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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

UPDATE: Obama's Grassroots Efforts Match the Clinton Money Machine

Senator Barack Obama's campaign revealed today that it raised $25 million in the first quarter, including an astounding $23.5 million for use in the primary campaign. 
Obama's total fell a mere $1 million shy of Senator Hillary Clinton's $26 million, surprising many analysts who expected Senator Clinton, her efforts bolstered her husband's fundraising network, to raise substantially more than her opponents.
"This overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country and a belief at the grassroots level that Barack Obama can bring out the best in America to solve our problems," said Penny Pritzker, finance chair for Obama's campaign.
More than 100,000 people have contributed to the Obama campaign in less than three months.  Obama's total surpassed all of the Republican nominees.
Now that the campaign has silenced all doubts that he can compete with Hillary Clinton and her vast fundraising network, Senator Obama can continue to draw the nation's attention to critical issues neglected or mishandled by the Bush administration. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Obama's Fundraising Efforts Set Him Apart

Pundits forecasting our nation's first billion dollar election may have to raise their estimates.

After a first quarter that left his rivals flush with cash, Senator Barack Obama is widely expected to release his first quarter fundraising results Wednesday. Speculation runs rampant that he will equal or top the $26 million reported by Hillary Clinton.

Clinton's record-breaking figure, further beefed up by a $10 million transfer from her Senate campaign fund, is a massive war chest, yet many believe that Barack Obama's community-based fundraising will put him in a position to meet or top Clinton's funding. Regardless of whether he ends up the top fundraiser, he leads his rivals in number of individual contributors with more than 82,000 donors and counting. These numbers suggest a widespread and growing base of support in these early weeks.

As candidates have scrambled for cash, Senator Obama has distinguished himself by offering thousands of young Americans the chance to participate in events with tickets priced as low as $25, a grassroots effort in sharp contrast to other candidates who may charge hundreds of dollars per event.

While other campaigns flaunted their fresh funding, the Obama campaign distinguished itself by holding back a few days, continuing to give the public its message of change and hope, rather than rush to deliver the press a bank statement.

Meanwhile, Senator Clinton, sitting atop $36 million in cash, continues to advocate for publicly financed federal campaigns.

"I believe we have to move, eventually in our country, toward a system of public financing that really works for candidates running for federal office. I will support that as president," she said recently.

How generous of you, Senator Clinton.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Dramatic Shift in Political Climate Strongly Favors Democrats

The tide is changing fast in U.S. politics.

A comprehensive twenty-year study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows that 50 percent of Americans now identify themselves as Democrats, while only 35 percent identify as Republicans. The figures have changed dramatically since 2002 when both parties were equal with 43 percent.

It's no surprise to see a change in opinion from the financially strapped, war-weary public, particularly as the Bush administration continues to melt down. Yet such a dramatic shift in sentiment in just five years demonstrates just how much momentum the Democrats have headed into the 2008 election.

The key findings of the report indicate that the public increasingly favors a social safety net, frowns upon assertive national security measures, and believes that the gap between rich and poor is out of control.

Media coverage of the report speculates whether this is the end of the conservative Republican era.

"This is the beginning of a Democratic opportunity," said Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "The question is whether we blow it or not."

Clearly, the public is responding to the fact that Republicans have betrayed some of the key values of their party. Traditionally a party that prides itself on national defense, fiscal discipline, and Christian values, the Republicans have delivered years of failed foreign policy, budget-busting defense spending, and rampant corruption.

The iron is hot. The only question is whether Democratic leaders can strike effectively, delivering what the public wants--a government that is able and willing to act on the values that Americans cherish.

For Senator Barack Obama and other candidates, the challenge is clear: The public is ready for change and willing to listen. What do you have to say?