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October 07, 2008

Comments

Hm. Wonder about McCain's friendship with David Ifshin, who was broadcasting at Hanoi Radio the same time McCain was a POW....

On the substance, I don't think Obama's associations with Ayers and Wright are that big a deal. I also don't think that Palin's religious associates or McCain's friends are a big deal either. But why are they off limits? What's hateful about bringing them up? There are racist loon hecklers and of course the Republican campaign should disassociate itself from them. But there is nothing racist about noting that Obama was willing to go along with anyone with any pull in Chicago, regardless of what they had done. Maybe you can't make it anywhere in Chicago otherwise, but what's wrong with making him pay a political price now?

i usually roll my eyes when people use the word "fascism" to describe today’s politics. it’s just too hyperbolic, too demonizing, says more about the sayer than the target, etc..

yet after the things you list above, having seen the racism, xenophobia, and drooling anti-intellectualism become explicit, my eyes don't roll quite as much today. it feels like we've taken some obvious steps in the direction. no question, a Palin rally isn't quite a recital of In The Flesh, but the vibe is building. hyperbole? yup. but a little bit less hyperbolic than it was last week.

and even worse, i can’t shake the feeling that assuming Obama wins, and puts the wingnuts out of power for a few years, his life will be in constant danger from members of the domestic political opposition.

it’s not a feeling i’m comfortable with…

Pithlord, when you accuse someone of "palling around with terrorists", you've crossed a line. It's predictable that that will lead to the sort of ugly mob reaction that Eric is talking about.

Cleek, I've felt that any Democratic president's life would be in danger after the 2000 election. Certainly I'd've expected an assassination attempt against Gore or Kerry if either had become president after the level of anger that had been whipped up. There are lots of angry folks on the left too, but they tend to be less well armed (plus at least they have justifiable reasons to be angry at this administration). With Obama there is the added racial component, and things may be moving to a new level, but overall the anger is nothing new.

You betcha, fer shure.

Pithlord,

"A Terrorist's Best Friend"

What could possibly be wrong with that?

"Palling around with terrorists"

Ditto.

Pithlord: There are racist loon hecklers and of course the Republican campaign should disassociate itself from them.

Difficult when one of them is running for Vice President.

Is that a NiN reference? Cool. Anyways, this criticism of Obama being tied in with Ayers is very tenuous and obviously a lame, hail mary attempt from the McCain camp. But this type of post which attributes some on the right to having deranged psychological issues isn't doing much to have people who disagree with you on issues of policy hold an open mind.

In fairness, McCain has been building this level of hatred for a while now. Remember that over the summer, McCain was using the dog whistle to signal that Obama might be the antichrist.

OK, LT Nixon, you are given 2 minutes to argue the "pro" side of the following:

Resolved: The behaviours exhibited in the original post are not indicative of deranged psychological issues held by "some on the right."

Go!

Yeah, that was NiN.

But this type of post which attributes some on the right to having deranged psychological issues isn't doing much to have people who disagree with you on issues of policy hold an open mind.

LT: Some on the left also have a persecution complex. But latelty, that has been the conservative go-to ploy. It is what it is, and if you read conservatives over at TAC, you'll see them complaining about the same phenomenon.

For a party that was supposedly angered over the politics of victimhood that they charged their opponents with practicing, many factions within the GOP have taken to blaming the media, liberals, and Hollywood elites for all that ails them.

My question, made out of genuine curiousity, is: Yes, this is ugly, but is it unprecedented?

What sort of things were shouted out at rallies in the late 50's, 60's?

What sort of things were shouted out at rallies in the late 50's, 60's?

Perhaps not unprecedented, but we've presumably made some improvements since then.

Also: This is not just what is being said in the audience. Palin has, in addition to the cited comments above, said that Obama does not support the troops, and implied that he hates America.

That's strong stuff from an acutal candidate.

back in the teens, there were cries of “Puzzlewit!” and “Honeyfugler!” at the GOP convention. they've come a long way.

Obama was willing to go along with anyone with any pull in Chicago, regardless of what they had done.

Serving on a board with someone or sending your kids to the same school as someone isn't 'going along' with them. You're suggesting that Ayers had political power and used that power to help Obama- that they were political allies. (You know, like Keating and McCain).

That is unsupported by any evidence Ive seen. Maybe you've got other evidence. Maybe you're lying. Tentatively, Im going with 'lying', but feel free to post some substance to back up your assertion.

LT Nixon, discussing the issues is exactly what we Americans should be doing--discsussing them in good faith, on the assumption that we all love our country and want the best for each other and our nation.

But it is the McCAin/Palin campaign tht refuses to engage in that discussion. The McCAin Palin campaign instead is dusing hate-promtion rhetoric and is attracting an audience of people who like the hate promotion rhetoric. On the rare occasions when McCAin and Palin discuss issues they have a very well documented pattern of misrepresenting Obama's position and misrepresting their own.

So put the responisblity for the demeaning of our national discourse where it vbelongs.

I think that the discsusion of the mentality ofthe haters is very much within bounds since McCAin and Palin have made appeals to them the front and center of their campaign.

LT Nixon, I apologize. I went off half cocked. You were not making an argument that I thought you were making.

Phil,

I don't know much about Dr. Helen, but I know K-Lo is a bit of a whacko, mostly because cultural conservatives seem to know what's best for everybody else on the most trite of matters.

It just seems kind of a vindictive post from Mr. Martin. Is everyone who's in the "not-a-liberal" category some kind of heartless lunatic or not? I know it's election time, but the last 3 posts just seem to be a lot angrier than usual.

That's strong stuff from an acutal candidate.

I'm not trying to diminish it's ugliness in any way.

LT Nixon, I apologize. I went off half cocked. You were not making an argument that I thought you were making.

I'm not really making any argument, I'm just curious as to what people think about this latest Ayers/Obama is a terrorist thing. I really, really doubt that Obama ahtes the troops (his Military Times interview was pretty sharp, IMHO), but I'm very fascinated to how people respond to this type of criticism.

the last 3 posts just seem to be a lot angrier than usual.

at least with this one, i think you've got a little use/mention distinction issue. the anger here is in the GOP base, which is being provoked by the GOP candidates.

But latelty, that has been the conservative go-to ploy.

The persecution ploy is a bit lame, and it's mostly a result of the Republicans inevitably losing the election (due to a variety of reasons). If you view politics in the simplified left vs. right paradigm, it seems like people are getting really pissed at each other (as evidenced by the last 3 posts at ObWi), even more so than usual or in past elections. I'm just trying to grapple with what's happening.

I watched the McCain video several times and don't see what you apparently see. McCain actually frowns as if he's thought he heard what was said and didn't approve but wasn't sure so he didn't react. Anyone who's spoken from a mike knows it's hard to hear the audience at times.

And how in the heck is Palin responsible for someone in the crowd? And how should she react if it's not clear whether the comment is about Ayers or Obama, or if she didn't hear it? Amazing, holding speakers responsible for what single individuals in the crowd say.

OTOH, how Palin handled someone she didn't agree with that she DID hear is certainly telling.

And how can Ayers be off limits when the Obama camp can't keep the story straight about his involvement? From "certainly friendly" to "just a guy who lives in my neighborhood"? And why not examine Ayers' radical educational objectives ("education is revolution"). Now Obama claims he didn't know about Ayers past? Really? How can that be?

And then the AP claims raising Ayers is "racist"? Who needs to go negative when the press does it for you. Good grief. There's more than enough to go around here, folks. Quit pointing the finger only in one direction.

This is not just ugliness, as Dana Milbank called it. It is demagoguery, and it is dangerous.

Think about this for a moment. Can any of us imagine the horrified public outcry if Barack Obama had worked up a crowd of African-American supporters with verbal attacks on whites, and then the crowd had turned on white reporters, waving sticks, shouting racial epithets, encouraging others to assassinate a political figure?

Populism has a venerable tradition in American history, but populism can become dangerous. When populists encourage not just a resentment of elitism, but a contempt for elites; when populists express not just distrust of the media, but encourage hatred of a free press; when populists inspire not just emotion, but demonize the “other” to incite a crowd to violence--these are all signs that a leader is crossing the line between populism and demagoguery.

Sarah Palin crossed that line in Clearwater Florida.

And why not examine Ayers' radical educational objectives ("education is revolution"

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Didn't think you had the irony thing down.

Now Obama claims he didn't know about Ayers past? Really? How can that be?

I imagine most of the people "associated" with Ayers in his various activities in recent decades (particularly if they're as young as Obama) weren't aware of all the details of his Weather Underground activities, if they even knew he'd been with the group at all. Why would they? Do people typically compile a dossier on everyone in every group they're in?

And how in the heck is Palin responsible for someone in the crowd?

oh gee, i dunno. when ya go out there and tell 'em that that Mister Hussein Obama is some kinda radical terror-lovin danger to America, also, if ya tell 'em he how hates the troops and can't stand America, unlike all the good people here *winkwink*, it shouddin be so suhprizin when they catch the fever and start exclaimin and declaimin right along witcha, by golly!

In any case, bc, what exactly is your point? Do you actually think that Obama supports terrorist bombings in the United States? If not, how is this issue at all relevant to anything?

here's another for the list.

OTOH, how Palin handled someone she didn't agree with that she DID hear is certainly telling.

bc, maybe it is because I lack your legal education, but I don't understand how Palin's son is fighting for anyone's right to protest. Can you explain that to me? It sounds like non-sensical gibberish, but maybe I'm missing something obvious here.

I imagine most of the people "associated" with Ayers in his various activities in recent decades (particularly if they're as young as Obama) weren't aware of all the details of his Weather Underground activities, if they even knew he'd been with the group at all. Why would they? Do people typically compile a dossier on everyone in every group they're in?

I will speak from experience on this. The ORGANIZATION most certainly will have. However, most board members will get a one sheet bio from the organization on other board members. This may or may not be detailed.

Note that the organizations will hold the dossier, and any devent development researcher will have picked up on board members' history. Note, also, the Woods Fund, a $50 million fund (decent size and certainly not penny ante) had no problem with Ayers' background.

John McCain, you have no honor.

Eric, you've never said anything more true.

One part of this whole farce is that I don't think Ayers was ever charged with anything. Yes, he was part of the Weather Underground. I had a guy who lived next door to me who was in that too. Now he's a Jehovah's Witness and spends a lot of time woodworking and taking care of his lawn. Ooooo, scary.

If Ayer's was involved in terrorists acts, why hasn't he been prosecuted? If he hasn't been prosecuted, why are the people at the top of the Republican Party calling him a terrorist?

McCain and Palin are trying to pump up the hate and fear some people have about a black man becoming president. They will be responsible for what follows from that.

it seems like people are getting really pissed at each other (as evidenced by the last 3 posts at ObWi), even more so than usual or in past elections. I'm just trying to grapple with what's happening

LT: I think you crossed threads.

First on K-Lo and Dr. Helen: It's disappointing when people are faced with a crisis and instead of acknowledging it and confronting it, they cling to hocus pocus and conspiracy theories. Especially when that has become a conservative cruch, and the source of much political/policy mischief of late. It shields conservatives from having to confront serious, fundamental flaws in the way the GOP has been contorted of late.

When, in an election year, such dreck is used by leading conservative pundits to try to tarnish a candidate that I support, I will point it out. That it is prevalent in conservative punditry is as unfortunate as it is not my fault.

Honestly, I would prefer a healthy and robust Republican Party with people like Daniel Larison, Greg Djerejian, Clark Stooksbury, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam leading the punditry. The country works better with a strong Republican Party, commited to actual conservative ideals. That is also, sadly, not the case now.

But all I can do to try to bring that about is point out the flaws and hope for the best.

I'm just curious as to what people think about this latest Ayers/Obama is a terrorist thing.

It's horseshit.

Thanks for asking.

RE: Getting pissed at each other.

LT: How do you propose people should handle Palin saying that Obama is "palling around with terrorists"? Or the Penn GOP saying that Obama is "best friends with terrorists"?

Or Palin claiming, repeatedly, that Obama doesn't support the troops, voted to cut off funding for the troops, and that Obama accused the troops of commiting war crimes?

Or Palin (whose own church has housed some pretty out-there religious figures) going on about the Rev. Wright and William Ayers?

Should that not get me pissed?

Is there a counterpart that Obama and Biden are doing in terms of dirty tricks?

As I put it elsewhere, I'd laugh in the face of anyone who tried to hold me accountable for the politics or rap sheet of anyone I served on a concom with. I suspect anyone with any experience in convention work or anything comparable would instinctively get this as well.

Do you actually think that Obama supports terrorist bombings in the United States?

No, I don't. His political campaign was launched from Ayers' home. That's a bit beyond simply serving on a foundation. There is no way he didn't know about Ayers' past. Ayers doesn't exactly keep it secret. He's proud of it! Obama took advantage of the existing liberal political structure in Chicago to get his start.

Obama sells himself as something different, an agent of change. Yet at best, he pandered to a group of radical liberals to launch his career when he should have disassociated himself, IMHO. He's being a politician. But he shouldn't complain when he's called on it.

His political campaign was launched from Ayers' home. That's a bit beyond simply serving on a foundation.

actually, it's a bit less than just about anything.

you're insinuating that Obama has retained something of Ayers'. his politics? his attitude towards the govt? his approach to problem solving?

what?

what exactly has Obama absorbed of Ayres and how does that manifest in Obama's actions?

out with it.

Yet at best, he pandered to a group of radical liberals to launch his career when he should have disassociated himself, IMHO.

How did he pander to them? Pandering involves offering specific policies to a group of constituents in order to garner their support, so: what specific policies did Obama offer these people? And why does that matter now? Do you believe that Obama is particularly beholden to them now? Do you think that the wishes of two 60's radicals in Chicago matter to a guy who's bringing in $80+ million per month?

He's being a politician.

Very true. Who cares?

But he shouldn't complain when he's called on it.

The complaints are that McCain's campaign is using Ayers to deceive people. You haven't explained why any of this matters, but talking about former terrorists gets people excited at an emotional level. I used to buy stuff at a local shop run by a guy who used to smuggle cash to the IRA. Does that make me a bad person who can never run for office? Or is patronizing terrorist financiers OK sometimes?

Bc, I still don't understand. Ayers is an accepted part of the political scene in Chicago. Do you think that Ayers stood up at the fundraiser and talked about how proud he was of helping to construct nail bombs? And are you similarly disgusted with Walter Annenberg and all the perfectly respectable Republicans who have "associated" with this radical? Are you going to organize a boycott of the University of Chicago?

No, I don't. His political campaign was launched from Ayers' home. That's a bit beyond simply serving on a foundation. There is no way he didn't know about Ayers' past. Ayers doesn't exactly keep it secret. He's proud of it! Obama took advantage of the existing liberal political structure in Chicago to get his start.

Yes? So?

I don't think you realize it, but there are a LOT of former 60s activists and radicals who are involved in the establishment now. Given that, the onus is on YOU (not Obama, not us) to detail how a) Ayers is un-mainstream or not to be accepted, AND b) how Ayers' "unacceptable" actions NOW are tainting Obama.

Given that Ayers RIGHT NOW is more than acceptable to the Chicago mainstream (and to the Annenberg Foundation), you have a tall order. As of now, you've provided thin gruel for any accusation.

LT: How do you propose people should handle Palin saying that Obama is "palling around with terrorists"? Or the Penn GOP saying that Obama is "best friends with terrorists"?

Or Palin claiming, repeatedly, that Obama doesn't support the troops, voted to cut off funding for the troops, and that Obama accused the troops of commiting war crimes?

Well for the "support the troops" thing you can cite the recent IAVA scorecard which gave Obama a B and McCain a lousy D. I trust Paul Rieckhoff and his organization's judgement, and that's a serious bombshell for McCain. For the "terrorist" thing, you can cite Obama's kinetic plan for A-stan/Pak, which is terrorist central these days. It's just the tactic of calling your political opponents thugs with a "persecution complex" is wearing a little thin these days, yet seems to be ratcheted up to unheard of proportions (that goes for both sides of course).

LT Nixon,

i do not interpete Eric's post, which references an article by Dana Milbanks, as asserting that all or most of Palin and McCain's support comes from nutcases. I see the Dana Milbanks article and Eric's post as asserting the FACT that some of the support comes from nutcases and that these nutcases are making themselves noticable at rallies. I will now assert ath Palin and McCAin are deliberatley courting nutcases by using demonizing and eliminationist rhetoric, the kind of rheotric that, if it has a place in our society at all, belongs out n the fringes, not in speeches from the executive team in a Presidential race.

Anger about that phenomenon--McCAin and Palin using the language of hate to appeal to haters--is justified. In fact it is very unwise to minimalize or rationalize away people who shout "Kill him!" at plitical rallies or candidates who incite people to shout "KIll him" at plitical rallies.

We have had two politically motivated attempts at mass murder this summer. Obama got Secret Service protection early because of death threats. There has been thrity years or so of demonizing, marginalizing, eliminationist rhetoric from hate radio hosts to Republican memebers of COngress and now from that twit from Alaska and Senator I'll-say-anything-to-get-elected. We need to stop acting like this pathology is acceptable. It is a commonplace pohenomenon because the Republican paerty has made it so, but it is not acceptable.

So anger is justified. In my opinion anyone who votes Repubican this year is guilty by associatioon with haters who threw things at reporters, yell racist stuff at cameraman, call Obama a terrorist and shout "kill him!" at a Palin rallies.

@ LT Nixon:

"I'm just curious as to what people think about this latest Ayers/Obama is a terrorist thing."

In a nutshell, the GOP campaign-meisters are trying to make "terrorist" into the new "communist" - i.e., a reprehensible, disqualifying ideology for any (opposition) politician. With the wonderful flexibility that there doesn't necessarily have to be any real or direct connection to make the smear, but that any "association", however tenuous or second/third-hand, is enough to make a charge. Oh, and of course, bolstered by that old standby of the demagogue, Failure To Denounce.

IOW, the substitution of empty name-calling for substantive debate in political discourse: the typical refuge of the loser.

There are more important things for Americans to discuss than Bill Ayers. I don't think Obama's association with him indicates anything more than he is willing to go along to get along. That said, I fail to see anything "dishonourable" about bringing it up. Eric's outrage is unlikely to be shared by most swing voters. A better tack would be to apologize and say there are bigger issues right now.

That said, I fail to see anything "dishonourable" about bringing it up.

It depends: if you talk about it in a deceptive manner in order to imply that Obama is a terrorist or sympathizes with terrorists who want to harm Americans, then that seems pretty dishonorable to me. Does that seem dishonorable to you?

If McCain's campaign doesn't think Obama is a terrorist or sympathizes with them, then I don't see what the point of talking about Ayers is. Why do you think he's doing it?

the onus is on YOU (not Obama, not us) to detail how a) Ayers is un-mainstream or not to be accepted,

I completely disagree. You start your political campaign from Ayers' and Dohrn's home, YOU do the explaining. Let's examine Ayers' own words:

"I don't regret setting bombs, Bill Ayers said. ''I feel we didn't do enough.'

So, would Mr. Ayers do it all again, he is asked? "I don't want to discount the possibility," he said.

. . .In 1969, after the Manson family murders in Beverly Hills, Ms. Dohrn told an S.D.S. audience: ''Dig it! Manson killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they shoved a fork into a victim's stomach.'

. . .He also writes about the Weathermen's sexual experimentation as they tried to ''smash monogamy.'' The Weathermen were ''an army of lovers,'' he says, and describes having had different sexual partners, including his best male friend.

Full NYT article here. Definitely not mainstream.


AND b) how Ayers' "unacceptable" actions NOW are tainting Obama.

See above. If he (Ayers) were repentant, no problem. But he's not.

Ayers is an accepted part of the political scene in Chicago.

Which does not speak good of the political scene in Chicago.

I used to buy stuff at a local shop run by a guy who used to smuggle cash to the IRA. Does that make me a bad person who can never run for office? Or is patronizing terrorist financiers OK sometimes?

Would you use the shop owner's home as a launching point for your campaign? And does the shop owner recognize that terrorism wasn't the right way to go? It depends on answers to those questions.

you're insinuating that Obama has retained something of Ayers'. his politics? his attitude towards the govt? his approach to problem solving?

what?

That is the question. Launching his campaign from Ayers' home makes me wonder whether he sympathizes with some of Ayers' views or whether he was just doing it out of convenience. His campaign has been elusive to say the least on the issue and it makes me wonder. I don't for a minute think that Obama is stupid enough to agree with Ayers in public and I'm aware he has denounced his terrorist actions.

Obama could have said "Yes, I know the guy quite well and understand his political philosophy. I talk to lots of people I completely disagree with. But it's important to me to understand what people-even radicals-think. Even if I completely disagree."

Such a response I would respect. Instead, somebody tried to keep the Annenberg papers from getting out and the story keeps changing as to the their relationship. I find that troubling. I don't have to prove anything. Obama could clear this whole thing up and get it behind him but chooses not to. Why? If it's really that meaningless, provide full access.

Kind of like the small campaign donation issue. McCain's campaign provides access. Obama's does not. Why? What is there to hide?

Sounds like more of the same with a bit of a Che twist.

Launching his campaign from Ayers' home makes me wonder whether he sympathizes with some of Ayers' views...

Really? You haven't found any other way to make this determination?

Sorry for the repeat, but this just kinda jumped out at me:

Kind of like the small campaign donation issue. McCain's campaign provides access.

Like to Cindy McCain's tax returns? Or his various cosy lobbying ventures? Or his ever-changing story of just how criminally culpable he was in the Keating Five?

Also: The fact that in this sentence

Yet at best, he pandered to a group of radical liberals to launch his career when he should have disassociated himself, IMHO.

you chose the word "liberal", of all things, speaks more about you than I think you'd like.

What evidence is there that Obama "launched his campaign" at Ayers's house? That seems to be a misrepresentation of the relationship. Politicians getting a campaign started generally have lots of fundraisers and meet-and-greets at all sorts of politically involved people's homes and at bars. Was there anything special about the event at Ayers's house? If Ayers is somehow supposed to be Obama's big political patron, isn't it a little odd that he donated only $200?

bc, if Obama's "association" with Ayers is so bad then what do you think of Sarah palin's association with the Alaska separatist movement of which her husband is a former memeber? What do you think of her assocaition with her supporter who shouted,"KIll him!" in response to a remark she made about Obama? What do you think about Paln's association with people who yelled obcenities and threw stuff at reproters in response to her whining abouut the Couric interview? What about MmcCAin's association with Gordon Liddy and that Iran/contrra group that was involved in gunrunning and terrorism?

Pithlord is not an American, which may explain his occasional Economist-style obtuseness about American politics. Of course there's no reason for Obama to not have to pay a political price for a substantial misdeed. Just as obviously, the Ayres thing isn't one of those. As I said in the other thread, here in Chicago, most people in public life, especially people involved in education, know Ayres. He's a very public, very mainstream figure. He's been an education advocate for 30 years. He and his wife renounced violence many years ago, but made the mistake of not crying on teevee about it. So clearly...Obama must pay the price!

But this post is about inciting Nationalist hatred, which McCain and that gosh darned Palin are clearly doing, or trying to do. Fair game? If so, what isn't 'fair game', then? No one is suggesting that McPalin don't have the *right* to be sleazy demogogues, or that sleazy demogogery is unheard of in politics. But neither do we lose our right to call them dishonorable crap hounds, nor to say that this incitement is dangerous and ugly. We're Big Boys and Girls, Pith. We just hate this stuff.

partially OT..

Kevin Drum poses a tough question:

If you put a gun to my head and forced me to choose between John McCain and George Bush as president, I don't know who I'd pick — and that's something that would have been inconceivable as recently as a year ago. I wonder if McCain has any idea just how thoroughly he's going to exit this campaign with his reputation permanently soiled and his life story in tatters?

That is indeed a VERY hard question.

I know it's election time, but the last 3 posts just seem to be a lot angrier than usual.

With "terrorist" and "kill him" and the like out there, you bet I'm angry. Sarah Palin has crossed into Hate Speech.

"If Ayer's was involved in terrorists acts, why hasn't he been prosecuted? If he hasn't been prosecuted, why are the people at the top of the Republican Party calling him a terrorist?"

He was involved in terrorist acts. The charges were dismissed because of government malfeasance, not because he was innocent. An organization of which he was an enthusiastic member bombed a number of buildings.

That said, I agree with everyone who says: in the actual world, I do not go around loudly denouncing everyone I disagree with, even vehemently. Nor do most people. As I said on another thread, I have served on boards with people I totally disagreed with, and not just on issues that I thought reasonable people might disagree with.

Just to add to the point: without going into details, I am one of the few people likely to be reading this who has, in fact, palled around with someone who was part of a group that I wouldn't object to calling terrorist. I took that opportunity to try to convince that person to abandon violence, on grounds of both orality and effectiveness, and argued my case pretty hard, if alas unsuccessfully. (At the time, he had not himself done anything violent. What has happened in the decades since, I do not know. But I did do my best, for what little it was worth.)

Even if Obama "palled around" with someone who had been a terrorist decades before, which I do not think the record shows, we would not know anything about what he did about that fact, other than not cutting off all contact and denouncing Ayers, at the cost of giving up a chance to do some real good. I bet if he ran into G. Gordon Liddy at a cocktail party, he probably wouldn't have stood up and denounced him either. Whoop de do.

Come on, KC, Obama probably has the $200 framed somewhere, like the barber shop framing the first dollar they made.

Treating this as anything other than unsubstantiated tripe by a deeply unserious person who thinks that society operates best when undergirded by a net of unfounded accusations is a huge mistake.

you chose the word "liberal", of all things, speaks more about you than I think you'd like.

No, I toned it down from "self-professed communists"

And LTN: I would never say that all conservatives/Republicans, or most, are nutcases. What makes me angry is that people in the Republican party who ought to be responsible for this are not just tolerating this but encouraging it. (How else would you describe Palin saying that Obama said that our troops had targeted civilians? Not just hit them by mistake, but hit them deliberately?)

that "launching his career" phrase you keep using sticks out. so i Googled.

and so i'll ask again: show us anything about Obama's policies or words or actions that makes you think he was influenced by Ayers' W.U. years. anything at all.

cause if you can't point to anything, then i don't see how you can believe it, and that means you're just spreading WorldNetDaily smears for some other reason.

Pithlord is not an American, which may explain his occasional Economist-style obtuseness about American politics. Of course there's no reason for Obama to not have to pay a political price for a substantial misdeed. Just as obviously, the Ayres thing isn't one of those. As I said in the other thread, here in Chicago, most people in public life, especially people involved in education, know Ayres. He's a very public, very mainstream figure. He's been an education advocate for 30 years. He and his wife renounced violence many years ago, but made the mistake of not crying on teevee about it. So clearly...Obama must pay the price!

But this post is about inciting Nationalist hatred, which McCain and that gosh darned Palin are clearly doing, or trying to do. Fair game? If so, what isn't 'fair game', then? No one is suggesting that McPalin don't have the *right* to be sleazy demogogues, or that sleazy demogogery is unheard of in politics. But neither do we lose our right to call them dishonorable crap hounds, nor to say that this incitement is dangerous and ugly. We're Big Boys and Girls, Pith. We just hate this stuff.

partially OT..

Kevin Drum poses a tough question:

If you put a gun to my head and forced me to choose between John McCain and George Bush as president, I don't know who I'd pick — and that's something that would have been inconceivable as recently as a year ago. I wonder if McCain has any idea just how thoroughly he's going to exit this campaign with his reputation permanently soiled and his life story in tatters?

That is indeed a VERY hard question.

With "terrorist" and "kill him" and the like out there, you bet I'm angry. Sarah Palin has crossed into Hate Speech.

Watch the videos. Don't take someone's word for it. And it was McCain being associated (wrongly) with "terrorist," not Palin.

I knew bc wouldn't respond to my comment. Typical of wingnut participation in discussion: make baseless assetions, repeat them endlessly, refuse to process any challenges. So I'm pretty sure bc will ignore this too: (from NPR last evening, regarding the Annenburg Foundation)


"It was never a concern by any of us in the Chicago school reform movement that he had led a fugitive life years earlier," said former Illinois state Republican Rep. Diana Nelson, who worked with both Obama and Ayers over the years. "It's ridiculous. There is no reason at all to smear Barack Obama with this association. It's nonsensical, and it just makes me crazy. It's so silly."

From "certainly friendly" to "just a guy who lives in my neighborhood"?

Go find the context of the 'certainly friendly' remark, and you'll find that it meant 'they were not unfriendly or hostile to each other while interacting as parents whose children went to the same school'.

His political campaign was launched from Ayers' home.

Ayers was friendly with the retiring state senator who was endorsing Obama to replace her. No pandering, no quid pro quo, no endorsement by Obama.
And, while I've heard of the Weather Underground, I don't google everyone I meet to see if they were involved in it. Your extensive quoting of the NYT does nothing to demonstrate that Obama knew, or ought to have known, about Ayers' background.

Context- that magical thing that- once removed- allows people to basically make stuff up while appearing to use facts. Like cutting up a photograph and making a collage, & claiming that it must be accurate because it is a photo.

"So we have McCain today getting his crowd riled up asking who Barack Obama is and then apparently giving a wink and a nod when one member of the crowd screams out 'terrorist.'"

Of course, as we discussed last night, it's false that McCain winked and nodded, and Marshall was grossly irresponsible in writing that.

He and his wife renounced violence many years ago,

Uh, no. See above. Read the NYT article.

There are more important things for Americans to discuss than Bill Ayers. I don't think Obama's association with him indicates anything more than he is willing to go along to get along.

Uh, then wtf are you doing here defending people discussing it- is the meta-conversation somehow more important than the conversation itself? Or is this a backdown from your attempt to support the position by claiming that it isn't worthy of discussion now that you can't?
Good advice for Obama there- apologise. Yeah, that's what he needs to do. Hasn't done anything wrong (ie he didnt 'go along' with anything & you certainly know that you're lying about this), but an apology and we can get this whole thing behind us and McCain will start talking about the economy again, right?
Troll.

And LTN: I would never say that all conservatives/Republicans, or most, are nutcases. What makes me angry is that people in the Republican party who ought to be responsible for this are not just tolerating this but encouraging it.

It's a hail mary strategy...that's for sure. I'm just glad Obama's base aren't trying to make apologies for terrorist activity of that P.O.S. Ayers in an effort to downplay the connection, well at least most people don't.

bc said He and his wife renounced violence many years ago,

Uh, no. See above. Read the NYT article.

I dunno, BC. I absolutely hate people like Ayers (I don't fancy getting nail-bombed by my fellow citizens) and wish he would leave the country and not come back. But this Obama connection seems pretty weak. The connection has been known and discussed on right-wing blogs for months, and the fact that the McCain campaign is bringing it up now shows a certain sense of desparation.

"Yes, he was part of the Weather Underground. I had a guy who lived next door to me who was in that too."

Are you sure? There were only a couple of dozen members; the odds of one winding up next door to you are tens of millions to one. Are you sure he wasn't a member of some other radical group?

"His political campaign was launched from Ayers' home."

That's a lie. Thanks for passing on a lie. Please either support it with credible links and cites, or retract it. Thanks.

"Yet at best, he pandered to a group of radical liberals to launch his career when he should have disassociated himself,"

I don't know why people are repeating this thread.

Anyway, I don't know what that means: what "group"? And what's so "radical" about Bill Ayers, the guy who's been a respected member of the Chicago establishment for decades? Since when do we ignore 40 years of history and treat people as if they were who they were 40 years ago?

Wonkie:

Missed your comment, only because there were so many to respond to and I keep getting interrupted with actual work (never one to ignore a challenge even if I'm not the best one to respond):

bc, if Obama's "association" with Ayers is so bad then what do you think of Sarah palin's association with the Alaska separatist movement of which her husband is a former memeber?

I commented on this before. It's one of those "Alaska" things, of which I am well aware (grew up there and lived there until about five years ago). Can't find my prior comment, or I'd link to it. Many are members of AIP because of its "back to basics" (i.e. founder's days) approach to government. The secessionist part came in response to Vogler's assertion Alaska didn't get the correct set of choices when it became a state. That is still the party's goal. Not bombing government buildings or dances filled with servicemen and innocent others.

What do you think of her assocaition with her supporter who shouted,"KIll him!" in response to a remark she made about Obama?

The comment could have been about Ayers, hard to tell. Comment was inappropriate, obviously. If she heard it, it would have been appropriate to denounce. I'm sure many such things have been said about conservatives (note to self: start tallying each and every time I hear reference to bodily harm to Bush). But comments made by audience members are not analogous to the Ayers' situation. That should be obvious.

What do you think about Paln's association with people who yelled obcenities and threw stuff at reproters in response to her whining abouut the Couric interview?

Just saw the headline on that one, so can't really comment. Loved the interview!

What about MmcCAin's association with Gordon Liddy and that Iran/contrra group that was involved in gunrunning and terrorism?

Have to admit I'm not clear on either count vis-a-vis McCain. Have to get back to you on that one.

Bc, if he wasn't planning bombings, why was Joe "The fires of Hell are glaciers compared to my hate for the American government, and I won't be buried under their damn flag" Vogler trying to buy plastic explosives when he was murdered?

"You start your political campaign from Ayers' and Dohrn's home,"

Quit lying.

""I don't regret setting bombs, Bill Ayers said. ''I feel we didn't do enough.'"

You're lying again. Passing on lies, anyway. Or misinformed by not bothering to fact-check.

Please stop.

"Instead, somebody tried to keep the Annenberg papers from getting out and the story keeps changing as to the their relationship. I find that troubling. I don't have to prove anything. Obama could clear this whole thing up and get it behind him but chooses not to. Why? If it's really that meaningless, provide full access."

The Annenberg files were all released, and Stanley Kurtz went through them all, and found nothing. What more "access" do you want?

Since when do we ignore 40 years of history and treat people as if they were who they were 40 years ago?

When he tells a NYT reporter that he thinks he didn't do enough:

"I don't regret setting bombs," Bill Ayers said. "I feel we didn't do enough."

O.k., fine. That was September 11, 2001 (oh, the irony). Maybe he changed since then (although I recall a 2006 article with him saying the same basic thing).

That's a lie. Thanks for passing on a lie. Please either support it with credible links and cites, or retract it. Thanks.

here

I meant to use "career," although "campaign" is hardly a lie as I was referencing his first political campaign. What is it with the word "lie" here at ObWi?

Uh, no. See above. Read the NYT article.

Um, yes. Read subsequent interviews where he specifically referenced that interview as conflating his views on the Vietnam war with his use of violence.

Also, I do not think it is accurate at all to call Ayers a radical NOW. Not everyone may agree with his views, but being part of the mainstream Chicago philanthropic scene (getting major grants from the Annenberg Foundation and being on the board of a $50 million Woods Fund is pretty much the definition of being mainstream acceptable) is not in any way that radical.

bc....

I've read that link. It provides thin gruel to my mind.

Perhaps you should amplify.

Which does not speak good of the political scene in Chicago.

bc, why exactly do you think so many people in Chicago are perfectly fine with Ayers? I mean, it is not just the case that local politicians like him: lots of educators, philanthropists, and voters seem to like him too. Certainly, Obama's early career did not suffer for his association with Ayers...

So, what is it about people in Chicago that makes them react differently to Ayers than other people? Is it just that people there know him better? Or do you think people who live in Chicago, as a group, are less ethical than other Americans? Or do you think that people who live in Chicago are more likely to believe that terrorism is OK than other Americans?

You're lying again. Passing on lies, anyway.

Great, so in a discussion about raising the rhetoric, you choose to raise the rhetoric? Calling me a liar? What is it with that word? It's becoming the favorite word around here.

I'm out of here. Point me to the "truth," fine. Call me a liar, won't stand for it.

Kind of like the small campaign donation issue. McCain's campaign provides access.

Like to Cindy McCain's tax returns? Or his various cosy lobbying ventures? Or his ever-changing story of just how criminally culpable he was in the Keating Five?

Or his health records?

"Uh, no. See above. Read the NYT article."

Uh, yes. Read my link. But since I already gave it, and you ignored it, I'll repeat:

[...] Chicago Magazine reported that "just before the September 11th attacks," Richard Elrod, a city lawyer injured in the Weathermen's Chicago "Days of Rage," received an apology from Ayers and Dohrn for their part in the violence. "[T]hey were remorseful," Elrod says. "They said, 'We're sorry that things turned out this way.'"[18]

[...]

Much of the controversy about Ayers during the decade since the year 2000 stems from an interview he gave to The New York Times on the occasion of the memoir's publication.[19] The reporter quoted him as saying "I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough", and, when asked if he would "do it all again" as saying "I don't want to discount the possibility."[14] Ayers has not denied the quotes, but he protested the interviewer's characterizations in a Letter to the Editor published September 15, 2001: "This is not a question of being misunderstood or 'taken out of context', but of deliberate distortion."[20]

In the ensuing years, Ayers has repeatedly avowed that when he said he had "no regrets" and that "we didn't do enough" he was speaking only in reference to his efforts to stop the United States from waging the Vietnam War, efforts which he has described as ". . . inadequate [as] the war dragged on for a decade."[21] Ayers has maintained that the two statements were not intended to imply a wish they had set more bombs.[21][22]

The interviewer also quoted some of Ayers' own criticism of Weatherman in the foreword to the memoir, whereby Ayers reacts to having watched Emile de Antonio's 1976 documentary film about Weatherman, 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.' "[14] "We weren't terrorists," Ayers told an interviewer for the Chicago Tribune in 2001. "The reason we weren't terrorists is because we did not commit random acts of terror against people. Terrorism was what was being practiced in the countryside of Vietnam by the United States."[2] In a letter to the editor in the Chicago Tribune, Ayers wrote, "I condemn all forms of terrorism — individual, group and official". He also condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks in that letter. "Today we are witnessing crimes against humanity on our own shores on an unthinkable scale, and I fear that we may soon see more innocent people in other parts of the world dying in response."[23]

[...]

"The one thing I don't regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being.... When I say, 'We didn't do enough,' a lot of people rush to think, 'That must mean, "We didn't bomb enough shit."' But that's not the point at all. It's not a tactical statement, it's an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, 'we' means 'everyone.'"

And for god's sake, you are claiming that this guy who is a pillar of the Chicago establishment endorses violence! That's crazy. Why on earth would Walter Annenberg work with such a guy? What frigging violence has Ayers engaged in in the last 40 years?

You've been listening to an echo-chamber, and not fact-checking outside it.

"I commented on this before. It's one of those 'Alaska' things,"

And Ayers being a pillar of the Chicago establishment is one of those "Chicago" things. And his leftist opinions these days are one of those "leftist" things. Your point?

Point me to the "truth," fine. Call me a liar, won't stand for it.

The truth here is that it's not just Ayers and Obama. It's Ayers and Obama and Annenberg and Millett and Chagnin and Garcia and many others. If there's a "taint" with Ayers, then it extends to EVERYONE on that committee, which includes United Way executives, seminary presidents and supporters of Orrin Hatch.

Somehow, I can't take the charge "Ayers was a radical" very seriously, given the extent that Ayers was part of the Chicago mainstream. And as far as I can tell, no one's bothered to deal with that argument.

bc said He and his wife renounced violence many years ago,

Uh, no. See above. Read the NYT article.

As with McPalin and so many other apologists on/for the Right, bc continues with The Formula: what's in the NYT is inherently biased and unfair...unless it's something which supports a point *they* want to make, at which time it's unimpeachable! Yes bc, the NYT misquotes and mangles only *conservatives* and stories about them. Do you ever *read* the NYT?

Repeating a falsehood after the record has been corrected makes one a liar4. If you don't want to be called a liar, don't spread lies.

Thanks for responding to my list. However you fidged a number of things. Saying that the Alska successionists are just an Alska thing (which outsiders wouldn't understand?) ios like saying the Michigan Militia is just Michigan thing. The Alaska successionist former elecrted leader was involved in acts of violence. The fact that it eixist within the context of lical culture dosen't diminishe eithehr the viiolence or the overt anti-America, clearely unpatriotic agenda. So Palin is guilty of a greater degree of associatin with a violennt anti-American organization and its memebers than Obama is.

AS for her association with her supporter--that also reflects a great deal more on her than Obama's "association with Ayers. Here's why: Obama and Ayers and a whole bunch of othehr people including Republican politicians were working ona mainstream socially acceptable project. Palin's supporters on the other hand are supporting her in behavbior which should not be socially exceptable: smears, lies, hatemongering.

Yes, look into McCain's association with deathsquads, gunrunners and murderers. He was on the governing board of the organization.

Th verbal attacks and physical attacks ( in the sense of things getting thrown) were in direct response to palin's remarks. Obama has never said anything that endorsed Ayer's former activities, much less anything that inspired them.

Um, was the 3:45 comment really written by bc? I'd guess it was written by wonkie, but some confirmation by the author would be great.

That said, I fail to see anything "dishonourable" about bringing it up. Eric's outrage is unlikely to be shared by most swing voters. A better tack would be to apologize and say there are bigger issues right now.

Pith, my "outrage" is about a lot more than Bill Ayers. That's an unfair redaction of this post, and my subsequent additions in the comments.

More on that nice mainstream Joe Vogler:

Vogler's greatest moment of glory was to be his 1993 appearance before the United Nations to denounce United States "tyranny" before the entire world and to demand Alaska's freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue.

That's right ... Iran. The Islamic dictatorship. The taker of American hostages. The rogue nation that McCain and Palin have excoriated Obama for suggesting we diplomatically engage. That Iran.

AIP leaders allege that Vogler, who was murdered that year by a fellow secessionist, was taken out by powerful forces in the U.S. before he could reach his U.N. platform. "The United States government would have been deeply embarrassed," by Vogler's U.N. speech, darkly suggests Clark. "And we can't have that, can we?"

Yes it was me (wonkie) I was thinking about addressing bc as if my comment was a letter.

For what it's worth, I don't think all the comments lumping bc in with other people "on the right" is helpful or wise.

Everyone is an individual, and the precise issue under discussion is the way guilt-by-association is a thin reed, at best, indeed. Argue with any individual, but don't blame them or characterize them as if they were some other person or people, I strongly suggest.

And bc, I didn't call you a "liar." I said you were "[p]assing on lies, anyway. Or misinformed by not bothering to fact-check."

Which you were. I don't and didn't claim that you were making up the lies yourself.

on the other hand...

the leader of Todd Palin's former Alaska-secessionist party, Joe Volger was an actual anti-American nutjob. has Todd Palin ever denounced him or the party? has Sarah Palin.

from Salon:

    Vogler's greatest moment of glory was to be his 1993 appearance before the United Nations to denounce United States "tyranny" before the entire world and to demand Alaska's freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue.

glory!

Apparently, white people need to avoid voting for Obama to overcome their inner racism.

Eric,

You accuse McCain and Palin of "trading in racial epithet and innuendo." Actually, I think the reason for the attention to Ayers -- as opposed to Wright, with whom Obama clearly had a closer association -- is precisely to avoid racial dynamics.

The best insight on Obama and his willingness to go along with the Chicago political establishment is found in Ryan Lizza's piece in The New Yorker. The fact is that Obama is a ruthless climber and an egomaniac. Which is fine. He might well be a great president, and he's certain to be an improvement on either Bush or McCain. Americans will not be electing a saint, but a hard-nosed politician.

Still, I find it hard to see what is so awful in holding past useful associations against him when they are less useful in a new context. And Eric's rhetoric is over-the-top.

"The fact is that Obama is a ruthless climber and an egomaniac."

What, compared to John McCain?What presidential candidate can't one claim the above about?

Still, I find it hard to see what is so awful in holding past useful associations against him when they are less useful in a new context.

Nothing, if they make sense. This one doesn't, not when you stop to think about it.

"Nothing, if they make sense. This one doesn't, not when you stop to think about it."

The problem for the wackos is that they have this echo-chamber theory that Obama is some kind of Manchurian candidate programed by a conspiracy of communist-terrorist leftists to fulfill an agenda from the 1960s to destroy America -- they really seem to believe this amazing nonsense -- and they have so bought into their own echo chamber that when this lunatic notion comes into contact with the real world and people's understanding of the real Obama, they don't understand why people don't see the Manchurian Candidate they see.

But Bill Ayers proves it! seems to be their attempt to make the connection, and it's idiotic. But when you're deep in an echo chamber, you don't realize that simply repeating lots of adjectives doesn't mean anything.

But, hey, if that sort of reasoning works for you: who are these America-haters that the Palins are pallin' around with?

Actually, I think the reason for the attention to Ayers -- as opposed to Wright, with whom Obama clearly had a closer association -- is precisely to avoid racial dynamics.

Tell that to Sarah Palin, who brought up Wright on multiple occasions. Also brought up the fact that he doesn't support the troops, had accused them of committing war crimes and as someone who holds America in such disregard that he'd pal around with domestic terrorists.

But sure, focus on Ayers which is, at best, a non-story anyway.

Where's the outrage over the candidate saying:

"In the most obscene chapter in recent American history is the conduct of the [you know] conflict when the president of the United States refused to prepare for ground operations, refused to have air power used effectively because he wanted them flying -- he had them flying at 15,000 feet where they killed innocent civilians because they were dropping bombs from such -- in high altitude."
Oh, right: that was John McCain speaking.

Why does John McCain hate the troops?

is precisely to avoid racial dynamics.

Pithlord, you don't seem to know much about (American) racial dynamics. One of the classic ingredients is the notion of 'ni**er lovers', who, for various argued points, side with the forces intent on undercutting the obvious white superiority, which provides an wonderful, if circular, explanation why the philosophy is having a rough time. The linking of Obama with far left radicalism is a move that extends back to the IWW.

Cmon guys, when have ethnic/racial demagoguery and accusations of treason during a period of economic decline ever led to right-wingers doing something drastic?

An organization of which he was an enthusiastic member bombed a number of buildings.

Can't this statement be truthfully applied to every patriotic citizen of the United States of America?

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