Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mother Jones on Digital Democracy

Thanks to Farber's IP list, I learned of this collection of articles and interviews on "Digital Democracy" in Mother Jones magazine, online. It takes into account where we were in the last election, what kind of progress we've made, and where we're really going now - arguing that MySpace isn't necessarily all it's cracked-up to be in terms of motivating communities to act in a political sense but also introducing other areas that are making waves online. (And I have to say I love some of the article titles like "10,000 Deaniacs: Where are they now?")

I haven't had time to read it all yet, but the one comment I have so far is they only mention two women from what I've seen - Esther Dyson and Morra Aarons. Both worthy of noting, to be sure, but there are more of us in this space - consultants, bloggers, techies, entrepreneurs, lawyers - with expertise, like Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn and, Jennifer Granick & Lauren Gelman at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, and Madeline Stanionis of Watershed just to name a few here in the Bay Area. See also: for other resources. I'd like to see more women interviewed in general on this topic.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Speaker Pelosi & Geraldine Ferraro Speaking July 9 in SF

This is an event that any Democratic woman interested in politics will want to attend: The first woman Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and the first woman Vice Presidential nominee, Geraldine Ferraro, at the "Ultimate Women's Power Lunch" celebrating Pelosi's 20 years of service in the House on July 9th at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Funds raised go to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). General tickets are $500 but there's also a "Young Professional" rate for $100. Sign up here. You'll find me there at the Emerge table.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Latest on Elizabeth Edwards and Political Dialogue

I put up a post yesterday about the Ann Coulter-Elizabeth Edwards cat fight, for those following the story, on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog that's received quite a bit of traffic. When I met with Mrs. Edwards last fall, she said she felt the Internet is "the last real democratic institution" and I'm guessing she still feels that way since her TV encounter didn't fare so well. She will, however, be a keynote speaker at next month's Blogher conference in Chicago. I'm sure she's not the only potential first spouse surfing the blogosphere, but from what I've seen, she has a genuine interest in online dialogue.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mercury News on Mommy Wars

I was quoted last week in the San Jose Mercury News about the "mommy wars" hype and some follow-up to the discussion on the Merc blog via a series of articles by Sue Hutchison. I wrote a lot more about it than she printed, of course, but essentially my thoughts on the topic are that yes, we have more options than we've had in the past but we still have a long way to go.

Most jobs are full-time in the office and that's the only option. If you want anything other than that, you won't be considered for the position. I understand the employer's perspective, but at the same time, there needs to be a reality check. Jobs are going overseas to people in other countries - why not down the street to someone in his/her home? It's not like moms are the only ones who want more job flexibility - it's just that we have a more obvious reason that allows us to be clumped together into one category which may or may not fully describe who we are or what we want to do with our time.

Kudos to Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn and author of The Mothernood Manifesto, for starting Moms Rising, an organization focused on getting this issue the attention it needs.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Newsweek poll shows all Dems ahead

Each of the respective campaigns will be spinning this however they can, but the news is that the latest Newsweek poll has all 3 top Democratic presidential contenders beating out all 3 top Republican contenders. Margins differ of course, but the top match-up is Yankees v. Mets... Clinton edges out Giuliani (whose name hopefully I'll be able to spell without looking it up every time I post before the primaries are over), the current most likely scenario.

However, before everybody on the left coast starts celebrating, let me remind the stats obsessed out there that polls are just, well, polls. They are essentially meaningless and although there's a lot of weight put on them, the prevailing wind can always change and for those of you who think just because Bush is in trouble that the Dems have it "in the bag", that's not necessarily the case. The Republicans always have their trusty dirty tricks hat from whence cometh various kinds of rabbits. My money is on them pulling Bin Laden out of some hole a la Saddam Hussein come September of next year, although it's just as likely the guy and his dialysis machine have both been gathering dust since before the twin towers came down... but hey, if they can preserve Lenin's body for this long in Red Square for millions of tourists, they can preserve Bin Laden's in a cave. I digress..

There's a Democratic forum on TV Thursday evening (live on PBS and then replayed later on local networks). I haven't heard much from the other campaigns on their plans, but there are Hillary Clinton house parties taking place around the country. Check her web site for more info on the closest one to you if you are interested in learning more. I haven't had time to do as much research on all of the Democratic contenders as I would like, but Hillary is my front runner based on her experience. There are a lot of things I like about Edwards, Obama and Richardson and I would proudly vote for any of them in the general election. And I don't dislike all of the Republicans (although I won't vote for any of them since they have each disappointed me in at least one way or another.)

I'll review the online campaigns again soon... Clinton's been doing some interesting stuff as have Edwards and Obama.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Great Sites for Becoming More Eco Responsible

I've been doing some research lately for an article and doing additional general reading, catching up on magazines, etc. and I've collected a list of some great sites for learning more about how to "go green", save energy, become carbon neutral, etc... Here they are:

  • - Nonprofit for carbon neutrality

  • - Al Gore's site full of great info

  • - A commercial solution for becoming carbon neutral

  • - Scientific information about the climate problems

  • - U.S. Government's program for labeling energy saving products and solutions

  • - Dept. of Energy - Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy program

  • - Renewable energy credits and offsets (also commercial) through new energy programs

  • - Home Energy Saver calculator courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley Lab (home audits)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fashion Show Benefitting Leukemia & Lymphoma on Thursday

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are hosting their third annual fashion show, "Five Designers and a Poodle", Thursday (June 21) at Mezzanine, 444 Jessie Street. The show features Colleen Quen, Rachel Roy, Bacca Da Silva, Simayof and "many more". VIP Reception begins at 6:30 and main event starts at 7:30, lasting until 1a.m.
General admission of $75 includes wine, food, fashion show, silent auction, and dancing. VIP reception tickets for $125/person include goody bags and more food options. Supposedly 100% of the proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (that's nearly unheard-of for nonprofit fundraising events.) To get tickets, call 415-989-0230 or email info[at]
(Cross-posted at

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Silicon Valley & Bay Area Charitable Giving Pales in Comparison to Other Areas

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while... for anyone who didn't see the April San Francisco magazine, they reviewed philanthropic giving in Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles. They got the numbers from the NewTithing Group. Unfortunately I couldn't find out how they differentiate between "Bay Area" and "Silicon Valley" but it's no shock to me that people farther south of San Francisco toward San Jose contribute less philanthropically. However, not that much less. L.A., on the other hand, gives twice as much per capita than the Bay Area.

Nationally, California is way below other states like Oklahoma and Nebraska, whereas Utah is highest on the list. (I don't know if this includes church giving - the LDS church urges most members to give at least 10% in tithing to the church so that could skew the numbers if so.) In any case, California is 22nd in philanthropic giving nationally according to the research done by that group.

While poking around, I found an interesting site for nonprofit benchmarking at The Center for What Works.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Relaunched as a Resource Site

Some of you may remember that I had a company back in '99-2000 that focused on helping companies and individuals "ergonomize" their work spaces - was the site and it was to be an online resource. I launched it right at the peak of the dotcom boom and learned a lot through the process, getting a ton of help from the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs", the Software Development Forum, and the Womens Technology Cluster. Funding began drying up and nobody wanted to work two jobs simultaneously any more, so I joined another startup and put bcomfy on hiatus...

Yesterday, after a lunch discussion with another local serial entrepreneur where we discussed how easy it was to launch web sites these days, I decided it was time to relaunch bcomfy as a blog. I won't be writing much there on a regular basis, but it's an easy framework to put up news and information and it has a nice linkable interface for resources. I tried out the new Blogger interface as the site redirects to Blogspot and it works pretty well. There are a few little bugs like I couldn't for the life of me get it to put up an image that I had but it looks pretty good otherwise.

The idea behind the site is to be a helpful resource for people with injuries, disabilities and illnesses making ergonomics painful and/or difficult for them. So please - if you know people with carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, chronic pain syndrome, trigger finger, paralysis, numbness, ganglion cysts or other repetitive strain injuries or symptoms, please direct them to the new site if they are seeking resources. Thanks!

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Buying & Selling on EBay While Giving to Charity

My husband is now working on the charity-related auction program within eBay and their umbrella name is Giving Works. Giving Works allows buyers to search by items that donate parts or all of their proceeds to charity. It also allows sellers to donate a percentage of their sale proceeds to the organization(s) of their choice. "Help save an animal every time you shop" is one promotion they have, for example, but there are many. Supposedly over 10,000 nonprofits are in their system and users can add others.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Script Frenzy - NaNoWriMo for Screenwriters & Playwrights

I can't believe I had to hear about this from a newspaper clipping sent via snailmail from my mother instead of via broadband or word of mouth. Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, aka November), the man who coined my nickname, 'Sairy', when we were in high school together, has now launched Script Frenzy, a month-long scriptwriting 'contest' where writers hash out scripts for full length screenplays or stage plays. Looks like fun.

I was one of the first people to participate in NaNoWriMo but I bailed because of my carpal tunnel syndrome... it was pretty fierce at the time. But back in college, I recall writing a one-act play in 2 weeks while studying British Film & Theatre over the summer in London, so I figure if I could do that then, certainly I could do it again now. I've written a hand full of other plays and screenplays and directed/co-produced one of them, but that was all in college and they weren't particularly good. I probably write over 2000 words a day professionally now not to mention email, so if their requirement is 20,000 words in a month, no sweat. (Famous last words.) For point of reference, this post is 375 words. The 4 posts I've written today add up to 2400 words. Dialogue is easy. Just talk to yourself for several hours and voila!

Looking at the Script Frenzy site, they have tips for script writing, an insightful blog, a forum for participants, and of course a call for action. One of my favorite parts is the donation package incentives. As someone who's worked with a lot of nonprofits, these perks are some of the most amusing I've seen. For $5000, their team will make a 5 minute movie about you and enact it with anything from finger puppets to A-List actors. And these guys are smart - it would probably be damn good and definitely it would be funny. In any case, they need money to keep the contest going and to launch it again in future years. They also support young writers in a variety of ways.

They operate NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy both through their nonprofit, The Office of Letters and Light.

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The Police - Arrested Development Turned at Last to Harmony

I've been doing the rounds of old timers concerts the past few years - Simon & Garfunkel, Yes, the Doobie Brothers, and I would've been to see Paul McCartney but I was 9 months pregnant and on bed rest and just didn't feel up to it, aside from the risk to my baby's ears in utero. Last night I was lucky (thanks to my husband's eBay gravitas) to see The Police at the Oakland Coliseum - only the third stadium tour I've seen (including the Jacksons, circa '85 and Billy Joel & Elton John, circa '95).

Getting there was a chore - traffic was some of the worst I've ever been in over my whole life. It was worth it, but if I had to do it again, I would've taken Caltrain to BART and brought some sandwiches. Finally entering the stadium, wafts of pot smoke filled the air as thousands of people pushed and shoved to get through lines of nearly 100 to get to the ATM, the bathroom, the beer. We were still on the concourse when the concert began, grabbing a late dinner after 2.5 hours in traffic and could see the entire stadium full of people. Just the audience itself was a sight to behold, but then seeing that trio of so many classic tunes together on stage after a 20 year hiatus was a breath to behold.

I wasn't an immediate fan of The Police as a kid. I didn't like Sting's voice at first because - and this took me a long time to figure-out - he tends to ride the low side of notes, lingering dangerously close to being flat. And the raspiness mixed with the style of some of their songs - the reggae elements, perhaps - was a little too mature for me as a pre-teen. Then one day I listened to the lyrics of "Every Breath You Take" while my dad was in the ICU of a hospital on a ventilator and it struck a chord deep inside me. The words can be interpreted different ways, of course, but for me as an 11 year-old, I stuck more with the literal connotations and I kept meaning to dedicate it through "American Top 40" during my dad's long recovery, but I was too chicken to try. As I grew older, I learned to appreciate the musicality and depth in the sound both in the music by The Police and Sting's solo stuff. I bought all of their albums and listened intently to the quality of their unique sound.

As we made our way last night to our seats in the 3rd row on the field, off to the right by the speakers, and the way it was setup, we were basically right next to the barrier of the stage area (but still about 100 feet from the band). We were close enough to see their body language from a distance, but not their faces. Still, with a jumbo jumbotron right next to us, we could see every nuance on their faces just fine through the camera's eye. Clearly, Andy Summers didn't want the camera on him and he spent the first few songs looking frustrated while Stewart Copeland had a serious look on his face, pounding away on his immense drum set, but Sting, veteran performer and one of the most beautiful men in the world, held the show together, using every ounce of his glorious charisma to get the 3 musicians to play to the same beat while calming the audience with his melodious voice.

I've learned from being a singer in ensembles that warming-up and rehearsing just before a concert is essential. I'm guessing they didn't do that. Acoustic guitar, wireless bass, a couple of drumsticks and a can - whatever... just to get the muscle memory working. It takes the body longer to warm-up as you get older, no matter how talented you are. It took them 4-5 songs to really gel. Physically that's to be expected, but when you pay a pretty penny to see legends play music, you expect a little more precision. After seeing Simon and Garfunkel though, these guys seemed polished. It took Art Garfunkel until almost the encore to warm-up his voice.

In their defense, it's incredibly difficult to play in an outdoor arena setting like that - the acoustics are tough to hear. For bands like Rush who've played together in every setting for over 30 years, it's no big deal, but there were moments in this concert where Sting had to start the song like a high school garage band: "1, 2, 1, 2, 3..." to get them all on tempo. Copeland, it's been noted, is one of the most incredible drummers ever, so half the reason I wanted to see this show was to see him. I've studied Neil Peart, Ray Cooper and others, I am always impressed by those drummers who can play both drums and percussion brilliantly - Copeland is one of them. And as we're all our own worst critics, he roasted their performance in Vancouver.

I think Oakland was probably better. The mistakes I noticed were really miniscule and since many people in the audience were drunk, stoned and/or tone deaf (I think one woman behind us was all three), I doubt most people noticed. By the end of the tour, they'll be in great shape. I think Sting surprised himself singing some of the high notes later in the set. Hey, if Elton can still do it after major rehab, Sting and his finely tuned instrument should be A-OK.

Some of the unique points in the show are worth noting, like Sting's ancient Fender bass - his original - warn and tattered - he probably gets splinters from it, but it looks great and sounds great on stage. Summers's guitar was held on his shoulder by a strap reading "Oh my God, he killed Kenny!" with a picture of the red coated South Park character. It added an element of comedy to the stoic look on the guitarist's face during most of the show. "Wrapped Around Your Finger" included not only amazing percussion but some nice visual effects with the candles from their old video. They showed moving video footage of children and soldiers in Iraq (I'm guessing here, but it was definitely the Middle East) during "Invisible Sun". I like it when musicians ask their audiences to think a little with that kind of message in concerts - U2 and Rush have shown footage like this.

Supposedly the band changed keys of a few songs (I noticed something different but couldn't pinpoint that until later) which may contribute to the slower pace - they weren't used to playing it that fast in another key... makes sense. I'm sure they have their reasons for doing that and it's a risk they can take with packed stadiums all over the world. They definitely altered the vocals to lower in several songs - and although it still sounded good, I missed the old melodies. I also missed the higher backup vocals. I could tell Summers and Copeland were singing backup vocals during the performance, but they weren't mixed in very well - I thought they could've been a little louder as to not be overshadowed by the guitars, but perhaps it was just where we were sitting that they sounded that way.

By the time the trio got to "Roxanne", they were playing perfectly. It was like being transformed back in time to see them live. Then they went on to "King of Pain" and "Every Breath You Take", both which were fantastic to see and hear. They performed 3 encores and at the end took a few bows holding hands together - all of them smiling. We were mesmerized. I don't know about the rest of the crowd, but they had me wrapped around their fingers.

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Great Father's Day Gift Idea - sent me email - I don't know if they're hooked up with or what, but I liked their idea so I don't really care how they got my name. Anyway the gist of it is they help you choose nonprofits to give to as a gift for Dad.

Here's part of the message they sent:
"Instead of another tie, why not...
• provide clothing for a family of four in Peru
• sponsor an orphanage meal in the Dominican Republic
• provide computer training for teens in Gambia
• help a child learn to read in rural Ghana or
• find something else that strikes your Dad's fancy with a casual browsing through our hundreds of other exceptional opportunities

Whichever way you decide to honor your dad this Father's Day, know that UniversalGiving represents a trustworthy and generally fantastic option for honoring loved ones while uplifting our world community."

I liked this, so I found a great organization, Kupenda, that helps children in Africa with disabilities and donated to them on behalf of my father. I hope my dad doesn't mind my writing this here, but the reason I selected this organization is because my dad is a polio survivor, paralyzed in the right arm, upper left arm, and chest since age 16. He became a successful lawyer, got married, had 2 children and has been active in Childrens TLC, a Kansas City-based organization which teaches disabled children & Wheels for Freedom, a national organization that provides wheelchairs to disabled children. He also sponsored an African man to attend college in Kansas. I think my dad is a wonderful example for children with disabilities so I told the organization about him as well. Happy early Father's Day, Dad!

The great thing about is it has a huge selection of organizations to choose from and there are also volunteer opportunities. Say for example I wanted to volunteer for Kupenda, they have a program that takes volunteers to Kenya to help educate the children. And it works with Paypal so it's all easy on the transaction side. I gave a little extra to cover the online transaction fee so that Kupenda wouldn't have to bear that burden on their end, but one way or the other it's taken out of the donation amount. also takes donations, of course, to keep them around providing such a great service.

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Recent Posts on SVMoms Blog & SFBayStyle

FWIW, I've been writing a lot of posts other places in the past couple of weeks. Here's a sampling:

    On SFBayStyle...

  • Closet Obsession - My husband may be one of the few metrosexual males who groked this post but it covers why I find closets fascinating.

  • Fall/Winter 2007 Fashion Trends List - Published each season, my list covers all that I've read and viewed in magazines and online about the coming season's fashion trends.

  • Wilkes Bashford & SF Symphony Present Fashion Show - I attended a fashion show last week for the SF Symphony and a local high-end retailer that was a lot of fun. Includes photos.

  • On the Silicon Valley Moms Blog...

  • The Dreaded Daycare Dilemma - For those of you not from the Bay Area, you may not understand how hard it is to get kids into pre-school here but I had to get my daughter on a list when I was pregnant to get a spot just now for the coming fall; however, the decision wasn't so easy so I enlisted the help of my fellow mommybloggers while making the decision.

  • Four Inspirational Moms on Perserverence - About a book co-written by 4 women, including former California Senator Jackie Speier, this tells a little about my experience with Jackie and what her book covers.

  • Confessions of a Sugarholic... - A new shop opened in Menlo Park, the "Sugar Shack" and this post chronicles my own battles with sugar (it always wins) and how I feel about this exciting new business.

  • Great Summer Reading - A book review of Momzillas, new well-written, hilarious chick lit.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

InnVision and Downtown Streets Team Helping Palo Alto Homeless

Yesterday, "In Style Palo Alto", presented by Boutiques on Bryant Street, benefitting Downtown Streets Team presented a fashion show, silent auction and arts & crafts fair in downtown Palo Alto. The Streets Team and InnVision just launched a new campaign to raise funds to help homeless in Palo Alto by placing donation cups in downtown retailers and encouraging people to give there vs. directly to the homeless. This is a great idea as downtown Palo Alto sometimes has as many panhandlers as some neighborhoods in San Francisco.

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BigFix Presidential Campaign Winning Online

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, BigFix, an Emeryville-based IT Security & Compliance Provider, is running a faux viral presidential campaign online to gain traffic and interest in the site. It's working... their pretend candidate, Ray Hopewood, is on Flickr, MySpace, and everywhere in-between. Check out his web site. It's pretty good.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Soviet Era Video Games Resurfacing

According to Wired, 32/70 of the world's only video games ever built or played in the Soviet Union have been unearthed and are now on display in an old bunker at Moscow State Technical University called the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines. Supposedly during their use (70's - 90's), most games cost 15 kopeks to play (like 15 cents, not including exchange rate). They had mechanical score counters like older pinball machines, but they didn't track high scores - it wouldn't have fit the Soviet model.

Here is the gallery of games. From pong-like to graphics more on the level of Donkey Kong, they resemble games we had in the U.S. mostly in the early 80's. One is called "Sniper-2" and still has a large rifle-like gun attached. Most of those shown in the gallery had a military angle, like "Dogfight".

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for video game emulators to take shape and multi-game boxes to develop with these games in them once students get a chance to take them apart and develop code emulators. Although as a kid who grew up with pinball machines and an Apple II in my house, playing an emulator game - even in an arcade type shell - still isn't quite the same as the original. The muscle memory just isn't there with different controls. The nostalgia still remains though.

I think when I return to Mockba (Moscow) one of these days, I may have to visit this little museum. For Bay Area locals who want to play old arcade games, check out the arcade at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Democratic Debate Winners

I watched both the first and second Democratic presidential debates tonight. I was somewhat annoyed that the questions tonight still related so much to Iraq and healthcare, but some other important issues were touched upon such as the situation in Darfur and the environment. I wish the environment were taking a greater role in the discussion.

According to Time magazine, Gore isn't interested in entering the race but he is interested in making sure the environment is key on the next president's agenda. I'd like to hear him asking the announced major candidates questions. My husband wants to get ex-presidents up there asking questions of current candidates. I think that's an excellent idea. Turn up the heat. Make it like a job interview.

For anyone who hasn't heard the latest poll numbers coming into the debate, supposedly Hillary Clinton is the Democratic front runner at 42% with Obama at 27% and Edwards at 11%. At this point, I believe Senator Clinton will probably win the nomination, so instead of asking the question of whether she can win the general election which many people have been asking (myself included), we need to instead reframe it into a statement of how she will do this. We have no choice. The U.S. and the world can't afford another four years of American Republican "leadership". Many people dislike Mrs. Clinton from her time in the White House, but for everyone who's willing to listen, I hope they'll see there's more to her than meets the eye. I believe she's earnest in her willingness to work hard and rebuild our relationships around the world. We can believe her because she's done it before.

Edwards blasted Clinton and Obama for not showing leadership by quietly casting their votes against funding the war recently rather than making vocal stances. The truth is they were probably too busy campaigning to make stances on the Senate floor, but Edwards' comments seem to have helped him. Daily KOS readers voted that Edwards won the debate, with Obama coming in second and Clinton third.

However, the proof is in the pudding. Who really has executive leadership experience? Clinton showed leadership in the debate itself by responding to Wolf Blitzer about the hand raising on hypotheticals. The others on the stage listened and followed her several times. It was obvious they all consider her the front runner and it was obvious that they all respect her for all that she's done as First Lady and as a senator. I've heard a lot of impressive things about her being able to build coalitions and partnerships across party lines. Now we'll see how she does it to win the general election. I have some ideas, but I'm not going to say just yet what they are.

Bill Richardson is my new dark horse (apart from the obvious Gore if he jumps in). I originally thought Dodd could be one, but I now realize he's too far to the right and just not a charismatic enough speaker to do it. I don't believe Richardson has the political skills to match Clinton, but he's interesting because he's the one Democratic candidate with recent executive governmental experience and he's interesting because he comes across with original, detailed ideas. (Not that I wouldn't be happy with any of these people in the Oval Office; I'd just be more confident in some than others.)

Biden and Kucinich seem to have learned a little since '04. They both are presenting better so far in the debates. I hope Gravel stays in the race for a while. He adds an element that I thought would be missing with Sharpton out. I like that he says what he thinks and doesn't seem to worry about how it comes out. Sure, he'll never win and he probably knows that, but it is interesting how he's helping shape the debate. So for now, I think they're all winners for beginning to get their ideas out to people. Tune in Tuesday night for the Republicans.

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