Monday, March 31, 2008

White Dudes for Obama


sign up if you're a white dude.

A Look at Obama's Team

national journal: Obama's team has a relatively shallow bench: Several players are responsible for an extraordinarily wide range of policy areas. But whatever the lapses and shortcomings of Obama and his closest aides, it's hard not to be impressed with their political achievements. The campaign has taken on the power couple who have dominated Democratic politics for the past 16 years and reduced a once-mighty heir apparent to a lackluster underdog.

"I would describe it as an excellent campaign," says Democratic media consultant Tad Devine, who worked on the presidential campaigns of nominees John Kerry and Al Gore but is not taking sides in the Obama-Clinton battle.

the article gives a brief bio on several of obama's key advisers, including daniel tarullo, robert gibbs and preeta bansal.

CNN's Goofy Obama Headlines

yesterday the headline was "i'm terrible," referring to what obama said about his bowling game. he bowled mostly gutter balls yesterday in pennsylvania, and today the headline is something about a godfather.

combining "godfather" and obama in the headline is a cheap shot. it lends a shady aspect to the story. i read it a few times and couldn't grasp its point. another distraction, i'm sure. it doesn't even bother to get input from obama or anyone in the obama campaign, you know, for perspective or something along those lines.

it isn't just obama headlines, though. cnn has the most scintillating headlines. take today:
"dad kills kids in hotel"
"Dying dad must pay $$$$ to break lease"
"dog thrown off overpass"
where do they get all this news?

Obama at Penn State Video

obama reassured the crowd of 22,000-plus people that the long, drawn out campaign is serving a purpose. it's gotten everyone involved and invested, he said.

Superdelegate Amy Klobuchar Endorses Obama

this makes 20 since march 4 for obama and 9 for clinton.

AP: Barack Obama picked up the endorsement of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar Sunday night, giving him another superdelegate supporter.

In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Klobuchar said Obama "has inspired an enthusiasm and idealism that we have not seen in this country in a long time."

Klobuchar, a freshman Democrat, said Obama speaks "with a different voice, bringing a new perspective and inspiring a real excitement from the American people." She compared him to the late Hubert Humphrey, who served as a senator from Minnesota and as vice president.

Obama carried Minnesota by a large margin over rival Hillary Rodham Clinton last month.

"My endorsement reflects both Barack's strong support in my state and my own independent judgment about his abilities," Klobuchar said.

She cited their work together on issues such as ethics reform and toy safety.

"Barack has been a proven agent for change and advocate for middle-class Americans," Klobuchar said.



bill clinton courted supers yesterday at the california convention.
the clintons' harold ickes' drive to dig up supers

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gore: Fallen Out of Love With Politics

al gore, who had the 2000 election ripped out from under him, has moved on to saving the planet, literally, and he told 60 minutes that he has fallen out of love with politics.

60 minutes pushed him on who he is supporting but he didn't budge. i don't blame him.

if obama has the election ripped out from under him, i would like to see him follow in gore's footsteps and go after a cause. with obama's support, he could do equally great things, if not more.

perhaps the best way to get things done nowadays is outside of politics.

go all gore.

update: i don't know how credible this story is but it says democratic party elders are weighing giving the nomination to gore and having a gore/obama ticket or a gore/clinton ticket.
on 60 minutes, gore seemed convincingly happy to me doing what he was doing. he seemed disinterested in politics.

Clinton (Bill) Gives Convincing Campaign Speech

obama was rallying in pennsylvania today, and at the same time, bill clinton was running for president at the california state democratic convention in san jose.

bill made a good argument for his second presidency today. his speech on economics, healthcare and the iraq war was convincing and he is by far the better speaker and the better half. it makes you almost forget all the slime.

he's good at speaking up to more educated groups and speaking down to the so-called "budweiser class." bill is the quintessential politician.

he gave the chelsea-thinks-hillary-will-be-the-better-president spiel and bill thinks so too.

Oprah's Mentor Supports Clinton

poet maya angelou, of all people, is a clinton supporter. oprah winfrey, who calls angelou her mentor, is very much an obama supporter. i wonder how that's been going over.

of course, angelou has loyalties to the clintons. she was invited to read her poem at bill's inauguration. and loyalties with the clintons, as we've learned, run deep. i wonder if angelou realizes that the clintons conveniently circulated pastor wright memos and everything else that has made this campaign ugly to exploit those who don't know any better.

meanwhile, rev. jeremiah wright recently went to hear angelou speak. wright apparently loves angelou, who was celebrating her 82nd birthday. (does this mean wright likes clinton? it would if you use the logic that's been going on in this nomination process).

newsweek: As the race between Clinton and Obama has sharpened in recent months, other Clinton campaign operatives have sent around negative material about Obama's relations with Israel, according to e-mails obtained by NEWSWEEK. In addition to Brzezinski, the e-mails attack Obama advisers such as Rob Malley, a former Clinton negotiator at the 2000 Camp David talks who has since written articles sympathetic to the Palestinian point of view, and they raise questions about Obama's relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor at Obama's Trinity Church in Chicago.

maya in the sun times

"I promised myself that 20 years after seeing her passion and courage (as first lady of Arkansas) that if she ever runs for anything, I'm going to support her," the author, who spent part of her childhood in Arkansas, told The Associated Press during a recent interview.

here's more:


Angelou, who turns 80 on April 4, played a brief, but memorable role in Bill Clinton's first presidential run. The poem she read at his 1993 inauguration, "On the Pulse of the Morning," was an instant sensation that became a million seller when published in book form. She was already widely known as the author of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," a coming-of-age memoir that is standard reading at schools.

Although committed to Hillary Clinton, Angelou says she would be happy to see Obama become president, 'the country's first black president,' especially after the March 18 speech prompted by his former pastor's racial statements. Obama, a Democrat from Illinois, called upon "the nation to break "a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years.'"

Hillary and Bill's New Tactic

the clintons have vowed to stay in the race. that's fine. they just need to clean up their act. if they can manage to elevate their campaign, then every state would have had a chance to be heard and that would benefit the next president. if they stopped with the stupid stuff, the lies, the race baiting, claiming that obama hates jewish people, etcetera, then the contest could regain some civility.

but then again, each time the clintons sling their mudfire, it seems to backfire, so maybe they should continue to be who they are.

since the clintons have little to no chance of winning via delegates, the clinton's new tactic is to say the popular vote is most important. obama leads by 700,000. if the clintons can win the popular vote, then they can convince the superdelegates that they're more popular goes the argument. the clintons would have more legitimacy if they did win the popular vote, but that's not a likely scenario either.

wash post: Clinton hopes to overtake Obama in the overall popular vote to argue to superdelegates -- the nearly 800 party members and elected officials who are likely to determine the outcome of the race -- that she is ahead where it matters. Including Florida and Michigan in that equation could boost her vote and delegate totals, as well as bolster her argument that she is better positioned to capture big general-election swing states.

When asked Saturday how she could still win, Clinton immediately talked about wooing superdelegates, who she said "have a role and very important responsibility."
"We have to nominate someone who can go toe to toe with John McCain on national security and beat him on the economy," she said. "This will all be for naught if we don't win in November."

But in the lull before ballots are cast in the next contest, in Pennsylvania on April 22, Clinton has been deluged with calls for her withdrawal, provoking a backlash among her supporters and defiance from the candidate and her family and staff.

Bill Clinton sent out an e-mail, titled "Not big on quitting," on Saturday that reminded supporters that his wife is behind in the popular vote by less than one percentage point and that she trails by 130 delegates.

"With the race this close, it sure doesn't make sense to me that she'd leave now -- does it make sense to you?" the former president's e-mail read.

In the interview, Hillary Clinton brushed aside concerns from party leaders that the campaign will hurt the party's chances against McCain, who launched his first general-election television ad last week and who has spent the month raising money and attacking the Democrats.

Pushing Clinton Out Should Be a Group Effort


Working Class Voting for Bill Clinton

these are some of my observations on the low-income workers, the ones similar to the voters in ohio who said that because obama was black they wouldn't vote for him. but first i'll start with a quote:

politico: Michael Ventura, 57, a retired sheriff leaning toward Clinton because of her husband’s oratorical skills, said an Obama event Friday in Greensburg gave him the chance “to see him in person and see the facial expressions, to look at him.”

Obama faces a tough climb in some parts of the state, Ventura said.

“You get down by Appalachia, near Ohio, you have a little bit of discrimination,” Ventura said. “Even out this way, as you go out further, you get discrimination.”
During the speech, Ventura laughed and applauded at all the right lines.

“He is running on all eight cylinders,” Ventura said after the event. “You want someone who comes down to your level. Right through the speech, he is almost one-on-one. He is an excellent speaker — that is why I love [Bill] Clinton.”

one, i find it hard to fathom that people are still so narrow minded that they wouldn't vote for someone based on their color. it would be nice if there was a way to go in there and educate them, but it's a culture, a way of life. it's like the united states thinking it can go in and bomb iraq and change its culture. it just doesn't work like that. it is ingrained and is passed on from generation to generation. the so-called lunchbox workers are probably victims of our lame education system, among other things.

two, they're not voting for hillary. they're voting for bill. nearly every time they're interviewed, these lunchbox workers say they like bill. they are more apt to vote for a woman than a black man, but these men don't want to see hillary as president. they want bill clinton and it's all a wink and a nod. they understand they're getting bill.

three, they don't realize they're being pandered to. bill clinton is out there in west virginia and pennsylvania talking like an idiot.

four, ironically, obama is the candidate who understands their resentments and their prejudices. while their line of thinking deeply disturbs some of us, obama knows where they're coming from and wants to help them. further, they need obama.

five, their kind of thinking doesn't belong in the world.

the following is from the owner of the pittsburgh review-tribune talking about his recent meeting with hillary clinton. he's trying to decide who to endorse and it strikes me that it doesn't really matter what he thinks or who his newspaper endorses.

On domestic policy, Sen. Clinton and I might find more areas on which we disagree. Yet we also agree on others. Asked about the utter failure of federal efforts to rebuild New Orleans since the Katrina disaster, for example, she called it just what it has been -- "not just a national disgrace (but) an international embarrassment."

Does all this mean I'm ready to come out and recommend that our Democrat readers choose Sen. Clinton in Pennsylvania's April 22 primary?

No -- not yet, anyway. In fairness, we at the Trib want to hear Sen. Barack Obama's answers to some of the same questions and to others before we make that decision.

But it does mean that I have a very different impression of Hillary Clinton today than before last Tuesday's meeting -- and it's a very favorable one indeed.

Call it a "counterintuitive" impression.

Richard M. Scaife is the owner of the Tribune-Review.



Hillary’s Gift Basket Politics
Hillary’s Loyalty Politics
Clinton’s Donor Bullies
Pushing Clinton Out Should Be a Group Effort

Saturday, March 29, 2008

John McCain's Turn is Coming

this was in the letters section of the nytimes.com. it doesn't look pretty for mccain.

To the Editor:

To the extent that Neal Gabler is right when he states that John McCain is “a darling of the news media,” it’s not so much because he shares their sense of irony. It’s because he’s a Republican who is not reliably conservative.

So here’s a prediction from someone who’s been a full-time working journalist since 1967: The love affair will end as soon as soon as the general election begins (if not sooner). That’s when every gaffe by Mr. McCain will be portrayed by the media as “evidence” that he’s old — really, really old. That’s when every grimace will be “proof” that he’s got a hair-trigger temper.

When the Democrats stop beating each other over the head, and one of them starts running in earnest against John McCain, the media will no longer find their “darling” nearly as “ironic” — or nearly as lovable.

From a media point of view, it’s one thing when Senator McCain sticks a finger in a fellow Republican’s eye, quite another when he’s taking aim at a liberal Democrat.

Bernard Goldberg

Clinton Flinging More Lies

from usa today. a blogger/attorney at why we need obama helped usa today get the record straight:

usa today: He saw our post yesterday that noted the response from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign to the economic address that Obama delivered Thursday. In this memo, the Clinton team said that Obama "has taken more money from the top 10 subprime loans than BOTH Senator Clinton and Senator McCain." The memo cited CQ.com as its source.

Kavi, though, sifted through public records and figured out that if you compare apples to apples -- particularly the money campaigns have gotten from employees of subprime mortgage companies, which is what the Obama numbers were largely based on -- it looks like Clinton has taken in $1.3 million to Obama's $1.2 million.

why we need obama does some great digging to counteract the lies that clinton tosses out there in hopes that someone will believe them. you know, the kitchen sink thing. inevitably, someone does believe them.
Compilation of Clinton’s Dirty Tactics
Clinton’s Lie List
Hillary’s Gift Basket Politics
Hillary’s Loyalty Politics
Clinton’s Donor Bullies
Pushing Clinton Out Should Be a Group Effort

Obama in 30 Seconds



obama and bob casey eating hot dogs

a contest sponsored by moveon.org wants 30 second TV ads on why obama should be our next president. the deadline is april 15. if you win, your ad gets aired nationally and you get $20,000 worth of camera gear. sign up.

Texas State Caucus Convention Results


One Fair Superdelegate

of all that i've read about superdelegates, this one is fair.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a San Jose Democrat who will attend the state convention, says superdelegates should back the leader in delegates and popular votes. Lofgren has endorsed Obama, but said she would back Clinton if she took the lead in June.

"The speaker has maintained a scrupulous neutrality" between Obama and Clinton, Lofgren said, and that enhances Pelosi's influence if she and other party leaders need to step in later.

On the Minds of Superdelegates 1

On the Minds of Superdelegates 2

On the Minds of Superdelegates 3

On the Minds of Superdelegates 4

On the Minds of Superdelegates 5

On the Minds of Superdelegates 6

On the Minds of Superdelegates 7

On the Minds of Superdelegates 8

Clintons Say Richardson Bought Off

they would say that. i'm sure bill richardson is pleased to be out of the clinton's clutches. clinton's insiders don't need to speculate on any buyouts. they just need to look at themselves. desperation is a sad state.
Hillary’s Gift Basket Politics
Hillary’s Loyalty Politics

Gore Speaks

and he hints that it might be over sooner than we think and anyway, there's only five more months left. how much damage can be done in that time? i'm sure clinton has something else up her sleeves.

daily news: I think it's going to resolve itself. But we'll see," Gore told The Associated Press, referring to the possibility of one candidate dropping out before the party convention in August.

Viewed by some as one of the few influential high priests of the party, Gore doesn't even have plans to make an endorsement - let alone play the role of referee.

Gore dismissed party worrywarts who say the Democratic infighting only helps Republican John McCain.

"What have we got, five months left?" he said when asked about his endorsement.


one of the upsides to a long campaign is that the next president will be well informed on what's going on in america.

apparently, sen. harry reid and others are feeling confident that there would be a "natural" end. hmmmm, wonder what that could look like. clinton, naturally, pries votes from the supers with promises of cabinet positions. or obama turns out the votes and finally she leaves?

nyt: Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and the majority leader, said in an interview that Democrats fretting over divisions in the party “need to relax and cool it a little bit.” Mr. Reid said he had recently had separate conversations with Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Dean and former Vice President Al Gore and was confident that the nominating fight would end naturally. The next contest is in Pennsylvania, where polls suggest that Mrs. Clinton is in a strong position, and her aides are confident of a sizable victory there, even after Mr. Casey’s endorsement of Mr. Obama.


howard dean is pushing for superdelegates to step up now.

Clinton Defends Herself At Her Roundtable

at hillary clinton's roundtable today in pennsylvania, she defended her campaign. she said that she doesn't know where this call for her to get out is coming from.

clinton's only chance of winning is to persuade enough superdelegates that she should win. since march 3, obama has gained 19 supers and she has gained 9.
here goes former new york governor mario cuomo again, babbling on about the "dream ticket."

Think of it, over the next eight years we could elect both the first woman and the first African-American to become president. That's not a dream: It's a plausible, achievable, glorious possibility - if our two remaining candidates have the personal strength and wisdom to make it happen. The joint statement announcing their agreement would rock the nation and resound across the globe - sweeter than any political poetry; smarter and more meaningful than any tightly intelligent political prose.

cuomo has not been paying attention. there is a stark contrast between obama and clinton when it comes to leadership styles, integrity and character.

obama needs to choose his own vice president. why would he choose someone who has drug him down. i'd rather see someone fresh and not entangled in loyalty politics. this isn't about seeing the "first african american" or the "first woman." get over it cuomo. this is the highest office in the nation. it's about having the right person in office, the person who can be the best leader.

It’s Still Over for Clinton
Compilation of Clinton’s Dirty Tactics
Clinton’s Lie List
Hillary’s Gift Basket Politics
Hillary’s Loyalty Politics
Clinton’s Donor Bullies
Pushing Clinton Out Should Be a Group Effort

Obama's Town Hall Johnstown Penn

i'll post video when it's available.
here is some of what he said. these aren't quotes, though some might be.
a child asked what he wanted to be when he was a kid. obama said he wanted to be an architect, an nba player.

it's not who has the plans, it's who can get it through. clintons went behind closed doors to try to get healthcare done. they scared everyone, didn't have enough confidence in the american people to let them in on the plan. when they announced the plan it was dead in the water.

i'm going to have a big table and i'm going to invite everybody. we will have the negotiations on CSPAN so that the american people know what's going on.

the american people have to be enlisted to make government work. the more the people understand the more accountable.

standardized tests and no child left behind:
standardized testing forces teachers to teach to the test. he wants them learning poetry, science, art. we need to keep learning interesting. i would change the assessments, one at the beginning and one at the end of the year. use the test scores as a tool for teachers to improve their students.

view on AIDS in american's in african american community:
prevention in healthcare. we wait for people to get sick then spend oodles of money. we don't spend money on the front end. when it comes to aids the most important thing is education, which should include abstinence teaching and other contraceptive information.

with his daughters, he's going to teach them about values and morals but if they make a mistake he doesn't want them punished with an STD. you have to teach abstinence and about contraceptives.

stigma of aids as only in the gay community. it's connected to drug use, so needs to be treated as a public care issue not a criminal issue.

a very passionate woman asked how are we going to end abortion. this issue perhaps best illustrates obama's sensibilities.

i understand the issues on both sides. he talked about his daughters. i understand the moral dimension. the people who deny that are missing the boat. no one is pro-abortion. people feel like this is a painful decision. what it comes down to is who is going to make this decision. i trust women are not making this decision casually. they consult their conscious and others.
i have been pro choice but let me say this is an example where good people can disagree. but can we agree to reduce teen pregnancies, make adoption more viable.

The Audacity of John Edwards

just when you think it couldn't get any sillier. this article suggests that "obama blew it" (john edwards endorsement) during his sit down with john edwards and his wife, elizabeth, by disagreeing on a healthcare issue and not putting poverty at the center of his campaign, just like edwards-- just like edwards whom not very many voted for, relatively speaking.

if anyone is for alleviating poverty, it's obama. his entire bottom-up democracy lays the groundwork for helping move more people out of poverty. at least obama's still in the running and can actually do something about it, as opposed to edwards who put off a lot of folks. unlike edwards, who foolishly laid the blame solely on business. that was my beef with edwards.
ny magazine:

But now two months have passed since Edwards dropped out—tempus fugit!—and still no endorsement. Why? According to a Democratic strategist unaligned with any campaign but with knowledge of the situation gleaned from all three camps, the answer is simple: Obama blew it. Speaking to Edwards on the day he exited the race, Obama came across as glib and aloof. His response to Edwards’s imprecations that he make poverty a central part of his agenda was shallow, perfunctory, pat. Clinton, by contrast, engaged Edwards in a lengthy policy discussion. Her affect was solicitous and respectful. When Clinton met Edwards face-to-face in North Carolina ten days later, her approach continued to impress; she even made headway with Elizabeth. Whereas in his Edwards sit-down, Obama dug himself in deeper, getting into a fight with Elizabeth about health care, insisting that his plan is universal (a position she considers a crock), high-handedly criticizing Clinton’s plan (and by extension Edwards’s) for its insurance mandate.

the article goes on to say that obama needs diplomatic skills. perhaps, he's just not going to be bullied by anyone: if you don't do this then i won't do that. what kind of mentality is that? perhaps, obama really is a president for the people. perhaps, these so-called "elders" ought to stop viewing him as a young senator and start seeing him for the leader that he is. i think that's what's really going on here. obama, in his campaign alone, has done more to change politics than any of these goons, who've spent years trying to matter.

James Carville Wishes He Could Endorse Obama

good grief. james carville, loyal clintonite (i'd hate to be so "loyal" to someone that i can't even think for myself) is pulling a ferraro.

when you do something stupid don't pile on. back off, think about it and keep your mouth shut. but no, carville decided to write an op-ed piece and of course, it was published. he's still whining that bill richardson endorsed obama and not clinton, which reminds us what clinton politics is all about, loyalty over sense. if that's the kind of people the clintons are, then richardson's endorsement of obama was probably like getting out of an abusive relationship. he probably feels relieved and free. loyalty is not a virtue that should overtake sense, especially in politics.

carville says bill richardson was lifted by the clintons and that richardson couldn't have become who he is any other way, and that he owes his very life to them. how foolish is that thought? it's an abusive thought: if i give you a hand up, if i help you become more of what you are, then you owe me loyalty. first of all, bill richardson isn't who he is because of the clintons. he is who he is because of whatever strengths he has and the work that he did.

bill richardson's endorsement says a lot about obama and it says a lot about the clintons.

there is a difference between loyalty and stupidity. what is so amazing to me is that people with money and power aren't what you'd expect. you'd expect them to be brighter somehow. but neither money nor power can make someone intelligent.

what carville is saying loud and clear is that he wishes he was a free man. he wishes that he could do exactly what bill richardson did, endorse obama. but he's so deep in muck that he's a prisoner of loyalty.
from the wash post:

So, when asked on Good Friday about Richardson's rejection of the Clintons, the metaphor was too good to pass by. I compared Richardson to Judas Iscariot. (And Matthew Dowd is right: Had it been the Fourth of July, I probably would have called him Benedict Arnold.)

I believed that Richardson's appointments in Bill Clinton's administration and his longtime personal relationship with both Clintons, combined with his numerous assurances to the Clintons and their supporters that he would never endorse any of Sen. Hillary Clinton's opponents, merited a strong response.

I was fully aware of what kind of response calling someone a Judas would evoke.

Certainly, it didn't take long for the resign-renounce-denounce complex to kick into high gear.

In a bit of bloviation that brought joy to my heart, Bill O'Reilly pronounced himself "appalled."

Keith Olbermann, about two degrees shy of the temperature necessary for self-combustion, quipped, "So if he's Judas in this analogy, who's Jesus?"

Even Diane Sawyer took the analogy to the extreme, questioning, "Are you saying that he made a deal of some kind when you talk about 30 shekels?"

then he says this:

believe that loyalty is a cardinal virtue. Nowhere in the world is loyalty so little revered and tittle-tattle so greatly venerated as in Washington. I was a little-known political consultant until Bill Clinton made me. When he came upon hard times, I felt it my duty -- whatever my personal misgivings -- to stick by him. At the very least, I would have stayed silent. And maybe that's my problem with what Bill Richardson did. Silence on his part would have spoken loudly enough.

Pushing Clinton Out is a Group Effort

It’s Still Over for Clinton

Compilation of Clinton’s Dirty Tactics

Friday, March 28, 2008

Stanley Ann Dunham

obama's mother and father

Obama on The View Video

obama answered more questions on pastor wright, the economy, taxes, how he stays tough and whether michelle was going to sit in on cabinet meetings. it was a good q&a session.
sherri sheperd said after obama's speech on race, she changed her vote to obama. elizabeth hasselbeck still looked skeptical (she's a die-hard republican, i still like her input though. she makes the show interesting), despite obama making it as clear as possible that he is not his pastor and that he's a true believer in unifying the country.
it's worth the watch. the cnn headline for his appearance on "the view" doesn't match the content.
video
senator bob casey, who just endorsed obama today and was with him at the pennsylvania rally, will be on larry king tonight.

Obama's Campaign Manager in Pennsylvania

obama and some of the pittsburgh steelers

paul tewes, who led iowa, is taking over in pennsylvania.
Paul Tewes, who directed Obama's impressive win in the Iowa caucuses, will take over the Pennsylvania campaign from Jim DeMay, according to campaign sources. Tewes could not be immediately reached for comment.

Obama's national campaign has come under criticism from supporters that his defensive strategy in Pennsylvania -- designed largely to limit Hillary Clinton's ability to run up her popular-vote total -- was tantamount to conceding the state.

Who Can Beat McCain?

Bronx High School Students Inspired by Obama

a high school class in the bronx talks about race, the news, superdelegates, barack obama, and the power of hope.

Sen. Bob Casey Endorses Obama Video

and the crowd goes wild. casey's heartfelt endorsement.


obama camp making a run for pennsylvania.

cnn: Obama accepted the endorsement, saying, "Bob is such gracious person. I did not press him on this endorsement. There are others I press."

He said Casey's backing "meant more to me as any endorsement I've received on the trail because I knew it was coming from the heart." Watch as Casey backs Obama »

Casey is a first-term senator and son of a popular former Gov. Bob Casey Sr. A Catholic, the lawmaker could help Obama make inroads in Pennsylvania among Catholic voters, a bloc that has favored Clinton in most other contests.

"I know that it wasn't based on political calculation, and that's the kind of person I want standing alongside me, that's the kind of leadership that Bob will bring alongside me when I am president of the United States of America," Obama said, later hugging the senator.

Obama also lashed out at the presumptive Republican nominee's policy on Iraq, saying Sen. John McCain "wants to continue George Bush's economic policies. He wants to keep troops in Iraq potentially for 100 years."

Clinton's Donor Letter Initiates Her Exit

clinton's wealthy supporters' attempt at swaying superdelegates by way of nancy pelosi appears to be the beginning of the end of clinton's exit.

the manner in which her $24 million donors admonished pelosi--clinton denies she had anything to do with it -- contrasts the difference between obama's campaign and clinton's. while both have similar policies, obama favors a bottom up democracy. clinton is all about old-style politics, getting things done with big money and favor swapping.

wsj: On Wednesday a group of Mrs. Clinton's top donors sent a letter to the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, warning her in language that they no doubt thought subtle but that reflected a kind of incompetent menace, that her statements on the presidential campaign may result in less money for Democratic candidates for the House. Ms. Pelosi had said that in her view the superdelegates should support the presidential candidate who wins the most pledged delegates in state contests. The letter urged her to "clarify" her position, which is "clearly untenable" and "runs counter" to the superdelegates' right to make "an informed, individual decision" about "who would be the party's strongest nominee." The signers, noting their past and huge financial support, suggested that Ms. Pelosi "reflect" on her comments and amend them to reflect "a more open view."

Barack Obama's campaign called it inappropriate and said Mrs. Clinton should "reject the insinuation." But why would she? All she has now is bluster. Her supporters put their threat in a letter, not in a private meeting. By threatening Ms. Pelosi publicly, they robbed her of room to maneuver. She has to defy them or back down. She has always struck me as rather grittier than her chic suits, high heels and unhidden enthusiasm may suggest. We'll see.

What, really, is Mrs. Clinton doing? She is having the worst case of cognitive dissonance in the history of modern politics. She cannot come up with a credible, realistic path to the nomination. She can't trace the line from "this moment's difficulties" to "my triumphant end." But she cannot admit to herself that she can lose. Because Clintons don't lose. She can't figure out how to win, and she can't accept the idea of not winning. She cannot accept that this nobody from nowhere could have beaten her, quietly and silently, every day. (She cannot accept that she still doesn't know how he did it!)

She is concussed. But she is a scrapper, a fighter, and she's doing what she knows how to do: scrap and fight. Only harder. So that she ups the ante every day. She helped Ireland achieve peace. She tried to stop Nafta. She's been a leader for 35 years. She landed in Bosnia under siege and bravely dodged bullets. It was as if she'd watched the movie "Wag the Dog," with its fake footage of a terrified refugee woman running frantically from mortar fire, and found it not a cautionary tale about manipulation and politics, but an inspiration.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hillary Gave a Gift Basket

clinton is prying pennsylvania votes with suck-up promises, things she can probably never accomplish, but things that nonetheless sound really good to people who are feeling the pain of the economy.
obama in his speech in nyc, offered long term fundamental reform for the economy, and fewer promises of government support.
clinton is playing the typical political game. obama is offering truth, change and, yes, hope.
which will the low-income workers of pennsylvania choose?
here's a great story by andrew leonard at salon:

Obama does not support a five-year mortgage interest freeze or a moratorium on foreclosures -- two prominent planks of Clinton's economic agenda. One could make the argument, therefore, that Obama's approach is less far-reaching than Clinton's, or, conversely, one could argue that Clinton's wilder promises are politically unrealistic, even with a congressional majority. But the clearest difference between the two speeches is this: Hillary went to Philadelphia and promised Pennsylvania voters a gift basket of direct government assistance. Obama went to New York and made a case for long-term, fundamental change, along with a smaller gift basket.

How does that play out politically? Do working-class Pennsylvania voters care what Alexander Hamilton thought about government's role "in advancing our common prosperity" or how the repeal of Glass-Steagall plays into Wall Street's current troubles? That seems unlikely -- and the Clinton campaign was quick to seize upon that point, claiming in a press release that in his speech "Senator Obama announced a series of broad, vague principles, while offering no new concrete solutions to provide Americans with greater confidence in the market or keep them in their homes."

To which one could respond, back in 1980, Ronald Reagan announced a series of broad, vague principles, and then proceeded to drastically change the direction of American politics and economics. If we take both Clinton and Obama at their word, we have Clinton promising a boatload of quick fixes, and Obama promising a profound change of course. What unites them, in opposition to McCain, is that both understand that the U.S. is facing a real problem.

Pollster Bias

it's nice when polls support your candidate but how do they really work? are they really scientific?

i looked at obama's poll numbers from various pollsters for pennsylvania and they vary greatly. don't you wonder what their source is for the people to call? i've never been called. and when do pollsters make their calls? that matters. how honest are people in their responses? how are the questions asked?

and this rasmussen poll had a simple yet big flaw. it said 56% of the people were less likely to vote for obama after hearing pastor wright's sermons. but what question was asked and whom did they ask: obama or clinton supporters? that matters.

i've also read stories where pollster terry madonna of franklin & marshall college is criticizing obama. if a pollster is biased, say madonna is a mccain or a clinton supporter, can he tip the polls to favor his bias? he can call in areas where he knows his numbers will mesh. he can design questions to elicit the answer he wants.

seems to me that nbc is biased toward obama. no complaints here, but they manage to get more context into their polling.

these polls come out now in reaction to every bitty thing. but it seems polling is really a tool to influence as opposed to measure. once a poll is out, the media can use the polls that justify its positions. pollsters seem to be having a field day.

here are 20 questions that should be asked of pollsters:
Who did the poll?
Who paid for the poll and why was it done?
How many people were interviewed for the survey?
How were those people chosen?
What area (nation, state, or region) or what group (teachers,lawyers, Democratic voters, etc.) were these people chosen from?
Are the results based on the answers of all the people interviewed?
Who should have been interviewed and was not? Or do response rates matter?
When was the poll done?
How were the interviews conducted?
What about polls on the Internet or World Wide Web?
What is the sampling error for the poll results?
Who’s on first?
What other kinds of factors can skew poll results?
What questions were asked?
In what order were the questions asked?
What about "push polls?"
What other polls have been done on this topic? Do they say the same thing? If they are different, why are they different?
What about exit polls?
What else needs to be included in the report of the poll?
So I've asked all the questions. The answers sound good. Should we report the results?

Obama on Shared Prosperity

obama's speech at cooper union talks about how to bring equitable prosperity to main street and wall street. the policies of the bush adminstration enabled out current economic woes. "pain trickled up."

BarackObama.com Troll Attacks and Blog Promos

today, obama's site had a massive troll who repeatedly posted his (it probably is a him and i'm not being sexist, or maybe i am) ugly comment over and over. i did not, however click on his nasty little link.
i've also noticed there are quite a few people, who claim to be obama supporters, who use the site to promo their blogs. the constant repititous "hi i am a barack obama supporter, visit my site" is not only annoying but also transparent.
that's all.

Obama Pennsylvania Town Hall and Rally

coming up saturday, town hall and rally on sunday

Join Barack Obama at a Town Hall in Johnstown on Saturday, March 29. "ROAD TO CHANGE" TOWN HALL MEETING WITH BARACK OBAMA
Greater Johnstown High School
Gymnasium
222 Central Ave.
Johnstown, PA

Saturday, March 29, 2008
Doors Open: 11:30 a.m.
Program begins: 1:00 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets (at obama's headquarters there) are required. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For security reasons, do not bring bags and limit personal items. No signs or banners are permitted.


Join Barack Obama at a Road to Change Rally in State College on Sunday, March 30.
Road to Change Rally with Barack Obama
Old Main Lawn
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802

Sunday, March 30, 2008
Gates Open: 11:30 a.m.

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP using the form to the right. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Text PSU to 62262 for additional updates

For security reasons, do not bring bags and limit personal items. No signs or banners are permitted.

Hope in Pennsylvania?

my secret wish, obama pulls out a win in pennsylvania and that's the end. clinton would be out for sure because she has staked her campaign on the "big states" argument. it is a must win state for her.
obama doesn't need to win pennsylvania but it sure would be nice.
this story from time suggests there may be some hope:

"I think he has a chance to pull off an upset here," said Ray Owen, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Pittsburgh. "The rates of changes in registration and new registrations indicate that some independents are joining the new voters in registering Democratic."

clinton leads in the pennsylvania polling by at least 17 points.

While all of this sounds promising, Pennsylvania, with its large share of ethnic, blue-collar voters, remains an uphill battle for Obama. Clinton leads Obama by 17 percentage points, according to an average of Pennsylvania polls by the website Real Clear Politics, and polls show that most voters have already made up their minds. She has the backing of the popular Gov. Ed Rendell and the mayors of the state's two largest cities, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, not to mention an impressive slew of congressmen, county chairmen and assemblymen, making her unquestionably Pennsylvania's establishment candidate. Clinton has also installed her A-team in the Keystone state. Mary Isenhour, a force in Pennsylvania politics, is her state director. Mark Nevins, John Kerry's state director in 2004, is also onboard, as is Nick Clemens, who ran Clinton's campaign in New Hampshire. They have 12 offices open now and expect to soon open another eight. And they have over 200 paid staff in the state.

Obama’s Pennsylvania Strategy

Clinton Must Win Pennsylvania

Obama Open to Superdelegate "Primary"

congressman dan lipinski is the latest superdelegate for obama. another is leaning toward obama, senator amy klobuchar.


As one of three uncommitted superdelegates in Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she wouldn't go through the summer without endorsing one of the two Democratic presidential candidates and hinted, as she has before, that she was leaning toward Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

"I've made it very clear that I won't go through the summer without endorsing somebody," Klobuchar said during a stopover in Rochester on Monday. "I also think that Barack Obama's significant showing in our state and his grassroots efforts he built will be a significant factor."

demconwatch.blogspot.com, my source for supers, doesn't add on leaner types. in order to be considered an endorser, they have to commit. see my sidebar for the latest tally.

obama apparently warming to a superdelegate primary idea for june that would give the nominee time to prepare for the general election and rally the people:

“I think giving whoever the nominee is two or three months to pivot into the general election would be extremely helpful, instead of having this drag up to the convention,” Mr. Obama told reporters as he flew from Greensboro, N.C., to New York City.
Mr. Obama holds a combined delegate lead over Mrs. Clinton and has been adding more superdelegates to his column at a faster clip than she has. Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, has indicated that she is willing to slug it out for the nomination through the summer, and is counting on some sort of Obama collapse or other game-changing development to drive superdelegates into her camp.

In response to other questions, Mr. Obama said that he had no beef with Bill Clinton’s comments today that the Obama and Clinton camps should “just saddle up and have an argument.” But he added that one of his goals in politics was still “to see if we can change the tenor a little bit so it’s more productive.” Mr. Obama said he agreed with the thrust of Mr. Clinton’s point about the rough-and-tumble of politics, saying it was “a contact sport,” though he said he sensed it would be a problem to go too far.
“In Chicago, Harold Washington once said ‘politics ain’t tiddleewinks,’ ” Mr. Obama said, referring to that city’s former mayor. “And I believe President Clinton was the one who decried ‘the politics of personal destruction.’ ”
“There’s a line that can be crossed where you stop focusing on the American people’s business and it just becomes about sport.” Then he added, “I’m proud of how we’ve generally conducted ourselves in this campaign – there are some points where I haven’t been proud.”
“Campaigns have become drawing your opponent off guard, giving them stuff to work with,” he posited a few minutes later. “If you can do that about the economy or foreign policy, maybe over time you get more stuff done.”
meanwhile, clinton's big money people make a desperate plea to house speaker nancy pelosi. they say she needs to stop rallying the supers behind the delegate leader, obama.

Pushing Clinton Out Should Be Group Effort

by way of the atlantic, party leaders are reluctant to go out on a limb and push clinton out of the race, witness bill richardon's delicate phrasing of words when he endorsed obama. no one's calling for her to quit the race, he said. essentially he meant pack your bags.
blogger brendan nyhan says:

But there's actually a third possibility -- that most party elders would prefer that Hillary withdraw but don't want to pay the cost of pushing her out of the race. There are two classic economic problems here. The first is that the collective benefits of pushing Hillary out are much larger than the individual benefit to any one party leader (i.e. there's a positive externality). Why would Pelosi or Reid risk becoming a hated figure to millions of Hillary's supporters? As a result, everyone is likely to sit back and hope that someone else will pay the cost of forcing her out.

The second problem is it's difficult to coordinate a joint effort to push her out. In other words, there's a collective action problem. If all the leaders could magically come together to ask her to withdraw, it might be less costly to them individually to push her out, but any effort to make this happen would inevitably leak, generating untold recriminations and infighting. The incentives to defect from such an agreement would also be strong. As a result, no one is likely to chance it.
It’s Still Over for Clinton

Obama Criticizes McCain Plan

john mccain has yet to realize how much mortgage fraud went on in the market. obama eyed the subprime problem as early as 2000, when chicago had big troubles.
read the speech
cnn

Obama said the government should play a role in improving the American people's well-being "by providing stable macroeconomic and financial conditions for sustained growth; by demanding transparency; and by ensuring fair competition in the marketplace."

Obama called for immediate relief for those affected by the housing crisis, revamping regulatory framework and boosting the economy with an additional $30 billion stimulus package.

Obama blasted Sen. John McCain's plan to address the housing crisis, which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee detailed earlier this week.

"John McCain recently announced his own plan, and it amounts to little more than watching this crisis happen. While this is consistent with Sen. McCain's determination to run for George Bush's third term, it won't help families who are suffering, and it won't help lift our economy out of recession," Obama said.

McCain's camp released a statement on the housing crisis Thursday saying, "what is not necessary is a multi-billion dollar bailout for big banks and speculators, as Sens. Clinton and Obama have proposed."

"There is a tendency for liberals to seek big government programs that sock it to American taxpayers while failing to solve the very real problems we face."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- whom many had speculated was considering an independent run for the White House himself -- introduced Obama, but reiterated that he had not endorsed a candidate for president.

Obama said the U.S. economy was a success because it balanced free markets and regulation.

"Our free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it. That is why we have put in place rules of the road to make competition fair, and open, and honest," he said.

Obama also recognized Paul Volker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, and former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman William Donaldson.

Who Can Beat McCain?
Obama: Strategy Needed in Iraq

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Obama's Big Economy Speech

update: speech
tomorrow. another endorsement too? nyc mayor bloomberg? just a wild guess:

Details weren't available Wednesday morning, but the Democratic presidential contender is scheduled to speak at 9:15 a.m. Eastern Thursday at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City.
Obama's speech on the economy will follow remarks made Tuesday by Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain about the housing market, and housing market plans laid out by New York Sen. Hillary Clinton on Monday.

the cooper union is an architecture, art and engineering college.
obama's speech:
I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his extraordinary leadership. At a time when Washington is divided in old ideological battles, he shows us what can be achieved when we bring people together to seek pragmatic solutions. Not only has he been a remarkable leader for New York –he has established himself as a major voice in our national debate on issues like renewing our economy, educating our children, and seeking energy independence. Mr. Mayor, I share your determination to bring this country together to finally make progress for the American people.

In a city of landmarks, we meet at Cooper Union, just uptown from Federal Hall, where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States. With all the history that has passed through the narrow canyons of lower Manhattan, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the role that the market has played in the development of the American story.

The great task before our Founders that day was putting into practice the ideal that government could simultaneously serve liberty and advance the common good. For Alexander Hamilton, the young Secretary of the Treasury, that task was bound to the vigor of the American economy.

Hamilton had a strong belief in the power of the market. But he balanced that belief with the conviction that human enterprise "may be beneficially stimulated by prudent aids and encouragements on the part of the government." Government, he believed, had an important role to play in advancing our common prosperity. So he nationalized the state Revolutionary War debts, weaving together the economies of the states and creating an American system of credit and capital markets. And he encouraged manufacturing and infrastructure, so products could be moved to market.

Hamilton met fierce opposition from Thomas Jefferson, who worried that this brand of capitalism would favor the interests of the few over the many. Jefferson preferred an agrarian economy because he believed that it would give individual landowners freedom, and that this freedom would nurture our democratic institutions. But despite their differences, there was one thing that Jefferson and Hamilton agreed on – that economic growth depended upon the talent and ingenuity of the American people; that in order to harness that talent, opportunity had to remain open to all; and that through education in particular, every American could climb the ladder of social and economic mobility, and achieve the American Dream.

In the more than two centuries since then, we have struggled to balance the same forces that confronted Hamilton and Jefferson – self-interest and community; markets and democracy; the concentration of wealth and power, and the necessity of transparency and opportunity for each and every citizen. Throughout this saga, Americans have pursued their dreams within a free market that has been the engine of America's progress. It's a market that has created a prosperity that is the envy of the world, and opportunity for generations of Americans. A market that has provided great rewards to the innovators and risk-takers who have made America a beacon for science, and technology, and discovery.

But the American experiment has worked in large part because we have guided the market's invisible hand with a higher principle. Our free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it. That is why we have put in place rules of the road to make competition fair, and open, and honest. We have done this not to stifle – but rather to advance prosperity and liberty. As I said at NASDAQ last September: the core of our economic success is the fundamental truth that each American does better when all Americans do better; that the well being of American business, its capital markets, and the American people are aligned.

I think all of us here today would acknowledge that we've lost that sense of shared prosperity.

This loss has not happened by accident. It's because of decisions made in boardrooms, on trading floors and in Washington. Under Republican and Democratic Administrations, we failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices. We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales. The result has been a distorted market that creates bubbles instead of steady, sustainable growth; a market that favors Wall Street over Main Street, but ends up hurting both.

Nor is this trend new. The concentrations of economic power – and the failures of our political system to protect the American economy from its worst excesses – have been a staple of our past, most famously in the 1920s, when with success we ended up plunging the country into the Great Depression. That is when government stepped in to create a series of regulatory structures – from the FDIC to the Glass-Steagall Act – to serve as a corrective to protect the American people and American business.

Ironically, it was in reaction to the high taxes and some of the outmoded structures of the New Deal that both individuals and institutions began pushing for changes to this regulatory structure. But instead of sensible reform that rewarded success and freed the creative forces of the market, too often we've excused and even embraced an ethic of greed, corner cutting and inside dealing that has always threatened the long-term stability of our economic system. Too often, we've lost that common stake in each other's prosperity.

Let me be clear: the American economy does not stand still, and neither should the rules that govern it. The evolution of industries often warrants regulatory reform – to foster competition, lower prices, or replace outdated oversight structures. Old institutions cannot adequately oversee new practices. Old rules may not fit the roads where our economy is leading. There were good arguments for changing the rules of the road in the 1990s. Our economy was undergoing a fundamental shift, carried along by the swift currents of technological change and globalization. For the sake of our common prosperity, we needed to adapt to keep markets competitive and fair.

Unfortunately, instead of establishing a 21st century regulatory framework, we simply dismantled the old one – aided by a legal but corrupt bargain in which campaign money all too often shaped policy and watered down oversight. In doing so, we encouraged a winner take all, anything goes environment that helped foster devastating dislocations in our economy.

Deregulation of the telecommunications sector, for example, fostered competition but also contributed to massive over-investment. Partial deregulation of the electricity sector enabled market manipulation. Companies like Enron and WorldCom took advantage of the new regulatory environment to push the envelope, pump up earnings, disguise losses and otherwise engage in accounting fraud to make their profits look better – a practice that led investors to question the balance sheet of all companies, and severely damaged public trust in capital markets. This was not the invisible hand at work. Instead, it was the hand of industry lobbyists tilting the playing field in Washington, an accounting industry that had developed powerful conflicts of interest, and a financial sector that fueled over-investment.

A decade later, we have deregulated the financial services sector, and we face another crisis. A regulatory structure set up for banks in the 1930s needed to change because the nature of business has changed. But by the time the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999, the $300 million lobbying effort that drove deregulation was more about facilitating mergers than creating an efficient regulatory framework.

Since then, we have overseen 21st century innovation – including the aggressive introduction of new and complex financial instruments like hedge funds and non-bank financial companies – with outdated 20th century regulatory tools. New conflicts of interest recalled the worst excesses of the past – like the outrageous news that we learned just yesterday of KPMG allowing a lender to report profits instead of losses, so that both parties could make a quick buck. Not surprisingly, the regulatory environment failed to keep pace. When subprime mortgage lending took a reckless and unsustainable turn, a patchwork of regulators were unable or unwilling to protect the American people.

The policies of the Bush Administration threw the economy further out of balance. Tax cuts without end for the wealthiest Americans. A trillion dollar war in Iraq that didn't need to be fought, paid for with deficit spending and borrowing from foreign creditors like China. A complete disdain for pay-as-you-go budgeting – coupled with a generally scornful attitude towards oversight and enforcement – allowed far too many to put short-term gain ahead of long term consequences. The American economy was bound to suffer a painful correction, and policymakers found themselves with fewer resources to deal with the consequences.

Today, those consequences are clear. I see them in every corner of our great country, as families face foreclosure and rising costs. I seem them in towns across America, where a credit crisis threatens the ability of students to get loans, and states can't finance infrastructure projects. I see them here in Manhattan, where one of our biggest investment banks had to be bailed out, and the Fed opened its discount window to a host of new institutions with unprecedented implications we have yet to appreciate. When all is said and done, losses will be in the many hundreds of billions. What was bad for Main Street was bad for Wall Street. Pain trickled up.

That is why the principle that I spoke about at NASDAQ is even more urgently true today: in our 21st century economy, there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. The decisions made in New York's high-rises have consequences for Americans across the country. And whether those Americans can make their house payments; whether they keep their jobs; or spend confidently without falling into debt – that has consequences for the entire market. The future cannot be shaped by the best-connected lobbyists with the best record of raising money for campaigns. This thinking is wrong for the financial sector and it's wrong for our country.

I do not believe that government should stand in the way of innovation, or turn back the clock to an older era of regulation. But I do believe that government has a role to play in advancing our common prosperity: by providing stable macroeconomic and financial conditions for sustained growth; by demanding transparency; and by ensuring fair competition in the marketplace.

Our history should give us confidence that we don't have to choose between an oppressive government-run economy and a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism. It tells us we can emerge from great economic upheavals stronger, not weaker. But we can do so only if we restore confidence in our markets. Only if we rebuild trust between investors and lenders. And only if we renew that common interest between Wall Street and Main Street that is the key to our success.

Now, as most experts agree, our economy is in a recession. To renew our economy – and to ensure that we are not doomed to repeat a cycle of bubble and bust again and again – we need to address not only the immediate crisis in the housing market; we also need to create a 21st century regulatory framework, and pursue a bold opportunity agenda for the American people.

Most urgently, we must confront the housing crisis.

After months of inaction, the President spoke here in New York and warned against doing too much. His main proposal – extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans – is completely divorced from the reality that people are facing around the country. John McCain recently announced his own plan, and it amounts to little more than watching this crisis happen. While this is consistent with Senator McCain's determination to run for George Bush's third term, it won't help families who are suffering, and it won't help lift our economy out of recession.

Over two million households are at risk of foreclosure and millions more have seen their home values plunge. Many Americans are walking away from their homes, which hurts property values for entire neighborhoods and aggravates the credit crisis. To stabilize the housing market and help bring the foreclosure crisis to an end, I have sponsored Senator Chris Dodd's legislation creating a new FHA Housing Security Program, which will provide meaningful incentives for lenders to buy or refinance existing mortgages. This will allow Americans facing foreclosure to keep their homes at rates they can afford.

Senator McCain argues that government should do nothing to protect borrowers and lenders who've made bad decisions, or taken on excessive risk. On this point, I agree. But the Dodd-Frank package is not a bailout for lenders or investors who gambled recklessly, as they will take losses. It is not a windfall for borrowers, as they will have to share any capital gain. Instead, it offers a responsible and fair way to help bring an end to the foreclosure crisis. It asks both sides to sacrifice, while preventing a long-term collapse that could have enormous ramifications for the most responsible lenders and borrowers, as well as the American people as a whole. That is what Senator McCain ignores.

For homeowners who were victims of fraud, I've also proposed a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund that would help them sell a home that is beyond their means, or modify their loan to avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy. It's also time to amend our bankruptcy laws, so families aren't forced to stick to the terms of a home loan that was predatory or unfair.

To prevent fraud in the future, I've proposed tough new penalties on fraudulent lenders, and a Home Score system that will allow consumers to find out more about mortgage offers and whether they'll be able to make payments. To help low- and middle-income families, I've proposed a 10 percent mortgage interest tax credit that will allow homeowners who don't itemize their taxes to access incentives for home ownership. And to expand home ownership, we must do more to help communities turn abandoned properties into affordable housing.

The government can't do this alone, nor should it. As I said last September, lenders must get ahead of the curve rather than just reacting to crisis. They should actively look at all borrowers, offer workouts, and reduce the principal on mortgages in trouble. Not only can this prevent the larger losses associated with foreclosure and resale, but it can reduce the extent of government intervention and taxpayer exposure.

Beyond dealing with the immediate housing crisis, it is time for the federal government to revamp the regulatory framework dealing with our financial markets.

Our capital markets have helped us build the strongest economy in the world. They are a source of competitive advantage for our country. But they cannot succeed without the public's trust. The details of regulatory reform should be developed through sound analysis and public debate. But there are several core principles for reform that I will pursue as President.

First, if you can borrow from the government, you should be subject to government oversight and supervision. Secretary Paulson admitted this in his remarks yesterday. The Federal Reserve should have basic supervisory authority over any institution to which it may make credit available as a lender of last resort. When the Fed steps in, it is providing lenders an insurance policy underwritten by the American taxpayer. In return, taxpayers have every right to expect that these institutions are not taking excessive risks. The nature of regulation should depend on the degree and extent of the Fed's exposure. But at the very least, these new regulations should include liquidity and capital requirements.

Second, there needs to be general reform of the requirements to which all regulated financial institutions are subjected. Capital requirements should be strengthened, particularly for complex financial instruments like some of the mortgage securities that led to our current crisis. We must develop and rigorously manage liquidity risk. We must investigate rating agencies and potential conflicts of interest with the people they are rating. And transparency requirements must demand full disclosure by financial institutions to shareholders and counterparties.

As we reform our regulatory system at home, we must work with international arrangements like the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the International Accounting Standards Board, and the Financial Stability Forum to address the same problems abroad. The goal must be ensuring that financial institutions around the world are subject to similar rules of the road – both to make the system stable, and to keep our financial institutions competitive.

Third, we need to streamline a framework of overlapping and competing regulatory agencies. Reshuffling bureaucracies should not be an end in itself. But the large, complex institutions that dominate the financial landscape do not fit into categories created decades ago. Different institutions compete in multiple markets – our regulatory system should not pretend otherwise. A streamlined system will provide better oversight, and be less costly for regulated institutions.

Fourth, we need to regulate institutions for what they do, not what they are. Over the last few years, commercial banks and thrift institutions were subject to guidelines on subprime mortgages that did not apply to mortgage brokers and companies. It makes no sense for the Fed to tighten mortgage guidelines for banks when two-thirds of subprime mortgages don't originate from banks. This regulatory framework has failed to protect homeowners, and it is now clear that it made no sense for our financial system. When it comes to protecting the American people, it should make no difference what kind of institution they are dealing with.

Fifth, we must remain vigilant and crack down on trading activity that crosses the line to market manipulation. Reports have circulated in recent days that some traders may have intentionally spread rumors that Bear Stearns was in financial distress while making market bets against the company. The SEC should investigate and punish this kind of market manipulation, and report its conclusions to Congress.

Sixth, we need a process that identifies systemic risks to the financial system. Too often, we deal with threats to the financial system that weren't anticipated by regulators. That's why we should create a financial market oversight commission, which would meet regularly and provide advice to the President, Congress, and regulators on the state of our financial markets and the risks that face them. These expert views could help anticipate risks before they erupt into a crisis.

These six principles should guide the legal reforms needed to establish a 21st century regulatory system. But the change we need goes beyond laws and regulation – we need a shift in the cultures of our financial institutions and our regulatory agencies.

Financial institutions must do a better job at managing risks. There is something wrong when boards of directors or senior managers don't understand the implications of the risks assumed by their own institutions. It's time to realign incentives and compensation packages, so that both high level executives and employees better serve the interests of shareholders. And it's time to confront the risks that come with excessive complexity. Even the best government regulation cannot fully substitute for internal risk management.

For supervisory agencies, oversight must keep pace with innovation. As the subprime crisis unfolded, tough questions about new and complex financial instruments were not asked. As a result, the public interest was not protected. We do American business – and the American people – no favors when we turn a blind eye to excessive leverage and dangerous risks.

Finally, the American people must be able to trust that their government is looking out for all of us – not just those who donate to political campaigns. I fought in the Senate for the most extensive ethics reform since Watergate. I have refused contributions from federal lobbyists and PACs. And I have laid out far-reaching plans that I intend to sign into law as President to bring transparency to government, and to end the revolving door between industries and the federal agencies that oversee them.

Once we deal with the immediate crisis in housing and strengthen the regulatory system governing our financial markets, our final task is to restore a sense of opportunity for all Americans.

The bedrock of our economic success is the American Dream. It's a dream shared in big cities and small towns; across races, regions and religions – that if you work hard, you can support a family; that if you get sick, there will be health care you can afford; that you can retire with the dignity and security and respect that you have earned; that your kids can get a good education, and young people can go to college even if they're not rich. That is our common hope across this country. That is the American Dream.

But today, for far too many Americans, this dream is slipping away. Wall Street has been gripped by increasing gloom over the last nine months. But for many American families, the economy has effectively been in recession for the past seven years. We have just come through the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that was not accompanied by a growth in incomes for typical families. Americans are working harder for less. Costs are rising, and it's not clear that we'll leave a legacy of opportunity to our children and grandchildren.

That's why, throughout this campaign, I've put forward a series of proposals that will foster economic growth from the bottom up, and not just from the top down. That's why the last time I spoke on the economy here in New York, I talked about the need to put the policies of George W. Bush behind us – policies that have essentially said to the American people: "you are on your own"; because we need to pursue policies that once again recognize that we are in this together.

This starts with providing a stimulus that will reach the most vulnerable Americans, including immediate relief to areas hardest hit by the housing crisis, and a significant extension of unemployment insurance for those who are out of work. If we can extend a hand to banks on Wall Street, we can extend a hand to Americans who are struggling.

Beyond these short term measures, as President I will be committed to putting the American Dream on a firmer footing. To reward work and make retirement secure, we'll provide an income tax cut of up to $1000 for a working family, and eliminate income taxes altogether for any retiree making less than $50,000 per year. To make health care affordable for all Americans, we'll cut costs and provide coverage to all who need it. To put more Americans to work, we'll create millions of new Green Jobs and invest in rebuilding our nation's infrastructure. To extend opportunity, we'll invest in our schools and our teachers, and make college affordable for every American. And to ensure that America stays on the cutting edge, we'll expand broadband access, expand funding for basic scientific research, and pass comprehensive immigration reform so that we continue to attract the best and the brightest to our shores.

I know that making these changes won't be easy. I will not pretend that this will come without cost, though I have presented ways we can achieve these changes in a fiscally responsible way. I know that we'll have to overcome our doubts and divisions and the determined opposition of powerful special interests before we can truly advance opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.

But I would not be running for President if I didn't think that this was a defining moment in our history. If we fail to overcome our divisions and continue to let special interest set the agenda, then America will fall behind. Short-term gains will continue to yield long-term costs. Opportunity will slip away on Main Street and prosperity will suffer here on Wall Street. But if we unite this country around a common purpose, if we act on the responsibilities that we have to each other and to our country, then we can launch a new era of opportunity and prosperity.

I know we can do this because Americans have done this before. Time and again, we've recognized that common stake that we have in each other's success. That's how people as different as Hamilton and Jefferson came together to launch the world's greatest experiment in democracy. That's why our economy hasn't just been the world's greatest wealth creator – it's bound America together, it's created jobs, and it's made the dream of opportunity a reality for generations of Americans.

Now it falls to us. We have as our inheritance the greatest economy the world has ever known. We have the responsibility to continue the work that began on that spring day over two centuries ago right here in Manhattan – to renew our common purpose for a new century, and to write the next chapter in the story of America's success. We can do this. And we can begin this work today.

Wright Strange To White

not to belabor the issue, at least not now anyway, this article offered more insight on the black and white divide. here's another must read: Stupid Patriotism.
rcp

White Americans want to put race behind them, to move on. And many had hoped Obama was the man to make that happen. The big surprise was learning that he belongs to a church where the past is loudly present. Obama gave himself away when, in his speech, he paraphrased William Faulkner: "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past."

Black history, meanwhile, makes it possible for many to accept the theory advanced by Wright that white men invented the AIDS virus to destroy black populations. After all, the 40-year Tuskegee syphilis study, in which about 400 black men with syphilis were left untreated and uninformed as part of an experiment, was conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Given that history, the AIDS theory doesn't require much of a leap for many in the black community. The AIDS virus has hit African-Americans harder than any other group. For blacks in the United States, HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Even though blacks account for about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 49 percent of those who get HIV and AIDS. Whites account for 31 percent.

A white person might view these statistics on the CDC Web site and understand that blacks suffer more in part because of barriers such as poverty, sexually transmitted disease and cultural stigmas that put blacks at higher risk. Blacks -- especially those under the spell of Wrighteousness -- might view the same information and at least wonder if something else is going on. more more more

Conservatives for Obama

from the american conservative:


Yet if Obama does become the nation’s 44th president, his election will constitute something approaching a definitive judgment of the Iraq War. As such, his ascent to the presidency will implicitly call into question the habits and expectations that propelled the United States into that war in the first place. Matters hitherto consigned to the political margin will become subject to close examination. Here, rather than in Obama’s age or race, lies the possibility of his being a truly transformative presidency.

Whether conservatives will be able to seize the opportunities created by his ascent remains to be seen. Theirs will not be the only ideas on offer. A repudiation of the Iraq War and all that it signifies will rejuvenate the far Left as well. In the ensuing clash of visions, there is no guaranteeing that the conservative critique will prevail.

But this much we can say for certain: electing John McCain guarantees the perpetuation of war. The nation’s heedless march toward empire will continue. So, too, inevitably, will its embrace of Leviathan. Whether snoozing in front of their TVs or cheering on the troops, the American people will remain oblivious to the fate that awaits them.

For conservatives, Obama represents a sliver of hope. McCain represents none at all. The choice turns out to be an easy one

i didn't realize conservatives were tired of freedom marching.
Obama: Strategy Needed in Iraq
Stupid Patriotism

Poor Hillary Says She's Tired

which is making her misspeak and makes you wonder how tired she's going to be at 3 am.
new nbc numbers: clinton's positive rating is down 8 points in 2 weeks to 37%
obama's down 2 points in 2 weeks to 49%
20% of obama supporters will consider mccain if clinton steals the nomination and 20% of clinton supporters will consider mccain.
60% of people said obama can unite the country/46% for clinton.
the rest is here.

Know Thy Opponent: McCain's Freedom War

here is john mccain's speech today. some of it is good... close guantanamo, don't torture, work with other countries, recognize that we're not the biggest guy on the block anymore. he even said..... "global warming" and mentioned, don't tell bush, "stewardship" of the environment.

but mccain is still of the cheney-bush school of "marching freedom" or "freedom marching," or using military force to keep order. he says it's our duty to keep freedom marching on "terrorists," who we've elevated by rewarding them with credibility, and that eliminating terrorists is our biggest challenge since communism. yep.

speech:
When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house in New London, Connecticut, and a Navy officer rolled down the window, and shouted at my father that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. My father immediately left for the submarine base where he was stationed. I rarely saw him again for four years. My grandfather, who commanded the fast carrier task force under Admiral Halsey, came home from the war exhausted from the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home to the country they loved so well. I detest war. It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue. The lives of a nation's finest patriots are sacrificed. Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is disrupted; economies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war. However heady the appeal of a call to arms, however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us.

I am an idealist, and I believe it is possible in our time to make the world we live in another, better, more peaceful place, where our interests and those of our allies are more secure, and American ideals that are transforming the world, the principles of free people and free markets, advance even farther than they have. But I am, from hard experience and the judgment it informs, a realistic idealist. I know we must work very hard and very creatively to build new foundations for a stable and enduring peace. We cannot wish the world to be a better place than it is. We have enemies for whom no attack is too cruel, and no innocent life safe, and who would, if they could, strike us with the world's most terrible weapons. There are states that support them, and which might help them acquire those weapons because they share with terrorists the same animating hatred for the West, and will not be placated by fresh appeals to the better angels of their nature. This is the central threat of our time, and we must understand the implications of our decisions on all manner of regional and global challenges could have for our success in defeating it.

President Harry Truman once said of America, "God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose." In his time, that purpose was to contain Communism and build the structures of peace and prosperity that could provide safe passage through the Cold War. Now it is our turn. We face a new set of opportunities, and also new dangers. The developments of science and technology have brought us untold prosperity, eradicated disease, and reduced the suffering of millions. We have a chance in our lifetime to raise the world to a new standard of human existence. Yet these same technologies have produced grave new risks, arming a few zealots with the ability to murder millions of innocents, and producing a global industrialization that can in time threaten our planet.

To meet this challenge requires understanding the world we live in, and the central role the United States must play in shaping it for the future. The United States must lead in the 21st century, just as in Truman's day. But leadership today means something different than it did in the years after World War II, when Europe and the other democracies were still recovering from the devastation of war and the United States was the only democratic superpower. Today we are not alone. There is the powerful collective voice of the European Union, and there are the great nations of India and Japan, Australia and Brazil, South Korea and South Africa, Turkey and Israel, to name just a few of the leading democracies. There are also the increasingly powerful nations of China and Russia that wield great influence in the international system.

In such a world, where power of all kinds is more widely and evenly distributed, the United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone. We must be strong politically, economically, and militarily. But we must also lead by attracting others to our cause, by demonstrating once again the virtues of freedom and democracy, by defending the rules of international civilized society and by creating the new international institutions necessary to advance the peace and freedoms we cherish. Perhaps above all, leadership in today's world means accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation.

One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to our fellow democracies. We cannot build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to. We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact -- a League of Democracies -- that can harness the vast influence of the more than one hundred democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests.

At the heart of this new compact must be mutual respect and trust. Recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of Independence, that we pay "decent respect to the opinions of mankind." Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies. When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them.

America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model. How we behave at home affects how we are perceived abroad. We must fight the terrorists and at the same time defend the rights that are the foundation of our society. We can't torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured. I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.
There is such a thing as international good citizenship. We need to be good stewards of our planet and join with other nations to help preserve our common home. The risks of global warming have no borders. We and the other nations of the world must get serious about substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years or we will hand off a much-diminished world to our grandchildren. We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner. We Americans must lead by example and encourage the participation of the rest of the world, including most importantly, the developing economic powerhouses of China and India.

Four and a half decades ago, John Kennedy described the people of Latin America as our "firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization." With globalization, our hemisphere has grown closer, more integrated, and more interdependent. Latin America today is increasingly vital to the fortunes of the United States. Americans north and south share a common geography and a common destiny. The countries of Latin America are the natural partners of the United States, and our northern neighbor Canada.

Relations with our southern neighbors must be governed by mutual respect, not by an imperial impulse or by anti-American demagoguery. The promise of North, Central, and South American life is too great for that. I believe the Americas can and must be the model for a new 21st century relationship between North and South. Ours can be the first completely democratic hemisphere, where trade is free across all borders, where the rule of law and the power of free markets advance the security and prosperity of all.

Power in the world today is moving east; the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise. Together with our democratic partner of many decades, Japan, we can grasp the opportunities present in the unfolding world and this century can become safe -- both American and Asian, both prosperous and free. Asia has made enormous strides in recent decades. Its economic achievements are well known; less known is that more people live under democratic rule in Asia than in any other region of the world.

Dealing with a rising China will be a central challenge for the next American president. Recent prosperity in China has brought more people out of poverty faster than during any other time in human history. China's newfound power implies responsibilities. China could bolster its claim that it is "peacefully rising" by being more transparent about its significant military buildup, by working with the world to isolate pariah states such as Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe, and by ceasing its efforts to establish regional forums and economic arrangements designed to exclude America from Asia.

China and the United States are not destined to be adversaries. We have numerous overlapping interests and hope to see our relationship evolve in a manner that benefits both countries and, in turn, the Asia-Pacific region and the world. But until China moves toward political liberalization, our relationship will be based on periodically shared interests rather than the bedrock of shared values.

The United States did not single-handedly win the Cold War; the transatlantic alliance did, in concert with partners around the world. The bonds we share with Europe in terms of history, values, and interests are unique. Americans should welcome the rise of a strong, confident European Union as we continue to support a strong NATO. The future of the transatlantic relationship lies in confronting the challenges of the twenty-first century worldwide: developing a common energy policy, creating a transatlantic common market tying our economies more closely together, addressing the dangers posed by a revanchist Russia, and institutionalizing our cooperation on issues such as climate change, foreign assistance, and democracy promotion.

We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia. Rather than tolerate Russia's nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization's doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.

While Africa's problems -- poverty, corruption, disease, and instability -- are well known, we must refocus on the bright promise offered by many countries on that continent. We must strongly engage on a political, economic, and security level with friendly governments across Africa, but insist on improvements in transparency and the rule of law. Many African nations will not reach their true potential without external assistance to combat entrenched problems, such as HIV/AIDS, that afflict Africans disproportionately. I will establish the goal of eradicating malaria on the continent -- the number one killer of African children under the age of five. In addition to saving millions of lives in the world's poorest regions, such a campaign would do much to add luster to America's image in the world.

We also share an obligation with the world's other great powers to halt and reverse the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The United States and the international community must work together and do all in our power to contain and reverse North Korea's nuclear weapons program and to prevent Iran -- a nation whose President has repeatedly expressed a desire to wipe Israel from the face of the earth -- from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We should work to reduce nuclear arsenals all around the world, starting with our own. Forty years ago, the five declared nuclear powers came together in support of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and pledged to end the arms race and move toward nuclear disarmament. The time has come to renew that commitment. We do not need all the weapons currently in our arsenal. The United States should lead a global effort at nuclear disarmament consistent with our vital interests and the cause of peace.

If we are successful in pulling together a global coalition for peace and freedom -- if we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity, I believe we will gain tangible benefits as a nation.

It will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. This challenge is transcendent not because it is the only one we face. There are many dangers in today's world, and our foreign policy must be agile and effective at dealing with all of them. But the threat posed by the terrorists is unique. They alone devote all their energies and indeed their very lives to murdering innocent men, women, and children. They alone seek nuclear weapons and other tools of mass destruction not to defend themselves or to enhance their prestige or to give them a stronger hand in world affairs but to use against us wherever and whenever they can. Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House, for he or she does not take seriously enough the first and most basic duty a president has -- to protect the lives of the American people.

We learned through the tragic experience of September 11 that passive defense alone cannot protect us. We must protect our borders. But we must also have an aggressive strategy of confronting and rooting out the terrorists wherever they seek to operate, and deny them bases in failed or failing states. Today al Qaeda and other terrorist networks operate across the globe, seeking out opportunities in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and in the Middle East.

Prevailing in this struggle will require far more than military force. It will require the use of all elements of our national power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and robust intelligence capabilities. I have called for major changes in how our government faces the challenge of radical Islamic extremism by much greater resources for and integration of civilian efforts to prevent conflict and to address post-conflict challenges. Our goal must be to win the "hearts and minds" of the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their future controlled by a minority of violent extremists. In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs.

We also need to build the international structures for a durable peace in which the radical extremists are gradually eclipsed by the more powerful forces of freedom and tolerance. Our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are critical in this respect and cannot be viewed in isolation from our broader strategy. In the troubled and often dangerous region they occupy, these two nations can either be sources of extremism and instability or they can in time become pillars of stability, tolerance, and democracy.

For decades in the greater Middle East, we had a strategy of relying on autocrats to provide order and stability. We relied on the Shah of Iran, the autocratic rulers of Egypt, the generals of Pakistan, the Saudi royal family, and even, for a time, on Saddam Hussein. In the late 1970s that strategy began to unravel. The Shah was overthrown by the radical Islamic revolution that now rules in Tehran. The ensuing ferment in the Muslim world produced increasing instability. The autocrats clamped down with ever greater repression, while also surreptitiously aiding Islamic radicalism abroad in the hopes that they would not become its victims. It was a toxic and explosive mixture. The oppression of the autocrats blended with the radical Islamists' dogmatic theology to produce a perfect storm of intolerance and hatred.

We can no longer delude ourselves that relying on these out-dated autocracies is the safest bet. They no longer provide lasting stability, only the illusion of it. We must not act rashly or demand change overnight. But neither can we pretend the status quo is sustainable, stable, or in our interests. Change is occurring whether we want it or not. The only question for us is whether we shape this change in ways that benefit humanity or let our enemies seize it for their hateful purposes. We must help expand the power and reach of freedom, using all our many strengths as a free people. This is not just idealism. It is the truest kind of realism. It is the democracies of the world that will provide the pillars upon which we can and must build an enduring peace.

If you look at the great arc that extends from the Middle East through Central Asia and the Asian subcontinent all the way to Southeast Asia, you can see those pillars of democracy stretching across the entire expanse, from Turkey and Israel to India and Indonesia. Iraq and Afghanistan lie at the heart of that region. And whether they eventually become stable democracies themselves, or are allowed to sink back into chaos and extremism, will determine not only the fate of that critical part of the world, but our fate, as well.

That is the broad strategic perspective through which to view our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many people ask, how should we define success? Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the establishment of peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic states that pose no threat to neighbors and contribute to the defeat of terrorists. It is the triumph of religious tolerance over violent radicalism.

Those who argue that our goals in Iraq are unachievable are wrong, just as they were wrong a year ago when they declared the war in Iraq already lost. Since June 2007 sectarian and ethnic violence in Iraq has been reduced by 90 percent. Overall civilian deaths have been reduced by more than 70 percent. Deaths of coalition forces have fallen by 70 percent. The dramatic reduction in violence has opened the way for a return to something approaching normal political and economic life for the average Iraqi. People are going back to work. Markets are open. Oil revenues are climbing. Inflation is down. Iraq's economy is expected to grown by roughly 7 percent in 2008. Political reconciliation is occurring across Iraq at the local and provincial grassroots level. Sunni and Shi'a chased from their homes by terrorist and sectarian violence are returning. Political progress at the national level has been far too slow, but there is progress.

Critics say that the "surge" of troops isn't a solution in itself, that we must make progress toward Iraqi self-sufficiency. I agree. Iraqis themselves must increasingly take responsibility for their own security, and they must become responsible political actors. It does not follow from this, however, that we should now recklessly retreat from Iraq regardless of the consequences. We must take the course of prudence and responsibility, and help Iraqis move closer to the day when they no longer need our help.

That is the route of responsible statesmanship. We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq. It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal. Our critics say America needs to repair its image in the world. How can they argue at the same time for the morally reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities in Iraq?

Those who claim we should withdraw from Iraq in order to fight Al Qaeda more effectively elsewhere are making a dangerous mistake. Whether they were there before is immaterial, al Qaeda is in Iraq now, as it is in the borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Somalia, and in Indonesia. If we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, as various factions of Sunni and Shi'a have yet to move beyond their ancient hatreds, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda. Civil war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions. I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values. Iran will also view our premature withdrawal as a victory, and the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the State of Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow significantly. These consequences of our defeat would threaten us for years, and those who argue for it, as both Democratic candidates do, are arguing for a course that would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would entail far greater dangers and sacrifices than we have suffered to date. I do not argue against withdrawal, any more than I argued several years ago for the change in tactics and additional forces that are now succeeding in Iraq, because I am somehow indifferent to war and the suffering it inflicts on too many American families. I hold my position because I hate war, and I know very well and very personally how grievous its wages are. But I know, too, that we must sometimes pay those wages to avoid paying even higher ones later.

I run for President because I want to keep the country I love and have served all my life safe, and to rise to the challenges of our times, as generations before us rose to theirs. I run for President because I know it is incumbent on America, more than any other nation on earth, to lead in building the foundations for a stable and enduring peace, a peace built on the strength of our commitment to it, on the transformative ideals on which we were founded, on our ability to see around the corner of history, and on our courage and wisdom to make hard choices. I run because I believe, as strongly as I ever have, that it is within our power to make in our time another, better world than we inherited.

Thank you.