August 30, 2007

RealClearPolitics - Election 2008 - National Polls

Obama leads all other Democratic contenders (except Edwards in one matchup) in the general election matchup against Republicans. Hillary's lead is too small to rely on.

RealClearPolitics - Election 2008 - National Polls Read more!

August 9, 2007

Obama got it right

The National Post of Canada, our neighbors and allies still fighting with us in Afghanistan, agree with Obama on Pakistan.
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In caregiver's shoes --

It was Obama's turn to spend part of a work day with a union member. He made a favorable impression on the single woman caregiver who's raising two foster children and a great-grand-nephew and whom he worked with in Oakland, California. She gets no paid sick leave or vacation time. She'll "probably" vote for him.
In caregiver's shoes -- Read more!

Obama blasts shadow fundraising group

Obama comes right out and recommends that Democrats stop funding 527s, groups like the "Swift Boat Veterans" who torpedoed Kerry in '04 (and for that matter though it's not mentioned). He points out they get around campaign contribution limits and asks that everyone who wants to support his campaign do so through official channels with the official campaign where everything is transparent. Obama sees this as the best way to improve campaign financing until better campaign finance laws are passed. Several such groups have formed to support Obama but they've been soundly and publicly rejected as efforts separate from the campaign.
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August 8, 2007

An Obama Foreign Policy Adviser Clarifies Senator's Views | TPMCafe

Point-by-point refutations of attacks on Obama's foreign policy statements as stated by Obama's advisor Greg Craig, a former State Department official under Clinton.
An Obama Foreign Policy Adviser Clarifies Senator's Views | TPMCafe Read more!

Obama Deserves the Progressive Vote

The media, right, left and in-between, is distorting Barack Obama’s words and record so much that I cannot take it anymore. Please consider these corrections of unreported/misrepresented facts regarding Senator Barack Obama’s foreign and domestic policies:

Obama on the NSA Surveillance Act that makes US spying on US citizens legal and uncontestable for six months, and that just disgracefully passed with some Democrats’ support of the Republican bill: Obama votes Nay. What about DLC Dems like Lieberman (Independent when convenient) and Sen. Feinstein? Both voted "aye". My Dem Sen. Boxer? No vote.

And what about Hillary? Whatever Obama does, she follows if the netroots is watching; otherwise she'd vote with her DLC Dems. John Edwards if he could vote? Look at his record
Edwards was a DLC member who voted closer to Repubs than almost all other Dems when he was Senator. Obama directly excluded himself from membership in the DLC when they saw he was a viable IL Senate candidate and courted him.

Obama on Foreign Policy: Obama spoke not only against the Iraq War Resolution in his speech at an anti-Iraq war rally in October 2002, but against nuclear proliferation, and against US arms merchants, and calling for true democratic reforms from our allies:

"You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil. Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair."

Obama on folks hating us and diplomacy with “adversaries”: Obama has been for genuine diplomacy in support of genuine democracy for years before he decided to run for office (see 2002 speech above). After all the noise and rhetoric from both Dems and Repubs, a publication as mainstream as Bloomberg News can state unequivocally that Obama’s diplomacy stance is in total agreement with our own allies, and that US unilateralism has alienated most of the world on issues from the environment to trade to war.

Obama on Pakistan’s infiltration by al Qaeda and the Taliban: The second foreign policy contrived firestorm:

Here’s the first part of Obama’s speech, the first of two paragraphs about Pakistan in a pages-long speech:
"I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. 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.”

And here’s the second and last paragraph on Pakistan:

“And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism [a reference to Bush announcement of F-16 sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan-v3]. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America's commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists' program of hate is met with one of hope. And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair -- our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally.”

So, Obama won't leave the Taliban, used up and spit-out by the CIA and Unocal Petroleum, to plot calmly in Pakistan where Musharraf couldn't even keep extremists from taking over part of a university in Islamabad, terrorizing the residents to not play music, watch TV, drink, smoke or let women be “uncovered”, until the extremists took alleged Chinese prostitutes hostage and China told Musharraf: send in your army, which he promptly did.

Since then the fundamentalist resistance has spread far beyond the mountainous borders with Afghanistan, into the central Pakistan cities with the original demand that Musharraf make all government laws conform to fundamentalist Sharia Law. When you see “news reports” and photos/footage of Pakistanis burning American flags supposedly in response to Obama’s “hard line” with Musharraf, keep in mind it could easily be a demonstration against US-backed Pakistani "elected" Dictator Musharraf himself that’s shown in the footage/photos.

Obama would give Afghanistan $1 billion in non-military aid, and aid to Pakistan in exchange for real democratic reform and not another farcical "election". As he’s stated since 2002, he would bilaterally reduce nuclear arms, destroy outdated nukes and bring all nations into Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty compliance with UN inspections, including India and Pakistan. That's a lot more info than I got from the MSM and the blogosphere about this speech's actual content. Welcome to it. And more:

Obama on nuking civilians: “U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday he would not use nuclear weapons «in any circumstance» to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, drawing criticism from Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democratic rivals.”

Hillary, Biden and Dodd keep saying they want all options on the table, including nuclear options against anyone from Iran to Pakistan, lovely declarations on the eve of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki remembrances around the world.

The US has the conventional military capacity to obliterate most enemies, thousands of armed nukes for every one aimed at us or at our allies. Obama's the only one who promises defensive attacks with only conventional weapons (and going after bin Laden and the Taliban is not a first-strike, whether they did all they did with - or without, which seems more doubtful every day - the CIA's and Bush Crime Families' help!).

Obama's a pragmatist with principles, not the pacifist I fantasized about in the past, but from where we stand right now, pacifism isn't much of an option.

Obama on Public Campaign Financing (PCF): He tried to go into the primaries on PCF but Hillary had already made it a donor-race, so he shut out PACs (including AIPAC and USIPAC, Israel and India's lobbies respectively) and federal lobbyists instead, the two bundling sources that constitute millions of Hillary's fundraising. Obama still committed to PCF in the final race if his Republican opponent would also, and only McCain said he might agree to that. Note when you look up industry donor political donation watchdog websites that they cannot differentiate within industry donations between individuals vs. bundlers because there’s no transparency to draw the data from. E.g., if I were a janitor for Fox News and got my fellow janitors to donate $100 each to Obama, it would be part of the total of News Corp. total donations - no differentiation between small donors and big CEOs holding $1,000/plate fundraisers. Thus if Fox News janitors gather $10,000 among them for Obama, it looks like News Corp. gave him that money. Obama pushed the bill to put all donations, for legislator's campaigns but also charities, clubs, development projects, etc., on the web within 3 months, and Obama and Sen. Feingold pushed for and got bundling transparency in the [still too-lame] latest ethics bill.

Obama on Healthcare: Unlike Edwards or Hillary, Obama has more time as a legislator and passed more legislation, to expand healthcare coverage for children in IL and establish a commission to prepare an assessment for a universal healthcare plan for IL.

Obama on prisons, criminalization and real rehabilitation: An issue the others ignore but one that impacts people of color, the disabled and poor whites disproportionately: the two million prisoners and millions more parolees in our streets and towns. He helped pass a death penalty moratorium and got kids excluded from being tried as adults in some cases. He got a traffic-stop racial profiling study instituted so cops became more aware of their own behavior and became more cooperative in changing their practices (federal/state/local law enforcement and prison guard unions are human rights' activists biggest, most organized and best-funded opponents next to Republicans). Obama pushes his Second Chance Act to provide education, relevant job training, end legal employment and voting rights discrimination against ex-felons who comply with their parole, and he presses it as the only humane and logical solution to chronic crime, poverty and unemployment not only in black audience venues, but also in big business venues like the Detroit Economic Club.

I’m not naïve; I don’t expect Obama to be my sainted revolutionary savior. I’ve got my old Che Guevara images for those nostalgic idealistic dreams (meaning his dreams to save everyone, down to the lowliest leper). In today’s miserably hostile environment, thanks to the Unitary Executive greedy insanity of the Bush-Cheney petroleum and war profiteering crime families, only pro-Constitution, pro-Bill of Rights, civil rights activist and grassroots-funded anti-nukes Obama can make a difference and should be elected.

Experience is like tail-lights on a boat which illuminate where we have been, when we should be focusing on where we should be going. John F. Kennedy
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OBAMA: "No Nukes in War on Terror"

Would not use nuclear weapons in any circumstance to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan

read more | digg story Read more!

Why The Progressive Movement Has Stalled

Bowers talks about why the online left may be stalling out: lack of ethnic/racial diversity.

read more | digg story Read more!

August 6, 2007 News

The first major dustup between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton -- whether the next president should unconditionally meet with leaders hostile to the U.S. -- is still simmering after two weeks.

How the issue will play in the American presidential election remains uncertain. How the rest of the world is reacting is not. Obama wins.
Read more!

August 5, 2007

Sherwood Ross: Obama Renouces Use of Nuclear Weapons

August 6th is the commemoration of the US (under Truman) nuclear-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan that killed 200,000-350,000 civilians. Ross praises Obama's statement against using nukes against civilians. Ross notes that Hillary's refusal to take off the table the Bush policy of a US first-nuclear-strike against even a non-nuclear country, in defiance, like Truman, of the Geneva Convention, will resound around the world on that day, especially as the US/Bush arms and nuclear weapons and delivery-system deals with Pakistan and India are signed.
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August 3, 2007

Meet the General Who Lends Gravitas to Obama - Newsweek Politics -

Meet the General Who Lends Gravitas to Obama -
Newsweek Politics -

Meet the General Who Lends Gravitas to Obama
The candidate’s new Swahili-speaking military adviser, Gen. Scott Gration, sees him as America’s Mandela. The general also has some strong views of his own: ‘I believe if you could get rid of all the nuclear weapons this would be a wonderful world,’ he says.

By Michael Hirsh
Updated: 2:34 p.m. PT Aug 2, 2007
Aug. 2, 2007 - Those who fall in with the Barack Obama campaign tend to fall hard for the man himself, and none more than Jonathan Scott Gration. A recently retired Air Force major general who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, Gration accompanied Obama on a 15-day tour of Africa last August and was, he says, simply bowled over. When the two traveled to Kenya, the homeland of Obama’s father, the U.S. presidential candidate directly confronted President Mwai Kibaki over corruption. "It was an incredible thing to watch," Gration later blogged on After the two of them went to Robben Island, the South African prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for almost three decades. Gration had something of an epiphany. "To see how Mandela saved his country by bridging racial, ethnic and in some cases cultural diversity, and turn a page from a turbulent time—I think that’s sort of what the senator’s doing," Gration told NEWSWEEK in an interview this week. "He’s using his experience to turn a page for America, not only to bring the country together, but to give us a different image externally."

Not surprisingly, the Obama campaign has begun sending Gration out on the stump—he did a 13-town tour of Iowa in July—in an effort to improve the inexperienced senator’s image on national security. Gration also contributed ideas to Obama’s much noted speech on counterterrorism Wednesday, when the candidate generated headlines by suggesting that, as president, he might invade the tribal parts of Pakistan. "The United States has to be willing to pursue these terrorists to where they’re planning their logistics operations," says Gration, who adds he’s "really disappointed with the spin mongers" who focused only on Obama’s aggressive language about Pakistan. "This speech has been a long time coming. It’s not a response to Hillary Clinton or anybody else." Bill Burton, Obama’s press secretary, says Gration supplies extra "credibility" for a candidate who has never served in the military. "He has an ability to educate voters about what kind of commander in chief Obama will be, in a way few can."

Indeed, Gration’s résumé is bristling with real-world military experience that earned him seven rows of ribbons during a 32-year Air Force career. As a fighter pilot, he flew 274 missions over Iraq during and after the first Persian Gulf War, occasionally encountering Iraqi ground fire, and he commanded a task force during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Gration was also in command of the unit at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that lost 18 of the 19 U.S. personnel killed in a terrorist explosion in 1996. And he happened to be at the Pentagon when the plane hit on 9/11. "I’m not a good guy to have around, I guess," he jokes.

Gration had a rare upbringing, raised as the son of missionary parents in the Congo—one reason Obama asked him along on his Africa trip. "When I learned to talk, my first sentence was in Swahili. I’ve been a Swahili speaker all my life. That probably makes me pretty unique among generals and flag officers," he says. "We were evacuated three times from the Congo. We lost everything we owned, and became refugees. My wife’s mom gave us cows and sheep and got us going again." As a result of that experience, says Gration’s father, John, now a retired professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, "he grew up respecting people of a different color and culture in a very natural way." After his family returned to the States during the Vietnam War, Gration says, "my low draft number motivated me to join the Air Force." But even during his stellar Air Force career, he couldn’t quite leave Africa behind. He sometimes took leaves of absence to work on village projects in Uganda and elsewhere.

Gration also has some strong views of his own on national security, which may not always be perfectly in accord with Obama's. Above all, he thinks there are far too many nuclear weapons in America’s arsenal and in the world, and he wants to accelerate the 2002 Moscow Treaty that called on Washington and Moscow to reduce their operationally deployed strategic warheads to about 2,000 by 2012. "Our nuclear forces are not a deterrent as powerful as they once were, and yet those nuclear weapons and fissile material provide a threat. If, in my view, they’re not doing a deterrence mission and they pose a threat if terrorists get ahold of them, we ought to be pulling back the number of ICBMs," he says. "When you have 15,000 to 16,000 weapons floating around, I think you can reduce that number significantly. And make sure nobody else feels a requirement to get new nukes. I believe if you could get rid of all the nuclear weapons this would be a wonderful world." Even so, Gration says, he’s a "pragmatist." "As a fighter pilot I stood nuclear alert. I understood that during the cold war we had this requirement. I was defending America in that process. Things have changed right now. But we have to do it in a way that makes sense. I’m not one who just says get rid of everything unilaterally."

Obama’s views "are very similar to mine," Gration says. "While he hasn’t served in the military he has tremendous respect and admiration for service people. … I’m very involved in veterans’ issues, and I believe there’s not a candidate out there who’s taking care of our veterans like Obama." Denis McDonough, Obama’s new foreign-policy coordinator, says Gration is now considered one of Obama’s three top military advisers, along with Richard Danzig, the former secretary of the Navy during the Clinton administration, and Gen. Merrill McPeak, former Air Force chief of staff. "He and Barack share a lot of personal experience, given the way they grew up," says McDonough. "There’s a lot of kinship." Maybe a little bit of hero worship too.

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Clinton, Obama, Edwards tied in Iowa poll: report| U.S.| Reuters

Obama leads Clinton by 1% in Iowa, and he leads Edwards by 2%; a radical departure from polls before Obama's foreign policy statements and speech. Iowa's ready for a change. No wonder Hillary was on the attack - Obama's the frontrunner in Iowa!

Clinton, Obama, Edwards tied in Iowa poll: report

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