Terrorist-tainted McCain campaign terror-baits Obama

Sarah Palin went on the offensive this weekend, accusing Barack Obama of “paling around with terrorists.” (LAT, Oct. 5) When Obama’s tenuous ties to ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers were brought up a few months back, we pointed out that some of those making hay out of it were themselves far cozier with “terrorists”—such as Pat Buchanan, whose 1996 presidential campaign advisor Larry Pratt “pals around” with Klan and Aryan Nations types. Buchanan now enthuses that “of the four debaters we’ve seen, she [Palin] was the most interesting, attractive of them all.” (NYT, Oct. 3) Indeed, there’s much evidence that Palin and Buchanan—and his vile sidekick Pratt—are the proverbial birds of a feather…

David Neiwert wrote on the Firedoglake blog Sept. 22:

This morning I interviewed John Stein, the former Wasilla mayor who was defeated by Palin in 1996 by using “a quiet campaign by some Palin supporters raising emotional issues like abortion and gun control, which had no apparent tie to municipal politics”—and…a whisper campaign that Stein was secretly Jewish (Stein is a Lutheran).

According to Stein, Palin’s main base of support in that election (and subsequent Wasilla campaigns) was derived from her fellow congregants at Wasilla Bible Church and the larger evangelical Christian community. But it also included some of the Mat-Su [Matanuska-Susitna] Valley’s biggest far-right nutcases—to the extent that she even attempted to reciprocate by appointing one of them to the city’s planning commission.

The connection revolves mostly around three men known to have far-right leanings in the community: a builder named Steven Stoll [later Palin’s abortive appointee to the planning commission], a computer repairman named Mark Chryson [chairman, Alaskan Independence Party, 1997-2003], and a third man named Mike Christ. All three subscribed to a bellicose, “Patriot” movement brand of politics—far-right libertarianism with a John Birch streak.

According to Stein, Steven Stoll—whose local nickname, according to [Progressive Alaska blogger] Phil Munger, is “Black Helicopter Steve”—was involved in militia organizing in Wasilla the 1990s, and subscribed to most of the movement’s paranoid conspiracy theories: “The rumor was that he had wrapped his guns in plastic and buried them in his yard so he could get them after the New World Order took over.”

This wasn’t particularly unusual in the valley at the time. Like much of the rural Northwest, survivalist worldviews often led to Patriot organizing activity and its attendant paranoia: “There were other folks who also got all worked up about the supposed Y2K thing,” Stein said, recalling a home he’d looked at with a full array of bunkers and stored food supplies.

But Stoll, Mike Christ, and Mark Chryson were a special case: “They would demonstrate in front of the Wasilla Council,” recalled Stein, saying that the causes varied but invariably involved an animus to “socialist” government, such as planning and public education. “This same group [Stoll, Christ, and Chryson] also challenged me on whether my wife and I were married because she had kept her maiden name. So we literally had to produce a marriage certificate. And as I recall, they said, ‘Well, you could have forged that.'”

The double standard about terrorism is pretty deeply ingrained in this country, even after Oklahoma City. Islamist or left-wing armed militancy is seen as an existential threat and ultra-toxic contagion (and is always labeled with the T-word)—while that of the radical right is seen as just good ol’ boys having fun (or even as a defense of freedom against Big Government). Blogger Jed Lewison noted on his Jed Report April 27 that John McCain has his own “domestic terrorism problem”—his votes against the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which sought to secure abortion clinics against armed attack:

In both 1993 and 1994, McCain voted against the anti-terrorism measure. On each occasion, McCain was one of thirty radical anti-choice Senators to oppose the bill Fortunately, despite McCain’s opposition, it passed the Senate by a 69-30 margin.

At the time, right-wing anti-choice extremists were terrorizing women, doctors, and clinic staff across the United States with thousands of acts of physical violence and threats of violence each year. The new legislation was necessary because in early 1993, the Supreme Court had ruled that even though the terrorism crossed state lines, the federal government could not protect clinics without a specific grant of statutory authority.

After Dr. David Gunn was murdered by an anti-choice terrorist outside the Pensacola Women’s Medical Services clinic, Congress finally passed the much-needed legislation giving authorities the tool they needed to protect women, doctors, and clinic staff from the ongoing threat of terrorism.

Now maybe there were legitimate civil-liberties arguments against the FACE Act. But why is it necessary for Obama (like Kerry before him) to make all the requisite noises about “killing” Osama bin Laden (who has never been tried in a court of law), yet even this will not immunize him against terrorist-baiting—while nobody (apart from a few marginal left-wing bloggers) calls out McCain as “soft on terrorism”?

Next, let’s put the violence of the Weather Underground in a little context. In a front-page story in the New York Times on the Obama-Ayers controversy Oct. 4 the paper recalls:

In an article that by chance was published on Sept. 11, 2001, The New York Times wrote about Mr. Ayers and his just-published memoir, Fugitive Days, opening with a quotation from the author: “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Three days after the Qaeda attacks, Mr. Ayers wrote a reply posted on his Web site to clarify his quoted remarks, saying the meaning had been distorted.

“My memoir is from start to finish a condemnation of terrorism, of the indiscriminate murder of human beings, whether driven by fanaticism or official policy,” he wrote. But he added that the Weathermen had “showed remarkable restraint” given the nature of the American bombing campaign in Vietnam that they were trying to stop.

The Times delineates the casualties the Weather Underground were responsible for:

Most of the bombs the Weathermen were blamed for had been placed to do only property damage, a fact Mr. Ayers emphasizes in his memoir. But a 1970 pipe bomb in San Francisco attributed to the group killed one police officer and severely hurt another. An accidental 1970 explosion in a Greenwich Village town house basement killed three radicals; survivors later said they had been making nail bombs to detonate at a military dance at Fort Dix in New Jersey. And in 1981, in an armed robbery of a Brinks armored truck in Nanuet, N.Y., that involved Weather Underground members including Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, two police officers and a Brinks guard were killed.

The Weathermen undertook their campaign of bombings in response to the US saturation bombardment of Vietnam—which claimed probably hundreds of thousands of civilian lives, wreaked untold ecological damage, and so shocked the world that the Geneva Conventions were amended in its aftermath to outlaw the practice. However adventurist and counter-productive the Weather bombings were (and they pale in comparison to the deadly violence of the radical-right armed underground of the ’80s and ’90s), they were an effort to resist US government actions which are today legally recognized as criminal.

But while Obama is tarred as a terrorist-lover for his acquaintance with Bill Ayers, McCain is unapologetic for the 23 bombing missions he flew in Vietnam. (Newsweek, July 21) On the contrary, this experience is portrayed as a patriotic duty and touted as qualifying him for the Oval Office.

The racism behind the genocidal US campaign in Southeast Asia is alive and well in John McCain—as his own words reveal. According to press portrayals, such as the above Newsweek story, many in Vietnam are actually rooting for McCain—including Tran Trong Duyet, head of the guard unit at Hoa Lo prison where McCain was held as a POW (the “Hanoi Hilton”), who denies the senator’s claims that he was tortured there. McCain isn’t so forgiving. “I’ll call right now my interrogator that tortured me and my friends a gook,” he said in 2000. “You can quote me.” (NYT, Sept. 20)

Katie Hong wrote in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 2, 2000:

…Sen. John McCain told reporters, “I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.” Although McCain said he was referring only to his prison guards, there are many reasons why his use of the word “gook” is offensive and alarming.

It is offensive because by using a racial epithet that has historically been used to demean all Asians to describe his captors, McCain failed to make a distinction between his torturers and an entire racial group.

It is alarming because a major candidate for president publicly used a racial epithet, refused to apologize for doing so and remains a legitimate contender.

Contrary to McCain’s attempt to narrowly define “gook” to mean only his “sadistic” captors, this term has historically been used to describe all Asians. McCain said that “gook” was the most “polite” term he could find to describe his captors, but because it is simply a pejorative term for Asians, he insulted his captors simply by calling them “Asians”—a clearly disturbing message. To the Asian American community, the term is akin to the racist word “nigger.”

Yet even the Obama campaign is too intimidated to make an issue of this.

Meanwhile, a Support Bill Ayers website has accrued over 500 signatures in protest of the campaign of vilification:

We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack. Ayers is a nationally known scholar, member of the Faculty Senate at UIC, Vice President-elect of the American Educational Research Association, and sought after as a speaker and visiting scholar by other universities because of his exemplary scholarship, teaching, and service.

Whose activities in the 1960s were worse—Bill Ayers’ or John McCain’s? And why is nobody asking this?

  1. Obama keeps reaching back to Chicago political past
    Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) — Nigerian Stock Exchange Chief Executive Officer Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke is being investigated after holding a fund-raising event linked to U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, Agence France-Presse reported.
    U.S. electoral laws forbid donations from foreigners to electoral campaigns.

    Obama keeps reaching back to Chicago political past for policy advisers, and pulling one despicable, vile, and even evil “rabbit” after another out of his hat.
    The list of Barack Obama’s radical associations is long and it keeps getting longer. Some are now well-known, but many are not. They need to be.

    23 years at TUCC with Jeremiah Wright and James Meeks. racist sermons on Youtube.
    He chose the most radical church in the country; chose to immerse himself in hard-core ideological radicalism. Never before has this country considered such a radical leftist for its chief executive.

    Michael Pfleger and his hateful and race-hating ramblings, Obama met while carrying out his own radical social activism as community organizer at ACORN, (radical organization)

    Penny Pritzker, heads Obama camp National Finance Committee was president of Superior Bank – massively failed and she literally bought her way out of jail paying $460 MILLION fine; was the very epicenter of subprime loan scandal” that would come to eat this nation’s financial system alive.

    Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson, former head of Obama’s vice presidential selection committee, discovered he benefited from sweetheart loans from subprime king Countrywide.

    Tony Rezko certainly and his federal indictments and financial dealing with Obamas of course and William Ayers, US terrorist bomber, Obama-co-lecturer, fellow board member, neighbor, and friend.

    Communist Frank Marshall Davis, obama mentor; Saul Alinsky and Gerald Kellman (Kellman’s Woods Fund is how Obama hooked up with terrorist William Ayers)

    Chicago lawyer Mazen Asbahi, appointed as Obama camp national coord for Muslim n affairs also stepped down after news about his stint on the fund’s board – which includes fundamentalist imam – prompting The Wall Street Journal inquiries about relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and his long personal relationship with Hamas Jamal Said.

    Obama desperately needs voters to forget hes the son of a Muslim father who served an incredibly brutal and corrupt Kenyan government; to forget he attended a madrassa in Indonesia and practiced Islam; forget that he campaigned in Kenya on behalf of Raila Odinga, who relied upon chaos, corruption, and violence in his campaign; numerous associations with radical Muslims; forget the photographs of Obama in traditional Muslim clothes, hanging with Muslim radicals such as Mazen Asbahi and anti-Semite Rashid Khalidi.

    The mainstream media has frankly put the security of our great country at risk with an Obama coronation media like CNN & MSNBC is the only way Obama managed to steal the Dem nom. It’s extremely concerning that so many Americans could care less about who their candidate really is?? simply amazing and frankly scarey.


    “The Last 100 Days”
    Hon. James David Manning, PhD.


    1. Did anyone ever tell you that you’re illiterate?
      If the rest of McCain’s army of smear artists are similarly incapable of completing a full sentence, Obama should do just fine.

      You should really lay off the Obama-went-to-a-madrassa line. CNN already thoroughly debunked it. Maybe that’s why the “Hon.” Manning is telling his flock to “boycott” CNN. When it comes to keeping irrational dogmas intact, there’s no substitute for good old fashioned ignorance! (We’d sure like to know where he got his “PhD,” by the way.)

      Gotham Gazette informs us that ACORN is so “radical” that they support the Atlantic Yards mega-development project in Brooklyn. Gee, sounds really dangerous.

      Much of the rest of your slanders are debunked on Snopes.com. But once again, we’d like to know—why is it verboten for Obama to have had a communist friend or two, while it’s OK for Palin to have built her political career by appealing to the militia right?

      Just asking.

  2. Terrorist-tainted McCain campaign terror-baits Obama
    Yes indeed, Bill why aren’t the Democrats seriously taking on the right’s slanders? There is a pathological fear by liberals in general, and Democrats in particular, to challenge the toxic theocratic nonsense of the McCain/Palin/Rove axis in the campaign. The same goes with their refusal to take on the blatant racism and fringe far-right sentiments of the Governor.

    I don’t want to be “inclusive;” I want to win, and that means smashing your opponents. This was the experience of the anti-Operation Rescue clinic defense movement in the Bay Area during the 1990s. We didn’t organize a “focus group” or “town hall meeting” against the Randall Terry and clinic bomber-types. But determined and militant actions that kept the clinics open and sent the theocrats and their militia-loving freaks packing.

    Who was the “we”? Communists, anarchists, Trotskyists, radical feminists, queers and just plain, everyday folks. “Whatever it takes” was our motto, and guess what, we won!

    But that’s then and this is now; besides, I’m voting for Cynthia McKinney!

    1. “Whatever it takes”?
      “Whatever it takes”? Even blowing people up? That’s the definition of extremism, if the word has any meaning at all. You might want to reconsider your motto.

  3. what about Liddy…?

    Ayers was involved with terrorism when Obama was 8 years old. McCain was involved with Gordon Liddy when he (McCain) was in his 40s and 50s.

    And Liddy said on one of his radio shows, that listeners should be prepared to kill BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) agents, and then he described the most effective way to shoot them.

    So Liddy himself was actively supporting the murder of law enforcement officers, and McCain continued to hang out with him.

    Someone needs to get an audio recording of that Liddy quote, and make an ad based on it. That’ll put the Ayers thing in perspective.

  4. McCain’s G. Gordon Liddy problem
    Good catch. This should be forwarded everywhere. Why isn’t this on the front page of the NY Times? Columnist Steve Chapman wrote for the Chicago Tribune May 4 (emphasis added):

    With friends like these …
    McCain finds his own radical friend

    Can a presidential candidate justify a long and friendly relationship with someone who, back in the 1970s, extolled violence and committed crimes in the name of a radical ideology — and who has never shown remorse or admitted error? When the candidate in question is Barack Obama, John McCain says no. But when the candidate in question is John McCain, he’s not so sure.

    Obama has been justly criticized for his ties to former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, who in 1995 hosted a campaign event for Obama and in 2001 gave him a $200 contribution. The two have also served together on the board of a foundation. When their connection became known, McCain minced no words: “I think not only a repudiation but an apology for ever having anything to do with an unrepentant terrorist is due the American people.”What McCain didn’t mention is that he has his own Bill Ayers — in the form of G. Gordon Liddy. Now a conservative radio talk-show host, Liddy spent more than 4 years in prison for his role in the 1972 Watergate burglary. That was just one element of what Liddy did, and proposed to do, in a secret White House effort to subvert the Constitution. Far from repudiating him, McCain has embraced him.

    How close are McCain and Liddy? At least as close as Obama and Ayers appear to be. In 1998, Liddy’s home was the site of a McCain fundraiser. Over the years, he has made at least four contributions totaling $5,000 to the senator’s campaigns — including $1,000 this year.

    Last November, McCain went on his radio show. Liddy greeted him as “an old friend,” and McCain sounded like one. “I’m proud of you, I’m proud of your family,” he gushed. “It’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.”

    Which principles would those be? The ones that told Liddy it was fine to break into the office of the Democratic National Committee to plant bugs and photograph documents? The ones that made him propose to kidnap anti-war activists so they couldn’t disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention? The ones that inspired him to plan the murder (never carried out) of an unfriendly newspaper columnist?

    Liddy was in the thick of the biggest political scandal in American history — and one of the greatest threats to the rule of law. He has said he has no regrets about what he did, insisting that he went to jail as “a prisoner of war.”

    All this may sound like ancient history. But it’s from the same era as the bombings Ayers helped carry out as a member of the Weather Underground. And Liddy’s penchant for extreme solutions has not abated.

    In 1994, after the disastrous federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, he gave some advice to his listeners: “Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests. … Kill the sons of bitches.”

    He later backed off, saying he meant merely that people should defend themselves if federal agents came with guns blazing. But his amended guidance was not exactly conciliatory: Liddy also said he should have recommended shots to the groin instead of the head. If that wasn’t enough to inflame any nut cases, he mentioned labeling targets “Bill” and “Hillary” when he practiced shooting.

    Given Liddy’s record, it’s hard to see why McCain would touch him with a 10-foot pole. On the contrary, he should be returning his donations and shunning his show. Yet the senator shows no qualms about associating with Liddy — or celebrating his service to their common cause.

    How does McCain explain his howling hypocrisy on the subject? He doesn’t. I made repeated inquiries to his campaign aides, which they refused to acknowledge, much less answer. On this topic, the pilot of the Straight Talk Express would rather stay parked in the garage.

    That’s an odd policy for someone who is so forthright about his rival’s responsibility. McCain thinks Obama should apologize for associating with a criminal extremist. To which Obama might reply: After you.

  5. As for Ayers, IMHO the fact
    As for Ayers, IMHO the fact that the US was bombing Vietnam was not sufficient justification for what he & his did. They were no better than the KKK: domestic terrorists all of ’em. And after all, the anti-abortion terrorists claim to be “protecting innocent life from murder,” when they blow up clinics and so on.

    The same principle has to hold all across the spectrum. If Ayers was justified, then the clinic bombers are also justified. Both are, or neither are.

    Ayers seems to have reformed himself. Good for him. If the anti-abortion terrorists reform themselves, good for them. They can all do things like working for campaigns and circulating petitions, and we can live with that. And ultimately the story about them shouldn’t be that their very presence is bad mojo for a politician or campaign or cause, but that they decided to reform their ways, give up on violence, and get with legitimate politics. That will also discourage others from going down the road to doing violence.

    1. Down with false equivalence
      I can’t go along with equating the Weathermen and the Klan or the anti-abortion underground. For starters, the anti-aboriton extremists kill—as in the case of doctors Gunn and Barnett Slepian. So did the Klan/Nazi underground—as in the case of Alan Berg, and Mulugeta Seraw. And remember Oklahoma City? The Weathermen never carried out assassinations or intentionally killed. They were going in that direction with the planned Ft. Dix attack, but rethought and abandoned such tactics after the 11th St. disaster. The Weathermen were misguided and adventurist, but not evil. At least, they turned back from the threshold before crossing into the realm of the truly monstrous.

      And while (as stated above) I reject the doctrine that the ends justify the means, I also don’t think the question of ends can be dismissed in judging means. A woman has a right to control her reproductive destiny. The Pentagon doesn’t have a right to commit mass murder in Southeast Asia.

      So while I don’t think either the Weathermen or clinic-bombers were “justified,” neither do I think they should be measured by the same stick. What do you do when your government is committing mass murder? It’s not an easy question to answer. (Yes, the anti-abortion extremists also think they are resisting mass murder, but it’s extremely dangerous to concede that point to them.)

  6. Weatherman Group Bombed Capitol, Pentagon, etc.
    If you want to do that type of association, then you should associate Barack Obama with the Hamas terrorist group, since his church promoted Hamas literature, and not a long time ago EITHER.

    Bill Ayers’ involvement with the Weathermen Terror Group is not trivial, nor was that terrorist group trivial. This is a group that bombed the Capitol, that bombed the Pentagon, etc.

    If John McCain was associated with someone who was in a terrorist group that bombed the Capitol, bombed the Pentagon, etc. – he would not only be run out of the presidential race, he would have never been elected to the Senate. NBC/ABC/CBS/CNN would be running such a story on 24×7 basis, and you know it.

    Per Wikipedia:

    “For the bombing of the United States Capitol on March 1, 1971, they issued a statement saying it was “in protest of the US invasion of Laos.” For the bombing of The Pentagon on May 19, 1972, they stated it was “in retaliation for the US bombing raid in Hanoi.” For the January 29, 1975 bombing of the Harry S Truman Building housing the United States Department of State, they stated it was “in response to escalation in Vietnam.”

    1. I think we heard that
      What “type of association”? Seems to us it is Palin who started the association game. Turnabout is fair play.

      “Weathermen Terror Group” is not the proper name, so why do you capitalize it? The proper name was the Weather Underground. And you don’t have to quote Wikipedia. We all know what they did.

      McCain is associated with someone who illegally subverted the democratic process in Watergate and then advocated killing federal agents. And the media are giving him a near-total pass on it. The double standard seems to work the other way.

      You are using quotation marks incorrectly.

  7. McCain served on board of terrorist-linked organization
    Sam Stein writes for Huffington Post, Oct. 6 (emphasis added):

    Why McCain’s Time With Council of World Freedom Matters
    Since Sunday, Democrats have been buzzing about the re-revelation that during the 1980s, Sen. John McCain served on the board of a far-right conservative organization that had supplied arms and funds to paramilitary organizations in Latin America.

    Democratic strategist Paul Begala lit the fire when, during an appearance on Meet the Press, he warned that this relatively obscure detail from McCain’s past could draw him into a guilt-by-association game he was bound to regret.

    “John McCain sat on the board of…the U.S. Council for World Freedom,” said Begala, “The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981 when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League – the parent organization – which ADL said ‘has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and anti-Semites.'”


    The USCWF was founded in Phoenix, Arizona in November 1981 as an offshoot of the World Anti-Communist League. The group was, from the onset, saddled with the disreputable reputation of its parent group. The WACL had ties to ultra-right figures and Latin American death squads. Roger Pearson, the chairman of the WACL, was expelled from the group in 1980 under allegations that he was a member of a neo-Nazi organization.

    The U.S. Council of World Freedom claimed to be cleansed of these elements. The group’s director, retired Major General John Singlaub, said he had purged some of the more “kooky” members, including a Mexican chapter that “blamed everything on the Jews,” and “even accused Pope John Paul of being a Jew.” The Anti-Defamation League, once critical, applauded Singlaub for his efforts. Moreover, the USCWF was granted a sense of political legitimacy when President Ronald Reagan addressed the group in September 1984.

    But the group’s secret activities were still controversial. It claimed to support “pro-Democratic resistance movements fighting communist totalitarianism.” And during the 1980s it became a vehicle for the Reagan administration to prop up some of the more totalitarian, anti-communist efforts in Central America.

    According to a March 1989 Washington Post article, the USCWF coordinated funding efforts with sources in Taiwan and South Korea to help contras in Nicaragua purchase some $5 million worth of arms. The group was charged with operating a plane that was shot down while flying supplies to these very same rebels. The council, according to a 1986 New York Times report, “provided $10 million to $25 million in cash and ‘in-kind’ aid: four to eight small aircraft (”non gun-mounted”) to the contras, boots to rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan, $20,000 in medicines to Cambodian resistance forces, and help for groups in Mozambique, Ethiopia and other countries.” Singlaub and the council also reportedly provided Neo Hom and other factions of the Lao resistance with aid in the form of clothing and medicine…

    The McCain campaign, in a statement to Politico, defended the efforts of the council. Brian Rogers, a spokesman, said that the Senator “disassociated himself” from the group “when questions were raised about its activities, but that in no way diminishes his leadership role in ensuring that the forces of democracy and freedom prevailed in Central America.”

    But Singlaub “does not recall any McCain resignation in 1984 or May 1986,” the Associated Press reported early Tuesday, “nor does Joyce Downey, who oversaw the group’s day-to-day activities.”

    Moreover, while the goal of confronting communism may be politically defensible, the methods that the group pursued elicited heavy complaint. In January 1987, Sen. Patrick Leahy criticized Singlaub and, by extension, the Reagan administration, for directly circumventing the will of Congress, which had cut off funds to paramilitary organizations like the contras.

    “The open courting of General Singlaub and his groups,” said Leahy, “I’ve never seen anything like it. The active fund-raising among wealthy people to back these programs – I think it’s unprecedented… There seems to be more and more of a feeling that, ‘Gee, we really want to do something to help the contras, but don’t tell me what you’re doing because I’m not supposed to know.'”

    The funders of the U.S World Council of Freedom read like a who’s who list of prominent conservative figures. Joe Coors, the Republican beer baron was reportedly a big donor. Time Magazine wrote that the Christian Broadcasting Network was a backer as well. The Washington Times newspaper, owned by the controversial Reverend Sun Myung Moon, started a fundraising drive of its own. And Moon himself had numerous ties to Singlaub.

    Through it all, McCain was a member. As reported by Politico, the council formally approached him during his run for elected office in 1982 and McCain, then a member of the House of Representatives, agreed to join, citing years later the organization’s commitment to a freedom agenda. “They’ve got some good people involved,” he said. Aides to his campaign said he resigned from the board of directors in 1984. But in 1985, McCain attended the group’s “Freedom Fighter of the Year” award ceremony in Washington. And as late as July 1986, the organization’s communications firm sent a letter with McCain’s name on it regarding Singlaub’s appearance at a conference “of nearly 40 countries… taking part in an annual observance to commemorate efforts on behalf of freedom throughout the world.”

    By then, the council’s activities were becoming well known. In a 60 Minutes segment aired in ’86, Singlaub was described as the President’s “secret weapon to sidestep a Congress that will not permit him to act in the areas where he believes that our security interests are at stake.” He did not contest the description.

    There is no reporting to suggest that McCain was directly involved in any of the USCWF’s operational decisions. Begala, in his appearance on Meet The Press, actually took time to exonerate the Senator from any charge that he was associated with the organization’s early anti-Semitic fringe membership. “Now, that’s not John McCain,” he said, “I don’t think he is that.”

    But McCain’s association with a group that reportedly circumvented law, financed right-wing military institutions, and engaged in sometimes brutal anti-communist tactics, could be telling for some voters. At the very least his time on the board of the U.S. Council of World Freedom provides a window of sorts into the foreign policy vision that he held back in the 1980s and one that he still seemingly holds today.

    “Remember this happened during a time when you were either with us or against us,” said Council on Foreign Relation’s O’Neil. “Somewhat like the mindset,” that we have seen with the Bush administration.

    1. World Court: contras were terrorists
      Lest we forget… The International Court of Justice ruled in June 1986 that the US was guilty of “illegal use of force” in backing the Nicaraguan contras. “Illegal use of force” is, in this context, essentially UN-speak for terrorism. Read the summary of the ruling in Nicaragua vs. United States of America.

  8. Palin pals with America-haters
    David Talbot writes for Salon, Oct. 7:

    The Palins’ un-American activities
    “My government is my worst enemy. I’m going to fight them with any means at hand.”

    This was former revolutionary terrorist Bill Ayers back in his old Weather Underground days, right? Imagine what Sarah Palin is going to do with this incendiary quote as she tears into Barack Obama this week.

    Only one problem. The quote is from Joe Vogler, the raging anti-American who founded the Alaska Independence Party. Inconveniently for Palin, that’s the very same secessionist party that her husband, Todd, belonged to for seven years and that she sent a shout-out to as Alaska governor earlier this year. (“Keep up the good work,” Palin told AIP members. “And God bless you.”)

    Norman Markowitz writes for Political Affairs, Oct. 6:

    Does Sarah Palin Want to be an American Citizen?
    …There is significant disagreement about Sarah Palin’s attendance at Alaska Independence Party conventions before she became mayor of Wasilla. She did visit their convention after she became mayor, however, which the McCain workers try to downplay as a mere courtesy call. As governor, she sent a video tape to the most recent 2008 convention telling the delegates to “keep up the good work” and calling their convention “inspiring.”

    Keep up the good work of campaigning for a secession referendum from the US? While mainstream media has portrayed this party as “fringe” and extremist, it is the third leading party in Alaska (albeit a small one in a small state) and has the kind of history which has led to separatist wars in other places like Chechnya…

    Here is a little history on the Alaska Independence Party. The Party was founded by an ultra-rightist gold miner, Joe Vogler in the 1970s with an “anti-American” platform. Palin has denounced those abroad in oil rich countries who “hate America.” Joe Vogler hated America. He said in the 1970s, “I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I have no use for America or her damned institutions.”

    Later Vogler said that “the fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred of the US government. And I won’t be buried under their damn flag….when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home.” He said this in an oral history interview at the University of Alaska in 1991, at which time Bill Ayers had rejected his own past and had become respectable. Two years later Vogler disappeared. A criminal subsequently confessed to murdering him in a conflict over the sale of plastic explosives (which may suggest terrorism).

    We’ve already noted Vogler’s extremoid rhetoric.

  9. The saddest thing…
    …is that Obama will be too intimidated to use any of the ammo we have assembled here when he is Weather-baited by McCain tonight (as he almost certainly will be) because of the way the Reaganites have succeeded in redefining the debate over the past generation. In a matter of minutes we shall see…

  10. McCain refrained…
    …from Weather-baiting, probably because he didn’t want to be Keating-baited. I guess he’s gonna let Palin play Bad Cop on this one. On to round three…

  11. Republican dirty tricks
    From ABC News, Oct. 6:

    Election officials and watchdog groups are bracing for the wave of sneaky or suspicious phone calls, leaflets and emails that typically hit battleground states in the final 30 days of the presidential campaign.

    Young voters at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Penn. have already been targeted, with students reporting that flyers have been posted around campus warning that undercover police will be at the polls on Election Day looking to make arrests.

    The flyer reads like a friendly letter to fellow students relaying a warning from an “Obama supporter”: “He informed me that on the day of the election there will be undercover officers to execute warrants on those who come to vote based on the anticipated turnout,” writes the anonymous student in the letter which was later posted on the Drexel College Democrats website. “He advised me if I had any outstanding warrants or traffic offenses I should clear them up prior to voting.”

    Political experts say the Drexel flyer is a classic example of voter suppression – a practice that involves scaring, angering, or confusing voters so that they stay at home on Election Day.

    “The basic idea is that you intimidate people by saying that law enforcement is using the polling place to catch scofflaws…criminals…whoever. It’s basically a deterrent to keep people away from voting,” said Allen Raymond, a former Republican operative who went to prison for three-months in 2006 for his involvement in a scheme to jam the phones at headquarters of the Democratic get-out-the vote effort in New Hampshire in 2002.

    Raymond says that such tactics have evolved from some of the more overt voter intimidation schemes seen back in the early 1980s when the GOP’s “Ballot Security Task Force” used armed off-duty police officers at the polling places in New Jersey and posted signs reading “voter fraud is a felony.”

    Terry Gross reported on NPR tonight that the same flyer has been distributed in African American neighborhoods in Philly. She also said Republicans are accusing Democrats of actually distributing the flyer themselves in black-op to discredit the GOP! This strikes us as unlikely in the extreme, as it would probably cost the Dems far more votes than it would win them…

  12. McCain supporter on Obama: “Kill him!”
    From CanWest News Service, Oct. 8, emphasis added:

    McCain steps up Obama terror smears
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With a new poll giving Barack Obama a double-digit lead in the U.S. presidential race, John McCain’s campaign on Wednesday escalated its efforts to characterize him as a terrorist sympathizer, an incendiary charge that Democrats described as a “dangerous” and desperate strategy.

    Five days after Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, first accused Mr. Obama of “palling around” with William Ayers, a onetime member of the radical Weather Underground, the McCain campaign released a statement from a man whose home was targeted by the group in 1970.

    “Barack Obama may have been a child when William Ayers was plotting attacks against U.S. targets, but I was one of those targets,” said John Murtagh, a city councilman from Yonkers, N.Y. “Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family.”

    Mr. Murtagh is the son of a former New York Supreme Court justice who was targeted by the Weathermen because he had presided at the trial of some members of the Black Panther party. In February, 1970, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded outside his home…

    When Mr. McCain asked at one event this week “Who is the real Barack Obama?”, someone in the crowd responded, “Terrorist.” At a Palin rally, an audience member shouted “Kill him!” when she mentioned Mr. Ayers’ ties to Mr. Obama.

    Joe Biden, Mr. Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, said the McCain campaign had gone too far and is risking inciting crowds against the Illinois senator.

    “It gets really over the edge. I mean, some of the stuff [Palin] is saying about Barack Obama and the stuff that people are yelling from the crowd … that’s overboard,” he said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “I mean, you know, this is volatile stuff.”

    He told another interviewer Ms. Palin’s attacks are “mildly dangerous.”

    Well, we’d like to know more of this Murtagh incident, which we have not heard of before. But much more to the point—it happened 38 years ago, while someone called for Barack Obama’s assassination at a GOP campaign rally on Monday. We are told that Biden is protesting it. Did Palin? Did she halt the proceedings at the rally and say something like “That isn’t appropriate, we reject terrorism”? Have either Palin or McCain publicly repudiated the death threat invoked at their rally?

    We want to know.

  13. Will Palin disavow Obama assassination call?
    The original source seems to be a story by Dana Milbank on the Washington Post’s The Trail campaign blog of Oct. 6 (emphasis added):

    In Fla., Palin Goes for the Rough Stuff as Audience Boos Obama
    CLEARWATER, Fla. — “Okay, so Florida, you know that you’re going to have to hang onto your hats,” Sarah Palin told a rally of a few thousand here this morning, “because from now until Election Day it may get kind of rough.”

    You betcha. And the person dishing out the roughest stuff at the moment is Sarah Palin.

    “I was reading my copy of the New York Times the other day,” she said.

    “Booooo!” replied the crowd.

    “I knew you guys would react that way, okay,” she continued. “So I was reading the New York Times and I was really interested to read about Barack’s friends from Chicago.”

    It was time to revive the allegation, made over the weekend, that Obama “pals around” with terrorists, in this case Bill Ayers, late of the Weather Underground. Many independent observers say Palin’s allegations are a stretch; Obama served on a Chicago charitable board with Ayers, now an education professor, and has condemned his past activities.

    “Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers,” Palin said.

    “Boooo!” said the crowd.

    “And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, ‘launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'” she continued.

    “Boooo!” the crowd repeated.

    “Kill him!” proposed one man in the audience.

    Palin went on to say that “Obama held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers’s living room, and they’ve worked together on various projects in Chicago.” Here, Palin began to connect the dots. “These are the same guys who think that patriotism is paying higher taxes — remember that’s what Joe Biden had said. “And” — she paused and sighed — “I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America, as the greatest force for good in the world. I’m afraid this is someone who sees America as ‘imperfect enough’ to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.”

    “Boooo!” said the audience.

    As one reader commented:

    Palin could (and should) have stopped her speech and directly scolded the idiot who shouted “Kill Him.” But, of course, she just snickered and kept laying on the incindiary crap. The fact that she let this go tells me a lot about who she is. Like the Republicans keep saying…”its all about character!”

    Did Palin not hear the “Kill him” comment? She must know about it by now. She owes us an explanation.

  14. “treason”…”socialist take-over”
    We’re still waiting, Sarah. Meanwhile, from TPM Election Central, Oct. 9:

    McCain Supporter Rants About “Hooligan” Obama And “Socialist” Takeover
    —And McCain Agrees

    When is the unhinged frenzy gripping crowds at McCain-Palin gatherings — not to mention McCain-Palin’s own role in stoking that frenzy — going to become a big story?

    Today in Wisconsin, a McCain supporter unleashed a long, unhinged rant in which he blasted the “socialists taking over our country” and referred to Obama and Nancy Pelosi as “hooligans.” McCain didn’t utter one syllable of objection. In fact, he nodded bemusedly at the “socialist” mention.

    And at the end of the man’s rant, McCain said that the man was “right.”

    [Video online.]

    After the man’s rant, the crowd got worked up and chanted “U-S-A” a bunch of times. Then McCain replied: “Well, I — I think I got the message. Could I just say, the gentleman is right.” McCain then went on about how it was true that Americans are angry.

    From GPolitics, Oct. 9:

    “Kill Him” “Terrorist” “Treason” “Sit down boy”
    Who would have thought this is where we were headed with McCain’s campaign?

    In the latest instance of inflammatory outbursts at McCain-Palin rallies, a crowd member screamed “treason!” during an event on Tuesday after Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of criticizing U.S. troops.

    “[Obama] said, too, that our troops in Afghanistan are ‘air raiding villages and killing civilians,'” Palin said, mischaracterizing a 2007 remark by Obama. “I hope Americans know that is not what our brave men and women in uniform are doing in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is fighting terrorism and protecting us and protecting our freedom.”

    Shortly afterward, a male member of the crowd in Jacksonville, Florida, yelled “treason!” loudly enough to be picked up by television microphones.

    ‘That’s not McCain’s fault’. ‘He can’t control the crowd’. Really? How about addressing it in the next rally? Saying at the next few rallies that they will not tolerate it and they do not condone it? They have not done that. They released a memo to the media, but have not spoken to their supporters at any rally after those incidents.

    The UK Guardian Oct. 9 offers the complete text of the McCain campiagn response to the “kill him” comment:

    “We do not condone this inappropriate rhetoric which distracts from the real questions of judgment, character and experience that voters will base their decisions on this November,” McCain spokesman Paul Lindsay said yesterday.

    Nothing directly from Palin or McCain themselves—just a statement from an underling, so perfunctory and lukewarm that it barely counts as a repudiation. And these people want us to think they are really concerned about “terrorism”?

  15. “racial epithets”
    From CNN, Oct. 10:

    At several recent rallies, Palin has stirred up crowds by mentioning the “liberal media.” Routinely, there are boos at every mention of The New York Times and the “mainstream media,” both of which are staples of Palin’s stump speech.

    Some audience members are openly hostile to members of the traveling press covering Palin; one crowd member hurled a racial epithet at an African-American member of the press in Clearwater, Florida, on Monday.

    And at a McCain rally in New Mexico on Monday, one supporter yelled out “terrorist” when McCain asked, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” McCain didn’t respond.

    So far, neither Palin nor McCain have explicitly called on their supporters to tamper down the attacks.

    Now let’s see, that would be the same “mainstream media” that is hyping the Weather-baiting 24/7 and, with rare exception, completely ignoring Palin/McCain’s own far more substantial links to “terrorism” (delineated above)?

  16. McCain shared stage with terrorist-symp
    From People for the American Way (undated), emphasis added:

    McCain and Domestic Terrorism
    Time for McCain to Look in the Mirror

    Senator John McCain has been making a lot of baseless accusations lately, but he is the one with the troubling past. McCain and Marylin Shannon — a 2008 McCain delegate and former vice chair of the Oregon Republican Party — both appeared at an August, 1993 fundraiser for the far right Oregon Citizens Alliance. McCain appeared against the advice of Mark Hatfield, a GOP senator from Oregon, who feared that the group’s extremist views would taint McCain.

    Shannon, who attended this year’s Republican National Convention as a McCain delegate, spoke immediately before McCain and [according to The Oregonian of April 21] “praised the Grants Pass woman accused of shooting an abortion doctor in Wichita” earlier in the month, referring to her as a “fine lady.” When McCain spoke next, he said nothing about Shannon’s vile comments and delivered his speech as prepared.

    Just a few months later, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve a crucial anti-domestic terrorism bill, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. McCain opposed the bill.

    Between 1977 and 1993 there were [according to the Justice Department] “36 bombings, 81 arsons, 131 death threats, 84 assaults, 2 kidnappings, 327 clinic invasions, 71 chemical attacks, more than 6,000 blockades and related disruptions” against reproductive health clinics. Congress was finally spurred into action by the killing of Dr. David Gunn outside a Florida clinic in March of 1993. In August, Dr. George Tiller was shot and wounded in Wichita.

    “When anti-choice extremists were terrorizing American women and their doctors, John McCain had multiple opportunities to make what should have been an easy choice,” said Kathryn Kolbert, President of People For the American Way, and a longtime women’s rights advocate who successfully argued a crucial abortion rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992. “But he chose political expediency over law and order. He didn’t say a word when Marylin Shannon sympathized with an attempted killer. He voted against the clinic access bill even as everyday Americans were being assaulted and besieged by domestic terrorists. As someone who faced repeated threats for work on behalf of reproductive rights, I am deeply disturbed by John McCain’s willingness to stand with and side with sympathizers and enablers of domestic terrorism.”

    Wikipedia provides the following background on the OCA:

    The group made a name for itself in the 1988 general election, when it sponsored Ballot Measure 8, an initiative measure that repealed Governor Neil Goldschmidt’s Executive Order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the executive branch of state government. The measure not only repealed the Executive Order, but also put a statute on the books that prohibited any job protection for gays and lesbians in state government. The measure was approved by the voters, 52.7% to 47.3%. It would be the only state-wide victory the OCA ever had.

    On the heels of its 1988 victory, the OCA turned its attention to abortion. It placed a measure on the 1990 general election ballot requiring parental notification for a minor child’s abortion. The measure was defeated by a margin of 52.2% to 47.8%.

    Having learned through experience that it could have more success with anti-gay measures than with anti-abortion measures, in 1992 the OCA returned to its anti-gay roots. It gained statewide, national, and international attention that year, when it proposed Ballot Measure 9. This initiative would have amended the Oregon Constitution to prevent what the OCA called “special rights” for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. According to many civil rights activists, it would have gone further, mandating state discrimination against sexual minorities. It would have placed in the Oregon Constitution a provision that the State of Oregon “recognizes homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism and masochism as abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse.”

    The ballot measure was defeated by voters, 56 percent to 44 percent, in the 1992 General Election.

  17. McCain issues (backhanded) semi-denunciation of racist attacks
    Finally, McCain says something to distance himself from the blatant racism of his supporters—but dig the subtly sinister subtext! An Oct. 10 CNN, story, “Rage rising on the McCain campaign trail,” delineates a bunch of ignorant extremism issued from supporters on campaign stops about “the socialists taking over the country,” etc. It includes the following:

    Later in Minnesota, a woman told McCain: “I don’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s an Arab.”

    McCain shook his head and said, “No ma’am, no ma’am. He’s a decent family man…[a] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. That’s what this campaign is all about.”

    The audience then applauded McCain.

    McCain urged his supporters to be respectful of Obama.

    “We want to fight and I will fight. But we will be respectful,” he said. “I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments. I will respect him and I want everyone to be respectful, and let’s make sure we are.”

    Is this a glimmer of hope? McCain’s response of “No ma’am, he’s a decent family man” to the comment “He’s an Arab” seems to imply that being an Arab and being a decent family man are mutually exclusive… Was this a Freudian slip—or a cynically calculated one?

    To give credit where it’s due, AP reports Oct. 10 that at that same Minnesota campaign stop, McCain said—despite boos—that Obama is a “decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.” (He then followed up that he didn’t mean supporters should reduce their “ferocity.”)

    Perhaps he figures the fear-mongering has served its purpose, and now it is time to appease to GOP “moderates” (patricians who find the Beerhall Putsch element of the Palin/McCain show unseemly), lest he fuel yet further neo-Mugwumpery.

  18. More McCain distortions on Ayers
    The New York Times Oct. 10 reports from a McCain campaign stop in Wisconsin:

    A man told Mr. McCain that “we’re all wondering why Obama is where he’s at” in the polls and then asked, “Is there not a way to get around this media and line up the people he has hung with?”

    Mr. McCain responded, “Well, sir, with your help and the people in this room, we will find out.” He added: “Look, we don’t care about an old washed-up terrorist and his wife, who still, at least on Sept. 11, 2001, said he still wanted to bomb more. You know, but that’s not the point here. The point is, Senator Obama said he was just a guy in the neighborhood. We need to know that’s not true.”

    The liberal watchdogs at Media Matters for America point out that Obama never actually said Ayers was “just” a guy in the neighborhood. But there is a far more insidious distortion here. The Ayers quote that he “wanted to bomb more” is from the New York Times of (entirely coincidentally) Sept. 11, 2001—noted again in the Times’ Ayers profile of Oct. 4:

    In an article that by chance was published on Sept. 11, 2001, The New York Times wrote about Mr. Ayers and his just-published memoir, Fugitive Days, opening with a quotation from the author: “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”

    So—contrary to McCain’s implication—Ayers spoke these words before the 9-11 attacks, and was explicitly referring to the situation 30 years earlier when the US was bombing Vietnam. To be accurate, McCain should have said that Ayers “said before Sept. 11, 2001 that he had still wanted to bomb more.” This is a pretty critical distinction. McCain made it sound like Ayers was encouraging Osama bin Laden and hoping for further al-Qaeda attacks. Why doesn’t Ayers speak up about this?

  19. Media double standard on McCain and Ayers
    An unpublished letter to the New York Times:

    Accusing Barack Obama of consorting with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, Senator John McCain asks, “How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?”

    When Mr. McCain was shot down over Hanoi in October 1967, he was bombing a power plant in a heavily populated area of the city. The raid was part of a seven-year bombing campaign that killed at least 50,000 North Vietnamese civilians.

    Steven Wishnia
    New York, N.Y.

    Steve also points us to the following cartoon.

  20. Pro-Palin bloggers try to pull a fast one
    The Scranton Times-Tribune reported Oct. 14 that an audience member yet again shouted “Kill him!” in response to a reference to Barack Obama at a Sarah Palin rally in that city on that day:

    There were no incendiary outbursts from the crowd about Mr. Obama during Mrs. Palin’s speech, as there have been during other recent McCain-Palin rallies.

    However, someone did shout out, “Kill him!” during Republican congressional candidate Chris Hackett’s remarks before Mrs. Palin took the stage.

    The outburst came during a round of booing from the crowd after Mr. Hackett said Mr. Obama should come to Pennsylvania and learn what the state’s values are.

    The paper says Palin ignored the outburst, but went on to lead the crowd in ritualistic chants of “Drill, baby, drill!” The incident was later noted in several national media outlets. The following day, Northeast Pennsylvania’s Times Leader ran claims from a Secret Service agent on the scene that he heard nobody shout “Kill him!” in Scranton. Now the right-wing blogosphere (e.g. RightPundits.com) is touting stories with headlines like “Obama Lies about ‘Kill Him’ Allegation”—using the disputed incident in Scranton to accuse Obama of invoking a fabrication at last night’s presidential debate. Yet, as we noted above, the original “Kill him!” interjection (the first in a string of threatening and racist ugliness on the Palin/McCain trail) was made Oct. 6 in Clearwater, Fla.

    Trying to pull a fast one, are we RightPundits?

  21. Palin sat silently through anti-Semitic tirade
    From Politico.com, Sept. 2, emphasis added:

    [T]wo weeks ago…Palin’s church, the Wasilla Bible Church, gave its pulpit over to a figure viewed with deep hostility by many Jewish organizations: David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus.

    Palin’s pastor, Larry Kroon, introduced Brickner on Aug. 17, according to a transcript of the sermon on the church’s website.

    “He’s a leader of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that is out on the leading edge in a pressing, demanding area of witnessing and evangelism,” Kroon said.

    Brickner then explained that Jesus and his disciples were themselves Jewish.

    “The Jewish community, in particular, has a difficult time understanding this reality,” he said.

    Brickner’s mission has drawn wide criticism from the organized Jewish community, and the Anti-Defamation League accused them in a report of “targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception.”

    Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God’s “judgment of unbelief” of Jews who haven’t embraced Christianity.

    “Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It’s very real. When [Brickner’s son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can’t miss it.”

    Palin was in church that day, Kroon said, though he cautioned against attributing Brickner’s views to her.

    1. huh
      > “targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception.”

      Is it just me or is this pretty innocuous. If subterfuge and deception are what you’re bringing and superstition (I mean, relgious conversion) is what you’re after …

      I personally have been targeting Jewish girls with subterfuge and deception for years.

      1. The egregious point…
        …is the terrorist-attacks-as-God’s-judgment jive.

        Targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception is also pretty ugly, tho.

        1. tricked into converting?
          > …is the terrorist-attacks-as-God’s-judgment jive.

          Yeah that’s beyond the pale (must … resist… pun …)

          >Targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception is also pretty ugly, tho.

          I still don’t understand. A working definition of organized religion could be ‘subterfuge and deception’. How do you target someone for conversion with subterfuge. “Ha! You thought you were just going swimming but you’re really Baptised!” Or “Here have some crackers. Gotcha! You’ve just taken communion!” (though these psycho’s probably think mainstream Catholics are too far left)

          1. Dishonest methods
            JG, you can click on the link for the ADL report, but as a New Yorker you should be well aware of J4J’s odious MO. (They are pretty ubiquitous in this town, alas.) They come on to their targets as if they are fellow Jews—meaning religious Jews, not just ethnic ones. Their whole (public) line is Jesus was Jewish and you can accept him as your savior and remain a good Jew. But as the Wasilla affair reveals, they are actually fundamentalist Christians and they despise Jews, and think they are fit fodder for divine retribution in the form of suicide bombers. (BTW, ain’t it just grand that the Xian fundis manage to hate Muslims as the antichrist and simultaneously view Muslim terrorists as instruments of the divine?)

            1. You’re probably right, I don’t pay attention
              Isn’t there some Protestant sect that thinks that the Jews going back to the Holy Land means the 2nd coming is coming?

              I still don’t understand but I don’t get the whole thing, obviously. I was asked on a job what my religion is and I said ‘I like jazz’.

              If it wasn’t obnoxious blog practice I’d paste the whole John Lennon God lyric.

              > (BTW, ain’t it just grand that the Xian fundis manage to hate Muslims as the antichrist and simultaneously view Muslim terrorists as instruments of the divine?

              The whole Christian extremest world view is a little apocalyptic for my tastes.

              1. “a little apocalyptic”?
                An intentionally ironic understatement, I hope.

                It is standard Xian fundi eschatology that the in-gathering of the Jews in Israel is a prerequisite for Armageddon and the Second Coming. They can’t wait for the nukes to fly. As we have pointed out.

  22. More bogus equivalism
    The right-wing blog PajamasMedia reports with glee that in contrast to “nonexistent” (!!!) hate speech at Palin rallies, a McCain supporter was physically attacked at a (very small, natch) Palin-McCain rally on Manhattan’s Lexington Ave. last month. The blog runs lugubrious close-up pictures of the small bruise on the victim’s temple. Other blogs, such as the idiotically named NYC conservative SilentMajority (you wish!) have also jumped on the incident. Ben Smith’s Politico blog confirmed with the Manhattan DA’s office that the attack took place. The assailant allegedly grabbed the woman’s McCain sign, threw it in her face, and said upon his arrest, “I don’t know why I did this. It’s just those signs, and this election, it has me so upset.”

    Predictably, this one incident by a lone deranged wingnut is being cynically equated with the routine outbursts of racism and death threats that have followed the Palin/McCain show around the country. (Check out this AlJazeera clip from a Palin rally in Ohio on YouTube if you have a strong stomach.)

    In fact, it is worse than equivalism, because PajamasMedia actually has the absurd chutzpah to deny that the Palin/McCain hatefest even exists. Rather than stand up and take some responsibility for the death threats and actual violence that has now been committed by their side—the ransacking of ACORN’s offices in Boston and Seattle—the Palinista pundits wave the bloody shirt of one isolated incident on the Upper East Side.

    As Frank Zappa sang, “Pajama people… They sure do make you sleepy with the things they might say.”

  23. GOP propaganda goes subliminal
    From Political Punch, Oct. 18:

    The Eyes Have It
    The Virginia Republican Party — chaired by the same man [Jeff Frederick] who recently said of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Osama bin Laden, “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon. That is scary” — has sent out a mailer that seems to take that comparison a step further.

    “In today’s dangerous world, appeasement is not a foreign policy,” says the front of the mailer.

    Inside: pictures of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinijad, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, with the text: “America must face the threat of terror head-on.”

    On the back of the envelope is a close-up of someone’s eyes and the caption: “America must look evil in the eye and never flinch.”

    At first blush, the eyes might look to you like Obama’s. But as the liberal website BradBlog points out, the person’s skin has been darkened. The eyes are actually Osama bin Laden’s.

    Check it out for yourself HERE.

    What do you think of this?

    What do we think? That this election is a test of just how stupid America really is, that’s what. In two weeks and change, we’ll know…

  24. Colin Powell: King of the Mugwumps!
    Amazingly, it is the neo-Mugwump Colin Powell, rather than any liberal Democrat, who says what needs to be said about the incessant Muslim-baiting of Obama! From AP, Oct. 20:

    WASHINGTON — Colin Powell, a Republican and retired general who was President Bush’s first secretary of state, broke with the party Sunday and endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president, calling him a “transformational figure” while criticizing the tone of John McCain’s campaign…

    Powell expressed disappointment in the negative tone of McCain’s campaign, his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate and their decision to focus in the closing weeks of the contest on Obama’s ties to 1960s-era radical William Ayers, saying “it goes too far”…

    Powell also said he was troubled that some Republicans — he excluded McCain — continue to say or allow others to say that Obama is a Muslim, when he is a Christian. Such rhetoric is polarizing, he said.

    “He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America,” Powell said. “Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

    Right on, Colin! (Wait a minute, did I just say that…?)

  25. Greensboro “pro-America”: coded message?
    Here’s the offending quote, from CNN, Oct. 17:

    Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told a fundraiser in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Thursday night:

    “We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in the wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation,” she said.

    “This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans,” Palin added.

    Of course, called out by a reporter, she quickly pretended that she had said something other than what she said:

    On Friday, Palin clarified her comments.

    “It’s all pro-America. I was just reinforcing the fact that there, where I was, there’s good patriotic people there in these rallies, so excited about positive change and reform of government that’s coming that they are so appreciative of hearing our message, hearing our plan. Not any one area of America is more pro-America patriotically than others,” she said.

    Interesting that she chose to say this in Greensboro. Is this what she meant by “pro-America”?

  26. “Death to Obama supporters”
    From The Register, Oct. 22, emphasis added:

    Ohio elections website hacked as vote scuffle gets ugly
    Service has been restored to the website that handles Ohio’s voter registration and elections information after hackers breached its defenses. The intrusion is just one of several assaults confronting the Secretary of State’s office as tensions mount over next month’s presidential election.

    IT workers took the site down on Monday to “detect and prosecute any illegal breach of our voting infrastructure to maintain voter confidence,” Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said in a statement. On Tuesday, the site returned, although parts of it remained in “static” mode, meaning a campaign finance search database and other features were unavailable.

    Brunner’s office has not disclosed details of the breach, except to say that voters’ personal information was not accessed. Ohio’s Highway Patrol is helping in the investigation of the incident.

    With 20 of the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the election between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, Ohio is a key battleground state. Polls indicate the contest is a tossup. In 2004, Ohio voters secured Republican George W. Bush’s re-election victory by just 119,000 votes, one of the tighter races in that state’s history.

    In addition to the website attack, employees of the secretary of state’s office have reported a barrage of phone calls and email containing “menacing messages and even threats of harm or death.” A package sent to Brunner’s office included an unidentified white powder and a message that read: “Death to Obama supporters.”

  27. McCain-Palin hypocrisy watch
    From Huffington Post, Oct. 24:

    McCain’s Private Visit With Chilean Dictator Pinochet Revealed for First Time
    John McCain, who has harshly criticized the idea of sitting down with dictators without pre-conditions, appears to have done just that. In 1985, McCain traveled to Chile for a friendly meeting with Chile’s military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, one of the world’s most notorious violators of human rights credited with killing more than 3,000 civilians and jailing tens of thousands of others.

    The private meeting between McCain and dictator Pinochet has gone previously un-reported anywhere.

    According to a declassified U.S. Embassy cable secured by The Huffington Post, McCain described the meeting with Pinochet “as friendly and at times warm, but noted that Pinochet does seem obsessed with the threat of communism.” McCain, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time, made no public or private statements critical of the dictatorship, nor did he meet with members of the democratic opposition in Chile, as far as could be determined from a thorough check of U.S. and Chilean newspaper records and interviews with top opposition leaders.

    At the time of the meeting, in the late afternoon of December 30, the U.S. Justice Department was seeking the extradition of two close Pinochet associates for an act of terrorism in Washington DC, the 1976 assassination of former ambassador to the U.S. and former Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier. The car bombing on Sheridan Circle in the U.S. capital was widely described at the time as the most egregious act of international terrorism perpetrated on U.S. soil by a foreign power.

    Meanwhile, Palin denies that clinic-bombers are terrorists. From MSNBC, Oct. 23:

    McCain hammers Obama on Ayers ties
    GREEN, Ohio – Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has failed to tell “the complete truth to the American people” about his relationship with a violent 1960s antiwar activist, Republican nominee John McCain said in an interview airing Thursday.

    In a joint interview Wednesday with Brian Williams, anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” McCain and his vice presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, repeatedly questioned Obama’s ties to William Ayers, a co-founder of the Weather Underground, which claimed responsibility for a series of bombings in the 1960s and the 1970s.

    In the NBC interview, parts of which the network is airing over three days ending Friday, McCain went out of his way to tie Ayers to Obama, a senator from Illinois. At one point, he changed the subject back to Ayers when Williams asked him about an unrelated issue…

    Palin resisted the suggestion that if Ayers was a “domestic terrorist” — a standard line in her campaign addresses — then so were conservative religious activists who bombed abortion clinics.

    “I don’t know if you’re going to use the word ‘terrorist’ there,” she said. “It’s unacceptable, and it would not be condoned, of course, on our watch. But if what you’re asking is if I regret referring to Bill Ayers as an unrepenting domestic terrorist, I don’t regret characterizing him as that.”

  28. Death threats, intimidation, propaganda
    We’ve all heard about the 30 tires of Obama supporters slashed at a rally in Fayetteville, NC, Oct. 20. The AFL-CIO’s Now News blog notes Oct. 22 that it got worse:

    After the rally in Fayetteville, the Washington Times reports, a group of loud and angry protesters shouted and mocked voters at an early voting polling place as they walked in. Among their taunts was one complaining that Sundays are for church, not voting.

    And worse…

    At Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, seven students reportedly dumped a dead bear cub with Obama campaign signs attached to its head at the main entrance to the campus. While school officials claimed the action was a “prank,” writers to the Asheville Citizen-Times were clear about what happened.

    For example, Sadiesmom22 writes:

    I am a McCain supporter, but this was clearly an anti-Obama statement…To call this a prank is ridiculous. It was criminal and cruel and quite disgusting, too.

    Well, hurrah for that McCain supporter for putting truth and decency before politics! But he or she is a rare exception. When are the Palin-McCain camp going to start expressing some contrition over this stuff?

    Then there’s the grisly affair in Pittsburgh, PA, where 20-year-old Ashley Todd apparently gave herself a black eye and carved a (backwards) B in her face and went to the police saying she was attacked by a 6’4″ Black Obama supporter—before the lie fell apart and she recanted everything. Joe Garofoli‘s Politics blog in the San Francisco Chronicle calls out the “media perps” in the attempted deception:

    Let’s do the media math: White woman/McCain supporter + attack + large black man/Obama supporter = HUGE HEADLINES on the Drudge Report. SHOCK: MCCAIN VOLUNTEER ATTACKED AND MUTILATED IN PITTSBURGH…’B’ CARVED INTO 20-YEAR OLD WOMAN’S FACE… DEVELOPING…” No mention that it was an ATM robbery or that the “B” part of it was unconfirmed. Fox News followed quickly as did local TV.

    Talking Points Memo said the McCain campaign’s Pennsylvania communications director told PA reporters an “incendiary” version of the story “well before the facts of the case were known or established — and even told reporters outright that the “B” carved into the victim’s cheek stood for “Barack,” according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.”

    But, after all this, is there the slightest hint of contrition or even repudiation from the right? No, all they keep doing is whining about how the media are stacking the deck against them. (You mean by reporting facts?) Mary Katharine Ham on The Weekly Standard griped Oct. 14 (in a piece still making the rounds in the right-wing blogosphere) “No One Ever Said ‘Kill Him’ About Obama”—asserting that the “Kill him!” warcry at the Florida rally came in response to a Palin reference to Ayers. This is true, but the Ayers reference came up in reference to Obama, obviously. Contrary to Ham’s presentation, many media accounts (e.g. CNN, Oct. 10) have acknowledged it is “unclear if it was targeted at Obama or Ayers.” Actually, it is Ham who is being disingenuous here by not conceding any ambiguity! (As if calling for the extrajudicial execution of Ayers were OK!) She goes on to whine:

    The media will never report about the fringe members and hateful activities of lefty rallies. Upside-down flags at pro-immigration rallies are studiously ignored. Rampant violence, black supremacy messages, anti-Semitism, and anti-Americanism are watercolored in MSM features as the young, sexy, drive of the counter-culture, reignited in a younger generation and pushed to its breaking point by a Republican president and the injustice of war. “Sarah Palin is a ****” t-shirts never become part of a meme about the “angry,” “mob-like” tendencies of Obama supporters.

    As if an upside down flag were the equivalent of a death threat. As if an obnoxious t-shirt were the equivalent of slashing tires and ransacking offices. As if there weren’t plenty of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism on the Republican side. And as if we should accept her claims of “rampant violence” and “black supremacy messages” without documentation. We’re waiting, Mary…

  29. Ayers speaks —but not about Obama
    Colin Moynihan writes for the New York Times, Oct. 27 (we’ve highlighted the one indirect Ayers reference to Obama):

    Ex-Radical Talks of Education and Justice, Not Obama
    Over the last several months, as pundits and partisans have debated the significance of his relationship with Senator Barack Obama, William Ayers has avoided the limelight, steering clear of political commentary and public pronouncements.

    But on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Ayers, 63, a founder of the 1960s-era radical group the Weather Underground, a former fugitive, former Chicago Citizen of the Year and current professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, appeared without fanfare at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, in Chelsea, to participate in a symposium on educational justice.

    In 1995, Mr. Ayers held a fund-raiser for Mr. Obama, who was running for a seat in the Illinois State Senate. The two men later served together on the boards of two Chicago philanthropic groups as well as on the board of an education reform organization. The two men have been described as friendly, but not close.

    The campaign of his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, has used Mr. Obama’s ties to raise questions about his fitness to be president.

    On Sunday, after Mr. Ayers was introduced to an audience of about 50 people who had bought tickets to the event, the moderator, the WNYC radio host Leonard Lopate, asked, “Does this mean I can’t run for president?”

    “It means you can win,” Mr. Ayers said in response.

    But Mr. Ayers, who was part of a group that claimed responsibility for bombing several buildings including the Capitol, the Pentagon, banks and police stations, seemed to go out of his way to avoid presidential politics.

    When he spoke about a person from his neighborhood — Mr. Obama has several times referred to Mr. Ayers as simply “a guy from my neighborhood” — some audience members leaned forward in anticipation.

    It turned out that Mr. Ayers was not talking about the junior senator from Illinois but rather about the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who was also from Chicago.

    While describing his views on education and social justice, Mr. Ayers hardly resembled the unrepentant terrorist that his critics have sought to paint him as while attacking the Obama campaign.

    He urged one man in the audience, a principal of a South Bronx high school, to establish closer ties with parents in his school district. He praised students at a high school in Detroit who started a farm.

    And he called upon educators to establish curriculums that help equip students to be active in society.

    “In a democracy, we educate for citizenship,” he said. “Not for obedience of authority, but for participation.”

    After the discussion, some audience members asked questions.

    “What happened to the activism?” one woman asked. “What happened to the revolution?”

    Mr. Ayers at first mentioned the realignment of 1994, in which Republicans took control of Congress, which some Republicans referred to as a revolution, and then went on to talk about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s uses of the term “revolution,” and saying that it would be futile to emulate political models from the 1960s and ’70s.

    “Can we imagine another world?” he said.

  30. The Rashid Khalidi (non-)connection rears its ugly head
    From CNN, Oct. 29, emphasis added:

    Palin accuses Obama of ties to second ‘radical professor’
    Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday said Sen. Barack Obama has ties to a Columbia University professor who she said is “a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.”

    The Obama campaign said on its Web site that “ugly insinuations about Barack Obama’s relationship with a former neighbor and university colleague … are completely false.” The professor has denied he was a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, which the U.S. and Israel consider a terrorist organization.

    Palin said her assertion “is not negative campaigning to call someone out on their record.”

    “It seems that there is yet another radical professor from the neighborhood who spent a lot of time with Barack Obama going back several years,” Palin said at an event in Bowling Green, Ohio.

    “This is important because his associate, Rashid Khalidi … in addition to being a political ally of Barack Obama, he’s a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.”


    Khalidi is a leading scholar of Middle Eastern studies at Columbia, and he was a contemporary of Obama’s while on the faculty of the University of Chicago.

    Khalidi has been a harsh critic of U.S. foreign policy toward Israel and has accused the country of “occupying” Palestinian territories. But he has denied acting as a PLO spokesman during a seven-year period in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Excuse us? The United Nations, international law and US policy “accuse” Israel of “occupying” Palestinian territories! It is only isolated annexationsts on the Israeli far right who deny that Israel is “occupying” Palestinian territories. Is CNN mainstreaming this radical view as legitimate? So much for the media’s supposed liberal, anti-Israel bias…

    CNN’s Political Ticker blog pulls the same trick (while fleshing out the extent of Rashidi’s fairly ephemeral ties to Obama):

    Palin blasts Obama for ties to Palestinian professor
    BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Sarah Palin thrust Barack Obama’s relationship with a Palestinian academic into the national spotlight on Wednesday at a rally in Ohio — a tactic reminiscent of her repeated attempts to tie Obama to former radical William Ayers…

    “It seems that there is yet another radical professor from the neighborhood who spent a lot of time with Barack Obama going back several years,” Palin said. “This is important because his associate, Rashid Khalidi, he, in addition to being a political ally of Barack Obama, he’s a former spokesperson for the Paliestinian Liberation Organization.”

    Khalidi — whose name Palin mispronounced — is currently a leading scholar of Middle Eastern Studies at Columbia University, and was a contemporary of Obama’s while on faculty at the University of Chicago.

    Khalidi has been a stern critic of United States foreign policy towards Israel and has accused the country of “occupying” Palestinian territories, but he has denied acting as a spokesman for the PLO.

    The Los Angeles Times reported in April that Obama praised Khalidi at a 2003 going-away party for the professor when he left Chicago. The McCain campaign has pressured the Times to publicly release a videotape of the event, but the newspaper has refused, citing the request of a source.

    Palin said the public has a right to know what Obama said at the event.

    “And the twist here is that there’s a videotape of a party for this person, back in 2003, a celebration of him, and Barack was there, and we know some very derogatory things were said there about Israel and America’s support for that great nation,” Palin said.

    “And among other things, Israel was described there as the perpetrator of terrorism instead of the victim. What we don’t know, what we don’t know is how Barack Obama responded to these slurs on a country that he now professes to support, and the reason is the newspaper that has the tape, the Los Angeles Times, refuses to release it.”

    Palin accused the Times of being Obama’s “pet newspaper” and said the paper would win a Pulitzer Prize for “excelling in cow-towing.”

    Obama’s Khalidi (non-)connection has been raised before.

  31. Bill Ayers speaks —at last
    Bill Ayers himself writes an op-ed in the Dec. 6 New York Times:

    The Real Bill Ayers
    In the recently concluded presidential race, I was unwillingly thrust upon the stage and asked to play a role in a profoundly dishonest drama. I refused, and here’s why.

    Unable to challenge the content of Barack Obama’s campaign, his opponents invented a narrative about a young politician who emerged from nowhere, a man of charm, intelligence and skill, but with an exotic background and a strange name. The refrain was a question: “What do we really know about this man?”

    Secondary characters in the narrative included an African-American preacher with a fiery style, a Palestinian scholar and an “unrepentant domestic terrorist.” Linking the candidate with these supposedly shadowy characters, and ferreting out every imagined secret tie and dark affiliation, became big news.

    I was cast in the “unrepentant terrorist” role; I felt at times like the enemy projected onto a large screen in the “Two Minutes Hate” scene from George Orwell’s 1984, when the faithful gathered in a frenzy of fear and loathing.

    With the mainstream news media and the blogosphere caught in the pre-election excitement, I saw no viable path to a rational discussion. Rather than step clumsily into the sound-bite culture, I turned away whenever the microphones were thrust into my face. I sat it out.

    Now that the election is over, I want to say as plainly as I can that the character invented to serve this drama wasn’t me, not even close. Here are the facts:

    I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.

    The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.

    Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.

    I cannot imagine engaging in actions of that kind today. And for the past 40 years, I’ve been teaching and writing about the unique value and potential of every human life, and the need to realize that potential through education.

    I have regrets, of course — including mistakes of excess and failures of imagination, posturing and posing, inflated and heated rhetoric, blind sectarianism and a lot else. No one can reach my age with their eyes even partly open and not have hundreds of regrets. The responsibility for the risks we posed to others in some of our most extreme actions in those underground years never leaves my thoughts for long.

    The antiwar movement in all its commitment, all its sacrifice and determination, could not stop the violence unleashed against Vietnam. And therein lies cause for real regret.

    We — the broad “we” — wrote letters, marched, talked to young men at induction centers, surrounded the Pentagon and lay down in front of troop trains. Yet we were inadequate to end the killing of three million Vietnamese and almost 60,000 Americans during a 10-year war.

    The dishonesty of the narrative about Mr. Obama during the campaign went a step further with its assumption that if you can place two people in the same room at the same time, or if you can show that they held a conversation, shared a cup of coffee, took the bus downtown together or had any of a thousand other associations, then you have demonstrated that they share ideas, policies, outlook, influences and, especially, responsibility for each other’s behavior. There is a long and sad history of guilt by association in our political culture, and at crucial times we’ve been unable to rise above it.

    President-elect Obama and I sat on a board together; we lived in the same diverse and yet close-knit community; we sometimes passed in the bookstore. We didn’t pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better.

    Demonization, guilt by association, and the politics of fear did not triumph, not this time. Let’s hope they never will again. And let’s hope we might now assert that in our wildly diverse society, talking and listening to the widest range of people is not a sin, but a virtue.

    Ayers is being a lot more honest here than his detractors were—but he is still not being fastidiously honest. So Katha Pollitt wastes no time in calling him out in The Nation:

    Bill Ayers Whitewashes History, Again
    It couldn’t have been easy for Bill Ayers to keep quiet while the McCain campaign tarred him as the Obama’s best friend, the terrorist. Unfortunately, the silence was too good to last. On Saturday’s New York Times op-ed page, he announced that “it’s finally time to tell my true story.” Like his memoir, Fugitive Days, “The Real Bill Ayers” is a sentimentalized, self-justifying whitewash of his role in the weirdo violent fringe of the 1960s-70s antiwar left.

    “I never killed or injured anyone, “Ayers writes. “In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village.” Right. Those people belonged to Weatherman, as did Ayers himself and Bernardine Dohrn, now his wife. Weatherman, Weather Underground, completely different! And never mind either that that “accidental explosion” was caused by the making of a nail bomb intended for a dance at Fort Dix.

    Ayers writes that Weather Underground bombings were “symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam War.” That no one was killed or injured was a monumental stroke of luck– an unrelated bombing at the University of Wisconsin unintentionally killed a researcher and seriously injured four people. But if the point was to symbolize outrage, why not just spraypaint graffiti on government buildings or pour blood on military documents?

    Spectacular violence, and creating fear of it, was the point.

    She’s got a point, even if she fails to note that part of the reason for the name-change from Weatherman to Weather Underground was a repudiation of the direction they had been going, of intentionally targeting human beings (the aborted Fort Dix attack). Subsequent Weather Underground attacks only targeted property, which is how Ayers today can call them “extreme vandalism” rather than “terrorism.” Sympathists of the current radical environmentalist underground are splitting the same hair today. Both those who terrorist-bait the eco-militants and those who “whitewash” by adhering to the narrowest possible definition of “terrorism” are twisting the language for propaganda purposes. As we said in this context before: while fire-bombing an empty building may not exactly be terrorism, it isn’t exactly not terrorism either…