Thursday, June 05, 2008

More On That Change Obama Is Promising

It's all about change when you hear Sen. Barack Obama addressing his faithful, and they cling to every word he says the way a Scientologist accepts the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. Fortunately, there are some of us in the blogosphere offering a reality check on the guy. After Obama's long-time friend and political supporter was found guilty on multiple counts of corrupt influence, Obama said he was saddened and it wasn't the man he knew. He's offered similar explanations when the weird and racist rantings of his spiritual advisers became known. The Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet tells us that Obama invited his closest friends, political fundraisers and advisers to travel with him to Minneapolis to bask in victory Tuesday night. So let's take a look at who these folks are.

=>Topping the list is Valerie Jarrett. She is a one-time Chief Deputy Mayor to Richard Daley and heads up the Chicago Transit Authority. She is also the CEO of The Habitat Company, which is the largest private residential manager in Chicago according to its website and which does business with the City of Chicago managing the housing program for the Chicago Housing Authority. She has served on Obama's campaign finance committee, alongside Tony Rezko, with whom The Habitat Company also has business ties. The U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago has prosecuted numerous figures in the Daley administration for pervasive fraud in hiring and contracting during Jarrett's tenure at City Hall and more are awaiting prosecution.

=>Marty Nesbitt is treasurer for Obama's presidential campaign. He is the CEO of the Parking Spot, a parking garage company financed with the help of the billionaire Pritzker family of Chicago. Nesbitt is chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, which has contracts with Jarrett's The Habitat Company. Rezko and Obama legal pal, Allison Davis, have enjoyed sweetheart business deals with the Chicago Housing Authority. Davis' business partner, William Moorhead, was sent to prison for stealing more than a $1 million from public housing projects he managed for the CHA. As a state senator, Obama wrote letters to Chicago and state officials to help Rezko obtain $14 million from taxpayers to build housing for senior citizens in Chicago.

=>Billionaire real estate magnate Penny Pritzker is Obama's national finance director. Her family's money financed Nesbitt's business. The Pritzker family owned and Penny helped direct Superior Bank, which was closed by OTS and FDIC. The bank failed in 2002 after it used investors money to purchase sub-prime mortgages for securitization. The bank is believed to be one of the first in the nation to engage in the riskier practice of bundling up these sub-prime mortgages and selling them as securities. Earl Hutchinson wrote of Pritzker and Superior Bank at the Huffington Post: "The bank's sordid story and its abominable role in fueling the sub-prime crisis are well known and documented. It engaged in deceptive and faulty lending, questionable accounting practices, and charged hidden fees. It did it with the sleepy-eyed see-no-evil oversight of federal. It made thousands of dubious loans to mostly poor, strapped homeowners. A disproportionate number of them were minority."

=>John Rodgers, another chief finance director for Obama's campaign, is the founder of Ariel Investment. As a state senator, Obama appeared before a board overseeing investment of Illinois pension funds to urge the use of more minority-owned businesses, including Ariel. After Obama's pitch, state pension assets managed by Ariel grew substantially. After U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald began investigatng Rezko and other sleazebag influence peddlers for using corrupt influence to affect the awarding of investments through kickbacks, the Illinois Teacher Retirement System severed its ties with Ariel, citing insufficient returns on investments.

=>Industrial magnate Jim Crown of the Chicago Crown family is my personal favorite. The patriarch of the Crown family is Lester Crown. The billionaire Crown family first became famous for its one-time ownership of the Empire State Building. The family also founded the infamous Material Service Company and has been a major stakeholder in General Dynamics, a major U.S. defense contractor. Material Service conspired with several Illinois lawmakers in the 1970s to pass legislation beneficial to the cement industry in exchange for bribes. Jim Crown's father, Lester, testified in a federal criminal trial that he authorized the payment of tens of thousands of dollars to lawmakers to secure passage of the pro-industry legislation. Federal prosecutors gave Lester and his Material Service Company sweeping immunity from prosecution in consideration for his testimony. My own legislator in Illinois at that time, State Rep. Robert Craig (D-Danville), was convicted of accepting a bribe from Crown, along with a half dozen other legislators. After the trial, state lawmakers passed a law imposing a lifetime prohibition for any company like Material Service which had been convicted or had admitted under oath that it had bribed a public official from doing business with the State of Illinois. The law became known as The Lester Crown Law. When I worked for the Illinois legislature in the 1980s, almost every session someone would try to sneak an amendment through to repeal this law. Each time, an alert lawmaker, prompted by a staff member like myself, would simply have to rise and mention the name of Lester Crown in debate and the amendment would be resoundingly defeated. I'm really comforted to learn that Obama has entrusted a member of the Crown family as a close confidante. The Obama campaign has trotted out Lester Crown, a big supporter of Israel, to defend him against allegations his support for Israel is soft. Of course, Crown's General Dynamics sells weapon systems to Israel.

And then Obama named three persons to a search committee for his vice presidential running mate. It includes Eric Holder, Jim Johnson and Caroline Kennedy. As Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration, Holder gave a green light to and aided former White House counsel Jack Quinn in obtaining a presidential pardon for Marc Rich, the biggest tax cheat in American history. Johnson lives on the top floor of Washington D.C.'s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The quintessential beltway insider, Johnson's wealth and political power are closely related. He's served on all kinds of corporate boards, including United Health and Goldman Sachs, and all that that implies.

Enough said. Will the Obama folks please explain why a skeptic might ask, "Where's the change?"


Dan Sikovitz said...

Give Sen. Obama the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Assume it is possible, just possible, that he really had no idea what his former spiritual advisor was saying, no idea what his friend Rezko was into.

In a "Best for Obama" Case Scenario, do you want a guy whose judgment in selecting personal friends is this poor, to be selecting important cabinet members and various appointees?

Anonymous said...

Well, on that point, I say at least the people Obama has been friends with has not directly affected his Presidential policy.

Lets look at John McCain’s national campaign general co-chair who, at the same time, was being paid by a Swiss bank to lobby Congress about the U.S. mortgage crisis while advising McCain about his economic policy (which McCain admits he know nothing about).

This story can easily be found on MSNBC. Lobbying disclosure forms, filed by Swiss Bank UBS, list McCain’s campaign co-chair as a lobbyist dealing specifically with legislation regarding the mortgage crisis as recently as Dec. 31, 2007. Gramm registered as a lobbyist for the bank by 2004. To this day, Gramm continues to serve as a UBS vice chairman.

As early as October, 2006, reported that Gramm was advising McCain on economic issues. quoted McCain advisors saying that Gramm had input on McCain’s March 26 policy speech about the mortgage crisis. McCain himself has often cited Gramm’s influence as a way to establish his bona fides with economic conservatives.

When Gramm chaired the Senate Banking Committee, he wrote and passed deregulatory legislation in more than one industry, establishing himself as a pre-eminent foe of government regulation. McCain’s March 26 speech recommended further deregulation of the banking industry as his response to the mortgage crisis.

McCain and Gramm have been friends for more than a decade. McCain chaired Gramm’s 1996 presidential run and Gramm says the two men speak every day. McCain reportedly has hinted Gramm might serve as his Treasury secretary.

After Gramm passed a law easing regulation of energy-commodity trading, California experienced a sharp run-up in energy costs. The energy-trading company Enron was blamed and soon collapsed.

In 1999, Gramm successfully undid the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, removing the decades-old wall between commercial banking, which was heavily regulated, and investment banking, which was not. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act did not extend significant new regulation to investment banking.

Some economists fault Gramm’s deregulatory successes, as well as lax enforcement of remaining oversight powers, not just for the subprime mortgage crisis, but for its spread to other sectors of finance. Even Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has expressed interest in toughening regulations.

Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute told the Washington Post, “McCain is counting on people having very short memories and not connecting some pretty obvious dots here.”

The final UBS form listing Gramm’s work as a lobbyist says he was lobbying the Senate in the second half of 2007 regarding the Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act. The bill would have let bankruptcy judges rewrite mortgage terms for Americans facing foreclosure so they could repay their loans and keep their homes.

The banking industry opposed this measure. The bill failed.

John McCain - someone whose friends influence his policy.

Chris Worden said...

Out of curiosity, who got the pardon for Scooter Libby?

Chris Worden said...

I can't leave it at one comment. I guess having seen John McCain give a disastrous speech with no real vision to it, you are now more desperate than ever to play Six Degree of Separation...from Obama. You're faulting Obama because somebody on his VP selection committee worked for a company that got a contract from a city government that had somebody indicted? Yowza.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Chris, Now you're just making a fool of yourself. This isn't six degrees of separation with these people. You twist the facts to suit your argument. How did you like Obama's non-denial denial of the "whitey" videotape?

Jeff Cox said...

Obama, who is running for the job of protecting America, surrounds himself with people who hate America (Jeremiah Wright, Michelle Obama, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Micheal Pfleger) and is endorsed by people who hate America across the glopbe (Hezboallah, Iran, Venezuela, etc.)

And Tarrandwooley is complaining about McCain's connection with lobbyists?

Standard liberal misplaced priorities.

legaldiva said...

To say that the people he surrounds himself with hate the USA is a gross mischaracterization of fact and logic. I could take sound bites from the most patriotic folks and find something negative they've said about the USA, the gov't, etc. It doesn't mean they don't love their country. It's a particularly disturbing rationale when considering that Rev. Wright is a veteran.

At some point, I hope, white America (not all, but a lot) will realize that people of different backgrounds view things differently based upon our experiences. Just because you disagree doesn't mean you can knock the person's experiences and perception. That makes you more ignorant that them. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who believe the AIDS ideology. It's not new and was widely floated during the late 80's, early 90's. It was seemingly backed by scientific fact. Some folks still believe it, especially in light of the astounding numbers of Af-Am people affected. It may also come as a shocker to you that a lot of people Af-Am and otherwise believe that Hillary has a sense of entitlement about the is that racist? The expression of frustration through animated antics may not be the best way to deal with situations, but it's just that...frustration, not a hatred of this country.

Anonymous said...

Yes, lobbyist who shape McCain's policies and whose policies and lobbying is thought to be single handedly responsible for the mortgage crisis. You can try to shift focus, but the truth remains that Obama's policy is not so clearly shaped by those who he is surrounded by.

Your fear mongering will not work. John McCain = Recession = Depression. We won't have to protect America if John McSame's policies drive the American economy into the ground. John McSame - not good for the middle class.

Jeff Cox said...


Tell me how one can take "God Damn America" out of context. Or "America is a sin against God." Obama himself describes Wright as his spiritual mentor and attended his church for 20 years being immersed in this racist filth. Obama also describes himself as close to Pfleger.

Tell me how one can trust someone to protect us from terrorists who would bomb us when he staretd his political career in the home of two people who actually did bomb America and are less than sorry for their actions.

And Michelle Obama? A "victim" with a seven figure income?

Obama has no political track record. The only way to tell what he is going to do is to look at his associations, associations by choice, mind you. And his associations by choice are with peopel who really, REALLY do not like the United States.

The chief job of POTUS is to protect the United States. Obama inspires no confidence that he is even interested in carrying out that duty, let alone capable of it.

Jeff Cox said...


"Single-handledly responsible?" Riiiiiiiiiight. McCain is by no means perfect, but you really gotta do better than that.

Citizen Kane said...

They are both corrupt and worthless and since many people feel that the only role of government is to enrich themselves and there friends, it is not suprising that this is the choice that we have. This country will continue to deteriorate until the revoltion occurs.

Mark said...

The point of the post, folks, wasn't so much to slam Obama as it was to point out that he politic's as good as anyone. All these people that he has on his steering committee are typical of any politician, hence no "change". Trotting out all the people McCain surrounds himself with doesn't change that, and it shouldn't really enter into this discussion, because McCain has never claimed to be the agent of change that Obama (and his supporters) claims to be.

Chris Worden said...

You're right, Gary. It's only THREE degrees of separation. I heard about the "non-denial, denial," and if you've run a national campaign before, you'd know that even responding to it makes it a story. Obama's point is valid. I'm not going to respond to anything until it needs responding to, otherwise I'll be spending the entire campaign beating down a whispering campaign. Even Republican sources, such as the National Review, cast serious doubts on the veracity of the charge. Did you know McCain once had sex with his now wife in his senate office? I have it from four Republican sources, two of whom used to work in his office, that this happened. So blog on that until a mainstream reporter asks him about it. When that happens, will he issue an outright denial, or will he call it a scurrilous allegation? And if he does the latter, can we assume he gets freaky in Congress? OR might it just be that he believes the question should not be answered? You already know.

But I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is. Are you? I've got $100 that says no type in which Michelle Obama says "Whitey" ever surfaces. (The whole why'd he versus Whitey thing is silly...we'll know form the inflection whether it's a statement or question).

You got me covered?

Gary R. Welsh said...

ipopa, Obama did respond to a question, which prompted MSM news reports on a matter which had been limited to the blogosphere. But before Obama did that, his campaign's prolific bloggers began disseminating a message to the effect that "if a tape should surface in which it appears Michelle uses the term whitey, you should know she was actually saying "why'd he". If the Obama campaign is confident no such tape exists, why would they bother to put out that explanation of why someone might think she has used the term "whitey" in a public discussion?

Anonymous said...

Simply because I am not familiar with it - Please provide a direct citation to the facts that support your position that Obama's actual campaign put out a statement that "if a tape should surface in which it appears Michelle uses the term whitey, you should know she was actually saying 'why'd he.'" I think you are inappropriately tying the blogsphere public directly to Obama's campaign.

By the way, a Rasmussen poll just released today shows Obama ahead of McSame in Missourri - first time since December. Is the GOP getting nervous yet about the changing political map?

Unknown said...

LegalDiva, please, oh, please, tell me what "scientific facts" back up the notion that the US government infected the African-American community with AIDS.