20 February 2008

For The First Time In My Adult Lifetime...

I guess I'm "fired up" and "ready to go" - and I'm not talking about what's happening on the campaign trail either.

I could knock Jeffrey Toobin's smarmy, over paid ass all the way back to the kibbutz he crawled out of - his disingenuousness about Michelle Obama's recent comments makes Hillary's crocodile tears seem sincere.

How does he and his ilk sit there on national TV, as well educated and connected as he and his brethren appear to be, and say with a straight face that Michelle Obama's line "“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country" is an aggrieved pronouncement that strikes a "discordant note" in an otherwise well orchestrated campaign by her husband?

Because if you are black, or brown, or yellow (although Asians in America have a propensity to self identify themselves as equal to being white) the thing you are feeling right now, that thing that threatens to tear through your chest, is the same thing she's feeling, because it looks like some of the diversity rhetoric we have been hearing for years is about to be matched for the first time by actual deed.

When Ed Rendell, the governor of a major state, can stand in front of a microphone and say with a straight face that "I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate", he is stating a fact - there are still many parts of the country where my brownness is only tolerated.

The thing that is in some ways more disgusting than Hillary's attempts to set the agenda, in her efforts to frame her arguments as if she is still the front runner in this race is the attempts by the gaggle of reporters from the major news venues covering this phenomenal political drama to marginalize the success of the superior campaign run by Senator Obama.

I almost feel like I am watching the scene from the 60's movie "In The Heat Of The Night" where Rod Steiger, who plays a southern police chief has learned that Sidney Poitier, who plays a detective from Philadelphia, makes more money than Steiger's character does, and has a better education - Steiger's only answer is to belittle Poitier, to remind Poitier of his limitations as a black man in the south.

The tension in that scene isn't much different than some of the tensions I see fifty years later as black people become better educated and more affluent. I can understand the discomfort if I look like a gang banger, or a rap star, but when I wear the same clothes, display an advanced mastery of the King's English, possess at least one post secondary degree, and have an equal if not greater understanding of the way our laws work and how our economy functions, I have no choice but to blame the white man's discomfort with me squarely on him.

In essence, Michelle Obama is saying that this election is a referendum on me and those who look like me, because it is posing a question that America as a nation has to answer. Given that everything else is pretty much equal - well connected, well versed, well funded Ivy League trained lawyer versus well connected well versed well funded Ivy League trained lawyer - can the country accept the idea of having a brown man as their next commander in chief? If leadership depends in part on a certain level of submission by those who are being led, can our country submit to the leadership of a brown man, even one as well educated and accomplished as Obama?

Ken Chenault is the CEO of American Express. Stanley O'Neal was the head of Merrill Lynch until a few months ago. Colin Powell has been Secretary of State. But no one is on TV more than the president of the United States. If it is Barack Obama's brown hand that ends up waving to the world from behind the podium at White House press conferences, he will represent all of America to the world. I cannot begin to tell you how much that moment will mean to me and those who look like me, who have waiting too, too long to be fully accepted into the fabric of American life in its totality.

17 February 2008

Watch Out For The "Jedi Mind Trick"

This quote:

White folks, and white men in particular, have always found ways to alter, bend, or just totally ignore the rules they've made up when something doesn't suit them.

from my very own "The Black Folks Guide To Survival" resonated - DING! - inside my skull as if I had been hit over the head with a frying pan while reading THIS QUOTE from Mark Penn, the Clinton campaign's chief strategist:

Two days later, after Obama’s eighth straight victory, Penn told reporters: “Winning Democratic primaries is not a qualification or a sign of who can win the general election. If it were, every nominee would win because every nominee wins Democratic primaries.”

Dude! One of the boldest uses of the Jedi Mind Trick (trying to get me to believe the opposite of something I know to be true) I've seen in recent days. "Winning" is now meaningless. Damn!

The amount of chutzpah it must take to be able to say this with yet another likely loss staring you in the face has to be incredible. This guy has got the wrong job - he should be selling ice to the Eskimos.

But back to my own words. This section:

"alter, bend, or just totally ignore the rules THEY'VE made up"

strikes at the heart of what we see when we look at politicians and corporate chieftains - an unwillingness, in many instances, to deal squarely with the facts as they stand before them.

Under The Hood Of The O-Train

I wanted to know what the real deal was behind the “O-Train”. Is it the smile? The near Sidney Poitier level of courtliness? The much vaunted “charisma” that seems to work its way into the opening lines of nay article about Barack Obama? Or could it be simply - superiority. Because he seems to have a superior level of fund raising, superior advisors, superbly crafted speeches – from the outside looking in, it appears that he has met and exceeded his challengers at practically every organizational detail…

…that’s what I really want to know – what do the nuts and bolts of their operation look like? A little research turned up the playbook and the beginnings of its execution. Again, hats off to this wonderful internet (which I’m sure will be more closely regulated in the future) for providing access to ACTUAL INFORMATION when a brother wants to know how things work.

'Camp Obama' Trains Campaign Volunteers

All campaigns rely heavily on volunteers to carry the candidate's message and do much of the campaign grunt work. And all campaigns spend a significant amount of time and money training volunteers to be more effective. But Riemer says the Obama campaign is trying something different in order to capitalize on the huge number of young people expressing an interest in the Illinois Democratic senator's run for the White House, a demographic that Reimer says campaigns usually ignore or view as unreliable on Election Day.

"Historically, campaigns have looked at young people as the hardest demographics to mobilize," he says. "In reality, if you know what you're doing, they can be one of the easiest to mobilize."

He adds: "The most important thing is that they understand they are an important part of our strategy to win the election. This is not for show, this is not to feel good; this is to get trained and help us to win this election."

Reimer says the campaign needs to equip young volunteers for the long battle ahead in the key early primary and caucus states.

"It's not rocket science," he says. "What we have to do is give them the tools to create a plan and just keep in touch with them as they create their plan and execute it. Winning an election is just a matter of breaking it down into manageable pieces, so we show them what those pieces are, and then turn them loose. As long as we can do that, there's no problem. They can make it happen."

For the entire article, click http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11012254

Stories and Numbers - a Closer Look at Camp Obama

Most of the six regional Camp Obamas held so far have been lead by Harvard Professor Marshall Ganz. Coincidentally, Ganz began his political career 43 years earlier at a seminary right across the street from the weekend's training. He and fellow Harvard undergraduates had driven from Boston to join Freedom Summer. Expecting to find a late night strategy session in progress when they arrived, they instead walked in on a raucous "preach off" among young civil rights activists. And so began a lifelong career in applying story telling, emotion and faith to politics. began a lifelong career in applying story telling, emotion and faith to politics.

From the civil rights movement, Ganz joined the United Farm Workers as an organizer in his home state of California. He was there when Robert Kennedy was shot, organizing immigrants who could not vote to turn out citizens who could. Ganz, who's father was a Rabbi and army chaplain in occupied Germany and whose language is often laced with Bible allusions, says that for America it's been 40 years in the desert since that time. But he says he's beginning to see an out.

Almost every sentence Ganz speaks is at the same time intensely intellectual and intensely emotional. His introductory session Friday night was interspersed with the latest on brain research, experiences growing up in post-Holocaust Germany, Steven Jay Gould's theory of time and the question of where hope comes from.

"Where does your hope come from?" he asked the audience.

After several adequate answers, he finally got one he especially liked: "Faith."

"Exactly. That's why faith movements and social movements have so much to do with each other," Ganz expanded.

But one final audience member gave him the answer that perfectly set up the rest of the weekend: "I get hope from stories. Obama's story that he told at the convention--that gave me hope."

"Yes! 'To inspire'--it literally means to breathe life into each other," Ganz replied, "And we can do that by telling our stories to each other. That's what Barack did for us when he told his story. And that's what we can do for others when we tell them our stories."

The next morning, Ganz followed up by playing a video of the first seven minutes of Obama's famous 2004 speech, and then dissected those seven minutes into three parts. First came the "story of self," Obama's challenges and choices. Second came the "story of us," when Obama pivoted to connect his own story with the challenges and choices that now face Americans as a people. Finally there was the "story of now," where Obama laid out what we have do to make the world a better place right now.

The purpose of this weekend training, Ganz explained, was not only to learn skills, form teams and get organized--but much more importantly, to learn how to tell our own stories, how to "put into words why you're called, and why we've been called, to change the way the world works."

Those "stories of self" and "stories of us" were to be the most powerful tool for these campaigners--along with the ability to teach others how to tell their stories--back home recruiting and motivating volunteers and building relationships.

After a little more instruction and modeling of story telling, the large group was split into a few dozen smaller groups by Congressional district for participants to have a chance to work on their own stories. The goal of this period was for participants to emerge being able to tell their "story of self" in less than two minutes, just as Barack Obama had in his 2004 convention speech.

For the entire article, click http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zack-exley/stories-and-numbers-a-c_b_62278.html


Our plan has always called for a focus on the early caucus and primary states, where this race will be shaped.

And now, as the Washington insiders focus on irrelevant and wildly inconsistent national polls, there are strong signs in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina of the growing power and potential of this candidacy.

I will not address fundraising in detail in this memo, because there has been such voluminous coverage about the success you have all helped us achieve in this area.

Just a couple points to underscore, though. Our 258,000 + donors not only provide us the most muscular fundraising base in the field, it also is the bedrock of an unprecedented grassroots movement that will show its’ strength in additional ways on the ground in January and February. And it a manifestation of the enthusiasm gap that Barack Obama enjoys in this race.

Our financial success has also fundamentally altered the strategic calculus of the race. No longer can the quasi-incumbent candidate survive a stumble or two early and rely on an institutional financial and organizational advantage to recover. Obama has the financial and organizational assets to go toe to toe for the long haul with the largest political machine in the history of the modern Democratic Party – something that no pundit could have predicted six months ago.

We will have the strongest organization and deepest financial base in the Democratic field. If we have more momentum than other leading candidates heading into February 5th, it will allow us to marry the success in the early states with our organizational superiority, a potent combination in what will be a quasi-national primary by that point.

Remember, each contest affects the next. Our strategy has always been to focus like a laser on the early states to create the momentum crucial to later contests. What has changed is our ability to also compete in February 5th states more vigorously than any other candidate, allowing us to win the nomination under various nomination scenarios.

For the entire article, click http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/08/06/305863.aspx

NOTE: “Donor” as it applies to FEC regulations includes all purchases of speeches, paraphernalia and clothing – no way to know what percentage of this number would be reduced if it only measured raw contributions – however, all items sold generate profits that are added to the campaign coffers.

16 February 2008

Better Than The Super Bowl!!

This is better than the Super Bowl! This is going down to the wire! It kind of reminds me of my run for student body president in high school! ( I lost). I will be in front of the TV ALL NIGHT Tuesday!

Clinton, Obama in close 'Super Tuesday' races

WASHINGTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are running neck-and-neck in California, New Jersey and Missouri two days before the sprawling "Super Tuesday" presidential showdown, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Sunday.

Obama has a slight lead in California and is virtually tied with Clinton in New Jersey and Missouri heading into the biggest day of voting ever in a U.S. presidential nominating campaign, with contests in 24 states.

Obama, an Illinois senator who would be the first black U.S. president, also has a comfortable 20-point lead in Georgia fueled by a more than 3-to-1 advantage over Clinton among black voters.

(Writing by John Whitesides; editing by Todd Eastham) (For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/)

Below is a list that is hard to find – the actual states that are holding primaries. Not much polling data publicly available on Utah, Tennessee, Idaho or North Dakota.

My own analysis says that in addition to the states mentioned in the Reuters Poll above, Alabama, Connecticut and Colorado are statistical ties – less than five percentage points separate them.

Add Georgia and Illinois, two states that are currently seen as being “in the bag” for Obama (which means I’ll believe it when I see it) and you’ve got eight states in play.

As a side note, Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota are caucus states – not very many delegates in Alaska and Hawaii, but the caucus process lends itself more to peer pressure – will be interesting to see what the outcome is in these states.


New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Dakota

Within the next 30 days

February 9th


February 10th


February 12th

District of Columbia

February 19th


March 4th

Rhode Island

10 February 2008

The Sixty Four Thousand Dollar Question

I think the thing that the Obama camp has used masterfully to their advantage is the perception that they are supposed to be the weak sister in this race. I don't think anyone on the outside trying to look in can understand the enormous amount of preparation that had to go into just the decision of whether or not a brown skinned man could be a viable presidential candidate.

The hardest job for the Obama inner circle was the sales pitch they had to make, both to themselves and the key staffers they were asking to sign on. The kind of people they have carrying the water for them do not sign on to lose. Making them believers must have taken an extraordinarily calculated and detailed plan of attack, knowing as they must have the amount of opposition these people would face from families and colleagues alike.

These people are not doing a job. They are on a mission. Their sensibilities are likely to be extremely heightened, understanding as they do that any misstep, large or small, could doom all their efforts.

Running a campaign like a corporation, looking for the easiest and quickest way to win the most delegates, only works when you and your opponent have the same type of game plan.

I believe the Obama campaign, understanding from the beginning that they were likely to be the tortoise in this race, looked at the mathematics of gathering delegates differently.

If you take the two candidates faces away for a moment, you've got Harvard Law versus Yale Law, in my mind.

At the end of the day, though, after all of this high-minded conjecture, the sixty four thousand dollar question is pretty much the only one nobody wants to say out loud - does Obama, with his black face and funny name, frighten enough people to make Clinton the nominee?

All I can tell you, from my own roost here in the metaphorical land known as Afro-America, for a lot of people this is pretty much the turn of the century version of the Joe Louis fight for his first heavyweight championship. Its almost like the thirties again, except TV's have replaced radios, and the rounds are weeks instead of minutes. But blood is in the air now, same as it was then.

It will be a sad day indeed in the Clinton camp when CNN has to post her name BELOW Obama's. To have to look at that graphic day in and day out for the next three weeks will be pure torture. Right now, I would imagine that she is feeling a lot like Phil Mickelson on one of those Saturdays when he is leading a tournament with Tiger two strokes behind.

If there ever was a time to put your money where your mouth is, it is now - if I were in the Obama camp I would empty the coffers to get people on the streets of Texas and Pennsylvania. If you look at California, a lot of the votes were cast weeks before the actual election date - hard to say what might have happened had most of them been cast on the same day.

My TV is getting tired - I need to let it cool off. I haven't watched TV this much in fifteen years.

08 February 2008

My Eyes Are Tired

My eyes are tired, but that's just about what it takes to get beyond the loaded phrases, couched terms, arched references, veiled threats, tilted arguments and foregone conclusions to see what is really going on these days.

I email a small cadre of friends a missive every couple of days that seeks to piece together in one place a complete look at the primary races.

Even though I live in Georgia, the South Carolina race was closer to my heart - after all, its my home state. I eyeballed the returns county by county, cutting and pasting them into a Word file. Then I took a look at the most recent census figures I could find that broke down each county's residents by race, age, and gender, cutting and pasting them in underneath the corresponding county's primary returns.

What you saw there two weeks ago is what you are seeing now - but only if you looked at the raw data for yourself, because the media spin doctors, who attempt to pass themselves of as journalists, create more spin than the professionals the campaigns are paying.

After seeing several of my emails, my best buddy called me one day and blurted out "the media is bullshit" before I could say hello.

I don't even watch the talking heads much anymore. I am spending way, waaay too much time trolling the polling sites and the county by county results in each state to sort of "take their temperature" with my own thermometer.

Obama running neck and neck with Clinton is a lot like the Giants hanging with the Patriots all the way to the two minute drill. "This guy/these guys aren't supposed to be here."

I give kudos to the Obama campaign strategists - they have broken this down to man-to-man defense, running a full court press in practically every state against Goliath, and it is working.

Couple that with Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy he put in place the last couple of years and the brand new voters the party has been helping to cultivate are coming out of the woodwork, people whose habits have not been tracked before, people whose influence is being measured after the fact for the first time.

Its going to be a dogfight to the end.

The only way to know this, though, is to scroll past the pie charts and moving average graphs to the raw numbers themselves - they tell you what's really going on.