Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Ten News Stories

This year’s edition will be broken in parts. I concur with everyone; Barack Obama was the story and person of the year. In lieu of this I’ve given him his own top 10 from last year. Let’s take at look at what I saw.

10. Africa -Zimbabwe and Sudan, based on most watchers of the African continent, are just two countries which have filled enough graveyards for a lifetime. Other countries teetering include Nigeria, Guinea and the country of modern day piracy Somalia.

9. Ego and Hip-Hop. The crown of the oversized ego once worn by Jay-Z is now in the hands of a new generation which continues to push the music. Its current impresario is T-Pain. Who has and is providing the ability to turn rappers into singers (Kayne West), Little Wayne, and TI (yea that’s right he’s going to jail). One of the former “kings of hip-hop” gets the “Hollywood treatment” in Notorious. Let’s hope an “East Coast v. West Coast War” doesn’t start again.

8. Scandal- is a new way of bring down the rich and famous in the financial or political world. At it’s best (really its worst) was the scurrilous text exchanges between Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his female chief of staff. But who could ever forget Governor Elliot Spitzer’s hooker, and the subsequent confession from his successor, Governor David Patterson. “Yes, I had an affair with two women.” Wow! By the way "its the last time I will ever talk about it."

7. Black male life is cheap and getting cheaper by the moment. Many of our Black Capitals are “Murder Capitals.” Much of it is fueled by the drug trade but there is a criminal and murder pathology which is gripping the nation. The body count is staggering. The “Stop Snitching” phenomena still has meaning in the hood.

6. Athleticism – In the year of the Olympics there are some individual performances which defy belief. I take nothing away from Michael Phelps, but one of the truly gifted athletes was in the 100 Meter dash. Usain Bolt of Jamaica crushed the field even with his shoe untied, and turning to look the crowd. Other athletes who marveled us in their performances included Tiger Woods at the US Open, Serna Williams win at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship and the Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce for the Boston Celtics.

5. Technology Chatter – Twitter was new “Killer-Ap” for social networking. It was hip, quick, and a wip! For my money the new "it" device was “the Flip.” It is a self contained camera which fits in the palm of your hand and has an attached USB plug. For my money the real "Killer-Ap" was the Google based software, “Android.” This open software for cell phones will transform our world in ways we won’t believe.

4. Politics – I have never seen people more tuned into politics, “I personally know this.” I’m one of the few African American reporters that has attended national political conventions. I got calls about super delegates, winner take all, and Obama. His run sparked several new and unconventional candidates.

3. Status Quo – No one wants it; anyone believing it could be a killer; and those practicing it are out of touch. Much of this deals with politics. President George Bush wished for status quo but got radical change. Hope was and is tantalizing. People against status quo include the armed forces, the Russians, and the people of Iraq.

2. The Economy – is in the tank. It will likely be us through much of next year. Saving Wall Street with out saving homeowners is a tragedy. I fear when a new administration takes over in January they will find the problem is much worst.

1. Obama Phenomena – Every one loves a winner. As a candidate he morphed at crucial times. He had one of the best political teams behind him. Governing is different from running. I know this group is disciplined. The task is enormous. Pulling this off will take more than a year.

Obama Top Ten

10. Suggesting his candidacy would change the political map. He predicted he would win in states where Democrats had not won before. Guess what, they did.

9. Energizing a youth vote and getting them to the polls in key states to make a difference. This was evivident in Iowa. Where he crushed the competition.

8. Handing Hillary Clinton a defeat she didn't believe would happen. She had the early endorsements, the money, and was the odds on favorite to have it wrapped up by Super Tuesday. Wrong.

7. GOP implosion. You can start with the President George Bush. High gas prices, the Wars, Wall Street bail-out, the housing bubble burst etc... all these things gave him the lowest approval rating of any president. Meanwhile, GOP members on Capitol Hill found themselves the subject of probes and going to jail. Oh yea, Sarah Palin.

6. Iowa - Nobody thought it was going to be easy. It was a state that was 98 percent White. Black people were questioning his blackness. He blanketed the state with appearences, and mobilized people to be at the caucuses. Its the sign that something was changing in politics.

5. Obama is a Muslim/Terrorist/a Radical/a Liberal and a lot of other things used to demonize him on the net. These neferiious attempts to paint him as a "boogie man" wasn't coordinated but, came off as sily towards the end. Sean Hanity who constantly claimed, "there was a surprise that would pull him down." Never materialized. The New Yorker Magazine cover played into every stereo-type.

4. Reverend Jeremiah Wright - His sermons which played endlessly might have brought down any other candidate. Obama tried to explain Wright to an american public who never entered a Black church using "liberation theology." But when he went to the Press Club and suggested he and the candidate beleive in the most radical form of Black Liberation of Theology...that was it. Because it was used in the primary and didn't work it was essentially off the table in the General Election.

3. A Perfect Storm - This was a confluence of events outside of Obama's hands which allowed him to take advantage of issues, positions, and the higher political ground. This enabled him to take the fight to McCain without belittling the candidate which was a tactic from the past. The president helped; Sarah Palin helped, the late night Comics helped, Wall Street helped...(insert your favorite here).

2. Technology Advantage - The most obvious was his advantage in fundraising via the net. It was also his supporters who used the new technolgies of the web to get to people. I remind people how they found out who the Vice President was, "via a text message." I concerned the secret service will take away his blackberry. Lastly, how many text numbers does the Obama campaign have?

1. Obama being Obama - "I need my voice to come through." When I heard this I thought it a little over the top. Candidates want their voices to come through in many phases of a campaign. When he found his in "Hope and Change" it was telling momemt. It was what the masses wanted and needed and now they have it. This is a tough business.

Story of the Year - Obama

Person of the Year - Obama

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jackson Is Candidate 5

(Washington) Jesse Jackson, Jr. is the named the candidate who is referenced in the Governor Rob Blagojevich probe. Jackson's attorney and the congressman acknowledge it today.

Congressman Jackson said he met with the governor for the first time on Monday. It was the first time the pair had met in four years. The question would be why would it take so long for these politicians to meet. Maybe in hindsight it was a good thing.
In the four minute press event he took no questions, but there are several question that still hang in the balance.

1. Who would be on a call talking with the governor on his behalf? He's suggested he authorized no one to do so.
2. Is he still interested in the Senate job?
3. Can he still operate with his name so closely linked to the biggest Illinois scandal?
4. What next?

I want to answer this last question by suggesting if Jackson was candidate number 5, then who are 1-through-4 and is there a 6 and 7? Don't all of these individuals need to make their case before the press because they will also be under a cloud of suspicion.

This is like a onion...there will be many layers. One thing is for certain the governor is at the center of this investigation. Can he find a graceful way to move out the way. We'll see.



Ilinois Politics Affecting the President Elect

(Washington) Talk about a "bombshell" the revelation Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich was prepared to cash-in on Barack Obama's former senate seat just adds to this year's historic election.

If you've been living under a rock, know Governor Blagojevich was arrested (normally not the case for white collar crimes) at his home yesterday morning. In a 76 page federal criminal complaint he is recorded saying, the Senate seat is "a [expletive] valuable thing. You just don't give it away for nothing."

"I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden and uh, uh, I'm not just giving it up for [expletive] nothing."

The governor who has been under investigation threatens to take the seat himself if he can't get the people who want the seat to playball. He is even shrewed enough to take on the president elect. The governor expresses frustration at his inability to have his offers considered and refers to Obama in extremely crude language: "[Expletive] him. For nothing? [Expletive] him."

The Patrick Fitzgerald the federal prosecutor who asked for the wiretaps called the revelation Blagojevich's "conduct would make [ Abraham] Lincoln roll over in his grave."

The governor and his chief of staff, John Harris, were simultaneously charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and solicitation to commit bribery as part of what officials say was a wide-ranging scheme to shakedown campaign donors and politicians for high-paying posts and millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

Fitzgerald said represented Blagojevich's "most cynical behavior" was the governor's effort to sell the Senate seat.

Prosecutors said Blagojevich gave serious consideration to appointing himself to the Senate seat, believing he is "stuck" in his job as governor. Recordings, according to the affidavit, showed Blagojevich thinking about going to the Senate to avoid potential impeachment in Springfield and to try to remake his image for a possible 2016 run for the presidency.

The irony is today is the governors birthday. I doubt he'll be blowing out of candles today as the pressure mounts on what he should do.

The calls for Blagojevich to resign are came quick fast and furious from notable Illinois politicians including Senator Dick Durbin and now from Illinois' President Elect Barack Obama.

Anyone who takes the post in this current climate will be tainted. I know Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. wanted the seat. The bigger question was did he or someone in his office agree to playball with the governor. If they did should he be disqualified?

Was Valerie Jarrett one of Obama's aid in close personal contact with Blagojevich's emissaries about the position? It's thorny.

Who knew this along with bailouts of the Detroit automakers would be dominating the news cycle prior to the inauguration.

I'm waiting on two press events, Sam Zell will be on CNBC at 3 pm est. and Jackson has agreed to take question after being identified at Candidate #5.