I'm on the Pavement, Thinkin' 'Bout the Government

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Ex-Weather Underground terrorist, current doyenne of the Chicago left (both extreme and mainstream) Bill Ayers, deals with his "episodic notoriety."

I'm often quoted saying that I have "no regrets." This is not true. For anyone paying attention—and I try to stay wide-awake to the world around me all/ways—life brings misgivings, doubts, uncertainty, loss, regret. I'm sometimes asked if I regret anything I did to oppose the war in Viet Nam, and I say "no, I don't regret anything I did to try to stop the slaughter of millions of human beings by my own government." Sometimes I add, "I don't think I did enough." This is then elided: he has no regrets for setting bombs and thinks there should be more bombings.

Is this true? This is the explosive (sorry, pun) lede of the 9/11/01 New York Times story that roughnecks from Sean Hannity and Hillary Clinton have been using to slice at Obama.

"I don't regret setting bombs," Bill Ayers said. "I feel we didn't do enough.'

Later:

So, would Mr. Ayers do it all again, he is asked? "I don't want to discount the possibility," he said.

Let's be clear about Ayers was doing: Twenty-one years after he left the underground, many years into a respectable career as a leftish education scholar, he was maximizing his profits on a pretentious memoir about his sexy, dangerous days as a radical. In doing so he mugged for the camera (or, pen) of the New York Times, selling readers a new hard-bound collection of radical chic for their bookshelves. It's a complete coincidence that the interview came out the day of the WTC and Pentagon attacks and radical chic no longer seemed as cool as it had when the paper went to bed. Ayers and his wife became the targets of understandable anger. When Ayers began his book tour, he started sounding more contrite. He had to.

In those three years there was something like 20,000 arsons and bombings against U.S. government targets in this country. Something like 20,000, and as far as I know one person was killed and, you know, that is unforgivable. There's no way to defend it, because he was an innocent person and he did nothing, so you're absolutely right but every day that that war went on, well, what was the right action to take?

After the heat was off, Ayers started speaking a bit more freely again. But I don't think the spirit of his defense of his past ever changed. He's an anti-imperialist and a democratic socialist. Here he is talking about how the WU was a "teachable moment" for a Venezuelan interviewer. (The translator is his adopted son, Chesa Boudin, whose ex-WU mother and father are in jail for murders committed during a bank robbery.)

Ayers is a pretty dedicated Chavista, actually, an association that comes as no suprise either psychologically or politically.

All that said, I'm depressed at the ground this is being fought on. It's not hard to portray Ayers as a smug and blinkered trust fund leftist, yet the Obama-Ayers attack usually includes one lie or another—that he talked about planting bombs on 9/11, like the NYT called and asked him for a reaction, or that he talked about it afterward, as if he's an in-kind ally of al Qaeda. If the interview had gone up in the Sunday magazine instead of the Tuesday, 9/11/01 edition, would we have even heard of Ayers this year? Probably not, and that almost jibes with Ayers' argument about American imperialism and jingoism.

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  1. I hate the left-wing-radical politics in the service of which Ayer committed his crimes, but I am a little less than impressed by his elevation to the big bogey scary terrorist dude.

    If there was some Scarlet Pimpernel setting off bombs at Venezuelan army installations or at the homes of Venezuelan government officials, I would probably romanticize the guy.

    So it’s hard for me to condemn someone specifically for their use of political violence, as a separate and distinct condemnation, because I know as I do it that what I’m really doing is rejecting their cause as an adequate motivator for political violence.

  2. If there was some Scarlet Pimpernel setting off bombs at Venezuelan army installations or at the homes of Venezuelan government officials, I would probably romanticize the guy.

    I find most condemnations of political terrorism to be coated in a sheen of oily crap, mainly because people do not much object to the techniques, just the people du jour who engage in them. There’s always someone you can find who des the exact same thing, but “is different” because his cause you have a spot of affection for.

    Seriously–non-agression principle, no non-aggression principle, fuck the non-aggression principle–if there were a guy shooting cops and blowing up judges in the name of free minds and free markets, there would be more than a few regulars creaming their shorts over him here.

  3. All that said, I’m depressed at the ground this is being fought on.

    Agreed. In fact, this sums up much of the criticism of Obama so far. Hilary/McCain have been picking at petty garbage while the real problems with Obama, mainly his intensely socialist views, are eclipsed.

    With Hilary, it’s understandable because she believes the same things, but I don’t know why McCain is holding back. Perhaps the GOP is saving the real dirt for the general election.

  4. I hope David Weigel doesn’t represent the Reason editorial staff, because he’s sick.

  5. Newsflash: the GOP believes the same things.

    This is not your parents’ GOP, boys and girls.

  6. If McCain was serving on a board with an abortion clinic bomber who was selling a book and was quoted on 9/11 saying he wished he’d set more bombs, would that be a legitimate point to attack him on?

  7. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I would note that if Ayers is suggesting that the NY Times might have quoted him partially or out of context to generate more interest in its story, that would not be the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.

  8. I hope David Weigel doesn’t represent the Reason editorial staff, because he’s sick.

    What did you garner from that post that would make you conclude that, Andrew?

    the Obama-Ayers attack usually includes one lie or another-that he talked about planting bombs on 9/11, like the NYT called and asked him for a reaction, or that he talked about it afterward, as if he’s an in-kind ally of al Qaeda.

    I’ve seen the Obama-Ayers attack many-a-time, but I’ve never seen those assertions. I’m not saying they haven’t been made, but the word “usually” may be a stretch.

  9. The quote might be a little sensationalized, but the larger point is that Ayers is mostly unrepentant about petitioning his government for reddress via molotov cocktail.

    The coincidence of trying to peddle his lefty terrorist chic just before the largest terrorist attack in our history is just more evidence that God hates hippies.

  10. So where are all the people so hysterical because Paul is associated with Rockwell. Remember the flaming dencunciations of a few lines from a newsletter?
    So Obama can be buds with a terrorist bomber, have scorn for middle America, and gets a pass on Rev. Wright and Farrakan?
    Methinks I smell hypocrites.

  11. If McCain was serving on a board with an abortion clinic bomber who was selling a book and was quoted on 9/11 saying he wished he’d set more bombs, would that be a legitimate point to attack him on?

    Unless that guy was his chief policy analyst on abortion providers, no.

  12. I think we could eliminate terrorism if we just gave everybody conventional munitions and formal military training.

  13. So we have one democrat hanging around an admitted terrorist and another democrat who is the wife of a man who let a couple go free.

    This should go over well in the general election.

  14. This should go over well in the general election.

    Yeah, them and that GOP jackass who seems intent to pursue policies which will make us wonder whether terrorists grow on trees.

    Bastards.

  15. Uh… You mean ‘doyen’, right? Or am I unaware of Ayers’ gender?

  16. Hilary/McCain have been picking at petty garbage while the real problems with Obama, mainly his intensely socialist views, are eclipsed.

    There is a lot of truth to this, but . . .

    Presidential platforms on policy issues are generally very poor predictors of what a President actually winds up doing. This is partly due to the prevarications of candidates, but mostly due to the fact that Presidents are driven by events.

    In trying to figure out what kind of President a given candidate will be, looking only at their announced policy preferences is a very poor guid. Looking at the history of what they’ve actually done is a better guide, but you would be foolish not to look at the bigger picture of where they come from and who they surround themselves with.

  17. Yeah, them and that GOP jackass who seems intent to pursue policies which will make us wonder whether terrorists grow on trees.

    Trees? Of course not.

    Everyone knows terrorists come from underground, anti-freedom factories, staffed by Democrats and French people.

    Duh!

  18. I think we could eliminate terrorism if we just gave everybody conventional munitions and formal military training.

    Starting at age seven, like Sparta.

  19. Everyone knows terrorists come from underground, anti-freedom factories, staffed by Democrats and French people.

    Of course. I stand corrected.

    What a fool I have been.

  20. So Obama can be buds with a terrorist bomber, have scorn for middle America, and gets a pass on Rev. Wright and Farrakan?

    I think that whether we like it or not, many [MANY] unsavory 60’s radicals have successfully rehabilitated their reputations and inserted themselves back into public life, where because of their notoriety [and because of the fact that many of them became unsavory 60’s radicals precisely because they were organizational and academic stars] they are dug like ticks into progressive organizations everywhere.

    This means that it’s pretty much impossible to be a progressive politician in the modern era without having at least one organizational “connection” to one or more of these guys.

    The only historical example I can think of to compare it to would be the Dreyfuss affair. So many of France’s conservative luminaries were implicated in the affair in one way or another that it was probably decades before you could have found a right-wing French politician who wasn’t in some way “compromised” by association with such a person.

    As for the other items, I too have scorn for Middle America, so if Obama shares that scorn it actually improves him in my eyes and he does not require a “pass” for it.

    And I knew men who were in the Million Man March and to declare that evidence of being a supporter of Farrakhan is nonsense. It’s like saying that everyone who was at the March on Washington is forever tied to Peter, Paul and Mary.

  21. The Weather Underground, in its entire existence, has resulted in the deaths of approximately 1/100,000 the number of innocent civilians and 1/1333 the number of own-team killed who’ve died in the Iraq War.

    Ah, but the people who launched the Iraq War didn’t intend for all of those people to die, and took steps to minimize damage. Mistakes happen in war.

    Ditto for the Weather Underground’s spree. They attempted to bomb empty buildings.

    Ah, but the Iraq War was launched to try to stop and even greater evil; Saddam’s depredations.

    So was the Weather Underground’s spree.

    So, what if somebody serves on a board with Dick Cheney in thirty years, and then runs for office in another 10?

  22. The outraged replies, once smelling salts are properly applied, will be: ZOMG, the Weather Underground were serving the cause of dirty sixties leftism while Dick Cheney is waging the Great Democratic Crusade.

    And that’s what this is about.

    BTW, I think people who blow stuff up because they’re too impatient for normal political development to work are assholes, and usually people who have a vastly outsized impression of their own brilliance and moral clarity. Which just makes them get their backs up even more when people point out that their violent little outbursts accomplished no good, only evil.

    All of ’em, without regard to party.

  23. I think that whether we like it or not, many [MANY] unsavory 60’s radicals have successfully rehabilitated their reputations and inserted themselves back into public life…

    Fucking sellouts. I think Jerry Rubin especially comes to mind here. 😉

  24. The coincidence of trying to peddle his lefty terrorist chic just before the largest terrorist attack in our history is just more evidence that God hates hippies.

    lawl

  25. Can you think that Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist asshole, but that the ‘links’ between him and Obama are way overblown, and *that* is why this whole thing is stupid.

    And joe- the whole ‘the usa is the world’s biggest terrorist’ thing is *precisely* why it took the anti-war movement 3 and 1/2 years to get any mainstream support, and why we’re still in Iraq.

    You of all people should see a fuckin difference between state actors and non-state actors – and esp between a legitimately elected goverment and a couple of wannabe maoists.

  26. “…he was maximizing his profits on a pretentious memoir about his sexy, dangerous days as a radical.”

    Heh, typical, radical, anti-establishment lefty. Sheesh. Must be hard to stay true to yourself when those damn imperialists keep buying your book and making your wallet fatter.

    “Ayers is a pretty dedicated Chavista”
    Maybe he is hoping Chavez will give him a check, like he gave to Danny Glover, for $21 million to make a movie.
    Nah, he wouldn’t sell-out like that, would he?

  27. The Weather Underground, in its entire existence, has resulted in the deaths of approximately 1/100,000 the number of innocent civilians and 1/1333 the number of own-team killed who’ve died in the Iraq War.

    And FDR firebombed Tokyo and Dresden, nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, etc. Wasn’t even trying to minimize civilian casualties. Also got half a million Americans killed.

    War is not terrorism.

  28. This election “season” is like that weird cinematic effect you get when you pull the camera back while at the same time zooming in. The subject both recedes and grows nearer. The observer is left uneasy and a bit queasy, and nothing is resolved.

  29. That wasn’t actually my point, Kolohe. I’m just putting Ayers in perspective.

  30. Oops, I forgot, Truman did the nuking. No serving on boards with him either.

  31. Don’t know much about Ayers but he should know that if a President takes you into a war, whose escalation was based on a complete fabrication, and that escalation gained its manpower from required service, 60,000 who died, you should either make paper mache puppets and dance around or do absolutely nothing like all great Americans do.

  32. Truman did the nuking, Dave the Tall. Not that they’re still not dead.

  33. And FDR firebombed Tokyo and Dresden, nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, etc. Wasn’t even trying to minimize civilian casualties. Also got half a million Americans killed.

    War is not terrorism.

    True. Nor is three, three hundred thousand.

    Nor is fighting off two hostile powers who started a war against you the same as whatever the hell we were doing in Vietnam and Iraq.

    Nor is the responsibility of soldiers who don’t decide when to fight the same as that of policymakers those who make the violence happen.

  34. ed,

    I think they’re all like that. But at least we can complain about it on the Internet now.

  35. Oops, I forgot, Truman did the nuking. No serving on boards with him either.

    Rev. Dr. Wright? Is that you?

    What’s ironic is that Wright singles out Harry Truman for praise – for his enlightened leadership on racial issues – in the same sermon in which he singles out the nuking of Hiroshima as a reason why God would damn America.

    But remember, moral questions about acts during wartime are easy.

  36. “The outraged replies, once smelling salts are properly applied, will be: ZOMG, the Weather Underground were serving the cause of dirty sixties leftism while Dick Cheney is waging the Great Democratic Crusade.”

    So, anyone who criticizes Ayers too strongly (instead of legitimate nuanced criticism like calling Ayers an “asshole[]”) is shilling for Big Dick?

  37. True. Nor is three, three hundred thousand.

    Well, again, if McCain was friendly with an abortion clinic bomber you would hear the screaming from DC to San Fran.

    Nor is fighting off two hostile powers who started a war against you the same as whatever the hell we were doing in Vietnam and Iraq.

    We started the war against the Axis with Lend-Lease. We could have said “None of our business, we’re not getting involved.”

    We could have said that in Kuwait in 1991 too. Or in South Korea. Or in Grenada. Or Panama. Or Bosnia. Or Somalia.

  38. Seeing as how I criticized Ayers pretty strongly – nope.

  39. Someone should tell Ayers that it is currently more dangerous to be a civilian in Venezuela than a civilian in Iraq.

  40. Well, again, if McCain was friendly with an abortion clinic bomber you would hear the screaming from DC to San Fran.

    The first abortion clinic bombing, IIRC, was in the late 80s, and the threat of abortion clinic bombings is still with us.

    Anti-war bombings ceased before I was born. So, when was this abortion clinic bomber active? What’s he been doing since then? There would, certainly, rightfully be questions to raise to suss this out, but I would not count the fact that the former abortion clinic bomber-turned education professor/reform advocate is still pro-life as indicative of much about McCain.

    The relationship – such as it was – between Ayers and Obama is a legitimate topic, but the closer you look at it, the less there there is there.

  41. When you get down to it, most murderers in prison only killed a handful of people. Yet they’re serving life sentences, or they’re even on death row. Is a life sentence (to say nothing of a death sentence) a disproportinate response, and is outrage at their crimes inappropriate, because Bush killed more people?

  42. Someone should tell Ayers that it is currently more dangerous to be a civilian in Venezuela than a civilian in Iraq.

    Is this actually true? I am no fan of Chavez but this would be very surprising to me.

  43. . . . and if a murderer of one or two people can be sentenced to life in prison, can’t Ayers be sentenced to a severe criticism by media and blog commentators? Or is criticism a more heinous punishment than life in prison?

  44. Anti-war bombings ceased before I was born.

    A recruiting office in New York was bombed just a few weeks ago.

    but I would not count the fact that the former abortion clinic bomber-turned education professor/reform advocate is still pro-life as indicative of much about McCain.

    If he’d served on a board with McCain and was selling a book while unrepentently saying “I wish I’d set more bombs” the shrieks from N.O.W. and Dems would be so loud the rest of us would need earplugs.

  45. Joe,

    We don’t have to talk about “association with Cheney” because that blows the wrong dog whistle and you start to get arguments about state vs. non-state actors and war vs. terrorism.

    Limit the discussion to lawbreaking and crimes.

    How many national Republican figures are “associated” with persons who were implicated in crimes associated with the Iran-Contra affair?

    Is everyone who ever served on a board with Cap Weinberger out of consideration for public office as a result?

    [Now, I tend to think that the Boland amendment was unConstitutional, and that most Iran-Contra figures didn’t actually commit any crimes. But that’s neither here nor there.]

  46. You can stop, Max. Nobody has said it was ok for the Weather Underground to kill a person.

    There was a different point. See if you can figure it out.

  47. and was selling a book while unrepentently saying “I wish I’d set more bombs”

    So, you’re just ignoring all of the facts in the blog post and linked article that don’t help your case?

    Serves me right for trying to hold an honest conversation with you.

  48. joe-
    you’re perspective is easily falsifiable anyway.

    “So, what if somebody serves on a board with Dick Cheney in thirty years, and then runs for office in another 10?”

    The entire Bush admin, esp the ‘old guard’ foreign military policy types (e.g. Cheney and Rumsefeld) are re-treads from the Nixon/Ford years anyway – you know, the ones by your equivalence engaged in terrorism on the people and nations of the former French Indochina.

    So it would be totally normal and unexpected for all the ‘Deputy Asst’ types to be part of, or in fact leading a Republican administration in 2028.

  49. What about anybody we ever served on a board with a National Security Advisor who ordered specific acts of torture against specific individuals?

  50. Kolohe,

    you’re perspective is easily falsifiable anyway.

    Quite the opposite, you just restated my point.

  51. . . . and if a murderer of one or two people can be sentenced to life in prison, can’t Ayers be sentenced to a severe criticism by media and blog commentators? Or is criticism a more heinous punishment than life in prison?

    That’s not really the issue. Obviously the guy should be subject to criticism. Abuse, even. The issue is whether it’s reasonable, given the sheer number of ex-60’s radicals who are still around, to expect politicians on their side of the political spectrum to successfully avoid ever serving on the same nonprofits as one or more of them.

    The guy is a tenured professor now. Should every other professor at his university resign? If a professor at his university was up for some Cabinet position, would it be reasonable for ABC to ask them, “Why didn’t you immediately resign and flee the state when Ayer became associated with your university?” Blah blah blah blah. I don’t think it would be. It’s the type of question that only makes sense if you have never had any greater sphere of acquaintance that Ed and Duke on your bowling team.

  52. Venezuela has a population of about 27 million, Iraq about 29 million.

    With the “surge”, the number of civilians being killed was reduced to less than 1,000 a month, while the number of murders in Venezuela continues to climb from 1,000 to 1,200 a month. So strictly speaking they are neck and neck.

  53. Someone should tell Ayers that it is currently more dangerous to be a civilian in Venezuela than a civilian in Iraq. Is this actually true? I am no fan of Chavez but this would be very surprising to me.

    It appears to be true for the three months ending January:

    http://www.shoutwire.com/viewstory/126159/Venezuela_More_Dangerous_Than_Iraq

    Iraq’s and Venezuela’s populations are roughly comparable: 27.5 million versus 27.7 million. In the last three months, there have been 1498 civilian fatalities in Iraq. During this same time, roughly 3000 Venezuelans have been murdered.

    For the last three months of 2007, a Venezuelan was twice as likely to lose his life to violence as an Iraqi. It looks like its time for Hugo to put more attention on his abysmal security situation and less attention on Hollywood.

    One can reasonably argue not all murders in Iraq are included, but to have twice as many in Venezuela is pretty astounding.

    This part is particularly interesting:

    Deaths for “resisting the authorities” have increased 254% since 1999 in the country and 759% in the Federal District.

  54. So, you’re just ignoring all of the facts in the blog post and linked article that don’t help your case?

  55. So, you’re just ignoring all of the facts in the blog post and linked article that don’t help your case?

    They just aren’t relevant. Would N.O.W. and Dems be paying any attention to those same facts if it was a right-wing abortion clinic bomber? Or would we have 10 NYT headlines saying “McCain’s Ties To Extremist Raise Questions, Ire”?

  56. I mean, it’s like Milhouse saying “What about all the days I DIDN’T wear culottes to school? How come nobody talks about THAT?”

  57. And once Mr Ayers has his way, and we live in one big democratic socialist paradise (him being the overseer, of course) will he kill me when I tell his minions I’m not giving him my guns nor can he use my house for board meetings of the local co-op?

    Cuz that’s really the bottom line with these people. They’re non-violent until you don’t do what they want you to do. Then, like every other pathetic do-gooder with a mission, they’ll take your property, or lock you up, or if it comes down to it, they’ll send Che to put a bullet in the back of your head.

    Then they preen at the carefully cultivated image in the mirror and in solemn tones explain how much they care about humanity and how it is all for the common good.

  58. a memoir of the revolutionary action and militant resistance to the Viet Nam War-the years of miracle and wonder

    Jeebus Chribimus, will we ever be rid of these assholes????

    Evidently, performing all those miracles and wonders didn’t leave time for regular bathing…

  59. They just aren’t relevant. Would N.O.W. and Dems be paying any attention to those same facts if it was a right-wing abortion clinic bomber? Or would we have 10 NYT headlines saying “McCain’s Ties To Extremist Raise Questions, Ire”?

    If there were a thousand guys with links to groups that had planted bombs at abortion clinics, and those guys were now ensconced in professorships, think tanks, state legislatures, community groups, state parties, etc., all over the country, I tend to think that McCain’s association with one of them would not be news.

    Heck, McCain’s association with a criminal who stole prescription drugs from a charity so she could get high isn’t news either. Despite the fact that McCain used his political connections to try to crush a whistleblower who was suing this McCain associate. If that’s not worth a Charlie Gibson question, why would a stray association with some ex-bomber be?

  60. life brings misgivings, doubts, uncertainty, loss, regret … I don’t regret setting bombs

    Translation: he regrets not asking out some girl he had a crush on in highschool, or not hugging his dad more than he does being a participant in the most childishly radical dangerous organization of that idiotic era. This dude’s moral compass is so screwed up and his attitude so self-important that he thinks the interviewer means no regrets about his whole life, when what anyone sensible wants to know is if he’s at all repentant for his essentially traitorous actions during wartime. What an a-hole.

    About his links with Obama: There was a time when decent people simply wouldn’t associate with known scoundrels. I remember Jewish friends describing how their grandmothers “wouldn’t have tea with a German”, The United States used to “not recognize” communist China, and to this day, a significant number of Veterans won’t have anything to do with Jane Fonda.
    Ayers is a narcisstic, collectivist a-hole; Obama happens to be an opportunistic, collectivist, statist a-hole who knows his base either doesn’t care about or actively celebrates Ayers’ ideology and pathology. (or he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time)

  61. Just a couple of days ago a friend of mine sent me a couple of photos he took at Disneyland (happiest place on earth-reg US pat off) the day Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies commandeered Tom Sawyer’s Island for a few hours. It was pretty trippy seing Main Street lined with cops in full riot gear, batons at the ready. Talk about a blast to the past.

    One of the coolest things my friend did was to shoplift Steal This Book.

  62. Would N.O.W. and Dems be paying any attention to those same facts if it was a right-wing abortion clinic bomber? Or would we have 10 NYT headlines saying “McCain’s Ties To Extremist Raise Questions, Ire”?

    Twenty-two minutes before you asked this question, I wrote The relationship – such as it was – between Ayers and Obama is a legitimate topic, but the closer you look at it, the less there there is there.

    Are we clear?

  63. The fatality numbers in Iraq are not all civilians murders. They are civilians murders that our government attributes to the war. Those they deem to be criminal acts are left out of the count.

    While the Venezuelan figures count all civilian homicides.

  64. One can reasonably argue not all murders in Iraq are included, but to have twice as many in Venezuela is pretty astounding.

    Yes, so astounding that a reasonable person would question whether there isn’t something screwy in the methodology.

  65. Does anyone do any chin-scratching about how this might have played out had his interview appeared on the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing?

  66. Ayers deserves all the condemnation he gets, but yeah, there are many others who deserve a tenth of the insane amount of attention he gets. Next.

  67. As I see it, the real issue here is not that Obama knows and occasionally associates with Ayers. The problem is that he can’t seem to tell a straight story about it.

    It’s already come out that Ayers is more than “some guy who lives in Obama’s neighborhood.” Obama could have easily dismissed by simply saying, “Yeah, I know him. And I disagree with him if he thinks that bombing buildings is justified.”

    Ultimately, Obama’s inability to get his story straight about his dabblings with radicalism will do him more harm than anything he actually espouses in the campaign.

  68. “While the Venezuelan figures count all civilian homicides”

    Sure. Its pretty hard to count any murder to a war, when you are not at war.
    And that is what makes it so mindblowing. The government of Hugo Chavez ADMITS to 12,249 murders in Venezuela for 2007. Numbers could be higher.

    Can you see the irony of this fruitloop condeming US imperialism while singing the praises of EL Comandante?

  69. Yes, so astounding that a reasonable person would question whether there isn’t something screwy in the methodology

    Which is pretty much what I said.

    They are civilians murders that our government attributes to the war.

    Actually, I think they now come from morgue counts done by the Iraqi MOH.

    Looking at numbers from the anti-war IBC, which blames all reported deaths on the war, we find Iraq and Venezuela in rough parity, with about 1000 deaths per month for Oct-Dec.

    http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/2007/

    So overall, Iraq and Venezuela were about as safe in those three months.

  70. “You can stop, Max. Nobody has said it was ok for the Weather Underground to kill a person.”

    That’s good, because I never said they said it.

  71. Also, perhaps some of those civilians in Iraq weren’t EXACTLY civilians? Militia with no uniforms?

    That’s why I think it’s a pretty fair comparison. Your chances of being killed in Venezuela are higher than in Iraq.

  72. You said (a) Ayers is an “asshole,” and I quoted your remark to that effect, and (b) excessive criticism of Ayers is wrong, because Bush and Cheney are waging an unjust war.

    What about folks like me who agree that Bush and Cheney are waging an unjust war, but also believe that Ayers is worse than a mere “asshole” for waging a terrorist campaign against his own country?

    I wasn’t aware that denouncing Ayers too strongly was equivalent to supporting the Bush administration.

    Incidentally, as far as the Ayers/Obama association, I haven’t been following it, but I would presume that it’s simply a product of the Republican Outrage-of-the-Month Club, whom I do not find credibe.

  73. And I can guarantee that Ayers and his idiot son would not last an hour after dark in the hills surrounding Caracas.

  74. credible

  75. War is not terrorism.

    It is when it’s fought by terrorizing non-combatants.

  76. Another 22,586-24,159 civilian deaths have been recorded in 2007 through Iraq Body Count’s extensive monitoring of media and official reports.

    Um, divided by 12…

    Also, perhaps some of those civilians in Iraq weren’t EXACTLY civilians? Militia with no uniforms? Actually, IBC excludes members of militias. They have a link to their methodology.

  77. Since he never targeted civilians was he even a terrorist? During the Revolution troops under Washington’s command as CIC killed innocent Loyalist men, women and children. Does that make him a terrorist? It’s an old cliche, “One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter”.

  78. Mad Max,

    (b) excessive criticism of Ayers is wrong, because Bush and Cheney are waging an unjust war.

    Nope. That’s the part you got wrong.

    “Perspective.” That is not a word one uses to characterize things as “right or wrong.”

    Nor did I write anything about “excessive” criticism of Ayers.

  79. Mad Max,

    I think I see where we’ve been talking past each other.

    My point in bringing up Cheney is not “criticism of Ayers is wrong.” Since when do I object to criticism of Cheney?

    My point is, would serving on a board with Dick Cheney in the 2010s exclude someone from being a legitimate candidate if he were to run for office in the 2020s? Not a freaking chance.

  80. While Weigel and joe are trying to put Ayers into “perspective,” I think many of us are trying to put Obama into perspective. It’s not clear exactly what he believes, because his words are often vague (“unity”, “change”) or conflict with his actions (the “post-partisan” guy who’s going to “bring us together” but usually votes straight party line, the guy who believes in the Second Amendment, except whenever any locality wants any restriction on it, etc. etc.).

    So the process of trying to discover his beliefs necessarily involves finding out about his intellectual and political influences, and that includes things like the pastor of his church and yes, even his friends. We know his mother was a socialist, his father was a communist, his early mentor Frank Marshall Davis was a communist, his three spiritual mentors are Wright (loony Black Liberation Theology with heavy dose of Marxism), Meeks (another loon), and Phleger (loony Catholic priest who’s a defender of Farrakhan). So the relationship with Ayers certainly seems like a piece of the puzzle, and not some odd anomaly that’s easy to dismiss as irrelevant.

    But the biggest puzzle to me is Weigel’s obvious man-crush on Obama. Every time I read one of his posts on Obama I think I’m at The Nation website or something. Other than Obama’s “screw Iraq” stance, what about him is even remotely libertarian?

  81. He’s an anti-imperialist and a democratic socialist.

    I think he was a good deal more than that. One can be either of those things (or even both!) and NOT be a bomb-planting radical thug.

    PS. Who can read that junk under the “Chavista” link? Yecch.

  82. Can I say that this is the first time I appeared on this thread?

  83. joe, I am not concerned about any bullshit 6-degrees-of-separation link between Ayers and your buddy Sen. Obama. It’s Ayers himself, and the lenity he’s shown by the likes of the NY Times, that is the subject of my interest.

    Some of your replies to my comments contain the insinuation that I am some sort of Republican. I’m not, and if you repeat such an insinuation, ah will dah-mahnd, I say dah-mand, sahtisfaction, suh.

  84. So what exactly is Ayres connection to Obama other than they both were community activists in Hyde Park? Why are we supposed to be worried about this? Obama’s website spells out his policies in great detail – it’s obvious that his detractors are too lazy to read them. There’s no evidence at all Obama has socialist or radical leftist tendencies – that seems about as likely as McCain being a Manchurian candidate brainwashed by the Viet Cong who will flip the switch as soon as McCain gets elected. (And why has no one tried that line of attack yet?)

  85. There’s no evidence at all Obama has socialist or radical leftist tendencies

    Does an extra trillion dollars in foreign aid count? Higher taxes, even if they don’t produce more revenue, in the name of “fairness”? More regulation? More protectionism? Favoring certain “patriotic companies”? Appointing judges who discard judicial compassion to take the side of the poor and minorities?

    What does he have to do, wave a red flag and sing the Internationale?

  86. Oops, make that “judicial dispassion”.

  87. TallDave | April 18, 2008, 12:04pm | #

    [i]And FDR firebombed Tokyo and Dresden, nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, etc. Wasn’t even trying to minimize civilian casualties. Also got half a million Americans killed.

    War is not terrorism.[/i]

    Technically true, but the incidents that you list indicate that war is a convenient excuse to engage in massive terrorism. Seriously, what’s the moral difference between the slaughtering of civilians by state actors and non-state actors?

  88. -“(Venezuela’s) Homicide rates are measured by the number of corpses that go through the morgue, but there is an additional category in public hospitals called “undetermined violent deaths. In 2004, there were 9962 homicides reported by the morgues, 2150 for “resisting the authorities” and 4298 “undetermined violent deaths”. This gives you 74 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, higher than Colombia’s 54, but that country is in the midst of a civil war..”

    http://www.shoutwire.com/viewstory/126159/Venezuela_More_Dangerous_Than_Iraq

    (Same link as TallDave’s)

    Iraq Body Count’s methodology isn’t exactly above reproach either – they are not what anyone would call non-partisan. But even by their statistics, Iraq’s civilian body count fell behind Venezuela’s for the last three months of 2007 – post surge.

  89. Seriously, what’s the moral difference between the slaughtering of civilians by state actors and non-state actors?

    Well, all actors should try to minimize violence to innocents; at the time they probably believed it was necessary to prevent the greater death toll and loss of freedom resulting from an Axis victory.

    But in a liberal democracy, rule of law dictates the state has a monopoly on violence. While states can act with violence illegally (we put the Nazis on trial at Nuremberg after all) they can also do so legally with some mandate from the electorate, whereas a citizen generally cannot except in very extenuating circumstances.

    It’s the difference between a cop shooting a robber and a robber shooting a storekeeper.

  90. Actually, IBC excludes members of militias.

    Actually, they specifically state they don’t really know how many they exclude.

    One significant exception is the question of combatant/civilian status, whose uncertainty is responsible for a large part of the difference between the lower and higher number given in the IBC range – see 3.2 and 3.3 below)

    Also, IBC relies on news reports, many of which are likely exaggerated. Iraq’s media is only a few years old, and as you’ll recall our own media was reporting cannibalism and stacked bodies rotting in the Superdome during Katrina. We were also told 10,000 had died on 9/11 for some time after that incident.

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