Call for 'grassroots effort' to help boost campaign
Posted: October 02, 2008
By Aaron Klein
The names of four former top leaders of the Weathermen terrorist
organization are listed as signatories on an online petition calling
for an "independent grassroots effort" to help strengthen Sen. Barack
The petition was initiated by Progressives for Obama, an independent
organization acting to ensure the Illinois senator's election.
Progressives includes among its ranks many former members of the
1960s radical organization Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS,
from which the Weathermen splintered, as well as current and former
members of other radical organizations, such as the Communist Party
USA and the Black Radical Congress.
"We agree that Barack Obama is our best option for president in 2008,
and that an independent grassroots effort can help strengthen his
campaign," states the online petition. "It can also strengthen the
mandate for his programs for stopping war, promoting global justice
and securing our rights, liberties, and economic well-being."
Among the names signed onto the petition are former Weathermen
leaders Howard Machtinger, Jeff Jones, Steve Tappis and Mark Rudd.
Machtinger was a Weathermen founder and was co-author of the terror
group's original mission statement, which called for "revolutionaries
within the United States to wage a 'people's war' and attack from
within. The government would fall and 'world communism' eventually
would be instituted."
Jones, according to his own website, was "elected, along with
(Weathermen terrorist) Bill Ayers and Mark Rudd, to the SDS national
office. Then, in the spring of 1970, he disappeared. As a leader of
the Weather Underground, Jeff evaded an intense FBI manhunt for more
than a decade. In 1981, they finally got him. Twenty special agents
battered down the door of the Bronx apartment where he was living
with his wife and four-year-old son."
Jones' site says he traveled to Cambodia in 1966 to meet with
high-level leaders of the anti-American National Liberation Front. In
1967 and 1968 he served as an SDS regional organizer for New York City.
Contacted by WND, Jones said he is not involved in any Obama advocacy.
Tappis was one of 11 people who signed the original Weathermen
statement, which was infamously titled, "You Don't Need a Weatherman
to Know Which Way the Wind Blows."
Rudd, a petition supporter as well as a main signatory to the
Progressives for Obama group, was one of the main founders of the
Weathermen terrorist organization. A biography published on his
website explains Rudd worked to form the Weathermen as a radical
alternative to the SDS and for white Americans to eject their "white
skin privilege" and begin "armed struggle" against the U.S. government.
Rudd went underground in 1970, when a bomb exploded in a townhouse in
Greenwich Village in New York City, killing three of his comrades. He
lived for seven and a half years in hiding as a fugitive, finally
surrendering in 1977, facing only low-level state charges after
federal charges against Weathermen leaders had been dropped. He
resurfaced as a teacher in New Mexico.
As late as 2005, Rudd wrote an editorial in the Los Angeles Times
lamenting the state of the antiwar movement in the U.S.
"What's hard to understand – given the revelations about the rush to
war, the use of torture and the loss of more than 2,000 soldiers – is
why the antiwar movement isn't further along than it is," he wrote.
"Given that President Bush is now talking about Iraq as only one
skirmish in an unlimited struggle against a global Islamic enemy, a
struggle comparable to the titanic, 40-year Cold War against
communism, shouldn't a massive critique of the global war on
terrorism already be underway?"
In the piece, Rudd condemned the Weathermen's decision to embark on
an "armed-struggle," calling it "stupid" since the violent acts led
to the group's demise. But he didn't condemn the terrorism itself,
only its contribution to the downfall of the Weathermen.
Rudd declined to speak on the record to WND, explaining an interview
may spark more Weathermen controversy for Obama.
All former Weathermen leaders who signed the pro-Obama petition
worked closely for years with Weathermen terrorist William Ayers,
whose association with Obama has generated controversy for the
The Weathermen took responsibility for bombing U.S. governmental
buildings in the 1970s.
Trevor Louden of the New Zeal blog commented, "Clearly Bill Ayers and
his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, are not the only former Weathermen
backing Obama. Add their old comrades Jeff Jones, Howie Machtinger,
Mark Rudd and even Steve Tappis to the mix and you are starting to
get beyond coincidence. That former terrorists are working with
Marxist groups to elect Barack Obama is beyond doubt."
Progressives for Obama, which initiated the online petition, first
published its creed in March in the Nation magazine, explaining the
organization descended from the "proud tradition of independent
social movements that have made America a more just and democratic country."
Progressives for Obama stated it can help the Illinois senator's
ascent to highest office by contributing funds, using the Internet to
reach "millions of swing voters;" defending Obama against negative
attacks and making its agenda known at the Democratic National Convention.
"Progressives can make a difference in close primary races like
Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon and Puerto Rico, and in the
November general election," the founders state.
The founders stress it is crucial to form a grassroots leftist
movement to ensure Obama does not stray too far to the center,
claiming other grassroots liberal movements have successfully
pressured U.S. presidents into creating new policy:
It was the industrial strikes and radical organizers in the 1930s who
pushed Roosevelt to support the New Deal. It was the civil rights and
student movements that brought about voting rights legislation under
Lyndon Johnson and propelled Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy's
antiwar campaigns. It was the original Earth Day that led Richard
Nixon to sign environmental laws.
And it will be the Obama movement that will make it necessary and
possible to end the war in Iraq, renew our economy with a populist
emphasis, and confront the challenge of global warming. We should not
only keep the pressure on [Obama] but also connect the issues that
Obama has made central to his campaign into an overarching progressive vision.
The group was founded by four individuals with ties to extremist groups:
Tom Hayden, a former state senator who was a founder and principal
organizer of the SDS. Discover the Networks notes Hayden, previously
married to actress Jane Fonda, traveled many times to North Vietnam,
Czechoslovakia and Paris to strategize with communist North
Vietnamese and Viet Cong leaders on how to defeat America's
Bill Fletcher, a former Maoist and current leader of Democratic
Socialists of America or DSA. The New Zeal blog notes Fletcher was
also a founder of the Black Radical Congress, closely linked to the
Communist Party USA, which advocated for "progressive social justice,
racial equality and economic justice goals within the U.S.
Barbara Ehenreich, an honorary chairman of DSA who was formerly
active in antiwar movements in which some notorious radicals took part.
Actor Danny Glover, a member of the Black Students Union, who has
visited Venezuela, making guest appearances on President Hugo
Chavez's television and radio talk show. He reportedly has accepted
loans of about $20 million from the Venezuelan government to make a
movie about a Haitian revolutionary leader.
The Progressives for Obama webmaster is Carl Davidson, a former vice
president of the Students for a Democratic Society, who has traveled
to Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro.
The signatories and endorsers of the Obama activist group, listed on
the Progressives website, include scores of well known communist,
socialist and anarchist activists and former SDS members.