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Posts Tagged ‘Obama past associations

Confessions From The Obama Campaign Trail: Reporter Finds Empty Suit

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Covering Obama 18 hours a day — in and out of the limelight — offers few glimpses of his true self. When in robo-candidate mode, he can be sort of dull, a Los Angles Times reporter finds.

By Peter Nicholas
October 28, 2008

One of the things we in the press try to do is tell politicians how they’ve screwed up. So it was a rare instance when I told Barack Obama to his face that I was the one who’d made the mistake.

Let me explain. For the last year and a half I’ve covered the presidential race, focusing first on Hillary Clinton, then moving over to Obama.

After Clinton’s defeat in the Iowa caucuses, she decided she needed an emergency reinvention. She began mixing with reporters, sipping a glass of wine late at night in the aisle of her campaign plane and unburdening herself about the state of the race. As her prospects dimmed, her accessibility grew. Sometimes she was off the record, but you can’t say she wasn’t fun.

Not so with Obama. One of the striking ironies is that a man who draws tens of thousands of people to his rallies, whose charisma is likened to that of John F. Kennedy, can be sort of a bore.

Discipline is essential for candidates who want to drive home a consistent message, or avoid the self-sabotage that comes with a careless answer. A steely perseverance helps explain why Obama at this point stands a better than even chance of becoming the 44th president. But when you’re exposed to the guy 18 hours a day, it’s a bit maddening. You want him to loosen up.

I’ve watched Obama demonstrate a soccer kick to his daughter in Chicago; devour a cheesesteak in Philly; navigate a roller rink in Indiana; drive a bumper car; and catapult 125 feet in the air on an amusement-park ride called “Big Ben.” He’s done it all with dogged professionalism, but with little show of spontaneity. After all this time with him, I still can’t say with certainty who he is.

A couple of images from the long campaign stay with me.

One was watching Obama enter an apartment building near his Chicago home for a morning workout. He wore dark sweats, a gray T-shirt and a baseball cap pulled low over his forehead. In those few seconds it took him to walk from the car to the building, with his head down, thin and solitary, he looked nothing like the adored politician presiding over rallies. It was a reminder that behind the hype and the TV ads is this one rather vulnerable-looking guy. And in that moment came the question: Is he really ready to take over the toughest job on the planet?

The other was a hot summer afternoon in Iowa. Obama was flipping burgers at a backyard barbecue, in what the campaign hoped would be an exquisite photo opportunity. A fly began circling his head. Then more flies. Pretty soon flies were swarming him, the burgers — everything. It was awful to watch. But in rhythmic fashion he began waving them off with his hand. He scooped up the burgers and headed back to the picnic table, as if nothing had gone wrong. That small episode told me something about Obama’s temperament. I would have wanted to fling the grill over the fence in frustration.

Both impressions came from a distance. A cordon of aides ensures nothing more intimate is available to the traveling press.

Once I stood a few feet from him as he fielded questions in the center aisle of his plane. Press aide Linda Douglass stood directly behind him, monitoring the Q&A. After a bit, Douglass discreetly put her hand on his lower back. He ignored it. She did it again, pressing harder. This time, Obama said he had to go.

Of course, at Obama’s level, there’s no such thing as harmless chatter. There’s a pattern to these moments. Obama comes to the back of the plane. Light banter ensues, usually about Obama’s favorite baseball team, the White Sox. Then a reporter slowly pulls out a tape recorder and turns it on. Obama notices. Now he’s more cautious. More tape recorders pop up, and pretty soon we’re back to a recitation of his stump speech.

The chances to gain insights into his character were like rare mutations in the evolution of his campaign.

One day in July, I was the pool reporter at an event in Zanesville, Ohio, meaning I was responsible for writing up for the rest of the press corps Obama’s visit to a ministry that was tutoring young students. Again kept at a distance, I watched as Obama chatted with the kids. One boy approached him and held out his fist. Obama drew back. “If I start that . . .” he said. From where I stood, it looked like he was refusing a request for a fist bump — a gesture that had gotten a lot of attention after Obama fist-bumped his wife at a campaign event the month before. A Fox News host had even suggested that it was a “terrorist fist jab.” If Obama was rolling out a no-fist-bump policy, that seemed worth mentioning.

The pool report quickly got around.

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times cited the episode in her column. Obama complained to an aide that it hadn’t happened that way. He was right. A videotape of the conversation would later show the boy was merely asking Obama to autograph his hand.

We heard Obama was steamed. On the plane later, Obama was working his way up the aisle, past reporters. He got to me.

It was no one’s fault but mine, so I told him: “Senator, I was the one who wrote the flawed pool report.” I wanted him to know that, but I was also curious to see how he would react. He looked at me and said he appreciated that I had ‘fessed up. Changing the subject, he asked me about my hat. I wear a big floppy hat on sunny days, and he had seen it at an outdoor news conference.

“I use it to block the sun,” I said.

Does the brim cover your ears? Obama asked.

“Well, my ears,” I said.

He drew back and laughed. You’re making fun of my ears?! he said.

I told him our family has had medical issues with the sun. He quietly took that in. I wasn’t expecting any empathy — and didn’t need any — but I felt surprised nonetheless that he evinced little or no interest. It seemed like a chance to make a human connection, if he wanted one.

In any case, I held out my fist. He looked quizzically at it for a second, then realized what I was doing.

“That’s what I’m talking about!” he said. We fist-bumped, and he moved on. The animation he showed in that instant surprised me; it doesn’t seem that he lets himself laugh much.

There was another moment not long ago when I tried to wrest from Obama some display of personality.

Amy Chozick, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was wearing a new engagement ring. I told Obama’s staff members they should send him back to take a look. A few minutes before takeoff my seatmate, Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times, nudged me: “He’s coming back.” I looked up and there he was, hovering over Chozick, clucking about her “rock.”

He turned to our row. Just for fun and to see what he might say, I held out the $200 wedding ring I’d purchased four years ago at a chain jewelry store in a Sacramento mall.

What do you think of this ring, Senator? I asked.

He looked at it for a few beats. No reaction. He was back in robo-candidate mode.

Zeleny then asked him about a recent debate. Obama chided him for asking the question, then eased back to his seat at the front of the plane without answering. I later asked Douglass if Obama understood I was joking. She assured me he did.

First Clinton, then John McCain made the argument that Obama is someone we don’t really know. Obama’s supporters counter that we have his record in the U.S. and Illinois senates (but of course the Illinois Senate records are now missing, or don’t exist), two memoirs that reveal his inner thinking and a vast trove of staged, controlled public speaking.

Ironically, those of us who were sent out to take his measure in person can’t offer much help in answering who he is, or if he is ready. The barriers set in place between us and him were just too great.

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Untested Obama

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What if the storm does gets worse?

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Obama Praised As ‘Searing and Timely’ Book by Terrorist Ayers

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Barack Obama, who has consistently downplayed his relationship with William Ayers during his presidential campaign, once gave a glowing endorsement of a book by the former domestic terrorist and was mentioned by name in the book itself.

A blogger unearthed the Dec. 21, 1997, endorsement in the Chicago Tribune and posted photographs of the praise for Ayers’ book on Zombietime.com Saturday, October 18th.

Featured next to a smiling photograph of himself, then-State Senator Obama called Ayers’ book, “A Kind and Just Parent: Children of the Juvenile Court, “a “searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair.”

The book, which details life at the Chicago Juvenile Court prison school, mentions Obama by name on page 82 when it describes Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood:

“Our neighbors include Muhammad Ali, former mayor Eugene Sawyer, poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Elizabeth Alexander, and writer Barack Obama. Minister Louis Farrakhan lives a block from our home and adds, we think, a unique dimension to the idea of ‘safe neighborhood watch’: the Fruit of Islam, his security force, has an eye on things twenty-four-hours a day.

The Obama campaign said the blurb was not a full-fledged review of the book, which is odd, because the quote Obama supplied to the publisher seems to be just that.

A month before the item appeared, on Nov. 20, 1997, Michelle Obama, then dean of student services and director of the University Community Service Center, held a panel at the University of Chicago that featured both Barack Obama and Ayers.

“Ayers will be joined by Sen. Barack Obama, Senior Lecturer in the Law School, who is working to combat legislation that would put more juvenile offenders into the adult system,” the University of Chicago Chronicle reported on Nov. 6, 1997.

Obama has been criticized for refusing to elaborate on the extent of his relationship with Ayers and for claiming to have had no idea Ayers was a co-founder of the Weather Underground, which claimed responsibility for bombing the Pentagon, U.S. Capitol and a New York Supreme Court justice’s home in the Sixties.

The Obama campaign has noted that Obama was 8 years old when Ayers and the Weather Underground were active and has no link to their activities, however Obama has yet to explain why he befriended Ayers as an adult, and participated in so many of his endeavors.  Ayers has said he has “no regrets” about his participation in the domestic terror group, and in fact has lamented they didn’t “do more” acts of terrorism.

“A Kind and Just Parent” was in stock at Amazon.com and ranked 51,273 in sales on Monday.

NOTE: For the skeptics out there, here is a contextual photo, showing where the Obama review came from look at lower left. This shows the entirety of page 5 of the Chicago Review book section on December 21, 1997. Obama’s review is visible at the lower left. (Hi-res version of this photo here.)

Dangerous Barack Obama

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Written by Ridgeliner7

Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 7:16:58 PM

Friends With The Enemy?

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A Yonkers, N.Y., councilman whose home was bombed nearly four decades ago by the Weather Underground says Barack Obama should know better than to associate with the domestic terror group’s co-founder, Bill Ayers. “Barack Obama constantly says, ‘I was only 8 years old when this happened.’ That’s kind of his throwaway line,” John Murtagh told FOX News Thursday morning. “I’m not questioning what Barack Obama was doing when he was 8 years old. I’m questioning his behavior as an adult to choose his friends, mentor and longtime personal and professional colleague.” Murtagh discussed the 1970 bombing as John McCain’s campaign put renewed focus on Obama’s ties to Ayers, who lives in Chicago and is an education professor at the University of Illinois.

Murtagh, whose father was a New York Supreme Court justice when his family’s home was targeted, put out a statement on behalf of McCain’s campaign Wednesday claiming “Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family.”

Obama has said his relationship with Ayers did not extend beyond serving with him on an education board in Chicago. He has condemned Ayers’ Vietnam War-era attacks, and his campaign has said Obama did not know of Ayers’ radical past when Ayers held a campaign event at his home for Obama in 1995.

But Murtagh cast doubt on the narrative out of the Obama campaign, saying it would make the Democratic presidential candidate “the dumbest man that ever graduated from Columbia and Harvard Law School” if he didn’t initially know about Ayers’ past.

Murtagh also alleged that Obama’s ties to Ayers probably go back earlier, since Ayers’ wife, Weather Underground radical Bernadine Dohrn, at one point worked at the same firm where Obama’s wife, Michelle, worked.

“The Weather Underground launched an attack on our family home … looking to kill us,” Murtagh told FOX News. “I believe if the senator were to come clean and tell us the full story, we’d find out this relationship well predates the fundraiser held in the Ayers home. It goes back to the ’80s.”

McCain released a Web video Thursday criticizing Obama for his relationship with Ayers.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Friends With The Enemy?“, posted with vodpod

Clinton Dems Blast Obama Ties To Big Oil & Deception

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The folks over at Clinton Democrats site are pretty riled up over “The Chosen One’s” cozyness with Big Oil. Everyone should check out their well-sourced article there, by clicking the link above.

Let me give you a little preview of their information:

“Obama Voted For Bush/Cheney Energy Bill, Written In Secret By Industry Lobbyists”
– New York Times

OBAMA’S SUPPORT FOR BUSH/CHENEY ENERGY POLICY

“Sen. Obama voted for the 2005 Energy Bill, written in secret by Vice President Cheney and the energy lobby. Thomas Friedman referred to the bill as “the sum of all lobbies.” U.S. PIRG noted that the bill’s “heavy tilt toward big oil companies reflects the influence of Exxon Mobil and other oil companies on policy-makers in Washington, DC.”

The Washington Post editorialized that the bill was a “piñata of perks for energy industries.” Indeed, the bill contained $6 billion in subsidies to the oil and gas industry and $12 billion to the nuclear power industry.

Although Sen. Obama voted for the legislation, he has spoken as if he opposed it on the campaign trail, criticizing it repeatedly. At a presidential debate he said “You can look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy…he met with oil and gas companies forty times, and that’s how they put together our energy policy.” He’s attributed the failure of our current energy policy to Congress’s “failure to stand up to the lobbyists.”

Sen. Obama’s rhetoric blasting the policies of Vice President Dick Cheney and energy lobbyists can be stirring. But Obama’s actions haven’t matched his words.”

Click here to read the entire article. It is very damning.

To fully understand exactly how damning Obama’s false charges are against John McCain, one has to know that both John McCain and Hillary Clinton opposed the Bush-Cheney energy bill in 2005. It is very clear Obama is the one who has consistently been in “Big Oil’s” pocket.

A little history….

On April 24, 2008, Mark Halprin writing for The Page, had this item:

Clinton Team Response to Obama Attack on Oil Prices:

Sen. Obama Attacks On Oil Companies! Really?
Clinton Campaign Responds To Sen. Obama Attacks

Senator Obama attacked Senator Clinton today for not standing up to the oil industry. Really? Senator Obama is the only candidate that voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill and took more money from oil company executives than any other candidate last month:

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said: “Sen. Obama might say he doesn’t take contributions from oil companies, but he took more money last month from oil company executives than any other candidate. He might say he’ll stand up to the oil companies but he’s the only candidate who voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill that was written by energy lobbyists and has been called the best energy bill corporations could buy.

“With gas prices this high, talk is cheap. The American people need solutions.”

FACT CHECK:  SENATOR OBAMA RAKES IN OIL MONEY, SUPPORTED ENERGY BILL

  • Sen. Obama accepted more money from oil execs last month than any other candidate

TRUE: Sen. Obama accepted more money from oil company executives last month than any other candidate, while he ran an ad saying he didn’t take money from oil companies. “Sen. Barack Obama continued accepting donations from oil company executives and employees last month [March, 2008] even as he aired ads in which he stated he took no oil company money, his campaign finance reports show. Obama has taken at least $263,000 from oil company executives, family members and employees since entering the presidential race last year, including $46,000 last month. [March, 2008] At least $140,000 has come in chunks of between $1,000 and $2,300, the maximum permitted under federal law.” Obama’s [LA Times, 4/24/08]

  • Sen. Obama Voted For The Bush/Cheney 2005 Energy Bill

TRUE: Sen. Obama voted for the 2005 Energy Bill, Hillary opposed: [H.R. 6, Vote #213, 07/29/05]

  • With 2005 Energy Bill, Energy Lobby Got What They Paid For

TRUE: Washington Post: 2005 Energy Bill was ‘a piñata of perks for energy industries’: The Washington Post said, “…The energy bill, touted as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil or moderate gasoline prices, has been turned into a piñata of perks for energy industries.” [Washington Post, 7/30/05]

  • Sen. Obama Has Acknowledged Pernicious Influence Of Lobbyists On Energy Policy He supported

TRUE: Obama: ‘You can look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy…he met with oil and gas companies forty times, and that’s how they put together our energy policy’: “The one thing I have to remind folks, though, of – we’ve been talking about this through Republican administrations and Democratic administrations for decades. And the reason it doesn’t change – you can take a look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy. He met with environmental groups one, he met with renewable energy folks once, and then he met with oil and gas companies forty times, and that’s how they put together our energy policy. We’ve got to put the national interest ahead of the special interest, and that’s what I’ll do when I’m President of the United States.” [Democratic Presidential Debate, 7/23/07]

It was a fine populist riff calculated to appeal to Democratic audiences as Obama seeks his party’s presidential nomination. But not only did Obama vote for the Senate’s big energy bill in 2005, he also put out a press release bragging about its provisions, and his Senate Web site carries a news article about the vote headlined, “Senate energy bill contains goodies for Illinois.” [The Politico, 3/26/07]

I guess Senator Obama, being “The Chosen One” didn’t count on anyone remembering today, in August 2008, what he voted for in 2005, and spoke out against in a Presidential Debate in 2007, yet bragged about on his Senate webpage just a few months before the debate quoted above!

Please feel free to use the information above, and that in the included links, as documentation in spreading the word about this heinous liar. I am now completely convinced that John McCain is a better choice than Obama. The shitpile of lies and untruths has just gotten too high around this man, and his campaign, like in his attack today, saying McCain is in the pocket of the oil companies, is beginning to stink like a rotten corpse.

Who is Penny Pritzker & Why Is She Obama’s Finance Chair?

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Yet another Obama scandal brewing? Predatory Lending/Mortgage Meltdown Heiress Is Obama’s Finance Chair…

Our friends over at Freeople.com have picked up an interesting item from yet another blog, GDAEman who posted about an interesting Podcast from Flashpoints, the last two being from last February.  You can listen with Windows Media podcast here.

On February 20, 2008, on Flashpoints Radio broadcast an investigative report into Penny Pritzker, who is Obama’s campaign finance chairman. She and her family were central to the innovation known as “Mortgage Backed Securities,” which are now at the center of the financial crisis and real estate melt down.

Pritzker is one of the most active of celebrated Chicago patriarch Abraham N. Pritzker’s 12 living grandchildren. A Harvard-trained attorney, Pritzker, 46, was chosen by her late uncle Jay to help oversee the family’s vast portfolio of investments, including the Hyatt Hotel chain and the Marmon Group industrial conglomerate (Forbes Lists 2005).  Interestingly enough Marmon was aquired by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway in March of 2008.  Warren Buffet is a key economic advisor to Barack Obama.

Penny Pritzker gave $1000 to both John McCain and George W. Bush in the 1999 primary. She also gave money to McCain for Senate in 1998. She also gave money to Barack Obama for his failing House bid in 1999. She gave to Bill Frist, Rudi Giuliani‘s exploratory fund, and several other Republicans in 2000. $4,000 to Joe Lieberman in 2006 (he’s practically a Republican). Dennis Hastert in 2006, 2003. You get the idea. Our Noble Obama’s campaign finance chair likes to spread money around. Grease the wheels so to speak. She’s a billionaire. A Woman of the people (NOT!).

GDAEman’s blog says:

As of today (February 2008), A Google search of Penny Pritzker Obama generates 9,700 hits. Expect that number to grow over the coming months. But today, you are led to comments on Nation Magazine article entitled “Subprime Obama” – Letters (article link in Sources below. One comment begins as follows:

“One reason Barack Obama might not want to talk about the role of financially irresponsible bank board members in creating the subprime mortgage foreclosure financial disaster is that the national finance chair of Obama’s campaign, Penny Pritzker, is a former board member of the failed Superior Bank S&L that engaged in irresponsible subprime mortgage lending during the 1990s.”

Apparently Penny was into subprime lending before it became all the rage starting in around 2000. It continues:

“Penny Prtizker’s chairmanship was apparently “to concentrate on subprimelending, principally on home mortgages, but for a while in subprime auto lending, too,” after the Pritzkers’ bank acquired its wholesale mortgage organization division, Alliance Funding, in December 1992.”

Back then they called it “predatory lending.” You also should check out this article in The Nation by Max Fraser:

“As the subprime mortgage debacle drives a recession that threatens financial markets around the world, the Democratic presidential candidates are pushing plans to address the crisis. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton are pledging substantial federal resources to stabilize the mortgage market and intervene on behalf of borrowers. Barack Obama’s proposal is tepid by comparison, short on aggressive government involvement and infused with conservative rhetoric about fiscal responsibility. As he has done on domestic issues like healthcare, job creation and energy policy, Obama is staking out a position to the right of not only populist Edwards but Clinton as well.

Only Obama has not called for a moratorium and interest-rate freeze. Though he has been a proponent of mortgage fraud legislation in the Senate, he has remained silent on further financial regulations. And much like his broader economic stimulus package, Obama’s foreclosure plan mostly avoids direct government spending in favor of a tax credit for homeowners, which amounts to about $500 on average, beyond which only certain borrowers would be eligible for help from an additional fund.

Robert Pollin, an economist at the University of Massachussets, believes “these three advisers generally reflect Obama’s very moderate economic program, similar to Clintonism.” Wall Street apparently has come to a similar conclusion. Obama had received nearly $10 million in contributions from the finance, insurance and real estate sector through October, and he’s second among presidential candidates of either party in money raised from commercial banks, trailing only Clinton. Goldman Sachs, which made $6 billion from devalued mortgage securities in the first nine months of 2007, is Obama’s top contributor. When asked if Obama would hold these financial institutions accountable for losses incurred by homeowners and investors, his campaign refused to comment.”

Dig a little and see what else you find, and leave your comments below…I’m really interested in your take on all these “coincidences”.