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Nailzberg's Journal
Posted by Nailzberg in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Fri Oct 17th 2008, 04:21 PM
Had to format some stuff cause my email version used color fonts; I don't know how to do that here. Anyway, here goes:

It's quite telling that the original author cites Wiki as the main source. I could write my own bio on there and claim I was the 24th President of the USA, and it would be 2 weeks before Wiki pulled it down.

This letter is filled with open questions with the intent of assigning some nefarious conspiratorial aspect to Obama's finances. In actuality, the issues have been fully vetted in the media, and the questions have already been answered. Those answers are quite straightforward and readily available.

About six months ago, I started thinking 'where did the money come from for Obama'. I have four daughters who went to College, and we were middle class, and money was tight. We (including my girls) worked hard and there were lots of student loans. I started looking into Obama's life.

A key fallacy of the author's argument is contained here. She admits with hard work and student loans, it is perfectly possible to put four children through college. Yet the author assumes that Obama's family could not have done the same for children Barack and Maya.

Around 1979 Obama started college at Occidental in California. He is very open about his two years at Occidental; he tried all kinds of drugs and was wasting time but, even though he had a brilliant mind, did not apply himself to his studies. 'Barry' (that was the name he used all his life) during this time had two roommates, Muhammad Hasan Chandoo and Wahid Hamid, both from Pakistan.

The author makes several incorrect claims here. To begin, Obama was open about his time at Occidental, but the assertions that "he tried all kinds of drugs and was wasting time" are distortions. From an investigative piece in the International Herald Tribune:

In more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised, someone who did not appear to be grappling with any drug problems and seemed only to dabble with marijuana.

"It didn't stand out to me," said Michael Ramos, who was one of Obama's closest friends at the Punahou School in Honolulu. "It was not the focal point of our lives. It wasn't like we all thought we've got to do something to help Barack because it's getting out of control."

About Obama's using cocaine, he said, "I didn't know him to do that."

Vinai Thummalapally, a former California State University student who became friendly with Obama in college, remembered him as a model of moderation - jogging in the morning, playing pickup basketball at the gym, hitting the books and socializing.

"If someone passed him a joint, he would take a drag," Thummalapally recounted. "We'd smoke or have one extra beer, but he would not even do as much as other people on campus. He was not even close to being a party animal." - "The young Obama: A time of alienation and discovery" (International Herald Tribune, Feb 8, 2008)

Furthermore, the author is incorrect in the identities of Obama's roommates at Occidental. His roommates were Imad Husien, currently a banker in Boston, and Paul Carpenter, now a lawyer in Los Angeles. ("Old friends recall Obama's college years" Associated Press, May 16, 2008)

The AP article also disputes the assertion that he did not apply himself academically, as those who knew him insist he was brighter and more grounded than most students. Classmates said he completed assignments with ease.

During the summer of 1981, after his second year in college, he made a 'round the world' trip. Stopping to see his mother in Indonesia, next Hyderabad India, three weeks in Karachi, Pakistan where he stayed with his roommate's family, then off to Africa to visit his father's family.

My question - Where did he get the money for this trip? Nether neither I, nor any one of my children would have had money for a trip like this when they where in college. When he came back he started school at Columbia University in New York. It is at this time he wants everyone to call him Barack - not Barry.

So as a child he called himself Barry and now as an adult he prefers Barack. Nothing shocking about that. And world travel is not terribly expensive if you have people to stay with. By the writer's own admission, Obama had friends from India and Pakistan from college, and family in Indonesia and Kenya. Thousands of American college students take this opportunity each year, and it can be quite cheap if you have places to stay.

Do you know what the tuition is at Columbia? It's not cheap! to say the least. Where did he get money for tuition? Student Loans? Maybe.

Agreed, college is not cheap, but that's what scholarships and student loans are for. As stated in the previously mentioned AP article, he was a bright student and recommended for admissions to Columbia by several professors at Occidental. Again, why does the author assume Obama wouldn't have been qualified for financial assistance?

After Columbia, he went to Chicago to work as a Community Organizer for $12,000. a year. Why Chicago? Why not New York? He was already living in New York.

This is incorrect. After graduation from Columbia, Obama was hired as a jr. editor for global finance publisher Business International Corp, and then moved to the New York Public Interest Research Group. ("Obama shows hints of his year in global finance" Boston Globe, August 6, 2008)

It was two years after graduating Columbia that Obama decided to move to Chicago to pursue a more socially activist career. He had been seeking work with civil rights organizations and African American elected officials in New York, but no one was returning his calls. So why Chicago? Something big was happening; Harold Washington was just elected the first African-American mayor of Chicago, the nation's second largest city at the time. Washington's election opened up a world of possibilities and opportunities for the African American community in the geographically segregated city. This is cited as the reason for his move to Chicago, where he met Jerry Kellman, a community organizer who hired on Obama to work with him in the economically devastated South Side.

By 'chance' he met Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, born in Aleppo Syria, and a real estate developer in Chicago. Rezko has been convicted of fraud and bribery this year. Rezko, was named 'Entrepreneur of the Decade' by the Arab-American Business and Professional Association'.

About two years later, Obama entered Harvard Law School. Do you have any idea what tuition is for Harvard Law School? Where did he get the money for Law School? More student loans?

Although the author tries to insinuate that Rezko may have financed Obama's education, Obama didn't met Rezko until 1990, when his position as Editor of the Harvard Law Review had given him attention in the legal world. It was actually a development partner of Rezko's named David Brint who contacted Obama to offer him a job in low-incoming housing development. It was later he met with Rezko and his partners who made further job offers, which Obama turned down. ("Obama on Rezko Deal: It Was a Mistake" Chicago Sun-Times, February 5, 2006)

It is true Rezko was found guilty of fraud earlier this year. He was soliciting funds for the campaign coffers of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The federal investigation led by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald involved Rezko soliciting funds for the campaign coffers of IL Governor Rod Blagojevich. However Obama has never been accused of any wrongdoing in the case and has donated any campaign funds that may have come through Rezko or a Rezko acquaintance to charity.

As far as paying for Harvard Law? Yes, it is terribly expensive. Current tuition costs are near $41,000 a year. However, the reputation of Harvard Law gives their graduates unlimited opportunities in a legal career. Financial institutions understand Harvard trained lawyers are the best and brightest, and they are likely to make good on their loans. 80% of Harvard Law students are recipients of some form of financial aid.

After law school, he went back to Chicago. Rezko offered him a job, which he turned down. But, he did take a job with Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland. Guess what? They represented 'Rezar' which Rezko's firm. Rezko was one of Obama's first major financial contributors when he ran for office in Chicago. In 2003, Rezko threw an early fundraiser for Obama which Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendelland claims was instrumental in providing Obama with 'seed money' for his U.S. Senate race.

Barack Obama did work for DMB&G as an associate between 1993 and 1997. The firm specializes in affordable housing partnerships, and Obama did five billable hours work on Rezmar paperwork.

The law firm said Obama's role was limited to "conducting due diligence under the supervision of more senior attorneys, assisting in documentation of loans, grants and tax credit investments in which the ventures had an interest and providing general legal assistance in land acquisition.

The firm's senior partner, Judson Miner, said the non-profits had been clients of the firm before Obama came aboard. "In these transactions, Barack was a young associate doing the kind of work young associates are assigned to do," Miner said. He said Obama "was always as ethical and reliable as anyone." ("Obama still answers for old ties to Rezko" Chicago Tribune, April 24, 2007

In an error by the author, the Chicago Tribune reporter is David Mendell, not Mendelland. He was the Trib reporter assigned to cover Obama's 2004 Senate campaign.

Rezko did host a fundraiser for Obama early on, but it was just enough to get off the ground. Obama's campaign was hardly the money campaign. That was Blair Hull, who committed $40 Million dollars of personal wealth before Obama had even declared his candidacy. And he wasn't the clout candidate, either. That was State Comptroller Dan Hynes, whose father Tom Hynes was a powerful ward boss from the Old Chicago Machine days. Obama ran an underfunded grassroots campaign with practically no paid staff, driving across the state while opponents flew in private jets. He did have several prominent early backers, such as State Sen. President Emil Jones, and US Congresspersons Jan Schakowsky and Jesse Jackson Jr. But that race was a dogfight, and Obama won by running a positive campaign, staying above the fray while Hull and Hynes bloodied each other up beyond repair.

In 2005, Obama purchased a new home in Kenwoood District of Chicago for $1.65 million (less than asking price). With ALL those Student Loans - Where did he get the money for the property? On the same day Rezko's wife, Rita, purchased the adjoining empty lot for full price.

It is no stretch of the imagination that at this stage of their careers, the Obamas would be unable to purchase this home. Yet the author uses this technique, asking questions and ignoring the answers that are already out there, to insinuate some nefarious action on the part of the Obamas, suggesting they wouldn't be able to afford a $1.65M home. By 2005, Obama was a US Senator, his best selling memoirs "Dreams From My Father" had been re-printed, and had a mid-six figure forward on his next book. And let's not overlook Michelle Obama, also a Harvard Law grad, serving as VP of External Affairs for the University of Chicago hospital system, one of the top hospitals in the country. What bank wouldn't consider them terrific applicants for a home loan?

Again, the author leaves open the questions that have been answered, to raise suspicion about Obama. Every major news source investigated Obama's house deal 18 months ago, as did opposition researchers for Hillary Clinton's campaign. They answers are all out there.

Also, the longer a home stays on the market, the lower the seller will go. The initial asking price was about $1.9M. However, this house had been on the market for several months and so the seller was willing to settle for less. It's pretty basic negotiating. A seller gives a figure, a buyer gives a lower figure, and both parties negotiate to a middle figure.

As far as the Rezko's purchasing the adjacent property, remember he's a developer. Real Estate is what he does. Consider you're speculating on the potential value of that property knowing that it's next door to Barack Obama, a rising star in the Democratic Party and national politics. You have to pay asking price there; cause Obama next door increases the value of the property. The property was appraised at about $995,000 earlier this year, or about 40% higher than the Rezko's bought the property for three years earlier.

The London Times reported that Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born Billionaire loaned Rezko $3.5 million three weeks before Obama's new home was purchased. Obama met Nadhmi Auchi many times with Rezko.

Nadhmi Auchi lent Rezko $3.5 million in April 2007, two years after the time the author claims. ("Tony Rezko's Billionaire Buddy", Chicago Sun-Times, Feb. 28, 2008). In 2004, Auchi met with politicians at a reception hosted by Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich; the same article points out Barack Obama was not present.

Notice again the xenophobic tendency of the author to name people's birth countries. Auchi is described as "Iraqi-born". The author identifies college friends as Pakistani and Rezko as Syrian. Would the same author call John McCain "Panamanian Born"? It's just as factually correct.

Now, we have Obama running for President. Valerie Jarrett, was Michele Obama's boss. She is now Obama's chief advisor and he does not make any major decisions without talking to her first.

Actually, Obama's chief advisor is David Axelrod, who's been with him his entire political career. Axelrod gained prominence in Democratic politics as a political strategist for Mayor Harold Washington. Jarrett is also an advisor to the campaign, and also a former advisor to Mayor Washington. She is the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at University of Chicago Medical Centers, so yes, she was Michelle Obama's boss.

Where was Jarrett born? Ready for this? Shiraz, Iran! Do we see a pattern here? Or am I going crazy?

I see a pattern. A pattern of exploiting xenophobia. Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran. Her father Dr. James Bowman ran a hospital for poor children. He was a renowned pathologist and Professor Emeritus in Pathology and Medicine at the University of Chicago. When Valerie Jarrett was 5, the family moved to London for a year, and returned to Chicago in 1963. They were an American family living abroad, doing good works.
("The Woman to See: Meet Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama's fixer" The New Republic, Aug, 27, 2008)

On May 10, 2008 The Times reported, Robert Malley advisor to Obama was 'sacked' after the press found out he was having regular contacts with 'Hamas', which controls Gaza and is connected with Iran. This past week, buried in the back part of the papers, Iraqi newspapers reported that during Obama's visit to Iraq, he asked their leaders to do nothing about the war until after he is elected, and he will 'Take care of things'.

Robert Malley was one of Obama's foreign policy advisors, an unpaid position that he resigned from after the London Times questioned him on a meeting he had with Hamas. The meeting wasn't on behalf of the Obama campaign, but Malley's employer, International Crisis Group, an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization, with some 135 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. The US State Department is always informed of these meetings in advance and debriefed afterwards. ("Informal Obama Advisor Steps Aside" MSNBC, May 9, 2008)

The second assertion, that Obama told Iraqi leaders to do nothing about the war is unsubstantiated. No source is given, and none can be found. Even buried in the back of a paper, a search should find it. It hasn't. The only place this assertion is found is in repeated postings of this email on the Internet. It's difficult to believe that not a single member of the media report on this meeting between Obama and Iraqi leaders mentions this. (The original assertion has been discredit by many news sources since I first wrote this, it's easy to find with a basic google search)

Oh, and by the way, remember the college roommates that where born in Pakistan? They are in charge of all those 'small' Internet campaign contribution for Obama. Where is that money coming from? The poor and middle class in this country? Or could it be from the Middle East?

It would be from within the US. The FEC has reporting guidelines for political contributions, the campaign's donor data is available to the public on the FEC website, and although I don't have the time to sift through tens of thousands of pages of donor lists, as a former campaign researcher, I assure you his opponents do and have. If there were evidence of foreign donations, it would be a written into an oppo-research memo and emailed by opposing campaigns to every news outlet in the world. Oh, and it's illegal, so the FEC would be knocking on doors at Obama HQ, too.

And the final bit of news. On September 7, 2008, The Washington Times posted a verbal slip that was made on 'This Week' with George Stephanapoulos. Obama on talking about his religion said, 'My Muslim faith'. When questioned, 'he made a mistake'. Some mistake!

Actually, he never said he made a mistake. Stephanopolous discusses whether or not insinuations of Barack being Muslim come directly from the McCain campaign or are to blame on over-zealous supporters.

"Let's not play games," he said. "What I was suggesting -- you're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you're absolutely right that that has not come."

Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted with, "Christian faith."

"My Christian faith," Mr. Obama said quickly. "Well, what I'm saying is that he hasn't suggested that I'm a Muslim. And I think that his campaign's upper echelons have not, either. What I think is fair to say is that, coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith -- something which I find deeply offensive, and that has been going on for a pretty long time." ("Obama's verbal slip fuels his critics" Washington Times, Sept 7, 2008)

Obama gives McCain credit for not stooping to the level of some of his supporters, for not falsely rumoring that he is Muslim, yet ironically his supporters pick the statement apart and do exactly that.
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Posted by Nailzberg in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sun Dec 23rd 2007, 02:13 PM
It's not about the privacy of the victim. The victims of sexual assaults already had privacy rights in place. A court could still hold the open trial and the victim's name would be sealed.

This bill went further and allowed the entire trial to be sealed after the open court trial. There are several problems that arise from that. First off, if I was a reporter n a courtroom covering a sex crime trial, can I report on it knowing that it could very well be sealed after the trial has ended? And if I did report on it, what are the newspaper's protections? Could the newspaper be sued for invasion of privacy, even though the trial was in open court? Could they be punished for violating a court seal even though there was an open trial? The bill failed to address the issue of how the court seals affected the press protections, and so three Democrats on the Judiciary committee voted present and asked the full Senate to address this. They failed to do so, and the bill went straight to roll call.

A no vote would have meant he disagreed with the bill. The present vote indicated he agreed with the spirit of the bill, but used a present vote to express his concern for the Senate's failure to address the free speech issues.
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Posted by Nailzberg in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Fri Dec 21st 2007, 01:28 AM
The basics of SB0609 are the Repubs wrote a bill creating "restrictions on the proximity of adult entertainment establishments to other adult entertainment establishments, schools, parks, places of worship, pre-schools, day care facilities, mobile home parks, or other residential areas." One of the bill's sponsors was my puke state senator. She sponsored a lot of these boneheaded trap bills and lost her seat.

In Obama's floor statement regarding this bill, he said expressed his disagreement to this bill in that it trumps home rule.

"I notice in my analysis that the City of Chicago is opposed as a consequence of the preemption for home rule. I suspect that other home rule jurisdictions are going to have similar problems. Oftentimes we talk about local control. This is one of those areas where nobody likes, necessarily, to have -- well, I don't say nobody, but most of us -- would prefer to not have an adult bookstore or movie theater or something next to our residence, but that's exactly why we have local zoning ordinances. And that's why, presumably, we have council members or heads of townships or all the various branches of local government who are much closer to the ground than we are in making these determinations. And it seems to me that if there's ever been a function that has historically been relegated to local control and is appropriately there, it's these kinds of zoning matters."

It required a 3/5 majority to pass, or 36 votes. It failed 33y-15n-5p. Four of the five present votes were made by attorneys. (Obama, Madigan, Petka, and Silverstein.)
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