Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Obama in New York

My previous post inspired me to spend a short while looking into a few of the mysteries surrounding Barack Obama's New York years. Alas, researching these areas is not easy, since Googling quickly takes one into right-wing realms where it is commonly assumed that Obama belonged, and belongs, to an imaginary socialist (or even Illuminati) conspiracy. One must proceed with some caution. Viewing such sites is like dumpster diving: A bin of trash can hide the occasional goody.

Here's what I found.

It is an odd fact that only two people claim to recall Barack Obama at Columbia: Professor Michael Baron, who taught a seminar on politics, and Michael Wolf, another seminar attendee who later went on to head MTV. That class is the only one that Obama provably attended. No other Columbia student -- and many have been interviewed -- can recall seeing him. By contrast, the news media have tracked down quite a few people who recall going to school with young Barry in Indonesia.

Although Obama will not make his records available, we know that he was not graduated with honors. Nevertheless, he somehow got into Harvard. Libertarian Party VP Wayne Allyn Root says that he (Root) received a B+ average from Columbia in this same period yet was told not to bother applying to any ivy-league grad schools. How likely is it that Obama could have bettered Mr. Root's B+ GPA without receiving honors of any sort?

Root never met, saw or heard of Barack Obama, even though they both shared the same major at the same college at the same time. Obama is not in the year book. Nobody can find his senior year thesis on Soviet nuclear disarmament.

From the NYT:
Mr. Obama arrived in New York in August 1981, at age 20, from Occidental College in Los Angeles. According to his memoir, he passed his first night in an alley near 109th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, unable to get into his apartment. The next morning, he bathed at a hydrant alongside a homeless man.
Yet he had spent that summer on an expensive jaunt to foreign climes.
He writes that “it was only now that I began to grasp the almost mathematical precision with which America’s race and class problems joined; the depth, the ferocity, of resulting tribal wars; the bile that flowed freely not just out on the streets but in the stalls of Columbia’s bathrooms as well,” where the graffiti was both racist and anti-Semitic.
I can agree about the conjoining of racial and class issues. But one detail here strikes me as unbelievable: The graffiti. Obama and I are pretty much of the same generation. I don't recall ever seeing racist graffiti at UCLA during my inglorious period of attendance there. Neither did I see such graffiti before that period or at any time afterward. I got into the habit of using the UCLA libraries during high school, and the habit has never left me. Moreover, I've never seen racial graffiti at any other university, major or minor -- and I've visited many.

(Back in the 1970s, one UCLA library stall did offer a familiar message: "JOHN 3:19 IN THE BIBLE!" Beneath it, someone else wrote: "Sorry, can't make it. Can I pencil you in for 4:30 in the dictionary? -- John.")

Was the graffiti situation much different at Columbia? Frankly, I doubt it.
He tells of underheated sublets, a night spent in an alley, a dead neighbor on the landing. From their fire escape, he and an unnamed roommate watch “white people from the better neighborhoods” bring their dogs to defecate on the block.
So white people were literally shitting on poor Barry. Nevertheless, he managed to be graduated from both Columbia and Harvard, despite a mostly unserious attitude toward academia and a GPA that he now seems oddly reticent to discuss. Frankly, I would have given a lot for the privilege of being "oppressed" the way Barack Obama has been oppressed.

This right-wing blogger posits a conspiracy:
Perhaps Obama, as an activist at Columbia, was a little like a football player on scholarship. He is not ever seen in class, because he is not ever in class. It is generally understood, at least among the staff, that he has other things to be doing. And it might even be that someone else is doing his homework.

In other words, he might have been an intern/catamite/etc in some parallel, opaque world of activist politics. The goal is to have a capable young man for a couple of years who will do all kinds of odd jobs for you, while in exchange receiving a Columbia degree.
This conspiracy theory is, on its face, foolish. There never has been and never will be an "activist" power bloc capable of rigging university records in this fashion. But I can think of a Certain Intelligence Agency which might have been able to do the trick. Scroll down a couple of posts for more about that possibility.


Anonymous said...

Lets see, he's brilliant and charismatic but nobody remembers him?

White people leave their nice neighborhoods to walk their dogs in the ghetto?

What's wrong with this picture?

Anonymous said...

Oh hugamug! Me thinks you is a CIA tool bent on gathering tin foils in a place where they can be categorized, cataloged, and counted.

--Illuminati in Iowa

Anonymous said...

Obama loves Pakistani culture:

“‘I would love to visit. As you know, I had Pakistani roommates in college who were very close friends of mine. I went to visit them when I was still in college; was in Karachi and went to Hyderabad. Their mothers taught me to cook,’ said Mr Obama.

‘What can you cook?’

‘Oh, keema ... daal ... You name it, I can cook it. And so I have a great affinity for Pakistani culture and the great Urdu poets.’

‘You read Urdu poetry?’

‘Absolutely. So my hope is that I’m going to have an opportunity at some point to visit Pakistan,’ said Mr Obama.”

That must have been one hell of a trip.

Tina Tequila said...

So,the white people placed their dogs in their cars and drove to the ghetto to allow them to relieve themselves? If they don't want it on their lawns,they certainly won't take a chance of Fido pooping in their cars. And if they walked to the slums,Fido would have pooped along the way.
And how is Tina Tequila so knowledgeable about dog poop? Well, because she's been a Vet Tech for 23years.

Anonymous said...

I graduated before President Obama and from a much smaller school. I remember clearly two people that were students in my major classes. One was a dear and very mischievous friend and the other was a genius. The rest were slackers, mediocrities, and chair warmers. I think I know which category you know who falls within.

Anonymous said...

The NY years are certainly a mystery, but I honestly don't think it has anything to do with the CIA. I think Obama was simply a social outsider. As such, he connected with other outsiders--the foreign students--especially those who were not white. The brilliant young NY woman who attended SUNY when she was in her pre-teens admitted in an interview that her only school friends were the foreign students because all of them shared a bond of feeling like outsiders.

What does strike me as peculiar, in addition to the Harvard admission, based on what appears to have been a mediocre academic record at Columbia, is that most students who need financial aid typically hold part-time jobs to help pay for their education. Obama talks about being poor in those days, but is there any mention of whether he was putting himself through school financially?


Anonymous said...

I thought the dog poop touch to the story was pretty funny.

You can pass without ever really going to class. You just have to turn in your papers and show up for the exams. If you are connected, you can pass no matter what.

Still, the story is fishy to me. I worked full-time and lived off-campus while attending an urban ivy league school, and so did not take part in school activities. But, I managed to make friends! and quite a few people remember me. (And, unlike Obama, I was a very quiet person.)

(My parents would not let me apply to Columbia, where I wanted to go, because they felt it was not safe. They were probably right, since I was sheltered and naive. It was the sixties.)

Just my personal experience. BTW, I had a dog while I was a student. Not many students did, and they were banned from classes after I graduated.


elliewyatt said...

Punahou Highschool classmate, Greg Orme said, "He had a worldly view. He would talk about people in Pakistan and was a lot more aware of Middle East politics than anybody I knew. He was following conflicts around the world and talked about it all the time." What highscool kid would be talking about Pakistan all the time?

Imad Husain was a Pakistani and Obama's freshman roommate at Occidental.

Mohammed Hasan Chandoo was a wealthy Pakistani freind of Obama when he was an Occidental freshmam.

Wahid Hamid also was a wealthy Pakistani friend of Obama when he was a freshmam. Hamid and Obama traveled to Karachi, Pakistan in 1981.

Upon arriving in New York after the Pakistan trip, at his first meeting (just after "bathing in a fire-hydrant with a homeless guy") over breakfast with his friend who he had already arranged to room with (Sohale Siddiqi, identified as "Sadik" in Obama's memoir, was from Karachi, Pakistan, and Obama's roommate when he attended Columbia University. Siddiqi was not a student at Columbia. Obama had met him through his other Occidental friends.), their first coversation went like this:

"Tell me, Barack. What brings you to our fair city?”
I tried to explain. I had spent the summer brooding over a misspent youth, I said- the state of the world and the state of my soul. “I want to make amends,” I said. “Make myself of some use.”

He did not mention having just returned from visiting this guy's country. Seems Obama went far out of his way to NOT mention the trip in his book. He mentions Sadiki eating eggs, but not a trip to Pakistan.

gary said...

You suspect that Obama was CIA but can provide no credible evidence. You cite sources that you admit are crazy rightwing. I recall similar stories and theories about young Bill Clinton. People thought he was CIA--or KGB. I'm open to the CIA possibility for both Clinton and Obama (and especially for young George H.W. Bush) but would like some evidence.

I'm really not suprised that Obama would get in to Harvard over some B+ white student. Ever hear of affirmative action?

Few people at Harvard or Columbia seem to remember Obama? OK, so he didn't stand out (or kept to other social misfits). Are you suggesting that he didn't go to those schools?

I know you will never forgive Obama for his campaign conduct. Personally, I think he played to win and he won. Bill Clinton didn't? John Kennedy didn't? I am as critical as anyone on Obama in some areas, but then I never saw him as either the radical leftist that Hannity (and perhaps some on the left) saw or as the Messiah. So, I wasn't disillusioned.

I think it's good that many liberals are criticising Obama, including Bill Maher, Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow, although they also still support him.

gary said...

By the way Joseph, and please consider this a personal communication if you like, do you plan to devote any space to the recent paper that purports to show evidence of thermite in the towers? I know it wasn't in a peer-reviewed journal, although the authors say they showed it to some peers, but either there was super-nano-thermite or whatever (not a scientist) or there wasn't. I would like to see a good debunking of this paper, if it is bunk.

I am very skeptical of the CD claims but am open to any new evidence.

Unfortunately, the 911 truth movement has largely been politically discredited, and for good reason, and yet I still don't think we know the truth about 911. There needs to be a new and thorough investigation and yet I don't think there will be, because there is no political support for it. The Obama administration could and should do a new investigation, but where are the liberal democrats in Congress, or the media, supporting such an investigation? Who know what a through DOJ investigation at this point would uncover? It would be like if LBJ had really wanted to investigate the JFK assassination.

8 years almost since 911. So far no Jim Garrison, no HSCA, no ARRB. Where will we be in another 8 years? Right where we are now I fear. A marginalized conspiracy subculture with a lot of nuts and a few good people, and with zero political support.

Zee said...

oh, for the love of....!!!

I thought the lunatic "controlled demolition" nutcases weren't allowed to stink this place up with their "proof" of "thermite" from a youtube of green flame coming out of a backyard barbecue at the home of a "9/11 Scholar"!!!!!

Anonymous said...

gary -

I'm really not suprised that Obama would get in to Harvard over some B+ white student. Ever hear of affirmative action?

Harvard has so many minority applicants that they could have picked one who actually had the grades, but instead chose Obama over all those? If you believe your own argument, then you really are as much of a dumbass as you appear.

Personally, I think he played to win and he won. Bill Clinton didn't? John Kennedy didn't?

Your attempt to place the honest and ethical campaigning of WJC and JFK under the same umbrella as the lying, cheating, toxic character assassination, manipulation, and fraud of the Obama campaign is not only nonsensical, but outrageous and disgusting.

Sergei Rostov

Anonymous said...

I think Obama was simply a social outsider.

Still, having only two people who even so much as remember you? Serial killers have higher profiles.

The "dog poop" story is simply part and parcel of Obama's phony "Oh me, oh my, I was so poor and oppressed" shtick.

Sergei Rostov