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Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017

A timely movie review

Posted Monday, October 6, 2008, at 8:00 PM

I've been feeling really under the weather this weekend and thought that I was well enough to work Monday, but the immediate rejection of lunch put that notion to rest. So it's back to bed for me.

But lying around watching the constant sordid flow of political and financial news would likely make things worse, so instead, I grabbed a handful of used DVD's I bought last Christmas that I never got around to viewing, and hit the hay.

It turns out that one of these disks is a critically acclaimed film nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2003, with quotes on the DVD cover such as:

"a terrific movie, energetic and articulate. It's the don't miss documentary of the season. -- Christian Science Monitor.

"A great story! Terrifically smart!" - The New York Times.

"Essential viewing" --The Boston Globe

"Exhilarating. Couldn't be better timed." -- The Washington Post

"Powerful and searching!" -- Entertainment Weekly

So what is this fine feature?

"The Weather Underground -- The Explosive Story of America's Most Notorious Revolutionaries."

Yep. Those guys. And right on the cover is a photo of Bill Ayers, who has gotten quite a bit of attention lately for his two decades of association with Barack Obama.

So just what kind of folks has the Democratic candidate for President been buddy-buddy with? Well, you can judge for yourself. The entire film is on Google Video for free, but after viewing it, I've decided not to link to it. There's a lot of bad language, nudity, and incredibly graphic images from the Vietnam War and, strangely enough, the Manson murders. Those who are interested in viewing it should be able to find the film easily enough.

In my opinion, it appears that the entire film is geared to allow these aging "revolutionaries" the chance to justify their monstrous actions. There's a ton of talk about revolution, "the pigs" and white privilege all through the film. Only one of the terrorists interviewed regrets what they did, and one member said she would do it all over again, except more efficiently.

The causes they were blowing stuff up over varied from the Vietnam War, the plight of concrete workers in Puerto Rico and even planting bombs in support of the mindless thugs who kidnapped Patty Hearst. When the group finally broke up, some went even deeper into criminality and ended up in prison. The rest of them are now either educators or activists in progressive causes, or both. FBI abuses of the Nixon era insured that many of them would see no punishment.

But, as far as I could tell, all but one seem to look back fondly to those days of dropping acid, free sex and wiring dynamite to kitchen timers. They are proud that no one was ever killed in their bombing campaign, as if that makes it all A-OK. The end of the film raised my eyebrows a bit because I kept hearing talk from these domestic terrorists, now college professors and activists, about their hope for "change." Ayers' political beliefs certainly haven't changed as you can judge from who he shares his thoughts with. And he is not shy about expressing his opinion today:

Capitalism played its role historically and is exhausted as a force for progress: built on exploitation, theft, conquest, war, and racism, capitalism and imperialism must be defeated and a world revolution--a revolution against war and racism and materialism, a revolution based on human solidarity and love, cooperation and the common good--must win.

I'm questioning why the Washington Post would say that a film about a bunch of bomb throwing radicals "couldn't be better timed."

Or why Amy Goodman of Democracy Now would say that "young people, especially, should see it, as it addresses issues and questions at the heart of the current social and political climate."

There's also the question why this critically acclaimed film has suddenly dropped off the public's radar.

And I'm really wondering how in the world a certain Senator managed to rise as far as he has with friends like this in his background for so many years and it never got much notice in the media until a month before Nov. 4.

If you are planning to run for the highest office in the land, it's probably a real good idea that you don't associate with people who were once on the FBI's Most Wanted List for nationwide bombing campaigns.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Cue the Obama minions in 3..2...1.........

-- Posted by Tim Baker on Mon, Oct 6, 2008, at 8:05 PM

Smear groups and now a desperate McCain campaign are trying to connect Barack to William Ayers using age-old guilt by association techniques. Here's the truth: the smear associating Barack to Ayers is "phony," "tenuous," -- even "exaggerated at best, if not outright false."

William Ayers is a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with whom Barack served on the board of a charitable anti-poverty organization in the mid-1990s. According to the Associated Press, they are not close: "No evidence shows they were "pals" or even close when they worked on community boards years ago "

Smear groups and the McCain campaign are trying to connect Obama to acts Ayers committed 40 years ago -- when Barack was just eight years old. Here's what the New York Times reported on the connection:

But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called "somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8."

Barack has publicly denounced Ayers' radical actions from the 1960's:

Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.

-- Posted by Vindicated on Mon, Oct 6, 2008, at 8:19 PM

Cue the Obama minions in 3..2...1.........

-- Posted by Tim Baker on Mon, Oct 6, 2008, at 8:05 PM

Hahaha minions, Tim ... No really, didn't you see his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination? He just didn't make the angels cry, they had orgasms.

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 1:09 AM

CNN disagrees with you, Vindicated.


-- Posted by Brian Mosely on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 6:28 AM

Brian Mosely, I wouldn't worry too much about Obama ushering in democratic ideas of true economic reform and opposing the class warfare existing virtually unchallenged in our society that apparently leans dangerously close to plutocracy today. If that were his objective, he would not be a viable candidate to begin with. As far as the movie, while I never saw it, or even knew it was available, I do hope it gets some attention, even if it is cast in a negative light initially. Especially with a "younger audience" that has never been exposed to social activism. I might add that instead of turning off all the bad news you do not want to see, it may be possible that a few of those crazy folks had some degree of insight.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 7:57 AM

Obama was 8 years old when this man was active in all of this , and because their paths have crossed over the years how does this make Obama a good buddy to a known terrorist? I am sure at some point in all our lives we have been connected to or crossed paths with known criminals, but that did not make you or I guilty of the same criminal acts.

-- Posted by wonderer on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 12:32 PM

I can't believe you're freaking out about the Weather Underground movie - it wasn't even that good. Some of the points you are trying to make about the movie are nothing more than sensationalism on your part -

"There's a lot of bad language, nudity, and incredibly graphic images from the Vietnam War and, strangely enough, the Manson murders."

Of course there's going to be bad language and nudity, it was the 60s. The graphic images from the Vietnam War are probably things we should all be seeing ot remind us as to why war (in general) is bad. Also, mentioning the Manson murders in a movie about the 60s isn't that strange, after all the Manson murders are generally acknowledged as having also killed the free love/hippie era of the 60s. And it would also make sense to reference the Manson murders if the point of the movie was not just to talk about the Weathermen, but to also highlight the political unrest of that era - MLK getting shot & Fred Hampton being murdered and people thinking that their murders being government plots as examples.

If you're going to talk about Patty Hearst, there's a documentry about her, too - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0884842/ - called the Taking of Patty Hearst, again, this could've been a much better documentry as they don't really talk much about Hearst's transformation during the time of her kidnapping.

I also think part of the reason the Weathermen make a big deal about no one dying when they bombed places is because in 1971, a group out of Madison, WI, with similar ideals blew up the Army-Math building on the UW Madison campus and killed someone - there's a documentry about them, too - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080118/ it's called The War at Home, and like this Weathermen documentry, it was also nominated for an Oscar in the mid-1970s.

I won't even get into your ridiculous comments of trying to pin Obama as a political radical. But, I agree with memyselfi, that this movie should get some viewing from a younger audience, particularly those who have not been exposed to social activism. They could get some ideas on how to instigate change, and I don't mean by bombing, but rather they'd be able to see what worked and what didn't in regards to social changes.

-- Posted by cfrich on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 1:14 PM

"...a world revolution--a revolution against war and racism and materialism, a revolution based on human solidarity and love, cooperation and the common good--must win."

That sounds like a noble goal.

Quite a few groups have declared equally positive agenda.

The telling points are their methods and sincerity.

No one can be successful who operates on hate,fear and selfishness.

The winning ideologies will be sponsored by people of wisdom,integrity and compassion.

Their victories will come from what they have created more than what they have destroyed.

Both candidates have been linked to a turbulent period of our nation's history.

McCain and Ayers both participated in efforts that claimed to be after peace and freedom.

Both those efforts contained moments of courage and goodwill and incidents of dishonor and cruelty.

How those battles have continued in "peacetime" reveals the character of those involved in those struggles.

How have they supported the causes they were ready to fight and die for?

(Causes they were both ready to make *others* die for,as well.)

The militant and the martyr can earn our respect but the leaders of our world (whether they serve in the public or private sectors) must be ready to take their talents beyond areas of conflict and demonstrate that they can heal old maladies and prevent new ones.

The sword can usurp and torment.

It can also defend and remove dangers.

But,it has less power than the plowshare which can help feed,heal and shelter the population.

Yes,we must be aware of who wields the swords and what they hope to achieve but before we condemn or canonize any one person or organization,we need to look at the lives of the individuals and see how they've "walked the walk".

The paths and tools they have chosen will reveal much about what they will offer us if given more power.

Look at McClain and his allies.

Look at Obama and his associates.

See who has best exemplified the qualities we need off the battlefield,out of the public arena and in the places where the rest of us have to make our choices and deal with their consequences.

Apart from real-life accountability,the left and the right,the hawk and the dove,the secular and the sanctified offer little but detatched rhetoric and their resulting strategies.

We can tell more about the worth of a person and the causes he works for by seeing how their alleged principles are applied OFFSTAGE.

Let them show us all of where they've been and what paths they tread today before we let them determine where we'll be going.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 2:18 PM

Senator Obama may have been just a lad of eight when Ayers and his friends began to set off bombs all over the country, but the beliefs of the former Weatherman has not changed at all since that time. Bill Ayers is not a "former radical" He is a current radical.

After watching the film last night, I noticed that there is also a DVD commentary track with Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn. I felt too under the weather to endure another sitting of the documentary, but someone else already did the dirty work for me. I found it to be quite revealing of his current mindset.


Also, here's what kind of school reform Mr. Ayers believes in:


-- Posted by Brian Mosely on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 3:22 PM

I find it hard to believe with all the stuff coming out about the people that Obama has associations with that he is still a viable candidate. It has been proven that he is more than just a passing acquaintance of Bill Ayers, if you look at Obamas neighborhood its like Radicalville. There is to many questions about his past, and his refusal to answer should be a clue to people. But still there are those brainwashed people and they are gaining strength. It just blows my mind.

-- Posted by greasemonkey on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 4:12 PM

It has been proven that he is more than just a passing acquaintance of Bill Ayers, if you look at Obamas neighborhood its like Radicalville


Pretty much the response anyone gets whenever something like this gets brought up. No matter what the issue, he REALLY didn't think like that. He was just hangin' out with friends. It must be our racism that's clouding how we look at it.


-- Posted by Tim Baker on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 4:22 PM

Uh... and here we have a Obama spokesman admitting the Senator knew about Ayers....


-- Posted by Brian Mosely on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 4:49 PM

We need to scrutinize all our leaders and their influences and think hard about the conclusions we draw from that study.

I wouldn't object to the Root of Jesse having a radical influence on someone's personal and professional behavior.

But,we need to look at facts and not spin before we judge anyone's ability to govern himself or us.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Tue, Oct 7, 2008, at 6:55 PM

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Brian Mosely is a staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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