Late Night: Johnny Can't Read

I stopped by Larry Johnson's No Quarter and found his latest post on Barack Obama and Bill Ayers. We've both written about Ayers before, but we have different views of Ayers and his wife.

As I've said many times, I admire the work the Ayers' have done for children and education and in trying to keep them on the right track rather than go down the wrong one. Larry tends to view Ayers as a terrorist. I don't. I also like what I know about Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dorn for how they took in Chesa Boudin and raised him while his parents were in jail for many, many years over their activities.

So Larry and I disagree a bit on which aspect of Ayers' connection to Obama is or is not a problem.

This is an open thread.

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    This campaign is really (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by MarkL on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 02:22:11 AM EST
    grinding me down.
    I agree with LJ on Ayers and Obama, even though it's an unpleasant topic.
    Obama must really hate it too---he sure doesn't seem to be enjoying the campaign much these days. Hillary, on the other hand, seems indefatigable.
    If Obama does become the nominee, having to listen to that many more months of "hope" and "change" will make me want to scream.

    Another topic: there was a rumor that E. Edwards would campaign for Hillary. Any more word on that?

    He hasn't talked (none / 0) (#38)
    by Kathy on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:48:47 AM EST
    about hope and change in a long while.  At least not from what I've been hearing.  And I agree he looks haggled and like he just wants this to be over, but then again he's not used to having to work this hard to get anything (as is so consistently pointed out any time anyone delves into his past)

    Speaking of Obama's past, I was startled when I read in the No Quarter post TL refers to that Obama only spent three years as a community organizer.  THREE YEARS?  He makes it sound like fifteen years when he talks about it.  Is his actual CV somewhere--with dates and such?  How can this guy have gotten this far and we don't know how many international trips he's taken, we don't know all the boards he's served on (and taken money from) and we don't know where he really stands on any issues?

    This would be laughable if we weren't at war and our economy wasn't on the brink of the toilet bowl.


    He is (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by AnninCA on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:34:30 AM EST
    THE only Harvard Law Review head who never published, Kathy.  Not once.

    He was given the plum job, the one that can make your name, and he never once published a word.

    It's unheard of.  Right then, I thought:  He's not exactly a hard worker.


    Holy crap (none / 0) (#64)
    by Kathy on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 10:09:11 AM EST
    how could he not publish anything?

    Just freakin' amazing.  This guy is a walking double standard.  No wonder he thinks he's entitled to be president without actually having to do any work.


    Obama is changing (none / 0) (#62)
    by MichaelGale on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 10:05:55 AM EST
    his approach, going back to hope and change, according to the MSM.  

    He admits he is not a fighter and it goes against his grain to participate in adversarial politics.  


    Not that I know of (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 02:26:10 AM EST
    Howard Fineman said on MSNBC the night of the PA debate that Elizabeth would attend Hillary campaign rallies with her in N.C.  It's pretty clear John's not going to endorse, and Elizabeth may just be endorsing her health olan.  We'll have to wait and see.

    Night all.

    Tin foil hat firmly on (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by badger on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 02:40:33 AM EST
    It's also interesting that Ayers' father was CEO of Commonwealth Edison which is now part of Exelon, which also owns the nuclear facility Obama has been associated with and Axelrod does PR for them.

    That makes for an interesting web of connections between Obama and his campaign, Ayers, Ayers' father  and the two spouses and the Sidley Austin firm, which in turn has supplied a couple lower level Bush administration appointees, along with Exelon. Exelon, in turn, owns a dozen nuclear plants (including Three Mile Island) and a lot more coal-fired plants.

    If were a conspiracy theorist, it would certainly be easy to concoct a good story out of all of that, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence any of it means anything. It'd make a good John Grisham novel.

    Nothing outlandish about your theory: (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by MarkL on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 02:44:37 AM EST
    Bush was the creation of oil men, and created policy which reflected that. I also suspect that energy policy is the real reason Obama is the favorite of the elites, with his laissez-faire attitude towards regulation a close second.

    Obama (none / 0) (#10)
    by Salo on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 03:51:04 AM EST
    appears to be backed by the energy industry.

    It is humorous to think about how the Ayers's produced a high profile domestic terrorist and a Power company CEO. Both became inordinately interested by education reform measures in Chicago in later years. And both sponsored a Presidential candidate who appears to do what Exelon  demand.


    If there is nothing to hide, (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by myiq2xu on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 02:59:59 AM EST
    why hide it.

    I don't think Obama did anything illegal or immoral, but once again we see he has unsavory friends.

    When it was in his interest, he was an associate of Ayers.  How close we don't yet know, but it appears to be closer than he admitted.

    But now that things have changed, he tries to disassociate himself from Ayers, and minimize his previous relationship.

    Just like Rezko and Wright.

    He always seems to play it down and (none / 0) (#7)
    by nycstray on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 03:15:01 AM EST
    brush it off. Hillary gets accused of attacking him in debates when she calls him on it, but I see it different. If she knows, she knows 'they' know and it's going to come out anyway. Doesn't mean he's done anything wrong, but why let the Republicans call his bluff in the GE?

    And it's got to be common knowledge by now, anything new that comes out on a candidate is going to become a hot google search  ;)


    Hillary (none / 0) (#55)
    by AnninCA on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:40:46 AM EST
    merely didn't let him skate by like he did with Rezko in the debate.  This time, she called attention to his miinimizing the relationship.

    The relevance of Ayers, in my mind, is the same as with Wright and Rezko.  Why didn't Obama move on from these relationships?

    I am sure Ayers has done some good.  That's not the point.  Wright has done some good.  That's also not the point.

    And we've not yet even seen a question on Khalidi.


    I agree with you (none / 0) (#33)
    by BernieO on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:40:02 AM EST
    and I think Jeralyn is badly misjudging the Ayers connection. She is using the same agument to dismiss his wrongdoing that Obama is using to dismiss Wright's anti-American hate speech - he has done a lot of good things, too. That will not wash with mainstream America particularly in light of Ayers defense of his actions and statement that they did not go far enough. What he did was far worse than what Wright said because he used and encouraged violence. To my knowledge Wright's words have not killed anyone but Ayers group did. Nixon did some good things too - his drug policy that pushed treatment over punishment, some good environmental legislation, etc. Since when do good deeds compensate for serious wrongdoing and dangerous ideas and behavior?
    OT - go read Elizabeth Edwards' fabulous smackdown of the media in today's (Sunday) NYTimes op ed section. Since the media will undoubtedly try to ignore this devastating take down we all need to spread the word.

    Elizabeth Edwards (none / 0) (#59)
    by MichaelGale on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:53:20 AM EST
    article on the press was a succinct appraisal of the press.

    What can we do about it? Answering my own question -
    I think its lost.

    And the future of news is not bright. Indeed, we've heard that CBS may cut its news division, and media consolidation is leading to one-size-fits-all journalism.

    add to that that Bush will push media free market with the FCC, entertainment pundits who claim they are journalists, bloggers who desperately want to be known as "journalists" but have turned into internet pundits: Well journalism is dead.


    clinton has said she will repeal (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by english teacher on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 03:52:16 AM EST
    no child left behind.  what has obama said about this ridiculous policy?

    Someone should (none / 0) (#13)
    by Salo on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 03:59:37 AM EST
    look at Ayers education policy proposals and see if they match what Obama has written in his policy papers.

    It would soon disprove the idea that they never exchanged notes.


    Obama's reply would be (none / 0) (#37)
    by Serene1 on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:45:22 AM EST
    He is for the policy in the sense that he understands the legitimate concerns of the people for it
    and against it in the sense that he empathises with the people against it.

    So take your pick.


    That's what is so surprising (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Serene1 on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 05:36:16 AM EST
    Obama had a long association with ayers but can still be said to be not exactly involved with ayers activity i.e there is no incriminating paper trail.
    Obama had a long association with Rezko and barring the house deal there is no incriminating paper trail of other involvement.
    Obama has a long history with Wright yet he claims that he never heard any of the "controversial" sermons that he has denounced now.

    Add to this lack of any paper trail of Obama's senate tenure and the fact that he preferred to be present rather than take a stand on any issue.

    See a pattern. I do. And it is v.worrying and confusing.

    you don't need a weatherman (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by karen for Clinton on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 06:09:36 AM EST
    Back in those days of protest I was firmly esconced at the NYPAC (NY peace action coalition) at 133 5th avenue, an org. that was non-violent and did peaceful protest against Nam and assembled and marched, often, for human rights.

    The day the building was blown up we were looked at differently and lumped into the terrorist mold along with the weathermen, who we did not support.

    The non-violent protestors had to train ourselves on MACE etc. since the effort to squash our voices intensified and we were attacked by the mainstream press and the police became intolerant.

    The Weathermen set back the peace process and gave us all a bad name.

    You likely know all that, but for that reason alone - their extreme revolutionary destructive campaign to overthrow the system - they were shunned by the anti-war movement itself.

    It became impossible to distance ourselves from them and we bore the anger towards their movement.

    Just my 2 cents, I was there and remember.

    They were not cool, not at all.  We knew it and nearly every organization stayed far from them.

    Obama embraced them and every other radical faction he met, apparently.  Scary, even to a lifelong protesting anarchist like me.  :-)  

    I think that... (none / 0) (#24)
    by white n az on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 07:42:18 AM EST
    This link to savagepolitics.com article pretty much confirms your thoughts and ultimately discusses the times and who Ayers was and how he fit in

    Swiftboating Bill Ayres (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by john horse on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:34:40 AM EST
    Newspapers occasionally misquote people.  They also don't always get their facts straight.  Sometimes they misinterpret what people mean.

    The NYT quoted Bill Ayres as saying "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."  If this was what Bill Ayres believed then he wouldn't have written a letter to the editor to try to set the record straight.  

    I find it strange that you base your opinion of Ayres on what someone else says he said instead of what he actually said as expressed in his letter to the editor.  


    I read that letter twice (none / 0) (#35)
    by Marvin42 on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:43:40 AM EST
    It is very cleverly constructed (and the timing of it on Sep 15 I understand why it was written). But nowhere does it say he denounces what he believed in. He ties in terrorism to the actions of the US and denounces that.

    Its kind of slick and disturbing imo, specially considering it was written 4 days after Sep 11 and was probably motivated by the mood of the moment.


    set the record straight? (none / 0) (#74)
    by white n az on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 02:37:08 PM EST
    hardly...I answered above.

    Self-serving act of revisionism in light of the aftermath 9/11 because Ayers understood the American appetite for terrorism.

    I think the story of Ayers would have been entirely different if daddy wasn't the boss of Commonwealth Edison, now Exelon, one of Obama's benefactors.


    Obama Unconnected (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by pluege on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:35:12 AM EST
    Obama, according to many of the articles I read, stayed above the fray and didn't get his hands dirty.

    this is the window into Obama's approach in general: unconnected, uninvolved. He has professed as much that like the idiot man-child occupant of the WH for the last 7 years, Obama would be a hands-off POTUS, relying on advisors to keep him informed. That style of easily manipulated management (as opposed to leadership) is the last thing we need in the new  POTUS we are counting on to lead us back from the bush disasters.

    Education, Ayers, Obama (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by BostonIndependent on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:13:28 AM EST
    Somewhat off topic: Read TNR article on Obama and Education Policy. I used to read Albert Shanker's one-pagers on education in that magazine a long time and they made a lot of sense.

    Jeralyn/All: what kind of politician do we respect more -- someone who sees a problem, has a vision of how to solve it, has the skill to articulate that vision that gets people to roll up their sleeves and  work on and implement that vision? Or politicians who are still casting about for a reason for their candidacy and existence, and hence listen to the multitudes of voices before they can formulate a plan and a vision that has a chance of success? I find Sen. Obama far more of the latter -- given his experience (or lack thereof) he has simply not thought through the problems with American education policy deeply enough, or engaged with the political forces long enough to have developed a sense of conviction behind his vision and policy proposals, and hence his changing stances on such matters -- which one could argue demonstrate intellectual flexibility. It leaves him lots of room to maneuver -- degrees of freedom as we say in design school.

    His connection to Ayers is very problematic for me. Not just because of his continual dissembling -- he leaves the impression that he is always hiding something, or is arrogantly choosing to tell the voters only bits and pieces because he understands the ephemerality of news cycles and is playing this as 'just another episode that will blow away'. The real problem that connections such Ayers and Wright raise in my mind is to how those connections seem to have shaped Obama's views about activist politics -- and how such views might after all be linked to his supporters' behavior, and how he does not ever speak out against even the most egregious such outbursts. He cannot have it both ways -- I suspect he'd sorely like to be able to say "Look at my record on the Iraq war -- I have been consistently against it, but I didn't go around bombing buildings -- in fact I voted like Senator Clinton did" which would in fact be the most powerful way to dis-associate from the views represented by Ayers and the Weather Underground, but doing so would also undermine the primary driving force for his candidacy -- so he may be kinda stuck as a politician on this issue.

    Never let it go (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Kathy on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:22:25 AM EST
    I was searching-in vain-for a simple Obama CV and came across this Wapo article from December of last year, in which I found this:

    Abner Mikva, a former federal judge and an Obama mentor, says Obama consults with others but doesn't necessarily feel constrained by what he hears. "That is the interesting thing about Barack," he says. "He doesn't come to you for advice -- what should I do? He comes to you with an idea and asks you to critique it." Take, for example, the question of whether to run for president as a rookie U.S. senator. "I don't think he spent much time with people who told him not to do it."

    Don't we already have a cabinet of yes-men supporting a president who always thinks he's right?  

    This guy is so unvetted it's ridiculous.  Please-has anyone ever seen a detailed CV???  This board membership should've been well-known last year.  What else has he done?  What other boards has he taken money from?  Give me a break!


    I agree w/ you that he is unvetted (none / 0) (#50)
    by BostonIndependent on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:33:45 AM EST
    In fact I'm against Obama's candidacy not only because he is unvetted, but after all this time, he is still unwilling to expend his political capital. Given his lack of experience I'm afraid he'll spend his Presidency learning which way to lean.

    The closing of the TNR article I cite above...

    As Petrilli put it: "The old rule in politics is that, if you want to get something done, you need to campaign on it. If Obama is going to be aggressive on education, he's going to have to talk about it at some point."

    I could say the same about lots of other topics besides education. He has had singular success precisely because he has had the ability with his rhetoric to remain a blank slate, and remain un-controversial w/ his actual record that it allows his supporters to project whatever they want to see in his candidacy.


    that is an excellent point (none / 0) (#52)
    by english teacher on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:35:26 AM EST
    and harkens back to another raised by cream city with regard to the sunstein statement that obama was recruited or "asked" if you will to join the faculty at uchi law, despite having never published a single peer reviewed article in any law journal.  the idea that he would have been asked to join the faculty as a tenure track law professor without having met the most basic requirement of scholarly merit indicates either a major problem with uchi's hiring practices, or with obama's publicly proffered biography.  in either case, i think i smell a rat.  his cv should be available somewhere for crying out loud.  i mean, if he's really all that.  

    an unpublished academic. (none / 0) (#58)
    by Salo on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:46:12 AM EST
    Although he had the autobiography of course.

    No published journals though.  Most incompatable with an academic career.


    Not just unpublished as an academic ... (none / 0) (#61)
    by BostonIndependent on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 10:03:22 AM EST
    No paper trail as a politician either.

    And what little achievement he does have in the IL senate came as a result of one year's of actively passing off others' work as his own. See Todd Spivak article, especially the bit where he talks about Emil Jones's influence on Sen. Obama's career.

    It does not all add up to a pretty picture.


    Why these continual Macarthyish Khalidi posts (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by fuzzyone on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 10:59:08 AM EST
    Despite repeated posts saying that Obama's association with Khalidi is somehow evidence that he was not sufficiently pro-Israel or now sufficiently anti-anti-semitism, no evidence has appeared to back it up.  Just associating with a Palestinian activist does not make you anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. Indeed, many of us who are Jewish and love Israel believe that it is only by talking to Palestinians that peace and the future security of Israel can be achieved.

    Its also amazing you can have a whole string on Ayres without a mention of Bill's pardon of two weathermen.  If Obama is vulnerable on Ayres Clinton is vulnerable too.

    Obama (none / 0) (#8)
    by Salo on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 03:43:02 AM EST
    is running on Merit pay for teachers and other reforms that are not poular with teacher unions.

    Obama was on an education fund board.
    This is his brush with Education in his resume.

    So why has he been so quiet about running that Board?

    Education is a big topic and Obama was involved in city wide school reforms.  What gives there?  Is it about Ayers running the fund or the rubbish impact of the reforms?

    Bush crowed about school testing reform in Texas. Obama has not crowed about Chicago schools.

    The states where teachers unions (none / 0) (#9)
    by MarkL on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 03:50:37 AM EST
    are weak are the worst for education, I have read.

    the states with weak teacher's unions (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Kathy on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:11:40 AM EST
    generally tend to be poor states (right to work states), so it's a chicken/egg type thing.  There are several schools in the south and Texas that are in the national top twenty-five best public high schools (Newsweek), though, so that's food for thought.  In my experience, it comes down to money--not just money for the schools, but money in the community, where parents have the luxury of easily prioritizing education for their children above all else.

    I tend to think the problem with education is everyone wants to fix it, but they don't want to look at what works.  They want to keep trying new things, and most of the experimenters have not spent a day in a real classroom and have no idea what they are talking about.  It's all theory.

    Like vouchers, which Obama said he's "look into," whatever that means.  Ask just about any public school teacher and they will tell you that all vouchers will do is take the good kids out of bad schools, which will make the bad schools worse.  It'll be segregation all over again, only this time along class and wealth lines. (Which is why most republicans love it)  Why not just make the school better?  Why not "hope" and bring some "change" to these underperforming schools instead of abandoning them?

    Obama should know this.  He should know all of it off the top of his head.


    Obama (none / 0) (#65)
    by AnninCA on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 10:12:27 AM EST
    made a few remarks about the virtues of vouchers.  That scared me.  But then his tax plan scares me.  LOL*

    Apparently... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Salo on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 03:56:45 AM EST
    The Annenberg Challenge (and other reforms champoned by Ayers) was resisted by teaching unions. Small school pushes etc.  

    The proposals of the Annenberg Challenge seem to dovetail neatly with Obama's proposed reforms.  But teh connection to Ayer's theories is never explicitly refered to. Although i'll bet they match very closely.

    If I recall correctly, Clinton won the Teaching Union's endorsements.  Maybe they know about Obama's record in Chicago.

    I'm surprized they didn't go after Obama on this issue and his record before.


    having small schools is a (none / 0) (#14)
    by MarkL on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 04:08:36 AM EST
    different idea. Usually I hear about reducing class size----which is not so clearly linked to student performance, or so I have read.
    Small schools sound expensive.

    that different from class size (none / 0) (#15)
    by Salo on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 04:13:45 AM EST
    The gist was that Ayers wanted to decentralize curricula and administration...  

    class size is a different issue.

    Ideally you want one teacher per 15 pupils.  

    This was something else.  The researcher suggested that Ayers was muscling in on the administrative level.


    class size (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Kathy on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:28:26 AM EST
    in China, they have classes of 100 or more and the kids still excel.  Every teacher I know (and I know quite a few) says that the number one thing that makes a difference in every school, no matter how big or small, wealthy or poor, is...

    Parental involvement.

    It's silly to say you are going to base bonus pay to a high school teacher on how her class performs when, during any given semester, she'll have at least five, maybe ten, students drop out, get arrested, move to a new school system or get suspended for long periods of time.  And her pay is based on their grades?

    My friend whose an English teacher has a kid in her class now who's got an ankle bracelet on for beating and raping his grandmother.  She's got another kid who only comes to school to sell drugs.  Their GPAs aren't going to get her any bonuses.  What's she supposed to do?

    Anyway, as I said--coming from inner-city Chicago, having represented a lower income demographic, having "worked" as a community organizer...Obama should know this stuff.  He should have solutions, not panels to look into how to solve the problems.


    Are they small schools, or (none / 0) (#16)
    by nycstray on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 04:21:53 AM EST
    schools within schools? Here they are doing some schools within schools, small schools and building new schools. All reduce class size and concentrate on needs, from what I can tell. I live across from a high school which used to be low on the list of schools, but it's been changing quite a bit over the past few years. It's still a P.S., but they now have 2 smaller schools within it. It's interesting to watch the change in not just the building, but the students. Demographics are the same, attitude different, in a good way :)

    I think Caroline Kennedy is involved with our schools, now that I think about it . . . Bloomberg brought her in?


    All elementary schools should teach (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by MarkL on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 04:26:27 AM EST
    Mandarin Chinese, and include instruction in chess and music.
    That's my million dollar advice.

    The elementary schools I went to (none / 0) (#48)
    by FlaDemFem on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:30:05 AM EST
    taught Latin, French, music, as well as the usual subjects. Of course, they were mostly overseas, the US ones didn't teach those until I got yanked out of public school and sent to private school. People wonder why the rest of the world thinks of Americans as ignorant. Well, it's because we are. Thanks to our school systems.

    I have read the (none / 0) (#19)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 05:51:36 AM EST

    yes i do, (none / 0) (#22)
    by cpinva on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 07:21:57 AM EST
    you just beat me to it!

    See a pattern?

    he's either "the man who wasn't there", or "the invisible man", take your pick.

    for the most part of his public life, he seems to garner a title, while doing nothing substantive, or, when he can't get away, votes "present". the same result ensues: he doesn't have a specific position identified that he then has to defend.

    while this may be great for his political career, i'm not sure how good it for his constituents, who depend on him to stand up for them.

    unlike congress, there's only one president. in that capacity, you actually are forced to decide. based on everything i've read, seen and heard, i don't think sen. obama has it in him.

    pattern (none / 0) (#75)
    by CHDmom on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 04:53:38 PM EST
    I don't post much , but this paragraph got me to. "Obama, according to many of the articles I read, stayed above the fray and didn't get his hands dirty. So he ends up with not much of a record on his board work."
     Since we see this about so much of his life, like the no records from his 8 years in the state senate and as cpinva mentioned his voting "present" and don't forget his other bad habit of "oops" I pressed the wrong Button" so he can say he will vote against something like the Riverboat gambling, but vote for it, then say Oops I pressed the wrong button, make a note of that, knowing full well that doesn't change his vote,just covers both sides.

    Good Grief! (none / 0) (#23)
    by john horse on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 07:28:15 AM EST
    Can't we finally leave the 60's behind?

    Once upon a time there was an unpopular war called the Vietnam war.  This war created a great deal of opposition and, in some cases, radicalization.  The most famous of the 60s college radical groups was a tiny splinter organization called the Weather Underground.  In their opposition to the war, they adopted the anarchist belief in the propaganda of the deed.  Bill Ayres was a member of this organization.

    Bill Ayres is no longer a member of the Weather Underground and he no longer advocates or believes what he once did.  

    In 2001 there was a NYT article which attibuted several inflammatory statements to Ayres including "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough." and "I don't want to discount the possibility." when asked if he would "do it all again".   Ayres responded by immediately writing a Letter to the Editor in which he claimed that the NYT deliberately distorted what he actually believed.  

    Here is what Ayres actually believes per wikipedia

    In the ensuing years, he has repeatedly avowed that "no regrets" had been spoken in reference to his efforts to oppose the Vietnam War, and that "we didn't do enough" had been spoken in reference to his opinion that efforts to stop the United States from waging the Vietnam War were obviously inadequate as the war dragged on for a decade. Ayers has maintained that the two statements were not intended to elide into a wish they had set more bombs.

    So lets get back to the question that Stephanopoulos asked Ayres:

    And, in fact, on 9/11, he was quoted in the New York Times saying, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."

    Ayres wrote in his letter to the editor "This is not a question of being misunderstood or 'taken out of context', but of deliberate distortion."  

    So lets sum up.  Stephanoupolos premised his question to Obama on "the fact" that the NYT article accurately characterized the views of Bill Ayres (he did not apparently bother to find out Ayre's side of the story in his letter to the editor).  Ayres said that the NYT deliberately distorted what he said and believed.  

    As far as I'm concerned, I think that Bill Ayres is probably the best authority regarding what Bill Ayres actually believes.  

    By the way I voted for Hillary, but fair is fair and what was done to Obama was anything but fair.

    there is an absurdity... (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by white n az on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 07:48:37 AM EST
    when the methodology you employed to fighting against the war was setting bombs, that if you decided you hadn't done enough was not about setting bombs.

    It's obvious that Ayers wants to have his cake and to eat it too but such obvious attempts to rehabilitate his careless statements don't work. His context was setting bombs...just as the quote made clear.


    Absurdity (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by john horse on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:41:17 AM EST
    Newspapers occasionally misquote people.  They also don't always get their facts straight.  Sometimes they misinterpret what people mean.
    The NYT quoted Bill Ayres as saying "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."  If this was what Bill Ayres believed then he wouldn't have written a letter to the editor to try to set the record straight.  

    I find it strange that you base your opinion of Ayres on what someone else says he said instead of what he actually said as expressed in his letter to the editor.  

    (I mistakenly posted this elsewhere)


    Read response below (none / 0) (#36)
    by Marvin42 on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:44:45 AM EST
    That letter really isn't the denunciation you claim it is.

    set the record straight? (none / 0) (#73)
    by white n az on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 02:33:41 PM EST
    I suppose that if you make a distinction that setting bombs to protest the war in Vietnam and hijacking airplanes and flying them into buildings are different forms of terrorism is one thing...a fine point to be sure.

    There were millions who protested the war in Vietnam...some were actually shot for peaceful protests (Kent State).

    Those who took it to the extreme of bombing were clearly not peaceful protesters and had escalated their protests to a level that few of us could have supported.

    The notion that "we showed remarkable restraint" is laughable on its face...he's trying to re-invent what he did during the 70's. What he did was terrorism, with the intent of terrorism and the fact is, the author finished her piece the night before 9/11 and his letter to the editor is an attempt at revisionism recognizing that his over zealous activism would not be viewed kindly in the aftermath of 9/11.


    So Ayers says on his website (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:30:39 AM EST
    where I wandered recently . . . but he says a lot there (he makes Obama's answers sound succinct:-).  And there is what he says in his autobiography, which were his own words.  I'm not at all persuaded by the interpretation you offer -- and that he offers when it seems necessary to do so.  

    It is wearying that, once again, we are dealing not only with WORM but also with WARM -- What Obama Really Meant and What Ayers Really Meant.  Yet another highly educated guy, and this one even an educator, who can't seem to convey "just words" with clarity when being interviewed by the media?  And once again, how convenient.


    Can someone tell me (5.00 / 0) (#44)
    by Kathy on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:16:30 AM EST
    how Ayers got that job at the college, anyway?  Seems he has extremely wealthy relatives with deep pockets and lots of strings to pull.  How shocking that the person who so callously fought 'the man' is not benefitting from everything 'the man' has to offer.  Heck, he is the man.

    Money changes everything. (5.00 / 0) (#49)
    by Maria Garcia on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:31:37 AM EST
    I think Ayers is the perfect embodiment of the current American way. For all of the so-called equality, only the children of the very wealthy can rise above "youthful indiscretions."

    parents gave (none / 0) (#53)
    by english teacher on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:37:16 AM EST
    a lot of money and/or sit on the board of directors.  just a guess.

    Exactly. Building with family name on it (none / 0) (#70)
    by Cream City on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 12:07:56 PM EST
    and father on the board and etc.  Exactly.

    The "quoted on 9/11" charge ... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Cassius Chaerea on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 08:07:59 AM EST
    is deliberately inflammatory. The article on Ayers was published in the New York Times Magazine dated September 16, 2001. The text was released by the Times, with the rest of the magazine, on the morning of September 11 before the planes hit. I was a subscriber to the Times then and had a copy of the damn thing.  

    more detail (none / 0) (#56)
    by Salo on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:42:59 AM EST
    that really doesn't matter a great deal when you think about Ayers wn world view.

    That confluence might be called Karma.


    My problem with Ayers is that he thought (none / 0) (#54)
    by FlaDemFem on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:39:30 AM EST
    that killing people was a way to make a political point. That is unacceptable, totally unacceptable. That alone is enough to put him beyond the pale, in my opinion. Then he says he didn't do enough..well, tell that to the families of the people who died. I don't care how much good he has done in the intervening years. He and his wife never spent any time in prison for their crimes, and now they are touted as wonderful people because they took up education as a cause. Well, I don't buy it.

    And here is a quote about Ayers and his reaction to a movie about the Weather Underground..

    "[Ayers] was 'embarrassed by the arrogance, the solipsism, the absolute certainty that we and we alone knew the way. The rigidity and the narcissism."[3]

    Kind of makes you wonder why he supports Obama, doesn't it?

    I happen to think that comparing what a (none / 0) (#43)
    by Maria Garcia on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:14:01 AM EST
    ...defense lawyer does to politcal and ideological associations is a completely false dichotomy. Everyone is entitled to a good defense, even communists. Defending politically motivated defendants, IMHO, is one of the most "patriotic" things an American lawyer can do.

    From what I understand he did (none / 0) (#45)
    by FlaDemFem on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:21:33 AM EST
    voter registration drives. Came in handy when he ran for office, I am sure. He seems to have avoided the "traditional black" areas such as affordable housing, etc. He didn't want to get pigeon-holed as a "black" politician by being too closely identified with black concerns.

    Question for Jeralyn (none / 0) (#57)
    by BostonIndependent on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 09:43:42 AM EST
    The link above where you cite that you admire Ayers and Bernadine's work on children and education seems to be pointing out another article on Khalidi and the Swamp article doesn't have any real bits either. Could these have been deleted..? I have no doubt that Ayers' leads a respected life and works hard in education -- but I'd like to understand what's precisely there in his work that you found admiring.

    I agree w/ you that the Chesa Boudin story does paint a much better picture of Ayers and Dorn.

    I think Ayers would be used against Obama (none / 0) (#60)
    by cawaltz on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 10:01:13 AM EST
    The perception I have of Obama really doesn't go with the radical people(and by radical I don't necessarily mean bad or even wrong)he seems to have around him. The people around him are people I would expect to support a revolution whereas Obama seems to be more of a "can't we all just get along" sort of guy. Then again there is something about Obama I can't quite put my finger on that puts me off the more I get to know of him. I have so far been putting it down to my cynicism that I seem to have adopted regarding politicians.

    Obama associated with them (none / 0) (#63)
    by Kathy on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 10:08:28 AM EST
    because in Chicago politics, they were the people who got you into office.  Same with Wright's church.  Same with every other thing Obama did.  He knew the right people.

    Obama's half truths (none / 0) (#66)
    by gabbyone on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 10:36:05 AM EST
    My biggest problem with the Obama/Ayers connection is the half truths Obama tells about it. He said in the last debate he barely knew the guy and certainly never discussed ideas with him.
    How do you do that, as we know now, when you
    are one board which is a baby of the Ayers family and on another board where decisons are made to
    give money to Khalidi.  In Chicago politics,
    the question to move ahead is always, "who do you
    know?"  The people that Obama knew who propelled
    him forward all seem to have very unsavory backgrounds.  

    Hotel California & the Intart00bs. (none / 0) (#67)
    by jerry on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 11:15:46 AM EST
    Here's a version of Hotel California that would make Tom Friedman smile.

    Two guys that never met, over the course of a month, put together this cover of Hotel California.  The link goes to FARK's video player because the FARK comments are more interesting than the youtube comments.

    During the video, little pop-ups describe how they put it together, those pop-ups are actually interesting in and of itself.

    Best collaboration Video of a cover of Hotel California you will see by two guys who are on different continents and have never met

    Another example of heavy lifting on his behalf is (none / 0) (#68)
    by DeborahNC on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 11:20:57 AM EST
    Emil Jones of the Illinois State Senate. Obama's key accomplishments in the Illinois senate were primarily during the period  after Jones redirected work done by others to Obama, who willingly took credit for it. Obama is indeed highly skilled at forming alliances that promote HIS OWN career.  

    BTW, some of those people, who dedicated their efforts to those pieces of legislation and then see them placed in Obama's lap, were none to happy about it and still hold resentments toward Obama. Who wouldn't hold resentments?

    Another pattern--stepping on others to achieve your own goals, e.g., Alice Palmer, Illinois legislators, and probably many others.

    Long post on Emil Jones and Obama (none / 0) (#69)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 11:22:55 AM EST
    Thanks, Jeralyn (none / 0) (#72)
    by DeborahNC on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 12:45:14 PM EST
    remembering the 60s (none / 0) (#76)
    by LCaution on Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 05:30:22 PM EST
    First, Ayers is a problem if Republicans choose to make it a problem - and it goes to the heart of the 60s battle between the left and the right.  Whether or not he deserves to be a problem is another matter altogether.

    I remember those times.  JFK was killed, MLK was killed, RFK was killed.  The Vietnam War had grown
    from a small "police" action to a major war against a people who had done nothing to us. Friends, brothers, sons were being sent there to die.  Anti-war teach-ins and rallies dominated major college campuses.  My Lai. Kent State. The summers had turned into riot time in major cities.  The Chicago 8.

    The Pentagon Papers told us just how much our government had lied to us about Vietnam (which is one reason I find it hard to forgive Congressional figures like Clinton and Feinstein for supporting the Iraq 'authorization": they are old enough to remember the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution but let themselves be fooled again.)  I actually lived a block away from where the SLA kidnapped Hearst.

    In short, if you weren't there, if you can't remember, well, there was a certain amount of sympathy even for the most extreme acts such as those of the Weather Underground.

    Many were horrified at the time.  Many understood the anger that drove the acts. Looking back over the decades, it is hard to understand why some of us lent at least tacit support to the most extreme actions - but I also feel uncomfortable taking the "they were simple terrorists" position now, so many decades later - when the pain and anguish of the times is so dim.

    The only modern semi-analogy I can think of is the blowback to 9/11 by all those who defend Guantanamo, endless incarceration, torture, dumping of habeas corpus, etc.  They are reacting to a violent act by supporting or engaging in violent acts.

    Clarification (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by john horse on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 06:01:29 AM EST
    Appreciate your thoughtful comments.  
    Let me say that my comments were in no way an endorsement of the tactics of the Weather Underground. In retrospect (and as someone who wasnt around during the 60s) the tactics of the WU were counterproductive and helped the Right to paint the antiwar movement and liberals as unpatriotic.

    As you rightly point out, the government lied.  There were consequences to the government lying, just as there are consequences today to the government lying about WMD or the media stating as fact something that may not be a fact (NYT articles about WMD).  Truth matters.

    Here is my problem with Stephanopolous's question to Obama.  It is premised on a comment that Bill Ayres denies saying.  Given that his question was suggested by Sean Hannity, you would think that Stephanopolous would have done some research and have found out that Ayres wrote a letter to the editor disputing that specific comment.  

    My problem with Stephanopolous's question was that he was playing fast and loose with the facts in order to play gotcha' with Senator Obama.  

    I say we should all be held accountable but we should not be held accountable for things we didn't do.