Clinton demands to be re-seated at National Spelling Bee

WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is protesting her elimination from the 2008 Scripps Howard Quayle National Spelling Bee.

Clinton misspelled credential in the first round of the two-day competition, spelling it C-R-I-D-E-N-C-H-I-L-L.

"It's unfair that among the 12 remaining spellers, some are from caucus states. They shouldn't count," said Clinton, who last year misspelled caucus K-A-H-K-I-S-S.

"To seat those contestants but not Senator Clinton would be an insult to democracy," said Harold Ickes, who had previously voted to remove Clinton from the competition.

Clinton added that she still believes she can win with the help of superspellegates.

In other Spelling Bee news, for the eighth year in a row, President Bush was eliminated for misspelling W.


Bits of Tid: May 28, 2008

  • Look how poorly Obama's doing in mostly-white Iowa! Not.

  • President Carter:

    "I'm a superdelegate ... I think a lot of the superdelegates will make a decision quite, announced quite rapidly, after the final primary on June 3," he told Sky News.

    "I have not yet announced publicly, but I think at that point it will be time for her to give it up," Carter said.

  • Someone on Fox News said it would be great if someone would "knock off" Obama. That's how desperate some people are getting.

  • The Libertarian Party - the racial diversity of which makes the Republican Party look like the NAACP - has nominated former Georgia congressman Bob Barr for President.

  • The DNC has launched McCainpedia, dedicated to - yes - the presumptive Republican nominee.

  • Speaking of McCain, I must say I'm not all that thrilled about the jokes that are made about his age. As free a country as this is, those who make jokes like that are also making fun of their future selves. McCain is 72, as most of us will be one day. So if you're gonna make jokes about how old he is, just keep in mind that that will be you someday.

  • Sometimes I can't help myself. As I said on an open thread on Daily Kos, discussing gas prices:
    Well, Mom cooked a pot of chili last week and I had a bowl of leftovers a little earlier.

    Based on the law of supply and demand, that means we should see some relief at the pumps pretty soon.


A few moments

From Lexington to Fallujah, millions of Americans have bravely stood up to defend our country from tyranny and oppression, protecting America, her citizens, and her land

I hope you take just a few moments out of your day to consider the sacrifices these young men and women have made through more than 230 years.

As the freedoms they have so courageously defended come under increasing attack from both outside and within our nation, let us ever be mindful of their bravery, their sacrifices, and their love of country over self.

On this Memorial Day, I extend my profound gratitude to those who are serving our country in uniform, especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I also extend them to our veterans, especially those who still deal with the physical and emotional scars of combat.

Furthermore, let us keep the families and friends of our service personnel in our thoughts and prayers. They too make sacrifices beyond what most of us can imagine.

But most of all, to those who have given up their tomorrows so that we may live ours in freedom...

May they rest in peace.


Michael Moore stands up against poor treatment of vets, troops

While his critics continue to attack him and accuse him of not supporting our troops even as they themselves have neglected our men and women in uniform, Michael Moore is showing once again that actions do speak louder than words.

Moore, founder of the Traverse City Film Festival that owns the State Theatre downtown, said the theater is implementing a new labor policy requiring all its contractors and vendors to attempt to hire veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moore described it as an "affirmative action" measure to help area veterans find employment opportunities when they return home -- opportunities that Moore said are severely lacking for many servicemen and women.

His opposition to the war remains as strong as ever. But Moore said he's just as upset about the treatment of the troops fighting the war, ranging from the lack of high-tech equipment to protect the soldiers to their medical treatment and the economic and employment uncertainty they face when returning home.
It would be sad enough if, in the wealthiest, most industrialized country in the world, just one American struggled to make ends meet. More shameful is that millions of Americans find themselves in this predicament every day.

Far more disconcerting, however, is that many of these people are veterans who have served their country in uniform.
Moore points to statistics to make his case. The federal labor department last month released unemployment rates for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan that showed a 6.1 percent jobless rate for veterans who have served since September 2001. That compares to a national unemployment rate of around 5 percent in April. The jobless rate for veterans ages 18 to 24 was substantially higher, totaling 12 percent compared to 9.5 percent for non-veterans in the same age group.
These young men and women have already paid a high price - they put their lives on the line for the sake of freedom. And yet,
"Instead of receiving our veterans with open arms when they come back, they get 'Sorry chump, there's nothing for you,'" said Moore, who's hired military veterans for key editing and production positions for his documentaries, including "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Sicko."
The State Theatre is also offering active-duty service personnel free admission to all movies.


Bits of Tid: May 23, 2008

  • Boy, did it feel good to get that rant about Hillary's latest comments off my chest.
  • I've updated my post from earlier this week. Obama has gained a couple more superdelegates as well as two more of Edwards's pledged delegates.
  • One of the new supers for Obama is Rep. Dennis Cardoza (CA), who switched from Clinton to Obama. It looks like he may be the first of several Clinton delegates to switch to Obama. Not to count unhatched chickens, but this can only make an Obama nomination more of a sure thing!
  • Clinton is trying to get superdelegates to believe that she is more electable than Obama. But recent polls show that, as Obama is seen by more and more people as the presumptive Democratic nominee, he is beating McCain in several swing states, including some Bush won.
    There goes another Clinton talking point. Going off the Pollster.com averages, Obama currently wins 283-255, losing the Kerry states of Michigan and New Hampshire, and winning the Bush states of Iowa, Indiana, New Mexico, Colorado, and Ohio. If you give him a tiny 3-point "primary boost", he picks up Virginia and Michigan, for a 313-225 lead.
  • So whom should Barack select as his running mate for Vice President? I'll offer up some thoughts next week.
  • Check out Daily Kos tomorrow evening around 7PM, when I'll be hosting this week's edition of WYFP? (What's Your F****** Problem?) The Michigan Primary situation will be involved!
  • I haven't done this in a while, but here's anothe rpoick for the LSSU Banished Words List:
    Totally free - As opposed to 'somewhat free?' Something is either free or it's not.
  • Today is Graduation Day at my alma mater, East Kentwood High School. Wow: Those who were freshmen when I was a senior have reached the Big Moment! Speaking of which, earlier today we received an invite for my cousin's graduation open house in metro Detroit. I remember when she was celebrating her first birthday in her high chair, her hands covered in chocolate as the family sang. Wow, I'm feeling old.

Lame and pathetic

Lame-thetic, if you will.

Hillary Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama.

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it," she said, dismissing calls to drop out.
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, you have reached a new low. From pandering while in Congress, to lying up the wazoo, to treating the good people of Michigan and Florida as your pawns, to even suggesting that McCain is more qualified to lead the country than you, your slash-and-burn-your-way-to-the-White House tactics are abominable.

There ought to be no place for these antics in the Democratic Party of the United States. Our party is a big tent, but not big enough to hold that kind of crap.

You are needlessly hurting the Party of Jefferson and FDR, while removing any doubt that it is you, Senator Clinton, and not Senator Obama, who is unfit to govern this nation.


Delegate Math - or, Why It's Just About Over


(If not for Democratic Convention Watch, this post would be nonexistent. A HUGE hat tip to DCW!)

WARNING: The contents of this post may be VERY CONFUSING!

So why do most of the pundits, analysts, etc., agree that the race is over even as Hillary Clinton fights on? It's all in the numbers.

Anyway, here is the current total delegate count as of Thursday afternoon, not including Florida or Michigan delegates:


  • Needed for Majority: 2,025
  • Obama’s total: 1,982; 43 from majority (note a)
  • Clinton’s total: 1,781; 244 from majority
  • Edwards: 7 (a)
  • Pledged delegates in remaining contests: 86
  • Undetermined superdelegate votes: 195 (b)
  • Total undetermined delegate votes: 288 (b, c)
  • Percent of remaining total delegates Obama needs to clinch: 14.9% (d)
  • Percent of remaining pledged delegates Obama needs to clinch: 50% (e)
(a) Edwards has received 18 pledged delegates from the states in which he competed. Eleven have since said they will support Obama at the Convention; these are included in Obama's total. The other seven are still marked as being for Edwards.
(b) Includes 31 unpledged add-on delegate positions that have yet to be filled.
(c) Includes the 7 Edwards delegates who haven't endorsed Clinton or Obama; the 86 pledged delegate votes in yet-to-be-held contests; and the 195 undetermined superdelegate votes.
(d) This is the number Obama needs to clinch (43) divided by the number of undetermined delegate votes.
(e) Same as (d), excluding superdelegates.

Here's a way to look at it: Imagine it's Election Night, and you hear a network anchor state that "With 932% of the precincts reporting, Candidate A is leading 53% to 47%." By that point, they would probably call Candidate A the winner. Well, more than 93% of the delegates have been allocated to one candidate or the other, and guess what? Obama has won 53% of them. So, in a sense, with 93% reporting, he leads 53-47%.

So, without Florida and Michigan, Obama only needs to win about one in five of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination. In only three states has Obama won less than 1/3 of the pledged delegates. And superdelegate endorsements have overwhelmingly favored Obama in recent weeks.

The above list includes all pledged and unpledged delegates. The following list includes only pledged delegates. The pledged-delegate count is important since many people, including some superdelegates, have suggested that whoever gets the most pledged delegates ought to win the nomination.

  • Needed for majority: 1,627
  • Obama: 1,659.5; 32.5 more than needed for majority
  • Clinton: 1,500.5
  • Undetermined pledged delegates: 93 (a)
(a) Includes 86 delegates from remaining contests and the 7 Edwards delegates who haven't picked Clinton or Obama.

So, even if Hillary were to win every single one of those remaining 95 pledged delegates, she would still need 149 (or 76.4%) of the 195 unallocated superdelegates to go her way.

That is all but impossible. In order to get all of the remaining pledged delegates, by party rules she would need to take 85% of the vote in all of the remaining states. That's on top of getting Edwards's 9 remaining delegates to vote against the person their candidate endorsed.

Hillary must rely on seeing to it that Michigan's and Florida's delegates are seated at the Convention. Even if they are seated, the math still looks pretty rocky for her.

The proposal the Michigan Democratic Party is putting forward to seat our delegates would give Hillary 69 delegates and Obama 59. This splits the difference between the 73-55 split the Clinton camp wants (based on the results of the January 15 primary) and the 64-64 tie Obama wanted.

The proposal most often mentioned with regards to Florida's delegates would involve cutting that state’s pledged-delegate votes in half, so each delegate would get 1/2 of one vote. Clinton won 105 delegates in the January primary; Obama 69; and Edwards, 11. Cut in half, these figures come out to 52.5-34.5-5.5.

Both proposals call for full votes for superdelegates (i.e. their votes wouldn’t be cut in half). Hillary leads among Florida superdelegates 8-5 with 17 undeclared, and in Michigan she leads 7-5 with 13 undeclared.

These proposals, if approved, would add 220.5 pledged delegates and 55 superdelegates to the mix. The new numbers would be:

  • Needed for majority: 2,162.5
  • Obama: 2,085.5; 77 from clinching nomination
  • Clinton: 1,917.5; 245 from clinching nomination
  • Edwards: 12.5
  • Uncommitted superdelegates: 225
  • Total undetermined delegate votes: 323.5
  • Percent of remaining total delegates Obama needs to clinch: 23.8%
  • Needed for majority: 1,737
  • Obama: 1,753; 16 more than needed for majority
  • Clinton: 1,622
  • Unallocated pledged delegates: 98.5
Look! Even under this scenario, Obama has already locked up the pledged-delegate lead! So, winning all of the remaining 99.5 pledged delegates would leave Hillary 148.5 superdelegates (66% of the remaining delegates) from the nomination.

And again, it bears repeating that Obama will almost certainly get a good share of those remaining pledged delegates, thus padding his pledged-delegate majority and likely garnering even more superdelegate support while raising the bar even higher for Hillary.



If there are just a few things my parents, teachers, and priests all had in common, one is that they cared for me, and another is that they wanted me to care for others. From an early age, they taught me the importance of respect and tolerance toward each other, especially toward people who are different than me.

Now, I'm not part of the LGBT community. But that's not my choice. That's nobody's choice. You are or you aren't, just like you are male or you are female. Thus, any form of hatred toward someone who is LGBT is downright unacceptable.

How sickening that that so many people have a deep-seated resentment of people who just happen to be different than them - in race, gender, sexual orientation, you name it. Even worse is the fact that so many people find it necessary to act on their hatred through violence.

Today the Triangle Foundation released its study of hate crimes in 2007, and probably to no one's surprise, reports of anti-LGBT hate crimes have skyrocketed nationwide, especially in Michigan.

(I received the report via email; quotes and data are from that email.)

As Melissa Pope, Director of Victim Services at the Triangle Foundation, says:

Hate violence is unlike any other crime in America. Most crime is motivated by personal gain, but hate violence is different. Hate violence is purely about victimizing a person because of who they are. It is a form of terrorism that punishes entire communities, even people that were not the target of the violence.

Reports of hate violence against the LGBT community nationwide increased from 1,486 in 2006 to 1,833 in 2007 - a 23% increase.

In Michigan, however, the increase was 133% - from 97 reported incidents in 2006 to 226 in 2007. There were also 72 reports of discrimination, such a being fired from a job or evicted.

And surely there are many other such incidnents that have not gone reported for any of a number of reasons.

What goes through the mind of a hate criminal? What about their innocent fellowman propels a person to harm them? What do they hope to accomplish by committing an act of violence against someone who, goodness knows, they just might have to depend on for something important someday?

And why must the rest of us suffer? (These crimes affect all of us in many ways, whether you realize it or not.)

State Sen. Hansen Clarke is trying to do something about this:

Hate crimes are among the most cowardly, vicious acts committed. I regret to learn that the number of reported hate crimes has more than doubled in the last year. It is not too late to stop the hate and through my legislation the Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act will expand, increasing punishment for hate crimes and adding extra protection to Michigan’s gay and transgender community. To keep Michigan citizens safe, I look to my colleagues to support my bill.

How many of his colleagues will stand up for the safety of our citizens? And how many will stand by idly while our state, her people, and therefore the livelihoods of ten million citizens of Michigan continue to suffer?


Bits of Tid: May 19, 2008

  • Let's all wish the very best to Sen. Ted Kennedy. He is doing much better.
  • Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to those of you who recommended and tipped my Daily Kos diary on the rally. It topped the Daily Kos rec list! I was just floored by the enthusiasm it generated!
  • In case you haven't noticed, I'm on Twitter!
  • Via Twitter: Four Michigan DNC members have endorsed Obama in recent days: Eric Coleman, Robert Ficano, Virgie Rollins, and Lauren Wolfe. If Michigan's delegates are seated, they would be have superdelegate votes.
  • On my summer reading list:
    • Everyday Leadership by Dan Mulhern
    • The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John C. Maxwell
    • 1776 by David McCullough
    • The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
  • On my summer writing list:
    • My book - yes, I'm actually writing one!
    • Letters to the editor
    • Letters to members of Congress
    • Lots of blog posts!


I Was There as Edwards endorsed Obama

Wow! People talk about being "Fired Up and Ready to Go" at Obama rallies, but I must say I never imagined seeing what I just saw in Grand Rapids, in the heart of conservative West Michigan.

An endorsement from John Edwards.

I arrived at Van Andel Arena (named for a conservative cofounder of Amway) around 5:15. The line to get in moved quite rapidly, probably because there were plenty of metal detectors to keep people moving in at an efficient pace. I sat in the upper level of the arena, but I was closer to the stage than many people there. Besides, given who we knew was going to be there, I wasn’t complaining.

A disabled veteran led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. The crowd cheered as they saw the young man in crutches approach the podium. After that, someone from the field office had everyone get out their cell phones and text 'MI' to 62262 to stay involved with the campaign.

A little while later we saw the "Yes We Can" video by will.i.am. A little later, The Wave.

I reflected on the people there. They were diverse in race, age, and surely walk of life. I saw middle-aged white men. I saw black women. I saw kids - plenty of kids! Many of whom won’t be old enough to vote this November. Still, they were witnessing history. Sure, school was out for the day. But these kids were getting a hands-on education, just as I did when I saw Al Gore at Calder Plaza in October 2000.

Around 6:35, a worker at the Lear factory in Walker - which will be closing in a few months - spoke about his struggles to get by as the cost of living increased but his paycheck didn’t.

He had the honor of introducing the man who would be President.

At 6:38 PM, Barack Obama - one of the smartest and most beloved people in modern politics - stepped up to the podium.

He started by telling us he had a treat. And a treat it was as he introduced a young man who has dedicated his life to tackling the many issues ordinary Americans face.

Once Barack uttered the words "John Edwards," the place went nuts. We all knew what Edwards’s presence there meant. I was hopping up and down like I’ve never done at any political function in my 20 ½ years. Hell, I’m not sure I’ve ever been so excited at a sporting event!

Edwards spoke of the major themes of his campaign: Poverty, social justice, healthcare, and of course making the two Americas one. "The Democratic voters of America have made their decision," he added, "and so have I."

In his remarks, Obama made the solemn promise that Edwards would find in President Obama a fierce comrade in the fight against poverty. He then touched on what he has discussed throughout his campaign, including the many important issues we face in this country and the importance of changing the way Washington operates.

There seems to be general agreement that Senator Obama will be our Democratic nominee. He pointed out that both Edwards and, yes, Hillary all stood for a much-needed change in Washington. On more than one occasion, Obama called out McCain as someone who simply offers more of the same. Obama, speaking in a conservative region of battleground Michigan, was in full general-election mode.

At one point during the speech, we got a glimpse of what kind of human being we'll have as our President if this man is elected.

At one point, Barack saw that someone in the crowd had fainted. He interrupted his spiel for a moment to alert the EMTs that someone had fainted. He then took his bottle of water and asked people to send it back to the person who had fainted.

I'm not sure many politicians would interrupt their own speech to do that - much less give up their bottle of water.

When the speech was done, the crowd dispersed, and I made my way to the car. As I got in the car, I looked in the mirror and asked myself: "Did I really just see Edwards endorse Obama?"

Oh, yes, I did.

And I hope that you too have the privilege of being there to see and hear Barack Obama bring out your emotions and move you to action.


Feldman + Wheeler + Hightower + Goodman = Amazing Saturday!

I spent this past Saturday in Lansing for the Michigan Policy Summit, and boy am I excited! The summit included keynotes by Amy Goodman of Democracy NOW! and the legendary Jim Hightower. Also, Jeffrey Feldman and Marcy Wheeler, who have Michigan ties, were also there (check out Feldman's liveblog).

In addition, breakout sessions were held dealing with issues surrounding the environment, healthcare, and education.

I arrived part of the way through Amy Goodman's speech, so I didn't catch as much of what she said. She did talk about the role media must play in our society. "We need media that covers power, not media that covers for power," she declared.

She added that though the 'oil-igarchy' is powerful, there is a more powerful force out there: all of us, together.

After Goodman's speech, she and Hightower arrived for a press conference with a few of us Michigan bloggers.

Hightower said that he thought a single-payer system would be the best way of ensuring universal health coverage. Any such system would have to be adapted for the US (i.e. we can't just copy Canada's model detail-for-detail), but this type of plan has been known to work for everyone in other countries - doctors, patients, etc.

When asked about the role bloggers have to play in taking back our country, Goodman said that we need to be the ones who get important information out to the people. An uneducated populace will not always yearn for change.

Then came lunch and Hightower's speech, and if you haven't seen Hightower speak, today I learned why you have to - at least once. Here are just some of the many Hightower-isms I caught (not exact quotes):

"Nothing makes a former agriculture commissioner happy than seeing people shove food in their mouths."
The first job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open.
If not for agitators, we'd be... singing God Save the Queen.
Martin Luther King didn't say, "I have a position paper."

Noting that "we live in a remarkably progressive country," he cited a poll that showed overwhelming support for universal healthcare (even if it means an increase in taxes!), drug-price negotiation by the government, lessening the power of huge corporations, and stronger environmental policies.

But the best laugh of the day came when Hightower spoke the following:

Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

Feldman and Wheeler didn't speak, but they did autograph their books.

More complete coverage of today's summit can be found on Michigan Liberal, Blogging for Michigan, and Michigan Messenger.

Special thanks to the Michigan Prospect for putting on this summit, and also to the many volunteers!


America's 44th President coming to Grand Rapids Wednesday!

Or at least I hope he'll be our 44th President! From The Grand Rapids Press:

Kent County Democrats are "thrilled" at the prospect of a Wednesday campaign rally at Van Andel Arena for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

The 7 p.m. rally was announced earlier today, prompting a flood of inquiries from local activists clamoring to see the Democratic front-runner.

"I am thrilled to death," said Democratic Chairwoman Sue Levy, who got a call from an Obama campaign official announcing the rally.
Clearly he is in general-election mode.

He's also going to be in Macomb County that day.

Love for dogs key in Precinct Delegate race

Precinct Delegate's bowling average, pastor's remarks called into question by opponents

KENTWOOD, MI (Don't-Want-To-Be-Associated-With-McCain Press) - Democratic Precinct Delegate Scott Urbanowski (D-Smartypants) told reporters that his experience - and love for man's best friend - will be key to saving Kentwood's Third Precinct from Complete and Utter Annihilation.

The Delegate made those remarks Friday after filing to run for a second term as Precinct Delegate. He had announced his intention to run for re-election last year.

"Just recently I endured quite a heavy round of sniper fire," the Central Michigan University student said in a press conference, adding, "Okay so that wasn't sniper fire, just Finals Week. But still, it felt painful."

Urbanowski touted his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty for his couple hundred or so Democratic constituents.

"I'm willing to ask the tough questions," Urbanowski said. "Like, 'Who's a good dog?'"

"That's one of my favorite questions because those individuals to whom I ask that question are usually speechless. Typical Washington politicians: Speechless when asked the tough questions."

The Delegate also touted his leadership abilities.

"When I tell my dogs to sit, they sit. When I tell them it's time for them to go for a walk, we're out the door within 45 seconds."

"Sometimes it can be ruff spending time with two dogs with very different personalities. But you know what? I can handle it."

Urbanowski also said that he stays up well past 3 AM, so residents would have nothing to worry about when it comes to their Delegate answering the emergency phone.

"Heck, I'm usually up until at least 4!"

Urbanowski was sharply criticized, however, for comments his pastor made on Sunday.

"Scott Urbanowski's pastor suggested that Jesus may still be with us, even after all these years," said precinct delegate challenger Seymour Butts in a press conference. "I know I can't see him around here anywhere."

"The kid doesn't walk his dogs every day," said challenger Ima Nidiot. "I've seen Swifty and Lucy, maybe, twice in the last two weeks. So when he says he walks his dogs everyday, he's lying!"

"I walk my dogs every day I'm home and the weather's nice enough for it," Urbanowski responded. "Oftentimes I'm at school ninety miles away. When I'm home, it occasionally rains."

Nidiot also pointed out that Urbanowski's bowling average is even less than Barack Obama's.

"Well, Ms. Nidiot and I obviously don't see eye to eye," said Urbanowski. "But we're at least focusing on issues of grave concern to the Third Precinct."

In December, former President Franklin D. Roosevelt endorsed Urbanowski for a seecond term, citing the 20-year-old's "track record of fighting for the values our Party holds dear - or at least should hold dear."


Just a reminder: Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 4PM is the deadline to file to run for Precinct Delegate. I became a Precinct Delegate in 2006 at the urging of my friend Rob.

Here's the form you'll need. Print it out, fill it out, sign it, have it notarized, and file it with your county clerk.

For more on being a Precinct Delegate and why Precinct Delegates are important, see this post on Michigan Liberal.


Match point, Obama.


Virginia state House member Jennifer McClellan is one of at least nine superdelegates who have switched from Clinton to Obama since the Super Tuesday primaries on Feb. 5. There have been no public switches in the other direction.

"I think the time has come to support Senator Obama as the likely nominee," McClellan said in a conference call with reporters. "Given what happened last night, it's very unlikely we will have a different result, and it is time to come together as a party and prepare for victory against John McCain in November."

Folks, we are on the cusp of having Mr. Barack Obama, a Senator of the State of Illinois, as the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States.

Think about that.

The Party of Jefferson and Jackson, of FDR and JFK, is about to nominate as its candidate for President someone other than a white male - something neither major party has done.

If you had come up to me on the day Bush was inaugurated in 2001 and told me that Bush's successor would not be a white man, I would've been surprised, given that there weren't many people considerd to be leading presidential contenders who weren't white men. You had Gore, Bradley, Gephardt, Daschle, Kerry... and maybe that new Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton.

If you had told me that the 44th President would be Barack Obama, I would've said, "Who?"

But now, it is all but certain that Obama - who, as a state senator, wasn't well-known outside Chicago and Springfield - will be the Democratic Nominee for the highest office in the land.

Eight months and twelve days from now, our country's new president will have taken that oath to 'preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.' God willing, that President will be the former constitutional law professor who, at a young age, turned down prestigious offers from high-profile law firms to focus on building community. Someone whose words and actions have inspired millions to take responsibility for the future of their country.

Someone who has already led this country in ways unheard of in years... without even holding the title of President.

Someone the likes of whose character and integrity we have not seen in that Oval Office in years.

As you well know, history is filled with both great and mediocre Presidents. Washington. Jefferson. Lincoln. The Roosevelts. Wilson. Truman. Eisenhower. Kennedy.

Buchanan. Andrew Johnson. Hoover. Nixon. The Bushes.

Ten years from now, our 44th President - and, who knows, maybe our 45th President - will have left office. How will George W. Bush's successor be viewed on May 8, 2018?

Maybe as someone who succeeded in solving, or at least beginning to solve, some of the most vexing challenges ever faced by an American President.

Maybe as someone who utterly failed.

Maybe as a Gerald Ford-type figure - someone whose effort and determination weren't enough, at least in the eyes of public opinion.

Hopefully, we will see him as someone who faced the vexing problems facing our nation and world with the utmost character and determination.

With Obama, I see at least the potential for greatness. Sure, he hasn't even been elected yet. But if he handles the many pressures and challenges of the world stage as well as he has handled the pressures of the campaign, there's cause for optimism.

Cautious optimism. But optimism nonetheless.

We all have an important role to play in order for that to happen. I invite you to get involved with the campaign as the election gets closer. Write letters to the editor. Tell your friends and family members why you are a Democrat, and why they should be too.

As the Senator says, Our Moment Is Now.


Who Inspires You?

We are all inspired. We all have the power to inspire.

Eric, my professor for my Introduction to Leadership class, mentioned earlier in the semester that we would be doing a powerful activity in class that would help us get a better sense of the true meaning of leadership. The activity was delayed due to a couple of class cancellations (snow days, to be exact), but finally, near the end of the semester, Eric was able to set aside some class time for it.

Our task was to think of someone who has inspired us and think of how and why they have inspired us. We would then write a few sentences about why they inspired us. Afterwards Eric went around the room and offered us the chance to share what we wrote if we wanted to. There was no pressure; if you didn't want to share, you didn't have to share. Still, each of us went ahead and spoke.

Eric started by talking about one of his teachers pushed him to do his best. Some of my classmates followed by sharing how their family members helped them through tough times. One person said that he was motivated when one of his wrestling teammates picked him to win the state championship in his weight class. Another choked up while talking about some of the kids she works with.

I didn't get a chance to write much, simply because it's hard to think of one single person who has shaped my life more than all the others. I thought about many people: my family (including my grandpa), other students, teachers, professors, pastors - even politicians

Yet somehow, on this particular day, in this particular class, one person stood out: Mrs. Nancy Reahm, my principal at Brookwood Elementary School.

In fourth grade, our teacher, Mrs. Johnson, asked us to write a letter to a woman in honor of Mother's Day. I chose Mrs. Reahm. My letter to Mrs. Reahm thanked her for being such a wonderful principal and person.

I credit Mrs. Reahm for building a culture that Brookwood that valued tolerance, kindness, and respect. Values people talk about but don't always live out. Values which, several years later, have led me to being a progressive Democrat.

Much to my surprise, she wrote me back, telling me how much she enjoyed reading my letter. She said that if she ever had a bad day, she would pull it out and re-read it to find comfort.

Think about it: Here was a principal who led a school of roughly 350 students and 25 or so teachers, and had to deal with a host of administrative, curricular, disciplinary, and other issues, taking the time out of her busy schedule to write me back, letting me know how my letter had made her day.

I suppose that I inspired Mrs. Reahm by writing that letter. But that was part of a class assignment. I believe her response inspired me much more. You see, it was then that I began to see the true power of words. I mean, my principal found my words moving - imagine that

I don't know whatever happened to the letter she sent me. If I still have it, then it must be tucked away in a closet or file somewhere. Still, her response is still solid proof that what I do or say to people can have a powerful impact.

Mrs. Reahm and I both left Brookwood ten years ago - I went to middle school, while she retired. But while our days at Brookwood are a distant memory, those values are still ingrained in me to this day - and I hope and pray that they will stay with me forever.

So I wanted to take this opportunity to invite each of you who read this blog post to share a story - long or short - about someone who inspires you.

It can be anyone who has had an impact on your life - from your family and friends, to a coach or colleague, to someone whom you haven't even met It doesn't have to be someone who fills a leadership role; just someone who, through word or deed, has inspired you to become a better person, to do better things, to treat people better... to make the world a better place.

And feel free to share many stories, if you wish; the more tales of inspiration, the merrier

And I'll conclude this diary as Eric concluded the activity in class: by reminding you that, just as others have inspired you, you have the power to inspire others... and you never know when something you say or do for someone turns out to be just what the doctor ordered for them.

Just as Mrs. Reahm has inspired me to expect the best out of myself and others, I am well aware that at amy moment, I may be the one who inspires and motivates others to be the best that they can be.