Bill and Hill’s high-flying, highfalutin adventure

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HAT TIP: By Matthew Mosk and John Solomon
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 26, 2007; A01

For the past four years, the Clintons have jetted around on Vinod Gupta’s corporate plane, to Switzerland, Hawaii, Jamaica, Mexico — $900,000 worth of travel. The former president secured a $3.3 million consulting deal with Gupta’s technology firm. His presidential library got a six-figure gift, too.

Gupta, whose big donations to the Democratic Party earned him a Lincoln Bedroom overnight when Bill Clinton was president, has emerged as a key benefactor of Clinton’s post-presidency — and Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s presidential candidacy.

Gupta’s generosity toward the Clintons has proved so controversial within his firm — a major provider of database-processing services — that it prompted a shareholder lawsuit complaining that hiring the former president was a “waste of corporate assets.”

The dispute over Gupta’s bankrolling of the Clintons offers new detail about how successfully Bill Clinton has leveraged the inner circle of donors he cultivated during his tenure in the White House to his personal financial benefit since he left office. In addition, it suggests the degree to which Hillary Clinton’s political career is also benefiting from those connections.

In the lawsuit, filed this year in Delaware, some investors in the company, InfoUSA, challenged Gupta’s decision to direct his firm to pay the former president the consulting fees for the “extremely vague purpose” of providing his “strategic growth and business judgment.”

The Clintons are not parties to the lawsuit, nor are they accused of any wrongdoing. In fact, the lawsuit refers only to a “former high-ranking government official” and his wife. But company officials, shareholders and aides to the Clintons confirmed that they are the couple in question.

The jet travel for the Clintons was charged to the company as “business development” expenses, the lawsuit said. The company jet took them to vacation spots, whisked the former president to an international conference in Geneva and to a commemorative speech in Oklahoma City, and shuttled Hillary Clinton to a campaign fundraiser in New Mexico.

The Clintons complied at the time with federal law by reimbursing Gupta for a portion of the costs for the flights Hillary Clinton took to political and other events. The Clintons do not have to reimburse InfoUSA for any of Bill Clinton’s travel, and they had to pay only the equivalent of first-class airfare for her travel, a fraction of the actual cost.

Jay Carson, a spokesman for the former president, declined to discuss the consulting arrangement. Carson described Gupta as a “longtime friend and supporter.”

Stormy Dean, InfoUSA’s chief financial officer, confirmed the flights and that payments went to Bill Clinton but said that the company believes the shareholder complaints are without merit. “Our position is that these expenses are legitimate business expenses,” he said. Gupta, who was traveling and could not be reached for comment, defended his company’s use of its corporate jet in a 2005 letter to the board of directors. “Every flight and its business reason are documented,” he wrote.

Gupta is a well-known figure in the high-tech world in India who met Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s and quickly became a generous patron. He and his company donated at least $1 million to help underwrite a lavish millennium New Year’s Eve celebration at the White House and on the Mall, and he paid the former president $200,000 to deliver a speech to InfoUSA executives in Papillion, Neb.

Gupta also gave a six-figure gift to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, $250,000 to the former president’s global charity, and more than $220,000 to the Democratic Party during Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign. In December, Gupta gave the maximum $5,000 to the senator’s political action committee, which was helping to lay the groundwork for her 2008 presidential bid.

Gupta has enjoyed his own benefits from his relationship with the Clintons. Bill Clinton offered him two diplomatic posts — as U.S. counsel general to Bermuda and as U.S. ambassador to Fiji — that he did not take. The president appointed him to the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center Board of Trustees during his last week in office.

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton agreed to lend their names to technology schools that Gupta financed in rural India.

Gupta, who grew up in dire poverty in India, has said publicly that he relished his relationship with Bill Clinton. Crew members of InfoUSA’s 80-foot yacht “American Princess” said Gupta spoke often of the former president and placed a photo of Clinton in the boat’s living quarters. In a 2000 interview with The Washington Post, Gupta described the thrill of crawling into bed in the Lincoln Bedroom. He said he called his mother to tell her, “I’ve come a long way.”

Founded in 1972, Gupta’s firm InfoUSA is now valued at $600 million and says it provides database marketing and processing services to more than 4 million customers.

The payments to Bill Clinton and the jet travel, along with other Gupta spending, attracted the attention of dissident investors in InfoUSA in 2005. Three investor groups sued the firm in a Delaware court, alleging that the expenses were unrelated to the business.

More Congressional Black Caucus news

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HAT TIP: DC’S Political Report, MyDD

The New York Times has an update on the special election in California’s 37th Congressional District vacated by the late Juanita Millender-McDonald. Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, one of the godfathers of California black politics and a former holder of this seat, has endorsed his colleague, Laura Richardson. The black political class has begun to rally round sistah Laura and she has been endorsed by Carson City Councilman Isadore Hall as well. Thangs are looking up for a hold on this seat for the CBC.

In other news, it looks as if there is some movement in the federal investigation against corporate whore “Dollar Bill” Jefferson of $90,000 in the freezer fame. I hope they throw his damn ass in the same cell as Duke Cunningham.

Matt Stoller of MyDD has a report about Charlie Rangel and Artur Davis selling out Labor and the Black Diaspora on Trade. Rangel is one of the House Big Dawgs as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Artur Davis, is a Junior Member serving his third term in Congress. He is the chief recruiter for the DLC and recruits pro-free trade Democrats to betray the pro-Labor constituency of the Democratic Party. He is also a corporate whore, a flack for the pro-Israel-bomb-them-back-to-the-stoneage-Lobby, and a supporter of Barack Obama. His betrayal of the black consensus is crystal clear. His support of Obama raises more questions then it answers.

 

RIDE ON BORG QUEEN

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RIDE ON BORG QUEEN, a
Clinton Democrat Negro Spirtual
  

written by request for sistah NMP



Sung to the tune Ride on King Jesus

Ride on, Borg Queen
No man can beat Hillary
Ride on Borg Queen, ride on
No man can beat Hillary 

She was young when her ruthless quest begun
No man can beat Hillary
But now her race is almost won
No man can beat Hillary

 Borg Queen rides on a crest of milk white votes
No man can beat Hillary
The vast right wing conspiracy she did cross
No man can beat Hillary

 If you want to find a way to God
No man can beat Hillary
over the “Audacity of Hope” she must trod
No man can beat Hillary

 When
America goes to Hell gonna wear a robe
No man can beat Hillary
Gonna see the Borg Queen sittin’ on the throne
No man can beat Hillary

 Gonna walk over those streets of gold
No man can beat Hillary
Goin’ to a land where DLC Bull**** never grows old

Harold Ford, Jr. Don Imus’s Nappy Headed Ho

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msnbc_ford_mccain_best_speech_060308

“The majority of Negro political leaders do not ascend to prominence on the shoulders of mass support. Although genuinely popular leaders are now emerging, most are selected by white leadership, elevated to position, supplied with resources, and inevitably subjected to white control. The mass of Negroes nurtures a healthy suspicion toward these manufactured leaders.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A tsunami of outrage has been blazing in the last ten days since Don Imus, Radio Shock jock and Harold Ford, Jr benefactor singled out the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team with a racist and sexist epithet. In the midst of the firestorm, Tennessee’s black prince, corporate whore and senator-in-waiting, released the following obligatory and gutless statement:

I don’t want to be viewed as piling on right now because Don Imus is a good friend and a decent man. However, he did a reprehensible thing. His comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team were hurtful and wrong. Moreover, the comments robbed these young women of an important time to celebrate a magnificent and positive moment in their lives.

I am a big believer in redemption, and I understand that Don has done many good deeds in his life. Yet, no amount of philanthropy gives anyone the license to offend innocent people—particularly when it comes to matters of race and gender. So I’m going to follow the lead of those brilliant and gracious women of the Rutgers basketball team and wait and see how the next two weeks unfold. I certainly hope Don can come to understand better the pain he has caused these young women and their families, and I will leave it to others to decide how his future in media should play out.

Is it any wonder that I have lampooned Harold as”Harold Whore, Jr” and “the Whore?”

The statement is brilliant in the way it deftly positions him as an acceptable House Negro and corporate servant, unlike Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Its brevity is telling and its faint praise and politically expedient criticism of Don Imus was not what the Anus in the Morning was hoping for. The Anus in the Morning needed a lifeline and instead, the Whore pushed his head under the water until he drowned. Harold Ford, Jr doesn’t intend to sacrifice a seat in the world’s most exclusive club for Don Imus. While grateful for the endorsement and exposure Imus provided, and God knows he enjoyed his time as Imus’s nappy-headed Ho, Harold has no use for a John that can’t pay.

Cavorting with the Anus in the Morning and his merry band of on air racists allowed Harold Ford, Jr entrée and unfettered access to the media elite of this country also prominently featured on the program as guests. He could rub shoulders with those elitist D.C. journalists and New York Media powerhouses in the green room. Most importantly, he could shamelessly appeal to a white demographic that was entertained by the Anus in the Morning’s racist satire and confirmed in their bigotry.

Before all the contretemps, everything was smooth sailing for corporate whore extraordinaire Harold Ford, Jr. After 10 years of metaphorically swinging around a pole in the House of Representatives doing nasty favors in exchange for corporate cash in his g-string, the Whore felt that his apprenticeship was done and that he was ready for the big time.

The Whore understands how power operates in this society and in whose interests. Ours is a capitalist society that comes with all of the attendant drawbacks and moral compromises, which stratify our society along, racial and class lines. He understands that for him to ascend to higher office, he must first genuflect to power and service it better than a crackhead ho on his knees. Dr. Michael Parenti, author of “Land of Idols” has eloquently written, “The problem with capitalism is that it best rewards the worst part of us: the ruthless, competitive, conniving, opportunistic, acquisitive drives, giving little reward and often much punishment-or at least much handicap-to honesty, compassion, fair play, many forms of hard work, love of justice, and a concern for those in need.”

Ruthless, competitive, conniving, opportunistic, and acquisitive are all adjectives, which couldn’t be better in describing the essential character of the Whore. In short, he loves the game and doesn’t give two sh$ts about anybody but himself. Ain’t no way in hell he intends to be sidetracked by compassion or pushing some good-government crap designed to help those in need.

Any whore who doesn’t understand the art of seduction is not really a professional but an amateur. The Whore is anything but amateurish; he is a consummate professional. He set his sights on Don Imus and the Media elite that surrounded him and he conquered them all. Don Imus’s unapologetic racism was a minor peccadillo that the Whore ignored because the D.C. and New York power elite shared the same views. For the Whore, its all about the acquisition of power.

Jack White of Time Magazine told TomPaine.com’s Philip Nobile, “Imus will be untouchable as long as influential journalists and politicians turn a blind eye to the tide of racism and sexism that passes for satire on his program. Their tolerance of his nauseating brand of humor raises serious doubts about the mainstream media’s sensitivity to a range of racial and social issues. The problem isn’t really Imus; it’s his collaborators, who go along with him to flack their books and stoke their egos, selling out whatever principles they claim to believe in for personal profit. To hell with all of them.”

MSNBC wants to spin what they’ve done in suspending and subsequently firing Don Imus from his morning simulcast on the network. They’ve patted themselves on the back and claimed that internal pressure from unnamed African American and female staff, and not external outrage and the termination of major corporate advertising on Imus’s program dictated the decision to discharge Imus by the MSNBC News president Steve Capus.

Parenti has noted, “With command over organizational structure, personnel, and budget comes command over the practices and content of the institution. Those who call the tune may not be able to exercise perfect control over every note that is played, but individuals who stray to far from the score, who create too much cacophony, eventually find themselves without pay or position.” MSNBC News President Capus said that his decision “…was about trust. It’s about reputation. It’s about doing what’s right.” BULL****.

The truth of the matter is that Philip Nobile at TomPaine.com has been crusading against Imus for the last seven years. Every single one of Imus’s heavyweight journalistic regulars has been contacted and confronted about his racism, sexism, and homophobia. They have been asked point-blank to disavow Imus’s bigotry and to stop appearing on the program. Objectionable content was no secret to those who regularly appeared on the program or any network executive who ever freakin’ listened to the program; they never felt the need to confront it or him.

Parenti postulates that, “One widely accepted myth is that we have a free and independent press in the United States. In truth, the print and broadcast media are giant profit making conglomerates, owned and controlled by powerful banks and rich, conservative individuals. The reporters and editors who work for them learn to see the world with much the same blinders as owners, advertisers, corporate heads, and White House and Pentagon officials. Journalists think twice before delving into sensitive areas. They worry about having their copy cut and rewritten, and about being removed from choice assignments, passed over for promotion, or fired. The consequence is that coverage is limited and certain questions never get asked….”

Don’t let anybody fool you about the Anus in the morning’s tactics and battle plan. He intended to do his show his way and anybody who believed anything different was delusional and as far as he was concerned and could kiss his ass. After too many over-the-top skits and one of his producers calling the Williams sisters “animals” more suited to National Geographic than Playboy, he needed a good little sycophant and lawn jockey like Harold Whore, Jr to chat up, promote, and serve as window dressing. After being called out in 1997 for using the N-Word by Mike Wallace on 60 minutes, you’d think the Whore woulda steered clear. Naw, because the Whore ain’t got no shame. Never had and never will.

Killing Me Softly with $25 Million

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 Campaign logo used by Senator Clinton

(Sung to the tune by Roberta Flack )

Strumming my pain with his fingers,
Mocking my war vote with his words,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million,
Complicating my whole life with his cash haul,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million …

I heard he sang a good song, I heard he had a style.
And so I came to see him to listen for a while.
And there he was this young boy, a stranger to my eyes.

Strumming my pain with his fingers,
Mocking my war vote with his words,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million,
Complicating my whole life with his cash haul,
Killing me softly with $25 Million …

I felt all flushed with fever, embarrassed by the crowd,
I felt he got my number and called me out real loud.
I prayed that my $ 26 would finish him but he just kept right on …

Strumming my pain with his fingers,
Mocking my war vote with his words,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million,
Complicating my whole life with his cash haul,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million …

He spoke as if he knew he threw my campaign into dark despair.
And then he looked right through me as if I wasn’t there.
And he just continued to bring it, speaking clear and strong.

Strumming my pain with his fingers,
Mocking my war vote with his words,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million,
Complicating my whole life with his cash haul,
Killing me softly with $ 25 Million …
Store.BarackObama.com.com - Barack Obama for President Logo Button (blue) (BT15660)

Obama challenges the Queen with $25 million

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HAT TIP: By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

DAVENPORT, Iowa – Democrat Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) raked in $25 million for his presidential bid in the first three months of 2007, placing him on a par with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and dashing her image as the party’s inevitable nominee.

The donations came from an eye-popping 100,000 donors, the campaign said in a statement Wednesday.

The figures were the latest evidence that Obama, a political newcomer who has served just two years in the Senate, has emerged as the most powerful new force in presidential politics this year. It also reinforced his status as a significant threat to Clinton, who’d hoped her own $26 million first quarter fundraising total would begin to squeeze her rivals out of contention.

The campaign reported that the figure included at least $23.5 million that he can spend on the highly competitive primary race. The Clinton campaign has yet to disclose how much they can use for the primary verses money that is designated for the general election.

While Clinton has honed a vast national fundraising network through two Senate campaigns and her husband’s eight years as president, Obama launched his bid for the White House with a relatively small donor base concentrated largely in Illinois, his home state. But his early opposition to the

Iraq war and voter excitement over his quest to be the first black president quickly fueled a powerful fundraising machine.

Since he formally declared his presidential campaign in February, Obama has been traveling the country with a focus on urban areas where he could build his momentum and bring in new donors. He attracted big-money Hollywood and Wall St. executives along with families who came out to his stops in places like Oklahoma that sometimes are neglected by other candidates.

More than half the donors contributed via the Internet for a total of $6.9 million, the campaign said.

“This overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country and a belief at the grassroots level that Barack Obama can bring out the best in America to solve our problems,” said Obama finance chairwoman Penny Pritzker.

Donors are limited by law to contributions of $2,300 for the primary election, but Clinton, Obama and some other candidates also have been raising money for the general election. That allows them to take another $2,300 from each donor, but the money has to be returned if they don’t win the nomination.

Clinton’s campaign often solicited the $4,600 donations, while Obama’s campaign focused on recruiting small dollar donors. In the coming months, he can return to those donors and ask those who haven’t maxed out to give more.

Unlike Clinton, Obama says he doesn’t take money from the lobbyists or political action committees that are frequent contributors on other campaigns.

Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle said, “We are thrilled with our historic fundraising success and congratulate Senator Obama and the entire Democratic field on their fundraising, which demonstrates the overwhelming desire for change in our country.”

Obama was visiting Iowa Wednesday, holding an evening rally at a community college in Mason City.

Among the other Democratic candidates, aides to former North Carolina Sen.

John Edwards said his $14 million in new contributions included $1 million for the general election.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he had raised $6 million and had more than $5 million cash on hand.

Aides to Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd said he raised more than $4 million and transferred nearly $5 million from his Senate campaign, for a total of $9 million in receipts and $7.5 million cash on hand. Delaware Sen. Joe Biden lagged behind, with his staff reporting that he had total receipts of nearly $4 million, nearly half of which was transferred from his Senate campaign account.

Edwards, speaking to Davenport, Iowa, television station KWQC, complained that the pressure to raise huge sums was distorting the political process.

“We should actually be publicly financing these campaigns,” Edwards said. “We shouldn’t be doing these money contests. They’re not healthy, they’re not good for democracy. Public financing is the answer.

“While we still have this system, you have to compete the best way you can. What’s clear is I think we’re going to have at least three candidates on the Democratic side who have plenty of money to run a very serious campaign.”

The Whore loves oral gratification

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Skeptical Brotha’s favorite Fox News corporate whore, Harold Ford, Jr has been turning tricks again for his corporate benefactors.  This time he has decided to pleasure them the best way he knows how-orally.  Oral gratification is the Whore’s specialty and the nasty bastard was in rare form as he addressed the Democratic Leadership Council last week.   If there was any question about his self-serving agenda and his transparently obvious aspirations for the Senate, he removed all doubt.   His address was an orgy of self-congratulation and vacuous rhetoric calculated to positon him and the organization he leads at the corrupt nexus of power.  His paen of praise for former President Bill Clinton was downright sappy and starstruck.   Monica-let-me-lift-up-my-dress-and-show-the-president-my-panties-Lewinsky couldn’t have done it any better. 

Hillary’s Song

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Hillary’s Song

Sung to the tune of the Commodores’ Brick House

 

Chorus:
She’s runnin’ for the White—-House
Mighty mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out
She’s runnin’ for the White—-House
The primary and caucus deck is stacked and that’s a fact,
ain’t holding nothing back.

She’s runnin’ for the White—-House
She’s the one, the only one,
who’s got a campaign team of hyper aggressive amazon’s
Bill and Hill stayed together for power everybody knows,
and here’s how the story goes.

Verse:
1. She knows she got everything
a woman needs to get the power, yeah.
How can she not use, the things she use
$36 million, what a winning hand!

(Chorus)

Verse:
2. The clothes she wears, the frumpy ways,
make an old Prez wish for younger days
She knows she’s built (a juggernaut) and knows how to please (voters)
If he strays one more gin, she’ll sho’nuff knock Bill to his knees

(Chorus

Bridge:
Shake em’ down, shake em’ down now (for campaign cash)

Obama’s obscene money chase

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“The fact that I’m raising obscene amounts of money for this presidential race doesn’t make me a hypocrite.”

Barack Obama, on his still-undisclosed fundraising, AP, 4/3

Color me mystified with the lag time between Hillary’s announcement and the impending, yet delayed announcement from the Obama camp regarding his numbers.   With over 100,000 contributions from over 80,000 folk, we know full well that Barack ain’t got nothin to be ashamed of.   Hillary has had her moment and now the time has come to steal her thunder and dethrone the Queen.    Will we hear from the messiah today before the close of business, or will the Safe Negro drag this mess out for yet another news cycle?  

This extended lag has me imagining some improbably colored scene in which Barack is holed up in some dingy room holding his fundraisers hostage while he and Michelle count every dollar like black folks running a liquor house. 

Obama’s methodical fundraising

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CHICAGO — When Barack Obama announced to friends over brunch in 2002 that he planned to run for the United States Senate, one of their first questions was how he could possibly raise the necessary millions.

After all, two and a half years after he had taken quite a “spanking,” as he put it, in his bid to unseat an incumbent congressman, he was still struggling to pay off a $20,000 debt, eking out donations of $1,000 here, $2,000 there.

Improbably, Mr. Obama, running as something of an outsider, wound up raising $15 million and winning that 2004 Senate race. Now that he is running for president, his fund-raising prowess has helped make him the chief rival to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

[Aides said Monday that he had collected more than $20 million in donations in the first three months of the campaign, enough to ratchet up the anxiety in the Clinton camp, which announced it had raised $26 million. Mr. Obama’s campaign has yet to release precise information on its total donations or contributors.]

A look at his 2004 Senate race shows how he laid the foundation for his current fund-raising drive. Even as he cultivated an image as an unconventional candidate devoted to the people, not the establishment, he systematically built a sophisticated, and in many ways quite conventional, money machine.

Interviews and campaign finance reports show Mr. Obama drew crucial early support from Chicago’s thriving black professional class, using it as a springboard to other rainmakers within the broader party establishment. Soon he was drawing money — and, just as valuable, buzz — among wealthy Chicago families like the Crowns and the Pritzkers, as well as friends from Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago, where Mr. Obama taught constitutional law and his wife worked in community relations. As his popularity surged after his rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004, big fund-raisers on Wall Street and in Hollywood hopped aboard, and grass-roots contributions began pouring in as well.

Mr. Obama has written that at the beginning he felt uncomfortable asking for money, but he developed a skill at cultivating donors, often with the same disarming directness he uses on the campaign trail.

“I met him on the first hole,” Steven S. Rogers, a former business owner who teaches at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, recalled recently about a golf game in 2001. “By the sixth hole, he said, ‘Steve, I want to run for the Senate.’ And by the ninth hole, he said he needed help to clear up some debts.”

Mr. Obama’s breakthrough in the 2004 Senate race was also made possible by a new wrinkle in the election laws. Faced with a self-financed opponent in the Democratic primary, Blair Hull, who pumped more than $28 million of his own money into the race, Mr. Obama was able to accept up to $12,000 from each donor, or six times the limit at that time.

As a result, nearly half of the more than $5 million that Mr. Obama raised in the primary came from just 300 donors. In a stroke of luck, he had just enough money to pay for a television advertising blitz in the final weeks as Mr. Hull’s campaign crumbled amid accusations that he had abused a former wife.

Some longtime Obama donors said they were glad to be able to exploit the financing loophole to help him.

James S. Crown, a senior member of the Crown family, said that despite the “formidable competition” in the Senate primary, he was so impressed after meeting Mr. Obama for breakfast in early 2003 that he quickly lent his support.

“I was just taken with his sensibility, his intelligence, his values and how he conducted himself during that campaign,” said Mr. Crown, who is Mr. Obama’s chief presidential fund-raiser in Illinois.

Mr. Obama appears to have such a firm hold on so many of Chicago’s big donors that Mrs. Clinton, who grew up in a Chicago suburb, did not even have a fund-raiser here during the crucial first quarter of this year. At the same time, Mr. Obama’s campaign says its grass-roots support is expanding rapidly, in part through $25-a-ticket fund-raisers designed for a new generation of donors.

Mr. Obama declined to be interviewed for this article. But in his book “The Audacity of Hope,” he sounded prescient about the dangers of the money chase, noting that he could not assume it “didn’t alter me in some ways.” At the simplest level, he wrote, it “eliminated any sense of shame” about asking for donations.

But, he added, he also worries that spending so much time courting wealthy donors has caused him to spend “more and more time above the fray,” away from the concerns of ordinary voters.

Mr. Obama, who grew up mostly in Hawaii, began making political contacts in Chicago as a community organizer in the 1980s. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1991, he returned to Chicago and led a drive that registered more than 100,000 voters for the 1992 elections.

Mr. Obama asked John R. Schmidt, a lawyer who was co-chairman of Bill Clinton’s Illinois fund-raising operation, to raise money for the voter drive. Mr. Schmidt said he invited donors to meet Mr. Obama over lunch at the University Club of Chicago, and he and some of the others later became major donors to his political campaigns.

But perhaps Mr. Obama’s most crucial early support came from the city’s longstanding cadre of highly successful black executives and entrepreneurs.

John W. Rogers Jr., chief executive of Ariel Capital Management, which oversees $16 billion in investments, played basketball with Mr. Obama’s brother-in-law at Princeton University. Quintin E. Primo III, who made a fortune financing commercial real-estate deals, and Louis A. Holland, an investment manager, have also contributed to nearly all the senator’s races.

Under its first black mayor, Harold Washington, the City of Chicago had expanded its contracts with minority business in the 1980s. But, Mr. Rogers said, the state “was not as open and inclusive as it could be.” As a state senator, he said, Mr. Obama pushed to open up more contracting and to give minority investment companies a greater stake in managing state pension funds.

When Mr. Obama decided to run for Congress in 2000 against the former Black Panther Bobby Rush, he used a $9,500 personal loan to help finance the campaign. When he lost, he found himself broke and fielding questions from the Federal Election Commission about his campaign finances. He later had to lend his campaign committee $11,100 more to cover refunds to donors who had inadvertently given too much.

It took him two years to repay his own loans, mostly with small checks from black executives who agreed to help him prepare for another run.

Robert D. Blackwell Sr., a management consultant whose family contributed a few thousand dollars to Mr. Obama then, said that after the House race, it would have been natural for some supporters to hesitate.

“But Barack has almost devout followers who are people of action,” Mr. Blackwell said, “and they rallied behind him.”

When Mr. Obama told his closest friends about his Senate plans, Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago businesswoman who led his finance committee, said: “Our initial reaction was, ‘It’s too soon. You just lost, and if you lose again, where are you?’ ”

Ms. Jarrett said Mr. Obama replied that he was willing to gamble all on one more shot. David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s strategist for his Senate and presidential campaigns, said Mr. Obama believed that if he polled well among blacks and white liberals, he would have a chance.

At least initially, few donors seemed to agree. Besides Mr. Hull, a former securities trader, another opponent was the state comptroller, Dan Hynes, whose father had been a major Illinois political figure.

After three months of calling longtime supporters and other Democratic donors, Mr. Obama had raised only $250,000. Even some Harvard friends were wondering if the race made sense.

David B. Wilkins, a Harvard law professor and friend of Mr. Obama, recalled, “I held one of his first fund-raisers here in Cambridge, and I had to beg people to come, because they said: ‘What is this? This guy thinks he’s going to win? Come on.’ ”

At first, only a handful of Obama supporters took advantage of the increased contribution limits, newly available under a so-called millionaire’s amendment to federal campaign laws.

From his Chicago circle of black professionals came John Rogers, who gave $11,000. Among the other investment managers, Mr. Primo and his wife gave $18,000. And Mr. Holland, his wife and two of his partners donated a total of $35,000.

At Harvard, Mr. Wilkins helped tap into professors and alumni, including George Haywood, an investor who, with his wife, Cheryl, contributed $12,000 in April 2003.

Mr. Haywood and Mr. Obama became friends, and it was Mr. Haywood whom then-Senator Obama turned to in early 2005 when he needed a broker to help manage money from a book deal. Mr. Haywood’s broker later invested $100,000 of Mr. Obama’s cash in two speculative stocks that Mr. Haywood owned.

Antoin Rezko, a Chicago businessman who was later involved in a land deal with the Obamas, gave $10,500.

Mr. Obama’s support also widened among Chicago’s business elite. Members of the Pritzker family, which founded the Hyatt Hotel chain, donated $40,000; Penny Pritzker is now the senator’s national finance chairwoman.

Mr. Crown, whose family’s investments include a major stake in the military contractor General Dynamics, said family members normally avoided taking sides in a primary, in part because it was not good for business. But with Mr. Obama, they made an exception, with 10 family members giving a total of $112,500.

“I was just so personally impressed with Barack that it was worth the risk,” Mr. Crown said.

Resistance is futile: Borg Queen raises $ 26 million

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The malevolence that is Hillary Clinton has announced her first quarter fund-raising total-a record shattering $ 36 million, that is approximate to George W. Bush’s earth shattering total in the summer of 1999 when her $10 million in Senate re-elect money is factored in.  This number is calculated to send the unmistakable signal that resistance is futile.  Apparently intimidated by Barack Obama’s record setting jaunts across America in which he was received like a messiah, she released the cybernetic DLC fund-raising drone that masquerades as her husband in an attempt to keep pace.  

The Obama camp has remained strangely silent and hasn’t confirmed their totals.  Edwards numbers are strong and in the double digits also.   He will have what is necessary to be heard, but in the end, he will fall short regardless of what the Iowa polling numbers are showing us now.   Neither Governor Richrdson, Senator Dodd, or Senator Biden,will have what it takes to go to the mat on this one.   The top three democratic contenders have been like vacuum cleaners and effectively removed all of the available money in the field. Whether we like it or not, the Queen has won round one.  If she hadn’t, we woulda heard about it by now.

Hillary goes after the sistah vote

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photo by columbia

Hat Tip: NY Mag

Hillary Clinton’s campaign apparatus is now in full swing to court a part of the electorate she thought she had locked down in pre-Obama days: black women. According to one campaign source, Minyon Moore, a Hillary operative and former political director in Bill Clinton’s White House, held a strategy session last week with influential black women, like Marva Smalls (a top exec at Nickelodeon) and NYPD chaplain Suzan Johnson Cook, at Hillary’s Manhattan headquarters. “We’ve always said we need to earn every vote,” Moore says, and hopes the women will act as cheerleaders for Hillary. An ABC–Washington Post poll released last month shows that Hillary’s support among blacks has dropped dramatically (from 60 percent to 33 percent), and her support among women overall has dipped as well (from 49 percent to 40 percent)—owing almost exclusively to the fact that black women are now supporting Obama. “Black women will be key,” says Donna Brazile, a Dem strategist (still unaffiliated) and Al Gore’s former campaign manager. “What drives politics in the black community is the early support of black women. They drive the discourse. They pick a candidate, and stick with it.”

Vilsack Assimilated

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Clinton appears with her husband on the opening night of the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Associated Press is announcing the endorsement of the borg Queen by former Iowa Governor and Presidential Candidate Tom Vilsack.   The ritual of total submission and sycophancy will reportedly take place on Monday.   Damn.  Another good man has been assimilated by the Clinton juggernaut.  Vilsack’s campaign disintegrated after he was disabused of the delusion that he could compete with celebrity contenders like Hillary and Obama.

The Whore turns another trick

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Hat Tip: Shenanigans blog at Politico.com

Shenanigans has learned that former heartthrob Tennessee Rep/Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council Harold Ford, Jr. has inked a deal with Fox News Channel as a political contributor.  Lest we forget, they just signed former Pennsylvania Rep Rick Santorum last week – look out Mort and Fred — we see their own TV show in the making. Still, Santorum last week, Ford this week: it’s all about being fair and balanced.

Nobody bet’ not EVER say another mumblin’ word to me again about Harold Ford, Jr not being a corporate whore.   Y’all hear me?   The evidence is overwhelming:  Chair Democratic Leadership Council,  VP at Merrill Lynch, and the coup de grace: a perch on Fox News.   Barack Obama is a true disappointment but his craven machinations pale in comparison to Harold Whore, Jr.   Harold, like Elvis before him, is the King.   
 

Thanx dbl Helix for the heads up.

Barack’s Buckdance for the Israel Lobby

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Brotha Barack’s Safe Negro tour makes an obligatory stop today to pander and buckdance in blackface for the Israel Lobby’s political action arm: AIPAC.   

AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), as Ari Berman has written in the Nation is “the leading player in what is sometimes referred to as “The Israel Lobby”—a coalition that includes major Jewish groups, neoconservative intellectuals and Christian Zionists. With its impressive contacts among Hill staffers, influential grassroots supporters and deep connections to wealthy donors, AIPAC is the lobby’s key emissary to Congress. But in many ways, AIPAC has become greater than just another lobby; its work has made unconditional support for Israel an accepted cost of doing business inside the halls of Congress.  AIPAC’S interest, Israel’s interest and America’s are perceived by most elected leaders to be one and the same.”

Barack Obama doesn’t support the entire AIPAC line but he doesn’t significantly depart from it either.  He intuitively understands the price he must pay to ascend to the Presidency. According to Jewish Week, “The [Obama] Campaign has…signed on a leading Jewish Mideast expert, Dan Shapiro, a former National Security Council official in the Clinton Administration.  Shapiro is leaving his position as a top aide to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla) for a…role doing Mideast policy and Jewish outreach for the Obama campaign.”  

Gotta admire Brotha Barack for getting all his ducks in a row and stealing prominent Jewish fundraisers like David Geffen and George Soros away from Hillary.  He plays political chess masterfully and executes his moves deftly. Anybody who still believes that the brotha wasn’t planning a run for President from the moment he stepped on the national stage in 2004 is a damn fool. This shit didn’t just happen, it was methodically planned like a new Microsoft product launch.  His flacking for Israel and his votes on the Senate floor are as calculated and cynical as every word in the Audacity of Hope.

M. J. Rosenberg has written on TPM Cafe, “A new voice like Obama really has no need to adopt the me-too policies on the Mideast that have been de rigueur for 30 years.  The status quo types are not going to support him anyway but the overwhelming majority of pro-Israel (and that means pro-peace) Jews will.  By that I mean the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community which, according to the AJC poll, is the most anti-Iraq war segment of the population.  They are not neocons, not on Iraq, not Israel.”  I wish I could believe that.  Obama’s actions during the latest Israel/Lebanon conflict contradict that presumption, underscore his compliant “Me-too” attitude, and sour my disposition towards his Presidential bid.  

Israel’s actions last summer toward Lebanon were unnecessary and constituted war crimes in violation of international law.   Israel’s government has been swapping military hostages for decades with the Lebanese and the illegal seizure of two more Israeli hostages became a convenient pretext for war to Israel’s new Prime Minister.  Obama rubberstamped Israeli war crimes when he said, “I don’t think there is any nation that would not have reacted the way Israel did after two soldiers had been snatched.  I support Israel’s response to take some action in protecting themselves.”

As a reasonable person, I do not argue against Israel’s right to exist or that it has a right to defend itself when attacked.  The Lebanese government is not blameless here nor is the Iranian backed paramilitary organization Hezbollah.  What I contend is that Israel defend itself in conformity with international law, something it has categorically refused to do for decades.

Obama voted for a manifestly fraudulent nonbinding Senate resolution that Stephen Zunes has said, “reinterpret(s) the United Nations Charter by claiming that Israel’s attacks on Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure is an act of legitimate self-defense under Article 51 despite a broad consensus of international legal scholars to the contrary. In short, both Democrats and Republicans are now on record that, in the name of “fighting terrorism,” U.S. allies—and, by extension, the United States as well—can essentially ignore international law and inflict unlimited damage on the civilian infrastructure of a small and largely defenseless country, even a pro-Western democracy like Lebanon.”

Obama’s fraudulent vote and his endorsement of unilateral war should be all the proof one needs that his perspective is warped and his focus on just and equitable conflict resolution in the Middle East will be lacking as President. When Africa cries out for help, brotha Barack, like Colin and Condi before him, will be too preoccupied with “more important” whitefolks problems to deal. As a freshman Senator and imperialist in training, he learned his lessons well. This is the real reason why our white brothas and sistahs in the beltway establishment can’t curb their enthusiasm for Barack.  

However, if that isn’t enough for you, consider this:  Obama’s address today to AIPAC called for “preserv[ing] our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing to work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs.  This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as Close as Gaza.”  Consequently, this is a recipe for generous military subsidies to keep the Israeli Defense Forces armed to the teeth and a continuation of Israel’s unjustified militarism toward its perceived enemies.

This speech does more to call into question Obama’s blackness more than any single address he has given because it is nothing but blackface minstrelsy calculated to appease wealthy and influential actors interested in keeping the status quo in place. The brotha has sold his soul for a chance at Presidential power and he clearly hasn’t sold it to blackfolks.   The speech is standard AIPAC friendly boilerplate that national candidates on the make give at one time or another.  

Lately, there is always some Iran and Ahmedinejad bashing, a commitment to large military subsidies, and a tacit acknowledgement that we will look the other way when they do their dirt to the Palestinians and Lebanese. Moreover, unless he commits to Israeli military supremacy, he’ll never be able to compete with Hillary in the money chase of which the Jewish community always plays an integral part on the Democratic side of the aisle. 

Jewish Voice for Peace, a California based peace group has written, “Massive military aid promotes militarism, which has led to a reliance on military, rather than diplomatic means to work for a solution to this ongoing [Israel vs. Arab] conflict.” Like Iraq, imposing a military solution has solved nothing between Israel and its neighbors and has increased instability in the region.  

Jewish Voice for Peace has also written that, “Furthermore, when our government arms proponents of massive human rights abuses, we become complicit in their crimes and hated by their victims. U.S. support of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands and its abuse of human rights undermines any moral authority to criticize human rights abuses in other countries. And it shreds the U.S. of any credibility in acting to promote peace in the region.”   

Last month, a movement was afoot in Oslo, Norway by 40 nations to ban the cluster munitions that proliferate in current conflicts, which continue to kill and maim people long after the battles are over. Human Rights Watch has documented that “Israel used cluster munitions containing some 2.6 to 4 million submunitions in Lebanon, the majority of which were produced in the United States. Israel’s use of cluster munitions was the most extensive anywhere in the world since the 1991 Gulf War.” The United States opposes this effort and there were no calls from either the Obama or Clinton camp for U.S participation because neither will sacrifice their ambition to sit in the Oval Office for peace.

It is a violation of U.S. law to provide military aid to governments, which consistently give short shrift to human rights as defined in international law. Israel is always given a pass no matter what it does or how many civilians it illegally targets and kills. Both Obama and Hillary could have stepped up at anytime to pressure the Administration to cut off military aid to Israel and prevent the atrocities that routinely occur in the Palestinian territories or in Lebanon because of Israel’s over-the-top defensive posture.    

It is all very Orwellian to me. Indeed, “War is Peace” to all of the leading contenders for the imperial power of the Presidency. A showdown is developing in Selma, Alabama this weekend in the continuing battle for the black vote between Hillary and Obama. They both need to be seen paying homage to Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement’s direct action campaign, which culminated in “Bloody Sunday” and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.     

Whatever both candidates say will be more empty rhetoric that quotes Dr. King without adhering to the spirit and substance that he advocated. “The stability of the large world house which is ours will involve a revolution of values to accompany the scientific and freedom revolutions engulfing the earth.  We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing”-oriented society to a “person” –oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” That’s the message Obama needs to embrace instead of embracing more war. He never will because he is lost to us forever.

Hillary Clinton announces endorsements: Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben

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The Clinton campaign announced two prominent celebrity endorsements today.  Aunt Jemima, the mega star and frontmammy of Quaker Oats, has announced her intention to endorse Hillary Clinton and add yet another unnecessary black voice to Mrs. Clinton’s fraudulent Negro minstrel show.  Aunt Jemima said she was following the lead of Senators “Moses” Darrell Jackson and “Aaron” Robert Ford and a host of other so-called black leaders they bamboozeled this week into the promised land of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.  Jemima happily exclaimed like a good psychological slave,  “Oooh Honey Chile, I’s so happy to tell de wurld bout de goodness of de Lawd and Miss Hillary.” 

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“Uncle Ben shuffled barefoot into our offices and offered us his endorsement without asking for anything in return, unlike the rest of the greedy Negroes we corralled earlier in the week,” said an anonymous Campaign insider. “It was too good to pass up”, she volunteered.  Uncle Ben gave as his rationale for endorsing the Clinton campaign, “I been a nigra corporate mascot for a long time now, might as well be one for Miss Hillary.”