Category: Jack Cashill

What Woodward Saw in the Clinton White House – and What He Missed


“It’s very depressing.  You want to read a depressing book, this is it,” said one critic of a book by Bob Woodward.  “It’s a sad, horrible story with all the sordid details that I guess people will just, you know, slaver over, but the fact of the matter is, it’s humorless and there’s no warmth.”

In his criticism of Woodward’s book Wired about his friend John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd captured the essence of the Woodward writing style: lots of little trees competing for air in a gloomy forest, often at the expense of the larger picture.  One can expect the same from Woodward’s’ new opus about the Trump White House, Fear. Trump in the White House.

In his two books about the Clinton White House, Woodward again did a thorough job documenting the trees, but in the second of these two books, The Choice: How Clinton Won, Woodward missed a Watergate-sized forest.  To his humble credit, he later almost admitted as much.

Woodward was no Clinton fanboy.  In the first of the two books, The Agenda, Woodward detailed the chaotic run-up to the budget battle in Bill Clinton’s first term.  In fact, he used the word “chaos” repeatedly, even excessively.

The process “bordered on chaos.”  Clinton’s schedule “was again chaos.”  Clinton pushed debate “to the point of chaos.”  The administration’s first week “had been chaos.”  The meeting dissolved “into virtual chaos.”

In the second of these two books, this one about the 1996 election, Woodward saw a White House teetering – you guessed it – “on the edge of management chaos.”  He was not the only one to spot the disarray.  In his memoirs, aide George Stephanopoulos called the atmosphere of the White House “dysfunctional.”  And in his memoir, labor secretary Robert Reich lamented a “chronically undisciplined president.”

What distinguishes The Choice is what Woodward missed.  The Watergate reference earlier was not an exaggeration.  The two years preceding the 1996 election were the most venal and treacherous in American political history, and Woodward overlooked it all.

The story begins on Election Day, 1994.  “People are dazed,” wrote Reich.  “No one had expected quite this.”  In a time of peace and economic growth, Democrats had lost an incredible fifty-two seats in the House and eight in the Senate.  “The election itself is being described as a total repudiation of Bill Clinton and the Democrats,” Reich observed at the time.  “His presidency,” wrote Evan Thomas in his sympathetic account, Back from the Dead, “was in tatters.”

Just a week after the election, the Clintons headed to the one place in the world willing and able to bring the Clintons back from the dead: Asia.  Joining them all at the Asian Pacific Economic Conference in Jakarta were the notorious Hawaiian fundraisers Gene and Nora Lum as well as any number of shadowy figures like Little Rock restaurateur Charlie Trie and Thai citizen Pauline Kanchanalak, both later charged by the Justice Department’s campaign finance task force with funneling hundreds of thousands in cash to the Clintons.

Most subversive of them all were James and Mochtar Riady and their D.C. point man, John Huang.  For them, the White House was a wholly owned subsidiary.  The Asians, of course, wanted something for their investments.  For the Riadys, it was a coal monopoly.  For the communist Chinese, it was weapons technology.  What they wanted, they got.  The Thompson Committee does a concise job of summarizing the process:

The president and his aides demeaned the offices of the president and vice president, took advantage of minority groups, pulled down all the barriers that would normally be in place to keep out illegal contributions, pressured policy makers, and left themselves open to strong suspicion that they were selling not only access to high-ranking officials, but policy as well.  Millions of dollars were raised in illegal contributions, much of it from foreign sources.

The Clintons knew they could not win in November 1996 without Asian money.  In a more disciplined fashion than they had done anything else since coming to town, the Clintons were going to use that money to launch what Senator Fred Thompson would call “the most corrupt political campaign in modern history.” 

Adviser Dick Morris insisted on one strategy above all others: filling the airwaves with TV ads early and relentlessly.  “Week after week, month after month,” wrote Morris, “from early July 1995 more or less continually until election day in ’96, sixteen months later, we bombarded the public with ads.”

The strategy may have been illegal, but it was painfully simple, and it worked.  To achieve “relative secrecy,” Morris chose not to advertise at all in New York City or Washington, D.C. and only occasionally in Los Angeles.  “If these cities remained dark,” recalled Morris, “the national press would not make an issue out of our ads – of this we felt sure.”

“No one in the media really caught on,” confirmed Woodward in The Choice.  The reason they did not catch on, as Morris well knew, was because they did not want to.  The story the media chose not to watch unfold was an extraordinary one.  The Thompson Committee summed it up:

The president and his top advisors decided to raise money early for his re-election campaign.  To accomplish their goal, the president and his top advisors took control of the DNC and designed a plan to engage in a historically aggressive fund-raising effort, utilizing the DNC as a vehicle for getting around federal election laws.  The DNC ran television advertisements, created under the direct supervision of the president, which were specifically designed to promote the president’s re-election.

In the afterword to the paperback edition of The Choice, Robert Woodward had the grace to admit he “vastly underestimated the significance of money” in the campaign.  He noted too that the ads themselves “were deceptive enough to be appalling.”

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas also admitted that “one of the great underreported stories” of the campaign was how the Democrats, not the Republicans, engaged in “the really effective negative campaigning.”

Neither Thomas nor Woodward explains why, during the campaign itself, no one in the major media chose to tell the true story.

An unprecedented series of untruthful, arguably illegal ads, which reached about 125 million Americans three times a week, should have been obvious to the media and scandalous from the outset.  The scandal would have exploded if the media had asked where the money was coming from to pay for the ads and what the White House was using as collateral.

To get some sense of the media’s self-deception, one need only contrast the Thompson version of the campaign with the one captured by the staff of Newsweek.  As Time’s Joe Klein told the story in the foreword of Thomas’s book, “Bill Clinton, by shrewdness, luck and love of the game, came back from a near-death experience to win a second term.”

And they want to impeach President Trump for what?  Calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded”?

“It’s very depressing.  You want to read a depressing book, this is it,” said one critic of a book by Bob Woodward.  “It’s a sad, horrible story with all the sordid details that I guess people will just, you know, slaver over, but the fact of the matter is, it’s humorless and there’s no warmth.”

In his criticism of Woodward’s book Wired about his friend John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd captured the essence of the Woodward writing style: lots of little trees competing for air in a gloomy forest, often at the expense of the larger picture.  One can expect the same from Woodward’s’ new opus about the Trump White House, Fear. Trump in the White House.

In his two books about the Clinton White House, Woodward again did a thorough job documenting the trees, but in the second of these two books, The Choice: How Clinton Won, Woodward missed a Watergate-sized forest.  To his humble credit, he later almost admitted as much.

Woodward was no Clinton fanboy.  In the first of the two books, The Agenda, Woodward detailed the chaotic run-up to the budget battle in Bill Clinton’s first term.  In fact, he used the word “chaos” repeatedly, even excessively.

The process “bordered on chaos.”  Clinton’s schedule “was again chaos.”  Clinton pushed debate “to the point of chaos.”  The administration’s first week “had been chaos.”  The meeting dissolved “into virtual chaos.”

In the second of these two books, this one about the 1996 election, Woodward saw a White House teetering – you guessed it – “on the edge of management chaos.”  He was not the only one to spot the disarray.  In his memoirs, aide George Stephanopoulos called the atmosphere of the White House “dysfunctional.”  And in his memoir, labor secretary Robert Reich lamented a “chronically undisciplined president.”

What distinguishes The Choice is what Woodward missed.  The Watergate reference earlier was not an exaggeration.  The two years preceding the 1996 election were the most venal and treacherous in American political history, and Woodward overlooked it all.

The story begins on Election Day, 1994.  “People are dazed,” wrote Reich.  “No one had expected quite this.”  In a time of peace and economic growth, Democrats had lost an incredible fifty-two seats in the House and eight in the Senate.  “The election itself is being described as a total repudiation of Bill Clinton and the Democrats,” Reich observed at the time.  “His presidency,” wrote Evan Thomas in his sympathetic account, Back from the Dead, “was in tatters.”

Just a week after the election, the Clintons headed to the one place in the world willing and able to bring the Clintons back from the dead: Asia.  Joining them all at the Asian Pacific Economic Conference in Jakarta were the notorious Hawaiian fundraisers Gene and Nora Lum as well as any number of shadowy figures like Little Rock restaurateur Charlie Trie and Thai citizen Pauline Kanchanalak, both later charged by the Justice Department’s campaign finance task force with funneling hundreds of thousands in cash to the Clintons.

Most subversive of them all were James and Mochtar Riady and their D.C. point man, John Huang.  For them, the White House was a wholly owned subsidiary.  The Asians, of course, wanted something for their investments.  For the Riadys, it was a coal monopoly.  For the communist Chinese, it was weapons technology.  What they wanted, they got.  The Thompson Committee does a concise job of summarizing the process:

The president and his aides demeaned the offices of the president and vice president, took advantage of minority groups, pulled down all the barriers that would normally be in place to keep out illegal contributions, pressured policy makers, and left themselves open to strong suspicion that they were selling not only access to high-ranking officials, but policy as well.  Millions of dollars were raised in illegal contributions, much of it from foreign sources.

The Clintons knew they could not win in November 1996 without Asian money.  In a more disciplined fashion than they had done anything else since coming to town, the Clintons were going to use that money to launch what Senator Fred Thompson would call “the most corrupt political campaign in modern history.” 

Adviser Dick Morris insisted on one strategy above all others: filling the airwaves with TV ads early and relentlessly.  “Week after week, month after month,” wrote Morris, “from early July 1995 more or less continually until election day in ’96, sixteen months later, we bombarded the public with ads.”

The strategy may have been illegal, but it was painfully simple, and it worked.  To achieve “relative secrecy,” Morris chose not to advertise at all in New York City or Washington, D.C. and only occasionally in Los Angeles.  “If these cities remained dark,” recalled Morris, “the national press would not make an issue out of our ads – of this we felt sure.”

“No one in the media really caught on,” confirmed Woodward in The Choice.  The reason they did not catch on, as Morris well knew, was because they did not want to.  The story the media chose not to watch unfold was an extraordinary one.  The Thompson Committee summed it up:

The president and his top advisors decided to raise money early for his re-election campaign.  To accomplish their goal, the president and his top advisors took control of the DNC and designed a plan to engage in a historically aggressive fund-raising effort, utilizing the DNC as a vehicle for getting around federal election laws.  The DNC ran television advertisements, created under the direct supervision of the president, which were specifically designed to promote the president’s re-election.

In the afterword to the paperback edition of The Choice, Robert Woodward had the grace to admit he “vastly underestimated the significance of money” in the campaign.  He noted too that the ads themselves “were deceptive enough to be appalling.”

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas also admitted that “one of the great underreported stories” of the campaign was how the Democrats, not the Republicans, engaged in “the really effective negative campaigning.”

Neither Thomas nor Woodward explains why, during the campaign itself, no one in the major media chose to tell the true story.

An unprecedented series of untruthful, arguably illegal ads, which reached about 125 million Americans three times a week, should have been obvious to the media and scandalous from the outset.  The scandal would have exploded if the media had asked where the money was coming from to pay for the ads and what the White House was using as collateral.

To get some sense of the media’s self-deception, one need only contrast the Thompson version of the campaign with the one captured by the staff of Newsweek.  As Time’s Joe Klein told the story in the foreword of Thomas’s book, “Bill Clinton, by shrewdness, luck and love of the game, came back from a near-death experience to win a second term.”

And they want to impeach President Trump for what?  Calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded”?



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Mueller, Comey, and the Deep State Rescue of Sandy Berger


As will become clear, this double injustice not only foreshadowed future injustices, but it also served as a practice run of sorts for the players involved. Several of these players would come center stage once again in the long-running political drama that debuted in 2016.

The Democratic operative on that barely warm seat in 2005 was former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, since deceased. The attorney general at the time, the feckless Alberto Gonzales, had been on the job less than two months when the Berger deal went down.

Gonzales’s deputy attorney general, James Comey, however, had been on the job for more than a year. It was under Comey’s supervision that the DoJ reviewed the case against Berger. It was a doozy.

In the nerviest of his criminal acts, Berger stole highly classified documents and stashed them under a trailer at a construction site during a break. He retrieved the documents at the end of the day and admittedly used scissors to cut them into little pieces before throwing them away. He then lied to investigators about what he had done.

As punishment, Comey and crew recommended a $10,000 fine for Berger and a three-year loss of top-level security clearance. That, incredibly, was it. Oh, yes, as part of the package, the FBI and/or DoJ was to give Berger a lie detector test. Neither agency bothered.

Celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart had to be fuming. Two years earlier, Comey, then U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, prosecuted Stewart for lying to investigators on a minor stock transaction and saw to it that Stewart served five months in prison. Months later, it would be Bush/Cheney advisor Scooter Libby’s turn.

The FBI Director in 2005 was Robert Mueller. His role in the Berger case might have paralleled Comey’s role in the Hillary Clinton email affair, but it did not. Comey served as the public face in both the Berger and the Clinton cases, the former as Deputy AG, the latter as head of the FBI. Comey likes the limelight.

During his eight years in the Clinton White House, Berger had done worse than steal documents. Like Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolf, his job was to “solve problems.” In April 2002, the former president had a problem to solve. Someone had to review intelligence documents in advance of the various hearings on 9/11. As made clear in a 2007 report by the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform — a primer on deep state treachery — Berger did not welcome the assignment. 

According to the archivists, Berger “indicated some disgust with the burden and responsibility of conducting the document review.” I have a suspicion of what those documents were. Suffice it for now to say they had to contain information damaging to both Clinton and Berger sufficient for Berger to risk his livelihood, his reputation, and his very freedom.

The House report states that Berger made four trips to the National Archives.  The first of his visits was in May 2002, the last in October 2003. He clearly left his mark. “The full extent of Berger’s document removal,” said the House report, “is not known and never can be known.”

The archivists expressed shock that neither the FBI nor the DoJ even questioned Berger about his first two visits when several original documents were there for the taking.

Were it not for Paul Brachfeld, the inspector general of the National Archives, the Berger case might never have surfaced. In January 2004, a month after Comey became deputy AG, Brachfeld met with DoJ attorney Howard Sklamberg. Concerned that Berger had obstructed the 9/11 Commission’s work, Brachfeld wanted assurance that the commission knew of Berger’s crimes.

He did not get it. On March 22, 2004, two days before Berger’s public testimony, senior attorneys John Dion and Bruce Swartz informed Brachfeld the DoJ was not going to notify the commission of the Berger investigation before his appearance.

On Wednesday, March 24, 2004, Berger testified publicly before the commission. The commission members, at least the Republicans, did not know he had been apprehended stealing and destroying the very documents the commission was expected to review. This much was evident in Chairman Thomas Kean’s initial exchange with Berger.

“We are pleased to welcome before the commission a witness who can offer us considerable insight into questions of national policy coordination, Mr. Samuel Berger, who served as President Clinton’s national security advisor,” said the clueless Kean.

While the commission hearings moved on, Brachfeld kept prodding Justice. On April 6, 2004, two weeks after Berger’s appearance before the 9/11 Commission, he called DoJ’s Inspector General Glenn Fine and again expressed his concern that the commissioners remained unaware of Berger’s theft. Fine organized a meeting for April 9.

Brachfeld reported to those gathered, “Berger knowingly removed documents and therefore, may have purposely impeded the 9/11 investigation.” Some of those documents, Brachfeld added, might have been “original.” If those originals had been destroyed, they would have been lost to history. There were no other copies.

Brachfeld made no headway. The commissioners learned nothing about Berger until July 19, 2004, three days before the 9/11 Commission released its final report, too late for any significant amendment.

The commissioners might have forever remained in the dark had there not been a leak from somewhere in the Bush administration. At the time the leak became news in July 2004 — and then just barely — Berger was serving as a campaign adviser to Senator John Kerry.

To counter the news, Berger’s attorney Lanny Breuer introduced a media-friendly narrative in which Bush was the real villain for using the revelation as a campaign ploy. It worked. The New York Times would write off the theft and surrounding noise as “a brief stir” in the campaign season. “His motives in taking the documents remain something of a mystery,” reported the Times. How different history would have been had the Washington Post contented itself with writing, “The motives of the Watergate burglars remain something of a mystery.”

After nearly a year of quiet negotiation, Bush Department of Justice officials announced their stunning plea deal with Berger. They did so strategically. To starve the deal of media attention, the DoJ made the announcement on Friday, April 1, 2005, the day after Terri Schiavo’s highly publicized death.

In September 2005, a federal judge upped the ante on Berger’s theft but not by enough to hurt: a $50,000 fine — chump change for the wealthy attorney — two years of probation, and one hundred hours of community service.

As I watched these events unfold, I presumed the Bush DoJ went soft on Berger to honor some unwritten pact among presidents to protect their predecessors’ national security secrets. That may be part of the calculus, but as has become evident, Republican presidents have little control over their Justice Departments. The Bush White House had even less control than does the Trump White House. The Trump White House at least has Trump.

Republicans presidents struggle against a collective of entrenched careerists, soulless opportunists, and left-wing ideologues — the so-called “deep state.” The ideologues are in it for the power, the careerists for the pensions, and the opportunists for the applause. Working together with their media partners, they follow the path of least resistance, which is almost inevitably to the left. When a Democrat is president, they have his back.

The DoJ attorneys calling the shots in the Berger case — Dion, Swartz, Sklamberg, and Fine — were all holdovers from the Clinton administration. As far as I could tell, Fine, Swartz, and Sklamberg had only contributed to Democratic candidates in federal races and Dion had no record of federal contributions.

As the House report noted, “The Justice Department was unacceptably incurious about Berger’s Archives visits.” Overseeing this incuriosity, and serving as the investigation’s public face, was Deputy AG Comey. If Comey told his good friend Mueller about Berger’s crimes, he did so on the QT. According to the House Report, the DOJ did not notify the FBI, at least not officially, until after Berger pled guilty. Mueller never said boo.

In July 2004, when the Berger story broke, Comey told the media, “As a general matter, we take issues of classified information very seriously. It’s our lifeblood, those secrets.” As Comey proved again in the summer of 2016, if a prominent Democrat is implicated, he and his colleagues do not take these issues seriously at all. If, however, the security issue involves someone who is unconnected or disruptive, prosecutors will turn over every stone just for the spectacle of turning them over.

Scooter Libby learned this the hard way. His undoing started with a news leak about a telegenic, if insignificant, CIA agent named Valerie Plame. The leak had nothing to do with Libby or his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. No matter. Comey pressured his boss John Ashcroft to recuse himself from an investigation into the leak. Sound familiar? He then named a special counsel who just happened to be the godfather of one of Comey’s children. That sounds familiar too.

The Patrick Fitzgerald appointment took place at roughly the same time the archivists were alerting the DoJ to Berger’s repeated theft of critical documents. The media much preferred the Plame story to the Berger story, and so the opportunists played to the media.

Even before Fitzgerald really got started on the investigation, however, he, Mueller, and Comey learned who the leaker was. The news was not welcome. He was one of their own, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a veteran swamp dweller and an open critic of President Bush.

Still, Fitzgerald had his commission and the uncritical attention of the media. With their full-throated support, he did an unrestrained dumpster dive into the Bush White House not unlike Mueller’s into the Trump White House. All Fitzgerald managed to climb out with was Libby. The media were hoping for hated Bush advisor Karl Rove and maybe even Cheney. They had to make do.

Six months after Berger got his wrist slapped, Fitzgerald indicted Libby for a series of Martha Stewart-style process crimes. Unlike Berger who got no jail time, Libby was hit with thirty months. Under pressure from the right, President Bush commuted his sentence, but Libby had to wait until 2018 to be pardoned, courtesy of President Trump.

As to Armitage, he was never prosecuted for anything. The DOJ accepted his claim the leak was unintentional much the way it would accept Hillary’s “lack of intent” claim years later. The deep state takes care of its own.

In many ways, 2005 was a dress rehearsal for 2016. Mueller and Comey had learned how to play their parts. The media had learned how to play theirs. Indeed, the show would have been another huge hit if only Trump had stuck to the “good Republican” script the way Bush had.

In April 2005, a Republican-led Department of Justice did something quite unusual. After catching a Democratic operative stealing and destroying highly relevant classified documents, the DoJ punished him as though he had stolen the Snickers bars from the office vending machine.

On October 28, 2005, another curious event took place in those same halls of justice: an allegedly Republican special prosecutor indicted a White House advisor of his own party for a series of process crimes unrelated to the original intent of his investigation.

As will become clear, this double injustice not only foreshadowed future injustices, but it also served as a practice run of sorts for the players involved. Several of these players would come center stage once again in the long-running political drama that debuted in 2016.

The Democratic operative on that barely warm seat in 2005 was former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, since deceased. The attorney general at the time, the feckless Alberto Gonzales, had been on the job less than two months when the Berger deal went down.

Gonzales’s deputy attorney general, James Comey, however, had been on the job for more than a year. It was under Comey’s supervision that the DoJ reviewed the case against Berger. It was a doozy.

In the nerviest of his criminal acts, Berger stole highly classified documents and stashed them under a trailer at a construction site during a break. He retrieved the documents at the end of the day and admittedly used scissors to cut them into little pieces before throwing them away. He then lied to investigators about what he had done.

As punishment, Comey and crew recommended a $10,000 fine for Berger and a three-year loss of top-level security clearance. That, incredibly, was it. Oh, yes, as part of the package, the FBI and/or DoJ was to give Berger a lie detector test. Neither agency bothered.

Celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart had to be fuming. Two years earlier, Comey, then U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, prosecuted Stewart for lying to investigators on a minor stock transaction and saw to it that Stewart served five months in prison. Months later, it would be Bush/Cheney advisor Scooter Libby’s turn.

The FBI Director in 2005 was Robert Mueller. His role in the Berger case might have paralleled Comey’s role in the Hillary Clinton email affair, but it did not. Comey served as the public face in both the Berger and the Clinton cases, the former as Deputy AG, the latter as head of the FBI. Comey likes the limelight.

During his eight years in the Clinton White House, Berger had done worse than steal documents. Like Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolf, his job was to “solve problems.” In April 2002, the former president had a problem to solve. Someone had to review intelligence documents in advance of the various hearings on 9/11. As made clear in a 2007 report by the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform — a primer on deep state treachery — Berger did not welcome the assignment. 

According to the archivists, Berger “indicated some disgust with the burden and responsibility of conducting the document review.” I have a suspicion of what those documents were. Suffice it for now to say they had to contain information damaging to both Clinton and Berger sufficient for Berger to risk his livelihood, his reputation, and his very freedom.

The House report states that Berger made four trips to the National Archives.  The first of his visits was in May 2002, the last in October 2003. He clearly left his mark. “The full extent of Berger’s document removal,” said the House report, “is not known and never can be known.”

The archivists expressed shock that neither the FBI nor the DoJ even questioned Berger about his first two visits when several original documents were there for the taking.

Were it not for Paul Brachfeld, the inspector general of the National Archives, the Berger case might never have surfaced. In January 2004, a month after Comey became deputy AG, Brachfeld met with DoJ attorney Howard Sklamberg. Concerned that Berger had obstructed the 9/11 Commission’s work, Brachfeld wanted assurance that the commission knew of Berger’s crimes.

He did not get it. On March 22, 2004, two days before Berger’s public testimony, senior attorneys John Dion and Bruce Swartz informed Brachfeld the DoJ was not going to notify the commission of the Berger investigation before his appearance.

On Wednesday, March 24, 2004, Berger testified publicly before the commission. The commission members, at least the Republicans, did not know he had been apprehended stealing and destroying the very documents the commission was expected to review. This much was evident in Chairman Thomas Kean’s initial exchange with Berger.

“We are pleased to welcome before the commission a witness who can offer us considerable insight into questions of national policy coordination, Mr. Samuel Berger, who served as President Clinton’s national security advisor,” said the clueless Kean.

While the commission hearings moved on, Brachfeld kept prodding Justice. On April 6, 2004, two weeks after Berger’s appearance before the 9/11 Commission, he called DoJ’s Inspector General Glenn Fine and again expressed his concern that the commissioners remained unaware of Berger’s theft. Fine organized a meeting for April 9.

Brachfeld reported to those gathered, “Berger knowingly removed documents and therefore, may have purposely impeded the 9/11 investigation.” Some of those documents, Brachfeld added, might have been “original.” If those originals had been destroyed, they would have been lost to history. There were no other copies.

Brachfeld made no headway. The commissioners learned nothing about Berger until July 19, 2004, three days before the 9/11 Commission released its final report, too late for any significant amendment.

The commissioners might have forever remained in the dark had there not been a leak from somewhere in the Bush administration. At the time the leak became news in July 2004 — and then just barely — Berger was serving as a campaign adviser to Senator John Kerry.

To counter the news, Berger’s attorney Lanny Breuer introduced a media-friendly narrative in which Bush was the real villain for using the revelation as a campaign ploy. It worked. The New York Times would write off the theft and surrounding noise as “a brief stir” in the campaign season. “His motives in taking the documents remain something of a mystery,” reported the Times. How different history would have been had the Washington Post contented itself with writing, “The motives of the Watergate burglars remain something of a mystery.”

After nearly a year of quiet negotiation, Bush Department of Justice officials announced their stunning plea deal with Berger. They did so strategically. To starve the deal of media attention, the DoJ made the announcement on Friday, April 1, 2005, the day after Terri Schiavo’s highly publicized death.

In September 2005, a federal judge upped the ante on Berger’s theft but not by enough to hurt: a $50,000 fine — chump change for the wealthy attorney — two years of probation, and one hundred hours of community service.

As I watched these events unfold, I presumed the Bush DoJ went soft on Berger to honor some unwritten pact among presidents to protect their predecessors’ national security secrets. That may be part of the calculus, but as has become evident, Republican presidents have little control over their Justice Departments. The Bush White House had even less control than does the Trump White House. The Trump White House at least has Trump.

Republicans presidents struggle against a collective of entrenched careerists, soulless opportunists, and left-wing ideologues — the so-called “deep state.” The ideologues are in it for the power, the careerists for the pensions, and the opportunists for the applause. Working together with their media partners, they follow the path of least resistance, which is almost inevitably to the left. When a Democrat is president, they have his back.

The DoJ attorneys calling the shots in the Berger case — Dion, Swartz, Sklamberg, and Fine — were all holdovers from the Clinton administration. As far as I could tell, Fine, Swartz, and Sklamberg had only contributed to Democratic candidates in federal races and Dion had no record of federal contributions.

As the House report noted, “The Justice Department was unacceptably incurious about Berger’s Archives visits.” Overseeing this incuriosity, and serving as the investigation’s public face, was Deputy AG Comey. If Comey told his good friend Mueller about Berger’s crimes, he did so on the QT. According to the House Report, the DOJ did not notify the FBI, at least not officially, until after Berger pled guilty. Mueller never said boo.

In July 2004, when the Berger story broke, Comey told the media, “As a general matter, we take issues of classified information very seriously. It’s our lifeblood, those secrets.” As Comey proved again in the summer of 2016, if a prominent Democrat is implicated, he and his colleagues do not take these issues seriously at all. If, however, the security issue involves someone who is unconnected or disruptive, prosecutors will turn over every stone just for the spectacle of turning them over.

Scooter Libby learned this the hard way. His undoing started with a news leak about a telegenic, if insignificant, CIA agent named Valerie Plame. The leak had nothing to do with Libby or his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. No matter. Comey pressured his boss John Ashcroft to recuse himself from an investigation into the leak. Sound familiar? He then named a special counsel who just happened to be the godfather of one of Comey’s children. That sounds familiar too.

The Patrick Fitzgerald appointment took place at roughly the same time the archivists were alerting the DoJ to Berger’s repeated theft of critical documents. The media much preferred the Plame story to the Berger story, and so the opportunists played to the media.

Even before Fitzgerald really got started on the investigation, however, he, Mueller, and Comey learned who the leaker was. The news was not welcome. He was one of their own, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a veteran swamp dweller and an open critic of President Bush.

Still, Fitzgerald had his commission and the uncritical attention of the media. With their full-throated support, he did an unrestrained dumpster dive into the Bush White House not unlike Mueller’s into the Trump White House. All Fitzgerald managed to climb out with was Libby. The media were hoping for hated Bush advisor Karl Rove and maybe even Cheney. They had to make do.

Six months after Berger got his wrist slapped, Fitzgerald indicted Libby for a series of Martha Stewart-style process crimes. Unlike Berger who got no jail time, Libby was hit with thirty months. Under pressure from the right, President Bush commuted his sentence, but Libby had to wait until 2018 to be pardoned, courtesy of President Trump.

As to Armitage, he was never prosecuted for anything. The DOJ accepted his claim the leak was unintentional much the way it would accept Hillary’s “lack of intent” claim years later. The deep state takes care of its own.

In many ways, 2005 was a dress rehearsal for 2016. Mueller and Comey had learned how to play their parts. The media had learned how to play theirs. Indeed, the show would have been another huge hit if only Trump had stuck to the “good Republican” script the way Bush had.



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As the Knowledge Gap Grows, so Does the Civility Gap


At the end of his excellent — and lengthy — article in the National Review, “The Real Collusion Story,” Michael Doran describes the dilemma that now faces Hillary Clinton supporters in high places. 

If they are to honor the emerging facts of the Russian collusion story, writes Doran, these supporters will have to abandon “satisfying self-images” and embrace “painful self-truths.” They will have to do this, Doran adds, “while also handing a well-deserved victory to a hated political enemy.” If history is any gauge, the left will prove incapable of soul searching on this level in anything like the near future.

Those who rely on mainstream media for their news would have to start their education in Russian collusion from scratch. As of now, most have no idea what role Peter Strzok plays or why his relationship with Lisa Page — Lisa who? — matters. What little they think they know about Carter Page is rubbish. And for all they know, Fusion GPS is the device that tells them how to drive from point A to point B.

Informed conservatives have a much firmer grasp on the facts of the Russian collusion story. Reading the Doran article would not shock them. It would simply help them put the facts in the place. This is not surprising. As countless studies have shown, conservatives tend to have a higher level of political knowledge in general than liberals and a much higher level than so-called moderates or independents.

What makes this knowledge gap more impressive is that political knowledge tests usually involve information featured in the mainstream media. In other words, conservatives are playing on the liberal’s home court. A test online from the generally liberal Pew Foundation asks questions, for instance, about the tap water in Flint and the Justice Department investigation “into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.”

Despite the home court advantage, the demographic groups that skew Democratic do poorly on these tests. Of the ten questions, women outscored men only on the Flint water question. In eight of the ten questions men led by double digits. On a four-answer multiple choice test, only 37 percent of female respondents identified Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice. For men, 53 percent got it right.

Millennials do no better than females. Those aged 18-29 outscored those aged 50-64 on only one question out of ten, that being the identity of the president of France.  Closer to home, the older cohort more than doubled the score of the Millennials on the identity of Trump’s first secretary of state, 57-28.

In the social media era, the gap between what conservatives know and what liberals know continues to grow. On the collusion story — and in other cases as well — the gap has become more of a chasm. If current media dynamics hold, as they likely will on the collusion story, that chasm will prove increasingly unbridgeable.

Consider the case of the federal tank assault on a Christian community in Waco, Texas, the twenty-fifth anniversary of which will take place on April 19 of this month. The major media will not pay it much heed. The retelling of the story advances no obvious liberal agenda. More problematic for the left, at least one undeniable fact about the case still has the potential to harm that agenda, specifically the demographics of those who died.

In April 1993, few Americans knew what the Internet was. The recent emergence of talk radio had given conservatives a voice, but talk radio did not have, and still does not have, the power to create news. And as to Fox News, that was still a twinkle in Rupert Murdoch’s eye. For information about Waco, conservatives largely relied on the mainstream media, particularly CNN and the networks. Conservatives were skeptical about the networks, but that skepticism had yet to harden into distrust or worse.

So when the networks used their video to create an image of the typical Waco resident as white, gun-happy, and cultish with more than a touch of redneck, viewers, conservatives included, assumed that image to be accurate. Even after the assault on April 19 of that year in which 74 community residents died, media consumers had no reason to suspect that most of the deceased were racial minorities, 27 of them black.

The media had excellent cause to bury this fact. If black leaders suspected that 27 of their brethren were killed under the direction of a man they helped elect president, they would have had a much harder time persuading their followers to re-elect Bill Clinton in 1996.

Had the Internet been mature in 1993, online journalists, paid and unpaid, would almost assuredly have exposed the truth at least to those who cared to see it.  As it was, the one medium that helped break the major media stranglehold on visual imagery was the videocassette recorder. It was through the VCR that I first got a glimpse of the truth about Waco. Further research confirmed the numbers.

This brings us back to the knowledge gap. Those of us on the right know what the left knows. It is in our faces. How could we not know, say, about Stormy Daniels or David Hogg? Those on the left, however, know no more about what the right knows than they care to know, which is very little. No one stumbles on Rush Limbaugh or Breitbart News.

Fox News is slightly more invasive and despised because of it. According to Barack Obama, Fox aired during the 2016 campaign  “in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country.” Even if it did — it didn’t — Fox has nothing like CNN’s default penetration of public spaces, including every major airport in America. The left also rules at AOL News, Yahoo News, Google News, and Twitter. Exposure to one or more of these sites is very nearly unavoidable by anyone using the Internet. The right has nothing comparable.

Yet by using the social media liberals created, conservative journalists, paid and unpaid, have been able to loosen the major media’s grip on news creation and dissemination. Were an event like Waco to happen today — or Watergate for that matter — there would be no unchallenged consensus position. As a case in point, President Trump has reached a 50 percent approval rating despite the mainstream media’s desperate attempt to forge a consensus on the president’s unfitness for office. They have obviously not succeeded.

To ward off the threat from social media, the grandees of the mainstream media have worked hard to discredit information gleaned through these media. In 2009, for instance, the activist right exposed Obama’s “Green Jobs” czar Van Jones as a believer in the 9/11 “inside job” theory. Obama felt compelled to fire Jones. On “Meet the Press,” host David Gregory lamented, “You can be a target real fast.”

“A lot of people will repeat back to me and take it as face value something that they read on the Internet,” cautioned NBC talking head emeritus Tom Brokaw.  “And my line to them is you have to vet information.”  Not to be outpreached, Tom Friedman of the New York Times countered, “The Internet is an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information, left, right, center, up, down, and requires that kind of filtering by anyone.” 

The left fears the information that comes from the sewer — the “fake news,” the “alternative facts” — because it might well be true. If true, that information threatens their worldview. To protect themselves, they have to shut themselves off from those who convey it. This fear helps explain why liberals on Facebook are three times more likely than conservatives to “unfriend” those of a different political stripe.

We know what they know, but they don’t what we know. We all know Stormy Daniels, but they don’t know Juanita Broaddrick, let alone Larry Sinclair. We all know David Hogg, but they don’t know David Daleiden. We all know about the greenhouse effect, but they don’t know about the medieval warming.

Your friends and family don’t know what you know, and the truth is, they don’t want to know. Be gentle.

At the end of his excellent — and lengthy — article in the National Review, “The Real Collusion Story,” Michael Doran describes the dilemma that now faces Hillary Clinton supporters in high places. 

If they are to honor the emerging facts of the Russian collusion story, writes Doran, these supporters will have to abandon “satisfying self-images” and embrace “painful self-truths.” They will have to do this, Doran adds, “while also handing a well-deserved victory to a hated political enemy.” If history is any gauge, the left will prove incapable of soul searching on this level in anything like the near future.

Those who rely on mainstream media for their news would have to start their education in Russian collusion from scratch. As of now, most have no idea what role Peter Strzok plays or why his relationship with Lisa Page — Lisa who? — matters. What little they think they know about Carter Page is rubbish. And for all they know, Fusion GPS is the device that tells them how to drive from point A to point B.

Informed conservatives have a much firmer grasp on the facts of the Russian collusion story. Reading the Doran article would not shock them. It would simply help them put the facts in the place. This is not surprising. As countless studies have shown, conservatives tend to have a higher level of political knowledge in general than liberals and a much higher level than so-called moderates or independents.

What makes this knowledge gap more impressive is that political knowledge tests usually involve information featured in the mainstream media. In other words, conservatives are playing on the liberal’s home court. A test online from the generally liberal Pew Foundation asks questions, for instance, about the tap water in Flint and the Justice Department investigation “into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.”

Despite the home court advantage, the demographic groups that skew Democratic do poorly on these tests. Of the ten questions, women outscored men only on the Flint water question. In eight of the ten questions men led by double digits. On a four-answer multiple choice test, only 37 percent of female respondents identified Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice. For men, 53 percent got it right.

Millennials do no better than females. Those aged 18-29 outscored those aged 50-64 on only one question out of ten, that being the identity of the president of France.  Closer to home, the older cohort more than doubled the score of the Millennials on the identity of Trump’s first secretary of state, 57-28.

In the social media era, the gap between what conservatives know and what liberals know continues to grow. On the collusion story — and in other cases as well — the gap has become more of a chasm. If current media dynamics hold, as they likely will on the collusion story, that chasm will prove increasingly unbridgeable.

Consider the case of the federal tank assault on a Christian community in Waco, Texas, the twenty-fifth anniversary of which will take place on April 19 of this month. The major media will not pay it much heed. The retelling of the story advances no obvious liberal agenda. More problematic for the left, at least one undeniable fact about the case still has the potential to harm that agenda, specifically the demographics of those who died.

In April 1993, few Americans knew what the Internet was. The recent emergence of talk radio had given conservatives a voice, but talk radio did not have, and still does not have, the power to create news. And as to Fox News, that was still a twinkle in Rupert Murdoch’s eye. For information about Waco, conservatives largely relied on the mainstream media, particularly CNN and the networks. Conservatives were skeptical about the networks, but that skepticism had yet to harden into distrust or worse.

So when the networks used their video to create an image of the typical Waco resident as white, gun-happy, and cultish with more than a touch of redneck, viewers, conservatives included, assumed that image to be accurate. Even after the assault on April 19 of that year in which 74 community residents died, media consumers had no reason to suspect that most of the deceased were racial minorities, 27 of them black.

The media had excellent cause to bury this fact. If black leaders suspected that 27 of their brethren were killed under the direction of a man they helped elect president, they would have had a much harder time persuading their followers to re-elect Bill Clinton in 1996.

Had the Internet been mature in 1993, online journalists, paid and unpaid, would almost assuredly have exposed the truth at least to those who cared to see it.  As it was, the one medium that helped break the major media stranglehold on visual imagery was the videocassette recorder. It was through the VCR that I first got a glimpse of the truth about Waco. Further research confirmed the numbers.

This brings us back to the knowledge gap. Those of us on the right know what the left knows. It is in our faces. How could we not know, say, about Stormy Daniels or David Hogg? Those on the left, however, know no more about what the right knows than they care to know, which is very little. No one stumbles on Rush Limbaugh or Breitbart News.

Fox News is slightly more invasive and despised because of it. According to Barack Obama, Fox aired during the 2016 campaign  “in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country.” Even if it did — it didn’t — Fox has nothing like CNN’s default penetration of public spaces, including every major airport in America. The left also rules at AOL News, Yahoo News, Google News, and Twitter. Exposure to one or more of these sites is very nearly unavoidable by anyone using the Internet. The right has nothing comparable.

Yet by using the social media liberals created, conservative journalists, paid and unpaid, have been able to loosen the major media’s grip on news creation and dissemination. Were an event like Waco to happen today — or Watergate for that matter — there would be no unchallenged consensus position. As a case in point, President Trump has reached a 50 percent approval rating despite the mainstream media’s desperate attempt to forge a consensus on the president’s unfitness for office. They have obviously not succeeded.

To ward off the threat from social media, the grandees of the mainstream media have worked hard to discredit information gleaned through these media. In 2009, for instance, the activist right exposed Obama’s “Green Jobs” czar Van Jones as a believer in the 9/11 “inside job” theory. Obama felt compelled to fire Jones. On “Meet the Press,” host David Gregory lamented, “You can be a target real fast.”

“A lot of people will repeat back to me and take it as face value something that they read on the Internet,” cautioned NBC talking head emeritus Tom Brokaw.  “And my line to them is you have to vet information.”  Not to be outpreached, Tom Friedman of the New York Times countered, “The Internet is an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information, left, right, center, up, down, and requires that kind of filtering by anyone.” 

The left fears the information that comes from the sewer — the “fake news,” the “alternative facts” — because it might well be true. If true, that information threatens their worldview. To protect themselves, they have to shut themselves off from those who convey it. This fear helps explain why liberals on Facebook are three times more likely than conservatives to “unfriend” those of a different political stripe.

We know what they know, but they don’t what we know. We all know Stormy Daniels, but they don’t know Juanita Broaddrick, let alone Larry Sinclair. We all know David Hogg, but they don’t know David Daleiden. We all know about the greenhouse effect, but they don’t know about the medieval warming.

Your friends and family don’t know what you know, and the truth is, they don’t want to know. Be gentle.



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Mexican Nationals Meddled and Colluded in the 2016 Election


Special Counsel Robert Mueller laid out the law clearly in his indictment of numerous Russian nationals and groups for their attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.

As the indictment notes, the U.S. Department of Justice administers the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).  FARA establishes a reporting protocol for foreign nationals, including non-government individuals “attempting to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and law.”  To its credit, the FBI seems to have done a good job tracking Russian individuals and entities that violated FARA even if there was no evidence of collusion with the Trump campaign or Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails.  If there was a link between any of these groups and the Kremlin, the indictment made no note of it.

Most importantly, perhaps, the Mueller investigation has established that meddling by foreign nationals in a U.S. election is real and problematic.  This being so, the DOJ and FBI might want to turn their attention to the role Mexican nationals played in the 2016 election.  They will not have to dig deep to find evidence.

A good place to start searching would be the audio the journalists of Project Veritas recorded in their undercover stings of the Hillary Clinton campaign.  To make the search easier, James O’Keefe has documented many of these conversations in his new book, American Pravda.

In the course of one sting, Democratic operative Scott Foval explained to Project Veritas’s “Steve Packard” how he paid people to incite violence at Trump rallies.  “What I call it is ‘conflict engagement.’  Conflict engagement in the lines at Trump rallies,” Foval told Steve.  “We’re starting anarchy here.”

“I’m saying we have mentally ill people that we pay to do [s—],” Foval continued.  “Make no mistake.  Over the last twenty years, I’ve paid off a few homeless guys to do some crazy stuff, and I’ve also taken them for dinner, and I’ve also made sure they had a hotel and a shower, and I put them in a program.”  Foval had a particular affection for union supporters.  “They’ll do whatever you want,” he added.  “They’re rock ‘n’ roll.”

Foval led the Project Veritas team to a man named Bob Creamer, the head of a firm called Democracy Partners.  “I’m the white hat,” Foval told Steve.  “Democracy Partners is kind of a dark hat.  I will probably end up being a partner there at some point because our philosophy is actually the same.”

For the record, Creamer is a big-time Democratic player.  He is married to Chicago-area congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and is close to both the Obamas and the Clintons.  According to visitor logs, Creamer made more than 340 trips to the White House during the Obama years, with 45 of those meetings including the president in attendance.

“Bob Creamer is diabolical, and I love him for it,” Foval continued.  Foval was obliging enough to lay out the campaign’s organizational chart.  “The campaign pays DNC,” he told Steve.  “DNC pays Democracy Partners.  Democracy Partners pays The Foval Group.  The Foval Group goes and executes the [s—] on the ground.”

Ever enterprising, Project Veritas managed to get journalist Allison Maass an internship at Democracy Partners.  In answer to Maass’s question about a practice known generically as “bird-dogging,” Creamer explained his group’s hardball version thereof.  “You’re trying to actually confront people,” Creamer answered.  “The thing that makes the best television is, of course, the target: angry people.  That’s great TV.  Now, Trump – you don’t … maybe you want to get people to do something in advance to cause problems for him, and … I guess these guys are the DREAMers.  They’re just pros at this.”

“What do you mean by DREAMers?” Angela asked to get Creamer on record.

“DREAMers are the category of people brought here as children, as immigrants,” said Creamer, neglecting to say they came here illegally.

“So there’s, like, a specific group of DREAMers?” asked Maass.

“Well, there are organizations out there,” Creamer responded.  He identified a fellow named Cesar Vargas as the best of the organizers.  “This crew is spectacular at it,” Creamer added.  He explained that DREAMers have “a lot more legitimacy” because they are not specifically “operatives of the DNC or of the campaigns.”  Their presence at rallies, he believed, made for “good optics.”

“So Hillary is aware of all the work that you guys do, I hope?” Allison asked.

“Oh yeah,” said Creamer.  “Yes.  The campaign is fully in it.”

As Project Veritas learned, Vargas was a New York lawyer, the co-founder of the Dream Action Coalition, and a DREAMer himself.  “Only in the Democratic Party could an illegal alien achieve such heights without disguising his illegality,” O’Keefe writes.  Apparently, Vargas had known Creamer for years.

Here you have it.  Organized groups of foreign nationals were actively colluding at the highest levels with the DNC, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and quite possibly the Obama White House.  There is no mystery, no need to spend millions on high-priced lawyers. 

Let the investigation begin.

Image: Michael L. Dorn, Flickr.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller laid out the law clearly in his indictment of numerous Russian nationals and groups for their attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.

As the indictment notes, the U.S. Department of Justice administers the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).  FARA establishes a reporting protocol for foreign nationals, including non-government individuals “attempting to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and law.”  To its credit, the FBI seems to have done a good job tracking Russian individuals and entities that violated FARA even if there was no evidence of collusion with the Trump campaign or Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails.  If there was a link between any of these groups and the Kremlin, the indictment made no note of it.

Most importantly, perhaps, the Mueller investigation has established that meddling by foreign nationals in a U.S. election is real and problematic.  This being so, the DOJ and FBI might want to turn their attention to the role Mexican nationals played in the 2016 election.  They will not have to dig deep to find evidence.

A good place to start searching would be the audio the journalists of Project Veritas recorded in their undercover stings of the Hillary Clinton campaign.  To make the search easier, James O’Keefe has documented many of these conversations in his new book, American Pravda.

In the course of one sting, Democratic operative Scott Foval explained to Project Veritas’s “Steve Packard” how he paid people to incite violence at Trump rallies.  “What I call it is ‘conflict engagement.’  Conflict engagement in the lines at Trump rallies,” Foval told Steve.  “We’re starting anarchy here.”

“I’m saying we have mentally ill people that we pay to do [s—],” Foval continued.  “Make no mistake.  Over the last twenty years, I’ve paid off a few homeless guys to do some crazy stuff, and I’ve also taken them for dinner, and I’ve also made sure they had a hotel and a shower, and I put them in a program.”  Foval had a particular affection for union supporters.  “They’ll do whatever you want,” he added.  “They’re rock ‘n’ roll.”

Foval led the Project Veritas team to a man named Bob Creamer, the head of a firm called Democracy Partners.  “I’m the white hat,” Foval told Steve.  “Democracy Partners is kind of a dark hat.  I will probably end up being a partner there at some point because our philosophy is actually the same.”

For the record, Creamer is a big-time Democratic player.  He is married to Chicago-area congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and is close to both the Obamas and the Clintons.  According to visitor logs, Creamer made more than 340 trips to the White House during the Obama years, with 45 of those meetings including the president in attendance.

“Bob Creamer is diabolical, and I love him for it,” Foval continued.  Foval was obliging enough to lay out the campaign’s organizational chart.  “The campaign pays DNC,” he told Steve.  “DNC pays Democracy Partners.  Democracy Partners pays The Foval Group.  The Foval Group goes and executes the [s—] on the ground.”

Ever enterprising, Project Veritas managed to get journalist Allison Maass an internship at Democracy Partners.  In answer to Maass’s question about a practice known generically as “bird-dogging,” Creamer explained his group’s hardball version thereof.  “You’re trying to actually confront people,” Creamer answered.  “The thing that makes the best television is, of course, the target: angry people.  That’s great TV.  Now, Trump – you don’t … maybe you want to get people to do something in advance to cause problems for him, and … I guess these guys are the DREAMers.  They’re just pros at this.”

“What do you mean by DREAMers?” Angela asked to get Creamer on record.

“DREAMers are the category of people brought here as children, as immigrants,” said Creamer, neglecting to say they came here illegally.

“So there’s, like, a specific group of DREAMers?” asked Maass.

“Well, there are organizations out there,” Creamer responded.  He identified a fellow named Cesar Vargas as the best of the organizers.  “This crew is spectacular at it,” Creamer added.  He explained that DREAMers have “a lot more legitimacy” because they are not specifically “operatives of the DNC or of the campaigns.”  Their presence at rallies, he believed, made for “good optics.”

“So Hillary is aware of all the work that you guys do, I hope?” Allison asked.

“Oh yeah,” said Creamer.  “Yes.  The campaign is fully in it.”

As Project Veritas learned, Vargas was a New York lawyer, the co-founder of the Dream Action Coalition, and a DREAMer himself.  “Only in the Democratic Party could an illegal alien achieve such heights without disguising his illegality,” O’Keefe writes.  Apparently, Vargas had known Creamer for years.

Here you have it.  Organized groups of foreign nationals were actively colluding at the highest levels with the DNC, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and quite possibly the Obama White House.  There is no mystery, no need to spend millions on high-priced lawyers. 

Let the investigation begin.

Image: Michael L. Dorn, Flickr.



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Not All Stings Work: On the War James O'Keefe Is Winning


In his compelling new book, Blue on Blue, Charles Campisi, chief of the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, tells how he was able to dramatically reform the bureau and improve the quality of NYPD policing. 

Campisi instituted what he called “integrity tests.”  These were more commonly known in the NYPD as “stings.”  In his newly proactive NYPD, Campisi ran as many as 500 to 600 integrity tests a year, in which cops had “the opportunity to do the right thing or the wrong thing.” 

The key, writes Campisi, was “to make the situation seem real, so real … the cop in question doesn’t know he’s being tested.”

For the past nine years, Project Veritas, the brainchild of 33-year-old James O’Keefe, has been running integrity tests on a variety of institutions the major media have chosen to leave untested.  Among the untested, at least until recently, are the major media operations themselves.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post did a spectacularly self-congratulatory end-zone dance for no greater accomplishment than having passed a test.  Its reporters sniffed out a Project Veritas undercover who was testing the Post’s eagerness to find still one more alleged victim to kill Roy Moore’s candidacy in Alabama.

Where Project Veritas failed in this instance was, to paraphrase Campisi, to make the situation seem so real that the subject did not know he was being tested.  Project Veritas has failed before.  It is inevitable in this line of work.  What is remarkable is how often these young guerrilla journalists have succeeded.

In 2009, for instance, O’Keefe and a young friend ran integrity tests on ACORN offices in six separate cities.  ACORN execs celebrated upon realizing that their Philadelphia office saw through the sting.  This was before they realized that their officials in Washington, Baltimore, Brooklyn, and San Bernardino had no problem advising a pimp on how to find housing for his underage Central American sex slaves.

The major media had turned a blind eye to the flagrant corruption of their ACORN allies for years.  As a direct result of Project Veritas’s exposure, this billion-dollar enterprise collapsed within months.  When it did, the media turned on O’Keefe.  He had not only brought down a useful leftist institution, but also embarrassed the reporters who should have done that job themselves.  The media have been in full vengeance mode ever since.

In August 2016, Russ Feingold’s operatives detected a young female undercover working her away inside the Senate campaign in Wisconsin.  The Feingold people rushed to the media, and the media traced the woman to Project Veritas.  “Democratic Senate Campaign Catches Conservative Infiltrator,” shouted Time magazine.

Undeterred, this same undercover started interning at Democracy Partners in Washington a month after the Wisconsin bust.  Her work there helped expose the illegal DNC dirty tricks operations, get two top Democratic operatives fired, and reversed the momentum of the presidential campaign.  Some stings work.  Some don’t.

In the run-up to the inauguration, this same young undercover got busted again.  The work of her colleagues on the same investigation, however, went undetected.  “A D.C. police spokesman has confirmed,” reported the Washington Post grudgingly in January 2017, “that a secret video recording made Dec. 18 by one of O’Keefe’s operatives led to the arrest of one man and foiled an alleged plot to spread acid at the DeploraBall for Trump supporters at the National Press Club.”  Two other men were also arrested as a result of the Project Veritas videos.

In this past year, O’Keefe turned his attention to the media.  He focused on the major media – CNN, Washington Post, New York Times – to test whether they lived up to their own stated objectives, as the Times puts it, ”to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved.” 

The media have welcomed this integrity test about as much as a corrupt cop does a visit from Internal Affairs.  At every level of these news organizations, employees recognize they are making a mockery of their mission.  O’Keefe and crew have been gradually and quietly accumulating these admissions.

Desiree Shoe, a senior staff editor based in London, described for a Project Veritas undercover the charade she and her colleagues are asked to pull off on a daily basis.  Like almost all of her colleagues, she is open in her disdain for President Trump.

“Trump is just an oblivious idiot,” Shoe insisted.  It was not just Trump that bothered her.  She considers even Vice President Mike Pence “f—— horrible.”  Shoe believes that her sentiments are the norm among journalists.  

A Times staffer in New York confirmed her suspicion.  “Yeah, they all hate [Trump],” he told an undercover.  When asked whether this pervasive hatred affects reporting at the Times, he conceded, “They unfairly report on him.”

Aware of the stated mission of the Times, Shoe acknowledged, “Our main stories are supposed to be objective,” but as she conceded, the Times is “widely understood to be liberal-leaning.”

Compounding the problem for the Times and the other media is that they have experienced a “Trump bump.”  As John Bonifield of CNN told a Project Veritas journalist, “I think there are a lot of liberal viewers who want to see Trump really get scrutinized, but I think if we had behaved that way with President Obama, I think our viewers would have been turned off. Trump is good for business right now.”

To retain their liberal viewers, the major media have to create stories that will hold the audience’s attention.  This explains why Adam Entous, the national security reporter for the Washington Post, has hammered out more than 50 stories on potential Trump collusion with Russia, a collusion that would not be criminal even if it were true.

What does Entous have to show for his work?  “Our reporting has not taken us to a place where I would be able to say with any confidence that the result of it is going to be the president being guilty of being in cahoots with the Russians,” he told a Project Veritas undercover.  “There’s no evidence of that that I’ve seen so far.”

A few months back, CNN’s Van Jones told a Project Veritas undercover, “The Russia thing is just a big nothingburger.”  CNN producer John Bonified elaborated, “I think the president is probably right to say, like, ‘Look, you are witch-hunting me.  You have no smoking gun; you have no real proof.'”

Patiently and quietly, Project Veritas journalists have been stripping the mainstream media of even the illusion of objectivity.  To be taken seriously, their newsrooms need that illusion as much as a dirty cop needs his badge.

There is only one organization willing and able to blow their cover.  Although the dominant media will do everything in their power to stop them, the scrappy guerrilla journalists of Project Veritas are not about to quit.

In his compelling new book, Blue on Blue, Charles Campisi, chief of the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, tells how he was able to dramatically reform the bureau and improve the quality of NYPD policing. 

Campisi instituted what he called “integrity tests.”  These were more commonly known in the NYPD as “stings.”  In his newly proactive NYPD, Campisi ran as many as 500 to 600 integrity tests a year, in which cops had “the opportunity to do the right thing or the wrong thing.” 

The key, writes Campisi, was “to make the situation seem real, so real … the cop in question doesn’t know he’s being tested.”

For the past nine years, Project Veritas, the brainchild of 33-year-old James O’Keefe, has been running integrity tests on a variety of institutions the major media have chosen to leave untested.  Among the untested, at least until recently, are the major media operations themselves.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post did a spectacularly self-congratulatory end-zone dance for no greater accomplishment than having passed a test.  Its reporters sniffed out a Project Veritas undercover who was testing the Post’s eagerness to find still one more alleged victim to kill Roy Moore’s candidacy in Alabama.

Where Project Veritas failed in this instance was, to paraphrase Campisi, to make the situation seem so real that the subject did not know he was being tested.  Project Veritas has failed before.  It is inevitable in this line of work.  What is remarkable is how often these young guerrilla journalists have succeeded.

In 2009, for instance, O’Keefe and a young friend ran integrity tests on ACORN offices in six separate cities.  ACORN execs celebrated upon realizing that their Philadelphia office saw through the sting.  This was before they realized that their officials in Washington, Baltimore, Brooklyn, and San Bernardino had no problem advising a pimp on how to find housing for his underage Central American sex slaves.

The major media had turned a blind eye to the flagrant corruption of their ACORN allies for years.  As a direct result of Project Veritas’s exposure, this billion-dollar enterprise collapsed within months.  When it did, the media turned on O’Keefe.  He had not only brought down a useful leftist institution, but also embarrassed the reporters who should have done that job themselves.  The media have been in full vengeance mode ever since.

In August 2016, Russ Feingold’s operatives detected a young female undercover working her away inside the Senate campaign in Wisconsin.  The Feingold people rushed to the media, and the media traced the woman to Project Veritas.  “Democratic Senate Campaign Catches Conservative Infiltrator,” shouted Time magazine.

Undeterred, this same undercover started interning at Democracy Partners in Washington a month after the Wisconsin bust.  Her work there helped expose the illegal DNC dirty tricks operations, get two top Democratic operatives fired, and reversed the momentum of the presidential campaign.  Some stings work.  Some don’t.

In the run-up to the inauguration, this same young undercover got busted again.  The work of her colleagues on the same investigation, however, went undetected.  “A D.C. police spokesman has confirmed,” reported the Washington Post grudgingly in January 2017, “that a secret video recording made Dec. 18 by one of O’Keefe’s operatives led to the arrest of one man and foiled an alleged plot to spread acid at the DeploraBall for Trump supporters at the National Press Club.”  Two other men were also arrested as a result of the Project Veritas videos.

In this past year, O’Keefe turned his attention to the media.  He focused on the major media – CNN, Washington Post, New York Times – to test whether they lived up to their own stated objectives, as the Times puts it, ”to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved.” 

The media have welcomed this integrity test about as much as a corrupt cop does a visit from Internal Affairs.  At every level of these news organizations, employees recognize they are making a mockery of their mission.  O’Keefe and crew have been gradually and quietly accumulating these admissions.

Desiree Shoe, a senior staff editor based in London, described for a Project Veritas undercover the charade she and her colleagues are asked to pull off on a daily basis.  Like almost all of her colleagues, she is open in her disdain for President Trump.

“Trump is just an oblivious idiot,” Shoe insisted.  It was not just Trump that bothered her.  She considers even Vice President Mike Pence “f—— horrible.”  Shoe believes that her sentiments are the norm among journalists.  

A Times staffer in New York confirmed her suspicion.  “Yeah, they all hate [Trump],” he told an undercover.  When asked whether this pervasive hatred affects reporting at the Times, he conceded, “They unfairly report on him.”

Aware of the stated mission of the Times, Shoe acknowledged, “Our main stories are supposed to be objective,” but as she conceded, the Times is “widely understood to be liberal-leaning.”

Compounding the problem for the Times and the other media is that they have experienced a “Trump bump.”  As John Bonifield of CNN told a Project Veritas journalist, “I think there are a lot of liberal viewers who want to see Trump really get scrutinized, but I think if we had behaved that way with President Obama, I think our viewers would have been turned off. Trump is good for business right now.”

To retain their liberal viewers, the major media have to create stories that will hold the audience’s attention.  This explains why Adam Entous, the national security reporter for the Washington Post, has hammered out more than 50 stories on potential Trump collusion with Russia, a collusion that would not be criminal even if it were true.

What does Entous have to show for his work?  “Our reporting has not taken us to a place where I would be able to say with any confidence that the result of it is going to be the president being guilty of being in cahoots with the Russians,” he told a Project Veritas undercover.  “There’s no evidence of that that I’ve seen so far.”

A few months back, CNN’s Van Jones told a Project Veritas undercover, “The Russia thing is just a big nothingburger.”  CNN producer John Bonified elaborated, “I think the president is probably right to say, like, ‘Look, you are witch-hunting me.  You have no smoking gun; you have no real proof.'”

Patiently and quietly, Project Veritas journalists have been stripping the mainstream media of even the illusion of objectivity.  To be taken seriously, their newsrooms need that illusion as much as a dirty cop needs his badge.

There is only one organization willing and able to blow their cover.  Although the dominant media will do everything in their power to stop them, the scrappy guerrilla journalists of Project Veritas are not about to quit.



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No Documents in Obama Library? No Mystery There.


The Fox News headline sums up the issue at hand: “No Obama documents in Obama library? Historians puzzled by Chicago center plans.”

The article continues, “The Obama Foundation is taking an unconventional approach to the presidential center and library being planned in Chicago. It’s opting to host a digital archive of President Barack Obama’s records, but not keep his hard-copy manuscripts and letters and other documents onsite.” 

The Chicago Tribune broke the story that, to this point, has attracted no major media attention.  Its headline raises much the same question Fox News did: “Without archives on site, how will Obama Center benefit area students, scholars?”

The Tribune tries to answer that question but succeeds only in pacifying Obama fanboys.  There is no good answer, but there is an answer, and it is this: Obama is not a literary genius.  In fact, Obama is not a particularly good writer.  His reputation would wither if researchers were allowed access to original documents.

To this day, Obama supporters in the media refuse to accept what is obvious to anyone who has looked carefully at his literary track record.  (Sorry, but I have vowed never to use the word “oeuvre” except as a punch line).

Earlier in 2017, when the question of Obama’s gazillion-dollar presidential memoirs first surfaced, the publishing community showed just how much its studied ignorance affected its judgment.

“Mr. Obama’s writing ability could make his memoir not only profitable in its first years but perhaps for decades to come,” Gardiner Harris observed matter-of-factly in a September 2016 piece in the New York Times.  Harris speculated, in fact, that Obama’s newest effort would be a book for the ages, not unlike the memoir of Ulysses S. Grant, which continues to sell.

The most vulnerable documents in the Obama treasure chest are the early drafts of his 1995 autobiography, Dreams from My Father, a book that Joe Klein, then with Time, deemed “the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician.”

On the strength of Dreams, British author Jonathan Raban designated Obama “the best writer to occupy the White House since Lincoln.” 

This is all nonsense.  As I first documented at length in the American Thinker, Obama had massive help with Dreams, a book he publicly claimed to have written by his lonesome.  The evidence overwhelmingly points to Bill Ayers as the neighborhood muse.

I could write a book about this.  Come to think of it, I did.  It’s called Deconstructing Obama, published by Simon & Schuster, the company that terminated Obama’s first contract on the book that would become Dreams.

In his massive recent biography about Obama’s pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow chose to cut this literary baby in half.

Yes, Obama had help with his 1995 masterpiece, Dreams from My Father, a lot of help, but it did not come from Ayers.  The help, Garrow argues unconvincingly, came from a law school buddy and economist named Rob Fisher.

Oddly, although denying Ayers’s involvement in the book, Garrow reveals just how strong was the relationship between Ayers and Obama and how deep was the lie that protected it.

Dreams, of course, is just one reason the original documents cannot be shared.  Obama did not write his book Audacity of Hope in any meaningful sense of the word, either.  Ayers, in fact, dismissed Audacity as a “political hack book,” and he was right.  The book seems to have been written by committee.

Then there are the speeches.  Raban was admittedly “disconcerted” to learn that Obama worked with twenty-something speechwriter Jon Favreau on his 2009 inaugural address.  The Obama of Raban’s imagination did not need speechwriters, but, in fact, Obama had been relying on Favreau since the convention of 2004.

Obama has been relying on others all of his life.  To protect the lie that has sustained his literary reputation, he is willing to subvert the very function of a presidential library.

Indeed, the gleaming white Obama Presidential Center promises to be a $500-million shrine to the ethereal emptiness of the Obama experience.  It is a fitting tribute.

The Fox News headline sums up the issue at hand: “No Obama documents in Obama library? Historians puzzled by Chicago center plans.”

The article continues, “The Obama Foundation is taking an unconventional approach to the presidential center and library being planned in Chicago. It’s opting to host a digital archive of President Barack Obama’s records, but not keep his hard-copy manuscripts and letters and other documents onsite.” 

The Chicago Tribune broke the story that, to this point, has attracted no major media attention.  Its headline raises much the same question Fox News did: “Without archives on site, how will Obama Center benefit area students, scholars?”

The Tribune tries to answer that question but succeeds only in pacifying Obama fanboys.  There is no good answer, but there is an answer, and it is this: Obama is not a literary genius.  In fact, Obama is not a particularly good writer.  His reputation would wither if researchers were allowed access to original documents.

To this day, Obama supporters in the media refuse to accept what is obvious to anyone who has looked carefully at his literary track record.  (Sorry, but I have vowed never to use the word “oeuvre” except as a punch line).

Earlier in 2017, when the question of Obama’s gazillion-dollar presidential memoirs first surfaced, the publishing community showed just how much its studied ignorance affected its judgment.

“Mr. Obama’s writing ability could make his memoir not only profitable in its first years but perhaps for decades to come,” Gardiner Harris observed matter-of-factly in a September 2016 piece in the New York Times.  Harris speculated, in fact, that Obama’s newest effort would be a book for the ages, not unlike the memoir of Ulysses S. Grant, which continues to sell.

The most vulnerable documents in the Obama treasure chest are the early drafts of his 1995 autobiography, Dreams from My Father, a book that Joe Klein, then with Time, deemed “the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician.”

On the strength of Dreams, British author Jonathan Raban designated Obama “the best writer to occupy the White House since Lincoln.” 

This is all nonsense.  As I first documented at length in the American Thinker, Obama had massive help with Dreams, a book he publicly claimed to have written by his lonesome.  The evidence overwhelmingly points to Bill Ayers as the neighborhood muse.

I could write a book about this.  Come to think of it, I did.  It’s called Deconstructing Obama, published by Simon & Schuster, the company that terminated Obama’s first contract on the book that would become Dreams.

In his massive recent biography about Obama’s pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow chose to cut this literary baby in half.

Yes, Obama had help with his 1995 masterpiece, Dreams from My Father, a lot of help, but it did not come from Ayers.  The help, Garrow argues unconvincingly, came from a law school buddy and economist named Rob Fisher.

Oddly, although denying Ayers’s involvement in the book, Garrow reveals just how strong was the relationship between Ayers and Obama and how deep was the lie that protected it.

Dreams, of course, is just one reason the original documents cannot be shared.  Obama did not write his book Audacity of Hope in any meaningful sense of the word, either.  Ayers, in fact, dismissed Audacity as a “political hack book,” and he was right.  The book seems to have been written by committee.

Then there are the speeches.  Raban was admittedly “disconcerted” to learn that Obama worked with twenty-something speechwriter Jon Favreau on his 2009 inaugural address.  The Obama of Raban’s imagination did not need speechwriters, but, in fact, Obama had been relying on Favreau since the convention of 2004.

Obama has been relying on others all of his life.  To protect the lie that has sustained his literary reputation, he is willing to subvert the very function of a presidential library.

Indeed, the gleaming white Obama Presidential Center promises to be a $500-million shrine to the ethereal emptiness of the Obama experience.  It is a fitting tribute.



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Harvey Weinstein and the Slow-Motion Theft of American Culture


“I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them,” wrote movie mogul Harvey Weinstein upon being busted for all manner of sexual predations, before adding this only-in-Hollywood non-sequitur, “I am going to need a place to channel that anger so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention.”

Perhaps even more troubling, the day before Weinstein’s apologia came this unfortunate tweet from Nancy “with the laughing eyes” Sinatra, “The murderous members of the NRA should face a firing squad.”

The Nancy tweet stung more because my once exhaustive consumption of American culture had dwindled down to Turner Classic Movies, Major League Baseball, and the Sinatra Channel on Sirius, and then Nancy had to go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like, “I hate you.” I always suspected that Weinstein did, but even though Ms. Sinatra deleted her tweet, the contempt lingers.

I do not need to watch Weinstein’s Pulp Fiction any more than I already have, but Nancy is the mainstay host of the Sinatra Channel, a daily staple. Having just given up on the NFL, I have to ask myself how much more of our common culture will be denied me and the millions of Americans who would rather desert that culture than be demeaned by its custodians.

It has not always been like this. As recently as 1980, for instance, almost no one in the media openly disrespected people like me. As a young Reagan fan, I had come to that enthusiasm almost entirely through the mainstream media. There was no conservative talk radio to speak of, no Fox News, no Internet, and I caught up with National Review only occasionally at the public library. I watched the evening news and the Sunday morning shows without feeling aggrieved or abused, and I listened to NPR all day long.

Fresh out of graduate school, I worked as Director of Management at the Kansas City Housing Authority. NPR helped me keep my sanity. I was one of only a handful of conservatives working at this place, but no one mistreated me because of it.

Being a witness to the left’s stealthy corruption of the black community, I wrote several articles on what I saw. My African-American boss advised me to use a pseudonym but otherwise had no objection. The Kansas City Star, then still a nonpartisan enterprise, welcomed my insider perspective. Up until about ten years ago, the Star even reviewed my books.

At the time, I served on the board of a local professional theater, had a play of mine produced, and wrote and directed a couple of fundraising mystery spectacles for the theater. Today, like the editors of the Star, the theater’s decision makers will not even read what I submit.

Throughout the 1990s, I produced a series of historical documentaries for the local PBS station. In that the audiences supported my work, I kept getting asked back. For years, I appeared periodically on the station’s weekly news program. That has dwindled away to nothing. The Star reporters will not be on the show if I am. The station needs the Star more than it needs me. Nor have I been on the area’s NPR station in a decade. Like its mothership, the station no longer even feigns an interest in the sixty percent of its red state market that voted for Donald Trump.

In that my wife is a university professor, so were many of our friends. Although they knew my politics, they did not hesitate to welcome us into their world. Although my politics have not changed, we have not been invited to an academic dinner party in at least a decade. Nor have we gone to see a speaker or see a play at the university three blocks from our house in twenty or so years. Chelsea Clinton? Angela Davis? The Vagina Monologues? No, thanks.

I used to watch late night talk shows. Who didn’t? Then the bright minds at the networks thought it would be a good idea to have every one of the main players — Fallon, Kimmel, Colbert, O’Brien — compete for the same angry liberal sliver of the audience. Today, I find myself watching Johnny Carson reruns.

As for comedy, is there any? The 1970s saw an emergence of fresh provocative talent — Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Andy Kauffman, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Monty Python. None of them was conspicuously partisan. Today, many of the best comedians — Seinfeld, Chris Rock — won’t even play college campuses lest they offend the snowflakes.

“Saturday Night Live,” which debuted in 1975, sprang more or less from the side of the National Lampoon, which, if anything, skewed right. The show had a 1990s revival whose cast was arguably better than the original, and the show remained largely apolitical, at least until the emergence of Barack Obama/Sarah Palin. For eight years the Obama humor was tepid and unfunny. Today, the Trump humor is venomous and unfunny. 

In comedy, only “South Park” maintains a niche on the anarchic right, but it is sufficiently vulgar the left doesn’t notice. On radio, Howard Stern has, if anything, upped the vulgarity. Unfortunately, he long ago abandoned his libertarian, street smart iconoclasm to keep the guests flowing on the Hollywood pipeline. Occasionally, he even cheers on the PC police.

Meanwhile, Weinstein’s Hollywood is in full decline. After years of ignoring middle America, its mavens decided it would be a good marketing strategy to insult that audience. It used to be newsworthy when the Oscars got political, even comical when, for instance, Marlon Brando sent Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring (or whomever) to receive his award.

As late as 2003, Michael Moore was booed for his rant against our “fictitious president,” and host Steve Martin was cheered when he snapped back, “Right now, the Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.” Today, the audience would have cheered Moore and booed Martin.

The Oscars have lost their magic because so many adults have lost the habit of going to the movies. There has been almost nothing for them to see. When the worthy film Dunkirk surfaced this summer, I had friends ask me where the theaters were. They had gone to the movies since Forrest Gump.

As to Broadway, it has taken a long, twisted road from Oklahoma to Urinetown. Always friendly to gays, Broadway is now bullied by them. Whereas the message once was, ‘please tolerate us,’ now it is, ‘celebrate us or else.’ Half the shows on Broadway, maybe more, are gay and/or trans themed.

Hamilton seemed to be a bright spot, and then the cast, with the full support of its producers, thought it would be cool to diss vice president-elect Mike Pence to his face. That will do wonders for the touring show. On the Tonys, to show their support for gun control after the Orlando gay nightclub attack, Hamilton’s Continental Army did a drill number without their weapons. They were trying to be sensitive. They just looked silly.

If nothing else, Harvey Weinstein is forcing our cultural masters to face the dark, unseemly side of an industry that much of America has seen through for years. Weinstein’s bust won’t make much of a difference, but it might just make a little. 

“I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them,” wrote movie mogul Harvey Weinstein upon being busted for all manner of sexual predations, before adding this only-in-Hollywood non-sequitur, “I am going to need a place to channel that anger so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention.”

Perhaps even more troubling, the day before Weinstein’s apologia came this unfortunate tweet from Nancy “with the laughing eyes” Sinatra, “The murderous members of the NRA should face a firing squad.”

The Nancy tweet stung more because my once exhaustive consumption of American culture had dwindled down to Turner Classic Movies, Major League Baseball, and the Sinatra Channel on Sirius, and then Nancy had to go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like, “I hate you.” I always suspected that Weinstein did, but even though Ms. Sinatra deleted her tweet, the contempt lingers.

I do not need to watch Weinstein’s Pulp Fiction any more than I already have, but Nancy is the mainstay host of the Sinatra Channel, a daily staple. Having just given up on the NFL, I have to ask myself how much more of our common culture will be denied me and the millions of Americans who would rather desert that culture than be demeaned by its custodians.

It has not always been like this. As recently as 1980, for instance, almost no one in the media openly disrespected people like me. As a young Reagan fan, I had come to that enthusiasm almost entirely through the mainstream media. There was no conservative talk radio to speak of, no Fox News, no Internet, and I caught up with National Review only occasionally at the public library. I watched the evening news and the Sunday morning shows without feeling aggrieved or abused, and I listened to NPR all day long.

Fresh out of graduate school, I worked as Director of Management at the Kansas City Housing Authority. NPR helped me keep my sanity. I was one of only a handful of conservatives working at this place, but no one mistreated me because of it.

Being a witness to the left’s stealthy corruption of the black community, I wrote several articles on what I saw. My African-American boss advised me to use a pseudonym but otherwise had no objection. The Kansas City Star, then still a nonpartisan enterprise, welcomed my insider perspective. Up until about ten years ago, the Star even reviewed my books.

At the time, I served on the board of a local professional theater, had a play of mine produced, and wrote and directed a couple of fundraising mystery spectacles for the theater. Today, like the editors of the Star, the theater’s decision makers will not even read what I submit.

Throughout the 1990s, I produced a series of historical documentaries for the local PBS station. In that the audiences supported my work, I kept getting asked back. For years, I appeared periodically on the station’s weekly news program. That has dwindled away to nothing. The Star reporters will not be on the show if I am. The station needs the Star more than it needs me. Nor have I been on the area’s NPR station in a decade. Like its mothership, the station no longer even feigns an interest in the sixty percent of its red state market that voted for Donald Trump.

In that my wife is a university professor, so were many of our friends. Although they knew my politics, they did not hesitate to welcome us into their world. Although my politics have not changed, we have not been invited to an academic dinner party in at least a decade. Nor have we gone to see a speaker or see a play at the university three blocks from our house in twenty or so years. Chelsea Clinton? Angela Davis? The Vagina Monologues? No, thanks.

I used to watch late night talk shows. Who didn’t? Then the bright minds at the networks thought it would be a good idea to have every one of the main players — Fallon, Kimmel, Colbert, O’Brien — compete for the same angry liberal sliver of the audience. Today, I find myself watching Johnny Carson reruns.

As for comedy, is there any? The 1970s saw an emergence of fresh provocative talent — Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Andy Kauffman, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Monty Python. None of them was conspicuously partisan. Today, many of the best comedians — Seinfeld, Chris Rock — won’t even play college campuses lest they offend the snowflakes.

“Saturday Night Live,” which debuted in 1975, sprang more or less from the side of the National Lampoon, which, if anything, skewed right. The show had a 1990s revival whose cast was arguably better than the original, and the show remained largely apolitical, at least until the emergence of Barack Obama/Sarah Palin. For eight years the Obama humor was tepid and unfunny. Today, the Trump humor is venomous and unfunny. 

In comedy, only “South Park” maintains a niche on the anarchic right, but it is sufficiently vulgar the left doesn’t notice. On radio, Howard Stern has, if anything, upped the vulgarity. Unfortunately, he long ago abandoned his libertarian, street smart iconoclasm to keep the guests flowing on the Hollywood pipeline. Occasionally, he even cheers on the PC police.

Meanwhile, Weinstein’s Hollywood is in full decline. After years of ignoring middle America, its mavens decided it would be a good marketing strategy to insult that audience. It used to be newsworthy when the Oscars got political, even comical when, for instance, Marlon Brando sent Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring (or whomever) to receive his award.

As late as 2003, Michael Moore was booed for his rant against our “fictitious president,” and host Steve Martin was cheered when he snapped back, “Right now, the Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.” Today, the audience would have cheered Moore and booed Martin.

The Oscars have lost their magic because so many adults have lost the habit of going to the movies. There has been almost nothing for them to see. When the worthy film Dunkirk surfaced this summer, I had friends ask me where the theaters were. They had gone to the movies since Forrest Gump.

As to Broadway, it has taken a long, twisted road from Oklahoma to Urinetown. Always friendly to gays, Broadway is now bullied by them. Whereas the message once was, ‘please tolerate us,’ now it is, ‘celebrate us or else.’ Half the shows on Broadway, maybe more, are gay and/or trans themed.

Hamilton seemed to be a bright spot, and then the cast, with the full support of its producers, thought it would be cool to diss vice president-elect Mike Pence to his face. That will do wonders for the touring show. On the Tonys, to show their support for gun control after the Orlando gay nightclub attack, Hamilton’s Continental Army did a drill number without their weapons. They were trying to be sensitive. They just looked silly.

If nothing else, Harvey Weinstein is forcing our cultural masters to face the dark, unseemly side of an industry that much of America has seen through for years. Weinstein’s bust won’t make much of a difference, but it might just make a little. 



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So When Exactly Did Bill Ayers and Barack Obama Meet?


“This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” said Obama dismissively of Ayers.  “He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from [sic] on a regular basis.”

The question fueled what the L.A. Times called a “storm of criticism.”  The rage was directed not at Obama for his dissembling, but at Stephanopoulos for his effrontery.  How dare he ask Obama about an “obscure sixties radical”? asked Michael Grunwald of Time.  The media chose not to follow up.  If they had, Hillary Clinton would have won the nomination.

Garrow has come along nine years too late to do Clinton any good.  But after ten years researching this book and interviewing a thousand people, he reveals just how strong was the relationship between Ayers and Obama and how deep was the lie that protected it.  Unfortunately, there is an element of that lie Garrow himself insists on protecting.

Garrow sticks to the story that state senator Alice Palmer asked Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn to host a fundraiser for state Senate candidate Obama in the fall of 1995 – as if they needed to be asked.

Then Garrow begins adding information.  “After that gathering, Barack and Michelle began to see a great deal more of not only Bill and Bernardine but also their three closest friends, Rashid and Mona Khalidi and Carole Travis.”  Rashid Khalidi was a Palestinian native of radical bent then living in Chicago.

According to Garrow, Obama did the following during the next eight years.  He organized a panel on juvenile justice based on a new book by Ayers.  He served on the Woods Fund board with Ayers.  He joined Ayers for a panel discussion, “Intellectuals, Who Need Them.”  Up until the time of his 2004 Senate run, he and Michelle attended “the almost nightly dinners” held with Ayers, Dohrn, and the Khalidis.

Ayers obviously meant a whole lot more to Obama than “a guy who lives in the neighborhood” might be expected to.  But how much more?  Khalidi did not shy from giving credit where it was due.   He began the acknowledgment section of his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, with a tribute to his own literary muse: “First, chronologically and in other ways comes Bill Ayers.”  Khalidi had no reason to be coy about this relationship.  Obama obviously did.

Garrow obliges him.  Although he concedes that Ayers and Obama both dated the same woman, Genevieve Cook, in New York City in 1984, he does not try to connect the dots.  Nor does Garrow try to connect dots when Ayers follows Obama to Chicago and both work on educational reform with the same people during the years 1987-1988.

No, Garrow specifically traces the first meeting of Ayers and Obama to a time in 1995 immediately after pre-publication galleys for Obama’s book Dreams from My Father arrived in Chicago – in other words, too late for Ayers to have helped at all with the book’s writing.  This is way too convenient.

For all his research, Garrow refuses to ask what Bill Ayers saw in Obama.  The answer may well be found in a 1994 essay that Ayers co-authored, whose title befits a former merchant seaman: “Navigating a restless sea: The continuing struggle to achieve a decent education for African American youngsters in Chicago.”

In “Navigating,” Ayers and his nominal co-author, former New Communist Movement leader Michael Klonsky, offer a detailed analysis of the Chicago school system and a discussion of potential reforms.

Garrow cites “Navigating” twice but chooses not to see the obvious – namely, that Obama offers a nearly identical analysis in Dreams.  This analysis was completed in the same year, 1994, as “Navigating.”  The particular value Obama brought to the relationship can be found not in the many points on which Ayers and the Obama of Dreams agree, but rather on the one point on which they at least seem to differ.

First, the areas of agreement.  Dreams tells us that Chicago’s schools “remained in a state of perpetual crisis.”  In “Navigating,” the situation is described as a “perpetual state of conflict, paralysis, and stagnation.” 

Dreams describes a “bloated bureaucracy” as one source of the problem and “a teachers’ union that went out on strike at least once every two years” as another.  “Navigating” affirms that the “bureaucracy has grown steadily in the past decade” and confirms Dreams‘ math, citing a “ninth walkout in 18 years.”

“Self-interest” is at the heart of the bureaucratic mess described in Dreams.  “Navigating” clarifies that “survivalist bureaucracies” struggle for power “to protect their narrow, self-interested positions against any common, public purpose.”

In Dreams, educators “defend the status quo” and blame problems on “impossible” children and their “bad parents.”  In “Navigating,” an educator serves as “apologist for the status quo” and “place[s] the blame for school failure on children and families.”

Another challenge cited in Dreams is “an indifferent state legislature.”  Ayers cites an “unwillingness on [the legislature’s] part to adequately fund Chicago schools.”

In Dreams, “school reform” is the only solution Obama envisions.  In “Navigating,” Ayers has no greater passion than “reforming Chicago’s schools.”  In fact, in that same year this article was written, 1994, the ambitious Ayers co-authored the proposal that would win for Chicago a $49.2-million Annenberg Challenge grant.  Obama would later be made its chair.

In Dreams, the thoughts on educational reform are channeled through the soulful voice of two older black Americans.  The first, Moran, a composite, tells Obama, “The public school system is not about educating black children.  Never has been.  Inner-city schools are about social control.  Period.”

“Social control” is an Ayers obsession.  “The message to Black people was that at any moment and for any reason whatsoever your life or the lives of your loved ones could be randomly snuffed out,” he writes in his memoir, Fugitive Days.  “The intention was social control through random intimidation and unpredictable violence.”

In Dreams, Moran elaborates on the fate of the black student: “From day one, what’s he learning about? Someone else’s history. Someone else’s culture. Not only that, this culture he’s supposed to learn is the same culture that’s systematically rejected him, denied his humanity.”

Precociously Afrocentric, Ayers has been making the same case since he first got involved in education.  “The public schools’ idea of integration is racist,” he said early in his career.  “They put Negro children into school and demand that they give up their Negro culture. Negro children are forced to speak, behave, and react according to middle-class standards.”

The second of Obama’s educational mentors is “Frank,” Obama’s mentor in Hawaii, the Communist Frank Marshall Davis.  Frank tells the college-bound Obama, “You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained. They’ll train you to forget what it is that you already know.”

Ayers makes the identical distinction in his 1993 book To Teach.  “Education is for self-activating explorers of life, for those who would challenge fate, for doers and activists, for citizens. Training is for slaves, for loyal subjects, for tractable employees, for willing consumers, for obedient soldiers.” 

By 1994, Ayers had been preaching educational reform for nearly thirty years, but one major force still intimidated him: Chicago’s sluggish and self-interested educational bureaucracy.  Over the years, this bureaucracy had morphed, as Ayers notes in “Navigating,” from being a bastion of “[w]hite political patronage and racism” to being “a source of Black professional jobs, contracts, and, yes, patronage.”  For reasons both ideological and practical, Ayers wilted in the face of this bureaucracy.

On this racially tender issue, not so strangely, Dreams tells a different story.  Obama openly chides the black “teachers, principals, and district superintendents,” who “knew too much” to send their own children to public school.

“The biggest source of resistance was rarely talked about,” Obama continues – namely, that these educators “would defend the status quo with the same skill and vigor as their white counterparts of two decades before.” 

As to the claims of these educators, affirmed in “Navigating,” that “cutbacks in the bureaucracy were part of a white effort to wrest back control,” the author of Dreams says, teasingly, “[N]ot so true.”

“Not so true”?  In these three words one can anticipate Obama’s potential return on Ayers’s investment.  Simply put, as a black American, Obama could address sensitive racial issues in ways Ayers could not.  Ayers surely recognized this.

To advance Obama’s career, it appears, Ayers finished up Dreams, got Obama appointed chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant, and launched his state Senate run, all in 1994-1995. 

The political calculus behind that ambition helped shape Dreams.  This was a careful book written to jump-start the career of a deeply indebted and highly malleable Chicago politician, maybe even a mayor, one who saw the world through white eyes, as Ayers did, but one who could articulate the city’s real problems in words that Ayers could not.

This would have worked out much better for Ayers if Obama had contented himself with Chicago.  As history records, he did not.

In his massive new biography about Barack Obama’s pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow makes hash out of the lie that preserved Obama’s candidacy in 2008.  That said, he pulls back from the implications of his own revelations to protect what remains of Obama’s literary reputation.

In the way of background, during an April 2008 presidential primary debate on ABC, George Stephanopoulos said about Bill Ayers and pals, “They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings.  He’s never apologized for that.”  He then asked Obama, “Can you explain that relationship for the voters and explain to Democrats why it won’t be a problem?”

“This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” said Obama dismissively of Ayers.  “He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from [sic] on a regular basis.”

The question fueled what the L.A. Times called a “storm of criticism.”  The rage was directed not at Obama for his dissembling, but at Stephanopoulos for his effrontery.  How dare he ask Obama about an “obscure sixties radical”? asked Michael Grunwald of Time.  The media chose not to follow up.  If they had, Hillary Clinton would have won the nomination.

Garrow has come along nine years too late to do Clinton any good.  But after ten years researching this book and interviewing a thousand people, he reveals just how strong was the relationship between Ayers and Obama and how deep was the lie that protected it.  Unfortunately, there is an element of that lie Garrow himself insists on protecting.

Garrow sticks to the story that state senator Alice Palmer asked Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn to host a fundraiser for state Senate candidate Obama in the fall of 1995 – as if they needed to be asked.

Then Garrow begins adding information.  “After that gathering, Barack and Michelle began to see a great deal more of not only Bill and Bernardine but also their three closest friends, Rashid and Mona Khalidi and Carole Travis.”  Rashid Khalidi was a Palestinian native of radical bent then living in Chicago.

According to Garrow, Obama did the following during the next eight years.  He organized a panel on juvenile justice based on a new book by Ayers.  He served on the Woods Fund board with Ayers.  He joined Ayers for a panel discussion, “Intellectuals, Who Need Them.”  Up until the time of his 2004 Senate run, he and Michelle attended “the almost nightly dinners” held with Ayers, Dohrn, and the Khalidis.

Ayers obviously meant a whole lot more to Obama than “a guy who lives in the neighborhood” might be expected to.  But how much more?  Khalidi did not shy from giving credit where it was due.   He began the acknowledgment section of his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, with a tribute to his own literary muse: “First, chronologically and in other ways comes Bill Ayers.”  Khalidi had no reason to be coy about this relationship.  Obama obviously did.

Garrow obliges him.  Although he concedes that Ayers and Obama both dated the same woman, Genevieve Cook, in New York City in 1984, he does not try to connect the dots.  Nor does Garrow try to connect dots when Ayers follows Obama to Chicago and both work on educational reform with the same people during the years 1987-1988.

No, Garrow specifically traces the first meeting of Ayers and Obama to a time in 1995 immediately after pre-publication galleys for Obama’s book Dreams from My Father arrived in Chicago – in other words, too late for Ayers to have helped at all with the book’s writing.  This is way too convenient.

For all his research, Garrow refuses to ask what Bill Ayers saw in Obama.  The answer may well be found in a 1994 essay that Ayers co-authored, whose title befits a former merchant seaman: “Navigating a restless sea: The continuing struggle to achieve a decent education for African American youngsters in Chicago.”

In “Navigating,” Ayers and his nominal co-author, former New Communist Movement leader Michael Klonsky, offer a detailed analysis of the Chicago school system and a discussion of potential reforms.

Garrow cites “Navigating” twice but chooses not to see the obvious – namely, that Obama offers a nearly identical analysis in Dreams.  This analysis was completed in the same year, 1994, as “Navigating.”  The particular value Obama brought to the relationship can be found not in the many points on which Ayers and the Obama of Dreams agree, but rather on the one point on which they at least seem to differ.

First, the areas of agreement.  Dreams tells us that Chicago’s schools “remained in a state of perpetual crisis.”  In “Navigating,” the situation is described as a “perpetual state of conflict, paralysis, and stagnation.” 

Dreams describes a “bloated bureaucracy” as one source of the problem and “a teachers’ union that went out on strike at least once every two years” as another.  “Navigating” affirms that the “bureaucracy has grown steadily in the past decade” and confirms Dreams‘ math, citing a “ninth walkout in 18 years.”

“Self-interest” is at the heart of the bureaucratic mess described in Dreams.  “Navigating” clarifies that “survivalist bureaucracies” struggle for power “to protect their narrow, self-interested positions against any common, public purpose.”

In Dreams, educators “defend the status quo” and blame problems on “impossible” children and their “bad parents.”  In “Navigating,” an educator serves as “apologist for the status quo” and “place[s] the blame for school failure on children and families.”

Another challenge cited in Dreams is “an indifferent state legislature.”  Ayers cites an “unwillingness on [the legislature’s] part to adequately fund Chicago schools.”

In Dreams, “school reform” is the only solution Obama envisions.  In “Navigating,” Ayers has no greater passion than “reforming Chicago’s schools.”  In fact, in that same year this article was written, 1994, the ambitious Ayers co-authored the proposal that would win for Chicago a $49.2-million Annenberg Challenge grant.  Obama would later be made its chair.

In Dreams, the thoughts on educational reform are channeled through the soulful voice of two older black Americans.  The first, Moran, a composite, tells Obama, “The public school system is not about educating black children.  Never has been.  Inner-city schools are about social control.  Period.”

“Social control” is an Ayers obsession.  “The message to Black people was that at any moment and for any reason whatsoever your life or the lives of your loved ones could be randomly snuffed out,” he writes in his memoir, Fugitive Days.  “The intention was social control through random intimidation and unpredictable violence.”

In Dreams, Moran elaborates on the fate of the black student: “From day one, what’s he learning about? Someone else’s history. Someone else’s culture. Not only that, this culture he’s supposed to learn is the same culture that’s systematically rejected him, denied his humanity.”

Precociously Afrocentric, Ayers has been making the same case since he first got involved in education.  “The public schools’ idea of integration is racist,” he said early in his career.  “They put Negro children into school and demand that they give up their Negro culture. Negro children are forced to speak, behave, and react according to middle-class standards.”

The second of Obama’s educational mentors is “Frank,” Obama’s mentor in Hawaii, the Communist Frank Marshall Davis.  Frank tells the college-bound Obama, “You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained. They’ll train you to forget what it is that you already know.”

Ayers makes the identical distinction in his 1993 book To Teach.  “Education is for self-activating explorers of life, for those who would challenge fate, for doers and activists, for citizens. Training is for slaves, for loyal subjects, for tractable employees, for willing consumers, for obedient soldiers.” 

By 1994, Ayers had been preaching educational reform for nearly thirty years, but one major force still intimidated him: Chicago’s sluggish and self-interested educational bureaucracy.  Over the years, this bureaucracy had morphed, as Ayers notes in “Navigating,” from being a bastion of “[w]hite political patronage and racism” to being “a source of Black professional jobs, contracts, and, yes, patronage.”  For reasons both ideological and practical, Ayers wilted in the face of this bureaucracy.

On this racially tender issue, not so strangely, Dreams tells a different story.  Obama openly chides the black “teachers, principals, and district superintendents,” who “knew too much” to send their own children to public school.

“The biggest source of resistance was rarely talked about,” Obama continues – namely, that these educators “would defend the status quo with the same skill and vigor as their white counterparts of two decades before.” 

As to the claims of these educators, affirmed in “Navigating,” that “cutbacks in the bureaucracy were part of a white effort to wrest back control,” the author of Dreams says, teasingly, “[N]ot so true.”

“Not so true”?  In these three words one can anticipate Obama’s potential return on Ayers’s investment.  Simply put, as a black American, Obama could address sensitive racial issues in ways Ayers could not.  Ayers surely recognized this.

To advance Obama’s career, it appears, Ayers finished up Dreams, got Obama appointed chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant, and launched his state Senate run, all in 1994-1995. 

The political calculus behind that ambition helped shape Dreams.  This was a careful book written to jump-start the career of a deeply indebted and highly malleable Chicago politician, maybe even a mayor, one who saw the world through white eyes, as Ayers did, but one who could articulate the city’s real problems in words that Ayers could not.

This would have worked out much better for Ayers if Obama had contented himself with Chicago.  As history records, he did not.



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New Bio Scrambles to Protect Obama's Literary Rep


As to Obama’s presumed genius, Garrow never quite endorses it, but he does not challenge it, either.  He makes no comment, for instance, on the literary quality of Obama’s first published essay, “Breaking the War Mentality,” written during Obama’s senior year at Columbia.  He should have.

The essay is clunky, pedestrian, and wonkish, a C- paper in freshman comp – maybe less, given that there are five sentences in which the noun and verb do not agree.  As a curiosity, both Garrow and earlier biographer David Maraniss quote the same one of those five sentences, and each fixes it to make the grammatical problem either go away or look less obvious.

“In retrospect,” Garrow quotes Obama as saying, “I can’t imagine anything harder than writing a book.”  For a writer, writing a book is no big deal, but Obama was not a writer.  He lacked both the talent and the discipline.  He missed his first contracted deadline by a mile, and even then, the half-book he turned in to the publisher was, according to Garrow’s source, “bloated in some parts and dull in others.”  The publisher terminated the contract.

Wanting to get away to write, Obama left his new bride behind and headed off to Bali.  He expected to take two months, but Garrow’s source tells him Obama was done within “five or six weeks.”  As the source confirms, Obama wrote longhand on yellow notepads.

Back in Chicago in late winter 1993, Obama “faced a trio of responsibilities.”  These included his law job, his new teaching gig at the University of Chicago, and the book, not to mention house shopping with Michelle.  Later that year, the ever busy Obamas would move, and Barack joined two new boards.  Still, “by late spring” 1993, he had done enough to attract a new publisher.

With the help of Fisher, who lived in Maryland, Obama had “radically restructured” the book to make it more personal.  In December 1993, Obama asked Fisher, “who had been doing so much yeoman’s work on Barack’s book manuscript,” to interview for a job at his law firm.  Fisher took the interview, but he chose to stay in Maryland.

“In late spring 1994,” according to Garrow, Obama took six weeks off from his law firm job to finish the book.  He needed to add the third section, the one on Africa.  Garrow claims that Obama worked largely from letters he sent in 1988 while in Kenya and retrieved from his girlfriend at the time, Sheila Jager.

Fellow Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss told a different story in his 2012 bio.  Maraniss paraphrased Crown editor Henry Ferris as saying that “Obama traveled to Kenya a second time for further research before turning in the last part of the book.”  Maraniss interviewed Obama on this subject, and Obama confirmed he went to Kenya once more for “fact-checking” and to do “more background on things like Kenyan history.”  There is no record of this mystery trip, which would have taken place in spring 1994.

A third possibility, one neither Garrow nor Maraniss raised, is that Obama lied to Ferris about making a return trip to Kenya, possibly to show how serious he was about finishing the book and getting his facts straight.  Instead of going to Africa, Obama may have contented himself with going to the local library and pillaging the memoirs of longtime Kenya resident Kuki Gallmann.  

This is the theory proposed by tireless researcher Shawn Glasco.  He was intrigued by the many words and phrases in Dreams that also appeared in Gallmann’s book, African Nights, which was published in 1994.

On the fashion front, both books have young women “wrapped” in their kangas and “dressed” in “rags.”  The women in both books wear shukas, head shawls, head scarves, and goatskins and balance baskets on heads graced with “laughing smiles.”

On the animal front, men in both books spearfish in “ink-black” waters and hunt by torchlight.  Elephants are seen “fanning” themselves, birds “trill,” insects “buzz,” weaver birds “nest,” and monkeys “mesmerize.”  The books share a veritable Noah’s ark of additional fauna: crickets, crocodiles, starlings, dragonflies, cattle, lions, sand crabs, vultures, hyenas, “herds of gazelle,” and leopards that can hold small animals “in their jaws.”

On the flora front, the shared references are just as compelling: roadside palms, yellow grass, red bougainvillaea, pink bougainvillaea, fig trees, shady mango trees, thornbrush, banana leaves, Baobab trees, liana vines, tomatoes.  The landscape, occasionally “barren,” is rich in “undulating hills” whose “grazing lands” are dotted with the occasional “watering hole.”  The “mud and dung” houses feature “thatched roofs,” “verandas,” and “vegetable gardens.”

People seem to be carrying “straw mats” everywhere.  The stars “glint,” and people “waltz” underneath them.  Eyes “glimmer” in the light of “campfires.”  Children sing in “high-pitched” rhythms, and girls endure “barbaric” circumcisions.  Obama, like Gallmann, travels to the Great Rift Valley and stands at its edge.  Both visit the small trading town of Narok.

Given the timeline, the library seems a better bet than Kenya.  According to Garrow, Obama flew to New York to hand the completed book off to Ferris no later than early June 1994.  In other words, he completed the last third of the 450-page book some time between “late spring” 1994 and…well, late spring 1994.

Whenever Obama finished the book, Fisher allegedly played a major role.  “I was deeply involved with helping him sort of shape it,” the “normally self-effacing” Fisher admits.  He also admits to having “had a big influence” on the final product.  Remember: the book was written before e-mail.

Fisher is one of Garrow’s two big finds, the other being Sheila Jager.  Seven years older than Obama and an established academic economist before starting law school, Fisher and Obama became good friends at Harvard.  There, they co-authored a manuscript that, perhaps prophetically, was never finished.

One completed chapter dealt with the always sexy topic of plant closings.  “The quest is to develop guidelines,” they wrote, “on how politically progressive movements can use the market mechanism to promote social goals.”  They were particularly keen on “worker ownership and control.”

The second, more controversial chapter, was titled “Race and Rights Rhetoric.”  Here, the authors describe America as “an admittedly racist culture” without acknowledging who has done the admitting.

Garrow quotes the unfinished manuscript extensively.  Its style is wonkish and ungainly throughout.  Sentences like the following suggest that one author wrote as awkwardly as the other: “While Yuppies can afford the expensive frivolities provided by The Sharper Image, others receive insufficient nutrition to allow their minds to develop properly.”

Oona King in her London Times review described Dreams as “a beautifully written personal memoir.”  Noted British author Jonathan Raban claimed, “Every sentence has its own graceful cadence.”  Obama’s gracefulness was limited to Dreams.  What Garrow shows us of Fisher is equally flat and prosaic.

It seems highly unlikely that Obama’s economist muse lent the book its consciously Homeric structure.  In December 2008, I published a piece in American Thinker in which I argued that in Dreams, Obama “assumes the role of both Telemachus and Odysseus, the son seeking the father, and the father seeking home.”  

Three weeks later in the New York Times, the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic, Michiko Kakutani, described Dreams almost exactly as I had: “a quest in which [Obama] cast himself as both a Telemachus in search of his father and an Odysseus in search of a home.”  I seriously doubt if Ms. Kakutani purloined my thesis, especially given her conclusion that Dreams was “the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president.”  She apparently inferred the Homeric structure in reading the text, as did I.

Early in his 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days, Bill Ayers tips his Homeric hand.  “Memory sails out upon a murky sea – wine-dark, opaque, unfathomable,” he writes with a knowing wink.  “Wine-dark” is quintessential Homer.  Bestselling author Thomas Cahill named his book on ancient Greece Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea.  It did not surprise me to learn that Cahill had attended my New York City high school, but then again, so had Weather Underground alum Brian Flanagan, who had taken the same Greek courses I did a year ahead of me.  Ayers and pals may have been lunatics – Flanagan seems the sanest of the bunch – but they were literate ones.

Dreams and Fugitive Days, like the Odyssey, begin in media res, a literary technique in which the narrative starts in mid-story and not from the literal beginning.  Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, is 20 when the Odyssey begins.  Obama has just turned 21.  Each saga begins with the young protagonist receiving an unexpected call that inspires him to seek out his missing father – Telemachus’s from Athena, Obama’s courtesy of Ma Bell.

The opening scene of Dreams unfolds in 1982, Obama’s senior year at Columbia, in and around a small New York City apartment with “slanting floors.”  As the scene unfolds, Obama is making breakfast “with coffee on the stove and two eggs in the skillet.”  In Fugitive Days, Ayers lives in apartments with “sloping floors” and talks about cooking almost as lovingly as he does bombing.  He too uses the Southern regionalism “skillet.”

At the climax of Dreams‘ opening sequence, Obama receives the critical phone call.  It comes from his Aunt Jane in Nairobi.  “Listen, Barry, your father is dead,” she tells him.  Obama has a hard time understanding.  “Can you hear me?” she repeats.  “I say, your father is dead.”  The line is cut, and the conversation ends abruptly.  

Apparently, Ayers so liked the dramatic structure of Dreams‘ opening sequence that he repeated it in Fugitive Days, which also opens in media res with a dramatic phone call.  The call comes from future wife Bernardine Dohrn.  Ayers learns that Diana Oughton was killed in a Greenwich Village bomb blast.  “Diana is dead,” says Dohrn.  Ayers has a hard time understanding.  “Diana is dead,” she “repeats slowly.”  Ayers drops the line, and the conversation ends abruptly.

The Obama one meets in Dreams, a book Garrow describes as “historical fiction,” is filled with a rage that the people Garrow interviewed never saw in the real Obama.  It seems highly unlikely that Obama’s economist muse lent the book its voice on black rage.

Ayers, however, was the co-creator of the “Days of Rage.”  Like Obama, he began his career as a self-described “community organizer.”  In Chicago, Ayers also found a strategic ally in Jeremiah Wright, a man he called a “distinguished theologian and major intellectual,” meaning that Wright too spelled “Amerikkka” with three Ks.  In short, Ayers, unlike Fisher, was fully capable of crawling inside Obama’s head and relating in superior prose what Obama calls, only half-ironically, a “rage at the white world [that] needed no object.”

In Fugitive Days, “rage” rules. Ayers tells of how his “rage got started” and how it evolved into an “uncontrollable rage – fierce frenzy of fire and lava.”  In fact, both Ayers and Obama speak of “rage” the way that Eskimos do of snow – in so many varieties, so often, that they feel the need to qualify it, as Obama does when he speaks of “impressive rage,” “suppressed rage,” or “coil of rage.”

I know.  These are just coincidences, as are the following coincidental word choices by Obama and former merchant seaman Ayers: fog, mist, ships, sinking ships, seas, sails, boats, oceans, calms, captains, charts, first mates, floods, shores, storms, streams, wind, waves, waters, anchors, barges, horizons, harbor, bays, ports, panoramas, moorings, tides, currents, voyages, narrower courses, uncertain courses, and things howling, wobbling, fluttering, sinking, leaking, cascading, swimming, knotted, ragged, tangled, boundless, uncharted, turbulent, and murky.

I could write a book about this.  Come to think of it, I have.  It’s called Deconstructing Obama, published by Simon & Schuster, the company that terminated Obama’s contract.  Garrow fully ignores my book.  He makes no mention of me in the text of his book, nor of Christopher Andersen.

In his 2009 book Barack and Michele: Portrait of an American Marriage, Andersen relates how Obama found himself deeply in debt and “hopelessly blocked.”  At “Michelle’s urging,” Obama “sought advice from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers.”  Noting that Obama had already taped interviews with many of his relatives, both African and American, Andersen elaborated, “These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes were given to Ayers.”  Andersen’s six-page account makes much more sense, logically and chronologically, than Garrow’s, but that too gets shoved down the memory hole.

I don’t doubt that Fisher played a role. Obama sent his manuscripts around pretty freely.  I have seen the copy he sent to half-brother Malik asking for advice.

That said, to ignore Ayers’s role is pure malpractice.  Ayers was not in Maryland.  He was around the corner.  He regularly helped aspiring leftist writers with their work, including Rashid Khalidi, who credited him generously.  An aspiring politician, Obama knew better than to do that.

I have been told that when asked about Ayers on the air, Garrow dismisses the possibility that he was Obama’s muse.  Radio hosts, if Garrow wants on your show, please ask if he will take a call from me.

“I’ve written two books,” candidate Barack Obama told a crowd of teachers in Virginia in July of 2008.  The crowd applauded.  “I actually wrote them myself.”

In his massive new biography about Obama’s pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize winner David Garrow chose to cut this literary baby in half.  Yes, Obama had help with his 1995 masterpiece, Dreams from My Father – a lot of help – but it sure as hell did not come from local editorial guru Bill Ayers.  In the book, Garrow does not even raise the Ayers question.  It is seemingly beneath his dignity.  The help allegedly came from a law school buddy named Rob Fisher.

As to Obama’s presumed genius, Garrow never quite endorses it, but he does not challenge it, either.  He makes no comment, for instance, on the literary quality of Obama’s first published essay, “Breaking the War Mentality,” written during Obama’s senior year at Columbia.  He should have.

The essay is clunky, pedestrian, and wonkish, a C- paper in freshman comp – maybe less, given that there are five sentences in which the noun and verb do not agree.  As a curiosity, both Garrow and earlier biographer David Maraniss quote the same one of those five sentences, and each fixes it to make the grammatical problem either go away or look less obvious.

“In retrospect,” Garrow quotes Obama as saying, “I can’t imagine anything harder than writing a book.”  For a writer, writing a book is no big deal, but Obama was not a writer.  He lacked both the talent and the discipline.  He missed his first contracted deadline by a mile, and even then, the half-book he turned in to the publisher was, according to Garrow’s source, “bloated in some parts and dull in others.”  The publisher terminated the contract.

Wanting to get away to write, Obama left his new bride behind and headed off to Bali.  He expected to take two months, but Garrow’s source tells him Obama was done within “five or six weeks.”  As the source confirms, Obama wrote longhand on yellow notepads.

Back in Chicago in late winter 1993, Obama “faced a trio of responsibilities.”  These included his law job, his new teaching gig at the University of Chicago, and the book, not to mention house shopping with Michelle.  Later that year, the ever busy Obamas would move, and Barack joined two new boards.  Still, “by late spring” 1993, he had done enough to attract a new publisher.

With the help of Fisher, who lived in Maryland, Obama had “radically restructured” the book to make it more personal.  In December 1993, Obama asked Fisher, “who had been doing so much yeoman’s work on Barack’s book manuscript,” to interview for a job at his law firm.  Fisher took the interview, but he chose to stay in Maryland.

“In late spring 1994,” according to Garrow, Obama took six weeks off from his law firm job to finish the book.  He needed to add the third section, the one on Africa.  Garrow claims that Obama worked largely from letters he sent in 1988 while in Kenya and retrieved from his girlfriend at the time, Sheila Jager.

Fellow Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss told a different story in his 2012 bio.  Maraniss paraphrased Crown editor Henry Ferris as saying that “Obama traveled to Kenya a second time for further research before turning in the last part of the book.”  Maraniss interviewed Obama on this subject, and Obama confirmed he went to Kenya once more for “fact-checking” and to do “more background on things like Kenyan history.”  There is no record of this mystery trip, which would have taken place in spring 1994.

A third possibility, one neither Garrow nor Maraniss raised, is that Obama lied to Ferris about making a return trip to Kenya, possibly to show how serious he was about finishing the book and getting his facts straight.  Instead of going to Africa, Obama may have contented himself with going to the local library and pillaging the memoirs of longtime Kenya resident Kuki Gallmann.  

This is the theory proposed by tireless researcher Shawn Glasco.  He was intrigued by the many words and phrases in Dreams that also appeared in Gallmann’s book, African Nights, which was published in 1994.

On the fashion front, both books have young women “wrapped” in their kangas and “dressed” in “rags.”  The women in both books wear shukas, head shawls, head scarves, and goatskins and balance baskets on heads graced with “laughing smiles.”

On the animal front, men in both books spearfish in “ink-black” waters and hunt by torchlight.  Elephants are seen “fanning” themselves, birds “trill,” insects “buzz,” weaver birds “nest,” and monkeys “mesmerize.”  The books share a veritable Noah’s ark of additional fauna: crickets, crocodiles, starlings, dragonflies, cattle, lions, sand crabs, vultures, hyenas, “herds of gazelle,” and leopards that can hold small animals “in their jaws.”

On the flora front, the shared references are just as compelling: roadside palms, yellow grass, red bougainvillaea, pink bougainvillaea, fig trees, shady mango trees, thornbrush, banana leaves, Baobab trees, liana vines, tomatoes.  The landscape, occasionally “barren,” is rich in “undulating hills” whose “grazing lands” are dotted with the occasional “watering hole.”  The “mud and dung” houses feature “thatched roofs,” “verandas,” and “vegetable gardens.”

People seem to be carrying “straw mats” everywhere.  The stars “glint,” and people “waltz” underneath them.  Eyes “glimmer” in the light of “campfires.”  Children sing in “high-pitched” rhythms, and girls endure “barbaric” circumcisions.  Obama, like Gallmann, travels to the Great Rift Valley and stands at its edge.  Both visit the small trading town of Narok.

Given the timeline, the library seems a better bet than Kenya.  According to Garrow, Obama flew to New York to hand the completed book off to Ferris no later than early June 1994.  In other words, he completed the last third of the 450-page book some time between “late spring” 1994 and…well, late spring 1994.

Whenever Obama finished the book, Fisher allegedly played a major role.  “I was deeply involved with helping him sort of shape it,” the “normally self-effacing” Fisher admits.  He also admits to having “had a big influence” on the final product.  Remember: the book was written before e-mail.

Fisher is one of Garrow’s two big finds, the other being Sheila Jager.  Seven years older than Obama and an established academic economist before starting law school, Fisher and Obama became good friends at Harvard.  There, they co-authored a manuscript that, perhaps prophetically, was never finished.

One completed chapter dealt with the always sexy topic of plant closings.  “The quest is to develop guidelines,” they wrote, “on how politically progressive movements can use the market mechanism to promote social goals.”  They were particularly keen on “worker ownership and control.”

The second, more controversial chapter, was titled “Race and Rights Rhetoric.”  Here, the authors describe America as “an admittedly racist culture” without acknowledging who has done the admitting.

Garrow quotes the unfinished manuscript extensively.  Its style is wonkish and ungainly throughout.  Sentences like the following suggest that one author wrote as awkwardly as the other: “While Yuppies can afford the expensive frivolities provided by The Sharper Image, others receive insufficient nutrition to allow their minds to develop properly.”

Oona King in her London Times review described Dreams as “a beautifully written personal memoir.”  Noted British author Jonathan Raban claimed, “Every sentence has its own graceful cadence.”  Obama’s gracefulness was limited to Dreams.  What Garrow shows us of Fisher is equally flat and prosaic.

It seems highly unlikely that Obama’s economist muse lent the book its consciously Homeric structure.  In December 2008, I published a piece in American Thinker in which I argued that in Dreams, Obama “assumes the role of both Telemachus and Odysseus, the son seeking the father, and the father seeking home.”  

Three weeks later in the New York Times, the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic, Michiko Kakutani, described Dreams almost exactly as I had: “a quest in which [Obama] cast himself as both a Telemachus in search of his father and an Odysseus in search of a home.”  I seriously doubt if Ms. Kakutani purloined my thesis, especially given her conclusion that Dreams was “the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president.”  She apparently inferred the Homeric structure in reading the text, as did I.

Early in his 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days, Bill Ayers tips his Homeric hand.  “Memory sails out upon a murky sea – wine-dark, opaque, unfathomable,” he writes with a knowing wink.  “Wine-dark” is quintessential Homer.  Bestselling author Thomas Cahill named his book on ancient Greece Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea.  It did not surprise me to learn that Cahill had attended my New York City high school, but then again, so had Weather Underground alum Brian Flanagan, who had taken the same Greek courses I did a year ahead of me.  Ayers and pals may have been lunatics – Flanagan seems the sanest of the bunch – but they were literate ones.

Dreams and Fugitive Days, like the Odyssey, begin in media res, a literary technique in which the narrative starts in mid-story and not from the literal beginning.  Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, is 20 when the Odyssey begins.  Obama has just turned 21.  Each saga begins with the young protagonist receiving an unexpected call that inspires him to seek out his missing father – Telemachus’s from Athena, Obama’s courtesy of Ma Bell.

The opening scene of Dreams unfolds in 1982, Obama’s senior year at Columbia, in and around a small New York City apartment with “slanting floors.”  As the scene unfolds, Obama is making breakfast “with coffee on the stove and two eggs in the skillet.”  In Fugitive Days, Ayers lives in apartments with “sloping floors” and talks about cooking almost as lovingly as he does bombing.  He too uses the Southern regionalism “skillet.”

At the climax of Dreams‘ opening sequence, Obama receives the critical phone call.  It comes from his Aunt Jane in Nairobi.  “Listen, Barry, your father is dead,” she tells him.  Obama has a hard time understanding.  “Can you hear me?” she repeats.  “I say, your father is dead.”  The line is cut, and the conversation ends abruptly.  

Apparently, Ayers so liked the dramatic structure of Dreams‘ opening sequence that he repeated it in Fugitive Days, which also opens in media res with a dramatic phone call.  The call comes from future wife Bernardine Dohrn.  Ayers learns that Diana Oughton was killed in a Greenwich Village bomb blast.  “Diana is dead,” says Dohrn.  Ayers has a hard time understanding.  “Diana is dead,” she “repeats slowly.”  Ayers drops the line, and the conversation ends abruptly.

The Obama one meets in Dreams, a book Garrow describes as “historical fiction,” is filled with a rage that the people Garrow interviewed never saw in the real Obama.  It seems highly unlikely that Obama’s economist muse lent the book its voice on black rage.

Ayers, however, was the co-creator of the “Days of Rage.”  Like Obama, he began his career as a self-described “community organizer.”  In Chicago, Ayers also found a strategic ally in Jeremiah Wright, a man he called a “distinguished theologian and major intellectual,” meaning that Wright too spelled “Amerikkka” with three Ks.  In short, Ayers, unlike Fisher, was fully capable of crawling inside Obama’s head and relating in superior prose what Obama calls, only half-ironically, a “rage at the white world [that] needed no object.”

In Fugitive Days, “rage” rules. Ayers tells of how his “rage got started” and how it evolved into an “uncontrollable rage – fierce frenzy of fire and lava.”  In fact, both Ayers and Obama speak of “rage” the way that Eskimos do of snow – in so many varieties, so often, that they feel the need to qualify it, as Obama does when he speaks of “impressive rage,” “suppressed rage,” or “coil of rage.”

I know.  These are just coincidences, as are the following coincidental word choices by Obama and former merchant seaman Ayers: fog, mist, ships, sinking ships, seas, sails, boats, oceans, calms, captains, charts, first mates, floods, shores, storms, streams, wind, waves, waters, anchors, barges, horizons, harbor, bays, ports, panoramas, moorings, tides, currents, voyages, narrower courses, uncertain courses, and things howling, wobbling, fluttering, sinking, leaking, cascading, swimming, knotted, ragged, tangled, boundless, uncharted, turbulent, and murky.

I could write a book about this.  Come to think of it, I have.  It’s called Deconstructing Obama, published by Simon & Schuster, the company that terminated Obama’s contract.  Garrow fully ignores my book.  He makes no mention of me in the text of his book, nor of Christopher Andersen.

In his 2009 book Barack and Michele: Portrait of an American Marriage, Andersen relates how Obama found himself deeply in debt and “hopelessly blocked.”  At “Michelle’s urging,” Obama “sought advice from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers.”  Noting that Obama had already taped interviews with many of his relatives, both African and American, Andersen elaborated, “These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes were given to Ayers.”  Andersen’s six-page account makes much more sense, logically and chronologically, than Garrow’s, but that too gets shoved down the memory hole.

I don’t doubt that Fisher played a role. Obama sent his manuscripts around pretty freely.  I have seen the copy he sent to half-brother Malik asking for advice.

That said, to ignore Ayers’s role is pure malpractice.  Ayers was not in Maryland.  He was around the corner.  He regularly helped aspiring leftist writers with their work, including Rashid Khalidi, who credited him generously.  An aspiring politician, Obama knew better than to do that.

I have been told that when asked about Ayers on the air, Garrow dismisses the possibility that he was Obama’s muse.  Radio hosts, if Garrow wants on your show, please ask if he will take a call from me.



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New Obama Bio Is Not Just Exhausting; It’s Insulting


We concluded many years ago that Dreams was in large part fiction. We came to this conclusion during the same period when our betters were writing paeans such as, “Whatever else people expect from a politician, it’s not usually a beautifully written personal memoir steeped in honesty” (Oona King, London Times).

The book, we realized, was steeped in something, but it certainly wasn’t honesty. Before the election in 2008, no one in the major media would admit this, and afterwards mainstream critics did so only partially and reluctantly. Garrow continues the tradition.

The New York Times has dismissed Rising Star as “a dreary slog of a read.” I have seen nothing in what I have read of the book to dispute the Times on the tedium part. (My ebook version runs 2,000 pages, and it has just crashed.) I have read enough, however, to feel insulted, not only on my own behalf but also on behalf of those other citizen journalists who dared to report the truth before the major media grudgingly did the same.

Garrow adds a little more to the accepted record — oh yeah, there was no Obama family — but the book serves in certain ways to cauterize Obama’s wounded reputation. It is hard to imagine another author going deeper. Garrow spent ten years on the project. He interviewed more than a thousand people. There is much not to like about Garrow’s Obama, but the faithful need never fear learning anything worse than that their man was shallow and self-centered. What politician isn’t?

Like other mainstream biographers, Garrow has the unfortunate habit of insulting those who challenge the orthodoxy, myself included. In July 2008, I first raised the issue of the authorship of Dreams. Beginning in September 2008, I traced the muse behind Dreams, speculatively at first, to the notoriously unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers.

Obama biographer David Remnick admitted just how problematic this revelation could have been. “This was a charge,” he wrote in his 2010 biography, “that if ever proved true, or believed to be true among enough voters, could have been the end of the candidacy.”  

The way for Remnick, the New Yorker editor, to deal with the charge was to attack its provenance — “the Web’s farthest lunatic orbit.” To assure the charge was not repeated, he accused anyone who repeated it, Rush Limbaugh most notably, with racism.

Garrow has his own way of slighting the assertion that Ayers had a hand in Dreams. He ignores it. He makes no mention of my name in the text of the book. Nor does he mention Christopher Andersen. Andersen presented more of a problem than I did. A bestselling biographer with solid mainstream credentials, Andersen gave biographical detail to what I had inferred from textual analysis.

In his 2009 book, Barack and Michele: Portrait of an American Marriage, Andersen spent six pages on Ayers’ role in helping craft Dreams. As Andersen related, Obama found himself deeply in debt and “hopelessly blocked.” At “Michelle’s urging,” Obama “sought advice from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers.” What attracted the Obamas were “Ayers’s proven abilities as a writer” as evident in his 1993 book, To Teach.

Noting that Obama had already taped interviews with many of his relatives, both African and American, Andersen elaborated, “These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes were given to Ayers.” Although I had not talked to Andersen, his observations, based on two unnamed sources, made perfect sense given Obama’s repeated failures to complete the book on schedule.

One of Obama’s radical friends in Hyde Park did not shy from giving Ayers his due. “First, chronologically and in other ways,” wrote Rashid Khalidi in his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, “comes Bill Ayers.” Khalidi elaborated, “Bill was particularly generous in letting me use his family’s dining room table to do some writing for the project.” Khalidi did not need the table.  He had one of his own. He needed help from the one neighbor who obviously could and would provide it.

Garrow has not a word to say about Andersen’s claim, not even to rebut it. In fact, the reader of Garrow’s book would have no reason to believe anyone ever questioned Obama’s authorship. As for me, Garrow adds a comically gratuitous slap.

The reference is a telling one. It involves a poem Obama submitted to his college literary magazine as a sophomore called “Pop.” Garrow writes that most critics presumed the poem was about Obama’s grandfather, but “hostile critics,” namely me, claimed the poem was about Obama’s Communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis.

In his footnotes, Garrow cites an article published in American Thinker in 2011. In it, I quoted Remnick’s claim that “’Pop’ clearly reflects Obama’s relationship with his grandfather Stanley Dunham.” I disagreed. “The poem does no such thing, “ I wrote. “For starters, if the poem really were about ‘Gramps,’ Stanley Dunham, why didn’t Obama simply call it ‘Gramps.’”

There is a variety of evidence arguing for Davis as “Pop.” This includes a 1987 interview with Davis recorded by the University of Hawaii for a documentary on his life.  Watching it, one can visualize “Pop”: the drinking, the smoking, the glasses, the twitches, the roaming eyes, the thick neck and broad back. “I could see Frank sitting in his overstuffed chair,” Obama remembers in Dreams, “a book of poetry in his lap, his reading glasses slipping down his nose.”

Among the details in the poem that disqualified Dunham as the poem’s subject was this one: “he switches channels, recites an old poem/ He wrote before his mother died.” As I explained, Dunham’s mother died when he was eight years old. Frank Marshall Davis’s mother died when he was twenty and had already established himself as a poet of promise. “When an insider like Remnick gets something this obviously wrong,” I concluded, “I begin to suspect disinformation, not mere misinformation.”

Remnick and those critics who preceded him insisted the poem was about Dunham because they did not want to give Davis his due. To his credit, Garrow admits Davis was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA and a pornographer with at least a fictional taste for the underaged and the male.

Garrow knows I am correct about the authorship of “Pop.” But Remnick is the editor of the New Yorker. Even when he is wrong, Garrow writes about him respectfully. Here, Garrow concludes the brief discussion on ‘Pop” by writing, “Yet Barack would forcefully reject the Davis hypothesis.” Of course he would.

Here is the kicker. When Garrow cites me by name in his endnotes on this subject, he adds in parentheses, “someone who is cited with the greatest reluctance.” Ouch! I suppose I would be reluctant to cite me too. I can disprove Garrow’s thesis that the muse for Dreams was his law school buddy Robert Fischer as convincingly as I can disprove “Pop” was Stanley Dunham. More to come.

In July 2008, on the cyber pages of WND, I first raised the issue of the authorship of Barack Obama’s acclaimed 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father.

In September 2008, again at WND, I traced the muse behind Dreams to the notoriously unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers.

If other conservative media had the courage that WND has shown over its twenty-year history, they would have followed up on my story, and Barack Obama would not have been elected president. But they did not, and he, alas, was.

A book by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow about Obama’s pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, has the potential to tell the stories the major media and much of the conservative media refused to tell. No Obama fan, Garrow critiques Obama from his left.

Garrow allegedly interviewed a thousand or so people for the book. When I suggested to friend Susan Daniels last week that Rising Star, out May 9, has potential, she asked, “Did Garrow interview you?”

No, come to think of it, he did not. I asked Susan if Garrow interviewed her. He should have. A licensed private investigator, it was Susan who discovered that Obama was passing through life with a Connecticut social security number. 

No, Garrow had not talked to Susan either, despite the fact that she had taken her case against Obama’s use of that number to court in her native Ohio.

That got me to wondering just who(m) did Garrow talk to. I contacted Joel Gilbert, producer of the widely seen documentary, Dreams from My Real Father.

“Not me or anyone I know or interviewed in Obamaworld. Not Malik or Keith etc.,” Gilbert replied.

Malik would be Obama’s half-brother and the best man at his wedding, Malik Obama. Keith Kakugawa, was Obama’s best friend in high school. He appears frequently in Dreams as “Ray.”

Gilbert added, “We know he interviewed Barry, which is a red flag! Claim sounds like BS.”

I reached out to Charles Johnson, founder of Gotnews.com and a deep Obama researcher. Johnson is also the possessor of an early draft of Dreams. Said Johnson of Garrow’s claimed thousand interviews, “I think he is lying.”

“He never contacted me,” said Jerry Corsi who led the quest to secure Obama’s birth certificate at WND and in a best-selling book.

Given that Garrow has reportedly discussed Obama’s alleged bisexuality, I thought for sure he would have interviewed Larry Sinclair.

In June 2008, Sinclair held a press conference at the august National Press Club in Washington to discuss what he claimed were his drug-fueled sexual assignations with Obama in Chicago.

The media called the conference a “circus act” and refused to follow up. To be sure, they did not review his book, Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex, Lies & Murder. For all his eccentricities, Sinclair tells a convincing tale.

I reached out to Sinclair through Facebook. “I just don’t know any David Garrow,” he told me, “nor have I given any interviews in last couple of years as I have been restoring a neglected community.”

When I told Sinclair that Garrow has not interviewed anyone I know who knows anything about Obama, he replied, “That doesn’t surprise me considering he is connected to the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] which listed me as a racist and hate group promoter.”

Finally, though, I did hear from one fellow whom Garrow had contacted, John Drew. Drew met Obama in December 1980 in California. He had flown to visit his girlfriend and fellow traveler, Caroline Boss. A few years earlier, Drew had founded the Marxist-Socialist group at Occidental College.

Drew was at Boss’s parents’ home when an expensive luxury car with two well-dressed young men pulled up. One was Obama, the other Hassan Chandoo, “They’re on our side,” Boss told him.

Throughout the long evening, the group talked Marxist politics. Drew recalled Obama repeatedly using the phrase “When the revolution comes.” 

Drew met Obama on several occasions in the future. “At that time,” say Drew, “the future president was a doctrinaire Marxist revolutionary, although perhaps — for the first time — considering conventional politics as a more practical road to socialism.”

Garrow interviewed Drew in December 2011. He told Drew that his next stop was to visit Caroline Boss. It appeared that he had already interviewed others at Occidental.

“From a recent radio interview,” Drew said, “I’m not sure that you or I had much impact on [Garrow’s] thinking. He believes one of Obama’s friends at Harvard Law School helped with the rewrite of Dreams and not Bill Ayers. (This just seems absolutely stupid to me.)”

Drew continued, “Darrow also dismissed the ‘conspiracy theories’ that Obama was a Marxist, Muslim, or gay. Although I use the broadest definitions, I see Obama as all three. I’m not even sure I made the final cut of the book at this point.”

When I asked Drew if he minded if I quoted him, he replied, “Not at all. I think Garrow made a huge mistake by not speaking with you.”

The New York Times has already panned the book. It will probably flop. My suspicion at this point is that it will be too honest for the left and not honest enough for the right.

I will read it, but for my Obama news, I have found WND much more reliable over the years than the New York Times. Happy Twentieth, guys!  

Dreams from My Father was not a memoir or an autobiography;” writes Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow, “it was instead, in multitudinous ways, without any question a work of historical fiction.”

Garrow makes this claim, italics included, in his massive new biography about Obama’s pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. For myself and other citizen journalists who have followed Obama, this is hardly a revelation.

We concluded many years ago that Dreams was in large part fiction. We came to this conclusion during the same period when our betters were writing paeans such as, “Whatever else people expect from a politician, it’s not usually a beautifully written personal memoir steeped in honesty” (Oona King, London Times).

The book, we realized, was steeped in something, but it certainly wasn’t honesty. Before the election in 2008, no one in the major media would admit this, and afterwards mainstream critics did so only partially and reluctantly. Garrow continues the tradition.

The New York Times has dismissed Rising Star as “a dreary slog of a read.” I have seen nothing in what I have read of the book to dispute the Times on the tedium part. (My ebook version runs 2,000 pages, and it has just crashed.) I have read enough, however, to feel insulted, not only on my own behalf but also on behalf of those other citizen journalists who dared to report the truth before the major media grudgingly did the same.

Garrow adds a little more to the accepted record — oh yeah, there was no Obama family — but the book serves in certain ways to cauterize Obama’s wounded reputation. It is hard to imagine another author going deeper. Garrow spent ten years on the project. He interviewed more than a thousand people. There is much not to like about Garrow’s Obama, but the faithful need never fear learning anything worse than that their man was shallow and self-centered. What politician isn’t?

Like other mainstream biographers, Garrow has the unfortunate habit of insulting those who challenge the orthodoxy, myself included. In July 2008, I first raised the issue of the authorship of Dreams. Beginning in September 2008, I traced the muse behind Dreams, speculatively at first, to the notoriously unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers.

Obama biographer David Remnick admitted just how problematic this revelation could have been. “This was a charge,” he wrote in his 2010 biography, “that if ever proved true, or believed to be true among enough voters, could have been the end of the candidacy.”  

The way for Remnick, the New Yorker editor, to deal with the charge was to attack its provenance — “the Web’s farthest lunatic orbit.” To assure the charge was not repeated, he accused anyone who repeated it, Rush Limbaugh most notably, with racism.

Garrow has his own way of slighting the assertion that Ayers had a hand in Dreams. He ignores it. He makes no mention of my name in the text of the book. Nor does he mention Christopher Andersen. Andersen presented more of a problem than I did. A bestselling biographer with solid mainstream credentials, Andersen gave biographical detail to what I had inferred from textual analysis.

In his 2009 book, Barack and Michele: Portrait of an American Marriage, Andersen spent six pages on Ayers’ role in helping craft Dreams. As Andersen related, Obama found himself deeply in debt and “hopelessly blocked.” At “Michelle’s urging,” Obama “sought advice from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers.” What attracted the Obamas were “Ayers’s proven abilities as a writer” as evident in his 1993 book, To Teach.

Noting that Obama had already taped interviews with many of his relatives, both African and American, Andersen elaborated, “These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes were given to Ayers.” Although I had not talked to Andersen, his observations, based on two unnamed sources, made perfect sense given Obama’s repeated failures to complete the book on schedule.

One of Obama’s radical friends in Hyde Park did not shy from giving Ayers his due. “First, chronologically and in other ways,” wrote Rashid Khalidi in his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, “comes Bill Ayers.” Khalidi elaborated, “Bill was particularly generous in letting me use his family’s dining room table to do some writing for the project.” Khalidi did not need the table.  He had one of his own. He needed help from the one neighbor who obviously could and would provide it.

Garrow has not a word to say about Andersen’s claim, not even to rebut it. In fact, the reader of Garrow’s book would have no reason to believe anyone ever questioned Obama’s authorship. As for me, Garrow adds a comically gratuitous slap.

The reference is a telling one. It involves a poem Obama submitted to his college literary magazine as a sophomore called “Pop.” Garrow writes that most critics presumed the poem was about Obama’s grandfather, but “hostile critics,” namely me, claimed the poem was about Obama’s Communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis.

In his footnotes, Garrow cites an article published in American Thinker in 2011. In it, I quoted Remnick’s claim that “’Pop’ clearly reflects Obama’s relationship with his grandfather Stanley Dunham.” I disagreed. “The poem does no such thing, “ I wrote. “For starters, if the poem really were about ‘Gramps,’ Stanley Dunham, why didn’t Obama simply call it ‘Gramps.’”

There is a variety of evidence arguing for Davis as “Pop.” This includes a 1987 interview with Davis recorded by the University of Hawaii for a documentary on his life.  Watching it, one can visualize “Pop”: the drinking, the smoking, the glasses, the twitches, the roaming eyes, the thick neck and broad back. “I could see Frank sitting in his overstuffed chair,” Obama remembers in Dreams, “a book of poetry in his lap, his reading glasses slipping down his nose.”

Among the details in the poem that disqualified Dunham as the poem’s subject was this one: “he switches channels, recites an old poem/ He wrote before his mother died.” As I explained, Dunham’s mother died when he was eight years old. Frank Marshall Davis’s mother died when he was twenty and had already established himself as a poet of promise. “When an insider like Remnick gets something this obviously wrong,” I concluded, “I begin to suspect disinformation, not mere misinformation.”

Remnick and those critics who preceded him insisted the poem was about Dunham because they did not want to give Davis his due. To his credit, Garrow admits Davis was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA and a pornographer with at least a fictional taste for the underaged and the male.

Garrow knows I am correct about the authorship of “Pop.” But Remnick is the editor of the New Yorker. Even when he is wrong, Garrow writes about him respectfully. Here, Garrow concludes the brief discussion on ‘Pop” by writing, “Yet Barack would forcefully reject the Davis hypothesis.” Of course he would.

Here is the kicker. When Garrow cites me by name in his endnotes on this subject, he adds in parentheses, “someone who is cited with the greatest reluctance.” Ouch! I suppose I would be reluctant to cite me too. I can disprove Garrow’s thesis that the muse for Dreams was his law school buddy Robert Fischer as convincingly as I can disprove “Pop” was Stanley Dunham. More to come.

In July 2008, on the cyber pages of WND, I first raised the issue of the authorship of Barack Obama’s acclaimed 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father.

In September 2008, again at WND, I traced the muse behind Dreams to the notoriously unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers.

If other conservative media had the courage that WND has shown over its twenty-year history, they would have followed up on my story, and Barack Obama would not have been elected president. But they did not, and he, alas, was.

A book by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow about Obama’s pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, has the potential to tell the stories the major media and much of the conservative media refused to tell. No Obama fan, Garrow critiques Obama from his left.

Garrow allegedly interviewed a thousand or so people for the book. When I suggested to friend Susan Daniels last week that Rising Star, out May 9, has potential, she asked, “Did Garrow interview you?”

No, come to think of it, he did not. I asked Susan if Garrow interviewed her. He should have. A licensed private investigator, it was Susan who discovered that Obama was passing through life with a Connecticut social security number. 

No, Garrow had not talked to Susan either, despite the fact that she had taken her case against Obama’s use of that number to court in her native Ohio.

That got me to wondering just who(m) did Garrow talk to. I contacted Joel Gilbert, producer of the widely seen documentary, Dreams from My Real Father.

“Not me or anyone I know or interviewed in Obamaworld. Not Malik or Keith etc.,” Gilbert replied.

Malik would be Obama’s half-brother and the best man at his wedding, Malik Obama. Keith Kakugawa, was Obama’s best friend in high school. He appears frequently in Dreams as “Ray.”

Gilbert added, “We know he interviewed Barry, which is a red flag! Claim sounds like BS.”

I reached out to Charles Johnson, founder of Gotnews.com and a deep Obama researcher. Johnson is also the possessor of an early draft of Dreams. Said Johnson of Garrow’s claimed thousand interviews, “I think he is lying.”

“He never contacted me,” said Jerry Corsi who led the quest to secure Obama’s birth certificate at WND and in a best-selling book.

Given that Garrow has reportedly discussed Obama’s alleged bisexuality, I thought for sure he would have interviewed Larry Sinclair.

In June 2008, Sinclair held a press conference at the august National Press Club in Washington to discuss what he claimed were his drug-fueled sexual assignations with Obama in Chicago.

The media called the conference a “circus act” and refused to follow up. To be sure, they did not review his book, Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex, Lies & Murder. For all his eccentricities, Sinclair tells a convincing tale.

I reached out to Sinclair through Facebook. “I just don’t know any David Garrow,” he told me, “nor have I given any interviews in last couple of years as I have been restoring a neglected community.”

When I told Sinclair that Garrow has not interviewed anyone I know who knows anything about Obama, he replied, “That doesn’t surprise me considering he is connected to the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] which listed me as a racist and hate group promoter.”

Finally, though, I did hear from one fellow whom Garrow had contacted, John Drew. Drew met Obama in December 1980 in California. He had flown to visit his girlfriend and fellow traveler, Caroline Boss. A few years earlier, Drew had founded the Marxist-Socialist group at Occidental College.

Drew was at Boss’s parents’ home when an expensive luxury car with two well-dressed young men pulled up. One was Obama, the other Hassan Chandoo, “They’re on our side,” Boss told him.

Throughout the long evening, the group talked Marxist politics. Drew recalled Obama repeatedly using the phrase “When the revolution comes.” 

Drew met Obama on several occasions in the future. “At that time,” say Drew, “the future president was a doctrinaire Marxist revolutionary, although perhaps — for the first time — considering conventional politics as a more practical road to socialism.”

Garrow interviewed Drew in December 2011. He told Drew that his next stop was to visit Caroline Boss. It appeared that he had already interviewed others at Occidental.

“From a recent radio interview,” Drew said, “I’m not sure that you or I had much impact on [Garrow’s] thinking. He believes one of Obama’s friends at Harvard Law School helped with the rewrite of Dreams and not Bill Ayers. (This just seems absolutely stupid to me.)”

Drew continued, “Darrow also dismissed the ‘conspiracy theories’ that Obama was a Marxist, Muslim, or gay. Although I use the broadest definitions, I see Obama as all three. I’m not even sure I made the final cut of the book at this point.”

When I asked Drew if he minded if I quoted him, he replied, “Not at all. I think Garrow made a huge mistake by not speaking with you.”

The New York Times has already panned the book. It will probably flop. My suspicion at this point is that it will be too honest for the left and not honest enough for the right.

I will read it, but for my Obama news, I have found WND much more reliable over the years than the New York Times. Happy Twentieth, guys!  



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