29 January 2008

What The Raw Numbers Suggest

The old "you have to be twice as good" adage seems to be true as Obama finds himself running against two Clinton candidates, one actual, one de facto.

The thing that I find reprehensible as I cruise the internet to get a sense of what the mood is in the country is our insatiable need to label everything - red state, southern bloc, women vote, pro-lifers, evangelicals - as if we sprout an ideological single issue third arm during elections with which to cast our ballots.

The great thing about America is its unpredictability - otherwise, I would still be on the back of the bus.

If you look at the raw numbers without the spin that the talking heads put on them, especially on a county by county basis, going all the way back to Iowa, you will realize, the way a football coach who went 7-9 last year often does, that many of the ones that were lost were not lost by any considerable margin.

At this point, the registration of new voters seems to be working to the advantage of the challenger - it seems to be the biggest factor in these results that defy prediction.

Between the furious level of campaigning, the Democratic National Committee's 50 State Strategy to enlarge the electorate that Howard Dean initiated a while back, and the small shifts in demographics over the last four years, I would not be surprised to see a lot of the current conventional wisdom regarding party performance on a state level overturned.

27 January 2008

Ready To Join The Club

My phone rang off the hook last night.

My mother called as I sat in the basement, watching Barack and Michelle wave to the crowd while the enervating strains of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” blared from the surround sound. I was actually on my cell phone with my best buddy, pointing out the South Carolinians I still remembered who stood behind the candidate as he made his speech, when Sheila walked across the room, the house phone to her ear , mouthing the words “your mother”, her eyes dancing.

I told my buddy my Mom was on the line and took the phone from Sheila.

“We won!” came through the earpiece as soon as she heard me say “hello?” My mother, who hasn’t exercised in God knows how long, who has been retired for years, a woman who just turned sixty nine on Friday, sounded like she was twenty years old again.

We talked about the returns, the super early projections by the networks that came out practically the minute the polls closed, the candidates who had filled the college auditorium in my home town of Orangeburg as late as a few days ago, the sentiments of the man on the street – it was as if the electric charge in the air in South Carolina was being transmitted through the phone line.

The irony of it all – her enthusiasm, her jubilance, even the statement “we won” – is that she and my father have been Republicans for over thirty years.

The thing we talked about the most was the “O” Train – the Obama phenomenon as a result of a craftily constructed and EXTREMELY well managed cadre of top notch political operatives. In Horry County, the only county of 46 that Clinton won, she only did it by 6% - 39% to 33%.

Instead of swallowing the pablum that commentators love to swill on morning talk shows and news blurbs, most of the people I know do what I do - hit the raw numbers, extrapolate them against raw census figures, and see what patterns emerge to us.

After half an hour, my mother gave me the number of one of my father’s contemporaries here in Atlanta, an old DC bureaucrat who’d retired down south.

So I called him.

“Man, this thing is getting interesting,” he said. He and I exchanged greetings, then I proceeded to listen as he deconstructed what he saw as the high points and the low points of the Democratic presidential primary. “I’ve given money to the DNC for years,” he said. “And I was pissed – pissed at Bill Clinton for showing his ass because his wife wasn’t getting a free pass, and pissed at Dean (Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC) for not reigning Bill in. So I called up there to talk to somebody and let them know how I felt about it.”

He and I both just about fell all over ourselves as we gave Roland Martin, a back bencher (ain’t that a bitch – all the black commentators on CNN were in the back row) a metaphorical high five for saying something along the lines of “Obama appeals to the hip hop vote - the young white voters” without blinking an eye as he looked into the camera.

The thing that has been making me hot under the collar the last few weeks came back as I listened to the post primary spin from ex-president Bill Clinton. I might as well be one of the people listening to the radio in the movie “The Great Debaters” back in the 1930’s.

What the hell is this “well you know, Jessie Jackson won there in ’84 and ‘88” shit? He might as well would have told Obama, “nigger, you need to get your ass back in that barrel with all them other niggers. We’ll let you back out when we need you.”

What the hell is that finger waggle at the camera, finger waggle and sanctimony – is that the finger you sunk into Miss Lewinsky, you post pubescent poon hound? Is that the finger you stabbed at the air as you stared into the TV camera and said “I did not have sex with that woman?”

Why do I feel like we need another March on Washington every time Hilary comes on TV looking like Miss Ann who is going to tell us black folks “she knows what’s good for us nigras?”

I don’t know what “experience” means. Maybe it means Hilary Clinton should be able to handily whip an upstart politician with a wisp of national exposure. Maybe it means when Obama is able to pull together a team that can go to a full court press on a county by county basis in EVERY state against Hilary, she should be able to shift more troops into place to get more support. Maybe it means that you have a deeper treasure trove of insults, put downs, veiled references and racial code words to dig into when the heat is on your ass.

I hope Bill Clinton keeps running his damn mouth. The more he talks, the more he is likely to say something stupid.

I hope Obama continues to utilize Muhammad Ali’s “rope-a-dope” fighting style and let these two talk themselves out of contention. Although I think the Tiger Woods method is better – just ignore the sum bitches and play your own game.

A lot of the black blogosphere is also up in arms. A few excerpts:

from The Field Negro:

I have been tricked! Hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Set up and played by the Clintons, and I fell right into their trap.

Oh don't act like they didn't trick the rest of you Negroes too. I read all the nasty comments and e-mails about Billary and their dirty tricks and racial politics. And the tone was all the same: "Why are you picking on one of us? Why are you racializing this election? Why are you playing the race card?"

I know you all meant well, and you were just looking out for one of your own. I read all the righteous indignation on your blogs, I heard it on black radio, and I heard it in your day to day conversations. But you were acting just like "Billary" wanted you to act, and you followed the script to a tee.

So what did we do? We helped to turn South Carolina into the 2008 version of Sista Souljah. The Clintons knew that by blackening up the "O" man, they would force us to come to his defense, and ultimately, make this election about race and nothing else. And what better place is there to set up a racial firewall than South Carolina, with black folks making up almost 50% of their democratic voters?

I heard it all night tonight from the lily white pundits and anchor people. "Boy race really played a part in this election." The blacks really came out for Obama." "Obama got 81% of the black vote which is far more than both of his opponents.... and on and on it went. When it was over, it was as if Jessie Jackson was running for president. Did I say Jessie Jackson? Oh yeah, and just for good measure; Bill mentioned him too. , just in case we forgot that Obama, like Jessie, is a black man.

from Jack and Jill Politics

I'd like to concentrate on those two points.

1. He only won because he's Black

This is condescending to the nth degree. For this to be the case, then that would mean that Obama would have been leading in South Carolina from the moment he announced in February 2007. And, the truth of the matter is, the race in South Carolina, according to the polls, only has had Obama in the lead beginning THIS MONTH- January 2008.

In November 2007, Hillary Clinton had a ten-point advantage; December 2007, Clinton and Obama were tied. So, from February 2007 until December 2007, Barack Obama was trailing Hillary Clinton in South Carolina. So, what happened in December 2007? Did everyone Black in South Carolina JUST discover that Obama was Black and said , ' I'ze gots to vote for the Black guy!'

Or, could it be, as with Iowa, and New Hampshire, and Nevada, Senator Obama began from Ground Zero - little national name recognition and no organization. And, as with those other states, he began to build an organization in South Carolina, from the ground up, and through visiting and through campaign events, he began to become better known and present himself as a viable candidate for President.

You mean, Obama, gasp, actually campaigned for the Black vote in South Carolina?

Indeed, he did.

So, it took from February 2007 until January 2008, for Barack Obama to become a clear choice in South Carolina. It took that time for Black South Carolinians to accept that Barack Obama WAS a serious candidate, and all that means. That, they had to accept this 'New' type of Black leadership as not only valid, but viable. To become comfortable with the pretext that Barack Obama COULD NOT be ' The Black Candidate Running for President' a majority of the time, but that he had to be 'The Candidate Running for President Who Happens To Be Black', and make peace with that.

February 2007 - January 2008: That doesn't scream obvious; that doesn't scream overnight sensation; that screams that the Black South Carolinian Population was deliberate about their decision making in terms of the Democratic Primary and should be respected as such. If those voters were such sheep, then wouldn't they be following in lockstep with the Black Establishment in South Carolina that, for the most part, has declared themselves for Hillary Clinton?

Which brings me to point #2 - An Obama victory in South Carolina doesn't REALLY count as a win because of the sizeable Black population in South Carolina.

So, let me get this straight - Hillary Clinton wins White women in New Hampshire, and it's this great victory, but if Barack Obama wins South Carolina, after ten months of campaigning, because of sizeable Black support, it doesn't REALLY count?

What is this - are we back to being Three-Fifths once again?

I don’t know who is going to win this thing, but I am glad Obama is still making it a horse race, mostly because the young black boys I see these days, the preteens, the ones who just started school – they have a look of hope in their eyes I haven’t seen before. They are dreaming bigger than ever.

from Average Bro:

The Presidency is that "final frontier" of black achievement. We've run Fortune 500 companies. We've become billionaires. We've gone to the moon. But the Presidency is different, it's unique in it's prominence and power, and it's has to be granted, not merely earned by "working twice as hard".

All other reasons of merit, qualifications, and experience aside, I finally realized tonight what truly makes the Obama campaign special.

The ability to dream.

As my son and I chewed crushed ice and watched the Obama speech, I finally allowed my cynicism to melt. Who's to say a black man can't be the catalyst for making America the best country it can really be? Who's to say blacks, whites, latinos, and asians can't all get along? Who's to say my son can't be President? Certainly not me. I can look him in his eyes, say it, and really, truly mean it.

It could really happen.

I’m not interested in overcoming.

I am ready though, like a lot of the rest of my brethren, to join the club.

15 January 2008

Tone Deaf Campaigning

Hillary has the same problem our governor here in Georgia had last year - relying on advice and counsel from staffers who are probably ill equipped to understand the vagaries of the kind of black people who make up the majority of South Carolina's electorate.

I am watching this next primary closely because SC is my home state - I grew up with some of the Lowcountry pols who will be getting out the vote, and my father went to South Carolina State College around the same time as Jim Clyburn, the congressman who was "disheartened" by Hilary's supposedly disrespectful commentary about MLK.

Given the risk/reward ratio, the Clinton camp needs to leave the "what I think is important to you people" stuff at home - her camp runs a very, very high risk of hitting the wrong chord. One imagined slight, one catch phrase, one Tommy Hilfiger type rumor, one naked growl at the black man who is running for president - that's all it takes and she's back to being Miss Ann, the same Miss Ann whose thumb these folks just got from under LAST WEEK.

With almost two weeks to go, I think she is going to the typical Type A white guy thing - when all else fails, just charge right ahead - and miss the boat entirely.

The Deep South, even today, is not exactly what it appears to be at first glance.

Hillary, that white guy with two degrees and and American Express card in his pocket that you pay 20K a month to give you advice has no way to connect with the vibe in the hoods that ring Charleston, in the barracks that populate Columbia, in the swamps that cover the Pee Dee, in the foothills that push into the Piedmont from North Carolina and Tennessee.

These are the little guys, who have been hornswoggled and finagled out of their fair share of opportunity and their hard earned wages all their lives. It doesn't take much to rile them.

13 January 2008

Race & Class - Here We Go Again

White America puts the characteristics of black people in an imaginary box they carry around with them. I know they do because I carry the same box. Despite all my efforts to discard it, it's there, right next to the ones I carry that hold the characteristics of Hispanic America, Asian America, Eastern European America, and India America.

But insert the phrase "middle class" in front of all these monikers and half the stuff in these imaginary boxes are irrelevant. Add "upper middle class" and you can put every supposed difference that's left into one box.

Juan Williams says essentially what I want to contribute on this, so I will pop his op-ed in below.

I have a client who came into the office on Thursday to drop off some documents for her loan. An Indian woman, her husband is the stateside CFO of a mid sized Indian corporation that does a lot of business in the US.

We talked for awhile about the loan while I made copies and filled in some blanks on the forms her husband had signed. A vestige of the tension remained from the negotiations over fees earlier in the week, which is pretty natural. So I put it out there just to get the issue of lingering distrust on the table.

"Are you comfortable with this loan the way we've got it set up?"

She replied that everything was satisfactory, but of course her job was to secure the best deal for her family. The way her eyes looked, the way the corners of her mouth were indented, it seemed even as she spoke to the contrary that something else might be wrong. Or she was dropping another package off at a competitor when she left my office, with the intentions of making it a horse race.

I gave her a copy of her appraisal report. We went through it. I made the appropriate gestures towards the decor of her home as we looked at the pictures, because flattery still works. I put all the copies she needed into a folder and presented it to her. While she tucked it away in her carryall, she mentioned that the house was pretty big "for three people".

So I asked about the child. It turns out her daughter is in high school, and wants to be a doctor. I ask where she's looking to go to college, and she mentions my alma mater. "They have one of the best medical schools," she says, the pride in her voice showing as if her daughter has already been accepted.

When I tell her that it has gotten a lot more expensive since I graduated, the look in her eyes changes - to what exactly I don't have the time to describe, but if you have any accomplished black friends they can tell you what I mean.

The next ten minutes she peppers me with questions about how to get her daughter in, about how to apply for various programs, as if I have a hotline to the admissions office.

I have to literally drag her out the door to get her to leave. When I tell her as she heads to her car that she is in good hands, she looks as if she actually believes me.

In this instance, class consciousness was more prominent than race, although most middle and upper class Indians feel they are a cut above African Americans.

Barack Obama and his wife are both lawyers, Harvardites no less, products of solidly middle class families who obviously valued education and a strong work ethic. But if I were to substitute the name "Scott Burks", you would probably assume from that sentence that this is a white family.

The New Negro is different. They are under 50. They have white friends that are higher on the friendship totem pole than a lot of their black friends. They have the means to enjoy the freedoms the sixties opened the doors to - because "you are now free to move about the country" doesn't mean anything if you can't buy a ticket.

But the main thing is, they are not angry ALL THE TIME. The images of Jesse Jackson and Maxine Waters and John Lewis [US House of Representatives - GA] seem to bring in that gospel background music on queue, as if they are stuck in a time machine.

The sixties were almost FIFTY years ago. And so far, Barack is doing a fairly good job of leaving them there. It will be interesting to see how much of that comes out in South Carolina - because in politics, to say "MLK" is the quickest way to say "I won't forget you, brother".

But the pollsters need to get their shit together, because there is no more "black vote". Stand ten black folks in a line (or in my kitchen, which is I where I got the numbers I am about to give you) and you will get 4 for Clinton, 3 for Obama, 1 for Edwards, 1 for Jim Huckabee and 1 for McCain.

Even in South Carolina, my home state, people are learning to think for themselves a little.

We shall see.

The Juan Williams article is below, as promised:

    BARACK OBAMA is running an astonishing campaign. Not only is he doing far better in the polls than any black presidential candidate in American history, but he has also raised more money than any of the candidates in either party except Hillary Clinton.

    Most amazing, Mr. Obama has built his political base among white voters. He relies on unprecedented support among whites for a black candidate. Among black voters nationwide, he actually trails Hillary Clinton by nine percentage points, according to one recent poll.

    At first glance, the black-white response to Mr. Obama appears to represent breathtaking progress toward the day when candidates and voters are able to get beyond race. But to say the least, it is very odd that black voters are split over Mr. Obama’s strong and realistic effort to reach where no black candidate has gone before. Their reaction looks less like post-racial political idealism than the latest in self-defeating black politics.

    Mr. Obama’s success is creating anxiety, uncertainty and more than a little jealousy among older black politicians. Black political and community activists still rooted in the politics of the 1960s civil rights movement are suspicious about why so many white people find this black man so acceptable.

    Much of this suspicion springs from Mr. Obama’s background. He was too young to march with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His mother is white and his father was a black Kenyan. Mr. Obama grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, then went on to the Ivy League, attending Columbia for college and Harvard for law school. He did not work his way up the political ladder through black politics, and in fact he lost a race for a Chicago Congressional seat to Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther.

    In an interview with National Public Radio earlier this year, Mr. Obama acknowledged being out of step with the way most black politicians approach white America. “In the history of African-American politics in this country there has always been some tension between speaking in universal terms and speaking in very race-specific terms about the plight of the African-American community,” he said. “By virtue of my background, you know, I am more likely to speak in universal terms.”

    The alienation, anger and pessimism that mark speeches from major black American leaders are missing from Mr. Obama’s speeches. He talks about America as a “magical place” of diversity and immigration. He appeals to the King-like dream of getting past the racial divide to a place where the sons of slaves and the sons of slave owners can pick the best president without regard to skin color.

    Mr. Obama’s biography and rhetoric have led to mean-spirited questions about whether he is “black enough,” whether he is “acting like he’s white,” as a South Carolina newspaper reported Jesse Jackson said of him. But the more serious question being asked about Mr. Obama by skeptical black voters is this: Whose values and priorities will he represent if he wins the White House?

    As he claims to proudly represent a historically oppressed minority, Mr. Obama has to answer the question. Too many black politicians have hidden behind their skin color to avoid it.

    Fifty percent of black Americans say Mr. Obama shares their values, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. But that still leaves another half who dismiss him as having only “some” or “not much/not at all” in common with the values of black Americans.

    There is a widening split over values inside black America. Sixty-one percent of black Americans, according to the Pew poll, believe that the values of middle-class and poor blacks are becoming “more different.” Inside black America, people with at least some college education are the most likely to see Mr. Obama as “sharing the black community’s values and interests a lot.” But only 41 percent of blacks with a high school education or less see Mr. Obama as part of the black community.

    Overall, only 29 percent of people of all colors say Mr. Obama reflects black values. He is viewed as the epitome of what Senator Joe Biden artlessly called the “clean” and “articulate” part of black America — the rising number of black people who tell pollsters they find themselves in sync with most white Americans on values and priorities.

    And in a nation where a third of the population is now made up of people of color, Mr. Obama is in the vanguard of a new brand of multi-racial politics. He is asking voters to move with him beyond race and beyond the civil rights movement to a politics of shared values. If black and white voters alike react to Mr. Obama’s values, then he will really have taken the nation into post-racial politics.

    Whether he and America will get there is still an open question.

07 January 2008

When I Reached The Tipping Point

For the record, I was an Obama skeptic for quite some time.

Back in October 2004 I wrote the words below:

    I watched an interesting interview earlier today on TV One. Cathy Hughes, the black woman who owns this network, took charge of the microphone herself on her cable channel to interview Barak Obama, the heir apparent to the junior Senate seat in Illinois. I've heavily paraphrased her below.

    "The Republican Party has traditionally been seen by the African American community as a party that has no real interest in promoting an agenda that includes us or our concerns. Yet I see Colin Powell, Condolezza Rice, Rod Paige, and others who are prominent members of their administration, in positions of real power and influence.

    The Democrats, on the other hand, court us assidously during their campaigns, but their interest seems to vanish, as if they have amnesia all of a sudden, after an election. The best the Clinton administration could do was field one black man, Ron Brown, who, after engineering Clinton's victory, reluctantly took the post of Secretary of Commerce after being turned down for the job he wanted as Secretary of State.

    Are you concerned about the absence of blacks in real positions of power in a Democratic presidency? Will you use your influence as a Democratic Senator to help correct this?"

    Barak's answer was tepid, flighty, and rhetorical - he needs the backing of the national DNC to keep his political career on track.

    But what she said is what plenty of people of color - black, brown and yellow - ask in their homes across the nation. Why does the Democratic Party have so little minority participation at its upper echelons? How can a party claim to be the home of the "morally outraged", or the "intellectual" party, or the most "inclusive" party, when it excludes us from the inner circles of power?

    They say the proof is in the pudding. But there wasn't enough chocolate in the last batch of Democrats in the White House to even pretend to be a swirl.

    Black folks like Hughes, who have to balance their own books to keep their companies afloat, are increasingly interested in seeing the Democratic Party balance its own.

    So am I.

And until last month, if you stood in our kitchen, or ran into me at the cigar shop, I would play devil's advocate all day long.

There were several things that got to me lately. The main thing, or as Malcolm Gladwell so aptly describes, the tipping point was probably the predisposition of the media at that time to crown Hillary as the de facto winner of the Democratic primary before a ballot was cast.

One of the other things that started to get me hot under the collar was the way the black political establishment, here and elsewhere, was going to play the same old game they've always played, with same old negroes leading the march behind the Clintons, just as I was trying to assemble for the umpteenth time my short story collection about redefining what it means to be black in America without the baggage of the past weighing us down.

And now that I've seen the movie The Great Debaters (terrible title), which Sheila swears is a Oprah Winfrey propaganda piece designed to help make smart black people more palatable to the public, it has hit me, hard, that everything we have achieved to now is really just window dressing when the same old white guys can say the same old shit - "America isn't ready for this yet" - without blinking an eye.

Which America is this?

Obama is still a little weak in the knees - in some instances, he reminds me of John Edwards four years ago, back when he seemed a little light in the britches for this.

He's not a natural fighter, which we've come to expect in our politicians. Duking it out in the trenches isn't his style. He looks a little uncomfortable having to spout the type of bullshit rhetoric a seasoned politician can deliver on cue, knowing damn well it can all be ignored when we aren't looking, which is most of the time, and obfuscated for those few times that we are.

And there are moments, when I watch him stumble over the answer to a question for which he has not properly prepared, when I wonder if it is too early in his career for him to be running.

If this was the original Clinton, running for the first time, I don't think Obama would have a chance. Not against a hungry, ambitious, young Bill.

But against Hillary and Edwards? At this point, lightweight or no, I think he has earned a significant part of his success. How much of it is attributable to Republicans who are sabotaging Clinton in hopes of fielding a much more vulnerable opponent is hard to say, but unless you were born yesterday, you know there is a lot more going on behind the scenes.

So I've thrown in with Obama, stuttering, cocaine sniffing and all.

06 January 2008

Rejecting The Conventional Wisdom Of "Electability"

The Dems are The Three Stooges when it comes to organizing their electorate. But the fundamental problem they have from an ideological standpoint is the things they stand for work against the mechanics of building an efficient vote producing formula. Having to serve so many diverse interests makes it that much harder to create a simple playbook their troops can follow.

We talk a lot about the white vote, the black vote, the woman vote, the AARP vote - what about the "other" vote - the naturalized immigrant and first generation voters from Asia, India, Mexico, the Carribean isles? What about the Western Europe transplants with populist roots?

If Obama can sidestep the "left wing liberal" label I see sprouting from conservative political websites, and position himself, a la Bill Clinton, as a moderate centrist, he has a fighting chance. Ross Perot was crazy and he got almost 20% of the vote when he ran - 19 million people, most of whom were NOT new voters who were tired of the same old shit.

I don't know where the Republican machine is these days - no idea whether they still have it in them - but with a costly war lingering in the background alongside a smoke and mirrors economy that is starting to hurt their base constituency, they have an uphill battle ahead of them.

All I know is, if Oprah Winfrey can get hundreds of thousands of white women to buy a book in which the first words are "They shoot the white girl first", [
Paradise, Toni Morrison], I am willing to bet that the right appeal to HER base down the stretch will generate a lot of split ticket households.

The difference between Obama and Edwards is like the difference between stocks and CD's.

With a CD, you know how much interest you're going to get. The question is, is it going to be enough interest to meet your needs?

With a stock, it could go up, it could go down, it could drop like a rock at the slightest hint of bad news, but man, when you get one that's on the move - the bottom line is despite all of these short term fluctuations, and the potential for total disaster, you've got to believe the upside is worth the risk you're taking.

Are we that afraid of failure that we can't take a chance? Every election I've seen since, which is every election since Ford ran against Carter, has been framed as if our country will descend into chaos if my side loses.

    A Republican was in office when abortion became legal.

    A Democrat managed the biggest wartime conflict we've ever been in.

    A Republican brought the country to war over slavery and states rights.

    A Democrat dropped the nuclear bombs on Japan.

Conventional wisdom would have prevented us from rubbing those two sticks together back when we were huddled together against the cold night air. It would have discouraged anyone from thinking of how to get a machine to fly through the air.

If we can put a man on the moon, I don't see why we can't put this man in the White House.

The thing that really gets at my gut these last few days is the refrain "the country's not ready yet".

The country wasn't ready for slavery to end.

The country wasn't ready for segregation to end.

This mythical "readiness" does not exist.

So if you believe, just a little bit, in all the things you say you believe in when it comes to race relations, then you need to do what you can to stand up for the principles you claim to hold dear and reject the conventional wisdom of "electability".

05 January 2008

Word On The Street About The O-man

I've been tooling around the black blogosphere, seeing how well the "word on the street" about "the O-man" is being transmitted through the media portals we rely on.

Interesting stuff - came across this on one of them.

    20 things you have to believe to be a Republican today

    1. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you’re a conservative radio host. Then it’s an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

    2. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

    3. Government should relax regulation of Big Business and Big Money but crack down on individuals who use marijuana to relieve the pain of illness.

    4. “Standing Tall for America” means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.

    5. A woman can’t be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all humankind without regulation.

    6. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

    7. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans’ benefits and combat pay.

    8. Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.

    9. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won’t have sex.

    10. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

    11. HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.

    12. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

    13. Global warming and tobacco’s link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

    14. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush’s daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a “we can’t find Bin Laden” diversion.

    15. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is a solid defense policy.

    16. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

    17. The public has a right to know about Hillary’s cattle trades, but George Bush’s driving record is none of our business.

    18. You support states’ rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have a right to adopt.

    19. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the 1980s is irrelevant.

    20. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist; but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

Some of the blogs I visited are listed below - most of the links go directly to "O-man" commentary - in some of them you will need to scroll down an article or two to get feedback on the Iowa results.

Skeptical Brotha

"I am not taking back the substance of my criticisms [of Obama] because they represent my unvarnished feelings. Today, however, I feel like Patti Labelle and have “a new attitude.” "

Field Negro

"Honestly, my ankles are hurting from jumping on and off your damn bandwagon. And right now I am feeling like jumping on again. People have been telling me that I should stop being so cynical and get on board the Obama train but.....I mean I am just saying."

Jack and Jill Politics

"I went to a pro-Obama gathering in Harlem last night to watch the Iowa Caucus, win or lose, black history was going to be made. Where else would I go?"

Why Black Women Are Angry

"So which is it? Can anyone in the United States of America really work hard and play by the rules to achieve America's occasional over-promised dream,? Or, does that only apply if you are white and male and running for President of the United States?"

Average Bro

"I've championed Barack Obama for President since the beginning of this blog, waaay back in 2000 and Seven. For the first time, I believed in a candidate enough to write a massive $5 campaign donation check. I hoped for the best, but naturally, this being America and all, I prepared for the worst. Thus, my completely unnecessary Iowa Caucus Prediction today relayed this sentiment.

Basically, I was prepared to be let down."

We Are Respectable Negroes

"Respectable Negroes, ask yourselves why Hillary Clinton deserves your support. What will you gain from her election to the presidency? Is she really a safe choice? As self-interested as he may have been when he made the statement, we have to wonder if Senator Joeseph Lieberman was right when he said 'the Clinton's have used African-Americans like Kleenex.' "

Dream and Hustle

"Because real talk – if a Black person vote for Clinton, Huckabee or Paul or whatever, they are voting for Clinton, Huckabee or Paul. But a Black person voting for Barack Obama is not only voting for Barack Obama, they are validating themselves at the same time. And you platform Negroes can marinate on that for a minute to realize why you fighting a worthless cause to get Blacks to vote for someone other than themselves."

African American Political Pundit

"Yes you heard me! Hillary and Bill Clinton have used Black Voters Long Enough!

I'm no Fox News Fan or a huge fan of Juan Williams for that matter, but Juan Williams gets it right many times, and is right when he said, Blacks Support Clinton Because Of “Patronage Politics."

After watching the umpteenth white guy on the tube tell me what black people were thinking, I had to go direct.

Is the internet great or what?

After reading these unfiltered sentiments, I am walking away from them (literally - I've been sitting here reading for hours) with a sense that this race isn't a referendum on any of the individual candidates but on our nation and its inhabitants.

If the O-man can swing New Hampshire, I think the country will finally have to face up to how little our attitudes about race have really changed since the sixties.