Note: This is a summary of the evidence columnist Jack Cashill has compiled regarding the true authorship of Barack Obama's "Dreams From My Father."
A number of diverse independent agents have been working on the authorship of Barack Obama's 1995 memoir, "Dreams From My Father." This includes five different stylometric analysts, here and in England. The unmistakable conclusion: Skilled editor and writer Bill Ayers was the primary author of important sections of Obama's book and editor of the work as a whole.
This stylometric analysis merely confirms the evidence drawn from the many other lines of forensic analysis that follow, which, taken together, overwhelm the dispassionate observer. There is no contrary evidence other than Obama's name on the book.
The team working on this project includes university professors who have distinguished themselves in the statistical analysis of authorship, systems engineers, writers and Ph.D. literary analysts.
Understandably, given the treatment by the dominant media of people who choose to question the Obama candidacy – Joe the Plumber comes to mind – some of those who have worked on this project have asked us not to reveal their identities. They are not being paranoid, especially those who work in public universities. They are merely being prudent, an unfortunate comment on the academy today.
Jack Cashill, who initiated the project, has a Ph.D. in American studies, is a professional writer, writing teacher and author of many books, among them "Hoodwinked," a study of literary and intellectual fraud. What follows is a quick summary of eight distinct lines of inquiry:
A literary history of Obama and Ayers
A stylistic analysis
An assessment of the several stories that appear in the work of both Obama and Ayers
An analysis of their stunningly parallel metaphors
A review of their shared postmodern themes
An evaluation of Dreams' odd 1960s consciousness
An assessment of the revealing 2004 preface and 1995 introduction
A data-driven stylometric analysis
As shall be seen, the existing evidence severely tests Obama's claim of a superficial relationship with the self-declared "communist" Ayers. This appears to be a conscious and consequential deception.
1. Literary history
In 1995, Barack Obama produced a lyrical masterwork that Time magazine has called "the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician." Yet all the Obama samples we have unearthed before 1995 are pedestrian and uninspired. There is no precedent for this kind of literary transformation. It is as if a high 90s golfer suddenly showed up with his PGA card – with no known practice rounds in between. We will be happy to show these early examples to anyone who cares to see them.
The Obama camp has refused all inquiries on grades, SAT scores, LSAT scores, student theses, or any other documents that would flesh out what Politico calls Obama's "scant paper trail."
Despite being named president of the Harvard Law Review – more of a popularity than a literary contest – Obama has, most unusually, written nothing under his own name for the HLR or any other legal journal.
Sometime between 1992 and 1994, Simon & Schuster canceled the advance it had offered Obama to write "Dreams." Obama had not been able to finish the book on his own. Ayers could help. He provided an informal editing service for like-minded friends in the neighborhood.
Fellow radical Rashid Khalidi attests to this in the very first sentence of the acknowledgements in his 2004 book, "Resurrecting Empire." "There are many people without whose support and assistance I could not have written this book, or written it in the way that it was written," he writes. "First, chronologically, and in other ways, comes Bill Ayers."
Ayers and Obama have a good deal in common. Both grew up in comfortable white households and have struggled to find an identity as black men ever since. Just as Obama resisted "the pure and heady breeze of privilege" to which he was exposed as a child, Ayers too resisted "white skin privilege" or at least tried to. "I also thought I was black," says Ayers only half-jokingly.
As proof of his righteousness, Ayers named his first son "Malik" after the newly Islamic Malcolm X and the second son "Zayd" after Black Panther Zayd Shakur. Ayers began his radical career as a "community organizer" in Cleveland.
There was a good deal of literary back-scratching going on in Chicago's Hyde Park. Obama, for instance, wrote a short and glowing review of Ayers' 1997 book, "A Kind and Just Parent," for the Chicago Tribune. In that same book, perhaps with a self-congratulatory wink, Ayers cites the "writer" Barack Obama as one among the celebrities in his neighborhood.
Obama's memoir was published in June 1995. Earlier that year, Ayers helped Obama get appointed chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant. In the fall of that same year, 1995, Ayers helped blaze Obama's path to political power with a fundraiser in his Chicago home. In short, Ayers had the means, the motive and the ability to jump start Obama's literary career.
Ayers also had the time. He published his book "To Teach" in 1993. Between 1993 and 1996, he had no other formal authorial assignment than to co-edit a collection of essays. This was an unusual hole in his very busy publishing career.
2. Stylistic analysis
The stylistic similarities between the best sections of Obama's "Dreams" and Ayers' 2001 memoir, "Fugitive Days," should be apparent to any serious writer or editor.
Consider the two following "nature" passages in Obama's and Ayers' respective memoirs, the first from "Fugitive Days":
"I picture the street coming alive, awakening from the fury of winter, stirred from the chilly spring night by cold glimmers of sunlight angling through the city."
The second from "Dreams":
"Night now fell in midafternoon, especially when the snowstorms rolled in, boundless prairie storms that set the sky close to the ground, the city lights reflected against the clouds."
These two sentences are alike in more than their poetic sense, their length and their gracefully layered structure. They tabulate nearly identically on the Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES), something of a standard in the field.
The "Fugitive Days" excerpt scores a 54 on reading ease and a 12th-grade reading level. The "Dreams'" excerpt scores a 54.8 on reading ease and a 12th-grade reading level. Scores can range from 0 to 121, so hitting a nearly exact score matters.
Another significant variable is sentence length. In comparing 30-sentence sequences from "Dreams" and "Fugitive Days," each of which relates the author's entry into the world of "community organizing," "Fugitive Days" averaged 23.13 words a sentence. "Dreams" averaged 23.36 words a sentence. By way of control, sentences in the memoir section of Cashill's book "Sucker Punch" average 15 words in length and scored considerably higher on the Flesch test.
In a random test of verb repetition, of the first 60 distinctive verbs in "Fugitive Days," an incredible 55 appear in "Dreams" and only 37 in "Sucker Punch" despite the fact that Ayers is closer in age and education to Cashill than to Obama.
This preliminary assessment, as shall be seen, has been confirmed in every one of the stylometric analyses that has been executed.
3. Parallel stories
What follows are three anecdotes Ayers tells that appear in only slightly modified form in "Dreams."
In his 1993 book, "To Teach," Ayers lays out the difference between "education" on the one hand and "training" on the other. "Education is for self-activating explorers of life, for those who would challenge fate, for doers and activists, for citizens," Ayers writes.
"Training," on the other hand, "is for slaves, for loyal subjects, for tractable employees, for willing consumers, for obedient soldiers."
In Obama's "Dreams," these thoughts find colloquial expression in the person of "Frank," the real life poet, pornographer and Stalinist Frank Marshall Davis.
"Understand something, boy," Frank tells the college-bound Obama. "You're not going to college to get educated. You're going there to get trained."
Frank shares Ayers' distaste for training. "They'll train you to forget what it is that you already know," Frank tells Obama. "They'll train you so good, you'll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that sh--."
Frank also tells Obama that "leaving your race at the door" is an essential part of the university's training mission. Ayers makes the same case about training in reference to Indian schools, which insist, according to Ayers, that students be "stripped of everything Indian and taught to be like whites."
In the same 1993 book, "To Teach," Ayers tells the story of an adventurous teacher who takes her students out to the streets of New York to learn interesting life lessons about the culture and history of the city.
As Ayers tells it, the students were fascinated by the Hudson River nearby and asked to see it. When they got to the river's edge, one student says, "Look, the river is flowing up." A second student answers, "No, it has to flow south-down."
Upon further research, the teacher discovers "that the Hudson River is a tidal river, that it flows both north and south, and they had visited the exact spot where the tide stops its northward push."
In his 1995 book, "Dreams From My Father," Obama shares a stunningly similar story from his own brief New York sojourn. As Obama tells it, he takes an unlikely detour to the exact spot on the parallel East River where the north-flowing tide meets the south-flowing river.
There, improbably, a young black boy approaches this strange man and asks, "You know why sometimes the river runs that way and then sometimes it goes this way?" Obama tells the boy it "had to do with the tides."
In his 1997 book, "A Kind and Just Parent," Ayers tells of a useful reading assignment from the 1992 book, "The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas," by black author Reginald McKnight.
The passage in question deals with the travails of Clint, the first black student in a newly integrated school, who tries to distance himself from Marvin, the only other black boy in the school.
"Can you believe that guy?" Clint tells a white student. "He's like a pig or something. Makes me sick." Upon reflection, Clint thinks, "I was ashamed. Ashamed for not defending Marvin and ashamed that Marvin even existed."
In "Dreams," Obama reflects on his own first days as a 10-year-old at his Hawaiian prep school, a transition complicated by the presence of "Coretta," the only other black student in the class.
When the other students accuse Obama of having a girlfriend, Obama shoves Coretta and insists that she leave him alone.
Although "his act of betrayal" buys him a reprieve from the other students, Obama, like Clint, understands that he "had been tested and found wanting."
These are three that we have found. We suspect there are more.
4. Parallel metaphors
After dropping out of college, Bill Ayers took up the life of a merchant seaman. "I'd thought that when I signed on that I might write an American novel about a young man at sea," says Ayers in his memoir, "Fugitive Days," "but I didn't have it in me."
Although Ayers has tried to put his ocean-going days behind him, the language of the sea will not let him go. "I realized that no one else could ever know this singular experience," Ayers writes of his maritime adventures. Yet curiously, much of this same nautical language flows through Obama's earth-bound memoir.
Although there are no literal sea experiences in "Dreams," the following words, incredibly enough, appear in both "Dreams" and in Ayers' work: fog, mist, ships, seas, boats, oceans, calms, captains, charts, first mates, storms, streams, wind, waves, barges, horizons, ports, panoramas, moorings, tides, currents and things howling, fluttering, knotted, ragged, tangled and murky. This is well beyond coincidence. By contrast, only the words "current" and "tide" appear in Cashill's "Sucker Punch."
Not surprisingly, Ayers uses "ship" as a metaphor with some frequency. Early in the book, he tells us that his mother is "the captain of her own ship," not a substantial one either but "a ragged thing with fatal leaks" launched into a "sea of carelessness."
Obama, too, finds himself "feeling like the first mate on a sinking ship." He also makes a metaphorical reference to "a tranquil sea." More intriguing is Obama's use of the word "ragged" as an adjective as in the highly poetic "ragged air" or "ragged laughter."
Both books use "storms" and "horizons" both as metaphor and as reality. Ayers writes poetically of an "unbounded horizon," and Obama writes of "boundless prairie storms" and poetic horizons – "violet horizon," "eastern horizon," "western horizon."
The metaphorical use of the word "tangled" might also derive from one's nautical adventures. Ayers writes of his "tangled love affairs" and Obama of his "tangled arguments."
In "Dreams," we read of the "whole panorama of life out there" and in "Fugitive Days," "the whole weird panorama." Ayers writes of still another panorama, this one "an immense panorama of waste and cruelty." Obama employs the word "cruel" and its derivatives no fewer than 14 times in "Dreams."
On at least 12 occasions, Obama speaks of "despair," as in the "ocean of despair." Ayers speaks of a "deepening despair," a constant theme for him as well.
Obama's "knotted, howling assertion of self" sounds like something from the pages of Jack London's "The Sea Wolf." The word "knot" or its derivatives, an Ayers' favorite, is used 11 times in "Dreams."
If there is any one paragraph in "Dreams" that is most convincing of Ayers' involvement it is this one, in which Obama describes the black nationalist message:
"A steady attack on the white race ... served as the ballast that could prevent the ideas of personal and communal responsibility from tipping into an ocean of despair."
A writer, especially in the pre-Google era of "Dreams," would not use a metaphor as specific as "ballast" unless he knew exactly what he was talking about.
Seaman Ayers most surely did.
5. Postmodern themes
Ayers' "Fugitive Days" and Obama's "Dreams From My Father" follow oddly similar rules. Ayers describes his as "a memory book," one that deliberately blurs facts and changes identities and makes no claims at history. Obama says much the same. In "Dreams," some characters are composites. Some appear out of precise chronology. Names have been changed.
"Dreams" and "Fugitive Days" are both suffused with repeated reference to lies, lying and what Ayers calls "our constructed reality." In true postmodernist fashion, Ayers rejects the possibility of an objective, universal truth. He argues instead that our lives are journeys, whose "narratives" we "construct" and, if we have the will and the power, impose on others.
Curiously, Obama says much the same in "Dreams" and in much the same language. "But another part of me knew that what I was telling them was a lie," writes Obama, "something I'd constructed from the scraps of information I'd picked up from my mother."
The evidence strongly suggests that Ayers transformed the stumbling literalist of "Why Organize" into the sophisticated postmodernist of "Dreams," and he did not so not by tutoring Obama, but by rewriting his text. The Ayers' quotes that follow come from an essay of his, "Narrative Push/Narrative Pull." The Obama quotes come from "Dreams":
"The hallmark of writing in the first person is intimacy. ... But in narrative the universal is revealed through the specific, the general through the particular, the essence through the unique and necessity is revealed through contingency."
"And so what was a more interior, intimate effort on my part, to understand this struggle and to find my place in it, has converged with a broader public debate, a debate in which I am professionally engaged. ..."
"Narrative begins with something to say – content precedes form."
"I understood that I had spent much of my life trying to rewrite these stories, plugging up holes in the narrative. ..."
"Narrative inquiry can be a useful corrective to all this."
"Truth is usually the best corrective."
"The mind works in contradiction, and honesty requires the writer to reveal disputes with herself on the page."
"Not because that past is particularly painful or perverse but because it speaks to those aspects of myself that resist conscious choice and that – on the surface, at least – contradict the world I now occupy."
"The reader must actually see the struggle. It's a journey, not by a tourist, but by a pilgrim."
"But all in all it was an intellectual journey that I imagined for myself, complete with maps and restpoints and a strict itinerary."
"Narrative writers strive for a personal signature, but must be aware that the struggle for honesty is constant."
"I was engaged in a fitful interior struggle. I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America."
"But that intimacy can trap a writer into a defensive crouch, into airing grievances or self-justification."
"At best, these things were a refuge; at worst, a trap."
Although one example is cited for each, "Dreams" offers many more. There are ten "trap" references alone and nearly as many for "narrative," "struggle" and "journey."
To be sure, there are other postmodernists in Chicago, but few who write as stylishly and as intelligibly as Ayers and fewer who make their dining room tables available to would-be authors of a leftist bent.
6. '60s consciousness
In "Dreams," Obama relates an experience at Columbia with the kind of insight and regret that only someone like Ayers could have felt and expressed.
As Obama tells it, he went to hear the black activist formerly known as Stokely Carmichael speak at Columbia. As he is leaving, he watches ruefully as "two Marxists" scream insults at each other over minor sectarian differences. "It was like a bad dream," thinks Obama. "The movement had died years ago, shattered into a thousand fragments."
These sentiments seem much too knowing and weighty for a 20-year-old just in from Hawaii and L.A. They make perfect sense, however, for a radical of nearly 40 emerging from a futile decade in hiding, one who has written favorably about Stokely Carmichael in his book, "To Teach."
In an interview for the book "Sixties Radicals," Ayers makes this clear. "When the war ended, our differences surfaced," he regrets. "We ended up in typical left-wing fashion: We ate each other … cannibalism."
Similarly, when the young Obama pontificates about "angry young men in Soweto or Detroit or the Mekong Delta," one hears the voice of someone much edgier and more aware than Obama. This reference reflects Ayers' worldview of America as a "marauding monster," one that terrorizes its own citizens of color just as it does those in the Third World.
Ayers does not define himself as being part of this monster but rather sees himself and his colleagues as saboteurs "behind enemy lines."
Curiously, Obama used the exact same phrase – "behind enemy lines" – to describe his own status while working in corporate America.
Obama's best defense here is that he did not write these passages and may not have understood their implications. For one, given his age, "Mekong Delta" was not likely a part of his vocabulary.
Ayers and his radical friends, however, were obsessed with Vietnam. It defined them and still does. To reflect their superior insight into that country, they have shown a tendency to use "Mekong Delta" as synecdoche, the part that indicates the whole. In "Fugitive Days," for instance, Ayers envisions "a patrol in the Mekong Delta" when he conjures up an image of Vietnam.
Ayers' wife, Bernadine Dohrn, pontificated about "a hamlet called My Lai" in a 1998 interview, but to flash her radical chops, she located it "in the middle of the Mekong Delta," which is in reality several hundred miles from My Lai. In "Sucker Punch," Cashill writes extensively about Vietnam, but makes no reference to the "Mekong Delta."
Similarly, Ayers would have had a much deeper connection than Obama to "Detroit," whose historic riot took place, shortly before Obama's 6th birthday. Ayers was posted to Detroit the year after the riot and experienced its fallout first hand. In 2007, on his blog, he "commemorate[d]" the 40th anniversary of what he predictably calls the "Detroit Rebellion."
For obvious reasons, the media and the Obama camp have held Obama blameless for knowing anything about anything before 1970.
7. The preface
Bruce Heiden, classics professor at the Ohio State University, has done an eye-opening analysis of the introduction and preface of "Dreams from My Father" and found this writing a marvel of evasive postmodernism. The former was part of the original 1995 printing of the book, and the preface was added when it was reissued in 2004.
Heiden argues that neither document ever states that Barack Obama, the credited author of "Dreams from My Father," actually wrote the book. The preface skips straight from Obama saying he "went to work" on the book to the book's publication, while the introduction makes a vague gesture toward a writing-like event in saying that the author's interior journey "found its way onto these pages."
Heiden points out many other anomalies in the introduction and preface to "Dreams," which can be found at his weblog.
In an earlier correspondence between Jack Cashill and Patrick Juola, one of the nation's leading authorities on data-driven computer analysis, Juola cautioned that "the accuracy simply isn't there."
He continued, "The best-performing methods we know about can get 90-plus percent accuracy, but can also get 50 percent or less (and we don't yet understand the conditions that cause that to happen), which means that for high stakes issues (such as national politics), the repercussions of a technical error could be a disaster (in either direction)."
Juola added, "A better approach is simply to do what you're already doing (as far as I can tell from the columns you were so kind as to send) – good old-fashioned literary detective work."
That much said, there was a general feeling that the public would need the confirmation of science, and not just from one source. Fortunately, five different sets of researchers have taken the challenge to test the hypothesis that Ayers was heavily involved in the writing of "Dreams."
We are waiting the fifth of these five stylometric analyses, this one from a British scholar, but here are some quick summaries from the first four. The authors' name will be made available on deep background.
"Using the chi-square statistic," observes one professor, "Obama's and Ayers's books were indistinguishable, while Obama's book was easily distinguishable from books by other authors."
Writes another analyst, using his own proprietary software, "There is a strong likelihood that the author of "Fugitive Days" ghost-wrote "Dreams From My Father" using recordings of dialog (either tape recorded or notes). Alternatively, another scenario could be possible: Ayers might have served as a 'book doctor.'"
One systems engineer writes, "The statistical style analysis performed by our research team suggests that the writing style of 'Dreams From My Father' is significantly more similar to the style observed in 'Fugitive Days' than to the style found in other works by Barack Obama such as 'Audacity of Hope.' Even more interesting, when we extract those sections of 'Dreams From My Father' that Dr. Cashill believes to be Ayers' writing and treat this as a unique document, the style analysis software identifies a stronger correlation between this sample and Ayers' 'Fugitive Days' than we see between this same sample and the remainder of 'Dreams From My Father'! Thus we have reason to believe that 'Dreams From My Father' had at least two authors, and one author's measured style features more closely match those of Ayers than they match those of the other author(s)."
"Under the Q-value statistic," argues one university-based analyst who tested "Dreams" against Ayers' 2001 memoir, "Fugitive Days," "segments of 'Dreams' consistently compared as well with 'Fugitive' segments as it did with other segments of 'Dreams' itself. In contrast, 'Dreams' compared poorly with other documents."
Writes another: "The Ayers-Obama matching shows a measurable and substantial effect. It is easily and objectively distinguishable from comparison to a third document. These results achieved through good methodology should readily stimulate scientists skilled in the particular relevant fields to construct their own tests, place objective metrics on the correlation between the Ayers-Obama documents and publish results. We strongly think this bears immediate investigation by the academic community at large as the initial data presented is highly suggestive that these two documents share large portions of authorship."
As new information becomes available, we will be quick to share it.
The complete story about 'Dreams From My Father'
Here are Jack Cashill's columns that document authorship
Posted: September 23, 2009
8:09 pm Eastern
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
BARRY SOETORO'S LIFE (AKA OBAMA) IS A TOTAL FRAUD...ONE BIG LIE AFTER ANOTHER. BECAUSE BARRY WANTED TO CREATE A BACKGROUND AND A MYTHOLOGY ABOUT HIMSELF TO PURSUE POLITICAL OFFICE THAT HE WAS UNQUALIFIED FOR...HE AND HIS COHORTS CREATED THESE TWO PHONY SELF-SERVING BIOGRAPHIES FULL OF BULL-CRAP. TROUBLE IS...BARRY WOULD LOVE EVERYONE TO BELIEVE HE WROTE THEM...BUT GUESS WHAT AMERICA...ANOTHER BIG FAT LIE! YOU GOT SNOOKERED AGAIN! PURE FICTION WRITTEN BY THE TERRORIST BILL AYERS. OH, I THOUGHT BARRY WASN'T CLOSE TO BILL AYERS? OF COURSE...ANOTHER LIE.