Archive for October, 2008

A Blogger Looks At Forty

October 18, 2008

So I turned forty today. Apparently I’m supposed to be depressed.

Can’t manage that one; I’m about to leave the house for the best burger in the world at Ann’s Snack Bar, followed by an afternoon of debauchery at the Decatur Beer Festival. The schedule simply does not allow for being maudlin today, but even if it did, I’m having a hard time working up any major depression.

Think of the things I’d have missed if I were younger. I saw Star Wars in its first run in 1977. I watched Reagan’s inaugural when I was in the sixth grade and the Berlin Wall collapse when I was in college at Auburn. I saw every minute of Live Aid in 1985, the stereo cranked up and my jaw agape.

I went to Texas for engineering and Oxford for English literature, both on scholarship, and sold my first book–off the slush pile–by the time I was 25. I haven’t sold everything I ever submitted for publication, but I’ve had more sales than rejections. I’ve been quoted by the BBC and CNN and Howie Kurtz–and the latter was after I went out of my way to insult the guy. And pretty much by accident, I somehow managed to worm myself into the publishing history of Harry Potter. I’ve cracked up Jimmy Buffett and Bill Buckley. I’ve watched the sun set over the caldera in Santorini, and seen satellites pass over the midnight sky of west Texas.

I’ve met two-thirds of my favorite band, I’ve seen the Rolling Stones at Wembley Stadium and Dash Rip Rock at the War Eagle Supper Club. I learned to play (bad) rock guitar and had a ball doing it. I’ve read Milton in the Radcliffe Camera at Oxford and wandered through Franz Liszt’s house in Budapest. I strolled through Checkpoint Charlie and Wenceslas Square before either of them were tourist traps. I’ve been to at least eight Mardi Gras and a couple of Jazz Fests and God only knows how many long weekends in New Orleans.

I’ve seen Bo Jackson run over people and Nolan Ryan pound the tar out of Robin Ventura; I’ve watched Michael Jordan and Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, all in person. I’ve been to four Sugar Bowls and seen my team go undefeated twice. I’ve thrown up on two continents and in the backseat of an F-16D at Mach 1. I’ve been responsible for blowing up several dozen aircraft, and I even got paid for it.

I have a great family. My parents are still together after 46 years of marriage, and I have two pre-teen nephews who are more than happy to joyously beat the crap out of me every chance they get. I’m married to a beautiful woman who owns more guitars than I do. Why on earth would I think the next forty years might be any less awesome?

And by the time you read this, I will be not just happily full, but also happily loaded. What business do I have being depressed?

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Why Ayers Matters

October 5, 2008

The media is atwitter today over Sarah Palin’s pointing out something they and their candidate of choice would just as soon went unnoticed: Barack Obama’s history with Bill Ayers, late of the Weatherman Underground. Given the lack of coverage over Ayers, to say nothing of his connections to Obama, one might well wonder, what’s the big deal? Why would anybody care whether Obama was friends with some ex-hippie who protested the Vietnam War, way back when Obama was just a kid?

The answers is: Bill Ayers was more than a ‘war protester,’ and more than simply a ’60’s radical (let’s face it, Obama couldn’t set foot in a college faculty lounge without running into plenty of those). He was much, much worse than any of that.

During the late 60’s and early 70’s, Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn–who herself gets way too little notice in any current reporting–were far worse than simple anti-war protestors. They were very much on the other side, actively working for the defeat of America abroad in war and the murders of Americans at home. Among many other crimes, Dohrn traveled to Cuba in 1969, where she met with Huyhn Va Ba of the Vietnamese Provisional Revolutionary Government. In that meeting, Dohrn and other Weathermen agreed to “wage armed struggle” within the United States. In appreciation for their efforts, Huyhn gave Dorhn, and later Ayers, rings forged from the metal of downed American fighter planes.

One wonders whether John McCain’s A-4, downed in Hanoi in 1967, was the source of either ring. One also wonders whether Ayers and Dohrn were wearing those tokens of fraternal solidarity when they introduced Barack Obama to the political world from their home some 13 years ago.

The excuse is often trotted out that Ayers and Dohrn weren’t so bad, since the Weathermen were so incompetent at terrorism that they only managed to kill a few of their own ranks, in a 1970 explosion. That’s errant nonsense. The bomb that destroyed a New York townhouse, and less sadly, the three Weathermen who were inside it, was intended to be set off at an Fort Dix NCO club dance. If you think Ayers and Dohrn and the other surviving Weathermen who were complicit in that planned bombing ought to be considered guiltless because the bombing was botched, you must also think Richard Reid should be set free because he too was an incompetent terrorist, one dumb enough to try and set off his shoe bomb with a match.

Of course, Reid’s incompetence, and that of Zacarias Moussaoui, are not a mitigating factors, nor should they be. Reid and Moussaoui actually got off easy. Both deserve execution; instead, they get to spend the rest of their lives looking at a blank wall in Supermax.

If any member of the press corps had a single ounce of nerve, they’d ask Barack Obama why the same fate shouldn’t have been visited on his pals from Hyde Park.

I’m not holding my breath. When the press mentions Ayers at all, it’s in romanticized terms. Too many members of our political and media elite still look on leftist terrorists as heroes, more to their abiding shame.

The number years that have passed since Ayers’ and Dohrn’s Weatherman days are likewise irrelevant; there is no statute of limitations on terrorism or treason. Another of Obama’s political patrons, William Daley, Jr. of Chicago, has the audacity (if you’ll pardon the term) to shrug off Ayers and Dohrn, saying recently, “This is 2008, people make mistakes. You judge a person by his whole life.”

No, Mr. Mayor, you don’t. Not when those “mistakes” are major crimes.

To restate: Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn should be staring at blank walls in Supermax for the rest of their lives. They are not cute. They are not admirable. They are not innocents who were swept up in juvenile enthusiasms. They are traitors who consorted with America’s enemies during wartime. They are terrorists who bombed the US Capitol, the New York City Police Headquarters, the Pentagon, and who tried to set off a bomb that would have killed and maimed dozens of American servicemen, their wives and sweethearts.

I have no particular illusions as to whether Obama will ever seriously be asked (much less answer) questions about why he ever associated with these two criminals. His flip and misleading answers to date suggest that he considers the question radioactive (as well he should), but the press, in the tank for Obama’s candidacy and still full of romanticism for Sixties “rebels” is fully intent on giving him a pass. Yesterday an AP writer even made the risible accusation that criticism of the lily-white Ayers and Dohrn is somehow “racist” (and while I’m not and probably never will be a McCain fan, this kind of crap is one of the very best reasons not to vote for Obama; four years of hearing “Racism!” uttered as a defense against the slightest criticism is not my idea of a healthy political environment).

Obama’s opponents in the primaries didn’t dare mention (much less criticize) links to the Weathermen; they were too dependent upon the loony Left for funding and activism. So now it’s left to McCain and Sarah Palin to ask the questions that others wouldn’t.

Obama’s canned response that he does not agree with Ayers and Dohrn’s actions as Weathermen is not the point; for whatever it’s worth, I believe him (although I’m not sure I’d believe a similar denial if issued by Obama’s mentor, Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright). The point is rather why any sane American would accept being in the same zip code with these two criminals, much less launch a political career from their living room.

Despite press and candidate protestations to the contrary, Stanley Kurtz of National Review has credibly reported that Obama and Ayers had a significant working relationship since at least 1995 (Kurtz, doing the work American reporters won’t do, had to force a FOIA request to gain access to paperwork on the foundation Ayers apparently groomed Obama to join; the deliberate attempt to hide records from the Annenberg Foundation was naturally not mentioned in a NY Times Ayers/Obama puff piece today). Based on Kurtz’s work, there’s no question that Ayers was far more than “a guy in my neighborhood” to Obama.

So, again, the question to Senator Obama: these people are not just terrorists and traitors, they’re admitted terrorists and traitors, and they’re even still boastful about what they did and why. So why on Earth did you ever so much as say hello to either of them, much less launch your career from their parlor? Are your own politics so radical that you didn’t think there was anything wrong with people who assisted your country’s enemies in wartime, or conspired to kill American solders at a dance?

What does it say about you, and with the Chicago machine that birthed you, and with the media that’s protecting you today, that none of the above seem to be even mildly troubled by the criminal careers of Billy and Bernadine?

Answer: nothing good. And that’s why those questions haven’t been asked. It’s also why those questions matter a great deal.