Sunday, July 20, 2008

Suspected illegal donations: Obama, who is Jeanne McCurdy?

A small note: The John Jay (an historic name!) mentioned below is NOT jonjayray -- much as I would like to be of assistance to the feisty Pamela Geller

John Jay has been assisting me in analyzing small foreign contributions to Obama's campaign that Atlas reader Laura sent me. It appears to be, after cross checking FEC documents, a list of the Obama For America Contributors.

On its face, the list (under 500 pages) is suspect. So many foreign addresses giving money to the Presidential campaign. There are numerous individuals who are "bundling" contributions, some are smaller from the same person on same day, not to mention lots "unemployed or student". Further, there's a ton of foreign service and State Department admissions.

lots and lots of multiple entries.

lots of foreign service, diplomat entries.

lots of military analyst types.

lots way over any $200 non-reporting caps.

Other overseas contributors are making multiple small donations ostensibly in their own names over a period of a few days, some under maximum donation allowances, but others aggregating in excess of the maximums when all added up. So while some of the contributions appear legal, others appear clearly over the maximums allowed without greater reporting requirement. Some of the contributions may be legal as reported, but "fishy" can only describe the Obama campaign reporting with regard to aggregate contributions. The countries and major cities from which contributions have been received France, Virgin Islands, Planegg, Vienna, Hague, Madrid, London, AE, IR, Geneva,Tokyo, Bangkok, Turin, Paris, Munich, Madrid, Roma, Zurich, Netherlands, Moscow, Ireland, Milan, Singapore, Bejing, Switzerland, Toronto, Vancouver, La Creche, Pak Chong, Dublin, Panama, Krabi, Berlin, Geneva, Buenos Aires, Prague, Nagoya, Budapest, Barcelona, Sweden, Taipei, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Zurich, Ragusa, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Uganda, Mumbia, Nagoya, Tunis, Zacatecas, St, Croix, Mississiauga, Laval, Nadi, Behchoko, Ragusa, DUBIA, Lima, Copenhagen, Quaama, Jeddah, Kabul, Cairo, Nassau(not the county on Long Island,lol), Luxembourg (Auchi's stomping grounds), etc,etc,etc, but nare ot limited to these countries, as we've have just begun to read through almost 500 pages.

There are way too many overseas contributions and I find it hard to believe they are all American citizens. How does the FEC monitor that? Some of contributions appear to be "bundled" from one person as source to hide the contributions of many, and an example of one among many such "incidents" will clearly show why I arrive at such a conclusion..

A red flag is a donor like Jeanne McCurdy. Look at the contribution excerpt below. It's a compilation of a mere four pages of listings, pages 40-44, approximately 9% of the pages of the total document I received, and it lists contributions made by a Jeanne McCurdy, who is always listed as unemployed, and who does not have an address at least as can be found in the files provided (and, as you might well expect, no phone number or email address either).

John did a computation of her contributions from roughly Aug. 07 through Feb/Mar of 08, and it is over $1200. She ranges from a $15 to a $400 contribution, most running $25/35 to $50. Several of her separate contributions are listed on the same day, a very curious way to make campaign contributions, which are usually in response to mailed solicitations. (She should accumulate them, save on postage.)

This is a scam. It appears to us he is fronting the contributions to hide the contributors. Now, why in the hell would he do that? He doesn't want people to know who his contributors are? What an odd approach for a politician. Now, this woman, Jeanne Mccurdy (is she is a woman, a real or ficticious person?) appears to be mining a population of people who do not wish their identities known.....

How do we find Jeanne McCurdy?

We need to convert this list to a data sheet, so we can compile individual contribution, , the dates and the amounts paid in, and aggregate the total contributions. There are about 5 or 6 people who "feel" like the Hitchcockian Ms. McCurdy in this mess, so far, and we're only 44 pages through a close to 500 page document. Can any Atlas reader tell me how to convert a word document to a data sheet?

More here

A cast of hundreds: Who isn't an Obama foreign policy adviser?!

So Barack Obama has 300 foreign policy advisers. 300. That's quite a carbon footprint. But he needs that many-not just to compensate for his complete lack of foreign policy chops, but because he throws so many of his advisers and acolytes off the bus each week. Gotta have padding. Jennifer Rubin points out that the man who subscribes to the Winnie the Pooh School of Foreign Policy is on the list and adds:
Most troubling is the possibility that the performance of the campaign's foreign policy apparatus is a preview of the Obama administration's foreign policy apparatus. There are apparently hundreds (if not thousands) of folks waiting to join the State and Defense Departments who hold beliefs that defy evidence and logic. They honestly believe that Iraq is unimportant, unconditional direct talks with Iran will unlock the promise of world peace, we can talk up protectionism at home without scaring our trading partners, and the less input from military commanders in war zones the better.

Take your pick as to which theory makes the most sense. But 300? I guess it takes a lot of people to script a foreign trip so tightly that there is no room for a gaffe..

To quote from one of the Obama camp's favorite foreign policy texts, "Pooh's Little Instruction Book:" "Those who are clever, who have a brain, never understand anything."


Obama the spendthrift

The $52 million figure may not be a disaster for the Obama campaign, but it is hardly a success. Not just because it's far below what the Obama campaign projected in June. It's a disappointment because it includes general election contributions from those who had previously maxed out. Remember also that unlike the money McCain is raising, which has to be spent by the time he receives $84 million in public financing, Obama's money needs to last all the way through the election.

With a burn rate of $42 million a month, Obama's campaign can just barely sustain its current levels of spending. And what's left over may not be adequate to run the kind of campaign he needs to win. Just consider despite all the money he's raised, Obama has been outspent on television by 3 to 1 in the last two months. All the stagecraft and theatrics has come with a hefty cost.

Compared to the McCain campaign, Obama has spent three-and-a-half times as much on payroll and benefits, ten times on event staging, two-and-a-half times as much on travel and lodging, and three times as much on food and meetings. Despite being given free protection from the Secret Service, which has proven sufficient for other candidates, the Obama campaign has spent nearly $400,000 on outside security consulting, nearly all of it paid to a security firm that specializes in dangers emerging from "political instability, acts of terrorism, kidnapping, white collar crime, and cyber-attacks."

Although the Obama campaign has portrayed itself as "frugal" for making staffers take public transportation from O'Hare, FEC reports of the campaign's spending paint a very different picture. Obama's overhead is $10 million more per month than McCain's, and this is likely to increase substantially given his campaign's out of control spending and lofty plans for the general election.

Obama recently told reporters, "I've never been a big entourage guy. . And that takes some getting used to." Well, the size of Obama's campaign suggests he's gotten used to the idea very quickly. Before even locking up the nomination, Obama's paid staff was already in excess of 700 people. In the last month, Obama has hired dozens if not hundreds of staffers, and his National Field Coordinator said the campaign anticipates deploying more than 2,000 paid staffers to every state in the country. Sending 15 paid staffers to Texas might make a good sound bite, but politically speaking, it is flushing money down the toilet.

A paid staff of 2,000 is unheard of in the history of presidential elections. Consider that it's five times larger than Bush's campaign staff in 2004, which is the next biggest ever assembled. Indeed, Obama will have more people working on his campaign than President Bush currently has in the whole White House. And if Obama spends like this when he needs to raise the money himself, one can only imagine what he'll do when he can instead tap the tax coffers of the U.S. Treasury.


Obama: Beginning government education at birth?

Recently, after reading an excellent article at American Thinker, I decided to take a glimpse at Senator Obama's education plan. This plan is presented in a more detailed format in a document titled "Barack Obama's Plan for Lifetime Success Through Education." What I read there was more than a little disturbing, particularly his early childhood education plan.

Sen. Obama's plan begins with a "Zero to Five Plan". That is not a plan for pre-kindergarten students; it is a plan for infants beginning just after birth. In fact, one of his "Success Through Education" header statements is "A Pre-School Agenda That Begins At Birth". Sen. Obama would plunk $10 billion a year in federal tax dollars down to provide "high-quality child care" for children, to expand access to Early Head Start (is this redundant?), Head Start, and pre-school, and create a council to the president (himself) which would coordinate these efforts nation-wide.

While Sen. Obama's plan does appear to delegate responsibility for these programs to the various states, one comment in the document gives pause to that thought. Sen. Obama's plan calls the current state of early child education a "patchwork" that is "inadequate". So while the Senator may claim that states will have options within the plan, one might easily assume that funds received from this proposed $10 billion would come with significant strings.

This seems to me to be the policy beginnings of nationalized child care, not simply education. It only rides in the Trojan Horse of "education reform". Sen. Obama's plan dovetails seamlessly with a recent report by the National Health Institutes that the percentage of unmarried births to women age 20-24 has risen to 58%. Why should a young, single mother worry about raising her child? For that matter, why would a young woman of any background think twice about having a child that she probably can't raise without great difficulty? The government will take care of the child - an Obama administration would allow for the child's care and education (read: child rearing) from year zero. And that is the beginning of real state indoctrination.


Obama Supports... Preemptive War?

Oh, I'm sure he didn't mean that. What did he mean? I have no idea, and I doubt he does either. Captain Bullshit's words do not necessarily accord with any sort of coherent reality. But what does this mean?
"The danger ... is that we are constantly fighting the last war, responding to the threats that have come to fruition, instead of staying one step ahead of the threats of the 21st century."

Ermm... wasn't that Bush's rationale for waging a "war of choice" in Iraq? to stay ahead of threats before they came to fruition? Even if Obama wants to claim that Bush's judgment was inaccurate, he seems to agree with the basics of the idea -- and he, like anyone else, must accept that prophecy is a very difficult business, unless you're actually the Lamb of God, which I guess Obama is, so maybe it won't be so hard for Obama to see the future.


An Iraqi view of the Messiah

Even the NYT (excerpts below) sees problems with an American withdrawal from Iraq. For a comment on the propaganda in the full NYT article, see here

A tough Iraqi general, a former special operations officer with a baritone voice and a barrel chest, melted into smiles when asked about Senator Barack Obama. "Everyone in Iraq likes him," said the general, Nassir al-Hiti. "I like him. He's young. Very active. We would be very happy if he was elected president."

But mention Mr. Obama's plan for withdrawing American soldiers, and the general stiffens. "Very difficult," he said, shaking his head. "Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: for now, we don't have that ability." Thus in a few brisk sentences, the general summed up the conflicting emotions about Mr. Obama in Iraq, the place outside America with perhaps the most riding on its relationship with him.

There was, as Mr. Obama prepared to visit here, excitement over a man who is the anti-Bush in almost every way: a Democrat who opposed a war that many Iraqis feel devastated their nation. And many in the political elite recognize that Mr. Obama shares their hope for a more rapid withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

But his support for troop withdrawal cuts both ways, reflecting a deep internal quandary in Iraq: for many middle-class Iraqis, affection for Mr. Obama is tempered by worry that his proposal could lead to chaos in a nation already devastated by war. Many Iraqis also acknowledge that security gains in recent months were achieved partly by the buildup of American troops, which Mr. Obama opposed and his presumptive Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, supported.

"In no way do I favor the occupation of my country," said Abu Ibrahim, a Western-educated businessman in Baghdad, "but there is a moral obligation on the Americans at this point." Like many Iraqis, Mr. Ibrahim sees Mr. Obama favorably, describing him as "much more humane than Bush or McCain." "He seems like a nice guy," Mr. Ibrahim said. But he hoped that Mr. Obama's statements about a relatively fast pullout were mere campaign talk. "It's a very big assumption that just because he wants to pull troops out, he'll be able to do it," he said. "The American strategy in the region requires troops to remain in Iraq for a long time." ...

Race is also a consideration. Muhammad Ahmed Kareem, 49, an engineer from Mosul, said he had high expectations of Mr. Obama because his experience as a black man in America might give him more empathy for others who feel oppressed by a powerful West. "Blacks suffered a lot of discrimination, much like Arabs," Mr. Kareem said. "That's why we expect that his tenure will be much better."

But Mr. Obama also frames the sometimes contradictory feelings Iraqis have about America as the withdrawal of troops has moved closer to the political mainstream in both countries. Already, the units brought in for the so-called surge last year have left, and the Bush administration has in recent days acknowledged the need both to transfer troops from Iraq to an ever-more-volatile Afghanistan and to recognize that a broader withdrawal is an "aspirational goal" for Iraqis.

For General Hiti, who commands a swath of western Baghdad, the American military is a necessary, if vexing, presence. He ticks off the ways it helps: evacuating wounded Iraqi soldiers, bringing in helicopters when things go wrong, defusing bombs, getting detailed pictures of areas from drone planes.

But the issue of withdrawal is immensely complex, and some of the functions mentioned by General Hiti would not be affected under Mr. Obama's plan. The senator is calling for the withdrawal of combat brigades, but has said a residual force would still pursue extremist militants, protect American troops and train Iraqi security forces.

But for some Iraqis the American presence remains the backbone of security in the neighborhood. Saidiya, a southern Baghdad district, was so brutalized by violence a year ago that a young Iraqi television reporter who fled thought he would never come back. But a telephone call from his father in December persuaded him to return. An American unit had planted itself in the district, helping chase away radicals. The family could go out shopping. They could drive their car to the gas station.

"The Americans paved the way for the Iraqi Army there," said the young man, who married this year. "If they weren't there, the Iraqi forces could not have taken control." Even so, he agreed with Mr. Obama's plan for a faster withdrawal. American forces "helped the Iraqi Army to get back its dignity," he said. "They are qualified now."

Falah al-Alousy is the director of an organization that runs a school in an area south of Baghdad that was controlled by religious extremists two years ago. Former insurgents turned against the militant group, but local authorities still rely heavily on Americans to keep the peace; the Iraqi Army, largely Shiite, is not allowed to patrol in the area, Mr. Alousy said. "Al Qaeda would rearrange itself and come back, if the Americans withdraw," he said. As for Mr. Obama's plan for withdrawal, "It's just propaganda for an election."

Most Iraqis dislike the fact that their country is occupied, but a few well-educated Iraqis who have traveled abroad say they would not oppose a permanent American military presence, something that Mr. Obama opposes. Saad Sultan, the Iraqi government official, said his travels in Germany, where there have been American bases since the end of World War II, softened his attitude toward a long-term presence. "I have no problem to have a camp here," he said. "I find it in Germany and that's a strong country. Why not in Iraq?"


Michelle Obama as Political Naif? Hardly...

Barack Obama's campaign released yesterday a statement condemning criticism of various of Michelle Obama's statements on the campaign trail as somehow out-of-bounds, characterizing them as "shameful ... and mean-spirited." As others have noted, describing such criticism of Ms. Obama 'off-limits' is somewhat disingenuous, as her statements were made campaigning on behalf of her husband.

Sen. Obama himself referred to his wife as a 'civilian' of sorts, and not really part of the politics of the campaign.

The 'Michelle Obama's comments can't be criticized' stance is especially specious when one considers Ms. Obama's near life-long connections to political life in Chicago: her father was a Chicago Democratic Party precinct captain under the first Mayor Daley; Jesse Jackson's eldest daughter sang at the Obama's wedding and is the godmother to the Obama's eldest child; and Ms. Obama worked as an aide to the second and current Mayor Daley.

Additionally, it's not as if the beautiful, talented, and double-Ivy League degreed Ms. Obama is some kind of slouch in the business of public relations, either: she has held two highly-paid positions at the University of Chicago Hospitals -- executive director for community affairs (with a salary of about $120,000) and vice president for community and external affairs (with a salary of over $300,000). Ms. Obama has also served on the board of directors of at least five different organizations.

Somehow the notion that someone who grew up around politics, who has a close, long-time friend whose family was 'in the business,' who herself worked for Chicago's Mayor Daley, who herself became a highly-paid executive whose duties presumably included public relations, who served as a board member of multiple organizations, and who herself campaigned for the candidate -- the notion that such a person can be presented as some kind of untouchable political naif -- floating above the fray -- is pure, unadulterated nonsense.



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