A slew of radicals led a pro-union event in Wisconsin at which the state’s governor, Scott Walker, was likened to a Mideast tyrant and the recent union protests repeatedly were compared to the ongoing revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.
Those Middle East revolutions have already toppled two American allies, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. In almost all instances, the main opposition in the countries experiencing unrest consists of Islamist parties seeking to create a Muslim caliphate.
The Wisconsin protests have been in opposition to 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..
WND obtained video footage of the rally event, which took place last week in Madison’s Orpheum Theater. It was organized by WORT-FM community radio manager Norman Stockwell, a progressive writer.
Every speaker at the event consistently compared the Wisconsin protests to the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
Speaker Amy Goodman, a host at the progressive Democracy NOW! Internet network, exclaimed to thunderous applause, “At this point, Gov. Walker would be wise to negotiate! It’s not a good season to be a tyrant!”
She continued: “The workers of Egypt were instrumental in bringing down the regime there in a remarkable coalition with Egypt’s youth. In the streets of Madison under the capital dome, another demonstration of solidarity is taking place that we are watching unfold today.
“If you’ve been involved in social change, like the people of Egypt, like the people of Tunisia, like you right here in Madison,” she stated. “When it does, you will be determining history and the course of the future for you and many generations to come.”
Another Democracy NOW! host, Sharif Adbel Kouddous, told the crowd, “In Cairo they wanted to reach Tahrir. Tahrir means liberation. And they wanted to get there. And they were attacked.”
The keynote speaker, John Nichols, who identifies himself as a progressive writer, also compared the Wisconsin protests to Mideast unrest.
“There is a people power in play here,” he said. “It is the people power that we saw in Cairo. It is the people power that we saw in Tunisia. That we have seen in Bahrain. That we have seen in Yemen. That we have seen in Libya. It is a power that is rooted in an understanding of an American concept. An old American concept.”
Nichols has also been a main protest organizer in Wisconsin, where he keynoted multiple protest events.
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 more government control of the news media and Internet.
Meanwhile, the Mideast unrest has largely favored Islamist groups, which form the main opposition in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria and even Libya.
In Egypt, for example, the most organized opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, is currently helping to draft the country’s new constitution. The Brotherhood seeks it create an Islamic caliphate. Hamas and al-Qaida are Brotherhood offshoots.
In Algeria, Islamist parties, including one allied with al-Qaida, serve as the main opposition to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has ruled the country with a tough hand. He has been an ally of the U.S. in fighting al-Qaida.
Similarly, the opposition in most Arab countries facing unrest consists of Islamic organizations.
Largest U.S. union stirring Algerian unrest?
There has been some evidence those in part behind the Wisconsin protests are also involved in Mideast unrest.
WND has reported one of the main anti-regime organizations leading protests in Algeria is funded by a quasi-governmental group partly led by an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. union organization.
The National Coordination for Change and Democracy, one of the initiators of the recent Algerian protests, demanded an immediate shift to full democracy, the lifting the state of emergency laws, as well as “labor and social justice and liberation in political and media fields.”
Algerian Islamic groups have joined in the protest coordination, including the outlawed Islamic Salvation Front and its leader, Ali Belhadj.
The protests have also been spearheaded by a group called the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, ALDHR, which works closely with the National Coordination for Change and Democracy.
Scores of ALDHR members have been arrested in recent days while the group’s leaders have been serving as spokespeople for the anti-regime riots.
ALDHR is an Algerian nongovernmental organization that has been leading the drive for electoral reform.
It has received near annual grants from the National Endowment for Democracy, a quasi-governmental agency. The NED purports to be a bipartisangroup that “supports freedom around the world.”
The NED receives annual funds from the U.S. government and a small amount of private donations.
It maintains four affiliate organizations that assist in the NED’s work and they were the four principal initial recipients of the group’s funds – the American Institute for Free Labor Development, an arm of the AFL-CIO; an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the International Republican Institute; and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
The NED has funded the AFL-CIO’s foreign operations, which seek to promote international trade unions.
Indeed, according to NED founding documents reviewed by WND, the AFL-CIO was one of the original founders of the NED.
Through the NED, the AFL-CIO’s American Institute for Free Labor Development has funded opposition labor movements across the group, most notably in Latin America, where it has advocated for union workers and has been implicated in stirring riots against multiple countries in the region.
In Algeria, just as in Egypt, civil society groups, including trade unions, have been central to the anti-regime protests in recent days.
In Egypt, the threat of maintaining strikes by labor unions had been used by Mubarak’s opposition as a bargaining chip to secure political demands.
Obama, Ayers’ funded Wisconsin Alinsky-style protest organizer?
WND reported 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.
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.
Last 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.”
With research by Brenda J. Elliott