What if Obama’s grandfather was Palestinian?

Could President-elect Barack Hussein Obama’s “historical memory”–inherited from his paternal grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama–of the brutal British suppression of the Kenyan independence movement in the 1950s affect the “special relationship” between the United States and long time ally, the United Kingdom?

But what if his grandfather had been Palestinian?

After reporting on the barbaric torture inflicted on Hussein Onyango Obama in a Dec. 3, 2008 article published online by The Times of London, writer Ben Macintyre says that the first African American President-elect’s views towards the United Kingdom just might be different from those of the previous 43 White U.S. presidents.

“Barack Obama’s grandfather was imprisoned and brutally tortured by the British during the violent struggle for Kenyan independence,” Mr. Macintyre and co-author Paul Orengoh reported. “He was arrested in 1949 and jailed for two years in a high-security prison where, according to his family, he was subjected to horrific violence to extract information about the growing insurgency.

“The African warders were instructed by the White soldiers to whip him every morning and evening till he confessed,” said Sarah Onyango, Hussein Onyango’s third wife, the woman the President-elect refers to as Granny Sarah,” the article states.

Hussein Onyango Obama served with the British Army in Burma during World War II, yet four years after the war his employer, a British Army officer for whom he served as a cook, rewarded his loyal valet by firing him, then denouncing him to the authorities on suspicion of “consorting with troublemakers.” Continue reading

The ‘Revolution’ Will Not be Televised: it’s over

More than a generation ago, singer, poet, troubadour Gil Scott-Heron advised us sardonically: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”

Gil was right then. And if I may be permitted to update his wise prophecy today through my lens I like to call “Obama-view,” I would add that now: “The Revolution is Over. Finis. Dead.”

But there may have never been a real Second American Revolution brewing on the front burner, or the back-burner in the first place. Sure, in the 1960s we talked a good game, loudly. But real revolution? I don’t think we were ever really ready for that. I say that as one of those who thought himself to be most ready, back in the day. And if Black people are not dissatisfied, then there can be no revolution in America.

I believed and still believe the 1968 words from Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) which pushed me over the edge: “If you’re used by The Man, you’re useless to your people.”

But at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, Black Dudes are “The Man.” And not just President-elect Barack Obama either. Black Dudes are Governors of both New York and Massachusetts, and in the recent past, the incumbent Mayor of Richmond (the Capital of the Old Confederacy) served as Governor of Virginia. What could be more “The Man” than Governor of Virginia? How about President of the United States? We’ve stopped counting the number of Black mayors, and Cabinet Secretaries, and police chiefs, and other potentates.

Forget about the George Jefferson America. We’ve got the Cliff Huxtable America, in living color, moving into the White House in a few days, on television, right before our eyes. Continue reading

Did J.J. Jr. want to be Senator too much?

After Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s name was disclosed as “Senate Candidate 5″–the Congress member who may have engaged in some minor, good-faith, “Pay-to-Play” action with Gov. Rod Blagojevich over his possible appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama–he quickly came forward to confess his role in the alleged bribery scheme.

Rep. Jackson, now in his sixth term, admitted he had talked to Gov. Blagojevich, the person with the sole power to appoint the President-elect’s successor, just one day before federal agents arrested the Illinois governor. Mr. Jackson said he only presented his credentials and polling information that suggests he could win re-election in 2010.

For weeks (two years all totaled) FBI agents had been listening to Mr. Blagojevich talk about a number of potential prizes he could get in exchange for his appointment to the Senate seat. The guy is clearly delusional. Because he knew that the Feds were investigating him, but he still said out loud that he thought he could get anything from an ambassadorship to a corporate board slot for his wife. From who?

Okay, I am not so naïve as to forget who mayors and governors always appoint to panels, boards, and commissions–their supporters who raise and contribute money to their coffers. But this scheme by the governor was bizarre. What could they have been thinking?

What tipped the scale for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, was when the FBI said they overheard Mr. Blagojevich saying he was giving “greater consideration” to one potential senator–Senate Candidate 5, because of his willingness to raise money.

Even though the prosecutor’s case would have been stronger had he waited for one of the conspirators to actually commit a crime before arresting the governor, Mr. Fitzgerald swooped in prematurely, not to necessarily convict Gov. Blagojevich of a crime, but in order to prevent him from appointing Rep. Jackson. If the Feds hadn’t rushed in, by now the governor might have already named Rep. Jackson to succeed Mr. Obama. The arrest was executed in order to stop a Jackson appointment. Continue reading

Obama camp: “Certain Muslims” need not apply

Mahdi Bray and Nihad Awad at U.S. State Dept. 2001

When it comes to being kicked out of some pretty fancy parties, I have an enviable track record.

“What are you doing having a Black Muslim call my office,” HUD Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris demanded of Louis Martin, Editorial Director of The Chicago Daily Defender, after he sent me to Washington to cover the Jimmy Carter White House in 1977. But I was never thin-skinned about having a name which evokes a strong racial and religious identity. I didn’t just get kicked out, I was never invited to some pretty fancy parties in this town, I’ll have you know.

A past president of the National Press Club once tried to get me declared ineligible for Club membership because I am a correspondent for The Final Call newspaper, published by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. I’ve been kicked out of some pretty fancy parties, but the Club Speaker’s Committee and my friends in the Club would have none of it. The former President was rebuked.

So, I thought I would have common cause when Sen. Barack Hussein Obama came to town in 2005, became the Democratic nominee, now the president-elect, and stands to become the 44th President of the United States in 40 days or so. He used to refer to himself as a “skinny kid with a funny name.” Yeah. I’m feeling you Brother. I’ve been kicked out of some pretty fancy parties myself.

But, maybe I was wrong.

Maybe President-elect Barack Obama is just like all the rest of those folks in high office: judgmental, xenophobic. “Change” that, Mr. President! Continue reading

Billionaire Bob Johnson and his money

Bob Johnson at 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia

Billionaire Bob Johnson once made me an offer I could not refuse.


It wasn’t one of those Goodfellas, “you’ll be swimming with the fishes” offers. It was a legitimate “Tender Offer.”

I once owned 10 whole shares of stock in Black Entertainment Television (BET). I paid $30 per share for it. According to my “investment philosophy,” BET was a good buy: it was a company with a “mission” I shared; and it was owned and operated right here in Washington, DC.

My portfolio also contained shares in Giant Food, Radio One, The Washington Post, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and US Airways. I was no John D. Rockefeller Sr.–not by a long shot–but I felt like a pretty savvy investor.

Then I got this letter stating that BET was making me “an offer you cannot refuse.” Bob Johnson–the founder of BET, which had its humble beginnings as a D.C. cable franchise located over on 31st and M Streets Northwest–Bob Johnson, was purchasing back all the outstanding stock in his company for the princely price of $60 per share. He obviously had bigger plans in mind. Continue reading