Is Black America ready to embrace Obama

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From Candy Crowley and Sasha Johnson
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) — In recent months, ABC News-Washington Post polls showed Sen. Hillary Clinton running 40 points higher than Sen. Barack Obama among blacks voters asked to name their preference in the Democratic primary.

But in Wednesday editions, the Washington Post reported a poll that has Obama leading Clinton by 11 points among black voters — 44 percent to 33 percent. Obama is the Senate’s only black member and has been campaigning across the country for the last couple of months. Clinton is his chief rival for the 2008 presidential nomination

That change represents a stunning 24-point swing, but does it mean the black community has embraced the Illinois Democrat as its candidate?

Not exactly.

“Obama does have a plurality of black voters right now. He doesn’t have a majority yet,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “That means a majority of blacks still aren’t sure about him.

“Forty-four percent favor him. That’s certainly good news for him, but I think the Obama camp would like to see that be significantly higher.”

Among blacks, Obama’s favorables are high (70 percent), but Clinton’s are higher (85 percent). Plus, Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have deep roots in the black community.

Blacks, in part, may be slow to warm to the candidacy of Obama because, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll suggests, they are less likely than whites to believe that America is ready for a black president.

The poll, conducted December 5-7, 2006, found that 65 percent of whites thought America was ready, compared with 54 percent of blacks. The poll’s margin of error was plus-or-minus 5 percentage points.

George Wilson, the host of XM Radio’s “GW on the Hill,” hears doubts about Obama all the time from his black audience.

“There is this doubt ‘But is America ready for a black president?’ ” Wilson told CNN. “And the overall consensus from my callers is that America is not ready for an African-American president.”

Even at a rally for Obama in South Carolina you hear it:

“I’m being honest,” Akyshia Gantt, an African-American, said. “No, I think — which is bad — that America is not ready for that, but I don’t think they are.”

Part of Obama’s problem with black voters is that he is viewed by whites as the first black candidate with a legitimate shot at the White House.

“When white America has embraced a candidate — as they have with Barack Obama — there is a certain amount of distrust that goes with this among a number of African Americans,” Wilson said

In an interview with National Public Radio, Obama acknowledged the dynamic:

“In the history of African-American politics in this country there has always been some tension between speaking in universal terms and speaking in very race-specific terms about the plight of the African-American community,” Obama said. “By virtue of my background, I am more likely to speak in universal terms.”

Obama suffers, in part, because voters are not familiar with him and there is doubt whether the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, who was raised in Hawaii and educated in elite schools, can relate to the black American experience.

This has been described as “not black enough,” a notion and a phrase that Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who is a noted civil rights leader, rejects.

“I don’t think he has any of the hang-ups that a lot of people that are victims of segregation and racial discrimination tend to have,” Lewis said. “I think he’s free of it, and he’s running as an American citizen.”

Sandi Jackson elected Alderman; Daley re-elected Mayor

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With 80% of the vote in, it appears Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr’s beautiful wife Sandi has been elected Alderman defeating incumbent Darcel Beavers in her bid to retain her daddy’s seat on the Chicago City Council.  Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown was decisively beaten in her bid to unseat the arrogant and corrupt Richard M. Daley in his bid to beat his father’s twenty plus year record as Mayor.  Black folks just punched his ticket for another term without so much as a yawn.    The state of independent and community centered politics in Chicago Black Wards is a joke.  Everybody is languishing on Daley’s plantation and they don’t wanna be free.   Sad.  Very sad. 

The time has come for a death penalty for fashion faux pas

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MERYL STREEP photo

On the left, Actress Meryl Streep, nominated for Best Actress for The Devil Wears Prada this year at the academy awards.  On the right, Meryl Streep, four short years ago.    The horrible truth of the photo on the left is that Meryl is actually wearing Prada and it looks a hot damn mess.   In fact, Meryl looks a hot damn mess.   I don’t know who the Hell put together this look for this stunning Diva of the red carpet, but they obviously need to be put to death.   There is no explanation for this I am willing to accept.   They should be freaking killed immediately.  Disregard anything I’ve said previously about the death penalty. Clearly, there should be an exception for fashion crimes of this magnitude. 

I’m forgetting Meryl’s part in this travesty.   Having slimmed down to sport the immaculately banging outfits in the movie, Miss Meryl should know by now how to dress her body whatever weight she happens to be.   At 57, Meryl is still a beautiful woman and this hideous outfit is beneath a woman of her stature.   I don’t know what Hippy chic is, but this damn sho’ ain’t it.   She should be imprisoned for life for the shoes alone. Shame on you, Girl.  

Should America become the grotesque police state Dick Cheney fantasizes about, the fashion Czar Joan Rivers will have people executed on the red carpet for turning up in unflattering attire.  As well it should be.

Obama flips script with Hillary among black electorate

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One of the Lord’s mysterious wonders has appeared out of thin air:  Obama has flipped the script and is now leading Hillary Clinton among the black electorate.  Hot off the press, the Washington Post is now reporting the numbers of a Post-ABC News poll.  The numbers are very telling.   Obama leads Hillary 44 to 33 percent and I still can’t close my mouth.   Either God’s hand is on the brotha or having his face on both Jet and Ebony covers is working like nobody’s business.   The single post I did on the February EBONY cover with Senator and Mrs. Obama is the most popular post in the history of  Skeptical Brotha, being viewed over 2,000 times in the space of a month.  

The intensity of the curiosity about the Obama’s in the black community is growing and reaching critical mass.   Every day people find my blog doing Obama searches and they search for both Michelle and Barack.   People understand that the Obama phenomenon might have been some media generated whitefolks hype in the beginning, but it has turned into something else entirely different now.    What that something else becomes is starting to look like a multi-racial movement in coalition with the key  activists to make Obama President. 

While it remains to be seen what his fundraising totals will be in relationship to Hillary, it is clear that this campaign ain’t no joke. 
 

Hudson and Whitaker take home the Gold

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I spaced this off last night.  I was deep into a Blockbuster moviethon and did not want to be disturbed.  I made my famous spaghetti topped with parmesan cheese and a glass of wild vines blackberry merlot.   I was in Heaven.  I missed Jennifer’s moment and I feel bad about that.  Jennifer is my girl and a role model for sistah’s everywhere.   All praise and glory to God for her. 

1000 attend Cincinnati Obama Fundraiser

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Hat Tip: BY HOWARD WILKINSON  Cincinnati Enquirer

Even the event’s organizer – State Sen. Eric Kearney – said he was astounded by the success of this morning’s Barack Obama fundraising event at the Westin hotel downtown, which may have raised as much as $500,000 for the Illinois Democrat’s presidential campaign.

About 1,000 Obama supporters – including a handful of Republicans – crammed the main ballroom at the Westin to the point where there weren’t enough seats at the tables to go around. Dozens had stand through the breakfast event, lining the ballroom walls.

It was an unusually large fundraising event for Cincinnati, which spoke to the star power Obama carries. Even former President Clinton drew only 600 to a downtown hotel last October when he appeared at a fundraiser for John Cranley’s congressional campaign.  Even so, it was something of a “stealth” event for the Obama campaign – no reporters or cameras were allowed inside; and an impromptu press conference promised by a campaign aide after the breakfast failed to materialize. Obama’s security detail, concerned about moving the Illinois senator through a crowd of hundreds of supporters to where the media was camped out, whisked him out of the Westin through a side door, out of sight of the camera-and-notebook crowd.

The cheapest ticket for the morning event was $100, but those who paid $1,000 or more got to spend about half an hour in a private room with Obama before the main breakfast.

Those who donated $2,300 – the maximum contribution allowed for the presidential primary cycle – had their picture taken with the candidate who is hands-down the rock star of the early campaign for the 2008 presidential nomination.

Asked afterwards how much was raised, Kearney – whose wife, Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney was a Harvard Law School classmate of Obama – said that while the checks are still being counted, the event raised at least $350,000 and perhaps as much as $500,000.

“It was unbelievalbe,’’ said Kearney. “The people just kept coming.”

What was most impressive, Kearney said, was “how diverse a crowd it was – whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian folks, rich and poor. It shows the broad appeal Barack has.”

There was a considerable number of people who bought “walk-up” tickets to the 8 a.m. breakfast. As of Sunday night, about 750 tickets had been sold. In the end, at least 1,000 people paid the price to see and hear Obama, a first-term senator whose presidential campaign has created much of the early buzz on the 2008 presidential campaign trail.

One of those inside the reception for large donors was Cincinnati’s most high profile supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose campaign has been trading barbs with the Obama campaign over the past week.

Class-action lawyer Stan Chesley, who has raised millions for President Clinton and for Sen. Clinton’s campaigns, said he was there because he has “enormous respect” for Obama.

“Of course, I am supporting Hillary, but, mainly I want to see the best Democrats run for president,’’ Chesley said. “Sen. Obama is very impressive.”

The crowd inside the main breakfast event ranged from enthusiastic supporter of the Illinois senator to Democrats who have yet to make up their minds about the field of Democratic presidential contenders.

Myrtis Grace of Bond Hill, a retired teacher, said Obama has “re-ignited my interest in politics.”

“I worked for (John F.) Kennedy and for Bill Clinton, but I haven’t been involved lately,’’ Grace said. “But Sen. Obama is inspiring. He’s so passionate.”

Cincinnati Councilwoman Laketa Cole, a Democrat, said she has yet to make up her mind about which presidential candidate to support, but came away impressed by Obama.

“I want to hear Hillary; I want to hear all of them,’’ Cole said. “But he made a great speech, talking about bringing the country, healing the divisions. I like that.”

Thurmonds of South Carolina held Sharptons in bondage

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Having done some minor genelogy of my own and piggybacking on what others in my family have already done, this story fascinates me to no end.   The Washington Post is reporting that a geneology done by a New York Post reporter’s curiosity confirm’s that distant cousin of Strom Thurmond’s owned Al Sharpton’s great grandfather.   Strom Thurmond, you’ll recall was the longest serving Senator, serving until 100.   The South Carolina Senator cut his teeth on race bating and segregationist politics that lasted until he switched parties in 1964.  A former judge, Governor, and then Senator from South Carolina, Thurmond was a fossilized throwback to a bygone era of Jim Crow hypocrisy. 

After his death, it was later revealed that he sired a daughter with a black servant in his parents household and hid her from public view while he continued to beat the hypocritical drum of white supremacy during his lengthy career and subsequent 1948 run for President on the segregationist Dixiecrat ticket.   Tell me your thoughts on this story because I heard somewhere that Sharpton wants a DNA test. 

Geffen vs. Hillary

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 Hillary Clinton

Ain’t nothin’ worse or more vicious than watching two Queens fight.   The spat, as covered in blow-by-blow detail in the major papers and magazines of record in this country is really a lovers quarrel between the Clintons and powerful media mogul and fundraiser David Geffen.   Geffen, the powerful and openly gay media mogul seems to be out to prove that he is a bigger Queen and prima donna than Hillary is.   I think instead of all of  the name callin’ he should break Hillary off a piece of some Jill Scott.  

You’re getting in the way
Of what I’m feelin’
You’re getting in the way
Of what I’m feelin’

Sista girl I know you don’t understand
But you gon hafta understand, Obama’s my man now
What you had is gone, our thang was sweet
My thang wit Obama is stronger than any lie you can tell on me
He knows my heart, and that’s the part
Your roots are dug up, so you might as well give up
I see your intentions, you can’t handle the truth

I let you go a long time ago, ain’t raising no mo’ money for you

and now it’s time to turn ME loose

{Chorus} (2x)

Suga honey girl
Fly, fly away
I been a lady up till now, don’t know how much more I can take
Queens shouldn’t swing (if you know what I mean)
But I’m ’bout ta take my earrings off, get me some Vaseline

I’m bout to go off in your face girl
You betta chill
You betta back down before you smacked down (in a Maureen Dowd column)
You betta chill
I’m bout to go off in your face girl
You betta chill
You betta back down before you smacked down (in a Maureen Dowd column)
You betta chill

{Chorus} (repeats)

 

O’Malley takes a stand against Death Penalty

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Governor Martin O'MalleyMaryland’s new Governor has taken a forceful and courageous stand against Maryland’s Death Penalty. It is a bold and unexpected move that distinguishes him in the public mind as a conviction politician.  I couldn’t be more overjoyed.  

In the days of focus groups and weekly tracking polls, it is rare to see politicians taking a stands like this based on conviction.   It is so rare that even a Skeptical Brotha like me had to sit up, take notice, and applaud him.   He definitely is the hero of the Week.

After eight years of this, I see something else on the horizon for this conviction politician bigger and better than Annapolis.   Something in Washington, D.C. perhaps?  

Judge Awards Anna Nicole’s baby to Material Girl.

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MADONNA Sorry 2005 US Maxi CD Single

In dramatic twist covered by a swirling horde of world media, Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin awarded custody of Anna Nicole Smith’s five-month old infant to Madonna.   An emotional Judge Seidlin, speaking to a tense courtroom said,  “Since the Material Girl is incapable of finding an orphaned child to adopt in the whole of the planet Earth and finds herself pilfering a black child from a destitute father like a puppy from a dog pound, I award custody of Dannielynn Smith to her in the hopes that she will be able to wholesomely teach the child how to properly and tactfully commodify her sexuality and exploit others creative talent for obscene profit.”   He also awarded custody of Smith’s remains to the Material Girl to “do with as she pleases, since everybody else has already.”

Plans for Anna Nicole’s burial were not available to Skeptical Brotha at the time of this report.

Obama faces uphill fight for Houston black vote

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HAT TIP : By BENNETT ROTH and KRISTEN MACK
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle  

As Sen. Barack Obama gets set to campaign for president in Houston, local political leaders and voters reflect the national surveys showing that he has no early lock on the black vote, which could play a key role in next year’s Texas Democratic primary.

Linzy Hughes, 94, one of several black voters interviewed at lunch Tuesday at the Family Cafe, a political crossroads near downtown Houston, said America is not ready for a black president and he will support Hillary Clinton, if he “make(s) 95,” simply because he thinks she has a better chance of winning.

On the other hand, Obama’s relative youth and outlook appeal to Carroll Robinson, a former Houston councilman and associate dean of external affairs at Texas Southern University.

Robinson, who is 45, the same age as the presidential contender, said he did not experience the John F. Kennedy “phenomenon” firsthand, but he likened the enthusiasm for the late president to the way younger voters feel now about Obama.

“He engenders the belief that America can be better,” said Robinson. “Obama has helped broaden the prism and the conversation. We need someone who the electorate will give a mandate from the center.”

Obama, in his first term as a senator from Illinois, has enlivened this preliminary phase of the presidential contest as a charismatic candidate with bi-racial roots and a message of optimism.

On Thursday, a select group of Houstonians will have a chance to get better acquainted with Obama at a $2,300-a-person campaign fundraiser at the Museum District residence of energy executive Robert Cavnar and his wife, Gracie.

Later that evening Obama is scheduled to drop by a less-expensive fundraising event for younger voters at the Communications Workers of America hall downtown.

On Friday, Obama is scheduled to speak at the University of Texas at Austin at an afternoon event open to the public.

‘A wise young man’

In speeches, Obama mentions his commitment to civil rights. But his talks are more centered on issues such as his opposition to the war in Iraq and overcoming cynicism in politics.

His approach appeals to Faye Lewis, 57, who paused to chat at the Family Cafe.

“He’s a wise young man. … I think he can cross racial (voting) lines,” she said.

However, some Texas observers said there is also tentativeness among black voters, who worry about his experience and ability to get elected.

“A lot of folks don’t know who he is,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas chapter of the NAACP.

Black voters in Texas could be influential in determining the outcome of next year’s Democratic presidential primary, particularly if the Legislature moves up the primary election date a month, to Feb. 5.

Black voters made up about 40 percent of the primary electorate in the last highly competitive Democratic primary in the state in 2002, said Bob Stein, professor of political science at Rice University.

Trails former first lady

But while Obama has been drawing large enthusiastic crowds since he announced his presidential intentions this month, polls show he trails Clinton among Democratic primary voters.Furthermore, in a recent ABC/Washington Post poll Clinton was garnering the support of 60 percent of black voters, three times the support for Obama.

David Bositis, a scholar who has studied black voting trends at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said many older blacks, particularly in the South, have seen little evidence that black candidates can win on the state or national level.

“African-American voters look at (Obama) and say, ‘Hmm, I don’t think so,’ “ Bositis said.

“I’m an old-timer. I came along at a different time,” said Hughes, one of the diners at Houston’s Family Cafe. “I came of age when things were segregated. Blacks and whites didn’t associate. That’s instilled in me — maybe young people can grow out of that.”

Some black diners indicated that they are much more sophisticated about politics than some assume and no candidate has yet to corral their vote.

“I don’t believe Hillary will command the African-American vote. Nor will the senator (Obama) automatically get it because of the pigmentation of his skin,” said Don Anthony Woods. “The days of predicting how African-Americans will vote are over.”

Obama raises $1.3 million in star studded L.A. fundraiser

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 Hat tip: Jeffrey Tolson, Hollywood Today

Like a young star with a hot script, Sen. Barack Obama pitched himself at Hollywood talent agencies William Morris and UTA yesterday in a savvy move that was unprecedented for a presidential candidate. The big agencies have direct access to both stars and deep-pocketed filmmakers being courted now by virtually every major candidate.

Obama’s Tinseltown instincts also showed last night as he raised $1.3 million a star-studded fundraiser hosted by DreamWorks honchos Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Celebrity sizzle was provided by attendees including Oscar nominee Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Ron Howard and Natalie Maines.Absent were some stars that have previously been counted in Hilary Clinton’s camp such as Tom Hanks, Chris Rock, Jennifer Lopez, Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, setting up a Celebrity Showdown in Hollywood for the democrats. Sen. Clinton will hit Hollywood on Thursday and return March 24 for a big-ticket gala at the home of supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle. Also weaving political spin during Oscar week, which is normally abuzz about statues and gowns, is Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, who will be introduced by Hollywood’s top political muscle, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today while Sen. Joe Biden gets a piece of the pie tonight at a fund-raiser tonight in Beverly Hills.

The money counts as all candidates are on fast-track fundraising due to early primaries in California and other states. The movie, television and recording industries gave $33.1 million to federal candidates and parties in 2004, with much of that coming from Hollywood, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.
Obama told the elite audience at the $2,300-a-plate fundraiser that they have “enormous power” that comes with “enormous responsibility” because of their impact on American culture. “Don’t sell yourselves short,” he said in a 25-minute address. “You are the storytellers of our age.” Obama also received checks from studio bosses, including Universal Pictures’ Ron Meyer, Paramount Pictures’ Brad Grey and Walt Disney Studios’ Richard Cook.

Obama vs. Hillary

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 Hat tip: The Fix by Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

In one of the first public contretemps between the two Democratic presidential frontrunners, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is calling on Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois to break ties with David Geffen after the movie mogul made a string of comments critical of the former first lady.

“If Senator Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign and return his money,” said Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson.

Over the years the movie producer has given hundreds of thousands in donations to the Democratic Party and its candidates. Geffen gave Obama’s Hopefund PAC a $5,000 contribution in 2006, and he gave Obama’s campaign $2,000 in 2004, according to FEC records (presidential campaign contribution data is not yet available).

Geffen’s comments — made to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd — were spoken on the same day that he, along with film tycoons Jeffrey Katzenberg and Stephen Spielberg hosted a major Hollywood fundraiser for Obama.

In the interview with Dowd, Geffen made derogatory comments about Sen. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Geffen said Republicans believe Hillary Clinton is the “easiest to defeat” in the Democratic arena. He also skewered the senator’s unwillingness to apologize for her 2002 vote favoring the use of force resolution in Iraq.

”It’s not a very big thing to say, ‘I made a mistake’ on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can’t,” Geffen told Dowd. ”She’s so advised by so many smart advisers who are covering every base. I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms.”

Geffen also took a verbal swing at her husband: “‘I don’t think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person,” Geffen said, appearing to refer to the controversies surrounding the former president’s private life.

Geffen’s animosity toward the Clintons is traced by Dowd to Bill Clinton’s decision in the final days of his administration not to pardon Native American activist Leonard Peltier. Peltier had been convicted of the murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in the late 1970s. Geffen political adviser Andy Spahn had strongly pushed for Peltier’s release, with the approval of his boss.

Since that pardon decision, Geffen has made a number of anti-Clinton comments. In 2005, he said Sen. Clinton couldn’t win the presidency because she was too “polarizing,” adding that “ambition is just not a good enough reason.”

Geffen’s commentary and the ensuring hubbub reveals the risks that any candidate runs when wooing high-dollar donors to their campaigns. These extremely wealthy individuals are used to speaking their minds whenever and however they see fit. It is a difficult task for any campaign to try and rein them in.

In publicly blunting Geffen’s remarks, Clinton is trying to box-in Obama. Obama faces either to keep Geffen on his finance team and run the risk of watching his reformer credentials tarnished in the eyes of party insiders and activists, or jettison him and risk the ire of the well-heeled Hollywood community.

Obama’s campaign didn’t shy away from the fight. “It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom,” said Obama communications director Robert Gibbs. Gibbs also pointed out that Hillary Clinton had not condemned the comments of South Carolina state Sen. Robert Ford. Ford, a Clinton backer, said the Democratic ticket would be “doomed” if Obama was the party’s presidential candidate.

Update, 3:26 p.m. ET: Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson issued the following statement today:

“By refusing to disavow the personal attacks from his biggest fundraiser against Senator Clinton and President Clinton, Senator Obama has called into serious question whether he really believes his own rhetoric. How can Senator Obama denounce the politics of slash & burn yesterday while his own campaign is espousing the politics of trash today?

Hillary Clinton announces endorsements: Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben

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hillary

 

jemima1

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.” 

unclebensportrait

“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.” 

Hollywood Hot for Obama

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Feb. 19 — Tom Hanks has bought a $2,300 ticket. So have Jennifer Aniston, Eddie Murphy and Denzel Washington. The studio bosses from Universal, Paramount, Disney and 20th Century Fox have all sent checks or faxed their credit card numbers, too.

Given the A-list stars, movie and music moguls, and top Hollywood dealmakers who have sent their R.S.V.P.’s, one would think the man of honor at Tuesday night’s benefit at the Beverly Hilton would be getting a lifetime achievement award. But the toast of the evening is Barack Obama, the 45-year-old first-term Democratic senator from Illinois, in his first foray to Los Angeles as a declared presidential candidate.

It is hard to say whether the unusual heat behind the evening owes more to interest in Mr. Obama or to the three men who spearheaded the fund-raiser: the DreamWorks co-founders David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg.

The haul is expected to be at least $1 million, making it the first major event here of the presidential campaign. (Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, will get a chance to flex her own Hollywood fund-raising muscles on March 24 at the estate of Ronald Burkle, the supermarket tycoon.) Originally set for a restaurant with room for 400 people, the Obama event was moved over the weekend to a hotel ballroom with a capacity of 600, and payments were still filtering in by fax.

Of chief concern to a much smaller group of fund-raisers was that they be credited for any attendees they invited; those with at least 20 tickets to their name have been asked to dine with Mr. Obama at Mr. Geffen’s Beverly Hills mansion after the reception.

One movie producer who raised enough money to attend the dinner said he had done so merely because many of his friends wanted to meet the senator but would have had no other way of buying a ticket — though he confessed that he also wanted to “kick the tires” on Mr. Obama himself. Yet he insisted on anonymity, saying he was also a supporter of Mrs. Clinton, and “I just don’t want to hurt her feelings.”

Neither the reception nor the dinner is limited to Hollywood people; Alan C. Fox, a shopping mall owner and manager in Studio City, Calif., said he had raised about $150,000 from friends in real estate and finance, some already Obama enthusiasts, others skeptical but curious.

The ticket price of $2,300 reflects the maximum individual donation to a federal campaign, and, unlike those behind so many other Hollywood galas, organizers of this one vowed to bar the door to freeloaders, no matter how famous.

“We’ve turned down people who asked to bring a guest,” said Andy Spahn, a political adviser to Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Katzenberg, among other industry people. “There will be no comps. Celebs are writing checks. Everybody’s writing.”

Hillary assimilates more Black S.C. Democrats

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                 photo courtesy of Columbia City Paper and angry whale

The Clinton Campaign today announced the endorsements of prominent elected officials from across South Carolina.

Former Legislative Black Caucus Chairs State Representative David J. Mack III of North Charleston and State Representative John Scott Jr. of Columbia were joined by State Representative Terry Alexander and former State Senator Maggie Glover of Florence in announcing their support for Senator Clinton.

“I said in 2004 that Hillary Clinton would be the best candidate,” said Rep. Scott. “It’s proving to be true. She is focused on the real issues such as education and better jobs. And she has the ability to lead our nation.”

Three Richland County officials also endorsed Hillary Monday, including Richland County Councilwomen Bernice G. Scott and Joyce Dickerson, and Richland County School District One Commissioner Dwayne Smiling.

“Hillary Clinton is the only one with the expertise and experience to move us out of crisis and into the future,” Scott said.

Smiling said, “I’m just a great supporter of hers. I think she would make an excellent president. Her vision and forward thinking is what this country needs.”

Also announcing their support today were Charleston County Councilmen Henry Darby and Teddie Pryor Sr., as well as Marva Smalls, former staff director of South Carolina’s Private Industry Council for Governor Richard Riley and later Chief of Staff for Congressman Robin Tallon. Smalls is currently the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Nickelodeon Channel and MTV Networks’ Executive Vice President of Inclusion Strategy.

“I am grateful for the outpouring of support I’ve received in the Palmetto State,” said Senator Hillary Clinton. “These prominent South Carolinians are leaders in their communities and I’m honored to have their support.”

Today’s announcements add to Senator Clinton’s early South Carolina endorsements. Last week, State Senators Robert Ford and Darrell Jackson announced their support for Hillary’s candidacy.