Link round-up, since I lack the energy for full entries on all these things.
Obama's Supporters Organize on FISA
I had no idea that the protest group on Obama's website had grown to almost nine thousand people. It was about 1,500 when I joined. No wonder the damn listserv was clogging my inbox. o_o
Proving that you can both support a candidate and hold him or her accountable, a major effort by grassroots activists within the Obama campaign is asking for his support in opposing the bad FISA Amendments Act, and particularly, telco amnesty.
This effort shows two things: the always-expanding power of the Internet for organizing. We knew at the outset what a powerful tool the tubes were going to present, but the new iterations that people create on a daily basis is fantastic (and another reason for the Net Neutrality fight to be rejoined full force when we have our new president and Congress).
It also shows that you can fully support Barack Obama and still disagree with him on issues. That being a supporter, particularly a netroots supporter, doesn't mean setting aside your own beliefs and principles. We're not supposed to just shut up when we disagree--if we do, we're setting a very bad precedent for our role in a potential Obama presidency.
The real story on Obama's "faith-based initiatives" stance
Ignore the false claims by the AP that Obama is supporting the rights of faith-based groups to discriminate and keep their federal dollars too.
Anticipating criticism from the left, Obama said: “I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea — so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.”
The Obama campaign released plans saying his new President's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, working within the White House, “will work to engage faith-based organizations and help them abide by the principles that federal funds cannot be used to proselytize, that they should not discriminate in providing their services, and they should be held to the same standards of accountability as other federal grant recipients.”
How to market Obama to your Republican friends
Most Republicans' biggest gripe with their own party - by far - is its failure to control the bureaucracy and reign in runaway federal spending and deficits. It is useful to mention that while the last five (5) Republican Presidents promised fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets, all of them grew discretionary civilian spending by tremendous amounts, and ran up ever larger deficits. Meanwhile, only Pres. Bill Clinton balanced the federal budget, and produced four years of surpluses, with the same forecast long into the indefinite future. A big problem with the federal budget is that almost nobody knows where all the money is going; its easy to add earmarks and pork barrel spending and special interest giveaways when the people back home cant tell the difference. Sen. Barack Obama's major legislative accomplishment in the Senate, the The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 has been to bring transparency to federal spending. Send your Republican friends to http://www.federalspending.gov which his legislation created, a veritable "Google of the Federal Budget", where anyone can research every dollar to see where their tax money is actually going. The whole Federal Rathole is now online, for the first time ever, inviting scrutiny from whoever has the patience to slog through it all. You dont have to be a CPA to realize that this does more in the long run to control wasteful federal spending than all the speeches Bush, Bush, Reagan, Ford, and Nixon ever gave on the subject, put together.
Obama Win Offers Brand America a Global Lift
The U.S. would profit globally from a failed Obama presidency more than it would from a successful McCain presidency.
That's the sort of provocative, but plausible, statement that lies at the heart of the famous Oxford Union debates.
Then take it up with Kunal Basu, an Indian-born, U.S.- educated, Oxford University professor who examines how corporate reputations are made and broken. He argues that America's badly damaged brand around the world, one that has changed the course of human history, has never been about its military superiority, its economic-growth rates or even its innovative spirit.
``Where the U.S. has really been on the leading edge has been not technology but morality,'' he says. Its very existence has been constructed around freedom of religion, speech and other individual choices, and the ground-breaking ideal that all humans were created equal.
``Now it has the chance to re-establish itself there again,'' he says. ``The fact that the most powerful nation in the world could again be the most moral would be transformative. The world needs it.''
Reputation, a matter of the most enormous value for companies and individuals alike, is hard to establish but easy to lose. The same is true of countries.
With Abu Ghraib torture photos, Guantanamo Bay's stain on due process, and the U.S.'s perceived ineffectiveness from Iraq to Hurricane Katrina, Brand America is hurting bad.
I'm linking this article because I'm mentioned in it.
I actually got a facebook message from some MSNBC reporter wanting to interview me as well, but she needed to do it that day and alas... I don't check facebook on a daily basis.
Jeff Strabone of Brooklyn now signs credit card receipts with his newly assumed middle name, while Dan O’Maley of Washington, D.C., jiggered his e-mail account so his name would appear as “D. Hussein O’Maley.” Alex Enderle made the switch online along with several other Obama volunteers from Columbus, Ohio, and now friends greet him that way in person, too.
Mr. Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim. Hussein is a family name inherited from a Kenyan father he barely knew, who was born a Muslim and died an atheist. But the name has become a political liability. Some critics on cable television talk shows dwell on it, while others, on blogs or in e-mail messages, use it to falsely assert that Mr. Obama is a Muslim or, more fantastically, a terrorist.
“I am sick of Republicans pronouncing Barack Obama’s name like it was some sort of cuss word,” Mr. Strabone wrote in a manifesto titled “We Are All Hussein” that he posted on his own blog and on dailykos.com.
So like the residents of Billings, Mont., who reacted to a series of anti-Semitic incidents in 1993 with a townwide display of menorahs in their front windows, these supporters are brandishing the name themselves.
And perhaps the most important one of all. An entry on DailyKos about Obama's legislative record.
Here are a couple of the article's examples:
The Lugar-Obama Cooperative Threat Reduction.
Introduced by Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Dick Lugar and Sen. Tom Coburn.
First introduced in November 2005 and enacted in 2007, this bill expanded upon the successful Nunn-Lugar threat reduction, which helped secure weapons of mass destruction and related infrastructure in former Soviet Union states.
Lugar-Obama expanded this nonproliferation program to conventional weapons -- including shoulder-fired rockets and land mines. When the bill received $48 million in funding, Obama said, "This funding will further strengthen our ability to detect and intercept illegal shipments of weapons and materials of mass destruction, enhancing efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism."
Honest Leadership and Open Government Act
In the first month of the 110th Congress, Obama worked with Sen. Russ Feingold to pass this law, which amends and strengthens the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.
Specificially, the changes made by Obama and Feingold requires public disclosure of lobbying activity and funding, places more restrictions on gifts for members of Congress and their staff, and provides for mandatory disclosure of earmarks in expenditure bills.
The House passed the bill, 411-8, on July 31. The Senate approved it, 83-14, on Aug. 2. At the time, Obama called it "the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate."