Sunday, 20 January 2008

PEACE PARTNER UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

Here, courtesy of www.littlegreenfootballs.com, is the latest insight into how well the people Israel is supposed to make peace with work and play among themselves:

Sat, Jan 19, 2008 at 9:33:06 am PST

You know youre starting to get a bit cynical when you read a story like this one and it makes you break out laughing: Hamas claims to have foiled Fatah plot to kill Haniya.

Its a many-layered baklava of deceitful irony.

GAZA CITY (AFP) - A senior Hamas leader on Saturday said the Islamist group had foiled a plot by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbass Fatah party to assassinate dismissed Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya.

Hamas-run police had arrested a would-be suicide bomber, who was a member of Fatah, former interior minister Said Siam told a press conference in Gaza City.

Siam said the Fatah plotters had planned to kill Haniya at Friday prayers.

Fatah spokesman Fahmi Zaarir rejected the accusation as ridiculous in a statement from the partys headquarters in Ramallah.

During a raid on the house of an explosives expert involved in the plot, Hamas-run police had found plans to assassinate prime minister Ismail Haniya during Friday prayers with a suicide bomber wearing an explosives belt, Siam said.

Now tell me again why Israel is having trouble making peace with these friendly, harmonious folk?  I just can't understand it.


POLLS VERSUS REALITY: NEVADA & SOUTH CAROLINA

Ken Berwitz

TheNevada caucuses and South Carolina Republican primary are over. Now, how did the polls do?

Nevada Democratic caucuses:

Three of the four polls showed Hillary Clinton defeating Barack Obama, and one had Obama winning.  The average of those polls was Cliinton with 37%, Obama with 33% and  20% for John Edwards. 

In reality, the results were 51% for Clinton, 45% for Obama and 4% for Edwards.  So although three of the polls picked the winner, not one of them got any of the actual percentages anywhere near right. 

In fact, not one of the percentages for Clinton or Obama or Edwards on any poll were even within the statistical margin of error.  

Nevada Republican Caucuses:

Then we have the Republican caucuses.  The polls averaged Romney wiunning by 26% to 21% to John McCain, Huckabee, Giuliani and Thompson tightly bunched at 11% - 12%, and ron paul last, with 7%.

Reality?  Romney won with 51% and ron paul was second at 14%.  McCain got 13%, Huckabee 8% and Thompson and Giuliani were at 4%.

The winning margins of the three polls, indidividually, showed Romney ahead 15% over McCain, Romney ahead 7% over McCain and McCain ahead 4% over Romney. In the real world, though, Romney won by 37% and it was ron paul in second place. 

Not one of the polls came within margin of error on Romney's 51% or McCain's 13%.  Not one of them came within TRIPLE the margin of error on Romney's 51%. 

South Carolina Republican Primary:

How did the polls see this one?   They averaged McCain and Huckabee each getting 26%, Romney and Thompson each at 15%, ron paul at 4% and Rudy Giuliani at 3%.

The real story?  McCain 33%, Huckabee 31%, Thompson 16%, Romney 15%, paul 4% and Giuliani 2%. 

In fairness, the averaged data showed McCain and Huckabee about as close as they actually were in real life. But - again - the actual vote totals were significantly different.  Other than SurveyUSA and ARG (which got the result wrong by predicting a 7% win for McCain), not one of the polls were even within the margin of error for either candidate's final percentage. 

A further word on ARG, which had Huckabee winning the primary by 7%.   Dor yourself a favor and read back on ARG's results for the previous primaries and caucuses.  You will see that ARG is so wrong so often by so much that it is actually laughable to read their sh.....er, stuff.

If media paid any attention at all, they'd have told you about ARG by now.  But they haven't, have they?  That, in my opinion, is because the value of polls to a good many reporters is to indulge their own laziness. "Here are the numbers, they're very scientific, honest, so you have the story and my job's done."  Or.....maybe it's because ARG is run by a partisan Democrat.  You decide.

I will finish the way I did after the Michigan retrospective:  Are you still impressed by political polls?  Yeesh, I hope not.


UNITY, OR "DISS" UNITY

Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama has to feel like the walls are suddenly closing in on him.  Hillary Clinton has won the last two primaries/caucuses and the Clintons, as a team, are performing frontal surgery on his political background and race. Add in the disastrous hit piece on his dealings with Tony Rezko in today's Chicago Sun-Times and things are probably starting to look bleak, or worse.

Maybe that's why these two statements are emanating from Mr. Obama at the same time: 

Barack Obama, in an interview taped for viewing tomorrow (Monday) on Good Morning America, courtesy of www.drudgereport.com:

OBAMA RIPS INTO BILL CLINTON MONDAY DURING ABC INTERVIEW WITH 'GOOD MORNING AMERICA' HOST ROBIN ROBERTS... SAYS HE FEELS LIKE HE RUNNING AGAINST BOTH CLINTONS... Bill 'has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling. He continues to make statements that are not supported by the facts. Whether it's about my record of opposition to the war in Iraq or our approach to organizing in Las Vegas. This has become a habit and one of the things that we're gonnna have to do is to directly confront Bill Clinton when he's making statements that are not factually accurate'.

Barack Obama, speaking in Atlanta today (Sunday) at Martin Luther King's church, courtesy of www.breitbart.com:

"At a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today," Obama said.

"'Unity is the great need of the hour' is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome".

Maybe I'm being overly picky, but those two statements just don't match. 

I hate to say it (because I want to see a serious competition between Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton), but it looks like Obama's inexperience and lack of the intestinal fortitude level necessary take on Bill and Hill are kicking in big-time. 

Maybe John Edwards, who ought to know by now that he's dead meat, can toss his nominal level of support Obama's way.  That might pump things up again. 

But without some kind of serious and timely adrenalin boost, I have to say that Obama may well be on the precipice of fading back and handing the nomination to Ms. Clinton.


OBAMA AND REZKO? UH-OH.

Ken Berwitz

I've written about the unsavory relationship between Senator Barack Obama and the eminently corrupt Antoin "Tony" Rezko before.  And, for no good reason, it has sat beneath the surface for months without becoming a major issue in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But the devastating piece about Obama's relationship with Rezko in Today's Chicago Sun-Times is absolute poison for him - particularly as we go into the high-gear primary season (i.e. the two weeks before "Super Tuesday/February 5th)

For a full look at how damaging this really is, please click on the "related stories" links and read them - especially the one titled "Rezko cash triple what Obama says":

Sun-Times Exclusive: Obama surfaces in Rekzo's federal corruption case

Source confirmed Obama is the unnamed "political candidate" referred to in document which outlines case against Rezko

January 20, 2008

For the first time, Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama has surfaced in the federal corrupton case against his longtime campaign fund-raiser, Tony Rezko, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The Illinois senator isnt accused of any wrongdoing. And theres no evidence Obama knew contributions to his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign came from schemes Rezko is accused of orchestrating.

The allegations against Rezko that involve Obama are contained in one paragraph of a 78-page document filed last month in which prosecutors outline their corruption and fraud case against Rezko, who was also a key money man for Gov. Blagojevich and other politicians.

Rezko is set to go to trial Feb. 25. The revelation that Obamas name could come up in court is a political headache he doesnt need as he heads into a round of primaries that are likely to determine his partys nomination for president.

Obama is not named in the Dec. 21 court document. But a source familiar with the case confirmed that Obama is the unnamed political candidate referred to in a section of the document that accuses Rezko of orchestrating a scheme in which a firm hired to handle state teacher pension investments first had to pay $250,000 in sham finders fees. From that money, $10,000 was donated to Obamas successful run for the Senate in the name of a Rezko business associate, according to the court filing and the source.

Rezko, who was part of Obamas senatorial finance committee, also is accused of directing at least one other individual to donate money to Obama and then reimbursing that individual in possible violation of federal election law.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald declined to comment.

Obama a state senator when he got the contributions in 2004 has moved to distance himself from Rezko since his longtime friend and supporter was indicted in October 2006. After news reports that Obama had engaged in a real estate transaction with Rezkos wife at a time Tony Rezko was known to be under investigation, the senator called the episode boneheaded and a mistake.

No way of knowing

Obama campaign aides said Friday he was unaware Rezko was behind the contributions cited in last months court filing or that the document referred to the senator.

We have no way of knowing he is the politician named here, spokesman Bill Burton said, but we returned this money months ago for other reasons.

Obama donated more than $44,000 in Rezko-linked contributions to charity last year, including the $10,000 donation mentioned in the court filing.

That money was donated to Obama by Joseph Aramanda, a Glenview businessman and Rezko associate who, sources have said, is the Individual D prosecutors say received the $250,000 in finders fees demanded by Rezko. Individual D did nothing to earn those fees, according to prosecutors.

The $10,000 contribution to Obama was given in Aramandas name on March 5, 2004, records show. While Obamas camp has said the senator did not know Aramanda, Obamas office hired Aramandas son as an intern in 2005, at Rezkos urging.

Repeated attempts to reach Aramanda, who was involved in pizza franchises Rezko owned, were unsuccessful. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

A longstanding relationship

Rezko is one of Obamas earliest political patrons. Long known as a prolific fund-raiser, the Syrian-born businessman helped raise money for Obamas political campaigns beginning in 1995, when Obama was running for the Illinois Senate.

In 13 years in politics, Obama has gotten at least $168,000 in campaign donations from Rezko, his family and business associates. The Sun-Times reported that figure last June. Obamas best estimate seven months earlier had been that Rezko had raised no more than $60,000 for him.

When Obama ran for the U.S. Senate, Rezko held a June 27, 2003, cocktail party in Rezkos Wilmette mansion, picking up the tab for the lavish event. Obamas campaign staff has said it has no records to show who attended that party, or how much it cost.

Obamas relationship with Rezko dates to 1990, when Obama, then a Harvard law student, interviewed for a job with Rezkos development company, Rezmar Corp. Obama turned down the job, instead going to work for a small Chicago law firm Davis Miner Barnhill. That firm did work on more than a dozen low-income housing projects Rezmar rehabbed with government funds.

Eleven Rezmar buildings were in the state Senate district Obama represented between 1996 and 2004. Many of the buildings ended up in foreclosure, with tenants living in squalid conditions, the Sun-Times reported last year. In one instance, Rezkos company left tenants without heat for five weeks. Obama said he was unaware of problems with the buildings and minimized the legal work hed done.

Obamas relationship with Rezko grew closer in June 2005, when Obama and Rezkos wife bought adjoining real estate parcels from a doctor in the South Side Kenwood neighborhood. Obama paid $1.65 million for the doctors mansion, while Rezkos wife paid $625,000 for the vacant lot next door. Obamas purchase price was $300,000 below the asking price; Rezkos wife paid full price.

Six months later, Obama paid Rita Rezko $104,500 for one-sixth of the vacant lot, which he bought to expand his yard. In November 2006, he expressed regret about the transaction.

It was a mistake to have been engaged with him at all in this or any other personal business dealing that would allow him, or anyone else, Obama said, to believe that he had done me a favor.

Sen. Obama Presidential Campaign Q&A

A Chicago Sun-Times Exclusive: Sen. Barack Obamas presidential campaign gave the following written responses to these questions about the Rezko court filing.

Q. What is Sen. Obamas reaction to being referred to in the Rezko evidentiary proffer?

A. We have no way of knowing he is the politician named here but we returned this money months ago for other reasons.

Q. Was Sen. Obama aware that Rezko allegedly had directed at least one person to donate to the senators campaign and later reimbursed that person, possibly violating federal election law?

A. No.

Q. Has the Federal Election Commission or the U.S. attorneys office in Chicago contacted the senator or any of his representatives about these matters?

A. No.

Q. Why has the senator donated to charity campaign contributions from Rezko and Rezko-linked people?

A. In keeping with our practice of donating to charity donations from people who have been called into question through the legal process, when he was named in documents as potentially engaging in wrongdoing we thought it was appropriate to return his donation to charity.

Q. Does the senator think this development will have any impact on the presidential campaign or undercut the senators message that he is an agent of change?

A. No. In fact, Sen. Obama has been a champion of reforms that have made campaign finance laws more transparent so that the public can more closely follow the source of contributions to campaigns. As with any campaign, occasionally individual contributions are called into question. Sen. Obamas policy in such instances is to donate that money to charity which is what he did in this case seven months ago when questions first surfaced. .

Uh-oh, and double uh-oh. 

Mr. Obama is already in trouble.  He just lost to Ms. Clinton in New Hampshire and again in the Nevada caucuses.  And this scandal is sure to follow him into the South Carolina primary on January 26, then Florida and finally Super Tuesday.

I hope for Barack Obama's sake he has a better answer than what you just read in the above article.  Because if he doesn't this may be the deal-breaker;  the end to any realistic chance he has at the Democratic nomination, or even a VP offer.

How ironic it would be that a Clinton might down Obama on ethics!


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