The “Red” Dunhams of Washington State 1956

April 19, 2009

mercer-island-washington1956.  The year that the Dunham family, Stanley, Madelyn and Stanley Ann moved to Mercer Island, Washington State.

The official biographical sketch of the maternal family of Barack Obama has them uprooting from Texas or Oklahoma, moving to Washington, where Stanley could get a better salesman’s position in a better furniture store (yup), and StanleyAnn could enroll in a leftist high school.  The family moved because, we are told, the Dunhams were “red”, perhaps crypto-communists. It’s been said Stanley Ann was just an atheist, but in 1956 Godless atheism was as suspect as communism. Maybe more suspect.  Stanley Ann was 13 years old, already described by an unnamed source as a “fellow traveler”.  We’ve been told that Stanley Ann attended classes with highly influential, radical teachers where Marxism was discussed. The family attended the local Universalist Unitarian Church, aka “the little red church on the hill”.  Why this church was called “red” or why the Dunhams (strict Methodists) attended it, I don’t know.  However,  while the family remained in Washington for five years,  it is solely these anecdotal reports which link the Dunhams to any leftist organization, any leftist political group, labor union or feminist organization, let alone a communist group, not just then, but ever.  It seems utterly unbelievable to me that middle class parents would take on the expense of a cross country move just to enroll their 13 year old in a class for radicals and socialists.  How would the Dunhams have found out about this new school as far away as Washington State?  And if Stanley Ann were were truly a “red diaper” baby she wouldn’t have needed outside instruction.

careers at risk in red scare

careers at risk in red scare

Remember, this was 1956, and being a communist was illegal.  Being thought a “fellow traveler” was dangerous to health and freedom.  The red scare was in full swing, and mere suspicion of being communist affiliated could bring a visit from the FBI. A communist had to register with the federal government and risk being detained and interrogated regarding their associations.  The war and post war years saw a gradual tightening of laws designed to smoke out and hobble leftist activity.

First, there was the Smith Act, enacted in 1940.  From Wikipedia:

The Alien Registration Act or Smith Act (18 U.S.C. § 2385) of 1940 is a United States federal statute that makes it a criminal offense for anyone to

knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association.

It also required all non-citizen adult residents to register with the government; within four months, 4,741,971 aliens had registered under the Act’s provisions.

The Act is best known for its use against political organizations and figures, mostly on the left. Prosecutions continued until a series of United States Supreme Court decisions in 1957 threw out numerous convictions under the Smith Act as unconstitutional. The statute remains on the books, however.

The Act was proposed by Congressman Howard W. Smith of Virginia, a Democrat and a leader of the “anti-labor” bloc of Congressmen. It was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Washington State in the 1930’s and 1940’s was a hotbed of radical unionist activity.  But the FBI smashed most of the radical unions.  By 1950 the Communist press had been mostly shut down.  A show trial of leftist university professors in 1948, known as “the Seattle Ten”, ended with one leader committing suicide, while another turned FBI informant, implicating everyone she had ever had contact with, communist or not.  The rest of the “ten” were imprisoned and then blacklisted, some ending their careers as laborers.  So a person didn’t go about calling herself a communist or an atheist without thinking about consequences.

Calls that Canwell hearing was unconstitutional

Calls that Canwell hearing was unconstitutional

There were loyalty boards and obligatory loyalty oaths. The FBI had expanded powers, opening more than 400,000 files on potential subversives.  Simple membership or advocacy of a banned organization could lead to imprisonment.  Life for “leftists” became marginally better after 1957 but it’s hard to fathom how Madelyn Dunham would have been allowed to become a high level bank official with rumors swirling around her of “communist” affiliation.  It’s hard to believe the official scenario as presented by the Obama resume enhancers.

For this and other reasons I will discuss later, I have trouble believing the Dunhams were “red”.

I have an alternate theory to explain the facts as they are so often presented.  I’m more than willing to be disproved but some of the “facts” just don’t make sense.

Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama’s mama, was apparently born in a military hospital in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas in November 1942.  Her father, Stanley, was in the military, and there for the birth, though regularly assigned, it is said, to General Patton’s tank corp.  No military records can be found to establish the arena of Stanley’s war service.  Some reports say his military records were destroyed in the attack on the World Trade Center.  That seems highly unlikely and, I suppose, that’s an attempt to wrap Stanley Dunham in the flag, for the sake of Obama’s image.  The problem is there has to be record of his service existing somewhere besides the World Trade Center. Madelyn Dunham refused all interviews, so she was not helpful in fleshing out any details. But perhaps one clue is that Ft. Leavenworth is also the headquarters of naval intelligence and the training center for SESKOAD, military center of the Indonesian officer corp in the 1950’s.  If you’ve read my previous posts I link Ann Dunham Soetoro to the Indonesian military officer corp (by marriage to Colonel Lolo Soetoro) and employment at the U.S. Embassy at the time of the great Indonesian communist massacres of 1965-1968.  Both the U.S. Embassy and the Indonesian officer corp was fully involved in the massacre. Read the full report here, Building an Elite for Indonesia.  Excerpts from this astounding article (please read it):

Education had long been an arm of statecraft, and it was Dean Rusk who spelled out its function in the Pacific in 1952, just months before resigning as Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs to head up the Rockefeller Foundation. “Communist aggression” in Asia required not only that Americans be trained to combat it there, but “we must open our training facilities for increasing numbers of our friends from across the Pacific.”

and

Fortunately for Ford and its academic image there was yet another school at hand: SESKOAD, the Army Staff and Command School. Situated seventy miles southeast of Djakarta in cosmopolitan Bandung, SESKOAD was the Army’s nerve center. There, generals decided organizational and political matters; there, senior officers on regular rotation were “upgraded” with manuals and methods picked up during training in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas(emphasis mine).

So, back to Mercer Island.  Washington State is also a home of U.S. Naval Intelligence.  From Wikipedia:

Cryptanalytic problems facing the United States in the Pacific prior to World War II were largely those related to Japan. An early decision by OP-20-G in Washington divided responsibilities for them among CAST at Cavite and then Corregidor, in the Philippines, HYPO in Hawaii, and OP-20-G itself in Washington. Other Navy crypto stations, including Guam, Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island were tasked and staffed for signals interception and traffic analysis.

I noted in an above article that U.S. Naval Intelligence was sometimes associated with covert F.B.I. or C.I.A.  operations.  And sometimes normal seeming families were recruited by the F.B.I. to aid in  anti-communist intelligence gathering.

Next, the family lived in Berkeley for two years.  Berkeley, along with MIT, Cornell and Harvard, became the academic platforms funded by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations for the eventual ideological makeover for a military government in Indonesia. Madelyn Dunham attended Berkeley, taking no degree.   Here’s what Building an Elite for Indonesia says about the importance of Berkeley in the creation of an elite for Indonesia:

witnessed fal of Sukarno

witnessed fall of Sukarno

MIT and Cornell made contacts, collected data, built up expertise. It was left to Berkeley to actually train most of the key Indonesians who would seize government power and put their pro-American lessons into practice. Dean Sumitro’s Faculty of Economics provided a perfect academic boot camp for these economic shock troops.

and

This time the professional touch and academic respectability were to be provided by Berkeley. The Berkeley team’s first task was to replace the Dutch professors, whose colonial influence and capitalist economics Sukarno was trying to phase out. The Berkeley team would also relieve Sumitro’s Indonesian junior faculty so that Ford could send them back to Berkeley for advanced credentials. …

While the Indonesian junior faculty studied American economics in Berkeley classrooms, the Berkeley professors turned the Faculty in Djakarta into an American-style school of economics, statistics, and business administration.

After a two year stint in Berkeley the Dunhams moved to Hawaii, where Stanley could build a better career selling furniture.  Madelyn got a job in a bank, where, without formal training, she eventually became Vice President at the Bank of Hawaii.  I guess Stanley kept selling furniture until he died.

Honolulu is headquarters of Naval Intelligence in the Pacific and headquarters of the Pacific Area Command, U.S.P.A.C.O.M.  I noted in an earlier post that Admiral Dennis Blair, President Obama’s appointee as Director of National Intelligence,  was the supreme commander of PACOM.  He and Obama’s mama have something in common:  they both attended the East-West center and studied Russian there, as the former USSR was the most important arena for intelligence gathering during the Cold War.  President Eisenhower funded the East-West center with contributions from the Ford Foundation after the annexation of Hawaii in 1959 for Cold War studies.  Senator and later president Johnson, advocated for it.  The Ford Foundation established a fellowship program for it.

Once established in Hawaii, Ann Dunham enrolled at the East-West Center.

To be continued…..

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It’s All About Oil. Part II … Venezuela

April 4, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

mapscaor

Venezuela.  This is an interesting tale of a Latin American coup that failed. It was a garden variety coup like the failed Indonesian coup of 1958;  certainly not as horrifying as the 1965-1999 massacres and land grabs in Indonesia and East Timor, but definitely instructive in its political architecture.

Moreover, the cast of characters and their methods never really change. Breathtakingly, American political operatives are able to set policies, carry them out and then step back into the comfort and riches of defense contracts and think tanks.

The more things change…

Will Obama, President Fauxgressive, be any different?  So far, I’m thinking: NAAH!

Perhaps the most important thing to know about Venezuela is that it is an oil exporting country, the fifth largest in the world, with the largest reserves of conventional oil (light and heavy crude) in the western hemisphere and the largest reserves of non-conventional oil (extra-heavy crude) in the world.

Thus begins Gregory Wilpert’s 2003 article concerning the politics of Venezuelan oil and the April 2002 coup that briefly ousted President Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela’s oil boom years encompassed 1912-1943. Standard Oil and Shell Oil were the first companies to drill on Venezuelan soil. Things changed in 1943 with Venezuela’s  Hydrocarbons Act which declared that no foreign oil interest could make more profit on Venezuelan oil than the Venezuelan state. Oil revenues increased.   However, as oil production rose, other parts of the economy suffered and the populous became more dependent upon state services provided by oil revenues rather than income taxes.

In the 1950’s large international surpluses of oil (especially in the Middle East) drove  prices to record lows, causing social instability in a nation economically dependent on one resource. So

In 1960, the world’s main oil exporting countries, largely due to the prodding of the Venezuelan government, decided to form the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Also in 1960, Venezuela created the Venezuelan Oil Corporation, which later formed the basis for the nationalization of Venezuela’s oil industry.

Political stability in a petro state necessitated a “pacted democracy” which guaranteed proportional access to state produced wealth by oligarchs of both parties regardless of which was in power.

Sound familiar?

The 1973 embargo of Middle East oil had a huge impact on Venezuela, quadrupling its oil revenues. By 1976 the country moved to fully nationalize its oil industry with the creation of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). PDVSA outsourced many of its general operations, including accounting and information technology.

The government promised to “sow the oil”, raising all boats in a nation coasting on oil. The article cited above also points out:

Critics of the nationalization process, such as Carlos Mendoza, say that the newly nationalized oil industry was nothing more than a Trojan Horse. Venezuela’s oil industry maintained an anti-statist and transnational corporatist management culture throughout its existence. The ties to the former owners of the nationalized Venezuelan companies were maintained primarily through technical assistance contracts with the former owners and through commercialization contracts, which heavily discounted the price of oil to their former owners.

By the 1990’s the world’s over-supply of oil had, once again, plunged Venezuela into the economic doldrums.

Hugo Chavez was elected by popular referendum in 1998. Almost immediately, Chavez pressured members of OPEC and the non-OPEC producers to hold the line on production quotas. When Chavez moved to replace the PDVSA board with other technical resources, PDVSA joined a work stoppage against the government. More from the article cited above –

Perhaps the most important instance of outsourcing, in terms of the management of PDVSA, is the joint venture it engaged in with the U.S.-based company SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) to create INTESA (Informática, Negocios, y Tecnología, S.A.) in 1996. INTESA was to manage all of PDVSA’s data processing needs.

A recent investigation into INTESA, and especially into its majority owner SAIC (60%), revealed some information that ought to be quite disturbing to the government of Hugo Chávez. That is, INTESA, which controlled all of PDVSA’s information, is in turn controlled by SAIC, a Fortune 500 company … that is deeply involved in the U.S. defense industry, particularly as it relates to nuclear technology, defense intelligence, and computing technology. Its managers included two former U.S. Secretaries of Defense (William Perry and Melvin Laird) and two former CIA directors (John Deutch and Robert Gates). Its current Board of Directors includes the former commander of the U.S. Special Forces (Wayne Downing), a former coordinator of the National Security Council (Jasper Welch), and the former director of the National Security Agency (Bobby Ray Inman)           (italics mine).

Recall that Robert Gates served in the Reagan and Bush II administrations. He now serves President Barack Obama’s as Defense Department chief.

The government moved from taxing oil industry profits to charging royalties, making oil extraction more expensive. Chavez also re-directed Venezuelan oil supplies to non-U.S. buyers.

Then in 2002 came the attempted coup.

2002 Venezuelan coup d’état attempt

The Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002 was a failed coup d’état on April 11, 2002 that lasted only 47 hours, whereby the head of state President Hugo Chávez was illegally detained, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court dissolved, and the country’s Constitution declared void.

Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecámaras) president Pedro Carmona was installed as interim president. In Caracas, the coup led to a pro-Chávez uprising that the Metropolitan Police attempted to suppress. Key sectors of the military and parts of the anti-Chávez movement refused to back Carmona. The pro-Chávez Presidential Guard eventually retook the Miraflores presidential palace without firing a shot, leading to the collapse of the Carmona government and the re-installation of Chávez as president.

The coup was publicly condemned by Latin American nations (the Rio Group presidents were gathered together in San José, Costa Rica, at the time, and were able to issue a joint communiqué) and international organizations. The United States and Chile quickly acknowledged the de facto pro-US Carmona government, but ended up condemning the coup after it had been defeated.

And more from Gregory Wilpert in his 2003 article:

Matters reached a boiling point in April 2002 with the coup d’etat against Chavez Frias which surprisingly lasted only two days as millions of Venezuelan poor came to his defense. The 48-hour usurper, Carmona, moved almost instantaneously to turn around ChavezFrias’ Bolivarian policies and consolidate what amounts to an “oiligarchy.” Within 48 hours, he dissolved the parliament and the supreme court, dismissed all mayors and governors, stopped the shipment of oil to Cuba, and started a massive wave of repression across the country. But there is more…

According to the British paper The Observer

… one of those giving the nod to the attempted coup was Elliot Abrams, a member of the Reagan team involved in the dirty wars in Central America convicted over actions during the Iran-Contra Affair. He was later pardoned by George Bush, Sr. Another coup advocate was Cuban, Otto Reich, assistant administrator for USAID 1981-1983 and named ambassador to Caracas in 1986.

There it is again, USAID. For those of you who doubted USAID, a benevolent agency of the U.S. government, might be converted to covert uses, enjoy the view.  My previous post noted that Ann Dunham Soetoro was engaged in “microfinance” with USAID in Indonesia in the 1970’s and 1980’s  — during one of the worst human rights atrocities of the century — and perhaps Pakistan in the 1980’s.

Next step:  let’s see what the World Bank, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and East-West Center, University of Hawaii, were up to.


Was Obama’s Mama a Spook?

March 1, 2009

Yes, I said it.  Do I have your attention?  Spook. From Merriam-Webster, ghost, undercover agent or spy.  Tip of the hat to Cinie’s World (2-27-09). An interesting post by this blogger, donning a tinfoil chapeau and heading where the bread crumbs crumble caused me to rush to my own way back machine to take a look at the  political connections of Barack Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, aka S. Ann Dunham, Ann Soetoro, S. Ann Dunham Sutoro.

Obama’s maternal line, the Dunham family has been dredged ad nauseum by Obama in his two autobiographies, Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. It has been discussed and analyzed by the MSM, in an effort to “acquaint” the electorate with a portrait of a non-threatening biracial man, palatable scion of an all-American, middle class family, roots planted firmly in the American mainstream. However, it seems the frequency of the retelling of Obama’s family story ensures only a repetition of a superficial, shopworn, schmaltzy story; a short-on-facts narrative of struggle courage, racial confusion, family contradictions  and mother love.  There’s a de rigeur narrative around Obama’s maternal grandmother but since she refused to give any interviews and is now  deceased, much is unknown.

Let’s go back to the early 1960s, the height of the Cold War. The Dunhams moved to the state of Washington and enrolled their daughter in a “progressive” high school where she stood out from the other students as quietly mature, a quirky free thinker and proto “feminist”. Ann next studied anthropology at the University of Hawaii. There, in a Russian language class, she met Barack Obama, Sr., a polygamous and already married Kenyan Muslim. Six months later Barack Jr. was born.

Barack Sr. soon abandoned Ann to continue earning his economics degree at Harvard University, later returning to Kenya and employed by Shell Oil. At some point Ann was employed by the Ford Foundation.

The Ford Foundation is alleged to have had connections to the CIA. Current Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner’s father, Peter Geithner was:

director of the Asia program at the Ford Foundation, a New World Order operation. Peter Geithner oversaw the “microfinance” programs developed in Indonesia by Ann Dunham-Soetoro, Barack Obama’s mother. Geithner’s maternal grandfather, Charles F. Moore, was an adviser to President Eisenhower and vice president of Ford Motor Company.

See here. Ann Dunham went to work in the microfinance department headed by Geithner.

Skip ahead in time a couple of years to 1966. The U.S. has stepped up its involvement in the war in Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson is President. Civil Rights activists, from SNCC to women’s liberation, are exploding into the streets. Cointelpro has been reformulated to infiltrate and undermine such protests.  But here is where it gets weird, requiring a tinfoil hat.  S. Ann Dunham has been tagged by the political right as a leftist, even a communist. There is no evidence that I know of that links Ann Dunham to any civil protest organization, political group or foundation.

Instead, Ann Dunham married foreign student, Lolo Soetoro, a well-to-do Indonesian Muslim she met upon her return to the University of Hawaii and in 1966 moved with him and seven year old Barack, to a newly Americanized Indonesia, finishing the throes of a human rights disaster.  Ann made no comment about the  massacres that had taken place the prior year, but continued to catalog local crafts.  Barack was officially adopted by Soetoro and remained in Indonesia for two-four years.

Indonesia is the fifth richest nation in the world in natural resources. It has abundant supplies of natural gas, copper, nickel, and oil. It is also the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Sukarno, Indonesia’s communist-leaning leader, had been overthrown the previous year and been replaced by a western leaning general, Suharto. Here’s an excerpt of the article describing the events surrounding Sukarno’s fall.

The situation varied across the country; in some areas the army organized civilian groups and local militias, in other areas communal vigilante action preceded the army.[16] The most widely accepted estimates are that at least half a million were killed.[17] Many others were also imprisoned and for the next ten years people were still being imprisoned as suspects. It is thought that as many as 1.5m were imprisoned at one stage or another.[18] As a result of the purge, one of Sukarno’s three pillars of support, the Indonesian Communist Party, had been effectively eliminated by the other two, the military and political Islam, although of the two, the military were in the position of unchallenged power.  According to Amnesty nternational, life went from bad to worse for the peasants of Indonesia.

Ann’s new husband, Lolo Soetoro, an army geologist, went to work for Mobil oil. Ann had one more child, Maya. Soetoro, a devout Muslim, wanted more children. Ann wanted to continue her work teaching English and to continue her anthropological studies. She returned to Hawaii with Barack and worked toward her PhD. Years later she returned to Indonesia to complete work on her dissertation. Barack, now a teenager, chose to remain in Hawaii.

Here there is a muddle. It isn’t clear to me, from anything I have read so far, what Ann Dunham Soetoro did for a living during this and subsequent trips other than teach English, or catalog native handicrafts. This is what confuses me: if Ann Dunham was a “leftist” and the Ford Foundation would certainly have been aware of her background, why would they hire her to work in a sensitive position? Would she, as a leftist, been willing to reside in a country that had just massacred hundreds of thousands of other leftists? Would she be willing to live with a former army landowner returning to a position with Mobil Oil?  Would she have two husbands who worked for oil companies?

Jump into the time machine again, and reset it to 1986. Ronald Reagan is the U.S. president. G. H. W. Bush is the V.P.  The White House is embroiled in the Iran-Contra affair. Here’s an excerpt of the article, describing other middle eastern the political complications involved in this scandal:

It began as an operation to improve U.S.-Iranian relations, wherein Israel would ship weapons to a relatively moderate, politically influential group of Iranians; the U.S. would then resupply Israel and receive the Israeli payment. The Iranian recipients promised to do everything in their power to achieve the release of six U.S. hostages, who were being held by the Lebanese Shia Islamist group Hezbollah. The plan eventually deteriorated into an arms-for-hostages scheme, in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages.

The Russians remained mired in Afghanistan battling the Mujahadeen following their invasion of that country in 1980. 1986 was the year that the Afghan branch of the Taliban established hegemony in Afghanistan with the help of  Taliban operating in Pakistan. This is the year Ann Dunham arrived in Pakistan. This is also the year Osama Bin Laden was given sanctuary in Pakistan.  An Dunham Soetoro worked for microfinance departments of USAID, underwritten by the CIA.

Once again, the U.S. (as it had in indonesia) backed Islamic fundamentalists against communism. And, once again, Ann was employed as a USAID bank specialist in “microfinance” for poor women. I don’t know Ann Dunham’s level of skill in reading and speaking Russian, but there is an odd convergence for her

trip with her young daughter along the Silk Road in 1986 and

  • Russian language studies,
  • work for the Ford Foundation and USAID (also widely believed to be connected to the CIA)
  • work financing projects for poor women in an exceedingly volatile anti-American period
  • a detailed knowledge of Islamic cultural norms.

Not only was this dangerous duty, but must have been perhaps more hazardous  for a white Western woman in  fundamentalist Pakistan. Again, the same question: If Ann Dunham was a known and unrepentant leftist would USAID have hired her to perform services under these sensitive conditions?  Would the Ford Foundation have hired her and employed her for years as she cataloged handicrafts?

Back to the time machine. Reset the time machine backward to 1981. Barack Obama, Jr., before he moves on to Harvard University, travels to Pakistan to “visit friends”, although travel to Pakistan for American citizens is severely restricted. Does he travel on an American or an Indonesian passport?

I am puzzled by Ann Soetoro’s arrival in Indonesia and Pakistan during these very turbulent years.  This contact with two very divergent countries, and her son’s travel there in 1981 raise my eyebrows.  Maybe something there, maybe not.  Security conditions for a woman and a small girl child seem questionable. Here’s an excerpt from Windfalls of War

For 10 years, the Center received most of its Afghanistan education project funding from USAID. But after Congress ended government-sponsored aid to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, USAID stopped funding the Center. Still, it wasn’t without funding for long.

In 1997, Unocal, an American oil company, stepped in with an offer.

Unocal hoped to facilitate a business relationship with the Taliban in order to promote a natural gas pipeline project. The company was the development manager for the seven-member Central Asia Gas pipeline consortium that also included Saudi Arabia’s Delta Oil, Indonesia Petroleum, three other companies and the Turkmenistan government.

Unocal offered the Center an up-to-two-year contract worth as much $1.8 million to train Afghan men to build pipeline, which would run from Turkmenistan through a Taliban-controlled portion of Afghanistan to Pakistan, where it would be marketed. The pipeline could also be extended into India.

Well, both of Obama’s father figures were oil men.  Obama’s peculiar mixture of corporatism, pragmatism and tolerance for a weird combination of rightist and leftist political thinking come from somewhere.

Whatever Ann Dunham Soetoro thought about two of the huge political theaters of our time, she said nothing.

Jump ahead in the time machine to Obama’s sojourn at Harvard, his father’s alma mater, home of east coast movers and shakers, his do nothing tenure as editor of the Harvard Law Review and his selection as go-to guy by some of the biggest and most powerful investment bankers in the world.  But that’s another story.