One of the main groups organizing the Wisconsin union protests is a spinoff from an activist academy modeled after Marxist community organizer Saul Alinsky and described as teaching tactics of direct action, confrontation and intimidation.
President Obama once funded that academy – the radical Midwest Academy. He has been closely tied to the group’s founder, socialist activist Heather Booth.
Obama also is closely tied to scores of other radicals behind the Wisconsin opposition protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal for most state workers to pay 12 percent of their health care premiums and 5.8 percent of their salary toward their own pensions.
Walker’s proposal reportedly would save $300 million in the next two years for a state that faces a financial crisis amid a $3.6 billion deficit..
A slew of radical groups and unions have been organizing the protests against Walker’s proposal as well as counter protests to a recent tea party rally in support of the governor’s plan.
Obama’s own political machine has aided in organizing protests in Wisconsin
Counter protests were led in part by radical groups like Veterans for Peace, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and the Workers World Party.
One of the main organizers of the recent Wisconsin protests is a group called Moving Wisconsin Forward. An associated group, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, is part of the Moving Wisconsin Forward movement.
Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, has been widely quoted in the media as a main protest organizer and opposition leader.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, part of a larger national Citizen Action chain, sits in a coalition with Americans for Financial Reform, which is led by Midwest founder Booth.
Indeed, Citizen Action is a spinoff of Midwest Academy.
‘Redistribution of wealth and power’
Midwest founder Booth has stated building a ”progressive majority” would help for ”a fair distribution of wealth and power and opportunity.”
Booth founded Midwest in the 1970s with her husband, Paul Booth, a founder and the former national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society, the radical 1960s anti-war movement from which William Ayers’ domestic Weather Underground terrorist organization splintered.
The Woods Fund, a nonprofit on which Obama served as paid director from 1999 to December 2002, provided capital to the Midwest Academy. WND was first to report Obama sat on the Woods Fund board alongside Ayers.
In 1999, Booth’s Midwest Academy received $75,000 from the Woods Fund. In 2002, with Obama still serving on the Woods Fund, Midwest received another $23,500 for its Young Organizers Development Program.
Midwest describes itself as “one of the nation’s oldest and best-known schools for community organizations, citizen organizations and individuals committed to progressive social change.”
It later morphed into a national organizing institute for an emerging network of organizations known as Citizen Action.
Discover the Networks describes Midwest as “teach[ing] tactics of direct action, confrontation, and intimidation.”
WND was first to report Jackie Kendall, executive director of the Midwest Academy, was on the team that developed and delivered the first Camp Obama training for volunteers aiding Obama’s campaign through the 2008 Iowa Caucuses.
Camp Obama was a two-to-four day intensive course run in conjunction with Obama’s campaign aimed at training volunteers to become activists to help Obama win the presidential election.
Earlier this week, Obama’s Organizing for America sent out a mass e-mail it will train a new team of summer organizers.
“The Summer Organizing Fellowship is a grassroots program that aims to put boots on the ground and help foster a new generation of leaders – not just to help win elections, but to strengthen our democracy in communities across the country,” the blast e-mail said.
Aside from helping to fund Midwest, Obama has been tied to Booth in other ways. In August 1998, Obama participated in a panel discussion following the opening performance in Chicago of the play “The Love Song of Saul Alinsky,” a work described by the Chicago Sun-Times as “bringing to life one of America’s greatest community organizers.”
Obama participated in the discussion alongside other Alinskyites, including Booth, political analyst Aaron Freeman, Don Turner of the Chicago Federation of Labor and Northwestern University history professor Charles Paine.
“Alinsky had so much fire burning within,” stated local actor Gary Houston, who portrayed Alinsky in the play. “There was a lot of complexity to him. Yet he was a really cool character.”
Booth herself is a notorious radical community activist and self-described dedicated disciple of Alinsky, of whom she says: “Alinsky is to community-organizing as Freud is to psychoanalysis.”
Booth’s vision of uniting various left-leaning organizations and factions also has been the subject of her two books, “Toward a Radical Movement and Citizen Action” and “The New American Populism.”
Other radicals behind Wisconsin rallies
The keynote speaker at last week’s “Moving Wisconsin Forward” rally was John Nichols, who identifies himself as a “progressive” writer.
Nichols co-authored four books and a number of major articles with Marxist activist Robert W. McChesney, founder of the George Soros-funded Free Press.
McChesney has called for the dismantlement “brick-by-brick” of the U.S. capitalist system, with America being rebuilt as a socialist society.
Free Press openly lobbies for move government control of the news media and Internet. It has been closely tied to the Obama administration.
As WND first reported Ben Scott, the State Department’s recently appointed policy adviser for innovation, was policy director at Free Press. Scott authored several articles with McChesney.
The board of Free Press has included a slew of radicals, such as Obama’s former “green jobs” czar Van Jones, who resigned after it was exposed he founded a communist organization.
Obama’s “Internet czar,” Susan P. Crawford, spoke at a Free Press’s May 14, 2009, “Changing Media” summit in Washington, D.C.
Crawford’s pet project, OneWebNow, lists as “participating organizations” Free Press and the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
Crawford and Kevin Werbach, who co-directed the Obama transition team’s Federal Communications Commission Review team, are advisory board members at Public Knowledge, a George Soros-funded public interest group.
In February 2009 McChesney wrote in a column, “In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick-by-brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles.”
Communists into union protest organizer
Another main Wisconsin protest organizer has been the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest union.
Sweeney is a socialist activist and a card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, the principal American affiliate of the Socialist International. The DSA has demonstrated a close relationship with Obama over the years.
Sweeney is a member of the DSA’s Boston chapter. He served as president of AFL-CIO from 1995 until his retirement last September.
He previously served for four terms as president of the controversial Service Employees International Union, or SEIU. During his administration, Sweeney famously aligned the SEIU with ACORN and other leftist groups.
Activist and author Joel Kotkin, a fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, observed how Sweeney brought communists into his union leadership.
“The public-sector unions have pushed the entire labor movement to the left,” he said. “The [SEIU] has embraced organizations with a New Left origin, such as ACORN and Cleveland’s Nine to Five, and has even set up its own gay and lesbian caucus. … The rise of these unions led to the elevation of SEIU’s boss, John Sweeney, to head of the labor federation.
“No George Meaney-style bread-and-butter unionist, Sweeney is an advocate of European-style democratic socialism,” said Kotkin. “He has opened the AFL-CIO to participation by delegates openly linked to the Communist Party, which enthusiastically backed his ascent. The U.S. Communist Party [CPUSA] says it is now ‘in complete accord’ with the AFL-CIO’s program. ‘The radical shift in both leadership and policy is a very positive, even historic change,’ wrote CPUSA National Chairman Gus Hall in 1996 after the AFL-CIO convention.”
Upon assuming the office of the AFL-CIO in 1995, Sweeney was quick to rescind one of the union’s founding rules that banned Communist Party members and loyalists from leadership positions within the federation and its unions. Sweeney welcomed Communist Party delegates to positions of power in his federation.
Linda Chavez and Daniel Gray, in their book “Betrayal: How union bosses shake down their bosses and corporate America,” state Sweeney placed a number of DSA allies in his union office.
The DSA’s official website carries an endorsement from Sweeney: “I’m proud to a member of a movement for change that puts the cause of working people at the heart of the matter.”
With research by Brenda J. Elliott