RADICAL-IN-CHIEF, Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.
by Stanley Kurtz
The author begins the Preface by asking the question “What on earth is a Community Organizer?”
He then proposes to answer it with the assertion that community organizing is a profession. Socialism is the goal. Stealth is the strategy.
The Socialism Puzzle
“Late in the afternoon of April 1, 1983, a twenty-one year old Barack Obama made his way into the historic Great Hall of Manhattan’s Cooper Union to attend a “Socialists’ Scholars Conference. Within twenty-four hours, his life had been transformed. There at that conference Obama discovered his vocation as a community organizer, as well as a political program to guide him throughout his adult life.” So begins the book.
The Socialists Scholars Conference (SSC) of 1983 was a convention organized by prominent socialist scholars and activists as a bicentennial memorial in honor of Karl Marx who died in 1783. The largest gathering of socialists in American history was held three weeks earlier in the same Hall. It was also a tribute to Marx and attended by 6,000 people with another 5,000 turned away.
The conferences took place in 1983, ‘84 and ‘85 during Obama’s years at Columbia University. The New York Times referred to this period of seclusion and personal reflection as “the lost chapter” of the President’s life. There is not a lot that can be documented about this interlude, but we can be certain he attended at least the 1983 Marx memorial conference and that his Columbia associations and activities were consistent with socialist beliefs. Obama wrote an article for the campus paper Sundial calling for total nuclear disarmament as necessary to defeat the “military-industrial interests” and their “billion dollar erector sets.”
Frances Piven, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America Executive Committee and a woman with deep ties to ACORN opened the convention with a speech declaring “We must stand within the intellectual and political tradition Marx bequeathed us [ as a] living tradition – the thinking of active people” – to shape history as inspired by the ideas of Karl Marx.
Another convention speaker was Cuban journalist Jose Marti. In his remarks to the gathering he praised Marx as an “ardent transformer, uniter of men of different peoples, and tireless, powerful organizer.”.
James Cone, an eminent black liberation theologian and mentor to the Rev Jeremiah Wright spoke at the 1984 SSC convention. Kurtz speculates that this may have been Obama’s first introduction to Wright and the Trinity Church.
Karl Marx recognized the need to be pragmatic in the course of implementing socialist control. Whereas force and coercion may yield faster results in some countries, patience and subtlety would be required in others, notably those nations profoundly committed to individual freedoms and personal property rights. Socialists remain divided to this day between advancing their goals with open advocacy of their beliefs or settling for the slower advance that would come from a stealth and incremental approach which is a strategy of gradual implementation culminating with an ambush from within. As a socialist, Obama would fall into the latter more pragmatic stealth school.
Kurtz quotes John Drew, a man who was a Marxist radical in his youth and knew Obama when they both were students at Occidental College.
[Barack] was a “pure Marxist socialist at the time and hewed to the ”Marxist-Leninist” view that a violent socialist revolution was likely within his lifetime. The job of a proper radical, Obama believed, was to prepare for that event.
Radical philosophical beliefs are often passing fantasies of idealistic youth. But observing Obama over the ensuing years yields a picture of a true believer, a man of conviction, sincerity and dedication to ideals similar to those he held as a youth.
A Conference for Marx
Here Kurtz delves further into the nature of community organizing and how Barack Obama came to embrace it.
It was just a few months after the Marx Bicentennial Memorial Conference when Obama sent out letters in search of a community organizing job. In Dreams from My Father” Obama speaks of his decision – “I’ll organize black folks. At the grass roots. For change.”
Given the influence the 1983 conference had on Obama’s life, it is important to understand the nature of the conference. It was a symposium where proponents of the purist form of socialism in the style of Marx and Lenin presented their various views in forums and break-out sessions.
Debate centered around two schools of thought about the best way to implement socialism in the United States, either by open advocacy of socialist beliefs culminating in a militant forced change or by the slower but more pragmatic method of working within the democratic process.
Michael Harrington was the leading proponent for the pragmatists. The principle voice for militant change was Stanley Aronowitz. Aronowitz wanted to infiltrate the banks with employees loyal to the socialist cause, and then on a pre-planned day, literally burn the banks by setting fires within their confines. Harrington’s strategy was to engineer a non-violent form of redistribution using the banks as a conduit through which money could be controlled to flow to the cause.
In the end, Aronowitz won the argument. Harrington capitulated to the anxious Aronowitz who wanted to burn the banks with the simple statement “OK, if you think it will work.” Kurtz cites this as evidence that “even the greatest modern proponent of democratic socialism saw democracy more as a tactic than a principle – merely the most practical route to socialism in the United States.” Of course Aronowitz never followed through on his plan to burn the banks.
Peter Dreier led another panel entitled Socialist Movements. Most likely this was the best attended panel at the 1983 conference. Dreier was a DSA National Executive Committee member and the “key strategist in ACORN’s campaign to pressure banks into funding high-risk mortgages to low-credit customers.”
Dreier proposed a twofold plan. First to implement legislative change democratically as “reforms” within the capitalist system. The “reforms” however, would be “so incompatible with capitalism that they gradually precipitate the system’s collapse.” He argued for “injecting unmanageable strains into the capitalist system, strains that precipitate an economic and/or political crisis,” to “gradually expand government spending until the country nears fiscal collapse.” And then, capitalism having failed, organizers would turn the people toward socialism as the solution.
Simultaneously, grass roots organizations like ACORN should be built to influence public policy through advocacy and by winning seats on corporate boards, municipal boards and various commissions. In addition to helping enable the legislation Dreier sought, this cadre-in-waiting would help to minimize the violence expected with the collapse of capitalism.
From New York to Havana
Reliable information about Obama’s activities during his stay in New York is difficult to come by. However, there is ample evidence on which to make some reasonable assumptions. An examination of the content of the Socialist Scholars Conferences he attended is an indication of what interested Obama at the time.
Jesse Jackson. The conferences occurred during the period when Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition was in the forefront of the news. In Dreams, Obama speaks of attending a large Jackson rally while in New York. Jackson thought “it was time for blacks to ‘re-negotiate our relationship with the Democratic Party’ and force Democrats to the left.” The Democratic Socialists of America did not consider Jackson to be a socialist but the militant faction within the DSA supported him as a means to transform the Democratic Party.
Martin Luther King. The 1984 SSC promoted the idea that Dr. King converted to socialism toward the end of his life. The claim was made the he had come to believe “America is much, much sicker than I had realized” and that “the whole structure of American life must be changed.” Kurtz doubts this assertion is correct.
James Cone. Cone is credited with being the father of black liberation theology in America. Cone promotes the notion that “black church people need to be open to the need for a ‘total reconstruction of society along the lines of Democratic socialism’ and that Capitalism is ‘a system that offers no hope for the masses of blacks’.”
Kurtz reasons that (a) knowing Cone’s views from hearing him speak at the 1984 SSC and (b) knowing that Cone was Jeremiah Wright’s mentor, Obama would have been aware of Wright’s radical message before he chose him as his pastor.
Havana. Following the Socialist Scholars Conventions, Cone, Wright and Jesse Jackson travelled together to Cuba in a show of support for Castro in his struggles with America during the Reagan presidency. Jackson made headlines when he ended a speech with chants of “Long live Castro! Long live Martin Luther King! Long live Che Guevara!” The Rev. Wright was proud of his trip and mentioned it from time to time in the Trinity Church bulletin. Obama had to be aware of it.
Nader. In May of 1985 Obama took a job as an organizer for Ralph Nader’s NY Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). Earlier, Nader’s Brooklyn office was one of the first groups to pressure banks into lending into high-risk neighborhoods with sub-prime loans.
Obama’s Organizing; the Hidden Story
Obama relates his various activities in Dreams from My Father without using the real names of the people and organizations with whom he associated and worked. In the Preface to Dreams he explains “With the exception of my family and a few public figures, the names of most characters have been changed for the sake of their privacy.” Neither did Obama disclose the full nature of the community organizing activities in which he was engaged.
Following his six month stint with Nader, Obama went to Chicago to work as a community organizer under the mentorship of Greg Galluzzo. Galluzzo’s group, called The United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), wanted better penetration into the black community to expand UNO which was mostly Mexican. Responsibility for bringing in the black community was given to Barack.
UNO fought to have a new school be given the controversial name “Niños Heroes” in honor of 6 teenagers who died battling against the United States in 1847. UNO singled out one of the school board members and besieged his home. In another case, UNO opposed the building of a free medical clinic in a Hispanic neighborhood claiming the money should be spent on other causes. Once again UNO picked one individual, this time an elected official as a target around which to personalize and polarize the issue.
UNO’s tactics are instantly recognizable as classic examples of Saul Alinsky’s 13th rule for radicals “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
Galluzzo realized “churches were the most significant pre-existing source of organized constituents.” So Obama was given the task of bringing in the churches but he wasn’t very successful at it. One priest is quoted as having said “[The organizers] are not interested in us…All they want to do is take over. It’s a political thing. And that’s not what this group [of ministers ] here is about.” Obama wrote about the priest in Dreams from My Father. He discredited the priest by describing him as a bigot and gave him the name “Rev. Smalls”.
In his autobiography, Obama tells of his work to get federal money to pay for a job creation center in Chicago. The program was called the Mayor’s Employment and Training Center, shortened to “The MET”. The center failed in its ostensible purpose of creating jobs and was closed after just three years. However, it was deemed a success by its organizers for two reasons, 1) it brought in federal money and 2) the local politicians were able to tell the community they had done something for them.
Barack worked with a partner in organizing the MET project. For Dreams the partner is given the alias “Rafiq” and described by Barack as an anti-American, anti-white, anti-Semitic black militant. While Obama works with Rafiq he distances himself from Rafiq’s radical views, but says he was willing to tolerate them if it helps “to change the rules of power.” Obama preferred to bring the same change by working within the capitalistic system rather than by overthrowing it.
Asbestos and landfill concerns make ready issues around which community agitation can easily be built. Obama was active in both. A demonstration was organized and Chicago’s Housing Director was invited to address the crowd. When he arrived he was prevented from using a microphone. The crowd began chanting and when they turned militant the Housing Director fled in his car. Naturally the press covered it all. Organizers have two objectives for such events, either to win their demands or to enrage the crowd. The organizer’s demands were not met but when the official fled it enraged the crowd. Therefore the event was deemed to be a success.
School reform. Obama’s efforts at school reform never accomplished much, but it was not for lack of trying. He formed an organization called the Developing Communities Project (DCP) and this became the vehicle for the school reform program. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Father Pfleger and someone named Anne Hallett were influential with educators and other community leaders. They all became members of the DCP School Advisory Board. Hallett went on later to assist Bill Ayers in running his brainchild, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
The first goal of the coordinated school reform plan was to transfer the power over the school system from the teachers unions to community organizations like ACORN, UNO and Obama’s own DCP. To that end, the DCP and Galluzzo’s UNO formed a coalition to strengthen their respective hands. The UNO method of operation was right out of Alinsky’s book. The coalition followed suit. For example, the coalition leaders gathered a sizable group of supporters and showed up at the door of a Chicago Board of Education meeting when it was already in progress. They demanded to be heard and were invited to present their plan. However, the coalition refused to do so unless every member of their group were allowed into the already crowded room, a demand they knew full well was impossible to fulfill. Thus they were able to cry that the school board denied them a hearing. Community agitated. Community polarized. Mission accomplished.
The Midwest Academy
Origins. In 1969 the Students for a Democratic Party (SDS) started to fall apart. The socialist movement was losing its spearhead organization. Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn were preparing for their Weather Underground bombings; the socialist movement was going militant. Then a 27 year old woman named Heather Booth, aided by her husband Paul, founded an institute named The Midwest Academy in 1973.
The Academy became a synthesizer for socialist ideas. Just as “All roads lead to Rome.”, all socialist roads eventually led to the Midwest Academy. The institution restored cohesion to the now scattered groups of socialist operatives. It became an intellectual gathering point where prominent activists debated different strategies for achieving their common goals. Alinsky and his radical followers were considered too harsh and militant to be successful in a prosperous Democratic country like America. Harrington’s pragmatic way of ‘evolution not revolution’ gained acceptance.
The central question then became whether to go with a plan of stealth or open advocacy. Open advocacy for establishment of a socialist state was deemed unpalatable to most Americans so stealth became the approach of choice.
The Midwest Academy was more than just a gathering and planning spot. It was also a training school. Role playing sessions were conducted where students staged mock confrontations between demonstrators and business and municipal officials. There were even alma mater songs like one honoring academy leader Steve Max sung to the tune of the communist/socialist anthem Internationale.
During the same time period, Paul Booth joined with Harry Boyte to form an organization called The New American Movement (NAM). It was envisioned as a new home for former SDS members. It foundered at first but gained new vitality later when under the influence of the Midwest Academy it grew as a force coordinating the common interests of socialism and community organizations.
A National Strategy. The price of oil rose rapidly under OPEC’s influence in the 70’s. Heather Booth and Michael Harrington seized this as an opportunity to form a group called the Citizen/Labor Energy Coalition (C/LEC) in 1978. The idea was to create a coalition of labor and middle class citizens and confront the major energy companies. A decision was made to exempt the nuclear power industry to avoid alienating labor unions who wanted the construction jobs. The goal was to gain incremental control of the non-nuclear energy industry by placing coalition members on corporate boards to promote legislation favorable to their cause.
CLEC identified a politically vulnerable conservative district in downstate Illinois and then trained and supported a young attorney named Lane Evans to run for office on the Democratic ticket. Evans campaigned on a platform that highlighted themes like family, faith, hard work and patriotism. Evans’ popular platform enabled him to win a seat in a conservative district where, once elected, he compiled one of the most liberal voting records in Congress.
Obama has spoken admiringly of Evans on several occasions and has credited him with the downstate support he needed to win election to the U.S. Senate. Bill Ayers’ brother, John served on Evans’ congressional staff. CLEC’s placement of Lane Evans in office is a perfect example of stealth political power gained through community action.
By the mid 80’s the Midwest Academy had acquired real political power. The stealth strategy was succeeding where Harrington’s more open policy had not.
The Obama Connection. C/LEC morphed into a push called Citizens Action with leadership provided by Ken Rolling and Alice Palmer. Rolling worked with Obama on school reform, served with him on the board of the Woods Fund, provided funding for Obama’s US Senatorial campaign, and served in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge under the leadership of Obama and Bill Ayers. Alice Palmer was the Illinois state senator who ceded her office to Obama by not running for re-election.
Obama’s own community organization in 1985 was called the Developing Communities Program. Most of the funding came from two sources. One was the Woods Charitable Fund on whose board Obama would later sit along with Bill Ayers. The other was the Campaign for Human Development (CHD) which was the brain child of Saul Alinsky for bringing in money from the Catholic Church.
The CHD eventually became the CCHD (Catholic Campaign for Human Development). The money comes primarily from a special collection taken at Thanksgiving time, ostensibly to help the poor. It is controversial among parishioners because they know some of the money goes to support abortion and unwed motherhood. The campaign literature reads like a socialist pamphlet but never uses the word “socialism”. Proponents of the stealth approach to advancing socialism point to the CCHD to bolster their view. This is money that would be lost under a policy of openness.
In 1992 Barack left Harvard and returned to Chicago where he became one of only two board members of Public Allies (PA). The other board member was Jackie Kendall. Public Allies mission was to recruit young people for community organizing work. Barack persuaded Heather and Jackie to hire Michelle to head the PA Chicago office.
A man named Robert Creamer played an intriguing part in the connections between the Obama administration and the Midwest Academy. Creamer was a founding board member of the MWA and at one time the head of IPAC where Rahm Emanuel served as the financial director. Creamer was also a political consultant for ACORN, the SEIU and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
While serving time in prison for tax evasion and bank fraud, Creamer wrote a book that carried endorsements by UNO founder Greg Galluzzo and SEIU head Andrew Stern. [Stern was one of the most frequent White House visitors during Obama’s first year in office.] The book outlined strategy for health care reform. It was titled “Listen to Your Mother: Stand up Straight! How Progressives Can Win”. Senior White House Advisor David Axelrod contributed a blurb for the book.
Barack Obama did not campaign for the Democratic Party nomination to run for his Illinois state senate seat. He was chosen by the Democratic Party to have Alice Palmer’s seat. He could not have been chosen without the recommendations of the many people connected with the Midwest Academy.
ACORN was well known for its aggressive voter registration activities, however the organization’s assault on the banking industry was never as well publicized. ACORN charged banks with a social obligation to lend money to low income mortgage applicants without regard to the high credit risks. By confronting banks publicly for failure to conform to ACORN’s demands, they succeeded in coercing some banks to lower their lending standards. Citibank was a prime example.
But targeting banks publicly was just the first half of a two part strategy outlined in a paper written by Peter Dreier called “The Case for Transitional Reform”. Drier argued for establishing quasi socialist institutions in the heart of capitalist society; then influencing these institutions to inject “unimaginable strains into the capitalist system, strains that precipitate an economic and/or political crisis” which would lead to a “revolution of rising entitlements” that “cannot be abandoned without undermining the legitimacy of the capitalist class”. Dreier continued, “The process leads to expansion of state activity and budgets, and to fiscal crisis in the public sector” which will open the door to socialism as the solution.
Applying that strategy, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC), led by Michael Harrington, captured about one quarter of the seats on the Democratic Party’s platform committee. And in 1980 ACORN succeeded in getting the provisions of their “People’s Platform” incorporated into the national platform of the Democratic Party. Harrington’s approach was to establish socialism in the United States through the political process rather than by militant revolution. His plan was working. The DSOC and ACORN formed an alliance to shape a program for growing socialism within Democratic Party.
Chicago ACORN. The US Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued an investigative report on ACORN in February 2010. The report found “There is no real separation between ACORN and its affiliates. ACORN is a single corrupt corporate enterprise composed of a series of holding companies and subsidiaries that are financially and operationally dependant on the main corporation.”
Obama’s alliance with ACORN arose from his choice of “asbestos” as the issue over which to organize and his selection of the Altgeld Gardens Housing Project as the place to do it. Altgeld also was the focus of the Chicago arm of ACORN. Their program was called ATU (Altgeld Tenants United). The issues that ATU was working weren’t as productive as the asbestos issue that Obama had chosen, so ACORN’s ATU joined forces with Obama’s DCP and they worked together. Barack Obama worked closely with ACORN from the very beginning.
Housing was the major focus of ACORN’s work from 1992 to 1995. During this period, Barack Obama was supporting ACORN with money from the two foundations on whose boards he sat. Obama also personally trained leaders for ACORN and represented ACORN in a lawsuit relating to the “Motor Voter” bill.
ACORN leaders knew that minority applicants were being turned down for mortgages due to a lack of down payment and poor credit histories. Therefore the goal was to force banks to lower their lending standards. The method was to level charges of racism, both explicit and implied, against banks that did not conform. Activities included:
Filing actions against banks for failing to “meet the needs of the community” as mandated by the CRA.
1 Demonstrations in lobbies of banks that refused to lower their lending standards
2 Establishing an ACORN Housing Corp to acquire distressed properties from banks.
3 Selling houses to “homesteaders” with ACORN keeping title to the land.
4 Requiring homesteaders to attend at least 5 demonstrations against the banks.
The Chicago Tribune called the program “affirmative-action lending”.
But there was a line below which the banks could not go. That line was the standards set at the time by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two GSEs (Government Sponsored Entities) supplied the money for the loans. ACORN knew they would need to get their standards lowered. Charges of racism would not work here, but working through the political system might yield results. ACORN was “informally deputized” by the Chairman of the House Banking Committee to draft affordable housing rules that became the foundation of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992. The new law imposed quotas on the GSEs that could only be met by lowering their credit standards.
Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Obama denied having any close relationship with ACORN. His involvements were actually quite extensive. In 1992 he accepted an invitation from Madeline Talbott, head of the ACORN Chicago office, to train organizers for her staff. As head of Project Vote, Obama coordinated voter registration drives with ACORN. Speaking at an ACORN meeting in 2008, Obama said:
When I ran Project Vote, the voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it. Once I was elected there wasn’t a campaign that ACORN worked on down in Springfield that I wasn’t right there with you. Since I have been in the United States Senate, I’ve always been a partner with ACORN as well. I have been fighting with ACORN, along side ACORN, on the issues you care about my entire career.
Then on October 15th during the third presidential debate Obama said this:
The only involvement I’ve had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a Motor Voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs.
When ACORN launched the voter registration drive called Project Vote, Obama was appointed director for the state of Illinois. The members of his steering committee were ACORN’s Chicago chief Madeline Talbott, the head of SEIU Local 880 Keith Kelleher, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, Midwest Academy leader Kim Bobo and 17 lesser known individuals from the Chicago area.
The primary players in Chicago’s Project Vote, in addition to Obama who directed it, were the SEIU and ACORN, effectively one organization in Chicago. Although they had separate phone lines they shared the same headquarters, the same staff and participated jointly in demonstrations. The campaign against the banks ran full steam in conjunction with Obama’s Chicago Project Vote.
Bank Fairs were held where banks were asked to attend and interact with the communities they served. At these events the banks were asked to pledge to meet the reforms outlined by ACORN, i.e. to lower their standards set for mortgage qualification. Retribution fell upon those who declined.
In July of 1992, the delegation from Citibank left an ACORN Bank Summit Fair without agreeing to ACORN’s terms. Within days, a group was organized that disrupted Citicorp’s headquarters in NY with songs and chants. Later, in August, officers and staff from Citibank-Chicago were invited to a gathering of about 400 people from the community. They were given prestigious seating on the stage in view of everyone in attendance. And then ACORN’s banking specialist, Ernestine Whiting, took the podium and mercilessly berated the bankers sitting on the platform. According to Kurtz, the Citibank people were “shaking in anger” over the treatment to which they had been subjected. But it worked. Eventually Citibank relented and agreed to increase the amount of their sub-prime lending in accordance with ACORN’s terms.
Bill Clinton’s appointed a man named Henry Cisneros as of Secretary of Housing and Human Development. Cisneros was one of the first Hispanics to be elected mayor of a large city. He knew ACORN well and was familiar with their confrontational tactics. In his first meeting with the organization’s leaders he made it clear he had no problem with the “aggressive” tactics. In fact, unsolicited, he offered ACORN government funding. The meeting lasted an hour longer than scheduled, and that hour was devoted to exploring ways to channel money from the federal coffers to help support ACORN’s activities.
Then in July of 1994 President Clinton met personally with a delegation from ACORN. The group found a receptive audience in the President as they explained that their agenda included expanding the reach of the Community Reinvestment Act to go beyond just the banks. They wanted mortgage brokers (as lenders) and insurance companies (as investors) to meet sub-prime quotas as well. ACORN had already convinced Allstate to put $10 million into the funding of sub-prime mortgages.
The author believes ACORN leaders realized their housing activities could contribute to a financial crisis of sorts, but it is doubtful any of them anticipated the extent of the mess that actually occurred. It is unlikely the creation of a crisis was intended, but should one occur it would be seen more as an opportunity than as a failure. Leaders Peter Dreier and Frances Fox Piven taught that any financial crisis is an opportunity to condemn capitalism as a failure and proclaim socialism is the solution.
Ayers and the Foundations
Barack Obama and Bill Ayers worked hand in hand aiding each other for 8 years when Ayers was chairman of a foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) and Obama was on the board of the Woods Fund, an allied foundation also in Chicago.
Ayers abandoned bombing and violence as methods but his beliefs and goals for a complete transformation of America have never changed. And his activities following the terrorism stint have a much greater impact than the terrorism ever had.
Some time after his Weathermen period, Ayers wrote that “activism and organizing would become our way of life” and I will “take on the American monster, end the American nightmare.” He wrote that America must have a “total, fundamental economic and social transformation in which the working class overthrows and liquidates the ruling class” [emphasis added].
In 2001 Ayers reminisced “Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon. The sky was blue; birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them!” Obama and Ayers were serving together on the Woods Fund board when Ayers wrote those words.
Socialism and the Foundations. Community organizing is a little too radical and roguish for most liberal foundations to support. Three foundations, however, weren’t at all reluctant. They were the Wieboldt, the Woods, and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge foundations. Obama served for a time as chairman on the boards of two of the three.
Frank Woods made his money in coal. His son ran the foundation for many years supporting traditional liberal causes. After his death, the setting of policies fell to staffers who took the fund into the realm of the radical left. When remaining family members objected, the money was split with just 30% remaining in the coffers controlled by the family. Seventy percent of the Woods Fund money was de facto commandeered by the Ayers/Obama clique. The story is similar with the Annenberg Foundation money. [Walter Annenberg was a staunch conservative and a confidant of Ronald Reagan.]
The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was conceived by Bill Ayers as a means of funding his education program. His co-founder and fund raiser was a woman named Anne Hallett. Ayers and Hallet installed Obama as chairman. Ayers concentrated on programs and Obama worked with Hallet to bring in the funding. By all measures, including its own, the CAC failed to make any improvement in education. But the founders still considered it to be a success because a significant portion of the $100 million raised was siphoned off and used to support other socialist causes.
Commentary on Chapter 7
Bill Ayers believes America with its free market system is a “monster” and a “nightmare”. But he knows from his owned failed experience that the United States will never be driven into socialism by force of gun and bomb. That idea was the product of an overzealous and impatient youth. The US is one of the most prosperous nations on earth and known the world over as a bastion of freedom and a land of opportunity. As long as these conditions exist the people will not knowingly turn to socialism with its philosophy of taking from some that which is rightfully theirs, and then giving it to others who have done nothing to earn it. Only with a plan of incrementalism and stealth is there any hope of transforming the nation into the visions held by Bill Ayers and Barack Obama.
Obama chose Trinity Church for two reasons; he wanted a base from which to mobilize the religious left, and he shared the political philosophy of Rev. Wright. For these reasons, Obama was willing to tolerate some of Wright’s nonsense such as his claims the U.S. government created AIDS as a way to kill off black people.
The teaching and preaching at Trinity Church is Black Liberation Theology, a concept that adds Marxism to the panoply of Christian beliefs. James Cone is the man most responsible for the spread of this joining of Marxism and Christianity and is regarded as the father of Black Liberation Theology in America. Cone’s teachings are made very clear by his writings.
“I do not think racism can be eliminated as long as capitalism remains intact.”
“Perhaps what we need today is to return to that ‘good old-time religion of our grandparents and combine it with a Marxist critique of society. Together black religion and Marxist philosophy may show us a way to build a completely new society.”
[The goal of the black intellectual must be to] “aid in the destruction of America as he knows it.”
Significantly, Cone cited Trinity as the one church that embodies his philosophy more than any other congregation. Barack Obama was well aware of the nature of the church under Rev. Wright’s leadership because he conducted a deliberate exploration of black churches in the Chicago area before choosing it. As Stanley Kurtz puts it, “a large body of evidence fairly screams that Obama joined Wright’s church precisely because of those radical views.”
State Senate Years
Obama has managed to keep much of his past under wraps, however, his years of work in the Illinois legislature are a matter of public record. And the record shows him to be someone who is “profoundly race conscious, exceedingly liberal, free spending even in the face of looming state budget deficits, and partisan”. He is careful not to put his true ideas out before their time lest he get too far ahead of the electorate.
Rashid Khalidi is one of the people who hosted a fund raiser at his home for Barack’s congressional campaign against Bobby Rush. Khalidi is a professor at the University of Chicago, the founder of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) and a friend and associate of Bill Ayers. Obama returned the favor by channeling money to Khalidi’s AAAN from the Woods Fund where he and Ayers served at various times on the 7 member board of directors. Rashid, Bill and Barack were frequently acted for the mutual benefit of each other.
A study was done at Southern Illinois University showing that Obama worked almost exclusively on social welfare legislation while in the Illinois Senate. The fact that the state was deep in debt and facing a financial crisis did not temper the Senator’s drive for ever more expansive social programs. Obama endorsed a plan to borrow against an anticipated one-time windfall from a tobacco lawsuit to pay for permanent social programs.
Obama’s method in the Senate was to move toward a goal in small increments, first with one toe in the door, then another and another until the full objective was achieved. His approach of asking for more than he expected allowed for apparent compromise on incidentals along the way that could be claimed to be “bi-partisanship” without jeopardizing the overall plan.
Chapter 9 is filled with anecdotes and bits of information that are trivial in themselves, but like a mosaic they form a clear picture when seen in total. We offer here just this one example among many. Bill Ayers held the view that “America’s prison system is a racist plot to clear the streets of kids most likely to make a socialist revolution.” He wrote a book entitled A Kind and Just Parent proclaiming this notion. Obama lent his support for Ayers work by writing what the New York Times called a “rare review”, not a full review but a warm endorsement.
The Obama Administration
The modern socialist movement in America has abandoned its open and militant ways of that were so evident in the sixties. That approach might work to bring the sought after revolution and change in an impoverished nation but not in a democratic, free and prosperous country like the United States. Socialist scholars like Saul Alinsky and Michael Harrington convinced other movement leaders a long time ago that the only workable strategy for transforming the United States into a Marxist socialist government is a combination of stealth and incremental advance. That’s the course followed by Obama and his administration today.
Stealth was evident in the way the health care plan was handled. The stakes were high because single payer health care would bring 16 % of the national economy under government control. That was Obama’s real objective. Every measure was taken to avoid scrutiny which is why there was such a rush to get the bill passed as rapidly as possible. The “public option” originally proposed was designed to lead to single payer, government only, healthcare over time… Obama denied the single payer objective claiming the public would always have a choice; the government would simply be offering an additional option in fair competition with private insurance companies. It should be obvious to anyone that private industry must remain profitable to survive and cannot compete with government that, supported by taxpayers, can operate indefinitely at a loss.
Barack Obama ran his presidential election campaign on promises of a post-partisanship and an open style administration. Once in office, it turned out to be quite the opposite. He stirred controversy, for instance, by attacking the Fox News network, calling them illegitimate and attempting to bar them from press conferences to which the other networks were invited. He attacked the Supreme Court while speaking as President of the United States before the entire Congress and to the entire nation by television. These are not steps toward healing; they are overt acts of division.
Naive voters may think the increased partisan hostility is a failing. But, to a trained community organizer it is an objective. The generation of animosity and division is the ground work laid for the conditions that prepare people to accept, even demand change.
To a community organizer, polarization is a strategy. Creating division is the first step in the path to transfer of power.
The author ends the book with a conclusion. Kurtz begins his conclusion,
From his teenage years under the mentorship of Frank Marshall Davis, to his socialist days at Occidental College, to his life transforming encounters at New York’s Socialist Scholars Conferences, to his immersion in the stealthily socialist community organizer networks of Chicago, Barack Obama has lived in a thoroughly socialist world.
In the early days of the 2008 campaign, Obama spoke proudly of Black Liberation theologist Jeremiah Wright saying the preacher had a profound influence on his life and “I could no more disown him than my white grandmother.” He spoke openly about his activities as a community organizer, even offered it as a factor in his qualification for the office of President. That secured the far left vote.
But Obama knew America was not ready to elect a true socialist knowingly. So later he disowned Rev. Wright and denied the extent of his involvement with ACORN. From that point on he adopted a policy of stealth and downplayed or denied his socialist past.
From the beginning, Obama has talked about change but doesn’t explain the nature of the change he has in mind. Kurtz supplies the answer.
Since Obama has not supplied the truth about where this change is headed his past remains an essential source of guidance for the American people. In sum, the fears of Obama’s harshest critics are justified; the President of the United States is a Socialist.