Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most presidental of them all?

We have been hearing rumors about Senator Barack Obama running for president. It started two years ago, when he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Senator Obama went from being a novice senator in Illinois to one of the potentials for president in 2008. Since then, political scientists have been calling it; Obama will run in 2008.

Will he win the election? That is an entirely different story. But as far as the Democratic Party’s bid goes, rumor is he will easily get it. But not so fast Senator! Hillary Clinton is still eyeing the seat for 2008; perhaps that’s what her motivation to run for the New York Senate seat has been all along.

No one knows who will get the Democrats’ bid for president and certainly the race will be a heated one with a strong candidate from the Republicans (John McCain anyone?). The fight will be hotter than ever and this is only the beginning!

Obama reaches out in key 2008 states

By Mike Dorning
Washington Bureau
Published November 29, 2006

WASHINGTON -- As Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) nears a decision on a White House bid, he is taking steps to reach out to potential supporters in important states in the nominating process, including headlining a Dec. 10 rally in New Hampshire, home of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Granite State Democrats asked Obama to be the star attraction at a party event to celebrate sweeping victories in the state in the November election.

The senator also recently has discussed a potential campaign with leading Democratic activists in Iowa, which holds the influential caucus that kicks off the presidential primary campaign in early 2008. Among those he has spoken with are the former Iowa campaign managers for 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry and 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore, an Obama campaign adviser said.Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said an announcement of the senator's presidential intentions is "several weeks away."

The recent release of his second memoir, "The Audacity of Hope," and a publicity tour to promote the book have bolstered his already high visibility just as he is contemplating a presidential run. This fall he has been featured on the cover of Time magazine and made several television appearances, including on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Meet the Press" and "Late Show With David Letterman." This Friday he appears on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."His book is No. 1 on The New York Times' non-fiction best-seller list.

"That's pretty stunning, boggling really," said Jim Jordan, a former Kerry national campaign manager. "The fact that so many people are willing to plunk down 30 bucks to access his thoughts, ideas and political philosophy is pretty impressive.

"Among those urging Obama to run is his fellow Illinois senator, Democrat Dick Durbin, who on Monday started an online petition asking Obama to enter the presidential race. Such a petition can be a useful tool for gathering contact information for potential donors and campaign volunteers.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan said she raised the idea of an appearance in the state during a call Obama made to her shortly after the November election congratulating her on the party's performance in the Granite State.

"A lot of people in the Democratic base are excited to see him. I even talked to a Republican who asked if he could get a ticket," Sullivan said.

William Shaheen, husband of former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and the state chairman or co-chairman for three prior winning presidential primary campaigns, said the event will provide an auspicious introduction for Obama.

"When you're invited to speak at an event like this, you get access to the activists, the shakers and the movers of this thing," Shaheen said. "He may acquire some converts. Depending on how well he does, he may start a movement.

"Obama already has made several appearances in Iowa. He was the keynote speaker in September at one of the premier events for Democratic activists in that state, an annual fish fry hosted by the state's long-serving Democratic senator, Tom Harkin.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Can the New Congress Deliver?

There is new leadership in Congress and it sure seems to be distracting. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the new Speaker of the House, the first ever female Speaker to be elected. Congress certainly seems to have had a makeover, going from being a 12-year Republican controlled House and Senate to one that has become Democratic with a slim majority in the Senate but a stronger one in the House.

Last week’s election not only brought some relief from the negative campaign ads that we were so sick of seeing but it brought a new Congress, with fresh new faces, including the first ever Muslim to be elected to the House of Representatives, Keith Ellison (D-MN). What does this mean exactly?

It means that after the Congressional facelift, the Democrats are promising to bring change to Washington D.C. And while accusations of the scandal prone Republicans having a secret agenda have been flying around all week but does it really mean things are going to change?

Maybe. Republicans promised to clean up D.C. politics and run a moral and ethical congress when they ousted the Democrat majority in 1994, under Bill Clinton. Did they? Democrats don’t seem to think so. Can the Democrats become the morally superior party and redefine morality in congress? Democrats were ousted around the time Clinton was impeached after his scandal with Monica Lewinsky was revealed to the public.

Back then, everyone wagged their fingers at the Democrats and during the recent Mark Foley scandal, the Republican representative from Florida who resigned after inappropriate and sexually explicit emails between the former congressman and minor male pages went public, fingers were also wagged. So given the evidence, it seems that the majority party at the time is always the one that is more scandal prone. So power might have something to do with scandals and power may have something to do with the inability to clean politics up.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Record Numbers Mobilize to the Polls in the Southwest Suburbs on Election Day

On Tuesday, November 7, 2006, two hundred volunteers poured into the Mosque Foundation’s basement where New Americans Democracy Project Fellow Haady Taslim (a project lead by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and co-hosted by CAIR-Chicago) waited anxiously to start the day. It was Election Day and there was a buzz in the Bridgeview community, as well as other surrounding communities. The goal was simple: to bring Muslims in the southwest suburbs in record numbers to the polls.

As a CAIR-Chicago pilot project to empower American Muslims and encourage political engagement, the NADP was a major success with a record number of Muslims not only registering to vote but turning out to the polls on Election Day. A 50% increase in voter turnout in the Mosque Foundation’s Area (Palos 44) was the highest the area has seen and was well above the expected turnout. Voter registrations in the area also rose by 80%.

In neighboring areas, voter turnout with registered Muslim voters increased significantly as well, with record turnouts in most precincts. As a non-partisan campaign, volunteers and leaders ran into some difficulties when it came to communicating with community members who insisted on being told who to vote for. Voters were given the CAIR-Chicago Voter Education Guide, which provided them with detailed information on the candidates as well as the voting records of incumbents.

As a pilot project for CAIR-Chicago, the NADP highlighted the strengths and weakness of the Muslim community that is developing. “As a relatively young community, we have a long way to go. Though we ran into a lot of problems earlier in the campaign and had a rough start, we went above and beyond the expected numbers,” remarked Sadiya Ahmed, CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Coordinator. “The success of this project is only the beginning. We have a long way to go.”

The NADP was initially started in July, where Community Organizer and NAPD Fellow Haady Taslim and a team of volunteers, worked on registering eligible American Muslims to vote. The numbers climbed over the months to a final count of 1055 by the registration deadline in October, a number that has never been achieved in such a short time period. The project then switched gears to a Get Out the Vote Campaign (GOTV), where thousands or registered voters were contacted throughout the month, through mass mailings, door-to-door canvassing, and phone calls. The message was simple: “Go out and vote on Election Day!”

Though the project is only the beginning, it set the groundwork for the future, for the American Muslim community to become active in their communities, and encourage each other to become active constituents. With the 2006 election finished and the 2008 election is next on the list.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Day is Tuesday, November 7; Get Out the Vote!

Election Day is Tuesday, November 7!

Don’t forget to vote! If you are a registered voter in the state of Illinois, don’t forget to vote. Polls are open from 6 AM to 7 PM on Election Day so you can vote before you go to work or school or your way home!

For information on your local polling place, visit the Cook County Board of Elections website at: for complete information on voting.

What do you need to vote?

-You will need the Voter Identification Card that was mailed to you at the time of registration. If you do not have one, you can show a state identification card to receive a ballot.
-Any materials that you need to help you vote. You can bring in scorecards, guides, any other information that may help you make your decision.

Don’t know who to vote for?

CAIR-Chicago has prepared the CAIR-Chicago Voter Education Guide which has comprehensive information on candidates and their positions on issues. It also has the voting records for candidates who are standing for reelection. You can get the voter education guide here:

You can also look at endorsements that local newspapers have made:

Chicago Sun Times:,cst-edt-edits05a.article
Chicago Tribune:,1,3549898.storygallery?coll=chi-politics-stories
The Daily Herald:

Disclaimer: Please be advised that CAIR-Chicago is a non-for profit, 501(c) 3 organization and does not endorse any candidates.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The New Gangs in Town: Democrats vs. Republicans

The numbers are finally coming in and political campaigns are spending record amounts during the Midterm Election, an unusual occurrence during a non-presidential year. With some of the tightest congressional races in Illinois’ own backyard, constituents in the sixth and eight congressional districts are beginning to see the action up close.

A plethora of campaign mailers, catchy and colorful ads, and lawn signs can be seen in the sixth congressional district, home of Republican candidate Peter Roskam and Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth. Both candidates are competing for the vacant seat in the House, which has been Republican for years. It seems to be the standard election campaign materials that are being sent out. Look again. The National Republican Committee started an aggressive mailer campaign with one issue: immigration.

Constituents are getting mail from the Republican Committee accusing Tammy Duckworth of being soft on immigration. Similarly, overly graphic materials have been mailed out to households, with images of social security cards that read, “This number has been established for illegal aliens.” The Democrats have fought back though. They have come out with ads to counter those of their opponents with a message that says, “We aren’t soft on immigrants.” They have also used the idea of immigration as a dangerous one and defended their position on closing the borders and tightening border security.

The mudslinging has not been limited to just the sixth congressional district. The eighth congressional district, where incumbent Melissa Bean (D) has been trying to keep her seat, is facing heavy criticism from the Republican Party with similar ads, saying that Bean’s policies would only encourage terrorism.

Given the unique climate of this year’s election, with immigration being at the forefront of debate, both parties are looking for ways to gain points, and more importantly, votes, from constituents. Immigration, as one of the most controversial issues has created a sharp divide amongst the American public and the political parties have been taking advantage.

Mass mailings project images of immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border, Muslims rioting abroad and further still are images of Osama Bin Laden. It does not take a political scientist to figure out the scare tactics of these campaign ads; scare the voter with the unknown. The sentiment these images are supposed to project is a very anti-immigrant one, with immigrants being an economic burden as well as potential terrorists.

With such rhetoric it is no wonder that immigrant groups are angered. It is after all, the immigrants that are caught between bipartisan word wars, where each party tries to see who can paint the more convincing picture of the immigrant community as a monstrous one. The rhetoric that is fashioned in this midterm election is anything but fair and equal. It is simply an exchange of bullets between two rival gangs known as the Republican and Democratic parties and the rest of the Americans are bystanders, where certain communities are taking more hits than others.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has created an archive of the anti-immigrant and racist mailers: