Home / General / Jack Cashill still fails.

Jack Cashill still fails.


Since I’ve been paged, and since it’s being discussed in the comments, and since some people are thick enough to believe Cashill possesses “evidence” that requires “ironiz[ing] away,” I believe it’s time to reconvene the standards committee and remind people—via embarrassment—what the source of their “evidence” considers an “A-level match”:

As all actual, practicing literary critics know, few sentences in critical works scream tendentiousness louder than:

What should be transparent to any literary critic is that . . .

Literary matters are only “transparent” when they’re not properly literary. If something is transparent, you don’t need a literary critic to ponder the depths it doesn’t have—any old idiot will suffice. And that’s exactly why Jack Cashill, author of the above [italicized text] and an idiot of long-standing, is just the man to prove that Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s autobiography, Dreams From My Father. For Cashill and his mysterious contributors (“[t]he media punishment that Joe the Plumber received” requires they remain anonymous), the case against Obama is a compelling one:

What Mr. Midwest noticed recently is that both Ayers in [A Kind and Just Parent] and Obama in [Dreams From My Father] make reference to the poet Carl Sandburg. In itself, this is not a grand revelation. Let us call it a C-level match. Obama and Ayers seem to have shared the same library in any case . . . Ayers and Obama, however, go beyond citing Sandburg. Each quotes the opening line of his poem “Chicago” . . . This I would call a B-level match. What raises it up a notch to an A-level match is the fact that both misquote “Chicago,” and they do so in exactly the same way.

So both Ayers and Obama misquote the opening line of Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago,” substituting “hog butcher to the world” for “hog butcher for the world.” This mutual error would be significant (an “A-level match”) if Ayers and Obama were the only two people who ever made it, but according to Google Book Search—a secret search engine to which only I have access—the same mistake has been made by Nelson Algren, Alan Lomax, Andrei Codrescu, H.L. Mencken, Paul Krugman, Perry Miller, Donald Hall, Ed McBain, Saul Bellow, S.J. Perelman, Nathanael West, Ezra Pound, Wright Morris, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, and the 1967 Illinois Commission on Automation and Technological Progress. (To name but a few.) According to Cashill, I have now proven that Dreams From My Father was written by many a dead man of American letters, a living mystery writer, a New York Times columnist and the 1967 Illinois Commission on Automation and Technological Progress. That bears repeating:

I have an “A-level match” that proves that Obama’s autobiography was written by a “study of the economic and social effects of automation and other technological changes on industry, commerce, agriculture, education, manpower, and society in Illinois” when Obama was only six years old.

What you see there is actual evidenceagainst Cashill—of being a blinkered, methodologically unsound literary scholar.  I challenge anyone to demonstrate that Cashill’s method is sound and likely to produce accurate results.  No one will, because they either aren’t experts in literary analysis or they “know a thing or two about interpretation” but are choosing to set said knowledge aside in the interest of what they believe to be great justice.  That they’ve offered no evidence, but have merely piggy-backed on Cashill’s demonstrably inadequate noodling, is beside the point.  Or would be, if there were one.  There isn’t.  Why isn’t there?

Because none of the evidence has changed. Cashill’s attempting to bulwark an unsteady argument with information extraneous to it.  Whether Ayers made “a strained effort to take credit without taking credit” has no bearing on the quality of Cashill’s argument.  Whether “Donald Trump has proved willing to challenge the story” has no bearing on the quality of Cashill’s argument.  Nothing outside of the “case” Cashill’s made against Ayers and Obama matters, and the “facts” in evidence are still so pitiful that belief in them basically functions as an indictment against your intelligence.

This is the political-theater equivalent of a student who’s been told he’s written a non-passing essay, runs to Rite Aid and buys a snazzy binder, then slips the same essay into it and turns it back in.   The student expects a better grade, but only because the student is an idiot.  Until he addresses the failings of his non-passing argument, he’s going to continue to receive a non-passing grade.

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  • Hanspeter

    I’d ask that you don’t mock the use of binders.

  • John Emerson

    I overheard a student explaining the binder trick around 1980. His second trick was to cite the teacher of the course on the first page. I had taken a course by that teacher and the trick probably worked with her. The least qualified teacher I ever had.

  • wengler

    Illinois Commission on Automation and Technological Progress.

    It finally makes sense. The symbols are all there. The disembodied statue heads of industrialists at the Merchandise Mart. The bend of the Chicago River which when mathematically expressed offers up a number of 99.9 which upside down is 666. The placement of a pagan goddess on top the Chicago Board of Trade. That strange mirrored bean in Grant Park. THE ALIEN SAUCER KNOWN AS SOLDIER FIELD.

    All of these are in Chicago which is hometown to terrorist Ayers and his apprentice Obama. It is all coming together now. We must unlock the code within Obama’s books to know what he will do next. Perhaps it needs to be overlaid with the Necronomicon.

    • asdfsdf

      You know what Chicago has? Buildings, roads, and utilities. Do you know who live in buildings, drive on roads, and use utilities?

      That’s right. Jewish Freemasons. They killed Jesus with their right-angle code on the dollar bill, and they’re still at it. Watch yourself, or you’ll be next.

    • 4jkb4ia


    • On the Road to Damascus I Saw a Light Malaclypse

      Illinois Commission on Automation and Technological Progress.


      Clearly, I have been oppressed by Wengler and his Chicago-style union thuggery.

  • Totally Evil DrDick

    What should be transparent to any literary critic is that . . .

    In my experience (as an anthropologist) literary critics generally have trouble agreeing on the meaning of “the.”

    As to the Sanburg poem, given that I lived there for 12 years, I can attest that pretty much all educated people in Chicago will cite that poem and the opening line. They will also almost always make the same mistake cited here (I thought that was the correct version).

    • elm

      I lived in Chicago for 4 years and would not have been able to tell you which version was correct and probably would have chosen “to” instead of “for” if pressed.

      But, then again, I’m a liberal Democrat. And my first book is in the process of being published. Since I’ve never published a book before while Bill Ayers has written or edited many books and we both lived in Hyde Park at around the same time, it must therefore be the case that Ayers is really either the primary author or secondary author of my book. At the least, he is the strong editor of the book.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks (Apparently Donalde Approved Since 2011!)

        Let me guess…is your book full of nautical metaphors?

        It was obviously written by Ayers….or Virginia Woolf!

  • Teach the controversy!

  • I think the student/essay analogy is apt in another way: neither the student or the folks falling for Ayer’s sarcasm are mature enough to admit it when they’ve been busted. Instead of owning up to it, they compound it.

  • Matt

    Funny, I’ve seen Mr. Cashill’s style of analysis before: it’s quite common amongst the “Bible Code” crowd. Oddly enough, both sets of methods conveniently give the answer the practitioner was expecting… (although the Bible Code guy whose skeptics found ” fraud” at a stronger correlation than half of the dude’s “discoveries” was pretty lulzy)

  • newrouter

    yes we’re waiting for you to present obama’s previous literary work prior to dreams for our inspection. good luck with that. and the bc, college records, il senate records, et al.

    • Stanley Kurtz! Good to see you here. Silly pseudonym, though. Anyway, I loved your work on al-Obama’s missing senior thesis. I had no idea that his Illinois Senate records had been suppressed as well!

    • wjts

      Yes indeed! I join newrouter in demanding that Scott Eric Kaufman, acting in his official capacities as Director of Health for the State of Hawai’i, Librarian for Permanent Records of Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard University Law School, Senior Archivist for the Illinois General Assembly, and Minister for Vital Statistics of the Province of Indonesia in the Republic of Kenya immediately release all documents under his purview pertaining to the life and history of Barack al-Hussein Mohammad Obama X Ayers.

      (Just between you and me, newrouter, I suspect we’re going to have to wait awhile on account of how stupid our demands are.)

      • timb

        give him a break…he think Goldstein is smart

        • timb

          damn no edit button


          silly typos stealing all my wonderful rhetorical thunder

    • Tom Renbarger

      What, no “Q.E.D., bitches!”?

    • putting the naughty in nautical hv

      Wish we had locked in the rates back when the demands were just for the BC. The inflation in this economy is a killer.

  • agum

    FYI, having been educated in Chicago, I have heard “hog butcher to the world” any number of times.

    “For the world,” correct or not, strikes me as just wrong. It’s like hearing someone call Chicago the “blustery city.”

    • Warren Terra

      Not to mention there seem to be a bunch of cliches with x to the world, and not so many with x for the world; it’s a formulation that people seem to prefer.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks (Apparently Donalde Approved Since 2011!)

        it’s a formulation that people seem to prefer

        That’s just what Ayers, Ginsberg, Lomax, Obama and the rest of the Commies want us to think!

        Today we “seem to prefer” x to the world to x for the world.

        Tomorrow we “seem to prefer” Obamacare.

        The next thing you know we “seem to prefer” anti-imperialist concentration camps and sharia law.

        We’re on to you now!

        • Anonymous

          ‘Sharia’h’ Law, if you please.

  • JP Stormcrow

    Learning for me for the day: Google n-grams are case sensitive. Anyway, here is the n-gram for “Hog Butcher to the World”, “Hog Butcher for the World” (the correct one as capitalized by Sandburg), “hog butcher to the world” (Ayers version; Obama’s version, sort of*)and “hog butcher for the world”. They show some interesting patterns; the original (with precise capitalization) still leads, but is only a little more than 2x the Ayers version in recent years (down a lot over the course of 60 years). With incorrect capitalization, the “to” version has led the “from” version since the late 60s. “From” correctly capitalized comes in last (not surprisingly).

    *Obama starts a sentence with it, so the ‘H’ is capitalized, so his result is actually not in the n-grams (I did an n-gram adding just the H being capitalized in, but nothing really added to what can be seen with just the four).

  • Michael H Schneider

    I’m too busy to read that long comment page, so someone give me the precis: is it true that SEK wrote A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream as a portrait of life among the undergraduates at U of C Irvine?

    Bonus fact: SEK works for the U of C. Obama worked for the U of C. Irvine is known as “Orange butcher for the world.”

    • timb

      Not only are you too busy to read the comments; you’re too busy to understand all the smart talk from Jack Cashill and Dr, errr, Mr. Jeff Goldstein: EVERYTHING was written by Bill Ayers, book doctor to the gods

      • Michael H Schneider

        The fact that FDR, Ayers, and Obama all lived in Hyde Park is certainly A level evidence. The fact that SEK has (so far) successfully supressed the evidence of his Hyde Park connection is the clincher.

      • less of me

        All too true timb. Or should I say . . . Dr. Ayers!

        We all know Carl Goldsteinburg would have written “book doctor for the gods”. Your linguistic slip is showing yet again.

        (Also, if you can prove this comment was written by Bill Ayers, I’ll split the ubiquity with you.)

    • Anonymous

      UC Irvine. No “of. “

      • UC Irvine, Hog Butcher to-of-for the WORLD!!!

      • Michael H Schneider

        UC Irvine. No “of. “

        Its official web page, http://www.uci.edu is titled, and says at the top, “University of California, Irvine”

        I blame Jerry Brown for this eggregious infelicity. It certainly goes to prove you can’t believe anything you find on the intertubes.

        • elm

          True, that’s its full name. But all of UC’s, when abbreviated, drop the ‘of.’

          I think Ayers once put an “of” though in between the U and the C. He’s writing your comments for you, isn’t he?

  • JP Stormcrow

    Aargh, kindly ignore repetitive word choice and grammar in the footnote (and “from” s/b “for” in the sentence before that).

    I agree with agum that “hog butcher to the world” sounds more correct to my ears than “for”.

  • SEK

    I’m a gonna tuck this odd confession down here where no one will see it: I’m inputting the students I’ll meet tomorrow into the Writing Studio, which I have to do manually, and which is a pain in the ass, but one of them? His name? It’s not Robert Paulson, no, that would be sort of awesome. His name is, I kid you not, “Donald Douglas.”

    What’s the emoticon that signifies, to paraphrase the Doctor, a total event collapse in which every sun will supernova at every moment in history?

    • Incontinentia Buttocks (Apparently Donalde Approved Since 2011!)

      Plate o’ shrimp!

    • timb

      Why do I get an “F” at registration, Professor Kaufman? And, why did you threaten to kill me?

    • Did you check the middle initial? And will you have large friends within earshot?

    • mds

      What’s the emoticon that signifies, to paraphrase the Doctor, a total event collapse in which every sun will supernova at every moment in history?

      I’d try to do an ASCII rendering of the pattern on the sides of the Pandorica, but I’m too lazy.

  • Did anyone notice the nautical metaphor in tonight’s speech? He’s playing with us!

    • OMG, you’re right. He actually led off with something about “an anchor of global stability”! The echo of Bill Ayers’ “Rock the Boat” (“our love is like a ship on the ocean/ we’ve been sailing with a cargo of love and devotion/ and an anchor of global stability”) is unmistakable.

  • Dave

    jack cashill, hog butcher of the world

    • Anonymous

      jack cashill, hog butcher of the word


      • With all this talk of hogs and butchers, I can’t help but think that Pigford II is somehow involved.


  • being only tangentially related to the field, this is a thought – and perhaps a wild one that I think perhaps SEK could weigh in on – but what about semantic network analysis – practiced by a UC-Chicago professor named James Dankowski, who has a computer program that examines the proximity of words (an oversimplification, obviously). Compare the two texts through this wordij program. see if there is any overlap. in a sane world, it would shut these people up. but then, i’m an idealist.

    • herr doktor bimler

      IIRC there was an English linguist (Cambridge perhaps?) with software for forensic linguistic work, who was happy to announce that Obama’s putative books were not written by Ayers. That was the limit of his pro bono work; he was willing to look into the question of who did write them, if someone were willing to fund his research, but the forensic linguistics enthusiasts lost interest at that point.

      • NBarnes

        I find it mildly surprising that somebody from the Vast Right Wing Gravy Train didn’t see fit to put some money into that research, just on the chance that it would turn up something interesting.

      • CBrinton

        Peter Millican of Oxford.

        “[Millican] was contacted last weekend and offered $10,000 (£6,200) to assess alleged similarities between Obama’s bestseller, Dreams from My Father, and Fugitive Days, a memoir by William Ayers . . . . Millican took a preliminary look and found the charges “very implausible”. A deal was agreed for more detailed research but when Millican said the results had to be made public, even if no link to Ayers was proved, interest waned.”


  • owlbear1

    ..in a sane world, it would shut these people up. but then, i’m an idealist.

    Remember, we are dealing with a group who lie for the thrill of it. That is why even with direct proof they aren’t going to stop lying, it’s a drug to them.

  • Xenocrates

    This reminds me of the “Seinfeld” episode where George went to work on the Penske file. His entire week was devoted to parties, fun and finally, organizing the file into an accordion folder. Perhaps Mr. Cashill plagiarized his work from television? Or maybe he’s just an idiot…I’m going with the latter interpretation.

  • Davis

    So two proud Chicagoans cited Chicago poet Sandburg’s most famous line, and misquoted it the same way most people do. Such “evidence” is convincing only to the paranoid mind that wants to be convinced. There’s not much you can do about it. Bilking the rubes is easy when you have no ethics.

  • StevenAttewell

    I’ve always thought that “to the world” made more sense. Given the tradition imported from British shops of announcing oneself as tailor or milliner or whatever “to the gentry,” isn’t it possible that Sanburg got it wrong, and we’ve all been politely correcting him with the more resonant phrasing?

    • Warren Terra

      Also, anyone who frequently watched PBS or listened to a lot of NPR in the 90s got “Archer Daniels Midland, Supermarket To The World” wedged so deeply into their psyche by sheer repetition of the liturgical phrase in underwriting announcements that it may be the last thing they forget.

    • Anonymous

      That depends upon the definition of ‘to’.

  • “So two proud Chicagoans cited Chicago poet Sandburg’s most famous line”

    Cashill is busy reading stat lines from Ryno as we speak

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