October 07, 2008

Did Ayer's Write Obama's Autobiography?

Author and occasional book doctor/ghostwriter Jack Cahill is making an interesting case that Barack Obama did not write Dreams From My Father.

As if that wasn't an explosive enough charge, Cahill makes the case that Bill Ayers was the ghostwriter of Dreams, and notes many similarities between Obama's book, and Ayer's quasi-fictional book released at roughly the same time about his role as a terrorist in the Weather Underground, Fugitive Days.

A taste from one of the six articles Cahill has written on the topic thus far.

Dreams melds two styles: one, a long-winded accounting of conversations and events, polished just well enough to pass muster; the second, a fierce, succinct and tightly coiled analysis of the events that have been related.

Fugitive Days is fierce, succinct and tightly coiled throughout. It lacks the sometimes tedious fluff of Dreams and is the better book.

In the way of background, Ayers and Obama both grew up in comfortable white households and have struggled to find an identity as righteous black men ever since.

Just as Obama resisted "the pure and heady breeze of privilege" to which he was exposed as a child, Ayers too resisted "white skin privilege" or at least tried to.

"I also thought I was black," says Ayers only half-jokingly. He read all the books Obama did—James Baldwin, Leroi Jones, Richard Wright, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

As proof of his righteousness, Ayers named his first son "Malik" after the newly Islamic Malcolm X and the second son "Zayd" after Zayd Shakur, a Black Panther killed in a shootout that claimed the life of a New Jersey State Trooper.

Tellingly, Ayers, like Obama, began his careers as a self-described "community organizer," Ayers in inner-city Cleveland, Obama in inner-city Chicago.

"They talked into the night about children, welfare, schools, crime, rent, gangs, the problems and the life of a neighborhood," Ayers tells us of the poor black folks he tried to organize. Dreams is filled with such encounters.

I don't think that Cahill makes a conclusive case as some have suggested (and he appears to be a bit "off" in som of his other work), but he does make a plausible case here, certainly establishing that the literate terrorist had the shared experiences necessary to step in and provide the words Obama could not find on his own.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 7, 2008 09:30 AM

Maybe Obama ghost-wrote Ayers' book?

Posted by: rjm319 at October 7, 2008 09:51 AM



Posted by: ECM at October 7, 2008 10:22 AM

I believe it's spelled "Cashill."

The ghost write is an interesting theory, but probably a bigger challenge than an Annenberg paper trail.

What's the Matter With California? is a funny book!

Posted by: locomotivebreath1901 at October 7, 2008 11:05 AM

Those are pretty unconvincing points, don't you think? Maybe the other articles are more incisive, but the first line is a subjective assessment (a guilt by reviewer's style association if you will), and then it just gets muddier from there.

And "comfortable white households?" Wasn't Obama's family forced to take food stamps at one point? And where does this apply to his fearsome "alien" background pointed out in CY's other post? Is Obama a white bourgeois, or is he a black radical? Or is he whatever is scariest at a particular moment?

Lastly, what do their backgrounds, and Ayers affiliation with African-American names and culture, have to do with Ayers writing Obama's book? How do the two connect? Where are the similar passages? The real textual quotes? Where's the connective tissue?

This just seems like an empty analysis, doesn't it?

Posted by: Dan at October 7, 2008 11:27 AM

Read Ayer's Bio, and you're right, very tightly coiled, succinct and well-written. The only problem with it is his unfortunate tendency to use very dated 60's slang, but that's his generation I guess.

BTW, as "Terrorists" the Weather Undergound was about as dangerous as the Shriners. The only people who died as a result of their ops were three members of their own group in 1969, when a bomb accidentally went off.

Posted by: Lev Bronstein at October 7, 2008 12:24 PM

I resist the notion that the Weathermen should be cut slack by virtue of their incompetence. The sad thing is that so few of these pukes got blown up by the Ayers-designed killing machines. The appeal to absurdity might fly though, if Ayers had at some point publicly denounced his actions or at the least refrained from praising them for a decade or two. Sorry, Bill Ayers is quite acurately and fairly described as a domestic terrorist. And "palling around" does not do justice to the professional and political alliance of Obama/Ayers, but that doesn't mean he wrote the book. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think Barry read Ayers book before publication, perhaps Bill would have helped with an edit. But that doesn't square with the notion that Ayers was just some guy Barry would see getting the paper in the morning and in any event, he had no idea of Ayers malignant past which, as everyone knows, was a long time ago. Well, if Barry could magically melt his decades long spiritual relationship with Wright whose Audacity of Hope gag titled his second book it will be nothing to hop in the wayback machine and undo this without any serious consequence. This is not the Bill Ayers I know. Hilarious!

Posted by: megapotamus at October 7, 2008 12:36 PM

Durn Lev

You guys have got that talking point down pretty good I have seen it in about 20 places already today.

Yeah a harmless fuzzball bunch.

As was noted about them the only reason they weren't famous for being a bunch of mass murders is because of their glaring incompetence as bombers, it wasn't for lack of trying.

Posted by: JustADude at October 7, 2008 01:06 PM

On Dan's points: Obama is both - which is clear if you read his books. He spent his high school years living with white middle class grandparents and reading up on black rage material. If Ayers can consider himself both, I think a mixed race Obama can

On Ayers' kids names, as with the other points, the point the author is making is that Ayers had a background and personality that could mesh well with Obama and tell Obama's story. For example, if you are going to get someone to ghost write a book about Magic Johnson - you'd kinda want someone who knew something about basketball.

But, Dan is right in that - baring financial and contractual records establishing Ayers as a ghost writer - the proof will be in comparison of the texts.

One thing I found interesting in the 2nd article:

"Ayers describes his as “a memory book,” one that deliberately blurs facts and changes identities and makes no claims at history.

Obama says much the same. In Dreams, some characters are composites. Some appear out of precise chronology. Names have been changed. "

I could be mistaken, but I do not believe this is a common literary style in biographies.

That is something that can be checked out -- especially looking around the time the two books were written.

It would also be nice if there were some drafts of Obama's book people could get their hands on. Like from the first contract he signed but failed to fulfill. There must have been drafts of parts of the book submitted, I'd think....

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 01:09 PM

For those of us who lived thru the times when the WU was active, especially those of us in the military, knew they were a whole lot more dangerous than Shriners. The SDS/WU and the whole Black Power side of the civil rights movement were busy not only bombing, but rioting and burning down our major cities. It was an ugly, ugly time.

I don't know about the other services, but the Navy instigated new dress codes, no uniforms worn on the street in public, relaxation of the haircut regs so the military could blend in better, etc.

Lev Brontein's remark is not only offensive, it shows how ignorant of facts Obamabots really are.

Posted by: Sara at October 7, 2008 01:29 PM

Even though I am a leftist, I read only right-wing blogs (Why read stuff I already believe?) Anyway, I'm genuinely curious about something. Why do conservatives condemn an incompetent, and somewhat silly "terrorist" group, who named themselves after a Bob Dylan song, while excusing John McCain, who by his own admission was responsible for the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of innocents. Does wearing a uniform give one carte blanche? Or is it because his victims were dark-skinned fioreigners? I'm not trying to bait anyone, I really want to know the conservative view on this.

Posted by: Lev Bronstein at October 7, 2008 01:37 PM

Sara, it was an ugly time. As someone once said however, all the bombs the new left set did not equal one single payload from a B-52. The new left "terrorists" never sprayed agent orange, bombed villages, or sent young americans to die for nothing. Good to keep in mind who the real criminals of the time were. They mostly wore suits and lived in DC.

Posted by: Lev Bronstein at October 7, 2008 01:51 PM

I love it when Leftists come to comment on the rightist blogs -- because it helps us remember why we're not leftists...

Is there a difference between McCain's bombs and the likes of Ayers? Something besides the pathetic race card thrown out?

Yes. And not just rightists see the difference.

In fact, you're not being able to see them should put the burden of explanation on you - not the vast majority.

Civilization has created rules of war. For a real pacifist, the very thought that you could make rules justifying war might be absurd, but it is a historical reality.

So, if an American soldier dresses in native civilian attire, carries a bomb concealed in a backpack, lays it down in a crowded market place, leaves, and it explodes killing scores of shoppers , it is a war crime (regardless of the skin color of the victims, though you weren't try to race bait...sure...).

If McCain is flying a bomber over a city and drops a bomb meant to hit a concentration of enemy troops - or - say - an enemy tank - located inside a town, and the bomb misses the target and lands at a market place killing scores of non-combatants (civilians), it is not a war crime.

Pacifism is a fine ideology. I don't mind it. But, I find I rarely meet anybody who is a true pacifist.

For example, Mr. Bronstein, do you think the bombing of German or Japanese cities during WWII was a war crime or should have been?

There was a woman in politics in 1941 who tried to get to the microphone in Washington DC the day Congress declared war on Japan after Pearl Harbor. She wanted to give a speech protesting the declaration. She was a pacifist.

And that I can respect though I think she was dead wrong and if we had followed her advice the world would be a horrible place today to live in.

But, what we get most of the time is pseudo-pacifism that tends to annoy me.

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 01:52 PM

I bet Sara and a lot of veterans (people Lev might consider war criminals) would not say they were fighting for "nothing"...

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 01:55 PM

"Good to keep in mind who the real criminals of the time were."

Translation: Ayers and Black Panthers seeking violence were not the criminals, because they were fighting the good fight. But, US government leaders were criminals, because they were fighting the unjust fight in Vietnam. Street shootings and pipe bombs were justified means of struggle. B-52s bomb drops were not.

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 02:02 PM

Lev, at the risk of mistakenly taking your question seriously, the answer is not complicated. While it is inarguable that the actions of our military in general and McCain in particular did kill and injure people without blame in our conflict with the Nort Vietnamese Communists these people were, as the much maligned term has it, collateral damage. The target is the war-making capacity of the North. Now if you think the right side won in Viet Nam, and the Lefties tend to do so, that doesn't sound like much. If on the other hand, you recognize Communism as the most terrible thing ever to aflict mankind and believe, in the words of the also much maligned GWB, that the liberty and prosperity we enjoy at home is NOT for us alone but is the capacity and birthright of all mankind, well the fight is worth the cost. The Augustine writings on "Just War" spell this out in a moral sense, if you are interested. Our lovely Bill Ayers, in contrast, was hoping to subvert and indeed destroy consensual government as we experience it here in favor of a thug's socialism. It seems Cuba is the foremost model. Perhaps NK. Further, this does not address the explicit policy of our adversaries, then as now, to use our own system of openness against us, again with the naked mission to replace it with Robespierran (at best) practices. The Rosenbergs come to mind from yesteryear. Sheik Khalid Mohammed and Ramzi Yousef are examples of current political jiujitsu of this sort.

Posted by: megapotamus at October 7, 2008 02:02 PM

I don't know if being killed by a terrorist bomb in a backpack is different than a bomb dropped by an Annapolis grad in a flightsuit. I suspect it makes little difference to the victims.

2 million or so Vietnamese died in that war, mostly civilians. I don't think it was the result of a few bombs going astray. It was deliberate policy.

I agree with you that pacifism is a bankrupt ideology, which is why I respect the weathermen and the panthers more than the peaceniks and flower- bearing hippies. The latter took action,and comapred to their enemies showed great restraint.

Posted by: Lev Bronstein at October 7, 2008 02:12 PM

Lev Bronstein: My spouse did 4 tours in Vietnam and not once did he spray Agent Orange, not once did he bomb civilians, and he was proud to do his duty to his country with honor. The anti-war activists prolonged the war, caused far more harm to American servicemen and the South Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians than the war did, and frankly, I despise all of them or anyone who supports what they did.

Posted by: Sara at October 7, 2008 02:21 PM

So, Mr. Bronstein, since Ayers and the Panthers were fighting the good fight, if they had had better means to carry it out, would their higher body count have been justified?

If, say, Ayers had trained people to fly a passenger plane into the Pentagon instead of using an ineffectual pipe bomb, would that have been a justified attack?

If you prefer, we could even change "passenger plane" to "cargo plane".

See. I find people like you fascinating.

The victim sees no difference between a pipe bomb in a backpack and a bomb drop by a military aircraft.

But, Ayers and Black Panthers waging war against the US government are heroes for taking action.

You should simply make a clear declaration at the start of some comment like the first you offered by saying: killing people in a just cause is justified, regardless of the means used, but no means of killing a fellow human is just if the cause is not.

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 02:22 PM

So the military = terrorism? That's the new leftoid talking point? Yeah, that'll play real well outside of the Bay Area and Ann Arbor.

Keep it up, you odious toad.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at October 7, 2008 02:23 PM

Why doesn't someone just ask/pay Don Foster of Vassar College to do a textual analysis of the two books He's the guy that proved the sleazy Joe Klein was the author of "Primary Colors" a decade or so back. If Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father, Foster can prove it.

Posted by: Rajiv Vindaloo at October 7, 2008 02:25 PM

And you need to read more carefully. You are not agreeing with me when you say pacifism is a bankrupt ideology. I specifically said it was a viable one.

The quote is: "Pacifism is a fine ideology. I don't mind it. But, I find I rarely meet anybody who is a true pacifist."

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 02:25 PM

The anti-war left then is the same as they are today, a bunch of "rich kid radicals" who were self-absorbed, self-centered, and didn't give a damn how many U.S. troops were killed or how many U.S. allies were killed. They were and still are leftists, communists, neo-Stalinists, take no personal responsibility types acting like a bunch of brats in a national temper tantrum. They would have been pathetic, except they were far too dangerous to be ignored since they were domestic terrorists bent on overthrowing the U.S. government. Idiots all of them.

Posted by: Sara at October 7, 2008 02:26 PM

Communism, in many of it's manifestations has been the most evil system in history, e.g, stalin's russia, North Korea, Cambodia;but comparing these regimes to North Vietnam(or Cuba or Nicaragua) is like comapring Wal-mart to a Dickensian Coal mine.

Terrorism is a similarly vague concept, among many groups using terrorist tactics ahve been our own forefathers (The sons of liberty) the French Resistance,and the founders of Israel. As an Algerian "Terrorist" once said "Give us your b-52 bombers and you can have our (bomb-containing) wicker baskets"

Anyway gotta go, on a civil note the discussions here are more intelligent than right-wing sites are usually given credit for.

Posted by: Lev Bronstein at October 7, 2008 02:26 PM

I also restate one of my first questions:

Was the bombing of German or Japanese cities in WWII a war crime?

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 02:27 PM

From a comment at Just One Minute by Lori:

Have you guys rejected the idea that Ayers was the ghostwriter for Obama's "Dreams From My Father"? It sounds wacky but several people have analyzed Obama's book and the language is similar to Ayers book "Fugitive Days":

"I picture the street coming alive, awakening from the fury of winter, stirred from the chilly spring night by cold glimmers of sunlight angling through the city."

The second from "Dreams":

"Night now fell in midafternoon, especially when the snowstorms rolled in, boundless prairie storms that set the sky close to the ground, the city lights reflected against the clouds."

No opinion myself, just for discussion.

Posted by: Sara at October 7, 2008 02:32 PM

Some of our forefathers did use terrorism, as John Adams understood when he defended the soldiers in Boston who took part in the Boston Massacre:

More noble people have understood that the cause itself does not justify the means.

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 02:33 PM

I doubt Adams would have stood up in court for Ayers or Black Panthers, however...

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 02:35 PM

Terrorism is different from guerrilla warfare. Guerrillas try to kill enemy military personnel and collaborator civilians. It is designed to operate with the people, using them as a shield.

Terrorism is an attempt to change politics by killing people. It focuses on civilians - they aren't collateral damage, they are the target. This also includes killing without any objective.

The Weathermen were trying to be guerrillas, but they lacked popular support. Thus, they became terrorists, bombing targets of no real value.

Posted by: OmegaPaladin at October 7, 2008 02:56 PM

The language sounds nothing alike. For one, the Ayers quote you cited is an imaginative picture, while the Obama quote is description. The sentence structure has no correlation, nor does the language and feel of it.

You people are really barking up the wrong tree.

Posted by: DSB at October 7, 2008 03:09 PM

This whole thing devolves so quickly, and doesn't really address the original point: Did Ayers ghostwrite Obama's book?

So far, the answer seems to be "no," or at least "there's no evidence of it," which means, essentially, "no."

So the original article is false, right? Or at least completely unsubstantiated? Then the whole premise is false right?

So we move on, right? We find other things about McCain or Obama we could discuss in a separate forum, right?

(Oh, btw, the textual quotes above--thanks, Sara--seem similar only in that they have multiple clauses, are a little florid, and describe winter in the inner city. Other than that, they don't seem to be written by the same author, really. Do they?)

Posted by: Dan at October 7, 2008 03:17 PM


It's called investigating.

You would expect more already established ground from a TV news report or article in the New York Times or a magazine like Time. But so much of our media is about predicting the future or giving "analysis" of sound bites.

Most of your investigative journalism seems to be going on by people whose primary outlet is the Internet.

And on the internet, they tend to publish their work as they go.

If you want to dismiss the claims out of hand with what is presented so far and chide everyone else for paying attention and not moving on ---

--- well, you could work in the mainstreammedia, because that is what they have been doing with negative items on Obama all along.

I'll stick around to see if there is more to this ghost writing story....

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 04:36 PM

Well, usinkorea,

What you're suggesting is mistaking rumor for fact. The evidence I currently see is that from six articles, the above quote is the best we get.

So rather than believe specious rumor, I'm going to say it's false . . . because there's no evidence to believe it's true, no factual or textual basis to believe it. It's hardly a vicious rumor. It's just baseless.

Though simultaneously base. You can keep holding out for proof, but at this point it looks accusation without documentation. That, I believe, is just smear.

Posted by: Dan at October 7, 2008 04:46 PM

Speaking of strange writers, Naomi Foner wrote Running on Empty, based on Dohrn's story. She's the mother of the Gyllenhaal actors and is the ex-wife of Eric Foner, trendy lefty prof. She knows Ayers pretty well.

Posted by: Rachel Cohen at October 7, 2008 07:04 PM

"the discussions here are more intelligent than right-wing sites are usually given credit for."

Well, if that's the case then it's no thanks to people like you. Your analogies fail but please keep them up - I'm sure that Barakkky's going to make major inroads into the military vote by calling Johnny M. a terrorist.

Read up on what the Communists did to the citizens of Hue in 1968, during Tet. It wasn't a case where conventional weaponry went astray - it was mass murder at close quarters. But that was OK because they were on the "right" side - no? Your moral equivalence is disgusting.

Posted by: Nine-of-Diamonds at October 7, 2008 07:29 PM


And I'd say you are being a fatuous as someone who would run screaming that these claims are fact.

You are dismissing something out of hand - which is as bad as someone jumping on some bandwagon that is saying this guy has already proven his case.

It isn't "false" - it is unproven - and a work in progress.

I am not mistaking this as fact.

I am entertaining it as a thesis which the guy has to prove or fall flat.

You are deciding out of the gate he is wrong and telling us we shouldn't even follow up on what the guy has to say.

Posted by: usinkorea at October 7, 2008 07:45 PM

"BTW, as "Terrorists" the Weather Undergound was about as dangerous as the Shriners. The only people who died as a result of their ops were three members of their own group in 1969, when a bomb accidentally went off.

posted by Lev Bronstein at October 7, 2008 12:24 PM"

This is apparently the latest liberal retarded screed being slung around.

I watched the "Wonder Weasle" Colmes last night say exactly the same thing to the toe sucker.

"but did the weather underground actually kill anyone?"

FOX should have fired that googly eyed moron on the spot for that garbage.

Posted by: Conservative CBU at October 7, 2008 08:51 PM


Let's review the facts. The guy wrote *six* articles, with *zero* verifiable proof. If he read both books, he can just post the relative textual references.

The "investigation" of two books takes what, a weekend? Where's the proof?

There isn't any. The guy's blowing smoke. Six articles. Nothing. What do you want, a 9/11 commission to ignore?

Posted by: Dan at October 7, 2008 10:54 PM

Lev's right: It was only attempted murder. What's the big deal?

Posted by: Jim Treacher at October 7, 2008 11:02 PM

So the Weather Underground killed and terrorized no one so they are no big deal... ummm right.... AlQaeda are also quite adept at killing themselves while making bombs, and sane people don't ignore them just because they are incompetent...

Also, try reading this first hand account...

From the City Journal..
Fire in the Night
The Weathermen tried to kill my family.
30 April 2008

During the April 16 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up “a gentleman named William Ayers,” who “was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that.” Stephanopoulos then asked Obama to explain his relationship with Ayers. Obama’s answer: “The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense, George.” Obama was indeed only eight in early 1970. I was only nine then, the year Ayers’s Weathermen tried to murder me.

In February 1970, my father, a New York State Supreme Court justice, was presiding over the trial of the so-called “Panther 21,” members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores. Early on the morning of February 21, as my family slept, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded at our home on the northern tip of Manhattan, two at the front door and the third tucked neatly under the gas tank of the family car. (Today, of course, we’d call that a car bomb.) A neighbor heard the first two blasts and, with the remains of a snowman I had built a few days earlier, managed to douse the flames beneath the car. That was an act whose courage I fully appreciated only as an adult, an act that doubtless saved multiple lives that night.

I still recall, as though it were a dream, thinking that someone was lifting and dropping my bed as the explosions jolted me awake, and I remember my mother’s pulling me from the tangle of sheets and running to the kitchen where my father stood. Through the large windows overlooking the yard, all we could see was the bright glow of flames below. We didn’t leave our burning house for fear of who might be waiting outside. The same night, bombs were thrown at a police car in Manhattan and two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn. Sunlight, the next morning, revealed three sentences of blood-red graffiti on our sidewalk: FREE THE PANTHER 21; THE VIET CONG HAVE WON; KILL THE PIGS.

For the next 18 months, I went to school in an unmarked police car. My mother, a schoolteacher, had plainclothes detectives waiting in the faculty lounge all day. My brother saved a few bucks because he didn’t have to rent a limo for the senior prom: the NYPD did the driving. We all made the best of the odd new life that had been thrust upon us, but for years, the sound of a fire truck’s siren made my stomach knot and my heart race. In many ways, the enormity of the attempt to kill my entire family didn’t fully hit me until years later, when, a father myself, I was tucking my own nine-year-old John Murtagh into bed.

Though no one was ever caught or tried for the attempt on my family’s life, there was never any doubt who was behind it. Only a few weeks after the attack, the New York contingent of the Weathermen blew themselves up making more bombs in a Greenwich Village townhouse. The same cell had bombed my house, writes Ron Jacobs in The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground. And in late November that year, a letter to the Associated Press signed by Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers’s wife, promised more bombings.

As the association between Obama and Ayers came to light, it would have helped the senator a little if his friend had at least shown some remorse. But listen to Ayers interviewed in the New York Times on September 11, 2001, of all days: “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” Translation: “We meant to kill that judge and his family, not just damage the porch.” When asked by the Times if he would do it all again, Ayers responded: “I don’t want to discount the possibility.”

Though never a supporter of Obama, I admired him for a time for his ability to engage our imaginations, and especially for his ability to inspire the young once again to embrace the political system. Yet his myopia in the last few months has cast a new light on his “politics of change.” Nobody should hold the junior senator from Illinois responsible for his friends’ and supporters’ violent terrorist acts. But it is fair to hold him responsible for a startling lack of judgment in his choice of mentors, associates, and friends, and for showing a callous disregard for the lives they damaged and the hatred they have demonstrated for this country. It is fair, too, to ask what those choices say about Obama’s own beliefs, his philosophy, and the direction he would take our nation.

At the conclusion of his 2001 Times interview, Ayers said of his upbringing and subsequent radicalization: “I was a child of privilege and I woke up to a world on fire.”

Funny thing, Bill: one night, so did I.

Posted by: bmeuppls at October 8, 2008 12:38 AM

I want to commend Confederate Yankee for deleting offensive posts. Why are people inclined to start such ridiculous name calling? Calling Confederate Yankee Constipated n'Krankee is just dumb.

Also, what is with Fox News declaring Obama the winner of the debate? I thought they were on our side. This is ridiculous.

Posted by: Jim at October 8, 2008 12:40 AM

# More proof Ayers ghosted Obama's "Dreams" (9/25/08)
# Did Bill Ayers write Obama's "Dreams"? - Part 1 (9/18/08)
# Did Bill Ayers write Obama's "Dreams"? - Part 2: Deconstructing the Text (9/19/08)
# Did Bill Ayers write Obama's "Dreams"? - Part 3: Why it Matters (9/20/08)

That is about 4 posts in less than a week's time.

So, no, I'm not going to conclude he has no evidence and refuse to read any more of what he says about it in the future.

Comparing two books to make a claim of influence takes more than a weekend. I know because I spent a lot of time doing it in college and grad school.

You want to dismiss the man out of hand.

You keep talking about "verifiable proof" - which is often used as a dodge - and if that is what you want to do - then you will be able to do it safely in the end, I'd bet.

What it would likely take to convince you is Ayers going on national TV with a signed and notarized contract dated back to the time the book was written saying Ayers agreed to write it for him.

In a literary comparison, which is what this is, you are not going to get that kind of "proof" - but such comparisons are not "worthless".

Right now, the guy has not made his case. The strongest "evidence" he has going for him so far is the description of the style of each book itself, which as far as I know, was not a common one in memoir writing then or now.

If that is the all the guy ends up showing, then he has blown a lot of smoke for nothing.

However, expecting him to have accomplished his mission so soon is absurd.

Lastly --- the guy says in one of the posts that he is paid by publishers to fix books for publication that aren't quite ready - and he has to work with writers to mask their style to tell their story.

Which means, he is a close reader and makes money at doing what he is claiming Ayers might have done for Obama.

So, I'll give him a chance to make his case.

Posted by: usinkorea at October 8, 2008 12:45 AM


Not here. The question was meant to clarify where individuals were coming from.

People have long argued both sides of that issue.

For my part, I agree with the side that said it was not a war crime.

(Nor has a consensus of nations ever codified such as a war crime)

Posted by: usinkorea at October 8, 2008 12:49 AM


I will discuss it further here if it does not hijack the thread --- because the discussion is a far tangent from the original post.

Let's see how many people want or don't want to comment on the thread before getting into a specific discussion about bombing in WWII......?

Posted by: usinkorea at October 8, 2008 12:52 AM

And one more note on the Weathermen...

Ayers summed up the Weatherman philosophy as "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents — that's where it's really at."

Speaking to a Weather Underground "war council" in Michigan in 1969, Dohrn gave a three-fingered "fork salute" to mass murderer Charles Manson. Calling Manson's victims the "Tate Eight," Dohrn gloated over the fact that actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time, had been stabbed with a fork in her womb. "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!"


I wonder what Ayers/Dohrn saw in Manson that made them kindred spirits... and what do they see in Obama, now?

Posted by: bmeuppls at October 8, 2008 01:07 AM

I set up a post where Laura and anybody else can kick around the idea of whether or not carpet bombing and/or the use of the atomic bomb in WWII were war crimes or not.

On YouTube, you can watch Sean Hannity's Sunday look at Obama's associations. I've seen through the first two segments, and I agreed with negative critics on the 2nd one.

I note that here because - I do believe there is a higher burden of (immediate) proof in a newspaper or magazine article or TV news segment than with a blog.

Posted by: usinkorea at October 8, 2008 02:05 AM

Fugitive days was in many cases panned for its writing style.

As an example, Catherine Maclellan at "the Lamp" had this to say.

An account of revolutionary politics, sex and the sixties, from the insider's perspective of one of its leaders would almost seem to guarantee and exciting read. Sadly, this is not the case with Fugitive Days. It cries out for a co-writer, ghostwriter, or completely different writer to save what would otherwise be compelling material. Ayers' narrative is extremely self-absorbed and the prose is bland, clichéd and cringe-making.

If the books have any common characteristics, perhaps O' or O's ghostwriter was attempting to ape the genre of radical chic tomes previously published. It's also not beyond the pale a professional "fixer" was used on both books. And I certainly could not rule out help or advice from Ayers to his fellow traveler, Obama.

However, I don't really think the books are written by the same people, and certainly don't think Cahill has made any sort of compelling argument to that effect.

Posted by: SarahW at October 8, 2008 09:37 AM

Boy, you guys are reaching. Ayers and Obama just aren't very closely connected, except geographically, which is pretty much what the N.Y. Times piece concluded. By contrast, McCain is tight with many felons from the Nixon era, including Gordon Libby, who did several years for his acts.

In the real world, there are a range of political points of view. It may be political useful to try to claim that Obama is some sort of wild-eyed leftist, but it is pretty pathetic from a political science point of view. I'm reminded of the old stupidity about Hilary Clinton being a Marxist. Well, when I was a kid, your spiritual ancestors were writing articles about how Eisenhower was a communist. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Posted by: Jim Harrison at October 8, 2008 01:47 PM

Pretty funny, Jim. Gee, the guy who gave Barry his first real job; the guy who was Barry's FIRST fundraiser; the guy who came up with the whole Annenberg Challenge idea, "small schools" indoctrination and all and picked Barry to personally administer this radical slush fund, that's the same as McCain being in elected office when some things you object to occured. Genius. Unvarnished genius.

Posted by: megapotamus at October 8, 2008 03:31 PM

One thing is clear, friends. When the Leftists cannot defend Marx by name, the tide has radically shifted indeed. When they demonstrate studied ignorance of the Marxist origin of their current natterings it is our brief to aid in their education. That is thankless toil but a cruelly entertaining sport.

Posted by: megapotamus at October 8, 2008 03:34 PM

It's difficult to argue with people for whom ignorance is a virtue. What would be an insult to others is a complement to them.

Marxism is a very specific political and economic point of view. If you don't buy into its class-struggle theory of history or share its analysis of capitalism, you just aren't a Marxist. Have any of you guys actually read Capital or even the Communist Manifesto? It wouldn't hurt to know a little European and American history.

It is admittedly hard to pin down something as amorphous as the outlook of an American political party, but the Democrats in the last 100 years have overwhelmingly been political centrists. IF any genuine leftists think that Obama is a leftist, they are going to be very disappointed since his policies are roughly center-right by European standards. On the other hand, measuring things by your radical right-wing point of view makes everybody a Marxist or maybe a Maoist. You have to hew to a pretty narrow set of ideas to count as a real American in the one-party state you guys apparently dream of establishing.

Posted by: Jim Harrison at October 8, 2008 04:12 PM

Jim Harrison-

You make the mistake of judging Senator Obama by the words he now speaks, in the midst of an election campaign.

It is never a good idea to put too much stock in the promises of a politician on the campaign trail, a lover in the throes, or anyone selling you a used car.

If you instead look at the things he's *done*, you will see that while he *now* talks the talk of a centrist, he has long walked the walk of an extreme leftist.

Posted by: Clint at October 8, 2008 05:05 PM


I expect that the difference between our perspectives has little to do with Obama in print vs Obama in action and a lot to do with what "extreme leftist" means in these parts. For example, I expect that universal health care = socialism to you. To me it is more like indoor plumbing as in "why the heck don't we have indoor plumbing in 2008?"

I supported Clinton in the primaries, though I wasn't terribly disappointed that Obama won. One thing about him that looks good to me now and you might even come to see as a plus is Obama's relative youth. We're entering a period in which any president will probably have to take some pretty drastic steps because, ideologies aside, the rules of how the world works are obviously changing. The received wisdom of rightists or leftists--in Obama's case essentially centrists--are probably not going to work very well. In that environment, I'd much rather go with somebody who can still learn, instead of relying on 72-year old who thinks he already knows everything or a dippy weather girl from the frozen North. Anyhow, if McCain wins, it can only be because of race. Absolutely everything else argues for a Democratic victory. Do you really want to ignite a culture war? Under these historical circumstances, I don't think it is patriotic to vote for McCain unless you're sure he's going to lose.

Posted by: Jim Harrison at October 8, 2008 07:02 PM

Jim, in all seriousness... are you studying Obama's history and record with any due diligence at all?

Even purely on an apolitical level Barack Obama is far from qualified to take on such an important executive position as the Presidency, having never been in a position of authority where he was responsible for decision-making. He has simply never led anything... not so much as a cub scout troop, or even a youth soccer team. Feel free to argue his failed chairmanship at the CAC is executive experience if you like, but considering CAC was a trainwreck, and evidence suggests Obama was merely a puppet for Bill Ayers, I don't think you would want to play that card.

Each and every role he has played since entering politics has been that of a member of a group. From his roles in Illinois to his freshman experience in the U.S. Senate, he has shown no initiative to be a leader, even in his committee assignments. Obama has always caucused with his party, has never made a stand in opposition to his party, and has shown himself incapable of compromising with the loyal opposition. Based upon his record, and not his rhetoric, Obama is a consistent, inflexible ideologue... even worse than George Bush, just on the opposite end of the continuum.

Purely from a review of his lack of leadership experience, without examining his politics with any specificity, Barack Obama is shown to be woefully unprepared to be the singularly most important leader of the free world. He simply lacks the resume of even a high school principal.

Of course, when you start to examine other aspects of the man's life, from his political positions, to his choice of associates and mentors, to his ethics, other problems quickly crop up, and more are rapidly emerging.

Politically, we know now that the man you would like to label a centrist actually won his first Illinois seat running as a member of the Chicago New Party, a fact that Obama has sought to obscure, but is now breaking. The New Party is a left wing party comprised of communists, socialists, and black nationalists. Which elements do you suppose he found most appealing?

We know Obama has chosen as mentors over the years a communist under surveillance by the FBI, Frank Marshall Davis. Obama's spiritual leader is a racist, conspiracy-mongering minister that fronts a false Christian cult based upon the teachings of the Black Panthers and Malcolm X, according to the man who created the cult, James Cone. It is a cult that imagines Jesus Christ as a black Marxist, and shouts that if God isn't "black" in spirit, that he should be killed.

Obama's deepest influence in Chicago is the Ayer's family. He is most closely aligned with Bill Ayers, a proud domestic terrorist that is thought responsible for over 30 bombings, and headed an organization that declared war on America, and who less than two years ago, labeled capitalism militant and racist. Should I even get into Bernadine Dohrn, the Charles Manson fan that co-led the Weathermen, who is thought to be responsible for the bombing of a San Francisco police station that killed one officer amd mained others, and who was the hostess at the party that kicked off Obama's career, and who was a co-worker of Michelle Obama?

How many more witnesses to his character would you like? I lave a laundry list of left wing extremists and even a few on the far right that are praying for an Obama victory.

The fact of the matter, Jim, is that there are many, many reasons not to vote for Barack Obama, based upon his utter lack of leadership potential he has shown in the lesser positions he has shown, to his complete lack of executive experience, significant unresolved questions about his character and motivations, etc., etc., etc.

McCain can win--and I believe he will--when people step behind the curtain to vote and suddenly realize that while Barack Obama is certainly exciting, we don't want a pop-star president, we want stability. Barack Obama simply hasn't the record we can trust our nation with.

I don't think McCain is a great candidate either, but John McCain is a known quantity, if occasionally an infuriating one, and we don't have to worry about him screwing things up too badly. He might prove to be a mildly pleasant surprise, or perhaps a slightly disappointing one, but he'll perform well enough to get us through another four years until we find someone better.

It is telling about your character, however that you would try to goad people into voting for Obama out of fear, whether that is the fear of being labeled a racist, or fears of violence that you allude to with your "culture war" reference, or fears that people like will proclaim that voting against him would be unpatriotic.

None of those are reasons to vote for Obama, but they are reasons to wonder about the character of his supporters.

John McCain is going to surprise a lot of people when he becomes president, and while the far left will certainly shriek with rage as the did after the last election, most American's are going to breath a collective sigh of relief.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at October 8, 2008 08:42 PM

Lack of patriotism on the right is an old story. Ideology trumps loyalty every time. You know perfectly well that McCain is simply a media confection. He was a spoiled brat, a lousy student, and a bad pilot who only stayed in the navy thanks to the miracle of nepotism. Morally speaking, he has been a serial adulterer and treacherous husband. Politically, he has bent to every wind. You know all this things and yet you still support the man, despite the fact that his opponent is obviously superior--trying to tie him to Ayers is simply far fetched. If you actually belief the crap you speak, you need a psychiatrist. If you don't, you need a conscience.

Posted by: Jim Harrison at October 8, 2008 09:01 PM

"He was a spoiled brat, a lousy student, and a bad pilot who only stayed in the navy thanks to the miracle of nepotism."

As opposed to some Hah-vahd Affirmative Action mediocrity. Because, you know, Baracky-boy EARNED his success. He relies on BRAINPOWER - not his half-black hide. Right?

I wonder where those transcripts are? Could it be that Hopeychangey's too modest to show off that amazing intellect of his? The world wonders.

Posted by: Nine-of-Diamonds at October 8, 2008 09:14 PM

"Half black hide" ey? No racism on this site.

Many of my relatives are stone racists from the deep South so I know about racism. What gets me is the ginned up racism of Republicans who might as well be putting out bumper stickers that read AT LEAST HE'S WHITE even thought they aren't even sincere bigot themselves.

Claiming that Obama is somehow the beneficiary of affirmative action would be a lot more convincing if he weren't the most eloquent public speaker since King and Kennedy. How exactly do you fake that?

Anyhow, be honest. Merit and intelligent offend you guys. That's what you had against Gore, wasn't it?

Posted by: Jim Harrison at October 8, 2008 09:24 PM

"You make the mistake of judging Senator Obama by the words he now speaks, in the midst of an election campaign."


As I noted in my last comment, if you read up on the tactics the Marxists defined for achieving their "change" in society, you will see hiding, subverting, lying, cheating, and so on -- were part of the program.

Free at Google books, you can read "Left Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder by Lenin. It spells it out as plain as day. It is clear this is the type of play book the radical left used (unsuccessfully) from the 1920s on to infiltrate and dominate all kind of social organizations.

Ayers and others shifted from the use of violence when they realized that --- the tipping point all this infiltration was supposed to help build up --- had not been reached even in the 1960s.

Now, we will have Obama coming into the White House with the US government just having taken over a large part of the banking and housing industry.

I hope Obama comes out swinging if he wins. Fight hard for nationalizing health care and the government take over of other sectors of the economy. Fight for the fairness doctrine to shut down venues for opposing ideology.

....We need something to shake the masses out of their doldrums.

Posted by: usinkorea at October 8, 2008 10:24 PM

What usinkorea wrote isn't an argument. It's a symptom.

I'm no expert on Ayers specifically, but I lived through that era and met many a radical in the Vietnam era. One thing they all had in common was utter contempt for traditional Marxist/Leninism. I knew various old Reds in those days. They couldn't figure out what was up with the kids.

There are very few Marxists of any description around any more. Assuming that Obama or some other normal politician is actually part of a enormous, omnipotent conspiracy would raise the question of why these puppet masters allowed the USSR to fail in the first place if they were so damned clever.

Get help.

Posted by: Jim Harrison at October 8, 2008 10:52 PM

Sure, Jim. Your are laying out the real arguments, right?...

"part of a enormous, omnipotent conspiracy" -- strawman.

"why these puppet masters allowed the USSR to fail" idiotic strawman.

The Saul guy who defined community organizing was clearly working with the same basic society-changing game book as the Lenin title I noted in my last comment.

You can dismiss the entire discussion by saying even the radicals in the 1960s were not true communists if you want, it doesn't hold up.

Ayers describes himself as a communist with a little c - as opposed to a Communist...

.....I guess that is enough for you, right?...

Posted by: usinkorea at October 9, 2008 12:22 AM

Is the Saul guy you are speaking about Saul Alinsky? If so, I'm not sure why you want to demonize him.

I can under stand why you would be upset at somebody wanting to change society in a way you dislike, but a very great many people are interested in changing society. Indeed, you guys are attempting your own version of community organizing.

I guess community organizing by other people gets in the way of your dream of a one-party state in which all opposition is crushed in the name of patriotic totalitarianism. Some of us aren't fascists, however.

Posted by: Jim Harrison at October 9, 2008 12:58 AM

You aren't fascists? Historically speaking, that doesn't seem to match up with reality...

Marxism and Communism have been wonderful opiates for the masses. The change sounds oh so good. But where do the gulags stand? In the nations who have tried the grand experiment.

From the Wiki entry on the guy:

Alinsky was a critic of mainstream liberalism, which he considered passive and ineffective. In Rules for Radicals, he argued that the most effective means are whatever will achieve the desired ends, and that an intermediate end for radicals should be democracy because of its relative ease to work within to achieve other ends of social justice.

Which matches other quotes I've heard about the guy - and what you find in items like Lenin's criticism of leftists who refused to compromise enough to work within labor unions or a nation's Congress.

So, no, I'm not too thrilled about someone advocating glorious changes when they believe they can use any means necessary to achieve that change and the goal is the eventual overthrow of the democratic and capitalist systems of the nation - when such experiments around the world have led to horrible dictatorships.

Posted by: usinkorea at October 9, 2008 04:09 AM

Poor Jim Harrison seems to be having some projection issues.

Merit and intelligent offend you guys.

That's Merit and intelligence, slick.

I'm no expert on Ayers specifically, but I lived through that era and met many a radical in the Vietnam era. One thing they all had in common was utter contempt for traditional Marxist/Leninism.

You're right Jim... you aren't an expert on Ayers, by any stretch.

Ayers is indeed a Marxist/Leninist, as his his wife, Bernadine Dohrn. I know someone from Chicago who knows the Dohrn family in specific quite well, and he states she is a stone-cold Leninist the whole way.

I guess community organizing by other people gets in the way of your dream of a one-party state in which all opposition is crushed in the name of patriotic totalitarianism.

It is Barack Obama and the left wing Joyce Foundation that attempted to subvert the Constitution by undermining the Second Amendment, not conservatives.

It is the left wing Nancy Pelosi that wants to control how Congressmen are allowed to use technology to reach their constituents, undermining the First Amendment.

It is the left wing of the Demcratic party that wants to institute the Fairness Doctrine, undermining the First Amendment.

It writers on the far left attempting to gin up fears of a totalitarian state, from Jim himself (oopsie!) to various writers at the Huffington Post, Raw Story, etc.

Go back to your community-based reality, Jim. You obviously cannot function outside of it.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at October 9, 2008 05:35 AM

""Half black hide" ey? No racism on this site."

Go on, Jimbo. Reach for the only card in your deck - yet another whiny racism accusation. Hope and Change. "Post Racial Politics". Heh.

Did I say anything that isn't true? Face it - your messiah's entire candidacy is built on a physical attribute. His skin has the requisite amount of melanin needed to make guilty whites swoon. It sounds crude because it is crude - nothing but glorified racial tribalism. If it wasn't for that half-black skin covering Obama's body you wouldn't be voting for the man because he would never have been granted the nomination - in fact he likely wouldn't have made it through Harvard or Columbia.

Deep down, you know it. He knows it. Everyone on this blog knows it. But you won't admit it.

Stop ranting about people feeling threatened by 0bama's "intelligence". I'm sure several readers remember how he made incorrect comments about legal precedents after Boumediene v. Bush came down. When reporters asked him to comment on a line of cases dealing with military detainees, he floundered hopelessly. And this from a man who is supposedly a Con law expert! I can't count the number of times left wingers have told Conservatives not to question 0bama's intelligence because of his Constitutional expertise. Perhaps this ignorance explains why he never completed a single article when he was elected Editor of the Law Review. Affirmative Action at work, my friends.

And please, do keep rambling on about Republicans crushing dissent. We all know how the Republicans have been establishing "truth squads" in Missouri. And hiding publicly accessible documents about their candidate's past. Oh, mistake.

Posted by: Nine-of-Diamonds at October 9, 2008 11:33 AM

I haven't laughed this hard since April Fool's day

Posted by: Elliott at October 9, 2008 05:55 PM

I suspect one reason Obama won't release his college transcripts is that non-media types will question whether or not he had the GPA to warrant an Ivy League education...

Posted by: usinkorea at October 9, 2008 06:53 PM
John McCain is going to surprise a lot of people when he becomes president

Oh really?

Posted by: D.N. Nation at October 10, 2008 10:16 AM

But since the name 'Ayers' ends in an 's', D.N., the apostrophe would follow the last letter of his name in the possessive construction, e.g. 'Ayers' straw-like ability to make Confederate Yankee grasp at him.'

Posted by: D. Aristophanes at October 10, 2008 10:21 AM

certainly establishing that the literate terrorist had the shared experiences necessary to step in and provide the words Obama could not find on his own

oh, certainly.

it's not like Ayers has written dozens of books or anything.

Posted by: cookie monster at October 10, 2008 11:57 AM

Lev Bronstein may have left the building. He misses the point with "the only people who died as a result...". Their clear intention was to kill. Ayers and Dohrn both said, not too long ago, that the only thing they're sorry for is that they didn't do more.

Again: "Why do conservatives condemn an incompetent, and somewhat silly "terrorist" group, who named themselves after a Bob Dylan song, while excusing John McCain, who by his own admission was responsible for the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of innocents."

The "silly terrorists" whose main aim was to kill. The accusation against McCain is too reprehensible to consider.

Looks like Lev left just as he was losing big-time to usinkorea. Lev, it's called "moral equivalence", and it just doesn't work.

9ofDiamonds: "He was a spoiled brat, a lousy student, and a bad pilot who only stayed in the navy thanks to the miracle of nepotism."

I don't know about the spoiled brat thing, but I do know that he got better grades that Al Gore (who dropped out of divinity school).

And you just try flying one of those F-102s and let us know how it went.

Posted by: ZZMike at October 10, 2008 01:56 PM

I'm cruising around for the first time to this site and others, and I guess I'm really out of it, because I didn't know that disagreeing with conservatives had put me in a 'persistent vegetative state.' Wow, good to know. And I think that's a really intelligent and helpful approach to building a future together as a democracy. Thanks for sharing...I sincerely hope you don't run the country completely into the ground with your divisiveness.

Posted by: Margaret at October 10, 2008 03:24 PM

"I sincerely hope you don't run the country completely into the ground with your divisiveness."

Because, you know, fantasizing about your opponents' VP pick getting gang-raped is just so durn non-divisive!

HOPE & CHANGE!!!!111!

Posted by: Nine-of-Diamonds at October 10, 2008 09:07 PM