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October 08, 2008


Nice De La Soul reference in the title, there. I dig.

Yes, he is. Provided the terrorists are "on our side".

This has been simple answers to simple questions. the parlance of the day,....

Don't you mean "in the parlance of our times?"

I don't see a fit of rage, there; more like frustration. But he is, IMO, greatly overplaying the terrorist-association bit. It doesn't logically follow that Obama's association with Ayers, for example, is going to have Obama having bin Laden over for a backyard barbecue.

Even if you find the Obama/Ayers connection noteworthy, which I do, to a certain extent, I don't think you can make that extension to posit a willingness to rub elbows with absolutely every other bad guy in the world.

Not only that but McCain, it turns out, has ties to Ayers, too. The Mrs. Annenberg, of Annenberg infamy has endorsed him. She is one of the terrorist supporters who let Ayers be on the board of the Annenberg Challenge.

It's a lesser known principle akin to IOKIYAR:

I'ts Not Terrorism if the United States Does It.

See also:

I'ts Not Torture if the United States Does It

I'ts Not an Unprovoked War of Aggression if the United States Does It

I'ts Not Socialism if the United States Does It.

I'ts not a Misplaced Apostrophe if the United State's Does It.

For many on the far-right, the fact that Kissinger caused millions of deaths in South American and Indochina is a feature, not a bug.

Even without getting into the arguments about whether there's any equivalency between Kissinger and Ayers, McCain has had closer associations with at least one analogous figure, David Ifshin. (Which I don't think should be used for an attack any more than Obama/Ayers should.)

Palin's associations with the Alaska separatists are *far* closer than any of the relationships McCain et al. have been trying to use against Obama. And the founder of the Alaska separatists proclaimed his loathing for the U.S. in far more certain terms than anyone from the Weather Underground.

Doesn't anyone think that it's terrible, terrible, that McCain willingly appeared on live television last night together with a known prior occasional associate of an unrepentant domestic terrorist? There was some dispute earlier, but we can now reveal that McCain shook the fiend's hand! Has he no shame?

The transitive property in action, my friends!

I'ts not a Misplaced Apostrophe if the United State's Does It.


Don't you mean "in the parlance of our times?"

Dangit, that's exactly what I meant.

LOL, Warren.

Ugh nails it. Kissinger was Ours, therefore not a Them.

What's even stupider is how little basis there is for this furor about Teh Fundraiser in Ayers Own Home!!!.

AFAICT, Obama didn't know Ayers from a hole in the wall at the time. He says, and nobody disputes, that he was invited by his mentor State Senator Alice Palmer, who wanted to introduce him to a gathering of local Democratic Party stalwarts as her successor. What was he supposed to have done, tell her, no, thanks, I'd rather not have a career because I don't approve of your choice of hosts?

Anyway, he probably didn't even recognize their names. Believe it or not, Cornerites, most of us are not obsessed with the 60s, and the names of a bunch of spoiled, white, suburban, eastern radicals were not exactly central to a kid's life in Hawai'i and Indonesia. Heck, I'm from NYC and have studied the 60s, yet Ayers rang no bell for me when Clinton first mentioned him. He just wasn't important, historically. Dohrn I had heard of -- but if someone had invited me to a business event held by "Bill Ayers and his wife Bernie" or somesuch, I would not have made the connection. Obama being a pretty careful person, he may have done background research. Then again, he may not have. No google in 1995, you know.

Heck, I'm from NYC and have studied the 60s, yet Ayers rang no bell for me when Clinton first mentioned him.

Me too, on each of those counts.

Look, as a pro-obama supporter, it seems clear to me that he likely attended a number of meetings with Ayers. How the annenberg challenge was organized still remains a mystery to me (I've read alot of articles who decry the association but also fail to give evidence of their relationship, instead relying on theories of how they 'might' have worked together).

It seems clear they had a working relationship, but I have not seen proof of more than that. It is certainly plausible they had a working relationship and never discussed personal politics or histories (Hell, if I'm in a meeting I PREFER it that way).

Still, relating Kissinger is not going to work. As appalling as some of his actions have been, most Americans are unfamiliar with them (and these things happened outside the country anyway... therefore they are less important to Americans).

Still, relating Kissinger is not going to work. As appalling as some of his actions have been, most Americans are unfamiliar with them

But Americans are more familiar with Ayers and the Weather Underground?

(and these things happened outside the country anyway... therefore they are less important to Americans).

No, the terrorist bombing that killed Letelier and Moffitt (an American citizen) occurred in Washington DC, some 14 blocks from the White House.

Alchemist, no doubt most Americans are unfamiliar of Kissinger's actions, but they're at least as unfamiliar with Ayers. And the 1976 car bombing that took place at the spot now marked by a memorial in the city where I live did not take place outside the United States.

The Republican Party: Where Democracy goes to die.

KCinDC.... so far it appears the public does see this as a politically motivated attack. I'm not saying I'm personally concerned about the association, I'm just always worried how the public will react to 'oversimplifications' by RNC that uses 'candidate' and 'terrorist' in the same sentence.

Eric, did you read our discussion of McCarthy from last night, or of Ayers here and here?

Campos is wrong about it being a fundraiser, as I've pointed out in our previous discussion.

"Anyway, he probably didn't even recognize their names."

I already covered this here; as NPR reported:

[...] To help Obama in the Democratic primary race to succeed her, Palmer organized a few informal meetings to introduce Obama to her supporters in the fall of 1995, including the gathering at Ayers' house. It was not a fundraiser, as some reports have stated. And it was not the meeting that launched Obama's political career, as other Obama critics have alleged.
(Continued in Pt. II so as to avoid too many links.)

None of the bombings Ayers was involved with killed anyone, but several years later other members of the group took part in an armed robbery in which two police officers and a guard were killed.

Note that the armed robbery took place after Ayers and his wife surredered to the police.

And as I pointed out here, quoting this:

[...] So when did Obama learn that Ayers, now an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was a founding member of the militant Weather Underground in the 1960s?

"It was sometime after their first meetings, you know, he became aware of that,'' David Axelrod, Obama's chief campaign strategist, said on board the Obama campaign plane on a flight from Asheville, N.C., to here for tonight's debate. "I don't know the exact moment."

Obama just was not familiar with the name when he first met him?

"Yeah,'' Axelrod said. "I mean the fact is, like a lot of people who, you know, didn't live through that era, particularly who didn't live through that era in Chicago, it just wasn't, I mean, when he came to Chicago, Ayers was advising Mayor Daley on school reform issues and that was his profile was that he was an expert on education issues."

Did Obama know of Ayers' history before or after the event, a small reception for Obama's state Senate campaign in 1995 at Ayers' home?

"My understanding was that he, when he went there, he did not know, so I would say after,'' Axelrod said -- confirming that he has asked Obama about this. "Yes, yeah."

I don't understand why people are speculating rather than simply researching the facts and presenting them. It isn't necessary to speculate.

Still, relating Kissinger is not going to work.

I believe this post is commentary, not campaign advice. As commentary, it 'works' perfectly well. Henry is a terrorist, and enough people around the world (including in Europe) agree that he has to be careful about where he travels.

As campaign advice, no, it doesn't work. Neither will the Ayres thing, at least to any great extent.

BTW, playing the Ayres Card (sorry, couldn't resist the cliche) is one of the things which permanently changed my opinion of HRC for the worse. I can forgive but will never forget.

Jonny, I'm grateful to Clinton for sacrificing her reputation to bring up Wright and Ayers during the primary. That means they're old news. They'd be much more damaging if McCain and Palin were introducing the public to them for the first time now.

I believe this post is commentary, not campaign advice.

Absolutely correct. But then, me and jb go back so far that he was one of the few commenting on the original Kissinger piece.

Gary: I did not see those threads where it was established that it was not a fundraiser. I did see the part where it was established that it did not launch his career or campaign.

I struggle, as always, to be aware of all ayers traditions. Alas, I am an imperfect vessel.

Should we have disqualified for national office any politicians in the 1980s who associated with Menachem Begin?

I don't understand why people are speculating rather than simply researching the facts and presenting them.

I'm surprised at you Gary. It should be obvious why people are speculating rather than doing research:

1) Speculation is much easier than research. Speculation lets you just run away with your ideas, while research requires minutes of tedious typing stuff into Google, clicking the search button, and reading boring articles.

2) Research requires that you deal with inconvenient facts. Suppose it turns out that Obama didn't do anything wrong. If you do the research, you'll have to give up making accusations. But if you just skip the research step and jump straight to speculation, you can just keep hammering away at your speculation without having to worry about whether there's any truth to it.

Roger: It is also true that there is a swirl of information around Ayers at this point, and even if one does try to do cursory research, answers don't always abound. Further, one of Gary's sources is David Axelrod who has a dog in this fight and might not be the most reliable.

But still: I did not mention anything about a launch of the career. If it wasn't even a fundraiser, I stand corrected. Though I see little gained by the distinction. Is a meeting more innocuous?

I could see that argued both ways.

What's even stupider is how little basis there is for this furor about Teh Fundraiser in Ayers Own Home!!!.

Hey, I've been pointing this out for quite some time!

I mean, how toxic is Ayers? A guy who works with both Republicans and Democrats for well over a decade? Who could get millions of dollars from a foundation founded by a Republican?

Doesn't sound very radical to me....

Nothing to say other than that the title of this post is win.

Hitting back on the enemy's front: why does John McCain hate the American flag?

McCain, by the way, is having bizarre flashbacks.

Why is Kissinger even credible? Even if you give him a pass on the war crimes, he was rarely successful. His two big successes were putting Suharto and Pinochet in power. And neither of those were really successes. It's just the best he's got. At the very best, Kissinger was a failure. In reality, he's a war criminal. Just ask the millions of people who died from his policies. Oh yeah, you can't ask them, can you? But you can ask their relatives. And they want to lynch him. With good reason. My attitude about Kissinger is simple: his eyes should gouged out, and he should be forced to beg on the streets of Phnom Penh. Yes, that's harsh, but there are already plenty of people doing that because of his policies. They were born with no eyes because of the Agent Orange dumped on their mothers. And I know the reader doesn't want to hear this. But our government did it at the request of Kissinger. We may think it's unseemly to talk about, but if that's the case, maybe we shouldn't do it.

"His two big successes were putting Suharto and Pinochet in power."

Actually, while Kissinger pushed the CIA like mad to make a coup to get Allende out of power, and the CIA did make various efforts, the final coup that did the trick was, in fact, native. I wouldn't point to this as proof, but rather my own extensive reading; however, it's a convenient cite, nonetheless. For first-hand sources, try here. It wasn't for lack of trying that the CIA wasn't directly responsible for the final success, to be sure.

Agreed Gary, and the CIA created the necessary turmoil and set other conditions for the coup to succeed. Not necessarily by great skill or forethought, but just a relentless dedication to destabilize and roil the democratically elected Allende regime.

This has nothing to do with Dr. Kissinger. For crying out loud, people forgave Vice President Cheney when he shot his hunting partner in the face. When conservatives bring up Dr. Ayers, they use him to make the point (so openly I can't really call it a dog whistle) that Senator Obama means it when he talks about change. Replying with comments about the terrorism in McCain's past, and that of his advisers, misses the point.

Look at it this way. Bill Ayers engaged in a bombing campaign as a last-ditch effort to stop a war he saw as genocidally destructive to Vietnam and to the soul of the United States. Leaving all other issues aside for the moment, would a Bill Ayers today have to try to bomb the Capitol to stop a war on Iran? No, because the current crisis has taken the military option pretty much off the table when it comes to Iran. Lower and middle-class Americans can't pay what a war with Iran would cost, and the rich won't. Events have caught up with the loose talk about a war with Iran. Now, I for one consider that wholly positive, but it doesn't change the underlying reality that events have dictated this to the American people, and with Senator McCain and Governor Palin, Americans would have to resign themselves to accepting what cam, to act as the stenographers of history. Senator Obama would at least have the willingness to try to rally Americans to claim control over their own destiny.

I don't understand why people are speculating rather than simply researching the facts and presenting them. It isn't necessary to speculate.

To be fair, you are simply quoting Axelrod's spin on the story. While I love the guy, what he has to say is obviously not worth a whole lot in terms of getting to 'the facts'.

"To be fair, you are simply quoting Axelrod's spin on the story."

The point is that Axelrod, and effectively Obama, are on the record now with this assertion; if some evidence turned up that Axelrod were lying, it would be somewhat damaging to Axelrod's and Obama's credibility.

i think this is a great analogy to tie in kissinger. yglesias made a similar pont about how you could "liberal hawks" as just as bad as ayers in that they express thier commitment through violence, etc.

one is socially acceptable, another isn't. but i sure don't see that much of a substantive difference. dead people are dead. blown up things are blown up

Gary and Eric, you're right. I'm pretty sure that I've never before been accused of inflating Kissinger's achievements. Gotta love it.

Didn't Christopher Hitchens pen some nasty stuff about Kissinger? I wonder what he thinks of the good Docktor these days?

"Didn't Christopher Hitchens pen some nasty stuff about Kissinger?"

Kissinger has always been an obsession of C. Hitchens, and a reminder of back in the day when Hitchens was less addled. Hitchens wrote a short book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, which was turned into a documentary. Highlights of the book here and here.

It starts off:

It will become clear, and may as well be stated at the outset, that this is written by a political opponent of Henry Kissinger. Nonetheless, I have found myself continually amazed at how much hostile and discreditable material I have felt compelled to omit. I am concerned only with those Kissingerian offenses that might or should form the basis of a legal prosecution: for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture.
You probably get the idea.

In 1968, I worked in a minimum wage clerical job under terrible conditions (including a LOT of forced overtime by minimum wage staff that was neither recorded nor paid for). Somewhat quixotically (I was 18) I tried to start a labor union. Two colleagues joined me in this dangerous endeavor, one of whom was a card-carrying communist. I knew he was a communist, and I totally disagreed and condemned that, but I really wanted that union, and I was willing to work with a colleague who was in that way despicable. If I ran for office, and someone dug up the connection, doubtless that would make me too unpatriotic to run for president.

Twenty years later, in an engineering job, I had a colleague who had been convicted of having sex with a 14 year old under financially coercive conditions. I didn’t feel, and none of my other co-workers felt, that working with the creep made us complicit in his crimes.

Bottom line: this is one more case of Republicans inventing a new moral obligation that no one has ever heard of before (“Thou shalt not work with bad people”) and applying it exclusively to Democrats. (Likewise, in the 1990s, the Republicans discovered that marital fidelity was an absolute requirement in a president. That lasted until they wanted to run John McCain.)
And by the way, Kissinger isn’t the most persuasive example of McCain palling around with terrorists- G. Gordon Liddy is. Liddy plotted firebombing the Brookings Institute, and also plotted the murder of liberal journalist Jack Anderson. That’s terrorism in my book. (Liddy never actually carried out these plans, since he was told to desist by the Nixon administration, but Ayers never killed anyone either.) McCain has appeared on Liddy’s radio show, and told him he was “proud” of him. That, my friends, is palling around with terrorists. (Link:

And of course, we mustn't forget that terrorism is a conveniently elastic concept. Or as Roger Woddis 'Ethics for Everyman' has it:

Throwing a bomb is bad,
Dropping a bomb is good;
Terror, no need to add,
Depends on who's wearing the hood.

The rest of the poem is still quite relevant as well.

(But then Woddis was a dangerous radical who never killed anyone that I know of).

Oh so sick of "terrorist"; so misused.

Ayers was a classic terrorist-- act of violence by an out-group member to draw attention to a cause.

Kissinger-- the deeds he was complicit in were either assassinations (the utility of the act was in the death of target, not the message sent) or state terror (coercive violence against the people to maintain the power of the state), or straight up war crimes.

Of course the low-cognitive american is going to hear "War criminal" as "American War" + "criminal" == not plausible.

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