View Full Version : U.S. Issues William Ayers - Obama fact check

08-24-2008, 08:26 PM
There has been a sudden spate of blog items and newspaper articles, mainly in the British press, linking Barack Obama to a former member of the radical Weather Underground Organization that claimed responsibility for a dozen bombings between 1970 and 1974. The former Weatherman, William Ayers (http://www.billayers.org/index.php), now holds the position of distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Although never convicted of any crime, he told the New York Times (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F02E1DE1438F932A2575AC0A9679C8B63) in September 2001, "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough."

Both Obama and Ayers were members of the board of an anti-poverty group, the Woods Fund of Chicago (http://www.woodsfund.org/Folder_1042751691717/Folder_1063313904706/File_1063313710297), between 1999 and 2002. In addition, Ayers contributed $200 to Obama's re-election fund to the Illinois State Senate in April 2001, as reported here (http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/ContribListSearches.aspx?NavLink=1). They lived within a few blocks of each other in the trendy Hyde Park section of Chicago, and moved in the same liberal-progressive circles.

Is there anything here that raises questions about Obama's judgment or is this just another example of guilt by association?
The Facts

The first article in the mainstream press linking Obama to Ayers appeared in the London Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=511901&in_page_id=1811) on February 2. It was written by Peter Hitchens, the right-wing brother of the left-wing firebrand turned Iraq war supporter, Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens cited the Ayers connection to bolster his argument that Obama is "far more radical than he would like us to know."
The Hitchens piece was followed by a Bloomberg article last week pointing to the Ayers connection as support for Hillary Clinton's contention that Obama might not be able to withstand the "Republican attack machine (http://fe15.news.re3.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20080215/pl_bloomberg/aui514sg_cta)." Larry Johnson, a former counterterrorism official at the CIA and the State Department, predicted that the Republicans would seize (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-c-johnson/no-he-cant-because-yes_b_87036.html)on the Ayers case, and other Chicago relationships, to "bludgeon Obama's presidential aspirations into the dust."
The London Sunday Times joined the chorus (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article3382313.ece) this weekend by reporting that Republicans were "out to crush Barack by painting him as a leftwinger with dubious support".

The only hard facts that have come out so far are the $200 contribution by Ayers to the Obama re-election fund, and their joint membership of the eight-person Woods Fund Board. Ayers did not respond to e-mails and telephone calls requesting clarification of the relationship. Obama spokesman Bill Burton noted in a statement that Ayers was a professor of education at the University of Illinois and a former aide to Mayor Richard M. Daley, and continued:
Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous. In the short term, the person who has most to gain by speculation about Obama's acquaintance with a former terrorist is Hillary Clinton. The former First Lady likes to present herself as "tested and vetted" after years of exposure to Republican attacks, in contrast to Obama, a relative newcomer to hardscrabble presidential politics. Such arguments resonate with Johnson, the counterterrorism expert, who told me that he is a Clinton supporter, although not involved with the campaign.

But the Obama-Ayers link is a tenuous one. As Newsday pointed out (http://blogs.trb.com/news/local/longisland/politics/blog/2008/02/vetting_obama_hill_has_weather.html), Clinton has her own, also tenuous, Weatherman connection. Her husband commuted the sentences (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20010120/aponline135239_000.htm) of a couple of convicted Weather Underground members, Susan Rosenberg and Linda Sue Evans, shortly before leaving office in January 2001. Which is worse: pardoning a convicted terrorist or accepting a campaign contribution from a former Weatherman who was never convicted?

Whatever his past, Ayers is now a respected member of the Chicago intelligentsia, and still a member of the Woods Fund Board. The president of the Woods Fund, Deborah Harrington (http://www.woodsfund.org/about/staff), said he had been selected for the board because of his solid academic credentials and "passion for social justice."

"This whole connection is a stretch," Harrington told me. "Barack was very well known in Chicago, and a highly respected legislator. It would be difficult to find people round here who never volunteered or contributed money to one of his campaigns."

08-24-2008, 08:37 PM
what was your old screen name?Logical, Vlad Logicslav, Vlad Logiclost, Ill-logical. (I just had the mods change my username, I don't use any of those at the same time).

08-24-2008, 08:45 PM
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08-24-2008, 08:48 PM

I wonder where I got all of that... I had 400 something yesterday.
Deal, I feel like I am sort of taking candy from a young child.:evil:

08-24-2008, 08:49 PM

I wonder where I got all of that... I had 400 something yesterday.

rep gives you cash. Neg rep gives a lot.

08-24-2008, 09:13 PM
Shit... I just lost it all on the slots.
You doodle head, I guess I get both your avy and sig for that mistake.

08-24-2008, 09:16 PM
Shit... I just lost it all on the slots.

No worries, if you can't pay up when it's time to bet, I will just give you a bunch of neg rep and that will give you the cash you need to pay up. :evil:

08-24-2008, 11:16 PM
The ironic thing about that Ayers "didn't do enough' quote is that he said it in the 9/11/01 edition of the New York Times. I saw a conservative group release a hit job ad on Obama that gave the quote and the date and I immediately thought that he was referencing the events of that day (which is what the group wanted people to think by adding the date, I'm sure) but it was actually just an incredible coincidence.

08-25-2008, 12:38 PM
Logical, Vlad Logicslav, Vlad Logiclost, Ill-logical. (I just had the mods change my username, I don't use any of those at the same time).

That was "Vlib Logiclost".

08-29-2008, 01:18 PM

I wonder where I got all of that... I had 400 something yesterday.
Rexjake I believe you owe me 970 casino cash dollars.

08-29-2008, 01:39 PM
Logical, Vlad Logicslav, Vlad Logiclost, Ill-logical. (I just had the mods change my username, I don't use any of those at the same time).

What were all of the others you were using at the same time?

You did exile yourself because you were caught.

Inquiring minds want to know!

08-29-2008, 04:40 PM
What do all the little red dots at the bottom of your posts mean again?

08-31-2008, 02:28 PM
John M. Murtagh
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.

John M. Murtagh is a practicing attorney, an adjunct professor of public policy at the Fordham University College of Liberal Studies, and a member of the city council in Yonkers, New York, where he resides with his wife and two sons.


08-31-2008, 02:33 PM
That casino cash robbery was easier than mine..... :)