Tag Archives: Stanley Kurtz

RADICAL IN CHIEF, THE AUTHORS CONCLUSION

Stanley Kurtz, author of RADICAL-IN-CHIEF, Barack Obama and the Untold Story of Socialism in America ended his book with a Conclusion.  He begins,

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.

RADICAL-IN-CHIEF Chapter 8 — Jeremiah Wright

This post continues the series of chapter by chapter summations of the book Radical-In-Chief by Stanley Kurtz.

Black Liberation Theology, Trinity Church and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright all figured prominently in the life of Barack Obama.  He sat in the church and listened to its teachings for approximately 20 years.  To understand who Obama is and what the influences were that shaped his beliefs it is essential to have some knowledge of Trinity and its charismatic leader.

Chapter 8
Jeremiah Wright

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.”

RADICAL-IN-CHIEF The Midwest Academy

This post continues the series of chapter summations of Radical-In-Chief by Stanley Kurtz.

The book takes the reader into the world of Barack Obama prior to his emergence as a national figure.  The Preface makes a bold opening statement.  The chapters that follow are evidential arguments that substantiate the statement.  The author’s documentation is exhaustive and the source attribution is impeccable.  The source notes alone number 1,119 and take up 63 pages.

*****

Chapter 5
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.

RADICAL-IN-CHIEF Obama’s Organizing; the Hidden Story

This post continues the series of chapter summations of Radical-In-Chief by Stanley Kurtz.

The book takes the reader into the world of Barack Obama prior to his emergence as a national figure.  The Preface makes a bold opening statement.  The chapters that follow are evidential arguments that substantiate the statement.  The author’s documentation is exhaustive and the source attribution is impeccable.  The source notes alone number 1,119 and take up 63 pages.

*****

Chapter 4
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 claim the school board denied them a hearing.  Community agitated.  Community polarized.  Mission accomplished.

RADICAL-IN-CHIEF A Conference for Marx

This post continues the series of chapter summations of Radical-In-Chief by Stanley Kurtz.

The book takes the reader into the world of Barack Obama prior to his emergence as a national figure.  The Preface makes a bold opening statement.  The chapters that follow are evidential arguments that substantiate the statement.  The author’s documentation is exhaustive and the source attribution is impeccable.  The source notes alone number 1,119 and take up 63 pages.

*****

Chapter 2
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.

RADICAL-IN-CHIEF Chapter 1

This post begins a series of chapter summations of Radical-In-Chief by Stanley Kurtz.

The book takes the reader into the world of Barack Obama prior to his emergence as a national figure.  The Preface makes a bold opening statement.  The chapters that follow are evidential arguments that substantiate the statement.  The author’s documentation is exhaustive and the source attribution is impeccable.  The source notes alone number 1,119 and take up 63 pages.

*****

Preface
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.

Chapter 1
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.

RADICAL-IN-CHIEF BOOK REVIEW ON THE WAY

When Barack Obama first came onto the national scene the public asked, who is this man running against Hillary Clinton and the other candidates in the Democratic primaries.  What does he stand for?  What are his visions and objectives?  The answers were elusive.  In fact, they still are.  Radical-In-Chief by Stanley Kurtz sheds some light on what the answers to these questions might be.

The book carries the sub-title Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.  Indeed, the author does cover the socialist movement in the United States very comprehensively.  Here is a sample from our synopsis of Chapter 6.

ACORN’s assault on the banking industry is not as well known. The plan was to confront banks publicly for failure to lend money to applicants who were poor credit risks and force the banks to lower their standards.

Targeting banks was one half of a two part strategy outlined in a paper entitled “The Case for Transitional Reform written by Peter Dreier. The overall strategy was first to establish quasi socialist institutions in the heart of capitalist society; then through these institutions inject “unimaginable strains into the capitalist system, strains that precipitate an economic and/or political crisis” which would lead to an “evolution 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” opening the door to socialism as the solution.

I think you will find it to be a very intriguing book.  Our review will be launched with the first chapter on July 15th.  The succeeding chapters will published weekly and added cumulatively to Book Reviews on the main menu.