Please Caucus for Barack!!

Come on Iowa! The future of the free world is counting on you!

Barack Oblogger: Barack Obama Never Attended a "Madrassa"

Barack Oblogger: Barack Obama Never Attended a "Madrassa"

Barack Obama's Tax Cut for the Middle Class and Seniors

Obama to Fight for Tax Fairness for Middle Class
Algona, IA | December 16, 2007

Algona, IA - At a town hall meeting at Algona High School, U.S. Senator Barack Obama today discussed his bold and innovative plan to cut taxes for working Americans. By standing up to the special interests and fighting for working Americans' interests, Senator Obama will cut taxes for those who need it most: middle-class families and seniors. Obama's plan will also restore fairness to the tax code.

"I'm in this race to take those tax breaks away from companies that are moving jobs overseas and put them in the pockets of hard working Americans who deserve it, and I'm the only candidate in this race to introduce a middle-class tax cut that will give 95% of working Americans a break," Senator Obama said. "We don't need any more tax breaks for the wealthiest corporations who didn't need them and didn't ask for them - it's time to give a break to working folks so that we put the American Dream within the reach of every American once more. That's why I'm running for President."

Obama's plan would provide relief and support for our middle class and honor seniors, such Mary Paige of Cedar Rapids, by eliminating federal income taxes for those making less than $50,000 a year. Ms. Paige, participated in a roundtable discussion with Senator Obama on Friday at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. Under Obama's plan, Ms. Paige would no longer pay federal income taxes.

Senator Obama's tax-fairness plan also includes a new "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $1,000 for America's working families, creates a new universal mortgage interest credit that will benefit low and middle-income homeowners, simplifies tax filings so millions of Americans can do their taxes in less than 5 minutes, eliminates special interest loopholes and tax breaks and cracks down on international tax havens.

Obama would pay for his tax reform plan by closing corporate loopholes, cracking down on international tax havens, closing the carried interest loophole, and increasing the dividends and capital gains rate for the top bracket.

The plan can be viewed in full HERE.

Barack Would Hire Hillary

Hey, no hard feelings...Barack would give Hillary a job under his administration.

Barack Oblogger: Blacks Shifting to Obama

Barack Oblogger: Blacks Shifting to Obama

Jack and Jill Politics: Is Hillary Clinton trying to 'Willie Horton' Barack Obama?

Jack and Jill Politics: Is Hillary Clinton trying to 'Willie Horton' Barack Obama?

Iowa's Susan Klopfer Switches From Clinton To Obama - Video

Iowa's Susan Klopfer, a former Clinton precinct captain talks about why she's now caucusing for Barack Obama.

Barack Obama Wins Backing Of NH's Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes - Both NH House Representatives

Shea-Porter to back Obama

Senior Political Reporter
Monday, Dec. 10, 2007

U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter has decided to endorse Barack Obama for President, has learned.

The freshman 1st District congresswoman had been considering staying neutral in the primary, but has now decided to get involved.

Obama, who has been gaining on Hillary Clinton in recent New Hampshire polls, won the endorsement of the state's other member of Congress, 2nd District Rep. Paul Hodes, in July.

Shea-Porter defeated former U.S. Rep. Jeb Bradley in the November 2006 general election after upsetting Democratic former state Rep. James Craig in the September party primary.

Word of the pending Shea-Porter endorsement comes a day after Obama appeared with television star Oprah Winfrey at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Her backing may be a plus for Obama especially among women, who have strongly favored Clinton so far in the New Hampshire Democratic primary race, according to polls.

Jack and Jill Politics: Hillary Clinton Comes out AGAINST Retroactivity for Drug Sentencing

Jack and Jill Politics: Hillary Clinton Comes out AGAINST Retroactivity for Drug Sentencing Article has some strong language, it's a charged issue. Many prestigious think-tanks and policy wonks have long since decided that the double-standard in crack vs. powder cocaine prison sentences results in racial discrimination. Most Democrats, including Hillary, agree the sentences should be the same for both forms of cocaine, but Obama will make the changes in sentencing retroactive, Hillary will not. Reason? Hillary worries it will make her too unpopular in the general election. Stop laughing, I'm serious! So tell me, if a law is unfairly punishing a huge portion of the population and everyone agrees it must be changed, why let 20,000 sentenced under the old unfair law rot away in prison? Hillary says: to win the election. 'Nuff said. No, wait, one more thing needs to be said: Obama stands with the law, stands with justice, stands with equality, in the face of an unpopular idea with law-and-order voters, because it is just, because it is right, because it is fair. Who do you want as your President in 2008? Vote in the Primary in your state, caucus if that's your state's thing - just do it! Obama, for change you can believe in.


Why should all viral emails be full of negativity and slander? Here's one that calls for positive action:

(HELP THE IOWA CAMPAIGN - Please Forward This To At Least 1 Of Your Groups Or Re-Post As A Bulletin On Your Myspace - Thank You) -

Despite The Media Continuing To Strongly Support Its Establishment Candidate, We Are Now Seeing The Definitive Trending Of Likely Caucus Voters And The Evidence On The Ground Clearly Suggesting That Senator Obama Is On His Way To Winning In Iowa, And Has Now Moved Into 1st Place In The Iowa Polls - This Is Exciting! The Effectiveness Of Our Ground Organization Is Absolutely Phenomenal!


Senator Obama's Historic Jefferson-Jackson Address In Iowa:

New Field Tactics To Get Volunteers Out To The Iowa Caucus:

The Obama 5-Step Process is now just an incredible success in IOWA, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, California, and Michigan. As a direct result of employing this process, Jill, a mother of 4, was responsible for 23 brand new people joining the Obama campaign in one week alone. Continue spreading the word. . .

Our objective is to organize the citizens of America around the goal of making Senator Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States.

"Some men see things as they are and say why; I dream things that never were, and say why not?" -Senator Robert F. Kennedy

In working to succeed on this historic mission, we should all have an actual, literal picture in our minds of Senator Obama taking the presidential oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capital on January 20th, 2009. We should all hold this picture in our minds and re-visit it often during this visionary campaign. If we see it and believe in it, we will achieve this for our country.

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." -President John F. Kennedy

So what can we all do in this campaign for our country?

We continue to receive emails that say something along these lines: "I believe in Senator Obama, he's the 1st candidate to come along and really inspire me to become involved with a campaign, I've signed up on the website, now what do I do?" This campaign will succeed in making Barack Obama the next President of the United States, and this is being accomplished by doing what every successful organization in the world does . . . . . by duplicating a system of success.

We are all so very fortunate to have this medium available to us so that we can all share different ideas and methods with each other. The following represents just one idea, one approach, one answer to the question, that has proven thus far to be profoundly effective. It's a 5-step, cookie-cutter, duplicable process that everyone of us in this campaign can take ourselves through and then duplicate in order to help propel our heroic leader onto victory. The Obama 5-Step Process:

Step 1. Join this campaign at
Step 2. Make a monetary contribution and then get yourself a t-shirt and a bumper sticker.
Step 3. Join 5 (or more) national and local online Obama groups through the website to get plugged into people and events. It costs nothing and takes no more than 10 minutes to do.
Step 4. Make sure you're registered to vote, and take at least 1 unregistered citizen that you know out to the homepage (icon bottom center) to get them registered to vote as well.
Step 5. Talk to 10 (or more) friends and family members, and encourage them to go to the website to see for themselves the incredible energy and optimism of this historic Obama for President movement. (Once they join, you can encourage them to repeat this 5-step process, and so on).

Look at each step, play with the numbers, do the math, and it becomes very easy to see why this is having such a dramatic impact on the campaign.

We have the most organized, the most highly networked, and the most energetic presidential campaign in America today. We are seeing first-hand that exposing people to this process is exponentially increasing our numbers of supporters. We're taking this and we're now running with it all over the country. We should certainly continue sharing best practices and 'ways that work' with each other from across the nation, so by all means, please forward this on to your friends and to your groups and discuss in your local meetings further implementation in your area of this remarkably powerful ground strategy.

Make sure everyone has a copy of The Obama 5-Step Process with them when actually out in the field, when writing letters, and when campaigning on-line and over the phone. It's pure power in your hands.

We're gonna win the White House.

"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now; We're On The Move!"

Why Barack Obama Wins on the Experience Issue

This is one of those times in presidential politics when the public is hungry for change. Even the Republicans running for president are running away from George W. Bush.

This is hardly the first time in recent memory when the public has been ready for a change. And when that is the mood of the country, the candidate who wins is the one who offers the most inspiring vision, not the one who points to the longest resume.

In 1960, JFK promised to get the country moving again and he defeated the more experienced Vice President Nixon.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter promised to move the country away from the corruption of Watergate and he defeated the more experienced President Ford.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan promised to move the country away from Carter's seeming ineptitude and he defeated the more experienced President Carter.

In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned as a change agent, calling for a move away from the economic policies of the Reagan-Bush years and he defeated the more experienced President Bush.

In fact, in the past half century, the candidate with the most experience has won in only two situations: where the opposing candidate's policies were widely unpopular (Goldwater in 64 was too far to the right and McGovern in 72 was too far to the left) or where the voters were happy with the incumbent (Eisenhower in 56, Reagan in 84, Bush running as the incumbent VP and Reagan heir in 88, Clinton in 96, and, thanks to 9/11, Bush in 04). In none of these elections could the challenger persuade the public that a fundamental change was needed. Thus, experience and familiarity won out.

Barack Obama is clearly the agent of change in this election. He opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, at a time when the war was popular and other candidates were lining up to vote for it. He has had the vision to call for a new direction in foreign policy. He has the personal credibility to restore America's moral leadership in the world. He has the courage to suggest new approaches and has written two best selling books that lay out with an incredibly rare candor who he is and what he wants to do. He has a history of successfully bringing different groups together to fashion creative solutions to real problems, rather than just offering the same tired slogans. To protect his independence as an agent of change,he has refused money from Washington lobbyists and PACs. It is his promise of real change that explains why he is now leading in the polls in Iowa and gaining ground in New Hampshire.

Even Hillary Clinton seems to have conceded as much. She has taken increasingly to pointing to what she believes is her more extensive experience (which consists of fewer years in elected public office than Senator Obama has, but a lot of years of being married to an elected official).

But Barack Obama has the right kind of experience -- the kind that gave him the judgment to be right on Iraq, the skill to achieve success as a legislator, and the courage to offer a bolder vision of what we can be as a nation. The public understands that what matters is not the number of years on your resume, but what kind of man or woman those years have made you. And becasue that is the test, Barack Obama will win on the experience issue.

Dreaming to Be Like Barack Obama

This little Kenyan boy wants to be like Barack Obama when he grows up...the power of positive role models.

David Yepsen - At Iowa Jefferson Dinner Barack Obama Gives Best Speech Of Campaign

I didn't think it was possible, but Barack knocked it out of the park. Watch the video.

David Yepsen wrote this in the Des Moines Register...

The leading Democratic presidential candidates showed up for the Iowa Democratic Party’s big Jefferson Jackson Dinner Saturday night.

Five of them gave really good speeches.

Barack Obama’s was excellent.

It was one of the best of his campaign. The passion he showed should help him close the gap on Hillary Clinton by tipping some undecided caucus-goers his way. His oratory was moving and he successfully contrasted himself with the others - especially Clinton - without being snide or nasty about it.

Historically, the iowa party’s “JJ” dinner is a landmark event in Democratic presidential caucus campaigns. All the key party activists, donors and players from the state are present. This year, about 9,000 of them showed up, most were from Iowa though there was some grumbling that Obama packed the place with people from Illinois. The charge was denied by the Obama people, who were clearly pleased they beat the other candidates in the noise war inside Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

A candidate who does well at a JJ is quickly in the political buzz around Iowa. A candidate who does poorly can be quickly written off by some important players in the party. Candidates also know the event provides them with an opportunity to sound new themes, launch new attacks or mount a defense of their weaknesses. Local and national observers show up to chronicle the changes.

Obama was particularly impressive Saturday night. Should he win the Iowa caucuses, Saturday’s dinner will be remembered as one of the turning points in his campaign in here, a point where he laid down the marker and began closing on Clinton, the national frontrunner. For example:

*He said the Iraq war “should have never been authorized and should have never been waged,” a shot at the votes Clinton and most of the others cast in favor of it.

*He said the nation has a “moment of great opportunity” and “we have a chance to bring the country together to tackle problems that George Bush made far worse and that festered long before George Bush took office.” Translation: Clinton is divisive and there were problems the Clinton era didn’t solve.

*He said “the same old Washington textbook campaigns just won’t do it in this election.” Translation: Democrats can’t win running a Bill Clinton campaign again.

*He said “Not answering questions because we’re afraid our answers just won’t be popular just won’t do it.” Translation: Clinton doesn’t take questions at some of her events. Now she’s bogged down in a flap over staffers planting questions for her when she does and this was neat way to remind Democrats of it without tweaking Clinton directly.”

*He said “telling Americans what they think they want to hear instead of telling the American people what they need to hear just won’t do it.” Translation: Obama is often inclined to say things party interest groups don’t want to hear - like the need for school reform, merit pay, more efficient cars or money to rebuild the military. She panders or is mushy.

*He said “triangulating and poll-driven positions because we’re worried what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won’t do it.” He said he offers “change that is not just a slogan” and “change we can believe in.” Polls were a hallmark of the Clinton era.

*He said he wanted to “stop talking about the outrage of 47 million Americans without health care and start actually doing something about it.” That was a smooth way to remind the audience how Clinton’s effort at national health care failed.

*There were also references to not taking money from lobbyists. And he said “I am running for president because I am sick and tired of Democrats thinking the only way to look tough on national security it talking and acting and voting like George Bush Republicans.” Ouch.

His coup de grace came with this: “When I am the nominee of this party, the Republican nominee will not be able to say I voted for the war in Iraq, or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, or that I support Bush-Cheney policies of not talking to leaders that we don’t like.”

“I don’t want to spend the next year or the next four years refighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s,” a reference to the polarization of the Clinton years. “I don’t want to pit red America against blue America.”

The speech was also noteworthy because of the hour it was given. He was the last one to speak and didn’t start until after 11 p.m. That’s because the Iowa party loaded up the program with a bunch of Iowa politicians, who, well, just aren’t in the same league with their presidential candidates but whose egos just couldn’t keep them off the big stage.

It was a little like listening to a long Beethoven symphony while having some kid play a Tonette between movements.

And Obama can sometimes be flat or tired when speaks late at night. He can meander or sound wonkish and hesitant. Not Saturday night. (He came fired up and ready to go, to borrow a phrase.) At one point, he invoked Martin Luther King and his cadence even included the uplifting touches and quavering voice of a traditional black preacher’s sermon.

While the Democratic candidates all had a good night, Obama clearly had the best. Now we’ll have to see if he’s got anything left for Tim Russert this morning. Obama faces one of the toughest questioners in the business on NBCs Meet the Press at 8 a.m. Iowa time after only a few hours of sleep.

Barack Obama - Eminem "Lose Youself" Video Tribute To Obama

Barack Obama As He Walks To The Iowa Veterans Auditorium

Senator Barack Obama walks in front of a large crowd of supporters and a marching band on the way to the Veterans Auditorium in Iowa Saturday.

Iowa Barack Obama Volunteers Show Massive Support In Video

This video contains what appears to be about 300 Barack Obama supporters leading a massive cheer in Iowa (what part, I don't know) yesterday.

Barack Obama On MySpace Tonight

Senator Barack Obama is going to do a live show on this evening. It should be a great event. See the site here:
Barack Obama On MySpace

Barack Obama Rally Boston 10/23/07

Barack Obama drew another enormous crowd and was endorsed by Mass. Governor Deval Patrick.

Barack Obama In Iowa - A Rainbow Of Hope

This is without a doubt the coolest photo I've ever seen associated with a campaign and in one breath shows what the Obama For America campaign's message is: hope. I know that God is with us, but I can't think of a better way to show it than this photo.

Barack Obama In Iowa - A Movement In Action

_DSC0321, originally uploaded by Barack Obama.

All of these supporters, over 1,000 strong, came together as a mass unit to see and support Senator Obama at the Harkin Steak Fry.

Women For Obama In Des Moines Iowa

BO_lined_up_w_women_in_Iowa, originally uploaded by Barack Obama.

This photo only begins to show the massive support Senator Obama enjoys by women in Iowa.

Obama Iowa Field Office Fort Dodge - Meeting

FortDodge3, originally uploaded by Barack Obama.

Another meeting of our great organization of Iowans.

Obama Iowa Field Office Fort Dodge - People

FortDodge1, originally uploaded by Barack Obama.

As you can tell by this photo, we've got a diverse group of people, joined together to support Senator Obama for President.

Obama Iowa Field Office Fort Dodge

FortDodge2, originally uploaded by Barack Obama.

This is a photo of the Fort Dodge Iowa Field Office.


Senator Barack Obama has quickly caught Senator Hillary Clinton in the presidential election fundraising race, adding $2.1 million via an email campaign in just four days. This closes a gap said to be created by Washinton lobbyists' money going to Clinton.

Senator Barack Obama On The Tonight Show With Jay Leno - Video

One of the best TV appearances by Senator Obama -- October 17th. Here, Senator Obama says that the election is not "Mission Accomplished" for Hillary Clinton and it's far from over.

Obama Foreign Policy Advisor Samantha Power On Charlie Rose Show - Video

Barack Obama's foreign policy head Samantha Power appeared on The Charlie Rose Show and was an effective spokesperson for the Senator's presidential platform in this area.

Part One

Part Two

Barack Obama | Barack Obama Is Not Muslim | Clinton Backers Said To Spread Rumor


For some reason, some total nutcases out there who call themselves Americans no doubt are sending out emails that say Senator Barack Obama is Muslim. It's an effort to play what some call "The Muslim Phobia Card" (Everything has a card these days.)

There are also indications that people connected with Senator Hillary Clinton are spreading this rumor. That's the ultimate dirty pool tactic.

It's not true and also panders to the worst fears and bad aspects of America. Don't believe it - and do your own homework on this. The did ...

Obama, in fact, is not a Muslim.

The assertion that he is one is based on his paternal ancestry from a Muslim family in Kenya, his living in Indonesia with a Muslim stepfather and, briefly, as a child, attending a public school there which reportedly offered some religious instruction to its predominantly Muslim study body.

But he was raised primarily by his mother, who eschewed organized religion.

He has written and spoken at length about his path to Christianity and the black church as a community organizer in Chicago.

In recent months, Obama has been talking more openly about his faith, especially in the South.

He has worshipped at three large South Carolina churches over the past two Sundays. Last weekend, he raised eyebrows at the Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville by saying he was “confident that we can create a kingdom right here on Earth."

Indeed, on — the site that fashions itself as the place where urban legends go to die — there is a lengthy page devoted to debunking the myth that Obama is a “radical, ideological Muslim” that includes a reference to a 2004 Chicago Sun-Times story where he talks of his “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Obama’s aides are aware of the theme, but it’s far harder to respond to faceless whispers than to open assertions.

“We've got to be vigilant to knock down any untruth out there about us,” said spokesman Bill Burton.

Hey, evaluate Senator Obama on his merits and not untruths. Don't be stupid.

Must-Read Huffington Post Piece

This is a great Huffington Post piece written by Obama supporter Linda Hansen.

It describes a rally she attended in Rock Hill, South Carolina and is so inspiring -- you should read it.

I don't want to post it here, because I want you to go to the site and leave comments.

Here's the link

New Campaign Ad from New Hampshire

Barack talks about our addiction to oil and the need to tell the American people the truth about the effects of our energy policies.

Hillary Clinton Reigns as Queen of Federal Pork

Hillary Clinton Reigns as Queen of Federal Pork

I have written a lot about Hillary Clinton and her overabundant usage of earmarks. She has declined to release her earmarks to the public. Obama is the only Democratic presidential candidate who has released his. He dominates in calling for earmark reform.

The media is starting to pay attention. This is from Kevin Hasset of Bloomberg News:

Hillary Clinton Reigns as Queen of Federal Pork: Kevin Hassett

By Kevin Hassett

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Democrats came into power this year promising meaningful earmark reform to a U.S. electorate that was rightly disgusted with Congress's free-spending habits. Today, earmarks continue to be out of control, and the predictable result is that the Democratic Congress is now even less popular in national polls than the Republican one before it.

There is an underappreciated angle to the story of how lawmakers steer federal funds toward their pet projects that may yet swing the next presidential election. Democrats have been so busy preparing the coronation of Hillary Clinton that they have failed to train a critical eye on her record.

When it comes to earmarks, an issue that voters responded to more than any other in the last election except for Iraq, her record is about as bad as it gets. If Dennis Hastert was the king of earmarks, Hillary Clinton was his queen. Republicans had their ``bridge to nowhere.'' Hillary has her knitting mill.

The statistics speak for themselves. Ever since she arrived in Washington, Hillary has worked tirelessly to bring the pork home to her adopted state, New York. It used to be that such efforts were cloaked in secrecy. No longer.

To their credit, the Democrats made earmarks a central issue in the 2006 campaign and helped pass a series of reforms. Today, all earmarks are publicized in an online record which, most importantly, identifies the name of the member who submitted each request. Numerous online watchdog databases have since popped up, notably ``Taxpayers for Common Sense,'' which provides a directory of every earmark request for 2008 appropriations bills.

Oddly, this transparency has had a big effect on the Republican presidential candidates, but not on the Democrats.
Among the presidential candidates, many Republicans currently holding office have responded to media requests to make public all their earmarks, including Representatives Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo. (Senator John McCain notably claims to not submit any such requests). They presumably have done so because they have nothing to hide.

On the Democratic side, however, the major candidates have been much less forthright.

Only Barack Obama has voluntarily made his earmark information publicly available. The others are covering their tracks. Senator Joe Biden's spokeswoman explained, ``We don't release them until the committee has had the opportunity to review the requests.'' A spokeswoman for the Dennis Kucinich campaign argued, ``We never have made our earmarks public.''

The Clinton campaign refused to respond at all to requests that she identify her earmarks.

Top Earmarker

A little digging shows why they are so evasive. In fiscal year 2006, Chris Dodd and fellow Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman were jointly responsible for more than $100 million worth of earmarks for their home state, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Yet Clinton, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, placed $2.2 billion worth of earmarks in spending bills from 2002-2006. One would have to concede that she is good at it. In the fiscal 2008 defense-spending bill alone, Clinton successfully attached 26 earmarks worth $148 million, which was the most of any Democrat except Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, who is now chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

The earmark game is a treacherous one because it is so easy to find specific instances, like the bridge to nowhere in Alaska, that are repulsive to voters. With such a successful track record, this will be a genuine liability for Clinton.

Bury the Record

That probably explains why she's trying to bury her record. But even digging through the limited list of earmarks I could acquire suggested that Clinton has deftly spread federal taxpayers' money around to parochial projects of questionable public value, sending, for example, $250,000 to the Seneca Knitting Mill, and $200,000 to the Buffalo Urban Arts Center.

Such spending projects might be great local politics, but they produce national outrage as our federal dollars are bled away from health care and national security. Each one may seem small, but collectively they are not.

Clinton might want to join Robert Rubin on the high horse of fiscal discipline and rail against Republican deficits. But if she is the queen of pork, she loses her moral authority.

Make no mistake, voters are disgusted with our government. Clinton's biggest political liability has always been that she, the ultimate insider, may not be able to run as a credible agent of change. The earmark numbers are important, because an able opponent can accurately portray her pork barrel record as shameful. How can someone who is one of the biggest contributors to the problem be part of the cure?

If Democrats aren't careful, voters will ask themselves that question in the general election. It seems unlikely that the Republican nominee will have a pork-stained past. If so, Democrats may regret giving Clinton a free pass on the earmark issue during the primaries.

Clinton Gets Snippy Over Questions about Iran

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
NEW HAMPTON, Iowa -- At a campaign stop here, Hillary Clinton sparred verbally for several minutes with a man who pressed her on her recent vote to call Iran's army a terrorist organization.

Randall Rolph, from nearby Nashua, asked why he should support Clinton's candidacy when she did not appear to have learned any lessons from having voted to authorize force in Iraq.

Clinton thanked him for the question and explained her Iran vote would lay the groundwork for using diplomacy and sanctions to pressure that government.

Clinton accused the man of being a plant who had been sent to ask the question, to which he took exception, saying the question was a result of his own research.

"I apologize," Clinton said, explaining that she had been asked the very same question in three other places.

Read more here

Barack on Tyra Banks Show

Barack on Tyra Banks Show

Here are some links to Barack's appearance on the Tyra Banks show. (It's divided into seven parts).

Added note: I watched this interview after posting it, and I have to say that Obama is one of the most charming presidential candidates I've seen in a long time. He wins the likeability factor hands-down. Tyra was gushing (well, ok, she's always gushing), and it was obvious that he swept her and a lot of the female audience off their feet.

The fact that he's married to such a strong, beautiful and intelligent woman only makes him that much better. And it's so refreshing to hear him speak so openly and fondly about his wife. We really believe that he is a good husband. (Or as Tyra would say, "I see goodness in your eyes.")

He and Michelle Obama could be the black Kennedys in that they would bring grace, manners and style back to the White House.

Enough of my gushing. Get this man on talk shows... NOW!!!

Tyra Banks Interview of Obama Parts 1-7

NY Times Picks up Penn/Blackwater Story (finally!)

NY Times Picks up Penn/Blackwater Story (Finally)

Without tooting my own horn too much, I have to just say that I was way ahead of the mainstream media on this story. The New York Times has finally picked up on the story. (What took them so long?) Too bad it's buried in the Caucus Blog .

I'm really tired of the way Hilllary Clinton is being treated with kid gloves in the news. You know that if that if Karl Rove was CEO of a PR firm that represented Blackwater, it would be all over the news and the Dems would be on it like white on rice.

If it were discovered that Obama's campaign strategist were repping Blackwater, his campaign would be instantly over, finito, dead in the water.

Well, we perservere and do what we can. Maybe one day the American people will be outraged and figure out why they should care, and why this is important.

Until that day comes, all we can do is keep hope alive.

October 5, 2007, 5:10 pm
Clinton Strategist Represents Blackwater
By Patrick Healy

Mark Penn is the chief strategist for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, working 24/7 on her behalf (indeed, he is known to send email at 2 a.m.) and earning tens of thousands of dollars in fees.
With that sort of day-and-night job, you would think Mr. Penn would have time for little else. Indeed, other Clinton senior advisers took leaves of absences or turned down clients in order to work for the campaign.
But he somehow manages to remain president of Burson-Marsteller, a publicly traded global public affairs firm. And as such, he is inevitably linked to Burson’s clients — not all of whom are, shall we say, on Mrs. Clinton’s Christmas card list.
Today we learned that recently one of those clients was Blackwater — the American contractor that provides security to some top American officials in Iraq, and which is under investigation for allegedly aggressive tactics and the role of its guards in the shooting at a Baghdad city square where 17 Iraqis were killed.
Mr. Penn was on a plane this afternoon and could not be reached for him; a phone message has been left for a Burson spokesman as well. But Mr. Penn and the spokesman told other news outlets today that Blackwater was only briefly a client in a temporary assignment for a Burson subsidiary, BKSH. That assignment involved preparing Blackwater for a recent hearing before Congress. Blackwater is no longer a client, said Mr. Penn, who added that he never worked on the piece of business himself.
“Through a personal relationship, BKSH, a subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller, helped Blackwater prepare for their recent hearing before Congress. With the hearing over, BKSH’s temporary engagement has ended,” said the Burson spokesman, Paul Cordasco.
A blog for the Nation and the Associated Press carried stories on the Burson-Blackwater connection first.
Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said that Mrs. Clinton had not asked Mr. Penn for an explanation about Blackwater — about which she has expressed concerns on the campaign trail — nor asked him to take a leave from Burson.
“Mark is an extremely valuable member of this team,” Mr. Wolfson said. “He is our senior strategist. Senator Clinton clearly believes Blackwater must be held accountable for its actions.”
About Mr. Penn’s ongoing ties to Burson, Mr. Wolfson said. “His situation is very typical for presidential campaigns. There is nothing unusual about a consultant maintaining outside affiliations. Hillary has trust in Mark.”
Other Democratic and Republican candidates do have consultants whose firms have a bevy of clients as well; Harrison Hickman, the pollster for former Senator John Edwards, one of Mrs. Clinton’s rivals, continues to be a member of Global Strategy Group, which represents insurance and drug companies, for instance.
But Mr. Penn’s firm has netted the sort of bad headlines that Mrs. Clinton would not seek: Other than Blackwater, clients have included Countrywide Financial, which has been tainted by the subprime mortgage scandal, and Cintas Corp., which has fought the unionization of its workforce.
One of Mrs. Clinton’s rivals, former Senator John Edwards, went on the attack this afternoon, meanwhile. His campaign e-mailed a statement from Mr. Edwards:
“Bush has been a perfect example of cronyism because Blackwater has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to republicans and to President Bush. I also saw this morning that Senator Clinton’s primary adviser, Mark Penn who is like her Karl Rove — his firm is representing Blackwater. I think it is important for Iowa caucus goers to understand the choices they have in this election. And it is the reason I continue to say we dont want to replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats. I think it is important for caucus goers to see this choice.”
Asked to comment on Mr. Edwards’ shot, Mr. Wolfson repeated that Mr. Penn was a valuable and trusted member of the Clinton campaign.
Mr. Edwards himself was a consultant in 2005 and 2006 with a hedge fund, the Fortress Investment Group, which has had investments in subprime mortgage companies that have foreclosed on victims of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Edwards has also had a portfolio with Fortress, but has divested holdings that related to the mortgage

Chief Clinton Strategist Is CEO of Firm that Represented Blackwater

As I've posted before, back in February, before Blackwater was even on the media radar, Barack Obama was at the forefront of the issue, introducing legislation calling for more accountability from military contractors.

His official statement from the campaign:

Barack Obama, who opposed the war in Iraq in 2002, has consistently said that America cannot defeat 21st century threats on a conventional battlefield. And America cannot win a fight for hearts and minds when we outsource critical missions to unaccountable contractors. Barack Obama has been the leader on this issue in the U.S. Senate, having introduced legislation to address this problem in February. Obama’s plan will make these operations more transparent and accountable.

...An estimated 48,000 private security contractors are operating in Iraq, and more than 1,000 contractors have died in Iraq since 2003. The recent shooting on September 16 involving Blackwater that killed 17 Iraqis and wounded several others has increased attention to U.S. reliance on private security contractors in Iraq. But that incident was just the latest in a series of incidents in which that company’s employees have engaged Iraqi government personnel or killed Iraqi civilians.

Yesterday, the Chairman of Blackwater testified before Congress that nearly 30 Blackwater employees have been killed in Iraq. On Monday, the House Oversight Committee released a report that found Blackwater guards had engaged in 195 shooting incidents since early 2005. Despite several instances of excessive use of force, including one drunken Blackwater employee killing a bodyguard of one of the Iraqi vice presidents, there is no evidence the State Department sought to hold anyone with Blackwater accountable.

Lack of Transparency and Accountability: Americans have the right to know about the role of and
accountability for private security contractors. There are an estimated 180,000 or more contractors working in Iraq under contracts awarded by the Department of Defense, the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and other federal agencies. Little is known about what functions these security contractors are actually performing, at what cost, the rules of engagement under which they are operating, and how many have been killed or wounded. Moreover, there is no clear legal framework under which contractors can be held accountable for criminal behavior. Accountability is essential in America’s larger effort to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq.

Security Contractor Accountability Plan: Unaccountable security contractors can act as if the law doesn’t apply to them – because it doesn’t. Obama’s plan would require contractors to coordinate with the U.S. military to stop contractors from acting in ways that undermine our mission. Contractors would also have to follow rules of engagement when they use force and comply with U.S. laws. When contractors break the law, they will be prosecuted. Obama’s plan would also establish F.B.I. in-theater units to investigate every incident for which there is reasonable suspicion of criminal felony misconduct. This should not just be a temporary job for the F.B.I. – it should be one of their permanent responsibilities.

...In February Obama introduced the Transparency and Accountability in Military and Security Contracting Act. The act would clarify the legal status of contractors, subjecting them to the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) to ensure that all contractors working in war zones – regardless of contracting agency – would be held accountable under U.S. law. Passed in 2000, MEJA says that contractors for the armed forces can be prosecuted under US law for crimes committed overseas.

However, because companies like Blackwater have contracts with the State Department rather than the Defense Department, the company is not technically subject to that law. Obama’s bill would also require federal agencies employing private security contractors to report to Congress on the details of those arrangements, such as the total number and cost of contractors, the number of contractors killed or wounded, information about the military and safety equipment provided to contractors, and details of disciplinary action taken against contractors.

Obama has sent letters to President Bush, Secretary Gates, and Secretary Rice requesting answers on the Blackwater incident and on the role and accountability of contractors in general.

Obama has also stood firm in his opposition in using all methods of torture as a means of interrogation. This is his statement in response to the New York Times report on the Bush administration's secret authorization "to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures."

The secret authorization of brutal interrogations is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security. We must do whatever it takes to track down and capture or kill terrorists, but torture is not a part of the answer - it is a fundamental part of the problem with this administration's approach. Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them. Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence. Torture is how you set back America's standing in the world, not how you strengthen it. It's time to tell the world that America rejects torture without exception or equivocation. It's time to stop telling the American people one thing in public while doing something else in the shadows. No more secret authorization of methods like simulated drowning. When I am president America will once again be the country that stands up to these deplorable tactics. When I am president we won't work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution, we will be straight with the American people and true to our values," said Obama.

In the last presidential debate, Hillary tried to play both sides of the fence and agreed with Barack, giving her own blanket denunciation of torture, even though this is a contradiction of a previous position she has taken.

Blackwater is in the midst of a lot of media and governmental scrutiny right now, and are in need of a major public-relations overhaul. What firm do they call when they want to clean up their media image? Well, no other than PR Giant Burson-Marsteller. Blackwater is one of their latest clients and they will be in charge of selling a cleaned-up Blackwater to the American people. From Associated Press:

Public relations giant Burson-Marsteller has vast experience steering companies through tough times. But there's a limit to how much it can help Blackwater USA, a new client that's been battered by negative publicity.

The State Department, which pays Blackwater hundreds of millions of dollars to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq, has stringent rules barring the private security contractor from discussing with the media the details of its work, according to those familiar with the arrangement.

Under those limitations, it's difficult to repair a corporate image, said one official close to Blackwater.

The department allows little room for error. On Sept. 16, Blackwater guards were involved in a shoot-out in Baghdad that left 13 Iraqis dead. Blackwater issued a statement to reporters saying its personnel acted lawfully and appropriately to a "hostile attack" from "armed enemies."

As it turns out the president and CEO of the firm is Mark Penn, who is also the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Think of him as Hillary's Karl Rove. From The Nation:

[P]erhaps the most important figure in the [Clinton] campaign is her pollster and chief strategist, Mark Penn, a combative workaholic. Penn is not yet a household name, but perhaps he should be. Inside Hillaryland, he has elaborately managed the centrist image Hillary has cultivated in the Senate. The campaign is polling constantly, and Penn's interpretation of the numbers will in large part decide her political direction.

Yet Penn is no ordinary pollster. Beyond his connections to the Clintons, he not only polls for America's biggest companies but also runs one of the world's premier PR agencies [Burson-Marsteller]. This creates a dilemma for Hillary: Penn represents many of the interests whose influence candidate Clinton--in an attempt to appeal to an increasingly populist Democratic electorate--has vowed to curtail. Is what's good for Penn and his business good for Hillary's political career? And furthermore, can she convincingly claim to fight for the average American with Penn guiding strategy in her corner?

...Burson-Marsteller is hardly a natural fit for a prominent Democrat. The firm has represented everyone from the Argentine military junta to Union Carbide after the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India, in which thousands were killed when toxic fumes were released by one of its plants, to Royal Dutch Shell, which has been accused of massive human rights violations in Nigeria. B-M pioneered the use of pseudo-grassroots front groups, known as "astroturfing," to wage stealth corporate attacks against environmental and consumer organizations. It set up the National Smokers Alliance on behalf of Philip Morris to fight tobacco regulation in the early 1990s. Its current clients include major players in the finance, pharmaceutical and energy industries. In 2006, with Penn at the helm, the company gave 57 percent of its campaign contributions to Republican candidates.

Private security firms like Blackwater have been implicated in human-rights violations like Abu Ghraib. From Amnesty International:

...credible allegations of contractor involvement in serious human rights violations – including participation by contractors in the Abu Ghraib tragedy – have emerged, yet Bush administration officials apparently have made virtually no effort to hold contractors accountable or compensate victims. Even though reporting of crimes is basically voluntary by the companies, serious allegations of human rights violations have surfaced.

Civilians working for private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan are alleged to have committed serious incidents of abuse including assault, torture and sexual abuse, some of which occurred at Abu Ghraib prison. While reports of alleged incidents of abuse by civilians have been forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern Virginia, there have been no convictions and only one indictment, though at least 20 cases were forwarded by the Department of Defense and the CIA to the Department of Justice since the beginning of the conflict in Afghanistan. In addition, according to press reports, there have been hundreds of incidents of private security contractors firing at Iraqi civilians and even U.S. military personnel.

The question I have for you is this: How can we ask our elected officials to demand accountability in such important ethical issues like torture, which goes against the grain of everything America is supposed to stand for, when their most trusted advisors are profiting from it?

UPDATE: Since the Associated Press story broke, Penn explains: "It was a temporary
assignment based on a relationship that has concluded."

I would place money on the bet that part of the relationship ending is because of an increasing amount of media attention.

I called the Clinton campaign's press office to get some clarification on Mark Penn and his firm's relation to Blackwater. I left a message with my name and question with the receptionist. I never got a response back.

Let's just call this one, "From Whitewater to Blackwater."

Obama Unveils Bold New Energy Plan

Obama Unveils Bold New Energy Plan

From the campaign:

Obama Unveils Bold Energy Plan

Portsmouth, NH | October 08, 2007

Portsmouth, NH - In a major policy address today, Barack Obama will announce a visionary plan to make America a global leader on energy. After years of broken promises and unfulfilled plans that have fallen victim to the Washington status quo, Obama will pledge to provide real leadership on the issue by challenging conventional thinking and loosening the grip of special interests. Obama's plan lays out bold steps to combat global climate change, free America from the tyranny of oil, and create millions of new jobs and entire new industries here in America.

Senator Obama has been a proven leader on energy with a strong record of fighting to invest in renewable fuels and raise fuel economy standards. Obama has been honest in telling the defenders of the status quo that when he's President, the same failures won't do.

Senator Obama's plan to make America a global leader on energy includes:

- Implementing an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the level recommended by top scientists to avoid calamitous impacts

- Investing $150 billion over the next ten years to develop and deploy climate friendly energy supplies, protect our existing manufacturing base and create millions of new jobs

- Dramatically improving energy efficiency to reduce energy intensity of our economy by 50 percent by 2030

- Reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing oil consumption overall by at least 35 percent, or 10 million barrels of oil, by 2030

- Leading a new international global warming partnership
The plan can be viewed in full HERE.

Senator Barack Obama Head In Utah - Choice Of 42 Percent

According to the Utah Deseret News , Senator Barack Obama's the lead choice of voters surveyed with 42 Percent of the vote. The election is held on February 5th of 2008.

Barack Obama Oakland Party Sunday, September 30th, 1 PM

From the Barack Obama website -- link in the title of this post.

Oakland/Northern California HQ Opening with BLACKALICIOUS (Meeting)
We are extremely excited to announce our FREE Grand Opening party with special musical guest Blackalicious! Live and in person, in the middle of 14th Street in downtown Oakland!

"Like a few other West Coast rap acts, including the Pharcyde and Jurassic 5, Blackalicious has generally favored what hip-hoppers call the "positive tip"; in other words, its lyrics have often been spiritual and uplifting rather than violent or misogynous. Like a lot of experimental alternative rappers, Blackalicious can be quirky and eccentric; nonetheless, spirituality is a big part of the group's music."

It's going to be AMAZING. Don't miss it.

WHEN: Sunday, September 30, 1:00 PM

WHERE: 436 14th Street, 3rd Floor - directly in front of the 14th Street exit of the Oakland City Center BART station, between Broadway and Franklin.

WHO: Everyone! Bring your friends and families.

WHAT: A party to celebrate the opening of the first office outside of the Early 4 states! Music, speakers, and good times.
Time: Sunday, September 30 at 1:00 PM
Duration: 2 hours
Host: Brent Messenger
Oakland/N. California Heaadquarters (Oakland, CA)
436 14th Street, 3rd Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

NYC Correction Officers' Benevolent Association Endorses Sen. Barack Obama

NYC correction officers' union says it will endorse Obama
Associated Press
4:29 AM CDT, September 24, 2007

NEW YORK - One of the largest municipal jail unions in the country said Monday that it will endorse Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois for president.

"Barack Obama is the one candidate who will put an end to the divisiveness in this country so that we can finally achieve greater economic prosperity for the working class and health care coverage for all Americans," said Norman Seabrook, the president of the city's Correction Officers' Benevolent Association. The group has about 9,000 active members.

Obama said in the same statement that he looked forward to working with the union as he continued to build his campaign for president.

"It's an honor to have the endorsement of these men and women who put themselves at risk everyday to serve on the front lines of our nation's criminal justice system," he said.

Barack Obama In NYC September 27th - Washington Square

New York Hosts Barack Obama - September 27th 2007

This is from the Obama for America campaign:

Dear Zenophon, Join Barack in NYC

We're planning a big rally in New York City, and I was hoping you could help organize it.

We've launched a powerful new tool on My.BarackObama that lets you make phone calls from home on behalf of the campaign.

Will you make a few calls to folks in and around New York to tell them about the rally? It's easy, and you can get started right here:

We've had these rallies across the country, and it's not just the number of supporters who turn out that's inspiring. It's the individual people and stories behind those numbers.

They're young and old, black and white, Latino, Asian, and Native American. They're Democrats and Independents and more than a few Republicans. Many are showing up to the very first political event of their lifetime.

You could be the one to let fellow supporters know about the rally that they'll remember for a long time. Just click here to start making phone calls:

With My.BarackObama, you have the power to organize from home and make an impact anywhere in the country.

I hope you'll give the new system a try -- we're counting on you to turn people out in New York.

Thank you,


David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

P.S. -- If you're going to be in the New York area on September 27th, consider joining us. You can RSVP and spread the word about the rally here:

For event updates: Text NYC to OBAMA (62262).


Obama in Atlanta - Senate's Vote A Waste Of Time

Obama rallies more than 2,000 backers at Atlanta event

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/20/07

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Thursday told a cheering Atlanta crowd that he walked away from a U.S. Senate vote to condemn the newspaper ad that attacked Gen. David Petraeus, declaring the debate was an unnecessary waste of time.

The newspaper ad, published in the New York Times, referred to Petraeus as "General Betray Us." The Senate on Thursday approved the Republican-sponsored resolution, 72 to 25.

"I happen to believe that General Petraeus has served this country honorably. And I think it probably was a distraction to try to attack him as opposed to [President] George Bush's policies," Obama said.

But the Illinois senator said he couldn't tolerate "the notion that at a time when we know young men and women are dying, and veterans are not being served right here at home.... We're wasting time debating about a newspaper ad."

"I did not vote on that bill. This is the kind of game plan that the American people are tired of," Obama said.

The candidate made his comments at a $25-a-head event at the Georgia World Congress Center that organizers said drew 2,200 supporters. A $1,000-per-person, private event followed.

Also at the public rally, Obama twice made reference to Jena, La., where thousands of demonstrators gathered Thursday in support of six black teenagers initially charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate.

Obama declared he was "puzzled at how on earth a schoolyard fight" could cause prosecutors to level murder charges.

"It's not to excuse anybody, it's not to excuse young men that are in a fight, or that they assaulted another young man. We understand that violence is not the answer to any problem. What people are asking for is simply that the system of justice is fair," Obama said.

Earlier this week, a South Carolina newspaper quoted the Rev. Jesse Jackson as saying that Obama was "acting like he's white" when he failed to speak out forcefully about incident in Jena. Jackson later said he did not remember making the comment.

During Obama's event, NBA hall of famer Dominique Wilkins officially welcomed the multi-racial audience, which was dominated by young people. The Rev. Joe Lowery, 82, the civil rights leader, and R&B artist Usher, 28, also spoke and served as generational bookends.

Campaign organizers supplemented the low-dollar event with high-dollar souvenirs. Water bottles — empty — sold for $12. Karen Steinberg of Decatur and her kids, Stacy, 20, and Eric, 17, shelled out $79 for three T-shirts, a handful of bumper stickers, two signs and some buttons.

"But it's a contribution," Steinberg explained.

Obama still enjoys a rock-star status among many who attended — and raised their cellphones to snap photos as soon as he stepped on-stage.

"He's a man of change, excitement. He's shown America if you make the right choices, you can be president," said Mary Soley of Atlanta.

In April, Obama drew an estimated 20,000 people when he spoke outdoors on the Georgia Tech campus. The Thursday event was significantly smaller, but had the same purpose. The campaign wants to build a network of supporters who can act as a turn-out machine during the presidential primaries — not just in Georgia on Feb. 5, but in neighboring South Carolina on Jan. 29.

"To make Feb. 5 work for us in Georgia, we have to do well in South Carolina," Temo Figueroa, national field director for the Obama campaign, told the crowd. He urged them to join a caravan of buses headed from four MARTA stations into South Carolina for a door-knocking expedition on Sept. 29.

Senator Barack Obama - The Progressive Candidate - Tama, Iowa

Obama's in the Eye of the Beholder
Can the junior senator from Illinois be both a stalwart progressive and a post-ideological unifier?

By DAVID MOBERG (Tama, Iowa)

Barack Obama speaks during an 'Evening in the Park with Barak Obama' on July 3, in Fairfield, Iowa.

TAGS election 2008 labor politics
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Every August for 46 years, until she retired two years ago, Duffy Lyon carved the butter cow sculpture that has occupied a place of honor at the Iowa State Fair. But newly inspired, this summer she crafted 17 pounds of butter into the campaign logo of Democratic presidential aspirant Barack Obama, proudly displaying her creation at an Obama forum on rural issues here.

"He's the kind of person who will represent us the best, better than Hillary," she says. "He's for people who haven't got things." Prominent dairy farmer Joe Lyon, like his wife an active 78-year-old independent who Bush turned into an ardent Democrat, adds, "We've got to have a change in Washington. I think it's been a calamity--war, giveaways to the well-connected. I don't think we've seen anything like it in history. And we've just seen the tip of the iceberg. I don't know how long it will take to straighten out."

Many Democrats--and a surprising swath of Republicans and independents--think that first-term senator Barack Obama represents the best hope (his constant theme) to turn the country in a new direction. Whether attracted by his inspirational speeches, his fresh face, or his early opposition to the war in Iraq, people respond to Obama's personal story and what they think he represents for America, as much as to the policies he advocates.

But there are two Obamas running for president--or at least two political personas that voters see. One is the politically progressive Obama, leading in the national polls over rivals such as former Sen. John Edwards to be the left alternative to front-runner Hillary Clinton's centrist, establishment politics. The other is the post-partisan Obama, who will bring people together and transcend the morass of Washington politics that he is running against.

Both reflect Obama's political history, but the big question--for both his campaign and his potential presidency--is: How compatible are these two personas? To what extent does striving for post-partisanship conflict with--or complement--progressive political goals?

One Obama, two Obama

Progressives often see Obama's career as evidence that he is a champion of grassroots democracy, and issues like ethics reform and national health insurance. "People have choices to make in life, and choices give you some insight into what they believe and what their values are," says Henry Bayer, director of AFSCME District Council 31 in Illinois. "Here's a guy who had his pick of what he could do, the world was open to him, and he became a community organizer, then went to law school, did civil rights and voter registration work," before becoming a reliably liberal state senator.

That personal history counts with voters. After an Iowa Federation of Labor candidate forum in Waterloo, Amalgamated Transit Workers Union local political director Lon Kammeyer--a bold "Live Union, Die Union" tattoo on his massive forearm--praised Obama for his candor about his experiences growing up and for his willingness more recently to campaign against Wal-Mart. "I like Barack," he says. "To me, he's just worked his way up, working with people who didn't have anything."

But many admirers--especially young people, people turned off to politics, and less partisan voters spanning the ideological spectrum--do not view Obama as a progressive or even a champion of the downtrodden. They see him as a plain-speaking, uncorrupted, new force for change who wants to solve common problems and unite the country.

Pat Nelson--a politically independent, middle-aged, elementary school teacher--volunteered to help at an Obama rally held in August on the Cass County Fairgrounds in the small town of Atlantic, Iowa. Not a close follower of politics in past elections, she says she's paying more attention this time. "Whenever I listen to Obama, I get the feeling he's not a Republican, not a Democrat, but asking what can we do as a group to solve problems, and that intrigues me," she says. "We need to get over what Democrats and Republicans are for and think of what's important for the country."

Jim Lynam, 65, and his daughter, Emily, 20, both liked Obama's stand on the war in Iraq and the environment, but it is his charisma and novelty that excite them. "To me, he represents fresh air, change," Jim says. "I would support Hillary if she's nominated, but I wouldn't be happy because she brings old ideas. You know what she's going to say. She's not inventive. It's politics as usual. She speaks to please the audience. But he's not as corrupted by the system as people who've been swimming in it for years."

Even highly partisan, liberal Democrats, like 77-year-old retired union house painter Herbert Abraham and his 53-year-old wife, Nancy, a home care worker, admire Obama's post-partisanship for a practical reason. "Of all the candidates, I can't think of one that can get crossover votes besides Obama," Herbert said at the Atlantic rally. "He can win, and we want the Democrats to win."

Indeed, in an intriguing University of Iowa Poll in early August, Obama received more support from Republican voters--6.7 percent--than all of the other Republican contenders except for Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. And Obama argues that he can expand the politically viable territory for Democrats more than other candidates by both inspiring Southern blacks to vote and attracting more rural, religious voters.

All together now

In his stump speeches, like the one he gave at the Atlantic fairgrounds, Obama pits the "generosity of spirit and decency of the American people" against the corruption of politics, adroitly making himself the vehicle of his listeners' most noble impulses. Large crowds turn out for his campaign, he says, not because of what he's doing but "because Americans all across the country are desperate for change. They want something new. They want to take this country in a new direction. Part of it is a response to the last six years and the sense that the challenges and difficulties you face here in Atlantic and people are facing all across the country have not been dealt with. We've got a lot of petty politics and a lot of negative advertising but when it comes to the challenges of this country, Washington hasn't done the job."

-------------- PAGE BREAK -------------

In an engaging and authoritative manner, he ticks off Bush's policy failures--healthcare, education, energy, global warming, economic inequality, official contempt for the law, corruption, and a "war that never should have been authorized." But he often warns that simply changing parties in power is not enough to change the politics in Washington.

"Our government has to reflect our deepest values, and our deepest values involve not just thinking about ourselves but thinking about other people," he says. "If there are poor people in Cass County, it impoverishes us all. That idea that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, that we're looking after our seniors, our children, our disabled, the vulnerable--that notion has to be reflected not just in our religious institutions, not just in church. It has to express itself through our government. We're all in this together. We rise and fall together. We're not just on our own."

With almost identical language during the same week in Iowa, Edwards and Clinton talked about "shared prosperity" and the need to recognize "we're in this together" instead of thinking that "you're on your own"--political framing terms promoted by the progressive think tank, the Economic Policy Institute.

Bold is better

Yet much as the candidates have converged in rhetoric and some policies, they have staked out differences. Clinton, who hews to an establishment foreign policy view to make herself appear tough, tries to paint Obama's modest but laudable candor and openness on foreign policy as naive. Obama counters that judgment is more important than experience. "Nobody has a longer resume than Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld," he says, "and that hasn't worked out so well."

Both Obama and Clinton have talked about bringing all interested parties to the table to create universal health insurance. But Obama, who like Edwards distinguishes himself from Clinton by refusing contributions from political action committees and Washington lobbyists, also says, "I don't mind insurance and drug companies having a seat at the table. I just don't want them buying all the chairs."

And Edwards, in a pointed critique of Obama, Clinton and "corporate Democrats," argues that it's necessary "to take the power away" from "entrenched powers," not invite them to make a deal on health care, energy or other major problems. At a UAW hall in Ottumwa, Iowa, Edwards said, "The idea that you can cooperate and negotiate with these people and give them a seat at the table is a fantasy." Instead, he said he'd announce his health care plans from the White House lawn, then warn Americans how corporations would attack his proposals. "We can't be cute about this," he said. "We've got to take these people head on."

That criticism strikes at the fault line between the progressive Obama, willing as he often suggests to mobilize popular pressure to bring change, and the post-partisan Obama, intent on bringing everyone together to resolve issues without political conflict.

After years of enduring Bush and the Republican right, "most Democrats are not in any bipartisan unity mindset," says one veteran Iowa political strategist, who is advising another campaign. "They need some red meat."

Progressive Democrats in particular want a presidential candidate who will take advantage of the recent leftward shift in public opinion. Obama appeals to the party's left: He edged out Edwards in a straw poll of participants in a June conference organized by Campaign for America's Future (CAF), a D.C.-based group that mobilizes progressives within Democratic politics, and he and Edwards were virtually tied in an early summer survey of supporters of Democracy for America, a national group that grew out of Howard Dean's campaign four years ago.

But Robert Borosage, co-director of CAF, says Obama has "run a very cautious campaign and chosen to make himself the voice of responsible centrism." With his timidity on issues such as health care, energy and trade, Borosage says, "he's almost Hillaryesque in his caution on positions he's taken. You have to take a lot on faith that he's carrying a progressive banner, but he hasn't been around long enough to know where he'll come down. He's stirred a lot of excitement among young people and people not much engaged in politics, but other progressives have increasing questions about where he is: Is he the new triangulator or one of us?"

William McNary, president of USAction, a national network of statewide progressive citizen groups, personally--but not organizationally--supports Obama as a "genuine progressive" who will "expand the boundaries of American democracy," and heal the rupture with the rest of the world Bush caused with the war in Iraq. But even McNary, who has long known and worked with Obama, says, "If I had to offer any criticism, he's a bit cautious for my taste. People have to see someone who is putting forth bold proposals, not weak, timid programs. Bolder can be better."

In Iowa, where Edwards remains the frontrunner, some polls show Obama gaining strength. State Senator Joe Bolkcom, a lead organizer for the Working Families Win mobilization project of Americans for Democratic Action, sees Obama as inspiring young people much like Howard Dean did four years ago. "One of his main messages is the corruption of special interest money in politics and how that distorts what the country needs now," Bolkcom says. "That's a message that's strong here, and that was one of Gov. Dean's messages."

And John Norris, the field organizer for Sen. John Kerry's upset victory in the 2004 Iowa caucus, contends that older, more experienced Democrats are now joining young Obama supporters, and that Obama has more of an opportunity to grow his support than the more established candidates. "Is he progressive?" Norris says. "In my mind, yes. Ideology is important to me. I don't know there's a great deal of distinction among top candidates, though I think Obama is more progressive than Hillary, who's moved to the right." But Norris also supports Obama because he has the "capacity, insight and approach to re-establish our ties with the world community" and the "enormous capacity to excite a new generation about public service."

"He fundamentally understands that we have to change the way we do politics in Washington," says Norris. "I think everyone else is cynical that we can make a fundamental change. I think you have to start with that fundamental belief or you can't get anything done. He's lived that as a community organizer, working for change from the democratic roots. If you're going to change Washington, it has to start in the countryside."

Can Obama resolve the tension between his post-partisan and progressive personas, and the differing camps of voters they attract? Unless he does, he may not have the opportunity to win the presidency, much less fundamentally change American politics.

David Moberg, a senior editor of In These Times, has been on the staff of the magazine since it began publishing. Before joining In These Times, he completed his work for a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Chicago and worked for Newsweek. Recently he has received fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Nation Institute for research on the new global economy.

California Legislature Black Caucus Endorses Barack

This is from the campaign:

The California Legislature's black caucus on Thursday endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president, calling the Illinois senator "the only candidate that can unite people to get things done.

It is imperative that we choose the candidate who is committed to addressing the disparity gaps that exist in our communities," said Assemblywoman Karen Bass, a Los Angeles Democrat who is vice chairwoman of the caucus.

"We believe that Sen. Obama is that person, and we will work together to galvanize the black community to be part of the political process by getting involved in it." The caucus represents the eight black members of the Legislature. Besides Bass, they are Assembly members Wilmer Carter, D-Rialto, Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles, Mervyn Dymally, D-Compton, Curren Price, D-Inglewood, and Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, as well as Sens. Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, and Edward Vincent, D-Inglewood.

New York Hosts Barack Obama - September 27th 2007

This is from the Obama for America campaign:

Dear Zenophon, Join Barack in NYC

We're planning a big rally in New York City, and I was hoping you could help organize it.

We've launched a powerful new tool on My.BarackObama that lets you make phone calls from home on behalf of the campaign.

Will you make a few calls to folks in and around New York to tell them about the rally? It's easy, and you can get started right here:

We've had these rallies across the country, and it's not just the number of supporters who turn out that's inspiring. It's the individual people and stories behind those numbers.

They're young and old, black and white, Latino, Asian, and Native American. They're Democrats and Independents and more than a few Republicans. Many are showing up to the very first political event of their lifetime.

You could be the one to let fellow supporters know about the rally that they'll remember for a long time. Just click here to start making phone calls:

With My.BarackObama, you have the power to organize from home and make an impact anywhere in the country.

I hope you'll give the new system a try -- we're counting on you to turn people out in New York.

Thank you,


David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

P.S. -- If you're going to be in the New York area on September 27th, consider joining us. You can RSVP and spread the word about the rally here:

For event updates: Text NYC to OBAMA (62262).


President Barack Obama Appoints Iron Man As Defense Secretary

Senator Barack Obama Wow's SEIU Crowd Today - The Atlantic

At SEIU, Obama "Rocked The House"
17 Sep 2007 07:29 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C -- A charged-up Sen. Barack Obama begged politically active members of the Service Employees union to join his “movement” to reform the Democratic Party.

“The question I ask SEIU members is, not "Who is talking about your agenda?" but "Who can change politics in Washington to make that a reality,” Obama said. “Change starts by making sure a Democrat is in the White House. Change doesn’t end just because a Democrat is in the White House. It’s time to turn the page on the old way of doing business.”
In many ways, it was the longest sustained encapsulation of Obama’s complex, primary argument that a Washington, D.C. audience has heard. It was heavy on passion and sloganeering and comparatively free of the nuance that marks that Obama’s regular stump speech.

SEIU's members are temperamentally suited to Obama; he is a longtime friend of Chicago's SEIU Local 880 and worked closely with the union as an organizer and later as a state legislator.
Obama entered the ballroom to cheers, but he left to a sustained chorus of chants: “Obama!, Obama!” The SEIU president, Andy Stern, had to calm his members: ““Everybody take your seats, please. We have other candidates.”
One of them, Sen. John Edwards, is lobbying hard for the SEIU's endorsement. The SEIU members gave Edwards, who spoke several hours after Obama, an equally rapturous reception. "I intend to be the best union president in the history of the United States," he said.

Hillary Clinton was greeted politely, and applause came from the red meat lines she threw at the crowd. Significantly, there were no catcalls when Clinton talked about Iraq. Equally as significantly, the audience did not scream her name in unison when she left.

Obama has generally shrugged off the interest-group glad-handling that is generally required of Democratic presidential candidates, but the energy with which he spoke today made clear that he is eager to associate himself with the SEIU. But not solely for its political clout: he wants SEIU members to ratify his biography – they are an organizing union and he began his career as an organizer – and to ratify his argument that Hillary Clinton is too polarizing, too calculating and too change-averse to pursue transformative policies. If any union – actually, if any coherent part of the Democratic Party – is capable of being drafted into Obama’s movement, it’s the Service Employees. In this vein, the Service Employees executive committee would not dare lend its endorsement to John Edwards if the membership seemed to be supporting Obama.
Obama seems more popular with SEIU members than he does with SEIU executives, many of whom are said to favor Edwards. A senior SEIU official acknowledged that Obama "rocked the house" but noted that a larger-than-usual contingent of Illinois members attended the event, giving Obama somewhat of a home-state advantage here.

Obama’s swipes at Clinton were oblique, and it took his audience a few tries for them to understand what he was getting at. The audience didn’t quite get this: “It’s time we had a Democratic nominee who, after the primary, doesn’t choke saying the word union.”

But they got this:

“The problem is that too many people in this town see politics as a game and so if you think politics is a game then you start evaluating your candidates to see who can play the game best,” Obama said. “The question is: who can actually bring an end to the game plan. It has to be, who can put an end to the division… who can stand up to the lobbyists and the corporate interests … and [say that] American’s interests come first. “
Noting that Clinton had dropped her health care reform policy a few hours before, Obama allowed that it had some “good ideas,” but suggested the messenger – Sen. Clinton – could not be trusted to lead on the issue as president and evoked the secrecy that surrounded her failed 1994 reform attempt. “But the real key in passing universal health care is the ability to bring people together in a process that is open and transparent and builds real consensus, and I’ve got a track record of doing that.”

Obama implied that Edwards was a Johnny-come-lately.

“I’ve spent my entire adult life working with SEIU. I’m not a newcomer to this,” Obama said. “I didn’t suddenly discover SEIU on the campaign trail. Oh, y’all organize. You wear purple, do you?” he said, referring to the spirit color the SEIU has chosen.
But Edwards has spent the past four years courting the SEIU, local-by-local. SEIU officials estimated that a majority of the crowd had previously met him in person. They swarmed him as he entered and exited.