Slouching toward Socialism – and the puzzle of good intentions leading to evil results.

When Hitler came to power in Germany, Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian who had been following the rise of totalitarian movements, had already moved to England. There he wrote a book of warning to the Socialists in England. He felt they did not understand Nazism or Communism or Fascism. This book was The Road To Serfdom, and its main thesis was that the economic systems that Germany, Italy, and Russia had embraced had something to do with their totalitarian characteristics.

Is is easy to argue with Hayek. After all, one Nazi, Rudolph Hess, said that Nazism was “nothing but applied biology.” In other words, it was about eugenics, not about economics. And of course Germany wanted revenge for defeat in the first world war, and Hitler appealed to strong nationalism.

On the other hand, Hayek grew up in the middle of the Germanic world, and was following events closely. And though some at the time saw Nazism as a last-ditch effort of the reactionaries to prevent Socialism, we do have to wonder – why was it an abbreviation for “National Socialism” and not “National Capitalism?” And why was its rhetoric so anti-capitalist?

Socialism is experiencing an unusual revival in Britain and the U.S. Monster crowds are Bernie2015flocking to hear Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on the West Coast and it is likely that Jeremy Corbyn will be elected to head Britain’s Labour party. “Sanders has long styled himself a socialist and seeks income redistribution; Corbyn wants government ownership of railroads and coal mines. Both look with favor on 90 percent tax rates.”

I listened to Bernie’s speech in Denver (on YouTube). He starts by saying what a wealthy country we are. Then he talks about “income inequality” – the concentration of wealth among a few billionaires. He feels the billionaires have to shoulder their “responsibilities”. He tells the story of a woman who came up to him and said that she has one child, and she and her husband want more, but she has to work three jobs, and he has to work two, and they feel there would be no time to pay attention to the child. To get our deprived people educated, he would make college free. He would scrap the free-trade agreement we have with Mexico (Nafta) and would also get rid of “Cafta”. Here, he sounds like the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, who wanted to punish Ford for deciding to build an auto plant in Mexico, and who also has called for an across-the-board tariff on Chinese imports.

I can understand the appeal of these types of arguments. In the U.S. some people are very poor, some people are very rich, there are many unemployed and underemployed, there is a feeling of stagnation. And why should a rich man such as Bill Gates be able to afford medical care that a poor man cannot afford? Why can’t we solve all these problems by taking the inexhaustible reservoir of money hoarded by the rich and spend it on the poor and the struggling? And as far as foreign trade, how can we compete with a country like Vietnam, where people may work for 50 cents an hour, and protections that we have to pay for our own workers (and which add to the price of production here) would be absent?

If we wanted to carry this to an extreme, we could look at all the harm done by the desire for profit – from slavery in the early years of the U.S. to corporations cutting corners on safety and the environment, and we could dream of a new system, where instead of profit, we have idealism, and from each we ask “according to his ability” and to each we give “according to his needs.”

In our new system, unfortunately there would need to be coercion. As Leon Trotsky said “The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.” And indoctrination is necessary as well. And here Hayek comments:

It was not the Fascists but the socialists who began to collect children from the tenderest age into political organizations to make sure that they grew up as good proletarians. It was not the Fascists but the socialists who first thought of organizing sports and games, football and hiking, in party clubs where the members would not be infected by other views.” He says they had various devices for “the permanent supervision of private life.

Alexis De Tocqueville

Alexis De Tocqueville

Alexis De Tocqueville, a Frenchman who observed and praised the early United States, said this in 1848:

Democracy and Socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy sees equality in liberty, Socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.

Hayek says that Socialism promised a “new freedom” an economic freedom without which political freedom was not worth having. In other words, instead of freedom from the coercion of other men, it would be freedom from want and necessity.

Hayek slams the brakes on further: “From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.”

At this point we could ask – on what basis do these party poopers (Alexis and Friedrich) feel that liberty, spontaneous evolution, and free growth go out the window with Socialism? After all, isn’t it just about helping people? And aren’t there countries such as Sweden that do well under a democratic Socialist system? I won’t go into their arguments here, but Hayek does say that the various collectivist ideologies want to organize the whole of society…for this unitary end, and [refuse]…to recognize autonomous spheres in which the ends of the individuals are supreme.”

Hayek says he is not a “conservative”, because “by its very nature, it [conservatism] cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving.” It may succeed to slow down undesirable developments, but since it does not indicate another direction, it has…”invariably been …dragged along a path not of its own choosing.”

Recent history raises questions. Did the “Socialism” of Mao and Stalin have little in common with the welfare-state experiments in the West? Why, for example, did the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics kill tens of millions of its own people? Why did the same thing happen in Communist China?

And then there is this puzzling quote from a former leftist – (he says he was originally so far left that “a self-identified terrorist proposed marriage to me.”) He adds:
“Hang out in leftist internet environments, and..you will discover a rejection of…American concepts of individual rights and law.” When he joined a left-wing online discussion forum he noticed that:

If you took all the words typed into the forum…you’d quickly notice that nouns expressing the emotions of anger, aggression, and disgust, and verbs speaking destruction..and wreaking vengeance, outnumbered any other class of words…I do have right-wing friends now, and they do get angry…But when I encounter unhinged, stratospheric vituperation, when I encounter detailed revenge fantasies in scatological and sadistic language, I know I’ve stumbled up on a left-wing website.

This former leftist, Danusha Goska, also notices an irony:

Given that the left prides itself on being the liberator of women, homosexuals, and on being “sex positive,” one of the weirder and most obvious aspects of left-wing hate is how often, and how virulently, it is expressed in terms that are misogynist, homophobic, and in the distinctive anti-sex voice of a sexually frustrated high-school misfit.

In his long career as an active leftist, he never witnessed outrage over “child marriage, honor killing,…stoning, or acid attacks. Nothing. Zip. Crickets..” The left’s selective outrage convinced him that feminism was not so much about support for women, as a protest against Western men. It’s an “I hate” phenomenon, rather than an “I love” phenomenon.

It is puzzling that what seems on the surface to be an understandable course of action, based on a desire to help others, is so often associated with unpleasant consequences and unpleasant personalities.

Suppose you care about the environment. So you might approve of the 1,438 “sustainability” programs at our colleges – except when you read this: the sustainability ideology claims that “curtailing economic, political, and intellectual liberty is the price that must be paid to ensure the welfare of future generations”, and the U.N report that started the movement (“Our Common Future” – 1987) united environmentalism with hostility to free markets and demands for social justice and insists that “diversity, sexual liberation, and redistribution of wealth” should be subordinate parts of sustainability.

It seems that everything is subordinate to ideology.

And their ideology leads nowhere good. An economist named John Jewkes wrote this, shortly after World War II. It was about Britain, but it could apply to us today:

For I believe that the recent melancholy decline of Great Britain is largely of our own making. The fall in our standard of living to a level which excites the pity and evokes the charity of many other richer countries, the progressive restrictions on individual liberties, the ever-widening destruction of respect for law, the steady sapping of our instinct for tolerance and compromise, the sharpening of class distinctions, our growing incapacity to play a rightful part in world affairs — these sad changes are not due to something that happened in the remote past. They are due to something which has happened in the past two years. At the root of our troubles lies the fallacy that the best way of ordering economic affairs is to place the responsibility for all crucial decisions in the hands of the State. It is a simple error, it is certainly an understandable error. But it is one which, driven to its logical conclusion, as it is now being driven by those who have been constitutionally put into power, can bring upon us untold miseries and humiliations…

Sources:
Sustainability – Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism – a report by the National Association of Scholars – 2015.
The Road to Serfdom – F.A. Hayek – University of Chicago Press (printed 1944 and 1994).
Ten Reasons Why I am no longer a Leftist – Danusha Goska – link follows: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/07/ten_reasons_i_am_no_longer_a_leftist.html
Why I am not a Conservative – Friedrich Hayek – link follows:: (http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/articles/hayek-why-i-am-not-conservative.pdf)
Bernie Sanders speech in Denver: http: //www.c-span.org/video/?c4541740/sen-bernie-sanders-denver-campaign-speech
The Strange Death of the Center-Left  Michael Barone – link follows:
http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbarone/2015/08/18/the-strange-death-of-the-centerleft-n2039858
Donald Trump and Tariffs (written in 2011) http://lincicome.blogspot.com/2011/04/unbearable-asininity-and-immorality-of.html

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A cop’s encounters with evil

A cop sees the seamier side of human nature, so for this blog I read a book by one (his name is Michael Middleton). It did surprise me. For one thing, not all arrests are clean and orderly where a policeman simply pulls out his gun, tells the perpetrator to put his hands behind his head, and puts on the handcuffs.

An example where having a gun is no guarantee of safety: Michael knew a robber was about to emerge from a stairwell in a garage, and so decided to pretend he was a driver in the garage, fumbling for his keys. He turned his back to the door, and his partner, Frank, hid nearby.
“I heard the door open, and footsteps behind me. As I turned, Frank flew from his position, tackling the suspect with his left arm while holding his gun in his right hand. He yelled, “Drop the knife, or your fuckin’ brains are in the lot!” Above the man’s head, arm extended, was a knife he was preparing to sink into my back.”
It had happened very quickly, and Frank’s quick action saved Michael. But Michael could have been seriously hurt, or worse.
Cops don’t always get killed by guns and knives. Michael tells of a car that hit a police car with an impact speed of eighty-five miles per hour. The drivers were fleeing a drug transaction that had gone wrong, and they survived, but the two police did not, despite the efforts of a weeping passerby, who happened also to try and fight with one of the criminals, though nobody else would help him.
Cops today are told to wear cameras, and there is a widespread but mistaken belief that they bully minorities, especially after the incident in Ferguson Missouri, where a policeman, Darren Wilson, shot an unarmed black youth. That story is interesting in itself, because witnesses say that Wilson did act in self defense, and these witnesses were afraid because they were threatened by individuals from the Ferguson community for holding contrary testimonies to the prevailing story that Michael Brown was shot in cold blood. One witness said ‘crowds of people had begun to gather, wrongly claiming the police shot Brown for no reason and that he had his hands up in surrender. Two black women approached Witness 102, mobile phones set to record, asking him to recount what he had witnessed. Witness 102 responded that they would not like what he had to say. The women responded with racial slurs, calling him names like “white motherfucker”. Witness 103, a 58 year old black male, testified that he saw from his parked truck ‘Brown punching Wilson at least three times in the facial area, through the open driver’s window of the SUV… Wilson and Brown [had] hold of each other’s shirts, but Brown was “getting in a couple of blows [on Wilson]”. Wilson was leaning back toward the passenger seat with his forearm up, in an effort to block the blows. Then Witness 103 heard a gunshot and Brown took off running. Wilson exited the SUV, appeared to be using his shoulder microphone to call into his radio, and chased Brown with his gun held low…
[Witness 104] saw Brown run from the SUV, followed by Wilson, who “hopped” out of the SUV and ran after him while yelling “stop, stop, stop”. Wilson did not fire his gun as Brown ran from him. Brown then turned around and “for a second” began to raise his hands as though he may have considered surrendering, but then quickly “balled up in fists” in a running position and “charged” at Wilson. Witness 104 described it as a “tackle run”, explaining that Brown “wasn’t going to stop”. Wilson fired his gun only as Brown charged at him, backing up as Brown came toward him.”
So valid self-defense was confused with racism, but an interesting lesson from this book is that in the late sixties and early seventies, there were plenty of racist police, and they didn’t mind who knew it.
It wasn’t everybody.  Racism was not tolerated in the Police Academy:
In class, Middleton and his fellow students had been told: “When you stop a suspect and he’s got a gun, I don’t give a shit what color you are or what color he is. He’ll blow you out of the fuckin’ water for one reason–you’re wearing blue.”
But Middleton would hear from other cops that accompanied him in his car statements such as “You can’t teach those fucking niggers a thing. Remember, it’s us against them.”
In one situation, a car crash, one of the cars involved contained a couple where the driver (who was not at fault) was black, and his wife was white. At one point she told the cops to hurry, and Michael’s partner looked her in the eye and asked her sarcastically: “Ma’am, exactly how long have you been a nigger?” She was shocked.
At another traffic stop (this time it was the driver’s fault), the black driver said “There’s only one reason you stopped me.”
“My partner responded in a voice dripping with sarcasm “Oh? And what reason might that be?”
“You only stopped me because I’m black.”
The partner did not respond immediately, but began to write the traffic citation. After finishing the first few lines, he told the suspect “No sir, you’re wrong. We stopped you because you are a fucking nigger.”
I (the blogger) read this and my jaw drops. In the year 2015, its astonishing to read of policemen ever talking this way.
But there was another side to this. Michael Middleton also speaks of black cops who were liked and admired by other cops in his department. Michael also says that the white cops were seeing only five percent of the black population – and much the worst 5 percent.  Plus society seemed to be disintegrating in the sixties and there was a “circle the wagons” mentality among many police.
The cameras that police are being told to wear nowadays will prevent situations where police can take the law into their own hands. Situations such as this one:
A husband, a PCP dealer, was angry when his wife, in her own fit of rage, flushed a bottle of the drug down the toilet. To punish her, the husband had brought each of their children out, and in front of their mother, ran a ten-inch bread knife across each of their throats. Michael saw the dying children.  The girl was lying in a pool of blood – already dead, and the boy was dying in Michael’s arms.
Michael and his partner went out and found the killer. Michael drew his gun: “Keep your hands out where we can see them. Come here slowly, down the steps. Come on, keep your hands up.”
“You can kill me motha-fuck,’cause I ain’t going.”
“I reholstered my weapon and told the officers to cover me as I went up the steps after him. Reaching him, I grabbed the murderer and extended my left leg as he went past me. He tripped and fell face first down the steps…He tried to get to his feet to flee, and the fight was on. I seized him from behind and applied a chokehold harder than I have ever done. The absolute rage I felt blinded me…
“Sarge, let go of him. Let go of him!” yelled a detective…I thought it meant I’d choked the father to death, so I let go, but the detective wanted his turn. He stepped up and booted the man in the face harder than I have ever seen anyone kick.
Michael then choked the suspect into unconsciousness.
Michael says he had wanted to retaliate for the little children who couldn’t fight for themselves. He says it was too bad the father wasn’t seriously injured. He adds: “I don’t care what others think about what we did. They didn’t hold that little boy.”
The suspect’s wife later visited the husband in jail and calmly discussed the murder of their children. She said “It ain’t no thing. We can makes more babies.”
Back to the racism issue: police would risk their lives for both black and white citizens in their area. Michael describes two cops, Ray Castro and Joseph Doherty, who kept running into a burning building to rescue its inhabitants. One elderly rescued man said this “I knew there was a fire, and I knew I was dead. I was in bed because I can’t walk by myself….He (Castro) came to the door, and it was closed. I was afraid to open it because the fire was comin’. He banged on it, and I yelled back, ‘We’re in here!’ Bang! He kicked it right in. You know, he was like a knight when he stood in the doorway…He walked right out of that smoke…The fire was coming down the hall, and you could feel how hot it was.”
One woman witness told Michael – “When they (Castro and Doherty) went up the ladder, that room was on fire, and they still went in! They just disappeared into the smoke and flames!…I’ve never seen such courage…And I’ll tell you something else. There were a bunch of men just standing around, like they’re doing’ now. None of them helped your officers. No sir.”
Cops are not always appreciated.
Two officers saw some juveniles acting suspiciously near a housing project and decided to stop them to see what was going on. As soon as the officers got out of their car, one of the juveniles shot both officers, wounding them. Michael showed up and said “an angry crowd had gathered, taunting the officers.” The projects themselves had been built to make available low-cost housing that did not look like a slum, but there was a high crime rate, plenty of drugs, and obviously a very alienated population.
I live in a safe green and leafy suburb where I assume the local police don’t have much to do, at least compared with an inner-city cop. This will change, because under the Obama administration, we have a law that our safe upscale suburbs must build low-income housing and then settle it with people from the inner city, so that racial disparities in outcomes can be erased. If our future neighbors are like the inhabitants of those projects, our policemen will no longer be bored. Neither will we.
Michael has a final comment about crime: “Crime is theft of one sort or another. Whether it’s a television set, the life of a homeless person, or the self-respect of a rape victim, something’s been stolen. Police work is about crime; it’s about standing in the way of those who want something and don’t care how they get it or whom they hurt.”
I would expand Michael’s comment slightly, people victimize others for additional reasons such as ideology, revenge, jealousy, sadism and other motives. And this happens on all scales – from a drug dealer on a street corner to a ruler of a country that spans several time zones.
When Michael Middleton started his career, he would often see the charred remains of buildings from the black riots of the sixties. After he retired, in 1992, he saw Los Angeles again engulfed in flames, and writes “I began to wonder how much of a difference we really had made.”
“Maybe these weren’t new fires but simply the old ones rekindled…That was the problem with police work…You always seemed to be behind the times, only reacting to what was occurring, never getting ahead of the game. There was never time….Night after night you were plunged into this swirling mass. In a way it never changed, but in other ways it was always changing”.
Sources:
Cop – A True Story: by Michael Middleton
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Assassins and poisons out of Russia

In his book The KGB’s Poison Factory, Boris Voladarsky does something unique. He tells you of a “James Bond” type world that most people don’t know about, and the poisons that very ruthless people use. it is important to know about that world.

“Poisons were experimented with since the early days of Communism in Russia  A first try was Mustard gas (Yperite), which was first used as chemical weapon in World War I by the German army against British soldiers near Ypres, Belgium, in July 1917 shortly before the Bolshevik revolt in Russia. These experiments were disappointing as the chemicals were immediately detected during autopsies. This contradicted the main goal – to find a poison devoid of any taste or smell that could not be detected in the victim’s body after death. Later experiments were done with ricin, digitoxin and curare. Finally, a preparation with all the desired properties, called K-2 (carbylamine choline chloride), was created and successfully tested on prisoners. According to Vladimir Bobrenyov, an investigator at the Russian general prosecutor’s office who has made a lengthy study of the case, K-2 killed the victims in fifteen minutes.

“As late as 1953, the state security maintained at its Moscow headquarters a quietly notorious laboratory called the ‘Chamber’ (Kamera). Its staff consisted of a medical director and several assistants, who performed experiments on living people – prisoners and persons about to be executed…”

Russian assassins were very active. I will give a small sample here of the methods they used and the people they targeted:

[in the 30’s] “A lot of murderers and murders were spattering the European landscape, largely unseen and unrecognised by the public that was under assault.”

For instance, against Ukrainian nationalists:
“Most of the ‘nationalists’ came from the territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire like Galicia and Transcarpathia that had been forcibly brought under Stalin’s rule. And Moscow used its murder weapons to eliminate their leaders. On orders from Moscow Simon Petlyura, a leader of Ukraine’s fight for independence and briefly head of state, was shot and murdered in Paris in May 1926. In October 1947 the young and popular bishop Theodore Romzha, who had called his parishioners to resist the Soviet occupiers and was hated by Khrushchev, the Ukrainian leader at the time, became Moscow’s murder target. Initially, the Ukrainian NKVD under Sergey Savchenko mounted the operation, using their favoured technique of a road ‘accident,’ but the bishop survived and was hospitalised. In panic, Khrushchev called Stalin for help. A special group from the Pavel Sudoplatov’s Bureau No. i flew from Moscow and on the night of 31 October a new relief nurse was assigned to care for Bishop Romzha. Soon after midnight she used the syringe provided by Mairanovsky to poison the priest with curare. In the morning he was found dead. The nurse disappeared.” (In 2008 another important Ukrainian, Victor Yushchenko got extremely sick after being poisoned with a dioxin.)

“In the summer of 1937 the NKVD mounted a wide-scale operation in Europe to find and liquidate Ignatz Reiss, an important illegal rezident (a station chief residing in a target country and operating without the protection of diplomatic immunity) who had defected to the Trotskyites in Paris. As usual, several groups were involved. One of them, headed by Sergei Efron, the husband of a famous Russian poet, Marina Tsvetayeva, handed a box of strychnine-poisoned chocolates to a Swiss NKVD agent named Renate Steiner with the instruction to bring them to Switzerland where the Reiss family was hiding. On 4 September, Gertrude Schildbach, a family friend and an NKVD German agent, was to hand over these poisoned chocolates to Reiss’s wife and their little child, but her nerve failed. She had enough courage, however, to invite her old friend, Ignatz, for a dinner in a restaurant near Lausanne. It was a trap. When they went out late in the evening, Reiss was pushed into the car, shot and killed and his bullet-ridden body dumped on the side of a road in Chamblandes.

“In the 1950s and 1960s the ‘products’ of the Special Laboratory, were used against ‘enemies of the people’ who lived in Europe in exile. In February 1954 Nikolai Khokhlov was sent to Frankfurt am Main to organise the assassination of a prominent anti-Soviet activist by shooting him with a poisoned bullet (actually a lethal gas) from a gun concealed in a packet of cigarettes. In September 1957 Khokhlov, who had turned himself in and begun working for the CIA, was poisoned while attending a conference in Frankfurt. A month later Lev Rebet, a Ukrainian immigrant, was poisoned by a Russian operative named Bogdan Stashinsky. In October 1959 one of the leaders of the Ukrainian anti-communist opposition, Stepan Bandera, was poisoned entering his house in Munich. Stashinky subsequently defected to tell the West German authorities all about the Rebet and Bandera assassinations that he had carried out…

“When the Bolsheviks took power, there was armed military opposition to them in Russia, and one leader of it was a man named Peter Wrangel. When his Polish allies gave up, he said:
We are now alone in the struggle, which will decide the fate not only of our country but also of the whole of humanity. Let us strive to free our native land from the yoke of this Red scum who recognize neither God nor country, who bring confusion and shame in their wake.
He may have been right about the fate of humanity, but he lost.

Pyotr Wrangel

Pyotr Wrangel

The Bolsheviks saw him as a threat. He suddenly fell ill and as his mother, Baroness Maria Dmitriyevna Wrangel recalled, ‘those were 38 days and nights of excruciating torment’. Mycobacteria were found in the autopsy – which shows that the general was almost certainly poisoned with strains of Koch’s bacilli, a biological agent that can easily be used as a weapon. General Wrangel’s daughter, Yelena Meindorf, had all the time insisted that her father was deliberately poisoned.

What was the motive for all this ruthlessness?
One poisoner defected, and said this:
“My name is Pavel Anatolyevich Sudoplatov, but I do not expect you to recognize it because for fifty-eight years it was one of the best-kept secrets in

Pavel Sudoplatov

Pavel Sudoplatov

the Soviet Union. My Administration for Special Tasks was responsible for sabotage, kidnapping, and assassination. It is strange to look back fifty years, and re-create the mentality that led us to take vengeance on our enemies with cold self-assurance. We did not believe there was any moral question involved in killing Trotsky or any other of our former comrades who had turned against us. We believed we were in a life-and-death struggle for the salvation of our grand experiment, the creation of a new social system that would protect and provide dignity for all workers and eliminate the greed and oppression of capitalist profit.’

So there was Utopian ideology at work.  I think there must some enjoyment too in coming up with a custom poison or drug in your laboratory to destroy an enemy.

Poisons can be delivered in innovative ways.  From the book:

‘I’m looking for something that will work with a gadget I’ve designed,’ said the KGB colonel to Ken Alibek (who later defected from the Russian biological weapons program). ‘Let’s say we put this assembly into a tiny box, maybe an empty pack of Marlboro, and then find a way to put the pack under someone’s desk, or in his trash basket. If we were then to set it in motion, the aerosol should do the job right away, wouldn’t it?’

“By the autumn of 1957 KGB scientists and engineers had developed a weapon – the special technology laboratory modified their earlier silenced tube gun into a poison gas gun while the chemical laboratory came up with the poison – hydrogen cyanide (HCN). When inhaled, it causes what is called ‘chemical asphyxia’ – immediate unconsciousness, convulsions and almost instantaneous death ideally imitating myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack. The gas-firing gun, like its predecessor, was to be hidden in a rolled-up newspaper, a favourite gadget of the Chekists. The firing lever activated a firing pin, which detonated a percussion cap, rupturing an ampoule of acid. The acid evaporated into HCN and was propelled out of a small hole in the muzzle. The gun was just 7 inches (18 cm) long. The disadvantage was that it had to be fired directly into the victim’s face. Stashinsky used it, but later defected to the West, where he got a plastic surgery operation and then was hidden in South Africa.

Blogger thought: Note that even in the 1950’s, poisons could be delivered person to person, in the form of a gas.

Not every chemical that the KGB manufactured was designed to kill. There were “soft poisons”.

“‘Soft’ remedies are also used to frighten the victim, or to incapacitate him or her temporarily to prevent a particular activity. They may also be used as sleep-inducing agents, or in specific operational circumstances to simulate death.”

One example of a soft poison being used was in the case of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist and activist who took a plane ride south to try to defuse a hostage-taking situation (Muslim separatists had taken over a school in the town of Beslan and held the children and staff hostage). She later said:
“Half an hour to pack my things as my mind works furiously on how to get to the Caucasus. And another thought: to look for the Chechen separatist leader, Asian Maskhadov, let him come out of hiding, let him go to the hostage takers, and then ask them to free the children. Then followed a long evening at Vnukovo airport. Crowds of journalists were trying to get on a plane south, just as flights were being postponed. Obviously, there are some people who would like to delay our departure. I use my mobile and speak openly about the purpose of my flight: ‘Look for Maskhadov’, ‘persuade Maskhadov’. We have long stopped talking over our phones openly, assuming they are tapped. But this is an emergency. Eventually a man introduces himself as an airport executive: ‘I’ll put you on a flight to Rostov.’ In the minibus, the driver tells me that the Russian security service, the FSB, told him to put me on the Rostov flight. As I board, my eyes meet those of three passengers sitting in a group: malicious eyes, looking at an enemy. But I don’t pay attention. This is the way most FSB people look at me. The plane takes off. I ask for a tea. It is many hours by road from Rostov to Beslan and war has taught me that it’s better not to eat. At 21: 50 I drink it. At 22: 00 I realise that I have to call the air stewardess as I am rapidly losing consciousness. My other memories are scrappy: the stewardess weeps and shouts: ‘We’re landing, hold on!’ ‘Welcome back,’ said a woman bending over me in Rostov regional hospital. The nurse tells me that when they brought me in I was ‘almost hopeless’. Then she whispers: ‘My dear, they tried to poison you.’ All the tests taken at the airport have been destroyed – on orders ‘from on high’, say the doctors.’

In this case the dissident journalist was probably not meant to die. She just had to be stopped.

Anna was finally shot and murdered in her apartment block in Moscow in October 2006. The day of the assassination was very special. Somebody had given Putin a birthday present.

In the Frontline Club near the Paddington Station Sasha Litvinenko, himself soon to be murdered with radioactive polonium, speaking through interpreter, addressed a gathering:
“The question was asked here who killed Anna Politkovskaya. I can give an answer. It was Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. After her book Putin’s Russia was published in the West, Politkovskaya started to receive threats from the Kremlin. Only one person in Russia could kill a journalist of her standing, only one person could sanction her death. And this person is Putin.”

In the case of the slow death of Litvinenko, there was some sloppiness to the operation, because British law enforcement was able to trace Polonium to the various places the assassins had been.

The choice of poison is interesting, The Russians did not use a nerve agent. Nerve agents can be inhaled, ingested or placed on skin. G-type nerve agents are clear, colorless liquids that are volatile at ambient temperature.  They might seem a good choice. So why use a radioactive poison?

The use of radioactivity might have made sense because you could give poisoned tea to Litvinenko in a public place, and everyone would walk away, including him, and the effects would only hit later, though once the tea was drunk, he was a walking dead man.

Here is a description of what Polonium does to you, from an article by Will Storr:

“Polonium is hugely radioactive, firing off a massive bombardment of alpha particles–and without any screening, the delicate mechanisms of the body’s internal organs get the full dose. As the atoms try to stabilize, alpha particles crash into nearby body tissue, knocking electrons from the molecules they encounter. Each time they do, the trail of wrecked cells expands; the poison turns them cancerous, or kills them off entirely.

“And that is just the beginning. Even as it weakens, the stomach continues to digests its contents, pulling the polonium into the bloodstream. Once it’s there, the poison uses the body’s own functions against it: each beat of the heart distributes radioactive material further around the organs and soft tissues.

“As the blood unwittingly delivers its payload, polonium gathers in its most perilous quantities in the liver, spleen, bone marrow, kidneys, skin, and hair follicles. From there it emits alpha particles at a devastating rate. Motorways of dying cells are pushed out through the body.

“By the time it invades the ends of the long bones and gets into the marrow, the terror has reached its most vital target-—the place where new blood cells are created. Just as skin cells were mutilated as the alpha particles smashed their way through, the marrow cells are stripped of their electrons and left corrupted, damaged, or dead.

“With its source of new blood polluted by radioactivity, the body goes haywire. The lymphatic system begins to shut down. White blood cell count drops. The body loses its ability to fight off disease. It commits suicide, cell by cell.

The poison used on Litvinenko also had the advantage that it had a short half-life, and would soon be untraceable. Luckily, investigators eventually figured out what it was.

Back to “soft” agents:

“In Moscow, February 8, 2003 in a packed theatre … there is an exuberant gala atmosphere. Black tie, evening dress, the whole of the political beau monde has assembled here. Sighs and gasps, kisses and hugs, members of the government, members of the Duma, leaders of the parliamentary factions and parties, a sumptuous buffet’
And then several dozen terrorists from Chechnya moved in and took everyone hostage, hoping to force President Putin to put an end to the Second Chechen War and withdraw his troops from their republic. They didn’t succeed. a gas attack was mounted against all those present in the [theatre] building, some 800 people, both terrorists and hostages. The secret military gas was chosen by the President personally. The gas attack was followed by the storming of the building by special anti-terrorist units in the course of which every one of the hostage-takers was killed, along with almost 200 hostages. Many people died without medical attention, and the identity of the gas was kept secret even from the doctors charged with the saving of lives.

hostage rescue after sleeping gas

hostage rescue after sleeping gas

Blogger thought: this was a “military gas”. If you can put all the inhabitants of a theatre asleep so fast that the hostage takers don’t even detonate their explosives – then perhaps you could use a gas like this on enemy troops that you want to take hostage.

One of the strangest agents used was a psychotropic drug called SP-17.

“This drug… induces a person to share his most deeply hidden secrets with his interlocutor. It loosens the tongue and has no smell, taste or colour and no known side effects. And, according to Alexander Kouzminov, a KGB/ SVR officer who worked with the drug, a person exposed to it has no recollection of ever having had a ‘heart-to-heart’ talk. It is sometimes used during covert interrogations…but more often to test illegals, especially when they return from the first overseas familiarisation trip. SP-17 may also be administered to field agents when they come home for furlough or a briefing.”

Blogger thought: Assume you are a Western spy or double agent – I would think that this drug can be used on you, and you will give up your identity. It makes spying much harder. And the amnesia means you don’t even know you were compromised.

But wait, you might say, this is crazy. No drug could make you forget a long speech to an interrogator!  But I did a Google search for “Retrograde amnesia induced by drugs” and found articles. I did not find interrogation drugs (apart from barbiturates) but the story of the Russian discovery of this one made sense, it was a side effect of their experiments with various nerve poisons – they found that victims start talking and spilling out information.

As far as strange drugs go, you can also do a search in Google on drugs that cause nightmares (as side effects). Presumably if you wanted to give some a bad dream, you could slip one of those in his tea. Or suppose you wanted your lover to be more amorous – there is a drug named Bremelanotide that can accomplish that. The brain is new territory, and ruthless experimenters can plough through it looking for ways to control or destroy other people.

How ruthless? Who are these people?
Dissident Vladimir Bukovsky says that Russia, Ukraine and other post-Soviet states, are ruled by ‘a criminal clique, a merger of the underworld, security services and so-called business’, which had become completely uncontrollable’.

Lets take the man at the top, Vladimir Putin:

Putin

Putin

Putin himself has a kind of violent sense of humor: In November 2002, during a EU-Russia summit, a French journalist asked a question about bombings affecting the civilian population of Chechnya. Putin responded by suggesting that the questioner was an ‘Islamic radical’ who would do well to come to Russia to procure a circumcision, ‘and I’d recommend that the operation be performed in such a way that nothing will grow there again’.
The doomed Sasha Litvinenko had met Putin, and said that Putin was cold and formal. “He listened in silence to Sasha’s passionate depiction of corruption in the service, and refused to accept hand-drawn diagrams that Litvinenko had prepared to show relations between the FSB officers and the criminals. Putin said he would call if he needed the, hmm, lieutenant colonel further. ‘I know a man by his handshake,’ Sasha told Marina after that meeting. ‘His was cold and spongy. I could see it in his eyes that he hated me.’

Masha Gessen, an American lesbian who was born in Russia and opposes Putin, has noticed a thread that runs all through the Putin story:

“everyone who knows anything about him is leaving in exile or dead or working in the Russian government very close to the man himself. One of those exiles, she reports, Marina Salye, now lives in a village in Russia more than one hundred miles from St Petersburg. Throughout the 1990s, Salye was a leading liberal politician in St Petersburg, deputy of the legislative assembly of the city, one of only two women prominent on the national liberal political scene since perestroika. (The other, Galina Starovoitova, was shot dead in her apartment building in St Petersburg in 1998.) In 1992 Salye headed a committee of the city council formed to investigate the activity of the deputy mayor, Vladimir Putin. After she and another deputy, Yuri Gladkov, presented the results of the investigation, the city council passed a resolution calling for the mayor to fire Putin and to have the prosecutor’s office investigate apparent corruption and misappropriation of funds. The mayor ignored the recommendation. In early 2000, in the run-up to the presidential elections, Salye campaigned against Putin, attempting to draw attention to the conclusions of the committee’s investigation. Then, abruptly, she left St Petersburg and disappeared. Masha learned why. Around New Year’s Day 2001, her sources told her, Salye received a holiday telegram from President Putin. ‘Here is wishing you good health,’ the telegram said, ‘and the opportunity to use it.’ The next day, she packed up and moved to the most obscure place she could find. Salye today won’t speak publicly about this or anything else. And what happened to Yuri Gladkov? The deputy chairman of the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg died on 6 October 2007 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Experts know that ALS can be simulated by mercury intoxication or exposure to other heavy metals. And the date, as in the case of Anna Politkovskaya, is remarkable – Putin’s birthday.”

Now I’m going to add my two cents here. There are poisoning cases where the goal is to destroy a person without anyone knowing what happened. There are poisoning cases where the goal is to damage or destroy a person as a lesson, so that everyone knows what happened.
But could you have a situation where the victim is aware of what happened, but the people around him are not? In that situation, it is likely that the victim would not be believed if he was rash enough to report what happened. And if the symptoms he was being hit with were behavioral in nature – such as what happened to me when I drank an open glass in my refrigerator one day, and got hit by the most incredible sexual desire symptoms that I’ve ever had, then he would be laughed at as well. Such a person might report that drug-dust was put in the compartment between his house’s door and the glass door in front of it, so that when he opened the door to get the morning paper, he got hit. He could report that when he came out of a restaurant and onto his bicycle, there was a new grease on his handle bar that rubbed into his palm and he was soon lying by the side of the road, his chest feeling as if it was exploding. He could report that he put on his clothing in the morning, and the clothing itself had a chemical on it at that made him sick. It would be a completely paranoid scenario – and probably technically possible.
I believe this all happened. I believe that criminal organizations in the U.S. have this technology, a technology that even Boris Volodarsky has not conceived of.

So:
James Bond – where are you when we need you?

Sources:
The KGB’s Poison Factory – Boris Volodarsky – Frontline books, 2009
https://medium. com/matter/how-radioactive-poison-became-the-assassins-weapon-of-choice-6cfeae2f4b53
Note:
For another mention of SP-17, there is the book by Markus Wolf, who had headed East German intelligence. He wrote this:
“One KGB man was dispatched to buyers throughout the Eastern bloc bearing wares such as untraceable nerve toxins and skin contact poisons to smear on doorknobs. The only thing I ever accepted from him was a sachet of ‘truth drugs’, which he touted as ‘unbeatable’ with the enthusiasm of a door-to-door salesman. For years they lay in my personal safe. One day, in a fit of curiosity, I asked our carefully vetted doctor to have them analysed for me. He came back shaking his head in horror. ‘Use them without constant medical supervision and there is every chance that the fellow from whom you want the truth will be dead as a dodo in seconds,’ he said. We never did use the ‘truth drugs’.”  Volodarsky quotes this, but says that Markus Wolf downplays a program (The KGB poison program) that experts say was effective.

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The roll-back of a Marxist secret police – a frightening book by Anna Funder

Anna Funder, author of Stasiland, blazed a trail by going into East Germany, a former secret-police ruled Marxist state, and interviewing victims of that secret police. She also interviewed former members of the secret police (known as the Stasi). This was a unique opportunity, because Germany “was the only Eastern Bloc country in the end that so bravely, so conscientiously, opened its files on its people to its people.”
The Stasi had technology, and ways of hiding it – a microphone in the lid of a thermos, a hiking jacket with a camera sewn into the lapel pocket and an apparatus like a television antenna that could pick up conversations fifty meters away in other buildings, or in nearby cars, stopped at lights.
They had disguises – the blind man hobbling along with the cane could have 20-20 vision and could be watching you.
The Stasi had informers – perhaps one out of 63 citizens informed on the others.  A Stasi psychologist explained the willingness to inform as “an impulse to make sure your neighbor was doing the right thing..It comes down to something in the German mentality — a certain drive for order and thoroughness and stuff like that.”

Anna Funder

Anna Funder

Anna has an alternate explanation: “Betrayal clearly has its own reward: the small deep human satisfaction of having one up on someone else. It is the psychology of the mistress…”
The Stasi “knew who your visitors were, it knew whom you telephoned, and it knew if your wife slept around.” In its forty years, it generated enough files on its own countrymen to form a line 120 miles long.
The man who ran Stasi, Erich Mielke, joined the Communist youth organization of 1921 Germany. In 1931, Mielke and another man killed the local police-chief and his off-sider by shooting them in the back at point-blank range. Then he fled to Moscow. Once Russia had taken over East Germany, Mielke engineered a coup against the leader of the Soviet-run police force in East Germany, and then he took it over.

Erich Mielke

Erich Mielke

An interesting aspect of the overthrow of the Communists in 1989 is that many of the members of the Stasi did not get separated from the population, they just merged into it. So Stasi members still harass people who they fear may uncover them. For instance, a former border guard who appeared on a talk show was threatened with an acid attack. One man had a ticking package delivered to his doorstep;  wives have had to sign for porn not ordered by their husbands. Car brake-leads have been cut, accidents and deaths reverse-engineered. The child of an outspoken writer was picked up from school by a person or persons unknown and taken to drink hot chocolate, just for an hour or so, to give a scare to his parents.
East Germany was a very ideological enterprise, and one unrepentant former Stasi official explained to Anna:

This capitalism is, above all, exploitation! It is unfair. It’s brutal. The rich get richer and the masses get steadily poorer…Each industrialist is a criminal at war with the other…Capitalism plunders the planet too–this hole in the ozone layer, the exploitation of the forests, pollution–we must get rid of this social system!

There is something very interesting about this man’s remarks. He sounds like he is a caring person. He cares about unfairness. He cares about the environment. Later in the post I put some excerpts of just how horrible the Stasi could be – putting people in diabolical situations where they had to choose between one evil and another. I also have an excerpt on their torture chambers.
So I don’t understand – how can this man care, and yet not care?
It might seem hard to justify the building of a wall to keep East Germans from the West, and even worse to justify the shooting of two men who tried to cross it to freedom. But a regime ideologist, Karl Eduard von Schnitzler, had this to say on his regular TV program after that happened:

People should listen to us when we say, again and again: we determine the order at our border!..Whosoever wants to traverse the GDR border needs permission…He who puts himself in danger will die. I know, ladies and gentlemen, it sounds, hard…But what is ‘humane’ and what is ‘inhumane’?
Humane it is, to make peace for all men on earth. That is not done by prayer! It is done by fighting…And for the first time on German soil, here in the German Democratic Republic, peace has been elevated to a governing principle…It is humane to guard the GDR against these people…

So shooting two men who just wanted freedom becomes transmuted into a defense of peace. Though Schnitzler in an interview with Anna Funder also explained that the wall served the purpose of preventing imperialism from contaminating the east.
As an amusing aside: when the wall came down, one of the chants of the newly liberated was “Schnitzler to the muppet show!”

Lets start with two Faustian bargains that the Stasi offered:
Julia was an East German young woman with an Italian boyfriend. The Stasi disapproved of this, and her career got derailed as a result. Some time later, she broke up with the boyfriend, simply because he was too controlling.
And then something odd happened. She was called in to the local police station where she was shunted off to a room where she was greeted by a friendly man who pulled out a pile of papers. The papers were written in Julia’s handwriting – they were copies of her love letters. The man started, to her horror, to read them aloud to her.
Julia told Anna that the man knew everything. He could see in the letters when she had doubts, he could see the Italian boyfriend’s longing laid bare. He then started telling Julia facts about her boyfriend that she did not know, but Stasi people in Italy could have found out. It was puzzling to Julia though, that the man did not seem to know that she and her boyfriend had recently broken up. The man flattered Julia that she was more complex and intelligent than the boyfriend gave her credit for being. Then the man told her that Stasi wanted her to inform on her boyfriend. Presumably he knew about the break-up but he wanted a reconciliation so that she could help him spy on a person of interest.
Julia managed to get home, after which she vomited.  But she thwarted the Stasi, in this case.
Frau Paul had a sick little boy in a German hospital. She was in the east, where he could not get the care that would save him. Then the wall was built and she could not get to her child. Frau Paul got into trouble for trying to escape East Germany. One of her contacts was a man named Michael in the west, who helped people escape the east. So at one point she was offered a choice by Stasi: “Would you like to see your son?” She of course said yes, and then came the kicker:

It is not at all complicated, In fact, it’s a simple matter. If you would like to visit your son in enemy territory, we would ask only that, while you are there, you arrange to meet with your young friend Michael Hinze. The two of you could go for a stroll. For instance, in the grounds of Charlottenburg Castle.

Frau Paul realized that this was kidnapping scheme, and she said no. This decision meant that her son was bought up by staff and nurses at that West German hospital for several years.

Now for the more horrible side of the Socialist Utopia:

Renft

Renft

Klaus Renft was the bad boy of East German rock’n’roll. The Kalus Renft Combo became the wildest and the most popular rock band in the GDR. They became too much for the government, and at one point Mielke asked his officers in Leipzig, “Why aren’t they liquidated?”. But Renft members were too famous to handle so directly. They were disbanded, and later, one member, Gerulf Pannach, died prematurely of an unusual kind of cancer, as did two dissidents. It turned out that the Stasi used radiation to mark people it wanted to track. It could insert irradiated pins into a person’s clothing, or put a radioactive magnet on a person’s car, or spray, with a kind of hidden hand-pump, people in a crowd with radiation. Or they might get into a victim’s house, and spray the floor, so that the person would leave radioactive footprints everywhere they went. The radioactivity is probably responsible for the cancers.

There was a prison for political prisoners named Hohenschonhausen, in East Berlin, and airless and dark paddy wagons containing new prisoners would drive through Berlin, disguised as commercial trucks. There were torture cells in the prison. For instance, a compartment designed to be filled with icy water up to the prisoner’s neck. There were concrete cells with nothing in them where prisoners would be kept in the dark amid their own excrement. There was a cell lined entirely with padded black rubber, and Frau Paul heard the prisoner in it gradually lose his mind. At the end the only words he had left were: ‘Never get out!’.
Frau Paul had to mop up his vomit and blood after he was removed.
There was a cell with ridges on the floor that bit into a prisoner’s bare feet, but the prisoner could not do anything about it, because he was in a wooden yoke, nearly bent double, and when he was in such pain that he lost consciousness, his head would slump into a bucket of water, and he would either drown or revive into pain again. Imagine the person who designed this.  Probably a good wood worker and a creative type.

Stasi framed people in the West. For instance, it spliced together recordings of conversations that never took place in order to damage person in the public sphere. And it spread rumors about people in the West, including that those people were traitors who worked for Stasi.

Charlie Weber was a man who fell afoul of the Stasi, and died in Stasi hands. He wrote this poem:

In this land
I have made myself sick with silence
In this land
I have wandered, lost
In this land
I hunkered down to see
What will become of me.
In this land
I held myself tight
So as not to scream.
…But I did scream, so loud
That this land howled back at me
As hideously
As it builds its houses.
In this land
I have been sown
Only my head sticks
Defiant, out of the earth
But one day it too will be mown
Making me,finally
Of this land.

And yet, there is nostalgia for the old regime even among the young who don’t remember it. As if it were a harmless welfare state that looked after people’s needs.

So what can we learn from Anna Funder’s book?

One lesson we can learn is that people who believe in reducing income inequality and unfairness, who believe in national health care and subsidized food can produce regimes that steamroll over other people’s rights. It would seem to be a contradiction, that for the sake of the people, you create the most sadistic situations imaginable for members of “the people” but the human mind is obviously capable of great inconsistency.
Secondly, the Stasi technology and what it was used for is interesting. The Stasi ended in 1989. Since then, microchips have gotten much smaller, and computer technology much more powerful.  Just looking at the examples above, you or I can be framed by a photoshopped picture, or conceivably (see above) a voiceshopped conversation. You can be spied on. You can be poisoned – in fact a book by Boris Volodarsky “The KGB’s Poison Factory” mentions  the compound Sodium Fluroacetate, which mimics a heart attack, and leaves no trace. This is scarier than you might think. You may not be targeted, but people you support may indeed be in harm’s way, and if bad things happen to them, those bad things may not be an accident. Criminals want power. Ideologues want power. This technology is power.

We should remember what the disillusioned leftist George Orwell said “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

One more lesson: our country was monitoring the cellphone of Angela Merkel – a woman who had been brought up in Stasiland, and became the chancellor of a united Germany. This did not make a good impression on her when she found out. We should concentrate in spying on our enemies, not on our friends.

Sources:

Stasiland – by Anna Funder – Granta Books (2003)

Anna Funder’s website is at: http://annafunder.com/ She also reviews a movie “The Lives of Others” about a (fictional) Stasi man who spies on a German couple and then becomes their ally, which she says is a completely impossible scenario. That review is at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/may/05/featuresreviews.guardianreview12 (critics did love that movie).

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Shaming people in a politically correct age.

In his book on public shaming, Jon Ronson tells the tale of Justine, who was tweeting acerbic jokes to her 170 followers. She joked about the bad breath of the German man on the plane from NY. She joked about Heathrow, and finally, she tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding, I’m white!”
She got on the 11 hour flight to South Africa. When the plane landed, she turned on her phone. There was a text from someone she hadn’t spoken to since high school “I’m so sorry to see what’s happening.”
She looked at it, baffled.
“And then my phone started to explode.”
As she sat on the runway at Cape Town Airport, a second text popped up: “You need to call me immediately.” It was from her best friend, Hannah. “You’re the number one worldwide trend on Twitter right now.”

Twitter members were saying she was a disgusting racist. The company she worked for tweeted “This is an outrageous, offensive comment. Employee in question currently unreachable on an intl flight.”..

Justine says that she obviously did not mean that whites don’t get AIDS. She said it was a reflexive comment on ‘white privilege’ – “on our tendency to naively imagine ourselves immune from life’s horrors”.

But in hotels she was booked at in South Africa, employees were threatening to go on strike.

She was fired from the job she loved. “Everybody else was very happy about that”

This story is interesting from several points of view. There are other people in the book who also made an ill-advised joke, including a woman whose idea of a joke was posing next to signs and making satirical poses. Unfortunately, she made a very disrespectful pose next to a sign that said to show respect at the Arlington National Cemetery where soldiers are buried.

An understandable tsunami of invective came through the internet in response to  that poor woman. The belief behind the invective was that she was making fun of men who fought and often died for the U.S.A. In my view this woman was just making a dumb joke, and veterans did not cross her mind – she had just found another sign to add to her collection.

Interestingly, another woman was mercilessly punished on the social media for getting two men in trouble who had made a tasteless computer joke that had sexual innuendo in it. In that case, people thought the joke was – a joke.

Another interesting aspect is showed by Jon in his chapter on the town of Kennebunk in Maine. There was an exercise studio in town, on a quaint downtown street, that provided more than fitness training. The owner, Alexis Wright, was running a one-woman brothel with up to 150 clients. She was also secretly videotaping them.
The York paper started publishing the names of clients – sixty-eight men and one woman. One man was a pastor at the Church of the Nazarene.
The pastor consented to be interviewed. He had expected hell to break loose after the scandal broke, but “it went away.” Jon asks “There was no shaming at all?” “None” replied the pastor. In fact, he added, my “relationship with my three daughters has never been stronger. My youngest one noted, “It’s like getting to know you all over again.”

So contrast these situations. Bad jokes can get you into a horrendous situation of public shaming, but in contrast, if you have sex with a whore – nobody cares.

Jon also tells the tale of Jonah Lehrer, a writer who embellished his stories with untruths, and who paid a big price when a sharp Irish-American journalist ferreted that out.

Puritans

Puritans

In Puritan times, says Jon, the clients at Kennebunk would have been considered more guilty than Jonah. Jonah, “guilty of lying or publishing false news,” would have been “fined, placed the stocks for a period not exceeding four hours, or publicly whipped with not more than forty stripes,” according to Delaware laws. Whereas Max and Andrew (two clients of Alexis), having “defiled the marriage bed,” would have been publicly whipped, imprisoned with hard labor for at least a year, and on second offense, imprisoned for life.

This bring to mind Bill Clinton, our former president. After his many sex-scandals he went on to receive huge sums for speaking engagements. I find this odd.

Some other countries look at us as decadent and leverage this in propaganda. “They [the Russians] are writing things about us and our defense forces that are not from this world,” says the senior [Finland] official, such as the yarn that the Finnish government removes children from ethnic-Russian Finnish families for adoption by gay couples in the U.S.” And there are Americans too who see our country as decadent – given that we have a country where 40 percent of children are born out-of-wedlock, and colleges where the hook-up culture is too common, and so forth.

I was the target of a huge public shaming. A compromising movie of me spread across campuses, and to my home town.

My behavior was downright weird, and people had trouble classifying it. Was it “gay” behavior? Was it “Jewish” behavior? Was it just “swinish” behavior?
I regretted the behavior, and having it exposed would have been good for me, if the person who secretly filmed it had shown me the film afterwards, and said “This is you. See yourself in the mirror? Imagine if this film were seen by your friends – or enemies – or just anybody. Now learn something!”
That would have worked just fine.  It would have been a dose of cold water on an overheated brain.
But of course public shamings are not calibrated, and the movie spread – and spread – and spread.
Since I was on the receiving end, I witnessed the most incredible sadistic behavior from the shamers, behavior that they would hide from most people.

I said to myself – “Look – suppose you were marooned on a desert island with a supply of food and of books, far away from human contact. Would you agonize forever about dancing in a perverted way in front of a mirror? There is nothing you can do about it. Learn from it, don’t do it again, and now read a book or go for a swim.”

I also thought that what happened was odd if looked at from a purely rational viewpoint. If we feel like despising someone, we might notice that people get murdered every hour in the U.S. Furthermore, more Americans visit porn sites than Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined. The number one searched-for term is “teen,” leading to a huge demand of young women for films. I have an article in the sources that talks about this truly disgusting situation.
I have had way more attention lavished on me than on some anonymous murderer in some city.

There are over 50,000 slaves in the U.S. and a huge number in the globe.  I’d bet that the people who called me “faggot”, “Hebe”, and so forth have not spent nearly as much hostility on the slave-holders of these people.

Many of the people who dislike me vote for leftist candidates who when they get into office, spend public money as if it is infinite, which is why almost all the countries of the West are in debt, in the case of the U.S., over 17 trillion dollars, and going up.  Isn’t there something despicable about that?

The world situation is not good either. A Jihadist country that has rallies with chants of “Death To America” is about to go nuclear. Another Jihadist movement called ISIL is conquering territory, crucifying people alive, burning people alive, sawing off the heads of live people, and giving Yezidi women as sex-slaves to their members (However he Islamic State recently made it clear that sex with Christian and Jewish women captured in battle is also permissible, according to a new 34-page manual issued this summer by the terror group’s Research and Fatwa Department).  ISIL also plans to come for us. Worse yet, we have other enemies – who already have nukes, and are more powerful than the Jihadists.

From what I see, we have our own home-grown totalitarians in the U.S. Some of them have decided, in one of their words, that I “must be kept down.”. I have been told that I “will be annihilated”, and that I “will end up in a hospital.”
The movie by itself cannot explain all this, but the movie combined with some other factors – a very humiliated woman who I did not intend to humiliate, racist remarks on my part, people who regarded me as very handsome and treated me as such, in front of others who had seen the movie and felt this was “sick”, seems to have made a cocktail that exploded. (The last sentence is speculation).

I’ve been shamed, and I eventually became the target of real criminals. We live in a sea that does contain sharks, and its best not to bleed when you are swimming among the sharks.

This country, and the West in general, had better get its act together – and part of that is seeing the real world, not living in a bubble where we pick convenient villains and ignore the real ones.

Sources:
So you’ve been publicly shamed – by Jon Ronson – Riverhead Books – 2015
http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-new-cold-wars-arctic-front-1433872323 (on Finland)
http://townhall.com/columnists/christinerousselle/2015/06/04/review-hot-girls-wanted-a-devastating-look-at-the-amateur-porn-industry-n2007876

The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today
by Kevin Bales, Ron Soodalter

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/world/middleeast/isis-enshrines-a-theology-of-rape.html?_r=0

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Bad guys who love Obama

When Obama was elected, defeating John McCain, a war hero, some of the wrong people were ecstatic.
These included:

Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden

1. Tom Hayden: After his early life establishing SDS, meeting with the Vietcong, wishing “Good fortune!” and “Victory!” to North Vietnamese colonels who killed American soldiers, and vigorously protesting the American system, Hayden went into politics, professional activism, and education. Like Mark Rudd, like Bill Ayers, like Bernardine Dohrn, like Michael Klonsky, Hayden came to view a quick “revolution” of the system as too daunting, if not impossible. He has become much more patient, instead advocating a “progressive” evolution of slower, measured change. Hayden saw in Obama a long-awaited vehicle for “economic democracy,” an instrument to channel an equal distribution of wealth—“economic justice,” or “redistributive change,” as Obama himself once put it. …

2. Michael Klonsky: Klonsky was described by fellow radical Mark Rudd as a Stalinist, too far to the Left even for Rudd and company. Klonsky had been raised a radical. In the 1960s he walked in lockstep with his far-left parents. Eventually, Klonsky, like Mao Tse-tung, bolted from the USSR and Stalin, but not from Communism. Klonsky became head of the New Communist Movement in the United States. He found CPUSA too reactionary for his tastes. The former SDS national secretary followed the Maoist path all the way to Red China, [until it disappointed him by freemarket reforms].

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda

3. Jane Fonda: The endorsement of Fonda, Vietcong cover girl [she posed with a Vietcong anti-aircraft gun that was used to shoot at American planes], prompted Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm to opine, “There goes his [Obama’s] crossover vote.” (Of course it didn’t matter, Obama was elected)

It should be noted that Obama ran for president as a centrist, not as National Journal’s most liberal member of the Senate. It worked. As Mark Rudd (another radical) put it, Obama “didn’t blow it.”

But that raises a question. Is Obama a centrist? Is he as leftist as Mark Rudd, Tom Hayden, and the rest? Is he honest in the way he portrays himself?

Lets go back to the radicals.

Klonsky went home to get a Ph.D. in education (University of South Florida) and began looking to the American classroom as the best platform for Marxist dogma. He landed in Chicago—on the same faculty as Bill Ayers. Like Ayers, Klonsky became a professor in the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Education. Klonsky and Ayers have been described as joint “pioneers in small school development.” These “small school” projects were funded to the tune of almost $2 million in grants from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, where Barack Obama was chairman of the board [and from other foundations].

Also:

in switching his goal from revolution to evolution, Tom Hayden embraced not only politics but also higher education. Like many of his SDS brethren, he now teaches college students… Education is now the common refuge of the ’60s radical Left, which searches always for a new generation of disciples. 

Bill Ayers

Bill Ayers

I remember when Barack’s association with people like Bill Ayers was brought up during the election. It was minimized by outlets such as the New York Times.   But Ayers is still quite radical. This is evident in his own account of his work for Venezuela’s Miranda International Center. Ayers has sat on the board of this Venezuelan government think tank,which…. is, in the words of Investor’s Business Daily, “focused on bringing Cuba-style education to Venezuelan school children.” He made at least four pilgrimages to Venezuela during the time that he and Obama served together on the Woods Fund and Annenberg Challenge.

Obama’s career in politics was launched in the living room of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, both members of the sixties “Weathermen”, an outfit that was unabashedly Communist, and very nasty – to the point of trying to blow up soldiers and their dates at a dance.

The Times is not unbiased itself.  Paul Kengor found the following item about its current editor: Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr. in a 1999 book by Susan E. Tifft and Alex S. Jones, The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times:
Pinch was asked by his father, Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger Sr., a simple question: “If a young American soldier comes upon a young North Vietnamese soldier, which one do you want to see get shot?” Pinch responded without hesitation, saying this was “the dumbest question I ever heard in my life.” He answered: “I would want to see the American get shot. It’s the other guy’s country.”

When Obama won the situation was more ironic than people realize.  Paul Kengor writes:

The symbolism was too extraordinary for words—a powerful reminder that Cold War battles were still very much with us. Obama ascended the platform after a gracious John McCain, a Vietnam veteran whom the comrades had once grouped into a category of “fascist pigs,” conceded the election. The revolutionaries once proudly wore rings hammered out of the downed aircraft of McCain’s imprisoned band of brothers, who were suffering unspeakable hell in places like the Hanoi Hilton. McCain’s own aircraft had been shot down; one of the radicals may well have worn debris from his plane. The defeated Republican represented what they had always fought against.

Wow.

It’s interesting how perception governs us.

John McCain

John McCain

McCain is old, and doesn’t look very strong, which is not surprising, given his sojourn in a Vietcong prison. He is soft-spoken. He does not inspire crowds the way Obama does. When asked whether McCain or Obama would make a better “James Bond” (the daredevil spy character) former James Bond actor Daniel Craig said this. “Obama would be the better Bond because — if he’s true to his word — he’d be willing to quite literally look the enemy in the eye and go toe to toe with them. McCain, because of his long service and experience, would probably be a better M,” he adds, mentioning Bond’s boss, played by Dame Judi Dench. “There is, come to think of it, a kind of Judi Dench quality to McCain.”

Columnist Mark Steyn responded to this sarcastically:

Oh, great. John McCain has survived plane crashes, just like Roger Moore in Octopussy. He has escaped death in shipboard infernos, just like Sean Connery in Thunderball. He has endured torture day after day, month after month, without end, just like Pierce Brosnan in the title sequence of Die Another Day. He has done everything 007 has done except get lowered into a shark tank and (as far as we know) bed Britt Ekland and Jill St. John. And yet Daniel Craig gives him the desk job.

Now of course none of the above means that Obama is as radical as the Weathermen. And some people who were radical in their youth do moderate when they get older.  And just because you might have some bad guys rooting for you to get elected, does not make you a reflection of them.

But we know that these radicals did some very bad things, or tried to, and still identify with systems of government that have killed many innocent people for having the wrong beliefs. We also know that Obama spent much time with Frank Marshall Davis, who was a member of the CPUSA, that he associated with Bill Ayers, and according to John Drew, who was a Marxist student at Occidental College when Obama was there, Obama was a Marxist at the time.  It is one thing to be associated with people who want radical social change, it is quite another to be associated with people who want to see your country defeated.  Is the inner Obama more like Bill Ayers – or like Franklin Roosevelt?  There is a world of difference.

Sources:
Mark Steyn in: https://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/articles/333483/bond-bankruptcy

Kengor, Paul (2014-04-08). Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century (Intercollegiate Studies Institute.)

Meeting Young Obama – by John Drew in American Thinker:
http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/meeting_young_obama.html#ixzz3d84qM1yT

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On not believing evil motivations

Recently a former Speaker of the House (and Republican) was exposed as having molested a teenage boy in his past as a teacher.  I found interesting the following remark by the sister of that boy.  “I [the sister] asked him, ‘Stevie, when was your first same-sex experience?’ He just looked at me and said that it was with Dennis Hastert,” Burdge told ABC. “And I just, I know I was stunned, I said, ‘Why didn’t you ever tell me, Stevie? He was your teacher. Why didn’t you ever tell anybody?’ He just looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me in this town? Who is ever going to believe me.'”

Stephen Reinboldt

Stephen Reinboldt

Steve died of AIDS years later, and his sister says of Hastert: “He damaged Steve, I think, more than any of us will ever know.”

Given that there was such a gap between the real Dennis Hastert, and the public persona of Hastert, the disbelief that Steve expected might make sense.  But it would have been wrong to not believe him.

And this raises the question: How many events do we not believe in, because we don’t understand human motivations, and what can go wrong in a human mind such as Hastert’s?

Here is another example.  A young woman in the UK told the police for fourteen years that she was the victim of Pakistani sex rings.  She told them this while it was happening.  They did not believe her.  One reason she mentions is that one policeman described her as a known ‘prostitute’.  It did not occur to him that she was a sex-slave, not a prostitute.  You can be a sex-slave and still walk outside, to all appearances free, because the mafia that enslaves you and terrorizes you has all your practical escape routes shut off.  Especially if you are just 16 years old and poor.

Deborah Lipstadt (after a legal victory)

Deborah Lipstadt (after a legal victory)”

While Jews were being slaughtered in WW-II, skepticism reigned in many quarters in the U.S.  A book on that period by Deborah Lipstadt says that tales from refugees were dismissed as hysteria, and systematic genocide was minimized as not being a systematic campaign of elimination at all.  Even after the war, one soldier found that when he reported to his parents in the US what he had seen, they told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. (There were other reasons for the West’s inaction too).

The book “Dupes” by Paul Kengor tells of liberals who kept defending Communists in the Stalin period.  I suppose that if you are a liberal who believes in income-equality, redistribution, a big government and the rights of the exploited workers, you will assume that Communists, who say similar things, are just like you, perhaps a bit more extreme.  And that would be wrong.  The CPUSA was taking orders from the Kremlin.  Their primary allegiance was not with the Western countries at all.  Perhaps this was hard to believe.

My own history is also illustrative.  I engaged in regrettable behavior at one point, it was caught on film, and the film spread – first over campus, then to the wider society.  Many people have either seen it, or heard of it.  So how did I find out?  Did a copy of the film land in my mailbox?

No.  There were two reactions I ran into.  Avoidance, and hostility.  Some men and women hurled insults in a hit-and-run fashion..  They made remarks to me, and to each other.  I was threatened with annihilation.  I was told I would end up in a hospital.  It was very, very interesting, if I took a detached view of it.

And then it got positively fascinating.  My apartment was entered.  I was drugged.  And what type of drug was used?  It was a “sex-drive-drug”.  At the time, there were no such drugs known, though a few years later one was discovered.   This drug was very, very powerful.  It did not conquer me, it did not pitch me back into the slime.  But that was because I was more decent, and stronger, than my attackers knew.

So now, I was in a paradoxical situation.  Here I had been held up as the ultimate in disgustingness (and a proof of anti-Semitic beliefs), for ten years, and all of a sudden, I was in the position of trying to alert the American public about a threat to them of a quite disgusting nature.

But I had a problem.  The reactions to me were often hit-and-run insults (such as a van zooming by me on a lonely road and a young man shouting “You are so Gay!”) or a man about to exit the train I was in who uttered emphatically and disgustedly “Swine!”, or one young Yale coed telling another “it was terrible what they did to him – but he was so disgusting!” before both clanged the gate to their Yale dorm in my face. And there was deliberate avoidance too by people who were not nasty, but understandably wanted no part of me. So how could I ever collect any evidence that any of this far-fetched tale was true? (None of these insulters wanted to sit down with me and tell me what was going on, or have a debate on what exactly I was guilty of. Also, despite the epithets, my problem was not that I was gay, I was just a mixture of things – a slob with a inexplicable desire to act weirdly, and a person with a history of very low will power, and a nauseating worship of blondes.)

And what proof did I have?  I had subjective “experiences”.  In other words, it could be solid evidence to me, but to anyone else, less than nothing.   Here I was, trying to convince acquaintances that “big things can happen to little people” (namely me), that I was a target not of one, but two conspiracies (if you consider the movie a conspiracy, which in a way it was, because it was kept under wraps).  I was trying to convince people that a technology existed of which they were unaware of, but which some set of really despicable people were very aware of.

And it gets worse.  I believe this “mafia” can spray you with a drug that will put you in a daze.  While you are out of consciousness, they can copy your keys, and eventually get into your house, and then its over, folks.  I believe they have a whole research program into these types of drugs, not only because I’ve been on the receiving end of some of them, but because of the possibilities they open up.

Now there are two explanations here.  The first is that I’m crazy.  This is the easiest conclusion to reach.  In that case the action to take is simple.  I should see a psychiatrist, take an appropriate medication, and perhaps the local police should be monitoring the crazy person (me) in their precinct.

The other possibility is that I’m accurate, and that in fact my story is probably just the tip of an iceberg, and that there is a large and menacing network of the resentful and the criminal who know about this technology and use it, despite the cluelessness of everybody else.

My story does have implications for how we see reality.  When should we accept subjective experience – and when should we reject it?   Slogans such as “remarkable conclusions require remarkable evidence” and “Always believe the simplest explanation” are lacking somehow.  To me, I do have remarkable evidence.  And given that evidence, my conclusions are the simplest explanation.  But to someone else, neither is true.

Motivations of bad people explain much of what we see around us. History shows that the organized malevolent few can control the disorganized majority. Unfortunately we are not good at all in understanding those motivations.

Sources:

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20150605/news/150609295/

Lipstadt, Deborah E. (1986). Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust

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