Saturday, June 30, 2007

`Grit TV' Host and `Blue Grit' Author Laura Flanders: A 1991 `Downtown' Interview--Part 3

Before she began working as the Grit TV alternative news show producer-host, Blue Grit author Laura Flanders used to co-produce and host a non-commercial daily alternative morning news show called Undercurrents with Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight of KPFA’s Flashpoints ( daily alternative evening news show. Following is the third part of a 1991 interview with Flanders that appeared in the June 26, 1991 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newsweekly Downtown.

What about the argument that Establishment media people give—and pollsters—that “women in the United States aren’t interested in politics. They’re not interested in geopolitical issues. They’re primarily interested in personal concerns, raising families”? And therefore, that’s why you won’t have many women analysts or women commentators?
Laura Flanders: Well, that brings up two things. One, is the old question about which came first: the media representation or the reality. If it’s true, for example, that little boys won’t watch little girls on kids’ TV. Is that because they are just not used to it and they haven’t been encouraged to see girls in heroic roles? And, if so, is it okay for the networks to capitulate to that and say “Oh, well, that’s why we don’t have any girl heroines on children’s TV? And that’s just on the children’s level.

But I think the evidence is clear. Almost every progressive organization in this country is run largely, predominantly by, women. I mean many organizations are headed by women…You know, women are visible in the progressive community. They’re visible in issues of concern way beyond so-called “women’s issues.” And at the point where we’re looking at an economic crisis that is devastating our society, those “women’s issues” even are the key issues of the day: health care, housing, reproductive rights, family. And women are out front talking about these issues. There’s no way that anyone can say that they’re not.

If you look behind most congress people or senators they have a whole staff of advisers, a large number of which are women. And most likely the most active and the most energetic are women because they have to be, still, to get to the places that they’re in.

What is the relationship between WBAI and Undercurrrents? Often WBAI has marathons. Isn’t the money that WBAI raises at the marathons…doesn’t that go to Undercurrents?
In some respects, it does. Undercurrents is an independently-produced program that is aired on WBAI and by WBAI. We produce in the studios of WBAI and, hence, the money that goes to WBAI and keeps the station alive makes it possible for us to continue producing the program.

The people that subscribe to ‘BAI during the Undercurrents time, and think that the money then somehow goes to Undercurrents, are mistaken. The money goes to the overall pool for the station and for our other costs: any salaries that we might pay, any expenses that we have of tape and cassettes, and telephone, mail and an office. Those kinds of things are part of a budget that we have to raise independently. Which is why we formed Undercurrents as a project of the Institute for Social Justice, through which we raise money to cover our costs and are able to distribute and syndicate the program. All of which is paid for by ourselves, not by WBAI.

So it’s two separate organizations which are interconnected and kind of co-dependent, interdependent. But the money that goes to ‘BAI does not come to Robert [Knight] or I.

You used to be into filmmaking and video before you got into radio. What kind of films and videos did you make and how was that work different?
Flanders: I got into film and video through connections to people who were involved in film and video. And the two films that I was active in producing: One was about domestic violence in the north of Ireland and its relationship to the political violence that was taking place on the streets. The other one was about the miners’ strike in Britain of 1984-85, which was a study of a women’s group that kept striking miners alive throughout a year of strike in a small village in South Yorkshire. From that film, footage was produced: one short film about the women and a longer film on which I was a co-producer that featured many news items that had been taking place in the years 84-85, that hadn’t been covered. And one of which was the “New York 8 Trial.” So the film kind of jumped from the New York 8 Trial to the miners to the women’s peace encampment up at Seneca and various other stories.

What was the New York 8 Trial?
Flanders: The New York 8 Trial was the trial of, in fact, nine defendants charged with “terrorist” activities, with trying to free a colleague out of jail. That was a trial that was brought under the RICO statutes in 1984, I believe, to intimidate the Black Liberation Movement in this country. And it was dependent on the evidence of a turncoat witness whose evidence fell apart in court. The group was actually finally acquitted.

Who did you work with?
Flanders: I worked on the miners and the New York 8 case film with a woman called Andrea Kirsch. And on the Ireland film with another woman called Mary Jane Sullivan.

Are they still working in media?
Flanders: Andrea Kirsch is still working in film. And Mary Jane Sullivan is the director of a production company called Now and Then Productions that co-produces video and film and poetry and other projects in the New York area.

We had an article in Downtown a few months ago talking about the boom in the sale of video cameras and the article argued that this was an effective means to fight the Establishment media on the media world level, on the level of culture. As far as radio and video compare, what are the advantages and the limitations of each? Can an alternative media based on video be an effective tool for social change?
: It can be. We need all the tools we can get and it certainly is one, I think…I think that independent video and radio both can perform a very important function in terms of being witnesses to a scene. Video and radio can both record a scene right there that moment, very cheaply, very accessibly, that is then a document that can be used.

As far as really affecting the mainstream, certainly there’s evidence of the Gulf Crisis television project, much of which was put together out of nonprofessional video stock. But that was effective. It was seen all around the world and got a lot of questions stirring in a lot of hearts and minds, I’m sure.

But when I was working in film and video it became very clear to me that production values do count. That if you’re going to convince the unconvinced, “the unconverted,” your product does need to be appealing, does need to be attractive, does need to reach out and affect someone. You can’t depend on them sitting there in front of the television or the screen and giving you the benefit of the doubt in a culture that is so hyped-up that it’s just kind of saturated with video images and film images. What eventually pulled me out of working in film was that I felt that, in order to produce a product which would be seen by enough people to really be effective, it required so much money that it ultimately—unless you were really going to have enormous distribution—wasn’t worth the money. That it was not an effective use of funds. And that’s where radio and noncommercial video come in. It’s that, for the impact they can have, they’re incredibly cheap and accessible. (end of part 3)

Next: The Marines Have Captured Grenada lyrics

Friday, June 29, 2007

Radical Feminist Media Strategy Proposed By Class Workshop In 1970

As the radical feminist journal Women In Revolution reported in its Summer 1970 issue, the Class Workshop was formed “as a reaction to the oppression working class women experienced in the Movement” and proposed a radical feminist media strategy “in the interests of most women, not in the interests of the privileged few who want to make it on our backs.” Among the media strategy proposals made by the Class Workshop in 1970 were the following:

“Anyone who appears in the media is to be drawn by lot from her group. No one is to participate in the media alone…No member of a group can appear as an independent feminist…No individual or group can earn a living by writing or speaking about women’s liberation…Anyone who wants to write should write for the Movement.”
Next: Grit TV Host and Blue Grit Author Laura Flanders: A 1991 Downtown Interview—Part 3

Thursday, June 28, 2007

U.S. Political Prisoner Marilyn Buck: A 1994 `Downtown' Interview--Part 2

Marilyn Buck is a former 1960s antiwar radical and 1970s and 1980s fugitive who is presently serving an 80-year sentence in a federal prison for women in Dublin, California. After the surrender of former 1960s radical and fugitive Kathy Power in 1993, Newsweek magazine published a cover story on Power’s odyssey. Following is the second part of a 1994 interview with Buck that appeared in the January 19, 1994 issue of Downtown in which she commented on the Newsweek article about Kathy Power.

Are there any similarities between Kathy Power’s life and yours?
Marilyn Buck: I am a woman who lived a number of years clandestinely. There are of course some similarities in our lives—being white, from the middle classes, having become political activists in the 1960s against the war in Vietnam and for Black liberation. And we both lived lives underground. For myself, I also know that becoming a politically active woman was not an overnight experience, that I was not misled by some charismatic character. It was a thoughtful process, an examination of what the nature of this system is, of my own role both as object and, more importantly, as subject to fight the oppression. I do not know Ms. Power’s history of politicization, but I definitely mistrust the media’s reductionist scenario of girl-meets-convict-and-is-manipulated.

I think the differences between our lives are more important. I did not feel it necessary to divorce myself from political struggle to survive; and, I did not surrender. I was captured—imprisoned without negotiation. There were no peace talks, no offers of plea.

Living underground is not a romantic endeavor or diversion, as Jane Alpert may have initially imagined it to be. It is difficult and personally heart-wrenching to be separated from one’s family, friends and one’s political cohorts. And yet people all over the world who have to struggle for survival and against grinding, brutal oppression lead lives of value, of resistance, no matter the deaths, the separations they endure. Being underground is not about escaping a life not liked or not fulfilling: Who one is does not rest on one’s name or birth date, but rather on how one lives and acts.

I remember a conversation I had with a comrade a number of years ago, at the time Bernardine Dohrn and her now-husband Bill Ayers, negotiated their own surrenders. The comrade sadly, and a bit angrily, stated that there was not one of us who were engaged in liberation struggle who would not wish to be home, but in Amerika not everyone can do that and live safely, secure from attack. I think that is true.

Certainly, it is much more possible for white people than for people from the oppressed nations to do so. I think of the Salvadoran FMLN comrades who have been assassinated after returning to public life from clandestinity, after all the agreements and international assurances. I wonder how many more will die at the hands of the death squads.

Being white gives one privilege, so the possibilities that exist to surrender are much greater. In this last decade many white people have retreated, either inured to the escalating racism and socioeconomic oppression, feeling they have done all they can, are not to blame, or are frightened at the possible consequences.

Ms. Power retired into the sanctuary of white Amerika. By that I mean that she, as a white woman, had the privilege of escaping notice by retiring into the expected “normal” white life. She did not have to fear being stopped by the police merely because she looked like a “suspicious person.” White people are not “suspicious,” unless they act suspicious or refuse to conform.

Certainly, in the first period of flight, there was danger because she was not “suspicious”—she was hunted! The full weight of the repressive apparatus was unleashed. Radical white women were under attack for having possibly supported her and Susan Saxe. However, after the threats and intimidation did not work in a number of radical women’s communities because of a refusal to collaborate with grand juries, the relentless hunt was thwarted, and the danger diminished.

The State was not prepared to terrorize white Amerika to capture Ms. Power, certainly not to the degree it did hunting Angela Davis or Assata Shakur in Black America. Once Ms. Power established a conforming identity she was relatively safe. But feeling safe and being safe are not always the same thing. One can be safe and not feel that. Conversely, one may feel relatively secure, believing that one has not betrayed oneself or been betrayed, and not be safe.

I can say this because I too was hunted. After the initial fear of being the fox before the hounds subsided, I found that it was relatively easy to be an unassuming, unnoticed white woman. It was assumed that I was a part of the white social consensus. My social credit was good. More than once, police even rushed to my aid—unrequested. The same police might then rush off to snarl at someone Black or Latino—ready to shoot to kill.

I was also able to continue being a political person. It did not stop me from challenging racism, or working in social programs. Not until I was discovered to be that traitor to the capitalist white supremacist consensus. Then my white skin lost its American Express creditability. The State’s agents went haywire. And here I am with a total of 80 years.

Why aren’t you in the radical gallery sidebar which Newsweek printed?
Buck: With the exception of Kathy Boudin [released on parole in 2003], none of the more than 100 political prisoners and P.O.W.s are mentioned in the “Revisiting the Radicals” sidebar. None of us have surrendered or repented. Ms. Boudin had been spectacularized in 1970 after the explosion of a townhouse in the Village, so she was “revisited.”

Very few of those of us now in prison were marketed by the media as “fame” commodities. We are buried as much as possible. Those political prisoners and POWs, such as Leonard Peltier or Geronimo jiJaga Pratt [now released], who are becoming better known, were not propelled by the press into “fame.” Rather, it is through the struggle of many people to bring attention to the reality that both these comrades were framed by the COINTELPRO agencies that they are known.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, MOVE supporter and a journalist sits on death row in Pennsylvania, framed by the State. He’s an established journalist, but neither Newsweek journalists, nor others in the establishment media, have yet [as of 1994], in more than 10 years, written an investigative piece about the fact that the government is marching him to the death chamber!

Newsweek did not write articles about the Tribunal held in 1991, in which charges were brought against the United States for its treatment and continuing detention of the political prisoners and POWs from the New Afrikan and Black, Puerto Rican, Native American, Hawaiian and Mexican national liberation movements, and the anti-imperialist and peace/antiwar movements. No establishment press wrote a major article on the Tribunal charging the U.S. with the genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans and the colonialization of North America and the Caribbean held in San Francisco on the 500th anniversary of the European invasion of the Americas.

Political prisoners are definitely not in fashion. The same people that want us silenced, that continue to exact vengeance, certainly would not encourage its publicists and propagandists to bring any attention to who we are and why we are.

Has the Clinton Administration dealt adequately with issues of political prisoners in the 1990s, from your point of view?
No. Even those with the most clear-cut cases are being denied under this new administration. Comrades like the New York 3—Nuh Washington [who later died in prison of cancer in 2000], Herman Bell, and Jalil Muntaqin—have had legal efforts unjustly denied, even though the government misconduct was flagrant—disappearing evidence which would have undermined the state’s court case. Silvia Baraldini, an Italian citizen, has repeatedly been denied repatriation to serve her sentence in her homeland. Each time the Italian government has requested her transfer, the Justice Department has refused because she refuses to “cooperate”—that is, to disavow her political views as an anti-imperialist. [Some years later, Baraldini was finally repatriated to Italy.] There has been no attempt to resolve the demands for the release of the Puerto Rican POWs and political prisoners or for decolonization [until their release in late 1999].

Sundiata Acoli was refused parole this year, after more than 20 years in prison! Those comrades who have been released were released because there were no other legal ways to keep them locked up. They were not allowed to go to half-way houses at a time when the Federal Bureau of Prisons has been trying to send more people to half-way houses. Because they are “a danger to the community”! Teachers, writers, productive human beings—a danger?

Most other nations at some point have come to terms with political movements that have opposed or do oppose the State. Political prisoners have been released and given amnesty all over the world by state apparatuses that had reveled in brutality and torture. But nothing has changed in the U.S.

Everyone of us comes out of a movement that struggles for liberation, social justice and human dignity. Supporting us is a part of supporting these movements. Until the movements challenging U.S. state power regain strength and momentum, until there is a powerful voice raised by you who are concerned with human rights and justice, I do not think the government—no matter who is in the White House—will make any qualitative moves in the direction of justice. Free All Political Prisoners and POWs! (end of interview)

Marilyn Buck can be contacted at the following address: Marilyn Buck #00482-285, 5701 8th St. Camp Parks, Unit B, Dublin, California 94568, USA.

Next: Radical Feminist Media Strategy Proposed By Class Workshop In 1970

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

`Grit TV' Host and `Blue Grit' Author Laura Flanders: A 1991 `Downtown' Interview--Part 2

Before she began working as a Grit TV producer-host, Blue Grit author Laura Flanders used to co-produce and host a non-commercial daily alternative morning news show called Undercurrents with Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight of KPFA’s Flashpoints ( daily alternative evening news show. Following is the second part of a 1991 interview with Flanders that appeared in the June 26, 1991 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newsweekly Downtown.

Whenever Downtown has asked any of the Establishment media workers `Are you free to cover any story? Are the business interests controlling you? Is there censorship?’ all the broadcasting personnel, all the editors we’ve spoken to, say: `It’s like the separation between church and state. There’s a line in the sand drawn. We’re as free to do anything we want.’ And that there’s no need for any noncommercial programming like Undercurrents. How would you respond to people who are saying that?
Laura Flanders
: Well, I think that you have to ask the very simple question, which is: if there’s really no restraint being exercised on reporters, why is it that there’s so little political variation in the mainstream reporting that we read and that we see on the television?

There is a kind of homogeneity about the vast majority of the reporting that we’re exposed to. And it seems to me that it’s because of a very deep sense of belonging on the part of those reporters. That they tend to express the attitude that they are a part of some kind of Establishment that they believe in, that has rules they believe in, that has a relationship with the economic system that they stand up for. And that their reporting takes place within that to try and keep some truth to the concept of a free speech amendment—or because they believe in informing people about their environment, not about changing it. I think we can get into what the mechanics of control are. But I think more than anything it’s the sense of being part of the status quo that most mainstream reporters exhibit, as far as I can see. And at Undercurrents we’re very clear we don’t have that sense of belonging. We have that sense of irreverence that comes with being placed and placing ourselves very strongly outside the Establishment.

How do you decide what topic to devote a show to?
Flanders: Well, Undercurrents is a news program. So we are on a day-to-day basis dominated by what’s the breaking news. We’re the first news program on WBAI’s morning program and we do have a responsibility to address the breaking news of the day. Sometimes we do that in headlines and then address continuing stories in the reports that are given the greatest focus. But more often than not we’re calling people at 12 at night and saying “sorry, we have to cancel the segment tomorrow because we have to do a show on Ethiopia” or a show on whatever is the breaking news—the assassination of Ranjiv Gandhi, for example.

But couldn’t you say the breaking news is in some ways determined by what the Establishment media says is the highlight of the day?
Well, we try and balance that out. For example, we have a commitment to cover the situation in Central America. We have, I feel, a fairly loyal responsibility to maintain the profile of a country like Nicaragua or Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador in the public eye when the mainstream media is not paying any attention to that country—or South Africa.

So our overall agenda is to try and cover in a consistent way stories that are dropped in and out of the mainstream. But when Ranjiv Gandhi is assassinated it’s very important also to have an alternative perspective on what’s going on there. And right at the time when the mainstream is churning out its version of events. I feel we have a responsibility to challenge the version of events, the version of the truth that’s being handed out.

It’s like a tug of war, how much to kind of, in a dignified way, distance oneself from what the media is considering the important story. And how much to enter into the fray and provide the story.

How does your guest list compare with National Public Radio's guest list or Channel 13’s guest list on the MacNeil/Lehrer news program? And how would the work that Undercurrents is doing differ from the National Public Radio, which might make some of the same claims Undercurrents makes?
As far as the guest list goes, I would say that in one area, in particular, we have surpassed every other mainstream, and even most of the alternative news programs, which is in the area of women reporters, women analysts, women commentators. I would say that we have, easily, 50 percent women staff. Easily. Which is unheard of. All the top guests—as has been documented by Mother Jones and F.A.I.R. and other places—of MacNeil/Lehrer and Nightline are white men.

With respect to the comparison to NPR, we have a very strong tradition of going in a country to an indigenous person of that country or somebody who’s lived for a long while in the country that we’re reporting on. So we have a lot of international voices, non-U.S. voices.

NPR, even during the Gulf War, focused mostly on analysts and commentators from the U.S.. So, just listening, you’d certainly hear more accents on Undercurrents. And that’s just a question of guest lists.

With respect to the content, NPR did a series of reports sort of summing up the Gulf Crisis. And the last episode was on their coverage and on the whole concept of “high-intensity warfare” and how the “military had a strategy of using the most power they could” and that “this would shorten the War.” They basically came down saying “Well, that was a legitimate policy and it did work.”

We would never be drawn that much into the Administration’s way of thinking about things.

You mentioned that you have had many more women analysts as guests than either National Public Radio or MacNeil/Lehrer or the networks. Why do you think there’s resistance in the mass media to having more women commentators, women broadcasters, on their news programs?
I think they have women broadcasters who look like kind of propped-up dolls, as far as presenters go, with this kind of plastic look to them. And they’re seen as the kind of `pretty face of information.’

As far as using women as experts, I think that there is still resistance to having women speaking out on the concerns of the day: the geopolitical concerns, the international political concerns. You know, the “mega-issues.” Women are brought on to those talk shows that you mentioned, like the MacNeil/Lehrer for example, to discuss what the mainstream considers “women’s issues.” So, if you’re lucky, you get some women talking about abortion or about rape. And not even on those cases is it guaranteed.

But as far as having women speaking about international issues in foreign policy, how many women did you see during the Gulf War? Almost none. Barbara Ehrenreich was on a lot. Hannan Ashrani from Palestine.

How to explain that resistance?...You know, we never finished the feminist movement. We never ended the campaign against sexism in this country. It’s not over. And that’s a perfect example of it. (end of part 2)

Next: U.S. Political Prisoner Marilyn Buck: A 1994 Downtown Interview—Part 2

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hillary Clinton & Madison Guaranty S&L Scandal

While 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s husband was Arkansas’s governor in the 1980s, the Clintons’ Whitewater Development Corporation business partner, James McDougal, owned the Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan bank in Arkansas. Yet, as the New York Times (1/6/96) recalled, “in response to a question about whether she had worked on Madison matters before state regulators appointed by her husband,” former Rose Law firm partner Hillary Clinton said in an April 23, 1994 press conference that “it was not an area that I practiced in, it was not an area that I really know anything, to speak of, about.” But according to the Times:

“The records show Mrs. Clinton billed for a wide range of legal services on behalf of Madison…They show that on April 29, 1985, the day before the Rose firm submitted a request for the state security commissioner to approve a financing plan for Madison, Mrs. Clinton had two telephone conferences totaling one hour. One was with the state securities commissioner who had been appointed three months earlier by then-Governor Clinton.”

In his book The Great Whitewater Fiasco, Martin Gross stated the following about Hillary’s apparent role in Arkansas’s Madison Guaranty S&L scandal:

“Almost immediately after his inauguration in January 1985, Governor Clinton replaced his Securities Department chief Lee Thalheimer…with a friend, Beverly Bassett. Ms. Bassett came from a law firm that has worked for Madison Guaranty. She was also the sister of Clinton’s campaign chief in Washington County…An assistant of Hillary’s…wrote Ms. Bassett at least two letters on behalf of Madison Guaranty…Clinton’s own banking chief had warned that Madison was making bad loans…Madison needed more capital to keep going. It also had to get the Arkansas Securities Department to be cooperative…Ms. Bassett quickly approved the plan…The great fiction of the whole operation was that Hillary was not involved…Nonsense.”
(Downtown 1/24/96)

Former Arkansas governor Bill Clinton’s liaison to banking and industrial development and Whitewater Development business partner, the now-deceased James McDougal, was convicted during the first Clinton Administration in the 1990s of 18 felony counts of fraud and other crimes in connection with the Arkansas operations of the Madison Guaranty S&L, whose special interests 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton apparently represented while her husband was governor.

According to Clinton Confidential: The Climb To Power by George Carpozi, Jr., in early 1986, “McDougal had asked [Dave] Hale for a $150,000 advance from Small Business Loan Administration funds,” although “the loan” was “perfectly illegal since McDougal was Big Business;” and on Feb. 28, 1986, outside the Arkansas statehouse, Hillary’s husband, the then-governor of Arkansas, nudged Hale “with a wink” and said “Whadd ya say, Dave o’pal, you’re a-gonna he’p out Jim McDougal, aren’t y’all?”

The same book also asserted that “not many days following” this Feb. 28, 1986 encounter, Hillary Clinton’s husband was in McDougal’s office when Hale was told the $150,000 loan was needed to help fund Bill Clinton’s 1986 re-election campaign. The Clintons’ convicted business partner also held a “fund-raiser at his Madison bank office in Little Rock” in Jan. 1985 to help “pay off [Bill] Clinton’s political debts, including unsecured personal loans from the Bank of Cherry Valley,” (which was owned by Bill Clinton aide Maurice Smith) which Hillary’s husband attended, according to First In His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton by David Maraniss.

Ironically, in their 1992 campaign book Putting People First: How We Can All Change America, Hillary’s husband and 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore charged that “Washington stood by while quick-buck artists brought down the savings-and-loan industry, leaving the rest of us with a $500 billion bill.” (Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 6/12/96)

Next: Grit TV Host and Blue Grit Author Laura Flanders: A 1991 Downtown Interview—Part 2

Monday, June 25, 2007

U.S. Political Prisoner Marilyn Buck: A 1994 "Downtown" Interview--Part 1

Marilyn Buck is a former 1960s antiwar radical and 1970s and 1980s fugitive who is presently serving an 80-year sentence in a federal prison for women in Dublin, California. Buck was targeted in the early 1970s by the FBI’s COINTELPRO because of her support for the Black liberation movement and in 1973 she received a 10-year sentence for buying two boxes of ammunition with false ID.

In 1977, after more than four years in prison, and repeated parole denial, she was granted a furlough from which she did not return. She remained a fugitive until being captured in 1985. She was then tried and convicted in Downtown Manhattan in 1987 for participating in several bank robberies and in the freeing of Assata Shakur, an African-American political prisoner. In the 1990s, additional time was added to her sentence after she and six other activists were charged in Washington, D.C. with conspiring to bomb the U.S. Capitol.

After the surrender of former 1960s radical and fugitive Kathy Power in 1993, Newsweek magazine published a cover story on Power’s odyssey. Following is the first part of a 1994 interview with Buck that appeared in the January 19, 1994 issue of Downtown in which she commented on the Newsweek article about Kathy Power.

Why do you think Newsweek chose to do the story on Kathy Power at this time?
Marilyn Buck: In a capitalist society, fame and recognition are commodities, usually with very short sales life. The moment is exploited for all its worth; often times by the individual or institution in the spotlight, but all the time by the media, the illusion makers. They create the saints and the demons.

Captures, particularly surrenders, are moments of celebration for the state—a chance to affirm its power, despite its being disavowed or challenged. Imagine challenging the power of the biggest, baddest, domestic and international military machine on the planet! How dare they, we, she…me! To psychologize, and label such behavior as deviant is imperative. Never again does the state want to see an uncontrollable or unpredictable rise of different sectors of the population against its policies and programs, or its existence as such. The U.S. incessantly broadcast that the bombing of Iraq and the supposed national consensus supporting that manufactured military maneuver has laid to rest the infamy of the defeat in Vietnam. It has a pathological fear of decolonialization and national self-determination. Standing in the ‘90s, the propaganda establishment seizes every opportunity to declare the ‘60s—that time of standing up for liberation, justice, self-determination, and against the status quo of white Amerika—dead, an aberration.

Kathy Power’s surrender was perfect for spectatularization. Her surrender was a perfect vehicle to reinforce—to use a psychological term—the `see-what-happens-when-you-stray-from-white-Amerika’ line. This is not the first time sensational stories have hit the press about the radical returned to the fold. Most recently, there was an interview in the New York Times Living Section with Bernardine Dohrn. There is a fascination with a woman who defied the system, who she is today; and a reassurance that she has been cured of `excessive opposition.’

How would you characterize Newsweek’s political and ideological slant on the Power article and the accompanying piece by Jane Alpert?
: Newsweek fulfilled its ideological and political role in how it presented this story: Woman-in-misery-because-of-her-political-past. They would have liked to have squeezed out an admission of remorse, but an admission of depression was all they could get.

I think it’s interesting that the Newsweek article chose not to say anything substantial about her current political views. Is she still an antiracist, pro-Black, against U.S. imperialism? Her statement upon surrender is not reported in this article. Perhaps because she did not capitulate in her earlier beliefs that the war was wrong, that Black liberation was important to support?

Newsweek ignored what she said, and instead relied on a pseudo-psychological rendering—a focus on depression and the Betty Crocker lifestyle. Of course, they forget to cite any statistics on the prevalence of clinical depression in white middle-class women in their 40s.

By concentrating on the past, the `moment’ and the flight, as well as the reintegration into the safe white world, the media did not have to say a word about who Kathy Power is as a political person living in the world. Another reassurance to the readers. From reading Newsweek and other articles, I don’t have much of a clue as to who she is socially or politically. My first response was, `oh, the prodigal son/daughter line.’

If Kathy Power’s depression doesn’t provide an example of `divine punishment,’ then Jane’s middle Amerikan nightmare should flesh it out—struggle against the system is a childish illusion, a romantic diversion that turns out not to be such a lark after all. Jane’s piece is intended to say `resistance doesn’t pay,’ from one who can say she too challenged the state, but repented. Under the guise of feminism, Alpert continues to be quite a vocal mouthpiece for reconciliation with the system, patriarchal or not.

The actual intent of the Newsweek article, as well as the majority of the `establishment’ media is to continue to delegitimize resistance to U.S. imperialism and capitalism touted as `democracy.’ Despite its inherent weaknesses, the U.S. has emerged more predatory in the absence of any countervailing power. It is a warning…`Don’t even try it.’

Even the `Revisiting the Radicals’ gallery sidebar, while stating the bare facts, is designed to say, `see, it is only a phase, YOU CANNOT WIN!’

Why do you think Newsweek uses a lot of psychological jargon in this spread?
: Newsweek uses a psychological format to examine `objects’ of its focus. Also to convince people they know what they are talking about.

The state is obsessed with trying to understand why white people would `drop out’ or challenge the system. They won’t admit that there is something seriously pathological in the system, so they seek to convince the public there is something wrong with those who opposed their system.

The expectations and heady sensation of change of the `60s and ‘70s may be overwhelmed by two decades of unrelenting conformism and systematic desensitization of political, social and moral consciences, but the reality of oppression, exploitation and social injustice is greater than ever. It will not disappear. Even now it is intolerable. Too much white supremacy, too much poverty, prison and social repression. Too little justice and too few jobs. The L.A. uprising was only one seismic shock to this structure. The demand for justice and national liberation has not subsided.

Here in the oppressor nation, there is still a segment of white youth who drop out, become antiestablishment punkers drawn to hip-hop and the rap of the besieged African-American youth, who are alienated and angry, sometimes not yet exactly sure why, but squatting, looking for new forms of protest, examining history, asking questions and rejecting a history of racism and genocide. Youth who are consciously, deliberately opposed to this system. There are still socialists, anarchists, antiracists, antifascists. There are thousands and thousands of women, lesbians who refuse to go back. The potential for struggle within this oppressor nation has not been crushed or thrown into the wastebin of history. (end of part 1).

Next: Hillary Clinton & Madison Guaranty S& L Scandal

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Why Clintons' Blind Trust Should Have Been Blind

Any Clinton White House staff member reading Barron’s (6/25/90), Forbes (8/2/93), Pensions & Investment (9/6/93) or Money (11/93) magazine or telephoning CDA Spectrum in Rockville, MD during the 1990s could have obtained a list of specific stocks that 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s Blind Trust stock portfolio was likely to then include. Yet there were good reasons why the first Clinton Administration’s Office of Government Ethics should have insured that Bill and Hillary were actually blind to which stocks would likely be contained in their stock portfolio. As the Encyclopedia of Banking and Finance noted:

“An underlying concept is that if a government official does not know the identity of his…financial interests, his…official actions should not be subject to collateral attack by questions of conflict of interest or the appearance of such a conflict. In other words, if the government official does not know what he…owns, it is impossible for him…intentionally to take actions to benefit specifically his…own personal interests.

“Therefore, the general public policy goal to be achieved through the use of blind trusts is an actual `blindness’ or lack of knowledge by the government official with respect to the holdings held in trust…

“…The interested parties will have no knowledge of the trustee’s acquisitions; and thus the government official and the other interested parties will be truly blind with respect to these holdings…Every proposed trustee…must be approved by the Office of Government Ethics. This is essential so that the office can ensure…that the proposed trust arrangement satisfies the letter and spirit of the established standards.”
(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 11/13/96)

After it apparently rubber-stamped the Hillary Clinton’s choice of Essex Investment to begin managing her Blind Trust stock portfolio in July 1993, the Office of Government Ethics apparently talked numerous times by phone with Essex. But in 1996 it wasn’t willing to answer many specific questions from the press about the Clintons’ Blind Trust arrangement. An Official of Government Ethics spokesperson, Norman Smith, told Downtown/Aquarian at that time:

“We’d be happy to answer general questions about our Blind Trust program. But we don’t answer specific questions of the type you ask.”
(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 11/20/96)

After Hillary chose Joseph McNay’s Essex Investment Management firm to handle her “blind trust” in July 1993, Merrill Lynch & Company broker Robert Malloy told the New York Times (10/4/93) that Essex Investment head McNay “had 25 percent of his holdings in insurance stocks” in the early 1980s. The Times also reported that McNay “`still feels good’ about…insurance and reinsurance companies” and “is also interested in health care, especially health care management.” Coincidentally, during her husband’s first term in the White House, Hillary Clinton tried to sell us a health care reform plan that would have likely increased the value of Big Five insurance company stock (such as Prudential's stock) and health care management organization stock.

Besides apparently investing Clintons’ money in insurance company and health care management stock during the 1990s, McNay’s Essex Investment Management firm also managed a $34.8 million stock investment portfolio for Arkansas’s Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in that decade. (Downtown 10/27/93)

The Blind Trust portfolio which Essex Investment managed for Hillary Clinton during the 1990s may also have contained Starbucks stock. When Boston Globe reporters asked Essex honcho Joe McNay “Where are you moving money right now?” in April 1996, the 2008 Democratic presidential candidate’s money manager replied:

“We continue to own…a wide variety of technology and communications stock, and a few highly specialized consumer stocks where there are strong franchises…A reasonable example of that would be Starbucks, where we think there is a strong franchise and good business.”

Next: U.S. Political Prisoner Marilyn Buck: A 1994 Downtown Interview—Part 1

Saturday, June 23, 2007

"The Men of Murdoch"

See the men of Murdoch
Read how they do lie
See the men of Murdoch
See how white their minds
Enemies of the workers
Enemies of women
Censors of the Greens:
Boycott Murdoch’s men.

See the men of Murdoch
Defend the white gentry
See the men of Murdoch
Distort our history
Enemies of the ghetto
Enemies of the left
Censors of the Greens:
Boycott Murdoch’s press.

See the men of Murdoch
Lord over women
See the men of Murdoch
With liberal sexist heads
Enemies of the young
Enemies of the poor
Ripping off our culture:
Boycott Murdoch’s corps.

See the men of Murdoch
Remember their names well
`New York Times” castoffs
Versus Green people;
And when we make our move
Against the fascist dogs
All of Murdoch’s men
Won’t save him from our law.

Freedom of the press
Is just another myth
If all Murdoch papers
Exclude all women tough
Enemies of the people
Apologists for male pigs
Traitors to the Greens:
Murdoch’s loyal men.

To listen to "The Men of Murdoch" song, click on the following link:

The Men of Murdoch protest folk song was written during the early 1980s when the Australian global media baron still owned the Village Voice, hadn’t yet created his Fox News television network and was still not considered a serious political threat by most economically secure U.S. left activists.

When Murdoch’s global media empire was on the verge of financial bankruptcy in the early 1990s because of its $8.1 billion debt, Citibank apparently rushed to Murdoch’s financial aid, since “Citibank…had a large investment” in Murdoch’s company, according to Murdoch by William Shawcross. The same book also revealed the following about Citibank’s 1990s connection to Rupert Murdoch:

“Citibank, as News [Corporation]’s largest creditor, was charged with unraveling the mess and restructuring the company. The project, code-named `Dolphin,’ was put in the hands of a 34-year-old vice-president of the bank, Ann Lane. In the next few months Murdoch came to depend on Lane as he had on no one else in his life.

“Lane…attended Berkeley and then spent several years in finance before joining Citibank in 1982.

“She had spent the first part of 1990 restructuring Donald Trump’s company…Lane came to admire Murdoch and to like him…”

As a result, in October 1991, “Murdoch’s empire was saved by the combined efforts of Ann Lane, Dave DeVoe, Richard Searby and others…,” who sold Murdoch’s creditors on a $7.6 billion refinancing plan, according to the Murdoch book.

Although the FCC isn’t supposed to grant U.S. television broadcasting licenses to Australian businessmen who discriminate against women, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation media conglomerate was still licensed to operate the Fox Television network TV stations in the United States in the early 1990s. Yet, according to Murdoch by William Shawcross, “few women were promoted very high in the News Corp. army. (Even Murdoch’s closest admirers have acknowledged his difficulty in dealing with women as senior executives).” (Downtown 5/12/93)

Although the FCC’s cross-ownership rule used to ban one person from owning a TV station and a daily newspaper in the same city, during the early 1990s Rupert Murdoch was allowed to own both the WNYW-TV-Channel 5 station and the New York Post in Manhattan. But in its March 30, 1993 issue, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Rainbow Broadcasting Inc.—a group of Los Angeles-area Hispanic broadcasters and community leaders who have been fighting [Murdoch’s] Fox Television Stations Inc.’s application to renew its FCC license for KTTV-TV in Los Angeles since 1988—and the New York Chapter of the National Hispanic Media Coalition” were opposing Murdoch’s attempt to get the FCC to waive the media cross-ownership ban in Manhattan. The Wall Street Journal also noted that “the two groups—claim the lengthy litigation in the KTTV-TV case has shown a pattern of misconduct by Fox and Mr. Murdoch, and that joint ownership would lead to unjustifiable concentration of media ownership in the New York market.”

Under Murdoch’s ownership in the 1970s and early 1980s, the New York Post became the symbol of U.S. “gutter journalism.” (Downtown 4/14/93)

Coincidentally, Murdoch’s global media conglomerate has recently apparently been seeking to gain control over the Dow Jones Company that publishes the Wall Street Journal. And don’t be surprised if Murdoch ends up gaining control of the New York Times/Boston Globe media conglomerate in the 21st-century, in the same way that he gained control of The Times of London during the 20th century.

Next: Why Clintons’ Blind Trust Should Have Been Blind

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Grit TV" Host and "Blue Grit" Author Laura Flanders: A 1991 Downtown Interview--Part 1

Long before she began working as a Grit TV producer-host, Blue Grit author Laura Flanders used to co-produce and host a non-commercial daily alternative morning news show called Undercurrents with Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight of KPFA’s Flashpoints ( daily alternative evening news show. Following is the first part of a 1991 interview with Flanders that appeared in the June 26, 1991 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newsweekly Downtown.

What are you trying to accomplish with the Undercurrents show?
Laura Flanders
: I think the goal of the Undercurrents program is to do two things. One is to try to go beyond the surface level of a lot of stories that people are aware of—stories about U.S. intervention in other countries, about covert manipulation of situations in this country and others. Stuff like that. So one part of it is to go deeper into stories.

And the other part of it is to make connections between issues that people are dealing with on a domestic level, on a personal level, and the global outlook. So that, for example, when we talk about a story about worker rights—or what’s happening with certain corporations’ employment practices in Honduras—I really like to be able to look at that same corporation in this country. And try to make a connection to what people are working on here with respect to worker rights or ecology or the involvement of corporations in their government or local administration.

Had you thought you were going to get into radio before you started working on the Undercurrents show?
: I hadn’t really thought about it. I had been working in film and video. And before that writing a little bit. And it didn’t seem completely foreign to go into radio. I grew up listening to the radio. I was always aware of the existence of radio and would listen to it. I listened to Contragate before I ever worked with the team.

What was Contragate?
Flanders: Contragate was the original program out of which Undercurrents developed. It was an investigation that was begun by Robert Knight and Dennis Bernstein and others into the `Iran-Contra Scandal.’ And it really helped to unravel what became `Contragate.’ Often months and months before details emerged in the mainstream—if they ever did—they were kind of dug up by the reporters of Undercurrents, which at that point was called Contragate.

Why did they change the name, by the way?
: After two years of fairly strict concentration on the “Iran-Contra Affair” and U.S. covert operations in Central America and the Middle East, the program expanded to address U.S. foreign policy and its impact at home and abroad—and its execution through covert and overt policies—on a much broader scale. I was actually brought in at just the time at which it was kind of expanding beyond just the “Iran-Contra Affair.” We started to address a lot more issues. So we thought we should change the name. And Robert Knight actually came up with the name of Undercurrents, which was meant to suggest the sort of current that flows against the mainstream. It was a play on those two words that represents a kind of alternative way of thinking of things, and an alternative body of opinion and strength. It’s a very sort of strong current that flows against what appears on the surface.

How do you go about producing Undercurrents? Does it involve a lot of work—or do you just go into the studio?
: A lot of work. Enormous amounts of work. On the producing side, it involves the work, obviously, of any report. Of doing research and trying to understand the issues and look at, in any given situation, what has been written before about a story. What angle has been taken before. What areas haven’t been covered. What areas connect to what other areas we’re involved in, in terms of issues and stories that we’ve been following.

But I think the one thing that people don’t understand is that Undercurrents is more than just a radio program. It’s actually an institution. Because we’re not funded by any sort of parent organization. So a lot of the work of the producers is to actually keep the bills paid. And to try and maintain our office and phone and all of that kind of expense, which isn’t very glamorous or very much to do with straight reporting. But without it, you wouldn’t hear the program in the morning.

Are you limited by having to devote so much time to searching for funds?
: Yes, I think we really are. And I think particularly in the last few months I’ve really noticed the limitations imposed on us by having to do that work. Because it is very easy, when a crisis is breaking, to go, and delve into a particular story. I think it was quite easy at the beginning of the `Iran-Contra Affair’ to focus all the attention of the programmers on the research and in the investigation. I know, for myself, at other times when I was functioning more just as a producer it was much easier to spend my day calling this resource and that source and trying to piece together a story, when I didn’t have to carve out some part of the day to write grant proposals and write letters to foundations. And I think it really affects the type of research that we’re able to do, in terms of in-depth research. It’s part of the control mechanism imposed on us by the market. That we don’t have the liberty just to devote ourselves to the research that we could be devoting ourselves to…I feel very constrained by having to do the institution-building side of things.

How does Undercurrents differ from a commercial radio program and why don’t you just try to get a job with a commercial news network?
The quick answer to that is that the way it differs is that we have no money.

There are a lot of more complicated answers. Everything from the freedom that we have to say whatever we want at 8 o’clock in the morning to the freedom that we have to really challenge what’s being said in the mainstream and question it and, in some cases, deride what the mainstream reporters are pretending is their coverage of a story.

As far as, would I ever take a job or why don’t I go get a job?

I don’t see anywhere where I would like to work at this moment. I don’t see the opportunities to do the kind of political reporting that I’m interested in in the mainstream. I come at my reporting work very much as an activist. I came out of an activist background. I mean my experience before reporting was organizing and being involved in progressive movements. And I see journalism as a way to empower people to act. But that’s not the attitude of most mainstream news purveyors.

But I don’t have a principled position that if some wonderful job was offered to me I would oppose it because of allergic reaction to a healthy income.” (end of part 1)

Next: The Men of Murdoch lyrics

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Woody Guthrie's Post-1950's FBI File

In a July 15, 1946 letter, Woody Guthrie wrote the following:

“It is not just a question of you, as an artist, selling out, and becoming harmless to the owning side. No, you are never actually bought nor bribed till they have decided that they can use you in one way or another to rob, to deceive, to blind, confuse, to misrepresent, or just to harass, worry, bedevil, and becloud the path of the militant worker on his long hard fight from slavery to freedom. Your art helps to preserve, to prolong, to keep alive, and to glorify the essences and the principles of the owning, ruling side. If your art did not add new life to their side, kid not yourself, they would certainly never shake your hand and drop their bloody money down into your lap. And it is the highest form of your owner’s joy when he buys you out from the union side (where you) have spent several years of your life getting people to follow, to hear, or to stand for a while and listen to what you have to say, or to live their lives in spirit and in action in the way that you lived your own. This makes you worth lots more to your owner…

“This is the bad part of a capitalist system, this dog eat dog, this spying, tracing, tracking and trailing after one another always under the covers of night and the shades and shadows of day…This is the system which the owners would like to prolong, to keep alive, to prolong as long as they possibly can, because in the wild blindness of it all, they get all of us to fighting against one another, and rob us coming in the fields of production, and going, in the realm of distribution. This is the system I would like to see die out. It killed several members of my family, it gassed several and shell shocked several more in the last world war, and in this world war just past, it scattered lots more. It drove families of my relatives and friends by the hundreds of thousands to wander more homeless than dogs and to live less welcome than hogs, sheep, or cattle. This is the system I started out to expose by every conceivable way that I could think of with songs and with ballads, and even with poems, stories, newspaper articles, even by humor, by fun, by nonsense, ridicule and by any other way that I could lay hold on.”

Coincidentally, among the pages contained in Woody Guthrie’s declassified post-1950s FBI file (100-29988-5,6,7,8) is a June 2, 1950 memorandum sent to the FBI Director by the FBI’s Los Angeles office on the subject “Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, Woody Guthrie, Security Matter,” which states:

“Re: El Paso letter to New York dated 2-15-50 in captioned matter, report of Special Agent [censored] dated 4-30-50 at Los Angeles entitled `Factionalists Sabotage Group,’ Internal Security-C:
“On April 18, 1950 CNDI [censored] identified a photograph of GUTHRIE as being the individual to whom he had previously referred to as (WOODY), and who was a member of the Factionalist Sabotage Group. According to CNDI [censored] GUTHRIE from approximately April 15, 1950 to May 15, 1950 resided at the home of [censored] Los Angeles, California, and an individual who has also been identified as a member of the above group.
“On May 15, 1950 CNDI [censored] ascertained that GUTHRIE left Los Angeles on that date and on May 18, 1950 CNDI [censored] was advised by [censored] that GUTHRIE was in El Paso, Texas where he would contact his children and former wife. Reference telbu reflects that GUTHRIE’s children resided at 4002 Bliss Street, El Paso, Texas.
“For the information of the El Paso office CNDIS [censored] have furnished this office since [censored] with information concerning a group of approximately thirty men and women, some veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and expelled Communist Party members who are regularly meeting in Los Angeles. According to [censored] this group has a headquarters in Mexico City, Mexico, and one of the group [censored], known to your office, left Los Angeles in December 1949 to work in this headquarters; her residence has been verified in Cuernevaca, Mexico.
“The [censored] of this group, [censored] has advised CNDI [censored] that the ultimate purpose of this group is sabotage against the United States during war with Russia and has outlined to him group policy in recruitment, method of operation, publications, finances, and has advised the informant that his group has a direct contact with the `Comintern.’
“By letter dated May 15, 1950 in the referenced matter the Bureau requested that individual investigations be opened concerning members of this group and security index cards be considered.
“El Paso is requested to verify the residence of the subject in El Paso through [censored], El Paso County Court House, El Paso, Texas, it being noted that [censored] has previously furnished your office with information regarding GUTHRIE.

“Upon receipt of this verification, Los Angeles will submit a RUC report covering GUTHRIE’s activities known to this office.”

And a July 21, 1950 memorandum to the FBI Director from the FBI’s Los Angeles office on the same subject states:

“Rebutel dated July 14, 1950, entitled `FACTIONALIST SABOTAGE GROUP, INTERNAL SECURITY C ‘Bufile 100-369268’…

“CNDI [censored] on July 4, 1950, advised he had ascertained from [censored], also a member of the referenced group, that the subject was presently residing at 3520 Mermaid Avenue, Brooklyn 24, New York.

“A pending report setting out leads to verify the subject’s residence in New York is presently being transcribed and will be forwarded to the New York and El Paso Offices at an early date.”

Also included in Woody Guthrie’s declassified post-1950’s FBI file is an August 3, 1950 document summarizing the articles that appeared in the left-wing Daily People’s World in 1948 and 1949 that either mentioned Woody or were written by Woody; and which states that “T-1 advised that he specifically recalls Guthrie having attended” six political meetings between March 26, 1950 and May 6, 1950 that were held at 932 or 932 ½ North Lucile Ave. in Los Angeles. Yet this August 3, 1950 admits that “[censored] Guthrie [censored] advised that he personally has never, [censored] made any statement relative to sabotage…”

For more information about Woody Guthrie’s life and work, you can check out the official Woody Guthrie site at .

Next: Grit TV Host and Blue Grit Author Laura Flanders: A 1991 Downtown Interview—Part 1

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Blind Trust Revisited Again

When asked at a January 1996 press conference about the Money magazine report which implied that the Clintons "were nearly broke,” 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s husband answered that “I suppose that that probably is right” and “I’ve never added it all up, but that’s probably right.” Yet when asked by Downtown/Aquarian Weekly to respond to reports that the Clintons were now “broke,” a source at Boston Harbor Trust (the trustee of the Clintons’ blind trust stock portfolio) initially replied that it was “highly unlikely” that the Clintons were broke in 1996 and characterized the Clintons as “one of our accounts.”

When Boston Harbor, a subsidiary of United Asset Management’s Pell, Rudman & Co., was appointed trustee of the Clintons’ blind trust in July 1993, the value of the Clintons’ blind trust portfolio was nearly $1.2 million. Although, according to the Encyclopedia of Banking and Finance, “the trustee” of a blind trust “must be empowered to make investment decisions independent of any consultation with or control by the interested parties,” the Clintons—not their Boston Harbor trustee—decided to have Essex Investment Management begin managing this $1.2 million blind trust portfolio in July 1993; following a May 1993 consultation with Essex Investment head Joseph McNay at the White House in which McNay talked with Hillary Clinton “about his investment philosophy,” according to the Boston Globe (8/31/93).

Among the assets contained in the Clintons’ “blind trust” when Essex began managing their stock portfolio were the following: AT & T; Bell Atlantic; Bell South; NYNEX; TCBY Enterprise, Wal-Mart Stores; Liz Clairborne and Box Energy Stock; Louisiana and Arkansas state bonds; individual retirement accounts in the Janus Fund, the Strong Opportunity Fund and the Charles Schwab CEF Government Money Market Fund; and partnership interests in Value Partners I Ltd.

After United Asset Management’s Pell, Rudman & Co. subsidiary, Boston Harbor Trust, was appointed trustee of the Clintons’ blind trust in July 1993, the Boston Globe (8/31/93) noted that the United Asset Management-affiliated firm would “handle bookkeeping and asset transfers” and would “file returns and financial reports for the Clinton blind trust.”

Coincidentally, in its Jan. 17, 1994 issue, the New York Times reported that “United Asset Management, close to…J.P.Morgan & Co. in asset size, is a little-known financial giant” and “under controversial accounting approaches…included in President Clinton’s tax package, United Asset can completely write off the cost of its acquisitions.” The Times also noted that “this means United Asset gets to reduce from taxes the amount it spends to buy money management firms;” and, “as a result of this tax break, has an enormously powerful cash flow.”

Ironically, according to United Asset Management’s 1994 Annual Report, the owner of the trustee of the Clintons’ blind trust had its “federal income tax returns for the years ending Dec. 31, 1984 through 1992…under audit by the Internal Revenue Service.”
(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 2/14/96)

In his book The Great Whitewater Fiasco, Martin Gross noted that while her husband was governor of Arkansas, former Rose Law firm partner Hillary Clinton “was very active financially, dabbling in a whole range of money instruments to make the family fortune;” and “bought oil-drilling partnerships that generated tax deductions, which she took, along with deductions for playing the market with losing stock index futures.” In addition to earning $203,000 a year as a Rose Law firm partner in 1992, the 2008 Democratic presidential candidate also “was taking in $64,000 a year just for serving on the board of such Arkansas-based giants as Wal-Mart and TCBY” in 1992.

In acquiring their $1.6 million pre-Clinton White House era total fortune by combining Hillary’s role as a corporate lawyer-lobbyist in Arkansas with Bill’s role as Arkansas’ governor, “Hillary’s ongoing conflicts of interest…didn’t seem to bother either her or Bill,” according to The Great Whitewater Fiasco. The same book also noted that “With Bill silently approving, over the years Hillary became more and more obsessed with money;” and “she has been very secretive about her moneymaking schemes and has sworn her friends-in-investment to secrecy.” During the Clintons’ first two terms in the White House, the 2008 Democratic presidential candidate had “a full-time staff of 13 and an office in the Executive West Wing” and “her expenditure of taxpayer money” was “perhaps $2 million,” according to The Great Whitewater Fiasco book.
(Downtown 12/13/95)

Next: Woody Guthrie’s Post-1950’s FBI File

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Phil Ochs' 429-Page FBI File

(Phil Ochs--by Kenneth Tash - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

In his book Death Of A Rebel: A Biography of Phil Ochs, Marc Eliot described what happened at the Chicago 8 trial when Ochs arrived to testify in Dec. 1969:

“…After a brief series of questions to establish that Phil was a singer by profession, Kunstler began to weave Phil into the pattern of the defense:

KUNSTLER: Now Mr. Ochs, can you indicate what kind of songs you sing?

OCHS: I write all my own songs and they are just simple melodies with a lot of lyrics. They usually have to do with current events and what is going on in the news, which goes back to journalism, and you can call them topical songs, songs about the news and then developing into more philosophical songs later…

KUNSTLER: Now did there come a time when there was any discussion of Yippie plans with reference to the convention, the Democratic National Convention?

OCHS: Yes, there were. I don’t remember the exact date because there were several meetings, probably, Jan. or Feb. of 1968…

KUNSTLER: Where did these discussions take place?

OCHS: The Lower East Side, different apartments, sometimes Jerry’s apartment and sometimes Abbie’s apartment…

KUNSTLER: Can you indicate in general to the court and jury what the plans were for Yippies in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention?...

OCHS…What Jerry Rubin said to me was that he planned to have a Festival of Life in Chicago during the Democratic Convention, basically representing an alternative culture on the assumption that they felt the Democratic Party did not represent them or a whole large mass of the American public. They wanted to have, therefore, an alternate convention. They would theatrically sort of spoof the Convention and show the public, the media, that the Convention was not to be taken seriously because it wasn’t fair, and wasn’t going to be honest, and wasn’t going to be a Democratic Convention, and so they would have essentially events they hoped to do in Lincoln Park. They hoped to get permits. They discussed flying to Chicago to talk with Mayor Daley or people working with Mayor Daley. They several times mentioned they wanted to avoid any violence…”
(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 4/10/96)

Coincidentally, until his suicide on April 9, 1976, the FBI showed a special interest in investigating Phil Ochs. As The Politics of Rock Music by John Orman recalled in 1984:

“The quintessential ‘60s person not only had a cult following of politicos, folk junkies, protest fans, and movement freaks but also had a `following’ in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, it is clear that the FBI kept a domestic file on Ochs from 1963 until his suicide. As Ochs always said, `They [the government] have files on me this thick,’ and then he would laugh. He was absolutely correct. The FBI has released over 400 pages from the Phil Ochs file, and it is clear from the documents that the FBI spent an extraordinary amount of time following, checking up on, and detailing the activities of Phil Ochs…

“Agents checked Selective Service, insurance companies, the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 in New York, neighbors at 139 Thompson Street in New York City, the Credit Bureau of Greater New York, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Special Services (Red Squad), Board of Elections—Manhattan, and other sources…The FBI then checked with an acquaintance of Ochs who resided in Greenwich Village who was a folksinger and guitarist. This person was also the subject of an FBI New York file…

“The Los Angeles FBI office investigated Ochs from Aug. 31 to Dec. 12, 1968, and forwarded data to the New York office…

“…Ochs…refused to be interrogated by FBI agents on Oct. 1, 1968…

“…He was busted for possession of marijuana on Oct. 5, 1968 by the Los Angeles police department’…

“In 1973 the Agency added Ochs’ phone number to their computerized telephone file…”

(Downtown 4/13/94)

Next: Hillary Clinton’s Blind Trust Revisited Again

Monday, June 18, 2007

"The People's Folksinger" (for Phil Ochs)

Up there on the stage they’re singing your songs
Yet something seems strange and something seems wrong
At events like this,
You were always there
For you were the People’s Folksinger.

You quit writing news and grasped the guitar
You composed many tunes and sang in the bars
The truth you exposed
Just like Woody’s heir
For you were the People’s Folksinger.

Through long years of war, your poems said it all
Despite gaining fame, you still served the cause
The tyrants that rule,
Your voice brought them fear
For you were the People’s Folksinger.

They sent their police to keep you in line
Their radio sounds excluded your mind
You felt more sad,
And created no more
But you were the People’s Folksinger.

I wish you still lived in these changing times
I wish you were here to sing of new crimes
Your memory,
New songs inspires
For you were the People’s Folksinger.

The People’s Folksinger was written after Phil Ochs’ death in April 1976 for a Phil Ochs memorial event.

To listen to The People's Folksinger , you can click on the following music site links:

For more information about U.S. anti-war folksinger Phil Ochs’ life and role in U.S. counter-cultural history you can check out

Next: Phil Ochs’ 429-Page FBI File

Sunday, June 17, 2007

IDA's Current War-Related Research Questions

The Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] continues to recruit graduate students from U.S. university campuses to perform Iraq war-related research for the Pentagon in this 21st-century “era of permanent war and anti-war blogging.” According to the IDA website (, U.S. graduate students who become research staff members at IDA’s Alexandria, Virginia research facility “will be challenged” by the following types of war-related research questions:

“What are the new roles and responsibilities of the various combatant commands as the United States confronts new threats and adversaries?

“How can the Department of Defense exploit advanced technologies and new operating concepts?

“How do you develop new, robust networking among soldiers, sensors and systems?

“What technologies should be used to detect mines and unexploded ordnance?

“What economic effect does the increased rate of guard and reserve mobilizations have on employers?”

Perhaps IDA research staff members and the U.S. university-affiliated folks who sit on the IDA board of trustees these days should also be asked to answer a sixth war-related research question: How many Afghan and Iraqi civilians have been killed since 2001 by the weapons systems that IDA research staff members and U.S. university researchers have helped develop since the Institute for Defense Analyses was created in 1956?

Next: The People’s Folksinger lyrics (for Phil Ochs)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Blind Trust Revisited

Among the files pulled from the White House office of 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s former law firm and business partner, Vince Foster, following his death in July 1993 was apparently a file titled “Clintons’ Blind Trust.” As Blood Sport by James Stewart noted in 1996:

“[Former White House Counsel] Nussbaum called Maggie Williams, the first lady’s chief of staff, and asked her to remove the Clintons’ personal papers…Among the materials were files on `Whitewater Development’; the Clintons’ income taxes, including materials on how to treat the sale of the Clintons’ interest in Whitewater; the `CLINTONS’ BLIND TRUST’; `HRC: Personal And Confidential’; `HRC: Financial’; and a file labelled `Clintons financial statement.’”

Prior to being named by the Clintons to invest their Blind Trust stock portfolio, Essex Investment Management Chairman Joseph McNay revealed his investment philosophy in a chart that was published in the June 25, 1990 issue of Barron’s, titled “McNay’s Picks,” which indicated the specific stocks which the Clintons’ stock portfolio would likely contain. The stocks McNay “picked” in June 1990 were: 1. Amgen; 2. Chiron; 3. Cosillium; 4. Geraghty & Miller; 5. Harding Associates; 6. Intel; 7. Knowledgeware; 8. Motorola; 9. Sage Software; 10. Schlumberger; 11. Structural Dynamics; 12. Synooptics; 13. Waste Management [WAX]; and 14. Weatherford I.G.P..

McNay again revealed his investment philosophy in an article which appeared in the August 1993 issue of Forbes magazine, titled “The Long And The Short Of It.” In this article, McNay indicated that he liked Motorola, L.M. Ericsson, General Instruments, McCaw, MCI, TCI, Time Warner, Associated Natural Gas, Tejas Gas, Seagull Energy, Enron Oil & Gas, Apache, Noble Affiliates, Parker & Parsley Petroleum, Western Co. of North America, BJ Services and Weatherford International; but remained `short’ on “stocks that shone during most of the 1980s and early 1990s: Philip Morris, WalMart, Nike” and “on Dell, Apple Compaq and Structural Dynamics.”

A U.S. government official apparently called Essex to warn McNay not to talk to the press about his “investment philosophy.” But the Clinton Administration’s Office of Government Ethics didn’t order the Clintons’ Blind Trust trustee, Boston Harbor Trust, to pick a new money manager; so that Bill and Hillary would actually be “blind” as to how their portfolio was being invested while Hillary’s husband made White House decisions affecting its profitability. (Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 11/6/96)

According to CDA/Spectrum, a Rockville, Maryland research firm, Essex Investment Management’s stock holdings at the end of June 1996 included $1.7 million in Amoco, $10 million in Belco Oil & Gas, $2.5 million in Benton Oil & Gas, $613,000 in Chevron, $1.3 million in Exxon, $770,000 in Mobil, $12.6 million in Ranger Oil, $661,000 in Royal Dutch Petroleum, $1 million in Rutherford-Moran Oil and $816,000 in Texaco stocks. In July 1993, Bill and Hillary picked Essex to invest their blind trust stock portfolio after a May 1993 consultation in the White House between Hillary and Essex honcho Joe McNay in which McNay discussed his “investment philosophy.” (Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 12/25/96)

Next: IDA’s Current War-Related Research Questions

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Republican Party Ties

After the right-wing Australian-bred global media baron, Rupert Murdoch, began to politically support 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton in her 2006 campaign to recapture one of New York State’s seats in the U.S. Senate and held a fund-raiser for the former Arkansas governor’s wife, some liberal Democratic voters who grew up in New York State were surprised. Yet long before Hillary Clinton also accepted an individual campaign contribution of $4,200 from Rupert Murdoch on July 26, 2006, she had had historical ties to the Republican Party. For most of the 1960s, Hillary Clinton actually worked for Republican Party candidates, including the 1964 Republican Party presidential candidate who voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act: Barry Goldwater. As Hillary: Her True Story by Norman King recalled:

“Hillary’s grandfather and several uncles…were involved in local politics in Chicago. They were Republicans, of course…Hillary was a teenage Goldwater supporter…She was the daughter of Republicans, and a Republican at that point in time by heritage. Kennedy’s presidency—and his assassination—had not changed her political leanings at all…”

The same book also noted that Hillary Clinton’s “favourite poli-sci professor” at Wellesley College was a man named Dr. Alan Schechter and that Schechter said that “Hillary was never radical.” (Downtown 11/24/93)

Perhaps that’s one reason the 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate was possibly involved in Arkansas’s “Whitewatergate Scandal” which, according to the New York Times (11/2/93) “focuses on questionable financial dealings involving the savings and loan, called Madison Guaranty, from which Mr. Clinton benefited both personally and politically” which was owned by James McDougal—“one of Mr. Clinton’s closest associates in Arkansas” who was “at various times, his business partner, political fund raiser, family banker and senior aide when Mr. Clinton was Governor of Arkansas.” The Times also noted that in 1978 McDougal and his wife “brought Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton into a real estate deal, buying 200 acres of the Ozarks in northern Arkansas” and set up a real estate business called Whitewater Development.

The Clintons’ Whitewater business partner then bought Arkansas’s Madison Guaranty Bank and during the 1980s—while Bill Clinton was Arkansas governor—McDougal hired Hillary Clinton to be a Madison Guaranty lawyer. He then apparently shifted funds from Madison Guaranty to the Clintons’ Whitewater real estate firm, before his savings and loan association eventually folded.

Hillary Clinton: The Inside Story by Judith Warner also recalled:

“…It turned out that the Clintons had improperly deducted at least $5,000 on their personal tax returns in 1984 and 1985 for interest paid on a portion of at least $30,000 in bank loan payments that the real estate company, Whitewater Development, made for them. The deduction saved them about $1,000 in taxes.”

Yet, ironically, despite their apparent failure to fill out their 1984 and 1985 tax returns in a legally proper way, both former Democratic President Bill Clinton and 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton were Yale Law School graduates. (Downtown 1/19/94)

Next: Hillary Clinton’s Blind Trust Revisited

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Woody Guthrie's FBI File Revisited

In a July 15, 1946 letter, Woody Guthrie wrote the following:

“I have decided, long ago, that my songs and ballads would not get the hugs and kisses of the capitalistic `experts,’ simply because I believe that the real folk history of this country finds its center and its hub in the fight of the union members against the hired gun thugs of the big owners. It is for this reason I have never really, sincerely, expected nor dimly prayed, nor hoped for a single solitary minute for a penny’s worth of help from the hand of our landlord and ruler….
“To the big owners, an artist of any note or fame, that can be said to work or fight over on the union side, is classed by the big boys as a soldier, a technical, or an artistic captain or a general. The money paid to clip off working class artists may start at a measley Ten or Fifteen Thousand, and run up very quick to the sum of, A Hundred, Two Hundred Thousand, or a Half Million long greens. (This is no money at all to the big handlers that toss bales of money back and forth across their tables to the tune of a Million, a Billion, or more, Dollars)….
“It is not only a question of buying you and your art out of circulation, to keep you from stirring up your people against their blind owners; it is, lots of times a question of blocking your hand on every side, or causing you to get all lost and tangled up in a thousand traps of their psychological, emotional, economical, legal and illegal sorts of personal warfare. This will take the form of bribery, social disgrace, exposes’, running down your work, discouraging your talents, and insulting you on every turn.”
Coincidentally, among the 55 pages contained in Woody Guthrie’s de-classified FBI file (100-29988-5) is a July 15, 1943 Memorandum for E.A. Tamm, regarding “Department of Agriculture Nationwide Production `It’s Up To You’,” from D. M. Ladd of the FBI which states:

“I am attaching a program of the production `It’s Up To You,’ which was staged at the Department of Agriculture Auditorium in Washington, D.C. for a ten day period commencing on June 22, 1943. The production was attended by Special Agent [censored] and because of the tenor of the production Agent [censored] checked the Bureau file and ascertained that the following named individuals connected with the production of this show are either closely associated with the Communist Party or members thereof: Earl Robinson, Woody Guthrie…

“…In November, 1942 the Baltimore Field Office reported that through the medium of a confidential informant it was learned that a mass meeting was held at the negro Elk’s Hall in Baltimore, on which occasion the speakers were James Ford, an official of the Communist Party, USA, and Woody Guthrie. Guthrie is identified as having associated with one John R. Forrest, a song writer…Forrest is the subject of a Bureau file and is closely associated with Communist and Communist infiltrated groups in and around Los Angeles, California. Guthrie has been a resident of both New York City and Los Angeles.”
For more information about Woody Guthrie’s life and his historical impact on U.S. cultural life, you can check out the official Woody Guthrie website at

Next: Hillary Clinton’s Republican Party Ties

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Columbia University President Opposes Palestinian Solidarity Boycott

As the Stop The Wall website ( notes in its boycott section:

“The academic boycott calls upon universities, academic institutions, students, and scholars to stop cooperation with their Israeli counterparts. Israeli academic institutions and scholars are not only instrumental in perpetuating and teaching Israeli racist and colonial ideologies and repressing internal dissent, but these institutions are also places where the theories, plans, and projects of Israeli Occupation and Apartheid are elaborated and intellectually supported. The academic boycott asks the student movements and the international academic community to take up their responsibility as intellectual leaders to uphold and promote the ideals of justice, freedom, and equality and to oppose colonial apartheid policies such as those inflicted upon the Palestinian people. Academia can never be “neutral”; academics need to choose between supporting the status quo or being part of a movement to promote social change and justice.”

But on June 12, 2007, Washington Post Company board member and Columbia University President Lee Bollinger said:

“…I am profoundly disturbed by the recent vote by Britain’s new University and College Union to advance a boycott against Israeli academic institutions. …At Columbia I am proud to say that we embrace Israeli scholars and universities that the UCU is now all too eager to isolate….Therefore, if the British UCU is intent on pursuing its deeply misguided policy, then it should add Columbia to its boycott list, for we do not intend to draw distinctions between our mission and that of the universities you are seeking to punish. Boycott us, then, for we gladly stand together with our many colleagues in British, American and Israeli universities against such intellectually shoddy and politically biased attempts to hijack the central mission of higher education.”

Yet as the Stop The Wall website’s boycott section reveals:

“Noted Israeli historian and University of Haifa Professor Ilan Pappe has estimated that only 100 out of 9,000 Israeli academics have `raised their voice against the occupation,' and some of those 100 are in danger of losing their jobs because of their stated political positions. (Quotation from

“Over the last 50 years, during which Israel has committed incessant crimes against the Palestinian population, no clear opposition has come from Israeli universities…. Instead, Israeli academic institutions have continued to maintain their strong ties with the state’s political and military elite through close cooperation, developing research, strategies, and projects for the oppression of the Palestinian people…..

“The Palestinian population, as well as other political opponents of Israeli state ideology, cannot see these institutions as anything but instruments for perpetuating discrimination and apartheid rule…. Israeli academics who support the boycott understand and accept this as a temporary personal inconvenience that is incomparable with the systematic suffering of the Palestinian people.

“At this very moment, Israel is destroying the Palestinian academy and educational system as a whole through closures, the targeting of students and professors, and the denial of access to educational facilities through the construction of the Apartheid Wall and other forms of Bantustanization of the Palestinian people. At such a moment, safeguarding an Israeli academy that is supportive of these crimes is not supporting intellectual freedom, but rather supporting its destruction.”

Ironically, although Columbia University is still eager to “embrace Israeli scholars and universities,” it apparently hasn’t rushed to hire the U.S. scholar who was denied tenure at DePaul University for political reasons, Norman Finkelstein, to teach a course at Columbia on Zionism during the 2007-2008 academic year.

Next: Woody Guthrie’s FBI File Revisited

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Rose Law Firm Clients

In 1991, 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton took home over $200,000 from her Senior Partner position in the Rose Law firm. In addition to representing GM, Hillary’s corporate law firm represented the special interests of the following clients in 1991: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Stephens Inc., Worthen Banking Corporation; Arkansas-Oklahoma Gas Corp.; ALCOA; The Equitable Life Assurance Society; General Electric; John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co.; International Paper Co.; Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.; New York Life Insurance Co.; Prudential Insurance Co.; USX Corp; and the Union National Bank of Arkansas. (Downtown 8/26/92)

Coincidentally, the New York Times (2/26/94) noted that Rose Law firm Administrative Partner Ronald Clark “said the Rose Law firm began a policy of shredding confidential client material in 1992, as the law firm was becoming the focus of more attention because of Mr. Clinton’s campaign” for U.S. president during 1992. The Times also reported that “Mrs. Clinton was also among the most important state figures involved in the selection of judges” and that Hillary’s critics “say Mrs. Clinton represented her own business partner before state officials appointed by her husband.” (Downtown March 16, 1994)

Next: Columbia University President Opposes Palestinian Solidarity Boycott

Monday, June 11, 2007

Woody Guthrie's FBI File

In a July 15, 1946 letter, Woody Guthrie wrote the following:

“I have never sung nor made songs just to entertain the upper classes, but to curse their clawing, reckless racketeers, and to warn the nervous ones that live and die by greed....

“Not all of us folk and ballad makers and singers stand where I stand. Not all of them see the world as I see it. Some would rather be a `character’ and to be fotographed and filmed, broadcast and recorded, and paid big money by the big money side. They would rather occupy a certain social position, to be well known, to play the game of publicity gangsters and to enjoy the crowds that clap and yell when you tell them directly or indirectly that this old world is okie dokie, she is all right, she is a nice good place to live on, and if you kick or argue, or make too much noise with your mouth, then you are just a native barnkicker, and a griper, and you are kicked out by your own inability to `cooperate’ with the high moguls…

“If your work gets to be labeled as communist or even as communistic or even as radically leaning in the general direction of bolshevism, then, of course, you are black balled, black listed, chalked up as a revolutionary bomb thrower, and you invite the whole weight of the capitalist machine to be thrown against you…”

Coincidentally, among the 55 pages in Woody Guthrie’s de-classified FBI file [100-29988] , is a July 18, 1941 “Memorandum to Mr. Matthew F. McGuire, The Assistant to the Attorney General” from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover which states:

“From a confidential source, information has been furnished this Bureau that one Woodrow W. Guthrie, who is employed by the Department of the Interior, is allegedly a member of the Communist Party. This individual is reported as being at the present time on the West Coast, engaged in the making of a motion picture for the Department of the Interior…”

Also contained in Woody Guthrie’s de-classified FBI file is an October 17, 1941 letter to the “Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco, California” from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, “Re: Woodrow W. Guthrie, Internal Security”, which states:

“…Guthrie is no longer an employee of another Governmental agency and in the event the files of your field division reflect the desirability of conducting an investigation into his activities and sympathies in order to determine whether they are inimical to the best interests of this Government you are at liberty to do so.”
Next: Hillary Clinton’s Rose Law Firm Clients