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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

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Gary Farber

Surely it's a sound bet that Letitia Baldrige, Rick Lazio, Ed Koch, and John Kerry were all knowledgeable sources who assured Andersen that Bill Ayers had written Dreams From My Father?

Dreams From My Father, incidentally, is a remarkably good book -- which bears absolutely no personal touches from Barack Obama -- considered from any angle, and which I highly recommend everyone read, and would do so if the author were, well, anybody: kudos to Bill Ayers for his mad writing skilz! I can't imagine why Ayers hasn't had any other best-sellers.

Oh, wait.

And, not incidentally, one of the many reasons I feel no hesitation in calling Cashhill an idiot is that he had to look up what "baleful" means; it's not exactly a high-falutin', obscure, word.

You hit the rest of the points that led to my conclusive analysis of Cashhill's text. The man has tools of analysis like that of no other. His articles fill a much-needed gap in the literature.

Endy

When you were doing searches, did you look for instances where Cashill had used 'baleful'? because I find it hard to believe he really didn't know that word until Obama taught it to him.
And now I'm off to look up 'tendentious' and hopefully prove you're an eighteenth-century Englishwoman.

tomemos

Wm T Sherman? Other Cashill apologists? "Is anybody going to deal with it, or are you all just going to wait for it to go away?"

SEK

As per the update, tomemos, they're too busy running victory laps, if you can believe it.

SEK

Endy:

When you were doing searches, did you look for instances where Cashill had used 'baleful'?

No dice . . . meaning he did not, in fact, know from "baleful" despite being all this:

Jack Cashill is an independent writer and producer and, on a contractual basis, the Executive Editor of Ingram’s Magazine, Kansas City’s premier business magazine.

In addition to his work with Ingram’s, Jack has written for Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, and regularly for WorldNetDaily. He has had one collection of essays published—Snake Handling in Mid-America and one novel—2006: The Chautauqua Rising.

Within the last five years Jack has written five books of non-fiction — First Strike, Ron Brown’s Body, Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture, Sucker Punch: The Left Hook that Dazed Ali and Killed King's Dream and his latest, What's the Matter with California. Three of them have cracked Amazon’s top ten list. Jack has produced at least a dozen documentaries for regional PBS and national cable channels, including the Emmy Award-winning, The Royal Years.

Jack has also produced an audio book, Understanding America: the great speeches, sermons, documents and narratives of the American experience.

In addition, Jack hosted daily talk radio shows for five years—four of those with KMBZ, Kansas City’s foremost AM station, and one year with Catholic Family Radio’s national network. Jack has a Ph.D. from Purdue University in American studies, has taught media and literature at Purdue and at Kansas City area universities, and served as a Fulbright professor in France.

Jack's latest book, What's the Matter with California (Simon & Schuster), came out in paperback in August 2008.

The bar to being all that must be very, very low.

happyfeet

The Mancow Show link don't go nowheres.

I still think it's overwhelmingly likely that the little president man had help writing his book. That's ok. Writing a book is hard. Writing an article for that little Harvard legal magazine what he was editor of is hard, so he never did get around to writing one. But if it wasn't Ayers what helped him, who did? And don't say M'chelle cause... please. Woman struggles to fill a fruit bowl with fruit. Asking her to fill a page with words would make her head asplode I think.

SEK

Writing an article for that little Harvard legal magazine what he was editor of is hard

...not to mention expressly prohibited by every journal I've come across. The managing editor isn't allowed to include his or her own work because they're in a position to taint the blind review process: even if they don't have the final decision on their article, they've talked to the other editors about their own work and it would be recognized fairly quickly.

But if it wasn't Ayers what helped him, who did?

apples to oranges it was his editor at Three Rivers Press, the same way editors like Gordon Lish helped turn Raymond Carver into Raymond Carver. That's what Mr. Occam tells me---well, that and that the most likely reason for the stylistic difference between Dreams and Audacity has something to do with Three Rivers being merged into Crown and him working with a different editor. All memoirs are edited, I'm not arguing otherwise. The crazy element here is the belief that, of all the people in all the world, it's Bill Ayers who edited Dreams.

Contrary to what Jeff et al would have you believe, the only evidence of Ayers's involvement comes from the two anonymous sources---because Cashill's analysis, as I think I've sufficiently demonstrated, is easily falsifiable junk, a random collocation of common words and streets scenes made meaningful by someone with a mind predisposed to doing that. Hence, his defense of ID, which plays fast and loose with facts in this exact same manner.

Bob Reed

I'll respect your opinion of Cashill's analysis of Dreams! because that is your profession. But despite all of your "search hits" for some of the phrase usages he cites, you ignore the cumulative nature of all of these likeness occurring, individually dismissing them out of hand a priori. I doubt that all of the authors your searches returned used every one of the phrase combinations that Obama and Ayers appear to share usage of; regardless of how trivial or asinine you feel that they are.

And I don't understand using any particular religious belief of Cashill's as proof of his inanity. While his ignorance of the meaning of "baleful" is valid to criticize, one writer to another, outside of the circles you interact in, where many similar beliefs are held, a person's personal religious beliefs are far from a convincing indictment of either authorial legitiamcy, intellectual savvy or even sanity.

I understand that you may not agree with Cashill or Andersen, and may have a professional skepticism based on what you believe are shoddy techniques. That's a professional opinion. But basing, in part, your disbelief on the fact that you disagree with other works they've successfully published, views thay have professed, or religious beliefs may make for amusing snark but is not firm footing for a refutation of their theses.

And forgive me for making assumptions, but I get the impression that you would not have questioned the veracity of Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, or their "Watergate" expose, a piece run largely based on information supplied by an anonymous source, "Deep Throat", whose identity was not revealed until much later; regardless of either writers lack of credential, professional accomplishment, or journalistic bona fides at that time. Perhaps that's because Nixon was not as sympathetic a character to you then as Obama is today, something only you know.

Me? I'm classically disinterested in this matter one way or another. Mr. Obama is already the President, and support for him will not turn on this matter alone. If false or lost to the "memory hole", then no big deal, and as I said if it gains traction, it alone will not do signifigant damage. The only way it could hurt him if true would be to expose a basic veracity problem that some in this nation feel he is developing a reputation for.

I don't think that you are as disinterested frankly, both for personal as well as ideological reasons. While the tone in this essay is entertaining in places, and some of your arguments thought provoking, keep in mind that you are no more right than others who hold the opposing point of view. Unlike more technical disciplines, this is a subjective analysis; especially since you have no direct communication with either writer.

SEK

Beginning at the end:

especially since you have no direct communication with either writer

That's their fault, not mine. I've made every effort to contact both.

keep in mind that you are no more right than others who hold the opposing point of view

That's the thing, though: I actually am. Using Cashill's own standars, I could demonstrate that Shakespeare wrote 90 percent of Romantic Poetry because there's nothing unique about the working vocabulary of post-Shakespearean poets---they all borrowed heavily from the Bard, so a simple tabulation of common occurances would almost always result in a false positive.

Moreover, stylistic similarity is not, in and of itself, proof of authorship. How do you prove one person wrote two books based on style alone? You begin by praying that person is not James Joyce, because you could maybe prove that the man who wrote Dubliners also wrote Stephen Hero, and that the man who wrote Portrait wrote the first three chapters of Ulysses, but it would be extremely difficult to prove that the same man wrote each of the subsequent chapters, much less the Wake.

Grant that the hypothetical author is not a similar linguistic virtuoso, and the first element that needs to be eliminated are the predominant features of a the genre in which the books are written. For example: the fact that two mystery novels both prominently feature private investigators, blondes with legs up to here, and tense conversations that lead to violence proves nothing about whether a particular author wrote a particular pair of mysteries. In the same vein, the fluidity of identity and the instability of memory are generic features of memoirs for the obvious reason that the author is slowly reevaluating his or her life.

When we say that we hardly recognize the person we were as a teenager, we are discussing the fluidity of identity; and were we writing a memoir, we would be muttering something to that effect every two minutes. When we fail to remember when it was that we went on that boat trip or baseball game with our father, we are discussing the instability of memory; and were we writing a memoir, we would be consulting friends and family on a regular basis in order to clarify when this or that happened. Maybe they would remember, but maybe they would remember differently, thereby challenging both your own memory of the event and theirs.

Such realizations---and explicit articulations of them---are so common in memoir as a genre that they can't be used as identifying characteristics in the way Cashill uses them. They're not distinctive.

I don't think that you are as disinterested frankly, both for personal as well as ideological reasons.

Close: I'm not disinterested because Cashill's making a mockery of my profession, and it's difficult enough for me to claim that I have standards, and that they're rigorously adhered to, when the kind of vaguely associative work Cashill does becomes "literary criticism" in the common currency.

And I don't understand using any particular religious belief of Cashill's as proof of his inanity.

I didn't say it was Cashill's religious beliefs that make him an untrustworthy carekeeper of fact, but his belief in Intelligent Design. ID is a parody of science: it looks like honest inquiry, but it's not because the conclusion is always foregone. Unlike those who study evolutionary theory, whose conception of what constitutes "evolution" and "natural selection" has been in flux---put to the scientific method---almost since the day Darwin published the Origin. Evolutionary theory adapts to changing facts; ID finds errant facts that will buttress its core belief.

I doubt that all of the authors your searches returned used every one of the phrase combinations that Obama and Ayers appear to share usage of; regardless of how trivial or asinine you feel that they are.

The odds of there being a third book that shares all those terms is very slim---so slim, in fact, that none of Ayers's other books appear either. That has nothing to do with Ayers/Obama and everything to do with the infinite nature of language. The fact that Cashill's "experiment" can't even prove that Ayers is the author of his other books says something about the soundness of his methodology.

Also of note is that Cashill draws his examples from multiple books by Ayers. If you were to hand me four books by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I bet you I can prove he wrote one by Hemingway or, honestly, almost any other 20th Century American writer.

Ahistoricality

I get the impression that you would not have questioned the veracity of Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, or their "Watergate" expose, a piece run largely based on information supplied by an anonymous source

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Aside from the ad hominem speculation, "Deep Throat" was one source: what they reported was confirmed from published sources and cited interviews. He was not anonymous to their editor, who needed Felt's identity to be sure about the validity of the information.

happyfeet

I find it shockingly uncynical that you literary people are so quick to welcome this dimwit little president man into your club. He's no more a literary personage than Hugo Chavez. He doesn't even write his own teleprompter scripts. Y'all are a lot defining authorship down I think, and it makes me sad. You know who's a writer is that John Irving.

tomemos

"But if it wasn't Ayers what helped him, who did? And don't say M'chelle cause... please. Woman struggles to fill a fruit bowl with fruit. Asking her to fill a page with words would make her head asplode I think."

When is someone going to call Happyfeet a racist, sexist asshole for repeating this libel over and over? Michelle Obama graduated cum laude from Princeton. Happyfeet has nothing besides his prejudices to stand on in calling her dumb, yet he's done it multiple times here, as far as I know without being called out.

tomemos

Oh, and as for this:

"He doesn't even write his own teleprompter scripts."

Meet this:

"Obama takes an unusually hands-on approach to his speech writing, more so than most politicians."

But maybe you'd like to go into more depth about how little credit as a speechwriter Obama should get compared to, say, his predecessor.

happyfeet

oh. She's not exactly famous for her intellectual accomplishments. You don't read Us do you? M'chelle mostly spends her time shopping at Target, going to recitals for the two girl children and just living to make her man happy. Sometimes she works out her arms so they are fine and toney. She's not some pretentious super smart person, silly. She's just like you and me!!

tomemos

If you read Us Weekly, you might want to reconsider the wisdom of calling a Princeton and Harvard Law grad dumb.

happyfeet

You're so grumpy and judgey. Here is a happy song about love and whatnot. It's for you, Tomemos. So you don't go to bed all grumpy like that.

Bob Reed

AHISTORICALITY,
"Wrong, wrong, wrong. Aside from the ad hominem speculation, "Deep Throat" was one source"

I never said they had any more than one source...

"...what they reported was confirmed from published sources and cited interviews."

Episodes that occurred well after that of the story breaking, as I recall. Seems like the stuff of "cart before the horse"...

"He was not anonymous to their editor, who needed Felt's identity ..."

But the fact remains that that same identity was secret from the public at large who made judgements based on that story as well as the investigators later. So, since the source remained anonymous to just about everyone until his recent death, that's the same as Andersens's sources, who are known but to him...

Karl Steel

"just about everyone" != "but to him"

At any rate, Bob (who spurns local government by arguing for governing by national polling: incidentally), apart from the undergraduate's whiny "that's just your opinion," you have anything else to say about the Baleful Cashill's magic search database? After you're done with that, perhaps you can join McCash in arguing that Marie de France wrote La vie seinte Audree (see Speculum 77 (2002): 744-77). <- note. Medievalist joke. I won't explain.

as far as I know without being called out.
Oh, I did. I also asked where HF received his terminal degree. No answer, of course.

And HF seems to be confusing the marketing of first ladies with the actual accomplishments of first ladies.

As for "literary types": wtf? Yeah, and my legislators tend to have pretty bad taste in music too. So what?

happyfeet

you are very surly this morning, Dr. Steel. Please to be telling me what M'chelle has accomplished? Her arms are fine and toney.

tomemos

"Please to be telling me what M'chelle has accomplished?"

This has been answered already. You gave me a crappy song in response, remember? Troll is getting boring.

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