Tags: Obama | Exes | Dish | Dirt | Rush Raises 34 Million for Leukemia | Rush Limbaugh | Vogue magazine

Obama’s Exes Dish the Dirt; Rush Raises $34 Million for Leukemia

By    |   Sunday, 06 May 2012 02:39 PM

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama's Former Girlfriends Dish on Young Barack
2. Bill Clinton Lauds Another Former President
3. Forbes Lists 'Best Franchises for the Buck'
4. Pew Poll: Federal Government 'Mostly Corrupt'
5. We Heard: Rush Limbaugh, Vogue magazine, TV Viewing

1. Obama's Former Girlfriends Dish on Young Barack

A new book about young Barack Obama reveals intimate details of his early love life through the eyes of two women he romanced in New York.

"Barack Obama: The Story," by Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist David Maraniss, chronicles Obama's life in the early 1980s after he transferred from Occidental College in California to Columbia University in Manhattan.

In 1982, coed Alex McNear — who had met the future president at Occidental — came to spend the summer in New York and contacted Obama, Maraniss discloses in an adaptation from his book published in Vanity Fair magazine.

They met at an Italian restaurant and "we sat and talked and ate and drank wine," McNear told Maraniss. "Or at least I drank wine. I think he drank something stronger.

"We walked slowly back to my apartment and said goodbye. After that we started spending much more time together."

When the summer ended McNear returned to California, although they carried on a long-distance relationship through a series of letters. But the romance had fizzled by December 1983, when Obama met Genevieve Cook at a party in Manhattan's East Village.

Brown-haired, hazel-eyed Cook, who at 25 was three years older than Obama, was the daughter of prominent Australian diplomat.

They had dinner a few days after the party, Cook recalled.

In a Jan. 22, 1984 entry in her journal, Cook wrote: "I really like him more and more — he may worry about posturing and void inside but he is a brimming and integrated character."

A Feb. 25 entry stated: "The sexual warmth is definitely there but the rest of it has sharp edges and I'm finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all."

Then on March 22: "Barack — still intrigues me, but so much going on beneath the surface, out of reach. Guarded, controlled."

That spring Cook moved out of her mother's Manhattan apartment and into a brownstone in Brooklyn, where Obama spent much of his time, according to Maraniss. "When she told him that she loved him, his response was not 'I love you, too' but 'thank you,'" he writes.

In the fall of 1984, Cook began a teaching job at a public school in Brooklyn, and shortly after that Obama quit his job at Business International, a firm providing newsletters and reference materials for corporations. He moved in with Cook for a brief period before leaving for the Christmas holidays in Hawaii, and again lived in her apartment when he returned.

But the relationship had begun to sour. Cook: "My take on it had always been that I pushed him away, found him not to be 'enough,' had chafed at his withheld-ness, his lack of spontaneity, which, eventually, I imagined might be assuaged, or certain elements of it might be, by living together."

At the end of March 1985, Cook moved to another apartment in Brooklyn, and Obama moved to Manhattan. The relationship was nearing an end.

Later that year, Obama left New York and headed west for a community organizing job in Chicago. He took along a white cable-knit sweater Cook had given him for Christmas, Maraniss writes.

"It would comfort him in the cold Chicago winter."

Editor's Note:

2. Bill Clinton Lauds Another Former President

Bill Clinton has glowing praise for a new book about another U.S. president, Lyndon Johnson — and for LBJ himself.

The book is "The Passage of Power," the fourth installment in what Clinton calls Robert Caro's "brilliant series" on Johnson. The work spans the period from shortly before the 1960 election that put John Kennedy in the White House to a few months after he was assassinated and Johnson became president.

"Among the most interesting and important episodes Caro chronicles are those involving the new president's ability to maneuver bills out of legislative committees and onto the floor of the House and Senate for a vote," Clinton writes in an article published in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

"Few Americans in our history have matched Johnson's knowledge of how to move legislation, and legislators.

"In sparkling detail, Caro shows the president's genius for getting to people — friends, foes and everyone in between — and how he used it to achieve his goals."

Caro also delves into the "tribulation" LBJ faced as vice president, when he had little to do and was generally shunned by members of the Kennedy administration, including Robert Kennedy — who "despised" Johnson, Clinton points out.

But "for a few brief years" after he became president, Clinton writes, "Lyndon Johnson, once a fairly conventional Southern Democrat, constrained by his constituents and his overriding hunger for power, rose above his political past and personal limitations to embrace and promote his boyhood dreams of opportunity and equality for all Americans."

LBJ used his power to pass the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the open housing law, the antipoverty legislation, Medicare and Medicaid, Head Start and much more, Clinton notes, adding: "Even when we parted company over the Vietnam War, I never hated LBJ the way many young people of my generation came to. I couldn't.

"What he did to advance civil rights and equal opportunity was too important. I remain grateful to him. LBJ got to me, and after all these years, he still does."

Editor's Note:

3. Forbes Lists 'Best Franchises for the Buck'

When it comes to popular franchises, McDonald's, Burger King and 7-Eleven might be first to come to mind, but according to Forbes magazine, the "best franchise for the buck" is one that many Americans have never heard of: Snap-on.

The Kenosha, Wis.-based company provides stores-on-wheels that sell tools to professional mechanics. Each Snap-on truck is equipped with wireless Internet access and a DVD player for product demonstrations. There were 3,392 trucks in service as of the beginning of last year, and the average initial investment was $135,390.

Forbes states: "With the help of Robert Bond, chief executive of the World Franchising Network (a franchise database) and publisher of Bond's Franchise Guide, we waded through data on 110 of the most established names to find 20 that deliver the biggest bang for a competent operator's investment buck."

Forbes used these criteria to rate the franchises: average initial investment (franchise fees plus equipment costs); total locations (the more the better); closure rate (the number of closings in the last three reported fiscal years divided by the total number of existing locations); growth in the number of U.S. outlets in the last three years; and the number of training hours as a percentage of startup cost (the more support from the home office, the better).

The number of Snap-on closings in the last three fiscal years: 0.

Following Snap-on, the top "franchises for the buck" are:

  • 7-Eleven, the largest franchisor (by outlets) in the world. The number of U.S. locations as of the beginning of last year was 6,142, and the average initial investment was $393,800.
  • Aaron's. This chain sells and leases furniture, televisions and household appliances. The number of locations at the beginning of 2011 was 1,749, and the average initial investment was $420,725.
  • Panera, which sells homemade baked goods, sandwiches and salads. Average initial investment: $1,447,770. U.S. locations as of 12/28/10: 1,379.
  • Servpro, which cleans buildings and homes after fires, floods and other natural disasters. Average initial investment: $156,250. U.S. locations as of 12/31/10: 1,571.
  • McDonald's. Surprisingly, the hamburger chain had 367 closings in the last three fiscal years. Average initial investment: $1,480,625. U.S. locations as of 12/31/10: 14,016.
  • Liberty Tax Service, a tax preparation chain featuring employees who dress up like the Statue of Liberty and wave signs. Average initial investment: $63,350. U.S. locations as of 4/30/11: 3,592.
  • Merry Maids. A unit of ServiceMaster, it provides home and window-cleaning services. Average initial investment: $66,600. U.S. locations as of 12/31/10: 943.
  • The Maids International, another home cleaner. Average initial investment: $106,420. U.S. locations as of 9/30/10: 1,053.
  • Jimmy John's, a dine-in sandwich shop chain. Average initial investment: $395,500. U.S. locations as of 12/31/10: 1,130.

As for other well-known franchises, Jack in the Box is No. 12 on the list, Dunkin' Donuts is 13, and Burger King, 14.

Editor's Note:

4. Pew Poll: Federal Government 'Mostly Corrupt'

The favorable rating of the federal government has sunk to just 33 percent, the lowest positive rating in 15 years, a new poll from the Pew Research Center reveals.

At the same time, Americans' opinion about state and local governments remains mostly favorable.

Two years ago, about two-thirds of Americans had a favorable view of all three levels of government — federal, state, and local. But in the new survey, nearly two-thirds have an unfavorable opinion of Washington.

Among Republicans, just 20 percent have a favorable view of the federal government, while 51 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of independents agree with that assessment.

In contrast, 52 percent of respondents said they still have a favorable view of state government, and 61 percent feel that way about their local government.

"The gap between favorable ratings of the federal government and state and local governments is wider than ever," Pew observes.

While 49 percent believe their state government is mostly honest and 37 percent say it is mostly corrupt, a majority of those polled said the federal government is mostly corrupt.

Similarly, 38 percent of Americans think their state government is "generally efficient," but just 24 percent say that about the federal government.

And while 33 percent say state government is "careful with the people's money," only 17 percent say that about the government in Washington.

Interestingly, 56 percent of respondents who live in a state where the governor and a majority in both legislative chambers are Republicans say they have a favorable rating of state government, but in states where the governor and legislature are Democratic that figure drops to 47 percent.

As for the federal government's rating, 53 percent of Republicans held a favorable view of Washington as recently as April 2008, when George W. Bush was president.

Pew notes: "Since Barack Obama's first year in office, public assessments of the federal government have dropped nine points, with most of the change among Democrats and independents."

Editor's Note:

5. We Heard . . .

THAT Rush Limbaugh and his listeners have donated nearly $3.3 million to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society — including $400,000 from the talk radio host himself.

Each year Rush dedicates one radio program to talk about the work the organization is doing to find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families, Radio Ink reported.

This year was Limbaugh's 22nd Cure-a-Thon, and he has now raised more than $34 million for the organization.

THAT Vogue magazine, considered by many as the world's top arbiter of style, has responded to criticism of the modeling industry by banning too-skinny and too-young models from its pages.

Publisher Conde Nast announced on Thursday that Vogue editors have agreed to "not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder."

And Conde Nast International Chairman Jonathan Newhouse said in a statement: "Vogue believes that good health is beautiful."

THAT for the first time in 20 years, the number of "TV households" in the United States dropped last year, to 114.7 million from 115.9 million in 2010.

And that figure has fallen further, to 114.1 million so far this year, according to The Nielsen Company.

A "TV household" is defined as one with at least one television set and a cable, satellite or antenna connection.

The data, according to The New York Times, "is sure to be pored over by television and Internet executives for evidence of changes in consumer behavior."


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