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.