Friday, July 30th, 2004

Spinning The Balloons

Uh yeah, we meant to do that.

By the way, no truth to the rumors that FCC agents had taken Don Mischer into custody. Yet.

posted by @ 9:55 am | 0 Comments

Friday, July 30th, 2004

Joke of the Day

Or maybe it’s real news? Check this out.

posted by @ 9:42 am | 0 Comments

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

No Confetti!

For anyone watching on CNN, you caught the line of the night just after Kerry completed his speech. From an unknown DNC operative somehow patched in on the mainline: “More balloons! More balloons! More balloons! No confetti! More balloons! More balloons! Come on! What the fuck are you guys doing?”

Half-serious question: Will Michael Powell fine CNN and try to ban the DNC? I give it equal odds.

posted by @ 7:16 pm | 0 Comments

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

Just A Note

If you want or need your hip-hop angle on the Convention and the demos, Pop and Politics is straight killing it this week.

posted by @ 8:59 am | 0 Comments

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

Ride Your Donkey

Did Sharpton go out like a sucker or play it perfectly? You decide.

The transcript is here.

posted by @ 8:45 am | 0 Comments

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

Remember Florida

All this talk about votes just takes me back 4 years. As do these reports from Florida, even though they don’t point back directly to 2000.

So I went back and unearthed my reporting from November 2000 for 360hiphop.com. I was sent down on the night after the elections to cover the recount in Miami and West Palm Beach. I hung out with Gihan and Tony, two kick-ass organizers from the Miami Workers Center, in Liberty City interviewing residents. Then we got a call from one of their workers in North Miami. What happened next, well read this (it’s presented just as it ran on 360hiphop):

GUNZ N BUTTA GOES IN SEARCH OF LOST BALLOT BOXES

BY: Jeff Chang

In Florida, as the presidential election goes into vote-count limbo, everywhere is war and rumors of war. Then we heard about a lost ballot box. Gunz N Butta fights for democracy.

The road to West Palm Beach is jammed with Democratic party operatives and reporters. Stakes is high. And on the narrow, pastel streets, the strangest protest crowd of the longest presidential run in history has gathered.

The re-vote revolt is being led by white legislative aides, rank-and-file unionists, Jews and Christians, and a significant contingent of elderly black women who have brought along two generations of daughters. There’s even an angry young Republican woman who believes more in saving the system more than preserving a Bush victory.

A voteless mob is an angry mob.

As the parade of Democratic legislators step to the podium to ask for recount, the crowd corrects them with roars of “Re-Vote!” They don’t want compromise, they want their ballot back.

Back in Miami, where dead people turned out to elect a Mayor three years ago, the mood is conspiratorial. There are rumors of Jeb Bush pushing his weight behind the scenes, and unopened ballot boxes sitting in polling places.

Treva Landrum voted where she lives, in the Liberty City housing projects officially called the Liberty Square Housing Development, but better known as The Pork-and-Beans. While turnout was the highest she’s ever seen, she says she feels that quite a few of her neighbors were denied their right to vote.

“It’s probably a lot of ballots being missing, a lot of the ballot boxes not being in the proper place,” she says. At the Miami Worker’s Center where she works, she says she’s had a few calls about a missing ballot box in North Miami.

“A lot of people know that there is something not clean about this election,” Treva says. “I believe that a lot of people want to see Bush in the seat. I believe a lot of people was paid, people that work the precincts were paid. I really feel that.”

“We need to do an election all over again, and they need to have policemen at every precinct to make sure everything go right,” she says. “I ain’t saying that police ain’t corrupt too! But we need that.”

At 6:00 P.M., after most of the ballots have been recounted, we begin the search for a lost ballot box.

Tony Romano and Gihan Perera, the twentysomethings who run the Miami Worker’s Center, have heard from one of their members, a Haitian American nurse who believes she has seen a ballot box sitting in a nursing home she used to work at in North Miami.

Along with Geraldine Borders, we jump into Gihan’s Jeep and head up to the home. The nurse is nervous, tells Gihan to turn the lights down as we approach the Grand Court nursing home at 280 Sierra Avenue. It’s infectious, and soon we are plotting our Mission Impossible in low voices.

Tony says, “We should just bust in the place and be like, yo, what’s this here?”

The others disagree. Gihan says, “We should scope it out first and then try to figure out what to do.”

Finally, we agree on a plan. Tony will walk in the home and say he’s looking for a place for his mother and wants to check out the nursing home. He’ll ask to use the bathroom, so he can wander around to see if a ballot box is really there. Then he’ll holler at us on the cell phone.

He changes out of his green Palmeiras soccer jersey into Gihan’s V-neck and strides down the block, rehearsing his lines in his head.

Gihan pulls the jeep around the corner. As we pass the home, the nurse ducks down and insists he turn off the car lights. Gihan and I dial information to get numbers for black churches, the Board of Elections, and the NAACP, and the nurse’s blood pressure starts to rise. “He’s not back yet,” she groans after a few minutes.

“Hang on”, says Gihan.

A few more minutes. “He’s not back yet! Let’s go get him,” she cries.

“Hang on!” says Gihan. We wait in the darkness.

Then the cellie rings. Gihan puts the call on the speaker.

“Yo”, Tony whispers, “there’s definitely a box in here, man. It says right on it, Ballot Box 212, Metro-Dade Elections Department in big letters. It’s in this room right next to the front door, it’s just sitting there. It’s locked.”

“I told you!” the nurse shouts.

Geraldine, Gihan and I look at each other. Oh shit.

“Hey, I gotta go,” Tony says. ” They’re taking me on a tour of the place.”

PAGE 2

The race is down to 300 votes. What we do now could save the elections. Gihan starts rehearsing his speech to TV cameras in his head. I’m so shook I can’t think.

Gihan says, “OK Jeff, you go in there and demand to have them open the box. If it’s full of ballots, I’ll just tell them we gotta take it in.”

“Uh”, I say, “I, uh, I can’t make the story if I’m gonna break the story. It would be kinda weird, you know, sorta journalistically ethically, uh, if I were to be the one to be going in and getting the box.”

“OK”, Gihan says. Damn, Gihan is thinking.

He decides he’ll go in and say he’s there to collect the ballot box. If they don’t give it up, then we’ll call the TV stations and the NAACP. If they try to hide the box, he says, he’ll just go in there and jump on the box.

Tony runs back to the car. “Yo, they were playing bingo in there”, he says breathlessly. “They were about to get me in a game.”

We tell him our plan. Tony looks grim. “Be careful in there,” he says.

We all swagger into the Grand Court nursing home.

At the front desk, Gihan steps to the counter. And there it is: the ballot box, in the storage room to the left. A large shiny steel thing with a big padlock on a rusty chain. Ballot Box 212.

Gihan says, “We’re checking to see if all the polling places have turned in their boxes. So I’m here to pick up the ballot box. ”

The front desk administrator, an Afro-Caribbean woman, looks at him. “Can I see some I.D.?”

Gihan reaches into his back pocket like he’s gonna pull something out. Then he asks, “Is there stuff in that box? Because, you know, we’re just checking because we’ve heard reports that there are ballot boxes still out here.”

The administrator says, “Oh yeah, there’s something in it. It’s pretty heavy.”

We’re all staring at the big shiny box. The Metro-Dade Elections Department sticker. Gihan asks, “Can you open it up? We just want to check if there are ballots in there, because, you know, this election is so close.”

“Well, I can’t open it up. I don’t have the key,” she says. We’re all staring at the big padlock. The rusty chain.

The administrator points to the box. “They are totally separate from us. I mean, someone called yesterday to ask about it and said they would come pick it up. But they haven’t shown up yet,” she says. “So do you have I.D.?”

Gihan says, “Well, no. We’re just going around to see about these boxes. You know the election is down to 300 votes.”

It’s the administrator’s turn to be surprised. “Really? We were all looking at it thinking the same thing, like what’s in there. We were all worried about it, too. But I can’t just give it to you.”

Gihan says, “OK.” The administrator offers a business card and says we should just come back with some I.D. Gihan’s head is spinning as we walk out. “Call the television stations,” he says.

No one is picking up the Board of Elections line. All the black church leaders are meeting with Jesse Jackson. The NAACP number doesn’t work. Tony calls Channel 10, “Yo! I got a breaking story for you.”

I’m ringing the Democrat’s new Voter Fraud Line in West Palm Beach. Someone gets on the line immediately. I explain the story, then they take the address and promise to call me back.

Tony walks back, shaking his head. “The guy at Channel 10 said he’s been getting calls like this every 10 minutes. The boxes are full of pencils and extra ballots. “He goes, ‘Chill out, dude.’”

Someone else will have to save democracy tonight.

posted by @ 8:44 am | 0 Comments

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

Black President

(UPDATED LINKS 11am 7/28/04)

The hype came in the form of a skinny mixed-race Senate candidate with no opposition, Barack Obama (backgrounders here and here, perhaps the next chance for a real Black President in 2016.

Women screamed. Pundits creamed. Hillary and Jesse both beamed. This guy is for real and people will soon be talking about him as “the new face of the Democratic Party”.

What are his politics? Call them urban neo-progressive. He’s positioning himself right between Jesse and Hillary.

The fire in his speech was vintage Jesse ’88. Note how Obama used “hope” as his keyword. Note how thoroughly he’s absorbed the language of the multiculturalists of the 80s (yep, we’ve come a long way baby). And the speech will be remembered for this money line, also vintage Jesse/80s multiculti with a touch of 90s irony:

“Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.

There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

But even as he affirmed his urban background, he pitched himself to the so-called middle. The next line could have come out of a DLC playbook.

“Now, don’t get me wrong, the people I meet in small towns and big cities and diners and office parks, they don’t expect government to solves all of their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead. And they want to.”

But the key lines if you want to understand Obama’s politics were the next ones:

“Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you: They don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.”

There it is. Here’s a Democrat who has absorbed the small-government mantra, who is telling conservative whites–and post-Farrakhan blacks–he’s not gonna be easy on his people. At the same time, he’s telling liberals and people of color he’s not gonna be easy on military spending. Anti-welfare and anti-war. Hillary and Jesse.

Now read the next section of his speech again, and recognize game. Obama is sharp, he’s a great orator, and he’s just a lot slicker than either neo-conservative Corey Booker or neo-liberal Bill Cosby:

“Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to teach, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things. (APPLAUSE)”

He cut those lines real fine, didn’t he? Welcome to the neo-progressive.

This is a different politic than, say, those promoted by the Dean insurgency, which was essentially a one-noter: anti-war, anti-Bush. These are politics that could potentially play a major role in reshaping the Democratic Party. Centrism is dead. Clinton and Bush took that one to bed. People are searching for a new alternative, and Obama’s neo-progressivism–if it takes hold in the communities of color he can potentially energize–combines a shape-shifting ability to move right, while reviving the moral high ground of the left.

Don’t forget Obama once ran against Bobby Rush, the ex-Black Panther, on the Southside, in a race that held as much intergenerational intrigue as the Booker-James battle in Newark, even though the press never framed it that way. In the African American community, where Sharpton’s failed candidacy represents the exhaustion of the old model and where the hip-hop generation is still getting organized, neo-progressivism–and all the values it promotes-professionalism, wit, irony, and above all, an imperative to find a post-Jackson, post-Farrakhan hybrid–could become the intergenerational compromise.

New ideas always take the form of urgency and passion, two other values Obama upheld Tuesday night. By jumping into the U.S. Senate, Obama leapfrogs Jesse Jackson, Jr. and a host of others for the next generation of African American leadership. And in the Senate, he will only be able to move rightward.

Which brings us to the 2016 scenario, a distant question for now: is this the Democratic Party’s future? Can you get with that?

Anxious to see what Pop And Politics and Afro-netizen have to say.

posted by @ 8:54 pm | 4 Comments

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

More Evidence The Republicans Are In Trouble

Who’s briefing Gillespie and these idiots? (Memo to strategists: Michael “Hundred Million Dollar Man” Moore is now officially no joke. Anyway, is Cheney on vacation? Did Karl Rove get captured by terrorists? Upside: this could be the most hilarious election ever.

posted by @ 2:02 pm | 0 Comments

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

Look Who’s Talking

On tonight’s agenda: Howard Dean. Yeeeeeeaaaaaaargh! And Theresa Heinz Kerry. So shut the fuck up, you right-wing ketchup haters! Ohhhh, anticipation.

posted by @ 6:53 am | 0 Comments

Monday, July 26th, 2004

Shut Up Already. Damn.

The most powerful man in the Fleet Center was dude running the teleprompter. Everyone–including Bill Clinton (my son was disappointed it wasn’t George Clinton)–was rushing against time like Cinderella before her 11pm EST curfew.

Reverend David Alston’s gripping speech was hurt the most. It was a great one, could have been one for history, but live TV doesn’t wait for nobody.

So Bill’s punchlines–and he had some great ones–died on the vine. On the other hand, Hillary stretched her reported 4 minutes to like 10+. Take that, Edwards! I lay money she’ll do it again in 2012. What a rebel.

Hey, can anyone in Fleet get me one of those concert lightie things? I might have an extra Tipper Rocks! hand-drum around here.

BTW Michael Moore chillin with Jimmy and Rosalyn? Word.

posted by @ 7:45 pm | 0 Comments



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