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Following the State of the Union address, many people around the internet posted different visualizations of what the president said. The one I like most is a tag cloud of words used in presidential speeches. The most recent entry is for last Tuesday's speech, but it includes the commonly-used words of presidential speeches all the way back to January 1776 (with a nifty sliding scale!)

It appeals to my inner language and computer geek, but the changes in politics are interesting, too -- we move from focusing on "Indians" and "war" in the 18th and 19th centuries to on "terrorists" and "Iraq" today, for instance. It's also interesting in what it indicates: Bush likes words like "commitment" and doesn't like words like "constitution"; Clinton liked "economic" and "families". In W's first speech, he bridged the gap between the presidencies by also using words like "econonic" and "families" -- and then he seems to lose a bit of focus (or is betraying the priorities he entered his term with) and he talks about "funding" and "tax" for a couple speeches, until he reaches "terrorism", which has persisted as the most common word in his speeches for the past five years.

I ♥ metadata.


As most of you know, I'm a big fan of Barack Obama. But as a political handicapper, I can be somewhat objective. I'll take the time now to predict the outcomes of the Presidential nominating fights on both sides.

Let's start with the Democrats. Assuming New Hampshire isn't a jerk, and Florida isn't stupid, the order of the primaries will be Iowa on January 14th, Nevada on January 19th, New Hampshire on January 22nd, and South Carolina on January 29th, with a barrage of states on February 5th, with California, New Jersey, Florida, and Michigan likely participating. That day will include more than a dozen contests, with possibly as many as a third of the Democratic convention's delegates at stake on that one day. At least that's the situation for the Democrats.

The Republicans will hold their Iowa and New Hampshire contests on the same day as the Democrats, but will hold South Carolina a few days after the Democrats do, but before February 5th. The February 5th national primary day will be the same for the Republicans.

So, this is where I think the race stands. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards are competing for the top three spots in Iowa with former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. None of the other candidates realistically think they have a shot in Iowa with those four in the race. Because Vilsack is from Iowa, he is in an impossible situation. He must come in first in Iowa just to be a viable candidate, but a win in Iowa is no guarantee he will be a factor anywhere else. If Vilsack comes in anything less than first, he will drop out of the race.

Edwards, because he is the Iowa frontrunner and came in a close second three years ago, he also must win the Iowa caucuses. A second place finish will not kill him, but he'll be sigificantly weakened. A third or fourth place finish would nearly end his campaign. Obama and Clinton, because of their national organizations and frontrunner status, can afford a second or third place finish without being significantly wounded. A first place finish would give either of them unstoppable momentum, but a fourth place finish for either would weaken them severely. The point is, one of those four will be nearly kicked out of the race from Iowa. Iowa is an eliminator.

So then we go to Nevada. Edwards, because of his union support, must get first or second here, anything less would be deadly to him. Bill Richardson, who is from the Southwest and is Latino, must also come in first or second in Nevada to have any relevance in the process whatsoever. Clinton and Obama must come in at least third place, or will be viewed as weak and won't be able to recover. Therefore, Nevada is an eliminator, as one candidate won't survive it.

Next is New Hampshire, where Clinton and Obama are viewed as strongest. This contest will be decisive, as both Obama and Clinton must win, and definitely not come in less than second. Chris Dodd has also staked his claim to the nomination on New Hampshire, since he is from New England. He must place at least third to remain in the game. An Edwards finish lower than fourth would also kill his campaign. Therefore, New Hampshire will eliminate a candidate or severely wound them as well.

Finally, South Carolina is a must win for both Obama and Edwards. Edwards, who won South Carolina in 2004, was born there, and is a son of the South. If he loses the primary, he will be finished. If Obama, who is black, loses a primary where almost 50% of the electorate will be African-American, he will also be finished. Clinton must, simply because of her status, get at least third here. Joe Biden has decided his strategy to the nomination runs through South Carolina, and therefore, a less than third place finish here will kill him.

So after these four contests, where seven candidates all must score in the top three at some point, at least four will be eliminated, and the contests will sort the remaining three in terms of strength. Therefore, our party goes into February 5th with no more than three candidates, with one or two probably stronger than the rest.

Therefore, February 5th has the power to decide the nominee or prolong the fight till early March, when another Super Tuesday will occur. The only people who will have the standing and the money to win on February 5th are Obama, Clinton, and Edwards, and if one of them is already eliminated before that day, it will be decisive. Unfortunately for Edwards, out of the four big states, New Jersey, Michigan, California, and Florida, that hold contests that day, he has no strength in any of them. Therefore, the outcome of that day could depend on whether Clinton or Obama win big on the 5th.

In the end, I think that Edwards will probably not do as well as expected (it's hard when you're the frontrunner in Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina, you've got to place first in all three or look weak), and Clinton will probably place low in a number of the early contests, weakening her. I think all of the second tier candidates will all flounder, with maybe one exception, who will be eliminated after February 5th. On February 5th, Edwards, who will already be weak form the first few contests, will not do well, eliminating him. Obama and Clinton will probably pretty evenly split wins on February 5th, which will set up a contest leading up to the next Super Tuesday in March. Obama will probably do well in Ohio and some other states that day and Obama and Clinton will be neck and neck until the convention. In fact, I see a convention fight as likely in 2008. I know I'm out there in left field with this thinking, but I believe that Edwards will probably stick it out to the end, as a distant third place, and one of the lesser candidates will also have a sizable delegate count and will stick it out till the convention too. With Hillary and Obama nearly even in the delegate count and both with less than 50% of the delegates, I think we will see this fight go to a second ballot at the convention. The second ballot will probably see some of Edwards' votes go to Clinton and Obama pretty evenly, and Edwards will decide to endorse one or the other on the third ballot, and then we will have our nominee. I think Edwards is likely to endorse Obama, but who knows.

As for the Republicans, who I know a lot less about, I think Iowa will be very decisive. McCain is strong there, but Brownback and Huckabee might surprise some people. I think McCain may end up losing Iowa in an upset, and Brownback and Huckabee will be propelled into the top tier. New Hampshire will be a fight among McCain, Giuliani, and Romney for the country club Republican vote, which I think Rudy will win. We then go to South Carolina, where McCain, who will be weakened at this point, will square off against Gilmore, Hunter, Brownback, and Huckabee. The winner of that primary, and the second place finisher, will set up a contest between Rudy, McCain, and either Brownback or Huckabee. I do not think that Romney stands a chance, and I've spoken to evangelicals who tell me that Mormonism is going to really hurt him. We then will go to February 5th, where the conservative alternative, likely Huckabee or Brownback (all the former governors and congressmen in the race will have dropped out by now and Gingrich won't run) will not do very well. Rudy and McCain will clean up, and they will fight it out till March, when a bunch of Southern states will support the conservative alternative. I think, similarly to the Democrats, Republicans will have a brokered convention, where Giuliani and McCain will be roughly tied in the delegate count, and the conservative alternative will have a substantial 10%-20% of the vote. This will set up a second ballot that I think will escape from Rudy to McCain and the conservative and eventually Rudy will endorse McCain on the third ballot in exchange for a VP slot. McCain, in my opinion, will turn out as the nominee.

That's my view of the race, what's yours?


I just read an engrossing article on a suit that is being brought against the University of California by Calvary Chapel Christian School, a K-12 institution. The University of California decided at the end of 2005 that a number of courses (among them an intelligent-design-based biology course and an English class that taught only from an anthology) would not count toward their admission requirements.

I like the way the blogger puts it: "Calvary had a choice here. They could choose other textbooks. Or they could turn this into a big church/state legal fight. Guess which option they picked."

Read the rest of the blog. It's biased, as the world of blogging is wont to be, but it raises some good questions about the duties of public educational institutions. The question at the heart of the issue is which is the greater public good: the right of the educational institution to decide what best serves its raison d'etre (sufficient academic preparation in high school, which leads to university and post-graduate success)? Or the right of the religious institution to decide what best serves its raison d'etre (subordinating one's self to God, with all the good that can arise from that)?

At Georgetown, we sit neatly at the top of this debate -- between religion and politics and higher education. More than the specific issue in question, we also need to come to terms with this issue as a society -- and as Democrats. While we reach out to Christians and try to reform the country's religious discourse into one that we can win (see: Obama), at the same time, we must have our own priorities firmly in mind.

So I ask: Where do you stand on church/state/education issues, and where should the party be moving on them? Where does Georgetown stand? Have we (or any other institution you know about) ever refused to accept course(s) from a parochial school because of lack of academic rigor?


I was surprised last night at how many of my fellow Comm staffers held as high an opinion of Ted Kennedy as I do. Currently, the top rated diary on Kos is linking to a speech Kennedy gave the other day reinforcing his status as greatest living Senator. I'm not sure how to embed video, so I'll just give the link here, but to his naysayers and to those who chuckle at him, watch this and tell me again that he isn't the best Senator we've got.


"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die."

Edward Kennedy


President Bush, say what you will about him, sure knows how to lay on the charm. In his affected folksy style, the President opened his State of the Union message Tuesday night with a seemingly genuine offer of congratulations to Nancy Pelosi for becoming the first female Speaker of the House. It was his only real acknowledgement in the speech of the sea change in American politics after the November 2006 mid-term elections. Though clothed in the rhetoric of bipartisanship and change, the substance of the President’s proposals was more of the same failed policy rejected by the American people in 2006.

Take, for example, the President’s healthcare proposal. The plan does little to help the 47 million Americans without healthcare because they don’t make enough money to qualify for it’s tax deduction. Additionally, by eliminating the current tax incentive for companies that offer health insurance to their workers, the plan threatens to undermine the employer-based healthcare system while failing to offer a real alternative for American families. The President’s new plan is just another in a long sting of attempts by his administration to shirk responsibility for critical health care issues through ill-conceived changes to the tax code.

Healthcare wasn’t the only policy arena in which the President made the old new again. Perhaps influenced by Al Gore’s two Oscar nominations for “An Inconvenient Truth,” the President seemed to change his tune on energy and the environment. For the first time, he acknowledged that global warming was a man-made problem, something many Republicans denied up until a few months ago. While the President’s grudging assent to what has long been the scientific consensus was welcome news, it’s hard to take his rhetoric seriously. Recall that in last year’s speech, the President declared that America was “addicted to oil” and pledged to reduce consumption. Only a week later, however, the President cut funding for alternative energy research. Moreover, the President’s failure to call for mandatory, enforceable caps on carbon emissions and his continued emphasis on domestic oil production undercut any claim that he is actually committed to substantive change on energy and environmental policy.

It was on the issue of Iraq, however, where the President displayed the most egregious example of his “stay the course” mentality and where Georgetown students should be most disappointed. Fortunate as we are to be studying at a top university, we owe it to our peers fighting overseas to demand a sensible strategy in Iraq. Yet all we got from the President was more of the same failed policies that have put too many of them in harm’s way.

Ignoring military and civilian experts, members of Congress from both parties, and the overwhelming majority of the American people (79 percent in one poll), the President reiterated his plan to escalate the war in Iraq by “surging” 21,500 more American troops into the middle of what is now widely regarded as an Iraqi civil war. The President justified his decision by saying that Congress and the American people “did not vote for failure” in Iraq. Yet he seemed oblivious to the fact that there can be no greater failure in Iraq that an indefinite commitment to prop up an incompetent government that pushes American military forces to the breaking point and continues to serve as a key recruiting tool for radical Islamists.

Though the President’s speech made it clear that he intends to operate as if little has changed here in Washington, the rest of the country knows what we Democrats know: The American people didn’t vote for failure when they elected Democrats to majorities in the House and Senate – they voted against the failed policies of President Bush and the Republicans. That’s why Democrats have been pursuing an aggressive and forward looking agenda in their first weeks in power. Democrats in Congress voted to raise the minimum wage and fully implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. They have taken on the challenge of energy by rolling back Bush’s massive tax cuts for big oil and proposing new funding for alternative fuels. They have proven their commitment to education by voting to dramatically reduce interest rates on student loans, something which will help a great many Georgetown students. On Iraq, Democrats stand united in our opposition to escalation and we are calling for a phased redeployment in the next six months to force Iraqis to take responsibility for their own security. Simultaneously, we want an aggressive and genuine diplomatic effort in the region and the wider world to mobilize Iraq’s neighbors and the international community to help reduce sectarian strife and continue reconstruction.

So even if President Bush can’t seem to acknowledge “staying the course” just won’t work, we Democrats will continue to work for a new direction for our country. And as for Madam Speaker, well, let’s just say, it was about time.

*Note: A version of this article was published in the 1/26/07 Hoya


One of the most important developments in the history of political campaigning happened late last week, and (almost) nobody noticed.

“What?” you ask. “Of course everyone noticed! Are you kidding? The first woman and the first African-American with serious shots at winning a major party nomination announced last week! You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that, just shut up about Barack and Hillary and glass ceilings already, and let me go back to [insert personal activity of choice here: flossing my teeth, procrastinating at Midnight Mug, liberating silverware from Leo’s, etc.] in peace!”

While Senators Obama and Clinton have indeed walked into the history books with their groundbreaking campaigns, that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I’m talking about is Hillary Clinton’s decision to forgo federal matching funding in both the nominating and general election campaigns. While many candidates have opted out of public financing for primary campaigns before, Sen. Clinton is the first to declare that she is capable of raising more than the $150 million that would be provided to her under the federal program for the 2008 primary and general campaign elections. Sen. Clinton’s decision to ask donors for a maximum donation of $4200 at this point in her campaign—rather than the $2100 maximum donation she would receive were she to accept federal matching funds in the general election—will set off a chain reaction among her opponents, making prospects difficult for candidates who aren’t capable of raising such huge sums on their own.

The federal matching funds program, introduced in 1976, works as follows:
-Any primary candidate who raises at least $100,000 in personal donations receives federal money to match the first $250 of each donation. For 2008, candidates could received matching grants of as much as $25 million for the primary season and about $15 million for a nomination convention.
-In the 2008 cycle, general election candidates could received up $83 million.

However, with Sen. Clinton’s decision to decline federal matching funds (with opponents expected to follow suit, although opponents including Sen. Obama declined to comment on any similar decision), analysts are expecting the two candidates who make it to the general election to raise more $500 million each—meaning a presidential campaign that will end up costing more than a billion dollars come November 2008.

Already, the New York Times is reporting that John McCain has begun to solicit private donations for both the primary and general elections, with the option of returning them. Sen. McCain, who has long been a proponent of campaign finance reform, removed his name as a co-sponsor of a bill to expand the presidential public financing program.

If the two frontrunners for their parties’ nominations—Clinton and McCain—do indeed make it Election Day 2008, we can say good-bye to the days of public financing. Candidates these days spend as much time fundraising as they do campaigning. This is positively absurd—do you think of any other position where you spend more to get the job than you make once you have it? Though the Supreme Court struck down spending caps on campaigns as an unconstitutional abridgment of your right to free speech, it is time to consider new alternatives for a broken system. What about lowering the donation threshold from, say, $2100, to $500? This would greatly increase the ability of your average Joe to participate as fully in the political process as his wealthier fellow citizens, and for all the ado that was made about Howard Dean’s ability to fundraise using small donations through the internet, the reality is that the majority of campaign funding still comes from influential donors who have as many votes as the rest of us do—one—but exercise outsize influence on democratic process. While I am by no means a proponent of full federal financing for all campaigns (the taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for vanity campaigns of candidates like the Rev. Al Sharpton), there must be a solution here. Our Founding Fathers—who considered it embarrassing to personally campaign for the presidency, let alone raise money for advertising—would be aghast at the feeding trough our presidential electoral system has become. Something must be done before this system gets even more out of hand—I want my vote to count just as much as anyone else’s, don’t you?


Just a quick report on last week's votes on HR 5 (student aid) and HR 6 (energy):

A group of Georgetown students went to the Hill for the vote on HR-5 last Wednesday night. The vote was incredibly successful, (and veto-proof- though what kind of a president would veto a vote making more kids able to go to college?) winning by a 356-71 vote margin. It was funny to see how many Republicans voted against the bill, realized it was going to pass in a landslide, and then changed their votes to yes. Now who's flip-flopping?

Afterwards we had a few words with my Congressman, Maurice Hinchey (NY-22). He was glad to see us there, and obviously happy about the outcome of the vote, but he made sure to let us know that this was really only the first step. He seemed cautiously hopeful about the possibility of progress, both from the Senate and in other methods of making college more affordable. We'll see what happens, but I expect both the College Dems and GULA (GU legislative advocates, for anyone not familiar with the group) to be highly involved, and hopefully change some stubborn Congressional minds.
Congressman John Hall (NY-19) was also very supportive of the bill, agreeing that tuition prices are really nothing short of outrageous.

HR 6- the "Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act," was not such a piece of cake for the Dems. The GOP first tried their now-traditional motion to recommit the bill (aka stall it in committee) which failed. Then they pulled out a new (well, old, but unexpected) trick, calling for a 3/5 majority vote because they claimed the bill ammended something about the tax code. I'm not really sure on the specifics, but the chairwoman pretty much shut them down. For anyone watching, it was actually kind of entertaining. She called for yea's and nay's, and when the shouting was almost exactly the same volume on each side, ruled in favor of the nay's, because she could. The Republicans were pretty angry, though, and appealed the ruling of the chair. The vote to table the appeal was then held, which passed by a margin of only 35 votes. When those shannanigans were over, the vote was held and the bill passed 264-163.

And that's all folks, for the 6 for '06. Let's see how the Senate does.

And, just for fun, check out how members of Congress voted on HR-6 by astrological sign.


You may have noticed a somewhat peculiar advertising supplement in the latest edition of the Hoya emblazoned with the title “Stop the Madness”. Though it is impossible to discern it from its rather ambiguous cover, this ad amounts to 12 pages of propaganda financed by the Human Life Alliance, published in conjunction with scores of other pro-life events taking place over the weekend, including the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life at Georgetown on Sunday. In case you missed it, here are a few highlights from this manipulative, sensationalist, fact-distorting document:

“Women are breaking through glass ceilings everywhere...Projections show that by 2014 women will surpass men in earning degrees at every educational level including doctoral. We have come too far to reduce women’s “rights” to mean the “right to kill our own children”.

“We might as well be ‘pro-choice’ on rape, child pornography, and prostitution.”

“As traumatic as rape is, abortion does not un-rape the mother. The baby doesn’t deserve to die for the crime of his or her father. Pat, a victim of rape, said, “In choosing to abort, to kill the innocent child growing within me, I lowered myself to the level of the rapist”

In response to the pro-choice objection, “I’m personally opposed, but I can’t tell others what to do”:

“What if US citizens had been willing to accept this justification for tolerating slavery?”

It also cites over 200 documented cases of women injured or killed by legal abortions (it does not specify over what period of time or the severity of the injuries), while failing to mention the thousands who died every year before Rowe v Wade when they were forced to seek illegal, unsafe methods.

It repeats the unsubstantiated claim that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, a favorite argument of the pro-life movement. Though not an outright lie, it is a horrible distortion of the facts: nursing a child, particularly at a young age, has been shown to reduce women’s’ risk of breast cancer. Thus, by their logic, by not having a child they are failing to reduce their risk, thus increasing it relative to women who gave birth. Tricky little bastards aren’t they?

Perhaps the most scurrilous claim put forth by this pro-life propaganda is the accusation that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, believed in eugenics and sought to eliminate the “negro population” of the United States. They even take a quote of hers out of context to solidify their claim: “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population...” (when she was actually explaining the need to train more African American doctors because they would be better trusted, and would help to dispel such misconceptions).
In actuality, Sanger sough to bring birth control to an underprivileged population which was often denied adequate health services, believing that uncontrolled fertility presented the greatest burden on the poor. Rather than a genocidal conspiracy, her Negro Project improved the quality of life for thousands and was endorsed by W.E.B. Dubois and Eleanor Roosevelt.

· In a segment titled ‘The Overpopulation Myth’, they not only deny that the world is overpopulated (as if anyone seriously advocates abortion for the sake of population control) but actually claim that we are facing (gasp) an under population crisis: “In 64 countries around the world today, including the U.S., the birth rate is below replacement level...we need to start looking at the problem of under population and the economic disaster that will occur as our population rapidly ages”. First of all, their argument only takes into account the birth rate, ignoring the crucial factor of immigration; the reason the United States does not face an economic crisis due to a dwindling population. Furthermore, the marginal population decrease in these largely developed, Western nations are more than compensated for by burgeoning population growth in nations such as India and China where there is, in fact, an overpopulation problem lowering the standard of living for all.

Well, that was cathartic.

Obviously, I have many problems with this piece of propaganda, but perhaps I am most bothered by the fact that the Hoya irresponsibly took advertising money form an organization that would spread falsehoods to the Georgetown student body, all the while knowing that the university’s policies prohibit the other side from getting a fair say. Of course, pro-lifers should have the ability to advocate for their cause on campus, and advertise in publications if they wish, but when the opposition is silenced, the anti-abortion lobby is able to get away with spreading such outrageous claims. Because the university does not allow viewpoints besides the Catholic position to be voiced equally on campus, the debate is reduced to this sort of propaganda on one side, and coat hangers in trees on the other, and the student body is hardly left well-informed as a result.


Zogby's Iowa Telephone Polling from January 15-16


Edwards 27%
Obama 17%
Vilsack 16%
Clinton 16%
Biden 3%
Kerry 3%
Kucinich 1%
Richardson 1%
Not sure 13%

Read the entire article on the John Edwards blog:


As some of you may know, today was a new day for the United States of America. For years, what we have seen in our nation is a reduction in our hope, our belief in a better future, our bond with our fellow Americans. What we have seen is a divided America, intolerant, disagreeable, angry, disappointed, and cynical. What we have seen is our loss of what it means to be an American.

It doesn't have to be that way. Senator Obama is a different kind of politician with a different notion of politics. He believes in the common good, that we all have a stake in each other's lives, that we must work to better all of our lives, that we are all in this grand experiment called America together. And whether you came over on slave ships, the Mayflower, the Bering Strait, or a transcontinental airliner, we are all in the same boat now.

Senator Obama's life is exactly why he understands where we as a country must go. He was born to a Kenyan father and a Kansan mother. He grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. He overcame economic adversity, drugs, the seduction of a life outside the law, and worked to go to college, graduating from Columbia University with a degree in International Relations. He could have gone anywhere after that, graduate school, law school, investment banking. He chose a different path. He became a community organizer, moving to Chicago, committing to a lower income, and working to help the impoverished, the homeless, the uneducated, and the despondent overcome the odds and achieve what is our country's greatest gift, the promise of the American Dream.

Senator Obama has spent ten years in public service, in the Illinois State Senate and now in the United States Senate. He hasn't passed budget supplementals, learned the powers of committee chairmen, or passed major reform. But in the Illinois State Senate, he fought for universal health care, writing a comprehensive bill to implement it in Illinois. He fought to eliminate poverty by cutting taxes, reform the death penalty by fixing our broken system of obtaining confessions, passed a law banning racial profiling, and increasing funds for education.

In the United States Senate, he has opened up the earmark process to full public disclosure, is the sponsor of the broadest ethics reform legislation in the history of the United States, championed a law to remove nuclear weapons from the hands of terrorists, and has sponsored new and innovative strategies to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and fight global warming. He has traveled to Kenya, inspiring millions to get tested for HIV/AIDS, and demonstrating that even a US Senator can get tested, with no fear of stigma. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Central Asia and the former Soviet Union, meeting with world leaders.

Senator Obama opposed the war in Iraq, and throughout 2002, he was a leader arguing that an invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq would be disastrous. He was right. Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards, and all the others running for the Democratic nomination for President supported the War in Iraq. They have admirably recanted, but what their decisions demonstrated was a lack of good judgment. Senator Obama had the foresight, the expertise, and the perspective of someone who had lived abroad, worked in local communities, and understood that an ill-conceived war based on fragile justifications was a recipe for the largest foreign policy blunder in our nation's history.

Senator Obama's strength lies in his detachment from the culture wars of the past. Senator Obama, unlike the politicians of the 1980's through today, rejects the idea that Americans are inevitably divided by values. He believes we all share the same core values that America has instilled in us, hard work, honesty, integrity, compassion, and hope. He has worked with both Democrats and Republicans, not to compromise our principles, but to get things done, bridge the divides, and make America a better place. He transcends the divisions, and is exactly the right man to be President at this time. As President, he will unite our country, renew American leadership and moral authority in the world, and reintroduce the American Dream to those who have lost all hope.

A brighter day is ahead of us, and you can join us at Students for Barack Obama or at Barack Obama's Presidential Campaign.

Watch this video.

And this one.


As the adrenaline from the midterm elections starts to die down and Democrats settle into the business of actually governing in Washington, the 2008 election season has already begun to ramp up.

Quick Political Updates:
-Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY), serving a second term as chair of the DSCC, has said that he has firm commitments from all but one of 12 Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2008 to run. Tom Harkin of Iowa remains the lone holdout, but in a caucus-going year, it seems likely that Harkin is just looking for a little good old fashioned butt-kissing before making the inevitable announcement that he will run again. If Harkin unexpectedly decides to opt out of the race, Iowa’s Senate seat will become competitive in 2008.

-Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland was chosen by Speaker Pelosi to head up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2008 cycle. Of the announcement, Roll Call reported that “While Van Hollen was seen as a favorite in the race to replace outgoing Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who said he would not serve another term, the Maryland lawmaker is not viewed as a Pelosi loyalist.” Van Hollen, who co-chaired the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program in the ’06 cycle, was elected to his seat in the affluent Washington suburbs by a very tight margin in 2002 following a hard-fought primary, defeating moderate Republican incumbent Connie Morella by 4%. Van Hollen was one of only 2 Democrats to unseat incumbent House Republicans in that cycle (he also benefited from 2000 redistricting that moved part of heavily African-American Prince George’s County into Maryland’s 8th District). An affable wonk known affectionately to members of his district simply as “Chris,” Van Hollen—who spoke to GUCD members at October’s general meeting—was chosen for the position over Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, an Emmanuel protégé who shares the Chicago native’s pit-bull attitude. Rahmbo said of the Van Hollen pick, “There is no one better prepared to take the reins of the DCCC than Congressman Van Hollen. Both his personal electoral experience and his leadership of the Red to Blue and recruitment efforts have shown that he is a political strategist and thinker of the first order.” (You can see his full statement here.)

-DNC Chair Howard Dean decided this week that the 2008 DNC presidential nominating convention will be held in Denver, Colorado. In choosing Denver over New York City, Chairman Dean made a strong political statement about the future of the Democratic Party, saying on Thursday that, “I have long believed that the essence of a Democratic victory goes through the West. If we are going to have a national party, we are going to have to have Westerners vote Democratic again on a reliable basis.” Though the Mountain West has been reliably Republican in recent presidential elections, the 2006 midterms showed a region that is trending increasingly blue. In 2004, Colorado had a Republican governor, a Republican legislature, and a 5-to-2 advantage in the state’s congressional delegation. Today, both houses of the state legislature as well as the governorship are in Democratic hands, and a majority (4 out of 7) of its congressional seats are held by Democrats. In 2004, Democrat Ken Salazar won a Colorado Senate seat that was previously held by a Republican. In nearby Montana, libertarian Democrat Jon Tester defeated GOP Sen. Conrad Burns in November, a victory that would have been unfathomable just a few years ago in the solidly red state. Today, the picture in the West is far different for Democrats, and Dean made an excellent political calculation in his long-delayed decision about where to hold the 2008 convention. Though the Denver bid had problems from the start—the city’s original bids were riddled with logistical problems, and labor unions threatened to rebel unless Denver began to unionize its hotels—any future electoral success for the Democrats will depend on recognizing the strong gains Democrats have made in the West. (A sidebar: Some in the party—such as UMBC political scientist Thomas Schaller in his influential new book “Whistling Past Dixie”—have even argued that Democrats should concede the “solid South” to the GOP and concentrate instead on winning votes in the Midwest and Western frontier. This is a dangerously extreme view that overlooks recent Democratic successes in the South. Besides the fact that the last two Democratic presidents have come from the South, Southern states were a sizable part of Democratic victories in 2006, providing prominent freshman Democrats like North Carolina’s Heath Shuler, and the 50 state strategy relies on the premise that Democrats will not concede a single state to the Republicans.)

-But we all know that all of this is just a side show to the real race in 2008: the race for the White House. The 2008 election will be the first time since 1952 that no sitting president or vice president will be running for the White House, representing a primary field that is wide-open in both parties. Though the Iowa caucus is still 356 days away, already a sizable field of contenders is shaping up. A quick glance at who’s in—and out—will be posted later today.