Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Obama Family Holiday Greeting

Friday, December 7, 2007

12/01 Barack Obama - Iowa Retrospective

An excellent reflection on the first nine months of Barack Obama's campaign efforts in Iowa.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Obama on The Daily Show

Two of my favorite Americans in one clip!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Light Posting: An Explanation


Despite the massive flow of election news lately, it's been two weeks since my last post. For what it's worth, I thought I might offer an explanation for the absence of new content on BlogObama08: I've moved across the country and started graduate school.

I know, I know--it's a weak excuse, but lately I've been pressed for time. Between teaching a course, studying for my own classes, and getting settled into my new community, I've hardly had a free moment to blog. I figure if I can't post something substantive and original, then I might as well not post at all. (Some readers, like Old Lion, might suggest that by that logic I should never have been posting in the first place.)

Anyway, thanks to those of you who've been checking in for new posts. I truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and comment here. Hopefully, I'll be getting back to my regular posting schedule sooner than later. In the meantime, best of luck with your campaign efforts!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove's Legacy: A Nation Divided, A White House Corrupted

“Karl Rove was an architect of a political strategy that has left the country more divided, the special interests more powerful, and the American people more shut out from their government than any time in memory," Senator Barack Obama said in a statement Monday. "But to build a new kind of politics, it will take more than the departure of a man or even an Administration that constructed the old--it will take a movement of everyday Americans committed to changing Washington and reclaiming their government.”

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Obama at the NEA Conference

As a former public school teacher, I hear a lot of truth in Barack Obama's address at this year's National Education Assocation convention in Philadelphia. Too many teachers feel fatigued and disrespected because society is eager to place the blame for our meager public schools squarely on the shoulders of classroom teachers. In truth, if we are to improve our schools, then entire communities have to step up to the challenge.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Obama Defends Pakistan Policy at Presidential Forum

Following a week of criticism for his bold remarks on U.S. policy toward Pakistan, Barack Obama had a chance to confront his opponents directly at the AFL-CIO Presidential Forum in Chicago last night. Hillary Clinton's response, which drew boos from the crowd at soldier field: "Remember, you should always say everything you think when you're running for president."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

New Week, Fresh Start

The past week has been a rough one for Barack Obama. What was supposed to be a well-received unveiling of his comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism turned into a seemingly open-ended invitation to attack the Illinois Senator. His campaign to date has been wildly successful spreading its message and filling its piggy bank. For a group accustomed to adoring crowds and press fanfare, a week like this might come as a shock.

If you've missed the events as they unfolded, these two pieces from the Chicago Sun-Times will be a good place to start. Yes, it was that kind of week. The kind of week when you wake up on Sunday to discover that your hometown newspaper is running two critical editorials:

But the candidate is 46, now--a year older and a little wiser. The question now is how will Barack Obama and his staff move forward? The criticism faced this past week is certainly the most wide-ranging and sustained that the campaign has faced thus far.

The road is going to get rougher as the primaries draw near. Obama has already warned supporters of this truth. Last week, smooth sailing gave way to rough seas. In this new week, we'll learn a lot about this campaign, and this candidate, by how they navigate the waters ahead.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Happy Birthday, Barack Obama!

Today is Barack Obama's 46th birthday. This is a perfect opportunity to give a gift to yourself by reading one of his books. Or if you're feeling generous, consider an online donation to Obama for America.

Friday, August 3, 2007

UPDATE: Obama, Tancredo Criticized for Foreign Policy Remarks

Senator Barack Obama and Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) were both criticized this week by the U.S. State Department and by the government of Pakistan for their foreign policy comments.

Certainly Obama's comments about Pakistan were a dramatic departure from his previous foreign policy rhetoric, but they were not even in the same galaxy as Tancredo's asinine remarks.

The republican run State Department is willing to sacrifice a pawn like Tom Tancredo in an effort to slander Barack Obama. Let's face it--Obama's stance on Pakistan, while bold, is nowhere near Tancredo's notion that we ought to nuke Muslim holy sites. In fact, I shudder to even mention them in the same sentence, even the same paragraph.

Let me try that again.

Obama's foreign policy is bold, if perhaps a bit too conservative for my taste.

Tancredo's foreign policy is less policy and more the ranting of an attention deprived bigot.

Obviously the republicans fear Obama as the candidate most capable of swinging moderate Republican voters and independents. Otherwise, why lump Obama's proposal in the same pile as Tancredo's drivel?

I suppose we just have to get used to the idea of the Bush administration meddling with this election, even if it means castigating one of their third-tier candidates in an effort to get at Obama.

As always, your comments are encouraged.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Obama's Foreign Policy Must Emphasize Diplomacy, not Battlefields

Delivering a prepared statement today in Washington, Barack Obama outlined his five part strategy to combat global terrorism.

"When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland."

A component of this first step, getting on "the right battlefield" in Pakistan, is already drawing plenty of heat. "I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges," Obama said. "But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will. "

It is disappointing to see Obama flex his muscles here, stressing military action largely in response to criticism from opponents who see his previous proposals as weak. This is hardly the "Politics of Hope" that we were promised. In fact, it is exactly the "politics as usual" that Obama is so quick to denounce.

But before we scoff at his entire plan, let's be reminded that the first step in his approach to Pakistan does hinge on diplomacy.

"As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan."

We can trust that most coverage of this Obama speech will center on his comments on Pakistan. And rightly so. This explicit threat of military action is a departure from Obama's previous speeches. Make no mistake about it--if Obama continues to drift toward military solutions to the global terrorism threat, he risks alienating many of his most ardent supporters.

In the spirit of getting to the real heart of Obama's proposals, let's examine elements of the plan that better reflect his fresh, much needed, diplomacy based foreign policy.

  • "...I will create a Shared Security Partnership Program to forge an international intelligence and law enforcement infrastructure to take down terrorist networks from the remote islands of Indonesia, to the sprawling cities of Africa. This program will provide $5 billion over three years for counter-terrorism cooperation with countries around the world, including information sharing, funding for training, operations, border security, anti-corruption programs, technology, and targeting terrorist financing. And this effort will focus on helping our partners succeed without repressive tactics, because brutality breeds terror, it does not defeat it."
  • "...there is still about 50 tons of highly enriched civilian nuclear facilities in over forty countries...There are still about 15,000 to 16,00 nuclear weapons and stockpiles of uranium and plutonium scattered across 11 time zones in the former Soviet President, I will lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons and material at vulnerable sites within four years."
  • "As President, I will make it a focus of my foreign policy to roll back the tide of hopelessness that gives rise to hate. Freedom must mean freedom from fear, not the freedom of anarchy. I will never shrug my shoulders and say -- as Secretary Rumsfeld did -- "Freedom is untidy." I will focus our support on helping nations build independent judicial systems, honest police forces, and financial systems that are transparent and accountable. Freedom must also mean freedom from want, not freedom lost to an empty stomach. So I will make poverty reduction a key part of helping other nations reduce anarchy."
  • "I will double our annual investments to meet these challenges to $50 billion by 2012. And I will support a $2 billion Global Education Fund to counter the radical madrasas -- often funded by money from within Saudi Arabia -- that have filled young minds with messages of hate. We must work for a world where every child, everywhere, is taught to build and not to destroy."
  • "We will open "America Houses" in cities across the Islamic world, with Internet, libraries, English lessons, stories of America's Muslims and the strength they add to our country, and vocational programs. Through a new "America's Voice Corps" we will recruit, train, and send out into the field talented young Americans who can speak with -- and listen to -- the people who today hear about us only from our enemies."
  • "In the first 100 days of my Administration, I will travel to a major Islamic forum and deliver an address to redefine our struggle. I will make clear that we are not at war with Islam, that we will stand with those who are willing to stand up for their future, and that we need their effort to defeat the prophets of hate and violence. I will speak directly to that child who looks up at that helicopter, and my message will be clear: "You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now."
Obama's tough talk on Pakistan will no doubt draw attention away from the more progressive elements of his plan. In an effort to respond to his critics and appeal to more conservative voters, Obama seems to be infusing some military might into the Politics of Hope.

Not a good idea. Obama set fundraising records and became the leading candidate by emphasizing a politics of peace, unity, and optimism. He must stay true to those promises.

In the meantime, let's focus on the aspects of Obama's plan that are truly hopeful. Let's remind the Obama campaign why we're supporting this candidate in the first place.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Achilles' Heel

Slate is running a three-part series examining the major weaknesses of the leading presidential candidates. The articles are worthwhile reads, brimming with interesting links.

Also for your consideration, today's cover story from the New York Times looks back on Obama's tenure in the Illinois State Senate.

Your comments are welcome.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Obama vs. Clinton, Round 1

Hillary Clinton wasted no time attacking Barack Obama after Monday night's CNN/YouTube debate. Answering a question about foreign policy, Obama said he would try to reverse the damage done by the Bush administrations bellicose diplomacy by meeting with the leaders of nations such as Iran, Cuba, and North Korea, without conditions, within the first year of his presidency.

In her ongoing campaign to appear tough, Clinton attacked Obama the next day, declaring his policy propositions "irresponsible and naive." According to Clinton, meeting with these renegade leaders without conditions and without initial diplomatic envoys would diminish the prestige and power of the American presidency.

Oh yes. Of course. The Office of the President is so prestigious and powerful these days.

Anyway, Obama was quick to clarify his intentions. "The notion that I was somehow going to be inviting them over for tea next week without having initial envoys meet is ridiculous," he said in an interview outside his office. "But the general principle is one that I think Senator Clinton is wrong on, and that is if we are laying out preconditions that prevent us from speaking frankly to these folks, then we are continuing with Bush-Cheney policies."

Hillary obviously didn't have many qualms with Bush-Cheney policies when she authorized the president's initial authorization to go to invade Iraq.

"But that was years ago," you might say. Well, when Clinton can demonstrate that her judgement has improved since that vote, maybe she'll earn some more credibility on the Iraq issue.

In the meantime, it's the same story with the former first lady: Act tough on defense and foreign policy. It's what she thinks the voters want, and so she is willing to play that role. It's what she was doing when she authorized the invasion of Iraq. It's what she is doing now when she criticizes Barack Obama for wanting to use diplomacy instead of sanctions and warheads.

Monday, July 23, 2007

CNN\YouTube Debate Challenges Top Candidates

I have to hand it to the folks over at CNN and YouTube who put together tonight's Democratic debate live on CNN--the event was a pleasure to watch.

The debate format, which allowed "everyday Americans" to submit questions to the candidates via YouTube, offered viewers the chance to see the candidates struggle with some of the most difficult questions put to them during this campaign so far.

YouTube viewers posed questions on a broad variety of topics from Darfur to gun control, gay rights to health care, and of course, Iraq. The best part about this innovate format? Most candidates squirmed when faced with this eclectic mix of questions from concerned and curious voters.

When all is said and done, the format underscored how voters want to be spared canned soundbites from the candidates. Unfortunately, most of the candidates, particularly those in the "top tier," struggled to deviate from their stump speeches.

If any candidates came away winners in tonight's debate, it was those in the "second tier." The CNN/YouTube debate allowed Biden, Richardson, Dodd, Kucinich, and even grumpy ol' Mike Gravel a chance to let their personalities and their ideas shine.

Was the debate as "historic" as CNN would like us to believe? Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure: The format nudged candidates away from their stump rhetoric and allowed second tier candidates an opportunity to be heard. That can only be a good thing for a democracy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Obama: What We Gain By Stopping the War

Barack Obama speaks to a crowd in Manchester, Iowa about what the Iraq War is costing the American people.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Money Talks: Obama's Record Fundraising

$32.5 million in the second quarter. It's an absolutely stunning number, especially when taken in its historical context. For your consideration: Bill Clinton's total during the same period in 2005, the previous Democratic record, was just $9.6 million.

So what do Obama's second quarter numbers tell us about the state of American politics? Well, now more than ever, candidates travelling the road to the White House must pay a steep toll, a toll that prohibitively expensive for "second-tier" candidates and, it seems now, for some "first-tier" candidates. Consider John Edwards, who with just $9 million in the second quarter seems strapped for cash next to Obama and Clinton.

It's enough to breed some serious cynicism, until we take a closer look at the numbers.

In six months, 258,000 people have donated to the Obama campaign. Thousands of those donations have been contributions of less than $50. Thousands more of those contributions have not been monetary donations at all, but instead, donations of time from folks who are testing their political voices, exercising political action, and placing their trust in a candidate for the first time in their lives.

When we speak of Obama's donors, we're not speaking about people who simply showed up to a fundraising dinner, cut a check for $2,300, and snapped a photograph with the candidate that they can hang in their corner office. Thousands of Obama's supporters have never donated to a campaign before in their lives. These are people who have finally encountered not just a candidate, but a man, and a family, who have inspired them to believe in America again, to believe that we can turn this country around. Barack Obama has inspired Americans across economic, social, and ideological lines to believe that we all have more in common than we think we have, and that a little bit of time and a little bit of hope, from a lot of people, will make an enormous difference in this nation and in this world.

Campaign finance is too often a depressing subject. It's not right that "second-tier" candidates have already been buried under the piles of money available to the "top-tier" campaigns. It's not right that candidates have to raise $32.5 million to have the establishment stand up and take notice. It's not right that 2008 is going be our first billion dollar presidential campaign.

But money talks. It's a political reality, and a dismal one at that. But what makes the Obama campaign special, and full of hope, is that the $32.5 million represents the voices of everyday Americans contributing what they can, when they can, be it $50, $5, or five hours of time at a grassroots event. Ultimately, the Obama campaign is winning the financial race because it is interested on more than simply monetary contributions. It is interested in contributions of time, ideas, and hope.

When you run a campaign like that, you discover that thousands of people have been waiting their entire lives to contribute to something bigger than themselves. That's the sort of campaign that breaks records, and makes history.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Obama's Message to Iowa

Here is the latest of Barack Obama's Iowa campaign ads.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Punjab, Schmumjab! Face the Facts: Clinton's Funding Comes at the Expense of U.S. Workers!

Illinois Senator Barack Obama is taking heat lately for a piece of opposition research released by his campaign last week. The memo, which you can read in full here, criticizes New York Senator Hillary Clinton for her lucrative personal and political ties to India.

Here is the introduction to the memo. I've taken the liberty to add some bold print.


The Clintons have reaped significant financial rewards from their relationship with the Indian community, both in their personal finances and Hillary’s campaign fundraising. Hillary Clinton, who is the co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, has drawn criticism from anti-offshoring groups for her vocal support of Indian business and unwillingness to protect American jobs. Bill Clinton has invested tens of thousands of dollars in an Indian bill payment company, while Hillary Clinton has taken tens of thousands from companies that outsource jobs to India. Workers who have been laid off in upstate New York might not think that her recent joke that she could be elected to the Senate seat in Punjab is that funny.

Loud-mouths on both the left and the right side of the fence have been lapping up this opportunity to point out a rare "mistake" in Obama's campaign. Supposedly, the inference that Clinton could be the democratic senator from Punjab (a state in India) makes his campaign and, by implication, Obama himself, racist.

Obama, sometimes too quick to apologize, took full responsibility for the memo and any harm that it caused, despite the fact that he hadn't even seen it yet.

But let us point out, for anyone who is paying any attention at all, that Hillary Clinton made the same "Punjab" comment herself!

For your consideration, from a report in the March 17, 2006 Des Moines Register: At a fundraiser at the Maryland home of Dr. Rajwant Singh, Clinton began her address by joking "'I can certainly run for the Senate seat in Punjab and win easily." These comments came after Clinton was introduced by Dr. Singh as the senator not only from New York, but also Punjab.

So, hold on to your keyboards while we follow the logic of Obama's critics:

  1. The Obama campaign released a thoroughly researched and startling memo detailing the myriad ways in which the Clinton family is in bed financially with businesses and business people who are directly responsible for U.S. jobs moving to India.

  2. The Obama campaign gives the memo a title that plays directly off a joke that Clinton herself made when referring to her support from Indian donors.

  3. Obama is a racist.

Hmm...something here doesn't quite fit. Maybe it's the fact that, once again, the media has managed to criticize Obama as a means of drawing attention away from a major campaign issue.

We've seen this sort of empty, distracting criticism before. Let's not let it turn our attention from the fact that Hillary Clinton loves the support of businesses that move American jobs, and in some cases entire industries, overseas.

While these mothers and fathers come home to their families without a paycheck, Clinton is thrilled to cash in on donations from the business people who essentially laid them off.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Obama's Grassroots Walk for Change

On June 9, 2007, thousands of Obama supporters across the country volunteered their time and energy to walk in their communities to spread the word about Barack Obama's campaign to change American politics.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Latest Polls: Obama Strongest General Election Candidate

A new Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll indicates that Barack Obama would be the strongest candidate in the general election, thanks to an unlikely source of support: Republicans.

While these early polls are highly speculative and largely meaningless, it is interesting to note that Obama is the only Democratic candidate who performs well in head-to-head polls versus the three major Republican candidates.

Among the findings of the poll:

  • 15 percent of Republicans say they would choose Obama in a head-to-head match- up against Rudy Giuliani. Just 3 percent of Republican respondents say they would pick Hillary Clinton in a similar contest.
  • A majority of Democrats say they favor ``a candidate who can bridge partisan divides'' -- a central theme of his campaign -- over a candidate ``with long experience in government and policy making,'' a cornerstone of Clinton's self-presentation. Independents voting in the Democratic primary say they favor unity over experience by more than 2-to-1.
  • 18 percent of Democratic primary voters say they couldn't vote for Clinton, the highest negative rating of any Democrat. Five percent say they couldn't vote for Obama.
In recent polls, Clinton still leads by 11 points among core Democrats, and Clinton supporters would probably point to Obama's success appeal among Republicans as evidence that he is more moderate than liberal. Yet with so many tough challenges ahead--Iraq, Afghanistan, climate change, health care, immigration--it is heartening to know that even Republicans are rallying around the one candidate who they believe can bring this country together and tackle the tough issues.

Clearly, Obama's message has been resonating among voters across the political spectrum: Partisan bickering has led us down the wrong path--It's time to come together and turn a new page in America's history.

Friday, June 8, 2007

CNN on Obama's "Quiet Riots"

I'm thankful that, despite fierce criticism for his comments, Obama is willing to draw attention to the injustices suffered by urban poor in this country.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Obama Warns of "Quiet Riot" Among Blacks

Here is a Time magazine piece about Obama's recent comments on the growing frustration and unrest among blacks who remain displaced 20 months after Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Great Obama Links

Thanks for visiting. I apologize for the light posting lately, but I've been travelling. Meanwhile, here are some links to more Obama reading.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Obama's Quiet Rebellion

This short piece from Salon covers Obama's recent visits to New Hampshire and Iowa, examing whether the senator is staying true to his pledge to avoid politics as usual.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

  • Click here for the CNN datebase of coalition casualties in the Iraq War.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Michelle Obama Leaves TreeHouse Board of Directors

TreeHouse Foods, Inc. announced minutes ago that Michelle Obama, wife of presidential hopeful Barack Obama, has resigned as a director of the company where she served on the board since 2005.

Mrs. Obama cited "increased demands on her time" as the reason for her departure.

Sure, she is busy hitting the campaign trail on behalf of her husband, including an appearance on Good Morning America today.

Sure, maybe she resigned from the position because last month she was re-elected to three more years on the board, a term that would overlap with her husband's time in the White House if he becomes president.

If that's the case, though, why resign now?

For the answer, look no further than your neighborhood Wal-Mart.

According to TreeHouse's financial filings, Wal-Mart accounted for 16.1 percent of its sales last year, a 37 percent increase from 2005, making the Bentonville, Arkansas retailer TreeHouse's biggest customer by a long shot.

Meanwhile, Senator Obama openly criticizes Wal-Mart for its anti-union labor practices, including at a recent event in Trenton, New Jersey where he answered an audience member's question about Wal-Mart by responding: "I won't shop there."

Understandably, this conflict of interest has
drawn criticism. So let's be realistic about this: Mrs. Obama needs to sever ties with TreeHouse before this becomes a bigger issue.

Wal-Mart ties have already been a thorn in the side of Senator Hillary Clinton, under fire as she
continues to distance herself from her years on the Wal-Mart board of directors, when she failed to push forth any meaningful reforms of Wal-Mart's labor practices. As Wal-Mart continues to become a contentious issue for Clinton, Mrs. Obama is wise to avoid any potentially harmful confrontations with the bright yellow smiley face.

Yet if Mrs. Obama is going to take an increased role in this campaign, and if this campaign is truly committed to not playing politics as usual, then Mrs. Obama should offer up a better explanation for leaving TreeHouse than "increased demands on her time."

At a time when the nation is just getting to know the fantastic woman standing beside Barack, a more forthright explaination would make a lot of voters proud to support both Obamas.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Financial disclosure forms filed by presidential candidates Wednesday show Barack Obama as the least wealthy of the top-tier presidential candidates, despite the fact that his family reported $991,000 in income last year.

It was an unusually high-flying year for the Obama family, however. $572,000 of the reported income was from Senator Obama's book sales, which surged as he gained national recognition for his leadership on issues like Iraq, alternative energy, health care, and the genocide in Darur.

The Chicago Tribue reported that Senator Obama's financial portfolio is divested of all companies that do business in Sudan.

While Obama obviously won't have to cut coupons to put food on the table, the Obama family fortune is downright meager when compared to the other candidates. Let's take a look, shall we?

  • John Edwards. $479,000 last year in salary. More than $7.5 million from investments with Fortress Investment Group, a New York hedge fund. Net worth is estimated between $22 and $62 million dollars. He said he worked only a few days a month at the hedge fund, so maybe he just didn't know that Fortress owned offshore funds that served as tax havens for investors. Maybe he didn't know that the firm's portfolio included subprime lenders, which provide high-risk loans that often target minorities. Maybe he just didn't know.

  • Lovely Hillary Clinton. Well, she requested a 45-day extension to file her papers. She just needed to get everything in order. I'm going to guess she's doing all right, though. As for Bubba, Former President Bill Clinton earned about $10 million in speaking fees last year.

  • Speaking fees! Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) raked in $11 million by speaking at events around the globe, reminding everyone how qualified he is on issues of national security. His empire, sadly built on the ashes of the World Trade Center, is worth somewhere between $20 million and $70 million. Hate to be harsh on Rudy, but let's face it--just a few years ago his net worth topped out at about $1.8 million

  • Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney became the richest candidate by buying and selling more than 180 companies through private equity funds. His net worth is somewhere between $190 million to $250 million. A healthy chunk of that money goes to the Mormon church, though. It's a rule.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is married to the millionaire daughter of an Arizona beer tycoon. Pretty cool.

So many choices. Hedge fund warrior. Former first lady. Former mayor cashing in on a national tragedy. Uber-wealthy private equity Mormon. Husband of a beer princess. Best selling author.

Hmm...I do love beer. And princesses. But I can't really jive with McCain's stance on Iraq.

I'm going to have to go with the best selling author. I'm sure Senator Obama wouldn't mind if you checked his book out from the library or borrowed it from a friend.

[Full disclosure: The author, a high school teacher, earned $42,448 in 2006. He has filed for an extension to report his net worth, which he will begin to calculate once he pays off his student loans.]

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother Michelle

Just in time for Mother's Day, USA Today ran this profile of Michelle Obama on its front page.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Guest Commentary: Is Obama a Pixy Stik?

My good friend Adam, a frequent Blog Obama reader, prides himself on being the devil's advocate in just about any situation. In an effort to jump start the comment section of Blog Obama, Adam has submitted this scathing critique of his "beef" with Obama and his campaign.

While Adam's comments do not represent the views of Blog Obama or its moderator, I do think that he addresses a valid concern among many liberal voters. Judge for yourself.


In order to commemorate my triumphant return to the comment section of Blog Obama '08, I submit to you the following diatribe, which is at least semi-related to the post to which I am replying.

Obama has officially become a walking, talking, campaigning Pixy Stik: he's all sugar, no substance. I don't know about you, but I like for my candidates to bring some protein to the table, or at least some dietary fiber...but all I've heard from Obama so far is a bunch of tooth-rotting palaver about what sort of POLITICIAN he ISN'T, when all I really want to know is what sort of POLICYMAKER he IS.

Of course, I may be the only person who feels this way...after all, the way that you Obama groupies have been double-fisting the Barack-flavored Kool-Aid would seem to indicate that you all can't get enough of his sweet nothings. And that's just as well, since if Mr. Pixy Stik ever gets caught in the rain without his harmonious, bi-partisan umbrella, all you're going to have left is a puddle of Kool-Aid and the soggy remains of his paper-based exoskeleton.

(For what it's worth, I would still vote for Obama over Clinton, Giuliani and McCain, because "all sugar, no substance" still beats "all turd, no substance." Sad but true.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The National Guard is Strained, Not Obama

When Senator Barack Obama mistakenly overstated the number of deaths from last weekend's awful tornadoes in Kansas, the usual suspects wasted no time pouncing on him for the error.

"Ten thousand people died - an entire town destroyed," Obama said, late in his speech. "Turns out that the National Guard in Kansas only had 40 per cent of its equipment and they are having to slow down the recovery process."

In reality, Obama was making an important point about how the Iraq War is needlessly draining National Guard resources that are intended to be used in exactly the sort of situation we see in Kansas. Or New Orleans, for that matter.

Yet to hear mainstream media spin this, the real story here is that Barack Obama made a mistake.

"He overstated by a factor of one thousand the number of deaths from the tornado in Greenberg, Kansas," said one pill-popping conservative radio host. "They're saying he's just tired. He's just tired out there, a little fatigued."

Let us not be distracted. It is a fact that the endless stream of National Guard units sent to Iraq deplete the vital human and material assets that are so essential to saving lives and helping communities struck by natural disasters.

The real story here is that the mainstream media prefers to pick apart candidates for innocent verbal missteps instead of focusing on the truth: Resources spent on Iraq War are sorely missed here at home, and will be even more sorely missed should we suffer another devastating hurricane season.

As for the mistake, Obama understands well that it won't be the last time this happens.

"There are going to be times when I get tired," he said. "There are going to be times when I get weary. There are going to be times when I make mistakes."

In a presidential field of career politicians who relentlessly polish themselves in their quests for more power, we ought to remember that at least one candidate is a real human being with a sincere and heartfelt desire to take this country in a new direction. Obama should be applauded for his humility. Meanwhile, let's make sure that the next time disaster strikes an American community, the victims have access to every resource they need.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Obama in the New Yorker

The latest issue of The New Yorker features a profile of Barack Obama, including insights from friends and colleagues who have known him for years.   
Here is an excerpt from the profile, titled "The Conciliator," by Larissa MacFarquhar.
Some people go into politics with an idea; Obama went in with an example. The only politician he discusses at any length in his first book is the black man who was mayor of Chicago when Obama first moved there, in 1985, Harold Washington. Obama doesn't mention what platform Washington ran on, or what he accomplished in office (though he implies that it wasn't much); he talks about the effect his election had on the black community. When he first arrived in the city, Obama noticed that, all over the South Side, people had hung Washington's picture on their walls. "The night Harold won, let me tell you, people just ran the streets," a barber Obama calls Smitty says. "It was like the day Joe Louis knocked out Schmeling. Same feeling. People weren't just proud of Harold. They were proud of themselves." Washington's victory, Obama saw, had produced in people an almost religious feeling of deliverance. "Like my idea of organizing," he concluded, Washington "held out an offer of collective redemption." It is unlikely that Obama would speak of his own candidacy in these terms—that would be embarrassing. But his talk of unity, his avoidance of blame, and his promise to end the war all seem intended to gesture to a similar prospect of redemption: not only for black people but for white people (for voting for a black man), for Republicans (for embracing unity with a Democrat), and for Americans (for saying to the world that the war was a mistake).
The complete profile is well worth the read.  Also, check out the accompanying slide show, titled "The Long Road."

Monday, May 7, 2007

Obama in Detroit: The Age of Oil Must End

Addressing the Detroit Economic Club today, Senator Barack Obama shared his plan to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.
"The need to drastically change our energy policy is no longer a debatable proposition," Obama said.  "It is not a question of whether, but how; not a question of if, but when."
Obama's plan focuses on three key components:

1. Fuel Economy Standards: Obama's plan would establish a target of four percent increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards each year.  If the target is met for ten years, Obama 's plan will save 1.3 million barrels of oil per day and 20 billion gallons of gasoline per year.

2. Help for Consumers: Under current law, tax credits are available for consumers who buy hybridsbut only if they buy one of the first 60,000 ultra-efficient vehicles produced by a given manufacturer. Barack Obama would lift the 60,000-per-manufacturer cap on buyer tax credits to allow more Americans to buy ultra-efficient vehicles.

3. Help for Manufacturers: U.S. automakers face retiree health costs that add $1,500 to the cost of every GM car. They are struggling to afford investments in hybrid technology. Obama would encourage automakers to make fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles by helping the companies shoulder the health care costs of their retirees. Domestic automakers will get health care assistance in exchange for investing 50 percent of the savings into technology to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. In addition, Obama would provide automakers with generous tax incentives for retooling assembly plants.

Senator Obama also called for increased use of biofuels.

"The potential for biofuels in this country is vast," he said, "it's time we made them as commonly available as gasoline is now."

"For the sake of our security, our economy, our jobs and our planet, the age of oil must end in our time."


Saturday, May 5, 2007

Obama Weekend Reading

  • From the Chicago Tribune: Pill-popping loud mouth Rush Limbaugh continues to bombard his audience with his patently racist "Barack the Magic Negro" song.

  • From the Associated Press: How presidential candidates pay for the private jets and charters they use to dart around the country.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Race a Factor in Obama's Secret Service Protection

Senator Barack Obama will now campaign under the protection of the Secret Service in the earliest security increase for a presidential candidate who was not already involved in a presidential administration.

"The secretary did authorize and the Secret Service is implementing today protection for presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama," Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said. "We're not going to discuss further details as to the number of resources or as to those protection operations."

According to CBS News, an anonymous law enforcement official stated that the the increase in security was prompted by "general concerns about the safety of a prominent black candidate."

Senator Obama has received no direct threats, although the anonymous official did comment on the presence of "racist chatter" on the Internet, particularly among white supremacist groups.

"I face the same security issues as anybody," Obama told the Associated Press back in February. "We're comfortable with the steps we have taken."

The Obama campaign did not comment on the security increase.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Online Obama Supporter Tries to Sell MySpace "Friends"

The Obama campaign took control of the Barack Obama MySpace profile today, after the profile's original creator, 29-year-old Joe Anthony of Los Angeles, CA attempted to bill the campaign $39,000 plus around $10,000 in fees for the profile and its 160,000 "friends."
The Obama campaign had worked together with Anthony to build the profile, sharing access to the site and control of its content.  As the campaign moves forward, however, campaign officials felt it was important that only those officially involved with the campaign would be able to post content under Barack Obama's name.
MySpace, which reserves the right to take control of a profile at any time, gave control of the profile to the Obama campaign.  Anthony retained the old profile's online "friends" and an "unofficial" Barack Obama profile.
Already, Obama has 13,000 "friends" on the new profile.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Obama Responds to Bush's Veto

"With one stroke of his pen, President Bush has stubbornly ignored the will of the American people, the majority of Congress and, most disturbingly, the realities on the ground in Iraq.

"Now we call upon our Republican colleagues in Congress to help override this veto and acknowledge what the President will not – that there is no military solution to a political conflict that lies at the heart of this civil war.

"Only the Iraqi leadership can make peace, and the best way to pressure them to do so is still a phased withdrawal of American forces with the goal of removing all combat troops from Iraq by March 30th, 2008.

"It is time to end this war so we can bring our troops home and redeploy our forces to help fight the broader struggle against terrorism and other threats of this new century."

-Senator Barack Obama, May 1st, 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

Obama Rocks the 2007 California Democratic Convention

Senator Barack Obama's address to delegates at the 2007 California Democratic Convention in San Diego.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Obama's Search for Faith

This feature story in the New York Times traces Senator Barack Obama's path to Christianity, exploring his relationship with the controversial Trinity United Church of Christ pastor Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

For more on Senator Obama and Reverend Wright, check out this Blog Obama 08 post from March 11, 2007.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

In First Debate, Obama Calls Attention to Rising Black Infant Mortality

On the day that the Senate joined the House in passing a bill that would require troop withdrawals from Iraq starting October 1st, eight Democratic candidates convened at South Carolina State University for the first debate of the 2008 presidential election.

Predictably, most leading candidates stayed on message, attacking the Bush administration and defending their earlier votes to authorize the Iraq invasion.
Meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama called attention to an alarming health care crisis in the nation's south.

"This week, we saw a story that showed that black infant mortality in this country is actually
going up in some states, which is shameful and makes no sense," Obama said.

The New York Times reported on April 22nd: "In Mississippi, infant deaths among blacks rose to 17 per thousand births in 2005 from 14.2 per thousand in 2004,while those among whites rose to 6.6 per thousand from 6.1. (The national average in 2003 was 5.7 for whites and 14.0 for blacks.)"

The trend is troubling for some of the nation's leading health care experts.

While the other candidates persist in trying to explain their poor judgement in the 2002 Iraq authorization vote, Senator Obama, who has opposed the war from the start, rightfully drew attention to an urgent health care story largely neglected by the press.

In a debate full of familiar faces reciting sound bites, voters should be thankful that one leader is willing to draw attention to the issues that his colleagues are willing to ignore.

Democratic Candidates Debate Tonight on MSNBC

Democratic presidential candidates including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards will debate tonight live on MSNBC at 7:00 p.m. EST. 
Click here for a preview of the debates.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Obama Speaks on Foreign Policy

Barack Obama outlines his foreign policy goals in his April 23rd speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Monday, April 23, 2007

No Other Candidate Matches Obama's Record of Environmental Activism

Campaigning over the Earth Day weekend, Senator Barack Obama pledged his support to roll out California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard policy nationwide.

The California policy, brought forth by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, would reduce annual gas emissions by 100 million metric tons — equal to taking 32 million cars off the road.

“The problem is not the lack of policy, the problem is the lack of will and the lack of urgency,” Obama said to a crowd of 12,000 at the University of Iowa.

While other Democratic candidates campaigned separately on the issue, only Obama has a proven history of environmental activism and advocacy.

For your consideration:

As an undergraduate at Columbia University, Obama's served three-months with a Ralph Nader offshoot organization organizing recycling programs at City College in Harlem.

Working as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, Obama fought for lead abatement in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood.

As an Illinois state senator, representing the 13th district on Chicago's South Side, Obama distinguished himself as a leader on environmental and public-health issues.

In 2003, Obama was one of six state senators to receive a 100 Percent Environmental Voting Record Award from the Illinois Environmental Council.

The League of Conservation Voters named him a 2004 Environmental Champion, one of 18 sitting and prospective members of Congress to receive the award.

At this critical juncture in global environmental policy, wise voters will choose a candidate for whom the environment is more than a simple Earth Day fashion statement.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Obama Sharply Critical of Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

The Supreme Court today voted in a 5-4 decision to uphold a ban on a specific abortion practice referred to as "partial birth" abortions.

Presidential candidates' remarks on the high court's ruling fell predictably along party lines. Democratic candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards all spoke out strongly against the ruling while Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mit Romney praised the decision.

Senator Obama in particular was sharply critical of the ruling, stating that "this ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman’s medical concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient."

The court's decision prompts speculation over whether the court will at some point in the future attempt to overrule the definitive Roe v. Wade decision.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Americans Must Aknowledge Connection Between Iraq, School Violence

After years of increasing violence and failed policy in Iraq, our President arrives at a solution: Send more troops.

"Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have."

George W. Bush, addressing the nation on January 10, 2007, calling for a troop surge in Iraq.

After years of increasing violence and failed policy in our nation's schools, conservative pundits around the country arrive at a solution: Increased gun ownership.

"We can start letting people arm themselves and so when these people walk out, they say, whoa, I really don`t know if the security guard has got a weapon on him or the teacher has a weapon on him. We can do something about it.We do nothing about it. We just sit there and let it happen over and over again. "

Pat Brown, criminal profiler, interviewed on CNN on April 16, 2007, calling for an easing of gun restrictions to allow more people to carry weapons.

The American people and their elected leadership must wake up to the notion that the violence among our young people is a reflection of our violence and aggression overseas.

For your consideration: In its efforts to boost weak recruitment, the U.S. Army offers prospective soldiers the chance to simulate battle by downloading a free combat video game.

In a culture that celebrates and glamorizes violence, we must question what core values we want reflected in our young people, in our media, and in our foreign policy.

Consider donating to The Virginia Tech Memorial Fund.

Monday, April 16, 2007

After Virginia Tech Shootings, We Must Question Our Culture

"Today, we are a grieving and shocked nation. Violence has once again taken too many young people from this world. In Blacksburg, they were daughters. They were sons. They were our nations new leaders. We mourn them. We will miss them, and we pray for their families and the injured fighting for their lives." --Barack Obama

Today's horrific mass shooting at Virginia Tech university is a sobering reminder that we live in a nation seeped in violence and bloodshed.

Violence of this magnitude invariably leaves people scrambling for answers. What would drive someone to such a violent act? What is at the root of this awful pattern? How can we prevent tragedies like this from happening again?

As is customary at a time like this, the gun control debate is brewing, but with a new twist. Reports indicate that the Virginia Tech shooter was armed with a 9 mm handgun and a 22 caliber pistol, hardly the heavy-duty assault weaponry at the heart of most gun control debates.

Our leaders will evaluate their gun control positions and make their statements.

If any good can come out of this heinous killing, perhaps it will be that our policy makers will stop focusing on the kind of guns that killers are using in this country, and instead focus on the kind of killers that our culture is breeding.

UPDATE: Long Time Clinton Donors Defect to Obama Camp

In another display of the widespread hunger for a new type of politics, a report released Sunday showed that several key members of the Democratic establishment, long time donors to the Clintons, are now aligned with Barack Obama.

This revelation comes at an unfortunate time for Clinton, after first quarter fundraising results showed Obama nearly matching her donations, despite her long established and powerful network of supporters.

Already buffeted by enormous grassroots support, Obama's message is gaining traction with the traditional Democratic stronghold. With so much at stake in the 2008 election, expect more Clinton money to land in Obama's coffers.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Leading by Example, Obama Returns Lobbyist Contributions

Senator Barack Obama's campaign announced Friday that more than $50,000 of donations would be returned after discovering that the contributors were lobbyists.
In keeping with his principle of not accepting special interest money, Senator Obama again demonstrated his commitment to steering U.S. politics in a new direction.
Obama supporters can take comfort knowing that the enormous funds raised by the Obama campaign in the first quarter came from legitimate sources, including more than 100,000 small donations from individuals who are ready for a new and hopeful chapter in American history.
Any honest candidate in the 2008 election will follow Obama's lead.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Clinton Exploits Rutgers Women for Political Gain

New York Senator Hillary Clinton wasted no time exploiting the Rutgers women's basketball team for her own political gain.

Clinton announced yesterday that she will visit Rutgers next week to address the Imus issue at the Eagleton Center for American Women and Politics. "The Eagleton Center for American Women and Politics had a standing invitation for her and we felt that it would be an appropriate time to discuss the role of women in society given all that is happening," a campaign spokesperson said.

Facing increasing public scrutiny, CBS Radio fired Imus, and the entire fiasco has sparked a fierce debate over racism, sexism, free speech, and decency in American media. After meeting with Imus at the New Jersey Governor's mansion Thursday night, the team announced that they have accepted Imus's apology.

So what's wrong with Senator Clinton showing her support for these young ladies? Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock offers some of the most clear-eyed commentary on this issue.

Below are Whitlock's remarks on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, with emphasis added.

"This whole thing has made nearly physically ill. Listening to this fact that this man is having a meeting at the governor's mansion, and women are crying about a man they probably didn't even know two weeks ago, who said some words they didn't even hear -- someone had to repeat to him -- who has no relevancy in the sports world, and he's having a meeting in the governor's office, with tears being shed, as if he is so powerful, one white man that they don't know is so powerful, he can destroy their dreams, their happiness?

That is just a falsehood that has to be rejected by the black community. Don Imus, nor is any white man so powerful -- the white man is not God. He is not that powerful that he can steal your happiness and your joy and your ability to be successful here in America. It's a terrible message we're sending, these kids all over the country: Play the victim. We will put you on "Oprah." We will celebrate you. Give you all this media attention. And we will make people come to the governor's office to apologize to you. And we must reject this notion that, somehow, Don Imus or someone is so powerful, he can steal your joy."

Cheers, Mr. Whitlock.

Let's have a quick reality check. Imus is syndicated on 61 stations nationally with a total audience right around 2 million people. The Rutger's women's basketball team, in their championship game versus Tennessee, drew a 1.8 Nielsen rating nationally, roughly equivalent to Imus's audience.

Granted, Rutgers played in one championship game while Imus is on the airwaves every day. The women's basketball audience is not enormous, and the NCAA is considering changes to the tournament schedule to bring more attention to women's games. Yet these numbers certainly attest to the fact that the Rutger's team commands an audience of its own, and one that's sure to grow after their appearance on Oprah.

To draw so much attention to Imus's ignorant comments sends the false message that one ancient, bigoted white male can steal the thunder of an entire team of talented student athletes. The media circus surrounding the remarks has only amplified Imus's audience exponentially.

Hillary Clinton, with her trip to Rutgers, legitimizes the notion that Imus's remarks carry weight. Scrambling for votes, Clinton is implying that Imus's words have power, and moreover, that he is too powerful for the Rutgers team to handle on their own.

Senator Clinton, the American public knows what you're up to here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

UPDATE: Hillary's Visit to Rutgers is Politics at its Worst

Escalating the Don Imus--Rutgers Basketball--Election 2008 fiasco to a whole new level, Hillary Clinton's campaign announced today that the New York Senator will visit Rutgers University to speak about the theme "Because Politics Matters: Women and Public Leadership" at Rutgers' Eagleton Institute of Politics.

Clinton's willingness to turn a "shock" DJ's racist, inflammatory comments into an opportunity to drum up votes is shameless and represents our political system at its very worst.

This young, talented Rutgers team deserves every chance to prove Imus and other ignorant Americans wrong. In the meantime, it is troublesome that Clinton would see this as an opportunity to draw attention to herself and her campaign.

Senator Clinton, these young women can stand up for themselves.

Democratic Candidates Should Let Rutgers Women Defend Themselves

Shock jock Don Imus's remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team were hateful, irresponsible, and certainly nothing to ignore.  At a press conference earlier this week, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer and her team proved that Imus, and anyone laughing at his comments, is completely ignorant.  How is it that his remarks continue to draw attention from presidential campaigns? 
John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama have all weighed in on Don Imus's remarks, but unfortunately, their contributions to the discourse have been at best unnecessary, and at worst, transparent attempts to play the headlines for votes. 
Edwards spoke of his "obligation" to speak out against such intolerant remarks, although he has never spoken out against Imus before and still might appear on his program in the future. 
Clinton posted a call to action on her web site, encouraging visitors to send a note of support to the Rutgers team. 
Since when must presidential hopefuls speak out against a shameless bigot who has been spewing derogatory remarks on the air for years? 
Let these talented young women continue to defend themselves.  They are doing a more than ample job of shaming Imus, and will have every opportunity to shine again with their appearance on Oprah.
Let let the marketplace act.  With Imus's advertisers dropping like flies, and MSNBC dropping his telecast , the market is speaking loud and clear that hate speech is not entertainment. 
In the meantime, pundits will stand up to defend Imus as a harmless entertainer with a history of charitable giving .  Others will dissect the event as a chance to discuss all of the racism and sexism in our culture. 
Drawing more attention to Imus's stupid remarks, indeed, making him the subject of comment for our presidential candidates, only legitimizes that racist sentiment in our national discourse, and ultimately encourages other "shock jocks" to push the free speech limit.

These presidential candidates trying to tout their wholesome values instead offer hollow and belated criticism of a man who scarcely deserves their, or our, attention.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Obama on Letterman, Part 1

Barack Obama on David Letterman, discussing cigarette smoking, the War in Iraq, domestic policy challenges, and America's position in the global community.

Obama on Letterman, Part 2

Barack Obama on David Letterman, discussing campaign finance, special interest politics, the other Democratic candidates, and his family life.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Obama Health Proposal Will Stress Prevention, Sustainability

As Senator Barack Obama continues his three day visit to Iowa, holding a community meeting in Mason City to develop ideas and build support for his health care policy proposals.
"Every four years presidential candidates trot out their plans, then nothing happens," Obama said. "How do we build a movement for change so that when a president is elected there is actually a constituency and a consensus that is built so we can move the agenda through Congress?"
Widely praised as a consensus builder, Obama is eager to assemble a health policy that attracts bipartisan support.  The Senator is wisely involving as many stakeholders as possible in the process.  While he is not committed to any particular plan or formula, his proposal will likely include universal coverage while stressing prevention as a key to both cost savings and public health.
Obama's approach is forward thinking, and long overdue.  Poor eating habits and physical inactivity are some of the most costly, and preventable sources of illness and death in the country.   Childhood obesity and diabetes are on the rise.  Without a commitment to prevention, future generations will face grave health issues earlier in their life, placing enormous stress on a health care infastructure already bracing itself for aging and ailing baby boomers.
Obama dismissed criticism that universal health care would demand tax increases, stressing that improving efficiency will lead to better health care and lower costs.

"We shouldn't just put more money into a system that isn't efficient," he said.