fellow American, an association that means more to me than any other. I am a candidate for president who seeks your vote and hopes to earn it. But whether or not I win your support, I need your goodwill and counsel. And should I succeed, I'll need it all the more. I have always believed in this country, in a good America, a great America. But I have always known we can build a better America, where no place or person is left without hope or opportunity by the sins of injustice or indifference. It would be among the great privileges of my life to work with you in that cause. Thank you all very much.