By Guy Benson http://media.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZmRhYmE3NzFlMTljNTdmZGQ3MjhkYTVjNzdmMjVhMzE= August 28, 2008
Stanley Kurtz's appearance on the Milt Rosenberg radio program in Chicago last night provided an unsettling look into the authoritarian tactics being employed by the Obama campaign to stifle and intimidate its critics.
I happened to be in the WGN studios for the entire affair because my friend, Zack Christenson, produces the show in question. He was aware of my previous reporting on the Obama-Ayers connection and kindly invited me to sit in on the two-hour interview. (For full disclosure, I work for two other radio stations in Chicago, WIND, and WYLL).
As I arrived at the downtown Chicago studios a few hours before show time, the phones began ringing off the hook with irate callers demanding Kurtz be axed from the program. It didn't take long to discover that the Obama campaign-which had declined invitations to join the show for its duration to offer rebuttals to Kurtz's points-had sent an "Obama Action Wire" e-mail to its supporters, encouraging them to deluge the station with complaints.
Why? Because, naturally, Kurtz is a "right-wing hatchet man," a "smear merchant" and a "slimy character assassin" who is perpetrating one of the "most cynical and offensive smears ever launched against Barack."
Evidently, much of Obama nation is composed of obedient and persistent sheep. They jammed all five studio lines for nearly the entire show while firing off dozens of angry emails. Many vowed to kick their grievances up the food chain to station management. After 90 minutes of alleged smear peddling, Milt Rosenberg (a well-respected host whose long-form interview show has aired in Chicago for decades) opened the phone lines, and blind ignorance soon began to crackle across the AM airwaves. The overwhelming message was clear: The interview must be put to an end immediately, and the station management should prevent similar discussions from taking place.
Text of the e-mail the Obama campaign sent to supporters about WGN:
August 28, 2008
In the next few hours, we have a crucial opportunity to fight one of the most cynical and offensive smears ever launched against Barack.
Tonight, WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears. He's currently scheduled to spend a solid two-hour block from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. pushing lies, distortions, and manipulations about Barack and University of Illinois professor William Ayers.
Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse.
Call into the "Extension 720" show with Milt Rosenberg at (312) 591-7200
(Show airs from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. tonight)
Then report back on your call at http://my.barackobama.com/WGNstandards
Kurtz has been using his absurd TV appearances in an awkward and dishonest attempt to play the terrorism card. His current ploy is to embellish the relationship between Barack and Ayers.
Just last night on Fox News, Kurtz drastically exaggerated Barack's connection with Ayers by claiming Ayers had recruited Barack to the board of the Annenberg Challenge. That is completely false and has been disproved in numerous press accounts.
It is absolutely unacceptable that WGN would give a slimy character assassin like Kurtz time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our public airwaves. At the very least, they should offer sane, honest rebuttal to every one of Kurtz's lies.
Kurtz is scheduled to appear from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. in the Chicago market.
Calling will only take a minute, and it will make a huge difference if we nip this smear in the bud. Confront Kurtz tonight before this goes any further:
Please forward this email to everyone you know who can make a call tonight.
Keep fighting the good fight,
Obama Action Wire
One female caller, when pressed about what precisely she objected to, simply replied, "We just want it to stop!" Another angry caller was asked what "lies" Kurtz had told in any of his reporting on Barack Obama. The thoughtful response? "Everything he said is dishonest." The same caller later refused to get into "specifics." Another gentleman called Kurtz "the most un-American person" he'd ever heard. Several of the callers did not even know Stanley's name, most had obviously never read a sentence of his meticulous research, and more than simply read verbatim from the Obama talking points.
As Rosenberg repeatedly pointed out that Team Obama had been offered the opportunity to take part in the conversation, the agitated masses adapted their argument to suggest it was outrageous to request an interview from the Obama campaign in the thick of the DNC. Delivering the line of the night, Rosenberg countered, "The Obama national headquarters is just down the street from here. They obviously have the time to send out these angry emails, but they can't walk a few blocks to our studios?"
Throughout the open-line segments, Rosenberg and Kurtz wore incredulous expressions. The hostile callers were so bereft of any legitimate argument, there was little to do but sit back and marvel at what was going on.
The experience was surreal, amusing, and chilling. In a matter of hours, a major national campaign had called on its legions to bully a radio show out of airing an interview with a legitimate scholar asking legitimate political questions. Coupled with the Obama campaign's recent attempts to sic the DOJ on the creators of a truthful political advertisement -which also happened to feature Obama's relationship with an unrepentant terrorist- last night's call to action represents an emerging pattern. Any criticism of Obama's unknown past is to be immediately denounced as a "smear," and the messenger is to be shut down at all costs.
Stanley Kurtz is poring through mounds of documents (access to which was initially blocked) in a public university's library that (a) establish a deeper link between a major party presidential nominee and a man who is proud of bombing US government buildings, and (b) shed light on said candidate's brief, unexplored executive experience. It's entirely understandable why the Obama campaign would prefer that the files remain out of the public eye until at least November 5, but Kurtz's careful research is completely within the bounds of reasonable inquiry. One might even argue it's vital that a man who may be the next leader of the free world be thoroughly vetted.
Team Obama is fast becoming the campaign that cried "smear." They labeled the National Right to Life committee "liars" for providing evidence of some unpleasant facts about their candidate's record on a series of infanticide votes. This tendency to lash out and engage in baseless name-calling not only smacks of desperation; it also may foreshadow an Obama presidency's strategy in handling unfavorable media reports and sources.
If anyone still believes reinstating the Fairness Doctrine isn't a top priority for the American Left, last night's example offered a stark and alarming wake-up call. Still not convinced? For goodness sake, read Jonah's book.
By JIM KUHNHENN http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D92PL7400&show_article=1 August 25, 2008
Barack Obama is striking back fiercely and swiftly to stamp out an ad that links him to a 1960s radical, eager to demonstrate a far more aggressive response to attacks than John Kerry did when faced with the 2004 "Swift Boat" campaign.
Obama not only aired a response ad to the spot linking him to William Ayers, but he sought to block stations the commercial by warning station managers and asking the Justice Department to intervene. The campaign also planned to compel advertisers to pressure stations that continue to air the anti-Obama commercial.
It's the type of going-for-the-jugular approach to politics many Democrats complain that Kerry lacked and that Republicans exploit.
Obama's target is an ad by the conservative American Issues Project, a nonprofit group that questions Obama's ties to Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground organization that took credit for a series of bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol four decades ago.
The Story Continues Below
The lone financier of the anti-Obama ad, Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, was also one of the main funders of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth who targeted Kerry. Simmons, a McCain fundraiser, contributed nearly $2.9 million to the American Issues Project, according to documents filed by the group with the Federal Election Commission.
Fox News and CNN have declined to air the anti-Obama ad. But by Monday afternoon, the ad had run about 150 times in local markets in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan, according to Evan Tracey, head of TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, an ad tracking firm.
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama supporters have inundated stations that are airing the ad, many of them owned by Sinclair Communications, with 93,000 e-mails. He called the ad false, despicable and outrageous.
"Other stations that follow Sinclair's lead should expect a similar response from people who don't want the political discourse cheapened with these false, negative attacks," Vietor said.
Sinclair offices were closed late Monday and officials there could not be immediately contacted.
"It seems they protest a bit too much," American Issues Project spokesman Christian Pinkston said. "They're going all of these routes-through threats, intimation-to try to thwart the First Amendment here because they don't have an argument on merit."
Ayers is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He and Obama live in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood and served together on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based charity that develops community groups to help the poor. Obama left the board in December 2002.
Obama also was the first chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school reform group of which Ayers was a founder. Ayers also held a meet-the-candidate event at his home for Obama when Obama first ran for office in the mid-1990s.
Obama has denounced Ayers' past activities.
"Barack Obama is friends with Ayers, defending him as, quote, 'Respectable' and 'Mainstream,'" the group's ad states. "Obama's political career was launched in Ayers' home. And the two served together on a left-wing board. Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?"
In a letter to station managers, Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer wrote: "Your station is committed to operating in the public interest, an objective that cannot be satisfied by accepting for compensation material of such malicious falsity."
Bauer also wrote to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Keeney, noting that the ad is a "knowing and willful attempt to evade the strictures of federal election law."
The campaign's aggressive tactics could draw more attention to a subject the campaign wants to go away. On Tuesday, the University of Illinois at Chicago will make available records of Obama's service on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. The group was set up to improve the city's schools. The documents could shed further light on whether Obama and Ayers had a relationship.
The American Issues Project is a 501(c)4 nonprofit corporation. It is permitted by law to air a political ad provided that the majority of its spending is nonpolitical. It cannot accept money from corporations and it must identify the donors that finance its ads in reports to the Federal Election Commission. Pinkston said the group has set aside money to carry out non-election related work to meet the legal requirements. It filed a report identifying Simmons as its sole donor for the ad last week.
In the Obama campaign's own response ad, an announcer states: "With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the 60s, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers. McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers' crimes, committed when Obama was just 8 years old."
The McCain campaign cannot coordinate efforts with outside groups. But the campaign took advantage of being the target of the response ad.
"The fact that Barack Obama chose to launch his political career at the home of an unrepentant terrorist raises more questions about Senator Obama's judgment than any TV ad ever could," said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.
By John Fund http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122005063234084813.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries August 30, 2008
Even as Barack Obama gave his soaring speech Thursday night, his campaign was playing hardball with its critics.
Team Obama has launched an offensive against WGN, the Chicago Tribune's radio station, for interviewing Stanley Kurtz. Mr. Kurtz is a conservative writer who this week forced the University of Illinois to finally open its records on Sen. Obama's association with William Ayers, the unrepentant 1970s Weather Underground terrorist.
An Obama campaign email to supporters called Mr. Kurtz a "slimy character assassin" whose "divisive, destructive ranting" should be confronted. WGN producer Zack Christenson says the outpouring of negative calls and emails is "unprecedented." He also notes that it is curious -- because "we wanted the Obama campaign's take" on Mr. Kurtz's findings, but the campaign declined to put anyone on air.
Separately, Mr. Obama's lawyers have also demanded that the Justice Department prosecute an organization called the American Issues Project for running an ad about ties between their candidate and Mr. Ayers.
Obama aides believe John Kerry lost in 2004 because he failed to respond to the "Swift Boat" ads attacking him, and they are lashing out. Sometimes the Obama objections have merit, as when they exposed errors in Jerome Corsi's sensationalized Obama biography. But sometimes they are designed to shut down legitimate questions. "They're terrified of people poking around Obama's life," one reporter told Gabriel Sherman at the New Republic. "The whole Obama narrative is built around the narrative that Obama and [campaign strategist] David Axelrod built, and, like all stories, it's not entirely true." The stakes are high. If the full story of Mr. Obama's relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright had been revealed before the Iowa caucus, he wouldn't have won.
Aides claim Mr. Obama "has taken voluntary transparency steps" that allow "his constituents, the media and his political opponents to fully examine him." In reality, anyone questioning the approved story line is liable to be ignored, misled or even bullied. This isn't what reporters expected when Mr. Obama began campaigning for a "new politics" that would bring honesty and openness to government.
Walking the rows of media outlets at the Denver convention, I had no trouble finding reporters who complained the campaign was secretive and evasive. Ben Smith of Politico.com has written about Team Obama's "pattern of rarely volunteering information or documents, even when relatively innocuous." Politico asked months ago if Mr. Obama had ever written anything for the Harvard Law Review as a student. The Obama campaign responded narrowly, with a Clintonesque statement that "as the president of the Law Review, Obama didn't write articles, he edited and reviewed them." This month it turned out Mr. Obama had written an article -- but it was published a month before he became president.
Chasing the rest of Mr. Obama's paper trail is often an exercise in frustration. Mr. Obama says his state senate records "could have been thrown out" and he didn't keep a schedule in office. No one appears to have kept a copy of his application for the Illinois Bar. He has released only a single page of medical records, versus 1,000 pages for John McCain.
Then there's the house that Mr. Obama bought in 2005 in cooperation with Tony Rezko, his friend and campaign fund-raiser -- a move the candidate concedes was "boneheaded." Rezko was convicted in June of 16 counts of corruption. (Mr. Obama was not implicated in Rezko's crimes.)
Rezko's trial raised a host of questions. Was Mr. Obama able to save $300,000 on the asking price of his house because Rezko's wife paid full price for the adjoining lot? How did Mrs. Rezko make a $125,000 down payment and obtain a $500,000 mortgage when financial records shown at the Rezko trial indicate she had a salary of only $37,000 and assets of $35,000? Records show her husband also had few assets at the time.
Last April, the London Times revealed that Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born billionaire living in London, had loaned Mr. Rezko $3.5 million three weeks before the day the sale of the house and lot closed in June 2005. Mr. Auchi's office notes he was a business partner of Rezko but says he had "no involvement in or knowledge of" the property sale. But in April 2004 he did attend a dinner party in his honor at Rezko's Chicago home. Mr. Obama also attended, and according to one guest, toasted Mr. Auchi. Later that year, Mr. Auchi came under criminal investigation as part of a U.S. probe of the corrupt issuance of cell-phone licenses in Iraq.
In May 2004, the Pentagon's inspector general's office cited "significant and credible evidence" of involvement by Mr. Auchi's companies in the Oil for Food scandal, and in illicit smuggling of weapons to Saddam Hussein's regime. Because of the criminal probe, Mr. Auchi's travel visa to the U.S. was revoked in August 2004, even as Mr. Auchi denied all the allegations. According to prosecutors, in November 2005 Rezko was able to get two government officials from Illinois to appeal to the State Department to get the visa restored. Asked if anyone in his office was involved in such an appeal, Mr. Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times last March, "not that I know of." FOIA requests to the State Department for any documents haven't been responded to for months.
After long delays, Mr. Obama sat with the editorial boards of the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune in March to answer their questions about his connection to Rezko. He had no recollection of ever meeting Mr. Auchi. He also said he didn't understand a lot about house buying, and gave vague answers to other questions. Since then, he has avoided any further discussion of the Rezko matter.
Some inquiries could be cleared up if the Obama campaign were forthcoming with key documents. Mr. Obama claims that in buying his house in 2005 he got a low mortgage rate from Northern Trust bank because another bank made a competitive bid for his business, but his campaign won't reveal from which bank. While he has released 94 pages of documents relating to the Rezko sale, they don't include the single most important one -- the settlement statement that shows the complete flow of funds that were part of the house sale. When asked why that last key document isn't being released, the Obama campaign issued a boilerplate statement saying, "we have released documents that reflect every one of the final terms of the senator's purchase of the home." But key data are still being withheld.
The Obama campaign didn't hesitate to criticize Hillary Clinton for not revealing the names of donors to the Clinton Library, or John McCain for releasing only two years of tax returns as opposed to Mr. Obama's 10 years. Those were proper questions. But so too are requests for information from Mr. Obama, a man whose sudden rise and incompletely reported past makes him among the least-vetted of presidential nominees.
Reporters who decline to press Mr. Obama for more information now, whether it be on William Ayers or the Rezko-Auchi partnership, may be repeating an old mistake. Most reporters failed to dig deep enough into the Nixon White House's handling of Watergate before the 1972 election. The country was soon consumed with that scandal. Most reporters pooh-poohed questionable Whitewater real-estate dealings of the Clintons before Bill Clinton's 1992 election. Within months of his inauguration a tangled controversy led to the appointment of a special prosecutor and an endless source of distraction for the Clinton White House.
All presidential candidates resist full examination of their records. But it should be the job of reporters not to accept noncooperation, stonewalling or intimidation when it comes to questions about fitness for the nation's highest office.
By Stanley Kurtz http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDZiMjkwMDczZWI5ODdjOWYxZTIzZGIyNzEyMjE0ODI=&w=MA== May 29, 2008
What if Barack Obama's most important radical connection has been hiding in plain sight all along? Obama has had an intimate and long-term association with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn), the largest radical group in America. If I told you Obama had close ties with MoveOn.org or Code Pink, you'd know what I was talking about. Acorn is at least as radical as these better-known groups, arguably more so. Yet because Acorn works locally, in carefully selected urban areas, its national profile is lower. Acorn likes it that way. And so, I'd wager, does Barack Obama.
This is a story we've largely missed. While Obama's Acorn connection has not gone entirely unreported, its depth, extent, and significance have been poorly understood. Typically, media background pieces note that, on behalf of Acorn, Obama and a team of Chicago attorneys won a 1995 suit forcing the state of Illinois to implement the federal "motor-voter" bill. In fact, Obama's Acorn connection is far more extensive. In the few stories where Obama's role as an Acorn "leadership trainer" is noted, or his seats on the boards of foundations that may have supported Acorn are discussed, there is little follow-up. Even these more extensive reports miss many aspects of Obama's ties to Acorn.
An Anti-Capitalism Agenda
To understand the nature and extent of Acorn's radicalism, an excellent place to begin is Sol Stern's 2003 City Journal article, "ACORN's Nutty Regime for Cities." (For a shorter but helpful piece, try Steven Malanga's "Acorn Squash.")
Sol Stern explains that Acorn is the key modern successor of the radical 1960's "New Left," with a "1960's-bred agenda of anti-capitalism" to match. Acorn, says Stern, grew out of "one of the New Left's silliest and most destructive groups, the National Welfare Rights Organization." In the 1960's, NWRO launched a campaign of sit-ins and disruptions at welfare offices. The goal was to remove eligibility restrictions, and thus effectively flood welfare rolls with so many clients that the system would burst. The theory, explains Stern, was that an impossibly overburdened welfare system would force "a radical reconstruction of America's unjust capitalist economy." Instead of a socialist utopia, however, we got the culture of dependency and family breakdown that ate away at America's inner cities - until welfare reform began to turn the tide.
While Acorn holds to NWRO's radical economic framework and its confrontational 1960's-style tactics, the targets and strategy have changed. Acorn prefers to fly under the national radar, organizing locally in liberal urban areas - where, Stern observes, local legislators and reporters are often "slow to grasp how radical Acorn's positions really are." Acorn's new goals are municipal "living wage" laws targeting "big-box" stores like Wal-Mart, rolling back welfare reform, and regulating banks - efforts styled as combating "predatory lending." Unfortunately, instead of helping workers, Acorn's living-wage campaigns drive businesses out of the very neighborhoods where jobs are needed most. Acorn's opposition to welfare reform only threatens to worsen the self-reinforcing cycle of urban poverty and family breakdown. Perhaps most mischievously, says Stern, Acorn uses banking regulations to pressure financial institutions into massive "donations" that it uses to finance supposedly non-partisan voter turn-out drives.
According to Stern, Acorn's radical agenda sometimes shifts toward "undisguised authoritarian socialism." Fully aware of its living-wage campaign's tendency to drive businesses out of cities, Acorn hopes to force companies that want to move to obtain "exit visas." "How much longer before Acorn calls for exit visas for wealthy or middle-class individuals before they can leave a city?" asks Stern, adding, "This is the road to serfdom indeed."
In Your Face
Acorn's tactics are famously "in your face." Just think of Code Pink's well-known operations (threatening to occupy congressional offices, interrupting the testimony of General David Petraeus) and you'll get the idea. Acorn protesters have disrupted Federal Reserve hearings, but mostly deploy their aggressive tactics locally. Chicago is home to one of its strongest chapters, and Acorn has burst into a closed city council meeting there. Acorn protestors in Baltimore disrupted a bankers' dinner and sent four busloads of profanity-screaming protestors against the mayor's home, terrifying his wife and kids. Even a Baltimore city council member who generally supports Acorn said their intimidation tactics had crossed the line.
Acorn, however, defiantly touts its confrontational tactics. While Stern himself notes this, the point is driven home sharper still in an Acorn-friendly reply to Stern entitled "Enraging the Right." Written by academic/activists John Atlas and Peter Dreier, the reply's avowed intent is to convince Acorn-friendly politicians, journalists, and funders not to desert the organization in the wake of Stern's powerful critique. The stunning thing about this supposed rebuttal is that it confirms nearly everything Stern says. Do Atlas and Dreier object to Stern's characterizations of Acorn's radical plans - even his slippery-slope warnings about Acorn's designs on basic freedom of movement? Nope. "Stern accurately outlines Acorn's agenda," they say.
Do Atlas and Dreier dismiss Stern's catalogue of Acorn's disruptive and intentionally intimidating tactics as a set of regrettable exceptions to Acorn's rule of civility? Not a chance. Atlas and Dreier are at pains to point out that intimidation works. They proudly reel off the increased memberships that follow in the wake of high-profile disruptions, and clearly imply that the same public officials who object most vociferously to intimidation are the ones most likely to cave as a result. What really upsets Atlas and Dreier is that Stern misses the subtle national hand directing Acorn's various local campaigns. This is radicalism unashamed.
But don't let the disruptive tactics fool you. Acorn is a savvy and exceedingly effective political player. Stern says that Acorn's key post-New Left innovation is its determination to take over the system from within, rather than futilely try to overthrow it from without. Stern calls this strategy a political version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Take Atlas and Dreier at their word: Acorn has an openly aggressive and intimidating side, but a sophisticated inside game, as well. Chicago's Acorn leader, for example, won a seat on the Board of Aldermen as the candidate of a leftist "New Party."