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According to the BBC and CNN, McCain is in for 2008. In case the exploratory committee didn't generate enough press. Additionally, there will be a formal announcement in "early April."

Damn it, just tell us you're running and let's be on with it.

I hate this ludicrous, multiple-announcement bit. At least Sen. Obama seemed to actually be considering it while his exploratory committee was operational. McCain has a third "official" announcement coming up, apparently, in April.

If you can't get press for something other than an announcement, you aren't worth the time anyway.

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Over at CBS News:

Thieves Break Into N.H. Dem Headquarters

No word if G. Gordon Liddy was involved yet, but in all likelihood, this was probably just some stupid kids. But who knows what tomorrow's news cycle will bring?

On the other hand, if this is somehow tied to major Republicans, I still have my doubts. if the Iraq War, WMDs, Abu Ghraib, Valerie Plame, Katrina, Gitmo, and a complete lack of accountability aren't enough to bring down this administration, I have a hard time believing that "breaking and entering" is going to ever get the job done.

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I like Al Gore. He's a nice guy, obviously very intelligent, a good politician, very experienced, and pretty funny. He also made a great movie and was smart enough to be against Iraq from the start, and he probably has more domestic, foreign policy, legislative, and executive experience than anyone currently running for President. Hell, he was even elected President already!

But I just can't get excited about him. Maybe it's because while I certainly believe that we need to seriously protect our environment and invest in renewable energy, the environment and global warming is not among the top issues for me.

But on a more important note, why would anyone want Al Gore to be President, not that he wouldn't be a very good one, but what urge do you have for him to run, say over someone like Gary Hart or Mario Cuomo or any of the older, more experienced, smart, and great old hands of the Democratic party who have been out of it for a while. Why Al Gore?

Seriously, tell me.

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Finally, it seems as if the Democrats will receive some much needed help in the next election, and ironically, it could come from the conservative right. In an article in Saturday, February 24th edition of the New York Times, a secretive right-wing group called the Council for National Policy is still looking for a promising candidate. The candidates they're looking at are Senator Sam Brownback and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, both which have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the Republican nomination.

While it certainly isn't time to pop champagne corks, the conservative right has become more and more important in the Republican Party in both money and manpower. If someone like McCain or Giuliani becomes the Republican nominee, than their very right-sided view of Iraq will probably split moderates, while their views on social issues (Giuliani) or disdain for the far-right (McCain) could keep the religious republicans home, and the importance of these people in the last presidential election has been stated numerous times. So let's just hope that the in-fighting continues.

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With Vilsack dropping out of the race, the fundamental dynamics of the race for 2008 have changed. Vilsack was never a big player, but the fact that he was from Iowa had a chance of putting one of the three frontrunners in a devastating fourth place finish.

No longer is that possible. With Vilsack out, Hillary, Obama, and Edwards will surely each place in the top three, meaning Iowa is now a less decisive state, since no one will be eliminated or severely weakened by Iowa. The field will merely be sorted.

With Iowa and New Hampshire likely to each move up a week, Nevada actually becomes more important, and so do New Hampshire and South Carolina. If any of the top three win in Iowa, it may or may not give them momentum into New Hampshire, which will likely give Obama or Clinton a win. If Clinton were to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, I think there is really no chance of preventing her steamroll to the nomination. But if Edwards or Obama wins in Iowa, and Obama wins in New Hampshire, Nevada becomes a contest between Obama and Edwards and South Carolina a contest between all three candidates. Even if Biden or Richardson or Dodd were to win second or third in any of these contests, the sheer number (approaching 20 now) of states with wealthy media markets on February 5th eliminate the chance of any of the second tier candidates winning without coming in first in one of the first four states. With the possibility that Florida could move up to the middle of January, that will probably boost Clinton, and give her a delegate lead heading into February 5th.

February 5th could, if Clinton wins the first four or five contests, be a coronation. If the top three split the first four or five states, I think you are likely to see Clinton emerge with a delegate lead but just barely, with Obama winning a huge chunk of delegates and Edwards taking a number of states himself.

With this split decision, each of the other second tier candidates will drop out and Edwards, Clinton, and Obama will split up the rest of February's winnings until the minnier Super Tuesday on March 6th.

That day will likely see Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maryland take center stage, and you can expect Obama and Edwards to do better than Clinton in those states.

We are then likely to see no candidate emerging with a majority of delegates and head into the August convention with no clear winner. There will be a convention fight and after one or two ballots, Edwards, who I think will come in third, will throw his support to Obama and give him the nomination over Clinton.

I know this seems biased, but I think that unless Clinton wins Iowa and New Hampshire, this is the situation that will play out. Tell me what you think.

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With Tom Vilsack dropping out of the race, I have become dismayed. As a democratic moderate, I have seen candidate after candidate drop out of the race. First I volunteered for former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, who dropped out of the race for family reasons. Next came Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, who dropped out probably because of a bleak future at fundraising. Finally, we've come to Mr. Vilsack, who was not as moderate as the other two, but nonetheless was in my opinion the only one who had sofar taken clear strong stances.

The need for a moderate candidate may not seem so obvious for more liberal-minded people, but this party is a very large part moderate now. We see candidates who regularly tote the party line, but I don't see a declared candidate who can stand a chance in states in the South, the Rockies, or the Prarie States to Republicans like McCain and Giuliani. Being in constant communication with people back home in Ohio (and from a very conservative 2nd district), the only democratic candidate that even sparks any interest is Senator Obama, but I doubt that his amazing rhetorical ability will be able to see him through to election.

As for the future, well, I only see one candidate that even peaks my interest. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico would be the best moderate candidate available. He's fiscally and economically smart, creating job growth and lowering unemployment, and began turning around a state that chronically lags behind in virtually every category, from health care to teacher's salaries. Even Steve Forbes, President and CEO of Forbes, inc., has lavished praise on Governor Richardson. His amazing foreign policy record doesn't hurt either (4 Nobel Peace Prize nominations and being former US Ambassador to the UN will give him more than enough credibility). But enough of my dreaming. He'll probably drop out too.

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Tom Vilsack dropped out of the race for President today.

I was not a fan of Tom Vilsack, he was a good man, and I hear, from my Iowa sources, a good governor. But he was not particularly inspiring, and I never considered lending him my support.

But I do regret his decision to leave the race. Tom Vilsack was the only serious candidate advocating for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and a cutoff of funding for the war by Congress. He was the only one committed to a carbon-neutral campaign for President, and the candidate with probably the most comprehensive understanding of energy policy, his pet policy.

He couldn't continue the race because of money. With more than two-thirds of the state either already moved up or planning to move up their primaries and caucuses to a six week window between January 1st and February 15th, you would need approximately $50 million cash on hand in January 2008 and probably having raised over $100 million by 2008 to be truly competitive for the nomination.

These are absurd amounts of money, and they rise exponentially each cycle, with the money increasingly going into television advertising that has been proven to have less and less effect on fewer and fewer voters each cycle.

This presidential race is a mess. We need to completely reform the way we run campaigns and hold elections in this country, and we need to do it now.

We need to make some new laws that reform our system, but more importantly, we need to have politicans and political professionals change the way they do business. We need to stop using television advertising. We need to spread out the primary calendar, by having both parties agree to a new timeframe. We need to focus more on real debate, about real ideas and policies and stop having useless debates with time limits and rules.

We've lost our politics, and in a lot of ways, the American soul. If good guys like Tom Vilsack can't run for President because they can't raise the money, then we have a problem. McCain-Feingold was a disaster. We need a public financing system that requires candidates to use a limited amount of taxpayer money and reduces the costs of campaigns. If we need to pass a constitutional amendment to do it, then so be it, but we cannot keep doing what we're doing.

Fifty years ago, candidates for Congress could upset long-term incumbents with $50,000 in today's dollars. Now, you need at least $2 million bucks. That's not right.

The internet provides a new, low-cost method for candidates to use to get their message out. Candidates should use it more and rely on it more to promote themselves and use television less, considering that most people, because of TiVo or Cable or just a general tuning out of commercials really won't be affected by TV ads anymore. For God's sake, most people under the age of 30 barely watch actual television anymore, I know that I basically watch all my TV shows on the internet.

And I really hope that the Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Richardson, Dodd, and Biden campaigns can mutually agree to raise and spend less than $50 million total over the next year. It's just not a fair fight when Clinton and Obama have $100 million and Edwards has $70 million dollars and Richardson, Biden, and Dodd have only $20 million. That's just not a contest anymore.

Give me your suggestions on how to fix the system.

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Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are in a cat fight! As Kramer would say, maybe they'll start kissing!

Kucinich auditioned in Nevada (make sure you pronounce it right or you'll be Stephanopoulosed) yesterday to be Spinning-Instructor-in-Chief.

Mike Gravel has a $250 suit. When asked whether it was made by American workers, he said it was made in the land of has-beens and long-shots.

Bill Richardson wants Democrats to run a positive campaign. Didn't he get this memo?

Al Gore will win the Oscar for Best Documentary on Sunday. When asked what he will wear, he said it would be a carbon-neutral Gucci see-through dress.

Prince Harry wants to go to Abu Ghraib prison when he gets to Iraq. He hears the sex there is kinkier than at Buckingham palace.

That's a wrap!

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As of today, February 20, 2007, we have less than 700 days until Bush/Cheney leave office.

January 20, 2009: The End of an Error.

Good luck on midterms!

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Like many Georgetown students this week, I attended the 41st annual North American Invitational Model UN; despite being a mouthful, I found the conference a great opportunity to mix with kids much younger than me and perhaps a little more na├»ve, perhaps a bit more jaded. Chairing NATO was an enjoyable enterprise, but on the last day I was startled by one of the high schooler’s comments, apparently, Mr. Norway thought it inappropriate to speak out against the surge, apparently it was un-American to provoke thoughtful discussion. While I myself acknowledged that our alternatives are limited and grim; we can pull-out unilaterally (much as we went in) and destabilize the Middle East, we can entrench ourselves in our very own quagmire, or we could devlove power to the Iraqis (which worked oh so well in Vietnam); the only way to solve this problem is for the best and the brightest (including little high school model uners) to intelligently discuss, criticize, and question current policy.

The fact that a 17 year old could be so despondent, so dejected, so jaded and unthinking, and so unwilling to live out the virtues of free expression indicates a growing lack of faith and instrumentation in our own democracy. Unfortunately, this new age of partisan polarity and animosity produces too many outlooks such as this. You are either with us or with the terrorists. Democracy is premised on nuance, there are varying shades of grey on issues like abortion, welfare, and of course, Iraq. Am I providing aid and comfort to the terrorists by arguing against a failed policy in Iraq? I surely think not. Is Jack Murtha a hedonistic America hater because he wants to prevent the surge, the countless unnecessary deaths, the pain and torment of one more flag draped coffin? No, he is fighting for what he believes in. Am I exercising my rights as an American citizen to convincingly articulate the errors and falsities in our policy? I think so.

So, herein lies the rub. Since Bush spoke before Congress three days after 9/11 (September 14, 2001) the war on terror or Islamo-fascism as Tony Snow has taken to calling it, has been an us vs. them battle (think Heart of Darkness, if you will). Is this an existential fight? Yes, it certainly is; concurrent with Huntington’s somewhat bellicose thesis, we may be seeing the opening salvo of the Clash of Civilizations. Nevertheless, it cannot and should not be so simple as you are either with ‘us’ or with them. This is a fight for the very essence of our democracy. If we extol the virtues of democracy in Iraq and yet subvert its basic premise by calling everyone in opposition un-American we seem to compromise our own moral and ideological standing, we also let the terrorists win (the want us to shudder in fear, they want to end our way of life as we know it, they want to do away with democracy and institute a new age caliphate--they've succeeded to certain degrees in all of these aspects).

I may not agree with Bush’s policy, I find it incomplete, idiotic, and useless, but I do support our troops. One of my friends from high school has been to Anbar twice, 20 and traumatized, he will never be the same, even assuming he comes back in one piece. But, we need to have a thoughtful discussion about these resolutions before filibustering non-binding resolutions of protest, before head-longedly launching into another Vietnam and losing another generation to the genocidal rampages of war. Iraq and the larger War on Terror are moral issues and speech and writing are our best methods of protest; no one should be silenced.

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My favorite Senate race this year will be in Minnesota, where one of my favorite comedians and now politicians, announced today that he will be taking on turncoat Republican Norm Coleman. Coleman used to be a Democrat who switched parties and has turned seriously conservative since he beat Walter Mondale in 2002 after Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash in October 2002.

Wellstone was a great man, who believed passionately in progressive values, and was quite inspirational right up to death. Coleman's tenure in the Senate has been dissimilarly unremarkable, with him taking a back seat to other Republican Senators and voting the White House agenda 90% of the time since he's been in the Senate. This coming from a guy who only took 49.5% of the vote in 2002 after his opponent died and a washed-up former Vice President ran with only two weeks to campaign. Bush lost Minnesota, which has the record of being the longest-standing Democratic state in the nation, by more than five points in 2004. Minnesota hasn't voted for a Republican for President since the 1972 Nixon landslide. Amy Klobuchar cleaned up in 2006, beating GOP poster boy Mark Kennedy by 22 points.

People say Franken can't win, but he is extremely intelligent (he went to Harvard), grew up in Minnesota (something Norm Coleman did not do, he grew up in New York), and will be able to raise boatloads of cash. Franken connects with Minnesotans who have a quirky Midwestern populist streak, and will be formidable.

Watch this video and I think you'll understand why I think that Franken will be the next Senator from Minnesota.

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“The term genocide is counter to the facts of what is really occurring in Darfur.” -Andrew Natsios, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, addressing Georgetown students last week

I’m not sure what “facts” Mr. Natsios is looking at, but this is just not the case. The reality is that the situation in the Sudan is as dire as ever, with the region on the brink of collapse. Government-sponsored Janjaweed militias are using rape, starvation, and mass murder to systematically kill more than 400,000 innocent people and displace 2.5 million more. U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahltstrom has said that the situation only continues to worsen and frequent attacks on international workers make it nearly impossible to provide relief and aid to the victims. Last month, 14 U.N. aid agencies working to provide relief in Darfur warned that their operations would collapse if security did not improve.

Enough talk, Mr. Natsios, and a little more action. Even if the Bush Administration cares little about the plight of the Sudanese, there is action even we can take to end the government-sponsored genocide in Darfur. 62% of Americans think Darfur should be a priority, and there is one major way average Americans can take the lead President Bush has not: Write your elected officials and encourage them to divest from Sudan and its supporters. Divestment campaigns helped lead to the collapse of apartheid in South Africa in the 1990s, and is one of the best ways organizations and individuals can produce real change.

Six states and over 30 universities (including Georgetown) have sold investments relating to Sudan. Sudan relies heavily on foreign investment to fund the genocide (as much as 80% of the oil revenue in the country goes to fund the military), and the Sudanese government has shown a historic responsiveness to economic pressure.

For more information, visit SudanDivestment.org.

It is already too late for too many in Darfur. Let’s put an end to this genocide before millions more must suffer.

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So I surfed on over to Obama's campaign site last night, and what made me happiest (apart from the intriguing sun-rising-on-the-US/jello-mold logo) was the bottom of his page. His staffers, I remarked to my friend in delight, are actually on to something. The first link is a button to Facebook, the second is to the DNC's Party Builder. After the natural "register to vote" link, there are links to YouTube and Flickr. "What a brilliant political move!" I boggled. My friend noted that he's also giving groups space to blog and come together on his own site (see the Georgetown Students for Obama group she created). It seems like he's actually taking advantage of Web 2.0 and emerging social media. That, after all, is the only way to play it. *

There are lots of people on the internet who want to elect him; refusing to harness that would be a fatal mistake for him. And the bulk of the internet literati today are hanging out in Web 2.0 places: blogs, social networking sites, wikis, other user-generated content. He can't rely only on Dean's strategy -- four years is dozens of decades in internet time. But he also simply cannot overlook the power of the modern internet.

To me, it looks promising so far. At the same time, however, it's also caught cautious-to-negative attention from bloggers, and has caused people to draw comparisons of being like the 1960 Nixon/Kennedy TV-based race. I'm not sure whether that is a result of these bloggers being insecure about having their own internet-space being infringed upon by not-quite-as-savvy-as-them politicians, or if it's something else -- but the development of Web 2.0 in political campaigns is certainly something to keep an eye on in these next few months.

* Clinton, it seems, has only just begun to look into this new medium of communication -- her site offers an opportunity to do "guest blogging" (the posts are first screened, however), and as far as I can tell, nothing else by way of generating user interaction and investment in the campaign. Disappointing.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a Giuliani or McCain (as I understand it, they are the primary Republican candidates at this point) campaign site to compare them.

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This is a segment that has been shamelessly ripped off from Keith Olbermann’s Countdown on MSNBC. I will document the week’s dirtiest, scummiest, creepiest – in short, worst – people in the news. Use the comment thread to post some nominations of your own.

On a side note, I'd like to apologize for the long break I've taken from posting. But I've got some extra tidbits today and I'm posting a day early to make up for it. There, not you can't get angry at me. And now, without further ado…

Worst Person in the World!

This week's runner up (aka, "Worse" person in the world), is William Roderick of Reedsport, Oregon. Roderick has been charged with assault, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana after shooting a snorkeler in the face. The snorkeler, John William Cheesman, is doing well after 8 hours of surgery. Why, you might ask, would somebody shoot a random snorkeler in the face? Good question. According to the AP: "Roderick told deputies he thought Cheesman was a nutria swimming in the Smith River near Reedsport, about 90 miles southwest of Eugene, and shot him with a .22-caliber rifle."

A nutria? Apparently, Roderick mistook the unfortunate snorkeler for one of these:


Okay, well, now we understand where those drug charges came from...

But moving now to international affairs,

This week’s winner is Australian Prime Minister John Howard! On Sunday, the conservative PM said in a television interview that he disagreed with Illinois Senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama's plan for Iraq. In typical conservative fashion, Howard was understated and reasonable:

"I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory...If I were running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats."

Classy.

Obama's campaign pulled no punches in their response, describing Howard's comments as a mischaracterization of Obama's Iraq plan. They added,

"If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home. It's easy to talk tough when it's not your country or your troops making the sacrifices."

Nicely done, Obama camp.

Disclaimer: Although this post contains praise of Barack Obama, I am not currently in the employ of his campaign or any youth-based, Obama-focused organization. As many posters on this blog post about their "choice" (read: employer) for 2008, I felt that perhaps the unaffiliateds should instead be posting disclaimers. That way, at least someone is. :)

Well, that's it for now. See you next week, when we once again find the Worst Person in the World!

In the meantime, everybody, keep peaceful.

And whatever you do, take care of your shoes.

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(Note: This is a repost of Ryan Guptil's earlier blog post after the original was vandalized.)

Our fair city has been awash with language politics in the past few weeks as the President Bush and his administration’s spinmeisters have been pushing a wildly unpopular plan to increase troop levels in Iraq. First they termed the plan “a surge” of 21,500 extra troops. As “surge” became a rallying cry for the President’s opponents, the plan became “anaugmentation” of U.S. forces. By the State of the Union speech, the President had simply decided to send “reinforcements.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice even quarreled with Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Vietnam veteran, in a Senate hearing when he characterized the Bush administration’s proposed troop increase as an“escalation.”

Ignoring the subtleties of language politics, tens of thousands took to the National Mall last Sunday, joining military and foreign policy experts, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and the vast majority of the American people in opposing the escalation. They believed that, as former New York Governor and potential Republican presidential candidate George Pataki stated in a speech at Georgetown last week, “by anyreasonable view” the President’s plan is not realistic and will not bring a lasting peace to Iraq. It is that fundamental fact which dooms the President’s plan, regardless of what he chooses to call it.

When military leaders surged U.S. troops in to Baghdad in a prior attempt to pacify the city, the only was result was increased resentment among Iraqis and to even more violence. The surge will put an even greater strain on U.S. forces that a recent Pentagon report said were already “stretched to the breaking point.”

The administration’s plan is contingent on the false hope that more U.S. troops will somehow lead to a new political and security effort by the desperately weak government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Simply adding more troops into the conflict without setting out a clear plan for leaving Iraq keeps al-Maliki in power without giving him any real incentive to tackle the deep sectarian conflicts that are tearing his country apart. Instead, he can rely on an indefinite U.S. troop commitment to prop him up and can thus avoid taking the politically difficult steps necessary to bring a stable political environment to his strife-ridden nation. Without a clear plan for a phased-redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq forcing the Iraqi government to act, there is little hope that Iraqi leaders will take action to stabilize their nation.

In addition, the President stubbornly refuses to accept the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and others who have called for negotiations with Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran and Syria. Despite what the Study Group’s report calls “the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq,” the President continues to put American lives at risk by refusing to even consider negotiations. Instead of engaging in a tough — but constructive — dialogue that could reduce violence in Iraq, the President has been increasing tensions with Syria and particularly Iran with provocative rhetoric and veiled threats of military action.

Without a true political solution in Iraq and a broader diplomatic effort to bring regional powers to the table, the only guarantee offered by the President’s plan is that 21,500 more brave young Americans will be caught in the crossfire of an increasingly bloody civil war without any end in sight. Instead of pushing for more troops in Iraq, the President should be considering a plan offered by Democrats to strategically redeploy U.S. troops out of Iraq over the next six months.

Redeployment would end the culture of dependency in Iraqi military and political circles, forcing the Iraqis to step up and take responsibility for their destiny. Some U.S. troops would still be in the region, however, able to support Iraqi military operations and go after specific terrorist targets. Redeployment would also deprive the insurgents of their main rallying cry — that they are fighting a Western occupier intent on controlling the nation. Simultaneous U.S. with the redeployment, there would be a new “diplomatic surge” aimed at bringing regional and international partners into the process of stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq.

Democrats are offering a way forward in Iraq and way to start bringing our troops home. The President should stop squabbling over terminology and seriously consider the Democratic alternative. If he doesn’t, the U.S. will be left open-ended commitment to a prop up a failed state in the most turbulent region of the world. We will pay dearly for such a commitment, with tax dollars and with the lives of soldiers. The only word for that would be “disaster.”

(Post by Ryan Guptil.)

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It is practically a truism to note that Georgetown students are busy people. In fact, between the time spent on classes, jobs, internships, pre-gaming, post-gaming, gaming, and facebook, we run the risk of missing out on the important things in life.

Of course, I’m talking about reading the Federalist. Some of you may not have even noticed that their 1 year anniversary edition is out on newstands (actually, the ground) this week. But have no fear! To help counteract the fact that “reality has a well-known liberal bias”, I’ve decided to offer some highlights from this month’s issue, to ensure that you don’t miss out on your recommended dose of Grade-A conservative bullshit:

Page 4
Lest you mistakenly think that Take Back Georgetown Day was a failure this year:
“The TBGD board decided to shift the focus of the event a bit, away from the big name speakers and toward a smaller, more personal, event ...Hopefully, this smaller event will provide a more comfortable setting to allow students and outsiders the opportunity to express their views and collaborate together.” That makes perfect sense, and in no way sounds like an excuse for the failure to attract big name speakers, respectable attendance levels, or at least rename a bench in honor of Ronald Reagan.

Page 5
Muslims are taking over Europe!

“We must channel the unity, charity, and strength the American people showed in the aftermath [of 9/11], rather than the virulent partisan hackery that has become the norm.” They certainly have a point here: I, too, long for that halcyon age after 9/11 when President Bush brought the nation together, overcoming partisan divisions by working in a conciliatory manner and engaging in a civilized discourse that respected all points of view. But then the Democrats got elected....

Page 6
On this page (entitled ‘Opinion’ in order to differentiate it from the fine objective journalism displayed in the rest of the issue) they argue that it is hypocritical of liberals to call for humanitarian intervention to stop the genocide in Darfur while at the same time criticizing Bush for sending troops into Iraq. Apparently the situations are indistinguishable...if you ignore the fact that Iraq was not a humanitarian crisis expected to claim from 200,000 to 500,000 lives, and that Saddam Hussein’s genocidal actions, such as the chemicals weapons attack that killed 5,000 Kurds, were performed in the 80s, when his regime had the support of the Reagan and Bush administrations. I for one, find no inconsistency in the conviction that our soldiers lives are valuable, and should only be put in harms way to preserve human life and address grave threats to national security, and even then only after carefully planning the operation and examining the situation to avoid carelessly wasting human life based on false intelligence. But thats why I’m a liberal hypocrite.

Stayed tuned for part 2, when the Federalist will try to exploit the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Obama has quit smoking to run for President. Now, there's a man who is in it to win it!

Also, check out this video from Students for Barack Obama's rally for Senator Obama this past Friday at George Mason University. If you look to the far right of the screen, you may see me wearing a brown Georgetown shirt.

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Everyone asks me, why do I support Obama? It's a legitimate question to ask. After all, what has he done in the US Senate after only two years to warrant that he would be a great presidential candidate? I could list the list of bills he's sponsored, he's authored, he's passed. I could talk about his speech on faith, his speech at the DNC in 2004, how he has demonstrated tremendous leadership of example in his trips around the world and in the US.

But those aren't the reasons why I support him. In the end, people can make their own judgments about why a Presidential candidate should get their support. But for me, it's quite simple. I want a President who can analyze policy, synthesize complicated solutions, and articulate an argument to the Congress, the media, the American people, and the World about why it should be implemented.

Intelligence is a key ingredient for me in my selection of a Presidential candidate. I don't doubt that John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, or Tom Vilsack are intelligent or competent, they surely are. Some of them may even know more about particular policy issues that Senator Obama.

But Obama is the full package on intelligence. He reads voraciously, and he has very clearly studied great works of philosophy, literature, history, and theology. He understands the Constitution the way that a constitutional scholar would. He talks about foreign policy the way an analyst at the Defense Department would. He understands health care policy the way a hospital administrator would. He can talk about education the way a teacher or a principal can.

Obama said on an episode of Oprah in October that the most important quality that his mother impressed on him was empathy. She told Obama to constantly understand how other people felt, to step in their shoes, to look through their eyes, to understand what they feel, what they think, and why they act the way they do. Obama approaches every issue from that perspective, he understands people in a gut way, the way Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman, and Franklin Roosevelt had the power of empathy.

I just finished a long argument with a friend of mine who is a conservative Republican, a Navy ROTC student, and a very smart kid. We talked about the surge in Iraq and what we thought the best solution to the situation would be. We didn't fight, we didn't yell, we talked calmly, and we didn't interrupt each other, something many of you probably thought I couldn't do.

But my friend and me spoke about American interests, about what we thought our nation really needed, about security in Baghdad, about terrorism, about regional catastrophe. We talked about soldiers on Haifa Street in Baghdad and how an Iraqi unit that was embedded with them accidentally fired on the Americans. We talked about cultural norms in Iraq, about increasing CIA personnel, about increasing the number of Arabic linguists in our Baghdad embassy. We discussed troop levels, but more importantly, we talked about command structure and strategic mission.

This was not a conversation I think most presidential candidates would have. Most would get too frustrated early on, give up, and stick to their position, and probably go over to another person who completely agrees with them and talk about how smart they are. They wouldn't argue, they would listen to the other side, they wouldn't challenge themselves to understand that what the other side has to say is legitimate and that we both just see things a little differently, but that when we listen and talk to one another, we may both come a little closer together in what we think.

I didn't walk away from my conversation with my friend agreeing with the idea of a surge, nor did he come away agreeing that we should redeploy to Iraq's perimeter and change our strategy. But we agreed that the President and the Democratic majorities in Congress should get off their asses and read details about what's happening there, that they should talk and agree together on what ideas are best for the situation in Iraq, that the State and Defense departments should get along for once, that we should try different political strategies in the reconciliation process. None of these ideas are certain to work, and we both agreed on that. But what I really got out of that conversation is an understanding of what my conservative friend thought and why he thought it.

He believed that security fundamentally comes first, and I believed that political reconciliation clearly precedes any advancement in security goals. He believed we had an interest in ending the Iraqi civil war, and I believed our interest lay in preventing a regional war. But we walked away from that conversation with a slightly different perspective, not exactly from each other's eyes, but closer than we had understood each other before.

I don't want our next President to dismiss the other point of view. I also don't want our next President to give in to the other side because it is politically expedient. I want our next President to believe in some strong, core principles and then talk to the other side, learn from them, step into their shoes, and come to an agreeable solution that can produce the smartest, most productive policy.

I've read Senator Obama's two books, I've listened to all of his major speeches, I subscribe to his podcast, and I read his bills. I've done the same for all of the other candidates. But what I see differently from Senator Obama and the other candidates is that the other candidates seem to not really agree with what they're saying. It's either written by a political operative, with views that are different from the views of the candidate, or by a policy wonk that seems to overwhelm the understanding that the candidate has about the issue.

When Senator Obama speaks or writes, he knows what he's talking about. He makes sure of it. He hungers for intellectual discourse, and wants to question his own beliefs constantly. He is an intellectual heavyweight. He wants to talk to the other side, he wants to be convinced of the best policy. He knows what his convictions are, but he's not beholden to a particular policy just because people are for it. He wants to go farther, he wants to be better, he wants to challenge the conventional wisdom and the talking points and delve deeper.

What else should we expect from the President of the United States?

You may not agree, you may think that I haven't provided sufficient information about why Obama is all of the things I just talked about. Maybe it is gut instinct, maybe it is real. But what I am sure of is that my gut, my heart, and my brain tell me that the other candidates, while great, are not the whole enchilada. Neither is Senator Obama, but I think he's closer to it than anyone I've seen in politics in my lifetime.

That's what I think, in all honesty and simplicity. Make up your own mind, but consider the standards you have for a candidate and truly evaluate them, and think, just a little bit, about when a crisis with a country arises, or when a Hurricane hits a major American city, how will that react? Will they rise above the politics, grasp the nation by the hand, inspire us, think deeply about what has happened, pursue alternatives, and choose the smartest policy there is, or will they give up and give in?

That is the test. Obama has passed mine.

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