Wednesday Highlights

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13 comments

  1. Boonton says:

    Mr Obama and Mr Ayers not just “neighbors” it seems.

    This article is very interesting because it says absolutely nothing, contradicts nothing obama ever said yet seems to be saying something of substance. It’s a classic example of innunendo posing as information.

  2. Mark says:

    Huh? Obama asserts their relationship was “neighborly” and of casual acquaintance.

    What specifically do you see as an example of “innuendo”?

    I’ve a question for you on the Ayers issue. If Mr Obama worked closely or was sponsored by Mr Ayers would you find that problematic or not? Do you care about details of his relationship with Mr Ayers?

    See also the NRO Kurtz peices on that (at least two) up today … if this is an issue for you.

  3. Boonton says:

    From the article:

    In response to my questions, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying that Mr. Ayers had nothing to do with Obama’s “recruitment” to the board.

    Let’s step back. What was the CAC? The CAC was Chicago’s Annenberg Challenge. This was a huge grant by the Annenberg Foundation to do programs to improve public education in various cities. CAC was the grant for Chicago.

    In response to my questions, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying that Mr. Ayers had nothing to do with Obama’s “recruitment” to the board. The statement says Deborah Leff and Patricia Albjerg Graham (presidents of other foundations) recruited him. Yet the archives show that, along with Ms. Leff and Ms. Graham, Mr. Ayers was one of a working group of five who assembled the initial board in 1994.

    So you have a board of 5 different people who appointed the board, Ayers was one of them. Notice there’s nothing here that actually contradicts Obama’s statement. In fact it tends to support it. Why assume Ayers recruited him? Why not any of the other members of this board? Why? Because being a partisan your leap in your assumptions before the actual facts justify them.

    Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit. No one would have been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval.

    False, the Ayers wrote the grant application for the CAC. The CAC itself was founded by Walter H. Annenberg’s decision to fund a huge grant. Annenberg was a Republican and his gift was meet with universal acclaim and support. Try as you might you will not find any serious opposition from Republicans or even conservatives to his grant nor his decision to accept Ayers’s application for Chicago’s portion of it.

    CAC translated Mr. Ayers’s radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly

    The Annenberg Challenge specifically prohibited funding schools directly. Chicago schools were facing a deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars. The Foundation did not want their money to be used to plug an operating deficit but to fund an array of programs that hopefully would produce good results.

    CAC’s in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement.

    Probably not. see http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE6DE1539F931A15752C0A963958260&scp=1&sq=Chicago%20Annenberg%20Challenge&st=cse from 1995.

    The CAC grant was $49.2million spread over 5 years. In that year the school system’s deficit alone was $300M. In 2008, according to http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=28521, the budget was $6 billion. Even if the grants were magically produced perfect test scores it’s unlikely they could move the averages of such a huge system. The purpose of the challenge was to privately fund ideas that challenged the system. To the degree it did that or failed to do that has to be kept in perspective…it is notoriously hard to change education outcomes. You wouldn’t judge a $50m donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Foundation a failure because a year later no cure for Pancreatic Cancer is in view.

  4. I agree with Boonton. The article was pure innuendo.

    Take this doublet:

    Obama’s claim:

    In response to my questions, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying that Mr. Ayers had nothing to do with Obama’s “recruitment” to the board. The statement says Deborah Leff and Patricia Albjerg Graham (presidents of other foundations) recruited him.

    Kurtz’s “refutation:”

    Yet the archives show that, along with Ms. Leff and Ms. Graham, Mr. Ayers was one of a working group of five who assembled the initial board in 1994. Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit. No one would have been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval.

    In what way does the “refutation” contradict the claim?? Obama said he was recruited by Leff and Graham. Kurtz says Ayers must have approved it.

    Then this:

    The CAC’s agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers’s educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland’s ghetto.

    How does he know the CAC’s agenda “flowed” from Mr. Ayer’s educational philosophy? What kind of bullshit misdirection is that? If CAC’s agenda is radical, talk about the agenda. This is just guilt by association.

    CAC translated Mr. Ayers’s radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly, it required schools to affiliate with “external partners,” which actually got the money.

    This might be good or bad, but it’s hard to see how this is a “translation” of radicalism, Ayers’s or not.

    Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn).

    “Far-left?” What is that supposed to imply? Why label instead of specifying his objections to Acorn, and in particular the way Acorn might have spent CAC’s money?

    CAC’s in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement.

    What percentage of programs attempting to increase test scores of public students are successful? I’d bet it’s a very small number. Kurtz (or at least the blogger) is trying to imply that this proves improving test scores wasn’t their goal, but it does no such thing.

    Not from Kurtz, but from the blogger you linked to:

    The records also indicate grants went to Obama’s community organizing alma mater, the Developing Communities Project, where CAC’s goal was to turn parents into activists, because the family that agitates for socialism together, stays together.

    Isn’t this just inflammatory and false rhetoric? Was CAC literally pushing families to “agitate for socialism?”

    And again:

    And, associations with unrepentant domestic terrorists aside, the fact that his only executive experience came at the head of an organization whose mission was to radicalize schoolchildren is relevant.

    “Radicalize schoolchildren??” He makes it sound like Obama was running an Al-qaeda feeder school.

    Maybe when you link to a blog critical of someone on the left, you should first try to read it as if it were about someone on your side. This doesn’t pass the laugh test.

  5. Boonton says:

    I’ve a question for you on the Ayers issue. If Mr Obama worked closely or was sponsored by Mr Ayers would you find that problematic or not? Do you care about details of his relationship with Mr Ayers?

    Considering that Ayers had put himself back into mainstream life in Chicago & noone, especially Republicans, were not objecting to him I would not expect Obama to have behaved any differently or to have even known about Ayers’s past.

    After the long primary season and months of mulling Ayers around I would expect you and you fellow right wingers to have produced something of importance. To date you haven’t and even as recently as a few days ago you are posting fantasies (like Ayers wrote Obama’s book) instead of real facts. The obligation is on YOU to show why there is a there there.

    BTW, at what point can we talk about Palin’s troopergate? Or is she getting a pass because you can’t figure out if that’s forest or trees in your ‘holistic’ view of her?

  6. Boonton says:

    JA

    In what way does the “refutation” contradict the claim?? Obama said he was recruited by Leff and Graham. Kurtz says Ayers must have approved it.

    Indeed, if you asked me “who recruited you” for something I’d answer the person(s) that came to me and asked me to participate. This is not the same thing as who ‘approved’ hiring you….which is almost certainly a back office function.

    In fact, I’m kind of curious why only Ayers is mentioned out of the 5 members. I’m wondering if it might be because some of those 5 were pretty mainstream characters (even Republicans) that would destroy this flawed argument before it even lifts off the runway.

    How does he know the CAC’s agenda “flowed” from Mr. Ayer’s educational philosophy? What kind of bullshit misdirection is that?

    Somehow I doubt he even knows what Ayer’s educational philosophy really is or was.

    What percentage of programs attempting to increase test scores of public students are successful? I’d bet it’s a very small number.

    Krutz provided no real analysis of the grants approved versus the ones denied by the CAC. He did assert, however, that test score improvement was not their focus. So why measure their success by test score increases? If he wants to delegitimize the grants he should do so by actually looking at what they were and evaluating from there. But it’s easier to spout snarky comments than to actually get your hands dirty by honest research.

    Isn’t this just inflammatory and false rhetoric? Was CAC literally pushing families to “agitate for socialism?”

    Indeed, what the hell does this really mean? Socialism means gov’t ownership of capital. Please show specifically which grants CAC approved that pushed families to agitate for socialism.

  7. Mark says:

    Boonton and JA,
    Wow. That struck a nerve.

    Socialism defined as “government ownership of capital” does not necessarily fit the bill.

    But it’s easier to spout snarky comments than to actually get your hands dirty by honest research.

    You are doing exactly the opposite it seems to me. You are assuming (of a politician no less) that everything is just peaching in the absence of good honest research.

    Guilt by association. We are asked to judge Mr Obama not by his achievements, nor his record, but by his judgement. Associations a big part of the few judgement matters which is available on Mr Obama. That’s why its relevant.

    It’s also interesting how you pass from “5 working members” in a committee in charge of nominations to “a back office approval”. Very cute … but also unsubstantiated.

    Boonton attempts to whitewash the “modern” Ayers (who is noted in the GOP rhetoric as “unrepentant” and given no disavowal of that, it’s likely true) by suggesting that as there was not Chicago (!) GOP objection to his presence then his past is de facto not an issue. Do you realize how ineffective and weak the Chicago GOP really is? Do you realize how being in “enemy territory” sways party politics, i.e., in New Hampshire the GOP is likely to the left of the Kansas Democrats. Do you infer that there is nothing at all problematic about the March to War in Iraq, because there was no real Democratic opposition at the time?

    I point blank asked you two if Ayers and his past would be an issue if it were substantiated … and got no response. What does that mean? Is it not an issue because he’s been “cleared” in some vague manner by the lack of objection coming from the Chicago GOP?

    I do wonder how you would be taking the financial arrangements between the school system, CAC and so on if the groups involved had been, say, a supported and underwritten by a fundamentalist evangelical group instead of a secular left-wing org.

    As for some of the details you ask for, e.g., specific CAC educational agenda items, you do realize that this is a news article not a white-paper or research report. There is no indication that those details are lacking.

    But ….

    Maybe when you link to a blog critical of someone on the left, you should first try to read it as if it were about someone on your side. This doesn’t pass the laugh test.

    Ok. I’ll try to do that in the future. And ask that you do the reverse.

  8. I point blank asked you two if Ayers and his past would be an issue if it were substantiated … and got no response.

    I’m not happy about it, but I don’t see what the big deal is, as far as Obama’s presidential run. Republicans are trying to make it sound like Obama agrees with Ayers’s “unrepentance,” when there is no evidence for that and in fact he has repeatedly said the opposite. He worked with Ayers (to the extent that he did) because he wanted to help the community, not because he wanted to become a domestic terrorist.

    Does anybody believe this is going to have the slightest effect on his presidency? Is President Obama going to suddenly bomb the Capitol Building? Is he going to “radicalize” our youth? No, none of that BS is even relevant.

    It’s the same thing with Rev. Wright. Does anybody honestly believe Obama agrees with that nutcase when he rants against America and/or white people? Everything Obama has ever said or written has been the opposite of that. Everybody who’s ever worked with him or known him has said he’s the opposite of that. His speech on race was lauded by right and left and even the right Bell Curve crowd. (Charles Murray.)

    What I take from Obama’s association with those men is that he can work with people who believe things he vigorously opposes in order to achieve a common end. It seems to me that is a crucial talent in a president.

    I’m a lot more scared of McCain’s association with advisers like Kissinger and Kristol. Those guys have a lot more blood on their hands than Ayers would have even if he were “successful” at his terrorism, and unlike Obama, I don’t think McCain has the judgment to ignore their crazier sides nor the wisdom to even recognize them.

  9. Boonton says:

    You are doing exactly the opposite it seems to me. You are assuming (of a politician no less) that everything is just peaching in the absence of good honest research.

    OK, I read the article you cited. I put forth my case against it’s argument. I provided backup support for my assertions from at least two other sources, one contemporary from the time period when the event happened. Who here has produced the research?

    Guilt by association. We are asked to judge Mr Obama not by his achievements, nor his record, but by his judgement. Associations a big part of the few judgement matters which is available on Mr Obama. That’s why its relevant.

    Please judge by achievements, records and judgement. Back it up though and be responsive to when defects in your argument are honestly presented.

    It’s also interesting how you pass from “5 working members” in a committee in charge of nominations to “a back office approval”. Very cute … but also unsubstantiated.

    No I point out how the evidence presented does not support the thesis. Thesis: Obama’s assertion he was recruited not by Ayers but by the other two people is false. Evidence: Ayers approved nominations, he was one of five. Evidence does not support the conclusion. I don’t have a time machine, I can’t go back and videotape who recruited Obama but you are the one making the argument (or the person you’re citing is)….you provide the backup and if you fail your argument is a failure.

    Boonton attempts to whitewash the “modern” Ayers (who is noted in the GOP rhetoric as “unrepentant” and given no disavowal of that, it’s likely true) by suggesting that as there was not Chicago (!) GOP objection to his presence then his past is de facto not an issue. Do you realize how ineffective and weak the Chicago GOP really is?

    Over on ChicagoByz I presented more detailed arguments over Ayers. In brief, Ayers combined natural forgetfulness with the influence of a powerful father to re-enter the mainstream. He also did this by keeping low in the mainstream, he didn’t go after a contested position but a ho-hum ‘do gooder’ position allowing him to periodically write op-eds and be described simply as an ‘education professor’ or ‘activist’. My thesis and theory is by the time Obama was on the seen, Ayers’s past had been long fogotten by all but a few really devoted to 60’s history and only came to light again as a ‘gotcha’ on Obama.

    Evidence? The total lack of any objection by mainstream Republicans to Ayers anywhere near the CAC starting with Annenberg himself and a slew of GOPers of all levels who never batted an eye. Ineffective? You mean they are so ineffective they can’t write a letter to the editor objecting to Ayers being described as a mere ‘education professor’ or ‘activist’? Please…..

    I point blank asked you two if Ayers and his past would be an issue if it were substantiated … and got no response. What does that mean? Is it not an issue because he’s been “cleared” in some vague manner by the lack of objection coming from the Chicago GOP?

    What exactly are you asking? Exactly what is the ‘it’ you are asking about being substantiated?

    I do wonder how you would be taking the financial arrangements between the school system, CAC and so on if the groups involved had been, say, a supported and underwritten by a fundamentalist evangelical group instead of a secular left-wing org.

    I think you should wonder less about imaginary things that didn’t happen and pay more attention to trying to understand what really happened in the real world.

    As for some of the details you ask for, e.g., specific CAC educational agenda items, you do realize that this is a news article not a white-paper or research report. There is no indication that those details are lacking.

    Yes there is a real indication that these details are lacking. Example one is the substitution of snarky comments (teach parents to advocate socialism) in place of real analysis of the grants.

  10. Mark says:

    JA,
    But that’s the problem. There is a likelihood that Mr Obama’s connection like that with Mr Wright was more extensive than he’s let on. That it wasn’t casual. Mr Obama claimed that his Wright connection was casual and so on … until it became apparent that he was lying and he had to disavow his prior association. Will he do that with Ayers too?

    This morning I read suggestions that Mr Obama had connections with Mr Ayers in the late 80s before going to Harvard. People are starting to look.

    Boonton,
    I’ve seen “advocating radical left activism” not “teach socialism” over academics.

    The “it” being substantiated is, like with Wright, that their association was deeper than claimed. If it does come out that Mr Obama and Mr Ayers have been associates and working together for more than a decade and that the claim that “we were only neighbors” was a lie … and given Mr Ayers unrepentant support for domestic acts of terror … is that a problem for you? If it is not, then this discussion is irrelevant (for you).

  11. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I do like the

    Please judge by achievements, records and judgement. Back it up though and be responsive to when defects in your argument are honestly presented.

    Hmm. His achievements? Like what? He can write papers, but I can’t read them. He’s been in the Senate for about as long as Mrs Palin has been governor … so next to nothing there. He’s been a “community organizer”, what did he accomplish there? What achievements?

  12. Mark:

    But that’s the problem. There is a likelihood that Mr Obama’s connection like that with Mr Wright was more extensive than he’s let on. That it wasn’t casual. Mr Obama claimed that his Wright connection was casual and so on … until it became apparent that he was lying and he had to disavow his prior association. Will he do that with Ayers too?

    You’re still talking about connections and associations. What does it tell you ABOUT OBAMA that is so awful.

  13. Boonton says:

    Good point JA. Who you associate with is rarely an ethical problem or even a character issue. If you had real evidence that Obama supported Ayers’ decades old terrorism or Wright’s racism I’d grant you that would be a legit issue. Moving mountains to prove that Obama really meet Ayers at a cocktail party two years before he said he first meet him is not impressive.

    I’ve seen “advocating radical left activism” not “teach socialism” over academics.

    Guess you didn’t read the article you cited! Want to keep on asserting it’s Obama’s critics who are doing real research?

    Hmm. His achievements? Like what? He can write papers, but I can’t read them. He’s been in the Senate for about as long as Mrs Palin has been governor

    He has plenty of published papers, speeches and so on as well as two books. What papers can’t you read and why can’t you read them? Can I read John McCain’s high school book reports?

    He’s been a Senator twice as long as Palin’s been a governor. So much again for research. Wikipedia my friend, use it often and it will rarely guide you wrong.