Ex-IWP Website Hacked, But We’re Not Going to Be Disappeared by Cult Members!

BREAKING NEWS

The EX-IWP website (www.ex-iwp.org) was recently disabled by a sophisticated “denial of service” attack soon after the death of cult leader Fred Newman. We have every intention of restoring the website, and will continue to provide news and information on this blog as well. Stay tuned for more information.

RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE

Party to fraud – New York Daily News, December 9, 2013

Independence Party endorses Adolfo Carrion Jr. for New York City Mayor – New York Daily News, February 21, 2013

Built on deception, the Independence Party boosted Michael Bloomberg into office in three elections (New York Daily News, December 14, 2012)

Lots of reasons DA can crash this ‘party’ (New York Daily News, December 12, 2012)

City Independence Party insiders wrongly filled their governing committees with unwilling and unwitting voters (New York Daily News, December 12, 2012)

Independence Party’s confusing name has tricked thousands of New Yorkers (New York Daily News, December 11, 2012)

The state has to end the confusion that has swelled Independence Party rolls with unwitting and unwilling members (New York Daily News, December 11, 2012)

Revealed: How cult-like band exploits voter deception to wield political power in N.Y.C. (New York Daily News, December 10, 2012)

Anti-Semitic Jew Fred Newman led his cult-like followers to Independence Party power in New York City (New York Daily News, December 10, 2012)

Gov. Cuomo must deliver an ultimatum to the Independence Party: Stop the shams or the party dies (New York Daily News, December 10, 2012)

Rupert Murdoch Joins Independence Party In New York Accidentally (Huffington Post, September 26, 2012)

The Strange Life of the Late Fred Newman (Pajamas Media, July 12, 2011)

Fred Newman, Writer and Political Figure, Dies at 76 (The New York Times, July 9, 2011)

NYC Independence Party Founder Newman Dead At 76! ‎ (NY1, July 5, 2011)

Former Leaders of New Alliance Party Have Become Leading Opponents of Ballot Access Reform (Ballot Access News, December 30, 2010)

Bloomberg and the Not-So-Independent Independence Party

Mating Game: Bloomy Loves Fred Newman, All Over Again (Village Voice, February 19, 2009)

Bloomberg’s Therapist (Village Voice, June 14, 2005)

ARE YOU UNFAMILIAR WITH FRED NEWMAN AND THE IWP?

Political Research Associates (Extensive Information on the IWP)

Steve Hassan’s IWP Web Page

“Psychopolitics”: Inside The Independence Party Of Fred Newman (NY 1 News, November 2005)

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Mayor Defends Financing for Fulani Group (2006)

By Jill Gardiner
The New York Sun, September 14, 2006

Mayor Bloomberg is defending the city’s decision to approve more than $12 million in tax-free financing for a nonprofit group founded by a political leader who has been accused of making anti-Semitic comments.

Mr. Bloomberg said the approval of the tax-free financing for the All Stars Project, a performing arts group, was based solely on the substance of the group and had nothing to do with its founding member, Lenora Fulani, who is no longer affiliated with the group.

The city’s Industrial Development Agency gave the green light to the arrangement earlier this week over objections from several leading elected officials, who said the organization’s relationship with Ms. Fulani should disqualify it.

“We don’t look at the politics or the personal philosophies or the first amendment rights of what people say who are not involved with a project,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters.

“If they have a problem with other people they should express it to other people, but we are not going to hurt the kids at the All Star Project,” he added referring to the opponents.

Ms. Fulani, a former leader of the Independence Party, backed Mr. Bloomberg when he was running for mayor in 2001 and then again in 2005, giving him crucial support and an alternative party line for New Yorkers who wanted to vote for him but didn’t want to pull the lever for the Republican Party. He has distanced himself from her positions, but they repeatedly come back to haunt him.

Ms. Fulani’s most divisive words came in 1989, when she wrote: “Jews had to sell their souls to acquire Israel.” This week, the state comptroller, Alan Hevesi, the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, the public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler wrote to the head of the IDA urging him to block the financing request. Others who hold power on the IDA board directed their proxies to reject it.

But Mr. Bloomberg contended that there was nothing wrong with the deal: “We’re trying to do what’s right for our children and we certainly do not want to run a city where everybody’s got to pass a litmus test of agreeing with those people running for office,” he said.

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Bloomy’s ‘All Stars': City arranges new multi-million-dollar financing for Fulani’s crew (2006)

By Tom Robbins
The Village Voice, August 22, 2006

City arranges new multi-million-dollar financing for Fulani’s crew

Even though he was the odds-on favorite to win re-election last year, Mayor Mike Bloomberg took no chances. In addition to running as the Republican Party’s nominee, the billionaire media mogul sought and accepted the nomination of the Independence Party, thus providing an alternative for those true-blue Democrats who could never pull the GOP lever, even while holding their noses in the privacy of the voting booth. It was the same strategy that had worked so well for him in 2001, when the 59,000 votes he polled as the Independence candidate put him over the top in that razor-close race.

But the second time around, Bloomberg took a fair amount of heat for the tactic: Reporters asked him why he was still associating with the zany crowd that controlled the city’s Independence Party, which included Lenora Fulani, prone to tossing occasional anti-Semitic barbs, and her oddball therapy guru, Fred Newman, who openly approved of sex between shrinks and patients. Those questions increased in volume after Fulani publicly refused to disavow her own earlier comments, in a NY1 TV interview, that Jews are “mass murderers” and had “sold their souls to acquire Israel.”

But Bloomberg’s strategy was to be better safe than sorry, banking on the hope that most voters wouldn’t notice and the rest wouldn’t hold it against him. And he was right. The CEO-turned-politician scored an overwhelming 750,000-vote tally against Democrat Fernando Ferrer, with more than 74,000 cast for him on the Independence Party line.

Now, nine months after the little third party helped him achieve that crushing victory, Bloomberg’s administration is poised to provide Fulani and Newman with new $12 million tax-free bond financing for a controversial nonprofit organization they have long controlled. The bond deal, due to be approved by the city’s Industrial Development Agency next month, would allow a youth program called the All Stars Project to refinance $8.3 million in outstanding city bonds and add an additional $4.2 million to allow the group to make improvements at its headquarters on West 42nd Street—a space it acquired in 2002 with an earlier IDA bond deal from Bloomberg’s administration.

Tax-free bonds for private businesses and nonprofit groups are awarded frequently by the city, but applicants have to show that the subsidies will benefit the public. All Stars has been the subject of repeated complaints and investigations concerning allegations that it is used to lure unwary people into Newman’s so-called “social therapy” practice and into political activities like the Independence Party. The group has always denied it, and a probe last year by the office of state attorney general Eliot Spitzer did not result in charges of wrongdoing.

The financing deal is clearly attractive. The bonds would save All Stars several hundred thousand dollars in costs and mortgage-recording taxes, according to Good Jobs New York, which monitors city projects. So far, however, few specifics have been provided. The only information made public is a one-paragraph advertisement published in the New York Daily News on August 8. A spokesperson for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the IDA, confirmed the deal and said only that some of the new $4 million plus would go for new heating and ventilation systems for the All Stars headquarters, adding that more details will be available before a September 7 hearing on the matter.

Bloomberg spokesperson Stu Loeser said the mayor played “no role” in the bond deal, adding that Newman and Fulani have distanced themselves from the project. In February, Newman resigned from posts he held there, although he and Fulani remain leading figures in the group.

An All Stars spokesman confirmed the bonds will be used to “finance necessary renovations and improvements.”

Whatever the details, the project appears to be a kind of consolation prize for the group, which had a decidedly unhappy experience in its most recent dealings with city government. In March, in a caustic letter, the group announced it was dropping its application for a $230,000 contract to provide after-school training to city schoolkids through the Department of Youth and Community Development. The move came after a 10-month-long inquiry that began shortly after a Voice story on the matter (“Fulani’s City Hall Push,” June 7, 2005). At the time, the Voice reported that Fulani and Newman had been invited into Bloomberg’s inner sanctum at City Hall, where they had met with top city officials, including schools chancellor Joel Klein. Part of their pitch was to provide theater and music activities to schoolchildren. Bloomberg’s aides were receptive to the idea. But All Stars officials confirmed that they were more interested in receiving the stamp of approval from City Hall than the cash. “It would be the city validating all of our work in this field,” Gabrielle Kurlander, who lives with Newman and receives $200,000 as president of the group, told the Voice last year.

But the contract negotiations came just as the mayor was agreeing to take the Independence Party line, and the coincidence helped spark a spate of additional stories in the New York Post and on NY1. In the face of that publicity, the city’s youth department announced that All Stars would get careful scrutiny before any contracts were awarded.

That investigation, along with a parallel one by Spitzer’s office, put the after-school grant on hold. City officials never completed their probe, but on March 6, All Stars president Kurlander fired off an angry four-page letter to city youth department officials saying they’d had enough. The letter offered—in remarkably frank language—Kurlander’s version of her group’s dealings with the youth agency and City Hall.

According to Kurlander, the after-school activities application started with the suggestion of a Bloomberg policy aide, Ester Fuchs, who “urged us to apply for a grant.” (Fuchs told the Voice last year that the idea was broached by an All Stars lobbyist.) Kurlander said she “expressed concern” that the application “might fall victim to various forms of political gamesmanship” given the media attention to the group.

Despite city assurances that wouldn’t happen, Kurlander wrote, the youth department’s general counsel began contacting All Stars board members and supporters as far away as California “to inquire about their political affiliations.” After a protest to Fuchs, Kurlander said, those inquiries were halted. But as the mayoral race heated up, NY1 broadcast a multi-part series by reporter Rita Nissan, prompting a new series of inquiries.

The youth department’s new questions, Kurlander wrote, “read like an inquisition from Senator Joseph McCarthy.” She said the queries included questions about who on the board was “in therapy, about living and personal financial arrangements of principals associated with the program, and other intrusive and abusive lines of questioning.”

All Stars again complained, Kurlander wrote, this time to both Fuchs and Bloomberg campaign director Kevin Sheekey (now a deputy mayor). Kurlander said City Hall aides “disingenuously” told her that it was out of their hands. She said that even after Spitzer dropped his own separate inquiry, the city’s probe continued. The last straw apparently came when the Voice reported, several days before Kurlander’s irate letter, that city sources were telling it the contract wouldn’t be awarded.

The All Stars executive wrote that the city’s inquiry had “degenerated into the worst form of ‘policy by politics’ ” and a “corruption of governmental responsibility.”

“Finally,” Kurlander concluded, “while it is the case that some individuals in the All Stars community worked hard for Mayor Bloomberg’s re-election, All Stars has always made it plain that it neither sought nor expected any special treatment or favors.” At the bottom of the letter, Kurlander cc’d Fuchs, Sheekey, and Mayor Bloomberg.

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“Psychopolitics”: Inside The Independence Party Of Fred Newman, Part Three

By Rita Nissan
NY1 News, November 2, 2005

Fred Newman, the leader of the Manhattan Independence Party, wants to have a say in how your children are educated. But his views on sex and marriage may leave some parents wary. NY1’s Rita Nissan has more in part three of her special series, “Psychopolitics.”

Fred Newman lives by his own rules. He says monogamy and marriage aren’t for him. “I don’t think it’s any of the state’s business who my dearest loves are and how I relate to another human being and give to them and receive from them,” he says.

Newman calls them his dearest loves, the women he lives with in his West Village townhouse. He admits some of the women initially came to him for psychological help.

Newman treats patients in Social Therapy, his self-created field of psychology.

“Some of them were in therapy, yeah,” he says.

But mainstream psychologists say it’s unethical for therapists to have sex with their patients because it violates personal boundaries and trust.

Newman is not held to any ethical codes. As a psychotherapist, he doesn’t need a license to practice in New York State, although the laws have changed and he’ll need one by the end of the year.

“I think that people’s sexual relationships should be something very personal between the people who are engaging in it, and I think if people love each other, care for each other, are attracted to each other and decide together that they want to have sex, they should,” he says. “[Does it matter that it’s a patient and a therapist?] I think sexual relationships are relationships between human beings, not human beings under certain descriptions or in certain categories. I believe that people should fall in love as they so desire, and if they want to include in that sexuality, they should include that.”

Newman controls several organizations that appear to be intertwined: Social Therapy clinics, the Manhattan Independence Party, and his youth charity the All Stars Project. All Stars introduces children and teens to Newman’s ideas.

At All Stars headquarters, Newman writes and directs plays at the Castillo Theatre. His books are everywhere, and volunteers have been invited to social therapy related events.

“It’s cool,” says Loretta Martin.

NY1 met Martin at a campaign rally for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She works for Newman’s Independence Party and volunteers for All Stars.

“We hear it all over the place, Social Therapy,” Martin says.

A 2003 evaluation of All Stars shows some high school students read his book, “Let’s Develop.” In it, Newman explains what he calls “friendosexuality.” He writes that sex is best when “performed” the same way children play, with friends as equals.

Former patients say they were advised to have sex with their friends, without forming emotional bonds. Mainstream psychologists say that leads to unhealthy relationships.

Here’s how former patient M. Ortiz describes what happened when she went to Newman for help with a relationship: “Fred Newman in therapy suggested that maybe I should go have a relationship with someone else and bring it back to the therapy group and see if there were any problems and then we could discuss it. That was his advice to me regarding a personal relationship. He said I should go sleep around.”

Ortiz says Newman’s views on sex were well known among his followers.

“It was a joke in the media and even in the community that Fred has four wives, Gabrielle [Kurlander], Hazel – the late Hazel Daren, who was his first cult relationship – and two other wives, Gail Elberg and Deborah Green,” she says.

Some of those women now have plush jobs with All Stars.

Gabrielle Kurlander earns $200,000 a year as its president. In the 1980’s she was a therapy patient. Newman fell in love with her. He once wrote, “Gabrielle Kurlander, my dearest love, made my life.”

Gail Elberg is another All Stars official that Newman lives with. Elberg oversees the volunteer program. She’s been with Newman for more than 30 years.

Newman doesn’t call these women his wives. He doesn’t think marriage is a good thing.

“I don’t consider any woman my wife. I think that’s a highly troublesome and complex relationship,” he says. “I no longer participate in it. I have some very dear friends of mine, women friends of mine, who I relate to in all kinds of ways. But I don’t collect wives.”

All of this doesn’t sit well with the people who have spent decades tracking Newman. Critics say his unorthodox views make it questionable whether he should work with children, and they say Mayor Bloomberg should be held accountable for helping All Stars grow.

Since he took office, All Stars has moved into a massive new headquarters thanks to tax free bonds from the city, and its been awarded a three-year contract to operate after-school programs. But that contract is on hold because of various investigations.

We have spoken to some All Stars participants who say it’s a wonderful program that gives underprivileged children and teens a place to go. They praise Fred Newman and the work that he is doing.

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“Psychopolitics”: Inside The Independence Party Of Fred Newman, Part Two

By Rita Nissan
NY1 News, November 1, 2005

On Monday, NY1 introduced you to the Independence Party’s Fred Newman, a major player in city politics. In part two of her special series, “Psychopolitics,” NY1’s Rita Nissan takes a look at Newman’s colorful past.

Fred Newman may be the most powerful political leader you never heard of. His followers
have been dubbed “Newmanites” and they liken him to Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

“I met Dr. Newman 30 years ago. One of the things we did, not just the therapy, [but] one of the things I recognized was that I knew he had a vision for the African-American community and he could help us do something besides feel sorry for ourselves,” says Lorraine Stevens, a Newman supporter.

Critics call him to a cult leader.

“He is the man, the guru,” says Nanette Harris, a former Social Therapy patient. “Everybody aspires to be like Fred or to have Fred’s approval. It’s ridiculous.”

Born and raised in the South Bronx, Fred Newman received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford in 1963. But psychology and politics became his passion.

In the early 70’s Newman developed a small group of followers, and they lived in a communal apartment on the Upper West Side. Members took part in the group therapy Newman created, Social Therapy. They also did political work. Newman called it, “A Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organization.”

“I now often refer myself to a post-modern Marxist because I think Marx is very antiquated,” says Newman.

His group morphed into the International Workers Party, the IWP. Former members say the IWP did, and still does, serve as the backbone of Newman’s causes.

They say members live together and are expected to quit their jobs, turn over their assets to Newman and raise money for him on the street, while undergoing his therapy.

By the late ’70s, former members say the IWP went underground and Newman started operating several front groups, including the New Alliance Party. Critics called the party a fringe group, with shady politics, operated by a cult-like core.

“It slowly dawned on me that I had been part of a cult,” says M. Ortiz, who was a loyal follower from 1985 to 1990.

Ortiz says she went to Social Therapy to treat her anxiety and depression. “Therapy at the institute isn’t just therapy,” she says.

Ortiz says she was recruited to work for the New Alliance Party during her weekly sessions. She was told society was to blame for her emotional problems and her recovery would be helped by doing political work for Newman.

Not long into her involvement, Ortiz says she was invited to join the IWP, which also became known as the “inner core” and the “tendency.”

“I found myself a member of an underground, Leninist, Marxist tendency whose ambition was to overthrow [or] take over the U.S. government through fair elections and third party elections,” she says.

To join, Ortiz says she filled out a form stating her income and assets, and that she had to turn those assets over to the IWP. She says she had to contribute money to fund Newman’s various causes, including the 1988 presidential campaign of his protege, Lenora Fulani.

Ortiz says she and her fellow comrades also had to attend secret meetings at different places in the city, to avoid being spotted by the FBI. In 1988, the FBI called members of the New Alliance Party “armed and dangerous.”

“As Marxist-Leninist cadre, we would have secret bi-weekly meetings with a cell leader in small groups of between four and six people,” says Ortiz. “We were given orders to read, information like, ÎSo and so has joined the tendency, so and so has left the tendency.’ We would also give at those meetings bi-weekly dues, which ranged anywhere from 10-50 percent of your income.”

Ortiz says she devoted her life to the organization. She says she even agreed to live with other so-called cadres. Ortiz says they took turns caring for each other’s children so they could devote more time to the revolution.

But slowly, she says she realized she was in a cult. Ortiz says the final straw came when she was told to give up her daughter.

“It was strongly suggested that I consider putting my daughter up for foster care because she was, “getting in the way of my work as a revolutionary.’ And that was it,” she says.

After five years of what she describes as slave labor, and thousands of dollars in debt, Ortiz said goodbye to Fred Newman in 1990.

Now, at age 70, Newman is frail and is said to be suffering from diabetes. He dismisses the claim that he leads a cult.

“I don’t think there are such things as cults,” he says. “I think there are human beings who decide to come together in various ways and sometimes the ways in which they come together turn out to be pretty destructive — witness Jonestown – and sometimes they come together in ways that are relatively innocuous, and sometimes they come together in ways that turn out to be quite positive.”

Newman says he’s a positive force. “Our therapeutic work has brought more families together than any kind of therapy that I know of,” he says.

Ortiz has gone to great lengths to document her story. She launched a website, www.exiwp.org, that’s become a sanctuary for former IWP members.

“I want to give people the chance to find out as much about them, their entire history,” she says. “They have a tendency to hide information, to deny information, to shred information, and to just lie. I don’t want to give them that chance anymore.”

Ortiz says she’s outraged that 15 years since she parted ways, Newman is still practicing Social Therapy and his political power has grown.

Newman now runs the Independence Party in Manhattan and largely controls the other four boroughs. He also has considerable influence over the state party.

His followers dominate some upstate counties. That has given Newman and his allies access to politicians like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor George Pataki, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Senator Charles Schumer. They have all sought the Independence Party’s endorsement.

– Rita Nissan

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“Psychopolitics”: Inside The Independence Party Of Fred Newman, Part One

By Rita Nissan, NY1 News, October 30, 2005

The New York Independence Party has grown to 325,000 members statewide, 90,000 members in the city. It’s become a powerful voice in politics, but there are some who say the leaders of the Manhattan party should be silenced. NY1’s Rita Nissan has more in part one of her special series, “Psychopolitics.”

To say Lenora Fulani is vocal would be an understatement. As a leader of the Manhattan Independence Party, Fulani has been outspoken in her support for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg is running on her party’s line. But while Fulani comes off as an in-charge and in-command leader, people who used to be aligned with her say a man you probably never heard of calls the shots – Fulani’s mentor and psychotherapist, Fred Newman.

“Fulani is 100 percent subservient to Fred, 100 percent subservient to Fred, and when Fulani says something it’s with Fred’s blessing and by his design,” says Frank MacKay, Chairman of the state Independence Party.

Newman controls a web of organizations: The Manhattan Independence Party, a youth charity, and therapy clinics that practice his self-invented field of psychology, Social Therapy.

Newman has controversial views on politics, Jews and psychology. Newman lives with several former patients and says he has no problem if patients have sex with their therapists.

“I think that people’s sexual relationship should be something very personal between the people who are engaging in it, and I think if people love each other, care for each other and are attracted to each other, and decide – together – that they want to have sex, they should,” Newman recently told NY1.

Yet politicians like Bloomberg have been quick to seek Newman’s support. MacKay says it was Newman’s decision to let Bloomberg run as an Independent in 2001.

As a Republican, Bloomberg benefited from a second ballot line because it made some Democrats more comfortable voting for him.

MacKay says Bloomberg’s name first surfaced when a prominent Republican called him.

“He said, “There’s a billionaire. He’s looking to run for office. He’s a Democrat and he’s switching into the Republican Party,’” says MacKay.

MacKay says he reached out to the party’s Manhattan chapter and spoke to its chairwoman, Cathy Stewart.

“She said, “You’ve got to talk to Fred about this.’ And I did and I discussed it,” says MacKay. “He knew a little something about Bloomberg. Fred’s very in touch with what’s going on out there. I guess he understood.

MacKay says Newman and Bloomberg met, and an alliance was formed. “I thought it was a good idea to support Bloomberg. Why? Because I thought he was more independent with relatively traditional liberal values, but without having all the kinds of connections to the kind of Democratic Party machine and the clubhouse structure, which I thought would be a plus,” says Newman. “I thought he was an intelligent guy who knew how to manage. I thought he’d make a good mayor.”

The Independence Party can claim credit for Bloomberg’s victory. It delivered 59,000 votes, more than his winning margin.

It appears the relationship has paid off for Newman, with high level City Hall meetings, Bloomberg’s push for non-partisan elections, and tax-free bonds for his charity, the All Stars Project. Bloomberg has donated tens of thousands of dollars to All Stars.

The mayor’s office claims these were not special favors, but critics say Bloomberg’s actions have given Newman and his associate’s credibility they don’t deserve.

“I would warn anyone that would consider being involved in an organization somehow connected to Fred Newman to really investigate the history of the group,” says Rick Ross, a cult expert.

Over the course of this week, NY1 will do just that. We’ll take a closer look at Fred Newman, and you’ll hear from him in a rare interview.

We also spoke to more than three dozen people with knowledge of Newman and his groups. You’ll hear why they say this behind the scenes organizer is the force behind a massive empire that runs largely on private donations.

– Rita Nissan

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Independence Party chief says guru Newman OK’d Bloomberg endorsement (2005)

By Tom Robbins
Village Voice, September 27, 2005

Speaking out: Independence Party chairman Frank MacKay

In the six years that Frank MacKay has been chairman of the state’s Independence Party the influential holder of Row C on New York’s ballot he says he never had a substantive conversation with Lenora Fulani, the party’s most famous and controversial member.

“It’s never been more than ‘Hi’ and ‘Goodbye,’ “ MacKay told the Voice.

On the other hand, MacKay said that he spent many hours in discussion about tactics and party activities with Fred Newman, the guru style figure hailed by Fulani and others as the inspiration for their various enterprises, including therapy clinics and the All Stars Project, a city subsidized nonprofit organization with a multimillion dollar budget.

MacKay said that when he had important party business to discuss including the initial recommendation that the party’s city chapter endorse Michael Bloomberg for mayor he was told to talk to Newman, and Newman alone. He said that he was often summoned to meetings at Newman’s Greenwich Village townhouse, attended by a coterie of longtime followers.

“There would be this little circle grouped around Newman, hanging on his every word,” MacKay said. The group included Cathy Stewart, the chairwoman of the New York County Independence Party; attorneys Harry Kresky and Gary Sinawski; political consultant Jackie Salit; All Stars president Gabrielle Kurlander; and Fulani. MacKay said that he attended some 20 such sessions, and that Newman did most of the talking.

“The meetings would go on for two hours, and the only two talking are me and Newman,” MacKay said. “The others only chimed in to agree with Fred.”

Newman, 70, has long been a political fringe player, allied at different times with Lyndon LaRouche, Louis Farrakhan, and Pat Buchanan. But he has largely kept in the background, allowing Fulani (whom he once called his “greatest accomplishment”) to take the lead. A playwright, Newman also claims authorship of what he describes as “a new science of human development” called “social therapy.” But therapists using Newman’s teachings have been accused of recruiting patients to their political efforts.

“He’s like a Svengali,” MacKay said. “He is the one and only decision maker.”

MacKay, a former nightclub owner from Suffolk County, was originally elected state party chairman in 2000 with the support of Newman’s group. But MacKay ended the alliance this month when he and upstate party officials concluded that Fulani’s refusal to disavow past anti Semitic statements, and her continued self identification as the party’s leader, were hurting the organization.

Why had he worked so long with Newman’s group? “The party is about building coalitions,” he said. “They seemed cultlike, but not on a Jonestown type level. You could say we used each other.”

The break came September 18 at a crowded meeting near Albany where state committee members voted overwhelmingly to remove Fulani and five allies, including Stewart, Kresky, and Sinawski, from their executive panel. Fulani later dismissed the vote, saying it wouldn’t affect her status as a leader in the “Black community.” She also noted that her group still holds the reins of the party’s autonomous city chapter, which boasts Bloomberg as its mayoral candidate in November. “God bless the mayor,” Fulani said during the debate, “he voiced his disagreement with me, and then kept right on going.”

Indeed, that same day Bloomberg refused to comment on Fulani’s removal, saying he didn’t want to get involved in another party’s affairs. But he had good reason to avoid offending her. The 59,000 votes he received on the Independence line in 2001 was almost double his narrow margin of victory over Democrat Mark Green. This year, Bloomberg originally ducked comment on Fulani’s anti Semitic statements, saying he hadn’t heard them. He later called her views “despicable,” but still agreed to take the party’s nomination in June. So far in this election, he has pumped $270,000 into the party’s city committees.

But when Bloomberg’s name originally surfaced as a potential Independence Party candidate in late 2000, MacKay said he was told to discuss it first with Newman.

MacKay said that in December that year he received a call from “a major Republican leader” whom he declined to name on the record asking about the party’s intentions for the 2001 mayoral election. “He said, ‘What are your crazies down in New York doing next year in the mayoral race?’ “ said MacKay.

The GOP figure went on to say that he had “a bona fide billionaire” who was switching from the Democratic to the Republican Party, MacKay said. The would be candidate “is a long shot, but his only chance is with a second line,” MacKay said he was told.

MacKay, who has no role in the Independence Party’s city committees, said he quickly called Stewart, the city chairwoman. But when he started to tell her the news, Stewart cut him off.

“She said she couldn’t talk to me about it, that I had to talk to Fred. She said someone would reach out to me.” A few minutes later, MacKay said he got a call from Newman’s personal assistant, who put Newman on the phone.

“I asked Fred what their plans were for the race. He said, ‘We are going to see if [Reverend Al] Sharpton grows a pair of balls and starts standing up for himself against the Democrats.’ Otherwise, Newman said, ‘we’re going to run Fulani.’ “ MacKay said Newman told him he wanted to take advantage of matching funds available under the city’s public campaign finance law. “He said, ‘We can raise $200,000 and make $1 million,’ “ according to MacKay.

When MacKay raised Bloomberg’s name, Newman responded immediately. “He knew all about him. He said, ‘We’re very interested.’ So I put them in touch. Obviously, they made beautiful music together,” said MacKay.

Bill Cunningham, a Bloomberg campaign adviser, said several state Republicans originally recommended that Bloomberg should seek the Independence Party nod for the 2001 race, among them state senate majority leader Joe Bruno. “I can’t say Bruno was the first, but many times he has talked about them as a good ally to have in politics,” Cunningham said.

Newman was present both times that Bloomberg met with Independence Party leaders to seek their endorsement, he said, adding that Stewart and Salit appeared to be the “political operatives” for the group.

Cunningham defended Bloomberg’s decision to take the party’s endorsement. “There are some 20 to 30 Democrats who have done so, including Schumer and Spitzer,” he said.

But most Democrats backed away from the party after Fulani, in an appearance on NY1 in April, defended past statements she’d made that Jews “had to sell their soul to acquire Israel,” and “function as mass murderers of people of color.”

“What is anti Semitic about that?” Fulani told host Dominick Carter.

Two days before Fulani’s remarks, Bloomberg spoke at a benefit dinner that Fulani and Newman held at Lincoln Center for the All Stars Project. There, MacKay said Stewart excitedly told him that the event had raised $1 million, and that Fulani had been invited onto the NY1 show.

MacKay said that when he heard about Fulani’s comments and the ensuing media controversy, he sent a critical statement to members. He didn’t make a bigger commotion at the time, he said, because he “didn’t want to interfere with the Bloomberg nomination.”

He called Stewart, however, and insisted on a meeting with Newman. “When I got there, all of them, Salit, Kresky, Sinawski, were laughing. Newman said, ‘Oh, here’s our chairman, you’re just in time. We’ve been strategizing about how to use this wonderful publicity we’re getting.’ “

MacKay said he responded angrily. “I said, ‘You are the only ones laughing. This is serious. This is a disaster.’ “ MacKay said Newman then asked to meet with him alone. “He told me, ‘We could have done better on this.’ “

Despite the admission, MacKay said he believed Newman was delighted with the uproar. “He knows how to create controversy. He believes any press is good press, and that Fulani can only get press if it looks like she has power.”

A spokeswoman for the city’s Independence Party, Sara Lyons, refused comment on behalf of its leaders. “We’re not interested in being interviewed by you,” said Lyons, who heads the party’s Staten Island chapter. “You’re not doing serious journalism.”

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Bloomberg’s Therapist (2005)

By Tom Robbins
The Village Voice, June 21, 2005

Mayor Mike’s independence party friends can put him on the couch

There was a post-stadium dip in the polls for Michael Bloomberg last week. But the Republican mayor still has a potential job-saving ace in the hole, the same one he had in 2001: a jowly, white-bearded fellow named Fred Newman.

Fred who? That would be Dr. Fred Newman, of course, renowned founder of Social Therapy, the psychological practice dedicated to “a new science of human development,” as he modestly proclaims it. Still lost? Well, you must have heard of Fred Newman, author of half a dozen books, and considered by many (OK, by many of his followers) to be the philosophical heir to Ludwig Wittgenstein and Lev Vygotsky (you know, Vygotsky, the great Soviet constructivist psychologist).

Utterly lost? What about Fred Newman the well-known playwright, whose works include Lenin’s Breakdown, Risky Revolutionary, and the hilarious All My Cadre, not to mention The Therapy Plays: Newman’s Postmodern Follies? That one just finished a successful month-long run at the Castillo Theatre (founded by Newman), which is partners with the All Stars Project (co-founded by Newman), which is the nonprofit youth performance organization housed in a glittering new West 42nd Street headquarters purchased and built with $8.35 million in tax-free bonds provided by the administration of, yes, Michael Bloomberg.

Which brings us to that other important hat worn by Dr. Newman, that of state committee member of the Independence Party, the political group that holds Row C on the ballot and which provided Bloomberg 59,000 votes and his 2001 margin of victory. This month, the party announced it would once again be proud to carry the mayor’s name for re-election.

Lenora Fulani, whose past anti-Semitic comments got her in hot water this spring, gets most of the ink and the airtime where the Independence Party is concerned. But she is a longtime and loyal disciple of Fred Newman.

“She is one of my life’s proudest accomplishments,” Newman told an interviewer a few years ago. “This man is someone I love dearly,” Fulani said in turn of her mentor.

After years spent on the political fringes, the two orchestrated a takeover of the Independence Party in the mid 1990s. They promptly found themselves courted by people like Bloomberg, George Pataki, and Charles Schumer in search of a second ballot line.

The party announced its latest Bloomberg endorsement at a reception held on June 5 at City Hall restaurant on Duane Street, attended by some 150 party faithful and a throng of media. Newman, 69, briefly addressed the troops, but his logic and sentence structure are sometimes hard to follow, and the press kept its focus on Fulani, asking her one more time if she regretted saying a few years back that Jews “function as mass murderers of people of color.”

Fulani’s comments were actually a slightly softer echo of Newman’s own words, uttered in 1985, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which has long watchdogged his efforts: “The Jew, the dirty Jew . . . ,” Newman said then, “a self-righteous dehumanizer and murderer of people of color.”

Bloomberg has denounced Fulani’s words as “despicable.” But he’s otherwise stuck by Fulani and Newman, appearing at their fundraising events and donating $250,000 of his own money last year to the Independence Party. The mayor has also had an open-door policy for Fulani et al. at City Hall, and the All Stars Project is now seeking a city contract to provide after-school care (“Fulani’s City Hall Push,” Voice, June 8).

The Anti-Defamation League thinks that’s a bad idea, as do many others who have witnessed Newman’s theories at work. They say that while his neo-Marxist philosophizing and zany plays appear comical from the outside, there’s very little amusing about his rigid orthodoxy when viewed up close, with the occasional anti-Semitic outburst being only part of the problem.

——————————————————————————–

One of those who has recently made her complaints public is a Los Angeles-based theatrical producer named Molly Hardy, who was hired last year by a neighborhood clinic in L.A. run by a longtime Newman associate. Hardy thought she was being hired to produce neighborhood theater but soon discovered that her job was to produce youth talent shows on the West Coast like those currently promoted by Newman and Fulani’s city-subsidized All Stars Project.

The talent shows date back to the early 1980s, when Newman’s political organization, then called the International Workers Party, decided that providing venues for kids to sing and dance could aid its other organizing. The shows are not aimed at developing talent so much as getting kids to “perform”—an all-important buzzword in Newman’s theories.

Last June, Hardy was flown to New York to receive training at the All Stars Project about how to put together a talent show. “It was more like controlling me than training me,” said Hardy.

She received a 12-page “Licensing and Policy Manual.” It spells out, in minute detail, how All Stars talent shows must be conducted. Each licensee must undergo two to three years of training by national All Stars staff, including trips to the New York headquarters. It also lists the minimum number of seats for each show (500), number of volunteers (45-50), clipboards (75), rubber gloves (two boxes), and tubes of Super Glue (two), along with a couple dozen other must-have items.

More troubling to Hardy were the provisions listed under “All Stars Talent Show Network Tenets” that said all participants and audience members were required to pay admission fees. That was Newman’s Social Therapy peeping through—you gotta pay for what you want. Hardy was sent to observe a talent show on June 26, 2004, at Walton High School in the Bronx, where she saw the rules put into practice. There, a mother with three young girls in tow arrived at the school after taking the subway from their home in Queens, eager to participate. The All Stars organizers told the mother that she had to pay $22—a $5 fee for each of her daughters, and $7 for her to sit in the audience. “The mother didn’t have the money, and they wouldn’t let her in,” Hardy told the Voice. She said she watched as an All Stars representative approached the woman and said, “What did you hear the person on the phone tell you to do?”

The mother answered that she heard the figure $5, but that she thought that was the price for the whole family. According to Hardy, the All Stars representative, a white woman with a lengthy association with Newman, responded, “You need to listen so you don’t perform like a poor, uneducated black woman.”

“The woman got real mad,” Hardy said. “She said, ‘I am going to report you.’ The kids were crying. I turned to two of the volunteers with me and said, ‘I could never do that.’ One of the volunteers said, ‘I know. It is really hard at first. You get used to it.’ ”

What made the scene more unreal, Hardy said, was that only 11 kids showed up for the show. “They had 50 volunteers, all with these red vests on, and only 11 kids in a theater that holds 500.”

Back in Los Angeles, Hardy filed complaints with state officials and the FBI, charging that the clinic that employed her had improperly funneled money it received from the government to All Stars. She also relayed her criticisms to the office of New York State attorney general Eliot Spitzer. The office, which said it had reviewed past complaints about All Stars without finding violations, said it had yet to receive Hardy’s information.

All Stars officials refused to discuss Hardy’s allegations or any other matters. “We’ll have no comment for your story,” a spokesman for the group said late Friday. He gave his name as Bill O’Reilly. Wait a minute, he was asked, is that your real name? “Honest. We just don’t talk to The Village Voice,” he said.

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Unsafe On Any Ballot (2004)

By Christopher Hitchens
Vanity Fair, May 2004

Democrats are furious that Ralph Nader, whose last presidential bid helped put George W. Bush in office, is running again. Equally dismaying, the author finds, is Nader’s backing from a crackpot group with ties to Pat Buchanan, Lyndon LaRouche, and Louis Farrakhan

For me, it was all over as soon as it began. The day after he announced himself as a candidate for president on Meet the Press, Ralph Nader held a press conference at which he said, “I think this may be the only candidacy in our memory that is opposed overwhelmingly by people who agree with us on the issues.”

Hold it right there, Ralph. First, don’t you realize that politicians who start to refer to themselves in the plural, as in the royal “we,” are often manifesting an alarming symptom? (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher started to employ this distressing locution shortly before the members of her own Cabinet began to stir nervously and finally decided to call for the men in white coats.) Second, if by “we” and “us” you really meant to say yourself and your allies in this enterprise, then you should not complain if it’s pointed out who those allies actually turn out to be. Third, by stating that your campaign is “opposed overwhelmingly by people who agree with us on the issues,” do you mean to imply the corollary, which is that you will appeal to those who don’t agree with you on the issues?

Nader’s answer to that third question, astonishingly enough, does appear to be in the affirmative, since he had told Tim Russert just the day before that he expected to reap votes from “conservatives who are furious with Bush over the deficit,” as well as “liberal Republicans who see their party taken away from them.” The job of reconciling these opposed factions of the G.O.P will be hard enough for Bush himself. But the idea that either group would rally to a Nader banner, this year or any other, is a non sequitur of hallucinatory proportions.

The psychedelic effect is only intensified when one examines the forces that might allow Nader to speak in the plural. A short while before announcing his candidacy, he had been the featured attraction at a conference of third-party “independents” in Bedford, New Hampshire. The word “independent” can conceal more than it reveals, as anyone with any savvy in American “alternative” politics can tell you, but in this case it only barely masked the influence of Fred Newman, Lenora Fulani, and the former New Alliance Party (NAP), whose latest front organized the New Hampshire hootenanny.

Not to mince words, the Newman-Fulani group is a fascistic zombie cult outfit, based on the eternal principle that it is a finer and nobler thing for the members to transfer their liquid assets to the leadership. It’s where you would turn when you had exhausted all the possibilities of a better life with Lyndon LaRouche, or Jim Jones, or any of the other alliterative crackpot or quasi-redemptive formations (K.K.K., A.A.…).

The Newman-Fulani faction is protean and sinister in one way, and pathetically obvious and transparent in another. In New York City, for example, it sometimes calls itself the Independence Party, which also controlled the rump and letterhead of the Reform Party—Ross Perot’s gift to American pluralism. Indeed, Lenora Fulani, a black woman who, like her mentor Fred Newman, professes to be a shrink of some sort, was a prominent co-chair of Pat Buchanan’s Reform Party candidacy in 2000. That must have made a soothing change from being a Louis Farrakhan fan in her two presidential election bids.

“Try anything once” would seem to be the motto here. And now she’s endorsing Ralph Nader. “I think it’s pretty cool,” she breathes. “I think Nader is a distinguished independent and he needs to be supported.” A fabulous detail about Fulani, incidentally, is the hold that she seems to exert on the cast of The Sopranos. Dominic Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior, is a regular at the All Stars Project, co-founded by Fulani and Newman, which puts on Newman’s unwatchable dramas, and has taken along other members of the team, including James Gandolfini, for photo ops. Analyze that, if you dare.

Am I asserting guilt by association here? After all, a candidate needn’t necessarily be judged by his disciples. And at “third party” events in previous campaigns there was certainly a fair sprinkling of people with propeller beanies, the fillings in their teeth wired for instant Martian dial up access. (You get these people at mainstream gatherings, also; be in no doubt of it.) No, the difference in this case is that the Newman-Fulani cult more or less is the Nader campaign. Through its network of shell organizations and front groups, and given its batteries of living dead petition drive robot artists, it has arrived at the point where it can at least guarantee ballot access in many, many states. All you have to do is agree to run on its ballot line.

Even Michael Bloomberg, princeling of opportunists, was willing to take out this Newman-Fulani insurance in his campaign for mayor. This, you may say, is partly the fault of restrictive ballot access laws, riveted into place by the Democratic-Republican duopoly in many jurisdictions—an offense to the spirit and letter of the United States Constitution.

But Nader kept people guessing, in a rather irritating way, about whether he would run at all or whether he might deign again to accept the Green Party nomination (which he has suddenly decided he won’t anymore). So, having come down from his Sinai, he finds it’s the loonies or nothing. Is this politics? And if it is, is it clean politics? Does it “empower” the average voter, who is so often taken for a ride by the party machines, or does it empower clusters of well financed, marginal nut bags with whom, behind closed doors, the party machines can and do frequently make deals?

Nothing is more difficult to write than a “more in sorrow than in anger” letter. Sentimentality swirls around your feet like a swamp, tempting you to become even more moist and runny yourself. But if this were an open letter to Ralph Nader, it would begin by being genuinely soft.

We don’t have enough heroes. (We have replaced them with “role models” and don’t even know what we have lost.) We do not have many candidates of whom it could be said that, if they were caught on video seeming to accept a bribe or kickback, we would automatically assume that the video had been faked. Washington, as a community, and Washington, as a federal city, would be a very much worse place without Ralph Nader.

He stood up against the rotten bureaucracy and mayoralty of the town itself, while unsettling the folks who live on Capitol Hill. Some of the story is known by everyone, including people who have never heard Nader’s name, the exploding car that the manufacturers lied about; the lead in the water; the non-regulation of the meat and mining industries.

It really wouldn’t be too much to say that there are many people now living who would be dead without Ralph. It certainly wouldn’t be too much to say that successive generations of reforming lawyers and legislators got their start and their continuing encouragement from him.

In writing, about him, therefore, one need not declare an interest. “Sea-green incorruptible” was. Carlyle’s sardonic description of Robespierre, but it recurs to my mind as an almost frighteningly apt phrase, in this case.

Why frightening? Well, I first met Nader 22 years ago, when he took me to lunch on my arrival as a columnist in Washington. We had what I thought was a great time, and he later telephoned to say that he was worried, about my smoking. He would, he said with perfect gravity, pay me the oddly exact figure of four and a half thousand dollars, and cover any therapy bills I might incur, if I would quit the habit and thus save myself for the nation (or The Nation, as he may possibly have thought of it).

On every occasion that we have met since, he has renewed this offer, adjusted for inflation and other variables. I once really needed the money, and considered calling him up and claiming to have sworn off, before realizing that the very idea of exploiting his innocence and concern was profane. Of course, there is something paternalistic in such a gesture (if he could be the father I never had, I could be among the many, many children that he never had). Indeed, his whole crusade for greater “safety” and regulation could be described as paternal in character.

And a slight secret about Ralph Nader is the extent of his conservatism. The last time I saw him up close, he was the guest at Grover Norquist’s now famous “Wednesday Morning” gathering, where Washington’s disparate conservative groups meet—by invitation only, and off the record—under one ceiling. He gave them a sincere talking-to, pointing out that their favorite system—free market capitalism—was undermining their professedly favorite values. I remember particularly how he listed the businessmen who make money by piping cable porn into hotel rooms. (He rolled this out again on Meet the Press.)

Nader was the only serious candidate in the last presidential election who had favored the impeachment, on moral and ethical grounds, of Bill Clinton. When asked about his stand on gay and transgender rights and all that, he responds gruffly that he isn’t much interested in “gonadal politics.”

He has often made a united front with conservatives like Norquist, and even more right-wing individuals like Paul Weyrich, on matters such as term limits and congressional pay raises. When I asked Grover about Ralph’s prospects of attracting Republicans, incidentally, he told me that he thought a Nader campaign just might appeal to some of the former Buchanan wing—anti-trade and anti-interventionist (not to forget anti-immigrant). So Nader and Buchanan might as well run for each other’s votes, or skip all that and just take in each other’s washing.

Nader’s puritanism and austerity—he lives in a rooming house with a shared pay phone in the hall and doesn’t own a car—have been his shield since 1966, when the clever people at General Motors admitted to putting private dicks on their most scathing critic.

Nader was followed, and his friends were questioned, on the assumption that an unmarried guy of Lebanese parentage must be up to something. But no: no drinks and no drugs and no carnality and no terrorism. Nader testified, a congressional subcommittee saw Bobby Kennedy trashing G.M.’s president, and an all-American star was born, one who rejected the affluent part of the American Dream.

Ralph could have gone on being an uneasy conscience for Washington, as he was all through the Nixon and Carter and Reagan years (after all, you don’t need to campaign for office to do that), but he seems finally to have found a temptation he cannot resist.

By running for president in 2000 and accidentally changing history, he has at last imbibed a draft of something addictive. Someone should tell him that the next bender will bring diminishing returns. In 2000, no matter how much he claimed to be above such distinctions, Nader clearly ran from the left. He also repudiated one of the center left’s favorite mantras, concerning the “lesser evil,” scornfully pointing out that this meant giving in to evil without a fight.

In most of his speeches he maintained that he didn’t care which of the two main candidates won, because it made no difference. But when pressed, he would sometimes try to have this both ways, saying that his candidacy energized liberal Democrats and even helped get out their vote. His less conspicuously intellectual supporters, such as Michael Moore, assured the faithful crowds that Bush couldn’t get elected anyway, so there was no need to worry.

At that point, a certain intellectual corruption crept in. You must accept the logical and probable consequences of what you propose. Nader could not quite be honest and admit that, given the national arithmetic, he was very much more likely to help Bush than Gore. There are 10 toss-up states, with 106 electoral votes among them (and everybody now knows about the electoral college). They are Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

Once you understand the arithmetic, you cannot really claim that any consequences are unintended. For example, we have it on Gore’s own word that if he had been elected, Saddam Hussein would still be in power.

Nader is currently the only recognizable candidate who wants the United States to withdraw from Iraq. This discrepancy is not exactly a detail. It is, in fact, too big a contradiction to be explained away. But could it explain why Nader this time seems to be running from the right? He is spouting the rhetoric of social and fiscal conservatism, and pitching for allegedly disillusioned Republicans who would have nothing to be disillusioned about if he hadn’t helped squeak their man past the post in the first place.

The NAP could also probably be described as a right-wing force even if, as befitted a party run by a couple of shrinks, it suffered from chronic schizophrenia. It began as a Maoist splinter group and mutated through LaRoucheism to Buchananism. Guru Fred Newman characterizes Jews as “storm troopers,” and Fulani calls them “mass murderers of people of color,” positions which have a nice, demented ring to them.

Nader seems, to his credit, a touch sensitive on the point. When Doug Ireland, one of the country’s toughest and brightest radical columnists (and a two-time Nader endorser), called attention to the unholy alliance he got a call from Ralph, who shouted at him for being “a McCarthyite bully” and repeatedly asked, about Newman, “Has he committed any crime?”

I had better luck when Ralph called me back late one night and nearly persuaded me to argue against myself. It’s a pleasure to debate with him. But he told me, when I asked about the NAP, that “I never saw Fulani at the meeting,” which I suppose could be technically true as long as he was looking away. (She was a prominent member of the platform committee.)

He maintained that the Newmanites were no different, in principle, than, say, the Mountain Party in West Virginia: “They’re recognized as ‘on the ballot’ by the Federal Election Commission, so you can ‘jump on.’” He said that the Green Party wasn’t going to decide until its June convention, and that it still might vote not to campaign in swing states, so there was no purpose in delaying.

In the very rational and seductive tone of voice that he can bring to bear, Ralph insisted that there is no bad time at which to challenge the gerrymandering of one party districts, the fixing and front loading of primaries, the rigging of party conventions, and the exclusion of third-party candidates from the “presidential debates.” The liberal intellectuals who take these deformities for granted and then turn on him are, as he put it, “incarnate autocrats.”

And whose fault is Gore’s defeat? “He slipped on 18 banana peels, of which I was only one. Anyway, he won the election, didn’t he?” This is quite funny and also quite shrewd, as regards Democratic self pity, but it shows again that tendency to have everything both ways. “I’m going to take more votes from Bush this time—no doubt about it.” (By the way, at least one exit poll suggests that this was true in 2000, if only in New Hampshire.)

But on the other hand, and only moments later, he says, “I’ll show Kerry how to take Bush down; we’ll be a free consulting firm for the Democrats; be our guest—take our issues.”

Since one of the main “issues” is the pressing need to demolish the Democratic Party, my head began to swim a little, and I told him as much.

He made a friendly inquiry, renewing his smoke-ending offer. We chatted about a heroic Israeli dissident we had both known. He recommended a good comrade of his who was deeply involved in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. There are not enough people like Nader running for office, even at the local level, let alone the national one. I hung up with a truly bad case of the blues.

When Nader says “corporate” he really means corporate, and not just Halliburton. When he says that politics should not be a “zero-sum” game, he articulates a truth. When he says that Americans ought to be able to vote “No,” rather than being compelled to say “Yes,” he asserts something morally important.

But when he proposes to help elect a corporate Democrat by outbidding a conservative Republican, he is building a bridge from the middle of the river, and ends up not by combating the many absurdities of our electoral system but rather by illustrating them.

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Social Therapy at APA: Not Very Sociable! (2003)

By Cathleen A. Mann, Ph.D., 2003

I attended the APA (American Psychological Association) annual conference recently in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The convention had its share of problems before it even convened the week of August 6, 2003. One item of interest to me was the willingness of the APA Board to allow Dr. Lois Holzman and her various underlings to speak 4 times this year at the convention. Last year in Chicago, the APA only allowed Dr. Holzman and crew to speak once.

Dr. Holzman is affiliated with Fred Newman, and inhabits various incarnations, such as Social Therapy, All Stars Project, Inc., East Side Institute for Social Therapy (in New York City), Castillo Cultural Project, New Alliance Party, and sometimes, just plain International Workers Party (IWP). Many past members, including professional counselors/therapists and former patients, report abuses, deceit, and manipulation at the hands of Social Therapy and its various offshoots. There have been allegations of psychotherapeutic manipulation, lack of ethical integrity, boundary violations from professionals to students to staff to clients, financial improprieties, and various other problematic behaviors.

Many ex-members of Social Therapy say they’ve been subject to a mind control cult operating under the guise of a legitimate psychological movement. Individuals formerly involved with Social Therapy emphatically claim that they were deceived into a pseudo-postmodernistic social influence political movement. One useful model to assist in understanding how a destructive cult operates is Hassan’s BITE model (Hassan, 1988, 1998). Using social psychological principles, a destructive cult deliberately and deceitfully wrestles control of an individual’s behavior (B), information (I), thought (T), and emotions (E) through subtle processes (see http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/articles/BITE.htm). Many other psychologists have also discussed the cult phenomena, including Drs. Margaret Singer, Phil Zimbardo, Stephen Kent, Steve Dubrow, and Michael Langone, just to name a few.

When word got around to concerned individuals that the APA had rewarded Social Therapy and Dr. Lois Holzman with four separate presentations this year at the APA conference, a small email campaign was launched with complaints about Social Therapy’s presence at the APA, and their seemingly transparent pretensions to science.

When word reached Dr. L. Michael Honaker, COO/Deputy CEO of the American Psychological Association that all was not bliss with Social Therapy’s presence at the convention, he responded:

“Thank you for your recent email concerning the participation of Drs. Lois Holzman and Fred Newman in our upcoming conference in Toronto. The APA Convention is a large 4-day meeting with over 4,000 presenters. It provides a forum for a wide variety of speakers and presentations. Dr. Holzman will participate in four convention sessions. She was invited to participate in those sessions after a review of her program proposals by peer committees that deemed the presentation appropriate for an APA convention.

Furthermore, Dr. Holzman has participated in APA conventions in the past and we have not received any complaints about the content of those presentations. However, the issues you raise are serious. We will monitor those sessions in which Dr. Holzman participates to hear what is said. We are also confident that if Dr. Holzman or anyone else were to express views that were prejudiced or potentially harmful to psychotherapy patients their APA colleagues would challenge those views. (emphasis added). Dr. Newman will not be participating in the meeting. Thank you again for bringing your concerns to our attention.”

L. Michael Holanker, Ph.D.
Chief Operating Officer/Deputy CEO
American Psychological Association
Executive Office
Email: mhonaker@apa.org

It should be noted that by the time the email campaign was initiated, Social Therapy was already on the APA convention program. It may have been difficult for the APA to completely remove them the program; thus, the presentations were allowed to go forward.

I personally attended Dr. Holzman’s first presentation on Saturday morning, August 9, 2003 (session #3079), entitled “Symposium: Impact of Participatory Youth Programs on Youth and Communities.” In addition to Dr. Holzman, in attendance were Barbara Silverman, who spoke on the broad subject of crises in education; Diann Eley, who spoke on the use of sports to aid “disaffected young people,” and Gloria Strickland, who spoke on the All Stars Project in New Jersey, wherein she uses theatre and the performing arts to “aid hundreds of inner city young people.” There were no APA staff or board members in attendance at this presentation.

The presence of APA board members at this session would have done a great deal to see the subtle nature of Social Therapy in action. Much of the presentation was geared toward mutual admiration of the panel’s “contributions to society,” with little opportunity for scholarly interaction with psychologists and others in the audience. An APA board member should have been there to document the one-sided nature of the presentation, and the impression that Dr. Holzman and company were merely pushing an agenda.

Arriving just as the presentation was to begin was Columbia University professor, Dr. Edmund Gordon, who quickly and adroitly turned the discussion into a left-right political debate complete with comments on the “social causes” of racism and poverty. Dr. Gordon was ostensibly inducted to be the discussant of the presentation.

However, Dr. Holzman spoke first with some interesting opening comments. She acknowledged that she had “been recently informed that complaints have been made about this presentation.” She asked if any “complainers” were in the audience, which may seem an odd question as there were a range of 12 to 16 people in the audience at various times in the presentation. Dr. Holzman nobly stated, “I encourage challenges and debates. I want to create together our psychology. I am from a passionate group of individuals with new approaches to community development.” She also stated that she had been presenting at APA conferences for “over 20 years” and “had heard no complaints before.”

This is not a true statement, or Dr. Holzman and the APA have an exceedingly short memory. At the APA conference in Chicago last year, I also attended one of Dr. Holzman’s presentations on the legacy of Fred Newman, among other topics. When she asked for questions of the audience, I asked her, “There have been newspaper reports and ex-member accounts that you operate a psychotherapeutic cult. Could you please respond to this allegation including your definition of what a cult is and what it is not?” Dr. Holzman refused to answer the question, and either would not or could not tell me what a cult was, but she was certain her group was not one. She refused to address the issue of ex-member complaints, and sat silently as I asked her the same question three times. I did bring this to the attention of then-APA president, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, but I don’t know if any action was ever initiated.

After 70 minutes of a 90-minute presentation, Dr. Holzman acknowledged my raised hand in pursuit of a question. I asked her a simple question; a question that every member of APA, and certainly every presenter at an APA conference, should be able and willing to answer. I asked Dr. Holzman, “As an APA member, do you ascribe to and uphold the APA Ethical Principles for Psychologists at your East Side Institute for Social Therapy?” Dr. Holzman replied, “That is not relevant to this discussion here.” I responded back. “You are speaking at a professional conference. You represent several organizations. You show yourself as the representative of these organizations in order to obtain permission to speak here today. Again, I ask you, do you ascribe to and uphold the APA Ethical Principles for Psychologists at your East Side Institute for Social Therapy?” Dr. Holzman again replied, “The question is not relevant.” I replied, “Do you refuse to answer?” Dr. Holzman replied, “The question is not relevant.”

Then, quick as a flash, Dr. Gordon jumped to Dr. Holzman’s rescue. He stated that the controversy with Social Therapy came from the “old Freudian thinking at APA” and from the “political right.” I responded by informing him that he knew nothing of the extent of the lie and the extent of the controversy. I asked permission from Dr. Gordon to leave a flyer so members of the audience could consider another side of Social Therapy (see http://www.ex-iwp.org ). While Dr. Holzman sat silent, Dr. Gordon provided permission for me to leave the flyer. Presenting alternative views is the essence of critical thinking (at least that’s what they taught us in graduate school). Dr. Holzman’s refusal is not keeping with the best pursuits of science. I and some of my colleagues have been concerned that some destructive cults may use professional and scientific platforms to gain credibility and respectability. I don’t want to see this happen to the APA.

It is appalling that Dr. Holzman cannot identify herself and her organizations as subscribing to the APA Ethical Standards for Psychologists regardless of her designated “agenda” and “topic.” I think the APA should take note of this refusal, and place it in context of the desire of psychology to have open debate, not refusal at an APA annual conference. If the APA is concerned about these questions, perhaps a deeper investigation should be made before Social Therapy and its various offshoots are again allowed to present at another APA conference. It is vital that the premier organization of psychology, the APA, look more closely at this matters in order to assure its membership that convention presenters have committed themselves to the highest standards of science, scholarship, openness, and respectful dialogue with other professionals.

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