Photo by Joshua Davis (articnomad)
March 29, 2008 • 5:00 pm 5
Comedian Bill Maher and his writers came up with this hilarious war simulator game parody (I know, too many adjectives) involving Hillary Clinton’s infamous Bosnia sniper fire claims. Another funny aspect is Hillary’s opposition to violent video games.
March 25, 2008 • 5:47 pm 0
Photo by Joshua Davis (articnomad)
Well not really. This is the brand new SoMa at the Reston Town Center. Unfortunately the area will still probably be pretty empty because most of the retail here is going to restaurants.
March 25, 2008 • 5:40 pm 3
I was recently discussing how much experience Obama had making laws with some other commenters over at ThinkYouth. As usual I was defending Obama’s experience. But I also remembered a couple of times hearing an Obama supporter saying they thought “Hillary was only running to be president.” I’m no Hillary fan so I won’t go about listing her accomplishments, but I’ve listed some of the laws Obama has passed during his 12 years of legislative experience.
Apparently the campaigns could do a better job of making issues a more prominent feature of their websites (note to Ralph Nader). I read about Hillary’s experience and plans for America at her website. For any candidate you’re considering supporting, or know you’re against, one of the most important things you can do is visit their website to find out exactly where they stand on issues that matter to you.
In the U.S. Senate, Obama introduced the STOP FRAUD Act to increase penalties for mortgage fraud and provide more protections for low-income homebuyers, well before the current subprime crisis began.
In the Illinois State Senate, Obama called attention to predatory lending issues. Obama sponsored legislation to combat predatory payday loans, and he also was credited with lobbying the state to more closely regulate some of the most egregious predatory lending practices.
Barack Obama introduced the Patriot Employer Act of 2007 to provide a tax credit to companies that maintain or increase the number of full-time workers in America relative to those outside the US; maintain their corporate headquarters in America; pay decent wages; prepare workers for retirement; provide health insurance; and support employees who serve in the military.
In 2003, Barack Obama sponsored and passed legislation that expanded health care coverage to 70,000 kids and 84,000 adults. In the U.S. Senate, Obama cosponsored the Healthy Kids Act of 2007 and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2007 to ensure that more American children have affordable health care coverage.
Obama worked to pass a number of laws in Illinois and Washington to improve the health of women. His accomplishments include creating a task force on cervical cancer, providing greater access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, and helping improve prenatal and premature birth services.
Ethics/Lobbyists/Campaign Finance Reform
Obama and Senator Feingold (D-WI) took on both parties and proposed ethics legislation that was described as the “gold standard” for reform. It was because of their leadership that ending subsidized corporate jet travel, mandating disclosure of lobbyists’ bundling of contributions, and enacting strong new restrictions of lobbyist-sponsored trips became part of the final ethics bill that was signed into law. The Washington Post wrote in an editorial, “The final package is the strongest ethics legislation to emerge from Congress yet.”
Americans have the right to know how their tax dollars are spent, but that information has been hidden from public view for too long. That’s why Barack Obama and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) passed a law to create a Google-like search engine to allow regular people to approximately track federal grants, contracts, earmarks, and loans online. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “It would enable the public to see where federal money goes and how it is spent. It’s a brilliant idea.”
In 1998, Obama joined forces with former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL) to pass the toughest campaign finance law in Illinois history. The legislation banned the personal use of campaign money by Illinois legislators and banned most gifts from lobbyists. Before the law was passed, one organization ranked Illinois worst among 50 states for its campaign finance regulations.
Obama voted in 2005, 2006, and 2007 to reinstate pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) federal budget rules.
Obama has introduced and helped pass bipartisan legislation to limit the abuse of no-bid federal contracts.
In 2006, Obama voted against misguided Republican efforts to raise the statutory debt limit at the same time the Republicans were pushing through massive debt-financed tax cuts for the wealthy.
Obama has been a leader on educational issues throughout his career. In the Illinois State Senate, Obama was a leader on early childhood education, helping create the state’s Early Learning Council. In the U.S. Senate, Obama has been a leader in working to make college more affordable. His very first bill sought to increase the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,100. As a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, Obama helped pass legislation to achieve that goal in the recent improvements to the Higher Education Act. Obama has also introduced legislation to create Teacher Residency Programs and to increase federal support for summer learning opportunities.
Energy Environment, and Technology
Obama has worked on numerous efforts in the Senate to increase access to and use of renewable fuels. Obama passed legislation with Senator Jim Talent (R-MO) to give gas stations a tax credit for installing E85 ethanol refueling pumps. The tax credit covers 30 percent of the costs of switching one or more traditional petroleum pumps to E85, which is an 85 percent ethanol/15 percent gasoline blend. Obama also sponsored an amendment that became law providing $40 million for commercialization of a combined flexible fuel vehicle/hybrid car within five years.
Obama introduced a bold new plan that brought Republicans and Democrats, CAFE supporters and long-time opponents together in support of legislation that will gradually increase fuel economy standards and offer what the New York Times editorial page called “real as opposed to hypothetical results.”
Barack Obama is already using technology to transform presidential politics and to help unprecedented numbers of citizens take back the political process. Obama’s Internet campaign is only the beginning of how Obama would harness the power of the Internet to transform government and politics. On barackobama.com, voters have connected not only with the campaign but with each other; the campaign has used technology to engage those who have not been able to participate in prior presidential campaigns. More than 280,000 people have created accounts on barackobama.com. These users have organically created over 6,500 grassroots volunteer groups and have organized more than 13,000 off-line events using the site.
Obama is also opening up the campaign and giving average Americans a chance to offer opinions and information on important policy issues and Americans have responded: over 15,000 policy ideas have been submitted through the web site. Through Obama’s leadership, many of the presidential debates are freely available online for mashups, commentary, and other uses by ordinary citizens, bloggers, and others. On the fundraising front, supporters have made more than 370,000 donations online, more than half of which have been under $25. Users who have set up personal fundraising pages online have raised over $1.5 million. The campaign’s technology activities demonstrate the important and positive role technology would play in an Obama administration, opening up the closed practices of governance to greater citizen engagement and participation and re-connecting Americans with their democracy in new ways.
Obama joined Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) to introduce the Citizenship Promotion Act to ensure that immigration application fees are both reasonable and fair. Obama also introduced legislation that passed the Senate to improve the speed and accuracy of FBI background checks.
Obama introduced amendments to put greater emphasis on keeping immigrant families together.
Obama championed a proposal to create a system so employers can verify that their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.
War in Iraq
Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. In 2002, as the conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war, Obama had the judgment and courage to speak out against the war. He said the war would lead to “an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs and undetermined consequences.” In January 2007, Obama introduced legislation to responsibly end the war in Iraq, with a phased withdrawal of troops engaged in combat operations.
Obama has a plan to immediately begin withdrawing our troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year. He would call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq, convened with the United Nations, which would not adjourn until Iraq’s leaders reach a new accord on reconciliation. He would use presidential leadership to surge our diplomacy with all of the nations of the region on behalf of a new regional security compact. And he would take immediate steps to confront the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Iraq.
As a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Obama passed legislation to improve care and slash red tape for our wounded warriors recovering at places like Walter Reed. He passed laws to help homeless veterans and offered an innovative solution to prevent at-risk veterans from falling into homelessness. Obama led a bipartisan effort in the Senate to try to halt the military’s unfair practice of discharging service members for having a service-connected psychological injury. He fought for fair treatment of Illinois veterans’ claims and forced the VA to conduct an unprecedented outreach campaign to disabled veterans with lower than-average benefits. Obama passed legislation to stop a VA review of closed PTSD cases that could have led to a reduction in veterans’ benefits. He passed an amendment to ensure that all service members returning from Iraq are properly screened for traumatic brain injuries. He introduced legislation to direct the VA and Pentagon to fix disjointed records systems and improve outreach to members of the National Guard and Reserves.
There have been tritium leaks at other nuclear plants, though none so extensive as at Braidwood. The uproar over Braidwood prompted the Nuclear Energy Institute to outline a voluntary policy for monitoring tritium leaks and reporting such incidents. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has vowed to continue to push for federal legislation that requires reporting. “The nuclear industry already had a voluntary policy, and it hasn’t worked,” he said. Exelon’s past actions have helped to prove his point.
Social Security and Seniors
In the midst of the 2005 debate over Social Security privatization, Obama gave a major speech at the National Press Club forcefully arguing against privatization. He also repeatedly voted against Republican amendments that aimed to privatize Social Security or cut benefits. Obama has also voted to force companies to properly fund their pension plans so taxpayers don’t end up footing the bill.
Obama has supported a number efforts to strengthen Medicare, including voting for legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate for cheaper prescription drug prices and to extend the enrollment period for low-income beneficiaries.
After reports that lobbyists, but not the American people, received information about the most unsafe nursing homes in the country, Barack Obama demanded the Department of Health and Human Services release that information to the public. Following Obama’s letter, the names of the four Iowa care facilities cited for unsafe care were released to the public. Obama’s efforts follow his successful efforts in Illinois to make nursing home information public and strengthen elder abuse laws.
Obama created the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families in 2000 and successfully sponsored a measure to make the credit permanent in 2003. The law offered about $105 million in tax relief over three years.
In the Illinois State Senate, Obama championed multiple pieces of legislation to help low-income families find adequate affordable housing.
Obama has worked to promote civil rights and fairness in the criminal justice system throughout his career. As a community organizer, Obama helped 150,000 African Americans register to vote. As a civil rights lawyer, Obama litigated employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and voting rights cases. As a State Senator, Obama passed one of the country’s first racial profiling laws and helped reform a broken death penalty system. And in the U.S. Senate, Obama has been a leading advocate for protecting the right to vote, helping to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and leading the opposition against discriminatory barriers to voting.
In 2006, Obama supported legislation that would have reversed $2 billion in cuts for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs including conservation, rural development, nutrition, and forestry programs that are vitally important to our rural communities. In addition, he supported legislation providing full funding for agricultural programs that were authorized by Congress in the 2002 Farm Bill. Obama has supported funding for Illinois communities through the Rural Community Empowerment Program, which includes the establishment of rural Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities, as well as other federal programs that maintain and build upon the assets of rural communities. Obama has worked on numerous efforts in the U.S. Senate to increase access to and use of renewable fuels, including corn-based and cellulosic ethanol. He cosponsored legislation to investigate the root causes of health disparities including for rural areas and to start addressing them. He cosponsored the Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2006 to make grants to state agriculture departments for direct economic loss payments to eligible small businesses. He cosponsored legislation that became law to combat the scourge of methamphetamines. Obama also introduced legislation to remedy years of discrimination against black farmers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Obama began his career by moving to the South Side of Chicago to direct the Developing Communities Project. Together with a coalition of ministers, Obama set out to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued by crime and high unemployment. After graduating from law school, Obama passed up lucrative law firm jobs to head Project Vote, which helped register 150,000 new African American voters in Chicago, the highest number ever registered in a single local effort. Michelle Obama was founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago, a leadership development program that identifies and prepares talented young adults for careers serving the public good.
March 21, 2008 • 2:28 pm 2
Having Obama “Equate what I said with what this racist bigot [Jeremiah Wright] has said from the pulpit is unbelievable,” said Geraldine Ferraro. Obama even tried to dismiss Ferraro’s original comment saying, “We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card.” But she decided to pounce on another part of his speech referring to a quote in which Obama said Americans should ignore racist comments made from both camps:
In one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap . On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
This has pretty much confirmed my earlier positions that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was behind the nearly incessant loop of the Reverend Wrights comments. But that’s not all Ferraro said, “What this man is doing is he is spewing that stuff out to young people, and to younger people than Obama, and putting it in their heads that it’s OK to say `Goddamn America’ and it’s OK to beat up on white people.”
Not one time has Wright encouraged young black men to beat up white kids. Wright wasn’t even saying “God damn America” because he doesn’t like this country. While I will admit his comments where inappropriate they’re not the end of the world. Here’s what he said in more relevant context, “The government gives [blacks] the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people.”
He could have said God save America, but it’s fully understandable that a black man born in 1941 is angry with the system. He lived about thirty years of his life in overt racist oppression, and just as no one expect Jews from concentration camps to forgive Germans that sat back and allowed Antisemitism and the Germans that fully embraced Nazism, it also ridiculous for Wright to forget the oppression he grew up with.
March 20, 2008 • 8:56 pm 6
A Rasmussen poll shows that Hillary Clinton can only capture 55% of a key Democratic voting block, African Americans. Likewise Obama only gets 36% of votes from white males. Such identity politics plays right into the hands of John McCain, the same article even said “McCain currently leads Barack Obama 49% to 42% and Hillary Clinton 51% to 41% margin.”
I won’t blame this on Hillary Clinton, or on African Americans. The Hillary campaign has done it’s share of race baiting. But the media is one of the main culprits, running inflammatory comments over and over again to cause controversy and in turn get more viewers.
Nor is this the fault of blacks either. For about 150 years we’ve been voting for white men. We don’t have a problem if Obama looses to his only Democratic opponent. Where the problem stands is if he looses because of race baiting, and if he looses it certainly will look that is true.
For one Hillary’s campaign has used the race card (I won’t yet call her a racist) to gain votes. They are perfectly fine with loosing the black vote in the primaries, to gain a larger share of votes from people on other spectrums of the hue. Some think because eighty to ninety percent of blacks vote for him suggests that his campaign is somehow racist because the vote doesn‘t break down more evenly.
Second, if you’ll recall the Clinton campaign used the race card in South Carolina too. But then it seemed they backed down after they realised the element of the white vote that was racist, would go for John Edwards. But as soon as Edwards dropped out we saw this creeping back into the campaign.
The real issue is how will this affect the Democratic party beyond 2008? I’m starting to wonder if Hillary would rather see a Democrat loose in 2008 so she can run again in 2012. The poll certainly makes November look ominous for Democrats in November. But if Hillary is successful in using her race based politics, and then continues those same policies to ensure she’s still president until 2016 America might see a new coalition of progressive thinking Democrats and blacks.
The whole Reverend Wright controversy is of particular concern. I believe that Hillary was behind the timing. Why hasn’t she made any comments denouncing the press’s obsession with his comments, several of which where reported out of context? I remember when the New York Times ran the whole McCain affair story, Mike Huckabee simply denounced it as “politics.” I’m not asking Clinton to endorse Reverend Wrights inappropriate comments, but merely the way the media is using race baiting and distorting the comments to manipulate voters as if they where kids.
I for one was still willing to ignore the racist campaign in South Carolina and vote for Clinton in a general election. But now I can’t justify my people being used as a disposable pawn throughout this cycle. If Obama doesn’t win I’ll probably be voting for Ralph Nader. My mother has said she would write Obama’s name in. Meanwhile my dad and grandmother both feel Clinton would be better over McCain. With so much attention focusing on swing states, shouldn’t key demographics be viewed as important too?
March 19, 2008 • 11:48 am 0
Obama’s campaign has so far tried to ignore race, but in the past couple of weeks supporters of both Hillary and Obama injected it into the campaign. But his speech has far superseded a summary of black history, or him distancing himself from blacks. He transcended mere hues and instead showed that all of us middle class, lower class, and even the rich liberals should not let the few selfish divide us with the same petty sidetracks.
On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Without alienating his pastor he condemned the mans remarks without condemning the man, which shows his campaign can even reach out to the person, without endorsing their ideas. He even seemed to condemn the harsh reaction to Geraldine Ferraro’s racial comments, “We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction.”
He also finally challenged some of those comments that he wasn’t black enough:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
It was really an amazing speech that didn’t play the race card, and hopefully didn’t further alienate anyone from his campaign. You can read the entire transcript at his website.
March 17, 2008 • 5:45 pm 0