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The erudite Gambian writer Suntou Touray recently wrote on the Gambia-L that he is embarking on a project to outline the tribal competencies of Gambians. I am one of the respondents pooh poohing this idea as silly and counterintuitive.Mr. Touray tried to allay our reservations with the trust me meme and recently took to his blog and the Bantaba forum to push this idea. He didn’t make mention of my name, so it is fair to say that I am outing myself by writing this post in response to what I think is a mish mash of a very convoluted thought process.Take this sentence from Suntou’s post for instance:

The vital point to note here for all is that, The key word is 'TRIBAL COMPETENCES'. This doesn't mean, what one tribe is competent at another is
incompetent with.

Which begs the question what pray tell is the purpose of allocating competencies if it doesn’t empirically settle the incompetence of other tribes at doing the exact same thing? Isn’t assigning a certain competency to a certain tribe in essence saying that tribe X is superior in performing a certain task than the rest? Mr. Touray went out of his way to disprove his own proposition in the same sentence in an effort to allay fears and thus have it both ways.

My objection to Mr. Touray from the jump centers on my libertarian disposition that nothing is impossible for the cognitively developed individual. Erickson’s theory of nature versus nurture comes to mind. To this point, Steinberg argued that through a process of assimilation we try to "restore cognitive equilibrium by incorporating new information into existing schemes". Personality development continues throughout the life span as a result of every new experience within that environment. He has the belief that life is composed of changes in which everyone must go through. Therefore it is safe to say that unless a tribe lives as a hermit unto itself, ideas developed in their environment will be shared with other tribes and members of the later may become equally or more competent in task than the originator tribe. Thus assigning competencies becomes arbitrary and caricaturist.

Further reading of Suntou’s posting does reveal a serious flaw in his argument: he is confusing culture and cultural affinity with competence. Why else would he write something as absurd as the following if he is not confusing the two:

I am well aware of prejudice and bigotry and seriously as a Muslim, that is the last thing that comes to my mind. The 'social construct'of each individual is different. Even two Mandingos from different region in one country will have different social construct. A Baddibunka mandingo for instance may culturally value money differently to a Kobomka mandingo. Similarly a Senegalise Wolof may see marriage differently to a Gambian Wolof. Is writing or talking about this peculiarities sensitive? Yes, because our society is very rigid and sensitive.

If you notice that he didn’t mention anything regarding the competencies of the groups of people he is using as an example, you are not alone. It will be helpful, for example if he can enumerate how competent Senegalese Wolofs are at a given task than say a Mandinka from Badibu. Instead we are treated to this caricature of Badibunkas as money grubbing species that has been going around albeit subtly. I happened to be culturally Mandinka and hailed from Badibu. Does this mean I like money than Suntou? Is this the kind of caricature Suntou will be trying to pass off as serious research into our tribal competencies?

Maybe just maybe, my understanding of the word Competency is different from Suntou’s. When I think competent, I visualize skill. Case in point, it is safe to assume that Suntou having spent years in the financial management corridor is more competent to handle issues related to finance than a person of another tribe without that prerequisite training and experience. However, it will be a fallacy to assume that people of different tribes are more competent at doing certain things all things considered.

The question of whether the competencies of humans are the result of predisposed genetics or if their lives and personalities are shaped by the surrounding environment are critical to this discourse. This is why Erickson’s view of development supports nurture. Nurture holds a substantial sway over how we become who we are, rather than whose we are.

If you think political whoring in the Gambia started with the ascendancy of Yaya Jammeh to power, then you are surely mistaken. Granted the brutality that befall Gambia since Jammehcracy is unique in Gambian political life. However, the sycophantic nature our people hasn't change a bit...if anything it got reinforced. Click on the link below and listen to the 1992 PPP MansaKonko congress and see if much has change in the sycophancy department since, save for the players. 

You need real player to listen to the audio. ( audio: courtesy of FreeGambia)

Nothing in my life has actually changed in the last weeks since Obama become our president elect. I have the same bills, the same amount of money in the bank, my disdain for the dictatorial rule of Yahya Jammeh is at an all time high (granted I don't talk about it much). Everything in my life is exactly the same as it was two weeks ago; and yet I feel as though everything is different.

I feel so much hope. I feel so much pride. I feel like my one vote was a single drop of water in a great Tsunami of change. I feel like I was one of a million voices screaming in the night, " I love my country and I'm taking it back!" I'm so proud of the country that I love and have so much hope in my heart that we can together heal the wounds that have been such a source of pain and anger to us all.

I know Obama isn't going to fix the economy overnight, I know he won't be able to provide healthcare to all Americans by February '09. I know Obama isn't a Messiah who four years from now will have turned this country into a fabled utopia. But I also know Obama will make moral decisions. I know Obama will try to unite where others try to divide. I know Obama will help to make America the beacon of hope it once was to others. I know that at 33 years of age, I witnessed one of the most important and hopefully glorious chapters in American history.

I know hope.

Hell yeah.... for the first time in the history of the western world, a man of color is going to occupy the most powerful political position on the face of the earth. This is a testament to America... with all its flaws, it is a great country, where hard work pays off. Congratulations President elect Obama

It is looking good... needless to say the knockout blow was OHIO going for OBAMA....

In a  couple of hours we will be calling Barack Obama ...president elect. Ponder that for a minute. The returns coming in are marvelous for our man.

There is nothing false about HOPE... Yes We Can....

It is showtime tommorow. Barack obama has run a competent and dignify race. It is left to us to show up at the polls tomorrow rain or shine to join history's march. It is been a long tweenty two months for Obama supporters like yourstruly. But we are not taking anything for granted. We are going to work harder tomorrow ... Getting our supporters to the polling stations. We are giving it all we got. No time for complacency. The only poll that count is the final tally. We hope for the best, but it is showtime for now. Time to show up and vote. Time to showup and volunteer in getting folks without transportation to the polls or give them water or snacks as they wait in line. It is a one in a lifetime opportunity to show up and take a stand. We can't afford another four years republican theocracy.

A couple of weeks ago, John McCain was bitching about comments made by John Lewis counseling him to tamp down on the hate been spewed at his and his running mate's campaign events. Dengre at the DailyKos...that bastion of liberal activism in America set him straight. I posted below in its entirety because more eyes need to feast on this truthiness:

"In recent weeks I’ve felt drained, tired, and yet, determined to take this Country back. I’ve been fighting since that dark moment in my youth when Reagan became President. There have been many moments when it was hard to scrape even a teaspoon of optimism from the news of the day.

But tonight, hope and optimism are in the air. A real victory is in reach as we gathered for yet another battle with the old merchants of fear, hate and division. So, volunteer, take action, donate—do what you can to ensure a victory.

We are on the cusp of a great change in America. That is the good news. Of course, any defeat on Election Day will give conservatives "permission" to release their demons—and that is the bad news.

Recently, Civil Rights Hero John Lewis, warned John McCain and the Republican Party about their growing embrace of a culture of hate. He was attacked (yet again) for speaking truth.

We should listen...

It is not hard to gather evidence that rallies for the McCain/Palin ticket are becoming hate fests. The appeals to racism, code words and dog whistle invitations to the dark side are well documented. Many newspaper Editorial Boards have cited this atmosphere of hate as a reason to endorse Senator Obama over Senator McCain. It was high on the list of reasons that Colin Powell gave when he endorsed Obama last Sunday on Meet the Press:

I also believe that on the Republican side over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower. Mr. Obama, at the same time, has given us a more inclusive, broader reach into the needs and aspirations of our people. He's crossing lines--ethnic lines, racial lines, generational lines. He's thinking about all villages have values, all towns have values, not just small towns have values.

And I've also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about.

I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Powell’s longtime aide, Larry Wilkerson, elaborated on the embrace of hate in a recent interview with Foreign Policy Magazine:

FP: What’s your take on the tone of the campaign?

LW: I was fully expecting the grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan to arrive from Maryland and endorse McCain. I was becoming frightened that we were returning to 1968, when they assassinated Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Those were bad times.

One of the most dramatic moments for me was when I was watching McCain on television, and I thought I saw in McCain’s eyes himself, when someone yelled something out, a recognition of, ‘Oh, God, what have I done?’ This is not McCain; he doesn’t cater to this. But for the first time in his political life, I think he realized that there are some strange people in the Republican tent. My father used to say, ‘Larry beware of the left because they will bankrupt you; beware of the right because they will kill you.

That look in McCain’s eyes was something I have noticed as well. His only pathway to victory is through hate. To win, he must harness vast amounts of hatred and fear and encourage those emotions to trump hope, self interest and reason. It has happened before, so it is a viable pathway to victory, but it has a huge moral cost. Every now and then you can see in McCain’s eyes an awareness of that cost and a real fear for his soul.

John Lewis saw that in McCain’s eyes and tried to warn him about the path he was embracing. The comment was made on the Politico web site in a thread where "known" political figures weigh in on topics posted by the site. On that day, the question was about the "tone" of the McCain/Palin Campaign. Here is what John Lewis wrote:

As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.

Of course, McCain latched onto the mention of George Wallace and he was hurt and outraged by the comparison of his campaign to the late Governor of Alabama. Quickly, the actual words and message of John Lewis were buried in a dust storm of spin. Suddenly, Lewis was "out of line", "wrong" and attacked for a slanted interpretation of his words. The Obama campaign backed away from him and so did many progressives. And yet, John Lewis was correct. He was spot on and once again speaking truth to any with ears open enough to hear it.

John McCain is exactly like George Wallace. This is a fact. Both men, willingly embraced the dark side of human nature in the pursuit of power and both men have been horrified by that embrace—you can see it in their eyes.Wallace has gone down in history as one of America’s most well known racists. For many, he is the archetype Southern Racist, but the truth is more complicated. Wallace began his political career as a FDR Progressive Democrat. He was tolerant on the "race question" and in his first run for Governor of Alabama in 1958 he was endorsed by the NAACP. His opponent was endorsed by the KKK. His opponent won through his embrace of hate and fear.

And this is where John McCain and George Wallace shared their first common bond. Both men were beaten by candidates who embraced negative politics and direct appeals to racism, fear and hate for political power. Wallace had his lesson in 1958. McCain was schooled by the dark side in 2000. And both men chose the same response to their defeat—they decided to enthusiastically embraced the politics of hate in their next run for the office they had just lost.

A few years ago, PBS ran a great documentary about George Wallace called "Setting the Woods on Fire" (a transcript of the show can be found here and here). An interview with Dan Carter, an aide to George Wallace, captured the moment when Wallace sold his soul for power:

And so, the night that he lost that race, he sat outside the hotel -- his headquarters hotel in Montgomery -- with some of his friends, and they went over "why did we lose?" -- these different factors. And he said, "Boys, we can talk about this all we want to; we know why I lost. I lost because John Patterson took a tough line on this race business." "John Patterson," he said, "outniggered me, and I'm never going to be outniggered again."

Wallace kept that promise and became the archetypal face of racism in America. At one point in the PBS documentary an aging George Wallace lies in a hospital bed, dying. He looks into the camera and through a haze of cigar smoke apologizes and admits that he was wrong. It was years after his embrace of the dark side and the terror of what he unleashed was still in his eyes.

John Lewis tried to warn John McCain about that fate and McCain has waved him off. More than that, McCain has attacked Lewis. And yet, when McCain is asked about the "tone" of his campaign or John Lewis you can see the flicker of terror in his eyes. Like Wallace, he has embraced the darkest demons of our collective fears as a pathway to victory. And like Wallace he knows that he is releasing demons that he cannot control.

In last Friday’s NYTs, Russ Rymer wrote about John Lewis’ warning to John McCain. Rymer knew George Wallace. He covered him during Wallace’s runs for the White House in 1968, 1972 and 1976. He makes the case for the complexity of George Wallace (a complexity that is not dissimilar to the complexity of John McCain):

Likewise, to describe George Wallace as a simple racist is to give his biography short shrift. As a circuit court judge in the 1950s, Wallace was respectful toward blacks, and as a legislator from 1947 to 1953, he was a moderate. In 1948, when Strom Thurmond led the Southern delegations out of the Democratic convention to protest the party’s pioneer civil rights plank, Wallace stayed in his seat. Though no fan of the plank, he was yet more Democrat than demagogue, and was instrumental in rallying the other Southern alternate delegates to save the convention’s quorum, and pass its platform.

He might have carried a tolerant message into the Alabama governor’s mansion in 1958, but he lost the race after spurning the support of the Ku Klux Klan (which then backed his primary opponent, John Patterson) and being endorsed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Sadly for Wallace’s state, his region, his nation and himself, he did not respond as John Lewis did after his defeat by Carmichael. Mr. Lewis, whenever confronted with calls to divisiveness, chose to redouble his commitment to reason and tolerance. After his loss to Mr. Patterson, Wallace is said to have turned to an aide and declared, "I was out-niggered ... and I’ll never be out-niggered again."
After Wallace finally won the governorship in 1962, his administration was never as race-hostile as his campaign appeals implied; black leaders found his office door open, and often his mind, too. But he would eternally pay the price for the methods he used to gain that office.

Wallace had released the hounds of hate. It started as a tool to mobilize voters—a tool Wallace thought that he could control. He could not. Rymer relates a story that could happen any day now at a McCain/Palin rally if the culture of hate is allowed to grow unchecked:

I once saw that price on vivid display, at a Wallace for president rally in downtown Boston. In 1975, that city was contorted by its own race war over school busing, and the enormous two-tier assembly hall was packed. It was an angry crowd — a black television cameraman was punched as he walked up the aisle. In the middle of Wallace’s remarks, there was a loud explosion, and Wallace, who had been paralyzed by a bullet three years earlier, fell forward from his wheelchair into safety behind the podium.

The noise was caused by a crashing klieg light, knocked over in a fracas as a heckler in the balcony was attacked by the crowd. As Wallace clambered back into his chair, his supporters beat the protester bloody and tried to dump him over the balcony rail. "Just an undecided voter, folks. Just an undecided voter," Wallace pleaded into his microphone, but there was no quelling the fire. "Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!" people in the hall thundered, until the man was rescued — barely — by Secret Service agents.

Mr. Lewis might be deemed generous in wishing on no other member of his profession the harrowed look I witnessed in George Wallace’s eyes as he struggled up off the floor in Boston and beheld what a hell he’d wrought.

The questions, "was George Wallace a racist?" or "is John McCain a racist?" are both irrelevant. Racism is not their prime fault, nor is it their motivation. No, it is the cynical embrace of hate politics as a pathway to power that binds and damns both McCain and Wallace.

I've spent a lot of time over the years thinking about the politicians who so fully fuel the fires of race-based hate in America. Some were straight up tell-it-to-your-face old school racists. They were bad, but you always knew were you stood with them.Others were racist, but hid their views in weasel words that were designed to always give them cover from accountability. These folks are worse than tell-it-to-your-face racists in my book, but the good news is that this pathetic breed is dying out.

And then there were the ones who cynically exploited racism as a political tool for political gain. They knew what they were doing. They did not agree with the goals of a racist agenda, but they knew a well placed pander here and there could win elections. And so, they fueled the fires of hate for their own political gain. George Wallace was one of those politicians and so is John McCain. IMHO this puts both men in a class far below racists in the order of despicable creatures.Wallace was not a racist in my book, but he is a creature that is even worse. And so is John McCain.

Both men, have embraced what divides us as a pathway to power and both men came to that choice after losing a political battle to the forces of hate. Instead of getting back up and fighting for what is right, both Wallace and McCain surrendered their integrity in an embrace of hate and fear as a pathway to power.It is a horrific choice and they know that they made it—from time to time you can see it in their eyes.

John Lewis courageously offered John McCain a lifeline and he has been attacked for the effort. He deserves our praise. John McCain should beg his forgiveness.It was on the eve of the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln gave his First Inaugural speech. He closed the speech with an appeal to the better angels of our nature:

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

It is great advice for our Nation as we try to get pass the many years of Republican appeals to the basest demons of our fears. There is a lot of work to do to repair the damage of years of Republican failures. We will need to appeal to the best in each of us and yet, John McCain is actively working to release the demons of hate and racism that have long plagued our Republic. Shame on him.This hate is in the air and it will have to be confronted and dissipated. It will not be easy, but we can do this.

The Drive By Truckers capture the essence
and the costs of this kind of political pandering in their great Southern Rock Opera (emphasis added):

[Scene: set in Hell, September 1998. Told from the Devil's point of view]
Throw another log on the fire, boys, George Wallace is coming to stay
When he met St. Peter at the pearly gates, I'd like to think that a black man stood in the way.
I know "All should be forgiven", but he did what he done so well
So throw another log on the fire boys,
George Wallace is a coming...
Now, he said he was the best friend a black man from Alabama ever had,
And I have to admit, compared to Fob James, George Wallace don't seem that bad
And if it's true that he wasn't a racist and he just did all them things for the votes
I guess Hell's just the place for "kiss ass politicians" who pander to assholes. [snip]
Now the Devil's got a Wallace sticker on the back of his car.

Long ago the Devil placed a Bush sticker over his Wallace tag and McCain is pandering to all the right assholes to ensure that the Devil’s Ford Explorer now sports a McCain/Palin 2008 sticker.

McCain’s pandering is amazing, but he does it with just enough Straight Talk rhetoric to fool the easily bamboozled. Any close inspection of McCain’s record since 2000 shows him selling out any principled stand if it competes with his ambition.

McCain/Palin panders to the basest elements of their party and America. They are playing with fire and they should be called on it. I am, yet again, proud of John Lewis. I have long been impressed by Barack Obama. Two things have really inspired me about him. One, he does not appeal to our fears—he appeals to our hopes. And two, like Lincoln he encourages our Nation to embrace the better angels of our nature.

Meanwhile, John McCain and the Republican Party seek to release our fears, our terrors and our hate. They hope that once again and appeal to the basest demons of our fears will sweep them into office.Not this time!

It is 2008. We have less that ten days to Take Our Country Back. Now is the time to reject the politics of fear and hate. Now is the time to volunteer, take action, donate and do what you can to ensure victory.

John McCain does not know it yet, but maybe, just maybe, once he has been defeated he will realize that we saved him from following in the footsteps of George Wallace. I’ve seen the fear in his eyes and McCain needs to be defeated, not only for the good of the Nation, but for his own good as well."

It's about time we Obama supporters start giving the guy credit for running what has been perhaps the best political campaign in a lifetime. Even in cases where I questioned his strategy and/or response, after the dust has settled I inevitably have come to the conclusion that Obama was right all along, and that my concerns were either baseless or based on incomplete information. Look at the first debate, for example.

My analysis was similar to a lot of Democrats, I was wishing that he had gone after McCain a little harder and I was puzzled as to why he kept acknowledging that his opponent was right on specific points he was making. However, much as that frustrated those who were already sold on Obama, it turns out that this was exactly the right tone to win over those who were either undecided or were soft supporters of Obama. A few week later, can anyone doubt that the real "soundbite" from that debate turned out not to be a soundbite at all, but rather McCain's refusal to look at or engage Obama in a respectful manner? Those who identify themselves as independents rather than with either political party consistently express their frustration with hyper-partisanship in Washington, and whatever his rhetoric, McCain's body language in that debate (as opposed to Obama's) gave them a clear indication about which candidate would be more likely to reach across the aisle to work with the other side.

Obama also seems to have struck almost EXACTLY the right tone relating to his "Commander in Chief" bona-fides, showing himself as a strong leader without bringing to mind the "angry black man" issues that would likely tank his campaign. It's easy to seem strong, and it's not at all difficult to seem conciliatory, but a performance that simultaneously does both is really nothing short of a triumph.

When you think about it, it's astounding. A first term African-American Senator with an Arabic middle name who is descended from and still related to Muslims in the post-9/11 era is on the verge of being elected President of the United States. If you submitted this script to Hollywood, they'd laugh you off the lot.

This thing is by no means a done deal. Three weeks before the elections is a life time in politics. However barring a catalytic, earth shattering mistake on Obama's part (which will be out of character for him), the nation is posed to elect for the first time in the history of the western world a man of African descent to the most powerful position on the face of the earth.

It is august of another presidential election year and the Republican Party is rolling out its latest edition of scare the native. It works for them the last time when they portray John Kerry, a decorated war hero and committed public servant into a weak kneed, yellow bellied, wind surfing, French quaffed pompadour who flips and flops like fresh tilapia out of the water. It wasn’t fun to watch (if you support democrats), but the low information voters fall for it … the rest as they say is history.

Like clockwork, the GOP has a return of their four year itch and this time enters Barack Obama… with his funny name, beloved by the rest of the world. For all intents and purpose, Barack Obama is a mild mannered and dedicated public servant, community organizer, great family man, constitutional law professor ( you know the rest of his attributes), who is of late getting his name dragged into the mud by the republican noise machine and their enablers in the media. They are stretching and contorting the ideals of a capable and intelligent candidate running to bring our wayward country back to its bearings. If you can stomach the freak shows that go for public discourse on American cable TV shows and the clowns that masquerade as opinion leaders, you realize how much the republicans have the pundit class by their balls. They still call McCain a maverick after he changed his position on everything he once stands for. He has resorted to school yard name calling trying to diminish Obama’s appeal. The next phase of grandpa McCain’s antics will be the terrorism card. His campaign will try to make the absurd claim that he can somehow protect us from the barbarity of terrorism, but Obama won’t.

Well I got news for the fear zone group aka the modern republican party, this year’s campaign is going to be about reality…the economic meltdown that came about because of your trickle down economic policies that left the average American in Peoria losing his job, house and family. They have more pressing issues …like feeding their family than anything else. It is safe to say that the republican party is in a doldrum and they are not going to lose this election quietly. It will be sad, in a pathetic way, to watch as they try harder and harder to win this election using tactics that reduce them in the eyes of the American people further and further. You gotta love the parody that is the McCain campaign.

It is going to be ugly, but Obama will prevail…he didn’t get this far by luck alone; he is one heck of a tough cookie.

All things considered...Senator Obama should have enough delegates tomorrow night to claim the democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States. Well done sir and congratulations. Now lets beat that fake maverick... John Mcbush...oh my bad... McCain.

The post-mortems of Hillary Clinton's failed quest for the presidency have just started to be written, and a troubling trend is developing . Within the space of a few days, the Washington Post has published two opinion pieces that cite sexism and misogyny as key reasons for Hillary's problems. We need to nip this false conclusion in the bud, both for the sake of truth and the sake of party unity in November.

Ellen Malcolm, president of the pro-Hillary Emily's List, inflamed the cries of campaign sexism in a Post opinion piece last Saturday. According to Malcolm, any claims that Hillary has lost the race, and any calls for Hillary to quit the race, are not due to facts or reality, but due to pure sexism:

So here we are in the fourth quarter of the nominating process and the game is too close to call. Once again, the opponents and the media are calling for Hillary to quit. The first woman ever to win a presidential primary is supposed
to stop competing, to curtsy and exit stage right.

Sports analogies are not my forte, but since Malcolm brought it up first, we're not just in the "fourth quarter of the nominating process" but in the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter. And the game is not "too close to call"; rather the losing team is down by 30 points. Yes, perhaps you could develop some type of computer-driven scenario in which the losing team could somehow come back to win the game, but you wouldn't take any betters.

Calls for Clinton to quit are not being motivated by sexism, of course, but by an honest, if painful, look at the numbers and the facts. And if the situation of the candidates were reversed, is there anyone who doubts that Hillary would have kicked Obama to the curb by now? Malcolm seems to be calling for Hillary to be treated differently because she is a woman, and isn't that what feminism is fighting against? For Malcolm, it seems as if the only way for Obama and his supporters to NOT be sexist would be to just give up and concede the contest to Hillary.
This past Thursday, Marie Cocco wrote a column in the Post -- "Misogyny I Won't Miss" -- that really takes the "victim card" in this campaign to new heights:

"...for all Clinton's political blemishes, the darker stain that has been exposed is the hatred of women that is accepted as a part of our culture."

From Cocco's perspective, the Democratic primary has been nothing more than a nonstop sexist barrage against Clinton. Cocco decries the "unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York" during the campaign. To prove her point, she cites a few political campaign novelty items that she has found offensive, and pieces together a handful of admittedly sexist remarks made by a few political commentators over the long, long course of the political campaign.

It is worth noting that none of the sexist remarks cited by Cocco were made by Barack Obama or by any of his staffers, surrogates or anyone else associated with his campaign in any way. However, I have developed quite a long, disturbing list of racially offensive remarks made by Hillary Clinton herself, from her dissing of Martin Luther King in January to her writing off of her Louisiana loss in February due to the state's "very proud African-American electorate" to her remark just last week about how she represents hard-working "white Americans." And don't get me started on the offensive comments made by Bill Clinton, starting with his Jesse Jackson putdown in January after Hillary's loss in South Carolina, or the claims by top Hillary surrogates Geraldine Ferraro and George McGovern that it was easier for a black man to get elected president than a white woman, all facts to the contrary.

I'm not here to try to play the identity politics game. But I am here to say that I can cite many instances of Hillary Clinton and her staffers and top supporters making racially offensive comments and engaging in racially divisive tactics, but I cannot cite any examples of Obama and his campaign doing anything similar in terms of gender. And while I am the first to admit that there is still plenty of sexism and misogyny in our society and that sexism and misogyny no doubt played a role in how some people voted during the primaries, I think it is quite safe to say that this was at least cancelled out, if not exceeded, by the role that racism played in other people's votes.

Yesterday The New Republic published an interesting article in which they asked a broad cross-section of more than a dozen Clinton staffers -- from "high-level advisors to grunt-level assistants" -- to provide their honest, anonymous assessments of what went wrong with the campaign. They offered a litany of insightful reasons for Hillary's failures -- and none of them had anything at all to do with sexism or misogyny.

Instead, the Clinton staffers cite a number of key strategic and management mistakes that stem back to the very beginnings of the campaign, and that built on each other as time went on. For example:

- Hillary had the wrong message: "Running as an incumbent, as the inevitable candidate, was probably our biggest mistake, particularly in a time when the country is really hungry for change."

- Hillary made bad personnel decisions: "Hillary assembled a team thin on presidential campaign experience that confused discipline with insularity; they didn't know what they didn't know and were too arrogant to ask at a time early enough in the process when it could have made a difference."

- Patti Solis Doyle was not a good campaign manager: "[Original campaign manager] Patti and [her deputy] Mike [Henry] sat up there in their offices and no one knew what they did all day. Patti's a nice person who was put in a job way over head."

- Hillary should not have made her pollster her chief strategist: "It is impossible to disagree and have a counter view on message when the person creating the message is also the person testing the message."

- Mark Penn was incompetent: "In Iowa, Penn consistently would show polls that were of the eight-way. That was basically meaningless because it wasn't going to be an eight-way race. The candidates that were the second-tier candidates were not going to reach the threshold [of 15%]. The real race was the three-way. But he always focused on the eight-way when we'd start going over the numbers in Iowa. It was frustrating to the state staff and other people as well. It just showed a lack of understanding and a disconnect."

- Hillary did not develop an effective fundraising strategy: "There was financial mismanagement bordering on fraud. A candidate who raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the years had to pump in millions more of her own money to stave off bankruptcy."

- Hillary did not execute an effective media relations strategy: "The way we handled (the press) was a mistake on our part. What we're hearing is that we truly treated people badly and weren't accessible enough or open enough. We had bad relationships with reporters, and it probably bit us on the ass."

I could go on, but I think the point is made. Anyone who wants to learn about what truly went wrong with Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign needs to realize, first and foremost, that it was due to a string of missteps and management problems -- and with the effective campaign run by Barack Obama -- that had absolutely nothing to do with gender. And if we are to be successful in uniting all Democrats behind Barack Obama in November, comments that try to pin the blame for Hillary's loss primarily on sexism and misogyny are doing a huge disservice to the party, by inflaming the justifiable anger and resentment that many women hold about the sexism in our society and directing it in a counterproductive and misguided way.

I have been away from wwwland for a while attending to some pressing personal issues. In the meantime the Democratic campaign for the party's nominee drags on even though everyone and their mama knew it is Obama's for the taking. I like this observation from slate:

"Here's a rule I would like every political reporter, campaign official, TV talking head, and politician in the United States to follow. Go ahead and say, if you like, that Hillary Clinton retains a serious chance of winning the Democratic nomination. If you say this, however, you must describe a set of circumstances whereby this could happen. Try not to make it sound like a fairy tale....

"So, please, let's stop pretending there's much suspense about who the nominee will be. As an arithmecrat, I will not consider anyone the winner until a candidate achieves 2,025 delegates. But neither am I obliged to believe Hillary Clinton has a plausible shot. She doesn't."

Come to think of it, you really can't get any shameless than Hillary Clinton. She is just like her philandering husband...they will screw the democratic party for their own political gain. The latest exhibit is her gas tax gimmick. This is a clear warning to all democrats that the clintons will throw your collective behind under the bus if that will determine that they win a campaign.

Can you believe the gall of this woman? She has the audacity to call on other democrats to pour more money into the coffers of oil companies while draining it from highway and bridge construction. Americas highways and bridges are crumbling and clinton wants to use the funds needed to fix them to give joe six pack an 18cent on the gallon tax cut. The next time a bridge collapse we know who to blame. Don't we?

This latest episode reminds us of how the Clintons will try to win at all cost. In her 2000 senate campaign, then candidate hillary clinton made the following comment:

"And one of my fundamental disagreements during this campaign with my opponent was when he called for the repeal of the gas tax. Now, the gas tax is one of those few taxes that New York actually gets more money from Washington than we send. And we are totally reliant on it to do things like finishing I-86 in the Southern Tier, or the fast- ferry harbor works up in Rochester, as well as the work we need to do here in the city. So you can count on me to support infrastructure, but I'm sorry, Mayor, I can't go with the domed stadium."

Hillary looks like a douchebag for contradicting herself soo blatantly. She just doesn't have a baggage, she keeps cramming more inside an overstuffed bag. Enough with the Clintons...

On the day after Wisconsin and Hawaii, I've been ruminating on what would be happening right now if Barack Obama had lost ten straight contests since Super Tuesday.

Here's the first thing that would have happen:

If Obama had lost ten straight contests, the Clinton campaign and/or its surrogates would be calling for him to "step down" for the "good of the party." They would want the Democratic party to "coalesce" around its "obvious frontrunner."

There's precedent for that

Democratic Party leaders leaned on Gary Hart to quit in 1984 and Jesse Jackson to quit in 1988. Both were running against more establishment-type candidates.We tend to forget Jackson's run in 1988 but as someone pointed out yesterday, he had the highest-ever number of delegates for a second-place candidate until Hillary Clinton exceeded that mark yesterday.

Here's another thing I know. If Obama had lost ten straight contests, each and every Obama concession speech would have congratulated his opponent and thanked the supporters who worked tirelessly for him in those states. According to the NYTimes this morning:

“Mrs. Clinton did not mention the Wisconsin results; she did, however, call Mr. Obama to congratulate him on the victory. “

Obama would be gracious enough to congratulate his opponent publicly and to thank his supporters in the states he lost….Remember New Hampshire? Enough said...

This is what happened when simple minds and power hungry politicians used bigoted language to incite hatred amongst their own people. What is happening in Kenya has been fomenting for a number of years. It just boiled over after the last elections were rigged. Politicians and their groupies have been silently spreading ethnic and tribal code words in these communities for a number of years....culminating in what is today described by the US under secretary for African affairs as ethnic cleansing.

The tragedy happening in Kenya could have been avoided if Kenyans stood up to ethnic bigots years ago and nip their message of intolerance in the bud. Most bigoted commentators have their facts wrong. They trade in half truths and innuendo to past aspersions on a group of people they happened to hate.

This is one of the reasons why a lot of my countrymen were aghast to read on the front page of the GambiaEcho, a fact free tirade against the Gambia's largest tribe by Sheriff Samsudeen Sarr. If you read Sam's piece and have no inclination to Gambian politics and society, you will come away with the feeling that the Mandinkas of the Gambia are just a tribalist lot...bent on dominating their fellow countrymen. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sam Sarr knew this...but he has an agenda all along...and that is to castigate and demonize an entire tribe.

However it is sobering to see how many other Gambians took it upon themselves to counter Sam's blatant disregard for history and call him out for what he is... a tribal man. Saul Saidykhan's piece is legendary in this respect. If we let the Samsudeen Sarrs of the world get away with spreading false and insidious messages based on their personal vendettas then we are headed for a rude awakening. The consequences will be deadly. That is the lesson Kenya is teaching Gambians....squash the hatred before it consume your nation in death and anarchy.

The past few weeks of the primaries has been rather nasty. We saw Clinton Inc. play dirtier than we could have ever imagined. They pull all the stops and dirty tricks. They continuously race-baited an honorable man for having the audacity to challenge their quest for a third term. We've heard them call Obama a "fairytale." We've seen Bill Clinton yelling at reporters who dare question his cut throat tactics. Tonight the Mark Penn / Clinton strategy of "unless they tell you otherwise - it's legal" has been exposed and defeated. Obama has won by close to 30 points and this crushing win changes everything. And we deserve to celebrate tonight!

Two months ago Hillary Clinton was leading among all demographics in South Carolina. She was cruising to her coronation. Tonight is a different story. South Carolina voted for hope and change. The exit poll numbers have shown what we all already knew - Bill Clinton hurts Hillary more than he helps. He runs around getting testy with reporters, pushing the negativity, spinning and deceiving - like what he did with Obama's Reagan quotes. He failed big time. South Carolina rejected these dirty politics.

Now it is a time to focus on the February 5th contests. Get younger voters out as usual and appeal to the inherent good in every voter…or what the Clintons called false hope.We have cause to celebrate tonight. The Obama campaign face down the politics of personal destruction without flinching and came out victorious. Now that is hot…

"Some call it a fairytale - I call it the American dream"

I almost forgot how effing good it feels when the right guy actually wins the election. Congratulations to Senator Obama and on to New Hampshire!!! is the dawn of a new day in America. Change is in the air...

It is finally here...the Iowa caucus. Change we can believe in begins tonight. If the polls are a representative sample of the Iowa caucus goer, senator Obama will win Iowa tonight.

He ran a great campaign up to this point and all things considered, he will be heading to New Hampshire tomorrow with a victory in Iowa.

Good luck Obama...

"Fire up...ready to go."

Machetes ... oh the dreaded machetes are been brandished in Kenya. It is a dreary sight after the havoc they wield in Rwanda. The aftermatch of last week's elections in that East African nation is more complicated than Gore versus Bush in 2000.

The Kenyan election was almost certainly rigged in favor of the imcubent... that is what often happen in Africa. However, contesting it with machetes is going to tear Kenya along tribal lines and undermine the recent progress made by that nation. But leaving the results of a rigged election to stand is no panacea either.

The world community stood aside while Rwandans were slaughtered in a murderous tribal rage. Never again , they vowed will such a thing come to pass. The Europeans were sceptical of the results from the get go:

The head of a European Union team of observers, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, promptly spoke about deep misgivings concerning the counting process. Diplomats in Nairobi, the capital, pointed the finger at the Kikuyu old guard, men who had feared that they would lose their fortunes if Mr Odinga had made it into StateHouse. Even if Mr Kibaki's cronies are innocent of charges of vote rigging, he will have no national mandate: outside of the Kikuyu lands, Mr Kibaki was soundly beaten across the country, including in Nairobi.

By contrast, the US state departments initial statement on the results were shameful. They legitimitized a sham election with a congratulatory note. They have since backed from that statement, but the harm may have been done.

I am fearful that Kenya is drifting towards Rwanda's recent fate unless the world community voiced out and take action now. If you think this is an exageration, well the trend line isn't encouraging. Money quote:

In Nairobi, the capital, tribal militias squared off against each other in several slums. Witness reports indicate that more 200 people have been killed in the past two days in violence connected to a disputed election Kenya held last week.
Tribal militias armed with machetes...does it ring a bell?

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