Tag Archives: Obama

All politicians lie. But some (Romney) are bigger liars than others.

I’ve been in a number of Facebook debates with pro-Romney folks, and I love how myopic things get every presidential election year.

It’s so funny because I’m not really a fan of Obama.

He’s done a lot during his presidency, to fix the clusterfuck left by George W.

We’re not out of the dark yet, but there are clearly brighter days ahead.

And it’s thanks to Obama, some bi-partisanship and the policies that were put in place to prop up Wall Street, Detroit, the mortgage industry, and the list goes on.

But somehow, Obama has been cast as the grand villan, responsible for the mess, and not the guy who undertook to clean it up.

What’s worse, the party responsible for putting us in the mess in the first place, are casting themselves as the solution to Obama.

It’s like folks have amnesia.

Didn’t we just have a president who’s track record before he took office was ruining corporations?

Isn’t Bain Capital another example of a privileged under-achiever playing god with other people’s moolah.

Far from being a financial wizard, Romney is a one-trick pony, who’s one-trick is the art of borrowing.

Romney believes in one thing – spending other people’s money.

And that political philosophy is the exact one that put America into the greatest recession we’ve ever experienced.

As my younger brother says, do the research, which is something that Romney (and Ryan) don’t do.

In the wake of the first debate, Both candidates exaggerated multiple facts and figures.

But Romney was by far, the worse offender.

Sure, he sounded great, and came off sounding ‘strong on the economy’.

But the reality is that he was telling numerous untruths and flip flipping on issues like a fish on the deck of a boat.

I guess Romney is simply following the path of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, who decided to make up his own religious doctrine when Christianity didn’t suit him.

And if the fact that our potential future president follows the ramblings of a 19th century religious zealot doesn’t concern you, what are a few lies going to do?

And with that, I bid you adieu.

We can talk politics November 7th after we learn which of the pied pipers will occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave for the next four years.


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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. But it will be on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

I just finished reading The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Joe Trippi on the Nook app on my iPad.

Great read for 21st century political consultants.

It was a self-imposed homework assignment, for the work that I’ve been doing with Vincent Morgan, the Democratic candidate for Congress I’ve been working with for the past two years.

If you haven’t read it (why would you?) it’s a good read.

It was especially informative for me because in it, Joe talks about the various online and social media strategies Howard Dean’s campaign employed to build it’s base, push Dean’s message and raise money.

To make a long story short, the Dean campaign was really responsible for the both the use and proliferation of the web and social media by political candidates.

Without Howard Dean, there would have been no Obama. Period.

What Howard Dean’s campaign did with the internet and social media, completely bucked traditional notions of what online communities meant, how to galvanize supporters and raise money.

Trippi’s title, an homage to Gil Scott-Heron’s poem and song of the same title, refers to the fact that TV is no longer the dominant medium, especially as it relates to the manner and methods of running a political campaign.

Gil clearly didn't know about iReporting back in the day!

Where campaigns used to pour millions of dollars for television spots, in an effort to frame the issues and influence voters, Trippi posits that online forums, blogs, social media and the web generally, will have greater impact in future races.

As I sit here, thinking about how to apply Trippi’s strategies to Vince’s campaign, I’m brimming with excitement.

Last year, when Vince ran against Rangel, we knew out the gate, that we were in for an uphill battle.

For one, Vince was a relative unknown. Rangel’s name carried all the weight in the world – even in the middle of his ethics controversy.

Vince had no political experience, save a stint working with Rangel several years prior.

The M4C team was pretty inexperienced. It was the first political campaign for most of us.

He hadn’t raised a lot of money, which effectively meant that media buys (and virtually anything else that cost money) were out of the question. Even with Rangel’s ethical issues, he was still sitting on a (relative) war-chest.

This year, it’s a different story.

For one, Vince is no longer an unknown. While he may not evoke the same level of name recognition as Rangel, he is regularly featured in both local and national press.

He’s a frequent political commentator on CNBC, having most recently offered is perspective after the GOP Iowa caucus.

Although Vince still has no formal political experience, his previous run gave him political credibility and experience running a political campaign.

Even though he’s never held formal office, he is being discussed as a viable Democratic candidate, in the same breath as, and alongside other established politicians.

Team Morgan is staffed with experience. From his PR agency, Dash PR, to his finance manager, to his interim campaign manager, the team he’s assembled know their respective charges, and are ready, willing and able to execute accordingly.

But the most important thing, is the impact that social media and online, are having on the strategies we’re developing.

Unlike Charles Rangel, and the rest of the other candidates running (or planning on running) in the next election, Vince is truly technologically savvy.

While other candidates have third parties blogging, tweeting, FourSquaring, updating their Facebook status and generally leaving social media to someone else, Vince is actively engaged in the management of his online personae.

He actively posts articles, videos and pictures he finds to his website, personal and political profiles, and responds to comments he receives.

If you haven't 'Liked" the page, do so now!

And he makes it a point to ‘check-in’ with FourSquare, when he visits any of the restaurants, barbershops, cafes, stores and venues in his daily travels, staying engaged virtually with his growing constituency.

More importantly, he knows how important it is to get the formula, of online and offline activities, right.

As Joe Trippi noted in his book, virtually every political campaign, candidate and politician, has a website, Facebook page, etc. They would be remiss, in the post-Obama era, not to.

But having an online presence, and utilizing it effectively, are two drastically different things.

Our goal, in 2012, is to master the use of online and social media tools and put Vince in office.

That means we’ve got to raise his profile, raise money, get people off their butts and into voting booths on election day.

I’m confident that we’re going to do just that.

But don’t take my word for it.

Check in on the campaign from time to time and see how we’re doing.


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Stumping with Vincent Morgan

Vincent Morgan cheeses for the camera with the event hosts.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my first meeting with Vincent Morgan.

At the time, he was a prospective client.

Last Wednesday, I was stumping with my client, as he made his way about Harlem, promoting his candidacy for the United States House of Representatives for the 15th District of New York.

I met him at his place, and we headed to Amsterdam and 138th, where he was scheduled to speak to the West Harlem Independent Democrats.

We arrived early and grabbed a bite to eat at a Spanish restaurant a block up from the WHID office.

After enjoying arroz con pollo with coffee, distributing a few M4C leaflets, and settling the bill (Vince paid), he, Philip (a member of his communications team) and I headed to the engagement.

When we arrived, Vince was introduced and took the floor.

He opened with a reflection on Cinco de Mayo, and it’s relevance to the race against Rangel.

He followed up with a brief background of how he came to public service.

And then fielded several questions about charter schools, small businesses, the viability of his candidacy, and closed.

From there, we headed over to the Madison Cigar Lounge, where an M4C fundraiser/meet-and-greet was being hosted by FYI Communications.

I watched, taking notes and snapping pictures, as Vince worked the room and offered his perspective for a revitalized Harlem.

By the time I headed out, I was left with one distinct impression: Vincent Morgan can win this election.

I’m not a member of the 15th district.

I’m not a NYer.

I can’t even vote in the upcoming elections.

But if I could, I’d be voting for this guy, and here are a few reasons why:

1. Harlem needs a fresh perspective. Rangel is 80 years old. What does he have in common with the struggling lower and middle class of the District?

2.  Rangel has been in office waaaayyyy too long. Period. 40 years in the House of Representatives? C’mon, can someone else speak for Harlem?

3.  Vince kinda reminds you of Obama. Democrats. Black. Raised in Chi-town. Married. Two kids.

4.  The guy knows his stuff. Vince is all about facts and being able to substantiate whatever perspective you maintain. Columbia MBA. Need I say more?

5.  He’s passionate. If you’ve seen him speak, watched any of his videos or have met him in person, you’d agree that he means what he says.

I’ll admit that I’m a member of the cult of Vince. We’re both Taurus (his birthday is the day after mine), and I am on his payroll. So I’d better be all about Vince.

But my obvious bias aside, give this guy a gander.

You may very well be looking at the next Congressman for the 15th District of New York.

If you’d like to hear him speak in person, check out the events calendar on his website to find out where he’s going to be next.

If you’re interested in donating to the campaign, volunteering or learning more, check out the Morgan4Congress website.

You can also follow him on Twitter @morgan4congress or fan like him on Facebook.

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Folks on a plane

I find the people I encounter on planes absolutely fascinating. Today I met Caroline Pitts on the Delta airlines flight this morning.  Caroline, originally from East Orange, but now of Atlanta, Georgia, and I talked politics for the two hours from Newark to Atlanta (the first leg of my trip to Johannesburg, South Africa). She was one of the members of the Obama Campaign team, and we talked about community organizing, political apathy and the galvanizing effect of social media and networking tools.

We both talked ‘shop.’  She talked education. I talked mobile and marketing. She was particularly interested in my opinions of Obama’s oratory skills (she recommended I send Obama an email about eliminating his ‘ums’ and ‘uhs’ when he speaks). I was riveted by her stories about the unparalleled efficiency of the Obama political machine. 

Before I knew it, we were touching down in Altanta and heading our separate ways. I gave her my card and she promised to call or send me an email (she claims she’s gonna tell my wife what a good catch I am). Yeah, she was 60-something, but I think she was trying to get some…can you blame her? Who doesn’t want them some married, father of three swimming in debt?  Shoot, I’m sexy!

They just made the boarding announcement for part II of my trip (Atlanta to Dakar, Senegal).

I wonder who I’m sitting next to next. I hope they’re interesting. If not, I can always sleep.

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Staying in the Game

This is an article that I wrote a few years ago for a site I built with my brothers, called CollegeDJ.net http://www.collegedj.net, but I feel like its timely considering the ‘Obama effect’, and the complete re-writing of the rules.  Since I have always had ‘Obama swagger’ I am hipping y’all to ish I knew way back when.


Folks here are a few tips for getting ahead in the highly competitive entertainment industry.  This is some good stuff, so take notes!


1. Know the Landscape. This ancient adage from Sun Tzu is super important. The entertainment industry is a business with its own unique set of players, cycles, barriers to and methods of entry, and a distinct formula for success. If you intend to be successful, you’ve got to know not only the present state of the industry, but its history (of successes and failures) as well. If you know the landscape, you can plan accordingly.

2. Kill the Competition. One of the 48 Rules of Power dictate that you do not seek to emulate your competition, rather you should seek to destroy them. Capitalize on your competition’s weaknesses and improve upon their strengths. Undercut their price, give freebies, offer bonuses, do anything to separate yourself from the masses and leave the competition in your dust.

3. Understand the Rules of Engagement. To truly excel in the entertainment industry, you must become well versed and flawlessly execute the rules of engagement, which are identify the goal (what do you want to achieve), focus (see yourself achieving your goal), plan (create a road map to your goal), execute (take the steps necessary to achieve your goal) and document (record the steps you took to achieve your goal). By following the rules of engagement, you will be able to see your steps and missteps.

4. Organize Your Team. No man is an island. More importantly, in the entertainment industry (as with most businesses), its not what you know, but who you know that matters. Your team should be comprised of the most experienced (and connected) people within the respective areas for which you require expertise. Surround yourself with people smarter than you, who are more concerned with achieving the objectives of the group, than individual acclaim or “shine.”

5. Hone Your Craft. Be a consummate professional at all times and exude confidence and knowledge. Learn as much as you can about what it is you are doing, and set yourself apart from the crowd. Seek to absorb as much knowledge as is available to you and never be satisfied with the status quo. With advances in technology and personnel shift occurring constantly, you are only as relevant as your ability to adapt to changing times.

6. Protect Your Neck. In business we say “CYA” (cover your a**). Its a fairly simple but important point. Never accept that things will go as planned, and create contingency plans. Maintain e-mail trails, copies of minutes and notes, and follow up oral commitments with confirmation e-mails. Its always better to rely upon written notes, than your recollection of events to settle your disputes.

7. Prepare to fail. Over 50% of all businesses fail within the first five years of existence. Chances are that your business concept, regardless of how sound and well planned, will fail. But failure should not deter you, because it is (paradoxically) inextricably intertwined with success. Failure gives you the unique ability to see your mistakes and improve upon them.

These tips are for people interested in the entertainment industry, but apply to all areas of life.

Class Dismissed.

The Digital Sniper a/k/a Stephen Chukumba

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VOTE! VOTE! (did I say VOTE!)

Today is November 4th, and what is without question, the most historic day in my entire life.  ‘Why?’ you ask.  Well because today I was able to cast my vote for the first time in American history, for a Black man (or at least a half-Black man).  While I waited patiently outside my polling station for 2 hours with hundreds of other excited voters, all eager to place their individual stamps on history, you could literally feel our collective excitement.

Vate at MTV rocking his colors.

Vate with MTV rocking his colors at Bay Street Station, Montclair.

I saw many of my neighbors, with their spouses and kids, all lined up, chatting it up with other neighbors and friends.  There were lots of cameras, and it seemed that everyone was intent on capturing the moment on film and video.  There were several people, including myself, who whipped out their phones to snap a few pics.  On my way in to the office, I snapped the picture above of Vate, one of MTV’s IP attorneys in full Obama regalia.  It seemed everyone I encountered was filled with enthusiam about the possibilities for tomorrow.

I’m cautiously optimistic about tomorrow, but that’s as far as I’ll let myself go (for now).  8 years ago, I just KNEW that Al Gore was going to be our next President, and that he would shepherd in a new day for America.  He was America’s choice (at least according to the popular vote), but the day after the election, George W. was our president.  Huh.  How’d that happen?

As such, I know that (while it may be a longshot), McCain and the powers that be, could still bamboozle Americans once again.  Vate (old boy from MTV) said that in order to pull that off, they’d have to steal votes in nearly every state.  I told him that they’d only need to steal them in certain states, because its not the popular vote, its the electoral college vote that counts, so you flip the script in a few key strategic states (Ohio, PA, FL, you get the picture), and that map goes from blue to red.

Just so everyone is clear, I believe in the power of positive thought, so tomorrow Obama will be our 44th President.  Don’t get it twisted.  But today is still here, and we’ve got to push on through to the other side.

I was talking to a reporter from the Star Ledger (as I forced her to interview me and get my opinion) and she asked me why I thought this was such a historic event.  I told her, quite simply, that the use of social networks, the internet and mobile in this election was unprecedented, and it signaled a new day in American politics.  Now I doubt she’ll quote me so eloquently (if I even make the cut into tomorrow’s edition at all), but it’s true.  We are in a new era when it comes to the methodology to employ to reach one’s constituency.  Obama’s political machine knew this inherently, and the proof is in the pudding, come tomorrow.

For now, I’m basking in the magnamity of the day, trying to take it all in.  I’ve got my paper, Obama t-shirt, voter registration card, and other pieces of the day for posterity.  Whatever happens, it will be momentus.  If you haven’t already, take part in this historic day and go vote.

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Brand Obama

Few of us would have believed that a few years after delivering a rousing address at the Democratic National Convention, that Barack Obama would be the Democratic nominee for the office of the President.  Fewer still would have imagined that this political unknown, four years ago, would arrive in such an audacious fashion on the world stage, and challenge the stereotypes of race in America.

For me, Obama is the quintessential embodiment of ‘being the brand.’  From humble beginnings, he has risen to become one of the most recognized figures in modern history.  Barack did not allow himself to be defined by the circumstances of his birth.  He was not the tragic mulatto, struggling with a sense of identity that plagued him into his adult years.  He accepted that he was a black man in America, and understood that society would attempt to define him by his external color (because he is still half-white despite the fact tha everyone associates him as a ‘Black’ man to the exclusion of his actual racial makeup).

Nor was he a ‘sell-out’ utilizing his white parentage to distance himself from his ethnic African heritage or disassociating himself from other Black people.  Barack has taken care to build a brand identity shaped by hard work, service and unyielding belief in himself and the human spirit.  As a result, his ‘brand’ withstood a vigorous challenge from one of the most recognizable brands in America today, the Clintons, to become the Democratic candidate.

Obama stands as clear example of the individual as the brand.  More importantly, his commanding presence, skillful oratory, mastery of crowds and the media, has been instrumental in defining the Obama brand.

Not all of us will have the opportunity to craft our identities in the same way as Obama.  Each of us will have to find the way to individually, beyond the glare of cameras and the national spotlight, develop our brand and craft our identity.  We can learn lessons from Brand Obama, however, that we can apply to our own brand quests.

For example, Obama was continually assailed from all sides by people who sough to marginalize him or define him by the sin of assumption.  Rather that shirk away from confrontation, Obama took each swipe  at him as an opportunity to clarify who he was.  He rarely shied away from a challenge.  Similarly, each of us, at some point in our lives encounter rumors, stories and outright lies about us.  Rather than to allow them to persist, being the brand requires that you dispel myths, and don’t let them linger.  In this way, YOU define who you are, rather than the wags.

Another example of something we can learn from Brand Obama, is the manner in which he uses the slights against him as a means of advancing his agenda.  When he was beleaguered with the Rev. Wright debacle, Obama took the stage to announce his commitment to eradicate the racial divide in America.

When you find yourself up against difficult odds or circumstances, take the stage and announce how you intend to address whatever issues you might face.  Again, by this approach, you are turning an imagined weakness into a source of strength.

Remember, you are the brand.  Be the brand.

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