Notes on “Days of Rage” (3)

This concludes my series of posts on Bryan Burrough’s important new book Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here. We recorded an interview with Burrough about the book earlier this week; the interview is posted here.

• Joanne Chesimard/Assata Shakur was a member and leader of the cop-killing Black Liberation Army. Burrough quotes others who characterize her as the group’s “heart and soul.” In 1973 she participated in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in which Trooper Werner Foerster was murdered and Trooper James Harper seriously injured. In 1977, she was convicted of the first-degree murder of Foerster and of seven other felonies related to the shootout.

• Chesimard escaped from prison in New Jersey and has been on the lam since 1979. She is believed to be holed up in Havana, in the sheltering arms of the Communists who run the asylum and the asylum operation. In 2013 the FBI made Chesimard the first woman to be named to the Most Wanted Terrorists list. She has had a substantial reward out on her capture for several years. Burrough’s account of Chesimard’s escape from prison is dramatic and maddening.

• Now the local angle. Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison is a fan of hers. In 2000 Ellison gave a speech supporting SLA member Kathleen Soliah/Sara Jane Olson at the National Lawyers Guild Minnesota chapter fundraiser for Soliah/Olson in St. Paul. Ellison sought Soliah/Olson’s release from custody. Ellison also spoke favorably of cop killers Mumia Abu-Jamal and Chesimard. In a 2006 Star Tribune column on Ellison, my friend Kathy Kersten quoted from Ellison’s speech. (Kathy’s column is no longer accessible online but I excerpted it in this post.)

• Kathy gave us Ellison’s prayer for Chesimard/Shakur: “I am praying that Castro does not get to the point where he has to really barter with these guys over here because they’re going to get Assata Shakur, they’re going to get a whole lot of other people,” he told the crowd. “I hope the Cuba[n] people can stick to it, because the freedom of some good decent people depends on it.” When Kathy sought out Ellison for her column in 2006, he declined to comment on his current view of Soliah/Olson and Chesimard/Shakur. He’s just that kind of guy.

• Ellison was first elected to office as a state representative in 2002 and to Congress in 2006. Ellison now represents the beating heart of the radical left within the Democratic Party.

• George Jackson was an incarcerated convict with a thuggish bent and a long rap sheet. At his parole hearing in 1965, Burrough recalls, Jackson’s own father testified that he would be better off remaining in prison. In 1970 Jackson participated in the brutal murder of a prison guard in revenge for the killing of three black inmates. Radical attorney Fay Stender formulated the brilliant idea of turning Jackson into a celebrity by cobbling together his letters to family and friends for publication and by portraying him “as an innocent victim being persecuted for his revolutionary beliefs” (as Burrough puts it). With the help of a friendly editor at Bantam Books, they omitted the letter in which Jackson fantasized about poisoning the Chicago water supply — “in an effort to portray him as the American Dreyfus” (Burrough again).

• Published in October 1970, Jackson’s Soledead Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson became an immediate best-seller. In the New York Times Book Review, Julius Lester declared it “one of the most significant and important documents since the first black was pushed off the ship at Jamestown colony.”

• In 1971 Jackson attempted to break out of prison in an operation that involved the murder of five guards later found in Jackson’s cell with their throats slit. Jackson’s posthumous literary offering was Blood In My Eye, published in February 1972. Burrough finds it “a straightforward call for a bloody black-led revolution in the streets of America[.]” The Times expressed disappointment in Jacksons’ second book, asserting that it “lack[ed] the visceral brilliance, the epistolary panache” of Soledad Brother.

• In death Jackson served as the inspiration for Donald DeFreeze, later to assume the name Cinque as the founder and leader of the Symbionese Liberation Army.

• Burrough’s book prompts me to reflect on the role played by the New York Times as an instrument of celebrity propping up the revolutionary left. As a corollary, the Times is invested in protecting the reputation of the left. It is, shall we say, not given much to introspection regarding the impact of its judgments.

• Not surprisingly, the Times assigned Burrough’s book for review to Maurice Isserman, a scholarly partisan of the leftist persuasion. The Times published Isserman’s subtly disparaging review under the heading “Blow-up.” Isserman’s review is almost a comic coda to the Times’s promotion of the literary contributions of Eldrdige Cleaver and George Jackson back in the day and, we may as well add, of Bill Ayers in a fawning profile by Dinitia Smith published on the evocative date of 9/11/01. (In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Timesman Bremt Staples gave up on Ayers.)

• Burrough notes over and over again how many of the perpetrators have escaped from justice. Bill Ayers is a painful case in point, but he is far from alone. In a cruel irony, however, the wheels of justice caught up with FBI officials on the trail of the terrorists. In Squad 47 established to investigate the bombings, the FBI had persistently committed or condoned official misconduct, partly in response to pressure from above. President Reagan ultimately pardoned the two senior FBI official convicted of crimes committed in pursuit of the Weatherman terrrosts, Mark Felt (Deep Throat) and Edward Miller. (Former FBI Director Patrick Gray had also been charged, but the case against him was dropped for lack of evidence.)

• I would like to close out these posts on Burrough’s book by giving the last word to Don Strickland, one of the FBI agents who pursued the terrorists as a member of Squad 47. Burrough quotes Strickland speaking inelegantly to the point in an interview he conducted for the book: “What really galls me is we did all this stuff, risking our lives every day, putting our lives on the line. And we end up being the villains! And these Weatherman scumbags end up being the f***ing Robin Hoods.”

Thanks for sticking with me through this series.

Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll calls this one MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA, A Flagrant Reader ‘Fesses Up. She writes:

Back in the early days of the Psychotic Ninny Wing of the feminist movement, now dominant, I read an article about a Men’s Auxiliary of “supportive” men who stipulated to the premise that men were despicable. They opened each meeting by chanting “I am a lowly and abject turd.” Surprisingly, this did not catch on as a mass phenomenon, but I now feel their pain.

Susan Reading To Jacob_0001 It is possible that I, too, am some kind of noxious digestive waste product. For it is time for me to admit that for about 8 years, I read bedtime stories to my child! Yes, it’s true and I offer self-incriminating visual evidence. In fact, I did not confine my reading just to bedtime, but sat him on my lap throughout the day and read to him from the age of 3 months. It continued long after the age of 3 when he could read himself.

And I did it without even once thinking about the callous indifference with which I was “disadvantaging” others! My parents had also disadvantaged my peers while they were living it up on $80 a month in college on the G. I. Bill. Par-tay!! Yes, they bought Little AG a brand new Golden Book twice a month (a quarter apiece), and read to me constantly, instilling a life-long passion for reading and learning. Oh, the humanity!

Isn’t that amazing? Not only are people who read to their children merely “advantaging” their own. According to a moronic leftist college professor – but I repeat myself — these Haters are actively “disadvantaging” others. His ideal solution is to abolish the family, but he has a few kinks to work out there. He’ll start with abolishing private school. (No matter. Unlike Obama and his kids, nobody in our family went there.) Oh, I hear you saying, “Sure Ms. Rich White Hetero Oppressor, you could afford books.” Well, no.

We were poor as dirt, living in a two-bedroom flat in the Mission District in San Francisco where we rented out the second bedroom to single boarders. Except for continuing the tradition of a semi-monthly Golden Book (by then, over a dollar), we borrowed books from the public library. Which we walked to, since we did not own a car. On the rare occasions we required a car, my best friend drove. She had a car. She was a single mother on welfare.

The winter of 1974-5, the rainy season was particularly relentless. We couldn’t get to Delores Park or the library for weeks. Somebody in our building put out a bundle of old magazines for the trash pickup and I took them and cut out pictures of dogs and kitties, cars and trucks, and pasted them on construction paper and made up stories to read to my little boy.

Every Tuesday was Free Day at the San Francisco Zoo. It cost a quarter for the trolley ride each way. Usually we brown-bagged it, but once a month I budgeted a dollar to squander on a hot dog to share with my toddler. One Terrible Tuesday (a day that will live in infamy) a seagull swooped down and stole that hot dog, our Precious. Oh, the crying, the shrieking! But eventually my 2-year-old got me calmed down.

The neighborhood center had Baby Gym once a week wherein the tots were encouraged to jump off little ramps onto mattresses and hang on what were surely germ-factory rings. Cost? Bupkiss, nada. Can’t read? Group Story Time at the library was also free.

So, in addition to reading to him myself, I thought it important to provide modest cultural and physical enrichment, none of which cost a dime. No amount of “income inequality” figured into it at all. I had a husband – the excellent Mr. Ammo Grrrll – and he had a job. But after taxes, we barely netted more than my friend got on assistance and food stamps. We paid rent; she lived with her mother. By the way, as my co-conspirator, Mr. AG read to our son too. I want to make that abundantly clear so we can be cellies at re-education camp.

Class envy peddlers like Mr. Krugman, Princess Cheekbones Warren, President No Private School for Thee, Just Me, and all of that fake-populist millionaire crowd are just dead wrong. It is ALL about personal responsibility, values, and culture. If successful middle class people in general, and Asians and Jews in particular, have historically valued scholastic endeavors more than some cultures, embrace that. Emulate it. If we spent every discretionary penny on educational opportunities for our child instead of cigarettes, tattoos, Air Jordans, or even pretty basic consumer goods, I’m not sorry.

Generations of self-sacrificing African-American parents worshiped education as the way up from poverty and millions succeeded through education, courage, and hard work. If “turning over in one’s grave” were a reality, the deceased ancestors of the droopy-drawered, “education is a white thang” idiots would surely be a new source of energy.

Oh, and the aforementioned welfare mother? We moved back to Minnesota; she took a medical-coding course while on assistance. She got a good job, and saved up for a down payment on a tiny condo far from our degenerating neighborhood. It had gotten so bad that she had grocery bags stolen from her car while she was carrying the first two bags into the apartment. Our park became an open-air drug bazaar.

She worked the rest of her life til retirement. Today her son is a wealthy video-game artist living in a million-dollar mansion in San Francisco. It has a 360 degree view of the Bay Area including the sketchy neighborhood where two determined young mothers read to their beautiful little boys.

Another reason why Hillary Clinton does not deserve to be president

Anti-Hillary Clinton political ads are writing themselves on a weekly basis. The latest source is this New York Times report that Hillary’s private email account contained sensitive information. The official name for the information is “sensitive but unclassified” (SBU).

What sensitive but unclassified information did Hillary have in her private account. According to the Times, “that information included the whereabouts and travel plans of American officials in Libya as security there deteriorated during the uprising against the leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011.”

Considering the fate of Christopher Stevens the following year, it’s safe to say that this information was, indeed, sensitive. And it’s safe to say that it should not have been contained in an unsecure email system.

Noah Rothman at Commentary gets a head start on translating the Times’ story into a political ad. He asks: “Do you deserve to be President after jeopardizing national security?” The question, as they say, answers itself.

Rothman also reminds us of the string of false statements Clinton made about her private emails during her U.S. press conference in March:

Standing before a lectern at the United Nations, Clinton claimed that she only used one mobile device in service to her sense of entitlement while at State. We now know there were at least two devices she used to conduct State business.

Clinton insisted that her system was never “breached,” but information security experts now believe that her “homebrew” server was vulnerable to infiltration and was possibly compromised by foreign intelligence services.

Clinton insisted that she only deleted those emails that were personal in nature; a trove of communications that amounted to the majority of the emails she sent as Secretary of State. One of the recipients of private email communications, she averred, was her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Wrong, the 42nd President’s office contended. He only sent two emails in his life, according to Bill Clinton spokesperson Matt McKenna, and both of those were composed and transmitted while he served as president.

Reporters, as Rothman suggests, will probably tire of this and other Hillary scandals. And once the Republicans settle on a candidate, reporters will likely train their guns almost exclusively on him.

But campaign attack ads, based on what reporters are saying now (and scrupulously sourced to big MSM outlets), should fill the gap.

Washington Post Attacks Rubio: He’s Not Rich!

Every morning the Washington Post sends out an email with links to its featured stories of the day. Today, the Post’s number one story was: Does Rubio Have a Spending Problem? The factual basis for the Post’s article was that according to his financial disclosure forms, Marco Rubio has withdrawn $68,000 from a retirement account:

Marco Rubio made $174,000 as a U.S. senator last year. He earned $52,000 from book royalties and a university teaching position, and at least $5,000 more from rental property.

And yet, the 43-year-old Florida Republican also made what is typically viewed as a desperate financial maneuver — cashing out nearly $70,000 in retirement funds.

As Rubio runs for president, newly disclosed personal finance details have drawn fresh attention to a long-running problem during his political career: his struggles with money.

Yes it’s true: Rubio isn’t rich, like Hillary Clinton and so many others in politics. He has made his money honestly, practicing law, earning a salary from public service and publishing a couple of books. No $300,000 speaking fees for Marco. And unlike Harry Reid, he hasn’t gotten wealthy on corrupt real estate deals. Somehow, the Post spins this into a negative.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Rubio said that he needed “access to cash” for personal expenses and in anticipation of running for president. He said he has at least two other active retirement accounts.

“My refrigerator broke down,” Rubio said. “That was $3,000. I had to replace the air-conditioning unit in our home. My kids all go to school, and they are getting closer to college, and school’s getting more expensive.”

If Rubio were a Democrat, the Post would say that, unlike the plutocrats in the race, he understands the struggles of the average American–or, at least, the average prosperous American. Which is a lot more than you can say for Hillary Clinton.

Rubio and his wife, Jeanette, have four children in private schools. In total, they pay about $40,000 in tuition per school year.

Florida Democratic strategist Christian Ulvert said Rubio’s explanation could be politically problematic.

“Most average Americans are not buying a $3,000 refrigerator,” he said. “Most families don’t have the luxury of sending their kids to private schools.”

The hypocrisy is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Can you name a Democratic presidential contender whose children attend, or attended, public schools? Has the Post ever criticized Barack Obama for sending his daughters to Sidwell Friends, which costs far more than $10,000 per student? Of course not.

In the context of what we now know about the Clintons, this is almost unbelievable:

Rubio’s close relationship with billionaire businessman and philanthropist Norman Braman, a longtime backer, highlights another un­or­tho­dox element of his family’s finances.

Rubio’s wife owns an event-planning business that does work for the Braman Family Foundation. Her business was valued at between $15,001 and $50,000, according to Marco Rubio’s latest financial disclosure. His campaign said her revenue came exclusively from her work for the Braman foundation.

Between $15,001 and $50,000? That’s not even a rounding error for the Clinton Foundation. But that’s different, of course: Hillary is a Democrat.

Brace yourself. We will be seeing hit pieces like this on the Republican contenders on a daily basis, from now until November 2016.

Paging Dr. Emily Litella: Another Science Fraud Exposed

Last December Science magazine published the results of a survey that found people who had a conversation of at little as 20 minutes with a gay person changed their mind about gay marriage. You may well wonder why Science, usually concerned with settled scientific matters like global warming climate change, would jump on a research survey more suited for a public opinion or social science journal, and further you’d wonder why we’d want to rely on social science surveys to advance our judgment of this moral and legal controversy. (What next: open-office plans are really a sneaky gay plot to promote gay marriage, too? Because with no doors, no closets to hide in!)

The full article, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” is in the magazine’s closet behind the magazine’s paywall, but it isn’t very impressive. In fact it looks rather like a first-year graduate student survey project, and the conclusion has all of the usual tropes of such academic work today, including the phrase you see in almost all social science articles that prove a small and obvious point—“further research is needed.”

Our experimental results demonstrate that active contact is capable of producing a cascade of enduring opinion change. Further research is needed to assess the extent to which the strength, diffusion, and persistence of active contact’s effects depend on how groups come together, the salience of their identities, the issues they discuss, and the manner in which deliberation takes place.

Well guess what mom? One of the co-authors has asked Science to retract the article because he claims the data was faked by his graduate research assistant co-author. There’s a more detailed account of how the study collapsed in the Retraction Watch website, and another good account at New York magazine. Apparently some other researchers were intrigued that the study differed from previous similar surveys and attempted to replicate the study, but couldn’t. The graduate student who compiled the data was subsequently hired at Princeton. Let’s see if he keeps his job.

Good thing fiddling with the data never happens in climate science. Oh, wait. . .

Bin Laden had the book on Obama

Being on bin Laden’s bookshelf has become, in a way, the modern version of being on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. Bob Woodward gets a special award. He gained both distinctions, if that’s the right word.

Politico contacted some of the authors in question for comment. Warning: Greg Palast’s response is nausea-inducing.

What should we make of the bookshelf? Above all, it confirms that bin Laden was obsessed with the United States. Unlike ISIS, which strives to capture territory and create a caliphate, bin Laden focused on attacking America and American interests.

But attacking America wasn’t an end in itself. Bin Laden’s overriding goal was to drive the U.S. out of the Muslim world so that al Qaeda and its affiliates could topple hostile governments in these regions.

Once we understand this, we must see bin Laden as more of a success than a failure. And we must see President Obama as the vehicle through which bin Laden succeeded.

Under Obama, the U.S. is basically exiting the Muslim world. We pulled out of Iraq (and haven’t re-entered to any significant degree). We’re pulling out of Afghanistan. We never pulled into Syria, despite the advice of many in both parties that we should.

We didn’t stay in Libya. We’ve been driven out of Yemen. Our influence with Egypt and Saudi Arabia (two countries of special interest to bin Laden, surely) has waned considerably.

As for the toppling of governments, bin Laden’s dream is partially realized. The Afghanistan government hasn’t fallen, but it may well, once the U.S. leaves. And the government’s hold on large portions of the country is weak to non-existent.

The Iraqi government hasn’t fallen, but it has lost huge chunks of territory to Islamic terrorists, with even Baghdad now threatened. The government of Syria is in basically the same condition.

The pro-Western government of Yemen has fallen and, in the battle for control, an al Qaeda affiliate is in the mix. Control of Libya is also up for grabs and an al Qaeda’s affiliate is in the mix there too.

How well did bin Laden understand America? Probably not very. I’m sure he got a lot of stuff wrong.

But I’m also sure he knew there were strong elements in our politics that were weary of involvement in the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent, and that if these elements prevailed, the U.S. would pull out — to the great advantage of al Qaeda and other jidhadists.

Bin laden was right about this. And though he is gone, his broad vision for the Muslim world is alive and kicking.

This Week’s Energy Unicorn

The belief that we can power the world with unicorn flop sweat, Obama’s incandescent speeches, refined banana peels, etc runs deep. I call it “energy romanticism,” and like all other kinds of romanticism it is hard to shake, even with things called facts, which are always inconvenient to the dreams of world-saving liberals.

Typical is the story last year about how we could put solar panels on roads, a really stupid idea that naturally has received federal grant money. (Is there really no adult in the room to ask how solar panels, which need cleaning on rooftops in the best of conditions, would hold up under car and truck traffic?) As usual, the news stories about this venture offer no details about costs or actual power output, which is the principle defect of about 95 percent of all media reports about new energy ideas. It is like reporting on a new car without giving the gas mileage or that it only seats one person.

Solar Bike Path copyThe Dutch have tried to push this idea with a $3.7 million solar bike path that provides enough electricity for  . . . one person.  And after six months, the solar bike path is already starting to come apart.  True, it’s only 70 meters long, but what a bargain for $3.7 million. It has “smart meters”! If we increase spending by an order of magnitude, to $370 million, we can power 100 households.

The predictably depressing part of the story is this:

The group behind the project is now in talks with local councils in the Netherlands to see if the technology can be rolled out in other provinces. A cooperation agreement has also been signed with the US state of California.

Of course. It would only cost about $450 billion to power all of California’s households with solar-powered roads and bike paths. No doubt this has deep appeal to Jerry Brown.

Up next in this new series: Tesla’s new home battery, which is also way overrated.