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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bill Ayers ought to be hiding under a rock.

Below I write about the Obamas and the Rezkos. Another possibly embarrassing acquaintance of Obamas would be with the former Weather people Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

My conclusions are that Class privilege is alive and well in American and that Bill Ayers ought to hide his head in shame. However, I don't think Obama did anything wrong at all.

This one will require no memory, because there is a good article by Scott Shane in the New York Times on the issue. I think the whole issue is silly, and I'm sure a balanced (note just one l) article which gives the concluding words to Bill Hayden

“If Barack Obama says he’s willing to talk to foreign leaders without preconditions,” Mr. Hayden said, “I can imagine he’d be willing to talk to Bill Ayers about schools. But I think that’s about as far as their relationship goes.”

will hurt Obama, because people remember the accusation and not the conclusion. Still the article seems thorough and convincing. In particular it seems clear to me that, after investigating I'm sure, Shane thinks that there the minor association with Ayers is not a reason to be less enthusiastic about or more opposed to Obama (he doesn't reveal which side he is on). However, he did explore all aspects of that association and reported something obscure which I didn't know anything about (Obama praised a book written by Ayers once)

First who were the weathermen weather underground ? I'm barely old enough to remember, so for the kids they were the radical fringe of the radical fringe of the student left in the USA during the war in Vietnam. They planted bombs mostly in empty buildings (I just learned that one such bomb killed a police officer). They didn't deliberately kill anyone so I would count them as borderline terrorists.

Katharine Boudin, then a former weather person, was convicted of participating in an attempted robbery of an armored car in which someone was killed. She was condemned to a long sentence. The others generally got off very very lightly. Simple membership in a violent organization is not a crime. Also charges were dismissed in some cases due to prosecutorial misconduct (I remember how furious conservatives used to be about cases dismissed on "technicalities" and wonder how many are furious that Ted Stevens just tried to get charges dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct).

Many Weather people had rich parents. They were accused of being rich kids playing at being revolutionaries. This accusation may help explain how they got to be so extremely extreme. Then after 10 years or so as fugitives, they demoncstrated the power of the class system in the USA as their rich parents hired hot shot lawyers who got them off while petty criminals defending by public defenders go to jail.

Later, Bill Ayers became prominent in charities doing good works in Chicago. I assume his principle strength was his family wealth, although I don't doubt that he worked hard.

As such he got a grant to improve schools from the Annenberg challenge funding by the very rich owner of Reader's Digest tv guide (thanks for ccorrection anonymous in comments) and friend of Ronald Reagan Walter Annenberg. "In March 1995, Mr. Obama became chairman of the six-member board that oversaw the distribution of [Annenberg challenge] grants in Chicago. [snip] Archives of the Chicago Annenberg project, which funneled the money to networks of schools from 1995 to 2000, show both men attended six board meetings early in the project — Mr. Obama as chairman, Mr. Ayers to brief members on school issues."

Basically Obama is hanging out with friends of friends of Ronald Reagan and, thus, couldn't help meeting Bill Ayers.


In addition, from 2000 to 2002, the two men also overlapped on the seven-member board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago charity that had supported Mr. Obama’s first work as a community organizer in the 1980s. Officials there said the board met about a dozen times during those three years but declined to make public the minutes, saying they wanted members to be candid in assessing people and organizations applying for grants.

A board member at the time, R. Eden Martin, a corporate lawyer and president of the Commercial Club of Chicago, described both men as conscientious in examining proposed community projects but could recall nothing remarkable about their dealings with each other.

So again, Obama has something to do with rich people who are trying to do some good on the side with their money and so he can't help meeting Bill Ayers.

There was a meeting that was more voluntary, Ayers and Dorhn had a coffee at their house to introduce Obama as a state senate candidate

It was later in 1995 that Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn hosted the gathering, in their town house three blocks from Mr. Obama’s home, at which State Senator Alice J. Palmer, who planned to run for Congress, introduced Mr. Obama to a few Democratic friends as her chosen successor.

Basically Ayers is part of the Chicago establishment. Obama attended board meetings of foundations and a coffee with the outgoing state senator.

Finally Obama read a book by Ayers once and Ayers donated to his re-election campaign.

What we learn is that rich kids can get away with anything. A few bombs haven't caused the upper class to expell Bill Ayers. Now I never liked Marx and tend to resist class based explanations, but, after losing the faith himself I'm sure, Mr Ayers has managed to convince me that old Karl had a point.

My question is how does he look at himself in the mirror ? Not just because of the non lethal terrorism but because of the vanity which lead him to risk helping hawks by creating embarrassment for people who wanted to organize poor communities and improve schools. His duty to the cause of peace was to hide under a rock. If he wants to help the world to make up for his idiotic violence or just to help the world he can send checks to good causes. He should have kept his face far far away from all decent people.


doc said...

Let me see if I understand what has happened.

One man commits a crime, and goes to jail. After he get out, he works very hard at trying to improve conditions for the worst-off in society, including, especially, trying to improve educational opportunities for the poorest families in the city in which he lives and works.

Another man commits a crime, and goes to jail. After he gets out, he gets a job as a radio talk-show host and occasionally encourages his listeners to kill public officials.

One man, running for president, has minimla, tangential contacts with the first man, attending a fund-raising event at his house and serving on the board of directors of the organization deciding how to spend grant money from a (conservative) foundation.

Another man, running for president, goes on the second man's radio program, and says. "I’m proud of you, I’m proud of your family. It’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program...and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.” (,0,3136852.column)

And we're supposed to think that the first candidate is the one with a problem?

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Walter Annenberg ever owned the Reader's Digest. TV Guide, The Racing Form, yes, but not Reader's Digest.