Update II: REZKO Arrested
Update: For the poll conscious – Wall Street Journal reports:
The Illinois senator trails Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York by large margins in polls in most of the big states voting Feb. 5. And he lacks the time or resources to campaign intensively in many of those far-flung races to close the gaps. [snip]
Among the major Super Tuesday contests, Mrs. Clinton has wide — in some cases double-digit — polling leads in California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arizona, Missouri and Alabama. Mr. Obama leads in his home state of Illinois and in Georgia.
The demographics in many of those states also seem to play more to Mrs. Clinton’s strengths, with big populations of Latinos and white women, groups that helped carry her to victory over Mr. Obama in New Hampshire and Nevada. [snip]
The sheer diversity of the states in play — racially, regionally, geographically — means that no candidate will have the cash or the leisure to engage in anything approaching the old-fashioned whistle-stop campaigning that has defined the races in most states so far. Mr. Obama had more than three weeks to build on his Iowa victory to chip away at Mrs. Clinton’s lead in South Carolina and ultimately to overwhelm her. That will be much harder over the coming week.
Hillary remains focused on the job that needs to be done. Hillary Clinton will be in the Senate today to vote “No” on cloture on the FISA bill (approximately 4:30 p.m.).
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Hillary is also scheduled to be in Springfield, Massachusetts today.
“I respect Caroline and Teddy’s decision but I have made a different choice. While I admire Senator Obama greatly, I have known Hillary Clinton for over 25 years and have seen first hand how she gets results. As a woman, leader, and person of deep convictions, I believe Hillary Clinton would make the best possible choice for president. She shares so many of the concerns of my father. Hillary has spent a lifetime speaking out on behalf of the powerless and working to alleviate poverty, in our country and around the world. I have seen her work up close and know she will be a great President. At this moment when so much is at stake at home and overseas, I urge our fellow Americans to support Hillary Clinton. That is why my brother Bobby, my sister Kerry, and I are supporting Hillary Clinton.”
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We’ve been wondering for a while now why Obama has said so little about his “community organizer” days. Where are the testimonials from people Obama supposedly helped? We know practically nothing about Obama, other than what he has written himself – and that is in many respects crafted, bogus, fiction.
We have specifically wondered about Obama’s Chicago constituents – Obama obviously could not get testimonials from his constituents in Chicago – Not the ones who froze in winter.
We’ve suggested repeatedly that Big Media interview Obama constituents, especially the tenants Obama represented as a state senator – the ones who lived in the Rezko owned buildings Obama knew so much about.
Finally a Big Media outlet, from across the sea, has taken up our suggestion. It’s not a pretty story:
Barack Obama and Joann Larkins live less than a mile apart in Chicago’s predominantly black South Side, but they inhabit very different worlds.
What connects her squalid flat and his colonnaded mansion is Antoin “Tony” Rezko, the former Obama donor and friend, who goes on trial for corruption next month – and was denounced as a “slum landlord” by Hillary Clinton in a dramatic and bitter exchange during last week’s Democratic presidential debate.
Mr Obama’s past ties to the Syrian-born property developer, a well-known figure in Chicago politics for his financial largesse, have prompted new questions about the sound political judgement and clean ethics that he touts in his run for the White House.
The charges against Mr Rezko include one that he donated $10,000 (£5,050) to an unnamed political candidate from kickbacks allegedly taken from state contracts. The recipient is reported by Chicago media to have been an unknowing Mr Obama.
“Community Organizer” Obama is nice and warm in his mansion. Mrs. Larkins recalls the Chicago cold:
Separately, in 2005, Mr Obama, 46, struck a property deal with Mr Rezko’s wife, Rita, despite the fact that her husband was already under criminal investigation. Mrs Rezko bought an empty plot next to the Obamas’ $1.65 million home in the affluent enclave of Hyde Park, and later sold the Obamas some of the land so that they could enlarge their plot – a deal that the Illinois senator has since admitted was “bone-headed”.
Mrs Larkins, 51, lives just seven city blocks away, in a district where posters advertise “dirt cheap properties” and “foreclosure advice”. She moved there almost a decade ago, taking a subsidised apartment with her 20-year-old daughter and one-year-old grandson in a building that had fallen into neglect when run by Mr Rezko.
The family boiled water on the stove and draped plastic sheeting across the windows in an effort to keep warm during the city’s bitter winters, as the heating was not working. Rubbish piled up uncollected and repeated requests for basic repairs were ignored.
“It was a terrible place to live: there were a lot of drug dealers and people fighting and getting shot,” Mrs Larkins, a widow who receives invalidity benefit, told The Sunday Telegraph.
“The owners never took any interest in the place; they just wanted the rent money. We had to call the city just to get the garbage collected.”
Obama’s long time friend and patron tormented Obama’s constituents. No one cared.
The 44-apartment complex was one of 30 low-income housing projects run by Mr Rezko and his partners with funds from the city during the 1990s. By early this decade, many were boarded up as bills and mortgage payments went unpaid, but Mr Rezko moved into the fast-food business, while tenants like the Larkins struggled with the legacy of his management.
Mr Rezko was also one of the first to spot the skills of Mr Obama, offering the then Harvard law graduate a job in 1991 and becoming an early financial supporter of the new state legislator, whose inner-city constituency included 11 of his housing projects.
Although Mr Obama makes much of his roots as a community activist in Chicago’s poorest districts, he has said he had “no inkling” that there were problems with Mr Rezko’s operations. But the signs should have been easy to spot, according to John Bartlett, of the Chicago-based Metropolitan Tenants’ Association.
“The problems with Rezko were far from hidden. They were so bad that the city has had to take him to court. Anyone who wanted to look into Rezko’s activities could have learned about them,” he said.
The failure of state senator Obama, to care, to protect his constituents, is masked once again with flowery words – Mrs. Larkins be damned:
Mr Obama has recently said that he “wasn’t particularly knowledgeable” about Mr Rezko’s activities. Asked if he should have investigated his donor’s businesses, Bill Burton, Mr Obama’s spokesman, said: “The senator has a long record of successfully fighting to reform ethics and diminish the role of money in politics.”
Maybe Mrs. Larkins will provide the names of other tenants so they can tell their neglected stories to Obama, via Big Media.
Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times meanwhile, critiqued Obama’s appearance on ABC Sunday morning. Excerpts with Lynn Sweet analysis in parentheses:
Obama was told by the host, “One more time, Senator, you need to divulge all there is to know about that (Rezko) relationship. Take that opportunity here.”
Obama replied, “ Well, George, this is a story that has been out there for a year, and has been thoroughly gnawed on by the press, both in Chicago and nationally. “
(actually, it is not one story but an ongoing series of stories by the Sun-Times and Tribune, exploring the depths of the ties between the two men.)
“Tony Rezko was a friend of mine, a supporter, who I’ve known for 20 years. He was a contributor not just myself but Democrats, as well as some Republicans, throughout Illinois. Everybody perceived him as a businessman and developer.”
(earlier in the week in network interviews, Obama made it seem like he hardly knew Rezko.)
“ He got into trouble that was completely unrelated to me. And nobody has suggested that I have been involved in any of those problems. I did make a mistake by purchasing a small strip of property from him, at a time where, at that point, he was under thecloud of a potential investigation.
(Obama obscures the larger point that the strip was adjacent to his house and bought at the same time in a deal that seemed connected and gave Obama a financial advantage.)
“And I’ve acknowledged that that was a mistake. But again, nobody has suggested any wrongdoing. And you know, I think, at this point, it’s important for people to recognize that I have actually provided all the information that’s out there about it.
(Actually, last week I asked an Obama spokesman information about Rezko’s fund-raising activities for Obama and could not get a straight answer.)
Maybe Lynn Sweet and other reporters willl get some straight answers from Obama endorsers. Maybe, but for Obama the Chicago poor are out of political fashion.