05 June 2008

It isn't what you know but who you know

The sweetness of my Uncle Joe! That was, perhaps, his most favorite saying about life in general and how things worked in organizations. As a long-haul trucker in the pre-Interstate days, he got to see a lot of different operations in action and the brown-nosers always seemed to rise up in an organization: It isn't what you know but who you know. And when it comes to knowing people politicians are supposed to be experts at it, wheeling and dealing and knowing just who to call to address a problem inside or outside of government.

Thus it comes as a bit of a shock when a candidate doesn't, apparently, know what their associates are up to, this on 04 JUN 2008 at FoxNews:

Barack Obama issued a statement Wednesday responding after former fundraiser Tony Rezko was found guilty on 16 counts in his corruption trial in Chicago.

Rezko was convicted on fraud and money-laundering charges in federal court. Obama was not accused of any wrongdoing.

Obama: “I’m saddened by today’s verdict. This isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew, but now he has been convicted by a jury on multiple charges that once again shine a spotlight on the need for reform. I encourage the General Assembly to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent these kinds of abuses in the future.”

Ah, not the same Tony Rezko he knew, is it?

From John Fund's article of 03 MAR 2008 at Jewish World Review:

Mr. Obama has admitted that the 2005 land deal that he and Mr. Rezko were involved in was a "boneheaded" mistake, in part because his friend was already rumored to be under federal investigation. The newly elected Mr. Obama bought his $1.65 million home on the same day, June 15, that Mr. Rezko's wife bought the plot of land next to it from the same seller for $625,000. Seven months later she sold a slice of the land to the trust that Mr. Obama had put the house into, so the senator could expand his garden.

Mr. Obama has strenuously denied suggestions that the same-day sale enabled him to pay $300,000 under the house's asking price because Mrs. Rezko paid full price for the adjoining lot, or that he asked the Rezkos for help in the matter. Both actions would be clear violations of Senate ethics rules barring the granting or asking of favors.

Still, there are anomalies. Mr. Obama admits that he and Mr. Rezko took a tour of the house before it and the adjoining plot were sold. Financial records given to federal prosecutors a year later show Mrs. Rezko had a salary of only $37,000 and assets of $35,000. In court proceedings at that time, to explain how much his bail should be, Mr. Rezko declared that he had "no income, negative cash flow, no liquid assets."

So where did the money for Mrs. Rezko's $125,000 down payment — and the collateral for her $500,000 loan from a local bank controlled by Amrish Mahajan, like Mr. Rezko a Chicago political fixer — come from?

The London Times reports that, three weeks before the land transactions, Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi billionaire living in London, loaned $3.5 million to Mr. Rezko, who was his Chicago business partner. Mr. Auchi's office says he had "no involvement in or knowledge of" the property purchase. Mr. Auchi is a press-shy property developer (estimated worth: $4 billion) who was convicted of corruption in France in 2003 for his involvement in the Elf affair, the biggest political and corporate fraud inquiry in Europe since World War II. He was fined $3 million and given a 15-month prison term that was suspended provided he committed no further crimes.

Mr. Auchi was also a top official in the Iraqi oil ministry in the 1970s. He has for years vigorously denied charges he had dealings with Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War. However, an official report to the Pentagon inspector general in 2004 obtained by the Washington Times cited "significant and credible evidence" of involvement by Mr. Auchi's companies in the Oil for Food scandal and illicit smuggling of weapons to the Hussein regime.

So Tony Rezko hooks up with Nadhmi Auchi for a sweetheart $3.5 million loan of which Mr. Obama gets a lovely $300,000 discount on an adjoining house, and he didn't ask the Rezko's for help on the matter? That sounds pretty much like the *same* Tony Rezko to me. I am sure that getting a price break on a house like that from a woman who can't afford it is a normal, everyday happening in Chicago.

And when it comes to associates of Tony Rezko asking Sen. Obama for help, you need look no further than Aiham Alsammarae. Who is he? Well, according to John Batchelor at Human Events on 03 MAR 2008, Mr. Alsammarae is a fugitive from justice in Iraq convicted of stealing $650 million from the government there:

A mysterious fugitive from Iraqi justice named Aiham Alsammarae, who is also a Chicago resident, is the focus of a politically fraught episode in the association between accused political fixer Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who goes on federal trial today in Chicago for graft, and Senator Barack Obama, the most spectacular Illinois presidential candidate in half a century.

"We want him back to serve his sentence of fourteen years," said an Iraqi government official in Baghdad last week. "He stole $650 million from the people of Iraq, and from the people of the United States, and he was tried and convicted in an Iraqi court in October 2006 for his crimes. We have a four-inch-thick file of his crimes. He plundered the Ministry of Electricity. Dates, bank accounts, dummy companies, a lot of them in the States. We want him, and we want the money back."

Now from that you can gather that this is not a simple situation and right you are! Say, when you hear complaints of 'mismanagement' of the effort in Iraq, remember that it doesn't help when one of those doing the complaining, Sen. Barack Obama, has ties to one of those doing the problem-making. Just what are those ties? Well it is through that guy he says that has changed so much:

What connects the fugitive Mr. Alsammarae to the candidate Barack Obama? The short answer is Mr. Obama's entanglement with his long-time fundraiser and friend Mr. Rezko, who was linked to Mr. Alsammarae in at least two aborted, fraudulent contracts with the CPA and the Iraqi government before Mr. Alsammarae's conviction and flight.

With political and INTEL connections in the US, Mr. Alsammarae would land a job in the immediate post-war Ministry of Electricity in Iraq, and then hit up Nadhmi Auchi for some help:

Two months later it was reported in Chicago that as early as 2004, while Mr. Alsammarae was a minister with authority to approve contracts, he had joined with Mr. Rezko and the London-based General Mediterranean Holdings, headed by the billionaire British investor Nadhmi Auchi, in a contract to construct a 250-megawatt plant in the Kurdistani city of Chamchamal.

A member of the development team at Mr. Rezko's Chicago-based company Rezmar said in 2005 that Mr. Rezko possessed a "formidable overseas network of business relationships" that permitted Rezmar to join together up to 30 companies in order to begin the plant's construction as early as January 2006.

Yes, Tony Rezko has 'formidable overseas network of business relationships' via his friends Nadhmi Auchi, head of BNP-Paribas bank and Mr. Alsammarae who had contractual obligation authority in the CPA in Iraq. And then the contract gets signed:

In addition, in April 2005, one month before Mr. Alsammarae left his post, his Ministry of Electricity signed a contract for $50 million with Companion Security to provide training to Iraqis to guard electrical plants by flying them to Illinois for classes.

Companion Security was headed by a former Chicago policeman with a troubled history, Daniel T. Frawley, in partnership with Mr. Rezko and in association with Daniel Mahru, the lawyer for the original contract and Mr. Rezko's former business partner. In April 2006, Mr. Frawley entered negotiations with Governor Rod Blagojevich's staff to lease a military facility in Illinois to be a training camp. In August 2006, Mr. Frawley started negotiations with Mr. Obama's U.S. Senate staff to complete the contract.

The discussions with Mr. Obama's staff continued over many months, including e-mails and conferences with an Obama staffer, Seamus Ahern. Questions raised by this contact go to the issue of whether or not Mr. Obama ever favored Mr. Rezko's commercial ties. Mr. Obama has said often that he performed no favors for Mr. Rezko.

The timeline of Companion discussions in 2006 is important to note: April 2006 Frawley speaks to governor's office; August 2006 Frawley speaks to senator's office; October 2006 indictment of Rezko revealed; October 2006 Rezko arrested upon return from Syria; October 2006 Alsammarae convicted in Baghdad and makes his first escape attempt; December 2006 Alsammarae escapes form Baghdad.

Did Mr. Obama's staff and Governor Blagojevich's staff not know how these events related to their discussions with Mr. Frawley? Importantly both Governor Blagojevich's office and Mr. Obama's office later explained they did not know of the link between Mr. Frawley and Mr. Rezko. Senate staffs are expected to perform due diligence on inquiries, such as is this matter about campaign contributions or unsavory activity. What was the nature of Mr Obama's staff's inquiry into the Ilinois resident Mr. Frawley's ability to secure a contract with the CPA's Ministry of Electricity in Bagdad from April, 2005?

Well, that is 'hope and change' for you, no?

Don't investigate and hope for the best, as that is really a change from business as usual: don't look at all!

But then things turn worse with Mr. Alsammarae doing even more damage in Iraq:

Oddly, after Mr. Alsammarae left his ministry post in 2005, he was reported that summer to be forming a Sunni political organization with participation by insurgents, some of whom threatened in public declarations to murder him. An intelligence analyst with knowledge of Syria commented that this episode may illustrate Mr. Alsammarae's then-strong, active links to the Baathist elite in exile in Syria, who have been a major source of money and operations to the Iraqi insurgency these last years; and that Mr. Alsammarae's freelancing rankled the so-called foreign elements in the insurgency.

The strangest of all events was not Mr. Alsammarae's arrest for theft in August 2006, nor his conviction in a Baghdad court in October 2006, but rather the two jailbreaks in October and December 2006. In the first instance, private armed men he may have hired took him from his jail cell in the Green Zone soon after his conviction in court. A
report indicates that he was stopped at the Bagdad Airport carrying a Chinese passport. American officials later returned Mr. Alsammarae to Iraqi custody. At least one American with the International Police Liaison Officer program lost his job because of this first jailbreak.

This is about the time that Mr. Alsammarae's family in the United States sought help; there is a report that Mr. Alsammarae's daughter appealed directly to the office of U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

Well, if you are going to decry violence in Iraq as a reason to leave, it is good to have an 'insider' that can cause such violence, no? And once caught and convicted who does his daughter turn to? The President, perhaps? You know, Commander in Chief and Head of State? Or to a junior Senator of Illinois? And what happens then but the second jailbreak, this one successful:

According to an Iraqi official with knowledge of the case, the Iraqi government wants to know how Mr. Alsammarae was able to go from Iraq to Jordan without a passport. This official also wants to know why the U.S. Embassy in Amman gave Mr. Alsammarae shelter.

And how did Mr. Alsammarae obtain a new U.S. passport to travel from Amman to Turkey? Days afterward, from his Turkish hotel room Mr. Alsammarae telephoned not only the Iraqi government to taunt them after his escape, boasting of pizza and cold beer, but he also called a New York Times reporter, James Glanz, and boasted of his getaway, which Mr. Alsammarae described as "the Chicago way."


Who are the people who have most to worry about what Mr. Alsammarae knows and can tell the federal court in Chicago, and the Iraqi court in Baghdad when Prime Minsister Nouri al-Maliki's government recaptures Mr. Alsammarae?

The man with the most to lose right now is Mr. Rezko, because he is already in custody as a flight risk and on trial for gross graft in Illinois, the first of what is said to be many trials against the Chicago political elite that Chicago columnist John Kass calls "the combine." Potential revelations in that four-inch-thick file in Baghdad about Mr. Rezko's link to Mr. Alsammarae threaten indictment and trial on two continents.

The second man with much to lose regarding what Mr. Alsammarae knows is the mysterious and genuinely powerful Nahdmi Auchi of London, a British citizen who, born in Iraq in 1937, has been for decades closely linked with the Baathists. In 2005, Mr. Auchi was reported to have involved his company in the Chamchamal electrical generating plant deal that was used as a major ploy for the plundering of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity. As recently as this month, Mr. Auchi's representative denied that Mr. Auchi's company, General Mediterranean Holding, invested in the Rezko-Alsammarae deal for Chamchamal in 2004-2005, a denial that does not explain the well-sourced 2005 published reports of the linkage.


What is most striking about this Pentagon report is that it is from the year 2004, when Mr. Auchi traveled by private aircraft to Midway Airport in Chicago and then to a fete at the Four Season Hotel, where he met with his business partner in Chicago real estate, Mr. Rezko, as well as with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Also present that night, according to a fresh report by James Bone and Dominic Kennedy of the London Times, was State Senator Barack Obama, who had recently won the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat that next fall. Bone and Kennedy report that Mr. Auchi and Mr. Obama shook hands. Mr. Obama's aide does not now recall the handshake but does agree that Mr. Obama was present in the hotel that evening.

It may be significant that in a snapshot from the April hotel meeting that shows Governor Blagojevich making remarks to a dinner table beside a smiling Mr. Auchi, there is a third well-dressed man in the photograph, mustachioed, jovial, receding hairline, who greatly resembles other photographs from November 2004 of Iraqi CPA Minister of Electricity Aiham Alsammarae.

Mr. Alsammarae may or may not have been in the room that night. Pictures are useful indicators but his presence is not confirmed. However, he is certainly now accused and convicted of having been in a conspiracy in Iraq with two other men in that room: Tony Rezko, who is regarded by some intelligence analysts as a money-handler for unsavory agents in his native Damascus, and Nadhmi Auchi, who is regarded by Pentagon analysts as a money-handler for Baathist-linked agents in the Middle East..

A lingering question about that Four Seasons evening four years ago is, did Mr. Alsammarae, if he was present, meet the senatorial candidate, Mr. Obama?

Today the questions include: does Senator Obama know that, through his unfortunate association with Mr. Rezko, he was once exposed to grand larceny at the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity from 2003 to 2006? Does Senator Obama know that the Iraqi government wants Mr. Alsammarae returned to face his punishment and to cooperate in ongoing discoveries about additional crimes? Does Senator Obama know that there is a fugitive in Chicago who creates unhappy questions about his recent political associations?

That is definitely the same Tony Rezko that Mr. Obama claims not to know how he got the way he is when he knew him when he was exactly like he is now. Of course he has no recollection of even meeting Nadhmi Auchi, either, does Sen. Obama, as reported at Counter Currents on 16 MAY 2008 by Evelyn Pringle, that one may not stand up so well, either:

The line from Obama spokesman, Ben LaBolt, was again: "As he has said previously, Senator Obama does not recall meeting Nadhmi Auchi at any time or on any occasion, and this includes any event that may have been held for Mr. Auchi."

"Senator and Mrs. Obama have no recollection of attending any such event," he stated.

But on April 16, 2008, Sun-Times columnist, Michael Sneed, reported that Obama had even made toasts at Rezko's party, and wrote:

“Dem presidential contender Barack Obama's handlers may be telling the press Obama has NO "recollection" of a 2004 party at influence peddler Tony Rezko's Wilmette house, but a top Sneed source claims Obama not only gave Rezko's guest of honor, Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi, a big welcome . . . but he made a few toasts!”

Michael Sneed runs a gossip column in Chicago with the benefit of having a number of stringers that are well connected and willing to spill juicy gossip to her about insider events. That is a necessary thing to have when working with the Chicago political 'Combine' that crosses both parties.

In an April 26, 2008, interview with Tribune reporter, John McCormick, Obama did not deny that he and Michelle were at the party but said he did not recall being there, stating:

"I have to say that I just don't recall it. I mean this has been, I guess, four years ago. My understanding, through his lawyer, Mr. Auchi doesn't recall meeting me and you know, I can't speak for other people's recollections.

“But I've said publicly, on many occasions, that I had a social relationship with Mr. Rezko."

The last comment is ridiculous because what Obama has said on “many occasions,” is he only had lunch or breakfast with Rezko once or twice a year and he and Michelle had dinner with Rezko only three or four times in the 15 years they knew each other. When asked whether Rezko may have been using him to impress potential investors, Obama replied:

"I just don't have a recollection of the event. As I said, I was in the middle of running a U.S. Senate race. So, you know, I was speaking all the time, probably six, seven, eight times a day."

“Right,” McCormick said, “but why go to this event that was specifically designed for Rezko investors?”

"As I said, I have no recollection of the event. Alright?" Obama replied. When asked whether he would remember making a toast to Auchi, Obama stated:

"I'm fairly certain I would remember giving a specific toast to somebody. Keep in mind, though, that this was right in the midst of my U.S. Senate campaign, so I was doing three or four events a day.

“So, I mean, there were very few events where I wasn't speaking on anything. But I have no recollection of this particular event."

However, the Tribune has obtained a copy of an Obama "upcoming events" schedule on his old Senate campaign web site which shows Obama had no personal campaign activities on April 3, 2004, the day of the party.

Riverside Park funds legal defense for Board Games defendants.

'Board Games' is the name of the operation netting in those involved with the Rezko scheme at Riverside Park where Auchi had invested and Alsammarae would plunk down a large sum of cash to invest, also. But the real kicker comes from an ex-partner of Tony Rezko suing him:

However, Joe Cacciatore told the Associated Press that he was a partner with Rezko in Riverside Park before Auchi showed up, and has not seen any money as a result of the sale. Cacciatore has filed a lawsuit against his former partners, according to the article.

Carriatore says he met Auchi at an "Obama fundraising party" Rezko gave at his home several years ago. "He was well dressed," he told the Press. "He seemed distinguished."

According to Obama, Rezko only hosted one fundraising party at his home in July 2003. So exactly how many times did Obama party with Auchi?

Yes, that 2003 meeting at Rezko's home with Auchi took place before the 2004 alleged meeting when Auchi came over for a visit. Campaigning hard from JUL 2003 to APR 2004?

Ok, so Sen. Obama has poor judge of character and a faulty memory, not being able to pin down 'when' exactly Tony Rezko started to be a crook although he was acting crooked for a number of years while helping Sen. Obama, and a man who was at two meetings, minimum, with Sen. Obama that he just can't recall.

Sen. Obama has been a busy guy, what with Mr. Alsammarae's daughter asking him to get her dad out of a tight spot after swindling the Iraqi people and the US taxpayers in Iraq and then forming an association with insurgents. Can't help it that he flees justice to put his ill gotten gains into a land deal run by his 'social friend' and connection to billionaires.

Then there is the other part of this, the spiritual part. You know the whole 'what do you believe and how are you with God today' sort of deal? If you remember back on 18 MAR 2008, Sen. Obama was lauded for a speech which would be 'for the ages'? Lets take a look at that verbal Rock of Gibraltar:

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.


Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.


That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.


I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

Not having such a pastor or priest or some such, I have always taken it for granted that a good pastor or priest holds religious views for private meetings and not public ones. Peace of Westphalia and all that, not having religion trying to take over National politics so as to kill a whole bunch of non-believers in other Nations because they just don't believe in the same thing you do, religion-wise. Apparently Rev. Wright, himself, had told Sen. Obama that his presence would be problematical and that he might have to disown him. This from 06 MAR 2007 article by Jodi Kantor at NYT:

CHICAGO, March 5 — The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., senior pastor of the popular Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and spiritual mentor to Senator Barack Obama, thought he knew what he would be doing on Feb. 10, the day of Senator Obama’s presidential announcement.

After all, back in January, Mr. Obama had asked Mr. Wright if he would begin the event by delivering a public invocation.

But Mr. Wright said Mr. Obama called him the night before the Feb. 10 announcement and rescinded the invitation to give the invocation.

“Fifteen minutes before Shabbos I get a call from Barack,” Mr. Wright said in an interview on Monday, recalling that he was at an interfaith conference at the time. “One of his members had talked him into uninviting me,” Mr. Wright said, referring to Mr. Obama’s campaign advisers.

Some black leaders are questioning Mr. Obama’s decision to distance his campaign from Mr. Wright because of the campaign’s apparent fear of criticism over Mr. Wright’s teachings, which some say are overly Afrocentric to the point of excluding whites.

Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said the campaign disinvited Mr. Wright because it did not want the church to face negative attention. Mr. Wright did however, attend the announcement and prayed with Mr. Obama beforehand.

“Senator Obama is proud of his pastor and his church, but because of the type of attention it was receiving on blogs and conservative talk shows, he decided to avoid having statements and beliefs being used out of context and forcing the entire church to defend itself,” Mr. Burton said.


In Monday’s interview, Mr. Wright expressed disappointment but no surprise that Mr. Obama might try to play down their connection.

“When his enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli” to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Mr. Wright recalled, “with Farrakhan, a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell.” Mr. Wright added that his trip implied no endorsement of either Louis Farrakhan’s views or Qaddafi’s.

Mr. Wright said that in the phone conversation in which Mr. Obama disinvited him from a role in the announcement, Mr. Obama cited an article in Rolling Stone, “The Radical Roots of Barack Obama.”

According to the pastor, Mr. Obama then told him, “You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we’ve decided is that it’s best for you not to be out there in public.”

So by the time the campaign got into high gear, Sen. Obama already KNEW that Rev. Wright was not preaching something that most would find palatable or even acceptable. Or even demonstrate an understanding of history, come to that. So on 29 APR 2008 when Sen. Obama comes out with this news conference, transcript from NYT, we start to see the pattern:

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Before I start taking questions I want to open it up with a couple of comments about what we saw and heard yesterday. I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That's in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That's who I am. That's what I believe. That's what this campaign has been about.

Yesterday, we saw a very different vision of America. I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday.

You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.

Yes, indeed, Rev. Wright has somehow, mysteriously, changed from 06 MAR 2007 to 29 APR 2008 in a way that Sen. Obama didn't notice until Rev. Wright started making speeches that, if a white man had made them, would have been roundly condemned as racist. Yet he already knew that Rev. Wright was not among the 'ready for prime time' preachers in the political arena. But his church, well that he could depend on and sustain as it was, as he said earlier, an embodiment of the black community. Right?

From Politico, 31 MAY 2008 transcript of Sen. Obama press conference in South Dakota:

Q: On the church decision do you feel this will put the issue behind you politically or do you feel it will persist and having done this now, do you wish you had done it several months ago?

BO: Well, you know, after the National Press Club episode, as I said, I had a long conversation with Michelle and also had a long conversation with Reverend Moss. We prayed on it and you know, my interest has never been to try to politicize this or put the church in a position where is subject to the same rigors and demands of a presidential campaign. My suspicion at that time, and Michelle, I think, shared this concern, was that it was going to be very difficult to continue our membership there so long as I was running for president. The recent episode with Father Pfleger I think just reinforced that view that we don't want to have to answer for everything that’s stated in a church. On the other hand, we also don't want a church subjected to the scrutiny that a presidential campaign legitimately undergoes. I mean, that’s … I don't want Reverend Moss to have to look over his shoulder and see that his sermon vets or if it’s potentially problematic for my campaign or will attract the fury of a cable program. And so, I have no idea how it will impact my presidential campaign. But I know it's the right thing to do for the church and for our family.

Here's the deal: name one other candidate running for ANY office that has had to leave their church of 20 years because they didn't want it to 'face scrutiny'. I am sure that one or two can be dug up in this long history of campaigns in the US, but the fact is that any candidate running for any public office should and DOES welcome people to know which church or denomination he or she is a member of. It shows character and that their church is a normal, everyday church that is not doing inflammatory things from the pulpit or in their activity roster. Yes, Sen. Obama was in a hard place having to decide between his campaign and his church and all, but who put him in that positions?

Yes, Barack Obama did! Had to extricate himself from a fringe church that he had put himself into!

That was because of his long-time friend and supporter, Father Pfleger. You do know that Fr. Pfleger has been supporting Sen. Obama for awhile, no? To refresh the memory banks, here is a bit from an article of 09 SEP 2007 by Janny Scott at the NYT:

In his book “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama wrote: “Less than halfway into the campaign, I knew in my bones that I was going to lose. Each morning from that point forward I awoke with a vague sense of dread, realizing that I would have to spend the day smiling and shaking hands and pretending that everything was going according to plan.”

Billboards in the district read: “I’m sticking with Bobby.” A few black elected officials endorsed Mr. Obama but most fell in line behind the incumbent. Ministers closed ranks. The Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of the St. Sabina Catholic Church, said other ministers and congregation members called to complain when he endorsed Mr. Obama.

Matt C. Abbott at Renew America would cite this on 17 JAN 2007:

Chicago's liberal activist priest, Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina, an "African-American Catholic Church," is warning people not to "touch" U.S. Sen. (and possible 2008 presidential candidate) Barack Obama.

Pfleger, according to a Jan. 16, 2007 story on WBBM780.com, said the following:

    "I think Barack Obama is in a class of his own. I think he is the best thing that has come across the political scene since Bobby Kennedy.
    "When anybody comes with that much hope, whether it's a Bobby Kennedy or whether it's a Martin Luther King Jr., they do become vulnerable. They become vulnerable because they tell the country and the world that we can be better and we don't have to accept what is. And unfortunately, we live in a world where not everybody wants it to be different.
    "Do not touch this man, for if you do, you will answer to us all."

So I guess Pfleger doesn't want anyone to criticize Obama for anything, or else...

Isn't that special? One of the first people to bring up Bobby Kennedy in the campaign was *not* Sen. Clinton but Fr. Pfleger and he associated two assassinated political leaders with Sen. Obama. He may have been the first Obama supporter to do that this long campaign, but certainly not the last. Still Fr. Pfleger is only associated with good things, like the seniors low-income housing development he is sponsoring via his company Senior Lifestyle Corp. (Source: Chicago Tribune 31 DEC 2006). Now one of the men tied up in the Rezko scandal is Alderman Edward M. Burke (Source: Chicago Sun-Times 04 OCT 2007) and he has been accused of fixing a murder trial in Chicago (Source: Newsalert blog FEB 2008). And one of the companies on Alderman Burke's client list is Senior Lifestyle Corp., way down at 29 on the list. Alderman Burke's ties go far back, and during the 1979 campaign by Jane Byrne against Richard J. Daley, she would say that he was 'part of an evil cabal' (Source: Time Magazine, 10 DEC 1979).

Now where are we at?

Rev. Wright - The Reverend at TUCC and an individual that Sen. Obama's family has known for 20 years in Chicago, and who had known 'issues' with inflammatory and political sermons far before Sen. Obama came to the spotlight. He somehow 'changed' into something that Sen. Obama couldn't recognize, even though the evidence of previous sermons and publications point to a continuity between Rev. Wright today and his long history at TUCC and with Obama.

TUCC itself - It must still be fully representing the black community, but that community isn't up to any intense scrutiny. Just what kind of church is it that isn't up to scrutiny? I am sure that there is a skeleton or two in every closet, but to leave a church because it can't take scrutiny? Just what sort of church is this? Has to say something about the community it represents this not being able to stand up to scrutiny deal.

Tony Rezko - Chicago Syrian-American political 'fixer' who knows some of the big fish in Transnational Organized Crime and money laundering. Apparently he, too, like Rev. Wright has transmogrified over the last year or so. Strange this sudden set of changes to happen to two people and, possibly, an entire church in the same time span.

Aiham Alsammarae - Convicted felon in Iraq for stealing large amounts of money while Electricity Minister their while the CPA was in power. After a failed jail break his daughter phoned up Sen. Obama's office and the next jail break went much better with 'no questions asked' transportation out of Iraq and then new passports available along the way so that he could get back to Chicago to invest his ill-gotten gains in the Rezko deal. Just what *was* the part that Sen. Obama's office played and why did he not disclose an association with a thief and insurgent backer in Iraq while decrying the problems in Iraq?

Fr. Pfleger - He has always been the way he is, and his ready backing of someone who would come to prominence in the political machine and his ties to a powerful Alderman in Chicago speak to his ability to intimidate others in the Catholic Church leadership and in and around Chicago itself. Fr. Pfleger lauded Sen. Obama first and highest and that helped his political career no end. Just how is his over-the-top activities *now* different than the ones he has done in the past, like threaten gun store owners?

Nadhmi Auchi - Cousin of Saddam Hussein, billionaire, international financier and crook. Apparently there was more than one meeting with him and one of those was at a fundraiser staged by Rezko for Obama. Just how, praytell, does one forget meeting a multi-billionaire and business partner of your 'social friend'? Sen. Obama appears to have some deep and grave memory problems, not being able to keep tabs on such a powerful individual in international finance. And you would think that with such Iraqi connections that Sen. Obama would try to utilize them to help quiet things down in Iraq so that fewer US soldiers would get killed there.

So if you believe Sen. Obama there is a sudden 'change of mental attitude' disease that is infecting some of those around him and turning them into very vile individuals and making them unrecognizable to him. Further he has been attending a church so weak that the scrutiny it would get from a Presidential campaign would 'hurt' it, so he had to leave the frail thing with 8,000 members because it just couldn't stand up to that. And then there is the non-remembering by Sen. Obama about a billionaire investing in Chicago and who has ties to Iraq, plus an Iraqi-American hailing from Chicago whose daughter asked for help in getting her dad out of Iraq from Sen. Obama's office, while he was sitting in jail convicted on fraud.... plus he took some role in the insurgency getting US soldiers killed in Iraq. How does a staff misplace what happens to someone like that who then turns up in Chicago with hundreds of millions to invest in the 'social friend's' land dealings?

And this hasn't even gotten into the relationship between Obama and Raila Odinga, yet another politician who ran on the 'hope & change' theme while utilizing criminal ties, who would then stage a violent and bloody uprising when national elections didn't go his way. Somehow we don't hear much about the nightly phone calls between Sen. Obama and Raila Odinga these days...

Quick, someone contact Steve Jobs!

His Reality Distortion Field has been stolen by Barack Obama.

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