Y’all need to chill! Seriously!

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Mitt Romney is the living embodiment of a President from Hollywood central casting.  His all-American good looks and patrician bearing are reassuring to some folk and harkens back to the halcyon days of yesteryear when times were simple and dark people, women and gays knew their proper places.  Following the lead of Congressional Republicans in racializing Obama’s policy agenda, Mitt Romney’s strategists, conscious of their diminishing odds of winning this election, elected to frame their horse’s throwback candidacy in a way that intentionally stokes a sense of white racial resentment.  President Obama’s every thought, word and deed is construed as a racial attack on God-fearing, taxpaying white Americans. Whites are cast as the victims in this alternate Republican universe and Mitt Romney is the savior they’ve been praying for.  It is a lie, like everything the modern Republican Party stands for. It doesn’t matter how confidently Mitt Romney recites his lies. A confident lie is still a lie. Remain calm. There is nothing that transpired yesterday between the contenders to America’s throne that should disturb any Obama partisan.

Let’s review. In the span of 50 years, we’ve gone from, “Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever,” to the eleventh great grandson of the first enslaved African serving as President of the United States.  God is speaking through this recent revelation in Obama’s family tree. Can you hear him? I believe in my sanctified soul that Barack Obama’s miraculous rise to the presidency was predestined. The African ancestry traceable through his “white” mother shatters the myth of white supremacy and cleanses the stain of chattel slavery.  In Jeremiah 1:5, God tells his prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:10 states, “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”  Every step this brotha has taken in the last thirty years has been ordered by The One Most High.

Eight years ago, Barack Obama was a minor state legislator nobody had ever heard of. He gamely took on the State Comptroller and a Multi-Millionaire Businessman for the chance to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate. Heavily outspent, he vanquished them both. Plucked from obscurity by John Kerry to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, he electrified the nation. Two opponents, including his attractive Republican opponent, self-destructed in sex-scandals. Smears, misinformation and right-wing distortions, many of the same we hear today, were employed by an unhinged Republican to stop his rise.  None worked. Four years later he went on to defeat the most formidible political dynasty the Democratic Party has ever produced to claim the Democratic nomination for President. The Clintons questioned his fitness for the Presidency and Bill Clinton dismissed his ambition as a “fairytale” and prompted Teddy Kennedy to endorse Obama after letting rip, “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.” Oh, how the worm has turned. President and Mrs. Clinton both serve at Obama’s pleasure now.

We love him because he has always displayed the cool serenity and regal dignity that every child of God should emulate.  This is the same president that shamed Donald Trump on Wednesday, punked his ass contemptuously on Saturday, and killed Bin Laden on Sunday.  Don’t believe for one minute that an empty suit like Mitt Romney got under our president’s skin last night.  Don’t fall for that.  Obama set a trap and Romney took the bait. Romney shook his etch-a-sketch so hard that he broke it.  This is the same president that allowed Republican extremism and obstructionism to trap them into the untenable position of opposing tax cuts, a grand bargain on deficit reduction and a debt limit extension.   To hear some pundits tell it, Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he always seems to come out on top.

Romney still has much to answer for. The specificity of his budget and tax plan that journalists and pundits were critical of earlier in the week sure as hell didn’t materialize last night. What we heard was a lot of nonsensical doubletalk and backpedalling from what he was saying during the primaries.  The Obama for America campaign is sure to take a hefty pound of flesh from Romney for his evasions and falsehoods.  The ads should pretty much write themselves. All one has to do is stack Romney’s inconsistencies on top of one another and call it a damn day.

The corporate media knows that this race was over a long time ago. It doesn’t want to give up the ghost just yet because it invests the empty theatrics and ridiculous posturing of the modern presidential debate with more meaning than the serious policy discussions it was designed to facilitate. The contention that stagecraft means more than statecraft is a serious indictment of our fourth estate and an indication that the systemic corruption beneath the Media’s shiny façade threatens our democracy.  We need to continue working, watching and praying for healing and racial reconciliation in our country.

There is a hymn that goes, “We’ve come this far by faith. Leaning on the Lord. Trusting in His holy word… Just the other day I heard someone say he didn’t believe in God’s word. But I can truly say that God has made a way.  And He’s never failed me yet. That’s why we’ve come this far by faith.”

Chris Christie pays homage to Iowa’s Birther King

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has abandoned all pretense of giving a shit about assisting Mitt Romney in toppling Barack Obama this year and has started running in earnest for 2016. This week, the same politician who expressed disdain for “the crazies” in his party flew to Iowa to cozy up to just that in the person of Iowa Congressman Steve King. The gentleman from Iowa has distinguished himself during his tenure in Congress as Iowa’s chief race-baiter, birther, homophobe, misogynist and conspiracy theorist.

If Christie is to have any hope of making inroads with the Hawkeye state’s fringe Right, the path to power goes directly through Western Iowa’s Birther King.  The lamestream media would do well to pay attention to how their right-wing golden boy compromises his integrity and jettisons his moderation in the pursuit of the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination. Dostoevsky said it best, “Power is only given to those who lower themselves to pick it up.”  I can think of nothing lower than fundraising for and extoling the virtues of a bigoted troglodyte like Steve King.

Incremental Change I Can Believe In

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As the nation sits on the precipice of default and worldwide Depression, my frustration with progressives has turned from annoyance to blind rage.  The delusional fantasy that Barack Obama can wave a magic wand, part the Red Sea, and create progressive change with the stroke of a pen, just won’t die.  And it frustrates the hell out of me.  I understand the mindset intimately because I was there.  This presidency is a unique moment in American history and it has fueled the idealism of the American people. That’s a good thing.  However, it has also unleashed a tsunami of unrealistic expectations.  

Our system of government is designed to frustrate reform and change, especially progressive change. Whatever change we manage to get is ALWAYS incremental and a foundation that can be built upon. I thought that was widely understood.  I was wrong.

Anybody who hasn’t been under a rock for the last few weeks understands that there is no reasoning with the Republicans on Capitol Hill or anywhere else.  David Brooks said it best:

… the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative. The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

…If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.

And they will be right.

Given the ruinous catastrophe that the country faces, I find it maddening that some progressives think that the president is going to be able to achieve anything worthwhile as long as Republicans control the House of Representatives.  Didn’t we learn this lesson 16 years ago when Bill Clinton was president? After Clinton’s re-election the GOP doubled down on the crazy.  Bill Clinton was immensely flattered to be considered the first black president and the Republicans resolved that any white male that would cop to that should be treated like a nigger. That’s what the humiliation of impeachment was ultimately about and they haven’t changed. The thin veneer of solidarity with African Americans and other people of color displayed by our party leaders renders the Right-Wing constitutionally incapable of accepting any Democratic President’s legitimacy.

Thirteen years later, the president who saved us from Depression, secured comprehensive health reform, and reversed DADT without embarrassing his wife, his family, and the nation with sordid details of oval office fellatio, can’t seem to do anything right for the people who vigorously defended the philanderer-in-chief who got all of that progressive policy wrong in addition to weakening the social safety net and deregulating the banks that speculated us into the current predicament.  In the African American community, there is an aphorism that we are taught as children: We have to be twice as good to get half as much.  True to form, Barack Obama is twice as good as Bill Clinton ever was and doesn’t even get half the credit.

I’m tired of the cacophony of criticism from the firebagger caucus that President Obama is somehow defective.  He’s the most effective president on domestic policy since LBJ. Unlike Charlie Sheen, Barack Obama IS winning, which I think is the realization fueling the Republican drive to blow up the economy and his presidency so they can play blame-a-nigga games during the 2012 Presidential election.

The fact that firebaggers refuse to acknowledge the latent racism behind Republican machinations blocking a raise in the debt ceiling reveals that Republicans are not the only ones with a race problem they need to own up to. The need for Barack Obama to be perfection personified before some progressives can trust and applaud his leadership is delusional at best.  At worst it is racist and it is time we had an adult conversation about that. His election has not exorcised the demon of racism in this country and relieves no one of their moral obligation to continue supporting fairness and equal opportunity.

If President Obama has a failing, it is that he refuses to acknowledge that truth and the racism behind the animus he faces from the Republicans.  Whatever.  I’ll support him regardless because nobody in my lifetime has demonstrated that they’re more worthy of being President.

Orgy of Ignorance

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Voters in the nation’s capital city rebuked the President’s homie, Mayor Adrian Fenty.  Formally, we call what took place yesterday an election.  I call it an orgy of ignorance.  I am a race man to the core but what happened yesterday is unfathomable.

One of my home girls called me last night from D.C., and I asked her who she voted for.  The answer, of course, was Vincent Gray, the aging quadroon who is Chairman of the City Council.  I knew it was over without looking at a single return. I could not help berating her. Lacking conviction in her vote and stung by my attack she asked, “Why you ain’t call me?”  I should have said that I thought she had better sense than to throw out a decent brotha over a vague sense of racial grievance. The crap about gentrification and Fenty’s cabinet appointments are just blackfolks venting about the common misconception that Adrian is a House Negro too beholden to whitefolks.

Fenty’s loss is a triumph of style over substance because Gray certainly had no real programmatic objections that he chose to share. Fenty lost for two reasons:  1) His hard charging and humorless style rubbed too many the wrong way.  2) The unconscious desire of the black community to crucify a scapegoat because of their economic anxiety during this brutal recession.  Blackfolks convinced themselves that their black college educated Black Mayor with the black wife and kids did not care about black people.

I firmly believe that if Adrian Fenty had been caught by the FBI in a roach motel with a chickenhead and a crack pipe–he would have been re-elected in a landslide.  There would have been no question that Adrian was sufficiently black enough to vote for.  Functioning schools, tolerable crime, a responsive city government, and a healthy business climate are apparently anti-black instruments meant to oppress and demean black people.

I suppose having a Black Mayor who does not embarrass us with his extramarital affairs, ungrammatical profundity, and serial incompetence are a naïve expectation. I know it is unreasonable to expect that black folks would vote for a Black Mayor maniacally focused on making the city function properly by appointing people, regardless of race, who know what they are doing.

Fenty’s installation of Michelle Rhee, a Korean American, as Chancellor of the DC Schools, was a bridge too far. She single-handedly turned around one of the most catastrophically inadequate urban school systems in the country by demanding excellence and holding teachers accountable for black student success.  She even had the temerity to fire bad teachers.  We cannot have that. Rather than graduate school prepared for a career, it is better for the community if Black children drop out of school and remain trapped in a cycle of poverty. Politicians get bonus points if a disproportionate number of Black children end up dead or in jail.

Things were definitely better in the District during the halcyon days of the Barry Administration. Those were the days when the city was on autopilot. Nearly every city agency was under federal receivership because of gross mismanagement, and a congressionally appointed control board unaccountable to the people controlled the purse strings.   At least Barry was pro-Black, whatever that is supposed to mean.

I’m Running

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For the last twenty years I have struggled with a lifelong desire to be a political figure and the realization that American politics is infected with what bell hooks terms “White supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”   Trying to navigate shark infested political waters in a way that preserves my integrity has been a tough slog.  I’ve tried volunteering on campaigns, I’ve even run some for people I thought brought something special to the public arena.   I’ve tried writing and blogging.   None of it quite fits me even though I had some success.

I’ve been contacted by national writers from the Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times.  During the 2008 campaign I even saw my blog mentioned on CNN.  None of it was enough though.  I allowed myself to become disillusioned with politics and watched passively as life passed me by.

I need more.

I’ve wasted a lot of time and I’m not getting any younger.  Next year when I hit forty I need to fulfill what I’ve always thought was my purpose: running for public office.  I ‘ve been obsessed with politics and  policy for as long as I can remember and life is too short not to try and make the world a better place.  I realize that I am just as fucking flawed as some of the politicians I despise and looking for perfection in this life is a fool’s errand.

I am a progressive that believes in what the good people of Black Agenda Report call “The Black Consensus.”  In sum, what that means is that we do no harm to the political, economic and social viability of the black community and that we do our level best to strengthen black institutions.   The last thing we need is a dependant and prostrate black community willing to sell out for the crumbs of imperialism.

Capitalism, for the most part, operates to the detriment of people of color.   Not always, but mostly. It is the obligation of African American pol’s to level the playing field in any way possible.   Some of you will complain that this explicit racial consciousness is un-American, but I can assure you that as a dreadlocked skeptical brotha, nobody allows me to forget my race.  The knee-jerk apprehension when I enter white spaces is palpable.

President Obama is the main example of this phenomenon.  Since the day it was apparent that he would defeat Hillary Clinton, it has been open season.  Conservatives have been ringing the bell and sounding a disturbing racial alarm.   The sound and fury of conservatives signifies discomfort with everything Obama symbolizes.   They refuse to accept his legitimacy as president and displace that into rhetoric questioning his citizenship, patriotism, and religion and they smear him as a socialist, Marxist, and Muslim.

Their thinly veiled racism and full throated hatred ain’t fooling nobody, honey.    They want to “take their country back” from the unwashed hoards of Negroes, Latinos, Asians, and Gays of all persuasions and turn back the clock to a simpler time when they knew their proper places in the underclass.

Some of us have gotten sidetracked the last 18 months worrying about these attacks, but it really isn’t about Obama, it’s about us, people.   Obama is just the proxy, y’all, conservatives are attacking progressive progress in general and the black community in particular. Obama is a very flawed politician despite his many gifts. I admire him tremendously, but his penchant for defending an unacceptable status quo and softening the edges of America’s harsh imperialism is not really admirable. TripLBee said it best:

When any President, including this one, glamorizes and sanitizes warfare, I will be offended. I found his speech offensive; especially because he knows he was spouting nonsense. Does he really want his daughters buying into his blather about the sanctity of waging war against the poorest country on the face of the Earth? He is sounding like every other emperor. It’s pathetic.

Lastly, I feel compelled to run because l feel an obligation to do something more than bitch and complain on a keyboard.   Some folk can effect positive change that way, but I don’t think that is really my gift.

Restoring Honor Open Thread

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I am fascinated to know what y’all thought about Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  C-SPAN’s video library has the entire rally and is available if you haven’t seen it.  Let me put a few questions out there to get the ball rolling.

(1) Was Beck successful in co-opting the message and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr?  (2) Were you moved by the vacuous patriotism and empty religiosity? (3) Did Beck erase the stain of his incessant race baiting against Obama by sharing the stage with colored folks? (4) Could you discern anything coherent from his pompous rambling? (5) What did you think of Palin’s remarks? (6) Did Alveda King make a fool of herself, her family, and the entire African Diaspora by lending her name to this rally?

It is finished

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Late in the midnight hour, the President addressed the nation basking in the glow of a landmark political triumph over right-wing massive resistance to health care reform. His understated demeanor and measured words belied the enormity of this breakthrough.

Ted Kennedy would be so proud that his dream of universal health care is on the path to reality. His instinct that Barack Obama was the president we needed was vindicated in last night’s roll call. At the president’s side in this fight was the most effective Speaker of the House in living memory, Nancy Pelosi.   She refused to let this effort die and she helped revive the push for reform the pundits thought dead.

Nobody but Barack Obama could have pulled off this legislative victory.  Behind the genial exterior and megawatt smile is a disciplined, ruthless, pragmatic pol equipped with a flawless mastery of policy minutia.

The president’s  politically expedient compromises with the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies greased the skids of the legislative process and ultimately resulted in the enactment of a recycled package of Republican proposals from the last health care showdown 16 years ago that provide at last a framework for health insurance for most Americans.

While others focused on progressive goals like covering everyone, bringing down health care costs and providing competition, Obama focused on getting a passable bill that partially addressed those goals. This President is interested only in the art of the possible.  Ideology is secondary.

Obama won and left the Republicans sputtering unintelligible nonsense for over a year.  They showed their arses last night, every flat hairy butt cheek. They used every arrow in their quiver to defeat reform: fear, deception, xenophobia, and racism.  They still lost.

Over the course of the next few years, 32 million Americans will finally gain access to health insurance they should have had all along. It is the most expensive in the industrialized world and doesn’t cover what it should, but it is better than nothing at all. 

My hat is off to the Commander-in-chief for this triumph over unadulterated Republican evil.

I still want a public option.

Governor Davis: a fantasy in black and white

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Congressman Artur Davis, Mrs. Peggy Wallace Kennedy

Artur Davis is a facinating politician in many respects. The power of his intellect and sharp political skills set him apart from most pol’s.  The sky should be the limit for Artur.  In Alabama, congress is the limit for Artur.  If not for the Voting Rights Act, he would not be a member of congress from Alabama.

In America, it should be a no brainer that any child born anywhere should be able to reach for the highest political rung in state government and not be deterred, discouraged or attacked on the basis of race. Unfortunately, that is not the America we live in despite the fantasies of some whites that we live in a post-racial utopia.  It does not matter how many blackfolks buy into the white fantasy that Artur can win this year.  It isn’t true. This diary seeks to explore the reasons for this bitter reality.

A black man might be president,  but he would not be if America was a cultural mirror of the state of Alabama.  Only one in ten white voters, according to NBC political director Chuck Todd, voted for Barack Obama.  Extreme racial polarization is a fact of life in the Deep South that smart people can’t get around.

The President of the United States is a biracial man of color who is the product of an interracial marriage. He was raised almost exclusively by his white kinfolks. Most rural whites in the Deep South cannot process these facts and are profoundly threatened by his presidency.

They displace their discomfort with his race by questioning his citizenship and asking to see his birth certificate.  They are willing to question his professed and demonstrated Christian faith and believe any smear about him being a Muslim terrorist because the father he never knew was a Muslim.   They then voted for a Republican Senator universally known to have been born outside the continental United States in the Panama Canal Zone because “at least he is American,” which is nothing more than a euphemism for being White.

The President of the United States is the most nonthreatening black politician in American history. He is decidedly centrist in word and deed to the chagrin of most of us on the progressive left.  To most rural whites, though, he is a Socialist, Marxist, Communist Antichrist hell bent on creating a segregated, racist society in which only non-whites rule and whites are subjugated. That is a nifty piece of racist projection most psychologists would love to get their hands on and take apart.

Because of this ridiculous racial paranoia, there will be no ability to see a similar black man any differently.

Congressman Artur Davis and President Barack Obama

Race is still a bar to achievement and advancement in the United States in some fields of endeavor. Our inability to talk about race or be honest  about our racial fears is part and parcel of the infrastructure, which reinforces the bar to achievement and advancement.

Alabama is stuck in both a time warp and in a black hole of its own making with regard to race. There can be no change unless people are willing to smash the taboo of cross racial cooperation.

Meaningful cross racial dialogue and genuine fellowship is rare anywhere in the Deep South but more likely to occur in urban areas with a large University presence. On the other hand, if folks live in larger communities, they are still largely segregated. Nobody wants to go to school with us or live in our neighborhoods. If we are fortunate enough to live in communities where both white and black do go to school together, the interaction is largely superficial.

When time comes to choose a college, the choices are still segregated. We live separate lives and pretend that it is normal. It isn’t. We (blackfolks) are usually the ones that have to stick our necks out to make change.  It is rarely the other way around.

I think it is wonderful that most of the people on this board look favorably on Artur Davis and the egalitarian ideal his candidacy represents, but the hard work and foundation for an eventual win by a black candidate for Governor has not been done in any state of the Deep South–Georgia included.  Anybody who believes he can win in this backwards and hostile cultural environment is deluding themselves.

Nobody in the grip of a rural Tea Bagger’s poisonous racial paranoia is capable of building community with the blackfolks they see everyday that mirror them in every demographic respect.

They might know your people, might have known your extended kinfolk back to the Civil War, but it still don’t mean that they’ll vote for your daddy to become the first black sheriff. I have a hard time understanding why Artur has to come along like a Negro in a buddy movie and be their black friend when most rural whites have only superficial relationships with the blackfolks they see everyday.  There is no sense of community where stereotypically everybody knows and is kin to everybody. Ultimately, this is why Artur cannot be elected Governor this year.

Dr. King spoke of a desire to “..foster and create the ‘beloved community’ in America where brotherhood is a reality…Our ultimate goal is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living–integration.” That does not exist in Alabama or anywhere in the Deep South.  It doesn’t even exist up north but most of the time northerners are not so blinded by race that they will vote against politicians of color they are philosophically compatible with because they are not white.

We are still living separate lives despite dramatically less racial polarization in the north. The South is less physically segregated than the North but it is more functionally segregated on the ground.  This has to change.  Only hard work done by committed blacks and whites will change it.  Most of the onus is on whites though, and becuase it is I doubt seriously that it will happen anytime before I turn 50 in 2021.

Michael Steele: Concern Troll

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The blackface minstrel the Republican Party installed as its chairman has had the audacity to call on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to resign.  Yesterday on Meet the Press, the preeminent Salon of Sunday talk, Steele was asked if Senator Reid should resign for saying Barack Obama was a viable Presidential candidate because he was “light-skinned” and because he did not speak with a “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

I refuse to defend Harry Reid, but even an idealist like me knows the difference between a Majority Leader who advances the agenda of a black president and a Majority Leader who defended segregation.

Steele said, “[F]rom my perspective, whether he steps down today or I retire him in November, either way, he will not be the leader in 2011.” That is mighty curious statement because The Steele Sambo felt differently when Trent Lott found himself in a similar predicament.

The Politico has the scoop:

The Washington Post reported on Dec. 14, 2002: “Lt. Gov.-elect Michael S. Steele said last night that he was personally upset by U.S. Sen. Trent Lott’s praise for Sen. Strom Thurmond and his segregationist past, but said Lott should not be forced to relinquish his leadership position in the Senate. ‘Trent Lott apologized, but he needs to keep apologizing because this is a very sensitive issue to the black community,’ Steele (R) said at an event celebrating his election as Maryland’s first black lieutenant governor. ‘I know Trent Lott personally, and I know that this is not his intent. But it’s still unfortunate. And I think he needs to apologize a little bit more.’”

The New York Times quotes Steele:

What’s interesting here is when Democrats get caught saying racist things, an apology is enough,” Mr. Steele said. “If that had been [Senate Republican Leader] Mitch McConnell saying that about an African-American candidate for president of the United States,” Democrats would be “screaming for his head, very much as they were with [Former Senate Republican Leader] Trent Lott.

What the record proves, what it always proves, is that when Republicans say racist things an apology is usually enough and The Steele Sambo will be there to back them up.

Perhaps y’all remember this little tidbit from last year in Politico:

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he has reached out to Rush Limbaugh to tell him he meant no offense when he referred to the popular conservative radio host as an “entertainer” whose show can be “incendiary.”

My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.

Class, let’s review what The Steele Sambo has enormous respect for.

Rush Limbaugh has said:

Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?

Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.

The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.

[To an African American female caller]: Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.

I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.

[On Justice Sotomayor] “So here you have a racist. You might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist. And the libs, of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don’t have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he’s appointed one.”

At every turn, The Steele Sambo has used his race and status as a Republican leader to defend the most aggressive purveyors of the racism he now claims to be offended by. In the blogosphere we called creeps like The Steele Sambo concern trolls. It is a delicious epithet because they damn sure ain’t the least bit concerned about whatever they comment on. And they are almost always an ugly wingnut troll. To be fair, Michael Steele is not ugly, but the racism he consistently defends as the Chairman of the Republican Party is.

While I am no fan of Barack Obama’s safe establishment politics, I hope The Steele Sambo’s book and his rancid political agenda fails.

Mychal Bell, Jena 6 teen, shoots himself

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mychal

Hat Tip: By Kevin McGill, Associated Press

Hat Tip: BET.COM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — One of the central figures in the 2007 Jena Six civil rights case never gave up pursuing his football career, even after his well-publicized run-ins with the law.

Mychal Bell, an 18-year-old high school running back, clung to the hope that he could earn a college football scholarship. Then came another legal scrape this Christmas Eve.

After news broke of his arrest on a shoplifting charge, Bell shot himself in the chest Monday with a .22-caliber handgun. He remained hospitalized Tuesday but police said his chest wound was not life-threatening.

“When it was broadcast that he was charged with shoplifting he just felt that the whole year had been wasted and that he had worked all of that time for nothing,” said Louis Scott, who represented Bell in the case where Bell and five other black teenagers were charged in the 2006 beating of a white classmate.

Bell’s grandmother, Rosie Simmons, and mother, Melissa Bell, told police that “Mychal had made comments over the past two days that, because of the current media attention he had because of the shoplifting arrest, he didn’t feel like he could live anymore,” Monroe Police Lt. Jeff Harris said, reading from a police report.

Bell and the other members of the “Jena Six” once faced attempted murder charges in the beating at Jena High School, in north central Louisiana’s Lasalle Parish. The charges for all the defendants were eventually reduced. But the severity of the original charges brought widespread criticism and eventually led more than 20,000 people to converge in September 2007 on the tiny town of Jena for a major civil rights march.

After being sentenced to 18 months following his guilty plea to juvenile charges, Bell moved from Jena to Monroe, where he was in foster care. He was released from state supervision on Dec. 4, said Bill Furlow, a spokesman for Reed Walters, the district attorney for LaSalle Parish.

A football star at Jena High until the Barker beating, Bell had hoped to play for Monroe’s Carroll High School, where he is on track to graduate in the spring. But the Louisiana High School Athletic Association wouldn’t grant him a fifth year of eligibility to play. Bell had spent 10 months in prison awaiting trial after his 2006 arrest in the beating case.

“He had kept his grades up and he had worked out the whole year even though he couldn’t play. He had dealt with the fact that the state athletic association would not let him play high school ball,” Bell’s lawyer, Louis Scott said Tuesday.

It was unclear whether his dreams of a college football career were realistic. According to Scott, family members believed Bell was having encouraging discussions with the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

The school’s director of football operations, Peter Martin, said in an e-mail that the school had not evaluated Bell as a prospective student-athlete and would not speculate on his potential at the college level.

Police said Bell’s Christmas Eve arrest came after he allegedly tried to steal several shirts and a pair of jeans from a department store and fled when a security guard and off-duty police officer tried to detain him. After they found him hiding under a car, Bell “swung his arms wildly” and one of his elbows struck the security guard with a glancing blow, according to a police report. He was freed on $1,300 bond.

Scott said he believed the arrest likely resulted from a misunderstanding.

“I would be very surprised if he was shoplifting,” Scott said. “I had seen him working out every day even though he knew he wasn’t going to be able to play high school football.”

Monday’s shooting was reported at 7:40 p.m. According to the police report, Bell was staying at his grandmother’s home and his mother was visiting at the time. Melissa Bell told police she and Simmons heard a gunshot coming from Mychal’s room. They found him on his bed, wounded in the chest. It was not clear Tuesday who owned the gun.

Roland Burris: Rod Blagojevich’s Magic Negro

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gov-soprano

I seriously doubt that the Wayans Brothers or the writers of MAD TV could have written a funnier spoof than yesterday’s orgy of idiocy featuring Rod “Governor Soprano” Blagojevich, Roland Burris and Bobby Rush. To borrow a phrase from the always-quotable Christopher Hitchens, this appointment is a “ludicrous embarrassment.”


The presser was a comedians dream and the clumsy injection of race by Congressman Bobby Rush was sadder than it was despicable. First, seeing how Bobby has physically suffered from throat cancer was heart breaking, but his reasons for supporting Blagojevich in his bulls*it was even more tragic. Poor Bobby is clearly suffering from chemo brain because Blagojevich’s bipolar antics have grown more outrageous with time, and his latest stunt is as disingenuous as it is insane. I’m with Mary Mitchell in believing that Rod Blagojevich dosen’t give rat’s arse about fair representation and he is desperately trying to disprove the allegations of extortion and contract fraud against him. It won’t work. His career is over and nothing he says or does will ever change that.

Unfortunately for Rod Blagojevich, Roland Burris is not a Magic Negro capable of absolving his manifold sins although he would like him to be. (One needs to be a palatable, focus grouped, establishment Negro creation of David Axelrod capable of raising $750 million dollars to be a proper receptacle for white liberal fantasies of racial absolution.) Burris is an uninspiring and irascible functionary that has let his ego get the better of him.

Burris has had a damn chip on his shoulder ever since he was defeated for the Democratic Nomination for Governor in 1994, a Republican year in which no Democrat would have prevailed. The people of Illinois don’t owe him a damn thing and yesterday’s cartoonish spectacle was clear proof that he has taken leave of his senses. The Lieutenant Governor, a Burris friend of 36 years, clearly would have considered appointing the 71-year-old lobbyist and former Illinois Attorney General as a caretaker Senator once Blagojevich was inevitably removed from office.

By all accounts, Roland Burris is an honest man and probably won’t ever be charged with any wrongdoing. However, the facts surrounding his lobbying firm’s acquisition of $700,000 in state contracts are worth investigating and probably will be given the Governor’s propensity for awarding state contracts to his politically connected contributors and fundraisers regardless of actual merit.

Burris gets points for running against Rich Daley for Mayor of Chicago, a man I’ve always opposed and regarded as White Chicago’s plantation puppet master, but he won’t ever receive my endorsement for the U.S. Senate. I hope the Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, and Senate Democrats stick to their guns and don’t certify this appointment and seat Burris.

I, too, wanted an African American to replace Barack Obama in the Senate given the dearth of Negroes in that body, but it just goes to show that the aphorism “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it,” is a warning black Democrats should have heeded.

O.J. Simpson: guilty of stupidity

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Hat Tip: By Linda Deutsch, Associated Press

Las Vegas, NV – O.J. Simpson, who went from American sports idol to celebrity-in-exile after he was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and a friend, was found guilty Friday of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

The 61-year-old former football star could spend the rest of his life in prison after he is sentenced Dec. 5.

A weary and somber Simpson released a heavy sigh as the charges were read in rapid fire by the clerk in Clark County District Court. He was immediately taken into custody.

The Hall of Fame football star was found guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering up five men a year ago and storming into a room at hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said he brought a gun at Simpson’s request.

Simpson’s co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, also was found guilty on all charges and taken into custody.

Simpson showed little emotion as officers handcuffed him and walked him out of the courtroom.

His sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed behind him in the arms of Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto. As spectators left the courtroom, Durio collapsed and paramedics were called, according to court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer.

The jurors made no eye contact with the defendants as the entered and each of them answered firmly when asked if “this was their individual verdict.”

Judge Jackie Glass made no comment other than to thank the jury for its service and to deny motions for the defendants to be released on bail.

She refused to give the lawyers extended time to file a motion for new trial, which under Nevada law must be filed within seven days.

The attorneys said they needed time to submit a voluminous record, but she rejected that.

“I’ve sat through the trial,” Glass said. “If you want a motion for new trial, send me something.”

The verdict came 13 years after Simpson was cleared of murder in Los Angeles in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century.

From the beginning, Simpson and lawyers argued the incident in Las Vegas was not a robbery; instead, they said, he was trying to reclaim mementos that had been stolen from him. He said he did not ask anyone to bring a gun and did not see any guns.

The defense portrayed Simpson as a victim of shady characters who wanted to make a buck off his famous name, and police officers who saw his arrest as an opportunity to “get” him and avenge his acquittal.

Prosecutors said Simpson’s ownership of the memorabilia was irrelevant; it was still a crime to try to take things by force.

“When they went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, `Don’t let anybody out of here!’ — six very large people detaining these two victims in the room with the intent to take property through force or violence from them — that’s kidnapping,” prosecutor David Roger said.

Kidnapping is punishable by five years to life in prison. Armed robbery carries a mandatory sentence of at least two years behind bars, and could bring as much as 30 years.

Simpson, who now lives in Miami, did not testify, but was heard on a recording of the confrontation, screaming that the dealers had stolen his property.

“Don’t let nobody out of this room,” he declared and told the other men to scoop up his items, which included a photo of Simpson with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Four other men initially charged in the case struck plea bargains that saved them from potential prison sentences in return for their testimony. Some of them had criminal records or were compromised in some way. One, for example, was an alleged pimp who testified he had a revelation from God telling him to take a plea bargain.

Memorabilia dealer Thomas Riccio, who arranged and secretly recorded the confrontation in the hotel room, said he netted $210,000 on the tapes from the media. He received immunity, and his recordings became the heart of the prosecution case.

Similarly, minutes after the Sept. 13, 2007, confrontation, one of the alleged victims, sports-memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley, was calling news outlets, and the other, Bruce Fromong, spoke of getting “big money” from the incident.

Simpson’s past haunted the case. Las Vegas police officers were heard in the recordings chuckling over Simpson’s misfortune and crowing that if Los Angeles couldn’t “get” him, they would. And the judge told jurors they had to put aside Simpson’s earlier case.

Simpson’s lawyers also expressed fears during jury selection that people who believed he got away with murder a decade ago might see this case as a chance to right a wrong.

As a result, an usually large pool of 500 potential jurors was called, and they were given a 26-page questionnaire. Half were almost instantly eliminated after expressing strong feelings that he should have been convicted of murder.

 

Cohen/Tinker election results

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WITH 72% OF PRECINCTS REPORTING, CONGRESSMAN STEVE COHEN CRUSHES AUNT NIKKI, THE CORPORATE MAMMY, WITH A LANDSLIDE 60% MARGIN!!!!!!!!

STEVE COHEN 44,995 79%

NIKKI TINKER 10,676 19%

JOE TOWNS 844 1%

Black voters, especially those of us in the South, have always been able to judge our politicians by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. We’re never given credit for having that ability when racially polarizing tactics are injected into a political race by one of us, but we’ve always had it and always will. Now Mr. Cohen can go back to the halls of power confident in the knowledge that he has unequivocally earned the trust of a majority of his black constituents. In order to keep it, he must continue to provide the same common sense, progressive leadership that has been known as his trademark.

The epic collapse of the Tinker campaign is one for the history books and closes a sad chapter in the book of political rivalry between Harold Ford Jr and Steve Cohen. His transparent maneuvering to shield his allegiances to Tinker by using his wife as a conduit for campaign cash, and his politically expedient denunciation of Tinker’s tone-deaf tactics should be enough for Barack Obama to remove the Whore from any consideration for a prominent role in his administration.

Aunt Nikki

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Move over Aunt Jemima. There is a new corporate mammy in town. EMILY’s List, the “feminist” political action committee that uses the pretext of gender equality to support status quo females in their quest for power and prestige in the halls of congress, has endorsed Nikki Tinker, Harold Ford Jr’s malevolent protégé, against progressive Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen.

The decision to support Nikki Tinker is typical of the brand of corporate feminism that EMILY’s List is known for. There are only two requirements for endorsement: the resourcefulness to raise sufficient cash to be viable enough to justify turning on the pac spigot, and the good fortune of being born female. Matt Stoller wrote a post on the same topic some weeks ago. One reader of Matt’s post couldn’t have said it better, I never got the sense that EMILY’s List was a progressive organization. Its goal is to provide funding for people with vaginas [and] …some semblance of a pro-choice orientation, especially against opponents who don’t fit those two criteria.”

Skimming through Aunt Nikki’s campaign finance reports, I saw that EMILY’s List founder Ellen Malcolm has taken a personal interest in the corporate mammy by contributing $1250.00 of her own money. The criticism that EMILY’s List is primarily a benevolent pocket for aspiring white women apparently struck close to home and is underscored by the paltry $15,870 in bundled contributions it supplied this year. That’s hardly the level of beneficence provided to the corporate mammy in the last cycle.

Moreover, It is frustrating that the organization will sometimes support a genuine black progressive like Donna Edwards against a corrupt incumbent, then turn around in the same year, and endorse a fraud like Tinker against a more acceptable pro choice and progressive Congressman like Steve Cohen.

Longtime readers of this blog know of the animosity I have for Harold Ford Jr and his demagogic brand of corporate prostitution that masquerades as political centrism. Everything he touches turns to shit and the same could be said of his protégé.

I didn’t think it was possible to be more repellent than Ford, but Aunt Nikki is the willing overseer on Pinnacle Airlines corporate plantation as Vice President for Labor Relations and General Counsel. Aunt Nikki is representative of the lowest form of human life and is the worst kind of counterfeit Negress imaginable. As an employment lawyer, she specializes in destroying employee rights to collectively bargain and be free from workplace racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

Her campaign report is full of two kinds of people, acquaintances from her home state of Alabama and her motley collection of crooked contacts in the business world. The CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, Phil Trenary, her boss and corporate puppet master, is represented, as are Republican corporate employment lawyers from her former law firm, John and Ruth Alley. Finally, there is a member of Pinnacle’s Board of Directors, GOP rainmaker and real estate magnate James McGehee and his kith and kin.

JOHNINE BARNES and NIKKI TINKER-Corporate Doppelgangers separated at birth

Johnine Barnes, an employment lawyer for Washington D.C.’s high-powered Baker & Hostetler, is a fellow corporate employment law predator, Delta Sigma Theta sorority sister, and gal-pal of Nikki Tinker. She is emblematic of the employment lawyer/corporate whore type. Her web profile on the firm’s webpage says it best:

Johnine P. Barnes is experienced in various phases of employment law, including litigating and defending administrative claims of harassment; retaliation and discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, and disability; wrongful discharge and breach of contract issues;

This essentially means that the sister is a professional Uncle Tom who uses her race as a shield to defend corporate clients when they actively discriminate against their employees on the basis of age, race, sex, and disability.

By kicking into Nikki’s congressional kitty, she curries favor with a potential Congresswoman for her firm and its malevolent clients, and she enhances her own prestige, which rightfully ought to be lower than a pedophile.

I am given to colorful hyperbole and I love to kid around, but this is serious “bidness” as my girl Molly Ivins used to say. Baker and Hostetler as a powerful player in the employment law racket because they specialize in defending corporate clients against legitimate discrimination and retaliation suits and they say so on their own damn website.

Baker and Hostetler touts its win over the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when it challenged their client’s callous layoff of a pregnant woman during a workforce reduction. They conceded that she was a good employee with solid performance reviews and they happily defended the company’s effort to cut her loose in the middle of her pregnancy and leave her without income or insurance. We carefully explained the legitimate business reasons for the employee’s inclusion in the reduction (relatively weak technical skill set) and focused on the EEOC’s aggressive treatment of company witnesses at trial. We ultimately succeeded in portraying the EEOC as oppressive and overreaching in attacking the character of reasonable people who honestly made the difficult business decision of whom to include in a workforce reduction.”

Additionally, Baker and Hostetler markets itself as a firm that specializes in using technicalities to get legitimate lawsuits dismissed in the earliest stages of litigation and for ultimately destroying class action lawsuits against guilty clients who had the misfortune of being sued by competent counsel. Employment-related class action lawsuits are on the rise. The potential for large recoveries, adverse publicity and expensive litigation threaten a company’s bottom line, stock value and reputation. At Baker Hostetler, we are known for our ability to end class actions before they begin through creative case management, motion practice and aggressive defeat of class certification.”

As further proof of their mendacity, they site their triumph in a sex discrimination case where they denied hundreds of women their day in court, “After obtaining denial of a motion for class certification of a class of several hundred female employees, we obtained summary judgment on behalf of our FORTUNE 100 client on the plaintiff’s individual claims.”

Finally, I ran across an actual opinion in an Ohio case defended in part by Baker and Hostetler that they actually lost initially. A white plaintiff sued his employer because they fired him in retaliation for informing his only black co-worker that the company had a legal obligation to extend health insurance coverage to him because it extended coverage to everybody else. Several weeks before his termination, the partners in the business wanted him to buy into the company as a partner. After he “betrayed” them, and tried to do right by a brotha, and the brotha brought a legitimate discrimination suit against the company, they cut him loose.

Johnine Barnes is a doppelganger for Nikki Tinker. They’re cut from the same cloth and serve the same nefarious corporate interests on the Dark Side of the Force. One doesn’t get a prestigious job on a corporate plantation before 35 by being the vapid, southern fried, syrupy church lady spouting the self-serving, racially manipulative bullshit we’ve heard from her on the campaign trail.

Aunt Nikki ain’t no fool because a fool isn’t capable of raising close to a million dollars to contest a seat in congress in two election cycles.

CORPORATE MAMMY AND GOP TROJAN HORSE

The corporate tentacles of GOP power are all over the corporate mammy’s campaign filings. Phil Trenary, the CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, gave, along with his board members McGehee, Schockley, and Hunt, other executives, and their wives, nearly $25,000 to Nikki’s campaign.

McGehee and his kith and kin in particular, are major GOP moneybags having contributed more than $49,000 to the Republican Party and its candidates since 1997 and collectively kicked $8,600 into Aunt Nikki’s campaign coffers.

Other Airline industry players like Colgan Air, Sky West, and Jet Blue funneled nearly $13,000 through their executives to Nikki.

Moreover, law firms specializing in the employment law racket also took special notice of the corporate mammy. Baker & Hostetler, a major right-wing pocket, kicked in $4900. Baker & Hostetler lobbyists and lawyers have given more than $ 70,250 to Republican candidates and organizations in the last three election cycles; a sum, which is four times what they gave to Democrats.

Ford & Harrison, Aunt Nikki’s former law firm and a major employment law predator, kicked $5200 into the coffers of their former colleague. Nine of her colleagues had a favorable impression of Nikki’s Trojan Horse campaign. The Alley’s—both Ruth and J.E. Alley, are Florida attorneys and major Republican donors to both Dubya and Jeb Bush.

Other major employment law firms like Baker & Donnelson, Bryan Cave and Patton Boggs also kicked into Nikki’s kitty with $4,200, $1000, and $1050 respectively.

My colleagues at Black Agenda Report, in their former incarnation as the writers behind Black Commentator, came up with the nifty moniker of Trojan Horse to describe Black Democrats backed surreptitiously by Republican money and the corporate and right-wing foundation elite. They highlighted BET’s Bob Johnson and politicians Cory Booker and Harold Whore, Jr. Speaking of the Whore, he has used his new wife, Emily Threlkeld Ford, to funnel more than $3300 to his protégé. The Trojan Horse moniker definitely fits Nikki Tinker to a T because as her campaign finance report shows, she is a a member in good standing of this right-wing club.

As the moniker from Greek mythology implies, Aunt Nikki is a stealth weapon of the right-wing that optimally would be used to destroy progressive black representation and the social, political, and economic viability of Black Memphis. Unfortunately for our corporate enemies on the right, Aunt Nikki’s campaign exploded today like an IED in a war zone when it released an ad which strikes a note of false religiosity and implies that Steve Cohen is a Jewish interloper unwelcome in black churches and alludes to a bill to protect “religious freedom” and the unfettered right of religious organizations to discriminate against gay and lesbian people. This is the culmination of her clumsy attempts to make inroads with the black ministerial community by pandering to the homophobia of a select group of black pastors.

It looks like the wounds are fatal. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of cynical operators and puppet masters—especially Harold Ford. As of this afternoon, Emily’s List was forced to denounce the ad with egg on their faces. Finally, with the entrance of Black state representative Joe Towns in this race and the loss of prominent civil rights leaders like Maxine Smith, Aunt Nikki’s fantasy of being the power structure’s corporate mammy in Washington is just 24 hours from a lethal rejection by the voters from which there will be no appeal.

Hate disguised as dissent

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Virginia blogger Vivian Paige, a good friend, is having a discussion on her space about the above graphic used by blogger Howling Latina, also a friend of mine. She highlights the fallout in the blogging community as Howling Latina was de-listed by Leftyblogs, a powerful ally in driving traffic to like minded progressive sites.

Vivian believes that the issue is purely one of free speech. She’s half right. However, there is no constitutional right to be listed on leftyblogs when your attacks on the Democratic nominee are either the same or worse than those on the far-right. I also believe that Hate Speech is not constitutionally protected. The aforementioned cartoon skirts a dangerous line between meanness and hate.

Keeping this in mind, I’ve written the following open letter to Howling Latina:

Dearest Mimi,

As a friend and fan, it surprised and pained me to see this graphic on your site. I have admired your strong Christian convictions and your committed and progressive Democratic activism. As a believer in the First Amendment I will always defend the right to free speech no matter how objectionable I may find it. But whether you’re ready to acknowledge it or not, this cartoon graphic crosses the line.

Sweetie, this cartoon graphic is gratuitously mean-spirited, disgusting and is rightfully construed as a racist insult. As a Cuban Latina, I thought that the inimical legacy of white supremacy in your ancestral home would be clear to you as a line never to be crossed. I say this as a progressive Obama critic capable of using provocative sexual innuendo and inappropriate imagery to make a legitimate point. I’ve made it clear to my readers that Obama has strayed far from what is both prudent and progressives many times. His equivocations on the road to the nomination enraged and saddened me, as well as others, but what you’re putting out there as criticism is neither principled nor Christian and I know that you’re better than that, honey.

Hillary has given up the ghost. She has endorsed Obama in the spirit of unity and he has praised her lavishly and returned the favor by asking the DNC to seat both Michigan and Florida‘s full voting strength. The race for the nomination is over, Mimi. The standard bearer of the Democratic party is an imperfect vessel named Barack Obama.

If you cannot accept that reality and support your party, then I can only draw the conclusion that your opposition is about race. Both you and Vivian dismiss the divisive and insensitive racial politics played by the Clintons during the nomination fight as acceptable. I respectfully disagree. But where we should all agree is that using the same racial attacks as the far-right on Barack will yield nothing positive and will continue to give aid and comfort to the supporters of John McCain and the criminal syndicate that masquerades as the Republican party.

This posture makes you look as ridiculous as the corporate whore and GOP sellout better known as Joe Lieberman. You remember him, right? He claimed to be against the Bush Agenda as he ran for and lost the 2004 Democratic Nomination for President and the 2006 Democratic nomination for the Senate. He then got in bed with them to win re-election and has been screwing us all ever since. It should be worth noting that Barack Obama endorsed him for re-election in the Democratic primary in addition to campaigning and raising money for him and that Lieberman returned the favor by endorsing John McCain.

This is not you, sweetheart. I encourage you to search your heart and to pray about this. I have every confidence that you’ll do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Skeptical Brotha

 

Barack and Hillary take a meeting

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Hat Tip: MSNBC

WASHINGTON – Hillary Rodham Clinton met late Thursday with Barack Obama, a day after saying she would end her quest for the Democratic nomination and endorse the Illinois senator.

A senior Obama campaign official confirmed to NBC News that Obama delayed his departure from Washington Thursday night to meet with Clinton at her home here.

Earlier, Clinton had disavowed efforts by some supporters who have urged Obama to choose her as his running mate.

“She is not seeking the vice presidency, and no one speaks for her but her,” communications director Howard Wolfson said. “The choice here is Senator Obama’s and his alone.”

Clinton was planning an event in Washington Saturday to thank supporters and urge them to back Obama’s candidacy. But as she was bowing out of the race, supporters in Congress and elsewhere were ramping up a campaign to pressure him to put her on the ticket in the No. 2 spot.

Bob Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television and a Clinton supporter, sent a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus Wednesday urging the group to encourage Obama to choose Clinton as his vice presidential pick. He said he was doing so with her blessing.

Obama is seeking to become the first black president.

Clinton has told other friends and supporters she would be willing to be Obama’s running mate. But her immediate task is bringing her own presidential bid to a close.

High stakes

In an e-mail to supporters, the New York senator said she “will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise.”

Clinton expressed the same sentiment in a conference call with 40 members of her national finance committee, whom she urged to begin raising money for Obama and for the Democratic National Committee.

“She was in good spirits and totally supportive, without qualification, of Senator Obama and his campaign,” finance co-chairman Alan Patricof said of the call.

It was a shift in tone by the former first lady, who announced 17 months ago that she was “in it to win it.” Many of her supporters want her as the vice presidential candidate, in their minds a “dream ticket” that would bring Obama her enthusiastic legions and broaden his appeal to white and working-class voters.

But Obama indicated he intends to take his time making a decision.

“We’re not going to be rushed into it. I don’t think Senator Clinton expects a quick decision and I don’t even know that she’s necessarily interested in that,” Obama told NBC in an interview.

Clinton’s move to formally declare that she is backing the Illinois senator came after Democratic congressional colleagues made clear they had no stomach for a protracted intraparty battle. Now that Obama has secured the 2,118 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination, Clinton had little choice but to end her quest, and sooner rather than later.

Some of Clinton’s closest supporters — the nearly two dozen House Democrats from her home state of New York — switched their endorsements to Obama Thursday.

The public announcement from the 23 New York followed two days of private phone calls weighing her options.

“She was just as spunky as ever,” Rep. Charlie Rangel said of Clinton’s mood on the calls, as her friends and supporters urged her to come to a decision “sooner rather than later.”

Many of the lawmakers said it was important for them, as New Yorkers who are close to Clinton and helped launch her presidential bid, to work together to repair some of the rifts in the party.

“We’re Democrats. Dammit to hell we fight. When it’s over, we come together and go out there to win,” said Rangel, the dean of the New York delegation.

The New Yorkers, said Rep. Gregory Meeks, have a duty “to lead this transition” to full party support of Obama.

Another of Clinton’s most prominent supporters, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, also announced his “wholehearted and enthusiastic support” for Obama Thursday.

Exit strategy

The move to end her campaign came Tuesday, when Clinton told House Democrats during a private conference call that she would get behind Obama’s candidacy and congratulate him for gathering the necessary delegates to be the party’s nominee.

The only degree of uncertainty was how. Clinton is exploring options to retain her delegates and promote her issues, including a signature call for universal health care.

The announcement closed an epic five-month nominating battle pitting the first serious female candidate against the most viable black contender ever.

Obama on Tuesday night secured the delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. But Clinton stopped short of acknowledging that milestone, defiantly insisting she was better positioned to defeat McCain in November.

“What does Hillary want? What does she want?” Clinton asked, hours after telling supporters she’d be open to joining Obama as his vice presidential running mate.