30 July 2008

Obama and Ludacris: Apples to Apples?

Do all black people have to stand at attention, smiling and clean shaven, our black suits crisply pressed, our bowties level, as if we are the Nation of Islam?

Nope, can’t do that – an army of silent, well organized, well trained black people mobilizing voters throughout the country might be the wrong image to have on the airwaves this fall. Might look too…too…militant.

All sarcasm aside, I will be the first to say black people in general need to step up their game to get what we want out of America. But if we don't, are we guilty of being race traitors? Of letting our people down? Of letting...gasp...Barack Obama down?

If Obama is going to have to apologize for everything an individual black American says or does that is unacceptable to mainstream America, then he needs to quit while he's ahead.

Black Americans are not the nation's Model Minority (see Asian immigrants). We are America's Most Favored Minority, but 99 percent of us couldn't get elected president if you spotted us 250 electoral votes, the same way 99 percent of white Americans have no chance of appealing to a large enough number of voters to be elected.

Ludacris, an Atlanta based rapper, has a new song out that contains a line that has ruffled the feathers of our ever-vigilant news pundits.

"Hillary hated on you, so that bitch is irrelevant" is the line that has garnered so much attention from the otherwise innocuous rap song by Ludacris titled "Politics".

The "Hillary" in question is of course none other than Hillary Clinton, ex-presidential candidate. This is the same Hillary Clinton who was the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit by comedienne Tina Fey earlier this year that poked fun at Hillary's image as a tough as nails competitor. In her skit, Fey said it point blank -"Hillary is a bitch" - but asserted that "I'm one too", and that "bitch was the new black".

The ever vigilant, pursed lip, pained eye fraternity, their pale faces staring out from our TV's, jumped right on the lyrics of the Ludacris song last night. They will intone with great seriousness over and over during the next few days why Obama's associations are problematic and why the music he has on his iPod should be vetted, as if it contains one of those songs that says "Obama is the Anti-Christ" when it is played backwards.

These are the same pundits who have proclaimed that we are entering a "post-racial" society with the advent of Obama's candidacy, but the way they have responded to what should be a trivial non-event signals they don't really believe what they are saying.

Ludacris has never held himself out to be anything other than a young brother looking to have some fun and make some money. He made his name in Atlanta, first as a radio jock, then as a local rap act who sold tapes out of his trunk. The people who are buying what he's selling, who are mostly young and are mostly white, know what they are getting.

McCain's campaign was half right - we do need to compare apples to apples when it comes to understanding who Obama really is.

Instead of comparing Obama to Paris Hilton, or Brittany Spears, or even Ludacris, why not compare him to other "apples" like himself - people like Ken Chennault of American Express, or Dick Parsons, formerly of Time Warner, or John Thompson, currently at Symantec - chief executive officers of some of America's largest companies, companies that have prospered under competent leadership from the African American men at their helm.

29 July 2008

Yes They Can: Purging Voter Rolls

Obama Campaign Registers New Voters, States Purge Old Ones

As Obama campaign workers toil all across the country, looking for the elusive and often uninterested voting age adults who are not registered to vote in the November election, the state election boards across the country labor to purge their voter registration lists.

According to AlterNet, The Department of Justice's Voting Section appears to be pressuring 10 states to purge voter rolls. The 10 states receiving Voting Section purge letters are Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Vermont. Voter roll purges, if incorrectly done, can be a factor in determining election outcomes -- particularly in tight races.

Voting Section Chief John Tanner called for the purges in letters sent this spring under an arcane provision in the National Voter Registration Act, better known as the Motor Voter law, whose purpose is to expand voter registration. The identical letters notify states that 10 percent or more of their election jurisdictions have problematic voter rolls. It tells states to report "the subsequent removal from rolls of persons no longer eligible to vote."

In addition, Kansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, have been contacted by national voting rights group because those states appear to be purging registered voters.

Erin Ferns over at MyDD reports "under the National Voter Registration Act, states are required to contact voters directly through forwardable mail. If the voter does not respond, the state must wait two federal elections before removing the voter from the rolls. However, many states have begun to compare their voter rolls with those of neighboring states and pro-actively canceling a voter's registration based on a positive 'match' rather than following the list maintenance procedures of NVRA."

Ferns notes "The emerging trend of state compacts to compare voter databases and engage in aggressive efforts to purge their voter rolls is troubling for both its opacity - the public is not informed of the criteria for being purged nor are purged voters offered the chance to remedy the situation - and its reliance on strict matching criteria. Large databases are riddled with errors, therefore the sole reliance on exact matches virtually guarantees that legal voters will be knocked off the rolls and denied the right to vote."

Why is this such a big deal?

Because the Obama campaign has maintained for the last month or so that many of our preconceived notions about “red states” and “blue states” will be shattered in November as African Americans make their way to the polls in record numbers. If the prevailing trend in the Democratic primaries holds true, Obama can expect 90 to 95 percent of African American voters to cast a ballot for him. Combine this statistic with a substantially increased black electorate, and many of the electoral college votes won by Republicans are in jeopardy, particularly in the states that have been won by less than five points in the last election – Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia.

27 July 2008

Dense & Intense - This Week On The Web

In the course of keeping up with the news and doing research, I come across some great stuff you might not see in your hometown newspaper or on the nightly news.

Dense & Intense - This Week On The Web is a compilation of longer, more detail-oriented stories and humor pieces that caught my eye during the week.

John Edwards and Kwame Kilpatrick need to give Barack Obama a fist pound, because his whirlwind tour of Europe is the only thing that kept them from being fodder for all the nightly news talk shows on an otherwise slow news week.

It was a tossup for the Dense & Intense "Most Ridiculous Politician Of The Week" award between the Love Doctor, who sprinted through the Beverly Hills Hotel to hide out in a bathroom, and the Brown Bomber, who shoved a police officer investigating his brother-in-law off of his feet, as to whose picture was going to lead off this week's Dense & Intense post, so today you get to fill in your own visual.

Love Child And Mistress Claims Hit Edwards - if you thought Edwards was teary eyed before...

Israeli Paper Publishes Obama's Private Wailing Wall Prayer Note -
I guess they’ll be coming after his discarded candy wrappers next.

Senate Passes Landmark Housing Bill - Too many cooks in the kitchen - this is a Band-Aid that won't stick.

Microphone Picks Up Private Conversation Between Obama And British Leader Whether he really knew or not, the "O-Man" is ALWAYS on the job.

Black Radio On Obama Is Left’s Answer To Limbaugh - I am waiting to see what emerges as the equivalent of "dittohead".

Can Minority Journalists Resist Applauding Obama? - The sound of one hand clapping might be their best compromise.

Obama To Meet With Rubin, Volcker, Buffett On Economic Plans - The only thing the current polls keep reminding me of, though, is the "work twice as hard to get half as far" adage.

Detroit’s Mayor Could Face New Felony Charges After Confrontation With Deputy - And on the other end of the political spectrum, we have the best imitation of Rudy Ray Moore I've seen in years.

25 July 2008

Obama: Speech Creator-In-Chief

“We are governed by words, the laws are graven in words, and literature is the sole means of keeping these words living and accurate.”
Ezra Pound

Barack Obama is the chief speechwriter in his campaign.

It may seem to be a small thing, but it is his ability to tailor the cadence and tinker with the individual word choices that allows his rhetoric to work so well with his unorthodox style of delivery.

For the most part, his speeches are simply constructed around the same story he has been telling since the Democratic convention in 2004 - which is his own life story, expanded or contracted to frame the issue of the day, combined with the onward and upward supplication of “this is the moment, this is the time”.

In yesterday’s speech in Berlin, he artfully used the words he traditionally has employed to illustrate himself and his journey – “imperfect”, “improbable”, “mistakes” – to describe America itself.

Obama’s head speechwriter, a 26-year-old who used to write for Kerry, says his job is like “being Ted Williams’s batting coach.” The campaign says Obama would write all his own speeches if he had the time.

I can see him, like he's pictured above, reading through draft after draft, pen in hand, striking unwieldy phrases, reducing complex transitions to simple images, much like did at the Harvard Law Review and later with his own two books.

His precise use of language is deceptive. The occasional academic term that pops out usually means there is no other word that will do. Obama seems to have become more comfortable, as this year has progressed, with exploiting the power of alliteration and repetition to create a crescendo effect, much like a drum roll, that he sprinkles throughout the body of his speeches to keep the audience involved.

Excerpted from "Raise High The Rafters" by Sam Anderson:

A major reason that Obama’s rhetoric seems to soar so high is that our expectations have sunk so low. In a new book, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, Elvin T. Lim subjects all the words ever publicly intoned by American presidents to a thorough statistical analysis—and he finds, unsurprisingly, an alarmingly steady decline.

A century ago, Lim writes, presidential speeches were pitched at a college reading level; today, they’re down to eighth grade, and if the trend continues, next century’s State of the Union addresses will be conducted at the level of “a comic strip or a fifth-grade textbook.” (“Iran’s crawling with bad guys: BAP!”)

Since 1913, the length of the average presidential sentence has fallen from 35 words to 22. Between Nixon and the second Bush, the average presidential sound bite shrank from 42 seconds to 7. Today’s State of the Unions inspire roughly 30 seconds of applause for every 60 seconds of speech.

Sam Anderson of New York magazine takes a deeper look at Obama’s speeches, deconstructing his style, rhythms and rhetoric.

Text of Berlin Speech

24 July 2008

Obama Speaks in Berlin

Barack Obama will deliver an address today at the "Victory Column" in Berlin's central Tiergarten park. Obama will speak to the chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, her foreign minister and chief rival, before his speech at the Siegessäule at 7:00pm local time.

Before departing for Germany, Obama told reporters that his speech will consist of a "substantive articulation of the relationship I'd like to see between the United States and Europe."

"It is not going to be a political speech," said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. "When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally.

"But he is not president of the United States," a reporter reminded the adviser...

"He is going to talk about the issues as an individual ... not as a candidate, but as an individual, as a senator," the adviser added.

Chancellor Merkel appeared to warm to Obama yesterday, when she told a news conference that the young American candidate "is well-equipped physically, mentally and politically".

Around 700 policemen will be in place for the visit and city workers have been setting up barriers around the "Siegessaeule", a 226 foot high column built to celebrate 19th century Prussian military victories over Denmark, France and Austria, since Monday. Crowd forecasts vary widely, ranging from 10,000 to nearly a million that are expected to show for the event.

“I doubt we’re going to have a million screaming Germans — let’s tamp down expectations here,” Mr. Obama told reporters as he flew here from Tel Aviv, joking that he only recently learned that his audience was expected to be so large.

22 July 2008

Small Donors Click "SEND" for Obama


After locking up his party’s presidential nomination, Barack Obama’s fundraising operation came roaring back to life in June, generating more than a million dollars in five days and more than $21 million from small donors.

Overall, Obama raised a total $54 million for his campaign in June, compared to $22 million for McCain.

One thing that is clear is that Obama’s vast base of small donors – 1.7 million was the last public count — carries big clout. To date, Obama has reported raising $338 million for his campaign from individuals and 94% of his donations have come in amounts of $200 or less.

Obama’s fundraising total in June represents a turnaround from a steady decline in monthly income that began after his Iowa upset in January.

The 54 million is also is the minimum the Illinois senator will need to generate each month between now and November if he is to match the more than $200 million budget the Republicans have set for boosting McCain’s campaign.

20 July 2008

Dense & Intense - This Week On The Web


In the course of keeping up with the news and doing research, I come across some great stuff you'll never see in your hometown newspaper or on the nightly news. Dense & Intense - This Week On The Web is a compilation of longer, more detail-oriented stories and humor pieces that caught my eye during the week.

"Survive Then Thrive" over at FreeMan Press - a sobering look at the challenges of surviving in the 'hood.

"We Need A New 'King Of All Blacks'" over at AverageBro - the picture alone is worth a thousand words!

Majority white, majority black, and now majority white again on the horizon - Atlanta is now "the city too busy to sit still" - "The End Of White Flight"

Over at Talking Points Memo's Election Central - Top Clinton Backers Tell Donors: Stop Whining - its about damn time!

The Air Car looks big enough to hold most of my body and three of my four limbs - over at PoliticalInaction

Another sobering story to bring some balance to the election madness - Black Community Denied Water For Decades over at Uppity Negro Network.

This look inside the dynamics of race and online interactions - The Color Line Online - spotlights the electronic divide over at Afro-Netzien.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Brown Man

18 July 2008

Obama Is My Slave

An Israeli-born t-shirt “designer” named Apollo Braun (pictured above) is being sued by a woman who bought a shirt of his that reads “OBAMA IS MY SLAVE.”

Nathanaeli Nassimi, a 25 year old Manhattan graduate student, was assaulted Tuesday night when a group of four teenage girls saw her wearing the shirt and took offense. According to Metro, the girls cursed at her, pushed her, then followed her around Union Square as one of the girls pulled the earphones out of her ears and another spit in her face.

Now the woman is suing the designer, not the four teens (!), for in his words, “all he’s got.”

Braun, real name Doron Braunshtein, claims that what allegedly happened to this woman is not his fault, and that the offensive design doesn’t reflects his views but “those of ordinary WASPs.” He says, “For a lot of people, when they see Obama, they see a slave. People think America is not ready for a black president.”

The lawsuit is a nonstarter as Braun is protected under the First Amendment. But this is not the first outrageous t-shirt Braun, who “can’t stand Obama,” has designed.

Other shirts of his include phrases like: “Jews Against Obama,” “Obama = Hitler” and “Who Killed Obama?” The “Who Killed Obama?” shirt is reported to have sold over 1,200 pieces.

Why does Braun loathe the presumptive Democratic nominee so? He says Obama “reminds me of Adolf Hitler,” and despises the fact that “he is a Muslim.”

The circus-like atmosphere that is starting to develop in response to the Obama candidacy reminds me of the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Maybe it's because Braunshtein brings back memories of another waif-like, blond haired young man - Brian "Kato" Kaelin - who figured prominently in the trial, despite the minor importance of his testimony.

Opportunists both black and white are starting to come out of the woodwork, demanding their fifteen minutes of fame while Obama gathers steam for his historic presidential bid. Couple the protection the First Amendment affords Americans with a need to be the center of attention from the media, and we are almost guaranteed to see something like this every week between now and November.

The drumbeat on the airwaves by the talking heads every night keeps the tempo of this tune - is he a Muslim, does he recite the Pledge of Allegiance, is he a radical Marxist, is his birth certificate real, did he deal drugs - while individuals like Braunshtein step up for their solos. Who is listening to these twisted lyrics?

Ten percent of America admits openly that they believe at least some of these allegations, and many more seem to be sympathetic to the sentiments of Braunshtein and others, who have turned the demonization of Obama into a revenue stream.

17 July 2008

Obama Beats The Street

"Statistics are people with the tears washed away." Sociologist Ruth Sidel

On Wall Street, short sellers move in for the kill whenever they sense weakness in a company's financials (see Indy Mac, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac), pounding its stock relentlessly until better numbers are released. Barack Obama found himself in a similar situation this month when a Wall Street Journal article reported that his campaign would only take in "likely just over 30 million".

News pundits went into overdrive, spinning all sorts of theories as to why the Obama fundraising machine seemed to be sputtering, attributing the slowdown to everything from the recent dust up with Democratic progressives over FISA to the reluctance of Hillary Clinton supporters to get behind Obama.

Had Obama made a fatal error by shunning lobbyist and PAC contributions? many wondered out loud.

Well the numbers are in, and it looks like Axelrod and Plouffe have continued to play a masterful game of managing expectations, much like CFO's do in the corporate world in order to keep the stock analysts who follow their companies bullish about their future prospects.

Wells Fargo beat the street's estimate yesterday, sparking a market rally that erased some of the losses sustained over the last couple of weeks.

With 52 million dollars in donations reported today for June, the Obama Campaign has beat the Wall Street Journal's expectations. Can a rally in support of him be far behind?

The letter below from the campaign this morning announces the June total.

Member --

I have some big news we want to share with you.

In the month of June, supporters like you helped raise $52 million. And together with the DNC, we now have nearly $72 million in the bank. That's a very strong financial position to be in.

But we remain at a massive disadvantage to our opponents.

As I mentioned in my video message earlier in the week, the McCain Campaign and the Republican National Committee finished June with nearly $100 million in the bank.

We can't stop now. It's going to take everything we've got to defeat John McCain and his allies in November.

Can you make a donation of $5 now to strengthen our movement for change?


I know this isn't the first time we've asked you for financial support, and it won't be the last.

We have developed a strategy -- a very aggressive strategy -- that will only work if our millions of supporters continue to contribute their time and their money.

That strategy will work, and it has to. The stakes are too high and the need for change too great.

But victory is only possible with your continued help.

We can't do this without you.



David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

15 July 2008

18 Million Cracks Votes Dollars

Barack Obama has been taking heat from all sides the last two weeks. His supporters (see Jessie Jackson) are stabbing him in the back. His friends (see Bernie Mac) are putting him on the hot seat with locker room humor. His donors (see Average Americans) have cut back on their donations so they can go to the beach.

And in the midst of all this turmoil, Hillary Clinton and her supporters have emerged, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to stick it to Obama for not doing more than he has so far to help retire her campaign debt.

The quote by one of her supporters Obama solicited recently was gutsy – "I’m waiting to see what you’re going to do about Hillary’s debt. And I’m watching to see what you’re going to do for her before I donate."

The DNC is broke, the staffs of both campaigns are gasping for air after a marathon slugfest, the Republicans are on track to raise 95 million bucks this month for John McCain, and you are holding your support for your party’s standard bearer over his head because he isn’t working hard enough to pay off the debt of his primary opponent?

You’ve got to be kidding me.

As I scrolled through some of the hundreds of websites committed to derailing the Obama nomination in Denver, seeing the constant refrain – “she’s got 18 million reasons to take this to the convention” – a thought hit me like a freight train.

Why not ask these “eighteen million cracks in the glass ceiling” to retire her debt, if they are so dedicated to the idea of resurrecting her candidacy?

I didn’t even need to whip out my calculator to do the math.

Eighteen million supporters could send her ONE DOLLAR apiece.

Okay, maybe that’s not realistic, seeing that gas is over $4.00 a gallon, and a good number of these people are headed to the beach.

So let’s say…hmmm…let’s say nine million supporters send her TWO DOLLARS a piece.

I don’t know, though – a fair number of this nine million might need to put that money on a PowerBall ticket.

And let’s face it – now that the primaries are over, and we don’t have Hillary chanting “w-w-w Hillary Clinton dot com” at the opening of her speeches, some of these supporters may have lost interest, or have forgotten how to get to the website.

So let’s knock this down to a number that is more representative of her hard core constituency.

One million supporters could send her EIGHTEEN DOLLARS a piece.

Am I making any sense here? Is this a trick question we need to ask on "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?"

If you apply the 80/20 rule, and forget about all the bitter, disgruntled malcontents who are usually loathe to put their money where their mouth is, you’ve still got two hundred thousand supporters – couldn’t they skip a few quadruple expresso shots, now that there isn’t a Starbucks on every corner any more, and pony up ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS a piece?

If you take Hillary’s personal IOU off the table, you could drop this to FIFTY FIVE DOLLARS a piece.

Just thinking out loud here.

14 July 2008

Hit The "SEND" Button One More Time

I've been a reader of The New Yorker since I was twelve years old. The town I grew up in was too small to have a bookstore, but it had a newsstand that was pretty cosmopolitan for South Carolina, with magazines like Utne Reader and Mother Jones and alternative weeklies like The Village Voice.

The New Yorker, as I came to find out over the years, was a legend unto itself, the brainchild of Harold Ross, country boy made good. In later years, the magazine's fabled zeal for accuracy and fact checking of the articles it published took on a life of its own, and was the impetus for the best selling book Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney, which is one of my personal favorites.

William Shawn was its venerated editor for decades - a steward of the old school, he was opposed to anything more than a modest use of profanity, even in the fiction selections. His succesor, Bob Gottlieb, didn't last very long. Tina Brown showed up in 1992, fresh from the helm of Vanity Fair, determined to "take the boring tone" out of the magazine.

She succeeded.

This week's cover depicting Barack and Michelle Obama as radical Muslim terrorists hits me pretty hard. I learned so much about the world outside of South Carolina from the well written, well researched articles in this magazine.

I haven't had a subscription in years, but I occasionally buy a copy, if it has more than one article I want read, and I always pick up the fiction issue.

The July 21st issue, on sale today, contains an in-depth article about Obama's rise in Chicago politics, with interviews of several of his closest advisors during his State Senate and his U.S. Senate campaigns.

But you wouldn't know that by looking at this picture. It's all there - the fist bump, the muslim headdress, the jacket, the militant Angela Davis afro, an American flag burning in the fireplace, with an assualt rifle and a picture of Osama Bin Laden thrown in to round things out.

This looks more like something dreamed up by PUMA (Party Unity My Ass), a modern day version of the White Citizens Councils that popped up after the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision, or one of the hundreds of niche websites dedicated to hating and eradicating Obama.

Is the possibility of having a black president THAT terrible? I think the rank and file of America and the middle management of America are okay - they've been working and living with blacks, Indians and Asians for years. The upper class and the rich are the only ones who continue to inhabit settings devoid of any minorities.

If you know anything at all about magazine publishing, you understand how important the cover is. It drives newsstand and grocery store sales, and provides media buzz to help win over new subscribers.

So this idea had to pass muster not only with the art director, but the magazine's editor, who is in many ways a proxy for the publisher. I don't know anything about David Remick, the current editor, but will be one of many, many emailers who will tell him that he has let his magazine sink to an all-time low.

I hope Tom Joyner is rallying his listeners. I hope you take the time to send and email, even if it is nothing more than a picture of Obama, to Mr. Remick. I hope those of you who frequent this internet hit the "SEND" button on our computers until your fingers get blisters.

The man on the street is not the enemy. It is the man who wants to control what you see on TV and what you read in the paper, the man who lives in the executive suite, the board room, or the cabin of the private jets crisscrossing the skies.

Here's the email address.

Go ahead, hit that "SEND" button one more time.

UPDATE - Additional email address:


Drew Schutte
Vice President & Publishing Director

David Miller
Associate Publisher

For small-space advertising inquiries, please send an e-mail to

smallads@newyorker.com, or call 877-843-6967.

For general advertising inquiries, please contact:

Terese Cunningham
Advertising Director
Telephone: 212-286-2105
E-mail: terese_cunningham@newyorker.com

Maria Tenaglia
Advertising Director
Telephone: 212-286-6993
E-mail: maria_tenaglia@newyorker.com

For other advertising inquiries, please contact

your local sales representative:

Cookman Campbell
Chicago Manager
Telephone: 312-649-3506
E-mail: cookman_campbell@newyorker.com

Patti Chapman
Detroit Manager
Telephone: 248-458-7955
E-mail: patti_chapman@newyorker.com

Melissa Smith
Los Angeles Manager
Telephone: 323-965-3466
E-mail: melissa_smith@newyorker.com

Marii Sebahar
San Francisco Manager
Telephone: 415-955-8282
E-mail: marii_sebahar@newyorker.com

For marketing inquiries, please contact:

Daniella Wells
Marketing Services Director
Telephone: 212-286-7479
E-mail: daniella_wells@newyorker.com

13 July 2008

Bernie Mac: Hypothetically Speaking

"I'm an ordinary guy with an extraordinary job."
Bernie Mac

S. and I went to see “The Kings of Comedy” years ago, not long after we’d moved to Atlanta’s northern suburbs. I was familiar with Steve Harvey, Cedric The Entertainer, and D.L. Hughley, but I didn’t know much about Bernie Mac. Bernie was the last man on stage.

He came trotting out, black as midnight in a medium blue suit, stopped in the center of the stage and looked at us as if he wanted to fight.

“I ain’t scared a you motherfuckers!!” he yelled into the microphone.

Believe it or not, he hit just the right note of intimacy with that phrase - both his on screen audience and those of us in the theater cracked up, because we knew that he was talking to us. This was NOT a Seinfeld crowd.

When he got this part of his act:

I had a white guy tell me... he say, "Bern, why do black folks always use the word 'motherfucker?'" Well, I'm gonna break down what the word "motherfucker" actually means. "Motherfucker" is somethin' that black folks been using for years. It's about expression. Don't be ashamed of the word "motherfucker." Because the word "motherfucker" is a noun: it describes a person, place, or thing!

You know, you hear about black folks – we loud, that’s defense mechanism, we talk aggressive. White people, when you see my people, you see ‘em in the social places, see ‘em in the mall, you see ‘em in the bowling alley, you might hear the word motherfucker thirty two times. And you might hear just two regular English words. But the conversation makes sense like a motherfucker."

we laughed so hard I thought they were going to put us out of the theater. I was tired by the time the credits rolled.


Saturday night, the Obama Campaign held a fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. About 600 people, some of them celebrities, attended the $2300 per person event. Obama was introduced by Bernie Mac, who began by talking about the movie he did with Chris Rock about a black president, Head of State.

"Barack, you need to look at it so you know what they're going to do to you," Mac said. "I don't know why my man Barack wants to be president but I'm proud of him because politics is dirty especially with Republicans. So Barack, you can't get mad, you understand, when you hear rumors because people like rumors. They're going to say things like, you were at the club with Lil' Kim and you and Kanye West got into a fist fight."

Mac then jokingly offered himself up as a running mate. "They don't want me because I cuss."

"Being a president is tough cause you're not just running the county. You got to run your family too," he said. "Having a black first lady is different. You're still going have to do the dishes and the laundry and all that…you got to pick up the kids. You didn't pick up the kids? I just came from Korea, talking about nuclear weapons. You were on Air Force One and you couldn't stop to pick up the kids?"

Mac said he was a Democrat "born and raised" but added that "I'm a Republican at tax time." He mimicked a mock warning from an imagined staffer: "Don't kill the message."

He then talked about his wife, who he's been married to for 35 years, and how she just went through menopause.

"I can't take it," he said. "My house is so doggone cold all the time."

He promised to help Obama and that he would be there "like the Jackson Five" and ended his irreverent riff with a joke.

"My little nephew came to me and he said, 'Uncle , what's the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?' I said, I don't know, but I said, 'Go upstairs and ask you mother if she'd make love to the mailman for 50,000."

The mother says she would make love to the mailman and anybody else for $50,000.

He tells the nephew to go ask his sister if she would make love with her neighbor for $50,000. She says she would make love with the neighbor and anybody else for $50,000.

So he tells the nephew, "Hypothetically speaking, we should have $100,000. But realistically speaking, we live with two hos.'"

The joke received an angry response from at least one person in the audience who said it was offensive to women. “It’s not funny. Let’s get Barack on,” shouted a man from the crowd.

"Calm down," Mac said, before introducing Obama, "not just a friend of mine but a friend of you all."

Obama came on, thanking, among others, "my great friend, one of the kings of comedy, Bernie Mac."
He then gave an abbreviated stump speech with a quick run-down of his platform, briefly touching most policy areas and using his usual language and jokes before poking fun at Mac toward the end of his 20 minute speech.

"Everybody is concerned about whether the Democratic Party will be unified in time," he said. "We don't have an option but to make sure that we are united and make sure that we succeed…we can't afford to be divided by race. We can't afford to be divided by religion, or by region or class. Or by gender," he said, pausing for effect. "That means, by the way, Bernie you got to clean up your act. This is a family affair… I'm just messing with you," he said.

The campaign issued a statement shortly after the event that was decidedly more serious in its condemnation of Mac's comments."Senator Obama told Bernie Mac that he doesn't condone these statements and believes what was said was inappropriate," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Politically correct he is not, but The Mac Man doesn’t give a damn – or at least he didn’t, until The Bernie Mac Show.
Mac had complained for years that he was the only one of the “Kings” who had not gotten a shot at a TV show. He had to reign it in a LOT for TV, but even then, everyone in the audience could feel that profane undercurrent you knew was right under surface.

In an interview with Rico Washington for Rolling Stone, Mac admitted he had to change the depiction of his nephew as a flamboyant gay character in The Kings of Comedy stand up routine to settle a family dispute.

"I didn't really know I hurt my nephew. . . . I came home to see my family, and he wouldn't speak to me," Mac said. "I'm a comedian, I'm writing jokes. I'm writing stories and it was funny. But I was killing him. Especially when I said 'faggot.'"

To make up for his act, Mac showed up at his nephew's school unannounced and heaped praise on the nephew as "the closest thing to my life," the paper reported. Then, when Mac's new television show was in production, he decided to take a different approach. "I couldn't do him like that again," he said, and he changed the character so that his nephew was more like Mac himself as a little boy.

Bernie Mac has promised his audience for years that he will always “keep it real”. So what genius in the Obama campaign invited THIS negro to do stand up in front of a mixed crowd,

a crowd which I am sure was full of people who had just gotten to the point where they could mentally separate the “black candidate for president” from the “black suspect” when they
watch the evening news?

At the end of the Kings of Comedy movie, Spike Lee inserted additional footage that showed the comedians messing around with a basketball as they spoke directly into the camera. Bernie's segment neatly captured his philosophy:

"I'm tired a y'all fucking with us. I can't drive, I can't go no motherfucking where. I go to New York City and I can't get a motherfucking cab. What type of shit is this?

I vote, and I STILL get hassled.

I been with my wife twenty-five years. I ain't got no outside kids.

But do I get a - no, no, fuck that, I'ma tell you - but do I have a television show? Naawww.

I ain't got no television show.


'Cause you scared a me. Scared I'ma say something.

Mutherfucking riight. Think I won't say something?

Let me tell you something. Y'all been fucking with me for a long time.

But I'm back.

Shit, me and Jim Brown ought to tear this motherfucker up!"

12 July 2008

Training The Boss

The sausage making has now begun in earnest, and some of us, it seems, cannot believe what we see going into the casing as Mr. Obama gets down to the cold, hard business of playing politics back in the Senate. This is a very vocal contingent, and one that has lately been spending an inordinate amount of time on the internet bashing Obama for his FISA vote.

The Wall Street Journal article Thursday about the downturn in recent Obama's internet fundraising efforts has been particularly satisfying for these "netroots", and has emboldened some of them to make the far-reaching claim that it is the lack of support from their contingent that has caused the slowdown in donations.

The phrase that gets my blood boiling the most - "training him like a puppy" - is one I see a lot on Daily Kos, which is probably the largest progressive site on the web. The top dog over there, founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, made a huge to-do a couple of weeks ago when he took center stage to announce that he was withholding his donation of $2300 from the Obama campaign because of his new stance on the FISA bill.

Since when did we send our presidential candidates to obedience school?

Did anyone try to "train" Kerry, or Gore, or Clinton when they had to make hard political decisions?

Why does THIS candidate need to be "swatted for messing on the carpet"?

And if Obama gets to the White House, what are they going to do then when he does something they don't like? Withhold their income taxes?

These people have been watching too many of those movies with a "Magic Negro" in them - you know, the ones where we handily dispense wisdom with a smile until the leading man or woman defies all logic and takes a heroic stand. That shit works in the movies, but in real life here in America there are two truths that are self-evident.

You will not elect a black man to the presidency of these United States without truck loads of campaign money.

Truckloads of money will be needed to give this brownskinned presidential candidate anything close to parity, even against a candidate as weak as McCain. These truckloads of money need to be delivered today and tomorrow and next week - not at the last minute in October to waste on TV ads that don't work. Obama is going to have to "put a body on a body" - his street teams will be dragging people from wherever they can find them for the next 90 days to get them registered, because if we were to vote today he would probably come up short.

ou will not get a pure idealist elected president in a country of 300 million people.

I have no official statistics on this crew of "netroots", or progressives, as they call themselves, but I am certain they are mostly self righteous members of the white middle class. You know the ones I'm talking about. McCain's aide Phil Gramm had it wrong about the "imaginary recession" we think we're in, but he had it right when he called us a nation of whiners – this bunch fits the bill to a “T”. When they aren’t bitching and moaning about Obama, they are complaining about their kids, or their job, or the lollipop their mother made them share with their sister in the third grade – there is nothing in the lives of these self centered, self appointed PC police but the indignities they are forced to suffer through for yet another day.

Some of the quotes I've seen at the DailyKos, like these below:

"My wife and I were literally "weeping for joy" as we donated money for CHANGE... but we are not donating a dime for "CENTERISM"."

"Obama is still somewhat of an unknown, even to us, and when he suddenly looks like some weird kind of Republican, votes and dollars will dry up somewhat."

"The sheen, is definitely off. The Fisa Flip-flop and a move to the center. He did it to himself."

sound like preteens whining when the parents promise something and forget to do it. "But mommy, you PROMISED!" Obama is not going to kiss your ass every time you get a boo boo. Being inclusive doesn't have anything to do with being servile - it just means that your opinion will be heard and considered.

I've been the only black guy in the room enough times to know what happens when I show up somewhere I'm not expected. ESPECIALLY when I seem to be in a position of influence. So if you are having second thoughts about Barack Hussein Obama being the standard bearer for your party, quit beating around the bush with these smoke screen issues and just say what's really on your mind.

11 July 2008

"Mike Check, One Two One Two"

My buddy called me Tuesday night. "Hey man-"

I cut him off. "You calling me about that damn Jessie Jackson, ain't you?"

"Did you see this negro?"

Naw, but I've been reading about it on the internet. Just when you think this election can't
get any crazier-"

"So you didn't see it?" my buddy asked me, sounding as if he was unable to comprehend
why my eyes weren't glued to my TV.


"You've GOT to see his face."

"Didn't I tell you this was going to get wild?"

"I don't think we we've really seen crazy yet. Dude, these are BLACK FOLKS doing this!
Can you imagine what'll happen once the white folks chime in?"

"Yeah," I said, "it's going to be a long year."

The first thing most of us who are not public speakers do when we come across a live microphone is talk into it. It is exciting - for those of us who do not speak to crowds
from stages, who do not wear clip-on microphones while being interviewed, who are not used to press conferences, where dozens of microphones are stuck at us all at once - to hear the sound of our amplified voice, even if it is being projected into an empty auditorium.

Some of us blow on them.

Some of us say "testing, one two three testing" if we are older, or "mic check one two one two" if we are younger.

Sooner or later, almost all of us come to realize, even if there are only a few people around, that talking in front of a crowd is harder than it looks.

But for the verbally agile microphone fiends who earn their daily bread speaking into them, they are as familiar as your cell phone is to you.

Jessie Jackson has been speaking into microphones his whole life. Maybe he was tired. Maybe he THOUGHT the mic was off, as he says. Or maybe someone was out to play a trick on him, as those in the media are wont to do.

Despite the pinstriped suits, the silk ties, the carefully barbered hair, and the manicured hands, Jackson has always had a certain country boy coarseness about him, a rough and ready air that has contributed to his distinctive persona.

It was the set of the jaw muscles in Jessie Jackson's face as he made the now famous gesture of a farm boy gelding a hog that had me laughing out loud as I watched the Youtube clip. The words he said were almost inconsequential when it got to the sudden upward wrenching motion that he made with his right arm, right there on camera for all the world to see.

Whatever the reason, the raw, naked thought that probably ran through his head and sprung from his lips almost simultaneously - "I'm going to cut his nuts off" will live on forever in sound bite land, alongside "Hymietown" and the photo of him embracing Momar Qaddafi.

The thing that bothers me the most about this is the glee with which the mainstream political pundits have seized upon this off-camera moment, boiling this down to the same old binary analysis – “Obama good, Jackson bad,” as if the only people worthy of supporting Obama have to be seen wearing their halos of devotion at all times.

If that’s the case, Obama’s surrogates can “renounce and reject” me right now, because I have moments, as I am sure all of you do, when I am VERY unhappy with something he’s said or something he’s done. The FISA crowd, as aggravating as they have been, are SUPPOSED to criticize Obama when they feel they have been wronged by a stance he takes. I myself am starting to get riled by the weekly apologies Obama seems to offer to some maligned group or cause.

The look on Jackson’s face at the press conference he held to express regret about his actions was as telling as the violent thrust of his shoulder was on the FOX videotape. He looked as if he could see his own future in this fall's campaign, his powerful voice of advocacy muted by his own carelessness, by his own all-too-human envy.

08 July 2008

Obama Plane Drama

The airplane carrying Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made a precautionary landing in St. Louis on Monday after the crew had a problem keeping the nose up on takeoff from Chicago.

(See "pressofAtlanticCity.com" for original story)

The plane, an MD-80 Midwest charter, struggled to keep the nose at the necessary angle, as it left for Charlotte, N.C., the pilot said.

Later, Midwest Airlines said the problem developed because an emergency slide located in the tail cone of the plane deployed in flight and never threatened the safety of the flight. The National Transportation Safety Board said it planned to investigate the incident.

A unique type of evacuation slide is found on certain DC-9, MD-80 and Boeing 717 aircraft. This type of slide is located in the aircraft's tailcone. This slide deploys after the tailcone is jettisoned by flight attendants, allowing for evacuation through the rear of the airframe. The procedure to use this exit may involve removing a plug-type pressure bulkhead, or a swing type door that leads directly to a walkway. At the end of the walkway is the slide pack and a manual tailcone jettison handle for use if the tailcone has not already been automatically jettisoned by opening the walkway entrance.

Watch a demonstration on Youtube

Federal Aviation Administration
spokeswoman Laura Brown said the plane did not declare an emergency but "requested a diversion for mechanical issues they called a flight control problem."
After landing, Obama read the paper in the front cabin, but ventured briefly to chat with the press at one point.

Upon takeoff from Chicago, passengers had felt the plane dip briefly, causing a stomach-rolling sensation like being on a roller coaster, but the unexpected movement didn't alarm the frequent fliers on board.

The pilot said, "We detected a little bit of controllability issue in terms of our ability to control the aircraft in the pitch, which is the nose up and nose down mode," His name was not released in accordance with Midwest policy.

Later, the pilot announced, "The autopilot and the aircraft are just fine. As we descended, whatever was inhibiting our ability has now been rectified. However, just for safety purposes we are going to be stopping in St. Louis and making sure that there's nothing binding our controls."

At Airliners.net, an online aviation forum, an anonymous pilot reflected the sentiments of many airline veterans who know these planes intimately:

"Usually the tail slide will only inflate when you drop the tail cone. There are three ways to do that. An exterior handle on the left side of the aft fuselage, an interior handle in the aft accessory compartment, also on the left side, and opening the aft cabin door using the upper handle. This was obviously a malfunction of some kind to have a slide inflate in flight, and yes it should have stayed inflated so it probably did get punctured by something which turns out was a good thing."

The landing at 9:51 a.m. CDT was normal.

Obama ventured back to chat with reporters after the stop in St. Louis, according to a transcript shared by a traveling aide.

Obama: "Just thought we would spice things up a little bit today. Don't you think?"

Question: "Were you frightened? Were you worried?"

Obama: "Well, you know, anytime a pilot says something's not working the way it's supposed to you make sure you tighten your seat belt."

Question: "You got a little nervous?"

Obama:" Everything seemed under control. The pilots knew what they were doing."

Question: "Did you ever have to do this before? A sort of unscheduled landing on your charter?"

Obama: "Not yet, so this is a first."

Obama, his staff, the Secret Service entourage and the press sat on the plane for over an hour as it was being checked out at Lambert Airport.

04 July 2008

Where Is A Flag Pin When You Need One?

Salem Poor * Oliver Cromwell * Lemuel Haynes * Primas Black * Prince Whipple * Charles Davis * Joshua Dunbar * Samuel Dunbar * Prince Easterbrooks * James Forten * Doss Freeman * Tobias Gilmore * Peter Galloway * Primas Hall * Job Hathaway * Ebenezer Hill * Thomas Hollen * Peter Jennings * Abrose Lewis * Titus Minor * Jerimiah Moho * Pomp Peters * Cato Prince * Esek Roberts * Caesar Sankee * Prince Vaughn * Sipeo Watson * Cuff Whitemore * Jesse Wood * Epheram Black

These are the names of a few of the African American men who served as soldiers in the Revolutionary War. I was trolling around the web, looking for a flag to post on July 4th, until I remembered that "I didn't own a flag", as I stated in yesterday's post. Putting one up on this blog, it seemed, would go against everything I said yesterday.

So I spent a little time on Google and started learning a lot. 5,000 black men served in the Continental Army. 12,000 Blacks served with the British from 1775 to 1783. Since we have a hard time today counting everybody, even with all the technology we've got, if I were you I'd consider these educated guess from culling the records that still survive. In any case, there were significant numbers of black people, from the beginning, who were willing to enlist in the what was essentially a start-up.

African Americans - free, slave, and ex-slave - fought side by side with white colonists seeking independence from British domination. GEORGE WASHINGTON, as Commander of the Continental Army, forbade the enlistment of Blacks - free, slave, or ex-slave - during the early stages of the war. He later learned that the Royal Governor of Virginia, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, was enlisting slaves and indentured servants into the British army with the promise of "freedom to all slaves who would join the King's army." Dunmore's tactic of lifting the ban on Blacks enlisting in the British army led George Washington to change his mind, and, therefore, Blacks later joined the CONTINENTAL ARMED FORCES.

[Excerpted from African American Patriots of the Revolutionary War]

100,000 African Americans either perished or disappeared during the American Revolution. The ones who were left essentially got the okie doke - "okay, boys, y'all put up a good fight. But y'all need to get on back to them fields, ya hear?"

And now, 225 years after the Revolutionary War ended, we have come full circle. We have a man running for the presidency of these United States whose parentage is similar to the original blend between colonial era whites and blacks that produced so many of the soldiers who fought in our inaugural war:

divers freeborne English women forgettfull of their free Condicon and to the disgrace of our Nation doe intermarry with Negro Slaves

[Archives of Maryland, 1:533-34].

Can you get more American than that?

Where is a flag pin when you need one?

Links for more information:

African American Patriots

The Black Patriots

Free African Americans

The Revolution's Black Soldiers

Africans in America: The Revolutionary War

03 July 2008

Descended In Blood And In Spirit

America works for me. It might not be the country I want it to be, but it’s the one I've got. It’s going to have the same warts whoever gets elected this fall. Sanctimony is out of style and humility just went on sale in the part of America I live in.

    I have not served in the military.

    I do not own a flag.

    And I’m not sure I know all the words to the Pledge of Allegiance.

There are some days, when I am upset or angry, when the things I say about this country I live in make the incendiary sound bites of Rev Jeremiah Wright sound like love notes. Me and the people who look like me are here because America was is addicted to cheap labor (see "Mexican immigrants, who you want to be deported, but ONLY after they finish building your homes, cleaning your homes, cutting your grass and washing your cars), but we've made a way out of no way, rising all the way to Most Favored Minority status after hundreds of years of oppression. If you add up all the other things like these that I have been known to complain about, you might come to the conclusion that I am unpatriotic.

You would be wrong.

I LOVE America - not the poster of Uncle Sam, or the image of the White House beamed around the world daily, but the people who live here. The government is NOT America. "We the people" - remember those words? the preamble to our one and only Constitution - "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union..." is a declarative opening that states precisely what took place at the inception of our nation. The power that those colonists gave to its governing body is the same power you give your government today.

As a country, as a people who can unite for common causes, we have done some great things for ourselves and for the world. There's nothing wrong with celebrating our accomplishments. An endless loop of patriotic sounding jingles and incessant flag waving, though, is not necessary.

Feigning naivete when we know damn well what levels of depravity and greed flourish in our American government, even as these revelations are unearthed, is unconscionable and juvenile.

We have to fight the fight now, because its not over, not by a long shot. I can't spend all my time worrying about legacies, or historical images. To get from here to there in anything, I 've got to spend as much of my energy as I possibly can on dealing with the unknown and unseeable future as it happens.

"Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels -- men and women who dare to DISSENT from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest DISSENT with disloyal subversion."

Dwight D. Eisenhower

"You cannot become thorough Americans if you think of yourselves in groups. America does not consist of groups. A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American."

Woodrow T. Wilson

"How soon we forget history... Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

George Washington

My inner curmudgeon will be on break this weekend. Whether you sit around a grill tomorrow, or gather at the beach, or celebrate urban style by taking it to the streets, remember, as you enjoy the food and the drink and the camraderie of your friends and family and enjoy this celebration, that we are all descended in blood and in spirit from those whose blood, sweat(that was our part)and tears earned us the freedoms and the liberties we cherish as Americans today.

01 July 2008

Barack Obama: The Hunchback of Cyberspace

Barack Obama has appeared in Unity, New Hampshire with primary opponent Hillary Clinton to put the campaign trail rhetoric behind them. He has given a speech about his personal brand of patriotism in Independence, Missouri to reassure voters that he "believes in America". I guess his next stop will have to be Compromise, Mississippi, where he will engage in an online town hall meeting to quell the internet firestorm that has erupted over his support for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

All of a sudden, it seems, Barack Obama has become the cyberspace version of Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame because he has changed his mind on how he intends to vote on this bill. The truth is, the number of laws that already weaken the protections of the Constitution are too numerous to count, and our legislators are piling even more on as we speak. If you believe Obama is anything but a consummate politician, you aren't as smart as you think you are. Personally, I’m tired of these one note FISA whiners, these mocka chocka frappacino sippers who probably waste their spare time measuring carbon footprints when they could be brainstorming how to get back the rights they've already given up long ago.

If the government already has the NSA, the CIA, and an unknown number of black bag organizations wreaking havoc out there in cyberspace, why are so many people with good sense wasting their breath and their brainpower on this Mickey Mouse bill that doesn't really control anything? We have been watched and listened to for decades, and it will continue, no matter what laws get put on the books, because the people in charge are scared of what we might do when nobody is looking.

That's probably what's gotten me riled up the most about these internet protesters who wanted to put Obama’s vote on the hot seat this week. What I am reading is ludicrous - there is no way Obama is going to take his middle of the road self and make a John Wayne stand against anybody. He hasn't operated that way his whole life. He is a finesse player, taking the advantage when he can get it, laying off when he can't.

I really think this is a cover for many of my paler internet brethren who were looking for a reason to turn tail, much like the rednecks in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky who hid their displeasure with the hue of Obama’s skin behind their dislike of his lack of “patriotism”. The specifics of what these netziens are saying is immaterial to me - it is the "I am righter than you, I am smarter than you, I am morally superior to you" vibe that gets me hot, because I've seen this before. It immediately brings to mind the Christianity zealots whose religious piety is so sacred it doesn't allow them to fraternize with the very people they profess to be called to help.

The last black guy who successfully acted like a saint on the national stage was Sidney Poitier. Maybe Obama could get Poitier to come on tour with him. Maybe he could get Morgan Freeman too, for the people who aren't familiar with Poitier's work. Hell, Will Smith can get some of this too - he ain't rapping no more.

All I know is, a campaign platform isn't built with one plank. A party doesn't campaign behind one issue. And if we want to get right down to it, America nor its citizens can make no claim on any kind of ideological purity - we have been a nation of opportunists since our inception.

I wish all of the Obama supporters who are willing to fall on their sword if any of their ideals are blemished could serve for just one session in Congress or the Senate. The amount of horse trading that has to go on to get ANYTHING to move forward would probably blow their minds - and that's between representatives in the same party!

    Ghandi would have been unelectable.

    Jesus would have been last in the field, if he could quit giving away his belongings long enough to accumulate the qualifying fees.

    Mother Teresa would have so few sound bites you would forget she was running.
    If you believed Obama was anything but a consummate politician, you aren't as smart as you think you are.

I won't be asking Obama to fall on his sword over this. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if this is the first of many Trojan Horses that will deployed via the internet - unnamed, unknown agents scattering under the cover of electronic darkness to infiltrate pockets of known Obama sympathizers, with the intent of turning Obama supporters against their candidate by fomenting outrage, by suggesting that something drastic be done, much the way some of our Hollywood actors and actresses pledge to leave the country every four years "if you elect __________ for president."