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How to be a President of all the people: Lesson #35

Friday, February 15, 2008

I was just over at Rising Hegemon bathing in Attaturk's usual brillance when I ran across this piece he posted about Exxon Mobile from CNN:

"Exxon Mobil is locked in a dispute over the nationalization of its oil ventures in Venezuela that has led President Hugo Chavez to threaten to cut off all Venezuelan oil supplies to the United States."

Like Attaturk, I share no love lost with U.S. oil conglomerates. OTOH, I also don't share any love lost over Hugo Chavez. Watching this dispute between Exxon Mobile and Chavez is a little like chosing between Tony Soprano and Michael Corleone.
Reading Attaturk's piece reminded me of John F. Kennedy and the U.S. Steal Crisis of 1962 when several steel companies colluded together to set prices and JFK stepped in and got an initial "gentleman's agreement." It is one of the highlights of his very and too short administration:
"After striking a gentlemen's agreement' with US Steel bosses over wage increases and the price of steel, Kennedy was required to prove his mettle to the US people when the steel bosses, led by Blough, backed out 2 days later. Kennedy undertook a number of methods to force the steel companies to back down, including federal agencies such as the FBI. He arranged for the companies to be the subject if a criminal investigation. He also manipulated the companies by using by using media agencies to his advantage. When the steel bosses backed down, Kennedy was able to claim victory. "
The most interesting part of this "crisis" was when Kennedy took to the air waves after U.S. Steel backed off their agreement and decided to raise prices anyway. His press conference says it all:



Take Vietnam and substitute it with Iraq. Substitute US. steel with Exxon Mobile. Substitute John F. Kennedy with Geoge W. Bush. Could you see Bush laying down the law to the oil companies making obscene and I mean obscene profits at the expense of the economy? That's ok, don't even try hurting your brain. We already see how the oil companies have answered JFK's clarion call that just didn't resonate with the generation that heard him that day as he asked "What you can do for your country?" He was asking all the generations that followed the same thing. It should still resonate today. We already know the oil companies' answer.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"We are what we've been waiting for"

I know I'm quoting Barack Obama from a speech last week but over at Open Left Matt Stoller is the one speaking the magic words I've been waiting to hear since the first night I discovered Daily Kos back in his first year online (my user# is 6792). The netroots have been waiting for a night like this despite the lousy weather in Maryland tonight for a long time. A very long time. Matt Stoller speaks for a lot of us as he talks about what Donna Edwards' apparant victory means in Maryland's CD-4:

"[...] the new primary voters who are coming out for Barack Obama are also going to result in the first progressive displacement of a centrist, corporate, congressional Democrat via a primary in years. This it it. This is what we have been working for and building for. This is our emerging majority. We finally have the organization, and the voters, and the whole ball of wax. The movement has thoroughly come of age."

Yeah. We are what we've been waiting for. We couldn't have arrived a minute too soon.

Obama owns the night

There's something to be said about Obamenteum. Someone on CNN earlier this evening said Hillary can't employ the "Guiliani strategy" and hope to win that nomination now. Banking her hopes on Texas and Ohio seems very risky right now but when you think about it what else can she do? CNN was breaking down the demographics earlier this evening showing that he is making serious cuts into her base: women and latinos. This doesn't bode well for Texas. The smart folks are saying she had to take Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania to make a fight of it. If she loses one of them she's done.

Being torn between these two is tough. Being a former Edwards supporter waiting for Gore had its moments for me as I watched my candidates slip away one by one. The fact of the matter is I love both Hillary and Obama. Both have great strengths to offer our country in leadership. Both still have issues that concern me. Though I am still back to undecided now, my gut tells me the good Senator from Illinois is going to run the table now. I know a poll was issued this evening showing a 17 point lead for Hillary in Ohio. My money says it's gone by March 4th.

Jeez. CNN just switched from Obama speaking in Madison, WI to McCain speaking in Alexandria, VA. It's like going from U2 to Lawerence Welk. Literally. God. Here's McCain using the tired old line about "trusting the American people, not the governement." This is GOP code language for their trust in the American people that are the corporate CEO's. The "government" he doesn't trust is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. You know, the government that Lincoln trusted. The government of the people like you and me.

The GOP is so damn pre-Roosevelt. Make that Teddy Roosevelt.

Bush hearts McCain in a backhanded sort of way

I was watching NBC nightly news last evening when they did a piece on McCain's conservative base problem. I was nearly floored when they had the TANG hero on with that fake look of sincerely he has honed over a 10 year period acknowledging the Senator's problem with conservatives. What floored me though was when he condescendingly told the interviewer he would give McCain a hand and help him through the pitfalls of uniting the party's base. You could almost feel the sting of Bush's back handed support as though McCain was less than he somehow in all things political and he needed Bush's gravitas to help him along.

My dislike for McCain goes all the way back to his Keating Five days of the Congressional savings and loan scandal where of the five he was the lone Republican. How's that for delicious irony? His subsequent stands on taxes, being an anti-abortion advocate and other typical right wing fare including taking on Lieberman as his new BFF makes him even more unlikeable for me. But to have Bush treat this war hero as something less than he is has a profane quality about it. Really profane. What's even more puzzeling is McCain's propensity to take it. After all he's been through does he really need to have Bush hold his hand publicly?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Back to Undecided

[sigh] After hearing Hillary's speech at the Virginia Jefferson Jackson Dinner I'm back to undecided. She gave a great speech and only reienforced why I like her and her intellect. This so tough for me as former Edwards supporter who was still waiting for Gore. [Got that? Because I'm still slightly depressed Gore never got back in]. In any event, Hillary gave some great points in her speech at the Dinner and I'm now in a quandry once again. I'm going to go back and look at which one has the better down ticket appeal and find a way to fight corporate interests. Hillary needs to do better on that last point. But as I'm back on the fence perhaps she will hone her message over the next couple of weeks and help me make up my mind.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A video the Clinton and Obama Campaigns need to see

As a former Edwards supporter my choice between the remaining two campaigns, Obama and Clinton, was made for purely academic reasons. The three most important issues for me right now are the Iraq war, health care, and civil rights issues which are directly related to future choices for the Supreme Court. We are only one elderly court member away from falling into a hard right wing court that sees civil rights as something to be tolerated as a necessary evil and to be circumvented at any cost. Based on these three issues my choice fell to Obama because I felt his position on Iraq and civil rights were superior.

Now that I've qualified my support for Senator Obama, I still have problems with his health care plan. Though Hillary's is only slightly better whereas the subsidies she supports have a heavier emphasis than his, both still rely largely on the tired old remedy of private insurers to be the mainstay of their plans. Even though both have introduced portability and bans on pre-existing condition exemptions, most of the insured are still exposed to the threat of a potential catastrophic illness that will tap their coverage dry and at worst bring down entire families financially and at best expose those families to undue financial risks and hardships that will take years to recover from.

What needs to change is our entire way of thinking about health care coverage and how it is offered. If we don't, the path all the candidates embrace, both Democratic and Republican, will put such a financial and economic strain on the middle class their fates will rest on the fortunes of a national economy and whether or not it will be subject to some future major economic downswing with the potential of gutting the middle class. IOW, it would be the subpirme crises tripled.

I am currently working on putting together a piece that will compare both Obama's and Clinton's health care plans side by side to see where one stands in contrast to the other. Meanwhile, during my research for this I ran across this video with a surprising voice from the past that sums up the exact mindset we need to take look at how we insure our nation's citizens:

video

There is no doubt corporate lobbyists representing both the pharmaceutial and privte insurers have a death grip on our nations political and social structure. That was one reason I was backing John Edwards. The Obama and Clinton campaigns, despite their emphatic denials of corporate influence are still subject to their agendas. Right now I can't imagine in my lifetime or my daughter's this mindset will change. But the video I provided is a good first step.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Iraq war & the GOP issue frame argument

This morning Atrios had an interesting post about the pre-Iraq war meme and the marginalization of the left in its opposition. He highlighted a piece by Kevin Drum that serves as a perfect illustration how the left blogosphere & the DFH's (dirty f***ing hippies) bought into the framing of the war on GOP terms which enabled the Neocon's and the hard right to carry on an opposing discourse at an incredible advantage. It has also had the effect of setting the bar for a pre-empitve war rationale so low, as Senator Barack Obama characterizes it, it is buried in the sand.

Atrios begins by setting up the premise:

"Every now and then, usually by chance, I come across something which brings back that truly traumatic time leading up to the Iraq war. It's hard to try to recapture those time. A nation had gone truly mad, our discourse was run by warmongering fools and Very Serious Liberal Hawks, and any attempt to oppose the Iraq war was marginalized 3000 different ways. All of us dirty fucking hippies were truly marginalized, despite the fact that we
were, you know, fucking right."

Then he quotes Kevin Drum from Washington Monthly about how us DFH's should tread carefully in our opposition:

"If your opposition to war is based on the idea that Saddam does indeed possess illegal weapons but it's best to leave him alone anyway, well and good. But if it's based on the idea that the administration is lying and none of this stuff exists, you should tread carefully. I think it's pretty likely you will be proven wrong shortly."

As Atrios get's indignant in his response to Mr. Drum's assertion, notice his frame for it:

"Those who opposed the war were constantly being told that they'd better be careful, both in why we opposed the Iraq war and how we expressed that opposition when those views had a complete media blackout... what if Saddam really is dangerous! Then you'll be sorry!!! And, you know what? It's true. If they'd found the nuclear warheads, and the long range missiles, and the massive bioweapons programs, and the deadly drones of mass
destruction, or whatever, people like me would've been drummed out of our discourse 4ever. Stupid dirty fucking hippie!"

The thing about his retort to Kevin is the fact Atrios buys into the argument that the point is Saddam's possession of illegal weapons and whether or not he is in possession of them. Or at least his post infers it. He can correct me if I'm wrong and I'll gladly post that correction. The point, however, is the opposition to the war being based on Saddam's possession of said WMD's. This line of reasoning or rationale for the GOP Neocons and the hawks was a no lose proposition for them. And let's not make any mistake here about what they were arguing about. Not just WMD's per se as defined by the United Nations. Forget the biological and chemical weapons aspect of this argument, they were a non issue as far as the core argument was. It was the nukes, his possession of them and the threats of them being used as per Condilezza Rice via CNN and Wolf Blitzer:

"BLITZER: Based on what you know right now, how close is Saddam Hussein's government -- how close is that government to developing a nuclear capability?

RICE: You will get different estimates about precisely how close he is. We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance -- into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to -- high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs. We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device.The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

It was also made more plain and clear by Bush's infamous 16 words in his 2003 SOTU speech:
"“The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
If we from the left want to argue this rationale for the war we've already lost. The fact isn't whether Saddam was in possession or wasn't. We already know he was at one time because we gave them to him courtesy of Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Reagan in the 80's when we sided with Iraq during the Iraq/Iranian war.

Our problem is falling into that issue frame trap for which there is no escape in a debate. Legally, Saddam's possession was a fait accompli vis a vis American foreign policy set by the Reagan administration regarding relations with Iran and Iraq. No, the argument should have been whether or not he was a threat. Pre-emptive war, legally, really shouldn't even be based on that. Our domestic legal system does not support or allow prosecution or incarcaration bases on what one "might" do. A crime has to be committed. The rule of law, which conservatives howled like wolves at the moon during the Clinton years, should have been the bar. Not only that, exactly how was Saddam a threat to the United States. To be more specific, how was he a threat to the region and even more specific than that, how was he a threat to his immediate neighbors. Let's look at the facts backing up this argument.

First, let's take the Iraqi No Fly Zone in the post Iraq/Gulf War era in the 90's under the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. In the illustration on the right you can see the "No Fly Zones" clearly demarchated allowing the Coalition Forces to patrol and enforce this "No Fly" policy as spelled out though provisions agreed upon in the United Nations Security Council. Next, Iraq has a NATO power in Turkey on its northern border and two countries with an American military presence on it's southern border in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. There was also a significant naval presence in the Persian Gult as well. Add this together with UN trade sanctions, though broken regularly through the black market, it was still effective enough to counter any moves by Iraq to purchase or acquire resources on a scale that would enable it to become a threat. As we discovered all to well in the invasion of Iraq, Saddam's military forces posed about as much a threat as American Civil War reenactment divisions. One last point. The moment we started the clock on the invasion I knew Sadedam didn't have nukes. Otherwise even the blustery and chest thumping neocons would not have gone ahead with it and risked the obliteration of 180,000 American troops. Add all this together and it comes down to this: somewhere an American military expert is going to have to explain to me how Saddam could have posed enough of threat or danger on a level we and the region he occupied believed he was capable of and prompt an illegal and pre-emptive war.

This is the issue frame that should have been intoduced into any dialogue about pre-emptive war with Iraq and a rationale for it. Period. Even if he was able to come up with a crude weapon of some sort why would he give that away to some group at the expense of his own national security. Nuclear devices aren't something you can make on an assembly line. The resources, energy, and infrastructure needed to reach that point makes this all the more laughable. If Saddam in his wildest imagination would have been lucky enough to even come up with one crude device he sure as hell isn't going to sell it at the expense of having it on hand to thwart an American invasion which he had been threatened with for months.

As Kevin Drum demonstrated above with tacit agreement by Atrios, we always seem to gravitate toward the GOP issue frame when debating a point. Democrats and liberals always look the weaker for it. Somewhere along the line we need to change that. Somewhere along the line the Obama and Clinton campaigns need to learn that lesson.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tracking Florida's Superdelegates

Now that the hand wringing has begun over the very real possibility of a brokered convention in Denver there are some projections now that show it will be impossible to determine the nominee with the remaining primary schedule and leaving it up to the superdelegates. Yesterday, Donna Brazile the former campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000 and a superdelegate herself, stated flately she will resign from the Democratic party if it comes down to superdelegates. She went on to say it was unfair to have delegates other than the pledged delegates chosen by Democratic party primary voters to be in a position to chose the nominee.

What's even more obvious now are the unnamed delegates from Florida and Michigan and the potential role they will play in the post primary season. Let's not forget how we got here courtesy of the Republican dominated state house. The Florida GOP knew the DNC would come down harshly in an attempt to preserve Iowa and New Hampshire's first in the nation status for presidential primaries while the RNC would only administer a slap on the hand to their state party. The Florida GOP knew the Democratic party presidential contenders would honor the penalties administered by the DNC and stay away from the state leaving an open field and free media coverage to the GOP contenders. What had happened to allow this to take place with as little obstruction as possible for the Democrats was the deal they struck with the GOP leadership to stay quiet while they allowed a provision to pass through both houses making a switch to paper ballots for the November 2008 general election. Leading up to the state primary and even on the night of the primary this fact was never mentioned. Only that the Florida primary was little more than a beauty contest since delegates would not be selected for the 2008 convention.

Why the state Democratic party didn't see fit to blast the fact we were cornered in a mass of press releases to the media throughout the march up to the primary to make sure the voters understood the GOP's duplicity in this matter is beyond this blogger. Spinelessness seems to be congentical for the Democratic party in this day and age and the only way to remedy this is to elect new Democrats not afraid of the GOP and and the fact they might ....[gasp!]say some awful things about us in the press! I lay the blame for all of this at the feet of state party chair Karen L. Thurman and Sen. Bill Nelson. Being aware of the difficult position we state Democrats find ourselve in they never seem to mention it whenever I hear of them in the media. Then we have state elected officials like State Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate who plays the perfect patsy for the state GOP machine:
'State Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, who sponsored the elections bill in the Senate, predicted the early primary would force Democratic presidential candidates to campaign vigorously in the state, even if threatened with national party sanctions."If our choice is to be relevant and have no delegates or be irrelevant and have delegates, I'd rather be relevant. ... I'm confident the candidates will campaign in the state," Ring said.'
And how far off the mark was Mr. Ring with his bold prediction? Only Hillary showed up after the primary was over to thank the voters for a her political pyrric victory. With elected state Democratic officals like this who the hell needs GOP adversaries? I've been a yellow dog Democrat all my life and I don't ever intend to leave the party. But just once while I'm still alive and kicking I'd like to see one Democrat stand up and slap back when the GOP punches us, smirks, and just walks off. Just once.

This brings us to the status of superdelegates and a current break down of who is currenlty pledged and unpledged. There is already a great site that follows their status but being a political junkie like myself and a state blogger they bear close attention since according to the Democratic party state bylaws of Florida they are free to switch candidates at anytime and for any reason. First let's take a look at the Florida superdelegates currently pledged to Senator Clinton:
U.S. Senator:
Bill Nelson;
House of Representatives:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Alcee Hastings; Corinne Brown (my representative); Kendrid Meek;
DNC Official:
Paul Martinez.
Then comes the pledged superdelegates for Senator Obama:
House of Representatives: Robert Wexler
DNC party offical and member of Sen. Obama's campaign: Allan Katz.
Last, but not least are the unpledged superdelegates:
House of Representatives:
Allan Boyd; Kathy Castor; Tim Mahoney; Ron Klein.
DNC official/member:
Andrew Tobias;
Florida Democratic Party official: State Chair Rep. Karen L. Thurman; State Vice Chair
Rudolph Parker; Terrie Brady; Mitchell Ceasar; Hon. Joyce Cusak; Diane Glasser; Chuck Mohlke; and Janee Murphy.
In the coming days and weeks to follow I'll give frequent reports on these superdelegates with analysis as to how critical they are to the nominationg process as we move closer to the convention. A discussion of their options and the likelihood of an impending switch of support along with the fate of our state delegation might just turn out to have historical implications regarding this election.

Update: Here's a change in superdelegate status that's been a long time coming. A long *&%@# time.

A "Culture of Life" moment from your Republican party

Limbaugh was ranting against Sen. John McCain on his radio show this week when a caller asked whether he thought McCain would pick Sen. Lindsey Graham as his running mate. Limbaugh doubted it, though he admitted: "I may be wrong ... Lindsey Graham is certainly close enough to [McCain] to die of anal poisoning."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The semantics of torture (or how I learned to enjoy someone else's pain)

Ok. Now that the WH has finally thrown up its arms and confirmed that we in fact now condone torture they have managed to slip into the "it depends on the definition of what torture means" mode. This group keeps calling itself the "culture of life." This group wants to make sure eveyone is armed to to the teeth in this "culture of life." This group wants to make sure your life has a price tag on whether or not you live or die by making your health subject to the free market through private insurers in this "culture of life." They call themselves "compassionate conservatives" in this "culture of life." At this point the administration has managed to pervert all meaning attached to "compassionate."

The UN considers waterboarding torture and has criticized the US for it use and policies. As I've already stated before, how is it that the Clinton administration was able to capture every individual known a the time and that had anything to do with the '93 WTC bombing without infringing on anyone's civil liberties?

Btw, as I was posting this Anderson Cooper on CNN was just on and asking everyone to stay tuned because Glen Beck was next to talk about "Super Tuesday." And why is Glen Beck's vile and racist views on CNN?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tracking Super Tuesday

Before I begin there are two great web sites to follow Super Tuesday results: 2008 Democratic Convention Watch and CNNPollitics.com. So far no surprises with Hillary and Obama winning their respective "home" states. Though Clinton technically as 2 home states with Arkansas and New Your, where she is senator, CNN keeps playing up McCain as the man in control of the evening. CNN just called New York for McCain and I was hoping that Huckebee would show a little strength and give McCain a set back. Going back to the Democrats it was really good news seeing him take Georgia. But so far Clinton is an advantageous position delegate wise which is what these primaries are all about.

Update: I'm currently watching Huckebee addressing his supporters in Little Rock and I just can't shake loose his parroting the "culture of life" line we've been hearing since the Texas moron moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Right before he evoked that line he gave the standard winger 2nd amendment shout out. I'll never be able to reconcile the "culture of life" refrain while simultaneously wanting to arm every person they can in the meantime in that "culture." Perhaps they should change the line to "culture of my life locked and loaded."

Update II: Just finished watching Romney talking to the foam mitten wearing supporteres in Boston on CNN and his proclamation he's going to win this thing. He's a little weak on the number of states won tonight but CNN just reported that Arizona, which McCain did win, was called late for their favorite son and Romney dominated with self-identified conservatives by a wide margin. Huckabee keeps showing surprising strength with leads in Tennessee and Missouri. Obama picked up Minnesota and put his total state win to date at eight while Hillary's sits at six. Right now Hillary is speaking live from New York...

Update III: I just read over at Open Left that Matt Stoller is reporting Hillary has accepted the challenge of a debate on FauxNews. This is very disappointing. This doesn't mean Obama has accepted as well but why they continue to bow to these neanderthals is beyond me.

Super Tuesday and other musings

Now that "Super Tuesday" is upon us I find it somewhat ironic it falls on a dubious anniversary. On this day 5 years ago, then Secretary of State, Colin Powell made his now infamous appearance before the UN giving cause for an invasion of Iraq. Thinking back to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and making it a comparative only serves to undemine Powell's presentation of what could genereously be described as a power point presentation of drawings and coloring books. JFK had hard evidence and photos at the time. Powell must really be feeling the weight of history on his shoulders now for his duplicious involvement in the greatest scam of all time.

Polls, polls, polls. Wow. If anyone could figure out the plethora of polling data available for today's vote you get a gold star. As a newly onboard Obama supporter now that Edwards is out, I must say I agree with Chris Bowers' observation over at Open Left about the aura of the Obama campaign having a bit of arrogance. He points to Michelle Obama's response to the possibility of Hillary wining the nomination and her having to "think about it" infering there is a question about whether or not she would support Hillary as the nominee if she wins. What? Really? So she isn't different than the GOP candidate? Get real. This sounds like the same ol' Nader bullshit from 2000. Supreme Court. That should be the only anwser to her arrogant rejoinder. The Obama campaign and Sen. Obama himself has a tendency sometimes to confuse confidence with arrogance. They had better figure that out that difference right now.

Speaking of Nader and Chris Bowers over at Open Left, Mr. Bowers wonders which election in your lifetime to date is the most important one? I think it's the election of 2000 simply for the sheer weight it has considering it has all those dead bodies atatched to it. Nader claiming there was no difference between Gore and Bush to this day grates on my pcyche. Everyone at the time thought Gore's use of "lockbox" to underline the Social Security issue was just side splitting funny. I don't see anyone laughing now. And since 2004 I can't seem to find a Nader voter anywhere. Not one that will own up to it anyway.

And have I mentioned that Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller have the best damn blog in the universe?

Monday, February 04, 2008

No thank you Maria

Well, isn't that nice. Maria Shriver, first lady of California, and prominent member of the Kennedy clan has endorsed Sen. Obama. This, the same Ms. Shriver who sat in Bush's box at the 2004 GOP convention while her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed the delegates. I'm sure it was very touching for the wingnuts. If I remember correctly there were other members of the Kennedy family there as well.

Maria Shriver and those members of the Kennedy clan even associating themselves with an individual who sees torture as a virtue and arm of foreign policy does not serve the Kennedy clan well. I don't care how sincere her support for Obama is, that appearance at the GOP convention spoke volumes about who she is and the duplicious nature of her and her husband. No thanks, Maria. Take your damn support somewhere else.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Encouraging News From Sen. Obama's campaign

Two things have happened since Tuesday, January 29th that are important to me as a former Edwards supporter. Though I know I'm going to continue to have issues with Senator Obama's tendency to use GOP talking points and rhetoric, I feel slightly more comfortable because of these two events. First, there was his speech in Atlanta before parishinors in a predominantly black church where he lectured them on homophobia and the propensity for them to scorn gays:

"[...]We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them," he said during the speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King served as co-pastor with his father.Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay lobbying group, said he thought Mr. Obama’s speech was the first time a presidential candidate had brought up gay issues in front of a nongay audience without being prompted
to do so."

Then there was yesterday's news about National Journal's 2007 Vote Rankings with the Illinois Junior Senator ranked as the most liberal Senator of 2007 while Sen. Clinton ranked number 16. In Mr. Obama's first two years as a Senator he scored 16th and 10th respectively:
"Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was the most liberal senator in 2007, according to National Journal's 27th annual vote ratings. The insurgent presidential candidate shifted further to the left last year in the run-up to the primaries, after ranking as the 16th- and 10th-most-liberal during his first two years in the Senate."
Though I know I will always have issues with his propensity to never have met a GOP talking point he didn't like, I am somewhat relieved to hear/read this. These two events make me more comfortable supporting Sen. Obama and actually gives me some much needed breathing room.
Chris Bowers over at Open Left reminds us that out of the 267 votes Obama and Clinton both cast together in 2007, they only differed on 10 of those votes. This makes their differences at worst marginal and at best non-existent to the average voter. Actually this is good news from the Hillary camp as well. Yes, that debate last night left a pretty good taste in my mouth from both candidates.