Barack Obama barely knows him--someone Ayers enlisted in an effort to gut responsible reforms of juvenile justice. Michelle was on board too, in her official capacity as a U of Chicago community liaison--Drudge has the link to the U of C Chronicle, Nov. 6, 1997:
Is Bill Ayers still a child? Should we give him a pass? And of course, it's all down to racism. What's your excuse, Bill?
Children who kill are called "super predators," "people with no conscience," "feral pre-social beings" -- and "adults."
William Ayers, author of A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court (Beacon Press, 1997), says "We should call a child a child. A 13-year-old who picks up a gun isn't suddenly an adult. We have to ask other questions: How did he get the gun? Where did it come from?"
Ayers, who spent a year observing the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago, is one of four panelists who will speak on juvenile justice at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, in the C-Shop. The panel, which marks the 100th anniversary of the juvenile justice system in the United States, is part of the Community Service Center's monthly discussion series on issues affecting the city of Chicago. The event is free and open to the public.Ayers will be joined by Sen. Barack Obama, Senior Lecturer in the Law School, who is working to combat legislation that would put more juvenile offenders into the adult system [snip]
One hundred years later, the system is "overcrowded, under-funded, over-centralized and racist," Ayers said.Michelle Obama, Associate Dean of Student Services and Director of the University Community Service Center, hopes bringing issues like this to campus will open a dialogue between members of the University community and the broader community
Why did still unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers want Barack Obama to run the Chicago Annenberg Challenge? Because it was an explicitly political exercise--to channel millions into political groups like ACORN rather than actual programs for children to learn math and science. Ayers' objective was a radical transformation of the abysmal Chicago schools, and sadly we are not talking educational excellence here. Stanley Kurtz on the NY Times' whitewash of the Obama/Ayers' relationship (video also here):
There is nothing "sporadic" about Barack Obama delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars over a period of many years to fund Bill Ayers’ radical education projects, not to mention many millions more to benefit Ayers’ radical education allies. We are talking about a substantial and lengthy working relationship here, one that does not depend on the quality of personal friendship or number of hours spent in the same room together (although the article greatly underestimates that as well).There is no question that juvenile detention in Cook County has been a scandal, but why did unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers team up with Barack and Michelle Obama? To torpedo a strong and needed Illinois juvenile crime bill. Kurtz:
Obama was perfectly aware of Ayers’ radical views, since he read and publicly endorsed, without qualification, Ayers’ book on juvenile crime. That book is quite radical, expressing doubts about whether we ought to have a prison system at all, comparing America to South Africa’s apartheid system, and contemptuously dismissing the idea of the United States as a kind or just country. Shane mentions the book endorsement, yet says nothing about the book’s actual content. Nor does Shane mention the panel about Ayers’ book, on which Obama spoke as part of a joint Ayers-Obama effort to sink the 1998 Illinois juvenile crime bill. Again, we have unmistakable evidence of a substantial political working relationship.Even after Sept. 11th Barack Obama did not disassociate himself from Bill Ayers. The Obama campaign plays dumb. But Barack, we know you are one of the most brilliant guys in America. How could you not know? Unless you shared Bill Ayers' radical ideas, and were entirely comfortable with them. It's a profound error of judgment--it's Barack Ayers.
UPDATE: AP keeps updating their story on Gov. Sarah Palin bringing up Ayers' name--they're still claiming her charges are "unsubstantiated". How about looking at the record? Dana Milbank, WaPo part of the Obama MSM cheering section, calling Palin's charges "the roughest stuff". More WaPo myopia: Mick Stockinger on Michelle Obama, "Entitled and Angry". UPDATE: Gateway Pundit has a more informative view of the Florida Palin rally.
UPDATE: Bill Kristol talks to Gov. Sarah Palin:
Palin also made clear that she was eager for the McCain-Palin campaign to be more aggressive in helping the American people understand “who the real Barack Obama is.” Part of who Obama is, she said, has to do with his past associations, such as with the former bomber Bill Ayers. Palin had raised the topic of Ayers Saturday on the campaign trail, and she maintained to me that Obama, who’s minimized his relationship with Ayers, “hasn’t been wholly truthful” about this.
I pointed out that Obama surely had a closer connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright than to Ayers — and so, I asked, if Ayers is a legitimate issue, what about Reverend Wright?
She didn’t hesitate: “To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.”
Karl Rove in his Newsweek column on the campaign ahead, referencing voters' persistent doubts about Barack Obama's experience, judgment and character.
UPDATE: Background on the Illinois juvenile justice bill, which passed overwhelmingly in the heavily Democrat legislature, despite Obama's best efforts to scuttle it. Kurtz once again does us a service in highlighting Barack's Lost Years:
Ayers also makes a point of comparing America's prison system to the mass-detention of a generation of young blacks under South African Apartheid. Ayers's tone may be different, but the echoes of Jeremiah Wright's anti-prison rants are plain.
Given his decision to recommend Ayers's book in the Tribune, it's fair to say that Obama is at least broadly sympathetic to this perspective. When Obama offers examples of ill-conceived legislation, he often points to building prisons: Instead of building another prison, why not expand health care entitlements? Biographer David Mendell cites Obama's irritation with fellow legislators who "grandstand" by passing tough-on-crime legislation, while letting bills designed to bring "structural change" languish. Debating Bobby Rush in 2000, Obama bragged that he had "consistently fought against the industrial prison complex." Obama's Hyde Park Herald column echoes these points.
The most intriguing thread linking Obama, Ayers, and crime, however, runs through Ayers's wife, Bernardine Dohrn. Dohrn founded the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University, and along with her associates there, she regularly and energetically opposes "get tough" crime laws. Ayers draws on his wife's wisdom in A Kind and Just Parent, and Dohrn, like her husband, publicly presents her work on juvenile justice not as a repudiation of her youthful radicalism, but as a continuation of it.
The Ayers-Dohrn-Obama nexus was jolted into action in late 1997 and early 1998, when a major juvenile justice reform bill was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly. Written by prosecutors and sponsored by a Republican ex-prosecutor, the bill was neither simplistic nor partisan. Well aware of evidence that sending juveniles to adult prisons can backfire and actually raise recidivism rates, sponsors met rehabilitation-minded critics halfway. The proposed bill was an early example of "blended sentencing," in which juveniles who have committed serious crimes are given both a juvenile sentence and a parallel adult sentence. So long as the offender keeps his nose clean, doesn't violate parole, and participates in community-based rehabilitation, he never has to serve his adult sentence. But if the offender violates the provisions of his juvenile sentence, the adult punishment kicks in. That gives young offenders a powerful incentive to do right, and puts toughness at the service of offering kids a second chance.
Blended sentencing is generally viewed as an innovative compromise. To those on the far left, however, blended sentencing is just another mean-spirited "get tough" crime measure in disguise. That's why, when the Illinois blended sentencing bill was introduced in 1997, both Obama and Bernardine Dohrn were cited by the Chicago Sun-Times as key local critics of the bill. Steven A. Drizin, an associate of Dohrn's center (who is thanked in Ayers's book) was a member of the study commission that helped produce the bill, yet remained an energetic critic, not only of blended sentencing, but of nearly every other prosecutor-favored provision in the bill.
Meanwhile, Obama worked closely with the Illinois Black Legislative Caucus to slow the bill's progress, expressing skepticism about the blended sentencing provisions. While one report speaks of Obama negotiating with Cook County state's attorney Richard Devine for a compromise, there is good reason to believe that Obama's actual aim was to scuttle the entire bill. We have this on the authority of someone who may very well be Michelle Obama herself. Michelle Obama organized a University of Chicago panel about Bill Ayers's crime book in November 1997, just as the battle over the juvenile justice bill was heating up. That panel featured appearances by some of the key figures discussed in Ayers's book, along with Obama himself, who was identified in the press release as "working to block proposed legislation that would throw more juvenile offenders into the adult system." In effect, then, this public event was a joint Obama-Ayers effort to sink the juvenile justice bill-Obama's decision to plug Ayers's book in the Chicago Tribune the following month was part of the same political effort.
In January 1998, a front-page headline in the Defender touted Obama's claim that the juvenile justice bill might be on the verge of failure. Obama hoped that black caucus opposition to the sentencing provisions might be matched by concerns among some Republicans that the bill could force expensive jail construction (based on the prospect that the deterrent effect of blended sentencing might fail, thereby forcing more juveniles into adult prisons). Obama's hopes were wildly off-base. In the end, the juvenile justice bill passed overwhelmingly. Given his ambitions for higher office, Obama was no doubt reluctant to vote against the final bill. A last-minute, minor and uncontroversial adjustment to the blended-sentencing provisions by the governor appears to have provided enough political cover for the bill's sharpest critics including Obama to come around and support it.
Also in 1998, according to the Hill, a Washington newspaper, Obama was one of only three Illinois state senators to vote against a proposal making it a criminal offense for convicts on probation or on bail to have contact with a street gang. A year later, on a vote mandating adult prosecution for aggravated discharge of a firearm in or near a school, Obama voted "present," and reiterated his opposition to adult trials for even serious juvenile offenders. In short, when it comes to the issue of crime, Obama is on the far left of the political spectrum and very much in synch with his active political allies Ayers and Dohrn.