What is the F.B.I. so afraid of?

By Christopher R Rice

According to historian John McMillian, writing in his 2010 book Smoking Typewriters, the underground press’ combined readership eventually reached into the millions.

Many of the papers faced official harassment on a regular basis; local police repeatedly raided and busted up the offices of Dallas Notes and jailed editor Stoney Burns on drug charges, charged Atlanta’s Great Speckled Bird and others with obscenity, arrested street vendors, and pressured local printers not to print underground papers. In Austin, the regents at the University of Texas sued The Rag to prevent circulation on campus but the ACLU successfully defended the paper’s First Amendment rights before the U.S. Supreme Court. In an apparent attempt to shut down The Spectator in Bloomington, Indiana, editor James Retherford was briefly imprisoned for alleged violations of the Selective Service laws; his conviction was overturned and the prosecutors were rebuked by a federal judge. The offices of Houston’s Space City! were bombed and its windows repeatedly shot out; similar drive-by shootings, firebombings, break-ins and trashings were carried out on the offices of many underground papers around the country, fortunately without causing any fatalities. In Houston as in many other cities the attackers, never identified, were suspected of being off-duty military or police personnel, or members of the Ku Klux Klan or Minuteman organizations. Some of the most violent attacks were carried out against the underground press in San Diego. In 1976 the San Diego Union reported that the attacks in 1971 and 1972 had been carried out by a right-wing paramilitary group calling itself the Secret Army Organization, which had ties to the local office of the FBI.

During this period there was also a widespread high school underground press movement circulating unauthorized student-published tabloids and mimeographed sheets at hundreds of high schools around the US. Most of these papers put out only a few issues, running off a few hundred copies of each and circulating them only at one local school, although there was one system-wide antiwar high school underground paper produced in New York in 1969 with a 10,000 copy press run. And Houston’s Little Red Schoolhouse, a city-wide underground paper published by high school students, was founded in 1970.

Most papers operated on a shoestring budget, pasting up camera-ready copy on layout sheets on the editor’s kitchen table, with labor performed by unpaid, non-union volunteers. Typesetting costs, which at the time were wiping out many established big city papers, were avoided by typing up copy on a rented or borrowed IBM Selectric typewriter to be pasted up by hand. As one observer commented with only slight hyperbole, students were financing the publication of these papers out of their lunch money.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted surveillance and disruption activities on the underground press in the United States, including a campaign to destroy the alternative agency Liberation News Service. As part of its COINTELPRO designed to discredit and infiltrate radical New Left groups, the FBI also launched phony underground newspapers such as the Armageddon News at Indiana University Bloomington, The Longhorn Tale at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Rational Observer at American University in Washington, D.C. The FBI also ran the Pacific International News Service in San Francisco, the Chicago Midwest News, and the New York Press Service. Many of these organizations consisted of little more than a post office box and a letterhead, designed to enable the FBI to receive exchange copies of underground press publications and send undercover observers to underground press gatherings.

The Georgia Straight outlived the underground movement, evolving into an alternative weekly still published today; Fifth Estate survives as an anarchist magazine. The Rag—which published for 11 years in Austin (1966–1977) — was revived in 2006 as an online publication, The Rag Blog, which now has a wide following in the progressive blogosphere and whose contributors include many veterans of the original underground press.

That was then and this is now

Obama promised us “change” but then hired everyone from the previous administration and only maintained the status quo. Trump promised us even more “change” but his policies are already requiring bailouts, so what’s next? Even if Trump does succeed his policies will only serve to make the rich a lot richer and the poor even poorer. And I’m tired of watching American voters get duped by these pied pipers.

Every time Trump distracts the national media with one of his ass clown acts you can bet that an environmental protection was just put on the chopping block. Along with your retirement, clean air, clean water, your pensions, workers rights and consumer protections. And all in the name of freeing up big business. Under this con game that the corporations responsible for raping the environment and the workers will now protect us at their own expense. Much like the lie that tax cuts for the super rich will trickle down on us all.

We the people need a political party that stands up for the workers of this country. We need a political party that is actually of, for and by the people. But how do we get there?

How do we the people get big money out of our political system? How did big money get there in the first place?

The Supreme court made it all legal when they granted corporations citizenship. That’s how. Something the founding fathers would have never approved of and had attempted in our Constitution to protect us from. Making it so corporations had to apply and renew to individual states for corporate charters. And to show how they were benefiting the people of that particular state when their renewals came due.

But that was then and this is now. So the answer is the same as the problem. If the Supreme court can make it legal to accept corporate bribes we must write a new law which makes accepting donations from corporations and their lobbyist illegal. Because term limits are useless if a candidate must beg for money to get elected. Then that politician is already corrupt before even being sworn in because that politician is now beholden to his donors and not to we the people.

Now that I have your attention let me explain where I am going with this.

I could spend several more paragraphs explaining why the internet can not take us where we want to go. Or we could skip that and I could just tell you what has been tried, tested and has always been successful. Since time is always against us let us jump ahead. I first learned this from Mahatma Gandhi. And then the Poles who overthrew the whole East bloc without firing one shot had said the same thing. I’ve also done this myself and had tremendous success.

It’s inexpensive, effective and easy. And anyone can do this. And every time one is started the powers that be are quick to shut it down. Blogs and websites are almost useless but an underground press is a whole other world.

The Underground Press

There’s two ways to join the fun. First if you are already overworked and always short on time simply make a donation and you can even call the shots and tell us which article you want printed as a flyer and distributed. But if you really want to get in on the fun simply find an article on Ron’s Spot or any article you like from anywhere, print (or download) and take to your local copy house. Print as many as you can and pass out.

To be more effective include a URL on your flyers. This can be a link back to Ron’s Spot or any website of your choice (like this: For more: http://ronsspot.org/ )

Include any sources that are required to back up your claims. Only use legitimate problems that are easily verifiable and that effect the majority of the population.

If your on a budget don’t worry because any paper will work. It does not have to be fancy or expensive. You can fold 81/2″ x 11″ paper in half to create two flyers per sheet and cut.

What’s the purpose/goal? The articles that you choose to print should have to do with problems which are only facing us here in America. Like our deplorable education system, the fact that American education ranks 29th out of 33 industrialized nations- and we pay twice as much. Our crumbling infrastructure, our dishonest banking system which rewards borrowers and penalizes savers with low to no interest rates. And so on.

Another thing worth printing would be the six figure salaries of your local city officials (available on the internet).

Public opinion is paramount for the military industrial complex to achieve their war profiteering. Once Americans are reminded by one flyer after another of our own problems, voters will have no stomach for solving problems overseas. And when Trump and company go after Iraq or Syria or send more troops to Afghanistan or want to have a limited nuclear war with Korea they will not have the support that is required. The voters will force the politicians to put America first the same way that Americans got Trump to reverse his policy and stop separations at the border. This is not rocket science boys and girls.

Unfortunately, the internet is almost useless for this to be effective. Most people do not spend a whole lot of time on the internet in the first place and what time they do spend, they go to places they are familiar with like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Amazon. When people do use their search engines it is still unlikely they will be searching for what I’ve wrote. Or if they are that Google will place my articles at the top of their searches where you will be able to find them.

You can post articles into your social media feeds but most of your friends or followers will never see them unless you do it all day, every day. Why? Because as others put up their post yours go down the list until it’s buried under a million other post.

But with flyers you leave it on their car door, house door or put it in their hand. You get a lot better response. And when you include a URL it gives them somewhere to go for more information.

100% of your donations will go to printing and distributing flyers.

Because everyone before me who has ever asked you for a donation has turned around and used your money to buy themselves limos and yachts, let me say that I will keep receipts. That is, if I receive any donations for flyers, I will publish that information and have it available to you. Along with receipts for how the money is being spent. Every cent.

If you can not afford to print your own flyers and if I receive any donations I will gladly send you flyers, free of charge, to pass out in your area.

I’m doing this to end our corrupt two party system and to return us to a functioning Republic with three equal branches of government. I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that you will share this.

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