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Sonoma County greets Obama’s same-sex marriage support with elation, resignation

In this photo released by The White House, President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, May 9, 2012, in Washington. Obama declared his unequivocal support for gay marriage on Wednesday, a historic announcement that gave the polarizing social issue a more prominent role in the 2012 race for the White House. (AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza)


Emotions in Sonoma County ranged from elation and praise to resigned acceptance after President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage.

Advocates were exhilarated that Obama declared his support after remaining elusive on the topic for years.

And opponents, while disagreeing with Obama’s position, said they were not surprised.

“It’s about time,” said Charity Ellenwood, 27, a transgender volunteer with Positive Images, a Santa Rosa support center for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual youths. “And I’m very happy that he supports us, because we support him and what he does.”

Obama’s statement was made during the heat of a presidential campaign, when raising money and courting voters are are critical, a coincidence noted by proponents and opponents alike.

“I personally disagree with the position, but I respect the fact that he is attempting to court a portion of the population and raise money, and that’s happening as we speak,” said Tim Arensmeier, pastor of the Sonoma Valley Community Church. “He’s running for re-election.”

Arensmeier did not think Obama’s statement would affect his chances at re-election. But others, such as retired Army Brigadier General Keith Kerr, who concealed his homosexuality for 30 years and came out in retirement, thought Obama’s statement would be a boon to his campaign.

“I think Americans are sharply divided on this issue, but many other countries in the world seem to have accepted same-sex marriage without severe damage to their social fabric,” Kerr said. “I think it’s a victory for all Americans, and I think the opposition will come to accept it.”

Ray Henderson, president of the Santa Rosa Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said that although the Mormon church disagrees with Obama on same-sex marriage, it supports and prays for the president in his role as the leader of the nation.

“I think the important thing here is that we’re respectful of each other, and that we have a civil discourse,” Henderson said.

Politicians representing the North Coast — all Democrats — voiced support for the president’s words.

“I couldn’t be prouder that the president of the United States now views marriage equality — the right to say “I Do” to the person you love — as among our most fundamental rights as Americans,” said U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

Susan Adams, who is running for congressional seat being vacated by Woolsey, offered a similar assessment. “It’s so important for the president to take this step, and it shows he is really listening to what people say about an issue that affects so many Americans, including my own daughter,” she said.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, Sen. Barbara Boxer and state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco also voiced support.

At Positive Images, Ellenwood and others hoped the president’s announcement would encourage people across the country to be more accepting of same-sex marriage.

“In 10 years, this is going to be a non-issue,” said Nancy Vogl, the organization’s co-director. “The newest generation in the United States has grown up with gay and lesbian aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, sons … there’s somebody in every family.”

39 Responses to “Sonoma County greets Obama’s same-sex marriage support with elation, resignation”

  1. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Great Expectations-you are wrong. There are plenty of families without a man and woman at the head. They’re are plenty of families with a married man and woman at the head or they might not be married. There are lots a families with just one parent, maybe a father or a mother. There are plenty of families with gay parents at the head. Some prosper some don’t. This is all fact. “Traditions” change and do in all cultures. Keeping “traditions” that punishes some people who don’t fit in is wrong.

    Men and women marry and choose not to have children. By the Republicans’ definition they shouldn’t have sex because they aren’t doing it to procreate. Fun is not allowed. Republicans have decided that they can’t have birth control because it prevents procreation.

    You don’t make sense and neither do the Republicans.

    And none of the above should be POLITICAL ISSUES.

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  2. Skippy says:

    “Evolve please.”
    Interesting comment considering evolution results from procreation, a biologically impossible result from homosexual practices.
    If “evolve” means “forget the entire history of human civilization and of the societal structure that allowed it to endure, and join me in supporting the loudest screeching rude and pushy minority around while they disassemble our nation”, then I understand.
    If “evolve” means “join the vast majority of Americans that have demonstrated by their vote that marriage is between one man and one woman”, then I invite you to do so.

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  3. Vowel Movement says:

    Skippy. Your analogy is (again) flawed. RC. You’re not even trying anymore.

    Unlike polygamy, homosexuality is mainstream and widely practiced in this country. Same sex marriage would be far more common place were it not for the discriminatory laws that have been most expeditiously put into place to prevent our LGTB brothers and sisters from enjoying the same rights and responsibilities that the rest of us enjoy.

    Make no mistake about it gentlemen. This is discrimination against our fellow citizens, nothing more. It’s ugly. It’s divisive. It’s hateful. It’s unnecessary. Evolve please.

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  4. Great Expectations says:

    The first gay president and the same sex crowd will not be happy until the concept of legally recognized marriage between a man and a woman is tossed onto the ash heap of history.

    Behind the same sex marriage vocal advocates, there are several more deviate groups waiting their turn to cry for their “human rights” to marry.

    All of this is designed to destroy one of the basic underpinning of this society, the family. Yes, there are arguments that there are caring, sharing gays but a same sex couple cannot biologically have babies.

    If gays want to live together, that is their business and let them live happily in collective bliss for as long as it lasts. We don’t needs to change a basic tenent of society to meet a small minority objection to a legal practice that has been going on for thousands of years in Western society.

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  5. Reality Check says:

    “. . . departure from the norm.” How’s that different from homosexuality? As to grasping, I think thee rather than me.

    If you want to advocate expanding marriage rights to include one more group, OK. But don’t fool yourself that it’s about equal marriage rights for all.

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  6. Skippy says:

    “As same-sex marriage is not mainstream or widely practiced in this country, it is correctly considered aberrant.”

    There, I fixed it for you.

    That’s why 32 States have voted on and overwhelmingly passed laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
    SSM will never be accepted as anything but aberrant by the majority of Americans.
    The only way it will become common is if it is forced down our throats by appointed judges and bureaucrats, the same way all of the Left’s social prescriptions are.
    America wants to be what it is, not what you wish it would be.

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  7. Vowel Movement says:

    RC. Aberrant can be defined as a departure from the norm. As polygamy is not mainstream or widely practiced in this country, it is correctly considered aberrant.

    You’re grasping.

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  8. Reality Check says:

    Interesting. Polygamy is aberrant behavior, according to VM. On a prejudice scale, how different is that from those who believe homosexuality is aberrant behavior.

    In any case, that’s not a subject I care to engage. The point made, though, is that those advocating under the banner of equal marriage rights have a rather narrow definition of its meaning.

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  9. Skippy says:

    Delicate sensibilities aside, if marriage can be redefined then so can any word, or any of our rights.
    Funny, but when Democracy rules and citizens get to express their viewpoint where it actually counts, SSM loses big every time it is on the ballot. 32 out of 32 times.
    Only black-robed elitist judges allow SSM, and impose it against the expressed will of the people.
    I guess, once again, the regular citizens are just too stupid, ignorant, bigoted and hateful to grasp the value of your enlightened, evolved position.

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  10. Chuck G says:

    I’ve read the responses and the different views and opinions. Our beloved country has slowly declined in everything from manufacturing which leads to jobs,and takes away jobs which takes away income, the education that should be offered to our children, friends, family, anyone who values education and deserves it.Wars,illegals entering our country to harm others and take advantage illegally of the benefits I work and pay for. Now the institution of marriage which is between a man and a wife. Sorry, I don’t agree with all you folks who are trying to change laws, but again everything else is changing. Say what you like, I’m a normal person that isn’t trying to change the world.

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  11. Vowel Movement says:

    Mr. Emory. This debate isn’t about being able to practice polygamy, bestiality, or child molestation. Our law doesn’t allow for this type of aberrant behavior. This is about equal protection under the law. Our law. Your argument is specious.

    On a side note, ancient Greece fell substantively due to their inability to unite as a people. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

    Skippy. The word “marriage” is only diminished when it is not freely available to be practiced by all. If two people love one another an want to profess it through marriage, why should they not be able to do so?

    Your Sharia Law analogy is flawed. We do not live under a system of Sharia Law. We have a constitution that guarantees equal protection of our God given rights. The right to marry must be available to hetero and homosexual persons alike. Anything less amounts to discrimination. If this idea offends your delicate sensibilities, get over it.

    RC. See above.

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  12. Reality Check says:


    If you wish to apply the 14th Amendment the way you seem to, and object to the tax discrimination single people face, then the logical thing to do is to end all legal distinctions between married and unmarried people. In which case there is no purpose in government recognized marriage, any and all.

    Now that’s real equality for those of you who preach from that pulpit.

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  13. bear says:

    Read the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Equal rights for all citizens is not an issue. Fifty years from now, people will laugh at us for debating this.

    Nobody is asking any church to do anything that violates their principles.

    As for tax/benefit implications, you should check out what happens to single renters with no children. Federal and state taxes violate our equal rights every minute of every day. Think $100K or more over a career.

    Which would make all the rest of you, and all your children, welfare recipients at our expense.

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  14. Reality Check says:


    Why? What about the words equal marriage rights would exclude Muslims and many other groups that have lone practiced polygamy?

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  15. Skippy says:

    “VM: It would be helpful if you would identify the distinction that separates polygamy and equal marriage rights for all. Does not the latter allow for the former?”

    “No, the latter does not extend to the former.

    OK, you can righteously state it does not, but unless you are all 9 black-robed SCOTUS political-appointees, you are simply guessing or wishing.
    Words mean things. Like the word marriage.
    When we dilute or eliminate the meanings of such important words we diminish their importance to a civil society.
    Islamic Sharia allows for lots of wives at once.
    If I’m being intolerant and bigoted by opposing SSM, what are you being by opposing this other alternative lifestyle?
    When will proponents boycott your business or home to protest your haremophobia?
    The scalpel that dismembers a culture cuts both ways “whether you like it or not”.
    If you don’t stand for something you’ll stand for anything.

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  16. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Richard James Emory-as a heterosexual you probably will have several wives in your lifetime, just not at the same time. Statistically anyway. Need a new car-go buy one. Tired of your wife, go find a new one. I know gay couples who stay together their whole lifetimes in happy, loving, monogamous unions whether legal or not. Many have children who are happy and prosper.

    You clearly don’t get it. And if you marry your parrot you ARE a pervert, not the gays you hate. Just don’t tell us about it because we normal people don’t want to know.

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  17. Jim says:

    The latest poll proves my earlier point. 60+% of voters said Obama’s gay marriage “announcement” won’t change how they vote. For those that said it WILL lead to them changing their vote, it was 2-1 in a change AGAINST Obama.

    This announcement was solely to change the focus from the anemic economy, the exponential spending, the expanding deficit, the lowest percentage of employment for females in 50 years, etc. The media keeps running “gay marriage” when the vast majority of the population doesn’t list it as a top 25 issue.

    Complete manipulation of weak-minded voters.

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  18. Vowel Movement says:


    No, the latter does not extend to the former.


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  19. Richard James Emory says:

    @ Vowel Movement

    Given your thesis of its all just human rights, would you ban polygamy, marriage between an adult and a child or several children and endorse the man-boy clubs?

    Where do you draw the line or do you stop anywhere in your little world of human rights perfection?

    Many years ago an old college professor told the class that ancient Greece began to degenerate when they legalized homosexuality. The moral basis of the society began to decline.

    Today Greece continues to be a state long in decline. The glory days are long passed. It is a backwater in the world of ideas, a shadow of its former self.

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  20. Reality Check says:


    It would be helpful if you would identify the distinction that separates polygamy and equal marriage rights for all. Does not the latter allow for the former?

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  21. Vowel Movement says:

    Mr. Emory.

    Your closeted polygamist views notwithstanding, this debate is simply about everyone enjoying the same rights as everyone else. It really doesn’t have to be as complicated as you make it out to be.

    In spite of the ignorance you and your ilk espouse, this country continues to fight it’s way toward equal rights for everyone. The 1920′s culminated with women’s rights and the suffrage movement. The 50′s and 60′s started the African-American Civil Rights Movement. We appear to be way past due for LGBT rights.

    Check your fallacious fear at the door, please. These people don’t want to hurt you. I seriously doubt that they want anything whatsoever to do with you.

    Your views are antiquated, Sir.

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  22. Follwer says:

    Opponents of Gay marriage say “marriage is between a man & a woman”.

    Having been married, I beg to differ.

    The contract my wife & I signed at City Hall wasn’t drawn up by our attorney, it was a Government contract.

    The money I paid for the “license” was paid to the Government.

    Marriage is between a man, woman and the Government.
    Or at least it was….

    Apparently some of the Government’s citizens would like to go down to City Hall, sign the Government’s contract, pay the Government’s fees and marry another citizen of the same sex.

    You wanted the Government involved in your mutual love & commitment when it offered you special treatment under the law but now that law abiding Gay citizens want to enjoy those same benefits you have a problem?

    I say your “problem” is your welcoming the Government into your “sacred institution” in the first place and now you get to see what happens when the Government gets involved.

    “What did we learn?”

    …nothing I suspect.

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  23. Richard James Emory says:

    Hey, I love my dog. I love my cat. I even love my parrot. I would like to have several wives just because I think I am entitled to change. And isn’t Obama all about change?

    Everybody should be able to marry anybody or anything they want. Now that is true equality. Isn’t that what the gays and transgenders want and are getting?

    How far and how fast this country has fallen in such a short time.

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  24. Reality Check says:

    When the history of the decline and fall of marriage is written, the role of same-sex marriage won’t merit much space. The irony here is that while gays demand the right to marry, the marriage rate among young people is in sharp decline. Marriage? Who cares.

    Marriage was doomed when it became more about fringe benefits, taxes, and social security, than a requirement of society that the result of sexual relations–children–were provided with a stable home in which to grow up.

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  25. Jim Bennett says:

    Amid the unprecidented oppression currently under implementation…
    a preoccupation with other people’s
    uterus and genitalia doesn’t seem like a high priority.

    To me it never was.

    No prejudice, he’ll oppress everyone.

    Tolerance is a good quality when you live really close to your neighbors.

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  26. Canthisbe says:

    The discussion about whether Obama “evolved” or “flip-flopped” on gay marriage just plays into Obama’s misdirection. Quoting Obama to support or attack one position of the other is nonsensical. Obama says anything and everything if it benefits him. Obama has always been in favor of gay marriage. It is a strong issue for his core constituents, not only gays, but liberals in general. Being against gay marriage would not get Obama 1% of the votes it would cost him. The only issue Obama was concerned about was how do I play this to my maximum advantage? Announce it now or closer to the election to have the distraction away from his socialist / fascist philosophy now or closer to the election? Biden may or may not have caused Obama to state his position sooner rather than later but even that is speculation.

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  27. Canthisbe says:


    “@ Canthisbe If you are so concerned with the costs of benefits to spouses maybe we should just outlaw them for everyone, gay or straight”.

    First, I believe that the issue of the economic benefits and costs of “gay marriage” are being intentionally covered up or at least ignored by the gay marriage advocates and the main stream media. Aside from the external economics of it, I don’t really care who marries who or what or who lives with who or what. But I think people should be aware of the external economic issues of gay marriage before they get the multi-billion $$$ bill for it. Gay spouses will become eligible – dare I say entitled – to billions of $$ of spousal benefits that did not exist before and have not been funded. And some of us know that billions of $$$ of unfunded employee benefits are a problem since we already have that problem. Better to know ahead of time and start dealing with it than wait for the bill to be presented later.

    Secondly, the solution to your stated issue about benefits for all spouses is not to outlaw them, but to make them rational. That is “cafeteria plans”. If I have two employees who are doing the same job, are equally skilled and have the same base pay, it does not make sense that one should cost me thousand of $$ more because they are married (male / female or gay /gay) or in the case of spouse survivor benefits that one stayed married to their high school sweetheart – who will statistically live about as long as they will or if they married a spring chicken the year before they retired and who statistically would receive survivor benefits for thirty or forty more years. To compensate employees equally, businesses and the government should offer all employees benefits under what are called “cafeteria” plans where they provide each employee a specific amount of money and each employee then decides how they want to allocate that amount (within government rules of course). Each of these employee costs the company or government the same amount and can allocate their benefits to health insurance, retirement, day care or whatever else is allowed depending on their needs and desires.
    As it stands now, we have male / female marriages that take place not for love, but for benefits. Should we add gay / gay marriages to that anomoly?

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  28. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Come on people. Enlightened is a word. Get it applied to you. Obama has never had a problem with gay marriage. He has a freako REPUBLICAN PROBLEM.

    It’s called EQUAL RIGHTS. We shouldn’t even have to debate gay and lesbian marriage in any forum. It is what it is and there is nothing wrong with it.

    No one in bemoaning Kim Kardasians marriage and immediate divorce for money and noteriety. I know gay couples who have been together forever, in stable, happy relationships. How does that harm you in any way?

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  29. Jean Anderson says:

    This issue is not that important, perhaps aside from the type of society people want to live in.

    What’s far more important is what Bill Clinton pointed out, and that many people already know – that the current president is an amateur, a radical community activist, and a pathetic excuse for a “leader.” He needs to be booted out, and is far worse than anyone the Republicans would run against him. And he is supported by ignorant political hacks such as Pelosi, Reid and other scumbags.

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  30. Jim says:

    @Grey Whitmore

    Um, what is your point? EVERY politician is a liar. Every single one of them. Anyone elected to their position lies to get votes. So Romney lied or flip-flopped, whatever.

    Obama was for gay marriage, against gay marriage, for civil unions, who-gives-a-rip? This is completely to change the focus from the pathetic economy, the trillions of deficit spending, the fact that women are at their lowest employment in 50 years (no media attention on that), government agencies wasting millions of dollars on lavish parties, wars that were promised to be ended 4 years ago that have been EXTENDED for another DECADE!!!!!

    The only thing of consequence that came from Obama’s “revelation” is that the media is pathetic, 100% biased and the voters are easily manipulated.

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  31. Grey Whitmore says:

    @James Todd.

    Yes, evolving. Just as Romney’s has. Yet Romney lies about his changes of mind.

    When he was running for governor of Mass “he promised to be a champion for ‘full equality’ for gays and lesbians — which many understood to include even gay marriage.”

    Of course, when 2003 rolled around and the POS became one of his goals, he changed his mind again.

    And of course, through all of this, Romney keeps saying he hasn’t changed his mind.

    Go figure.

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  32. Grey Whitmore says:

    @ Canthisbe If you are so concerned with the costs of benefits to spouses maybe we should just outlaw them for everyone, gay or straight.

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  33. Politics says:

    Yes Chuck…honestly much, much better off than 4 years ago. The world economy was in absolute free fall after 8 years of Bush and 6 years of Republican Congress following Clinton’s balanced budget. We were in a war with with Iraq for no better reason than “oops”. The Republicans tried to force us to default on the national debt just to destroy Obama.

    I’m no Obama fan and am more conservative than liberal, but the current batch of Republicans are INSANE.

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  34. Liz says:

    Okay, so President Obama was for gay marriage …then against it, and then for it again. I can’t really blame Obama for wanting to shift the conversation from the economy, but calling that an “evolving view” is a little misleading. If he called it a “revolving view,” then I might see his point…

    Obama has maintained that this is a state issue, not a federal one. The stance is strange considering he has taken the opposite stance when it comes to healthcare.

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  35. Canthisbe says:

    The real issue about gay marriages that has been hidden is that it is not about gays’ right to go through messy divorces just like male / female couples but it will entitle gays to billions of $$$ of pension benefits, health insurance coverage and other employment benefits and insurance benefits with will flow to the newly created “spouses” who will now be covered by their “spouses’” medical insurance and entitled to pension benefits as the “surviving spouse”. If you think government pensions and medical / dental / eye glasses insurance benefits are a financial problem now wait until you start paying for this new costs.

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  36. James Todd says:

    He claims his position has “evolved”- I LOVE how all the libbies are using that word to cover their flipping and flopping!-do y’all get your talking points from Media Matters, MSNBC, or the White House? (Trick question as they all meet and share them daily)
    Here’s a refresher that many seem to have forgotten:
    Obama in 1996: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages,and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”
    Obama in 2004: My religious faith dictates marriage is between a man and a woman, gay marriage is not a civil right.
    Obama in 2008: I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman. As a Christian it’s also a sacred union.
    Obama in 2008: I support civil unions.
    Obama in 2010: My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this.

    You say “evolve”…I say flipping and flopping to bend to what he thinks will save his pathetic rear in November.

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  37. Chuck G says:

    Are you kidding me? Anyway to sway the vote so that the Democrats will try to win the White House again. Be honest with yourself, are you better off than 4 years ago, and will you possibly accept another 4 years of this ridiculous Government?

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  38. Jim says:

    Pay no attention to the multiple things behind the curtain, Obama supports Gay Marriage!!

    The curtain hides the economy, the exponentially increasing deficit, the wars that continue and will continue for another 10 years per Obama’s latest decision, unemployment, massive government waste and fraud, the pension bomb, healthcare, etc, etc.

    But hey, at least the front page of the paper and EVERY news broadcast is reporting and analyzing something everyone knew and NO ONE cares about!!

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  39. Corn Fused says:

    This is just political posturing. It means nothing and signifies dishonesty not acceptance.

    What is worse, living your lie or believing his lie.

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