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Barack Obama, Bill Ayers and Me

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Bill Ayers is, by all accounts, a mild-mannered professor in his mid-sixties who teaches at the University of Illinois. He lives with his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. That’s the same neighborhood in which Barack Obama and his family live. Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, lives there as well. So does my sister and her husband. My brother-in-law teaches at the University of Chicago Medical School. Before getting elected to the United State Senate, Obama taught at its Law School.

Hyde Park is a genteel, slightly upscale, southside neighborhood that borders the campus of the University of Chicago. It’s a neighborhood that’s not marked by great wealth, but it does have a racially mixed population filled with various kinds of professionals who prefer urban to suburban living. It has lots of bookstores, organic food outlets, funky cafes, interesting restaurants, coffee houses and an extraordinary intellectual life.

Hyde Park is surrounded on its other three sides by far less well off black, urban ghettos. It was in these surrounding neighborhoods that Obama cut his teeth as a community organizer in the eighties.

It seems that when Barack Obama first decided, in the mid-nineties, to run for state political office in Illinois, Ayers and Dohrn hosted an event in their home to raise money for his campaign. The relationship remained casual. In subsequent years Obama and Ayers served together on the boards of several community organizations concerned with educational issues. On occasion they would see each other on the street and say hello.

The McCain campaign has begun to panic in the face of plummeting polling numbers with only three weeks to go until the election. Deciding they cannot defeat Obama on the issues, they have decided to attack him personally. “Who is Barack Obama? Do we really know him? Is he really an American like us? Does he share our American values?” intone regularly both McCain and Palin. A conservative white candidate from Alaska asking whether Obama is “really an American like the rest of us” is purely and simply a set of racist code words designed to scare borderline voters and strike fire into the soul of the Republican base.

Palin, an embarrassment whose palpable lack of intelligence is exceeded only by President Bush at the national political level, has been a particularly venomous attack dog of late. She’s been running around the country delivering an only slightly veiled racist attack questioning Obama’s patriotism, concern for America and suggesting that he’s sympathetic to terrorism. Here’s where Bill Ayers comes in.

Actually, I’m rather surprised that Ayers has become nemesis #1 in this case. While certainly an SDS activist and early Weather Underground member, Ayers was clearly secondary to Bernardine Dohrn in terms of prominence. In those days they were not yet married. In the late sixties she was the epitome of the white student radical leftist. Relatively speaking, Ayers was secondary. Nearly four decades later he’s been turned into a national political issue.

Back in the sixties, Ayres and Dohrn were anti Vietnam war activists in an organization called Students for a Democratic Society. In the fifties, SDS had been the youth group of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID) which itself had come out of the left wing of the old industrial unions grouped in the CIO. In the early sixties, SDS declared itself independent of the LID and became, by far, the most prominent, campus-based, left wing student organization in America. I was, on several occasions, a member. On those occasions when I was not it was not because of any disagreement but merely because I had not gotten around to renewing my membership.

In those days I was part of a southern-based, civil rights organization called the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC and SDS worked closely together. The primarily black SNCC worked in southern black communities focusing on voting rights and other issues having to do with race, while SDS organized on northern and western, primarily, white campuses. SDS focused on anti-Vietnam war actions as well as more broadly socialist questions.

For a variety of reasons that are too complicated to discuss here, by the late sixties the “movement”, as we called it as a whole, was splitting into a variety of factions: black power, cultural nationalism, Stalinist, Maoist, more moderate mainstream leftists, New Left radicals and so on. SNCC, the organization that I had been part of, was collapsing under its own factional disputes, triggered by government agents provocateurs who had infiltrated as part of an FBI program known as COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO was aimed at debilitating and destroying America’s radical left-wing movement. It accomplished its task.

At its national convention in 1969, SDS was split into factions, driven significantly by the same impulses. On the one side was a Stalinist/Maoist outfit called Progressive Labor (PL) which tried to take over the organization. This was resisted by a faction that called itself the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) which, after vanquishing PL at the ’69 convention, itself split into two groupings; RYM 1 and RYM 2. RYM’s slogan was a line taken from a Bob Dylan song called "Subterranean Homesick Blues," in which Dylan sings “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”.

After a few more splits, one faction of the “Weathermen”, as they were known, changed its name to the Weather Underground and did exactly that; they went underground. At the most there were several dozen members and, perhaps, several hundred more above ground sympathizers. Over the next few years there were several bombings directed at US government facilities; the government that was prosecuting the brutal war against the Vietnamese people. By the mid-seventies it was all over and most of the Weather Underground had been rounded up and put on trial.

This is what happened to Ayers and Dohrn who, turned themselves in to the authorities in 1980. Obama was then a teenager in Hawaii. After settling their legal issues, Ayers and Dohrn went on to live conventional lives. He’s a professor of education at the University of Illinois and she teaches law at Northwestern University. When they were engaged in their radical activities in the early seventies, Barack Obama was eight years old, hardly a fellow conspirator.

Many of us, including me, were, admittedly naïve and romantic about the degree to which we thought it possible for America to change radically and become something entirely new and different. By the end of the sixties, disillusioned completely by what had happened to the movement with which we’d been involved for the previous decade, the radical, revolutionary underground had some attraction and I admit to being tempted to join it. Instead, I gathered up my wife and two small children and went into self-imposed exile in Africa and Europe for the next fifteen years. That was my decision. They made theirs. Ultimately, I found the tactics of the Weather Underground and other similar organizations foolhardy and futile. Eventually they were all run down and disposed of by the FBI. But I cannot, even now, bring myself to criticize Ayers and Dohrn for theirs. Nor am I able to criticize some of my former SNCC comrades for having done the same.

Now, nearly forty years later, the brainless, but scurrilous Sarah Palin and her mentor, John McCain, a man who speaks loudly of honor but who, in fact, despite his military posturing, has none at all, are accusing Obama of “palling around with terrorists”. They impugn the Democratic candidate’s character, integrity and patriotism because he has had a casual professional relationship over the past decade with a couple of middle aged academics, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who live in his neighborhood.

McCain wants to be president far more than he values honor and is all too clearly willing to sell his soul to achieve his goal. There are slightly more than two weeks to go and we can expect the Republicans to engage in even slimier tactics, and they are the masters of the slimy tactic. Honor be damned.

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About Bill Hansen

  • Shamus

    “Personal attacks are not allowed.” I get it Bill, it’s O.K. for you to “attack” and/or vilify John McCain and Sarah Palin, yet act as an apologist for Bill and Bernadine. What was it that Ayers said, “Guilty as Hell, Free as a Bird!” I have had some personal experience with
    them both, primarily Bill. I also knew Abbie Hoffman, well before there was a SNCC or weathermen only SDS. In ’66 he would protest with his happy band of hebrew hippies (mainly female) and he would routinely get the $ hit beat out of him. He would do this daily like clockwork and he would get a beating every day — not by a mob, but by a sort of round-robin tournament so we all had a equal shot at him. I also looked him up at the convention in Chicago, he was still the same coward he was when I first kicked his ass. My only regret is that I didn’t have a shot at Ayers.

    By the way Mr Hansen, I must commend you for leaving this country, and I pray you’re still gone because it’s been a better place without the likes of you and yours!

  • Reader2, I accept your explanation and I’m sorry if I came across as somewhat heavy-handed. We do see quite a bit of the kind of tactics I described, especially here in the Politics section, and the problem only gets worse as the election approaches, with so much at stake.

    As for your linked article, I think Bliffle expresses it quite well. I’m from Europe originally, now live in the US, and am fairly widely travelled. And to be quite frank, it’s hard to find students who are less globally aware than those in American schools.

    I find conspiracy theories, especially those of this type, unhelpful. They’re too reminiscent of the little kid in the park who cries that it’s not fair and he’s taking his ball and going home.

    Sticking to the issues is rather more constructive.

  • reader2

    thank you for reading the “Global Schooling” post i made. I appreciate and respect your opinion.
    🙂 reader2

  • troll

    troll, I’m told the plan is to drastically reduce the population of the planet (by foul means rather than fair).

    oh…..well in that case – carry on I say

    500000000 or bust – !

  • troll, I’m told the plan is to drastically reduce the population of the planet (by foul means rather than fair).

    So far, it seems to be a singularly inept conspiracy.

  • troll

    …what are the objective and strategy of the feared global elite beyond the preservation (via corporatism) of capitalist production and expropriation – ?

    is the ultimate actually the domination of earthlings by some icky ETs

    I mean – wtf – where’s the conspiracy – ?

  • bliffle

    Well, I took a quick look at the URL that ‘reader2’ referenced and quickly dismissed it as ranting.

    The site header says it’s “The August Review – Global Elite Research Center”. It seems that “Global Elite” is a nemesis that this site is dedicated to combating. This is a partisan editorial site, not a fountain of facts.

    The first paragraph says:

    Global Schooling: The Hijacking of American Education

    Why are America’s public schools churning out “world citizens” by the millions? Because the national education system, from the top down, has been literally hijacked by the global elite. They are calling the shots on how Johnny gets educated, and parents can do nothing about it. This issue gives you indisputable evidence that the nefarious goals of the global elite completely exclude patriots and anything resembling Judeo-Christian ethic.

    The rest of the article is predictable.

    For your reading pleasure here’s the final paragraph:

    The reader is finally reminded again that the proof of this takeover is not seen by looking at direct evidence. Trying to pin down specifics is like picking up a slippery bar of soap. The pattern of things can be very clearly seen, however, by examining the people and organizations who have put their own money on the line to bring it about: after all, is there any stronger proof of involvement than committing your own money?

    Read it at the risk of wasting your time.

  • reader2

    Same IP could be the problem. I’m in a house with several others and that other comment came from another living here, not me. I’m passionate about researching both candidates and issues, not one who flings out 1-liners. Thank You for your consideration. Global education happens to be a hot button for me. Dr. Dreadful, if you have a chance, please let me know what you think of the URL i posted. thanks 🙂

  • reader2

    I simply commented on “reader’s” comment. I am not “reader”. Not sure why you would accuse me of that? I’m feeling that since i have a belief contrary to most of the other posts, that i will be unjustly removed and written off as someone commenting on their own posts.

  • Reader2, your IP address is the same as that of ‘openyoureyes’, comment #47.

  • reader2

    This is reader 2 and i respectively want to say that i’m not under another user name as accused above.

  • reader2

    Comment #44 is dead on the money. Education in this country is being used to turn propaganda into “truths”. Sad to see. Check out this article.

    [reader/reader 2/openyoureyes:

    Commenting under multiple user names is not allowed at Blogcritics, and most especially frowned upon is the practice of agreeing with your own comment while pretending to be someone else.

    Any further occurrences of this from you will be summarily deleted, and if you persist you will be blocked from the site.

    Thank you,
    Assistant Comments Editor]

  • openyoureyes

    Radical Left Wing Socialist Question Mark

  • reader,

    Just a bit of fact checking for you. First, her name is Bernardine Dohrn.

    Second: Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, NOT the University of Chicago. Kinda puts a strain on some of your constructs.


  • For anyone who might be interested, here is a link to the Bill Ayers website, and within it to the text of an address he delivered two years ago in Caracas, Venezuela, praising the Bolivarian Revolution educational reforms under the stewardship of President Chavez. There is other interesting stuff there as well.

    I shall neither comment further on, nor provide extracts from, Mr. Ayers’ address, lest they be deemed “out of context.” I do, however, encourage people to read the address and decide whether Mr. Ayers’ philosophy is relevant to Senator Obama’s candidacy and, if so, whether this is the sort of educational reform which is desired in the United States.


  • reader

    Bill, this is one of the silliest apologies for Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorhm, and glossiest dismissals of Senator Obama’s long-standing and deep relationship with them possible.
    Professor Ayers is one of the most influential Education Theorists in America. He was not convicted of his heinous crimes because his rich dad got him off on a technicality. Ms. Dorhm worked at the same law firm as Michelle Obama while Billy was getting his reputation rehabilitated with an Education degree. The Univ. of Chicago Education Department has been the most Radical Left proponent of using the schools to promote the political agenda of the left since the 1920’s. Bill fit right in. He and his brother, also a U of C educator, John Ayers, are the President or Founder or Chairman of an absolute slew of “education experiments”, “charter schools”, “community organizing foundations”. One of Prof. Ayers closest partners in this miasma of Far Left work is another U of C Education guru, Mike Klonsky. Mike Klonsky was also a member of the Weather Underground. He also writes books on how it is the job of a teacher of any subject, for any age group, to teach a super-far-left philosophy to students. He is also President or Chairman or Co Founder of some of the same groups. Basically, the three of them, B. Ayers, J. Ayers, and M. Klonsky simply changed the venue of their violent attack on America from making bombs to writing books on how to brainwash kids, from the safety of a far left nest in the UofC Education Dept., Hyde Park neighborhood where these rich white kids could remain perpetual student activists, and, with Sen. Obama on the board of Anneberg, Ayers’ Woods, and the Joyce Foundation, funnel private and government grant monies to their leftie subversive projects year after year. Professor Ayers has not changed his hate-America philosophy in 40 years: he wants every imaginable ethnic, religious, vocational, and social group to feel that everyone who has something they don’t acquired it by consciously and systematically victimizing them. He still spouts the language of that philosophy at every opportunity, quite publicly, and is hailed in academic circles, long the bastion of the left, for doing so. This indolent son of a rich and powerful man who must have rejected him at some point has been taking it out on America his whole life, and has used Sen. Obama (did he ghost write some of Dreams for the budding author, who had never written anything else?) to further his agenda. By the way, Bill, as an avowed socialist teaching political science in Africa, and dedicated student of Frantz Fanon, the hero of anti-French colonial grassroots socialism, do you think a few passages in Senator Obama’s books are uncannily similar to annecdotes related by Fanon in his book, “Black Skin, White Masks”? Why would Obama, who came from the American upper middle class and attended an elite Hawaiian prep school with other kids of mixed ancestry, raised by a prominent banker, feel the angst of African or West Indies people who suffered under French, German, Italian or Belgian colonists right up to present times? Answer: only if his radical friends encouraged him to. Since, like Bill Ayers, you transitioned from young activist to respectable educator without giving up your socialist philosophy, why do you blandly suggest that Bill Ayers did, or that he would not have a profound affect on the thinking of Mr. Obama during a couple of decades of shared work on numerous projects? Doesn’t that sort of dismiss Mr. Ayers abilities as one of America’s foremost education thinkers and mentors of agents of change?

  • Les Slater

    Justthe Facts,

    I know how unsavory those that you mention are. I do sometimes find myself bumping into those types. I find them nauseating.

    Your problem is that you take their self-labels as good coin. The sixties are long past, and some who expressed their misguided passions, then in destructive ways, have not only made peace with the system but have become part of the system, and profit from it. It’s a racket.

    This layer is a trap designed to take in the young, idealistic, but inexperienced people, and suck them into the Democratic Party. It’s nothing new. They are not revolutionaries.


  • Justthe Facts


    Do you believe the majority of independent voters understand Obama’s socialist views and associates? If they did would he still lead in the polls?

    ACORN. “I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois. Obama told ACORN members in November.(Acorn has a long history in voter fraud)(Now Obama is distancing himself from Acorn with denials on his web site)

    Small Schools Network run by Ayers’ comrade from the 60s, ex-Maoist Mike Klonsky. Mike Klonsky is one of the founders of Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (USA) and the Students for a Democratic Society a fervent Obama supporter, friend and former member of the terrorist group the Weatherman

    What about Obama’s mentor “Frank” is Frank Marshall Davis, who was publicly identified as a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).

    Obama’s socialist backing goes back at least to 1996, when he received the endorsement of the Chicago branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) for an Illinois state senate seat. Later, the Chicago DSA newsletter reported that Obama, as a state senator, showed up to eulogize Saul Mendelson, one of the “champions” of “Chicago’s democratic left” and a long-time socialist activist

    Marilyn Katz has said of her activities that she wanted the U.S. to become a socialist paradise. She is a close friend of Barack Obama. Katz is a member of Obama’s national finance committee.

    Ingrid Mattson: President of the troubling Islamic Society of North America, a group named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorist trial, and a woman whom Obama invited to lead prayer at the Democrat Convention, which she did.

    Alice Palmer- who selected Obama to take her Illinois Seat. She was an executive board member of the U.S. Peace Council, which the FBI identified as a communist front group, an affiliate of the World Peace Council, a Soviet front group. Palmer gushed at the “Soviet plan to provide people with higher wages and better education” and spoke of the efficiency of the Soviets’ most recent five-year plan, attributing its success to “central planning.”

    Rev Wright you’ve seen that video as well.

    Rev James Meeks – Barack Obama said was a spiritual adviser and/or guide.

    Father Michael Pfleger you’ve seen the video.

    “I’m saddened by today’s verdict,” Obama said Wednesday. “This isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew, but now he has been convicted by a jury on multiple charges that once again shine a spotlight on the need for reform.”At first, Rezko was linked to Obama through two 2005 real estate purchases in which the senator bought a Chicago mansion at less than the asking price on the same day Rezko and his wife, Rita, purchased a lot adjacent to the property. Rita Rezko then sold part of the lot to Obama. Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times the real estate purchase was “an area where I can see sort of a lapse in judgment, where I could have said, ‘No, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

    Hatem El-Hady’s web page has now vanished from the Obama campaign website. No explanations given
    Michelle Obama’s name isn’t there because Hatem El-Hady’s put it there — it’s there because she chose to be listed as his friend.

    Khalidi, a Yasser Arafat toady, got $75,000 through Obama and Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers from the Woods Foundation, and later Khalidi returned the favor by hosting a fundraiser for Obama.

  • Les Slater


    “First, you’re the one who said Obama WAS one of those far left liberals…”

    I called him a left liberal, not a far left liberal, whatever that might be. To be more specific, he was a social liberal. He still might be called a liberal but he has moved to the right his whole campaign.

    In modern U.S. history, it is the capitalist class that decides who gets elected. No one gets elected to significant office without the backing of at least a significant minority of the capitalist class.

    What you seem to fear in Obama is that he may make radical encroachments on personal freedoms and property. You must have noted that the banks are being at least partially nationalized in the most bipartisan fashion, under a Republican administration with most of the financial leadership also being Republican. These moves are designed to prevent not only the banking system from collapsing, but the capitalist system as well. The capitalist system is truly in a deepening, and I say irreversible, crisis.

    Obama will play his part. If he does move to the left, it will because the capitalists see that as tactically advisable. If McCain were to be elected, he would also be compelled to do what the capitalists thought was needed, even if that meant a sharp turn to the left.

    I don’t know, or care, if Ayers claims to be, or even thinks, he is a communist, Marxist or Leninist. I learned a long time ago that most of those are blowhard fakes.

    And, oh yes, radical can be right, as well as left. A right radical is, or is at least closer to, fascism than revolution. And I’ve seen a lot on the so-called left that is dangerously close to moving in a fascist direction.


  • Size matters, almost as much as location with respect to real estate.

    Yeah, I expect that in south Florida 3mil won’t get you a mansion.

    I looked at a house today – nothing special. It about a 2500 sq.ft. traditional 2 story built on a crawl w/a 3 car garage around 17 years old. It is a repo and vacant. Not in great shape, but not bad either. The people who lost the home paid around $225000 for it in 2002. It is now being purchased for $165000. That’s more than a 25% drop in value. That’s pretty scary. It’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

    My business is the worst it’s been in the 22 plus years I’ve been appraising. My wife and I have signed up to do some substitute teaching. If things don’t pick up within the next few weeks, we may find ourselves without a home. I guess we can get comfortable in our Subaru Outback.


  • Jordan Richardson

    Jordan’s just stopping by to say hello.

  • Clavos


    My best pal here in Miami owns a home he bought 17 years ago for $750K. Today, even after the contraction in the market, it’s worth about $3M.

    It’s about 3700 Sq. Ft., 4 br, 4.5 ba, pool, 2 car garage.

    Nice house, but it’s NOT a mansion.

    Clavos still agrees with you.

  • Oh for christ’s sake Hel, put a cork in it. If you want to call Obama’s house a mansion, knock yourself out. I’d venture to say that I know a great deal more about homes than you ever will, but screw it.

    As I stated above, if you drive north up to Evanston or Wilmette you will find hundreds of homes similar to Obama’s. They aren’t considered mansions.

    Perceptions vary, but in my mind, a mind that has considered the nature and value of something like 12000 homes over the last 22 years, a “mansion” is an exceptional home – generally larger and grander than most in the area. It is my understanding that there are a number of homes in the Hyde Park area which are similar to Obama’s. Obama’s home is NOT exceptional in its neighborhood.

    Even in central Indiana, $1.65 million will NOT get you a mansion.

    Nobody really gives a crap about this. As I noted, I brought it up out of a bit of boredom, but didn’t anticipate you would raise such a hissy fit because a challenged your characterization of Obama’s house as a mansion.

    But again, if it makes you feel better, yes, yes, yes, Barack and Michelle Obama live in one hell of a mansion!!! Hell, its a friggin palace!!!

    No, I’ll take that back. The Schönbrunn in Vienna is a palace. I have no idea what the square footage is, but it has around 2000 rooms. Now that’s a palace.


  • Franco

    #35 — October 17, 2008 @ 20:10PM — Les Slater

    Get serious. So you really believe Obama and Ayers are revolutionaries? Ayers may pretend to be, I even doubt that.

    Obama supports the capitalist system. He supports the bailout of the wall St fat cats. He’s a cheerleader for the imperialist war in Afghanistan. Where on earth do you get the idea that he’s a revolutionary????

    First, you’re the one who said Obama WAS one of those far left liberals as Justthe Facts describes in post #28. Those are your own words.

    Second, the only thing you have to support your claim that he is no longer one of those far left liberals are his campaign stump speeches. Les, I got a bridge for sale I want you to see!

    Obama is a far left as they come, more then any other candidate that has ever tried for the office. He is already giving us advanced notice that he going to implement unjust law upon the freedoms of Americans by deciding who has achieved too much, and take what he considers excess from them, and give it to those he decides have not achieved enough. That is unjust law because it is plunder.

    Now let me ask you. The law is they’re to protect each of our lives, liberties, and property from unjust plunder by others. I can not come into your house and take one of your two TV’s just because I do not have even one. If I try to take one of yours, I will go to jail and pay a fine. So how is it that it is not unjust law for the government to do what the law would put you and I in jail for doing. That is pretty fucking revolutionary by no stretch of the imagination.

    And this is only what he has admitted to on the campain trail. Where dose it stop once the American people are places on this slope? Because that unjust thinking is un-American and he will have that thinking when he has all the power. And magnum power it will be with the likes of Pelosi and Reed in the house and senete.

    Now as for Ayers, he is a communist and not ashamed of it, and although he is not setting off imposverised explosive divices anymore, he is not sorry for doing it. So he is still trying to set off all the bombs he can though his community efforts in supporting the training of the community to think in terms of Marx and Lennon to change the US government to fall in line with that socialist thinking. He is only one of many. That is were a lot of the money went from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

    He denounces the free market capitalistic system and lauds Castor and Chavez as the truth. He has chosen this course way back in the 60’s and 70’s instead of working to try to fix the unjust laws of capitalism like corporate welfare, tax fraud, and a number of other ills.

    That thinking and those efforts are revolutionary today, just as they have always been.

    I disgress.

  • Les Slater


    Get serious. So you really believe Obama and Ayers are revolutionaries? Ayers may pretend to be, I even doubt that.

    Obama supports the capitalist system. He supports the bailout of the wall St fat cats. He’s a cheerleader for the imperialist war in Afghanistan. Where on earth do you get the idea that he’s a revolutionary????


  • bicho: you make the mistake of thinking Baronius uses or cares for facts.

    exactly. the spinning is getting pretty intense. i swear, it could be discovered that palin was doing mccain in the back room with a strap-on and somehow, that would be…i dunno, family values or something.

  • If people out there are going to use a linguist’s term “code” please use it properly. There is code-switching which means going back and forth between two languages, standard or non standard.

    And it is “code” not “code words” people are saying and writing “code words” people it is just code! Use in a sentence:

    Saying uppity is code for well-educated black people who don’t know their place is something I don’t agree with.

    from linguist.com here it is used in context:
    “Furthermore, the analysis must be event-specific, because
    “the definition of the codes used in code-switching may be an
    interactional achievement which is not prior to the conversation […]
    but subject to negotiation between participants” (p. 15).

  • Franco

    #30 — Les Slater

    Justthe Facts #28,

    You describe a left liberal. Obama WAS one of those but has dissociated himself from that and is now just a pro-war, right-wing Democrat.

    Thinking Obama, or even Ayers, is a revolutionary of any kind, is just plain ignorant.

    Les, who do you think you are fooling?

    Or if you believe what you say, state your case in defense of that just plain ignorant thinking.

  • Mansions built in the 1920s and even homes are much smaller and built on a smaller scale than homes built now. That is part of the HOUSING problem people. There’s your problem. Why should my cousin’s MacMansion in a nice Detroit burb be a “Macmansion” and not one smaller? My home was built in 1924. And because mom stayed home most homes like mine have only one full bathroom. Think about it: that is unheard of in a home with less square foot than mine.

    You cannot compare historic homes with new crap.

    We are in a sense comparing apples and oranges. Give me a 1920 mansion over one built today any day.

    The fools who bought a 30,000 or 50,000 sq foot house are plain stupid and how do we know that? Because they can’t sell them. Who wants to pay the bills.

    In Florida the illegals built condos and stupid greedy people bought them up (the dreaded flippers) and now are stuck with THEM! Eat it stupid!

    I have no sympathy for them. There’s your talk about housing crisis.

    Back to the mansion question: yes, it is a mansion and the only descrepancy is that 50,000 has to be a mansion! Look at the old mansions in Hollywood. They are smaller, stately, and yes mansions. It is also a question of where it was built.

    The “appraiser” there does not know his history or basic facts. He is confusing an estate of some landed gentry, like ones in England with a basic city-side mansion. Go to Boston and see what 5 million will buy you in the city.


  • Les Slater

    Justthe Facts #28,

    You describe a left liberal. Obama WAS one of those but has dissociated himself from that and is now just a pro-war, right-wing Democrat.

    Thinking Obama, or even Ayers, is a revolutionary of any kind, is just plain ignorant.


  • Cindy D

    I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.

    Gasp! He actually said that? That must mean he thinks something is wrong with the gospel of capitalism. The heretic!

  • Justthe Facts

    The Ayers Obama connection is their shared view in the use of education to promote socialism and communism. Obama funded it for Ayers at all the foundations they served on.

    Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer. . . For instance, at a November 2006 education forum in Caracas, Venezuela, with President Hugo Chávez at his side, Ayers proclaimed his support for “the profound educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chávez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.” Ayers concluded his speech by declaring that “Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education—a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation,” and then, as in days of old, raised his fist and chanted: “Viva Presidente Chávez! Viva la Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!”

  • Baronius

    And I’m still waiting for Bill to back up his claim of racism, or apologize for it.

  • Mark, you make the mistake of thinking Baronius uses or cares for facts.

  • Baronius

    Mark, did you read the piece? McCain’s sin was saying that Obama called Ayers “just” a guy from his neighborhood. Obama’s sin was calling Ayers a guy from his neighborhood. McCain’s trying to overstate the connection, and Obama’s trying to understate it. But look at the actual connection, and you’ll find that Ayers did aid Obama’s political life and that the two of them worked on some pretty radical education programs.

  • …and factcheck.org debunked the whole thing.

  • Baronius

    “A “meet the candidate” get together apparently took place near the beginning of Obama’s Senatorial campaign.”

    Fascinating use of the passive voice. It would be more accurate to say that Ayers and Dohrn hosted the first campaign event in Obama’s political career. It was presumably intended to attract sympathetic people, the message being that if you liked the Weather Underground, you’ll love Barack Obama. This was Obama’s debutante ball, and his first dance was with former terrorists.

  • What the hell does “palling around” mean, anyhow?

    What we’ve learned about Obama’s relationship to Ayers amounts to sharing time on a couple of boards. A “meet the candidate” get together apparently took place near the beginning of Obama’s Senatorial campaign. It has been noted that Ayers gave $200 to that campaign.

    Does that meet the standard for “palling around?”

    Did they ‘hang out’ together? Did they share beers at a Hyde Park pub? I doubt that, but even if they did, so what?

    What is the worst case scenario that could come out of that relationship? Did Ayers brainwash Obama. Did he inculcate Obama into being a violent radical who will use the White House to imprison right wingers?


  • Cannonshop

    #20 Shyla, it’s a matter of perspective. Ayers and Dorhn and their compatriots are heroes of the American Left, which is an interesting status when you really sit back and think about it. A lot of that status comes from fond romanticizing of the Counterculture of the sixties. Obama associating with Ayers isn’t crippling within the Left, it’s seen as a “Positive” within the Left. It’s only viewed negatively by those who don’t share their ‘progressive’ standards.

  • Shyla

    How can you be so indifferent? I wonder if 40 years from now Osama Bin Laden will be hosting political parties in Chicago. Will the Chicago University hire him because he is brilliant and was able to allude capture? Will everyone wonder what the big deal was? Will people like yourself be spreading the story that 911 was planned by the police, fire department and government? Questioning why a person who wants to be Commander in Chief of the US pals around with criminals or terrorists or whatever you want to call Ayer&Dorhn is not racist… it has nothing to do with race. The fact that you don’t care says a lot about your character.

  • Cindy D

    I thought it was fun. It didn’t involve hardly any research.

  • zingzing

    jesus christ. why are we talking about how big his house is?

    this is really getting pathetic.

    let’s talk about the economy, iraq, healthcare, civil rights…

    for fuck’s sake…

  • Cindy D

    Obama’s “mansion” is about twice as big as mine.

  • Cindy D

    17,000 sf? where did that come from?

  • I knew my defining what I consider a mansion would get a rise out of some of you.

    Clav, thanks for getting my back {:)>

    Words like mansion and estate are fairly nebulous and relative terms. My 1500 square foot Bedford Stone ranch home would, I suppose, seem a sprawling mansion to someone who had lived their lives in a one room mud hut. To most, though, it’s just an average home in my neighborhood.

    The home of the former CEO of Conseco Insurance Company pretty much meets my personal criteria for a mansion. It is approximately 30000 square feet and it sits on about 20 acres of ground. It’s currently available for about twenty mil.

    There are a number of homes similar to Obama’s north of Chicago in Evanston and further north in Wilmette and Winnetka. They are impressive, grand homes, but not really what I would consider as mansions.

    But, I guess it is, in fact, all relative.


  • Cannonshop

    17,000 sf isn’t a mansion? huh??

    you can get a pretty decent house for a family of four for around 2000 square feet.

    Let’s see… is this a mansion?

    Real-estate values in Washington are inflated pretty heavily, but…

  • rates in Chicago must be bad if you can get close to a mansion for that kind of money. No chance in California.

    El Bicho would also like to point out that back in primary school El Bicho used a dictionary. El Bicho is sure it is no coincidence that El Bicho has influenced many others like Heloise to do the same.

  • Baronius

    “Racist code words”? That doesn’t even make any sense. Obama’s black. How is it racist to link him to two white people?

  • Clavos

    Since he’s a professional appraiser of many years’ standing, Baritone’s definition of what constitutes a mansion is far more definitive than you, the Sun Times, and the dictionary put together, Heloise; even in triplicate.

  • Sarah

    Calling them racist, brainless, etc. ? Then calling your lovely lady of Northwestern a middle aged academic ?!? This lady was on the FBI’s top ten most wanted list for God sake. Oops, you probably do not think there is a God either. What a slanderous and racist article you have written. You, my friend are the racist. Stand up and admit your bias. Be a man.

  • Defintion from dictionary.com

    And link of mansion below. And yes, it fits the definition. The homes near me where the rich used to live look just like his home and they are mansions.

    man·sion /ˈmænʃən/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[man-shuhn] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun 1. a very large, impressive, or stately residence.

    10, 2007 from a Chicago Sun Times article where they tried to tie Rezko around Obama’s neck:

    “BY TIM NOVAK Staff Reporter
    For $1.5 million, you can buy the vacant lot next door to Sen. Barack Obama’s mansion in Chicago’s historic Kenwood neighborhood.

    It’s the same land that has been giving Obama political headaches for nearly two years — ever since he bought a sliver of it from the wife of Tony Rezko, the now indicted businessman who was once Obama’s political patron.”

    Obama’s mansion in Kenwood (Chicago)

  • I think refering to Obama’s home as a mansion is a bit of a stretch. Is it big? Yes. A mansion? Mmmmmm, no.

    I’m guessing that the house has about 5000 square feet of above grade living space – maybe a bit larger.

    I’ve been a residential real estate appraiser for more than 20 years. I have inspected a number of homes similar to Obama’s. I’ve never considered them to be mansions. I appraised Reggie Miller’s house. It measures at around 17000 square feet. I’ve inspected a couple of others measuring around 15000 to 16000 square feet – still small by some standards – but keep in mind, I live in Indy. Those homes come closer to being what someone would consider to be a bonafide mansion.

    I know, this is hardly worth discussion. But I’m sitting here rather bored with itchy fingers hovering over my keyboard.


  • If you dig a ditch better dig two one for me and one for you…so it goes…McCain et al camp found out the hard way.

    My sister and husband also live in Hyde Park as I’ve mentioned in other articles. I grew up in Chatham but we went to Harper’s Court every weekend, fav spot for folks to play chess in Hyde Park.

    Obama’s mansion is in Kenwood, a few blocks north of HP where he had a condo. Yeah, I passed by Farrahkans mansion all the time.

    And by the way my same sister who lives in HP has a step daughter who is married to the son of Wallace Deen Muhammed (who died recently at guess what 72, the same age as McCAIN!!!) but there was no real news about it.

    If the black muslims were so damned threatening why is news about them like a blip on the media screen? So, does that make me a Muslim sympathizer or terrorist because I have in laws who are Muslims and my own religion is an offshoot of Islam? I don’t think so.


  • bliffle

    Colombia is our best ally in the region?

    I don’t think so. It seeems to me we have forced a relationship with Colombia in order to try to interdict coca shipments.

  • Les Slater

    “Frankly, most people have no idea who or what ACORN is.”

    But they got a little bit of an eye opener about Colombia in last night’s debate.

    McCain: Free trade with Colombia is something that’s a no-brainer. But maybe you ought to travel down there and visit them and maybe you could understand it a lot better.

    Obama: Let me respond. Actually, I understand it pretty well. The history in Colombia right now is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination on a fairly consistent basis and there have not been prosecutions.

    McCain: Well, let me just said that that this is — he — Senator Obama doesn’t want a free trade agreement with our best ally in the region….

    Right, that’s the kind of ally the U.S. is quite comfortable with.

    Was Obama supposed to say what he did?

  • Bill,

    Very good, well written article. Of course, those who oppose Obama will likely not accept your explanation of the Ayers/Obama relationship.

    The “guilt by association” that the Republicans are trying to establish apparently is not working all that well.

    They are getting a similar lack of bounce from their charges that Obama is a shill for ACORN. Frankly, most people have no idea who or what ACORN is. The silliness of it broadens when we see video of McCain attending an ACORN convention as its keynote speaker back in 2006. What’s up with that?

    Hell, I knew Bill and Emily Harris at Indiana University – had coffee and split a couple of joints with them at a mutual friend’s home. I performed in a play with Angela DeAngelis Atwood at the IU Theatre. All three subsequently became members of the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) which perpetrated the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. I guess that makes me a violent radical. If I’m not there already, writing this will likely get me placed on some kind of “watch” list. After all, I set off some firecrackers when I was around twelve. I was obviously, even then, in training to become a terrorist bomber.


  • Emily

    bull shit

  • Les Slater

    I was briefly attracted to the Weather Underground as I rapidly moved from right-wing Republican to a more considered and serious political outlook and activity.

    First, it was the May Day, 1971, fiasco in Washington, DC. It was a bunch of what I would later call ultra-lefts who claimed that they were going to shut down the Pentagon. It ended up that they dumped tacks/nails in the streets and pissed off everyone. How unserious! I totally dismissed them as anything worth looking to.

    Second, on August 15, 1971, the U.S. went off the gold standard. I had previously been frustrated by not only the crimes of the U.S. but its seemingly all-powerful ability to get away with anything it pleased. August 15 exposed the kinks in the armor, the Achilles heel.

    Investigating the economics, and its political consequences, of this shift has been a major factor of my analysis since.

    Now back to the ultra-lefts. Their ideology, and professed tactics, left them open to police provocateurs, who posed as the most radical. It was estimated that about 50% of the bombings were carried out by, or at the instigation of cops.