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Prof. William Ayers, Ph.D., Model Scholar

| 136 Comments
This letter in yesterday's Wall Street Journal caught my eye:
We, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Education Alumni Board, write to champion our colleague Prof. William Ayers.

Mr. Ayers is a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a nationally known scholar and Vice President-elect of the American Educational Research Association. Throughout his 20 years at UIC, Mr. Ayers has taught, advised, mentored and supported hundreds of undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. students. Helping educators develop the capacity and ethical commitment to promote critical inquiry, dialogue, and debate; to encourage questioning and independent thinking; and to value the full humanity of every person and to work for access and equity are Prof. Ayers's essential commitments.

We reject the recent and ongoing derogations of his character, and stand beside Prof. Ayers, an advocate for education devoted to human enlightenment and liberation. That goal is also ours.

Patrick O'Reilly
Vice President
The UIC College of Education Alumni Board, Chicago

O'Reilly, a pre-kindergarten teacher in the Chicago public schools, is not alone in his adulation of Dr. Ayers. Over 3,200 educators and academics have endorsed this petition of support.

Ayers stands out as an admirable character in this year's carnival. He's never been coy about his passions, never engaged in with-a-wink reformulations of his core beliefs. He didn't achieve his professional eminence (Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at UIC, V.P.-elect of the American Educational Research Association, Founder and Co-Chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge's Collaborative, 1995-2002) by soft-pedaling his hard-left, authoritarian agenda.

It's true that some politicians see Ayers' embrace as electoral poison. Long-standing professional relationships? No, he's just some guy in the neighborhood. Raising questions about the depth and breadth of that relationship: slime.

Bill Ayers: obscure ivory tower denizen with slightly daft ideas victimized by sliming, and beloved, accomplished, mainstream-accredited powerhouse leading the Good Fight against Patriarchy and Hegemony.

There is cognitive dissonance lurking nearby. Not with the unrepentant Dr. Ayers or Paddy O'Reilly's fellow fanboys and fangirls flocking to the Ayers-Ward Churchill-Hugo Chavez banner. They're rail-straight. Nor is this a cross for the ambitious and calculating Barack Obama to bear: ends, not means, are what matter.

In a little-visited graveyard in the Italian countryside, the shade of Antonio Gramsci is chuckling. With the Tanning Bed Media, or at it? Perhaps Columbia's Professor Rashid Khalidi has insight into this question.

- - - - - - - - - -

UPDATE, 24 Oct 2008 -- Valued commenter Chris challenges the premise of this post and offers extensive critiques in the Comments, culminating in #103.

UPDATE 2, 12:25 pm on 26 Oct 2008 -- Steve Diamond of the Santa Clara School of Law and the 'Global Labor and Politics' blog is one of the foremost researchers on the nature and extent of the connections between Sen. Obama and William Ayers. He contributes to the Comments, starting with #110.

UPDATE 3, 28 Oct 2008 -- Comment thread re-opened. New comments (past #123) limited to 300 words.

136 Comments

Hey, give me a man who will tell you the truth about what he thinks and fight for it, any day. I'll forgive him trying to kill folks at Fort Dix, as long as we're allowed to try to kill him right back (as Capt. Reynolds put it).

Sick. Really sick.

I admire Ayers honesty, but little else about the man. I'd like to think he's a decent man fighting for the wrong cause, but that's probably giving him more credit than he deserves. There is more of the fierce moral clarity of Nathan Bedford Forest to Ayers, than the loyalty and misguided honor of a Robert E. Lee.

Or to put it more plainly, Ayers is an unrepentent terrorist and murderer. I have very little doubt he'd kill me or my family if he thought I stood in the way of his bright shining vision. I'm glad to be far away from him and anything to do with him.

But what gets me is not so much that the staff of the University of Chicago would rally around one of there own with blind disregard for his past or his character, but that the same staff rallied to stop a building for being named after Milton Friedman ostensibly over far less of a moral discrestion. It's not so much that the staff is blind that bothers me, but that their vision is so distorted so heavily in one direction.

Of course, that is probably giving them too much credit as well. I have a hard time believing this is actually blindness of ignorance, as opposed to the blindness of having the bright shining light of absolute moral conviction. It's not that they are blind to Ayer's sins, but rather that they all wish at some level they had his same fierce fanaticism.

I wouldn't put him in company with Nathan Bedford Forest, who renounced the KKK he founded when it turned bloodthirsty and terroristic. Ayers is far worse than he was.

But he's honest, at least. Pray your enemies should ever be, that you might meet them in the middle of the field: and may God defend the right.

Ayers is a scumbag and a blowhard and the only reason he is considered so 'honest' is that he has his daddys money and social influence to protect him. If he was a standup guy he wouldnt have been in hiding for a decade.

UIC is a disgrace and so is anyone that champions this terrorist.

Hey, does anybody remember when this site used to be about, y'know, foreign policy issues like Iraq, instead of repeated, unproven insinuations that Obama's a stealth radical, or front page posts about how anybody who'd criticize Sarah Palin isn't a Real True Conservative?

Just asking; the difference between the site now and 4 years ago is striking.

Btw- fun mind game: imagine if everything Ayers did was to fight abortion. Now imagine the reaction of his defenders and friends like Obama.

Hey, you want to talk about Iraq? Great. What's on your mind?

#6:

You want to talk about Iraq? 95% reduction in violence over last year. I'm expecting to be bored out of my mind for the next eight months, unless one of Joe Biden's "tests" for inexperienced President Obama turns out to involve shelling me while I try to sleep. But if you've got something you want to discuss about it, let's hear it.

Just a note to Celebrim, above:

The University of Chicago (UC) is a private university, completely distinct from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) which is public and part of the overaching, multi-campus University of Illinois (UofI) system.

I have just had the displeasure of finding that the president of my alma mater, to which I have directed a substantial bequest, is a signator of that petition. I plan to ask for an explanation.

I couldn't care less about Ayers or the letter writer's opinion of him. There are lots of bad guys in every facet of society. If you'd really like to investigate "unrepentant terrorists" and how the definition of "radical" easily shifts with Political affiliation or aspirations, look no further than Congress, the McCain campaign (with Liddy and Palins AIP links) and the current Administration.

Because I'd hate to think your post is nothing more than another (futile) effort at partisan slander.

Grim-

Hey, you want to talk about Iraq? Great. What's on your mind?

Wasn't dying to talk about it, no - just making an observation. That said, if y'all want to explain to me why Obama's withdrawal policy is flawed - even though it seems to be pretty close to what the Iraqis themselves want, based on their stated positions about the status-of-forces agreement - that would definitely be a step up, substance-wise, from what's been on this blog lately.

...unless one of Joe Biden's "tests" for inexperienced President Obama turns out to involve shelling me while I try to sleep.

Then again, sometimes I think you and I inhabit worldviews that are too different for meaningful communication, Grim.

I'm sorry, which of McCain or Palin's friends plotted to blow up buildings full of soldiers? Just curious on the moral relativism front.

If one of McCain's associates blew up an abortion clinic 30 years ago, would you be so sanguine?

"That said, if y'all want to explain to me why Obama's withdrawal policy is flawed - even though it seems to be pretty close to what the Iraqis themselves want, based on their stated positions about the status-of-forces agreement"

Its nothing like what the Iraqi government wants. Pulling out US troops at the rate Obama says he will is dangerous, simply put. The Iraqis want a time horizon of withdrawal. Not to be abandoned in a little over a year.

celebrim:
There is more of the fierce moral clarity of Nathan Bedford Forest to Ayers, than the loyalty and misguided honor of a Robert E. Lee.

After the war, Nathan Bedford Forrest said (paraphrase): "I'm now the biggest patriot in the country, because I fought this country and they beat me."

Of course Ayers has never had to take a beating; he's pissed on this country his entire life, and gotten patted on the head for it.

#6 Chris --

Hey, does anybody remember when this site used to be about, y'know, foreign policy issues like Iraq, instead of repeated, unproven insinuations that Obama's a stealth radical, or front page posts about how anybody who'd criticize Sarah Palin isn't a Real True Conservative?

Well, the bottom half of this post is hidden on the front page, making it easier to scroll on by. Maybe it's a YMMV thing, but the 2004 WoC archives you link to seem to reflect a diversity of interests then, too.

What are the unproven insinuations that I'm making? As it concerns Obama (and the focus of this post is Ayers), I'm stating not insinuating that--given his history, prolific output, and unapologetic vileness--a close relationship with the Prof is electoral poison.

The history of Obama's shifting story on that relationship is recounted in Tom Maguire's post Covering the Story While Burying it, linked in the post under "just some guy in the neighborhood." Kurtz, Diamond, and others have come to similar conclusions. Documented and linked.

Show me that these characterizations are inaccurate or misleading, and I'll update the post. Until then, it's a case of "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts."

#12 G_Tarhune --

I couldn't care less about Ayers or the letter writer's opinion of him.

Fair enough.

If you'd really like to investigate "unrepentant terrorists" and how the definition of "radical" easily shifts with Political affiliation or aspirations, look no further than Congress, the McCain campaign (with Liddy and Palins AIP links) and the current Administration.

G_Tarhune, why don't you blog about it, then put a link in the Comments?

Because I'd hate to think your post is nothing more than another (futile) effort at partisan slander.

Futile? Ayers and those 3,200 signatures, like the Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax/Frame, offer insights into the state of the modern American University. They aren't secret weapons that'll swing an election.

As for slander, that's got a definition. What did I write that is "malicious, false, and defamatory"? Quotes, please.

Mark-

Its nothing like what the Iraqi government wants. Pulling out US troops at the rate Obama says he will is dangerous, simply put. The Iraqis want a time horizon of withdrawal. Not to be abandoned in a little over a year.

That doesn't sound like what Maliki's saying - and even the current SOFA is having trouble passing through the Iraqi parliament, from what I can tell. Do you have any links to back up what you're saying about how the Iraqi's don't actually want us to really leave, just a "time horizon of withdrawal"?

Chris:

The problem with his stated policy isn't severe; the question is, how much can he be relied upon to enact anything he claims to be planning to enact? They say that plans never survive contact with the enemy, and Joe Biden says that we may expect enemies to try to play with a new, inexperienced president. Fair enough, right?

Obama's position over time has been that victory wasn't likely, that the Surge wouldn't work, and that we should expect to lose in Iraq. I think we're close to victory, and that patient negotiation with the Iraqis is the way to ensure that we achieve an end-state that justifies the sacrifices we've made so far. Yet if a test of the type Biden cites should come, it's not my vision of our position that will matter. It's the President's.

What I worry about -- frankly -- is that Obama will take any new wave of violence in Iraq not as a "test" of the type Joe Biden warns against, but as proof that 'he was right all along.' In such a scenario, Iran tests a new Obama presidency with rockets, with the hope that he think this means that 'the gains of the Surge were illusions,' and that he was right all along to believe that Iraq was a losing fight. While that does mean that I get to come home early, it also means that the sacrifices heretofore are wasted. Those sacrifices include the loss of lives better than mine, which sacrifices I feel obligated to defend.

Now, maybe a President Obama would respond to such challenges positively, by reinforcing our position and waiting out the enemy. If so, he'll find he enjoys support from unexpected quarters.

However, there's nothing in his statements to date that suggest he is likely to draw such a conclusion, or respond in such a fashion. If I am skeptical of him, well, so is his running mate -- and on good grounds. Joe Biden is a great American in his way, and I have nothing against him; but I do worry a lot about this other fellow who is standing for office. If the ticket were reversed, I'd be much happier.

You and I may hold entirely different worldviews, and it may be that we can't ever understand each other. I hope you can understand that much has been given here, by men and women I honor, and I mean to see this mission through. I'm going back myself, in the hope that this will be the last time. I want to see Iraq free in a way it never has been; and I worry that an inexperienced President who has never shown much loyalty to friend or family might not show much to our newest allies either.

I expect that is a little different from your own view, and I apologize for being difficult to understand. It's just how I am. I expect a man to stand good for his friends, and in return, I trust what he says on other issues. If he doesn't stand good for his friends -- whether Ayers, whom I don't care for but do respect for his honesty, or the Rev. Mr. Wright, whom I actually kind of like as well as respecting his honesty -- then I wonder why the rest of us should trust him at all. He owes them something, me nothing: so if he'll walk away from them at any difficulty, why not me? Why not us?

Prof. Ayers is wicked, but he is honest. I honestly doubt the Senator has that virtue. Perhaps he also lacks the flaw: I don't know. I hope so, should he win. More than you likely imagine, I hope to be wrong about him.

Question:

What did I write that is "malicious, false, and defamatory"? Quotes, please.

Answer:

"O'Reilly... is not alone his adulation of Dr. Ayers"

Adulation: Obsequious flattery, excessive admiration or praise.

Answer:

"Long-standing professional relationships? "

Not supported by facts. Link takes one to a blog post.

Answer:

...leading the Good Fight against Patriarchy and Hegemony

Nor is this a cross for the ambitious and calculating Barack Obama to bear: ends, not means, are what matter.

There is not one bit of support for the idea that Ayers current and recent former colleagues support or condone in any way his terrorist actions. To suggest that the letter, written on behalf of his current endeavors, links these individuals or Obama (your real target here, clearly, who is even further from him professionally) ideologically to these past acts is slanderous.

G_Tarhune #20 --

Thanks for the critique. Response:

You claim that I slandered O'Reilly by saying "O'Reilly... is not alone his adulation of Dr. Ayers".

I find that to be a reasonable description of Paddy O'Reilly's letter championing Ayers in that way. The petition, too. Describing admiring conduct as "adulatory" being slander? Gimme a break. You've no chance of finding 11 other angry men (or women) to see this your way, even if you trawl on campus for the thinnest of skins.

You claim that I slandered Obama by mentioning his "Long-standing professional relationship" with Ayers.

You could have ventured to the twice-linked thrice-linked Just One Minute post and cited some chapter and verse rebutting the ten relevant links there. Or countered Kurtz's and Diamond's legwork. But you didn't.

You claim that I slandered... somebody... with the phrase "...leading the Good Fight against Patriarchy and Hegemony".

Have you read any of Ayers' interviews? Do you know the names he gave to the kids he fathered with fellow unrepentant terrorist Bernadine Dohrn? What do you suppose Ayers thinks his career is about? Hint.

Lastly, you claim that I slandered Obama with the sentence "Nor is this a cross for the ambitious and calculating Barack Obama to bear: ends, not means, are what matter.

Ambitious and calculating and ends not means as malicious, false, and defamatory insults of Obama? Why, that's not even arch enough to get Obama Girl to break her smile.

OK, you took your best shot. Argument Clinic is over.

I find that to be a reasonable description of Paddy O'Reilly's letter championing Ayers in that way.

I find it to be slanderous since it is not "adulatory". And it is also slanderous of Obama because your post attempts to group them all together into one big Ideological Movement.

You've no chance of finding 11 other angry men (or women) to see this your way, even if you trawl on campus for the thinnest of skins.

Is this an argument?

What does "repentant" mean to you?

AMac-

Well, the bottom half of this post is hidden on the front page, making it easier to scroll on by.

So... it doesn't actually matter what you put here, since nobody has to read it?

Maybe it's a YMMV thing, but the 2004 WoC archives you link to seem to reflect a diversity of interests then, too.

Actually, that's just my point - there was a diversity of interests, not a single-minded obsession with Republican talking points.

What are the unproven insinuations that I'm making? As it concerns Obama (and the focus of this post is Ayers), I'm stating not insinuating that--given his history, prolific output, and unapologetic vileness--a close relationship with the Prof is electoral poison.

AMac, you're stating that a close relationship with Ayers is electoral poison, and insinuating that such a relationship exists, when there is no evidence of such, by making numerous links to sites that likewise suggest - but don't prove - that there must be a relationship.

The history of Obama's shifting story on that relationship is recounted in Tom Maguire's post Covering the Story While Burying it, linked in the post under "just some guy in the neighborhood." Kurtz, Diamond, and others have come to similar conclusions. Documented and linked.

Maguire, Krutz, Diamond, and others have utterly failed to show the "close relationship" that you suggest would be electoral poison - they repeatedly insist that Obama must have been close to Ayers, but only because it "defies common sense" that it be otherwise. (And pardon me if I don't go along with what rabid partisans on NRO, among other places, consider "common sense".) There is no actual proof, only an assertion that because the Chicago Annenberg Challenge connection wasn't made crystal clear at the outset, there must be a greater coverup.

Show me that these characterizations are inaccurate or misleading, and I'll update the post. Until then, it's a case of "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts."

Actually, AMac, I'd like some clarification on what "facts" you're trying to communicate in the first place, other than putting the "ambitious and calculating Barack Obama" to whom only "ends, not means, are what matter", in close proximity to "the Ayers-Ward Churchill-Hugo Chavez banner", Antonio Gramsci, and Rashid Khalidi. There's no serious, proven connection between Obama and any of those guys, other than what's already been shown about Ayers and the CAC that I'm aware, but the last two paragraphs of your post read, to me at least, like red meat for those who'd like to believe such a connection. In a sentence or two, please sum up what you're trying to say in the last few paragraphs of your post, please.

Then again, as long as the right wing is deep in its rabbit hole trying to prove this kind of stuff, you're continuing to lose ground in the actual war of ideas that's shaping this campaign... so it's no skin off my nose if this is what you spend your time on. Just don't try to kid anybody that this post is anything but another chance to closely tie Obama to the extreme left wing without any substantive proof.

"I couldn't care less about Ayers or the letter writer's opinion of him. There are lots of bad guys in every facet of society. If you'd really like to investigate "unrepentant terrorists" and how the definition of "radical" easily shifts with Political affiliation or aspirations, look no further than Congress, the McCain campaign (with Liddy and Palins AIP links) and the current Administration.'

If anything, Ayers work in the teaching of the teachers is far more dangerous than the earlier terrorism. For twenty years he, and Obama when he was dishing out funds to support education in Chicago, has infused his radical ideas into the education sysytem. It is notable that, despite the expenditure of $100 million (including matching funds), the quality of education did not improve.

Why? Because improving the teaching of the three R's was at the bottom of Ayer's agenda.

Grim-

Obama's position over time has been that victory wasn't likely, that the Surge wouldn't work, and that we should expect to lose in Iraq.

No, Obama's position was that the surge wouldn't work, and that whatever we've got going in Iraq now is as good as it's going to get. "Victory" and "defeat" aren't particularly meaningful concepts when we can't even define what a good outcome is: even the relatively peaceful Iraq we've got now is strongly dominated by Iran, and isn't all that relevant to the greater war on Al Qeada. Is this victory? Damned if I know.

What I worry about -- frankly -- is that Obama will take any new wave of violence in Iraq not as a "test" of the type Joe Biden warns against, but as proof that 'he was right all along.' In such a scenario, Iran tests a new Obama presidency with rockets...

And why, exactly, would they do this, Grim? Iran already has a great deal of influence on the current Iraqi situation as it stands, and a chaotic, failed state on their border isn't a net plus for them.

If I am skeptical of him, well, so is his running mate -- and on good grounds.

Bullshit. There was nothing in Biden's remarks to suggest that he's skeptical of Obama.

You and I may hold entirely different worldviews, and it may be that we can't ever understand each other. I hope you can understand that much has been given here, by men and women I honor, and I mean to see this mission through.

I respect your devotion to your comrades, and I respect their sacrifice too, even if I do not believe there's a great deal more to be accomplished in Iraq... or that their sacrifice was worth it, when all is said and done. What I can't understand is why you suggest Obama would shell US citizens and US troops, even jokingly, without anything in the way of proof, other than vague suggestions that Obama is not tough enough to stand up against hypothetical Iranian provocation.

I expect that is a little different from your own view, and I apologize for being difficult to understand. It's just how I am. I expect a man to stand good for his friends, and in return, I trust what he says on other issues. If he doesn't stand good for his friends -- whether Ayers, whom I don't care for but do respect for his honesty, or the Rev. Mr. Wright, whom I actually kind of like as well as respecting his honesty -- then I wonder why the rest of us should trust him at all. He owes them something, me nothing: so if he'll walk away from them at any difficulty, why not me? Why not us?

You're making the assumption here that Ayers was Obama's friend to begin with... which is unsupported, to say the least. You're also making the assumption that Obama should have stood with Wright no matter what Wright did... whereas I think it's clear that even long-standing, deeply important relationships can turn bad as interests diverge, as they clearly have between Obama and Wright.

That said, no, I clearly can't convince you to change your doubts about Obama's character. All I can do is point out that those against Obama and for McCain now, by and large, were completely gung-ho about George W. Bush's character over the past 8 years... and look where that's gotten us. I'll happily take door number 2 in hopes that there's a better man for the job over there.

If you'd really like to investigate "unrepentant terrorists" and how the definition of "radical" easily shifts with Political affiliation or aspirations

When did domestic terrorism cease being "radical"?

If we can't agree on such basic definitions, perhaps discourse is doomed. Or perhaps one person's standards are flawed... and I posit that by most commonly held sets of beliefs in America, what Ayers did during the era in question still falls beyond the pale (3rd result definition via American Heritage Dictionary).

Whether you think that impinges upon Obama's character is another question altogether. But trying to wave it off by flashing your matching set of moving goalposts and double standards is not so impressive.

"That doesn't sound like what Maliki's saying - and even the current SOFA is having trouble passing through the Iraqi parliament, from what I can tell. "

Chris- very simple answer. If the Iraqis wanted the US out as quickly as possible, as per Obama (removing 1 brigade per month is about the upward possible limit given logistic realities) their recourse is very, very simple. They could do nothing and let the UN mandate expire at the end of the year. The US would either have to leave or would remain in violation of international law.

Or, even more simply, the Iraqis could walk into parliment and pass a law requiring the US to leave.

So if you are right, why havent they done either of these things? Instead they are on the verge of passing a law allowing the US to stay much longer. Why negotiate at all if you are correct? The truth is the Iraqis know that it is extremely dangerous and irresponsible to remove US troops within a year. Everybody knows that. Some people just dont care.

G_Tarhune #22 --

Time to move on.

Chris #23 --

[AMac, you are] insinuating that [a close] relationship [between Obama and Ayers] exists, when there is no evidence of such, by making numerous links to sites that likewise suggest - but don't prove - that there must be a relationship.

Chris, the Obama/Ayers relationship has not been proven to be closer than it has been proven to be. That tautology aside, it's plainly documented that the Obama/Ayers relationship is now known to have been much closer and of much longer duration than was known at the time that Obama was battling Hillary for the nomination. Obama and his campaign were, and continue to be, very reticient about this aspect of his past. Much circumstantial evidence suggests that their relationship was closer still; as you point out, that is not proven. I've already given you the links. Facts trump unsupported opinion.

You've contested nothing that Maguire, Kurtz, or Diamond have written, yet you've labeled them "rabid partisans on NRO." Have you even read Diamond's Global Labor and Politics? And you and G_Tarhune believe that I'm the one throwing words around?

Actually, AMac, I'd like some clarification on what "facts" you're trying to communicate in the first place

Chris, look back at comment #17. You said I was making "repeated, unproven insinuations," and I asked you to spell them out. Now it's my job?

The post says what it says, and does so clearly. And with links.

"You're making the assumption here that Ayers was Obama's friend to begin with... which is unsupported, to say the least"

We know Obama launched his political career from Ayers living room. That in itself is remarkable.

#25:

As far as "bullshit" goes, I'd like to remind you that Biden has made more than one statement about Obama.

Meanwhile, I suspect you may have misunderstood an earlier comment I made. When I said, "...unless one of Joe Biden's "tests" for inexperienced President Obama turns out to involve shelling me while I try to sleep," I didn't mean that I thought that Obama would shell us. I meant that one of the crises I expect to encounter -- and I do expect to encounter it, should he be elected -- is to find Iran "testing" the new president with a spike in violence in Iraq, as for example by shelling US military bases. The people doing the shelling would not be acting at Obama's orders, but at Iranian ones.

Finally:

You're making the assumption here that Ayers was Obama's friend to begin with... which is unsupported, to say the least.

I would say that was saying a very great deal. We know that Obama kicked off his political career in Ayers' living room; that Ayers and he worked quite closely together with the Annenberg Challenge; that they shared an office ; and now also that Ayers asked him to blurb his book.

When someone works alongside you, supports your efforts, and you support his in turn, that constitutes an alliance at least. I would normally also consider someone who had helped me and asked for help in turn to be a friend, but I suppose it's possible they secretly disliked each other.

AMac-

First off, quote my whole quote - don't chop it up in an attempt to score cheap points about tautologies. That said:

Chris, the Obama/Ayers relationship has not been proven to be closer than it has been proven to be. That tautology aside, it's plainly documented that the Obama/Ayers relationship is now known to have been much closer and of much longer duration than was known at the time that Obama was battling Hillary for the nomination.

Really? You're saying nobody at the time knew that both Obama and Ayers served on CAC boards at the same time, and this is the big revelation about their relationship? Not exactly a smoking gun, AMac...

Obama and his campaign were, and continue to be, very reticient about this aspect of his past.

This is true only if you assume, a priori, that there's more to the relationship than has been proven thus far. As it is, I think Obama's said all that needs to be said.

Much circumstantial evidence suggests that their relationship was closer still; as you point out, that is not proven. I've already given you the links. Facts trump unsupported opinion.

Yes, they do - but "circumstantial evidence" that you link to isn't the same thing as facts, AMac. It's actually closer to that "unsupported opinion" thing at the end there.

You've contested nothing that Maguire, Kurtz, or Diamond have written, yet you've labeled them "rabid partisans on NRO." Have you even read Diamond's Global Labor and Politics? And you and G_Tarhune believe that I'm the one throwing words around?

Actually, you're right - I was primarily thinking of Kurtz when I wrote that about NRO; I'm not hugely familiar with Diamond's stuff. I stand corrected.

Actually, AMac, I'd like some clarification on what "facts" you're trying to communicate in the first place

Chris, look back at comment #17. You said I was making "repeated, unproven insinuations," and I asked you to spell them out. Now it's my job?

I did spell them out, AMac - I pointed out that you mentioned Obama in close proximity to mention a bunch of people on the far left. I can't see any real connection between them, I wanted you to be more clear about what you were trying to say.

The post says what it says, and does so clearly. And with links.

From my standpoint, the links - which are non sequiturs at best, and guilt-by-forced-proximity at worst - are part of the problem. I've made as much of a good faith effort as I can on this, AMac - your post appears to me to be an attempt to smear Obama by implying, but not proving, a close relationship between Obama and Ayers, among others. I asked you to clarify your remarks; you've declined, saying your post is what it is, leaving me to fall back on my original assessment of the post as a smear.

I doubt you, or most of the people who read this blog, care much about what I think, and that's fine - at the end of the day, what's important is who wins this election, and the sun is currently shining on Obama fans.

Grim -

As far as "bullshit" goes, I'd like to remind you that Biden has made more than one statement about Obama.

Grim, you said "If I am skeptical of him, well, so is his running mate", which means that Biden currently is skeptical of Obama. I believe he has since backed down on that statement from the debates, and there's not currently anything that suggests that Biden is currently skeptical of Obama's abilities. Hence, bullshit.

Meanwhile, I suspect you may have misunderstood an earlier comment I made. When I said, "...unless one of Joe Biden's "tests" for inexperienced President Obama turns out to involve shelling me while I try to sleep," I didn't mean that I thought that Obama would shell us. I meant that one of the crises I expect to encounter -- and I do expect to encounter it, should he be elected -- is to find Iran "testing" the new president with a spike in violence in Iraq, as for example by shelling US military bases. The people doing the shelling would not be acting at Obama's orders, but at Iranian ones.

Thank you for clarifying that. That said, I've already pointed out why it's unlikely that Iran would shell US troops in Iraq.

I would say that was saying a very great deal. We know that Obama kicked off his political career in Ayers' living room; that Ayers and he worked quite closely together with the Annenberg Challenge; that they shared an office ; and now also that Ayers asked him to blurb his book.

Actually, we don't know that Ayers and Obama worked quite closely together on the CAC - there's no proof of anything but a handful of meetings, as you can see by pursuing some of AMac's links above. There's certainly no proof at that link that Obama and Ayers shared an office - multiple organizations can frequently have the same address for mailing and billing purposes. It sure as hell doesn't mean they went to work at the same location every day... or even that either one of them ever visited that particular location. And as for the blurb, you didn't even provide a link the accusation, and I've never encountered that before.

When someone works alongside you, supports your efforts, and you support his in turn, that constitutes an alliance at least. I would normally also consider someone who had helped me and asked for help in turn to be a friend, but I suppose it's possible they secretly disliked each other.

If you're bound and determined to see such an alliance, I can't dissuade you... but we've already covered the problem of different worldviews.

Chris:

I see I forgot to discuss the Iranian issue you raised, as I had meant to do.

There are two key divisions in Iraqi society on the subject of Iran. Americans are keenly aware of the Sunni/Shi'ite divide, but not as aware of the importance of the Arab/Persian divide as they ought to be. Both exercise a tremendous importance on Iraqi thinking.

Thus, Shi'ite Iraqis look to Iran for support to a certain degree against non-Shi'a Iraqis; but at the same time, all Arab Iraqis look to each other for support against Persian domination. This creates an interesting balancing act for Shi'ite Iraqi politicians (such as Maliki), who want to reach out to Iran to a certain degree, but also push them away to a certain degree. This is a tricky proposition.

The United States is a useful tool in that undertaking, as there is a (perfectly honest and respectable) Iraqi desire to resist foreign domination by us as much as by Iran. As is often the case in South America, a politician making public headway against the US gains the public credibility to do other things -- including things we may desire.

As a result, the Iran/Iraq situation as I see it lies this way: Iran is not nearly as powerful in Iraq as it would like to be. It is willing to use both violence and bribery/corruption to spread its influence. Iraqi Shi'ite politicians are suceptible to that to a certain degree, but have a genuine native patriotism as Arabs that causes them to want to resist it as well.

Often, that resistance manifests as anti-American statements, because these buy room for unspoken anti-Iranian moves. For example, in the negotiations over the current SOFA, Iran wants a US withdrawal. Iraq wants -- and really does want -- a small but continued US presence, including especially air defense assets, to guarantee them against Iranian pressures. But Maliki must also seem not to be a puppet.

The way to achieve this is to speak in public against the US's interests, while compromising in private. The public speech shows a refusal to be dominated by the US, which then allows you the currency with the public to negotiate a long-term US presence on bases outside the major cities. One of the things I expect to be doing in this next deployment is helping relocate our units outside of Baghdad and elsewhere, so that our presence is largely unseen (as in Kuwait).

Iran isn't, though, as powerful as it looks; and there is more resistance to it than there appears to be. If they could cause a new, untested American President to panic and withdraw troops prematurely, they would be in a much stronger position than if they let this all play out. For that reason, I expect an Obama presidency to result in increased Iranian-backed attacks in Iraq.

#32:

You didn't see the blurb? My apologies; I thought everyone had read about that this week. Here you are.

I'll grant that two people may have different readings of situations -- "worldviews" as you say. I can only tell you honestly how it looks to me; I'll be happy to accept that it looks otherwise to you.

Chris #31 --

A few things, but I'm not going to do this all day.

  • I felt free to excerpt (chop up) your words because the originals are cited, and a few "Page Up" taps away. "Scoring cheap points," oy vey.
  • Re: the Obama/Ayers relationship, it's obvious that (1) Obama has been very reticent, underemphasizing its extent at every turn, and (2) Despite the efforts of Obama partisans, the depth of that relationship has become progressivlely more evident as Spring (primary season) has turned into Summer and then Fall. Obama knew that Ayers was not only "some guy in the neighborhood" when he spoke that phrase. Would the facts as they are now known have made a difference to primary voters? I don't know. Do you?
  • One strong exposition of the case that Obama has not been forthright about the Ayers relationship is the thrice-linked four-times-linked Maguire post; other bloggers--some listed--have drawn similar conclusions on the strength of other evidence. You're comfortable with naysaying summary statements, but haven't shown that any particular piece of information is false or misleading. I (and the other readers of this thread) now understand that you see things differently. If you want to go past is/isn't/is/isn't, make the case that Maguire and Kurtz and Diamond are wrong, and link it here. It'll get read.
  • "I [Chris] pointed out that you [AMac] mentioned Obama in close proximity to mention a bunch of people on the far left. I can't see any real connection between them... From my standpoint, the links - which are non sequiturs at best, and guilt-by-forced-proximity at worst - are part of the problem."

The far-leftist who is the subject of the post is Ayers, with whom Obama indeed spent much time, professionally, 1995-2002. Chris, you're claiming that Obama's choices of whom he associates with don't mean anything? Really? Does, say, Richard Cheney get the same treatment? Have you written many blog comments saying "aw, knock it off" to those on the left who find such connections to be highly significant? I suspect that you have one set of standards for the good guys, and a different set for the bad guys.

Back to the actual focus of the post. I was remarking that, on the one hand,

Everybody Knows that Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist who retains the twisted admixture of great social and economic privilege and vile, Stalinist ideals that defined his bomb-planting youth. Only his methods have changed, courtesy of an enabling, extremist academic environment. Obama's passing associations with this fellow can't be taken to mean anything in particular.

On the other hand,

Thousands of Academics and Educators know that William Ayers Ph.D. is a scholar of the highest order, an advocate for education devoted to human enlightenment. This Distinguished Professor has worked tirelessly to promote critical inquiry, dialogue, and debate; to encourage questioning and independent thinking; and to value the full humanity of every person.

Bit of a contrast there. Because it's interesting, I blogged about it.

I fail to see how a failed Iraqi state is not in Iran's interest.

To the extent that Iran wields influence in Iraq it is primarily because Iraq suffers and suffered from a lack of internal security - which Iran actively encouraged. The closer Iraq descends to a failed state, the more likely Iran will be able to make gains there. The less like a failed state Iraq is, the harder it will be for Iran to make gains in Iraq.

Iran's ability to exhert influence in Lebanon is primarily a function of Lebanon as a failed state. The closer Lebanon gets to an independent entity, the less influence Iran can exhert through there Hezb'Allah clients.

The goal for Iran since the Iraq war began was to turn Iraq into a failed state, split the country into three parts, undermine the native Shi'a leadership in Iraq so as to eventually set up a client state in Southern Iraq similar to what they had achieved with Hezb'Allah in Lebanon. The Iranian strategy on this has been to: aid insurgents in Iraq by providing weapons and technical skills (using the same resources that already exist to train and equip Hezb'Allah), forment strife between the Shi'a and the Sunni, and back an ambitious junior religious leader from a famous family but who would otherwise not have a chance of obtaining high status within the Shi'a clerical heirarchy.

Although the coalition has been too slow to respond to the Iranian threat (and in particular our British allies nearly wrecked the whole thing by giving Basra to the Iranians), the Iranians are now probably further from their goals than they've been since the war begin.

There is no particular reason why a vigorous Iraqi state - even one largely under control of the Shi'a - would be a willing puppet or even particularly strong ally of Iran. They are historic enemies separated by racial emnity. The Shia religious leadership of Iraq (Al'Sistani for example) resents taking orders from the clerics of Iran on the basis of the Iraqi clerics presumed senority as custodians of Shia's most sacred shrines and institutions. Oposition to Iran is one of the few areas by which a Shi'a leader could legitimately unite the Kurdish and Sunni Arab factions in Iraq.

The best thing that could happen to ayers is some benign neglect. All that he has gotten out of this is publicity. He would have been best forgotten. This whole Ayers/Obama Tempest in a Teapot has benefited Ayers and no one else. Would that his name were never spoken up again.

This is simple partisan hackary, in at least two ways:

1. You want to talk about links to bad guys?

a. Sarah Palin's husband WAS, for many years, a member of AIP. Whose members want to SECEDE, yes, SECEDE from the United States!! And just last year, she cut a very warm message for their opening convention.

b. Gordon Liddy. While he served his time, he never expressed regret. Some of Liddy's "ideas, from Wikipedia:

Liddy concocted several plots, some far-fetched, intended to embarrass the Democratic opposition. These included firebombing the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. (where classified documents leaked by Daniel Ellsberg were being stored), kidnapping anti-war protest organizers and transporting them to Mexico during the Republican National Convention (which at the time was planned for San Diego), and luring mid-level Democratic campaign officials to a house boat in Baltimore where they would be secretly photographed in compromising positions with call girls.

Stand up guy there! A long working relationship to McCain! McCain is PROUD of his connection to Liddy!

2. If you are going to look at guilt by association, you pretty much have to the Republican Annenberg's, a whole host of Republican, Democratic, and independent educations, all of which who worked/work with Obama. So it's just a fake, partisan tactic.

The post says what it says, and does so clearly. And with links.

Reminds me of the claims by Jerome Corsi and Ann Coulter that the claims in their books are legitimate because they're "footnoted".

Obama has been very reticent, underemphasizing its extent at every turn,

Meaningless. Evidence of nothing except perhaps a wise recognition of the tactics of the rabid right wing press and the sorry state of our public discourse.

Obama knew that Ayers was not only "some guy in the neighborhood" when he spoke that phrase.

He didn't say that he was "only" some guy in the neighborhood. Somehow, that's what you heard.

Bit of a contrast there. Because it's interesting, I blogged about it.

Sure, so are little green aliens to some people.

You said "adulatory" when the letter is not in the least. This is a dishonest use of language meant to convey a sinister point that you have, by all means, been unable to substantiate with facts, just innuendo and omissions (as illustrated above) or simple assertions (" You've no chance of finding 11 other angry men (or women) to see this your way, even if you trawl on campus for the thinnest of skins.")

You seem to have a bone to pick with Academics as well, I have noticed. Interesting.

...but I'm not going to do this all day

My advice: stick to commenting, not posting. This confusing mess of a polemic only helps to illustrate why this specific issue and general tactic has been backfiring so consistently for Republicans this cycle.

I suppose that this needs to be put in terms that the strategically illiterate can understand:

Imagine that "Iran" is a codeword for "Republican" and "Iraq" is a codeword for "Democrat". Now, might you see that "Iran" has some interests in disrupting "Iraq"?

"Sarah Palin's husband WAS, for many years, a member of AIP"

Fascinating. How many buildings did he blow up?

"Gordon Liddy. While he served his time, he never expressed regret. Some of Liddy's "ideas, from Wikipedia:"

Captivating. So did any of these ideas involve trying to kill US soldiers and their dates at a dance hall?

Ah- i see the common thread here. You are condemning the republican's associates for their IDEAS. I am condemning Bill Ayers for his ACTIONS.

There is rather a big difference.

On the contrary, TOC, the more volume the Ayers' stories get, the better (assuming you're pro-McCain, that is, which obviously you're not.) Obama's campaign has all been about presenting his Oneness as a blank slate, where he mouths positive platitudes while his operation coordinates filth-flinging, with the desired effect that he looks positively radiant against a background of dirt.

And for some percentage of people, it has worked. All sorts of folks who should know better are projecting what they hope to see onto Obama.

Well, his history with Ayers should cause some cognitive dissonance with the moderates out there who are just now (and yes, I think there are significant numbers of them) starting to pay attention.

And guess what? The opinion polls are tightening up. It's going to be an interesting ride.

Yes, absolutely agree with the Mark Poling (who apparently stands on his head when reading polls).

Keep it up, guys. The better to make sure every last Who in Whoville understands exactly where you are coming from, what you think is important, how you participate in the public discourse.

Mark B.

I am condemning Bill Ayers for his ACTIONS.

As we all do; as Obama does. The attraction of this story completely eludes me.

I condemn Ayers for his actions as well. And Gordon Liddy for his actions.

But his actions don't have anything to do with Obama - nor do they have to do with the entire universe of people associated with the Annenberg project, except as it relates to education.

AMac-

I felt free to excerpt (chop up) your words because the originals are cited, and a few "Page Up" taps away. "Scoring cheap points," oy vey.

There's a difference between excerpting words and chopping them up to change their context and meaning; you did the latter.

Re: the Obama/Ayers relationship, it's obvious that (1) Obama has been very reticent, underemphasizing its extent at every turn, and (2) Despite the efforts of Obama partisans, the depth of that relationship has become progressivlely more evident as Spring (primary season) has turned into Summer and then Fall. Obama knew that Ayers was not only "some guy in the neighborhood" when he spoke that phrase.

And the depth of that relationship is... what? It's been proven that they served on a board at the same time. The way you talk, you'd think they worked together on a plan to undermine the country... not that you're implying any such thing, of course.

Would the facts as they are now known have made a difference to primary voters? I don't know. Do you?

Given that I was an Obama primary voter, and knew several other people who were... yeah, I think I do know. And no, the fact that they worked together on CAC wouldn't have made a difference.

One strong exposition of the case that Obama has not been forthright about the Ayers relationship is the thrice-linked four-times-linked Maguire post;

AMac, nobody's asking you to keep linking it, and it doesn't really make any difference how many times you do link to it. It's not gonna say anything new, or prove something that it previously didn't, no matter how many times you point to it.

other bloggers--some listed--have drawn similar conclusions on the strength of other evidence. You're comfortable with naysaying summary statements, but haven't shown that any particular piece of information is false or misleading. I (and the other readers of this thread) now understand that you see things differently. If you want to go past is/isn't/is/isn't, make the case that Maguire and Kurtz and Diamond are wrong, and link it here. It'll get read.

I'm not sure what, exactly, I'm supposed to prove is false or misleading - Kurtz et al have some small amount of evidence about Obama on the CAC, which I largely don't disagree with, and a great deal of speculation, which I do disagree with, and which even you admit is unproven. Are we now at a point where pro-Obama people have to disprove unfounded suppositions? Or is it somehow merely my opinion that unfounded speculation is not the same thing as hard fact, and shouldn't be treated as such in a post that implies Obama's somehow connected with a bunch of hard-left people?

The far-leftist who is the subject of the post is Ayers, with whom Obama indeed spent much time, professionally, 1995-2002.

"Much time" is bullshit, which you haven't - and can't - prove.

Chris, you're claiming that Obama's choices of whom he associates with don't mean anything? Really?

I think the quality and circumstances of the association means a great deal, AMac. Me riding a bus with a KKK member doesn't make me a racist; me working with an ex-con doesn't make me an ex-con.

Does, say, Richard Cheney get the same treatment? Have you written many blog comments saying "aw, knock it off" to those on the left who find such connections to be highly significant? I suspect that you have one set of standards for the good guys, and a different set for the bad guys.

I'd be far from the only person for whom that's true, if I am guilty... but, in actuality, I didn't mention Cheney in the slightest, and yes, I do think there's a difference between Obama publicly serving on a large, non-partisan education reform board, without absolute control over who else was on the board, and Cheney inviting people to the White House to discuss (or draft) energy policy, and then trying to keep that information secret.

Bit of a contrast there [regarding how people see Ayers]. Because it's interesting, I blogged about it.

That's certainly... an interpretation of what you did, it's true.

Jeff Medcalf-

I suppose that this needs to be put in terms that the strategically illiterate can understand:

Imagine that "Iran" is a codeword for "Republican" and "Iraq" is a codeword for "Democrat". Now, might you see that "Iran" has some interests in disrupting "Iraq"?

If you honestly think that's an accurate assessment of the relationship between Iran and Iraq, Jeff, you've got no business calling anyone else "strategically illiterate".

Then again, based on your "we'll destroy Iran's civilization to stop nuclear war!" arguments, I suppose that should have been a foregone conclusion...

And Mark - what ABOUT Palin's close connections with a party, and people, that actually want Alaska to SECEDE FROM the United States?

What about that? Isn't that a lot more relevant, much more timely - last year she sent a warm message to the party, and a lot closer - her husband a MEMBER of that party - than the educational focus of Chicago's elite - both democrats and Republicans - to reform education 10 years ago, that included hundreds of people, one of which did some deeply disgusting unAmerican violent acts 40 years ago?

Are you saying REALLY saying - that this is a more relevant association? Really???

Are you REALLY saying that Obama's relationship to Ayers, and subsequent judgment - is more impaired than the co-writers of the Chicago proposal, or the GRANTERS of the money - Annenberg and Vartan Gregorian?

This is a joke, and outrageous, and deeply WONG of you Mark. Seriously.

Heck, Obama got involved, once the grant was awared to Chicago. He served on the Board of the project - which Ayers didn't.

In what universe is that discrediting? How many other hundreds would be discredited on the basis of what you are saying? Why do you hold the standard to be so different for the associations for the Alaskan Independent Party, which is objectively, factually, much closer and more questionable?

Will you ANSWER any of these questions in a rational, logical manner?

Did Ayers and Dohrn serve prison sentences? Given the seriousness of their crimes, why are they not in prison, and why can an accredited institution ahve them on the payroll?

Don't their crimes at least count as felonies that would preclude employment?

Mark-

Chris- very simple answer. If the Iraqis wanted the US out as quickly as possible, as per Obama (removing 1 brigade per month is about the upward possible limit given logistic realities) their recourse is very, very simple. They could do nothing and let the UN mandate expire at the end of the year. The US would either have to leave or would remain in violation of international law.

Or, even more simply, the Iraqis could walk into parliment and pass a law requiring the US to leave.

So if you are right, why havent they done either of these things? Instead they are on the verge of passing a law allowing the US to stay much longer. Why negotiate at all if you are correct? The truth is the Iraqis know that it is extremely dangerous and irresponsible to remove US troops within a year. Everybody knows that. Some people just dont care.

Well, as someone who doesn't agree with Bush and McCain's withdrawal policy, I don't much appreciate your assertion that I know the right thing to do, but "just don't care"... but I do appreciate your concrete, testable prediction that the Iraqi government will pass the current SOFA. Everything I've read suggests that they're not "on the verge" of passing it - that Maliki got the best deal he could out of the US and it's still not sufficient for the Iraqi parliament, which is ignoring it. Momentum will carry us to a position where there is no SOFA at the start of 2009, but nobody will make much of a fuss because Obama'll be in office at the end of January, and Maliki will have a much easier time getting a faster withdrawal, negotiated with the Obama admin, through parliament.

Of course, I could be wrong... as could you, Mark. But I'd far rather make testable predictions and see who's right than argue about who knows what, who cares about what, and who's more patriotic, freedom-loving, etc.

Here's to finding out which of us is right in 2009!

Nonviolent secession predicated on a US action claimed contrary to UN documents to which the US was signatory, versus blowing buildings (and, aw heck, maybe a few people) up. Just trying to clarify this: the AIP's posture is procedural, as far as is known.

Grim-

[cut stuff on the Arab/Persian divide - suffice to say, you're right that there's a divide, but I'm very, very skeptical that it's as important as the Shia/Sunni divide, given both the past Iran/Iraq wars and the recent Shia/Sunni violence in Iraq.]

As a result, the Iran/Iraq situation as I see it lies this way: Iran is not nearly as powerful in Iraq as it would like to be. It is willing to use both violence and bribery/corruption to spread its influence. Iraqi Shi'ite politicians are suceptible to that to a certain degree, but have a genuine native patriotism as Arabs that causes them to want to resist it as well.

Often, that resistance manifests as anti-American statements, because these buy room for unspoken anti-Iranian moves. For example, in the negotiations over the current SOFA, Iran wants a US withdrawal. Iraq wants -- and really does want -- a small but continued US presence, including especially air defense assets, to guarantee them against Iranian pressures. But Maliki must also seem not to be a puppet.

The way to achieve this is to speak in public against the US's interests, while compromising in private. The public speech shows a refusal to be dominated by the US, which then allows you the currency with the public to negotiate a long-term US presence on bases outside the major cities. One of the things I expect to be doing in this next deployment is helping relocate our units outside of Baghdad and elsewhere, so that our presence is largely unseen (as in Kuwait).

As I just told Mark B., I'm far happier to make concrete predictions about this kind of stuff than have pissing matches over who knows more. I respect your prediction, but I'd be surprised if Maliki gets the SOFA passed - Iraq is, of course, a fractured society, and whatever Maliki wants (and your assessment of what he wants seems pretty reasonable to me), it seems to me that he doesn't actually have the political power to get it. I'll also be surprised if Obama's willing to stick around and provide air defense against Iran... although I suspect we disagree on whether that's a good thing or not.

Iran isn't, though, as powerful as it looks; and there is more resistance to it than there appears to be. If they could cause a new, untested American President to panic and withdraw troops prematurely, they would be in a much stronger position than if they let this all play out. For that reason, I expect an Obama presidency to result in increased Iranian-backed attacks in Iraq.

And I suspect Iran is smart enough to know that Obama's withdrawing regardless of whether they attack or not. Even if we take your "Obama panics and withdraws" narrative at face value (which I don't), I fail to see how Iran's better off risking a renewed Sunni insurgency than slowly building their political and economic influence in Iran for decades after the US leaves. The ayatollahs, whatever else you say about them, aren't afraid to think long-term.

You didn't see the blurb? My apologies; I thought everyone had read about that this week. Here you are.

I had not seen it, and I'll withhold judgement on it until others have a better chance to pick it over. That said, I still don't see that the link supports your earlier assertion that "Ayers asked him to blurb his book" - Obama, a U of C law school lecturer, wrote a one sentence blurb about a book about the juvenile justice system in Chicago in the Tribune. There's no evidence that he did so because of any kind of relationship with Ayers.

Chris #46 --

You wrote in #31 that I chopped up a quote of yours in an attempt to score cheap points about tautologies. In #46 you assert that I chopped up your words to change their context and meaning.

My intent (which only I can know) was to keep the quoted material short. It is never to distort, which I agree is unethical. Let's take your accusation from the top.

In #23, you (Chris) wrote --

AMac, you're stating that a close relationship with Ayers is electoral poison, and insinuating that such a relationship exists, when there is no evidence of such, by making numerous links to sites that likewise suggest - but don't prove - that there must be a relationship.

That's the original text.

In #28, I (AMac) quoted Chris as follows --

Chris #23 --

[AMac, you are] insinuating that [a close] relationship [between Obama and Ayers] exists, when there is no evidence of such, by making numerous links to sites that likewise suggest - but don't prove - that there must be a relationship.

That's my paraphrasing, which you object to.

In #31, Chris wrote --

AMac-

First off, quote my whole quote - don't chop it up in an attempt to score cheap points about tautologies. That said...

In #35, AMac wrote --

Chris #31 --

  • I felt free to excerpt (chop up) your words because the originals are cited, and a few "Page Up" taps away. "Scoring cheap points," oy vey.

In #46, Chris wrote --

AMac-

I felt free to excerpt (chop up) your words because the originals are cited, and a few "Page Up" taps away. "Scoring cheap points," oy vey.

There's a difference between excerpting words and chopping them up to change their context and meaning; you did the latter.

- - - - - -

Original text, referents to an antecedents in italics:

AMac, you're stating that a close relationship with Ayers is electoral poison, and insinuating that such a relationship exists, when there is no evidence of such, by making numerous links to sites that likewise suggest - but don't prove - that there must be a relationship.

with Ayers = between Obama and Ayers

such a relationship = a close relationship

such = a close relationship

Are there alternative interpretations? I didn't see any, and don't see any now, either.

Chris, you were correct to read me as stating that "a close relationship with Ayers" would be "electoral poison." That concept ("electoral poison") didn't enter in to the remainder of your sentence: "...and insinuating that a close relationship exists, when there is no evidence of a close relationship, by making numerous links to sites that likewise suggest - but don't prove - that there must be a relationship.

Which brings us to my quote of your text in #28:

[AMac, you are] you're stating that a close relationship with Ayers is electoral poison, and insinuating that such a relationship[a close] relationship [between Obama and Ayers] exists, when there is no evidence of such, by making numerous links to sites that likewise suggest - but don't prove - that there must be a relationship.

You'll note that I try to make it easy for readers to locate the source of quoted material by giving the comment number each time.

I remain at a loss to understand why you believe that I've engaged in trying to score cheap points against you, and in chopping up your words to change their context and meaning.

Notwithstanding that, I accept that that's how my actions have made you feel. I regret being the cause of this ill will, and will redouble my efforts to only quote you (and everyone else) correctly, and in the proper context.

Because, GK, the government was forced to drop its belated prosecution of Ayers because much of its evidence was tainted, e.g., illegal wiretaps. Dohrn was placed on three years probation on Illinois charges of aggravated battery and bail jumping. Try wikipedia.

AMac-

I'll make this simple:

In post #17 you said:

What are the unproven insinuations that I'm making? As it concerns Obama (and the focus of this post is Ayers), I'm stating not insinuating that--given his history, prolific output, and unapologetic vileness--a close relationship with the Prof is electoral poison.

In post #23 I said:

AMac, you're stating that a close relationship with Ayers is electoral poison, and insinuating that such a relationship exists, when there is no evidence of such, by making numerous links to sites that likewise suggest - but don't prove - that there must be a relationship.

That is to say, you asked what insinuations you were making, and then argued that your intent was simply to say that a close relationship with Ayers was poison. I agreed that, yes, you were stating that a close relationship with Ayers was electoral poison. But that, in addition, you were also insinuating that a relationship existed by linking to sites that also suggested a close relationship.

When you quoted me in #28 you quoted me as saying:

[AMac, you are] insinuating that [a close] relationship [between Obama and Ayers] exists, when there is no evidence of such, by making numerous links to sites that likewise suggest - but don't prove - that there must be a relationship.

And then said:

Chris, the Obama/Ayers relationship has not been proven to be closer than it has been proven to be. That tautology aside...

So it is out of context, because the point of my original paragraph in #23 was to show how you were making insinuations in addition to making a statement about the potential impact of a close relationship between Obama and Ayers. You then characterized the remainder of the sentence as me saying "the Obama/Ayers relationship has not been proven to be closer than it has been proven to be", and dismissed it as a tautology, which is a cheap way of dismissing my original point that yes, you were making an insinuation about Obama's relationship with Ayers.

Notwithstanding that, I accept that that's how my actions have made you feel. I regret being the cause of this ill will, and will redouble my efforts to only quote you (and everyone else) correctly, and in the proper context.

Thank you. I'm therefore done with the back and forth on this quote issue.

Yo, Vista, stand this on its head:

AP presidential poll: All even in the homestretch

Chris #55 --

OK, thanks.

Your #6 said that WoC was now a site making "repeated, unproven insinuations that Obama's a stealth radical."

In #17, I should have responded (text in italics added)

What are the unproven insinuations that I'm making? Not that Obama is a "stealth radical." As it concerns Obama (and the focus of this post is Ayers), I'm stating not insinuatingI will state not insinuate that (1) Obama and Ayers had a relationship that many would call "close"; (2)--given his history, prolific output, and unapologetic vileness--a close relationship with the Prof is electoral poison, and (3) Obama has gone to some length to minimize this relationship.

We would still be in disagreement about all of these substantive points, but what we were disagreeing on would have been plain.

So I now apologize for raising your hackles and aggravating this problem by my paraphrasing.

That's your evidence, Mark? One poll by the AP?

You said:

And guess what? The opinion polls are tightening up. It's going to be an interesting ride.

Notice the plural "POLLS"?

So, do you have any other examples of the race "tightening up" other than a poll that oversampled "born again/evangelical" likely voters by two-fold over their representation in the 2004 election?

Link.

I'm certainly not one to feel complacent or be dismissive of polls simply because they go against the candidate I prefer, but this cherry picking triumphalism is amazingly narrow minded.

Here's a more honest look at the polls and trends.

My suggestion: you might want to sit down first before reading, but not on your head.

#52:

I'll respect your prediction as well. We have political differences, and worldview differences, but you yourself seem like a fine fellow. As for your candidate, whatever my opinion of him, if he wins I will be there to help him enact his Iraq policy on the ground -- whatever he finally decides it will be.

Anyone who can say this...

They're rail-straight. Nor is this a cross for the ambitious and calculating Barack Obama to bear: ends, not means, are what matter.

...has not been paying enough attention to the tone and content of the two current campaigns.

Obama has been quite restrained in criticizing McCain, sticking largely to political issues, while McCain, well, I think you all know what kind of campaign he's running. And what effect it is having on his supporters...the Angry Mob.

Ends vs. means to be sure; you just have the candidates and approaches confused.

Vista, saying the polls are tightening isn't exactly triumphalism; triumphalism is saying the whole thing is over and your candidate has been driven before mine, we're drinking his beer, and laughing at the lamentation of the Palins.

What is striking is how all-over-the-place the polls are right now.

For instance, I love this one. (If Obama loses West Virginia by less than 10% I'll send a country ham to the post office box of your choice.)

For what it's worth, here's another showing "tightening." Now, Investors Business Daily might be considered for real a right-leaning outlet, but then again Fox is showing Obama with a big lead. Go figure.

Even the pollsters seem confused. What the heck is Gallup talking about:

The traditional model assumes that those who express a strong intention to vote this year and who have voted often in the past will vote this year. The expanded model does not rely on past voting behavior as a predictor of turnout this year, and thus defines likely voters as those who express a strong intention to vote this year.

"Traditional model" versus "expanded model"? This is how we say "we're just making stuff up now and seeing what sticks."

Please note: ACORN-registered pets will have trouble voting at polling places; how effective they'll be with the absentee ballots remains to be seen.

Again, for what it's worth, I expect Obama will win, but I also expect election day will be much more interesting than Obama and his supporters want.

I would think that Obama supporters would be extremely unhappy about this simpleton endorsement of Ayers, and especially disgusted by its timing.

This is the same mixed message that caused Obama so much trouble with J. Wright (and his Wright problem is not over; liberals are just suppressing the symptoms by refusing to think about it) and it goes like this:

1. Obama could never be seriously attached to someone like Wright, because Wright is awful. Precisely because Wright is so awful, it is not credible to believe that Obama could agree with him. [A.L. made this point regarding Ayers: You would have to believe Obama was a Manchurian Candidate, etc. - not that I agree.]

2. But on the other hand, Wright isn't really so bad. I mean, he's only telling the truth, right? And even if he is bad, your uncle is just as bad. And John McCain knows people just as bad. So what's the big deal?

These two messages seriously undermine each other. People know that Obama was full of crap when he talked about Wright, because he - or more precisely, his none-too-helpful supporters - could not make up their minds about which message they wanted to send.

It was Wright who resolved it himself, by going in front of the cameras and proving himself a fool by opening his mouth to remove all doubt.

Blogger "Zombietime" has located a copy of Prof. Ayers' first book, "Prairie Fire," coauthored in 1974 with Bernadine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and Celia Sojourn.

Good reading, if it's authentic.

On Page 10, Ayers, Dohrn, and their coauthors wrote:

We are a guerrilla organization. We are communist women and men, underground in the United States for more than four years. We are deeply affected by the historic events of our time in the struggle against U.S. imperialism. Our intention is to disrupt the empire, to incapacitate it, to put pressure on the cracks, to make it hard to carry out its bloody functioning against the people of the world, to join the world struggle, to attack from the inside.
Our intention is to engage the enemy, to wear away at him, to harass him, to isolate him, to expose every weakness, to pounce, to reveal his vulnerability.
Our intention is to encourage the people, to provoke leaps in confidence and consciousness, to stir the imagination, to popularize power, to agitate, to organize, to join in every way possible the people's day-to-day struggles.
Our intention is to forge an underground, a clandestine political organization engaged in every form of struggle, protected from the eyes and weapons of the state, a base against repression, to accumulate lessons, experience and constant practice, a base from which to attack.

THE BANNER OF CHE

The only path to the final defeat of imperialism and the building of socialism is revolutionary war. Revolution is the most powerful resource of the people. To wait, to not prepare people for the fight, is to seriously mislead about what kind of fierce struggle lies ahead.
Revolutionary war will be complicated and protracted. It includes mass struggle and clandestine struggle, peaceful and violent, political and economic, cultural and military, where all forms are developed in harmony with the armed struggle.
Without mass struggle there can be no revolution.
Without armed struggle there can be no victory.

For most people, 35-year-old manifestos would be of historical interest only. The wisdom and sorrow of the passing years changes many youthful Stalinists and Maoists into... something different, and better.

But not Bill Ayers. By his own words, his regret is that he didn't "do more." He is an unrepentant terrorist; a past and present enemy of any United States save a Communist one.

The man who Paddy O'Reilly and 3,200 other academics and educators champion and admire.

Nice.

Ayers and his supporters haven't changed their thinking nor their tactics. What surprises me is the depth of hatred for this country and their unwillingness to leave this hated place for a nation that enshrines their ideals like Cuba, PRC, Tehran or Russia.

Academia is filled with losers like Ayers, Rudd, Zinn and other lossers who have nothing to offer that America can use find a vacuum in academia where they can peddle their swill.

What I want to know is not what Obama saw in Ayers but what Ayers saw in Obama.

Character counts and this is why the Left hates it so.

Re: #63

Interesting is the part at the end where Ayers & Co. declare their solidarity with "political prisoners" like Sirhan Sirhan.

That's not a complete list of Weather Underground heroes, either. Susan Stern wrote that the WU Central Committee (which included Ayers, Dohrn, and Mark Rudd) were always finding new role models for their followers, and exhorting them to "Be like them!" So they would send out directives like "Sirhan Sirhan - Be Like Him!"

Among their "Be like them" heroes were the Manson killers, of course, and even the William Holden gang from The Wild Bunch.

davod @#24 pops in and spotlights the real danger that Ayers represents and why Obama's all-too willing working relationship with, and admiration of, (in his own words) Ayers, portends such grim prospects for the future of the nation if Obama ascends to the Presidency.

WRT to the AIP in Alaska - The party held the Governorship of Alaska at one time.

#66. Don't forget Obama also wants more peace vollunteers than the numbers of troops we have as well as the same budget as the DOD (He has said that he will cut the DOD budget in half to fund them). Peace volunteers, Hmm, where have I heard that term before, Cuba, Venezualahe DOD.

"Even if we take your "Obama panics and withdraws" narrative at face value (which I don't), I fail to see how Iran's better off risking a renewed Sunni insurgency than slowly building their political and economic influence in Iran for decades after the US leaves."

You fail to see how an Iraqi state polarized along the Sunni-Shi'a religious divide fails to benefit Iran? Really?

If I was playing Iran's cards, I'd be holding off until after the next President gets into office, and then I'd try to see what I could do to stir up ethnic tension again. With Iraqi society suitably polarized and the ordinary Iraqi citizenry desparate for security I'd think it far more likely that they'd be willing to overlook their historical animosity to Iran. Further, if there was a Sunni uprising, then the Shi'a in Southern Iraq would likely be more scared of the Sunni's than they would be of Iran, with the result that they accept Iranian overlordship if I could promise them security. From there, I have a launching off point for gulping up the whole of Southern Iraq and establishing a client state there.

Once I have a Hezb'Allah style puppet govennment as the defacto state in Southern Iraq, then I start making noise in the UN about how the dangerous instablity caused by the arrogant American crusaders is destablizing the region, and the only possible solution is to officially divide Iraq into three parts. Since this position is one which has been held by certain members of the American government, its possibly one I can get traction on by engaging the Americans. With the right manuevering, I think the Iranians can get the Americans to effectively turn over Iraq to them in the name of peace and diplomacy - possibly even with a UN mandate.

You see it's not the whole of Iraq that Iran wants. Holding the Sunni or Kurdish regions would be too much trouble anyway. All Iran wants is to gulp up the Southern oil fields and cut off direct Iraqi access to the sea. Without direct access to the sea, all Iraqi oil would have to pass through Iranian controlled client states anyway.

The whole key to this plan is ratcheting up ethnic tension. If Iraq is secure and prospering, it's people are much less likely to percieve Irans interests to be in their own best interest given that what Iran wants most is to gain control of Iraq's oil, its Shi'a holy shrines, and other revenue streams. If people aren't desparate for security, they aren't going to want to sell - especially not to some Persian foreigner.

An excerpt of Jeff Medcalf's comment #9 from Without Consent, perhaps also relevant to a discussion of Prof. Ayers and those who champion him:

Multiculturalism, relativism and the like are tools. They separate a strong culture from its moral bearings. They create a people without a guiding principle but with a readiness to be led and an inability to tell when they're being snowed. Worse, because of the Long March Through the Institutions, people are becoming increasingly unable to tell what reality is, and increasingly likely to accept arbitrary authority over them. (In other words, we are rapidly returning to a pre-Enlightenment mental model of politics.)

I can just imagine the reaction of those who are so indignant about the mention of Ayers with Obama if

ANY Republican was exposed to have had their political career launched by a

Unrepentant Abortion Clinic Bomber, whose only regret was not that in his youth he bombed Abortion Clinics but that he did not bomb MORE Abortion Clinic

Just a guy in the neighborhood.

What a Joke, If that was all there was to it, then the Obama campaign should not have lied about Obama's endorcement of one of Ayers books.

They said it never happened that saying that was a lie

Care to look at a jpg of Obama's glowing endorcement with his photo on it?
The Blurb That Never Was
Check that out and then tell me who is lieing.

AMac claims:

The man who Paddy O'Reilly and 3,200 other academics and educators champion and admire.

But not for his terrorist activities, of course.

He shows no signs of continuing to engage in, promote or condone terrorism in the last 25 years or so.

His actions are a thing of the past, and everyone, including Obama, has condemned them in no uncertain terms.

He is of course, as I'm sure you are aware and hopefully support, now free to say whatever he wants about America, his past, or other events or circumstances that he might find in opposition to his views.

The letter from the Academics you deride and malign can be taken as an effort to make sure everyone understands that simple point.

Raising this issue does not imply support for these acts but rather that he does have a rightful place in society as do other reformed criminals.

He is repentant to the degree he has not committed any further acts of terrorism. Nor has he promoted them. He may continue to hold some residual views that are distasteful, but that is his right, just like any other US citizen.

If you have another definition of "unrepentant" that is relevant to this, I once again invite you to provide it.

That's why the AIP comparison is relevant; in fact, it is more relevant, since Palin has not denounced their separatist and Anti-American views but rather condoned them by attending a recent convention. Obama, OTOH, has not had any connections with Ayers related to or involving his past activities or current residual radical views. Therefore, there is no basis for implying or accusing Obama of sharing these views, especially since every indication is that he holds the opposite views.

Ayers and his wife are domestic terrorists and self-admitted anarchists. He thinks the SDS and Weather Underground "didn't do enough" bombings. They injured people with their bombs and easily could have killed someone.

In fact, they were exposed when a bomb some Weathermen were building exploded. That bomb was intended for a dance hall at Fort Dix.

Obama is now denying an association with Ayers and trying to minimize the extensive contact he has had with Ayers over the years. Now that the association is a political liability (in the general election), Ayers has been "thrown under the bus" (as Obama finally did with Rev, Wright).

Obama had a political "coming out" event at Ayers house in the mid-'90s, they served on a board of directors together for 10 years and Obama wrote the jacket notes for one of Ayers' books. That indicates more of a relationship then "just a guy in the neighborhood." Which, by the way, is also true, they live near each other in a Chicago suburb.

Though Obama says his crimes happened too long ago to affect his relationship with Ayers, it does not matter when Ayers committed these heinous crimes; the fact is he did the crime, but not the time. He never went to jail and is unrepentant for committing the crimes. He is quoted in an interview from a few years ago that he walked out of court (back in the '60s) "Guilty as hell. Free as a bird. What a great country." How ironic.

If McCain had a similar relationship with David Duke or an abortion clinic bomber, his campaign would have been over. The media and liberals are giving Obama a pass on this association, as well as his connections to Rezko (now a convicted felon), Rev. Wright (an unrepentant racist whose sermons were on sale in DVD form in the church lobby) and his money connections (ie contributions received) from Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac.

When Ayers failed to overthrow the status quo by force, he chose the one realm in which he could alter it from within, Education. The same person who wrote Prarie Fire, is the same person pushing "Education Reform" onto thousands upon thousands of children. With millions at his disposal from the Annenburg foundation, he has done all he can to push his ideological view onto future generations.

I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees, from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people. And they were dead serious.

I've seen nothing in Ayers statements over the years that have shown that this isn't the path he still envisions for "AmeriKKKa."

Just because Ayers tries to appear respectable now doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a violent revolutionary in the past. In fact, as the text of Prairie Fire shows, Ayers was one of the most extreme extremists in American political history. And as the links given as the end of this essay prove, Ayers is just as politically radical now as he was back then. He has never renounced the political views he professed in the 1960s and 1970s. The only difference is that now he no longer commits violence to achieve his goals. After his stint as the leader of the Weather Underground, he shifted to a different tactic: to spread his ideology under the aegis of academia. But the goal remains the same: to turn America into a communist nation. Ayers’ contemporary writings contain many of the same ideas (and even the same phrases) found in Prairie Fire, just toned down to make them more palatable in polite society.

He thinks the SDS and Weather Underground "didn't do enough" bombings.

He didn't say that, actually. He said they didn't do enough to pressure the government into ending the Vietnam War.

And like I said, Obama's relationship with Ayers, as it was, had to do with his role as an educator and on the Annenberg board, not his violent background or activities.

In order for this country to work, or any enterprise of people for that matter, you must sometimes work with people whose views on some issues you find distasteful. It is to Obama's credit that he was able to look past this black mark on Ayers to try to achieve some worthy goals...this is the true mark of a successful statesman and future president.

#74: check your sources:

Funny how Ayers own writings from the times of his opposition to Vietnam point in a direction of the desire for the US to lose the war to the communist North Vietnamese, not for the US to simply get out of Vietnam. His statements today are attempts to divert attention from his true intentions at the time he was plotting the bombings on US soil. He is backtracking.

Case in point:
all the Weather Underground "actions" in 1974 and '75 happened after the United States had already pulled its ground troops out of Vietnam and was no longer an active combatant in the ground war, which would have rendered any Vietnam War protests pretty much meaningless.

Their own writings point a starkly different view of what they were attempting to accomplish.

To put it bluntly, Ayers is full of shit.

Could be, gabriel, could be. Not here to argue on behalf of Ayers. Just pointing out the silliness of attempting to hang his past actions around the neck of Obama.

G_Tarhune #71 --

"Zombietime" added a some recent Ayers quotes at the end of his post linked in #63. These aren't new, but it's a useful compilation. Especially juxtaposed with those earlier views of his that he "does not regret."

Skip down to the heading "Ayers' Current Views".

[Ayers'] actions are a thing of the past, and everyone, including Obama, has condemned them in no uncertain terms.

Trivially, anything in the past is a thing of the past. Beyond that, Ayers disagrees with you. He sees an unbroken continuum between his past and his present. He celebrates what he did then, and what his comrades did then. By all means necessary: He regrets none of it. He disavows none of his writings or deeds. He apologizes to none of the people that he and his friends terrorized and injured and killed.

So "everyone" hasn't condemned Ayers' actions, given that Ayers hasn't done so.

Let me leave Ayers aside for a minute and discuss a hypothetical Steve Smith. Suppose that back in the '70s, Smith abhorred cas1nos for deep moral reasons. He founded a group to take direct action, wrote manifestos, and put his ideas into practice by setting bombs. As a result, a few gamblers and cas1no workers were killed, some were injured, more were terrorized. Steve was eventually arrested, but he was released due to police misconduct tainting his case. Over time, he's realized that cas1nos are just one instance of the sin of gambling. Through the decades, Steve has parlayed his anti-gambling crusade into an academic career, thanks to help from admirers. He's now a beloved, tenured professor. The older, wiser Steve of today celebrates what he and his group did, and gloats about his brush with prosecutors. Because life as a well-paid, high-prestige intellectual is sweet, he has upgraded his toolkit. Bombs are still in the back, unused but not disavowed. But Steve now focuses on spreading his anti-gambling beliefs in the classroom, through print and video publications, and by speechmaking.

Is Steve morally fit to serve as a professor at an institution of higher learning?

Would it change your opinion of me if you discovered that Steve and I had distant connections? If we'd worked together? If we'd collaborated on an anti-gambling campaign?

What would it mean for me to "condemn" Steve's actions of the 1970s, given that the Steve of today celebrates them? Would a sincere condemnation mean that I had to stop working with him on that anti-gambling campaign, or not?

Do your answers to these questions depend on your position on the morality of gambling?

Chris (#47), you misunderstand. I was not trying to equate them, merely to show that there are valid reasons why Iran might want to get involved in Iraq to further their interests. There are a non-trivial number of commenters on this blog who reject that Iran has any interests in Iraq, but would immediately see a reason why Republicans would come after Democrats for their own gain. I was attempting to show to such people that there are reasons why one party might want to take advantage of another. Given that Iran has real interests in a weak Iraqi government (since Iran intends to expand into a Shi'a dominated Caliphate, and the route to that is through Iraq), it is a given that Iran will meddle (as it has already been) in Iraq, and that for that reason, the denials of this above are non-sensical.

Of course, I can't tell whether you just don't get what I'm saying, or what. No one else, for example, seems to have missed my point that you allude to at the bottom of your post: if Iran gets nuclear weapons, they will destroy Israel; Israel, knowing that and having nuclear weapons, and no other way of stopping Iran, would likely destroy Iran before submitting to their own destruction; preventing that is good, even if it means what would (in an ideal world) be otherwise unacceptable; so if it comes to that, then we should be prepared to prevent Iran, by any means necessary, from acquiring nuclear weapons. The more we simply give in to Iran as they continue their weapons development, the more we risk war, and if we wait too long, we risk nuclear war, and no sane person wants that.

So if you're not just being tendentious or deliberately obtuse, you might want to go reset your views of me based on what I actually said, rather than your perversely stereotyped filter of what I said.

Or not; frankly, it matters not to me.

#77 AMac;

My reply in #76, likely made concurrently, addresses the key point in response to this.

G_Tarhune #79 --

Thanks. Given the discussion to this point, I'd be curious as to your (and Chris') answers to the four hypotheticals that I posed at the tail end of comment #77, if you're interested and think the questions are fair ones.

What are the chances that a member of the New Party didn't know exactly who Bill Ayers was, what he had done, and what his hopes and goals for this country were (and, as far as I can tell, still are)?

Don't you all feel great about the honesty and transparency of the upcoming Obama administration?

Oh come on Mark, why let Obama's past have any influence on his future. It's not like he's done his best to scrub every trace of every questionable relationship he's ever had.

And to the many critics at large, I disagree that Obama has been vetted sufficiently by a press corps that is clearly endeared towards him and rooting for his victory. It's highly troubling that Obama has never released any of his records for his life prior to his entry into the US Senate. No working papers from his time in Illinois Senate, No college transcripts, nothing from the Chicago Annenburg Challenge (Obama supporters at University of Chicago who hold them fought to not release them for weeks - see Stanley Kurtz for more information), his college thesis is mysteriously missing, as well as he has not released any medical records whatsoever. There has been on investigation into his law work, a list of clients or billing records have never been released. There is very little paper trail for Obama at all that has been put forth. I find all of this highly suspicious and very troubling. With Obama you see what he wants you to see, and the press has been negiligent in doing anything close to investigative reporting into Obama's background, especially given the long list of shady and outright loathsome people he has chosen to align with in the past. For all the talk of William Ayers, there is a legitimate claim that Obama's character judgment is seriously damaged. He had a long working relationship with an avowed communist, whose goal was to see the overthrow of the US government, who rooted for the Communist North Vietnamese defeat of America, and who still has zero remorse for the actions of his group. That troubles me. Ayers was not just a guy in Obama's neighborhood, they had a long working relationship, and that is not disputable.

"Could be, gabriel, could be. Not here to argue on behalf of Ayers. Just pointing out the silliness of attempting to hang his past actions around the neck of Obama."

Offshoots of the Weather Underground carried out bombings in the 80's, I believe in New York, to protest South Africa. Obama was at Columbia at this time and active in the anti-apartheid movement. Ayers was living up the street from Obama, also active in the anti-apartheid movement.

Both protesting in the same area against the same regime and they never met.

PS:

Just maybe the reason we know nothing about Obama's time at Columbia is because he was registerd as a foreign student under his Indonesian passport.

What would it mean for me to "condemn" Steve's actions of the 1970s, given that the Steve of today celebrates them?

It would mean you oppose and disagree with his violent actions of the past. I don't think this is hard to understand...Steve can have any damn attitude he wants about them, but as long as he is currently not engaging in illegal or dangerous activities, it is of no concern of mine. There are far too many people in the world whose views I strongly oppose; it is foolish to think that I must dissociate myself from all of them to prove that to those who wish to think otherwise. To paraphrase Obama, if this were the case no one could serve in Congress.

Would a sincere condemnation mean that I had to stop working with him on that anti-gambling campaign, or not?

No, of course not. There are legitimate reasons for "working with him" on current campaigns that you think are worthy (forgeting about the gambling scenario for the moment).

Do your answers to these questions depend on your position on the morality of gambling?

The issue is not about the morality of gambling but of using violent means to express a viewpoint.

I really think this comes down to the idea of "sincerity" and how the shifting standards of a politically biased viewpoint can purposefully blur the definition of this term. Obama will never be able to prove his sincerity on this or many other issues to you (just look at post #81 for evidence of this), so the entire exercise is futile as far as I'm concerned.

Think what you want, really. No skin off my back. I am completely convinced that Obama does not share Ayers views, nor am I inclined to construct or consider complex conspiracy theories that aim to suggest otherwise.

Jeff Medcalf-

Chris (#47), you misunderstand. I was not trying to equate them, merely to show that there are valid reasons why Iran might want to get involved in Iraq to further their interests. There are a non-trivial number of commenters on this blog who reject that Iran has any interests in Iraq, but would immediately see a reason why Republicans would come after Democrats for their own gain.

Jeff, the only people on this thread who were talking about Iran before your comment #40 were Grim, myself, and celebrim, and I was the only one even remotely suggesting that Iran has no interests in Iraq - and I wasn't even suggesting that, I was saying that Iran's current influence on Iraq is sufficient and preferable to renewed sectarian violence. Given that I've encountered your condescending, holier-than-thou, supposedly non-partisan attitude before, I made the wholly justifiable assumption that you were addressing me, and answered accordingly... since the conflicts between Republicans and Democrats are massively different than those between Iraq and Iran.

I was attempting to show to such people that there are reasons why one party might want to take advantage of another. Given that Iran has real interests in a weak Iraqi government (since Iran intends to expand into a Shi'a dominated Caliphate, and the route to that is through Iraq), it is a given that Iran will meddle (as it has already been) in Iraq, and that for that reason, the denials of this above are non-sensical.

As I said above, I was (and nobody else, was, to my knowledge) not denying that Iran has interests in Iraq. The question, rather, is whether Iran would be better off supporting Shia militants against Sunni insurgents in the case of renewed ethnic fighting (which is what everybody else is suggesting) or whether they'd be better off with strongly-allied Shia groups largely in control of a stable Iraqi government and Iraqi oil (which is what they've got now, and what I'm suggesting they'd be better off keeping.)

Of course, I can't tell whether you just don't get what I'm saying, or what. No one else, for example, seems to have missed my point that you allude to at the bottom of your post: if Iran gets nuclear weapons, they will destroy Israel; Israel, knowing that and having nuclear weapons, and no other way of stopping Iran, would likely destroy Iran before submitting to their own destruction; preventing that is good, even if it means what would (in an ideal world) be otherwise unacceptable; so if it comes to that, then we should be prepared to prevent Iran, by any means necessary, from acquiring nuclear weapons. The more we simply give in to Iran as they continue their weapons development, the more we risk war, and if we wait too long, we risk nuclear war, and no sane person wants that.

Ok, let's break this down one by one:

1. It is not a given that Iran will destroy Israel if they get nuclear weapons. Iran's president has said some inflammatory things, but he is not the whole of Iran's government - he's not even the guy with the power to pull the trigger on an attack on Israel. Beyond that, it's highly likely that the Iranian leadership would be deterred by the certainty of retaliatory strikes, either by the US or by "dead-man" Israeli backups. (And then there's the question of whether a live Israel, serving as an ever-present external threat and object of hatred, doesn't work better for the ayatollahs than a dead Israel does... but we'll set that aside for now.)

2. Israel has other ways of stopping Iran, from conventional airborne attacks to internal sabotage (Israel being rather better at covert ops in that region of the world than we are) to the aforementioned threat of dead-man nuclear strikes against Iranian targets.

3. The US attacking Iran with no direct provocation (as we saw in Iraq, the rest of the world doesn't buy the whole "preemptive defense" line...) would significantly jack up tensions throughout the region and make it far more likely that US and Israeli interests would suffer greatly - I wouldn't give you even odds that the US-friendly Iraqi government would last all that long, for example. What that means is that the sacrifices we've made to build that government - and that Grim talked about above - go to zero.

So, yes, Jeff, I "get" what you're saying - I just find it to be extremely arrogant and foolish, the work of someone who reduces the massive complexities of the real world to a supposedly logical A -> B -> C formulation, and then pats themselves on the back for how rational they're being. And I find that contemptible.

So if you're not just being tendentious or deliberately obtuse, you might want to go reset your views of me based on what I actually said, rather than your perversely stereotyped filter of what I said.

I'm quite aware of what you actually said, Jeff - which is more than I can say of your remarks to me, as I explained earlier.

Or not; frankly, it matters not to me.

Fine; then accept that what I said above is my honest and fully-considered opinion, and let it be.

AMac-

Let's skip the hypotheticals, which don't do anything to make the issue any clearer and, indeed, allow you to suggest things about "Steve Smith" that aren't true in the case of Ayers. Case in point:

Would it change your opinion of me if you discovered that Steve and I had distant connections? If we'd worked together? If we'd collaborated on an anti-gambling campaign?

In this case, "distant connections" and "worked together" are both true - the former makes the latter fairly irrelevant, in my view. "Collaborated on an anti-gambling campaign" is fairly non-sensical in this case - Obama working to improve public schools by funding a variety of approaches (as near as I can tell, the whole of the CAC wasn't the "model UN school as a cover for radical leftist beliefs" that many knock Ayers for) isn't really the same thing that Ayers was going for, back in the day.

What would it mean for me to "condemn" Steve's actions of the 1970s, given that the Steve of today celebrates them? Would a sincere condemnation mean that I had to stop working with him on that anti-gambling campaign, or not?

Is Obama working with Ayers on the CAC today? Was he when he condemned Ayers' actions? Should Obama be assumed not to have condemned Ayers by virtue of working on the CAC with Ayers and a bunch of other people? More importantly, does working on the CAC mean that everybody actively endorsed all the beliefs of everybody else on the CAC? Unless you answer this last question in the affirmative, then I'd say this is a moot point.

Lastly, AMac, I'll skip the hypotheticals and ask you two simple, real-world questions:

1. What's your opinion of G. Gordon Liddy?

2. What do you think it says about John McCain's character that (unlike Obama and Ayers) McCain's recently and actively worked with Liddy in pursuing his election?

G_Tarhune #85 --

Thanks for the thoughtful answers.

Chris --

I'm still curious--would you be game for offering your responses to those four hypotheticals at the end of my comment #77?

- - - - -

What I'm struck by (if it's not obvious) are the common threads of the biographies of #77's Steve Smith, and Bill Ayers, and Eric Rudolph,

who committed a series of bombings across the southern United States which killed two people and injured at least 150 others.

Rudolph declared that his bombings were part of a guerrilla campaign against abortion and what he describes as "the homosexual agenda." He spent years as the FBI's most wanted criminal fugitive, but was eventually caught. In 2005 Rudolph pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state homicide charges...

We'd have to add a few contrafactuals to Rudolph's story: that he avoided conviction due to police misconduct, that he found a congenial university home among like-minded faculty admirers, and that he was able to retire his bombmaker's vest in favor of syllabi, whiteboards, PowerPoint presentations, and campus rallies.

Then the parallels would be complete.

Leading to questions about the modestly-contrafactual Professor Rudolph:

  • Is Rudolph morally fit to serve as a professor at an institution of higher learning?
  • Would it change your opinion of me if you discovered that Rudolph and I had distant connections? If we'd worked together? If we'd collaborated on an anti-abortion campaign?
  • What would it mean for me to "condemn" Rudolph's actions of the 1990s, given that the Rudolph of today celebrates them? Would a sincere condemnation mean that I had to stop working with him on that anti-abortion campaign, or not?
  • Do your answers to these questions depend on your position on the morality of abortion?

AMac-

I'm still curious--would you be game for offering your responses to those four hypotheticals at the end of my comment #77?

I offered my responses to some of them, and described why I found the rest of them to be beside the point w/r/t Obama and Ayers. Meantime, I would like to see you answer my questions about McCain and Liddy.

Re: #88 from AMac...

I'll treat those questions as a pop quiz and answer it.

1. No.
2. No. Yes. Yes.
3. Nothing. Yes.
4. No.

Chris #87 --

Our posts crossed. Thanks for the responses.

Would it change your opinion of me if you discovered that Steve and I had distant connections? If we'd worked together? If we'd collaborated on an anti-gambling campaign?

I left myself open for misinterpretation. The point was to present alternatives that speak to the question, raised earlier, of extent of involvement.

"Collaborated on an anti-gambling campaign" is fairly non-sensical in this case - Obama working to improve public schools by funding a variety of approaches (as near as I can tell, the whole of the CAC wasn't the "model UN school as a cover for radical leftist beliefs" that many knock Ayers for) isn't really the same thing that Ayers was going for, back in the day.

Ayers disagrees. He describes his work on education as the logical extension of the philosophy that guided him as a bomb-planting young man. Fighting the hegemonic power by inoculating youth against the soul-deadening oppression of the capitalist system. And so forth. I can link to the quotes, or you can find them, easily enough. Ayers is honest and open about what he's trying to achieve.

"Steve Smith," like Bill Ayers, expanded the object of his wrath and the techniques used to fight it, without changing the essentials.

does working on the CAC mean that everybody actively endorsed all the beliefs of everybody else on the CAC? Unless you answer this last question in the affirmative, then I'd say this is a moot point.

Well, in my opinion, it's a question of degree rather than a binary. I'm not responsible for the politics or morals of fellow straphangers or neighbors. At the other extreme: would I offer to co-ordinate a men's-rights project that was founded and run by a man who had a history of getting away with heinous child abuse? No, I wouldn't.

Am I suggesting that those who were intimately involved with the CAC are therefore tainted by their complicity with Ayers and his fellow ex-Weathermen? That those who understood how bombing segues into pedagogy in the CAC founder & chairman's mind are more tainted? That the taint extends to Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike?

Why, yes, I am.

- - - - -

As to your questions:

1. What's your opinion of G. Gordon Liddy?

My answer is tentative, because it's based on a scan of his Wikipedia entry. Unlike Ayers, Rudolph, and "Smith," he doesn't seem to have tried to or succeeded in killing or injuring anybody in terrorist attack. It's unclear whether he's repented or apologized for his role in Watergate illegalites; I'll assume not. He has a history of making very intemperate statements that border on incitement, e.g. concerning ATF agents. So I'd say he ranks a 4 or 5 on the Scum-Scale, where Ayers, Rudolf, and "Smith" rank 8 or 9.

2. What do you think it says about John McCain's character that (unlike Obama and Ayers) McCain's recently and actively worked with Liddy in pursuing his election?

Based on that Wikipedia article, "actively" is a stretch. So I'll change that to "Liddy has hosted activities for the McCain campaign, which McCain has declined to disavow." In my opinion, this does not speak well of McCain. (Full disclosure--irrespective of this issue, I don't think he would make a good President.)

Bill Clinton did a host of sleazy things, e.g. pardon Marc Rich. That's not repellent enough to place him beyond the pale. Same with McCain as regards Liddy. But it's a good question, and certainly a case for YMMV.

[edited for typos.]

Stop equating Ayers with G Gordan Liddy. Its stupid. Liddy wasnt a terrorist ok? Liddy never tried to bomb anyone. Get your apples and apples together.

If there is an inverse of Godwin's law it has to be comparing Ayers to Liddy. Could you possibly minimize what Ayers has done any more thoroughly?

Would you guys go to the home of someone who plotted to bomb abortion clinics? Would you sit on a board with them?

David Blue #90 --

Funny. You're an absolutist "pro-lifer," and I am reluctantly pro-choice. Yet our answers to the questions regarding "Professor Rudolph" are identical.

I'm surprised you guys have missed the most obvious connection. McCain has been working with a former KKK member for years.

Please keep telling me how there is no double standard for Democrats.

AMac-

"Collaborated on an anti-gambling campaign" is fairly non-sensical in this case - Obama working to improve public schools by funding a variety of approaches (as near as I can tell, the whole of the CAC wasn't the "model UN school as a cover for radical leftist beliefs" that many knock Ayers for) isn't really the same thing that Ayers was going for, back in the day.

Ayers disagrees. He describes his work on education as the logical extension of the philosophy that guided him as a bomb-planting young man. Fighting the hegemonic power by inoculating youth against the soul-deadening oppression of the capitalist system. And so forth. I can link to the quotes, or you can find them, easily enough. Ayers is honest and open about what he's trying to achieve.

AMac, what you said does not make logical sense. Ayers may believe that his education program is basically the same thing as the Weather Underground 2.0, but even assuming that's true for the sake of argument, that's not the same thing as Ayers saying that, because money from CAC funded his program, among others, that CAC itself (and, by extension Obama) was the same thing as the Weather Underground 2.0. Which is what your "Ayers disagrees" implies.

That said, as far as I can tell, it's not true that Ayers educational program was the WU 2.0. Ayers may believe it's a different means to the same end, but here's the crazy thing - the fact that the means in this case did not involve setting bombs and killing people is the key issue. Treating them as if they were the same thing, just because they're both associated with William Ayers, is foolish. And NB: I'm not saying the Ayers educational programs are sound, reasonable, a good thing to spend money on, or anything like that - I am saying that teaching kids stuff, however silly or wrong the details of what they're being taught, is not the same thing as killing people.

(And folks, spare me the "well, what if you're teaching them to be Nazis/murderers/etc." line - until somebody wants to bring evidence that the kids were being taught stuff exactly that bad, it's a moot point.)

does working on the CAC mean that everybody actively endorsed all the beliefs of everybody else on the CAC? Unless you answer this last question in the affirmative, then I'd say this is a moot point.

Am I suggesting that those who were intimately involved with the CAC are therefore tainted by their complicity with Ayers and his fellow ex-Weathermen? That those who understood how bombing segues into pedagogy in the CAC founder & chairman's mind are more tainted? That the taint extends to Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike?

Why yes, I am.

First, I'll point out that working on CAC doesn't necessarily imply that people "understood how bombing segues into pedagogy in the CAC founder & chairman's mind". (And Ayers was one of multiple people involved with the CAC founding, I believe, not "the founder and chairman".) Second, I'll again point out that just because Ayers believed it, it doesn't make it true, or relevant to the greater mission of the CAC. And third... well, if that's your moral standard for people working with Ayers, let's turn to Liddy...

What's your opinion of G. Gordon Liddy?

My answer is tentative, because it's based on a scan of his Wikipedia entry. Unlike Ayers, Rudolph, and "Smith," he doesn't seem to have tried to or succeeded in killing or injuring anybody in terrorist attack. It's unclear whether he's repented or apologized for his role in Watergate illegalites; I'll assume not. He has a history of making very intemperate statements that border on incitement, e.g. concerning ATF agents. So I'd say he ranks a 4 or 5 on the ScumScale, where Ayers, Rudolf, and "Smith" rant 8 or 9.

Ok, first point is that it's interesting that you'd have to go to Wikipedia to find this out, as it implies that you didn't know everything about Liddy going in to the question. Which is perfectly reasonable, but it does raise other questions: how much do you feel you, and other voters, should know about Liddy? About Liddy's association with John McCain? How should you find this out? How much should John McCain be required to know about Liddy? What's his required due diligence here? At what point does he have to break things off with Liddy, based on what he finds?

In short, how much is anybody required to know about the background and beliefs of other people that they work with, and what are the guidelines for what kind of contact should and shouldn't be allowed, in your opinion, based on their past actions?

Second point, it's interesting to note that not only did Libby actually go to jail for his crimes, but he certainly plotted a great deal of other stuff: "...acknowledged preparing to kill someone during the Ellsberg break-in 'if necessary'; plotting to murder journalist Jack Anderson; plotting with a 'gangland figure' to murder Howard Hunt to stop him from cooperating with investigators; plotting to firebomb the Brookings Institution; and plotting to kidnap 'leftist guerillas' at the 1972 Republican National Convention -- a plan he outlined to the Nixon administration using terminology borrowed from the Nazis."

That sounds like at least a 6 or 7 on the ScumScale to me.

What do you think it says about John McCain's character that (unlike Obama and Ayers) McCain's recently and actively worked with Liddy in pursuing his election?

Based on that Wikipedia article, "actively" is a stretch. So I'll change that to "Liddy has hosted activities for the McCain campaign, which McCain has declined to disavow." In my opinion, this does not speak well of McCain. (Full disclosure--irrespective of this issue, I don't think he would make a good President.)

Interestingly, McCain and Liddy's relationship goes deeper than that:

Over the years, he has made at least four contributions totaling $5,000 to the senator's campaigns -- including $1,000 this year.

Last November, McCain went on his radio show. Liddy greeted him as "an old friend," and McCain sounded like one. "I'm proud of you, I'm proud of your family," he gushed. "It's always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great."

So yes, I'd say "actively" is quite apt - and McCain and Liddy's relationship is far, far closer and more recent than anything that's been proven between Ayers and McCain.

Furthermore, I'd like to ask what your exact moral calculus is for these kind of situations, AMac. Let's grant, for the moment, that Ayers is a worse person than Liddy - but let's also grant that McCain's relationship to Liddy is far closer than Obama's is to Ayers.

To me, the closeness of the relationship matters more than the scumminess of the guy on the other end of the line. You keep using the words "intimately involved with," (though "intimately" strikes me as an odd adjective for a non-profit philanthropic board)... but Obama didn't seek Ayers out to go on his show, didn't accept money from him, didn't say he was "proud of him and his family." Insofar as "tainted", I think that's a valid concern; insofar as it leads me to question McCain's judgement, I'd say it's a very valid concern.

And while you may not think McCain would be a good president, it is definitely the case, AMac, that you've put at least some time and research into this post (and, IIRC, others) on the Ayers issue, while apparently being completely unaware of the McCain/Libby relationship. That doesn't make you a bad person or anything in my eyes, AMac, but it is the case that actions speak louder than words, and as such, at least on this issue, your relatively intense scrutiny of the Democrat (but not of the Republican) does lead me to "suspect that you have one set of standards for the good guys, and a different set for the bad guys."

[ Link closed. -- M.F. ]

Marc Buehner,

Well, as has been pointed out above - Liddy did plot to kill people (see Chris's link above), does that count? Also, it's been established that Liddy has a much closer connection to McCain, and that Liddy has never really "apologized" for what he did.

And your #94 is instructive - clearly, based on the fact that Byrd was a member of the KKK, what, 50 years ago? - doesn't mean you can tar EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of the government, that they are racist. This just goes to show you how empty these "association" charges are.

Amac - I can't believe, really, you are even involved in this Ayers schtick. Usually, you reserve your fire for at least a modicum of substance, in the issues you choose to engage. This? It's a joke.

Chris, believe it or not, some of us are disturbed not only by the "consorting with terrorists" angle of the Obama-Ayers relationship, but the cover-up of the relationship.

Of course, the cover-up of that dovetails nicely with the cover-up of Obama's New Party affiliation. And with the elision of Obama's relationship with Reverend Wright.

With these three data points, it's easy to speculate that Obama's Columbia transcript and thesis are unavailable for the same root reason: Obama's political foundation is built on hard socialism.

And since Socialists don't get elected President of the United States, that foundation must be buried, as it were.

Now, if Obama had told a story of moving from the left toward the center, if he had spun his current position as having evolved from the fringe to the "vibrant middle", I wouldn't have a problem with that. But that's not what he's done. He's playing Chauncy Gardner, selling an image of hope and moral integrity, and God help us, enough good-hearted people want badly enough to make amends for the sin of slavery that it looks like it's going to work.

But mislead me, lie to me, play me and my fellow citizens for fools, and that makes me very angry. And the color of the con artist really doesn't make any difference.

BTW, as a coda: Obama won his first elected position unopposed. He was unopposed because he managed to have his three Democratic competitors' petitions invalidated by challenging voters' signatures. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

His most significant competitor was Alice Palmer who was attempting to re-enter that race after losing a special race for Congress to Jesse Jackson Jr. Her Chief of Staff for that run? Barack Obama.

Chris #95 --

Thanks for the reply.

I'd appreciate it if you would try to refrain from imputing to me opinions that I have not expressed, in this case

that's not the same thing as Ayers saying that, because money from CAC funded his program, among others, that CAC itself (and, by extension Obama) was the same thing as the Weather Underground 2.0. Which is what your "Ayers disagrees" implies. [emphasis added]

No on two counts. First, I have not implied that Obama subscribes to Ayers' philosophy. To the extent (1) he has been aware of it and to the extent (2) he has worked closely with Ayers, this would lead me to suggest that Obama is at a minimum tolerant of Ayers and his philosophy. (1) is not established, and--as you have pointed out--the extent of (2) is not clear. In a sense, this isn't Obama's fault; he's doing what all successful politicians do--accentuating the positive and minimizing the negative. It does say something that the mainstream media has put more effort digging into Sarah Palin's background than pressing Obama with some relatively straightforward questions. I suspect we'll get some better information once January 20 has passed.

Second, "not the same thing" is a rather glib construction, FWIW I agree. Steve Smith's bombing of cas1nos wouldn't be the same thing as Prof. Smith's anti-gambling campaign; Eric Rudolph's bombing of abortion clinics wouldn't be the same thing as Prof. Rudolph's pro-life campaign. Not "the same", but "related." Sufficiently closely related that it ought to have caused some mighty uncomfortable moments among those recruited to participate in the program.

See Steve Diamond's from-the-left discussion of Ayers and his history with the CAC for discussion of this topic.

(And folks, spare me the "well, what if you're teaching them

I don't know which of my writings you are referring to here.

First, I'll point out that working on CAC doesn't necessarily imply that people "understood how bombing segues into pedagogy in the CAC founder & chairman's mind".

Agreed. Ignorance is an excellent defense to this point.

(And Ayers was one of multiple people involved with the CAC founding, I believe, not "the founder and chairman".)

See Steve Diamond or Stanley Kurts. Each walks readers through evidence behind their respective assertions on how Ayers was the driving force behind the CAC.

Second, I'll again point out that just because Ayers believed it, it doesn't make it true, or relevant to the greater mission of the CAC.

Would you have funnelled CAC money to an organization run by Mike Klonsky, a Maoist ex-WU comrade?

you didn't know everything about Liddy going in to the question. Which is perfectly reasonable, but it does raise other questions:

Chris' Blogging Commandment? "Thou shalt not post unless thou knowest everything about all matters that might arise."?

If tu quoque rules, I'll suggest that you came into this conversation not knowing all that much about Ayers. But then I'll back up and point out that that's perfectly reasonable, a conversation should be about learning, and you are a quick study.

That sounds like at least a 6 or 7 on the ScumScale to me.

Ayers did things that Liddy didn't do. A boastful, vain man, Liddy says that he was prepared to do them. Ayers actually set bombs, terrorized people, was complicit in murdering people, organized and led a group with the intent of violently imposing a Stalinist system on the United States.

Liddy's a wannabe piker.

In short, how much is anybody required to know about the background and beliefs of other people that they work with, and what are the guidelines for what kind of contact should and shouldn't be allowed, in your opinion, based on their past actions?

I'd like to ask what your exact moral calculus is for these kind of situations

Interesting questions, but not essays I'm going to write any time soon.

And while you may not think McCain would be a good president, it is definitely the case, AMac, that you've put at least some time and research into this post (and, IIRC, others) on the Ayers issue,

What other posts on the Ayers issue? I think you mean that I've commented.

while apparently being completely unaware of the McCain/Libby relationship.

Again, please try and be more careful with what you impute to me. "Completely unaware" cf. "checking Wikipedia."

but it is the case that actions speak louder than words, and as such, at least on this issue, your relatively intense scrutiny of the Democrat (but not of the Republican) does lead me to "suspect that you have one set of standards for the good guys, and a different set for the bad guys."

You wouldn't have a point here even if you'd shown that Liddy was as bad as Ayers--which you have not. I'm not the Newsweek of blogging. You have brought an intense focus to Obama; my main focus has been on Ayers himself, and his enthusiastic supporters among academics and educators. It's a curious career path to go from bomber/murderer to Distinguished Full Professor, without any change in ideology or effort at repentance. An inconceivable trajectory for "Steve Smith" or Eric Rudolph, yet not an eyebrow-raiser for Ayers. Not entirely dissimilar from the way that appointments and promotions were smoothed for that fraud and liar Ward Churchill. Or the way that the odious 60-some Duke faculty members joined a corrupt prosecutor in trying to railroad 3 Duke students--because they had the wrong skin color (a subject I have posted about, BTW).

Gramsci's program, paraphrased as "The Long March Through The Institutions" proceeds apace.

What's Obama's take on that? I expect that, unlike Ayers, he is not on board with it. I suspect that, like you and unlike me, his tolerance for people like Ayers is fairly high. If journalists had taken their profession more seriously--done some digging, asked some questions--we'd have these answers by now.

Chris, I appreciate the exchange, but I'm done for today.
--AMac

hr #96 --

I acknowledge your critique this time. It's not a serious point. If the topic doesn't interest you, comment on something else, please.

It's hardly a joke, hypo, though it could easily have become one had Obama simply been honest about his association with Ayers. It's the dishonesty, which shows that Obama knew that Ayers is poison outside radical circles that Obama apparently is comfortable with, that makes this not something to just shrug off. Obama could have handled this in half a dozen reasonable ways, from saying that yes, he knew Ayers and worked with him, as part of the Chicago educational and political scene, and disapproved of his past activities, for example, and that would have taken all the sting out of McCain's attacks on this point. It is Obama's minimization of the relationship, and his refusal (at least at first) to disavow it, that put meat on those bones.

All that said, it's still a pretty minor issue, and its main resonance is that it makes Obama's assertions of moderation far less believable. Personally, I think that people running for office tell the truth about themselves — I'm not sure they can help it. President Bush was very clear that he would be socially conservative but mostly follow through on that symbolically, that he would be liberal on economic (well, small-government and government power) matters and populist on trade, and that he would be a somewhat isolationist hawk. He followed through on all of that, if you take into account 9/11 mooting his early isolationism. Similarly, it's pretty clear to me that, should Obama win (and he's likely to), Obama will be the most radical socialist-leaning president since FDR, prone to alienate or abandon our allies, expansionist on government power and intrusiveness, and socialist on economic matters, weak and vacillating on foreign policy, and quite radically leftist on social matters, all while attacking his critics as racist and possibly insane. And I hope, dearly hope, that if he wins, I am wrong, and he is a great president.

But I won't be holding my breath.

This is the tolerant belieft at its best. The Ivy-League Illuminati feel it's okay for our country to be in harms way, as long as we don't discrinate against a person. The thing is, the person was a terrorist, and now the left-wing is giving him a pass because he's an associate of their circle.

AMac-

I'd appreciate it if you would try to refrain from imputing to me opinions that I have not expressed

My remarks from post #95 stand.

First, I have not implied that Obama subscribes to Ayers' philosophy. To the extent (1) he has been aware of it and to the extent (2) he has worked closely with Ayers, this would lead me to suggest that Obama is at a minimum tolerant of Ayers and his philosophy. (1) is not established, and--as you have pointed out--the extent of (2) is not clear.

And yet you write:

Am I suggesting that those who were intimately involved with the CAC are therefore tainted by their complicity with Ayers and his fellow ex-Weathermen? That those who understood how bombing segues into pedagogy in the CAC founder & chairman's mind are more tainted? That the taint extends to Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike?

Why, yes, I am.

Sounds like an implication to me, as does the last few paragraphs of the post that started this thread.

I don't know which of my writings you are referring to here.

I wasn't referring to any of them, just trying to shut down a general counter-argument.

Agreed. Ignorance is an excellent defense to this point.

As it apparently is for you w/r/t Liddy.

(And Ayers was one of multiple people involved with the CAC founding, I believe, not "the founder and chairman".)

See Steve Diamond or Stanley Kurts. Each walks readers through evidence behind their respective assertions on how Ayers was the driving force behind the CAC.

I've been sufficiently repulsed by the innuendo and unfounded supposition I've seen from Kurtz that I don't have much desire to dig deeper, thanks. That said, I was mostly just pointing out that what you were saying was literally incorrect, regardless of whether Ayers was the "driving force": Ayers was not on the board of the CAC (he was on the board of the related "Chicago School Reform Collaborative"), and he was one of several founders - thus, he's not "the founder."

Second, I'll again point out that just because Ayers believed it, it doesn't make it true, or relevant to the greater mission of the CAC.

Would you have funnelled CAC money to an organization run by Mike Klonsky, a Maoist ex-WU comrade? [Emphasis in the original]

This actually isn't a rebuttal to my point, AMac: a great deal depends on what kind of program Klonsky was running, and how representative that program was of the complete spectrum of programs the CAC funded.

you didn't know everything about Liddy going in to the question. Which is perfectly reasonable, but it does raise other questions:

Chris' Blogging Commandment? "Thou shalt not post unless thou knowest everything about all matters that might arise."?

If tu quoque rules, I'll suggest that you came into this conversation not knowing all that much about Ayers.

Actually, AMac, I knew about as much at the beginning of this conversation about Obama and Ayers as I do now: namely, that beyond a handful of board meetings they both attended, there's no actual proof to support any kind of close association between the two - something you've since agreed with.

And I thought the Liddy stuff was relevant, given how upset you apparently are about "scummy" people in prominent positions.

Ayers did things that Liddy didn't do. A boastful, vain man, Liddy says that he was prepared to do them. Ayers actually set bombs, terrorized people, was complicit in murdering people, organized and led a group with the intent of violently imposing a Stalinist system on the United States.

Liddy's a wannabe piker.

While on a mission to undermine the democratic process of the United States, Liddy was prepared to kill. He didn't get the opportunity, but I wouldn't minimize his sins by calling him a "wannabe".

Interesting questions, but not essays I'm going to write any time soon.

And yet, you have time to ask hypotheticals about "Steve Smith", and to what degree this fictional person should be ostracized...

What other posts on the Ayers issue? I think you mean that I've commented.

Commented on other posts w/r/t the Ayers issue, yes. I stand corrected.

while apparently being completely unaware of the McCain/Libby relationship.

Again, please try and be more careful with what you impute to me. "Completely unaware" cf. "checking Wikipedia."

AMac, I asked you a question about Liddy; you said you checked Wikipedia in your response. This is generally not the action of someone who has a great deal of familiarity with the subject in question.

You wouldn't have a point here even if you'd shown that Liddy was as bad as Ayers--which you have not.

Nor did I try to do so. In fact, I said "Let's grant, for the moment, that Ayers is a worse person than Liddy."

I'm not the Newsweek of blogging. You have brought an intense focus to Obama; my main focus has been on Ayers himself, and his enthusiastic supporters among academics and educators.

Nonsense. It's ludicrous for you to pretend like the context of this post - less than two weeks before a presidential election, when numerous conservatives have said that connecting Obama to Ayers is the Republicans' best chance for electoral victory, and where at least one of the people you keep citing, Kurtz, is explicitly writing about Ayers because he thinks it's a potential scandal for Obama - doesn't matter. You have not posted about Ayers prior to this election year, and I'll be shocked if you do so after the end of 2008.

I'll also note that many of the questions you seem concerned with in regard to Ayers could just as easily be asked of Liddy - is he "morally fit" to have a nationwide radio program, as well as a fair amount of media fame via appearances on Fox News and the like?

But you haven't raised those questions, and don't seem to be interested in pursuing them.

"I suspect that you have one set of standards for the good guys, and a different set for the bad guys."

What's Obama's take on that? I expect that, unlike Ayers, he is not on board with it.

This is directly contradicted by what you said at the end of your post above:

"Nor is this a cross for the ambitious and calculating Barack Obama to bear: ends, not means, are what matter."

I suspect that, like you and unlike me, his tolerance for people like Ayers is fairly high.

AMac, you have no goddam idea what my tolerance for Ayers and his ilk is like.

If journalists had taken their profession more seriously--done some digging, asked some questions--we'd have these answers by now.

Why exactly should journalists be digging in to this, AMac? Kurtz, Diamond, and much of the rest of the right wing blogosphere has hit this story pretty hard... and have virtually nothing to show for it. Their motivations for doing so are clear - they don't want Obama to be president. What then is the motivation supposed to be for someone to investigate this when they're not obsessed with bringing down Obama?

I agree with hypocrisyrules; this topic is a joke, and if we're ending this, AMac, I'll happily revert to my position stated at the start of this thread:

Hey, does anybody remember when this site used to be about, y'know, foreign policy issues like Iraq, instead of repeated, unproven insinuations that Obama's a stealth radical?

Chris --

This will likely stand as my "closing argument." A strictly adverserial mode is not my preference; I think it's better when people with different backgrounds and perspectives can explore a topic together. To an extent, that's happened here. But to a greater extent, I've felt that you and G_Tarhune have acted as diligent attorneys charged with the defense of the Obama campaign in L'Affaire Ayers. Concede nothing; make your opponent work for every point. Bring in nothing "against the client's interest." Use rhetorical flourishes as indicated. Overlook or belittle arguments that might not benefit the client's case.

Please don't take this remark as an invitation to my pity party. I've participated in this thread as much as you, and have (obviously) gotten some things out of it.

The "jury" isn't you or me, but that (small) group of readers who've returned over the past few days to reach this 102nd comment.

1. Nobody likes having words put in their mouth.

I count five instances of this in #101. I'll give a text locator for four, without discussing them. You aren't about to change your mind, and I doubt other readers are that interested.

  • "My remarks from post #95 stand."
  • "As apparently it is for you w/r/t Liddy."
  • "given how upset you apparently are about "scummy" people"
  • "while apparently being completely unaware"
  • "literally incorrect" is ambiguous, and discussed below.
  • "something you've since agreed with" is also considered.

2. Your comment in #101 on my statements in #98 re: Ayers and the CAC, and a general remark of yours.

I wrote,

See Steve Diamond or Stanley Kurts [sic]. Each walks readers through evidence behind their respective assertions on how Ayers was the driving force behind the CAC.

You responded,

I was mostly just pointing out that what you were saying was literally incorrect, regardless of whether Ayers was the "driving force": Ayers was not on the board of the CAC (he was on the board of the related "Chicago School Reform Collaborative"), and he was one of several founders - thus, he's not "the founder."

You're right that Ayers was not on the Board of the CAC. Kurtz:

Obama began his CAC board chairmanship in early 1995, and stepped down from the chairmanship in late 1999, though he remained on the board until CAC phased itself out of existence in 2001... Bill Ayers, as noted, was a CAC founder, its guiding force, and co-chaired CAC’s powerful “collaborative.” CAC appears to have been housed at UIC because of Ayers’s connection to the school.

Diamond:
As Ayers himself would explain in his proposal to receive $49.2 million from Annenberg:
Chicago is six years into the most radical systemwide urban school reform effort in the country. The Annenberg Challenge provides an unprecedented opportunity to concentrate the energy of this reform into an educational renaissance in the classroom... (pg. 9)
...With the initial grant secured, Ayers formed the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, which he co-chaired, as the operational arm of the CAC. The Collaborative, in turn, recruited a new board of directors, including Barack Obama, who was selected its Chairman in the spring of 1995. (p. 10)

Do you have reason to believe that these quotes from Kurtz and Diamond include material that is incorrect or misleading?

You also remarked,

Actually, AMac, I knew about as much at the beginning of this conversation about Obama and Ayers as I do now: namely, that beyond a handful of board meetings they both attended, there's no actual proof to support any kind of close association between the two - something you've since agreed with.

Here is Diamond's full-blown discussion of evidence that Ayers was involved in the CAC Board's selection. Here are many of the key points in abbreviated form, as an email exchange between Diamond and NYT reporter Scott Shane.

[Shane's interviewees' recollections] cannot trump what actually took place as documented in written letters by Ayers and Brown University President Vartan Gregorian, the national Annenberg representative, demonstrate: that Ayers had the legal authority to appoint board members not Graham or Leff and, thus, only with Ayers' approval could Obama have become Chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

Do you have reason to believe that Diamond is incorrect or is misleading his readers?

3. CAC funding for Mike Klonsky's Small Schools Workshop

You wrote:

Second, I'll again point out that just because Ayers believed it, it doesn't make it true, or relevant to the greater mission of the CAC.

I responded:

Would you have funnelled CAC money to an organization run by Mike Klonsky, a Maoist ex-WU comrade?

You countered:

This actually isn't a rebuttal to my point, AMac: a great deal depends on what kind of program Klonsky was running, and how representative that program was of the complete spectrum of programs the CAC funded.

Diamond (ibid.):

Among the first of these “external partners” to receive a grant from the CAC (for $175,000 and later for hundreds of thousands more) was the Small Schools Workshop (SSW) that was founded in 1992 by Bill Ayers and directed then, and now, by Mike Klonsky. It was housed in the same building as the CAC at UIC. Klonsky, a former member of SDS and the founder of a maoist sect in the 1970s, had been hired away from his job driving a Chicago cab by Ayers to lead the SSW after he had earned a Ph.D. in education. (p.10)

4. Your assertions as to my motivations.

These are ad hominems, and irrelevant to the points under consideration.

5. Ayers and the Presidential Campaign

While the focus of the post was Ayers and not Obama, it's true that

  • Ayers achieved renewed attention because of Obama
  • Ayers-Ayers connections are relevant to the elections
  • I discuss those connections, and the mainstream media's tepid pursuit of the issues they raise.

Most of the remarks in the following thread are also focused on the Ayers-Obama relationship, rather than on Ayers himself.

The views of conservative historian Stanley Kurtz and conservative blogger Tom Maguire are likely familiar to readers. Given the research he's done, liberal critic Steve Diamond's views deserve more of an airing (ibid., p. 1-2):

As the presidential election campaign reaches a fever pitch this fall, a critical chapter in the life of Barack Obama is, finally, in the spotlight. The $160 million dollar, six-year long Chicago Annenberg Challenge school reform project was the first chance for Barack Obama to take on a serious executive role in a controversial political environment. Despite this critical experience for the young candidate at a crucial point in his early career, he rarely mentions it in his campaign material and has never referenced it in his speeches. There are likely two important reasons for this: one, his close colleague on the Challenge was the former terrorist, Bill Ayers, and, it turns out, the Challenge failed, badly.

Most of the criticism of the longstanding relationship between Bill Ayers, who founded the CAC, and Barack Obama is, unfortunately, coming from the conservative side of the political spectrum. That is natural enough – they want their candidate, John McCain, to win and they know that any association between Ayers and Obama is toxic because of Ayers background as a terrorist.

But silence on this issue from the left is rather puzzling – well, not exactly silence. Critics of the Ayers-Obama alliance whether on the right or, the handful on the left, are actually subject to loud and constant attack.

Of course, those on the attack -- whether high brows like E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic, or the mobs mobilized a la the Sandinistas or Hugo Chavez by the Obama campaign to attack a Chicago radio talk show host and guest -- ignore the facts. So as far as advancing the debate is concerned they might as well be silent.

The left, however, should be particularly concerned about what it is that brought Obama and Ayers together in the same movement some twenty years ago, because there is very little about that movement that can be called progressive or democratic. In fact, it was a bureaucratic and potentially authoritarian movement to control the public school system in the city of Chicago against the Chicago Teachers’ Union, the Chicago School Board, and the Mayor’s office, in particular, Mayor Daley’s, in the mid-1990s.
The Obama campaign's "Fight the Smears" website addresses the Ayers controversy here: The Truth about Barack Obama and William Ayers.

6. Gordon Liddy

Thanks to your links, I've learned about Liddy's activities on behalf of the McCain campaign. I don't think Liddy is as reprehensible a figure as Ayers. Perhaps you do. In any case, the similarities and differences between the two figures, and the similarities and differences between their relationships with the respective presidential candidates are thought-provoking.

If you decide to blog about this issue, post or send me a link, and I'll put it in the post as an UPDATE. Given how well you write, such an essay would be a great candidate for a Guest Post at Winds--but Joe, A.L., or N.M. would have to make that call.

I tried to construct the "Steve Smith" and "Eric Rudolph" contrafactuals with care, to highlight two issues:

  • The degree of censure that is warranted for a given degree of association with an unrepentant terrorist who is also a Professor held in high regard in University circles;
  • The remarkable fact of the ascension of unrepentant terrorist Ayers to a Distinguished Professorship in the Academy, and how unlikely such a rise would be for similar figures who had chosen other issues to champion.

In light of David Blue's curt comment (#90), this can't have been that difficult to grasp.

7. Parting words.

You end comment #101 with
I agree with hypocrisyrules; this topic is a joke, and if we're ending this, AMac, I'll happily revert to my position stated at the start of this thread:
Hey, does anybody remember when this site used to be about, y'know, foreign policy issues like Iraq, instead of repeated, unproven insinuations that Obama's a stealth radical?
It's a wild, wild interweb, and I'll repeat my advice to hypocrisyrules:

If the topic doesn't interest you, comment on something else, please.

Beyond that, I stand ready to amend the post to remedy any incorrect or misleading statements. Not opinions (e.g. "the ambitious and calculating Barack Obama... ends, not means, are what matter [to him]"), but facts. This 100+ comment thread has been interesting and educational, but as of now I don't see the need for an update.

Chris, thanks for taking the time to discuss these issues. Final remarks (in all likelihood) to you, if you wish.

[ This Comment is a rebuttal to my Comment #102 -- AMac ]

AMac-

This will likely stand as my "closing argument." A strictly adverserial mode is not my preference; I think it's better when people with different backgrounds and perspectives can explore a topic together. To an extent, that's happened here. But to a greater extent, I've felt that you and G_Tarhune have acted as diligent attorneys charged with the defense of the Obama campaign in L'Affaire Ayers.

AMac, for "people with different backgrounds and perspectives [to] explore a topic together," there needs to be a good faith effort on both sides to understand each other's perspective and work towards a common truth. Simply put, I do not feel that the denizens of WoC, for the most part, are making that good faith effort. I asked you politely in #23 to clarify your remarks, which seemed to me to lump Obama together with all manner of far-left people; you refused, saying that the meaning was clear, "and with links." Insofar as I have taken a rigorous approach to your writing, that's because it's the only avenue you've left to me.

1. Nobody likes having words put in their mouth.

I count five instances of this in #101. I'll give a text locator for four, without discussing them. You aren't about to change your mind, and I doubt other readers are that interested.

No, I'm not about to change my mind, because I did not put words in your mouth. Of the four you list below:

"My remarks from post #95 stand."

I defended this in #101; you did not answer that defense.

"As apparently it is for you w/r/t Liddy."

You certainly haven't shown that you knew a great deal about Liddy, even after reading his Wikipedia article. If "Ignorance is an excellent defense to this point," w/r/t Obama and Ayers, as you said earlier, why isn't it equally applicable to you and Liddy?

"given how upset you apparently are about "scummy" people"

The whole point of this post is that you have an intense dislike of Ayers, and called him, IIRC, an 8 or 9 on the scum scale. What, exactly, are you arguing here?

"while apparently being completely unaware"

Again, I defended this in #101, you did not answer that defense.

2. Your comment in #101 on my statements in #98 re: Ayers and the CAC, and a general remark of yours.

I was mostly just pointing out that what you were saying was literally incorrect, regardless of whether Ayers was the "driving force": Ayers was not on the board of the CAC (he was on the board of the related "Chicago School Reform Collaborative"), and he was one of several founders - thus, he's not "the founder."

You're right that Ayers was not on the Board of the CAC.

[cut Kurtz and Diamond references]

Do you have reason to believe that these quotes from Kurtz and Diamond include material that is incorrect or misleading?

AMac, it doesn't matter if they are or not: those quotes simply do not say that Ayers was "the founder", because that implies he was the only founder of the CAC. NOTHING Kurtz or Diamond says above states or implies such a thing. And, as I said, this makes you "literally incorrect".

You also remarked,

Actually, AMac, I knew about as much at the beginning of this conversation about Obama and Ayers as I do now: namely, that beyond a handful of board meetings they both attended, there's no actual proof to support any kind of close association between the two - something you've since agreed with.

Here is Diamond's full-blown discussion of evidence that Ayers was involved in the CAC Board's selection.

[cut Diamond quotes]

Do you have reason to believe that Diamond is incorrect or is misleading his readers?

Again, AMac, whether it's incorrect or misleading doesn't really matter, because it simply doesn't say they had a "close relationship". Even if Diamond's work is taken at face value*, all it says is that Ayers didn't veto Obama getting the position. This does not imply a close relationship - I've had to get similar approval from various people upon getting hired to various positions. Hell, virtually anyone who ever gets hired anywhere for anything needs to be approved by someone else - and in most of those cases, that approval's not based on much more than an interview and a resume. That is not a "close relationship".

More importantly, my original reason for saying "you've since agreed with was your quote in #28:

Much circumstantial evidence suggests that their relationship was closer still; as you point out, that is not proven.

3. CAC funding for Mike Klonsky's Small Schools Workshop

I'll cut to the chase here and again point out that your Diamond quote doesn't answer my point:

a great deal depends on what kind of program Klonsky was running, and how representative that program was of the complete spectrum of programs the CAC funded.

Again, if the issue here is to what extent the CAC was a continuation of Ayers work with the Weathermen, then the complete spectrum of people in and programs advanced by the CAC needs to be evaluated. You've basically pointed to one guy Ayers hired and seem to be implying that he's representative of the whole shebang - but based on the wide variety of other people on the program, that seems highly unlikely.

We keep hitting up against this point, AMac, so let me underline it for you: quoting your anti-Obama sources and challenging me to disprove them only works if those people are directly contradicting my points. They're simply not, in all the instances above, which makes this fairly fruitless.

4. Your assertions as to my motivations.

These are ad hominems, and irrelevant to the points under consideration.

Motivation is irrelevant to the points under consideration? Your bias to use one set of standards on Obama and another on McCain is irrelevant (something you accused me of first, btw, with significantly less evidence of such)? You can say so, but that doesn't make it true, AMac.

5. Ayers and the Presidential Campaign

While the focus of the post was Ayers and not Obama...

AMac, you're still not getting my point - it's ludicrous to talk about Ayers and pretend that everything currently said about the man doesn't directly involve Obama. Were I to talk about, say, Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, for example, you'd be equally right to assume the only reason I'm doing so is because her mother is running for Vice President.

The views of conservative historian Stanley Kurtz and conservative blogger Tom Maguire are likely familiar to readers. Given the research he's done, liberal critic Steve Diamond's views deserve more of an airing

[cut yet more Diamond stuff]

AMac, the partisan lines on this issue are quite clearly drawn - you continually citing Steve Diamond doesn't negate that fact any more than me citing Ross Douthat's skepticism about the issue. (Or Andrew Sullivan. Or John Cole. or...)

6. Gordon Liddy

Thanks to your links, I've learned about Liddy's activities on behalf of the McCain campaign. I don't think Liddy is as reprehensible a figure as Ayers. Perhaps you do.

AMac, in both #95 and #101 I said otherwise. Please take the time to actually read what I said.

In any case, the similarities and differences between the two figures, and the similarities and differences between their relationships with the respective presidential candidates are thought-provoking.

I'm glad you think so. Of course, the point here is that nobody else on WoC has thought it was significantly thought-provoking to write about it in anywhere near the same depth as the Ayers/Obama relationship. Which is fine, but that does say a great deal about the partisan nature of this site, and how readers of this site should approach the material herein.

If you decide to blog about this issue, post or send me a link, and I'll put it in the post as an UPDATE. Given how well you write, such an essay would be a great candidate for a Guest Post at Winds--but Joe, A.L., or N.M. would have to make that call.

No thanks, AMac - I've long since given up hope that WoC can be even-handed about such things, ever since my last attempt at a guest post.

I tried to construct the "Steve Smith" and "Eric Rudolph" contrafactuals with care, to highlight two issues:

The degree of censure that is warranted for a given degree of association with an unrepentant terrorist who is also a Professor held in high regard in University circles;
The remarkable fact of the ascension of unrepentant terrorist Ayers to a Distinguished Professorship in the Academy, and how unlikely such a rise would be for similar figures who had chosen other issues to champion.

AMac, I'm not really interested whatever axe you have to grind with the "Academy". I pointed out how these hypotheticals are not apt in #87, and I'll let that stand.

7. Parting words.

It's a wild, wild interweb, and I'll repeat my advice to hypocrisyrules:

If the topic doesn't interest you, comment on something else, please.

I think it's important to disentangle two distinct concepts. This topic, and the post that started it, were of interest to me because I see it as a fairly underhanded attack on Obama, disguised as a denunciation of William Ayers (that still, oddly, managed to mention Obama in the midst of denouncing a bunch of other far-left folks.)

I don't like the topic, certainly. But that doesn't mean it's not worth criticizing.

Beyond that, I stand ready to amend the post to remedy any incorrect or misleading statements. Not opinions (e.g. "the ambitious and calculating Barack Obama... ends, not means, are what matter [to him]"), but facts.

I'll be interested to see what you consider fact and what you consider opinion, AMac. That said, I've certainly said my piece for now.

Thanks for the comprehensive response and the pointer to your earlier post, Chris. As far as needed corrections to the body of the post, I don't see any on a first pass of #103. I'll print out the comment and re-read.

Do you think we can get on to a more intersting subject like:

WAS OJ REALLY GUILTY!!!!

Who cares about Ayers? He has been perused by the electorate and found not to be relevant by a majority of voters. In 2 weeks, you will never hear about him again.

I agree with John McCain. I am not interested in some old, washed up terrorist. I also agree that the discussion of this guy takes away from legitimate discussion that used to go on at the site. the closer we get to the election the more illogical outburst there appear to be.

"Who cares about Ayers? He has been perused by the electorate and found not to be relevant by a majority of voters. In 2 weeks, you will never hear about him again"

This is the problem. He has not been perused and found to be not relevent because the media has not offered up any meaningfull commentary.

davod,

I think the problem is that the media have--and the public at large have--looked into the matter and simply have not come to the conclusions that you would like them to come to. At some point, you've just got to let it go and acknowledge that the Ayers connection just doesn't bother most people the way it bothers you.

Obama has worked on dozens of issues with hundreds of people as closely as he worked on education issues with Ayers. I think most people looking at the overall situation balance all the decent people Obama has associated with against the 4 or 5 bad people and come to the general conclusion that Obama is a decent person of decent judgement and decent character; flawed as we all are, as all presidents have been and will be. And if you like his economic plan, his get-out-of-Iraq plan, his health-care plan, his association with Ayer's isn't going to make you change your vote.

#106 from davod at 9:23 pm on Oct 25, 2008

This is the problem. He has not been perused and found to be not relevent because the media has not offered up any meaningfull commentary.

This may or may not be true but we know one thing for certain:

This dog don't hunt!

davod-

This is the problem. He has not been perused and found to be not relevent because the media has not offered up any meaningfull commentary.

Actually, I think this is very much not the case. Look at the link AMac provided to Steve Diamond's email back-and-forth with Scott Shane. Diamond is basically reduced to arguing that, A) Deborah Leff and Patricia Graham, two other people involved with the creation of the CAC, basically don't know what they're saying, and B) Scott Shane was a pawn, set up to write the story that he did, and come to the conclusion that he did, in much the same way that Tom Cruise's character was set up to take a trial to a specific conclusion in A Few Good Men. (Seriously, that's what Diamond says).

A) is problematic in a huge number of ways: Shane has talked to Leff and Graham, Diamond hasn't; Leff and Graham were actually there, Diamond wasn't; and Diamond apparently refuses to talk to Leff and Graham to ask them about this stuff, instead falling back on his interpretation of what a given set of letters must mean, according to Diamond.

B) is simply the sign of a crank. It's idiotic to suggest that kind of conspiracy when you've got jack squat in the way of evidence to back it up. Actually, Diamond's insistence on pursuing his pet theory about the way things must have happened, rather than actually talking to the people involved (or simply talking to them in addition to pursuing his own theories on why things had to have happened a certain way) is suggestive of a crank as well - the kind of guy who's managed to prove the Hollow Earth theory without ever picking up a shovel.

So, in short, the media has pursued this, davod. As mark points out, you may not like the conclusions they've come to, but it's definitely been looked at, and the people involved - the people who were actually there - have specifically refuted the kind of stuff Diamond et al have been saying.

I was contacted by AMac about this exchange and thought I would weigh in here because this seems like a place interested in (more or less) serious discussion and in light of the unsubstantiated conclusions of "Chris" that I am a crank, conspiracy theorist, right winger, etc.

Oh, did I say "idiot"?

I should note that I do not know AMac personally and likely disagree with him on many things, for example, on Gordon Liddy.

I think it is interesting that the Obama camp tries to minimize the role of Ayers in the CAC and yet at the same time argues that Ayers was, after all, just an education reformer. Sometimes they point to the fact that Ayers was lauded by none other than Mayor Daley himself when he received the Chicago Citizen of the Year award in 1997.

Funny how no one mentions just why Ayers received that award. It was because of his leading role in conceiving, applying for, securing and leading the $50 million matching grant from the Annenberg Foundation.

Ayers was not alone in "founding" the CAC but he did come up with the idea - all by himself. He put together the working group and was the formal representative together with Anne Hallett of that working group, which was called the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, when it applied for and negotiated the grant application process with Vartan Gregorian.

Thus, Ayers was the legal agent of the CSRC and agreed with Gregorian to form a board of directors to oversee the grant. He told Gregorian that Graham had already agreed to serve on the board. He then met with Leff, Graham, and Adele Simmons of MacArthur (full disclosure: I was once a recipient of a MacArthur grant - while Simmons was President) on November 22, 1994 and at that meeting "charged" (according to Graham) Graham and Leff with recruiting other possible board candidates.

Leff proposed to Graham the name of Obama and Graham met with Obama and proposed the idea of serving on the board and Obama agreed. Obama then met with Ayers (according to the Times) and then the first meeting of CAC board took place on March 15, 1995.

As Chris admits this record indicates that, indeed, Ayers did not veto the idea of Obama as a board member. If he had, Obama could not have become board chair. Of course, the power to veto is the power to decide.

Thus, while it would be nice to know more details about the Ayers/Obama relationship, as of that lunch meeting Obama knew that he owed Ayers a great deal.

That simple fact is ignored, obfuscated, danced around but inevitable. And its implications are, I believe, significant.

Steve-

A few points:

As Chris admits this record indicates that, indeed, Ayers did not veto the idea of Obama as a board member. If he had, Obama could not have become board chair. Of course, the power to veto is the power to decide.

First, I should point out that I did not "admit" the record indicated that, I said "Even if Diamond's work is taken at face value..." That's not an admission, that's a hypothetical for the sake of pursuing a line of inquiry.

Second, I think my rebuttal to AMac works well here:

This does not imply a close relationship - I've had to get similar approval from various people upon getting hired to various positions. Hell, virtually anyone who ever gets hired anywhere for anything needs to be approved by someone else - and in most of those cases, that approval's not based on much more than an interview and a resume. That is not a "close relationship".

Third, while the power of veto is akin to the power to decide, it is not the same thing is actually deciding. But that segues well into the next bit of your comment:

Thus, while it would be nice to know more details about the Ayers/Obama relationship, as of that lunch meeting Obama knew that he owed Ayers a great deal.

That simple fact is ignored, obfuscated, danced around but inevitable. And its implications are, I believe, significant.

Insofar as Obama "owed" anyone, wouldn't it have been Leff, who you're claiming was the person who actually picked Obama? After all, if Ayers delegated the power to Graham and Leff to pick a candidate, then it was they - not Ayers - who Obama would have "owed" for being plucked out of obscurity and placed atop Mount Olympus (or some such thing). According to your narrative, Ayers merely didn't stand in the way of people doing what he'd asked them to do. That's not exactly a Don Corleone-type doling out of favors.

And, more importantly, what are the "significant" implications here, Steve? Don't leave it hanging, tell us exactly what you think Obama has done, or is doing, or will be obligated to do for Ayers. Tell us how you think his policies and actions will be different, should he be elected President because of what Ayers did in the 1990s... and, more importantly, give us something beyond raw speculation as to why you think this, Steve. Because absent any actual evidence of concrete ways that Obama has been compromised here, I can't see much point to this kind of supposition at this particular juncture of delving back into these events, other that raising potentially troubling questions about Obama just before the election.

Also, it does seem extraordinarily odd to argue with what Graham and Leff said about how Obama became involved with the CAC, given that they were there and you were not. And I thoroughly agree with Scott Shane that if you want to dispute what Graham and Leff said - or, more importantly, if you wish Shane to report something other than what Graham and Leff said - then you should bloody well talk to them yourself, rather than insisting to Shane that your particular interpretation of some given set of letters trumps eyewitness testimony.

Beyond that, I'd love to know why, exactly, you felt compelled to tell Shane:

... I think you personally should ask yourself why you were assigned to this story and why it turned out as it did. I believe your editors and your publisher knew that you would come to the very conclusion that you did and that that was a purposeful political use of you and the New York Times.

(Followed with a brief recap of A Few Good Men.)

What exactly, leads you to believe the New York Times wanted to see a specific outcome to this investigation, Steve, and, more importantly, what is it about Scott Shane that leads you to believe that they think he would have reported a given conclusion? And do you have any actual evidence that the NYT wanted to shape reporting on this story, or is this just supposition on your part?

I am not a lawyer, and your quote to Scott Shane from your email:

Your continued suggestion that I ever contended they were lying borders on slander.

... certainly makes me second guess what else I say in this forum. But I think I've made some reasonable critiques of your argument, and I'd be very interested to see you provide any of the evidence I've asked for above.

Incidentally, AMac, I would have preferred to hear from you about any critiques you had about my post #109, rather than you routing it over to Steve Diamond. That said, if we are escalating this, should I be contacting Scott Shane or Patricia Graham to get their take on these matters, or what?

[ Chris, I don't see this as a mano-a-mano contest between you and me. 99% of blog comments are offerings of opinions and interpretations based on facts that have been brought to light and placed in context by those who did the primary research. These primary sources are mostly participants in events, journalists, and academics. The more we hear from primary sources, the better. As Steve Diamond noted, I don't know him, and was reluctant to impose on his presumably limited time and energy. I thought he might have very relevant things to say in response to your comment #109; this proved to be the case. I'm delighted that he's contributed here, raising the caliber of the discussion. As far as escalating [sic], I would be pleased to see Scott Shane or other principals weigh in, as well. Please invite them to do so. At some point, this comments thread may become interesting enough to elevate into its own post. -- AMac, 12:15 pm on 26 Oct 2008 ]

Chris,

When you suggest I am raising "troubling questions" just before the election, I can tell that you have spent very little time reading the wealth of information on my blog about many of the ideas you touch on so I want to reinforce AMac's suggestion that you do so before jumping off into the unknown here.

I began my research into the Ayers/Obama connection more than eight months ago and began blogging on it with my first post, Who 'Sent' Obama? on April 22.

So I gave anyone willing to listen fair warning of what the Ayers connection would mean to the campaign. Not my fault if Obama chose to stonewall instead. Of course, the risk he now takes is that if the full depth of the Ayers relationship, which I have surmised is stronger than has been admitted, surfaces after he becomes President it could hobble his presidency.

In any case exactly what is wrong with raising "troubling questions" before an election right up to the actual vote? Are voters supposed to suspend critical thinking and stumble, blind and dumb, into the voting booth?

That said, I will try to extract from your confusing response some semblance of an argument and try to reply.

First, while I said that Ayers had the power to veto the Obama selection I diid not say that that was the only power he had. In fact, as I explain he, and only he, had the power to appoint Obama. And he did, in fact, appoint him.

That means, of course, that Ayers thought Obama shared his outlook. The CAC was an intensely political endeavor. Ayers would have been a fool to appoint anyone to the board he did not think would back his agenda. In fact, one board member, Arnold Weber, would clash with Ayers and later quit the board. Today, Weber says the CAC was a waste of money. Of course, it turns out the CAC's own research consortium agreed. By the way, when Weber objected to a major multi-million dollar policy initiative proposed by Ayers, Obama smoothed the way for approval.

My personal suspicion, and it is only a suspicion, is that Ayers and Obama met as early as 1987 when the education reform effort was underway in Chicago and Ayers and Obama were both active in it. Obama's role then would have helped convince Ayers that Obama was the right guy for the CAC. Many of the CAC participants were veterans of that period. Of course, some, like ex-Maoist MIke Klonsky, had much older ties to Ayers.

I am not sure what kinds of positions, Chris, you refer to when you say you have been hired for and yet did not have a close relationship with the person who did the hiring. When I worked on assembly lines or warehouses I will readily admit I did not have a close relationship with the boss - pretty safe to say that I never actually met the boss and spent most of my time on those jobs cursing him.

But in my experience, which is extensive, with boards of directors of corporations or non profit entities, I have never encountered a board member, not to mention a board chairman, who was not quite close to the key founding executive(s).

Technically, legally, it is indeed possible that after working on the CAC proposal for nearly a year and a half, after organizing and leading a citywide effort to build support for the proposal, after writing the concept paper for the grant, after writing the actual grant proposal itself, after beating off competing proposals emerging from political opponents such as the Teachers Union and Mayor Daley, after negotiating the myriad complex details for the CAC with the President of Brown University and after securing the $50 million dollar grant, after agreeing with President Gregorian to appoint a board, after recruiting Graham to join the board, after meeting with Simmons, Graham and Leff to discuss the board, after charging Leff and Graham with the task of helping find additional board members, after meeting with Obama for lunch (but never discussing the Annenberg Challenge - maybe they talked about those darn Cubs).....yes, it is possible that after all that, Ayers said: "You know, Deborah and Pat, I don't really care who the chairman of the board of the Challenge is, you guys just pick someone and I will just show up at the first board meeting."

That might be what happened. But if it did, Ayers was abdicating his fiduciary obligation as an agent of the grant applicant, the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, and his commitment to Gregorian, to make sure the grant was well managed. Of course, even then, while to act in this manner would have been grossly negligent and thus a violation of Ayers duty of care to the CSRC/CAC, it still would have been, again technically, a form of legal approval of Obama. Of course, if Obama had been a disaster or a crook, Ayers might have faced legal liability for his reckless behavior.

Well, maybe Ayers was reckless, and in fact did not care who was made chair and just showed up the day of the first board meeting and said, "Oh, it's you, Barack Obama, that guy I had lunch with last week. What a wonderful surprise."

But this is the only possible scenario that is consistent with both the legal process that controls the selection of a board of a non profit corporation like that of the CAC with the known facts that could lead to the conclusion that Ayers did not pick Obama because he and Obama had a shared policy outlook. If you are comfortable with this kind of scenario, go ahead and rest easy with it. Me, I prefer, rational analysis.

Regarding speaking to Graham and Leff, as I have explained here and on my blog I believe Leff and Graham when they say that they were charged with the responsibility of recommending board members to Ayers and Hallett, that Leff suggested Obama's name to Graham and that Graham met with Obama. So why do I need to talk to them? Nothing they have said is inconsistent with my analysis. It only supports it. The letters between Ayers and Gregorian do not "trump" their 14 year old eyewitness testimony, they are complimentary to it.

(Of course, the letters do contradict the statement of the Obama campaign that Ayers was "not involved" in the selection of Obama for the CAC board. So does the statement of Graham to Education Week and so does the reporting by Shane that Ayers and Obama had lunch prior to the first meeting of the CAC board.)

In any case, I have suggested on my blog numerous scenarios by which Ayers could have engineered the selection of Obama without telling Leff and Graham whom to appoint. it is not a difficult trick - it is practiced on a daily basis at most corporations where CEO approval of board members is a given yet, technically, is frowned upon.

As for why the Times and Shane took the tack they did, you can read my post The New York Times Magic Act for my response. That blog post also lays out the agenda for education reform that Ayers and Obama share, including "social justice teaching," small schools, local control and reparations through education spending.

I believe I have touched on your major concerns, but do let me know if I have left anything out.

Steve Diamond

[ Two links to the "Global Labor and Politics" blog added. First, to the 10/13/08 repost of the 4/22/08 post "Who Sent Obama?" Second, to the 10/6/08 post "Ayers/Obama Update: The David Blaine Award Goes to ... The New York Times Magic Act!" -- AMac ]

Mr. Diamond, thank you for an excellent summary of your reporting and for injecting a welcome dose of reality into this thread. (The idea that a Chairman of any Board of Directors wouldn't be extremely familiar, either personally or through extensive research - which wouldn't have been much of an option in this case, would it? - is laughable on the face.)

Chris:
Incidentally, AMac, I would have preferred to hear from you about any critiques you had about my post #109, rather than you routing it over to Steve Diamond. That said, if we are escalating this, should I be contacting Scott Shane or Patricia Graham to get their take on these matters, or what?

Who told teacher? Who????

Seriously, Diamond's comments were extremely informative, and if you could "escalate" things by calling Axelrod and getting him to pony up a non-anonymous resource who could refute Mr. Diamond in detail, would that be a bad thing? The point here shouldn't be to browbeat your opponents into submission, it should be to forcefully examine the truth of any given situation to the mutual benefit of all.

Steve-

When you suggest I am raising "troubling questions" just before the election, I can tell that you have spent very little time reading the wealth of information on my blog about many of the ideas you touch on so I want to reinforce AMac's suggestion that you do so before jumping off into the unknown here.

Actually, Steve, as I told AMac, I don't particularly want to read more of the "wealth of information" on your blog because I find very little of substance there - a huge amount of supposition to be sure, but no actual facts. And despite my requests above, I still see very little actual hard evidence for many of the points you try to prove, either in the links AMac provided, or in your post here.

In any case exactly what is wrong with raising "troubling questions" before an election right up to the actual vote? Are voters supposed to suspend critical thinking and stumble, blind and dumb, into the voting booth?

Actually, you're right, Steve - I shouldn't have said "troubling questions", I should have just called it a "smear", and been done with it.

First, while I said that Ayers had the power to veto the Obama selection I diid not say that that was the only power he had. In fact, as I explain he, and only he, had the power to appoint Obama. And he did, in fact, appoint him.

From Shane's New York Times article:

In fact, according to several people involved, Mr. Ayers played no role in Mr. Obama’s appointment. Instead, it was suggested by Deborah Leff, then president of the Joyce Foundation, a Chicago-based group whose board Mr. Obama, a young lawyer, had joined the previous year. At a lunch with two other foundation heads, Patricia A. Graham of the Spencer Foundation and Adele Simmons of the MacArthur Foundation, Ms. Leff suggested that Mr. Obama would make a good board chairman, she said in an interview. Mr. Ayers was not present and had not suggested Mr. Obama, she said.

Ms. Graham said she invited Mr. Obama to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Chicago and was impressed.

“At the end of the dinner I said, ‘I really want you to be chairman.’ He said, ‘I’ll do it if you’ll be vice chairman,’ ” Ms. Graham recalled, and she agreed.

Steve, "played no role" very much is "inconsistent with [your] analysis." You seem to be making two basic arguments:

1. By way of a breathless run-on sentence, you argue that it's unlikely that Ayers didn't have a deeper role in the selection of Obama, because A) Ayers was so deeply involved with other aspects of the CAC, and B) that for Ayers not to have been involved this way would have been "abdicating his fiduciary obligation as an agent of the grant applicant" and that "to act in this manner would have been grossly negligent".

2. That had Ayers delegated the decision to Leff and Graham, doing so "still would have been, again technically, a form of legal approval of Obama."

As to 1, what Graham and Leff, and others have said does contradict your supposition that Ayers must have been more deeply involved. As reported in the Times, Leff suggested Obama's name, and Graham offered him the position. Ayers does not appear to have been involved with any of this process - Obama was suggested and offered the job without Ayers ever intervening. You suggest that this doesn't stand up to "rational analysis," but don't offer any concrete proof that things are otherwise, and won't contact Leff and Graham to get their side of the story.

It's also important to note that many things are questionable about your supposition that Ayers not being more deeply involved would have been negligent. Ayers was not the only person involved with managing the grant proposal, so, insofar as there was an obligation to vet the board members, it's not at all clear why this obligation should fall squarely on Ayers shoulders, rather than being shared by Anne Hallett, or handled exclusively by Leff and Graham. You likewise put a great deal of emphasis on the fact that Graham said she was "charged with" finding the board members, but I can't find anything w/r/t that quote that says Ayers charged them with doing so - it could have been Hallett, or a consensus decision among any of the multiple people involved with setting up the CAC.

As to 2, the problem with saying that Ayers "technically" gave legal approval for Obama's appointment is that this "technical" approval is not at all consistent with the "close relationship" that you're asserting elsewhere. You can - barely - stretch the idea that because Ayers did not veto Obama, he technically "approved" him for the chairmanship, but you can't make the fig leaf cover that Ayers must therefore have some kind of influence or close interaction with Obama.

I am not sure what kinds of positions, Chris, you refer to when you say you have been hired for and yet did not have a close relationship with the person who did the hiring. When I worked on assembly lines or warehouses I will readily admit I did not have a close relationship with the boss - pretty safe to say that I never actually met the boss and spent most of my time on those jobs cursing him.

Nice jab, Steve. Actually, I've been hired for multiple professional engineering positions where I did not have a close relationship with my boss prior to starting the job... or, in most cases, after. In virtually no circumstances does working with someone, in and of itself, constitute "paling around", as Sarah Palin might say.

But in my experience, which is extensive, with boards of directors of corporations or non profit entities, I have never encountered a board member, not to mention a board chairman, who was not quite close to the key founding executive(s).

The problem with this, of course, is that A) your experience might be extensive, but that doesn't prove that it's universally true, and B) insofar as it is true that Obama must have been close to a key founding executive, it doesn't seem to be Ayers that he was close to, but rather Leff who was familiar with him prior to the forming of the board. (Unless, of course, we take your "personal suspicion" that Obama and Ayers met in 1987 as gospel truth.)

In any case, I have suggested on my blog numerous scenarios by which Ayers could have engineered the selection of Obama without telling Leff and Graham whom to appoint.

...but, again, no actual proof that this is the way things occurred.

As for why the Times and Shane took the tack they did, you can read my post The New York Times Magic Act for my response. That blog post also lays out the agenda for education reform that Ayers and Obama share, including "social justice teaching," small schools, local control and reparations through education spending.

After wading through the post that AMac linked to, we come across these quotes:

Thus, when [the NYT] decided recently that the relationship between Bill Ayers and Barack Obama (a candidate already advocating another dangerous war!) was too important to ignore, yet at the same time so critical for their political purposes to debunk, their method had to be pitch perfect.

Please tell me, Steve, what are the NYT's "political purposes", and what proof do you have of this?

That real story is the ball the Times must hide because it leads inevitably to the conclusion that the fundamental political world view of Ayers, not his tactical foray into bombings for a few years, is influencing the Obama candidacy. That is a conclusion the New York Times is likely well aware of - because I have patiently explained it to three of their reporters, including Michael Powell and Scott Shane - and because if you know where to look and whom to ask, and I think we can conclude they have the resources to look wherever and ask whomever they wish, the influence is clear.

So, in other words, the Times must be hiding something, because they disagree with the conclusion that you know to be the truth, despite having no proof of a close relationship between Obama and Ayers (only supposition and suggestions that Ayers would have been "grossly negligent" had things gone down the way Leff and Graham said).

In other words, if the Times comes to a different conclusion than you, it's not because you might be, y'know, wrong about any of this, or because Occham's Razor dictates they go with the testimony of people who were actually involved with this, rather than your legal interpretation of what certain letters imply... it's because they're only telling people what they want people to know, because it suits their political purposes, whatever those may be.

I'll leave readers to ponder that.

I believe I have touched on your major concerns, but do let me know if I have left anything out.

Actually, Steve, you did miss many of my major points, including requests for actual proof that any of this is true. AMac covered for you on this, partially, by adding links to the relevant bits of your blog, but you still haven't explained why, a la A Few Good Men, appointing Scott Shane to cover this story would have led to the NYT's supposedly "favored" conclusion. Was Shane supposed to be in on this preordained narrative, Steve, or was he, like Tom Cruise, just too inexperienced to come up with anything else?

Also, I'd like to delve a little more into what you think is so gosh darn dangerous about the supposed Obama/Ayers relationship. At the end of the day, it seems you're worried about Obama because he supports (or his education advisor supposedly supports) certain education policies.

Really? This is what the upshot of the great and terrible Bill Ayers is? It's not that he's gonna bomb the pentagon again, it's that he and Obama are of like minds when it comes to - gasp - "financial support for small schools"?

The horror, Steve! The horror!

[ Link to NYT article fixed -- AMac ]

AMac-

Chris, I don't see this as a mano-a-mano contest between you and me.

Oddly enough, I don't think what you're saying is supported by the ton of back-and-forths we went through above, nor of your description of that back and forth as being "a strictly adverserial mode".

99% of blog comments are offerings of opinions and interpretations based on facts that have been brought to light and placed in context by those who did the primary research. These primary sources are mostly participants in events, journalists, and academics. The more we hear from primary sources, the better.

And yet, you're bringing in Steve Diamond, who actively refuses to talk to these relevant primary sources. Interesting.

As Steve Diamond noted, I don't know him, and was reluctant to impose on his presumably limited time and energy.

Is that why you enhanced his arguments - which were previously your arguments - by adding links that he himself did not? Or is this a service you provide to everybody, AMac? In which case, what support can I expect you to provide me on my posts?

I thought he might have very relevant things to say in response to your comment #109; this proved to be the case. I'm delighted that he's contributed here, raising the caliber of the discussion. As far as escalating [sic], I would be pleased to see Scott Shane or other principals weigh in, as well. Please invite them to do so. At some point, this comments thread may become interesting enough to elevate into its own post.

Actually AMac, all Steve did was reiterate what he's previously said - that he suspects Obama and Ayers met in '87, but has no proof, that he won't talk to Leff and Graham because they don't disagree with him (even though he seems very skeptical about what they're saying about who appointed Obama), and that the NYT is trying to hide the "inevitable" conclusion. Insofar as this thread is an actual investigation of the truth, I agree inviting other people who were involved would be useful - but insofar as that investigation has already occurred, and what you and Steve are primarily interested in doing is casting doubt on - but not actually disproving - it's conclusions, I don't think it's particularly useful.

But basically my bottom line to you is this, AMac - if you disagree with what I'm saying, or want to support Diamond's arguments, do so yourself. Don't hide in the background, adding links and calling in others to repeat what you've already linked to.

Let's start from the bottom and work our way up Chris' latest.

Is the Ayers/Obama relationship "dangerous"?

That depends on what you think of their education politics and also depends on what might be other shared views between the two. Personally, I disagree with their education politics but do not consider them dangerous - just irresponsible, ineffective and, frankly, silly. I never said these things were dangerous. However, I know that many people in the education world do think their views are dangerous.

If, however, there is a wider attempt by Ayers and Dohrn to influence Obama and the administration, and there is some indication that that is the case, then the relationship could be dangerous.

Did the Times hide anything?

They refused to mention the letters that provide prima facie contemporaneous written evidence that Bill Ayers and Anne Hallett were the legal agents of the CSRC/CAC and that Ayers was involved in the selection of the CAC board. Those letters are what lawyers and academics call proof.

They also did not print the reporting that Shane says indicates that Graham and Leff contend that Ayers was not involved in the selection of Obama. The Times story itself only says other unnamed sources as well as the campaign says that. Only later, when criticized, did Shane tell me what he says Leff and Graham said. Since Shane also told a web site run by a former Times staffer that the most important part of his story was that it "debunked" my argument I found that omission as well as the neglect of the letters odd.

Shane either did not understand the legal significance of the letters, and the irrelevance of oral recollections 14 years later, or was being disingenuous. Since I explained the former to him and suggested that the Times consult their own legal counsel, I can only conclude that there was a deeper agenda at work. In fact, Shane was the fourth Times reporter to interview me and also the heavy hitter - his normal beat is the CIA and the FBI.

What are the Times' political purposes?

This is explored in depth in the post linked earlier - the Times Magic Act. I realize you are too busy to bother with actually reading my research and analysis prior to attacking it, but others here may feel it worth their while to consider my assessment.

Ayers leading role?

It's true Ayers was not the only person putting together the grant. But he, with Hallett, shared the legal authority to make decisions for the CSRC/CAC during its founding until the board of directors was appointed. Even then he was critical: attending board meetings as CSRC representative, briefing the board on the CAC at their first meeting, helping with Obama and Weber to draft the by laws, sharing signature authority to write checks, serving as interim executive director while the search was on for a permanent director, helping draft the Request for Proposals, all within the first few months.

Could he have approved Obama but not had a close relationship?

Possibly. Just as it was finally realized, as Nassim Taleb, writes that there are indeed black swans. But it would have been a "fat tail" event.

How would it have rolled? Hmm, Ayers says to Graham and Leff - hey, I know I told Gregorian I would pick a board and I know I asked you to help, but please don't tell me who you pick for board chairman. I want that to be, you know, like a birthday surprise, like Christmas morning.

And I don't really care if this guy agrees with me on education reforms or on the purposes of the grant and I am sure that the President of Brown University will be very pleased after I assured him in writing that I would pick an appropriate board that I just decided to let someone else do it. And then, lo, it was Barack. Someone Bill had allegedly never met and had never heard of and about whom he knew nothing and they in fact did not agree on education policies.

And yet, somehow, they worked together for the next six years, implementing grant programs to the tune of $150 million - including more than a million dollars to Ayers own pet project, the Small Schools Workshop run by Klonsky, as well as more than two million dollars to the Local School Councils that were a thorn in the side of the Daley regime and the teachers union and were actually opposed by Arnold Weber on the board and yet were indeed funded with the support of - Barack Obama.

So sure go ahead and close your eyes and wish away the obvious relationship if you need to but the evidence is stark.

------

Let me conclude with the point that to suggest I am engaged in a "smear" is inappropriate and, in my view, one of the most dangerous aspects of the Obama campaign's style so far. My analysis is based on publicly available records and is a reasonable conclusion to draw based on what is known. It is not contradicted by any of the written records.

I clearly indicate here and on my blog when I am engaged in speculation - for example, on whether or not Ayers and Obama met earlier than 1995. To suggest I am "smearing" Obama under these circumstances is, in my view, a form of liberal McCarthyism - attempting to smear me by associating me with the techniques of the anti-communists of the 1950s. Chris has already called me an idiot, crank, conspiracy theorist, and right winger. All of which are untrue and none of which you have apologized for. I am not sure who runs this site, but I had presumed the level of discourse was held to a higher standard than this kind of gutter politics.

I do not think Obama shares the deeper worldview of Ayers and Dohrn. I only know that he shares Ayers' views on education. Once in office, he may indeed even drop those ideas, who knows? But the political alliance was there in the midst of the Chicago School Wars between education reformers and Daley and the school board. Obama and Ayers were on the same side of the barricades in that war inside the CAC. That is a relevant piece of the presidential candidates biography and important for voters to understand.

Let's start from the bottom and work our way up Chris' latest.

Yes, let's.

Is the Ayers/Obama relationship "dangerous"?

That depends on what you think of their education politics and also depends on what might be other shared views between the two. Personally, I disagree with their education politics but do not consider them dangerous - just irresponsible, ineffective and, frankly, silly. I never said these things were dangerous. However, I know that many people in the education world do think their views are dangerous.

Ok, so if your real problem is with Obama's education politics, then it's worth pointing out that there are multiple degrees of separation between Obama and Ayers in all of this. Yes, Obama was part of a very large program that funded some work that lined up with Ayers' beliefs... but as far as I'm aware, the CAC funded more than just Ayers' programs. That's not exactly the same thing as Obama saying "I agree with William Ayers' educational philosophy."

Likewise, you point to Linda Darling-Hammond's views as proof that Obama shares Ayers' views on education. It might be interesting to see how substantially those views line up, but, at this point, I'd want to see more than your characterization of her views before I accepted what you say.

If, however, there is a wider attempt by Ayers and Dohrn to influence Obama and the administration, and there is some indication that that is the case, then the relationship could be dangerous.

"Some indication?" Do tell, Steve - what are these indications, and how do you think Ayers and Dohrn are trying to influence Obama?

Did the Times hide anything?

They refused to mention the letters that provide prima facie contemporaneous written evidence that Bill Ayers and Anne Hallett were the legal agents of the CSRC/CAC and that Ayers was involved in the selection of the CAC board. Those letters are what lawyers and academics call proof.

Ok, let's take a look at that "proof" that you present here:

We [Hallett and Ayers] are working with Adele Simmons, Deborah Leff, and Pat Graham on issues of management and governance to ensure that Chicago's Annenberg Challenge initiative is successful.

So Ayers was one of many people involved with the construction of the board, and, as I've pointed out before, you haven't provided any evidence that Ayers in particular was responsible for the board. Insofar as the NYT says that Leff and Graham say that they were responsible for suggesting Obama and offering Obama the position, respectively, you have not proved that "...only [Ayers], had the power to appoint Obama. And he did, in fact, appoint him," as you say in comment #113.

They also did not print the reporting that Shane says indicates that Graham and Leff contend that Ayers was not involved in the selection of Obama. The Times story itself only says other unnamed sources as well as the campaign says that. Only later, when criticized, did Shane tell me what he says Leff and Graham said. Since Shane also told a web site run by a former Times staffer that the most important part of his story was that it "debunked" my argument I found that omission as well as the neglect of the letters odd.

As I argued above, I think the testimony of Leff and Graham does debunk your allegations that Ayers appointed Obama. Shane's article does specifically say that Leff says that she, and not Ayers, suggested Obama, and quotes Graham herself as being the one who offered the position. You may well wish that Shane had printed more, and more detailed quotes, about his interviews with Leff and Graham, but unless you're willing to talk to them yourself and find out if Shane somehow misrepresented them, I think there's no reason to dispute Shane's conclusion that "In fact, according to several people involved, Mr. Ayers played no role in Mr. Obama’s appointment."

Shane either did not understand the legal significance of the letters, and the irrelevance of oral recollections 14 years later, or was being disingenuous. Since I explained the former to him and suggested that the Times consult their own legal counsel, I can only conclude that there was a deeper agenda at work. In fact, Shane was the fourth Times reporter to interview me and also the heavy hitter - his normal beat is the CIA and the FBI.

Or, perhaps Shane simply disagreed with your conclusions?

What are the Times' political purposes?

This is explored in depth in the post linked earlier - the Times Magic Act. I realize you are too busy to bother with actually reading my research and analysis prior to attacking it, but others here may feel it worth their while to consider my assessment.

Actually, Steve, I quoted that post twice in my comment #115, something I couldn't have done without reading your research. I was asking for a more concrete statement about the Times supposed political purposes - you give a great deal of emphasis in that post to what they were supposedly doing, but not why the NYT, specifically, would want to do this. Nor do you talk about why you'd compare Scott Shane to Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, something I'm still puzzled about.

Ayers leading role?

It's true Ayers was not the only person putting together the grant. But he, with Hallett, shared the legal authority to make decisions for the CSRC/CAC during its founding until the board of directors was appointed. Even then he was critical: attending board meetings as CSRC representative, briefing the board on the CAC at their first meeting, helping with Obama and Weber to draft the by laws, sharing signature authority to write checks, serving as interim executive director while the search was on for a permanent director, helping draft the Request for Proposals, all within the first few months.

Terrific. And, were you to compile a similar list of the CAC responsibilities of Graham, Leff, Hallett, etc., might it not show responsibilities nearly as deep?

Could he have approved Obama but not had a close relationship?

Possibly. Just as it was finally realized, as Nassim Taleb, writes that there are indeed black swans. But it would have been a "fat tail" event.

Do you have any actual evidence for this proposed probability distribution, Steve, or is this all just based on your own personal of how the CAC board selection process might have worked?

How would it have rolled? Hmm, Ayers says to Graham and Leff - hey, I know I told Gregorian I would pick a board and I know I asked you to help, but please don't tell me who you pick for board chairman. I want that to be, you know, like a birthday surprise, like Christmas morning.

If you find this sarcastic hypothetical to be unlikely, I'm again surprised that you don't talk to Graham and Leff yourself. Tell them that you find this scenario unlikely, and see what they say.

So sure go ahead and close your eyes and wish away the obvious relationship if you need to but the evidence is stark.

On the contrary, Steve, very little of what you've provided is evidence of any kind, beyond the letters, which, as you say, state that Hallett and Ayers were working with Simmons, Graham, and Leff on the selection of the board process. You imply that it's unlikely that, out of that group, Leff and Graham would have selected Obama without involvement from Ayers, but that implication is just that - an implication, not evidence.

Let me conclude with the point that to suggest I am engaged in a "smear" is inappropriate and, in my view, one of the most dangerous aspects of the Obama campaign's style so far.

I am not part of the Obama campaign, Steve.

My analysis is based on publicly available records and is a reasonable conclusion to draw based on what is known. It is not contradicted by any of the written records.

Nor is it supported by them - and various people, myself included, disagree that it's a reasonable conclusion.

I clearly indicate here and on my blog when I am engaged in speculation - for example, on whether or not Ayers and Obama met earlier than 1995. To suggest I am "smearing" Obama under these circumstances is, in my view, a form of liberal McCarthyism - attempting to smear me by associating me with the techniques of the anti-communists of the 1950s.

Oddly enough, Steve, when I think of McCarthyism, I think of blacklists putting people out of work, loyalty oaths, and hysterically suggesting that communists (or whatever flavor of bad guy you wish) are everywhere. I've done none of those things.

Chris has already called me an idiot, crank, conspiracy theorist, and right winger. All of which are untrue and none of which you have apologized for.

Technically, Steve, what I said was that alleging that Shane was set up to write the story that he did was "idiotic", and "the sign of a crank." I also said that your refusal to talk to Graham and Leff was also "suggestive of a crank." While that's certainly not complimentary (and wasn't meant to be), it's also not the same thing as calling you an idiot or a crank - I'm characterizing how your actions and words appear to me, not making an allegation about you yourself.

That said, I don't want a lawyer such as yourself implying that anything I'm doing "borders on slander", as you did with Scott Shane, so I withdraw the remarks.

As far as right winger, AMac corrected me on that, and I admitted as much way back in comment #31. And as for conspiracy theorist, I don't think that's an unreasonable characterization of your remark to Shane:

Second, I think you personally should ask yourself why you were assigned to this story and why it turned out as it did. I believe your editors and your publisher knew that you would come to the very conclusion that you did and that that was a purposeful political use of you and the New York Times.

That is to say, how is that not "a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful", which is the dictionary version of conspiracy nearest at hand?

I am not sure who runs this site, but I had presumed the level of discourse was held to a higher standard than this kind of gutter politics.

AMac, the guy who contacted you, has far more to do with running this site than I do. You might talk to him about that.

I do not think Obama shares the deeper worldview of Ayers and Dohrn. I only know that he shares Ayers' views on education. Once in office, he may indeed even drop those ideas, who knows? But the political alliance was there in the midst of the Chicago School Wars between education reformers and Daley and the school board. Obama and Ayers were on the same side of the barricades in that war inside the CAC. That is a relevant piece of the presidential candidates biography and important for voters to understand.

And, as I've said before, it's not clear to me to what extent Obama does share Ayers view on education - of the roughly $150 million the CAC gave out, you point to about $3 million - 2 percent - of the money that was given to pet projects of Ayers. That's a long, long way from Ayers and Obama personally teaming up to advance Ayers educational philosophy.

And to suggest any kind of close connection between Ayers and Obama is based largely on supposition, as I've argued above, and runs contrary to the personal recollections of people who were actually there. And that's important for voters to understand.

I will limit my final word here to the contention that I have not provided evidence of Ayers' role in the selection of the CAC board.

That is, categorically, not true.

The evidence I have provided and provided to the New York Times consists of the written records of the CAC, including the original application letter from Ayers and Hallett to Gregorian, the exchange of letters that followed that application between Ayers and Hallett and Gregorian, and the recollections of Leff and Graham provided to Education Week and the New York Times.

All of those pieces of evidence lead to one conclusion: Ayers, as the legal representative of the CSRC/CAC, had the legal power to appoint board members and that he exercised that authority in the appointment of Obama.

The applicant for the CAC grant was the CSRC. Ayers (and Hallett - Ayers' co-agent) was their agent with the authority to submit the grant and to negotiate with Gregorian the terms of the grant, as indicated by the cover letter from them to Gregorian accompanying the grant application. The evidence that Ayers and Hallett did so negotiate with Gregorian is the exchange of letters between Ayers and Gregorian. Gregorian viewed Ayers and Hallett as responsible for the selection of the board.

On the other hand, there is no evidence that Leff and Graham had anything other than an advisory role in the selection process. They were not members of the CSRC, they had not submitted the grant application, they did not negotiate the terms of the grant with Gregorian and there is no evidence that Gregorian viewed them as having any legal authority to speak for the CSRC/CAC at all. In fact, Leff and her Joyce Foundation acknowledged the leading role of Ayers in the CSRC in a letter to Gregorian informing him that they had given him an 80,000 dollar grant to help the CSRC complete its process of applying for and establishing the CAC.

After the initial selection of Graham for the board (as stated in the letter to Gregorian from Ayers), Ayers and Hallett met with Leff and Graham (as evidenced by the letter from Simmons to Gregorian and by Graham's statements to Shane and Education Week) and at that meeting Ayers and Hallett "charged" (according to a statement by Graham to Education Week) Leff and Graham helping to find potential board candidates.

They suggested Obama. Ayers met with Obama after that and before the first board meeting and thus approved him. If Ayers had objected to Obama's appointment Obama could not have been made a board member since only Ayers and Hallett had the legal authority to appoint the first board members of the CAC.

(Hallett, of course, had no legal power to act unilaterally against the wishes of her co-agent, Ayers, and there is no evidence she attempted to do so. In fact, since it was Ayers that met with Obama for lunch prior to the first board meeting of the CAC it suggests that she was happy with the decision.)

That is not supposition it is a legal analysis of the available factual record based on fundamental principles of agency law which are part of Illinois law and apply to non profit entities. Unless the facts change or someone can suggest to me that I do not have the legal principles right then my conclusion stands.

There are only two possible explanations for your continued misstatement of my analysis, Chris. Either as a non-lawyer you do not understand what I am talking about or you are being disingenuous. I would not at all be surprised at the former since many of my students make the same complaint. The nature of agency law is one of the most complex areas of law to grasp just because it is so deceptively simple in appearance and, surprisingly, is so ubiquitous.

Of course, I would not want to conclude that you are being disingenuous. I do believe that Shane may be disingenuous because he, of course, has the resources to obtain a legal opinion on the issue from the most highly paid lawyers in the country and yet he did not do so (other than me) or at least has been unwilling to share what he found out if he did indeed do so.

I will limit my final word here to the contention that I have not provided evidence of Ayers' role in the selection of the CAC board.

That is, categorically, not true.

Two things, Steve: first, I'm disappointed that this is your last word - I really wanted to find out more about your ideas about the political agenda of the New York Times.

Second, I think I've been quite clear on what you have and haven't provided evidence on - I certainly haven't said you've provided no evidence, I've said the evidence you've provided do not support the conclusion that, as you say in comment #113, "...only [Ayers], had the power to appoint Obama. And he did, in fact, appoint him," as you say in comment #113.

All of those pieces of evidence lead to one conclusion: Ayers, as the legal representative of the CSRC/CAC, had the legal power to appoint board members and that he exercised that authority in the appointment of Obama.

The applicant for the CAC grant was the CSRC. Ayers (and Hallett - Ayers' co-agent) was their agent with the authority to submit the grant and to negotiate with Gregorian the terms of the grant, as indicated by the cover letter from them to Gregorian accompanying the grant application. The evidence that Ayers and Hallett did so negotiate with Gregorian is the exchange of letters between Ayers and Gregorian. Gregorian viewed Ayers and Hallett as responsible for the selection of the board.

On the other hand, there is no evidence that Leff and Graham had anything other than an advisory role in the selection process.

Except for their own goddam word via the New York Times that Leff suggested Obama, and Graham offered him the position. If you want to call that an "advisory role", that's your call, but from almost any practical standpoint, that's not the same thing as Ayers appointing Obama.

They were not members of the CSRC, they had not submitted the grant application, they did not negotiate the terms of the grant with Gregorian and there is no evidence that Gregorian viewed them as having any legal authority to speak for the CSRC/CAC at all.

No? Not even considering that Hallett and Ayers specifically told Gregorian that they were working with Leff and Graham were working with them on management and governance for the CAC?

In fact, Leff and her Joyce Foundation acknowledged the leading role of Ayers in the CSRC in a letter to Gregorian informing him that they had given him an 80,000 dollar grant to help the CSRC complete its process of applying for and establishing the CAC.

Which doesn't actually disprove anything about how Leff and Graham say Obama was selected.

After the initial selection of Graham for the board (as stated in the letter to Gregorian from Ayers), Ayers and Hallett met with Leff and Graham (as evidenced by the letter from Simmons to Gregorian and by Graham's statements to Shane and Education Week) and at that meeting Ayers and Hallett "charged" (according to a statement by Graham to Education Week) Leff and Graham helping to find potential board candidates.

I don't recall that statement saying that it was specifically Ayers and Hallett who did the charging... but it's again interesting that you're admitting here that it was not Ayers alone who delegated this authority to Graham and Leff.

They suggested Obama.

This does not square with what Shane reported, based on testimony by the principles: Leff says she suggested Obama, and Graham says she actually offered him the position. I see no evidence that Graham and Leff suggested Obama to Ayers.

Ayers met with Obama after that and before the first board meeting and thus approved him. If Ayers had objected to Obama's appointment Obama could not have been made a board member since only Ayers and Hallett had the legal authority to appoint the first board members of the CAC.

Two things, Steve: first, as I believe you yourself have said, it's not clear what Ayers and Obama discussed at that meeting - it could have been a vetting meeting from Ayers standpoint, or it could have been a meeting based on the premise that Obama would be the chairman, and how the CAC would function going forward. I certainly don't know which of these it was, and you haven't provided any evidence that you know either.

Second, yes, insofar as Ayers did not veto Obama, he technically approved him. But that's not the same thing as appointing him, and it doesn't lead to any kind of valid conclusion that Obama and Ayers had any kind of close relationship.

That is not supposition it is a legal analysis of the available factual record based on fundamental principles of agency law which are part of Illinois law and apply to non profit entities. Unless the facts change or someone can suggest to me that I do not have the legal principles right then my conclusion stands.

And, again, this is my key point, Steve: you're insisting that you're right based on your understanding of legal theory, and a given set of documents about how the organization of the CAC came together. On the other hand, we've got first hand testimony from Graham and Leff on how Obama was selected and offered the position.

If we were in a court of law, or arguing about this in a legal context, then the former would have a great deal of relevance, but this is not that: this is a blog argument about how the nature of the relationship between Obama and Ayers, and how much influence the latter might reasonably have on the former. As such, your argument fails in two respects - first, that the precise legal mechanisms over who had what legal control over the CAC prove anything about who actually appointed Obama (especially in light of what Leff and Graham say), and second, that even if your statement that Ayers legally approved Obama is true, that that means anything in particular about the relationship between the two men.

There are only two possible explanations for your continued misstatement of my analysis, Chris. Either as a non-lawyer you do not understand what I am talking about or you are being disingenuous. I would not at all be surprised at the former since many of my students make the same complaint. The nature of agency law is one of the most complex areas of law to grasp just because it is so deceptively simple in appearance and, surprisingly, is so ubiquitous.

Again, your appeal to authority here is a non sequitur - this is not a courtroom or a classroom, Steve.

Of course, I would not want to conclude that you are being disingenuous. I do believe that Shane may be disingenuous because he, of course, has the resources to obtain a legal opinion on the issue from the most highly paid lawyers in the country and yet he did not do so (other than me) or at least has been unwilling to share what he found out if he did indeed do so.

I honestly don't care what you think of me, Steve. I've made my argument pretty thoroughly, and, as much as you might insist otherwise, you have not proven, as you stated in #113, that "only [Ayers], had the power to appoint Obama. And he did, in fact, appoint him."

AMac, just out of curiosity, now that Steve Diamond's said he'll stop posting on this, are you going to bring in Kurtz to argue your point, or what?

So how quickly will this report of Obama campaign vitriol and incitement to violence make the front page of the NYT?

"I was present at an Obama rally at which the mention of Palin's name drew shouts of "stone her."

Helen McCaffrey.

Double standard? No, no way. Let the excuse making begin. Just because the EXACT SAME THING happened that merited the entire MSM to brand McCain rallies as hostile doesnt mean you can go drawing comparisons right?

Pathetic media. If there is an ounce of justice in the world this will be the last major campaign they have any real influence over.

I've closed comments.

In my opinion, the subject of the closeness of Ayers' relationship with Obama has gotten an unexpectedly full airing on this thread. To state the obvious, your conclusions will depend on (1) your definition of "close"; (2) the standard of proof you require for evidence to be considered; and (3) where accounts differ, which one you believe.

The remainder of these remarks will consider some "meta-issues" around blogging that have arisen in the tail end of this thread.

In Comment #116, Chris noted sarcastically that I had added two links to Steve Diamond's Comment #113 --

Is that why you enhanced [Diamond's] arguments - which were previously your arguments - by adding links that he himself did not? Or is this a service you provide to everybody, AMac? In which case, what support can I expect you to provide me on my posts?

In practical terms, Chris doesn't have much to complain about, since he devotes the remainder of his comments to discrediting Diamond's arguments. Additional links to those faulty arguments surely underline their weaknesses! As far as who gets this service, check the Winds Comments Policy--authors have wide discretion. If any commenter on this thread wants to add a couple of links, yeah, email 'em to me and I'll put them in. But no, I wouldn't on my own initiative add a link to Chris' text, no matter how clearly it seemed to call for it. His online persona is too prickly--I wouldn't know whether to expect a muttered "thanks" or a curse.

Chris also wrote --

But basically my bottom line to you is this, AMac - if you disagree with what I'm saying, or want to support Diamond's arguments, do so yourself. Don't hide in the background, adding links and calling in others to repeat what you've already linked to. (#116)

AMac, just out of curiosity, now that Steve Diamond's said he'll stop posting on this, are you going to bring in Kurtz to argue your point, or what? (#121)

This reveals a lack of understanding of blogging as it is practiced at Winds (as noted already in #112). Chris may have been a debater in high school or college (and it's a shame if he wasn't). It would be unfair that I cheated by inviting one of the foremost researchers into Ayers/Obama connections into the discussion... if this was the National Forensic League. It isn't.

Blogging and commenting at Winds has more in common with a conversation, or a symposium, or a talk followed by an exchange of views. Contestants in the NFL's Lincoln/Douglas Debate can't say "I changed my mind" halfway through the process. At Winds, bloggers, commenters, and readers can, and sometimes do.

Thanks, all, for contributing. Chris, you may not have said all that you think should be said. If you want, send me the URL of a page where the conversation can continue under your aegis. I'll append the link to this comment.

The comments to this thread are open again.

Additional remarks are limited to 300 words. If that's insufficient, please post a link to the page where the lengthier material is posted.

AMac

On another thread, Chris wrote:

Chris asserted in #45 that "I'll just point out that neither you nor he [Steve Diamond] explained why his pet legal theory should take precedence over contrary statements by two people actually involved with Obama's selection for the CAC..." I find it difficult to believe that many readers not already committed to Obama would agree.
...but you don't bother to explain why you think so, AMac, you just continually link back to Diamond and insist there's a pony in there... somewhere. Just out of curiosity, do you think that the New York Times "knew" what conclusion it wanted its reporter to reach ahead of time, or is Diamond the only one pushing that particular conspiracy? And interested readers should start at #109, not #110.

I respond below. Note that the 300-word restriction remains. As author of this post, I reserve for myself the right to exceed that length (in this case, 360 words below this point). Longer arguments should be made by providing links to them.

Chris,

I agree with you that comment #109 makes a good starting for reviewing Steve Diamond's arguments and your responses to them. As to what I think: I believe that the NYT has significantly slanted its coverage to favor Obama. Reporter Scott Shane's article is consistent with this bias.

On the general subject: Steve Diamond is a law school faculty member who teaches and writes about issues in agency law. His c.v. backs up this contention, online here (10 pg PDF). You and I are pseudonymous voices, with no credible, vettable claims to expertise. Earlier in this thread, you misstate Diamond's central contention, and scorn his legal analysis as a mere appeal to authority. This stance brings blog discussions down to the "Argument Clinic" level. There's no insight to be gained from a did/didn't/did/didn't exchange, even if this would lead to a Draw by Forensics-Union rules.

Applying this reasoning to the thread in question: indeed, Diamond might be wrong. Agency law and its application to the setup of the CAC are complex topics, and no expert is unassailable on the grounds of 'authority.'

But the appropriate counter to his exposition would have been:

  • (1) to contest the key points of agency law or its application with a similar level of knowledge and insight, backed up with links, or
  • (2) to link to an amenable analysis of the application of agency law or its application to the setup of the CAC, where readers have reason to trust the linked writer (e.g. a history of successfully litigating cases hinging on agency law).

As a lay person, I wouldn't contest a physician's diagnosis or an engineer's structural analysis on the basis of "I dislike their conclusion, and their expertise doesn't mean anything to me!" The challenge would be (1) to educate myself to a narrow but deep expertise (e.g. here ), or (2) to discuss the matter with other experts in the field, gaining understanding of the broadly agreed-on principals, and of the issues that are subjects of ongoing debate.

That's how good blog discussions progress.

AMac-

What, exactly, is the point of this 300-word limit? If we're going to argue this, let's argue this. Are the WoC servers running out of space for comments, or what?

What actual proof do you have that the NYT has slanted its coverage to favor Obama on this issue?

How did I misstate Diamond's central contention?

I don't give a damn about Forensics-Union rules - I was not a debater, and I'm interested in concrete, verifiable truths, not supposition dressed up as authoritative opinion.

I'll thank you not to define what an "appropriate" response to Diamond would have been. Instead, I'll repeat what I said before - that Diamond's analysis of this issue as agency law is only applicable as far as this is a legal matter, which it is not. Diamond is not operating in a courtroom or a classroom - he is also a layperson, just as we are, when discussing the practical implications of whether Obama and Ayers had a close relationship.

A doctor can authoritatively talk medicine, but not economics. An engineer can authoritatively talk bridges, but not biology. And a lawyer can authoritatively talk law, but not journalism or history, which is what we're talking here. The question is whether Obama and Ayers had a close relationship, where Ayers influenced Obama's educational or political philosophy. And Diamond's legal theories, whether they be right or wrong, simply don't trump the actual evidence of Leff and Graham, who state that they, not Ayers, picked Obama, which makes it far more difficult to argue that Obama being on the CAC is somehow proof of his philosophical alignment with Ayers, which is what Diamond is trying to do.

"Good blog discussions" progress by proving arguments, not by channeling things into "appropriate" responses to illogical arguments.

What, exactly, is the point of this 300-word limit? If we're going to argue this, let's argue this. Are the WoC servers running out of space for comments, or what?

The point is that it's his thread. He's permitted wide discretion. End of story.

Chris,

> What, exactly, is the point of this 300-word limit?

That the volume of your comments have come as close to inhibiting discussion on a thread as I've seen at WoC. Please focus on a central argument and be concise. Please use links to direct readers to further extended arguments.

> What actual proof do you have that the NYT has slanted its coverage to favor Obama on this issue?

A distraction. Google the subject and you'll find more discussions of the subject than you'd have time to read.

> How did I misstate Diamond's central contention?

I'm done mining your upthread declamations to bring them up again, so you can re-interpret them. Life's too short. Readers interested in this point can review comments 109-123 and decide for themselves.

> Diamond's analysis of this issue as agency law is only applicable as far as this is a legal matter, which it is not.

A strange notion. "Legal facts" exist in a separate universe from medical, economic, engineering, biological, journalistic, and historical facts.

> A doctor can authoritatively talk medicine, but not economics. An engineer can authoritatively talk bridges, but not biology. And a lawyer can authoritatively talk law, but not journalism or history, which is what we're talking here.

I'm gratified by the first two sentences; it appears that my analogy made sense to you, and advanced the discussion. As to your extension of the point to lawyers, see my prior comment. For the reasons Diamond described, the "legal facts" pertaining to agency law are very relevant to how Obama came to be chair of the CAC board, and what that says about his relationship to Ayers.

> The question is whether Obama and Ayers had a close relationship

That's a broad, general topic. One either engages in did/didn't/did/didn't back and forth, or considers component parts of that issue, one by one. One of those components was addressed, incompletely, in Scott Shane's article. Diamond contributed important legal insight pertaining to the working of agency law in the establishment of boards of not-for-profit entites. Readers of his blog have a better understanding of the legal context of the varied views of the significance of Obama's service on the CAC board. Not so the readers of the NYT, because the Times ignores this issue.

Two relevant quotes from AMac and NM, respectively:

Note that the 300-word restriction remains. As author of this post, I reserve for myself the right to exceed that length (in this case, 360 words below this point).

The point is that it's his thread. He's permitted wide discretion. End of story.

So I find myself in a situation where AMac has the ability to enforce on people who disagree with him, an arbitrary length restriction which he himself does not need to observe. And Nortius Maximus backs him up, basically saying that AMac, as the originator of the thread, can play by any rules he sees fit.

On the one hand, I concede their point - it is their blog, and they (or the actual owners, who permit them to post it and manage it) can put whatever they want on it.

On the other hand, I will point out that these restrictions undermine the idea that Winds of Change is a fair or even-handed site, rather than a largely conservative site that generally encourages liberal viewpoints to go elsewhere. I have largely been respectful and reasonable in my arguments, but because I'm arguing too much against conclusions that AMac supports, my arguments are hobbled by these length restrictions. Furthermore, because of the length restrictions, I cannot make a point-by-point rebuttal to AMac's posts, as he does to mine in #128.

Which leaves me little to do but point out that my argument is well summed up in #120 above, in the paragraphs starting "And, again, this is my key point, Steve...". And to point out that, in the long run, the ballot box has and will show the irrelevancy of AMac's concerns, which is as close to a victory as anyone ever gets in these things.

Chris, the column-inch total of your comments ran twenty-five times the length of the original post, last I checked. So color me unsympathetic.

There just aren't that many readers who will wade through to this point in the thread to get to whatever-point-must-still-be-made. Again, if there's a >300 word argument to make, please link it.

> in the long run, the ballot box has and will show the irrelevancy of AMac's concerns, which is as close to a victory as anyone ever gets in these things.

To add to that fitting closing remark: I'll be heading to the voting booth in the throes of powerful buyer's remorse from 2004: How could I have picked Bush over Kerry? If only I knew then what I know now!

We can come together in hoping that you won't be in a similar situation, four years from now. Time will tell.

Chris -

You're a bad-faith participant in this discussion, and that's pretty clear for all to see.

In comment #126 you demand AMac answer a series of questions but then immediately turn around and berate him for having defined a term earlier in a way that you disagree with.

You also end that same comment with the noble-sounding "Good blog discussions" progress by proving arguments, not by channeling things into "appropriate" responses to illogical arguments., which definitely wasn't your view back in comment #112 when you threw a fit because AMac had invited someone else to join the thread!

Finally, in comment #129 you complain you're being muzzled because AMac has politely asked participants to limit themselves to 300 word comments. But AMac had already made this offer 4 days earlier, back in comment #123:
Chris, you may not have said all that you think should be said. If you want, send me the URL of a page where the conversation can continue under your aegis. I'll append the link to this comment.
And followed it up in comment #124:
If that's insufficient, please post a link to the page where the lengthier material is posted.

You had the option of taking him up on either of those offers (in addition to continuing a discussion here by honing your arguments to something more concise and compelling than blockquoting a series of individual statements from a previous comment and appending the equivalent of "Well, I don't believe you" beneath each) but instead you've chosen the dishonest "help, help I'm being repressed!" gambit.

Chris:

The problem is a difficult one. Basically, AMac is saying that you've been using up too much of the air in this room, and is asking for you (and all other non-entry contributors) to rebalance that.

I commend your spirit in wanting to go into detail point-for-point. It's still AMac's call on this thread. If he thinks you've been prolix, and it seems he does, then he gets to rein things in. If that doesn't seem fair, or is not a style you can adopt going forward in this thread, I guess it's our mutual loss (no sarcasm here, truly). If he thinks things are at an impasse, he has other options, even more Procrustean. He hasn't thrown that sort of weight around, and neither am I doing so by mentioning that.

Yes, a 300-word limit in-thread is an imposition. If you consider it unreasonable, I know of no way to convince you of the contrary.

It would seem to me that the point of Diamond being an attorney is that he's used to concocting arguments. In this case, he has, AFAIK, decided not to incorporate the witness statements opposing his results into his theory. Lawyers do that; defense attorneys don't remind the jury of all the prosecution testimony. It doesn't make his argument persuasive to me, though, especially in company with claims like Ayers and Obama meeting in 1987 that are total speculation. Down this road are the claims that Ayers is Obama's ghostwriter and Malcolm X is his real father.

Yes, a 300-word limit in-thread is an imposition. If you consider it unreasonable, I know of no way to convince you of the contrary.

NM, just to clarify, the issue is not the 300-word limit, it's the fact that AMac is not bound by the same limit. Accordingly, he can split my argument into pieces and critique them bit by bit, whereas I cannot do the same to him.

To reiterate, yes, he has a right to put a selective limit in place, if he so chooses. But it's also an individually rational decision for me to note that doing so creates an unequal playing field, and it therefore makes no sense to continue arguing with him under those conditions.

Other than that, nothing more to say, except that the last line of my post #129 was probably overdramatic. Nobody knows for sure what the election outcome will be, or should be. I certainly have my suspicions, as do you guys, but the whole point of the exercise is that that outcome, not anything I or AMac or Steve Diamond say, is what constitutes a final political judgement.

Chris: Yes, we've covered this. You think AMac is being unfair. Duly noted.

Chris,

NM, just to clarify, the issue is not the 300-word limit, it's the fact that AMac is not bound by the same limit. Accordingly, he can split my argument into pieces and critique them bit by bit, whereas I cannot do the same to him.

That's a good point. I'll try not to do fall into that trap. Remember, also, that there are currently twenty more-current posts at Winds to comment on.

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