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On the lighter side of life... 

#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace


Trump & The Mob



"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."


Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax


Half of the US Is Broke


The myth of the Christian country


“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937


A Just Peace


SIP contract online


Middle East friendship chart


Corporations enriching shareholders


- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry


Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks



"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  





  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:


  • Jim Hightower:

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 

Hard Times in Oregon: 


The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   




    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People


    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 


•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.


•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   

A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  


"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison


"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point is, however, to change it. 

- Karl Marx










































RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ




SB 1533 passes!


Housing Needs in Oregon 




#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace


"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941


Obamacare is working in Oregon!

Oregon's uninsurance rate cut more than half following federal health reforms


Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel


Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 


Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  

Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   

     Why do Intel employees who are house hunting in Hillsboro, Aloha or Beaverton refer to an area within a 5 mile radius of Intel plants as "the dead zone?"  

      Do they know something we don't?  We couldn't trust banks "too big to fail," so why should we trust Intel?

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw



From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now

The Daily Kos

Blue Oregon


"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 


    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   



     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 

"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams


"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  


“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 


"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals


"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  


"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' 

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"  

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921) 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."  

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11 


"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”   

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."  

- Abraham Lincoln 


Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society  

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 


"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..."  

- Edmund Burke  


“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”  

- Jonathan Swift 


" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."  

- Garrison Keillor 

















































    Does this sound familier?  "Please continue to hold and the next agent available will assist you ASAP."  But of course you never get the agent, right! 
    The radio talk show consumer guru Clark Howard has a slogan "customer no service" which he applies to corporations which give consumers the run around when they have a complaint about a product or service they have purchased.  Well, it's even more ubiquitous than that as RAD keeps finding out.  It's almost impossible no matter with whom one is dealing to get a real live operator on the line to ask a question about a product you bought or something you are thinking about purchasing. 
    Everybody from retail stores to ticket sales operations to government agencies force you to run the gauntlet over the phone line going through endless phone number sequences of pre-programmed options and/or suggest you go to their website which repeats the process on the net.  While this may save money for the company or agency which uses such customer services, it certainly doesn't save the customer any time.  And if you made a mistake then you must start over again.
    Until you figure out how to find a real live operator to talk with, you feel like a piece of meat!  And then the operator is not a local operator but somebody in a galaxy far away in the USA or beyond our shores!  And if your question is not one that they have programmed answers for - good luck.  I guess that's why when considering on making a major purchase like buying a new TV or washing machine we buy locally.  There's nothing like talking to a real live person in your own neighborhood or town!
    Yes, you probably will pay more at the local store compared to the big box store - but if you have a problem, a complaint or a question - you know there is a real live person you can talk with about it - face to face!  Now that's real customer service!  If the big box stores or the online merchants could replicate that quality of service RAD would give them a high five!  But I'm not waiting for it to happen.  Just for the record when I buy model train stuff on the net, I can always "reach out and touch them" on the phone or via e-mail. 
    When this does not happen I remember that line from the Paul Newman classic "Cool Hand Luke" - "what we have here is a failure to communicate."  Indeed.  




    By Floyd J. McKay / Guest columnist
    FM:  Little more than a year to go, and the American system for electing a president is still the laughingstock of the democratic world. There is no hope for a permanent fix in time for the 2008 election, leaving the door open for another theft of the popular vote by one machination or another.  
    In 2000, the Republicans were too clever and too fast for the Democrats in the Florida balloting, and had their Supreme Court majority in reserve. More Americans voted for Al Gore than George W. Bush, but we all know who went to the White House.
    Will it happen again in 2008?
    The election manipulators are already at work.
    Most highly publicized is the effort of the California Republican Party to change the way the state's 55 Electoral College votes are apportioned. Instead of all 55 going to the statewide popular-vote winner, 53 would be awarded on the basis of votes in each of the state's congressional districts, with two going to the statewide winner. That could pick up 20 electors for Republicans, assuming Democrats win the state but Republicans carry 20 of the state's districts.
    Democrats are up to the same game in North Carolina, where they could pick up a few electors — but not enough to offset their losses in California.
    At present, only Maine and Nebraska, too small to determine a national election, select electors by congressional district.
    This may be a better way to select a president than the present winner-take-all system — but only if all 50 states do the same thing.
    If all 50 states used congressional districts, the system would slightly favor Republicans, because small states get exactly the same number of electors for their two senators as the big states. The Electoral College is permanently tilted to small states which, presently at least, lean Republican.
    RAD:  FM is right on here.  But this idea has been vetted by scholars and pundits for over 20 years.  Since this requires a vote by each of the 50 state legislatures it will never happen!  And anything less than a total 50 state change is a thinly disguised GOP voter scam which simply adds a new wrinkle to the Republican's bag of dirty tricks of '00 like Florida's butterfly ballot or of '04 with Ohio's ATM voting machines irregularities. 
    FM:  The other "reform" is a move under consideration by several states to require their electors to vote for the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of how their state votes. Only Maryland has passed such a law, but it is under consideration elsewhere — it will operate only if states making up a majority of the Electoral College pass similar laws to create an interstate compact, a recognized legal entity.   
    The Constitution, Article II amended in 1804, doesn't tell states how to select electors. Originally, "wise men" — white property owners — were named electors; more recently, electors represent the winning popular vote. States determine how electors are selected, and could adopt the congressional-district system or the interstate compact; but they cannot abolish the Electoral College.
    RAD:  This is an unworkable plan and far too convoluted.  Again, it requires a vote by each state legislature.  It won't happen!  But worse, if it was implemented the majority of the voters in each state would feel disenfranchised if the winner in their state was not granted that state's electoral college votes.
    Our system for 200 plus years has been a winner take all system state by state contest, minus Nebraska and Maine.  Legislators who voted for this change would be ridden out on a rail in the next election!  Also, the electors are chosen by the winning candidate in that state.  Forcing them to vote for another candidate invites trouble and mischief. 
    This change would also change the dynamics of campaigning favoring the big states and large media markets.  Oregon would seldom be in play as it has been in the last two elections as a battle ground state.  As bad as the old EC system is this reform would be worse and even more confusing! 
     FM: The Electoral College is undemocratic and obsolete, written in a much different time by men eager to maintain a rural character for the country and check urban voters who might be more radical.   
    The Senate was also set up that way — members were originally appointed by state legislatures, men of property and probity sent to the Senate to balance the popularly elected House.   
    The Electoral College gives no voice to a 49.5 percent losing vote; a Republican in Washington or a Democrat in Idaho  might as well stay home.   
    The idea of a president being elected by a minority of voters is increasingly untenable. We need to amend the Constitution itself, but amendment is held hostage by senators from small states who won't vote to send an amendment to the states, and by small-state legislators who won't vote to ratify. Some 700 such efforts in Congress have come to naught.   
    Despite the overwhelming unpopularity of the Bush administration, a well-financed and clever Republican marketing campaign could sell California voters on changing the state's electoral system, twisting the Electoral College to Republican advantage, regardless of the national popular vote. But the California "reform" is wrong unless all 50 states have the same system.   
    Such an outcome might convince the cautious Democratic majority in Congress to send a constitutional amendment to the states. But if we get a repeat of 2000, the fury of disillusioned voters would not be easily addressed.   
    The interstate compact is not ideal, but it might be the only way to respect the choice of the people in 2008. Washington's Legislature should consider joining Maryland.   
    At best, it is a halfway house until the Constitution can be amended to honor the reality of the 21st century. At worst, it could bring a very nasty challenge for the Supreme Court, forced to balance the words of the Constitution, the rights of the people and the always-present hand of partisan politics.
    RAD:  No matter how outdated the EC is it is better than any of these proposed reforms.  Yes in the long run we need to charge up that hill and change the system to a direct popular vote for the presidency.  But the current system has several positive attributes which can be cited for the time being.

  • It's the system we've known for 200 plus years.
  • It forces candidates to concentrate on big states with urban (minority) populations like New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Texas and California
  • In a close election it brings in the smaller states like Oregon, Iowa and Wisconsin.
  • In most years (unlike '00) the EC gives the winning candidate a larger victory margin hence making the winner seem more legitimate.

    So for now RAD's motto is KISS (Keep it simple sweetie) until we can get a constitutional amendment mandating the direct popular vote of the president.  We don't need any reforms that would require a political science lecture to explain the new system to the American voters! 



wash-07-hdr-m-footbl.jpg    Just returned from my annual trip to Seattle to see the UW play the big game in the sunshine before the rainy season begins!  Sadly despite a very good first half where the Husky defense stuffed the Buckeyes time and again, #10 ranked Ohio State proved that the Huskies are not ready for prime time yet.  Jake Locker, the Dog's new quarterback sensation, has shown in the last 6 quarters he is indeed a freshman.  Locker made too many mistakes within Ohio State's red zone on Saturday with poorly executed passes.  But the big mo of the game was determined by brain dead calls against the Huskies by the referees.  The early roughing the kicker call was bush league, the back judge who made the call needs new glasses!  And what does it take to get a defensive interference call with the guy draped over the receiver?  You change those two calls in the first half and the Huskies go into half time 21 to 3 in the lead, not 7-3.  And OSU is on the ropes which they were for most of the game until late in the 3rd quarter, then the dam broke.  Good teams are opportunistic and wear you down as the Buckeyes did.  But the unindicted co-conspirator in the Husky's demise on offense is Tim Lappano, their offensive coordinator.  Let's hope Lappano gets a clue in the Rose Bowl against hapless UCLA this weekend.  If not it could be a very long and ugly season for the fans on Mont Lake!  The Buckeyes were not "bowing down" to Washington Saturday!
    PS:  For you Cougar, Beaver & Duck fans, don't count your blessings yet.  You've played nothing but powder puff teams so far.  We just didn't know Michigan was one of them this year?  Wins over loser teams like Idaho, Idaho State and Fresno State don't impress RAD.  Play the Husky's schedule and then we'll see how good your teams are!   I see PSU beat Sac State.  Wow...  The Glanville era on the Park Blocks is looking up.  It's really silly for PSU trying to move into Division I football, heck they shouldn't even have a team.  Ever walk around PSU's campus lately?  Put money into building maintenance not football helmets! 



    RAD and "the boss" saw Portland Center Stage's production of Cabaret yesterday (Sunday, October 14) at the Gerding Theater in The Pearl.  Having seen Broadway plays in the Big Apple, at Portland's Civic Theater or the Performing Arts Center theaters next to the Schnitzer plus excellent performances at The Oregon Shakespearian Festival (in Ashland, Oregon) - one can be rather ho hum about "local" theater.  Not this time! 
    This is a fabulous production.  The cast ensemble was superb and rakish giving us a fulsome glimpse of Germany's Roaring 20s. The sets were sparse yet darkly colorful accenting the finals days of the Weimer Republic and the onset of the Third Reich.  Of course any serious music lover of Broadway is familiar with the songs and lyrics made almost a cliche by Joel Gray.  However, Storm Large, who plays Sally Bowles, stole the show by the power and range of her voice.
    To say it simply, The Lady can flat out sing.  One would not see any better show on the Great White Way and Storm Large after this performance has a Broadway career ahead of her - if she wants it.  Wade McCollum who made the Emcee role his own makes you forget about Joel Gray.  As a nation which since 9/11 has turned to the right and seems to have reprised the 20s in the 90s one hopes that the play is not prelude to a darker time for us.  One never knows, "do one." 



    Editor's Note:  Any reader of this blog knows that RAD has agonized over which Democratic candidate to support in the '08 presidential race.  Initially I endorsed John Edwards, then Barack Obama.  For a variety of reasons I become disillusioned with both of them.  But among the Democratic contenders I've reserved my harshest criticism to Hillary Clinton for reasons I need not belabor.
    I think Senators Chris Dodd (Conn), Joe Biden (Del) and Governor Bill Richardson (NM) are quality people, but none of them have a chance for the nomination but they can play a pivotal role after the election in the US Senate or in the case of Governor Richardson, as our next Secretary of State.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich as a moral gadfly is a gem of clarity, principle and passion.  But he will never get the nomination.  So at the end of the day who should one support?
    Well last Friday I joined a friend from my local church and went to hear Barack Obama speak at Portland's Convention Center.  As we hopped on MAX I was amazed how crowded it was!  In a sea on young faces, I thought WOW Barack has really got it going.  Then we learned that most of the "kids" were headed to a Justin Timberlake gig at the Rose Garden!  But not all of them!  We joined 4000 metro area folks, mostly 20 somethings, to hear Barack. 
    Frankly Barack Obama is not a charismatic speaker.  I was underwelmed by his speech until the very last salvo.  It was the same stump speech I've seen again and again on the tube.  But there was nothing of the passion one gets from Jesse Jackson or Bill Clinton.  But as I've thought about it since then maybe that's the key!  Barack is a cross-over candidate, he's neither the "Black" candidate nor the "front runner" - he's simply Barack!  That's enough.
    At the end of his stump speech he told a story about a state senator from South Caroline whose endorsement he wanted.  But to get it he had to travel to Greenwood, SC - a long 2 hour drive from anywhere.  But he did it.  And when he entered the rather non-descript rural building where the meeting was to be - all he saw was 20 people!  But then something really funny happened.
    Somebody shouted behind a screen "Are you ready?" and the folks responded "Let's go."  Then out of the dark emerged the petit lady senator.  And like a cheer leader she got them going by shouting "Are you ready?"  And their response, "Let's go."  Well folks that sounds like a good motto for us all.  After two terms of Dubya the central question is "Are you ready" and if so, then "Let's go." 
    And then tonight President Bush topped off a week of political spin over the war in Iraq by his two latest front men Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraes by appealing to Americans to once again stay the course.  My response was simple - "Liar, Liar, pants on fire."  So I'm ready to say NO to Bush and his cronies.  But now I have a candidate who I can say YES to.
    So Barack, RAD "is ready", so "Let's go." 
    When one gets to the core of the dilemma we face over Iraq it's very clear that the new president-elect will inherit all the issues involved with the war and occupation of Iraq.  Two huge issues emerge from that conundrum:  1) will a new administration be able to focus on a wider view of our role in the world or 2) will we continue to be bogged down with the Iraq quagmire?
    And if Iraq continues to be our focus, then what pray tell is the mission?  It's clear that the administration and Congress have given up on trying to turn Iraq into a model democracy.  Regime change has failed.  The best we can hope for is to stop the devolution of Iraq and the region into chaos.  After six years, 3700 lives and billions that's pretty slim pickings!  As the Peggy Lee song goes "Is that all there is?"
    So should the mission be to - stay the course; have a total pullout;  allow a de facto "soft" partition; or fall back to containing the chaos within Iraq.  It appears both the Congress and President Bush are quietly moving to some version of the two latter options fearing more ethnic cleansing or worse, genocide; the spill over effect of the civil war; and preventing Iraq from becoming a safe haven for Al Qaeda.
    If the option is containment then as Ambassador Crocker and General Patraeus implied in their testimony we will be in Iraq for a long, long time well past 2009.  Has Iraq become in effect the staging ground for a new "Cold War" between the US and worldwide terrorism?  If so what happens to other foreign policy challenges - the emergence of a stronger Russia, trade policy with China, global warming and relations with our allies in Europe?
    An answer to this "no good choices" option came over my e-mail this week from Barack Obama!  Finally somebody is saying what needs to be said and is willing to put it on the line and arguing that conventional thinking will not get us out of the Iraq quagmire.  Check Barack's letter out and then go to his website for more info
    Barack Obama on the war in Iraq: 
    I have spoken out against the war in Iraq since before it began.  Today, I outlined a plan to turn the page in Iraq and end the war.
    The saddest thing about the Bush administration's surge of public relations in favor of the war in Iraq this week is how predictable it has become for them to make their case for war around the anniversary of 9/11.
    Five years ago today -- September 12, 2002 -- President Bush made his case for war at the United Nations.
    He was wrong. The people who attacked us on 9/11 were in Afghanistan, not Iraq, and his case was built on exaggerated fears and empty evidence.
    But conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war. Too many politicians feared looking weak and failed to ask hard questions. Too many took the President at his word instead of reading the intelligence for themselves. Congress gave the President the authority to go to war, and our only opportunity to stop the war was lost.
    I made a different judgment. I opposed this war from the beginning. I opposed the war in 2002. I opposed it in 2003. I opposed it in 2004. I opposed it in 2005. I opposed it in 2006. And I introduced a plan this January to remove all of our combat brigades by March 2008.
    The time to end this war is now.
    My plan for turning the page in Iraq is clear:

  • remove our combat troops from Iraq's civil war by the end of 2008
  • take a new approach to press for reconciliation within Iraq
  • escalate our diplomacy with all of Iraq's neighbors and the United Nations
  • confront the human costs of this war directly with increased humanitarian aid

    Our troops have performed brilliantly, but let me be clear: there is no military solution in Iraq, and there never was.
    The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to begin to remove our combat troops immediately.
    Not in six months or a year -- now.
    We must get out strategically and carefully, but our drawdown should proceed at a steady pace of one or two brigades each month. If we start now, all of our combat brigades should be out of Iraq by the end of next year.
    While we change the dynamic within Iraq, we must surge our diplomacy in the region.
    We need to launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent history to reach a new compact in the region. This compact must secure Iraq's borders, keep neighbors from meddling, isolate al Qaeda, and support Iraq's unity.
    Conventional thinking in Washington says Presidents cannot lead this diplomacy. But I think the American people know better. Not talking doesn't make us look tough -- it makes us look arrogant. And it doesn't get results.
    Strong Presidents tell their adversaries where they stand, and that's what I would do. Now is the time for tough and sustained diplomacy backed by real pressure. It's time to rally the region and the world to our side.
    The final part of my plan is a major international initiative to address Iraq's humanitarian crisis.
    There's no military solution that can reunite a family or resettle an orphaned child. It's time to form an international working group with the countries in the region, our European and Asian friends, and the United Nations.
    We should increase our support for displaced Iraqis and expand access to social services for refugees in neighboring countries.
    It's also time to go to our friends and allies -- and all the members of our original coalition in Iraq -- to find homes for the many Iraqis who are in desperate need of asylum.
    As Americans, we must keep faith with Iraqis who kept faith with us and take responsibility for our own actions:
    I welcome all of the folks who have changed their position on the war over these last months and years. We need more of those votes to change if we're going to change the direction of this war. But if we've learned one thing from Iraq, it's that the judgment that matters most is the judgment that's made first.
    I opposed this war from the beginning, and I want to bring this country together to end this war now. The American people have the right instincts on Iraq. It's time to heed their judgment.
    We have the power to do this -- not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. We don't have to wait until George Bush is gone from office -- we can begin to end this war today, right now.
    It's time reclaim our foreign policy. It's time to reclaim our politics. It's time to lead this country -- and this world -- to a new dawn of peace and unity.
    RAD:  So "Are you ready," if so "Let's go."  Barack Obama for President!