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Friday, September 25

The ties that bind: More on the William Ayers-Barack Obama relationship

"That real story is the ball the [New York] Times must hide because it leads inevitably to the conclusion that the fundamental political world view of Ayers, not his tactical foray into bombings for a few years, is influencing the Obama candidacy."
-- Stephen Diamond, October 2008

I doubt that anyone has written with greater knowledge than Dr Stephen Diamond about the relationship between William Ayers and Barack Obama. Yet despite Steve's strenuous efforts to inform the public and the professional reporters who contacted him last year, most Americans remain unaware of the true nature of the relationship and its most important implications.

So running alongside the Ayers-Obama story is another one -- a news media story that in some respects is even more unsettling than Ayers's educational and political ideas and their influence on Barack Obama.

It was not only The New York Times that obscured the truth during the political campaign; Fox News Channel, for all their eagerness to point out William Ayers's past as a terrorist and connect Obama with him, completely missed the real story until late in the presidential campaign -- and even then did a very incomplete job of explaining it to their audience. Other news organizations did no better when they caught up with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge story.

The truth is that the Democratic-leaning mainstream news media spent decades suppressing information about the American Left, and the Republican-leaning media were only interested in the most superficial critiques of the Left.

The upshot is that when Steve Diamond arose to explain to the general public the complexities of the relationship between William Ayers and Barack Obama, the circles they moved in, and the implications for American education and an Obama presidency, he might as well have been speaking Greek.

Even the news outlets that wanted to deal with the story during the election campaign simply didn't have the time and ability to undertake the massive background reporting that would have brought the public up to speed.

So it wasn't surprising that many voters complained they didn't understand what Barack Obama meant by hope and change. He always spoke with great clarity about what he meant -- provided one understood the American Left and its referents.

That Americans outside the Left are slowly getting an idea of what he meant, as his presidency unfolds -- this is a hard way to wise up.

Below is Steve Diamond's latest essay at his King Harvest blog about the Ayers-Obama relationship, published here with his permission. For background I suggest you read the two 2008 essays he links to in the writing.

Peeling the Obama/Ayers Onion
By Stephen Diamond
September 24, 2009

A layer at a time, the truth about the decades' old relationship between Barack Obama and former Weather Underground terrorist turned 'educator' Bill Ayers is becoming clear.

The latest revelation is a report by Christopher Andersen in his new biography of the Obamas that, according to a neighbor and supporter of Ayers and Obama, Ayers ghost wrote Obama’s memoir Dreams From My Father.

Author Jack Cashill had first suggested that this was the case in a series of blog posts pointing out the striking rhetorical similarities in books by Ayers, a prolific writer, and the Obama tome.

As loyal readers of King Harvest and its predecessor Global Labor know, back in April 2008 I first surmised that Obama had a longstanding relationship with Ayers and probably also with Ayers’ father, Tom, the prominent Chicagoan dating back to the 1980s.

One relevant fact among many from that time period: Obama led his Developing Communities Project in support of a controversial education reform effort that Bill and Tom Ayers also supported even though mainstream black organizations like Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH were opposed to it.

Despite the risk to Obama politically Obama’s DCP was the only black organization in the lobbying alliance pushing the creation of Local School Councils in Chicago. Mainstream black groups like Operation PUSH understood the Councils would create a watchdog group over the shoulder of teachers and administrators, many of them black, and so refused to support the reform.

Presumably Obama made a calculation that backing the Ayers family effort was worth it -- of course, he likely also supported the teacher-hostile reform itself. Later in 1995 Bill Ayers would return that favor and appoint Obama as Chairman of Board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. One of the central activities of the CAC was to funnel money into support for that very same Local School Council structure, then under political attack from Mayor Daley.

(Interestingly, this issue -- watchdogging teachers and administrators -- is one reason why it is hard to accept the idea of the right that Ayers and Obama are traditional left wing radicals. In fact, as I have explained elsewhere on the blog, Ayers and Dorhn are really neo-stalinists -- a type of anti-capitalist that thinks there are bureaucratic and authoritarian solutions to problems created by capitalism. No doubt, for a period of time at least, Obama found common cause in this set of ideas.)

A senior Democratic Party activist in the Obama campaign who had direct contact with the candidate confirmed the longstanding ties between Bill Ayers and Obama. This individual was concerned, in fact, that Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn were exercising an unhealthy influence on the candidate including proposing appointments for the campaign and new administration.

A second source with personal knowledge of visitors to the Chicago area home of Tom Ayers in the 1980s has stated that Obama was friends with the entire Ayers family including Bill and Tom.

And Ayers himself wrote that the Obamas were “family friends” -- in an epilogue to his own memoirs that only appeared in a new post-election edition late last year that was then conveniently ignored by the mainstream media such as The New York Times.

The Times interviewed me 5 separate times using 3 different reporters and despite the clear evidence of the deep relationship between Obama and Ayers, accepted at face value statements by the Obama campaign that the two only met in either early or late 1995 (The Times changed its story on this) and did not really have much contact at all. I dissected this dissembling act on Global Labor here.

Of course, neither Dorhn nor Ayers have done much to distance themselves from their authoritarian late 60s politics. They have stopped throwing bombs but express no regrets for their violent tactics. Ayers himself has only gone so far as to say that violence is “probably” not the answer today. They are strong supporters of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez as they were once, at least, of Castro, Ho Chi Minh and Daniel Ortega.

The appointment of avowed maoist and reverse racist Van Jones as Green Jobs czar was likely the kind of individual the Democratic Party activist in the campaign was concerned about. Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, whose family is also friends with Ayers and Dohrn (Jarett’s mother appointed Tom Ayers to the board of her foundation, the Erikson Institute), was responsible for appointing Jones and allowing him to avoid the ordinary vetting process.

Jarrett claimed publicly just a few weeks before Jones resigned that the Obama team had been watching Jones for many years. Of course this would have included the period when Jones was active in STORM, a maoist sect in the bay area.

Many on the Democratic left -- such as the teachers’ union official Leo Casey -- have dismissed the claims of links to Ayers in the narrow interest of electing a Democrat, any Democrat, to rescue organized labor.

Some on the Democratic left argue that it does not matter because Obama would just jettison the Ayers types around the candidate once in office and become a mainstream politician. The Van Jones appointment suggests that has not been the case. At a minimum it suggests there is some dishonesty at work.

More likely it suggests some basic disconnect between the core Obama team, the inner circle that not only has connections with Ayers and Dohrn but is not actually embarrassed by them, and political reality.

That should concern everyone across the political spectrum.
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