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The Pile: Thoughts, Life, and Photography of Joshua Davis

The Isms are Still Alive

Hillary Clinton, Baracm Obama, Bill Richardson, Mitty Romney, John McCain, and Rudy Giulani all broke barriers for their various ethnic, gender, race and religious groups.

This primary saw so many records broken. We had a woman run the longest and most successful primary campaign ever. We had a man who would be the oldest president if he wins. We had an African American take the nomination. We had a Latino run, and be viewed as a somewhat serious threat, and seen as a serious contender for vice president. Then there was an Italian who had a front runner campaign for many months, and we can’t forget that a Mormon ran too.

The primary season was a wonderful example of the diversity of America and a reminder that who you are doesn’t have to define what you will be. But it also was a reminder that isms (chauvinism, racism, religionism, ageism…) are still a problem in America. From the media, to political campaigns, to individuals, this hatred has reared it’s ugly head. But the times when identity became a part of politics, equal opportunity discrimination resulted.

Probably most notable in terms of media sanctioned sexism was Chris Mathews, who has also made many comments indicating his support for Barack Obama, at one time saying Obama made his “thighs tingle.” He made offensive comments about Hillary saying “The reason she’s a U.S. Senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front runner, is that her husband messed around. […] She didn’t win it on the merits.” Then of course there is the frequent use of the word bitch to describe Hillary. We heard McCain chuckling and saying “How do we beat the bitch” was an excellent question. And then of course everyone refers to Hillary, as Hillary, highlighting her gender in a way that last names don’t.

Even though there was only one candidate with a groundbreaking religion running in the 2008 primaries, Mitt Romney, three religions still came under fire. There was a county chairman working for John McCain that blasted Romney’s religion according to the Boston Globe, “[He] questioned whether Mormons were Christians, discussed an article alleging that the Mormon Church helps fund Hamas, and likened the Mormons’ treatment of women to the Taliban’s.”

Then came attacks on Obama’s religion. Conservatives maintained that he was a secret Muslim who wanted to impose Sharia law, while those same people attacked him for being to closely attached to the black church. Then came comments from a Clinton adviser saying Obama was only good for being your “Imaginary hip black friend.” And then there where those who feel Obama’s win was an exercise in affirmative action. Geraldine Ferraro, Rush Limbaugh and others have made statements that “Obama was only winning because he was a black male.” For comparison there’s one black in the US Senate, versus the 16 white woman, prior to 2004 there was only one black, who was a female.

My point in bringing these controversies up is not to reinforce hard feelings. It’s to show that every candidate faced discrimination on the campaign trail. Being an Obama supporter I can easily say, “These race attacks on Obama where more unfair.” But since I’ve never been a woman or Hillary supporter I don’t really know how her supporters felt about the attacks. And whatever those feelings are, they’re certainly legitimate.

If Obama’s pollsters and advisers come back and tell him they need Hillary on the ticket, then those (including me) offended by her comments will need to get over them, so we can fully support the entire ticket. In identity based politics this can be hard because the attacks feel like an attack on your group. But liberals must remember the interests of women and blacks will be further eroded over the next four years if the Republicans and John McCain win, because they are still anti abortion, anti affirmative action, and want to place justices on the Supreme Court that rescind and limit rulings like Roe v. Wade, and Brown v. Board of Education.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, barack obama, , , , , , , ,

Hillary Uses More Race Baiting

Hillary Clinton campaigning in West Virginia on Wednesday.Hillary has defined herself as the white candidate today, telling USA Today that “I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on, [the AP] found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me… There’s a pattern emerging here. Hillary must feel pretty desperate when she has to specifically single out white voters as the hard working ones.

The Clinton’s previous comments on race where regrettable, and told black voters the Clinton’s where willing to use race baiting as their strategy. The strategy may have been offensive, but these comments are on a whole new level with Hillary implying that white voters are the only hard working voters.

Despite all her arguments that she can carry working class, rural, and Hispanic (she usually excludes blacks) voters, she needs the black vote to win in the Fall. If this group stays home or votes for an alternate candidate she will not win.

Blacks are not voting for Obama because he is black. Blacks are voting en masse for Obama because Hillary’s race baiting has driven them away. When the primaries started many African Americans where sketpical a black could win, or worried for Obama’s safety, or just felt Hillary was more likely to win in the fall. After nearly each contest more blacks vote for Obama because Hillary offends them in her attempt to court the racist vote.

It’s Hillary’s fault this primary season has turned into game a of race and gender. If she wasn’t so desperate to get back in the White House she wouldn’t have to pull tricks like this to win. If she had played less like a Republican, and more like a Democrat, maybe she’d be looking at being a vice president. But now she has shot her chance for a November win, and probably any primary wins in the future.

Hillary can try to pull in the “Regan Democrats,” but this will never work for Democrats like it did for Republicans, because they would loose their key group of civil rights advocates and blacks.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Black Matters, Politics, , ,

Womans Group Allegedly Suppressing Black Votes

An advocacy group called Women’s Voices, Women’s Vote, is alleged to be engaging in voter suppression in North Carolina. The group sends robo-calls to predominantly black neighborhoods, telling the residents they aren’t able to vote in the upcoming Democratic primary. Technology meets government blog, Threat Level has some more details:

Voters began complaining to The Raleigh News & Observer last week that they were receiving the automated calls, which the paper reported were primarily going to black households. The calls play a 20-second message voiced by a man who calls himself “Lamont Williams.”

“In the next few days, you will receive a voter-registration packet in the mail,” the Williams recording said. “All you need to do is sign it, date it and return your application. Then you will be able to vote and make your voice heard. Please return the voter-registration form when it arrives. Thank you.”

The message doesn’t identify the group, but after some research, the Institute for Southern Studies traced the calls back to Woman’s Voices, Woman’s Vote. The group acknowledged the campaign, but it’s President, Page Gardner said the “Calls were an extension of a legitimate voter-registration drive that the group began in July 2007.”

But Gardner fails to elaborate on why the messages where done anonymously. If it truly was legitimate it would seem like the group would want it’s name attached.This isn’t the first state where the group has been accused of voter suppression. But it also turns out Gardner has donated $4200 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Wired goes on to quote another man in the automated political call industry as saying “The fact that the autodial campaign was performed anonymously suggests it wasn’t an innocent mistake. In general, automated campaigns are designed to suppress voter turnout.” Don Powell went on to say “”It does happen in North Carolina, it works, or they wouldn’t bother. It’s sleazy money, and it affects people like me who would never think about doing this.”

It’s unfortunate that at a time when America was guaranteed to see either a woman or African American in the White House, it turned into a game of identity based politics. It’s understandable that women vote for Hillary, and blacks for Obama, and it’s reasonable to expect these group to be excited about their choices. But what’s disappointing is how the primary has become a fight between white woman and blacks.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Politics, , , , , ,

What Hillary’s Win Means

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Hillary Clinton needed to maintain the 25 point lead polls showed her with earlier, to prove she was still competitive in the race to Denver.  But her relatively lackluster showing in Pennsylvanian on Tuesday further illustrated there is virtually no possibility she’ll be able to catch up to Obama in popular vote or pledged delegate count. Exit polls even back that hypothesis, with 54 percent of respondents saying no matter what happened in Pennsylvania, Obama would win the nomination.

With only a ten point, six delegate loss, Barack Obama, showed that in a general election it would be possible for him to carry Pennsylvania. Considering the race baiting and last minute fear mongering the Clinton campaign used, Obama may have well been able to win the Keystone State. For fear of further alienating minorities the Republican party has indicated they will likely shy away from racial based attacks, which certainly was a key factor in Hillary’s win.

Her win only proved two things. She has not tarnished her reputation too much to prohibit herself from winning. Second,  that she will continue fighting even win the odds look nearly impossible.  This is what Al Gore needed to do in 2000, when Florida and the Supreme Court stole the presidency from him. Hillary has showed she is the attack dog Democrats needed in ’00 and ’04.

But after eight years of Bush’s political divisiveness and vindictiveness Americans are ready for a change from the dog fight politics has become. By the time this nearly one year election comes to end Americans will be so tired of bickering they’ll vote for the candidate they viewed as most focused on the issues. Exit polls have showed that despite her win, most Pennsylvania believed she turned the race negative. Seven months from now Americans certainly will become tired of the daily sniping.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, barack obama, Politics, , ,

McCain’s Energy Plan Will Raise Rates

I know this a few days old, but it sure hasn’t gotten enough coverage. John McCain has proposed to create a gas tax “holiday” during the summer months. He thinks that 29 cents off your gas consumption tax would lower the prices, but it is more likely to increase consumption, and the increased demand will probably outweigh saving money from the gas the tax.

And how does Mr. I’ll Stay In Iraq for 100 years, pay for the war with all these tax cuts? Oh I forgot destabilizing the Middle East creates lower prices at the pump.

The Washington Post talked to some economists who pretty much share the same view:

“You don’t want to stimulate consumption,” said Lawrence Goldstein, an economist at the Energy Policy Research Foundation. “The signal you want to send is the opposite one. Politicians should say that conservation is where people’s mindset ought to be.”

Mr. Goldstein said that instead of freezing the federal tax, the government should help lower-income populations pay for gasoline. It would be cheaper and benefit those households that need it most.

If anything, the gas tax should be increased. This would make heating bills decrease, because less gas would be consumed. Europe has some of the highest gas tax rates, which may acount for up to 70% of costs at the pump. Coincdently Europe also has the lowest gas consumption.

Having less consumption would also lower carbon outputs, and general pollution. Besides helping the disadvantaged pay for energy, a higher gas tax could be used to fund alternatives to excess oil consumption like mass transit, and green and renewable fuels.

McCain has several lobbyists from energy companies working on his campaign, and no doubt his lobbyists would love to see increased fuel consumption, leading to higher gas prices.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Politics,

I Am an Angry Voter

I’m an angry voter. I worry that a Clinton or McCain administration will continue the same Washington politics that are destroying our nation. Like politicians getting free vacations trips to tropical destinations for signing free trade deals at the request of lobbyists.

There are many blacks like me that share this same anger, and even bitterness. But some of us might look at the white male factory worker as getting what he deserves, because for past generations he had  a free “white male” card. Blue collar workers might look at us as lazy, destructive people and wonder why we’re surprised Wal-Mart won’t open and bring employment opportunities in black neighborhoods.

But in the end the white father and the black father are both angry when they find it hard to place food on the table. Whether as Americans, they scrape money from the grandparents or from the federal government, the shame of not being able to provide for your own family creates anger at the system.

But the media (funded by corporations) and selfish politicians are seeking to divide Americans that are affected by the same failed economic policies, so that they can rake in more money and profits. They’re creating “voter outrage” of Barack Obama’s “bitter” comments. His statement was intended to help a group of elitist California fund raisers understand what the unemployed American feels. Every election cycle presidents and senators pose against shuttered factories and promise jobs. And the January after each election cycle we see more American jobs sent to places like Asia and South America.

The Washington and corporate establishment is scared that a candidate has finally called politicians on their economic BS. The establishment is worried that blue collar America and urban America might realize our economic issues are the same. If Americans are able to look past the small differences that separate us, and exercise our right to make America  a better place, corrupt politicians and companies looking at short term and selfish gains will be forced to change or leave.

Bitter is not a bad word. I am “Marked by resentment or cynicism” as the dictionary says, when it comes to politics. When watching you, your family, your community, and your country slowly dieing because of irresponsible decision making, it is no shame to be a bitter voter.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Black Matters, Politics, , , ,

European Aircraft Manufacturers Love McCain

Or does John McCain love European airplane manufacturers? Media Matters is out with a graphic showing who his campaign managers, advisers, and other employees lobby for. One of the immediate names that jumped out at me was European aircraft maker Airbus, who has been siphoning off airplane contracts from American companies like Boeing.

But that’s not all he will be beholden to. The telecom industry, which surely will advocate against net neutrality, for wrestling cable regulation from local government, and for even higher cell phone, cable, and Internet prices. And if you think McCain is a saint for believing in global warming think again. Shell Oil, Honda, Florida Power & Light, Toyota, and other energy gobbling companies all employ lobbyists that work in his campaign.

There are a few other entities out there that should cause controversy too. For those who care about family values, one of his lobbyists works for the Smokeless Tobacco Council. And lets not forget, another of his advisers is a lobbyist who works for the NRA, the group that wanted to legalize assault weapons used in the Virginia Tech shootings.

The problem with lobbyists is the candidate will be beholden to them, especially if they’re credited with creating the win. For a man that labels himself as the “Straight Talk Express” I would defiantly expect him to show higher moral standards when it comes to lobbyists.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Politics, , , , , ,

Barack & Hillary Versus McCain Game

Old role playing game featuring Hillary and Obama versus McCain. Hillary uses tactics like “pity” and “experience” and looses points to McCain. Obama is eventually swapped in and watch what happens. Thanks to The Angry Black Woman.

If modern video games are more you’re type, see the video of an “upcoming game placing you in Hillary’s boots while in Bosnia.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, barack obama, hillary clinton, Politics

Hillary Clinton 3AM Call Of Duty Video Game

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.

Filed under: '08 Election, Politics, , ,

Barack Obama and His 12 Years Legislative Experience

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.

Economy

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.

Health Care

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.

Fiscal Responsibility

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.

Education

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.
Immigration

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.

Veterans

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.
Homeland Security

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.
Poverty

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.

Civil Rights

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.

Rural Issues

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.

Community Service

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.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, barack obama, Politics