Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hillary falls to earth in poll race

By Tony Allen-Miller for the London Times:

The first vote is still more than a year away, but the campaign to replace President George W. Bush in the White House is already throwing up surprises.

Unfortunately for Senator Hillary Clinton, long the front-runner in the Democratic drive to retake the presidency, most of them are coming at her expense.

A brace of Christmas opinion polls has left Clinton with a political hangover after a year that had appeared to cement her status as the Democrats’ best-organised, best-financed and best-connected contender for her party’s presidential nomination.

Despite winning re-election to the US Senate by a handsome margin in mid-term voting last month, Clinton has had little to celebrate as polls from the presidential primary battlegrounds signalled early trouble for her historic bid to become America’s first woman president.

In Iowa, the Midwestern state that will once again open the primary season with its caucus votes on January 14, 2008, Clinton slumped to fourth place with only 10% of the vote in a survey of 600 likely Democratic voters.

In New Hampshire, which will hold the first full primary eight days later, Clinton had appeared to be cruising comfortably with a 23-point lead over her Democrat rivals — until last weekend, when a poll in the Concord Monitor newspaper showed her only one point ahead of Senator Barack Obama, the comparative political newcomer who is considering a similarly historic attempt to become America’s first black president.

Obama’s emergence as a charismatic alternative to the Democratic party’s veteran leadership — and the arrival in the race last week of former Senator John Edwards, the losing vice-presidential candidate in 2004 — have electrified Washington and placed Clinton under early pressure to abandon her cautious approach to the presidency and take to the hustings months earlier than she might have planned.

Several Democratic strategists last week urged Clinton to unleash a “charisma offensive” in the new year to counter the saturated media coverage that has helped propel Obama up the polls.

Clinton has been virtually invisible as first Obama and then Edwards — who launched his second presidential bid on Thursday in the back garden of a New Orleans house ruined by Hurricane Katrina — have been grabbing campaign headlines.

Last week’s Iowa poll showed Obama and Edwards tied for the primary lead with 22% each.

Clinton supporters argued that their candidate’s poor showing — she was also beaten by Tom Vilsack, the Iowa governor who is considering his own bid for the White House — reflected the fact that she was focused on her Senate re-election in New York and did not visit Iowa this year.

Yet Obama hasn’t visited Iowa either, and the same poll found that both Obama and Edwards would perform better than Clinton against the likely frontrunners for the Republican nomination — former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Senator John McCain of Arizona.

“She’s in a quandary right now,” acknowledged Ray Strother, a longtime Democratic political consultant.

“She doesn’t need to start a war of any kind, but I don’t think she knows how to handle [Obama],” Strother said. “I think they’re preoccupied with it right now.”

Neither Clinton nor Obama has formally declared that they will be candidates, but Obama, the son of a black Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, is widely expected to confirm his intentions after spending Christmas in Hawaii discussing the contest with his family.

Before leaving home in Chicago, Obama and his wife Michelle attended a meeting with advisers who presented a campaign simulation complete with mock travel schedules to illustrate the gruelling demands of the race.

Michelle Obama had previously expressed concern that her husband might be vulnerable to a racist assassination attempt, but local reports suggest she has been reassured by secret service briefings on how the 45-year-old senator would be protected.

Clinton, meanwhile, needs no reminder of the perils of the presidency. As the first former first lady to run for the White House, she is not only a battle-hardened campaigner, but she counts among her advisers arguably the shrewdest political strategist in America — her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

Few presidents have been as adept as Clinton at charming ordinary voters, but opinion polls have repeatedly indicated that much of America regards Hillary as cold, calculating, strident and ideological.

In one Gallup poll last month 13% said they disliked her 9% said she was riding her husband’s coat-tails and 6% called her dishonest.

Both Democrats and Republicans who have worked with the senator in Washington say those negative ratings are unfair, but the challenge for Hillary is to persuade voters — especially in Iowa and New Hampshire — that she can be as warm and likeable as her husband.

“People need to get to know her,” said Doug Hattaway, a Washington strategist.

He said he would advise Clinton: “Forget the press. Forget the politics. Talk to the voters. There’s no substitute for getting on the ground and interacting with people”.

For the other contenders who are hovering at the margins of the race, the main hope is that Democratic voters will prove reluctant to make the unprecedented choice of either a black or a woman in a year when so important an opportunity beckons and Republicans may be vulnerable because of opposition to the war in Iraq. Edwards has already staked out his claim to be the leading white male contender should either Clinton or Obama stumble.

Senator Joseph Biden, who will assume the chairmanship of the Senate’s foreign affairs committee, may throw in his hat as a possible vice-presidential choice.

There is a vociferous group of liberal Democrats who hope that former vice-president Al Gore can be persuaded to avenge his loss to Bush in 2000.

Even Senator John Kerry, the defeated candidate in 2004, is muttering about a second attempt, although few Democrats appear to be encouraging him.

For now, though, the battle is between Obama and Clinton, neither of whom are likely to wait long before paying their first campaign visits to Iowa.

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Draft Obama movement pushes into Iowa

By Ed Tibbets for the Quad-City Times - Davenport, IA

The volunteer group urging U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., to run for president has purchased time in Des Moines for a television ad aimed at urging Iowans to encourage an Obama bid., a Maryland-based group with members across the country, announced Friday that it has made a “modest” television advertisement buy in Des Moines.

The ad, called “Believe Again,” has already aired in New Hampshire and Hawaii, where Obama and his family have been vacationing. It also can be seen on the group’s Web site and on the video sharing site, YouTube.

Obama is expected to announce a decision about a bid next month.

Kris Schultz, a spokeswoman for the group, noted Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses and said it has hundreds of supporters in Iowa. The group says it isn’t affiliated with Obama.

The ad will run New Year’s Day.

“We thought it would be a great way to start the new year,” Schultz said.

She said the volunteer group is “carefully targeting” its resources, but it could expand outside Des Moines later.

Obama, if he runs, will join a growing field of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination.

Already, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, have formally said they will run.

Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, tend to lead early nationwide preference polls.

Recent surveys in Iowa have said Obama’s strength here is growing.
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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Escalation Is Not The Answer

By Barack Obama for

As the New Year approaches, we are told that the President is considering the deployment of tens of thousands of additional troops to Iraq in the desperate hope of subduing the burgeoning civil war there.

This is a chilling prospect that threatens to compound the tragic mistakes he has already made over the last four years.

In 2002, I strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq because I felt it was an ill-conceived venture which I warned would "require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undermined cost, with undetermined consequences." I said then that an invasion without strong international support could drain our military, distract us from the war with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and further destabilize the Middle East.

Sadly, all of those concerns have been borne out.

Today, nearly three thousand brave young Americans are dead, and tens of thousands more have been wounded. Rather than welcomed "liberators," our troops have become targets of the exploding sectarian violence in Iraq. Our military has been strained to the limits. The cost to American taxpayers is approaching $400 billion.

Now we are faced with a quagmire to which there are no good answers. But the one that makes very little sense is to put tens of thousands more young Americans in harm's way without changing a strategy that has failed by almost every imaginable account.

In escalating this war with a so-called "surge" of troops, the President would be overriding the expressed concerns of Generals on the ground, Secretary Powell, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and the American people. Colin Powell has said that placing more troops in the crossfire of a civil war simply will not work. General John Abizaid, our top commander in the Middle East, said just last month that, "I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future." Even the Joint Chiefs of Staff have expressed concern, saying that a surge in troop levels "could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda" and "provide more targets for Sunni insurgents." Once again, the President is defying good counsel and common sense.

As I said more than a month ago, while some have proposed escalating this war by adding thousands of more troops, there is little reason to believe that this will achieve these results either. It's not clear that these troop levels are sustainable for a significant period of time, and according to our commanders on the ground, adding American forces will only relieve the Iraqis from doing more on their own. Moreover, without a coherent strategy or better cooperation from the Iraqis, we would only be putting more of our soldiers in the crossfire of a civil war.

There is no military solution to this war. Our troops can help suppress the violence, but they cannot solve its root causes. And all the troops in the world won't be able to force Shia, Sunni, and Kurd to sit down at a table, resolve their differences, and forge a lasting peace. In fact, adding more troops will only push this political settlement further and further into the future, as it tells the Iraqis that no matter how much of a mess they make, the American military will always be there to clean it up.

That is why I believe we must begin a phased redeployment of American troops to signal to the government and people of Iraq, and others who have a stake in stabilizing the country - that ours is not an open-ended commitment. They must step up. The status quo cannot hold.

In November, the American people sent a resounding message of change to the President. But apparently that message wasn't clear enough.

I urge all Americans who share my grave concerns over this looming decision to call, write or email the President, and make your voices heard. I urge you to tell them that our soldiers are not numbers to add just because someone couldn't think of a better idea, they are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and friends who are willing to wave goodbye to everything they've ever known just for the chance to serve their country. Our men and women in uniform are doing a terrific job under extremely difficult conditions. But our government has failed them so many times over the last few years, and we simply cannot afford to do it again. We must not multiply the mistakes of yesterday, we must end them today.

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Barack Obama will give us all the Audacity of Hope

Recently, I've been reading a lot of editorials about Obama being "exotic" but empty. As someone who is currently reading Obama's, "The Audacity of Hope", I can attest that the Illinois Senator is anything but empty. Take, for instance, this passage from the book's prologue:
I suspect that some readers may find my presentation of these issues to be insufficiently balanced. To this accusation, I stand guilty as charged. I am a Democrat, after all; my views on most topics correspond more closely to the editorial pages of the New York Times than those of the Wall Street Journal. I am angry about policies that consistently favor the wealthy and powerful over average Americans, and insist that government has and important role in opening up opportunity to all. I believe in evolution, scientific inquiry, and global warming; I believe in free speech, whether politically correct or politically incorrect, and I am suspicious of using government to impose anybody's religious beliefs - including my own - on nonbelievers. Furthermore, I am a prisoner of my own biography: I can't help but view the American experience through the lens of a black man of mixed heritage, forever mindful of how generations of people who looked like me were subjugated and stigmatized, and the subtle and not so subtle ways that race and class can shape our lives.

But that is not all that I am. I also think my party can be smug detached, and dogmatic at times. I believe in the free market, competition, and entrepreneurship, and think no small number of government programs don't work as advertised. I wish the country had fewer lawyers and more engineers. I think America has more often been a force for good than for ill in the world; I carry few illusions about our enemies, and revere the courage and competence of our military. I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as our GDP.
I would suggest that anyone who has any doubts about the intelligence and full being of Barack Hussein Obama read this book. You'll find that there isn't enough room left in the man for any emptiness!

As long as I am dispelling this argument against Obama, let me continue with a little bit of background for the presumed candidate.

Unlike previous candidates who shied away from their early indiscretions, Obama has embraced them as examples of the struggles and confusions of a teenage boy - he said, "teenage boys are frequently confused". Where Bill Clinton admitted to smoking marijuana but claimed he "didn't inhale", Obama said on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", "I inhaled - isn't that the point?".

Obama studied for two years at Occidental College in California, transferred to Columbia College - where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations. After graduation, he worked for a non-profit organization that helped local Chicago churches organize job training programs for residents of poor neighborhoods. He then went to the Harvard School of Law where he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review and obtained his Juris Doctor degree magna cum laude.

Returning to Chicago, he passed the Illinois Bar exam and went to work for the civil rights law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. He also taught constitutional law at the the University of Chicago Law School, a position he continued even after being elected to represent Chicago's 13th District in the Illinois State Senate. He didn't give up his teaching position until he was elected to the US Senate in 2004.

Once Barack Obama makes an offical announcement of his intention to get the Democratic nomination for President of the united States, he will have my full backing. 'nuff said!
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Obama will make the new year interesting

By Dan K. Thomasson for Capitol Hill Blue

While the New Year can be expected to bring a series of major announcements about who will or won't run for the presidency, none is more anticipated than a decision from Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. The political world has been abuzz for weeks at the prospect of an African-American making a serious run at the Democratic nomination and the question of race seems thankfully to be far less a concern than Obama's relative inexperience in both foreign and domestic policy.

Whether this nation is finally grown up enough to accept the possibility of a black becoming president, this much is certain: For the first time, the prospective candidate, if he decides to push ahead, will be coming not from the arena of civil rights and protest but from a position that is on an equal footing with the other potential nominees, a high elected office. Until now the African-American candidates -- there have been several, but the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton come quickest to mind -- have approached the task from almost an adversarial position with the white segment of the electorate.

That is not a place the iconic Rev. Martin Luther King thought would be the most advantageous for African-Americans. He understood that only if the black candidate was equal in political (elected) stature as the rest of the field and was broadly appealing to whites as well as to blacks would there be an opportunity to sublimate race and successfully break the color barrier to the Oval Office.

Obama most definitely fits part of that profile. He is a handsome U.S. senator with a first-rate mind and a quick wit. He is not given to the fire-and-brimstone racial rhetoric of the old days. In the last election, he was among the most popular and tireless workers for white Democratic candidates as well as for black candidates. He is considered the one black candidate who could overcome the built-in racial negative factor that has plagued other African-American candidates.

What he lacks is the tenure and experience in national office, particularly in foreign policy, that many voters believe is necessary in a world that is increasingly tumultuous, both politically and economically. The honor of having the first African-American elected to the presidency probably should have gone to the Republicans, who tried unsuccessfully to convince former Secretary of State Colin Powell to run several times. Powell matches Obama's charisma, but adds unparalleled military and foreign-policy experience to the mix. But he has shown no interest in seeking the office.

Obama brings more excitement to the early speculation than any other candidate with the exception of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. He says he will make a decision next month, as will Clinton. She already has a strong campaign chest, leads him in the early polls and has an organization geared up waiting for the word. She also has the advantage of being married to one of the best campaigners in the 20th century.

Veteran observers believe that Obama will run on the theory that even if he loses the nomination, he will have gained valuable experience. They also contend that the chances for electing a Democrat may never be better considering the growing unpopularity of President Bush and the Republicans and that to wait another eight years would be tempting political fate. His time, they believe, is now and the fact that he seems to lack the seasoning and experience can be overcome by his proven campaign skills. His advisers are telling him it would not take them long to gin up a competitive campaign organization to match that of Clinton, whom they argue is hindered by a negative factor as large as, if not larger than, his -- the "she can't win" stigma.

Then there is, as always, the vice-presidential question. Even if Obama cannot win the top spot on the ballot but shows good strength, he would position himself as the possible running mate of whomever does. Serving a term or two as vice president, his supporters believe, would give him a leg up for the presidency. While that strategy has succeeded in the past -- Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush, for instance -- it is not always the sure bet it might seem. But then, no one runs for the vice-presidential nomination.

Whatever Obama decides, the very fact that he is considered a viable contender in only the third presidential election in the new millennium is refreshing and long overdue. The next few weeks should be interesting.

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The race is now between Obama and Edwards?

By Deborah White for

Merry Christmas, Democrats!

I believe Santa has brought us exactly what we've been wishing for: the beginnings of a competitive, two-horse race for 2008 between interesting, bona fide liberals, both with positive messages of hope and healing for our great nation.

Yesterday, KCCI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa released the results of an exclusive, Survey2000 poll, which asked Iowans about their choices for the Iowa Caucus, set for January 14, 2008. The survey was conducted from December 18-20, and has a margin of error of no more than plus or minus 4 percentage points.

And I'm not surprised that the overall Democratic results were:

John Edwards 22%
Barack Obama 22%
Tom Vilsack 12%
Hillary Clinton 10%
Al Gore 7%
John Kerry 5%
Wesley Clark 4%
Dennis Kucinich 4%
Joe Biden 1%
Evan Bayh 1%
Bill Richardson 1%
Undecided 11%

No surprise that Sen. Hillary Clinton fares poorly in Iowa. As I've preached many times, middle-class America is deeply uncomfortable with her. Also, Hillary carries a back-breaking load of political baggage from the past two decades.

John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and, to my sadness, Al Gore, are viewed by many voters under 40 as yesterday's news.... political ghosts from past decades. These Iowa polls results reflect that reality.

In contrast, Edwards and Obama both have built fresh, positive images, and enjoy strong support on the college campus circuit.

The Only Surprises
The only surprises in these numbers are that both Tom Vilsack, Governor of Iowa, and John Edwards, who's been campaigning in Iowa for more than a year, didn't fare far better against Sen. Barack Obama, who surprised the nation just 3 months ago when he admitted to considering a 2008 run for the White House.

Tom Vilsack, of course, isn't a serious 2008 presidential candidate, as he's a virtual unknown outside home state Iowa. I saw him last week on The Daily Show. Vilsack's a likeable enough guy, and seems bright and informed. I assume he's either running for the 2008 vice-presidency, or to garner national exposure for future races.

Edwards vs. Obama
Today, I believe that nationally, the two leading candidates for 2008 Democratic nomination for the presidency are Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards.

While both are liberals, they have clear differences. They stake out different ideological portions of the Democratic Party... Edwards being more liberal than Obama... but with substantial overlap. I'll dissect these differences in great detail in 2007.

Conditions can change, though, and a year in politics is a very, very long time.

For instance, if the U.S. suffered another 9/11 style attack in 2007-08, Democrats may opt for a candidate with superlative national security credentials and a more moderate Iraq War stance: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton or retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark come to mind.

But given the political, security and economic climate in December 2006, this results of this poll absolutely do NOT surprise me. The frontrunners now are Edwards and Obama.

Of those two, who would I vote for? I don't know. I have a lot yet to learn about both, and I have no serious objections to either.

So Merry Christmas, Democrats!

With the Democratic-controlled Congress taking office in less than 2 weeks, and several stellar Democratic potentials in the 2008 race for the White House, I can only surmise that Santa included us on his 2006 "Good List."

Ho, ho, ho, indeed!

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Obama Shapes an Agenda Beyond Iraq War

By Josh Gerstein for the New York Sun

Senator Obama's early opposition to the war in Iraq is the best known of his views, but voters taking his measure as a potential president will discover that he is a leader in securing stray weapons from the former Soviet Union, a key backer of American aid to the Congo, and that he would tend to support a missile strike on Iran if other methods fail to get Tehran to abandon its nuclear program.

In most respects, the Illinois Democrat's positions on foreign affairs are more fleshed out than one might expect for a leader concluding his second year in the Senate, though they lack the breadth and detail set forth by some of his colleagues who have spent decades in the public eye.

When he took office in 2005,Mr. Obama became the most junior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. However, the issues section of his Senate Web site, which lists his views on crime and aid to senior citizens, gives few details of his thoughts on America's role abroad.

Mr. Obama's foreign policy positions, gleaned from his speeches and writings, are squarely in the Democratic Party mainstream, though he often goes out of his way to distance himself from some on the left who downplay the dangers facing America. His statements and associations in foreign policy circles also suggest he might, as president, be more willing to use force to intervene in humanitarian crises than other presidents have. It seems certain he would make promotion of human rights a more serious factor in American diplomacy. He would also be likely to impose stricter rules on CIA interrogators — rules that some argue could hamper intelligence gathering and ultimately cost American lives.

In his new, best-selling book, "The Audacity of Hope," Mr. Obama devotes a 53-page chapter to international issues. In one passage, he scolds self-described liberals for saying in a poll last year that their top foreign policy concerns were "withdrawing troops from Iraq, stopping the spread of AIDS, and working more closely with our allies."

"The objectives favored by liberals have merit. But they hardly constitute a coherent national security policy," Mr. Obama declares. Alluding to the Vietnam War, he says, "It's useful to remind ourselves, then, that Osama bin Laden is not Ho Chi Minh, and that the threats facing the United States are real, multiple, and potentially devastating."

On Iraq, Mr. Obama has been calling for more than a year for a "phased redeployment" of American troops. He also favors a conference of regional powers, including Iran and Syria, to discuss Iraq's future. He has shied away from rigid deadlines and has even spoken of keeping American troops in Iraq if Iraqis can settle their differences. "He's been very thoughtful and judicious about what our stakes are in the conflict," a State Department and National Security Council official under President Clinton, Susan Rice, said. "He basically presaged the Iraq Study Group's comments."

Mr. Obama has also taken pains to make clear that he is not a pacifist. "I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars," he said at an anti-war rally in 2002. "What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."

Like other Democrats, Mr. Obama has faulted the Bush administration for not pushing harder for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. The senator has also been publicly supportive of Israel and enjoys significant support in the Jewish community in Illinois. "He has long-standing position papers going back early into his Senate campaign which have been very strong on the defense of a safe and secure Israel," a Chicago lawyer who traveled with Mr. Obama in Israel in January, Alan Solow, said.


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Monday, December 25, 2006

Obama campaign headquarters to be in Chicago?

By Lynn Sweet for the Chicago Sun-Times

Watch for Sen. Barack Obama to headquarter his anticipated 2008 presidential campaign in Chicago - and leverage that to the hilt in the critical first vote in neighboring Iowa.

Locating his political operation in Chicago will let his campaign mobilize thousands of lllinois Democrats to help in Iowa.

The 2008 Democratic calendar is not finalized; many states want to hold early primaries to influence the selection of the nominee and erode the power of Iowa and New Hampshire in the selection process.

Still, the basic outlines are in place. Iowa and New Hampshire - states traditionally crucial because they were the first votes - will be joined in January 2008 by Nevada and South Carolina.

Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, has decided to run. He has said he will announce his decision in January.

Under the tentative new schedule, the Iowa caucus will be Jan. 14, followed by Nevada on Jan. 19, New Hampshire on Jan. 22 and South Carolina on Jan. 29.

Presidential contenders, however, ignore Iowa and New Hampshire at their peril in 2008. That's why former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), who will announce his presidential bid -- his second - this week from New Orleans, has been making regular pilgrimages to Iowa. And that's why Obama did some barnstorming in New Hampshire on Dec. 10.

Three-way Iowa race

It has been ages since Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has been to either Iowa or New Hampshire, and a new poll shows that Clinton, nationally the front-runner, faces an Iowa fight.

While much of the 2008 Democratic presidential storyline so far portrays the contest as increasingly a two-person race, Edwards is a strong factor in Iowa, where Clinton support is slipping.

A poll of likely Iowa voters shows a dead heat - 22 percent each - between Edwards and Obama for the 2008 caucuses. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, another White House contender and obviously well-known in the state, came in at 12 percent, with Clinton at 10 percent.

The poll of 600 likely voters could swing four points either way.

Obama's N.H. surge

A new poll by the Concord Monitor taken last week showed that Obama's New Hampshire visit - which generated massive coverage in the state - had an impact.

Granite State Democrats put Obama in a statistical tie with Clinton. That's a switch from a poll last month by the newspaper in which Obama was behind by 23 points.

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Polls show Obama having a better time against Republicans than Hillary Clinton

From the Time Magazine Blog of Tom Bevan:

On the heels of the new poll in Iowa earlier this week showing Barack Obama tied with John Edwards atop the Dem field and Hillary plummeting to fourth place with 10%, Research 2000 has another 2008 poll out this morning for New Hampshire, conducted for the Concord Monitor from December 18 through December 20, 2006.

On the Dem side, Obama has leapt into a statistical dead heat with Hillary. For the GOP, Giuliani and McCain are neck and neck:

Hillary Clinton 22%
Barack Obama 21%
John Edwards 16%
Al Gore 10%
John Kerry 7%
Wesley Clark 4%
Dennis Kucinich 4%
Joe Biden 2%
Tom Vilsack 2%
Evan Bayh2%
Bill Richardson 2%
Undecided 8%

Rudy Giuliani 26%
John McCain 25%
Mitt Romney 10%
Newt Gingrich 8%
Condi Rice 6%
George Pataki 3%
Jeb Bush 1%
George Allen 1%
Sam Brownback 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
Duncan Hunter 0%
Undecided 18%

At first blush the horserace numbers don't look too terrible for Hillary - and certainly much better than they did in Iowa. I suppose Hillary's numbers could have been worse, especially if you remember the Boston Herald story from early August reporting on the animosity New Hampshire Dems had toward Hillary, calling her names like a "shrew" and an "evil, power-mad witch."

But, as in Iowa, the real problem for Clinton in the New Hampshire poll is in the hypothetical head to head matchups. Here they are:

Obama 47, McCain 43
Obama 46, Giuliani 39
Obama 48, Romney 29

Edwards 44, McCain 44
Edwards 41, Giuliani 40
Edwards 46, Romney 30

Giuliani 42, Clinton 38
Giuliani 39, Kerry 37
Giuliani 40, Gore 37

McCain 46, Clinton 43
McCain 45, Kerry 40
McCain 46, Gore 39

Clinton 45, Romney 31
Kerry 40, Romney 32
Gore 38, Romney 32

Just like in Iowa, Hillary loses to Rudy and McCain but beats Romney. And just like in Iowa, Obama beats them all. Edwards doesn't run as strong in New Hampshire as in Iowa - no surprise there - but he still manages a dead heat against McCain and Giuliani and handily beats Romney. So even though Hillary is clinging to a lead at the top of the field, she's once again giving off the "unelectable" vibe in comparison to her two most serious primary challengers.

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What's in a name?

The uproar of Barack Obama's middle name notwithstanding, I thought I would look into the origins of his name and this is what I came up with.

Barack - It could be a Jewish name, a derivitive of the name Barak which means "lightning" in Hebrew. This was the name of a military commander in the Old Testament. It can also come from Baraka, which is Arabic for "blessed".

Hussein - Pet form of Hasan. Hussein ibn Ali (also called Al-Hussein) was the son of Ali and the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Al-Hasan was his older brother. The massacre of Husayn and his family caused the split between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, which continues to this day.
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Obama and Clinton making it tougher for other Demo candidates

By Dan Balz, Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois are already rewriting the script of the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign, driving potential Democratic rivals to the sidelines.

Trading on their star power, capacity to raise tens of millions of dollars with relative ease, and ability to dominate news media attention, the two senators are casting a huge shadow over all others who may run.

What once shaped up as a sizable field of Democratic candidates is now shrinking. Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, announced on Dec. 16 that he would not seek the Democratic nomination, a surprising decision that came just days after he had witnessed firsthand Obama's drawing power in New Hampshire.

As Bayh drew small crowds on his seventh trip to the Granite State earlier this month, Obama enjoyed sold-out audiences and saturation coverage on his first trip there.

Bayh became the third Democrat to quit the race before Clinton or Obama had taken formal steps to enter. Former Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner and Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin abandoned their bids after lengthy periods of exploration.

All chose not to run for their own reasons, but Obama's sudden emergence creates a significant obstacle to those hoping to become the alternative to Clinton, the front-runner in the Democratic nomination contest.

"Simply put, it's the Obama factor," said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart.

"Candidates who used to do careful exploration with the hope that they could catch fire in Iowa and New Hampshire and move from there recognize that there's no oxygen left out there for their candidacies," Hart said.

Republicans have their own celebrity candidates in Senator John McCain of Arizona and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, but they cast a far smaller shadow on their rivals.

Those so far sidelined in the GOP race -- Senators Bill Frist of Tennessee and George Allen of Virginia -- have landed there through their own mistakes, not the looming presence of the two early poll leaders.

Dominating candidates are not new to presidential campaigns, nor is it uncommon for some politicians to explore a candidacy but never run.

In 1992, many prominent Democrats chose not to run, fearful that President George H.W. Bush could not be defeated. In 2000, George W. Bush was the clear front-runner for his party's nomination, but the winnowing did not begin until late summer of 1999 -- nine months later than is happening this time.

Even though neither has announced for president, Clinton and Obama have demonstrated the advantages of celebrity status in a world of constant cable news and expanding Internet communities.

That culture serves to reinforce the advantages of celebrity, repeatedly focusing attention on the celebrities rather than paying close attention to the doggedness of dark horses -- at least until serious campaigning begins.

A poll released yesterday shows Obama running about even with Clinton among likely voters in the New Hampshire primary.

Among participants in the Concord Monitor poll, 22 percent said they would vote for Clinton if the primary was held now, and 21 percent said Obama. That put them slightly ahead of former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, with 16 percent.

At this point, Clinton and Obama are eclipsing a group of Democratic heavyweights that includes the party's presidential and vice presidential nominees in 2004, Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and Edwards.

They also are leading other senators and governors, including senators Joseph Biden of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and governors Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Tom Vilsack of Iowa.

Edwards plans to launch his campaign this week. The others are still weighing when or whether to jump in.

Bayh saw his opening to run after the Democratic Party's losses in 2004. He presented himself as a Democrat who could win Republican states, such as his home state of Indiana.

But after the Democrats' victories last month, Bayh's advisers found that his potential in red states was less appealing to Democratic activists looking toward 2008.

Vilsack concluded there is still room for a dark horse. He also is hoping to ignite his candidacy on his home turf -- in the Iowa caucuses.

William Mayer, a political science professor at Northeastern University who has written extensively about the nominating process, said Clinton and Obama both appeal to Democrats on a symbolic level.

"The Democrats would dearly love to elect the first woman or black president," he said. "Given that, it's going to be tough to run an insurgent campaign against these people."
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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Obama pulls even with Clinton in New Hampshire

From the Associated Press.

CONCORD, N.H. --Two weeks Sen. Barack Obama's first trip to New Hampshire, a new poll shows him about even with Sen. Hillary Clinton among likely voters in the state's 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

Among participants in the Concord Monitor poll, 22 percent said they would vote for Clinton if the primary was held now, and 21 percent said Obama. That put them slightly ahead of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who was at 16 percent.

Last month, a Monitor poll showed Clinton leading Obama by 23 percentage points.

"I'm not surprised because Barack Obama got five days of constant media attention in New Hampshire," said Jim Demers, a Democratic activist who accompanied Obama throughout his visit. "Obama has demonstrated to the people of New Hampshire that he's a top tier candidate."

On the Republican side, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain are about even, with Giuliani at 26 percent and McCain at 25 percent. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is next with 10 percent.

The telephone poll of 600 likely voters was conducted Monday through Wednesday by Maryland-based Research 2000 and had a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage. The likely voters for the Democratic and Republican primary totaled 400 respondents each. For those questions, the margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

In hypothetical general election matchups, Giuliani has a slight lead over Clinton, while Clinton and McCain are about even. Obama is slightly ahead of both Giuliani and McCain. Edwards is tied with McCain and about even with Giuliani.

"There are a lot of independents. These are the same people who loathe Bush, loathe the Iraq war," said Del Ali, president of Research 2000. "But deep down, they don't like Hillary Clinton."

The numbers don't mean much roughly a year before the primary, some experts cautioned. President Bush, for example, held a double-digit lead over McCain in a New Hampshire poll nine months before the 2000 primary.

"You will have this tremendous amount of energy and motion to secure the allegiance of about 5,000 people," said Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy. "And nobody else is going to start paying attention until after the summer."

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

A rose by any other name

Have you ever seen anyone on the talk show circuits - or in print - refer to a certain Republican Senator/presidential contender as John Sidney McCain III? What about Rudolph William Louis Giuliani III? Did you know that the former first lady's middle name was Diane? Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton. Yes, we've heard people use her maiden name along with the one she received when she married William Jefferson Clinton (nee William Jefferson Blythe III). Now there is one potential candidate out there that uses his middle name, that would be the Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. He uses his middle name all the time - it's his first name he never uses - of course, if my name was Willard Mitt Romney, I'd probably use my middle name too - even if it did sound like a piece of athletic equipment. Did you know that Dennis Kucinich's middle name was John? There's Thomas James Vilsack, William Blaine Richardson, Johnny Reid Edwards, John Forbes Kerry, Newton Leroy Gingrich, George Elmer Pataki, and Michael Rubens Bloomberg. Most of you didn't even know the full name of any of these candidates.

On the other hand, there is Barack Hussein Obama. Now, thanks to the Right Wing pundits and bloggers, Obama's middle name is well known to anyone who is following the race to the White House. The unfortunate part of this is that the Right is using it in an attempt to put an idea in the psyche of voters that, perhaps, Obama is an enemy of the state. This is of course a ridiculous notion.

These are the same people who keep saying that Obama doesn't stand for anything - another ridiculous statement. You cannot be a United States Senator and not leave some kind of record - either a voting record, or a record of bills introduced. These same people say Obama doesn't have any foreign relations experience - the fact that he specialized in International Relations while he was a Political Science major at Columbia University and has sat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee for the past two years must not count.

So, before you start spreading the name of Hussein, don't forget about Willard, Rubens, Blaine, Leroy, Sidney and Forbes. No, they're not foreign sounding, but they certainly are silly!

(cross posted on my other blog -
Left of Centrist)
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Robert Novak says Obama is definitely running

According to columnist/CIA agent outer, Robert Novak's latest column, it appears all that remains for Obama to be in the race is an official announcement.
"Contrary to reports that Barack Obama is still trying to make up his mind whether to seek the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, sources close to the first-term senator say he is unequivocally committed to making the race.

The word has spread through political circles that Obama's wife, Michelle, is resisting the campaign out of fear for her husband's physical safety as an African-American candidate for president. But an Obama insider dismissed that as a problem. 'We took care of that last summer,' he told this column.

A footnote: Obama advisers were surprised how much the prospect of his campaign has shaken front-running Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. For the first time, she has asserted that she would have voted against going to war in Iraq if she knew then what she knows now."

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Obama's experience compares favorably with incumbent's

Editorial comment from the Tomah Journal - Tomah, WI

Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) traveled to New Hampshire to test the presidential waters, and the reaction of voters and pundits couldn’t have been more different.

Voters in New Hampshire liked the idea. Obama drew a crowd of 1,500 in Manchester last week, and one reporter described the event as a “rapturous reception ... drawing the kinds of crowds and news media attention usually reserved for a sitting president or a presidential nominee.”

The reaction of the commentators was more muted. The Wisconsin State Journal was typical:

“Obama, touted as a top candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, may be charismatic, smart and oozing with optimism. But the freshman U.S. senator also is untested and sorely lacking in executive and foreign policy experience.”

Sorely lacking in experience? Compared to whom? George W. Bush had only six years as governor of Texas under his belt prior to his election as president in 2000 (Obama, if elected, will have served four years in the Senate). Before that, Bush had failed in the oil business and made $13 million from his part-ownership of a publicly subsidized major league baseball team.

Obama’s experience: A law degree from Harvard and the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Lecturer of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. A practicing attorney in Chicago. Seven years in the Illinois state Senate. And while he lacks conventional foreign policy experience, he lived abroad for an extended period as a child, which gives him a unique insight on America’s role in the world. It’s a background that’s arguably more substantive than Bush’s.

Experience counts, but so do qualities like intelligence, poise, decency and the ability to articulate a vision. The latter is especially important. When politicians of both parties swallowed the administration’s justification for the Iraq War, here’s what Obama said in 2002:

“I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.”

Who has been proven right -- the establishment men and women of Washington, D.C., or the upstart from Chicago?

This isn’t an endorsement of Obama; it’s possible that the rigors of a presidential campaign will unmask weaknesses in his personal and political character (that’s why campaigns are held). But pundits who believe presidential candidates must be marinated in years and years of high-profile elected offices are wrong. There may be reasons why Barack Obama shouldn't be president, but his relatively brief time on the national political stage isn’t one of them.
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Birth of a political rock star

For those of you who missed it or would simply like to see it again. Here is Barack Obama's Keynote Speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. This is where he first caught my eye - and the imagination of the rest of the nation.

Forget about the fact that he's endorsing John Kerry and listen to the mesmerizing oratory skills of a brilliant politician.

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Editorial Cartoons featuring Obama - Vol. 2

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Obama who? Senator still unknown to many voters

He's been on Oprah, Letterman, Leno, "Monday Night Football'' and "The View.'' He's written two best-selling books and made the cover of Time and Newsweek magazines.

He's Barack ... who?

Some 33 percent of Americans say they have never heard of Illinois' Sen. Barack Obama, a likely presidential candidate in 2008, according to a new Gallup poll. Another 14 percent said his name sounded familiar but they didn't know enough about him to have an opinion.

Compare that to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: Only 5 percent of those polled said they had no opinion of her - a double-edged sword, though, with 42 percent saying they know her and don't like her.

Gallup pollster Jeffrey M. Jones said freshman candidates usually have low recognition numbers but he was surprised at the Obama data given the senator's high-profile "political rock star" tag.

There are both negatives and positives in Obama's recognition numbers this early in the game, said John S. Jackson of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

"He has a way to go to get into the Hillary Clinton league'' in terms of recognition, Jackson said. On the other hand, "he can still define himself for that 47 percent'' - the 33 percent who don't know Obama from Adam and the 14 percent who said they don't know much about him.

Obama, vacationing in Hawaii for the holidays, will decide while there whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, his sister Maya Soetoro said this week.

Chicago Sun-Times
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Obama Enjoys Islands During Holidays

From KITV Honolulu:

Sen. Barak Obama is spending the holidays in the islands. On Wednesday he was spotted on the links.The Punahou graduate was at the Olomana Links Golf Course with a group of friends on Wednesday. The Illinois senator grew up in the islands and still has family here.He played at the course on Sunday and had such a good time he returned for another round, sources said.

While in Hawaii he is expected to decide whether he wants to run for president in 2008.His half-sister said that Obama will make a decision in the next few days, then publicly announce it when he returns to Washington in early January
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Edwards and Obama Tied in Iowa

From Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

A new Research 2000 poll in Iowa shows John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama tied among likely Democratic caucus voters with 22% each. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack trails with 12%, followed by Sen. Hillary Clinton at just 10%. All other potential candidates are in the single digits.

Among Republicans, Sen. John McCain leads with 27% followed by Rudy Giuliani at 26% and Mitt Romney at just 9%.
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Obama the anti-Bush

Op-Ed from Michael Tomasky - Editor of The American Prospect

Should he or shouldn't he? Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about whether 2008 is the right time for Barack Obama to throw his Bears cap (famously donned during that "Monday Night Football" set piece) into the ring. Even in the unscientific realm of political punditry, rarely have assertions so plainly unprovable been delivered with such unyielding certitude.

He's too young; no, quite the contrary, he'll be too old if he waits. He needs more Senate experience, some legislation to his name; nonsense — years of service in the Senate are a negative, not a positive (just ask John Kerry). He doesn't stand for anything; pshaw — he stands for a great deal simply by being who he is.

All these claims have to do with Obama himself. But there is another factor, one that argues for an Obama candidacy that has nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with George W. Bush. I call it the Attraction of the Opposite.

The most reliable guide to presidential winners over the last quarter of a century is not ideology or charisma or any of the other established factors. It is instead what we might call character typology. That is, after four (or especially eight) years of one type of person, American voters tend to turn their affections toward someone who is that person's opposite — someone whose personality and affect provide a direct contrast to the fellow who's leaving office, who has something the other guy lacked.

Looking at the last four times the Oval Office has changed hands, it's quite easy to make the case that this was dramatically true in at least three cases.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter — serious, austere and full of warnings about the nation's crisis of confidence — gave way to the congenial optimism of Ronald Reagan.

In 1992, George H.W. Bush had come to be seen as remote, awkward and out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans. He yielded to that flesh-pressing natural and soulful feeler of pain, Bill Clinton.

By 2000, Clinton to many had become the reckless lothario who had sullied the nation's highest office. This was precisely why George W. Bush emphasized his sobriety, his piousness and his goal of restoring "honor and dignity" to the White House.

They fit the thesis like a glove. And even the race I've left out works pretty well. Yes, in some sense, Americans elected George H.W. Bush in 1988 to continue Reagan's policies. But Bush also strained to differentiate himself from Reagan. His "kinder, gentler America" and his "thousand points of light" were direct attempts to show voters that he recognized the ways in which Reagan was seen as having pursued heartless policies toward the poor and to signal that he would be different.

Which brings us to the present. George W. Bush, to most voters, is no longer the man who restored honor and dignity to the White House. Nor is he — in another line from his 2000 campaign — a "uniter, not a divider."

He is now instead the stubborn, highly partisan unilateralist who doesn't listen to others.

So what character type does this mean voters will be looking for in 2008? Someone who speaks of his frustration with our polarized politics and his fervent desire to transcend the red-blue divide.

Sound like anyone you know? I thought so.

If my theory is correct, then 2008, coming directly off of Bush's tenure, will be exactly the right time for Obama to run. His themes and his personality — his agreeable nature and penchant for self-contemplation, so utterly unlike the incumbent's petulant, unreflective swagger — will be uniquely in demand in 2008 in a way they just might not be in 2012 or 2016.

The only problem with my theory is this: Bush has revealed himself to be so deficient in so many regards that it's possible that several candidates can just choose a Bushian shortcoming and become its opposite.

For example, it's unlikely that New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a woman about whom Americans are so divided, can plausibly run as the candidate who will transcend the red-blue divide. But she can exploit a different Bush personality trait by showing her intelligence, her command of the details of policy and her ability to speak in well-structured sentences that are clearly recognizable as the English language.

Arizona Sen. John McCain can exploit a third Bush weakness — that of having been a dreadful commander in chief — and present himself as something that he in fact is: a former soldier who knows the military and can be assumed to make decisions in what he believes to be its best interests. And so on.

So the Attraction of the Opposite could work in any of several ways in 2008. But Bush's greatest flaw to the greatest number of voters has to do with his unrelenting partisanship. And this greatest flaw plays right into Obama's greatest strength. He will have other opportunities to run, but it's highly unlikely that he'll ever again have an opportunity quite like this one.
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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Holidays!

I thought I would share a little something I just received in my email.
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The swiftboating of Obama will soon be in full gear

One of the interesting aspects of the Republican party these days is to say things - I was being nice, I meant to say they LIE - about their opponents and then sit back and watch as the lie spreads. They obviously are well aware of the famous Samuel "Mark Twain" Clemens quote, "a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." They will also use innuendo - in this case, Right Wingers have taken to use Obama's middle name "Hussein" when they talk about him in the hopes that people will associate Obama with Saddam.

Here in Fort Wayne, Republican Cogressman Mark Souder said during a radio interview that hisDemocratic opponent, Dr. Tom Hayhurst, was in favor of amnesty for illegal aliens. Not only had Dr. Hayhurst never said that, Souder had, himself, actually voted for amnesty FIVE times. These guys will stop at nothing. We must remain vigil.

One example of the lie spreading took place yesterday on FOX news when Fox political analyst Dick Morris said, "Because anybody who thinks about Obama for five minutes knows the guy's never introduced a bill. He's never been important. He's spent 100 weeks in the Senate. He's basically a - no foreign policy experience. And she'll (Hillary Clinton) knock him apart."

Actually, there were two lies contained in that statement. To begin with, since Obama became a US Senator only two years ago,
he has been the primary sponsor of one-hundred-fifty-two bills and resolutions that were introduced in Congress. Media Matters points out that Obama has:
  • Introduced a bill (S.1194) directing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to establish guidelines for tracking spent fuel rods.
  • Introduced a bill (S.1426) extending provisions in the Safe Drinking Water Act that relate to preventing and detecting contamination.
  • Introduced a bill (S.1920) amending the Clean Air Act to establish a renewable diesel standard.
  • Introduced a bill (S.3988) improving benefits and services for members of the armed forces and veterans.
The other part of Morris' statement that needs to be clarified is his assertion that Obama has no foreign policy experience - completely ignoring the fact that not only has he served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the past two years, he also majored in political science with a specialization in international relations at Columbia University.

We should be ready to dispel any and all of these swiftboating attempts to derail Obama as his star continues to rise. If these attacks on him and his character are beginning this early, they - the Republicans - must be pretty scared!

This article is cross-posted with my other blog, Left of Centrist.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Obama-Coburn bill on Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate)


One Hundred Ninth Congress

of the

United States of America


Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,

the third day of January, two thousand and six

An Act

To require full disclosure of all entities and organizations receiving Federal funds.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the `Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006'.


    (a) Definitions- In this section:
      (1) ENTITY- The term `entity'--
        (A) includes, whether for profit or nonprofit--
          (i) a corporation;
          (ii) an association;
          (iii) a partnership;
          (iv) a limited liability company;
          (v) a limited liability partnership;
          (vi) a sole proprietorship;
          (vii) any other legal business entity;
          (viii) any other grantee or contractor that is not excluded by subparagraph (B) or (C); and
          (ix) any State or locality;
        (B) on and after January 1, 2009, includes any subcontractor or subgrantee; and
        (C) does not include--
          (i) an individual recipient of Federal assistance; or
          (ii) a Federal employee.
      (2) FEDERAL AWARD- The term `Federal award'--
        (A) means Federal financial assistance and expenditures that--
          (i) include grants, subgrants, loans, awards, cooperative agreements, and other forms of financial assistance;
          (ii) include contracts, subcontracts, purchase orders, task orders, and delivery orders;
        (B) does not include individual transactions below $25,000; and
        (C) before October 1, 2008, does not include credit card transactions.
      (3) SEARCHABLE WEBSITE- The term `searchable website' means a website that allows the public to--
        (A) search and aggregate Federal funding by any element required by subsection (b)(1);
        (B) ascertain through a single search the total amount of Federal funding awarded to an entity by a Federal award described in paragraph (2)(A)(i), by fiscal year;
        (C) ascertain through a single search the total amount of Federal funding awarded to an entity by a Federal award described in paragraph (2)(A)(ii), by fiscal year; and
        (D) download data included in subparagraph (A) included in the outcome from searches.
    (b) In General-
      (1) WEBSITE- Not later than January 1, 2008, the Office of Management and Budget shall, in accordance with this section, section 204 of the E-Government Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-347; 44 U.S.C. 3501 note), and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act (41 U.S.C. 403 et seq.), ensure the existence and operation of a single searchable website, accessible by the public at no cost to access, that includes for each Federal award--
        (A) the name of the entity receiving the award;
        (B) the amount of the award;
        (C) information on the award including transaction type, funding agency, the North American Industry Classification System code or Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number (where applicable), program source, and an award title descriptive of the purpose of each funding action;
        (D) the location of the entity receiving the award and the primary location of performance under the award, including the city, State, congressional district, and country;
        (E) a unique identifier of the entity receiving the award and of the parent entity of the recipient, should the entity be owned by another entity; and
        (F) any other relevant information specified by the Office of Management and Budget.
      (2) SCOPE OF DATA- The website shall include data for fiscal year 2007, and each fiscal year thereafter.
      (3) DESIGNATION OF AGENCIES- The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is authorized to designate one or more Federal agencies to participate in the development, establishment, operation, and support of the single website. In the initial designation, or in subsequent instructions and guidance, the Director may specify the scope of the responsibilities of each such agency.
      (4) AGENCY RESPONSIBILITIES- Federal agencies shall comply with the instructions and guidance issued by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under paragraph (3), and shall provide appropriate assistance to the Director upon request, so as to assist the Director in ensuring the existence and operation of the single website.
    (c) Website- The website established under this section--
      (1) may use as the source of its data the Federal Procurement Data System, Federal Assistance Award Data System, and, if all of these data sources are searchable through the website and can be accessed in a search on the website required by this Act, provided that the user may--
        (A) specify such search shall be confined to Federal contracts and subcontracts;
        (B) specify such search shall be confined to include grants, subgrants, loans, awards, cooperative agreements, and other forms of financial assistance;
      (2) shall not be considered in compliance if it hyperlinks to the Federal Procurement Data System website, Federal Assistance Award Data System website, website, or other existing websites, so that the information elements required by subsection (b)(1) cannot be searched electronically by field in a single search;
      (3) shall provide an opportunity for the public to provide input about the utility of the site and recommendations for improvements;
      (4) shall be updated not later than 30 days after the award of any Federal award requiring a posting; and
      (5) shall provide for separate searches for Federal awards described in subsection (a) to distinguish between the Federal awards described in subsection (a)(2)(A)(i) and those described in subsection (a)(2)(A)(ii).
    (d) Subaward Data-
      (1) PILOT PROGRAM-
        (A) IN GENERAL- Not later than July 1, 2007, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall commence a pilot program to--
          (i) test the collection and accession of data about subgrants and subcontracts; and
          (ii) determine how to implement a subaward reporting program across the Federal Government, including--
            (I) a reporting system under which the entity issuing a subgrant or subcontract is responsible for fulfilling the subaward reporting requirement; and
            (II) a mechanism for collecting and incorporating agency and public feedback on the design and utility of the website.
        (B) TERMINATION- The pilot program under subparagraph (A) shall terminate not later than January 1, 2009.
        (A) IN GENERAL- Based on the pilot program conducted under paragraph (1), and, except as provided in subparagraph (B), not later than January 1, 2009, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget--
          (i) shall ensure that data regarding subawards are disclosed in the same manner as data regarding other Federal awards, as required by this Act; and
          (ii) shall ensure that the method for collecting and distributing data about subawards under clause (i)--
            (I) minimizes burdens imposed on Federal award recipients and subaward recipients;
            (II) allows Federal award recipients and subaward recipients to allocate reasonable costs for the collection and reporting of subaward data as indirect costs; and
            (III) establishes cost-effective requirements for collecting subaward data under block grants, formula grants, and other types of assistance to State and local governments.
        (B) EXTENSION OF DEADLINE- For subaward recipients that receive Federal funds through State, local, or tribal governments, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget may extend the deadline for ensuring that data regarding such subawards are disclosed in the same manner as data regarding other Federal awards for a period not to exceed 18 months, if the Director determines that compliance would impose an undue burden on the subaward recipient.
    (e) Exception- Any entity that demonstrates to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget that the gross income, from all sources, for such entity did not exceed $300,000 in the previous tax year of such entity shall be exempt from the requirement to report subawards under subsection (d), until the Director determines that the imposition of such reporting requirements will not cause an undue burden on such entities.
    (f) Construction- Nothing in this Act shall prohibit the Office of Management and Budget from including through the website established under this section access to data that is publicly available in any other Federal database.
    (g) Report-
      (1) IN GENERAL- The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall submit to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Government Reform of the House of Representatives an annual report regarding the implementation of the website established under this section.
      (2) CONTENTS- Each report submitted under paragraph (1) shall include--
        (A) data regarding the usage and public feedback on the utility of the site (including recommendations for improving data quality and collection);
        (B) an assessment of the reporting burden placed on Federal award and subaward recipients; and
        (C) an explanation of any extension of the subaward reporting deadline under subsection (d)(2)(B), if applicable.
      (3) PUBLICATION- The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall make each report submitted under paragraph (1) publicly available on the website established under this section.


    Nothing in this Act shall require the disclosure of classified information.


    Not later than January 1, 2010, the Comptroller General shall submit to Congress a report on compliance with this Act.

Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Vice President of the United States and

President of the Senate.
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Daschle: Obama Has 'Unlimited Potential'


WASHINGTON Dec 19, 2006 (AP)— Sen. Barack Obama has "almost unlimited potential" and could be a contender against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said this week.

South Dakota's Daschle, who lost his bid for re-election in 2004, said earlier this month that he will not run for president, despite exploratory trips to politically pivotal states like Iowa and New Hampshire earlier this year. He said Monday he believes Clinton, D-N.Y., is the front-runner for his party's nomination, but that there are several others, including Obama, who could potentially beat her.

"His stock is still rising," Daschle said of Obama, D-Ill. "He's one of those rare individuals who has almost unlimited potential and seems to defy most of the laws of political gravity at this point."

Obama, elected to the Senate in 2004, has said he is mulling a presidential bid.

On the Republican side, Daschle said he believes the front-runner is Arizona Sen. John McCain, and "maybe" former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

"I do think there are real indications that on both sides the nominee is not a forgone conclusion," Daschle added.

As for his own aspirations, Daschle said he enjoys his current work and doesn't want to spend the next two years raising the money needed for a presidential contest.

Daschle is working with several policy groups in Washington, including the liberal Center for American Progress, on energy development and climate change. He is also working on health care, foreign policy and American Indian issues.

Daschle is a special policy adviser at the Washington law firm of Alston and Bird, advising clients on the prospects of legislation. He said he has no plans to lobby in the immediate future.
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Predictions from Lycos

It appears more and more people are wanting to know about Senator Barack Obama. Web search company engine, Lycos, who recently released their Top 50 searches of 2006 are maing predicitions about the top 50 of next year. The way they do this is by sudying surging queries in the final weeks of the year. From Lycos:
The following terms had strong showings in 2006. Based on growing search queries, The Lycos 50 predicts these are the ones to watch in 2007: from the political stage, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and the topics of illegal immigration, global warming, bird flu and stem cell research.
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Obama's speech against going into Iraq

From October 26, 2002

I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil.

I don't oppose all wars. My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil.

I don't oppose all wars. After September 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again.

I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne. What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power.... The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors...and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars. So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

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

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.

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Obama on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

From November 2005

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Pastor Rick Warren discusses Obama with Wolf Blitzer

Recently, Pastor Rick Warren annoyed several conservatives and evangelicals when he invited Sen. Barack Obama to an AIDS conference. On Dec. 15, he was a guest on CNN's "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer. This is their discussion about Obama.
BLITZER: A good time of the year to have a serious discussion on a lot of the issues that are in the forefront for you. You caused a bit of a stir recently by inviting Barack Obama to your church to speak out on some of the sensitive issues of the day. You were criticized by some evangelicals because he supports abortion rights, gay rights. What's your response to that?

WARREN: Well, you know, if you can only work with people you agree with 100 percent, you've ruled out the entire world, because I can't even get my wife to agree with me all the time. So you're going to have to work with people who have differences from you. And we had 60 speakers at this conference on AIDS, and Barack Obama was there, but so was Sam Brownback, Bill Frist, first lady Laura Bush, Bill Gates, Bono. There was a lot of people.

BLITZER: What did you think of Barack Obama?

WARREN: He's an amazing man. I think...

BLITZER: Do you think he's got it? In other words, he's got that potential like so many other presidential prospects, to be the president of the United States?

WARREN: I think he does.

BLITZER: Because?

WARREN: I think he has good character. I think both Sam Brownback and Barack Obama -- the reason I invited them both, first, they'll tell you the truth. They're not just going to beat around the bush. They'll tell you what they believe. And I appreciate that.

Second, they're men of civility. And I'm so tired of the rudeness we've got in our society where people are just mean to each other. We need to return to civility, which says, I treat you with respect even if I violently disagree with you. That we've lost the "civil" in civilization.

BLITZER: Are the American people ready for an African-American president?

WARREN: Oh, I think so.

BLITZER: Your congregants, what are you hearing?

WARREN: Well, I think that America's ready for leadership any time. I think Sam Brownback, who was there, I think Barack Obama, I think there's a lot of people in the field who are good leaders who could easily lead America with -- because they're clear.

BLITZER: Let me read to you what David Van Biema, writer for "TIME" magazine wrote.

"The invitation works perfectly for Obama. Through his autobiography 'The Audacity of Hope' and his public statements, the senator had already positioned himself as one of the rare potential Democratic presidential candidates who can truly talk the Christian talk."

Can he?

WARREN: Talking the Christian talk is not nearly as important as being a person of character. And I think that in the -- in this next election people are tired of partisanship.

I think whoever is going to get elected is going to be somebody who has the ability to draw people from different sides, even people who disagree with you, and say, let's work on the greater good. Let's work on the common good of our society rather than narrow casting, rather than saying I'm appealing to simply a base. I think base politics is out of date.

BLITZER: Here's what one of your critics who didn't like the fact you invited him because of his support for abortion said this, Wiley Drake, second vice president, Southern Baptist Convention.

"You can't work together with people totally opposed to what you are. This kind of conference is just going to lead people astray."

WARREN: Well, I disagree.

BLITZER: So you're ready to reach out and work with people who have different...

WARREN: We will work with anybody...
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Rock Star!

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Obama and family are worried about his safety

By Lynn Sweet for the Chicago Sun-Times

Sen. Barack Obama is concerned about his personal security --telling the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board Thursday that he and his wife fear there is a potential for violence -- even if he does not run for president.

"Being shot, obviously, that is the least-attractive option,'' Obama said.

The Illinois Democrat told the Sun-Times he has concluded a 2008 White House bid "would be viable" and he would have "a pretty good chance of winning the nomination.''

For the first time, Obama talked about the downside of his swelling popularity, before his expected presidential announcement in January, after a vacation in his native Hawaii.

Security, Obama said, referring to his wife, is "something that is on Michelle's mind. And the minds of many of my friends.

"I think it is something that will have to be addressed if I ran. You are not assigned Secret Service protection until you are effectively the nominee."

Obama said he "might have to build in" his own security provisions.

"Now I will tell you, this is something, this is one of the least-attractive -- not the part about being shot, obviously, that is the least-attractive option. But even just having a security apparatus around you; one of the things that I have been very proud over the last several years, is, for all the hoopla, I am not an entourage guy.

"...I have been accessible, and Michelle and I have gone out of our way not to change our habits. Even if I am not to run for president, the crush of attention has created a different set of problems."

Obama's family has been nervous for some time for his safety. On Sunday, Obama found himself surrounded by hundreds of people at two stops in New Hampshire. In Nairobi, Kenya, last August, Obama at a stop grabbed a bullhorn to talk to thousands of men stampeding in a street to see him.

During that Kenyan visit, Obama's half sister, Auma, gave an interview to Laurie Abraham of Elle magazine in which she worried about his safety.

"Not to be offensive, there are crazy people in America as well, with crazy ideas. And at the end of the day, what matters is that he's a black man. The history of America is quite violent,'' Auma said in a story in the Elle December issue.

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Is America Ready for Clinton vs. Obama?

By Jonathan Alter

Dec. 25, 2006 - Jan. 1, 2007 issue - It felt like the twilight zone in New Hampshire. The calendar still read 2006, but everything about the surging crowd of 1,500 pumped-up Democrats and 160 ravenous political reporters screamed 2008. Here was Barack Obama, less than two years into his Senate term, making his first-ever trip to the state in mid-December, and his sold-out performance before a tumultuous crowd impressed even the most hardened political operatives—though Conan O'Brien joked it was just because New Hampshire had never seen an African-American before.

For decades, the joke there has been that no presidential wanna-be can win support in the fabled primary without meeting each voter one-on-one in his living room. But the 45-year-old Obama, some-times described as "post-racial," was in a category of his own. As his team began to peel away longtime Bill Clinton supporters—former Commerce secretary Bill Daley is strongly onboard and will likely be a senior adviser—the Illinois senator's presidential rollout was working so well in New Hampshire that it raised concerns he could be peaking too soon. The mania, his aides know, cannot be sustained at this level when the real scrutiny begins.

Full of praise for Hillary Clinton, Obama handled himself with his usual offhand baritone cool. He explained that the hype has "less to do with me, more to do with you." His curious audience, he noted, was simply saying, "We are looking for something different—we want something new."

The question is, how new? For 220 years, Americans have elected only white male Christians with no hint of ethnicity to the White House. Even Irish Catholic John F. Kennedy seemed like a WASP to most people. By the time of Rep. Shirley Chisholm's brief run in 1972, then Jesse Jackson's in 1984 and 1988, the country was comfortable with barrier-breaking on the campaign trail, but not yet serious about electing someone truly different.

No one knows yet whether we are serious now, and we won't find out for sure unless it happens. But the record of white males in high places has not exactly been stellar of late, and voters might be in the mood to try something historic and possibly redemptive. A black president in a country that fought a civil war over race might even prove cathartic. And a woman president would show the rest of the world that the United States is not a sexist nation. Whatever happens, the process feels uplifting. If neither Clinton nor Obama wins, it won't necessarily prove the United States is closed-minded. Their failure would likely be the product of their own shortcomings—or the emergence of one of the several white (and one Hispanic) male Democrats who still have a shot at their party's nomination. Early primary states are so hard-wired for upsets that many Democrats could find themselves circling back to the pale males.


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Oregon 'Draft Obama' effort launched

By KTVZ-TV Portland, OR

PORTLAND - Monday's launch of the Oregon movement sent a strong message that Oregonians want Illinois Senator Barack Obama to run for and become the next president.

State organizers, encouraged by the overwhelming success of the movement, began an all-volunteer movement to gather thousands of signatures from other like-minded Oregonians urging Senator Obama to run.

"Oregonians from an array of political parties have pledged support en masse from across the state," said Jason Owens, Oregon Spokesman. "We are excited that Oregon can be one of the first state chapters and an influential participant in the upcoming presidential elections. Oregonians are moved and encouraged by Barack Obama's message of hope and refreshing candor as he addresses issues head-on."

Oregon organizers are gathering thousands of signatures from Obama supporters in Oregon, building a grassroots organization that will eventually help Obama win Oregon in the Democratic primary. Oregon will be sponsoring activities to support and organize trips to hear Senator Obama speak at various events in and out of state. is an all-volunteer grassroots organization supporting a presidential run by Senator Obama. The movement, spearheaded by a growing collection of volunteers from around the country, has grown from a single web page created by Ben Stanfield, a computer technician in Rockville, MD, to a national organization with thousands of petition-signers and hundreds of volunteers.
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