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February 25, 2008

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Rick Ballard

Dunno why McCain couldn't offer a co-sponsorship to BHO on something to do with their day jobs. Maybe a nice redo on immigration with a strong "secure the border first" proviso?

Or just pick something out of BHO's own HOPE and CHANGE list and start offering to co-sponsor. Surely, with four months to go before America can sleep more easily because Congress has left town, McCain and his team can figure out a few nice legislative tactics which might highlight the difference between BHO's talk and his votes.

Bill in AZ

I dunno about the secure the border idea, Rick. McCain would have to reach across the aisle (to the Republican side for a change) for that one.

JM Hanes

TM: I thought Halperin's list read like a parody!

Elliott

Good call, JMH.

Rick Ballard

Sincerity and the utility were excellently matched by Halperin.

Bill,

I suppose I should check out BHO's website and see what McCain's most entertaining choice for the offer might be. You never know - McCain might be willing to reach out to Republicans as well.

clarice

What about getting him(O) to release his hold on FEC appointments so the law designed to keep elections "clean" can have some effect?

RichatUF

Sorry to go OT here but saw this item via Drudge-

Hide the Silverware

graf-

Indeed, her advisers said Monday that she planned to hit this theme during the candidates’ Tuesday debate, though they said she would try to avoid making harsh personal attacks on Mr. Obama, particularly since Mrs. Clinton drew widespread attention and praise at the debate last week for saying she was “honored” to be on the same stage with him.

When all else fails-the Clinton Dirt card...

clarice

O is to young to have been in the secreted FBI files and Pellicano's in jail so what is she going to hit him with--soiling his pants in nursery school? To date her "attacks" have been laughable.

Rick Ballard

Rich,

Sounds like tomorrow night it's going to be the Frau Blucher/Nurse Ratched persona.

Or maybe - Maleficent - LIVE.

Time for another donation to the Blind Newt Foundation.

Ann

What would be the downside of Obama loosing his voice tomorrow?
It surely would frost the Red Witch. And if she went after him for not debating, it would make her look even colder...just thinking.

I bet Hit would be proud of my cynicism. :)

Bill in AZ

McCain could prolly sell Obama on some good sound conservative 2nd amendment legislation - like ban all weapons except old rusty bolt action rifles for us few remaining 2nd amendment hunters. Now there would be a differentiator that would set the race on end. Obama's end.

Foo Bar

Rove claims Obama "won't break with the trial lawyers". Actually, he was one of 18 Democrats to join with Republicans in February '05 for a bill opposed by the trial bar that made it harder to get class action suits certified.

Foo Bar

Rove claims Obama hasn't worked across party lines since coming to town. Actually, he was one of 9 Democrats who voted with Republicans in support of the amendment of Jim DeMint (R-SC) that contained a much stronger version of earmark disclosure than Harry Reid wanted. He also worked with Tom Coburn to sponsor the Federal Funding Accountability Act of 2006, which required the creation of a searchable database fully disclosing all organizations receiving federal funds. Two notorious kings of pork, Ted Stevens and Robert Byrd, tried to hold up the bill with secret holds but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Foo Bar

Rove claims Obama backs the teachers unions down the line. If he has some evidence that Obama has recanted his support for merit pay, which he declared right in front of the NEA, he should have included it in his column. The National Journal had this to say in a piece appearing today:

Both candidates support charter schools, a stance that does not endear either to the politically powerful teachers unions -- although it was Obama who raised eyebrows at last July's National Education Association conference by declaring that teachers whose students excel should be paid more.
kim

McCain will see the light about carbon dioxide as the paradigm shatters. Fred Thompson understood the fraud and was right about Libby, too. Where did his advisers go?
=======================

kim

The business about charter schools illustrates a couple of fault lines. They've been pretty successful as an alternate way of doing things, particularly in inner cities where traditional public education has failed most miserably.
===================

syn

I cannot help but wonder why black and African- Americans would support the Senator who votes to continue Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's "Negro Project".

Jane

Capt ed has got a pretty explosive Obama/Saddam/Rezco story.

Link under my name.

Jane

"Rezko" Sheesh

GMax

Well I have to admit it, Foo has sure convinced me. The guy, Obama, is a slobbering centrist or maybe even a closet conservative. That National Journal rag, nobody gives them credibility like the New Republic or the NYT, so it does not matter one whit that they somehow found him to be the most liberal member of the Senate. Heck he probably just voted No when he meant Yes and vice versa. You cant expect a busy Senator to understand the difference can you? And what a ridiculous idea to look at his voting record to figure out where he comes down on issues!

No foo you nailed it. Nothing but net.

MayBee

Foo Bar- from your National Journal link:

But he was quick to distance himself from the idea of tying higher pay to "some arbitrary test score" -- a nonstarter with the teachers unions, whose organizing muscle is crucial to Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts -- and to proclaim his support for collective bargaining. Instead, his "Career Ladder" initiative would use a variety of assessments, including higher degrees or mentoring other teachers, to identify successful teachers.

Perhaps that is what Rove was referring to.

MikeS

I have no doubt that, the aptly named, FooBar is correct when he claims that Obama has done a couple of things right during his career.

I would be more comfortable if Obama would pledge to change personally, from the hyper-partisan liberal that he has been since he entered politics.

In his stump speech, Obama claims that as President he will behave the way John McCain has behaved for the last couple decades.

I support Barack in his quest for self improvement. I would even say that, if Obama behaves like John McCain for 2 decades, he might make a good president.

Ranger

Well, after a little research I have managed to restore my faith in my memory. I'm 99% sure it was Obama who said that voting to filibuster Alito was "a dumb idea, but I'm going to do it for party unity."

The closet I've been able to come to finding the actual quote is from a news story at the time that said:

"Despite his criticism, Obama announced his intention to support the maneuver designed to block - or delay - Alito’s confirmation this week."

Looks like even back then the press was looking out for him by avoiding direct quotes when he says something "dumb".

So, how he Obama going to bring us together when he has already proven he will vote against his own feelings in the name of party unity?

GMax

BTW this fun fact has not been widely played about the Rezko land deal with Obama courtesy of the Times of London.

Did you know from any discussion so far that the "garden land Plot" that Rezko's wife bought the same day that Obama bought his house at an almost 20% discount off list price, was ONLY accessible from Obama's property. That right it was apparently landlocked. Obama claims to have never used the land, but did have his gardener mow it.

As a guy who has bought and resold hundreds if not thousands of acres of land over the years, I can say with utter confidence that plots of land with Helicopter only access have little value to anyone except the guy who controls the access. Some states have laws that allow you to force access if you are truly landlocked, but I am guessing that Illinois is not one of them. Without access, you can never enjoy the land, use the land or do anything except pay taxes on the land. And its rare your neighbor is so "kind" as to relieve you of the cost and burden of keeping it mowed.

This nails it for me, he accepted a bribe, well disguised, but the substance is still that.

MarkJ

I'm patiently waiting for this headline:

"HILLARY DROPS OUT OF RACE. THROWS SUPPORT TO McCAIN."

As the famed Roman emperor Clintonius Bodacious Maximus once said, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

kim

Has Rezko declared the value of the mowing as income? This is probably de minimus, but still.
===================

RichatUF

Jane-

Great story from across the pond-but I'm curious how the needle will get threaded on all this.

More here re: Rezko's business practices. Did Rick ever figure out which US Congressional Districts BHO's former Il state senate seat overlap? Did Scary Larry stay up last night working on this?

Ranger

GMax,

It wasn't all that well disguised. The person selling the property is on record as saying their justification for giving the Obama's the discount on the house was that the adjoining plot (which the Rezkos purchased the same day) sold at full asking price. So, there is a direct connection between the Rezko deal and the reduced price for Obama.

RichatUF

GMax-

This nails it for me, he accepted a bribe, well disguised, but the substance is still that.

I'm confused by it all-why couldn't he have been like Cold Cash and just got it in an icebox?

Ranger

My bad.... I mis-read the article the first time. It says the sellers deny they gave the Obama's a $300,000 price cut because the adjoining plot sold at full price. That does seem hard to believe. Why sell two plots on the same day under such different terms? It seems hard to believe that the sellers didn't take into account that Obama was the new Senator from their state when they negotiated the deal.

On the up side, politicians seem to be getting more exspensive to buy. Back in the old days it only cost $100,000 in laundered cattle futures to buy a state governor. Now, considering the price reduction on the house and savings in interest payments on the loan, they had to give Obama around $500,000.

Jane

I'm curious how the needle will get threaded on all this.

It won't get threaded at all, except as the Messiah as a victim. Old media will sit on its hands.

It certainly explains to me why Obama opposed the Iraq war. He's not quite as Godlike as he would have us believe.

centralcal

Okay, I'm at work and not following the comment thread that closely, so forgive if this is OLD news:

Fitz is on the Rezko case. Ha Ha! (saw it over at NRO)

Jane

Rick Moran has a lot more on Auchi, as does the link under my name.

RichatUF

Jane-

It certainly explains to me why Obama opposed the Iraq war. He's not quite as Godlike as he would have us believe.

The article says that the house and the garden plot were bought in June 2005. Now I'm curious if IL has a set of securities laws similiar to NY and if BHO might have had some sort of committee assignment touching on the CBOT and CME? Too much-I'm drinking from the paranoid style...

Jane

I don't have any confidence at all that Fitz is an equal opportunity prosecutor. I hope he proves me wrong.

Ranger

After a more detailed re-read I think this Rezko thing could really hurt Obama because it will alienate middle class homeowners a lot. Obama wanted to buy a nice house when got the promotion from State to US Senator. The house he wanted was part of a package deal of two plots of land with an asking price of around $2.6 mil. Obama couldn't afford that, so he called his good buddy, Tony Rezko, who worked it out so that Obama got the house he wanted for $1.65 mil.

How many Americans had to pass on their "dream house" because they couldn't afford the payments?

GMax

You dont expect a Princeton and Harvard educated lawyer spouse to be able to understand real estate law do you? And the Senator was busy, heck he got confused.

Since the seller ( grantor ) created the problem by separating the tracts I think its likely in most states that a court would find the Ms Rezko stepped into the shoes of the grantor and thus has no prescriptive rights to fix the land being without access to a road, by use of a easement of necessity.

The reality is that lack of access would be pointed out on a survey and on a title policy which I am sure Mrs. Rezko got for a $600,000 land parcel.

The Obamas got a big discount and use of an adjacent tract for the cost of their mowing contract. That is most likely a very large sum of money, even in the world shady Chicago political deals.

glasater

There was a mole in the Chicago commercial real estate investigation out of--it sounds like--SDNY.
Fitz at work perhaps?

"And in an unusual move, prosecutors asked for a court order allowing Mr. Thomas to commit crimes during the investigation, a tell-tale sign that Mr. Thomas was part of an undercover “sting operation.” The court granted the request."

GMax

Why would a billionaire who is not allowed to travel to the USA want to buy a Chicago politician? Unless he thought it was likely that Obama would run for President.

Some smoke, look for the fire.

RichatUF

Jane-

Dots...

anduril

Here's an article, Michelle Obama and the Rage of a Privileged Class, that places the Rezko deal in a larger context--one that speaks volumes about the Obamas. It's amusing to see these crusaders for "change" (who rub elbows with the liberal elite at the home of Ayers and Dohrn) doing things the old fashioned Chicago way. Plus ça change...

The entire article is worth a read, but I'll paste in a small portion. We've all read about Michelle's adventures at Princeton. I'll first paste in the author's reason's for believing Michelle's views on race are important, then commence with her experience at Harvard:

Mrs. Obama's attitudes about race are significant for multiple reasons.

First, Mr. Obama says she's important to him. Newsweek's gushing 2/25/08 cover story on Michelle, Barack's Rock by Richard Wolffe, reports:

"Onstage, Obama has introduced Michelle as 'my rock'—the person who keeps him focused and grounded. In her words, she is just making sure he is 'keeping it real.'"

Second, because Michelle Obama lacks her husband's remarkable verbal facility, she provides a keyhole into how the stealth candidate actually thinks and feels on those rare occasions when he can be himself. She's more of a regular person with a normal human desire to be understood.

Third, she's a classic example of what affirmative action, which her husband promises to give us more of, does both for and to blacks.

She is a hard worker and is of above-average intelligence, but racial preferences have repeatedly lifted her out of her intellectual league, with traumatic psychological consequences. All the breaks she received from white people merely stoked what Ellis Cose of Time calls The Rage of a Privileged Class.

OK, on to Harvard:

Predictably, the same feelings of personal and thus racial inadequacy manifested themselves when she got into ultra-competitive Harvard Law School on another quota. The Newsweek reporter explains:
"At Harvard, she felt the same racial divide. … 'She recognized that she had been privileged by affirmative action and she was very comfortable with that,' [friend Verna] Williams recalls. Michelle recalls things differently. … Her aides say Michelle earned her way into Harvard on merit by distinguishing herself at Princeton."

When she graduated from HLS in 1988, she was hired by the high-paying Chicago corporate law firm Sidley Austin (which, perhaps not coincidentally, posts a 2,000-word statement describing their "Commitment to Diversity" on their website).

One problem remained: the Illinois bar exam. It appears that in 1988 she either failed it or was unready even to try it. She eventually passed and was admitted to the bar in May 1989, almost a year after graduation. (In contrast, her husband was admitted only a half year after graduating from Harvard Law School three years later).

There's nothing shameful about failing the bar exam. Hillary Clinton, for example, failed the Washington D.C. bar exam. According to blogger Half Sigma, 19 percent of applicants failed the July 1988 Illinois test. But, whiffing even once is not the kind of thing that is supposed to happen to Harvard Law School students. (Similarly, Hillary only told her Yale friends that she passed the Arkansas bar exam; she kept covered up until 2003 that she had failed the D.C. exam.)

Being admitted to the bar is public, so word of Michelle's no-show on the list of new lawyers likely spread among her old Harvard classmates in late 1988, leaving another wound upon her pride. If, however, she'd gone to the kind of law school where graduates frequently take a few tries to pass, she would have felt better about herself and less bitter at the white race. [Comment: Sailer is wrong about this--I didn't go to HLS but I passed the first time, as did well over 90% of my classmates. Less elite schools typically have higher first time pass rates because their grads are smart enough or realistic enough to take bar review courses. They do not say, Word is that my school teaches to the exam, so I can save a few bucks by skipping the bar review course.]

After a few years at Sidley Austin, she let her law license lapse [Comment: This is remarkable, since she could have maintained her license for about $100 per year. It is a strong indication that she neither demonstrated nor developed any legal skills at Sidley and Austin but was simply an AA hire.] and began working as go-between for Mayor Daley's Machine. She enjoyed the kind of vague but well-paid career made possible by affirmative action. The description on the candidate's website of what exactly she's been doing for the U. of Chicago Medical Center is eye-glazing but ultimately revealing: she's in the diversity racket.

"She also managed the business diversity program. Michelle has fostered the University of Chicago's relationship with the surrounding community and developed the diversity program, making them both integral parts of the Medical Center's mission."

With great power comes great rewards. A couple of months after her husband was sworn in as U.S. Senator, Michelle's salary at the Medical Center was raised from $121,910 to $316,962.

A cynic might say that this rather resembles a $195,000 annual … uh, investment by a large private medical institution in the good will of a U.S. Senator and potential President who may well play the crucial role in deciding whether or not there will continue to be large private medical institutions.

Another way of looking at is that Michelle's value on the influence market went up $200,000 when her husband moved up, so the Medical Center had to ante up or lose her to somebody else who would pay the going rate for the wife of a political superstar.

Still, to say that would be to suggest that Michelle Obama on her own isn't worth $316,962, which, like any and all skepticism about the Obamas, would be racist. So, almost nobody in America is saying it.

The Daily Mail of London has taken a more jaundiced view:

"An acquaintance of Obama's family compares her with another political wife, another lawyer as it happens, with a keen interest in making money. "Michelle is very much like Cherie Blair [wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair]. She is a middle-class girl who has discovered that money is nice and doesn't see that as a contradiction with having radical beliefs," he said.

Chicago's veteran political consultant and pundit Joe Novak agrees, saying: "She [Michelle] is now motivated more by personal gain than by social consciousness. She saw her opportunities, and she took them." …

I suspect, on no particular evidence, that Michelle's desire for a stately home pushed the normally ascetic Barack into involving in his 2005 purchase of an expensive mansion the notorious white collar crook and slumlord Tony Rezko, a Levantine Christian immigrant who goes on trial March 3rd.

Obama and Rezko had been doing each other Chicago-style favors for years. Yet, surely by 2005, Obama must have known that it was time to shed his more unseemly associates if he wanted to move to the really big house in Washington.

Follow the link to the main article for the many links that the article contains to other documentation.

MayBee

Rezko was just helping people that- through no fault of their own- could not afford to pay the mortgage on the house they wanted.

I think we will see this work its way into Obama's economic plan. Defaulting on your mortgage? No problem. The government will buy a portion of your yard for you. Rezko will be the HUD director overseeing the program. It's all good.

JJ

Appears to me that Obama is not interested in crossing party lines but going around them -- around to the Brave New World that he sees beyond the current mess.

Justification for the sweet land deal is that it was done in a positive manner, by someone who truly understands positive. Which is why Hillary's picking on him is starting to sound pleasant. Open the clouds, let that sun shine, sister.

Jane

Anduril,

That's all pretty amazing.

clarice

Good wrok, anduril--She bombed at Sidley Austin obviously..I've known for a while that she's holding a ridiculously oversompensated make work job to subsidize the family coffers.

GMax

Mrs Rezko who bought the land for $625,000? She has an on the record deposition that she had $35,000 annual income and about $25,000 in assets. How did she buy the land? Well sometimes this is referred to as a strawman purchaser. Follow the money, as I am sure the prosecutor is doing right now.

anduril

I'm sure the Obamas are by far not the only couple to profit from the race hustling/diversity business, nor is Chicago the only place where it's practiced. It does say a lot about what's happened to the American ideal--not that we were ever ideal, but that we can so cynically take this (and, yes, the whole lobbying business) for granted.

Overall, I prefer to contemplate this Dynamic Duo.

GMax

Back to McCain's strategy for Obama. Why not do what Harry Reid did, reach into his wallet, unfold a little piece of paper and read a quote, only this one from one Ralph Nader. Ralph when asked about Barack Obama:

“His record in the Senate is pretty mediocre,” Nader said. “His most distinctive characteristic is the extent to which he censors himself."

Get that, its a two fer. Ralph calls him mediocre and then Mr. Green Party says he has been hiding his true beliefs in the Senate by censoring himself. So he is even more liberal than the National Journal says, but works not to show it. Are you kidding me?

Slowly fold up paper and put it back in wallet. "Any other questions?"

Ranger

Yes, Fitz is in a very dificult position here. It would appear that his only chance of keeping his job is a D win in November. But, this investigation gives him an option. If the polls are going against Obama, but close, he could drop an indictment on the Obama land deal in October and become the hero for McCain and save his job in the next administration. And, of course, it would be fun to see all those people on the left who worship Fitz turn on him overnight.

MayBee

I think talking about Michelle Obama being an Affirmative Action education beneficiary/hire is not productive. Many people say the same about Clarence Thomas.
The truth is, AA has been the policy of the country and people who benefit do so through no choice of their own.
It is perfectly acceptable to talk about whether her job is basically a payment to Obama, IMHO. The AA stuff should just be left out.

boris

Don't agree that the AA factor is based on disapproval of AA in general. It seems to have had a significant effect on the course of MO's career and attitude beyond the "intended" assist.

The Clarence claim is hypocrisy, he benefited but opposes. Yet it is "good" for whites to oppose white privilege even if they benefited from it. To discredit any discussion of AA bazsed on that false logic is not reasonable.

GMax

MayBee

I will respectfully disagree. Its rare that we get a chance with the full kleig lights of a National campaign to highlight the misguided policy of affirmative action.

It is perfectly acceptable to point out that if you are expecting AA to bring about an attitude change, you are sadly mistaken.

Plus its pretty hard for middle class Americans who have no chance of getting their offspring into an Ivy League school, to listen to whining of a HLS grad making $300K a year and married to a US Senator.

It is the lack of color blindness that stains AA, and until it goes there will never be an opportunity to acheive the dream of Dr. King.

clarice

Actually, I know a number of people who've turned it down. In particular I remember a girl admitted to Yale on her record, turning down a scholarship available only to Black students with a note saying she'd not been disadvantaged in any way--she lived in the same neighborhood as her lassmates, had enjoyed the advantages of a top private school and saw no reason why she should be singled out for special favors.

clarice

*Classmates** (dang--I think I have to clean my sticky keyboard or something.)

Ranger

In regards to McCain's campaing strategy, he should make the argument that he isn't the one that needs to change to live up to the kind of politics that Obama wants to see in Washington.

McCain: I'm not the one who gets sweatheart deals on million dollar homes. I'm not the one that tucks away millions and millions of dollars in earmarks for political friends. That's what politics as usual in Chicago looks like, and that's not me.

glasater

Would you want to have heart surgery performed by an AA surgeon?

Pofarmer

"Many people say the same about Clarence Thomas."

Thing is, if you listen to Clarence Thomas speak, it doesn't take long to realize that it A) isn't true, or B) doesn't matter, because he does seem to have the intellect to back up his position.

As to Fitz on the Rezco deal.

I predict Rezco gets immunity, it never get investigated back to the money, and the gardener gets indicted for perjury.

Sue

Maybe Senator Warner can tell us. He has been hospitalized with abnormal heart condition. I'm not even going to start in on one of my conspiracy theories, but if I was to, I would wonder about the timing with the letter to Obama.

glasater

Here's an interesting link to Rezko and Iraqi dealings.

Just trying to fill in for Tops for awhile.

MayBee

I'm not defending AA as a policy. I just think bludgeoning people that may have benefited from it is a bad idea. Unless they try to throw their (obviously ginned up) credentials around.
Clarice, the girl you know sounds outstanding.

glasater- what do they call the person who graduates at the bottom of his med school class?

glasater

I dunno--Maybee.

glasater

Was just a lowly english major with an ed minor.

clarice

She is. So are lots of minority kids I know who know the score...mostly by applying only to schools where they know they are within the normal range of applicants and not getting shoved up because of their race. In the end, it works to their great advantage--they end up doing well, getting the degrees they aimed for instead of Ivy degrees in area studies and a shot at cleaning aquariums after graduation to pay their loans.

MayBee

glasater- Doctor

Rick Ballard

GMax,

If you want to make an assessment of the lot, here is the aerial view (if it doesn't come through, the house street address is 5046 South Greenwood Ave., 60615). This blog traces the purchase details. Some of the transaction details are here and you can "pin" down the docs here.

The telling thing about the lot transaction is that the seller required lot and house to close together - he didn't want to chance getting stuck with a helicopter pad worth considerably less than he received.

MayBee

So are lots of minority kids I know who know the score...mostly by applying only to schools where they know they are within the normal range of applicants and not getting shoved up because of their race

You make an excellent point. A while ago, I saw a study about people who are shoved up because of their race, and how often they fail in school. If I weren't lazy, I'd look for it now. Anecdotally, I know several.
However, it isn't always easy to tell when someone has been selected to meet a quota, even if they are within an acceptable range. The Ivy League schools have always been a bit...capricious...in their acceptances. Her brother was a basketball star at Princeton when she would have applied, so that may have helped her more than a tad.

Jane

AA doesn't work by itself. You have to have drive and a work ethic along with the opportunity.

I worked full time while in law school full time. Around third year I realized that all my black friends didn't work and had full scholarships. I had none. I complained to a black friend and she said not to worry, she would get me a scholarship - (since she was on the committee) and a few weeks later I got $2000 credit on my bill.

Most of these kids had been gaming the system since college. For the most part they were smart enough but they didn't have a great work ethic. And that's the problem with hand-outs. Handouts diminish drive.

glasater

"glasater- Doctor"

So Maybee--would you want to go to a doctor who had graduated last in their class?;-)

jimmyk

“We’ve seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security,” Mrs. Clinton said in a speech on foreign policy at George Washington University. “We can’t let that happen again.”

Is she referring to Carter or to her husband?

Ranger

Given that the two plots had to sell on the same day, even if the owners claim they didn't give Obama a $300,000 discount on the house, Rezko's involvement still gave Obama a $625,000 discount on the property. I think most middle class Americans would see that as a financial favor based on political connections. Not exactly the politics of change.

MayBee

glasater-I wouldn't know if I'd had one.

It's an old joke, so I probably should have put ba-dum-bum after the punchline.

GMax

Bingo! Ranger come to the front to claim your prize.

In real estate you link two purported "independent" transactions for one reason. You are helping out the buyer with a structure issue which you dont mind as long as you are doing nothing illegally, and you want to make damn sure that you dont get played and end up holding a now worthless piece of land.

By the way, the owners were two doctors who just happened to work to the UIC Hospital where Michelle Obama worked. Might explain why the Drs went out of their way to say no favortism shown to the Obamas. It might have made the staff lounge a little less cozy.

MayBee

GMax- have the sellers ever contributed to Obama's campaign?

glasater

Maybee--I did smile when I read your comment "doctor" 'cause you caught me fair and square.

GMax, Rick and Ranger--Thank you for your explanations on the real estate transaction. From the aerial photo it really isn't clear how the property is delineated for access problems.
And another problem is how to 'splain this to a very inattentive voter besotted with BHO.

Rick Ballard

GMax,

Take it one step further - the sale of the "strip" by Rezko to Obama returned Rezko's downpayment. Rezko defaults on the "mortgage" on the helicopter pad, the value of which he has further diminished by reducing its size. Why would the lender on the land agree to such a split?

There's something more than a little stinky about the loan aspect of this deal.

GMax

Speculation is loan was from the incredibly wealthy Brit who cant get into this country ( think about that he can get in here due to some concerns about him despite being a gazillionaire ). So if he was buying a politician, the piece of land was just flotsam and jetsam. The transaction was not what was papered and the lot at the back was just window dressing.

I forgot about the strip of land that was sold to Obama by Mrs Rezko later. You are right, Rezko gets downie back, lender ends up with even smaller helicopter pad in an area that looks covered with mature trees, thus a difficult place to land. Parachute would seem out for the same reason.

Ranger

"And another problem is how to 'splain this to a very inattentive voter besotted with BHO."

Posted by: glasater | February 26, 2008 at 02:01 PM

The people who need to hear this are not the people who are besotted with Obama already, it is the middle class voter who isn't paying attention at all yet.

An intersting part of this is the way Obama has attacked "predetory lenders" who provided loans to people they knew couldn't pay. Digging into this whole realestate thing shows that Obama seems to have benefited pretty well personally from a lender who loaned Mrs. Rezko a huge chunk of money when she had very little income or assests. Once again, he is hardly an agent of change in any of this.

GMax

Most voters of even barely average intelligence know instinctly what a landlocked parcel of land is worth. When You have to play "mother may I" just to set foot on your property and then play it again to get off, it really reduces the market value a tad. Zero comes to mind but it could be negative, as in " you could not pay me to take title to that."

anduril

GMax or anyone, better double check up on the doctors before connecting the dots. The article I cited says Michelle worked at the University of Chicago (UC) Medical Center, further describing it as a private institution--which UC is. "UIC," where you say the doctors worked, is the University of Illinois at Chicago--a branch of the University of Illinois and NOT a private institution.

Here's an interesting article: “Stereotype Threat” a.k.a. Occam's Butterknife. The article deals with the two well known half black half white Steele brothers: Shelby and Claude. Claude has been a proponent of the, for a while, famous Stereotype Threat theory of why certain groups such as blacks do more poorly on standardized intelligence tests such as the SAT than certain other groups (whites, yellows).

After pointing out that this theory (and you can learn all about it by following the link) has been debunked, the author notes that Claude has also dealt with another troubling phenomenon that seems to be a product of AA. The author also makes a shocking suggestion: honesty really may be the best policy, in social policy as in other areas of life--and a decidedly better policy than placing a taboo on the discussion of troubling facts:

In a 1992 Atlantic article, Steele dealt frankly with this little-known fact:
"This pattern has been documented so broadly across so many regions of the country, and by so many investigations (literally hundreds), that it is virtually a social law in this society--as well as a racial tragedy."

Why do blacks at top schools do even worse than their scores indicate?

Steele found that in the Fifties and Sixties, back before racial quotas, the grades of a black student at an elite college tended to rise from freshman to senior year. Today, though, Steele finds that their GPAs typically decline. Apparently, many quota kids, who could be doing fine at less selective schools, shield their self-esteem by "disidentifying with" (i.e., downplaying) academic achievement.

"To make matters worse," wrote Steele in 1992, "Once disidentification occurs at a school, it can spread like a common cold... Pressure to make it a group norm can evolve quickly and become fierce."

This fear of being labeled an "oreo" or "incognegro" helps explain Steele's disheartening finding that even blacks more qualified than the average white student on campus tend to underachieve, with the same grade deterioration.

The real implication of stereotype threat theory: the simplest way to destroy the stereotype that college's black students' qualifications are inferior is to stop admitting blacks with inferior qualifications under affirmative action programs.

Bottom line: those of us who talk honestly about racial differences in test scores don't do it because we are mean.

We do it because only honesty will help us all to figure out how to do anything about it.

anduril

Jane--you understand that they were, in effect, trying to buy your silence by making you complicit in gaming the system? It's a very sad outlook on life.

glasater--a person who gets an M.D. usually has to pass a state licensing exam before they can practice as a doctor--so you might never have to go to a "doctor" who finished last in his/her class. A friend of one of my brothers who went to Harvard Medical School, generally considered a decent med school, told us that there were plenty of AA admittees who got their M.D.s but then failed the state licensing exams. Apparently med schools, like law schools, figure that the licensing exams are in place to protect the populace from malpractice--a not unreasonable idea--but also to help the schools protect their public image, which might suffer if they flunked out too many of their AA admittees. So they graduate people they know will never practice medicine, content in the knowledge that they've made a statement about their social consciousness. But what a statement!

GMax

I mistyped. I just double checked to make sure. All three work at the Medical Center for the Univesity of Chicago. Thanks for the correction.

I think the UIC came flying from my fingers from where Professor Ayers of the weather underground hangs out poisoning young minds.

clarice

Today is the 15th Anniversary of the WTC bombing. In Miami there was an incident at the airpost where a suspicious man with an Arab name and lots of passports bolted from the security line and was arrested. He had two men traveling with him who'd paid his ticket.
Also in South Fla (Miami and environs) there was a mysterious outage of 8 power stations.

Appalled Moderate

Um, a little political advice guys. Declaring that the wife of the candidate is bitter, angry (and will make hopeful Obama the same way) because of placement in Ivy league schools as a result of affirmative action is...perhaps...a political non-starter?

Better stick to questioning the lady's patriotism...

GMax

Some info on Rezko's sugar daddy courtesy of Rightwing Nuthouse:

Allow me to introduce you to Nadhmi Auchi. He was charged in the 1950s with being an accomplice of Saddam Hussein, when the future tyrant was acquiring his taste for blood. He was investigated in the 1980s for his part in alleged bribes to the fabulously corrupt leaders of post-war Italy. In the 1990s, the Belgium Ambassador to Luxembourg claimed that Auchi’s bank held money Saddam and Colonel Gadaffi had stolen from their luckless peoples. In 2002, officers from the Serious Fraud Squad raided the offices of one of Auchi’s drug companies as part of an investigation of what is alleged to be the biggest swindle ever of the NHS. With allegations, albeit unproven, like these hanging over him, wouldn’t you think that British MPs would have the sense to stay away?

Perhaps you would, but I forgot to add a final fact about Mr Auchi: he is the thirteenth-richest man in Britain, and he has been able to collect British politicians the way other people collect stamps.

First of all, his business dealings make Rezko’s kickback schemes for political contributions look like the minor leagues of sleaze. Auchi had a hand in the biggest political and corporate scandal in post war Europe, the so-called “Elf Affair” where $2 billion francs up and disappeared from the French state oil company Elf.

In a fantastically complex scheme, oil company execs used the state owned company as their own piggy bank, loading up on goodies:

The Auchi case confirms that the political class is attracted to the sleaziest characters in capitalism. Auchi’s conviction was a part of the gigantic investigation into the corruption of the Elf oil company, the biggest fraud inquiry in Europe since the Second World War. Elf became a private bank for its executives who spent £200 million on political favours, mistresses, jewellery, fine art, villas and apartments. By any definition, this was news.

It was only due to the persistence of the French investigating magistrates that Auchi got to Paris. They issued an international arrest warrant in 2000. For three years, the Home Office refused to deport him. Two MPs, Vaz and an unnamed politician, made inquiries. Renaud van Ruymbeke, the French magistrate leading the investigation into the Elf scandal, all but accused Britain of sheltering fugitives. Only after his protests, and pressure from this newspaper did the Home Office relent. Then there were Auchi’s relations with Iraq which have a certain topicality.

Jane

Jane--you understand that they were, in effect, trying to buy your silence by making you complicit in gaming the system? It's a very sad outlook on life.

I dunno, this was the '80's. I wasn't that sophisticated. I was always so grateful for things I probably should have demanded or at least expected.

I've always been a bit of an idiot, albeit a proud one.

Rick Ballard

GMax,

Here is a list of the Rezko transactions re the landing pad. It appears that she used a different lender than BHO (?) and transferred the property to an LLC using another bank. No default filed as yet that I can find.

Is Auchi pronounced "ouchy"?

Anon

Could they have been trying to get around some zoning issue?

Was something grandfathered with the property that necessitated the property be sold together to maintain a zoning acception?

I do NOT know real estate but when you follow Rick's link to the County location-it defines the parcel with the title "condo".

Enlightened

Hmmm..... Terrorists traditionally like the Florida area.....just sayin in re Clarice's post above....

Elliott

I thought I read an article a couple of months ago saying that the Rezkos paid full price on their lot because there was another prospective buyer. I can't find it now though, but I'll keep looking.

Also, in the Rezko Watch items they quote a Chicago Tribune article calling the Rezko's land "a corner lot." Does that mean it does have street access but is currently fenced?

Without further ado, my favorite exerpts from the story in The Times:

Mr Obama now admits his involvement in this land deal was a “boneheaded mistake”.

[snip}

Mr Obama insists he never used his office to do favours for Mr Rezko but admits that, as an Illinois state senator, he once wrote letters to housing officials urging them to provide money in support of a proposed apartment building for elderly people which Mr Rezko wanted to build.

An error by Obama? This would seem to put us in the realm of theological disputation. It's interesting to compare the wording of recent Bloomberg ("The Illinois senator has said he made a 'boneheaded' move...") and Chicago Tribune ("He has called their financial dealings 'boneheaded' because...") stories. But here is another news organization that is willing to put the word "mistake" in an Obama story.

Further, I am impressed that his letters did not contain any "make up your minds, my friends," nonsense. In contrast to John McCain, he had the vision and judgment to take a stand.

Let's hope tonight's debate proves damaging for Democratic electoral prospects. It certainly has that potential.

anduril

I'm sometimes slow on the uptake myself, but I strongly suspect that was the dynamics of the situation. People who have grown up with that mindset assume that everyone else approaches life in the same way--how can I game the system.

Anon

Bingo-on that "condo" zoning-

For $1.5 million, you can buy the vacant lot next door to Sen. Barack Obama's mansion in Chicago's historic Kenwood neighborhood.

It's the same land that has been giving Obama political headaches for nearly two years -- ever since he bought a sliver of it from the wife of Tony Rezko, the now indicted businessman who was once Obama's political patron.

The "For Sale'' signs went up last week after the current owner, attorney Michael Sreenan, said he notified the U.S. Secret Service, whose guards are posted outside Obama's mansion. Sreenan, who still does legal work for Rezko, said he also discussed the sale with Obama's real estate attorney.

Sreenan bought the land 10 months ago when he paid his boss' wife $575,000 for the 750,000-square-foot lot, where he planned to build town houses. He has scrapped those plans, hoping to sell the land for $1.5 million.

Suntimes

Jane

Elliott,

I'm hoping you are around to liveblog. WE should take bets on whether the Red Witch has the cajones to pull out all the stops.

Let's hope Chris Matthews is the moderator just to add to the inanity of it all.

clarice

It will be very interesting. As I understand it beyond the news hype neither has a sufficient number of delegates to be assured of the nomination under party rules and won't no matter what happens in Ohio and Texas. It is looking more and more likely to go to the convention..she has nothing to lose.

GMax

Well I found a bit of a write up on the lender. Mutual Bank of Harvey. See anything that catches your eye here, other than tax dollars I mean.

Taking a closer look, the Mutual Bank of Harvey, Illinois, a certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), was described in 2001 as having "received an award of $1,364,781 for increasing its consumer, single family housing, multifamily housing, commercial real estate, and business lending in several distressed communities."

The owner of the bank is Amrish Mahajan, who, according to the Chicago Tribune helped raise $500,000 for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich between 2001-2007 and has "lent millions of dollars to indicted Blagojevich fundraiser Antoin 'Tony' Rezko."

Elliott

Jane,

I will be back. I don't know what the Clinton approach will be tonight, but I do think that Hillary Clinton is going to stay in to the end. Even if she finishes a couple hundred delegates back that still gives her nearly three months for any damaging information on Obama to surface.

cathyf
GMax or anyone, better double check up on the doctors before connecting the dots. The article I cited says Michelle worked at the University of Chicago (UC) Medical Center, further describing it as a private institution--which UC is. "UIC," where you say the doctors worked, is the University of Illinois at Chicago--a branch of the University of Illinois and NOT a private institution.
The two doctors are at UC, too, not UIC. Fastest way to yank the chain of a UofC student/faculty/staff/alumnus is to politely enquire "Circle?" when told that the person is associated with "UC", "UofC" or "University of Chicago".

The University of Illinois as Chicago Circle (known as "Circle" or "UIC") is a second-rate state school, much lower in reputation to its big brother, the University of Illinois (which is in Urbana, IL.) Which, in turn, has a much lower reputation than the University of Chicago, which is top-10-in-the-world in virtually every department. Chicagoans are mostly ignorant of its stellar reputation, thinking of it vaguely as a home to communists.

Anon

Well speaking of stuff the media is not "letting you see"-

The next step in the "Caucus fight" in Nevada-turned into a near riot,and an ugly mess.

Had to be CANCELLED.

the campaign's supposedly could not file or register delegates properly so they both called anyone who participated in the first round to fill in-there is some claiming that the Obama camp practiced this the most with the union s that endorsed him,legitimate delegates could not gain entry.

When Hillary's delegates could not "show up" Obama's camp tried to show up for the "no shows" according to the "rules".

Now Obama's camp wants that vote to "count" even though it was such a mess.

Rory Reid-county commissioner-yes Harry's son is trying to negotiate a more "orderly do-over" and is having trouble getting even that concession.

Rory Reid is a delegate for Hillary.

Rick Ballard

Anon,

I'm trying to follow the pin #[s] back - the partial legal descriptions aren't all that helpful. It appears as if Lots 2,3,4 might have had one parcel number at one time and then were split. It's impossible to determine without a plat and a complete legal description. Note that the mortgage amount of $3,270,000 is from 1998. There is a second residence using the same address and it is possible that there have been several subdivisons requiring new PINs.

GMax

If that write up is true, the land would have to be 17.2 acres. I dont see how a parcel of that size could be described as being worht $40,000 as in below:

In January 2006, Rita Rezko sold a 1/6 portion of the lot she had purchased in June 2005 to the Obamas, who paid $104,500 for it—even though the property's market value was only $40,500.

I think the whole lot was around 7500 SF, too small to build a house on in many suburbs of DFW for example. And she sold a strip off of around 1200 SF, leaving now a remainder of about 6300 SF. A tract that measures 100 long and 63 feet deep would be 6300 SF. Pretty damn small.

Topsecretk9

GOP Senators just pw3nd Harry Reid, voted for cloture that Harry filed.

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Wilson/Plame