September 28, 2008
America waits with bated breath while Washington struggles to bring the U.S. economy back from the brink of disaster. But many of those same politicians caused the crisis, and if left to their own devices will do so again. Despite the mass media news blackout, a series of books, talk radio and the blogosphere have managed to expose Barack Obama’s connections to his radical mentors — Weather Underground bombers William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis and others. David Horowitz and his Discover the Networks.org have also contributed a wealth of information and have noted Obama’s radical connections since the beginning.
Yet, no one to my knowledge has yet connected all the dots between Barack Obama and the Radical Left. When seen together, the influences on Obama’s life comprise a who’s who of the radical leftist movement, and it becomes painfully apparent that not only is Obama a willing participant in that movement, he has spent most of his adult life deeply immersed in it. But even this doesn’t fully describe the extreme nature of this candidate. He can be tied directly to a malevolent overarching strategy that has motivated many, if not all, of the most destructive radical leftist organizations in the United States since the 1960s.
The Cloward-Piven Strategy of Orchestrated Crisis
In an earlier post, I noted the liberal record of unmitigated legislative disasters, the latest of which is now being played out in the financial markets before our eyes. Before the 1994 Republican takeover, Democrats had sixty years of virtually unbroken power in Congress – with substantial majorities most of the time. Can a group of smart people, studying issue after issue for years on end, with virtually unlimited resources at their command, not come up with a single policy that works? Why are they chronically incapable?
One of two things must be true. Either the Democrats are unfathomable idiots, who ignorantly pursue ever more destructive policies despite decades of contrary evidence, or they understand the consequences of their actions and relentlessly carry on anyway because they somehow benefit. I submit to you they understand the consequences. For many it is simply a practical matter of eliciting votes from a targeted constituency at taxpayer expense; we lose a little, they gain a lot, and the politician keeps his job. But for others, the goal is more malevolent – the failure is deliberate. Don’t laugh. This method not only has its proponents, it has a name: the Cloward-Piven Strategy. It describes their agenda, tactics, and long-term strategy.
The Strategy was first elucidated in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation magazine by a pair of radical socialist Columbia University professors, Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. David Horowitz summarizes it as: The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The “Cloward-Piven Strategy” seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse. Cloward and Piven were inspired by radical organizer [and Hillary Clinton mentor] Saul Alinsky: “Make the enemy live up to their (sic) own book of rules,” Alinsky wrote in his 1989 book Rules for Radicals. When pressed to honor every word of every law and statute, every Judeo-Christian moral tenet, and every implicit promise of the liberal social contract, human agencies inevitably fall short. The system’s failure to “live up” to its rule book can then be used to discredit it altogether, and to replace the capitalist “rule book” with a socialist one. (Courtesy Discover the Networks.org)
Newsmax rounds out the picture: Their strategy to create political, financial, and social chaos that would result in revolution blended Alinsky concepts with their more aggressive efforts at bringing about a change inU.S. government. To achieve their revolutionary change, Cloward and Piven sought to use a cadre of aggressive organizers assisted by friendly news media to force a re-distribution of the nation’s wealth.
In their Nation article, Cloward and Piven were specific about the kind of “crisis” they were trying to create: By crisis, we mean a publicly visible disruption in some institutional sphere. Crisis can occur spontaneously (e.g., riots) or as the intended result of tactics of demonstration and protest which either generate institutional disruption or bring unrecognized disruption to public attention. No matter where the strategy is implemented, it shares the following features:
1. The offensive organizes previously unorganized groups eligible for government benefits but not currently receiving all they can.
2. The offensive seeks to identify new beneficiaries and/or create new benefits.
3. The overarching aim is always to impose new stresses on target systems, with the ultimate goal of forcing their collapse.
Capitalizing on the racial unrest of the 1960s, Cloward and Piven saw the welfare system as their first target. They enlisted radical black activist George Wiley, who created the National Welfare Reform Organization (NWRO) to implement the strategy. Wiley hired militant foot soldiers to storm welfare offices around the country, violently demanding their “rights.” According to a City Journal article by Sol Stern, welfare rolls increased from 4.3 million to 10.8 million by the mid-1970s as a result, and inNew York City, where the strategy had been particularly successful, “one person was on the welfare rolls… for every two working in the city’s private economy.”
According to another City Journal article titled “Compassion Gone Mad“: The movement’s impact on New York City was jolting: welfare caseloads, already climbing 12 percent a year in the early sixties, rose by 50 percent during Lindsay’s first two years; spending doubled… The city had 150,000 welfare cases in 1960; a decade later it had 1.5 million. The vast expansion of welfare in New York City that came of the NWRO’s Cloward-Piven tactics sent the city into bankruptcy in 1975. Rudy Giuliani cited Cloward and Piven by name as being responsible for “an effort at economic sabotage.” He also credited Cloward-Piven with changing the cultural attitude toward welfare from that of a temporary expedient to a lifetime entitlement, an attitude which in-and-of-itself has caused perhaps the greatest damage of all.
Cloward and Piven looked at this strategy as a gold mine of opportunity. Within the newly organized groups, each offensive would find an ample pool of foot soldier recruits willing to advance its radical agenda at little or no pay, and expand its base of reliable voters, legal or otherwise. The radicals’ threatening tactics also would accrue an intimidating reputation, providing a wealth of opportunities for extorting monetary and other concessions from the target organizations. In the meantime, successful offensives would create an ever increasing drag on society. As they gleefully observed: Moreover, this kind of mass influence is cumulative because benefits are continuous. Once eligibility for basic food and rent grants is established, the drain on local resources persists indefinitely.
The next time you drive through one of the many blighted neighborhoods in our cities, or read of the astronomical crime, drug addiction, and out-of-wedlock birth rates, or consider the failed schools, strapped police and fire resources of every major city, remember Cloward and Piven’s thrill that “…the drain on local resources persists indefinitely.”
ACORN, the new tip of the Cloward-Piven spear
In 1970, one of George Wiley’s protégés, Wade Rathke — like Bill Ayers, a member of the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) — was sent to found the Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now. While NWRO had made a good start, it alone couldn’t accomplish the Cloward-Piven goals. Rathke’s group broadened the offensive to include a wide array of low income “rights.” Shortly thereafter they changed “Arkansas” to “Association of” and ACORN went nationwide.
Today ACORN is involved in a wide array of activities, including housing, voting rights, illegal immigration and other issues. According to ACORN’s website: “ACORN is the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low-and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across the country,” It is perhaps the largest radical group in the U.S. and has been cited for widespread criminal activity on many fronts.
On voting rights, ACORN and its voter mobilization subsidiary, Project Vote, have been involved nationwide in efforts to grant felons the vote and lobbied heavily for the Motor Voter Act of 1993, a law allowing people to register at motor vehicle departments, schools, libraries and other public places. That law had been sought by Cloward and Piven since the early1980s and they were present, standing behind President Clinton at the signing ceremony. ACORN’s voter rights tactics follow the Cloward-Piven Strategy:
1. Register as many Democrat voters as possible, legal or otherwise and help them vote, multiple times if possible.
2. Overwhelm the system with fraudulent registrations using multiple entries of the same name, names of deceased, random names from the phone book, even contrived names.
3. Make the system difficult to police by lobbying for minimal identification standards.
In this effort, ACORN sets up registration sites all over the country and has been frequently cited for turning in fraudulent registrations, as well as destroying republican applications. In the 2004-2006 election cycles alone, ACORN was accused of widespread voter fraud in 12 states. It may have swung the election for one state governor. ACORN’s website brags: “Since 2004, ACORN has helped more than 1.7 million low- and moderate-income and minority citizens apply to register to vote.” Project vote boasts 4 million. I wonder how many of them are dead? For the 2008 cycle, ACORN and Project Vote have pulled out all the stops. Given their furious nationwide effort, it is not inconceivable that this presidential race could be decided by fraudulent votes alone.
Barack Obama ran ACORN’s Project Vote in Chicago and his highly successful voter registration drive was credited with getting the disgraced former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun elected.
Newsmax reiterates Cloward and Piven’s aspirations for ACORN’s voter registration efforts: By advocating massive, no-holds-barred voter registration campaigns, they [Cloward & Piven] sought a Democratic administration inWashington,D.C. that would re-distribute the nation’s wealth and lead to a totalitarian socialist state.
As I have written elsewhere, the Radical Left’s offensive to promote illegal immigration is “Cloward-Piven on steroids.” ACORN is at the forefront of this movement as well, and was a leading organization among a broad coalition of radical groups, including Soros’ Open Society Institute, the Service Employees International Union (ACORN founder Wade Rathke also runs a SEIU chapter), and others, that became the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. CCIR fortunately failed to gain passage for the 2007 illegal immigrant amnesty bill, but its goals have not changed. The burden of illegal immigration on our already overstressed welfare system has been widely documented. Some towns in California have even been taken over by illegal immigrant drug cartels. The disease, crime and overcrowding brought by illegal immigrants places a heavy burden on every segment of society and every level of government, threatening to split this country apart at the seams. In the meantime, radical leftist efforts to grant illegal immigrants citizenship guarantee a huge pool of new democrat voters. With little border control, terrorists can also filter in.
Obama aided ACORN as their lead attorney in a successful suit he brought against the Illinois state government to implement the Motor Voter law there. The law had been resisted by Republican Governor Jim Edgars, who feared the law was an opening to widespread vote fraud. His fears were warranted as the Motor Voter law has since been cited as a major opportunity for vote fraud, especially for illegal immigrants, even terrorists. According to the Wall Street Journal: “After 9/11, the Justice Department found that eight of the 19 hijackers were registered to vote…”
ACORN’s dual offensives on voting and illegal immigration are handy complements. Both swell the voter rolls with reliable democrats while assaulting the country ACORN seeks to destroy with overwhelming new problems.
And now we have the mortgage crisis, which has sent a shock wave through Wall Street and panicked world financial markets like no other since the stock market crash of 1929. But this is a problem created in Washington long ago. It originated with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), signed into law in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter. The CRA was Carter’s answer to a grassroots activist movement started in Chicago, and forced banks to make loans to low income, high risk customers. PhD economist and former Texas Senator Phil Gramm has called it: “a vast extortion scheme against the nation’s banks.”
ACORN aggressively sought to expand loans to low income groups using the CRA as a whip. Economist Stan Leibowitz wrote in the New York Post: In the 1980s, groups such as the activists at ACORN began pushing charges of “redlining”-claims that banks discriminated against minorities in mortgage lending. In 1989, sympathetic members of Congress got the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act amended to force banks to collect racial data on mortgage applicants; this allowed various studies to be ginned up that seemed to validate the original accusation. In fact, minority mortgage applications were rejected more frequently than other applications-but the overwhelming reason wasn’t racial discrimination, but simply that minorities tend to have weaker finances.
ACORN showed its colors again in 1991, by taking over the House Banking Committee room for two days to protest efforts to scale back the CRA. Obama represented ACORN in the Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank, 1994 suit against redlining. Most significant of all, ACORN was the driving force behind a 1995 regulatory revision pushed through by the Clinton Administration that greatly expanded the CRA and laid the groundwork for the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac borne financial crisis we now confront. Barack Obama was the attorney representing ACORN in this effort. With this new authority, ACORN used its subsidiary, ACORN Housing, to promote subprime loans more aggressively.
As a New York Post article describes it: A 1995 strengthening of the Community Reinvestment Act required banks to find ways to provide mortgages to their poorer communities. It also let community activists intervene at yearly bank reviews, shaking the banks down for large pots of money. Banks that got poor reviews were punished; some saw their merger plans frustrated; others faced direct legal challenges by the Justice Department. Flexible lending programs expanded even though they had higher default rates than loans with traditional standards. On the Web, you can still find CRA loans available via ACORN with “100 percent financing . . . no credit scores . . . undocumented income . . . even if you don’t report it on your tax returns.” Credit counseling is required, of course.
Ironically, an enthusiastic Fannie Mae Foundation report singled out one paragon of nondiscriminatory lending, which worked with community activists and followed “the most flexible underwriting criteria permitted.” That lender’s $1 billion commitment to low-income loans in 1992 had grown to $80 billion by 1999 and $600 billion by early 2003. The lender they were speaking of was Countrywide, which specialized in subprime lending and had a working relationship with ACORN.
Investor’s Business Daily added: The revisions also allowed for the first time the securitization of CRA-regulated loans containing subprime mortgages. The changes came as radical “housing rights” groups led by ACORN lobbied for such loans. ACORN at the time was represented by a young public-interest lawyer in Chicago by the name of Barack Obama. (Emphasis, mine.)Since these loans were to be underwritten by the government sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the implicit government guarantee of those loans absolved lenders, mortgage bundlers and investors of any concern over the obvious risk.
As Bloomberg reported: “It is a classic case of socializing the risk while privatizing the profit.” And if you think Washington policy makers cared about ACORN’s negative influence, think again. Before this whole mess came down, a Democrat-sponsored bill on the table would have created an “Affordable Housing Trust Fund,” granting ACORN access to approximately $500 million in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac revenues with little or no oversight.
Even now, unbelievably — on the brink of national disaster — Democrats have insisted ACORN benefit from bailout negotiations! Senator Lindsay Graham reported last night (9/25/08) in an interview with Greta Van Susteren of On the Record that Democrats want 20 percent of the bailout money to go to ACORN! This entire fiasco represents perhaps the pinnacle of ACORN’s efforts to advance the Cloward-Piven Strategy and is a stark demonstration of the power they wield inWashington.
Enter Barack Obama
In attempting to capture the significance of Barack Obama’s Radical Left connections and his relation to the Cloward Piven strategy, I constructed the following flow chart. It is by no means complete. There are simply too many radical individuals and organizations to include them all here. But these are perhaps the most significant.
The chart puts Barack Obama at the epicenter of an incestuous stew of American radical leftism. Not only are his connections significant, they practically define who he is. Taken together, they constitute a who’s who of the American radical left, and guiding all is the Cloward-Piven strategy. Conspicuous in their absence are any connections at all with any other group, moderate, or even mildly leftist. They are all radicals, firmly bedded in the anti-American, communist, socialist, radical leftist mesh.
Most people are unaware that Barack Obama received his training in “community organizing” from Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation. But he did. In and of itself that marks his heritage and training as that of a radical activist. One really needs go no further. But we have.
Obama objects to being associated with SDS bomber Bill Ayers, claiming he is being smeared with “guilt by association.” But they worked together at the Woods Fund. The Wall Street Journal added substantially to our knowledge by describing in great detail Obama’s work over five years with SDS bomber Bill Ayers on the board of a non-profit, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, to push a radical agenda on public school children. As Stanley Kurtz states: “…the issue here isn’t guilt by association; it’s guilt by participation. As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago.”
Also included in the mix is Theresa Heinz Kerry’s favorite charity, the Tides Foundation. A partial list of Tides grants tells you all you need to know: ACLU, ACORN, Center for American Progress, Center for Constitutional Rights (a communist front,) CAIR, Earth Justice, Institute for Policy Studies (KGB spy nest), National Lawyers Guild (oldest communist front inU.S.), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and practically every other radical group there is. ACORN’s Wade Rathke runs a Tides subsidiary, theTidesCenter.
Carl Davidson and the New Party
We have heard about Bomber Bill, but we hear little about fellow SDS member Carl Davidson. According to Discover the Networks, Davidson was an early supporter of Barack Obama and a prominent member of Chicago’s New Party, a synthesis of CPUSA members, Socialists, ACORN veterans and other radicals. Obama sought and received the New Party’s endorsement, and they assisted with his campaign. The New Party also developed a strong relationship with ACORN. As an excellent article on the New Party observes: “Barack Obama knew what he was getting into and remains an ideal New Party candidate.”
The chart also suggests the reason for George Soros’ fervent support of Obama. The President of his Open Society Institute is Aryeh Neier, founder of the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). As mentioned above, three other former SDS members had extensive contact with Obama: Bill Ayers, Carl Davidson and Wade Rathke. Surely Aryeh Neier would have heard from his former colleagues of the promising new politician. More to the point, Neier is firmly committed to supporting the hugely successful radical organization, ACORN, and would be certain back their favored candidate, Barack Obama.
Obama has spent a large portion of his professional life working for ACORN or its subsidiaries, representing ACORN as a lawyer on some of its most critical issues, and training ACORN leaders. Stanley Kurtz’s excellent National Review article, “Inside Obama’s Acorn.” also describes Obama’s ACORN connection in detail. But I can’t improve on Obama’s own words: I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career (emphasis added). Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work. – Barack Obama, Speech to ACORN, November 2007 (Courtesy Newsmax.)
In another excellent article on Obama’s ACORN connections, Newsmax asks a nagging question: It would be telling to know if Obama, during his years at Columbia, had occasion to meet Cloward and study the Cloward-Piven Strategy. I ask you, is it possible ACORN would train Obama to take leadership positions within ACORN without telling him what he was training for? Is it possible ACORN would put Obama in leadership positions without clueing him into what his purpose was?? Is it possible that this most radical of organizations would put someone in charge of training its trainers, without him knowing what it was he was training them for?
As a community activist for ACORN; as a leadership trainer for ACORN; as a lead organizer for ACORN’s Project Vote; as an attorney representing ACORN’s successful efforts to impose Motor Voter regulations in Illinois; as ACORN’s representative in lobbying for the expansion of high risk housing loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led to the current crisis; as a recipient of their assistance in his political campaigns — both with money and campaign workers; it is doubtful that he was unaware of ACORN’s true goals. It is doubtful he was unaware of the Cloward-Piven Strategy.
Fast-forward to 2005 when an obsequious, servile and scraping Daniel Mudd, CEO of Fannie Mae spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus swearing in ceremony for newly-elected Illinois Senator, Barack Obama. Mudd called, the Congressional Black Caucus “our family” and “the conscience of Fannie Mae.” In 2005, Republicans sought to rein in Fannie and Freddie. Senator John McCain was at the forefront of that effort. But it failed due to an intense lobbying effort put forward by Fannie and Freddie. In his few years as aU.S. senator, Obama has received campaign contributions of $126,349, from Fannie and Freddie, second only to the $165,400 received by Senator Chris Dodd, who has been getting donations from them since 1988. What makes Obama so special?
His closest advisers are a dirty laundry list of individuals at the heart of the financial crisis: former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson; Former Fannie Mae CEO and former Clinton Budget Director Frank Raines; and billionaire failed Superior Bank of Chicago Board Chair Penny Pritzker. Johnson had to step down as adviser on Obama’s V.P. search after this gem came out: An Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) report from September 2004 found that, during Johnson’s tenure as CEO, Fannie Mae had improperly deferred $200 million in expenses. This enabled top executives, including Johnson and his successor, Franklin Raines, to receive substantial bonuses in 1998. A 2006 OFHEO report found that Fannie Mae had substantially under-reported Johnson’s compensation. Originally reported as $6-7 million, Johnson actually received approximately $21 million.
Obama denies ties to Raines but the Washington Post calls him a member of “Obama’s political circle.” Raines and Johnson were fined $3 million by the Office of Federal Housing Oversight for their manipulation of Fannie books. The fine is small change however, compared to the $50 million Raines was able to obtain in improper bonuses as a result of juggling the books. Most significantly, Penny Pritzker, the current Finance Chairperson of Obama’s presidential campaign helped develop the complicated investment bundling of subprime securities at the heart of the meltdown. She did so in her position as shareholder and board chair of Superior Bank. The Bank failed in 2001, one of the largest in recent history, wiping out $50 million in uninsured life savings of approximately 1,400 customers. She was named in a RICO class action law suit but doesn’t seem to have come out of it too badly.
As a young attorney in the 1990s, Barack Obama represented ACORN in Washingtonin their successful efforts to expand Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) authority. In addition to making it easier for ACORN groups to force banks into making risky loans, this also paved the way for banks like Superiorto package mortgages as investments, and for the Government Sponsored Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to underwrite them. These changes created the conditions that ultimately lead to the current financial crisis.
Did they not know this would occur? Were these smart people, led by a Harvard graduate, unaware of the Econ 101 concept of moral hazard that would result from the government making implicit guarantees to underwrite private sector financial risk? They should have known that freeing the high-risk mortgage market of risk, calamity was sure to ensue. I think they did.
Barack Obama, the Cloward-Piven candidate, no matter how he describes himself, has been a radical activist for most of his political career. That activism has been in support of organizations and initiatives that at their heart seek to tear the pillars of this nation asunder in order to replace them with their demented socialist vision. Their influence has spread so far and so wide that despite their blatant culpability in the current financial crisis, they are able to manipulate Capital Hill politicians to cut them into $140 billion of the bailout pie!
God grant those few responsible yet remaining inWashington, D.C. the strength to prevent this massive fraud from occurring. God grant them the courage to stand up in the face of this Marxist tidal wave.
Jim Simpson was a government staff economist and budget analyst. His writings have been published in American Thinker, Washington Times, FrontPage Magazine, Defense Watch, Soldier of Fortune and others. His blog is Truth and Consequences..