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Was Barack Obama a Muslim?

By    |   Sunday, 13 January 2008 06:24 PM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Was Barack Obama a Muslim?
2. Bloomberg Interviewing VP candidates
3. Giuliani's Top Fundraiser Is Hedge Fund Wizard
4. Limbaugh Suspects McCain-Huckabee Deal
5. Catholic Cardinal: Global Warming Hysteria a 'New Religion'
6. Ron Paul Calls Backers 'Revolutionaries'
7. John Kerry's Anti-Hillary Agenda
8. Pat Robertson Off the Mark on Terror Prediction
9. We Heard: Ann Coulter, Hillary, Rudy, Bono, Kennedy

1. Was Barack Obama a Muslim?

The issue of Barack Obama's possible Muslim past has re-emerged with conflicting reports about the presidential candidate's childhood in Islamic Indonesia.

The controversy was initially touched off in early 2007 when several media outlets reported that Obama had attended a radical madrasa, or Islamic school, when he lived in Indonesia.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs quickly countered with a statement: "Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian."

The reports about the radical madrasa turned out to be false. But in March 2007, Gibbs amended his previous statement, telling the Los Angeles Times: "Obama has never been a practicing Muslim," the key word being "practicing."

Obama, his Kansas-born mother and Muslim stepfather moved to Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, in 1967, and Obama lived there from ages 6 to 10.

The Times sent a reporter to Jakarta to investigate Obama's childhood years there, and published an article on March 16 that included these details:

  • A close boyhood friend of Obama, Zulfin Adi, said Barack "was a Muslim. He went to the mosque."
  • Obama's first-grade teacher at a Catholic school, Israella Dharmawan, said: "Barry (Barack's nickname) was Muslim. He was registered as a Muslim because his father was Muslim."
  • In the third grade, Obama transferred to a public school, where he was also registered as a Muslim. At the school, Muslim students attended weekly religion lessons about Islam.
  • In his autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," Obama mentions studying the Koran and describes the public school as "a Muslim school."

More recently, Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes wrote on FrontPageMag.com that his research led him to conclude that "Obama was born a Muslim to a non-practicing Muslim father and for some years had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian stepfather."

But on Jan. 2, the liberal organization Media Matters for America (MMfA) took issue with Pipes' report, criticized him for relying too heavily on the Times article, which it claimed was "disputed," in an effort to "revive Obama-Muslim falsehood."

Media Matters cited a March 25 article by Kim Baker in the Chicago Tribune that challenged several assertions in the Times story. Barker wrote that boyhood friend Adi "was not certain" about his statements regarding Obama's childhood and that he "only knew Obama for a few months."

The Media Matters Web posting stated: "Additionally, the Tribune reported that 'interviews with dozens of former classmates, teachers, neighbors and friends show that Obama was not a regular practicing Muslim when he was in Indonesia.'"

Media Matters also said that "Pipes did not note that Obama's Indonesian stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, has been described in the Tribune as 'much more of a free spirit than a devout Muslim.'"

Pipes fired back with a FrontPageMag.com article on Jan. 7, titled "Confirmed: Barack Obama Practiced Islam."

Pipes asked if any of the information from the Chicago Tribune article refutes "my analysis, as MMfA contends. It raises questions about two details in the Los Angeles Times account — the accuracy of the Catholic school's registration form and the reliability of Zulfin Adi as a source on Obama. But on the larger issue of Obama's religious practices during his Jakarta years, it confirms the Times account."

Pipes concludes: "Therefore, what MMfA calls the 'Obama-Muslim' falsehood' is in fact confirmed by both articles as truthful and accurate."

And he adds: "All this matters, for if Obama once was a Muslim, he is now what Islamic law calls a murtadd (apostate), an ex-Muslim converted to another religion who must be executed. Were he elected president of the Untied States, this status, clearly, would have large potential implications for his relationship with the Muslim world."

Editor's Note:

2. Bloomberg Interviewing VP Candidates

In another sign that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is mulling a run for president — despite his insistent denials — a close source hints that he's already interviewing vice presidential candidates.

If and when Bloomberg announces a bid for the White House as an independent, he would at the same time announce his running mate, the source told Jonathan Capehart, a member of the Washington Post's editorial page staff.

The Bloomberg operative explained: "If Mike Bloomberg were to petition to get on the ballot, it would be easier to do so with a vice presidential candidate."

Capehart writes in the Post that he asked the Bloomberg operative: "Is it safe to assume you guys are already interviewing and vetting a No. 2 for Bloomberg?"

The source replied: "That's a fair assumption on your part."

It's not known whom Team Bloomberg has met with, according to the Post, but Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, and former Georgia Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn have been mentioned often.

Also, a report emerged Thursday that Bloomberg has been quietly compiling polling and voter data to weigh his presidential chances. Doug Schoen, an adviser in Bloomberg's mayoral campaigns, told the Los Angeles Times: "Bloomberg is going to spend the next two months doing an assessment of his prospects."

Editor's Note:

3. Giuliani's Top Fundraiser Is Hedge Fund Wizard

In September 2006, investor Paul Singer correctly bet that the subprime mortgage market was due to collapse. Now he's betting that Rudy Giuliani is the best candidate to win the White House.

Singer, founder of the hedge fund firm Elliott Associates LP, last year became the top fundraiser for Rudy's presidential campaign.

Singer and employees of his company remain the biggest donors to Giuliani, giving at least $228,000 in the first nine months of 2007, according to the Federal Election Commission.

One of Singer's private companies also leased jets to the Giuliani campaign, Bloomberg Markets reported.

Until last August, Singer was regional finance chairman for the campaign. He is now a senior policy adviser.

Giuliani backers should hope that Singer has as much savvy in politics as he does in the financial arena.

In 2006, Singer warned money managers to shun subprime investments, including collateralized debt obligations, packages of debt that bundle subprime mortgages and other loans.

Instead, Singer advised investors to buy credit-default swaps — instruments that rise in value as the risk of default increases — on mortgage-backed securities, according to Bloomberg.

Singer took his own advice, and the rest is history — the subprime mortgage market crashed, and Singer's firm gained 30 percent in the first 10 months of last year, its best performance ever.

As for Giuliani, Singer said: "I support Rudy Giuliani's candidacy because he is a strong, proven leader who turned around New York City after decades of mismanagement and decline."

And as for the next phase of the financial markets, Singer expects a wave of corporate failures this year and next, Bloomberg reports, and he is seeking to take advantage by buying the companies' debt at a discount.

Editor's Note:

4. Rush Suspects McCain-Huckabee Deal

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh suspects that John McCain may have cut a deal with GOP presidential rival Mike Huckabee to have Huckabee siphon off votes from Mitt Romney.

Rush said that on the day after McCain's victory in the New Hampshire primary, McCain told reporters that Christian conservatives should back him, saying: "A very large portion of the evangelical community is becoming more and more concerned about climate change because of our biblical obligation to be good stewards of our planet. That clearly is an issue that I'm in complete sync with the evangelical community on."

Noting that Huckabee was thought to control the evangelical vote, Rush told listeners: "Governor Huckabee, at this stage, in my opinion, is in the race to take Romney out of the way for McCain…

"The thing Huckabee's got to understand is if you have made a deal with McCain behind the scenes, under the table, understand it's one way, because McCain is going to throw you overboard as soon as he has to, Governor, when the time comes — and he'll not remember the deal or it will get reshaped in his mind or somehow changed."

McCain also reminded reporters that he has voted the anti-abortion line during his entire career.

Said Limbaugh: "In that way he's going to take out Rudy [Giuliani, who has expressed support for abortion rights]," Rush said.

"So he's going to try to get the Huckabee vote with the global warming route and try to get the evangelicals. He's going to try to take Rudy out with his consistent abortion stand, which he is not fabricating."

Editor's Note:

5. Catholic Cardinal: Global Warming Hysteria a 'New Religion'

A cardinal in the Catholic Church says the hysteria over man-made climate change is akin to a "new religion" and a symptom of "pagan emptiness."

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, has been the target of criticism in his country for expressing doubts about the validity of man-made global warming.

In an interview that appeared in The Catholic World Report, he said: "Right now, the mass media, politicians, many church figures, and the public generally seem to have embraced even the wilder claims about man-made climate change as if they constituted a new religion.

"These days, for any public figure to question the basis of what amounts to green fundamentalist faith is tantamount to heresy."

Cardinal Pell called long-term weather forecasting "notoriously imprecise," and pointed to predictions in the 1970s that the planet was about to enter a new ice age because of global cooling.

He said some of the more "hysterical and extreme" claims about impending climate change "appear symptomatic of a pagan emptiness, of a Western fear when confronted by the immense and basically uncontrollable forces of nature…

"It's almost as though people without religion, who don't belong to any of the great religious traditions, have got to be frightened of something. Perhaps they're looking for a cause that is almost a substitute for religion."

As for Al Gore's message of doom about climate change, Cardinal Pell noted that there are "significant errors" in his film "An Inconvenient Truth," and added: "Few of us have the scientific knowledge to question the wild claims Gore has made — other than some grains of common sense."

Editor's Note:

6. Ron Paul Calls Backers "Revolutionaries"

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul called his supporters "revolutionaries" in an e-mail sent after his surprisingly strong 10 percent showing in Iowa — and took a very thinly veiled swipe at rival Rudy Giuliani.

In the fundraising e-mail with the subject line "How Do I Say Thank You," Paul said:

"In Iowa, many hundreds of volunteers worked day and night for our campaign. College kids took their Christmas vacations in the snow for freedom. Thousands of people donated to make it all possible…

"Revolutionaries from all over the country sent handwritten letters to every voter, and despite national media attacks and censorship, we got more than 10 percent of the vote."

Paul's posting then addressed Giuliani, who received only 3.4 percent of the votes in the Iowa caucuses.

"We also soundly beat a certain ex-mayor who started off the first debate by attacking a pro-American foreign policy and the explanatory doctrine of 'blowback,' the CIA's term for foreign intervention that causes trouble for us in return. The Golden Rule applies to nations as well as to individuals."

During the GOP presidential debate in May, Paul had implied that U.S. policies in the Middle East had contributed to the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington.

An irate Giuliani responded: "I don't think I've every heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th."

Paul claimed in his e-mail that in Iowa, Republican "party activists" were unhappy to "hear our views, trying to scream them down … But New Hampshire is another story. There is a state and a people tailor-made for us. Live Free!"

Paul slipped a bit in the New Hampshire primary, receiving 8 percent of the vote and once again finishing in fifth place. But he was just one percentage point behind Giuliani.

Editor's Note:

7. John Kerry's Anti-Hillary Agenda

Sen. John Kerry's endorsement of Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination should come as no surprise to readers of the Insider Report, which has disclosed Kerry's membership in the so-called "Gang of Four" Hillary Clinton haters.

The Four — Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, and Al Gore — have pledged to stop Hillary from getting the nomination, and each has his own reason for detesting Clinton.

As the Insider Report has disclosed on several occasions beginning in 2005, Kennedy is disgusted by Bill and Hillary Clinton's moderate politics, and he early on endorsed Kerry for the 2008 nomination.

Gore blames his 2000 loss on Hillary, who he says siphoned off key resources to her Senate race.

Dean blames the Clintons for his 2004 campaign woes. A year earlier, Clinton had launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to pressure fellow Democrats not to support Dean for president.

And Kerry feels Hillary stabbed him in the back, promising to go all out to support his 2004 White House campaign but then doing as little as possible to help him.

Now Kerry is getting a measure of revenge by endorsing Obama.

Editor's Note:

8. Pat Robertson Off the Mark on Terror Prediction

One year ago, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson predicted that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in "mass killing" in 2007, most likely after September.

Robertson said God told him during a prayer retreat that major cities and perhaps millions of Americans would be impacted by the attack.

"I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said on his television show "The 700 Club."

"The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."

Needless to say, it didn't happen.

It's not the first time Robertson has been off the mark with his predictions. In May 2006, he said God told him a tsunami could crash into the U.S. coastline before the year was out, Fox News reported. No tsunami arrived.

In 2005, he predicted that Social Security reform proposals would be approved. But President Bush's Social Security initiative went nowhere.

And in January 2004, he foretold that President Bush would "easily" win re-election. He garnered 51 percent of the vote.

"I have a relatively good track record," Robertson said. "Sometimes I miss."

Editor's Note:

9. We Heard . . .

THAT conservative pundit Ann Coulter's unlikely romance with a lifelong Democrat, former New York City Council President Andrew Stein, is over after 2 1/2 months.

The Insider Report disclosed in October that the two were an item, after a witness told the New York Post they were seen "in passionate liplock" at a Manhattan restaurant.

Stein said at the time: "What can I say? Opposites attract."

But now Stein — son of multimillionaire Jerry Finkelstein, publisher of the New York Law Journal — says he and Coulter "split because of irreconcilable differences."

Differences, indeed — Coulter's latest book is "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans."

THAT political columnist Roger Simon called a reporter's query "the dumb question of the day" on election Tuesday in New Hampshire.

Hillary Clinton was meeting with reporters when one scribe pointed to her bracelet and asked: "Is that a crucifix?"

"It's a cross, Clinton answered.

Clinton had it right, Simon observed on politico.com: "A crucifix has the depiction of the body of Jesus on it and a cross does not."

The reporter then asked: "Does it have religious significance?"

Everybody burst out laughing.

"Does a cross have religious significance?" Simon wrote. "Is that what he really asked?"

Hillary remarked: "Talk about the secular press!"

THAT the woman in New Hampshire whose question nearly brought Hillary to tears went on to cast her vote in the state's primary — for Barack Obama.

Marianne Pernold-Young, 64, said she was in tears herself two days before encountering Hillary, when she went to a Barack Obama rally!

"I was in tears — he moved me to tears," she told WMAL, a Washington radio station.

"He offered fresh hope, a new beginning."

Clinton was meeting with undecided voters at a coffee shop in Portsmouth, N.H., when Pernold-Young asked her how she gets up every morning and deals with the problems of running for president.

"It's not easy," Clinton replied. "And I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do."

Then Hillary's voice began to crack and she held back tears.

Pernold-Young said she believed Hillary was truly broken up — briefly.

"The first 10 seconds are very genuine and very heartfelt and very one-on-one as a woman. And then, when she turned away from me, she adopted that political stance again.

THAT U2 rocker Bono is seeking to buy into the Robb Report, an upscale magazine focusing on the luxury lifestyle.

Bono's investment firm Elevation Partners is in talks to buy a portion of CurtCo Media, which publishes the Robb Report and several other magazines, the New York Daily News reports.

THAT White House hopeful Rudy Giuliani has won the support of leading affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly.

Connerly, a former University of California Regent, helped secure passage of California's Proposition 209 in 1996, which limited affirmative action in the state, and also successfully promoted similar measures in Michigan and Washington.

Giuliani has generally been critical of affirmative action, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. After he became New York City mayor in 1994, he eliminated a program that gave businesses owned by minority members or women an advantage in winning city contracts.

Two years later, however, he voiced opposition to California's Proposition 209, saying it threatened programs necessary to assist victims of past discrimination.

But Connerly, founder of the American Civil Rights Institute, which opposes racial and gender preferences, said he and Giuliani agree on the "fundamental question" concerning affirmative action.

THAT John Kerry's endorsement of Barack Obama on Thursday has focused new attention on his fellow Massachusetts Senator, Ted Kennedy — but Ted is so far remaining on the sideline.

Next to former vice president Al Gore, Kennedy "is the most important Democratic figure yet to enter the primary fray," Sam Stein notes on the Huffington Post.

But Kennedy "has no plans to get involved at this time," said spokeswoman Melissa Wagone.

"He has very strong relationships with many of these candidates personally, and has a lot of respect for them."

Editor's Notes:

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Was Barack Obama a Muslim?2. Bloomberg Interviewing VP candidates3. Giuliani's Top Fundraiser Is Hedge Fund Wizard4. Limbaugh Suspects McCain-Huckabee Deal5. Catholic Cardinal: Global Warming Hysteria a 'New Religion'6. Ron...
Sunday, 13 January 2008 06:24 PM
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