Michael Gaynor
Barack Obama was "dear" to socialist ACORN
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By Michael Gaynor
May 4, 2010

With the 2008 presidential election won, Rathke bluntly explained that the legacy of "all contemporary community organizers... from Obama to" himself is the legacy of Saul Alinsky, and "that is the legacy of the radical, not the mainstream."

Sanford A. Newman's Obama-promoting letter published in the Wall Street Journal on July 22, 2008 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121669358087572663.html), a reply to John Fund, illustrates Team Obama's efforts to put distance between their candidate and ACORN (including Project Vote).

Newman:

"John Fund's 'Obama's Liberal Shock Troops' (op-ed, July 12) has some facts wrong. The historic nonpartisan drive to increase voter participation that Barack Obama led in 1992 wasn't for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, but for Project Vote of which I was the national director in 1992.

"Instead of accepting far more prestigious and better paying offers, Mr. Obama accepted a grueling job with Project Vote for a meager salary. He believed so much in the democratic process that he even gave up the contract for publication of his book, not knowing whether he would ever find another publisher. He brought a broad spectrum of community organizations into that effort, conducting what remains the most successful nonpartisan voter drive in Illinois history.

"Project Vote remains a separate organization today. Indeed, it wasn't until after Mr. Obama's tenure had ended that it began to conduct projects more frequently with Acorn than with other community-based organizations.

"Both Project Vote and Acorn should be proud that their efforts have increased voting. Acorn should also be proud of its other work, including winning minimum-wage increases and helping lead the fight against predatory lending and unfair foreclosures.

"Mr. Obama's willingness to sacrifice because of his deep commitment to strengthening the democratic process is something that all Americans should applaud regardless of their party or politics."

Fact: After Project Vote sued ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief and Ms. MonCrief asserted that Project Vote was ACORN's alter ego and added ACORN as a counterclaim defendant, Project Vote and ACORN dropped all their claims before depositions were to begin.

Fact: candidate Obama lied about his ACORN connections.

Fact: An ACORN board member wrote glowingly on Obama's involvement with ACORN in 2004, when it was not politic for Obama to deny the true extent of his relationship with ACORN.

As organizer, trainer, attorney, board member of financial benefactors, State Senator, United States Senator and presidential candidate, Obama was "dear" to ACORN. As President, he has been faithfully pursuing ACORN's socialist agenda as strongly as he has believed it to be feasible. He deserved National Journal's designation as the most liberal United States Senator, by voting even more radically that the United States Senate's only avowed socialist, Bernard Sanders of "the People's Republic of Vermont."

Do not be deceived by the Obama Administration terminating ACORN as a census partner and approving and defending the ACORN de-funding law. Those actions were politically necessitated by the "Pimp and Pro" ACORN sting, not what that Obama planned to do as President of the United States. (The Obama Administration gratefully had made ACORN a census partner and dropped it only as a result of public reaction to the sting.)

Both ACORN and Obama were averse to being described as socialist, for strategic reasons, but Bertha Lewis replaced ACORN founder Wade Rathke as chief organizer in 2008 and she did not shy away from identifying with socialism at a Young Democratic Socialists meeting last March. The transcript of her remarks(http://centralillinois912project.com/?p=5089) begins:

Bertha Lewis: "First of all let me just say any group that says 'I'm young, I'm Democratic and I'm a Socialist is all right with me"

*applause*

"You know that's no light thing to do to actually say 'I'm a Socialist.' As you guys know right now we are living in a time, um, which is going to dwarf the McCarthy era. It is going to dwarf, um the internment(?) during WWII.

We are right now in a time that is going to dwarf the era of Jim Crowe and segregation. They are coming and they are coming after you and they are going to be brutal and ?inaudible?

"They have already shown it to you. Organize, get out into the street. You really have got to circle the wagons. This is not rhetoric or hyperbole. This is real.

"This rise of this Tea Party so-called movement, bowel movement in my estimation, and this blatant uncovering and ripping off the mask of racism..."

The vulgar Ms. Lewis futilely played the race card, but instead of "ripping off" an imaginary "mask of racism" from the Tea Party movement, she "ripped off" the "We're not socialists" mask behind which ACORN had hidden for decades.

Nevertheless, Verum Serum, wary of calling a socialist a socialist (for strategic reasons), wrote (www.verumserum.com/?p=14121): "While labeling liberal Democrats and other progressives as 'socialists' now invites an instant loss of credibility (even amongst many conservatives), it is a designation easily understood to mean someone who clearly does not believe in the primacy of individual responsibility and limited government. And so when a notable progressive [Ms. Lewis] publicly aligns [herself] with the socialist cause, it presents a rare opportunity to demonstrate to the broader American public the core philosophy and the long-term agenda which underly so much of the 'progressive' political platform."

ACORN's People's Platform (www.acorn.org/index.php?id=50) cleverly advocates socialism without ever mentioning that word.

Read it all.

The Preamble begins:

"We stand for a People's Platform, as old as our country, and as young as our dreams. We come before our nation, not to petition with hat in hand, but to rise as one people and demand.

"We have waited and watched. We have hoped and helped. We have sweated and suffered. We have often believed. We have frequently followed.

"But we have nothing to show for the work of our hand, the tax of our labor. Our patience has been abused; our experience misused. Our silence has been seen as support. Our struggle has been ignored.

"Enough is enough. We will wait no longer for the crumbs at America's door. We will not be meek, but mighty. We will not starve on past promises, but feast on future dreams.

"We are an uncommon people. We are the majority, forged from all minorities. We are the masses of many, not the forces of few. We will continue our fight until the American way is just one way, until we have shared the wealth, until we have won our freedom."

The political strategy is apparent: take political control and then share, or spread, the wealth.

One of the few political blunders of presidential candidate was telling "Joe the Plumber" that he wanted the wealth "spread" while being videotaped.

James Pethokoukis, "Did Barack 'Spread the Wealth' Obama Just Blow the Election?" (October 16, 2008) (http://www.usnews.com/money/blogs/capital-commerce/2008/10/16/did-barack-spread-the-wealth-obama-just-blow-the-election.html):

"...Barack Obama actually told that Joe the Plumber guy that he wants to 'spread the wealth around'.... Talk about playing into the most extreme stereotype of your party, that it is infested with socialists.

"A while back I chatted with a University of Chicago professor who was a frequent lunch companion of Obama's. This professor said that Obama was as close to a full-out Marxist as anyone who has ever run for president of the United States. Now, I tend to quickly dismiss that kind of talk as way over the top. My working assumption is that Obama is firmly within the mainstream of Democratic politics. But if he is as free with that sort of redistributive philosophy in private as he was on the campaign trail this week, I have no doubt that U of C professor really does figure him as a radical. And after last night's debate, a few more Americans might think that way, too. McCain's best line: 'Now, of all times in America, we need to cut people's taxes. We need to encourage business, create jobs, not spread the wealth around.'"

The article explained:

"... If the contest is perceived by the voters as a contest between a wealth redistributor and a wealth creator, then it could be a long night come Nov. 4. This is still a center-right country, gang. Note this Gallup poll from June:

When given a choice about how government should address the numerous economic difficulties facing today's consumer, Americans overwhelmingly by 84% to 13% prefer that the government focus on improving overall economic conditions and the jobs situation in the United States as opposed to taking steps to distribute wealth more evenly among Americans.

"There you go."

Obama's falling approval rating reflects the growing realization that the expectation that he would govern as a centrist was a huge mistake.

The ACORN People's Platform continued with a plan description:

"This is not a simple vision, but a detailed plan.

"Our plan is to build an American reality from the American rhetoric, to deliver a piece of the present and the fruits of the future to every man, to every woman, to every family.

"We demand our birthright: the chance to be rich, the right to be free."

BUT... "the chance to be rich" was for "we" of ACORN, not individual Americans. The Preamble proceeded to describe "personal profit" as a "farce" and defined riches and freedom to make it clear that promoting individual opportunity was not part of the ACORN agenda.

Preamble:

"Our riches shall be the blooming of our communities, the bounty of a sure livelihood, the beauty of homes for our families with sickness driven from the door, the benefit of our taxes rather than their burden, and the best of our energy, land, and natural resources for all people.

"Our freedom is the force of democracy, not the farce of federal fat and personal profit. In our freedom, only the people shall rule. Corporations shall have their role; producing jobs, providing products, paying taxes. No more, no less. They shall obey our wishes, respond to our needs, serve our communities. Our country shall be the citizens' wealth and our wealth shall build our country.

"Government shall have its role: public servant to our good, fast follower to our sure steps. No more, no less. Our government shall shout with the public voice and no longer to a private whisper. In our government, the common concerns shall be the collective cause.

"We represent a people's platform, not a politician's promise.

"We demand the changes outlined in our platform and plan. We will work to win. We will have our birthright. We will live in richness and freedom. We will live in one country as one people."

Obama joined Rev. Jeremiah A. ("God damn America") Wright, Jr.'s Trinity United Church of Christ, accepting its black liberation theology, and allied with Wade Rathke's ACORN, accepting its agenda.

Toni Foulkes is now a Chicago alderwoman. She used to be a Chicago ACORN leader and a member of ACORN's national association board. She was so delighted when an ACORN man (Obama) won the March 2004 Democrat primary for a United States Senate seat from Illinois that she wrote "Case Study: Chicago-The Barack Obama Campaign."

Ms. Foulkes' very revealingcase study appeared in the winter 2003/spring 2004 issue of Social Policy.

Surprise! Rathke was (and still is) the publisher of Social Policy.

When interviewed by Megyn Kelly of Fox News in 2009 and asked whether he had ever met President Obama, Rathke claimed to recall nothing more than meeting him on a receiving line and denied that ACORN was socialistic.

Neither is credible.

Ms. Foulkes should refresh Rathke's recollection!

In her case study Ms. Foulkes opened with a declaration that "ACORN's history of nonpartisan electoral work (voter registration and voter turnout) and leadership development combined during the March, 2004 primary season to make a big difference in the level of participation of our communities in that important election."

Ms. Foulkes dutifully promoted the ACORN-is-nonpartisan myth, but candidly confessed: "...in some elections we get to have our cake and eat it too: work on nonpartisan voter registration and GOTV [Get Out The Vote], which also turns out to benefit the candidate that we hold dear."

SURPRISE! Obama was the candidate "h[e]ld dear."

Ms. Foulkes explained how The Dear One not only benefited from ACORN's voter registration and voter turnout work, but from ACORN's "leadership development."

Ms. Foulkes: "...ACORN noticed him when he was organizing on the far south side of the city with the Developing Communities Project. He was a very good organizer. When he returned from law school, we asked him to help us with a lawsuit to challenge the state of Illinois' refusal to abide by the National Voting Rights Act.... Obama took the case...and we won. Obama then went on to run a voter registration project with Project VOTE in 1992 that made it possible for Carol Moseley Braun to win the Senate that year. project VOTE delivered 50,000 newly registered voters in that campaign (ACORN delivered about 5000 of them).

ACORN claimed that Project Vote was separated, but the reality was that the same people operated both ACORN and Project Vote and the illusion of separateness was promoted for legal and political reasons.

Remember what then presidential candidate Obama said about his relationship with ACORN?

Obama during the last presidential debate:

"...with respect to ACORN, ACORN is a community organization. Apparently what they've done is they were paying people to go out and register folks, and apparently some of the people who were out there didn't really register people, they just filled out a bunch of names.

"It had nothing to do with us. We were not involved. 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."

But Ms. Foulkes reported in her case study that since Ms. Braun won a Senate seat, "we have invited Obama to our leadership training sessions to run the session on power every year, and, as a result, many of our newly developing leaders got to know him before he ever ran for office." That would be about ten years!

Apparently that arrangement worked well for both ACORN and Obama.

Ms. Foulkes: "Thus, it was natural for many of us to be active volunteers in [Obama's] first campaign for State Senate and then his failed bid for U.S. Congress in 1996. By the time he ran for U.S. Senate, we were old friends."

Birds of a feather...flock together.

Ms. Foulkes explained ACORN's role in Obama's United States Senate race:

"...along about early March, we started to see that the African-American community had made its move: when Sen. Obama's name was mentioned at our Southside Summit meeting with 700 people in attendance from three southside communities, the crowd went crazy. With about a week to go before the election, it was very clear how the African-American community would vote. But would they vote in high enough numbers?

"It seemed to us that what Obama needed in the March primary was what we always work to deliver anyway: increased turnout in our ACORN communities. ACORN is active on the south and west sides of Chicago, in the south suburbs, and on the east side of Springfield, the state capital. Most of the turf where we organize in is African American, with a growing Latino presence in Chicago's Little Village and the suburbs.

"ACORN members were involved in three activities around the primary...."

Ms. Foulkes concluded: "As it turned out, Obama won the primary handily, pulling white wards as well as African American. But no one knew that would be the case. In each election we must act as if our work is critical for our communities. That is what we did in the primary, and we learned something in the process."

Ms. Foulkes' case study shows that ACORN was a special interest group pretending to be non-partisan.

In the Fall 2008 issue of Social Policy (also notable for an article by "Barack Obama" titled "Organizing Essentials" that is an excerpt from his autobiography), Rathke, in "Community Organizing at Center Stage," wrote: "It is perhaps foolhardy to be taking a stab in the dark as all of this is unfolding around us, but I'll take a shot nonetheless and hope for the best."

It's helpful that Rathke "shot," because the bulk of Obama supporters in 2008 were and still are largely "in the dark" about the true nature of ACORN, Obama and their relationship and need enlightening and, ironically, Rathke's article is enlightening in several respects.

In writing about reading Obama's autobiography early during the last presidential campaign, Rathke commented that he "had frankly expected [Obama's insight into community organizing] to be shallow" and instead "found [it] profound and accurate" and so he "moved...from an Edwards' man to an Obama guy" because Obama recognized the "redemptive power found in the concerted activity of organizing" and that power "voids all of the terrible lessons of Harvard Law School and a hundred backrooms in Springfield."

Since ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief disclosed that Zach Polett, former Executive Director of Project Vote and former director of ACORN Political Operations mentioned that Obama had worked for ACORN and that he even supervised Obama during an ACORN Political staff retreat in November 2007 (www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=081029), organizer extraordinaire Rathke's professed lack of familiarity with Obama and initial preference for Edwards is perplexing.

Rathke was displeased by a July 7, 2008 New York Times article titled "Obama's Organizing Years, Guiding Others and Finding Himself." He complained of "troubling" "[Obama] campaign[] string pulling within the article" and "forecast...future perils in dealing with President Obama as former organizer Obama." The purpose of the Times article seemed to be to put some reassuring distance between "father of community organizing" Saul Alinsky and Obama. Rathke called it "basic campaign repositioning" and inferred from the article that "we would be foolish to expect that community organizing is guaranteed a prominent place in the coming Administration, unless it gets dumbed down, cleaned up, and ready for a different kind of primetime."

With the 2008 presidential election won, Rathke bluntly explained that the legacy of "all contemporary community organizers... from Obama to" himself is the legacy of Saul Alinsky, and "that is the legacy of the radical, not the mainstream."

About that, he's right!

Rathke:

"I dare say Alinsky would have been shocked to see a former community organizer as President of the United States, but he would probably be secretly smiling (even while publicly apologizing) to see how his name has been dragged into this election more than 35 years after his death. It is the [r]ight and the Republicans doing the dragging as they try desperately to link Obama and the radical tradition of the work, rather than the more newfangled mainstream definition of community organizing. The old school taunts of communist and socialist compete with the new school sobriquet of terrorist, but neither totally sticks, nor are either to be completely shaken off.

"So what is the truth? Does community organizing still have what Herbert Marcuse called 'critical content.' or has community organizing become mainstream....

"Frankly, it depends on who you ask, and sometimes even when you ask it...the answer...often...is...'both'....."

Rathke proceeded to explain why Hillary Clinton never brought up Obama's ACORN ties:

"Certainly, President Bill Clinton was intimately familiar with community organization and community organizers from his long association with ACORN and all of us over his years both before and after becoming Governor of Arkansas. Senator Hillary Clinton might have raised the issue of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, but never would have raised her eyebrows about ACORN or community organizations as issues with Obama given her own long time and close relationship with ACORN in Arkansas and New York, as well as her own senior thesis in college...on Saul Alinsky and his methods."

On behalf of community organizers, Rathke declared that as a result of the 2008 presidential election, "[w]e are no longer simply outsiders," and warned that "despite all that Obama stands for at the pinnacle of achievement for a community organizer,...the pushback around these issues calls for a more coherent explanation and positioning of our work and our profession."

Ms. Foulkes' case study on Obama disappeared from the Social Justice website before the last presidential website. (By then, Rathke admittedly was "an Obama guy.")

Even before the "Pimp and Pro" ACORN sting was planned, the politically astute Rathke expressed concern that President Obama might find it expedient to "soften[] the edges of organizing to redefine its place in his legacy as more middle-of-the-road," because "[t]he right is trying its hardest to redefine ACORN as a new manifestation of a post-cold war definition of American radicalism on the far left politically."

BUT...the true is (1) that's what ACORN has been, not a redefinition; (2) ACORN has slyly pursue the socialist agenda under the "human rights" banner and "the people rule" slogan; and (3) ACORN and Rathke can count Obama's election as President as a spectacular achievement, because Obama dutifully has pursued the ACORN agenda Obamacare, Justice Sotomayor, amnesty, card check, universal voter registration, etc. The "Pimp and Pro" sting proved devastating for ACORN as an organization but helpful to the already in power Obama, since he could distance himself from the suddenly very toxic ACORN.

"Healthcare reform" has been a key ACORN demand for decades, as ACORN's "People's Platform" demonstrates, and Obama finally delivered after the Clintons failed to deliver. Rathke, in his Publisher's Note in the Spring-Summer 2008 issue of Social Policy, stated that "Obama's challenge is convincing the public that he can herd Congress to create the changes he promises" and highlighted an article by Richard Kirsh, the new executive director of Health Care for America Now (HCAN) "mak[ing] the case for comprehensive health care reform as a centerpiece of regime change." (Other articles in that issue focused on "the inadequacy of our policy and response to unemployment as we enter the recession," "what we must do to deal with the housing foreclosure crisis," "winning protections and expansions of affordable housing," "the propitious nature of this very moment in history as an opportunity for comprehensive and transformative change" and "the role of emotion in politics that has been exploited so successfully this season by the Obama campaign.")

ACORN whistleblower MonCrief was willing to do some important enlightening before Election Day 2008, but she still was an Obama supporter and not willing to appear on Fox News and the liberal media establishment, led by The New York Times, preferred to support instead of to scrutinize Obama.

By 2009, Ms. MonCrief was disillusioned with Obama and radicalism and even willing to appear on Fox News. She was right when she said to Bill O'Reilly on his television show that ACORN had served for years as "an unofficial arm of the Democratic Party." (Not so bold O'Reilly should have looked into it instead of looked away.)

The whole truth about Obama and ACORN still needs to become common knowledge, preferably as soon as possible.

© Michael Gaynor

 

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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