The 2014 State of the Union Address (Enhanced Version)
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.

An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup, and did her part to add to the more than eight million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years.

An autoworker fine-tuned some of the best, most fuel-efficient cars in the world, and did his part to help America wean itself off foreign oil.

A farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history. A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford. A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after twelve long years, is finally coming to an end.

Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong.

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The 2013 State of the Union Address

by Michael O. Allen on April 26, 2013

February 13, 2013 | 1:01:01 | Public Domain

Remarks by the President in the State of the Union Address

U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.

9:15 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, fellow citizens:

Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress.” (Applause.) “It is my task,” he said, “to report the State of the Union — to improve it is the task of us all.”

Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report. After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. (Applause.) After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in 20. (Applause.) Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before. (Applause.)

So, together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the State of our Union is stronger. (Applause.)

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Inaugural Address by President Barack Obama–January 21, 2013

by Michael O. Allen on January 21, 2013

Inaugural Address by President Barack Obama–January 21, 2013

11:55 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice,
members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. (Applause.) The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

And for more than two hundred years, we have.

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The 2012 State of the Union

by Michael O. Allen on January 25, 2012

Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address
United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.
9:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought — and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. (Applause.) For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. (Applause.) For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. (Applause.) Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. (Applause.) Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this. I know we can, because we’ve done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. (Applause.) My grandfather, a veteran of Patton’s Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.

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President Obama’s Remarks on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

by Michael O. Allen on September 12, 2011
The Bible tells us, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Ten years ago, America confronted one of our darkest nights. Mighty towers crumbled. Black smoke billowed up from the Pentagon. Airplane wreckage smoldered on a Pennsylvania field. Friends and neighbors, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – they were taken from us with heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty. On September 12, 2001, we awoke to a world in which evil was closer at hand, and uncertainty clouded our future.

In the decade since, much has changed for Americans. We’ve known war and recession, passionate debates and political divides. We can never get back the lives that were lost on that day, or the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the wars that followed.

And yet today, it is worth remembering what has not changed. Our character as a nation has not changed. Our faith – in God and each other – that has not changed. Our belief in America, born of a timeless ideal that men and women should govern themselves; that all people are created equal, and deserve the same freedom to determine their own destiny – that belief, through tests and trials, has only been strengthened.

These past 10 years have shown that America does not give in to fear. The rescue workers who rushed to the scene; the firefighters who charged up the stairs; the passengers who stormed the cockpit – these patriots defined the very nature of courage. Over the years we have also seen a more quiet form of heroism – in the ladder company that lost so many men and still suits up and saves lives every day; the businesses that have rebuilt from nothing; the burn victim who has bounced back; the families that press on.

Last spring, I received a letter from a woman named Suzanne Swaine. She had lost her husband and brother in the Twin Towers, and said that she had been robbed of “so many would-be proud moments where a father watches their child graduate, or tend goal in a lacrosse game, or succeed academically.” But her daughters are in college, the other doing well in high school. “It has been 10 years of raising these girls on my own,” Suzanne wrote. “I could not be prouder of their strength and resilience.” That spirit typifies our American family. And the hopeful future for those girls is the ultimate rebuke to the hateful killers who took the life of their father.

These past ten years have shown America’s resolve to defend its citizens, and our way of life. Diplomats serve in far-off posts, and intelligence professionals work tirelessly without recognition. Two million Americans have gone to war since 9/11. They have demonstrated that those who do us harm cannot hide from the reach of justice, anywhere in the world. America has been defended not by conscripts, but by citizens who choose to serve – young people who signed up straight out of high school; guardsmen and reservists; workers and businesspeople; immigrants and fourth-generation soldiers. They are men and women who left behind lives of comfort for two, three, four or five tours of duty. Too many will never come home. Those that do carry dark memories from distant places, and the legacy of fallen friends. [click to continue…]



by Michael O. Allen on August 19, 2010

Finally as promised, a Special Comment tonight on the inaccurately described “Ground Zero mosque.”

“They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Pastor Martin Niemoller’s words are well known but their context is not well understood. Niemoller was not speaking abstractly. He witnessed persecution, he acquiesced to it, he ultimately fell victim to it. He had been a German World War 1 hero, then a conservative who welcomed the fall of German democracy and the rise of Hitler and had few qualms the beginning of the holocaust until he himself was arrested for supporting it insufficiently.

Niemoller’s confessional warning came in a speech in Frankfurt in January, 1946, eight months after he was liberated by American troops. He had been detained at Tyrol, Sachsen-hausen and Dachau. For seven years.

Niemoller survived the death camps. In quoting him, I make no direct comparison between the attempts to suppress the building of a Muslim religious center in downtown Manhattan, and the unimaginable nightmare of the Holocaust. Such a comparison is ludicrous. At least it is, now.
But Niemoller was not warning of the Holocaust. He was warning of the willingness of a seemingly rational society to condone the gradual stoking of enmity towards an ethnic or religious group warning of the building-up of a collective pool of national fear and hate, warning of the moment in which the need to purge, outstrips even the perameters of the original scape-goating, when new victims are needed because a country has begun to run on a horrible fuel of hatred — magnified, amplified, multiplied, by politicians and zealots, within government and without.

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“A Tiny Ripple of Hope”

by Michael O. Allen on June 7, 2010

I came across this speech (Facebook, then Daily Kos) and thought I should share:

Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Vice Chancellor, Professor Robertson, Mr. Diamond, Mr. Daniel, and Ladies and Gentlemen

I come here this evening because of my deep interest and affection for a land settled by the Dutch in the mid-seventeenth century, then taken over by the British, and at last independent; a land in which the native inhabitants were at first subdued, but relations with whom remain a problem to this day; a land which defined itself on a hostile frontier; a land which has tamed rich natural resources through the energetic application of modern technology; a land which once the importer of slaves, and now must struggle to wipe out the last traces of that former bondage. I refer, of course, to the United States of America.

But I am glad to come here — and my wife and I and all of our party are glad to come here to South Africa, and we’re glad to come to Cape Town. I am already greatly enjoying my stay and my visit here. I am making an effort to meet and exchange views with people of all walks of life, and all segments of South African opinion, including those who represent the views of the government.

Today I am glad to meet with the National Union of South African Students. For a decade, NUSAS has stood and worked for the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — principles which embody the collective hopes of men of good will all around the globe. Your work at home and in international student affairs has brought great credit to yourselves and to your country. I know the National Student Association in the United States feels a particularly close relationship with this organization.

And I wish to thank especially Mr. Ian Robertson, who first extended the invitation on behalf of NUSAS. I wish to thank him for his kindness to me in inviting me. I am very sorry that he can not be with us here this evening. I was happy to have had the opportunity to meet and speak with him earlier this evening. And I presented him with a copy of Profiles in Courage which was a book that was written by President John Kennedy and was signed to him by President Kennedy’s widow, Mrs. John Kennedy.

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Souter’s Harvard Talk

by Michael O. Allen on June 4, 2010

Souter signing guest book inside Massachusetts Hall prior to delivering Harvard's 359th Commencement.

Text of Justice David Souter’s Harvard Commencement remarks (as delivered)

When I was younger, I used to hear Harvard stories from a member of the class of 1885. Back then, old graduates of the College who could get to Cambridge on Commencement Day didn’t wait for reunion years to come back to the Yard.  They’d just turn up, see old friends, look over the new crop, and have a cup of Commencement punch under the elms.  The old man remembered one of those summer days when he was heading for the Square after lunch and crossed paths with a newly graduated senior, who had enjoyed quite a few cups of that punch.  As the two men approached each other the younger one thrust out his new diploma and shouted, “Educated, by God.”

Even with an honorary Harvard doctorate in my hands, I know enough not to shout that across the Yard, but the University’s generosity does make me bold enough to say that over the course of 19 years on the Supreme Court, I learned some lessons about the Constitution of the United States, and about what judges do when they apply it in deciding cases with constitutional issues.  I’m going to draw on that experience in the course of the next few minutes, for it is as a judge that I have been given the honor to speak before you.

The occasion for our coming together like this aligns with the approach of two separate events on the judicial side of the national public life:  the end of the Supreme Court’s term, with its quickened pace of decisions, and a confirmation proceeding for the latest nominee to fill a seat on the court.  We will as a consequence be hearing and discussing a particular sort of criticism that is frequently aimed at the more controversial Supreme Court decisions:  criticism that the court is making up the law, that the court is announcing constitutional rules that cannot be found in the Constitution, and that the court is engaging in activism to extend civil liberties.  A good many of us, I’m sure a good many of us here, intuitively react that this sort of commentary tends to miss the mark.  But we don’t often pause to consider in any detail the conceptions of the Constitution and of constitutional judging that underlie the critical rhetoric, or to compare them with the notions that lie behind our own intuitive responses.  I’m going to try to make some of those comparisons this afternoon.

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MLB’s hall of shame

by Michael O. Allen on June 3, 2010

Alright, MLB umpire Jim Joyce stands today appropriately outfitted with goat horns for blowing what should have been the final call of a perfect game by Detroit Tigers Armando Galarraga on Wednesday.

Galarraga missed his chance at baseball immortality by pitching the 21st perfect game in baseball history (two earlier this season). That is unless baseball commish, that disgraceful Bud Selig, does the right thing and instituted a “Galarraga rule” replay of all disputed plays.

Imagine if Joyce could have had a chance to review the play after Detroit Manager Jim Leyland came in to argue the call? Despite the obviousness of Joyce’s error and calls to reconsider, Selig is upholding the call.

Joyce, though a goat, is not an unsympathetic figure here. He readily admitted his error.

“It was the biggest call of my career and I kicked the shit out of it,” he said afterward. “I had a great angle, and I missed the call.”  See the rest of the worst umps and referees here.


Check this out!

by Michael O. Allen on January 12, 2010

It’s about newspapers and news writing


Where To, Mr. Daschle?

February 3, 2009

Tom Daschle, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human services, is facing some hard questions today regarding his failure to pay more than $140,000 in taxes, much of it related to a chauffeur-driven car provided to him by big-time Democratic donor Leo Hindery, Jr. To make things worse for Daschle, his tax problems […]

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My friend, Todd

January 19, 2009

The morning of Friday, Jan. 16, 2009 was one of the worst moments of my life. It was the first time in all the years that I’ve worked at the American Civil Liberties Union that I’ve come to work knowing that not only is my friend, Todd, not going to be there that day, but […]

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A little history

January 12, 2009

MIDEAST How We Got to This Point By Kevin Peraino, NEWSWEEK, From the magazine issue dated Jan 12, 2009 Three recent books chart the winding path from Kermit Roosevelt with his suitcases stuffed with cash to George W. Bush’s gloomy Nobel Prize prospects. Barack Obama said virtually nothing last week about the fighting in Gaza. […]

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“Special relationship” with one side

January 12, 2009

If Obama Is Serious He should get tough with Israel by Aaron David Miller, NEWSWEEK, from the magazine issue dated Jan 12, 2009 Jews worry for a living; their tragic history compels them to do so. In the next few years, there will be plenty to worry about, particularly when it comes to Israel. The […]

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The Middle East: Rivers of blood

January 12, 2009

If You Want Peace, Work For Justice says the Central Virginia Progressive BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Bill Moyers on Mideast Violence | PBS Transcript BILL MOYERS: In a city made noisy by hammers and saws preparing for the inauguration of a new president — a city already reverberating with partisan rancor, and with the constant […]

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. . . or Mexico

January 12, 2009

Gaza Is Not Toronto: It Has Been Under Full Occupation For Over 40 Years By M.J. Rosenberg – January 10, 2009, 8:57PM “I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country […]

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“Enemies of freedom”

January 12, 2009

Gaza Needs a George Orwell Now By Jim Sleeper – January 11, 2009, 12:48AM Israel is barring independent journalists from Gaza, but The New York Times, relying on Palestinian correspondents there, reports that “Hamas, with training from Iran and Hezbollah, has used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, […]

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When David is the Goliath

January 9, 2009

Israel Has Killed 3 Times As Many Civilians As They Have Hamas Fighters Gaza Children Found With Mothers’ Corpses By ALAN COWELL PARIS — The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday it had discovered “shocking” scenes — including small children next to their mothers’ corpses — when its representatives gained access for the […]

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Can you call it a war if . . .

January 6, 2009

Can There Be Politics in Tragedy? Or in Gaza? By Jim Sleeper – January 4, 2009, 6:22PM I’m immersed in long-range writing and leave tomorrow for six months in Berlin, but the Gaza war provokes me to share a brilliant essay by Darry Li, a doctoral student in anthropology and Middle East Studies at Harvard […]

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Uri Avnery’s peace proposal

January 4, 2009

MEMO FOR OBAMA ON ISRAEL For: the President-Elect, Mr. Barack Obama. From: Uri Avnery, Israel. The following humble suggestions are based on my 70 years of experience as an underground fighter, special forces soldier in the 1948 war, editor-in-chief of a newsmagazine, member of the Knesset and founding member of a peace movement: -1- As […]

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