What they say behind your back

We live in a world where people often don’t say what they really think, at least in public.  But sometimes the truth comes out, and when it does, it reveals attitudes we may not have suspected.  There can be several reasons for the secrecy and I give examples of the following.

One reason not to say what you think is politeness, or the disapproval of the wider society.  This applies to various forms of racism.
A second reason is a desire to win an ideological war.
A third reason motivates the politician who thinks he knows the public interest, but does not trust the public.

FDR (painting)

As for the first reason, take the private thoughts of one politician that Jews swooned over: President Franklin D Roosevelt.  In 1923, as a member of the Harvard board of directors, Roosevelt decided there were too many Jewish students at the college and helped institute a quota to limit the number admitted.

There is evidence of other troubling private remarks by FDR too, including dismissing pleas for Jewish refugees as “Jewish wailing” and “sob stuff”; expressing (to a senator) his pride that “there is no Jewish blood in our veins”; and characterizing a tax maneuver by a Jewish newspaper publisher as “a dirty Jewish trick.” But the most common theme in Roosevelt’s private statements about Jews has to do with his perception that they were “overcrowding” many professions and exercising undue influence.
BillyGrahamThe Watergate tapes had this 1972 exchange about Jews. This time it was between Republicans.  The complaint was about Jews in the media.  President Nixon and the Rev. Billy Graham were recorded saying:
Graham: This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.
Nixon: You believe that?
Graham: Yes, sir.
Nixon: Oh, boy. So do I. I can’t ever say that, but I believe it.
As the Chicago Tribune noted, Nixon, Graham, and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman also cracked anti-Semitic jokes.  And  according to Haldeman’s then-just-published diaries, Graham spoke to Nixon of “Satanic” Jews.  Nixon was more explicit (calling supporter Robert Vesco, who later fled the country to escape criminal charges, “a cheap kike”).
So what are we to make of this? In the case of FDR, his beliefs may explain why the U.S. was so reluctant to take in Jewish refugees, while there was time to save them.
In the case of Nixon, he did help save the Jewish state in the Yom Kippur war (by expediting arms shipments) and actions speak louder than words.
In 2009, John Mann, a Labour parliamentarian and former trade-union official from Yorkshire invoked his experience as an MP in the Palace of Westminster and said:
As a non-Jew I hear things that people would not say if they perceived I was Jewish. I have witnessed shocking disgraceful and outrageous anti-Semitism in Parliament… completely cross-party.
In other words, if you are Jewish and a loyal labour voter, or a loyal conservative party voter, then your affection is unrequited, at least by some.  As President Truman was misquoted as saying: “If you want a friend, get a dog.”
Daniel Bernard
Daniel Bernard

Also in Britain the French Ambassador to London, Daniel Bernard, told his close friend Lord Black of Crossharbour, proprietor of The Daily Telegraph, that Israel was a “shitty little country” and also “Why should we be in danger of World War Three because of these people?”.
Unfortunately for M Bernard the conversation was conveyed by Lord Black to his journalist wife, Barbara Amiel, who referred to the remark in her Daily Telegraph column without identifying Bernard by name.  But within 24 hours, he was identified.
Bernard was of course unhappy about this – he said that the publicity was a breach of trust at a party where he thought he was among friends.

Personally, I believe people have a right to vent.  I would include the French ambassador in that category.  If he believes that the policies of the state of Israel will lead to World War III, he can say it, even with a colorful four letter word.   A reader of this post who disagreed with the above told me that my logic means that I would excuse genocidal speech as well.   My reply is this: there are demonstrators in the streets of Europe who say Hitler’s policy of killing millions of Jews was correct.  These demonstrators are violent and intimidating and so they get away with it.  They don’t say it behind anyone’s back, and they don’t care who hears them.  So why should I get excited that some ambassador uses the ‘s’ word in private when referring to Israel?  And of course suppressing his speech raises serious issues.  One of those issues is: Who decides what to suppress?
I have a Jewish relative who was keen on interfaith discussions with Muslims.  Everyone says nice things to each other’s faces. But are interfaith discussions sincere?
Stephen Steinlight, a Jew with Muslim friends, says that they

have told me in agonizing personal confessions — friends that attended madrassah and then Islamic institutions of higher learning in countries ranging from Morocco to Egypt, Bosnia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — that it is virtually impossible to be reared in classical Islam and not be educated to hate Jews — based on a literalist reading the Koran, where many of the verses concerning Jews (and Christians) are hateful incitements to murder.

The second reason – ideological dishonesty — is illustrated by this story:
In 2010,  in a secretive liberal journalist online discussion forum called JournoList, Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent proposed attacking Mr. Obama’s critics as racists. He wrote:
“If the right forces us all to either defend (radical black minister Jeremiah) Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. . . . This makes them ‘sputter’ with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.”
I would think this was more serious than Bernard’s remarks.  Ackerman’s job description as a journalist is to tell us the truth, not to describe people as racists who are not racists.

A second example of ideological dishonesty being exposed was when hackers penetrated the computer network of University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and leaked a collection of email messages, data files and data processing programs. This trove of private correspondence revealed scientific fraud and data manipulation by scientists concerning the man-made Global Warming Theory.
To give an idea of the flavor: One email said:
“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

A complaint by a peer about paleo-climatologist Hans von Storch said he was responsible for “the publication of crap science ‘in order to stimulate debate’” and that they “must get rid of von Storch” as an editor of the journal Climate Research. Indeed Storch resigned soon after. When the news of ‘Climategate’ broke, Storch must have been interested in seeing these remarks about him.

Then there is the third motive for talking behind your back. This is the idea that you can’t be trusted with the truth.

One example of this was when another microphone that was not turned off: in September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook at a UN development summit in New York. As they sat down, Chancellor Merkel’s microphone, still on, recorded Merkel asking Zuckerberg what could be done to stop anti-immigration postings being written on Facebook. She asked if it was something he was working on, and he assured her it was.
Douglas Murray tells the above story, and then says this:
Remove the right to speak about your frustrations, and only violence is left. Weimar Germany — to give just one example — was replete with hate-speech laws intended to limit speech the state did not like. These laws did nothing whatsoever to limit the rise of extremism; it only made martyrs out of those it pursued, and persuaded an even larger number of people that the time for talking was over.
Andrew Neather
A second example happened in the U.K. Andrew Neather was a speech writer for the Labour Prime Minister of England, Tony Blair, and also worked for Home Secretary Jack Straw. He found out that they and other Laborites ‘dishonestly’ concealed a plan to allow in more immigrants and make Britain more multi-cultural because they feared a public backlash if it was made public.

Neather went on to say that “the policy was intended—even if this wasn’t its main purpose — to rub the right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.” He referred to a secret government report, and his allegations were later proven after a request through the ‘freedom of information act’ secured access to that report. After the response to his remarks got heated, Neather hastened to say that the main purpose was to fill shortages in the work force and that “excitable” right wingers are seeing a plot where there wasn’t any.

Nonetheless, I would, as a voter, want to know if a politician seeking my vote has plans to change my society.  I could agree with it, or disagree with it, but I would want to know.

A third example happened in the U.S.
A microphone that was supposed to be off but was left on picked up this conversation between U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev.
Obama said “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him (Vladimir Putin) to give me space…This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
Medvedev replied “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”
Even if you are a progressive, I would think you would prefer an honest debate about missile defense, not be treated a child whose betters have to make the decision.

If the people you identify with don’t like you, then you should consider the possibilities:

  1. They are right.  There is something wrong with you, or your beliefs, or your behavior.
  2. They are wrong.  There is something wrong with your identifying with them.
  3. They are right about everything else, and just mysteriously wrong about you.

Two progressive Jewish students went to a conference of peers who they believed were fighting the righteous battle against racist speech and hate crimes.  At that conference, Arielle Mokhtarzadeh and Ben Rosenberg heard anti-Semitic statements that were met with applause and approval—statements like “the state of Israel pays Jews to move to Israel to join the army and kill Palestinians” and even “you shouldn’t buy Ben and Jerry’s because they’re Jewish and have a shop in Israel.” A painful moment was when “The whole room—representing a diverse cross-section of progressive activists and students of color—was holding hands, embraced in each other’s support and calling out “Free, free Palestine!”
They walked out, Mokhtarzadeh on the verge of tears.”
In this case, my unasked for advice to Mokhtarzadeh and Rosenberg would be option #2 – don’t identify with leftist causes. I think they chose option #3.

Progressive students at UCLA
Snide remarks made in private don’t always mean all that much. When they do, they can imply an iceberg below the surface – a set of resentments, deserved or not, that you need to know about and understand, or an incipient movement or trend that will affect your future for the worse.


An under-reported war on women

Ann Coulter wants a moratorium on immigration to the United States.  She doesn’t want skills based immigration, she doesn’t want family reunification, she doesn’t want refugees.  She wants it all to stop, now.
To make her case, one of the approaches she takes is to document the horrific behavior toward women that we are getting from some of our immigrants.  I will excerpt 5 stories here (after sanitizing them).  I know that skeptics will say “so what – these cases aren’t representative”.  They are certainly representative of evil though, and that is what this blog is about.  (In her book, Ann tries to document the illegal immigrant crime rate, but she has the handicap that the government doesn’t count it, at least nationally.  She says it is large.)
So here goes:

Story #1:
Zein Isa was a suspected terrorist, so the FBI had a hidden bug in his home, listening to his activities.  His daughter made the mistake of going out with a black boy.  In her parents eyes, this made her a “whore”.  So on the tape, played for the jury, the girl can be heard shrieking as her father says: “Do you know that you are going to die tonight?”.  Then as her Mom held her down, he stabbed his daughter to death.  One of the prosecutors described the tape as “worse than any movie, any film, anything I thought that I would ever hear in my life.”

Story #2:
In 2009, a sixteen-year-old white girl was gang-raped by about a dozen men outside her homecoming dance at Richmond  High School in San Francisco’s Bay Area.  She had gotten bored with the dance and gone outside to call her father for a ride home when a boy she’d known since the seventh grade invited her to drink brandy with his friends in the courtyard.  She agreed, which was a huge mistake.
Over the next few hours, this honors student was gang raped, savagely beaten, and dragged over the concrete by her feet to a dumpster.  The men even urinated on her.

It seems like they hated this girl.  Why?

As the two hour gang rape proceeded, some men watched and cheered.  One witness said “I saw people, like, dehumanizing her;  I saw some pretty crazy stuff…”
The victim survived, but was left with bone fractures, burns, head lacerations.  She was in too much pain for nurses to insert a speculum for the rape exam.
The attackers were all Latino except for one, who was black

Again, why the cheering?  Why didn’t any of the Latinos call the police?  If they had never come to the U.S., and stayed in their home countries, would they treat women this way?

Story #3:
One summer night in June 1993, fourteen-hear-old Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena, who had just turned sixteen, were returning from a pool party, and decided to take a shortcut through a park to make their 11:30 p.m. curfew.  They encountered a group of Hispanic men, who were in the process of discussing “gang etiquette.”. The girls ran away, but one of men, an illegal alien named Jose Ernesto Medellin, grabbed Jennifer and began ripping her clothes off.
Elizabeth Pena heard her friend’s screams, and ran back to help her friend.   This was courageous, but fatal.
For more than an hour, the five Hispanics and one black man raped the teens, beat them, kicked them, stomped on them.  Their teeth were knocked out and their ribs broken.  One of the Hispanic men told Medellin’s fourteen year-old brother to “get some,” so he raped one of the girls too.   But when it was time to kill the girls, Medellin said his brother was “too small to watch” and dragged the girls into the woods.
There the girls were forced to kneel on the ground and a belt or shoelace was looped around their necks.  Then a man on each side pulled on the cord as hard as he could.  The men strangling Jennifer pulled so hard they broke the belt.  Medellin later complained that “the bitch wouldn’t die.”.  When it was done, he repeatedly stomped on the girls necks, to make sure they were dead.
Medellin then bragged about this in front of his sister-in-law.

Again, the question that pops in my mind is “why”?


Jennifer Ertman, Elizabeth Pena

Four days later, Jennifer Ertman’s  father, tipped off that bodies had been found rushed to the scene.  He was hoping his daughter was not one of them.  The police held him back, as he shouted, “Does she have blond hair?  Does she have blond hair?”

Story #4:
I’ve described the case of three young girls who were kidnapped and spent ten years as captives in the house of Ariel Castro.  I did not think of this particularly as a “Hispanic” crime, in fact in another post in this blog, I describe a hero policeman, also named Castro, who rescued people from a burning house under very dangerous conditions.  But Coulter mercilessly follows up:  It turned out Castro wasn’t the only Hispanic raping young girls–on his block.  Elias Acevedo, forty nine, who lived down the block, routinely raped his own daughters when they were children.  He also had raped and killed two of his neighbors. Ann says “All in all, it wasn’t a great street to go trick-or-treating on.”

Story #5:
Marcia Poole was driving through Berkeley when she saw a group of Indian men carrying a rolled carpet to the back of a van.  The only thing wrong with the picture was that a woman’s leg drooped out of the carpet.  Nearby, another Indian girl, this one crying, was being dragged by other men toward the same van.  Poole tried to intervene, but the head Indian yelled at her to butt out of a “family affair.”.  Then the police came, and the Indians scattered.

Reddy – importer of slaves

The head Indian was multimillionaire named Lakireddy Bali Reddy.  He told the police that the girls were his nieces.  The crying girl, he claimed, was a roommate of the others.  They had Carbon Monoxide poisoning, so he was transporting them to the hospital.  The Berkeley police fell for the story, “In a flash of investigative genius Inspector Clouseau would admire, the policewoman on the scene allowed Bali Reddy to translate for the crying girl, who did not speak English.”
Then a high school journalism class decided to investigate the story.  “Not having attended Columbia Journalism School, the young scribes were unaware of the prohibition on committing journalism that reflects poorly on Third World immigrants.”
These young journalists found out that Reddy used H-1B visas to bring in slave labor from India.  Dozens of Indian slaves were working in his buildings, and at his restaurant.  And those girls were Reddy’s concubines that he purchased from their parents when they were twelve years old.  He purchased them for sex.

These five stories are completely outrageous, and beyond any expectation I had when I picked up Coulter’s book.  But can we tar all Indians, Mexicans (and other third worlders) with the same brush?  Of course not!  In my experience, and in the experience of people I know, there are plenty of people from India, Mexico, and Africa that are the soul of honor, and good natured.  Nonetheless, something ugly is also true here, and we should get to the bottom of it.
In more general terms:
The New York Times reports that India is “one of the most unsafe countries in the world for women.”  Mexico, however, outdoes India in the rate of gang rape.  A report from the Inter-American Children’s Institute says that Latin America is second only to Asia in the sexual exploitation of women and children because sex abuse is “ingrained into the minds of the people.”  Women and children are “seen as objects instead of human beings with rights and freedoms.”
According to the Latin American and Caribbean Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (RELAC), 77 percent of reported sexual assaults in Lima, Peru, are against child victims.  And in Argentina it was found in the late 1990s that girls between the ages of ten and fifteen accounted for more than 15 percent of all births.

Ann claims that before the big immigration from the third world that started with Ted Kennedy’s changes to our immigration policies, gang rape and child rape were rare or non-existent in America.  She claims that outside Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S. and Western Europe, most of the rest of the world is a humanitarian disaster.  And that is one reason she wants a moratorium.

Ann Coulter

I agree with her recommendation.  I think we should shut the doors for a while.  Then we should find out how who the bad guys are in our immigration pool, and put them where they can do no harm. This is in the interest of all of us, whether our ancestors immigrated in the 1840s (like some of mine did) or immigrated yesterday.

Adios America – Ann Coulter – (2015)


A Muslim immigrant in Germany who does not feel grateful…

Distorting your people’s psychology – the case of North Korea’s “People’s Republic”

Suki Kim
Suki Kim

Suki Kim was brought up in Seoul, went to Barnard College in New York, and then went to North Korea to teach English to the sons of the North Korean elite.  Her fellow teachers were religious Christians, but her own motivation was curiosity.  Out of her experience she wrote a book called Without You, There is no Us. The book title is a line from a North Koreans song.  “You” is the great leader.  His picture is everywhere, and cannot be moved.  His name is carved into mountain sides.   His ideology, Juche (which roughly means “self-reliance”) was taught daily to her students.

The Calendar in the DPRK starts at year zero, that year being the birth of the original great leader.  There have been three generations of leaders, each the son of the other, the first Kim Il Sung, the second Kim Jong-il, and the third Kim Jong-un.

Kim_Il-sung and Kim_Jong-il statues
Kim_Il-sung and Kim_Jong-il statues

These great leaders are very careful to censor what their people know of the outside world, and not to let them leave the country.  These leaders don’t seem “great” from our point of view, given that eighty percent of their citizens experience food shortages and hunger.  It is estimated that forced labor, executions, and concentration camps have claimed over a million lives since 1948 (A 1990s famine killed an additional three million).

Suki had to spend most of her time on the school campus, which was guarded by female guards – not against outside threats, but to keep the teachers from leaving except on authorized trips.  On one of these trips – to an apple orchard, she witnessed gaunt and emaciated people in the countryside.  The most interesting aspect of her stay in the DPRK was not the poverty, which she expected, but the effect a regime like this has on its people’s psychology.

For instance, it was impossible to teach her students how to write an essay, because an essay starts with a proposition to prove, and the rest has to marshal evidence for that proposition.   But these students had not learned critical thinking. In fact critical thinking was dangerous.
Suki did not want to endanger her students by telling them facts they were not supposed to know.  She says

..I hope they have forgotten everything I inspired in them and have simply grown to become soldiers of the regime…I do not want to imagine what might happen if they …began questioning the system.  I cannot bear the idea that any of my students, my boys who so eagerly shouted, “Good morning, Professor Kim! How are you?” every time I walked into the classroom–might end up somewhere dark and cold, in one of the gulags that exist all over North Korea.

When she first entered her classroom, she found herself standing in front of twenty-six young men, all of them neatly dressed and sitting up very straight.

Something about that first moment in the classroom felt so clean and serene…They were young, and I remember them as beautiful.

These students were the sons of the ruling echelon of North Korea. They were friendly and orderly and enthusiastic.  They were indoctrinated: spending their afternoon studying Juche, and they wore badges of the Eternal President over their hearts.
They played sports in the evenings, but

group spirit dominated everything…They came to the cafeteria in groups and lived on assigned floors in groups…Being divided into groups and ranked in hierarchies–that was what they knew.  An individual action was unthinkable.

Suki says they did not like to volunteer answers in class, though when they were called on, they would immediately answer.  They were baffled by the pronoun “my”.  Pyongyang was “our” city, and the DPRK was “our” country.

The teachers were under surveillance, and Suki says:

…how quickly we gave up our freedom, how quickly we tolerated the loss of that freedom, like a child being abused, in silence.  In this world, there were no individual demands, and asking permission for everything was infantilizing.  So we began to understand our students…The notion of following your heart’s desire, of going wherever you chose, did not exist here…

There was a terror in North Korea – even the well fed students of the elite showed sudden fear in certain situations, though of course they were extremely patriotic.
On a drive back from an excursion to a mountain, things went wrong, the time was late and the bus was driving at night, which it wasn’t supposed to be doing.  Suki looked out.

There were no lights on in any of the houses we passed…Either they had no electricity or there was a blackout, which was not uncommon in this country.  But I had never experienced a scene so entirely devoid of noise.  By “noise,” I do not mean literal sound, but the noise of life…I saw no running dogs or children, no chimney smoke, no flash of color from a TV set…what troubled me more was the fact that I did not know and would never know the truth of what I was seeing.

Near the end of the summer semester, Suki was told that she would be attending the ceremony for the 58th Anniversary of the Great Victory (over South Korea and America). When she went to the stadium, she describes how about a hundred men wearing army uniforms came out on the stage, their jackets covered with gold medals.  There were two women among them…It seems likely that one of them was Kim Kyung-hui, sister of Kim Jong Il and wife of Jang Sung-tack, then the second most powerful man in North Korea.  (In 2013 Jang was executed for treason.)

One of the men walked to the podium and read a speech about the glorious achievements of Kim Il-sung and the heroic way he had fended off the attacks of the American imperialists and won the war.  Curse words directed at the United States and South Korea were scattered throughout the speech. He warned that if South Korea continued its aggressive behavior, Seoul would turn into a “sea of blood” filled with “death and corpses.” Ironically, this patriotic man was removed from his post in 2012, and it is believed that he was either sent to a prison camp or executed.

Let us leave Suki’s narrative here, and think a little. How did the DPRK become Communist?  It started with Japan’s conquest in World War-II. When Japan was defeated, America was worried that Russia would occupy the entire peninsula.  The American made an agreement with the Soviets so that the U.S. would have a occupation zone in the south, and the Soviets in the north.   Kim Il-sung, who had spent the last years of the war training with Soviet troops in Manchuria, became the first great leader.  So the system was imposed on Korea from without.  The Korean war started with the Communist forces pushing the South Koreans and the Americans to the south. Under General MacArthur, the U.S. Marines executed a surprise attack at the port of Inchon that almost won the war, until the Communist Chinese invaded and pushed back the U.N. forces. The war ended up with the status quo – the country split into two very different systems. The Communist coalition had lost an estimated 1.6 million soldiers in order to preserve the paradise of North Korea.

So is it our problem?  It obviously is.  The DPRK has missiles that can reach the United States, and nuclear weapons.  It might seem rash to believe that they would use them, but they believe their ideology, and they constantly teach their people that the United States is the enemy.

Is there anything good about the DPRK?  After all, Suki did like her students.  In the U.S. 145,100 public school teachers were physically attacked by students at their schools in the course of a single school year and another 276,700 public school teachers were threatened with injury by a student in that school year.   Can we point fingers?

I would say that maybe there is more safety of one kind in this type of country, but if you are always terrified of saying the wrong thing and paying terrible consequences for what you said, and if your knowledge of the world is severely filtered by ideologues, and if you have never learned critical thinking, then I am glad I am not in your shoes or your country.

The West has its intolerant youth, and the right to disagree is in danger on college campuses.  For instance, conservative speaker David Horowitz, liberal pro-Israel speaker Alan Dershowitz, and an anti-feminist speaker [Christine Hoff Summers] have to have armed guards when they speak on campuses in the U.S.  In England, a government-backed study found that some schools are dropping both the Holocaust and the Crusades from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils.

North Korea is a specially successful example of people who are willing to put millions under total and absolute control.  If millions die in the process, the regime admits to no fault. It is remarkable in the near-worship of the leaders that is required. Intellectual honesty is not prized in that country. We should be as different from that country as possible, so lets hold on to the ability to have peaceful debate, the ability to revise beliefs based on empirical facts, the ability to question authority, and the ability to be honest with others and with ourselves.

Conservatives should not trust Putin

Naïve American conservatives want to like  Putin.
Current presidential candidate Donald Trump said this of Russia’s leader: “I’ve always felt fine about Putin, I think that he’s a strong leader, he’s a powerful leader…”
Conservative columnist Rachel Marsden said this in a recent column:
Russia is moving in the opposite direction from the West in critical ways: There’s a sense here that Putin is trying to preserve what is good of Russian culture and character while steering the country towards a freer way of thinking and operating — albeit still at a very Soviet pace. The West, by contrast, seems to be destroying its heritage and roots with initiatives straight out of the leftist playbook while becoming increasingly more shackled economically
Both Trump and Marsden should read Winter is Coming, a warning about Vladimir Putin by former World Champion Chess player, Garry Kasparov.
Garry Kasparov
Kasparov writes that China and Russia have social compacts which exchange economic stability for their citizen’s human rights.
They have propaganda instead of news, sham elections, and minimal freedom of speech and assembly.
But he tells us:
Do not fall for the false choice.  Repression may begin as a means to an end, but it always ends up being an end unto itself.

There was a window of opportunity under Boris Yeltsin, who preceded Putin, and who allowed a free press, but much went wrong in the effort to supplant the old Communist economy with a free market.

The West had poured money into Russia, but…
What the West failed to understand,..is that the average Russian was more likely to point a finger at foreign financial institutions and governments for imposing what many Russians perceived as a corrupt and dysfunctional capitalist system.  That it wasn’t really much of a capitalist system at all yet wasn’t understood.  This resentment was compounded by how Yeltsin (and later Putin)..routinely deployed anti-Western rhetoric to pass off any blame from landing on their own shoulders.
Russians also wanted a tough guy to stand up to the criminals and the Western influences.
Every day struggling Russians read about the new billionaires being created by cozy deals with the government.  You didn’t have to understand how things like privatization vouchers, loans-for-shares and rigged auctions worked to realize there was a huge scam going on.
At the time, Russian media was free, but now it is not, and so though there is plenty of corruption now, Russians can’t get angry at something they don’t know about.
When Yeltsin appointed Putin to Prime Minister, Putin became the public face of a new war in Chechnya.  It was an indiscriminate war, that caused thousands of deaths and countless refugees.  Average Russians were supportive of the campaign, and Kasparov was also quite sympathetic to it.
Chechen criminal gangs were active all over Russia, and for many Russians the crackdown in Chechnya was hopefully going to end the plague of corruption and criminality in the cities where they lived.  There were other reasons as well, including an invasion of Dagestan and bombings of apartment buildings in Russia (but see notes – Chechens may not have been the bombers)
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Chechen war, it was a human rights disaster, with prisoners rounded up indiscriminately, and routinely murdered or tortured.
Clues to the agenda of a closed society can come from its internal propaganda.
Kasparov says that government propaganda in Russia portrays it as a victim, humiliated by the West, and surrounded by enemies that are intent on holding it back.  Kasparov quotes Robert Paxton’s  book “Anatomy of Fascism” that says that Fascism includes
the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external.
When Putin began his war in Ukraine, propaganda portrayed the new democratic government in Kyiv as being full of fascists and Nazis, and Russia had to intervene to protect the ethnic Russians, and even the Ukrainian Jews.  This might indicate that the Russian government cares about Jews, but on the other hand, Russian propaganda also tells stories of Jewish oligarchs supposedly running Ukraine, apparently in hopes to discredit the Ukrainian government to its own citizens.
After leaving the word of chess, Kasparov became a political activist, and toured Russia.  His experiences are instructive.  “There was no chance for me to get on TV and discuss my future plans.” and groups that ranged from pranksters to dangerous criminals, all on a [government] payroll, went after him.  Youth groups assigned members to heckle and throw things at him wherever he went to speak and of course these groups were never bothered by the police. He was bashed in the head with a wooden chessboard by a young man at an event in Moscow.  He was sprayed all over with red ketchup.  And finally, he describes how the supposed free elections were a farce.

So what should the West do, if anything?

In Kasparov’s view, we should not disregard human rights.

Just like old times, Moscow has become an ally of troublemakers and anti-democratic rulers around the world.  Nuclear aid to Iran, missile technology to North Korea, military equipment to Sudan, Myanmar, and Venezuela, making friends with Hamas; this was how Putin repaid the West for keeping its mouth shut about human rights in Russia for eight years.

Kasparov compares Russia’s government with a Mafia, with “…a long string of convenient deaths among leading critics, eliminating traitors, the code of secrecy and loyalty…”

But asking the West to be more aggressive on human rights, may, in this bloggers opinion, run into roadblocks since economic sanctions on Russian cronies of Putin, or arms buildups in Eastern European countries, or military aid to Ukraine, could be considered by many risk-averse Westerners as a provocation of Russia that could lead to war.

There has been much dispute in the U.S. about our efforts to “nation build” in Iraq and Afghanistan and our attempts to install democracies in both countries.  Much of Iraq is now under the control of Jihadists.   The Islamist Taliban is gaining again in Afghanistan.  The U.S. is supporting Islamic rebels versus the Syrian dictator, while Russia is supporting the Syrian dictator and already, a Russian plane that strayed from Syria into Turkish airspace has been shot down (Turkey’s leader is a good friend of Obama).

But to counter the mindset of not antagonizing other countries it could be argued that by ignoring the “total control” that Putin quickly imposed on Russia, that we have lost an opportunity to avert the “Winter” that Kasparov thinks is coming and which will cause hard times for us.

Note: among the reasons for the War vs Chechnya was four terror bombings of apartment buildings in Russia which were blamed on the Chechens by the FSB.  However, the bombers may not have been Chechens at all, see: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1069686/posts

What its like to be persecuted (plus a little crazy).

I was on a solitary bike ride toward the road up Mt. Greylock, in the North West corner of Massachusetts. As I made my way along the rather boring route 22 in New York State, I found a side road with a walking trail. I locked up my bike, went on a walk.
“THEY don’t know where I am right now” I said to myself. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I knew that when I came back to the road, they would catch up and the weight of troubles would settle right back. But for a moment, I almost felt like a normal human being.

Being persecuted for the long term changes you. You feel dull and depressed constantly. And tense. You don’t even notice the tension after a while, but its there.
I got back on the road. A car with young men came by me. They shouted something. One reached out to knock me over. He missed by an inch. I kept going.
I spent the night at a bed and breakfast. The next day I rode into Massachusetts, rested by the side of the road, and then cycled up the rest of the 3400 feet to the top of Greylock.Greylock

In the lodge at the top  of the mountain, I started chatting with the woman behind the desk, and then a man walked in. He saw that the woman and I were quite friendly, and he gave both of us a contemptuous look. He looked at me. “This man knows me!” I thought. He reached into his pocket. I turned, and a wave of fine dust hit my face. “He’s one of THEM!”  I thought  “and I’ve been drugged!”. I walked quickly to my room, wondering what  the effect of the drug would be.  Soon I had the urge to talk aloud. I couldn’t stop. The thoughts came out like a stream of consciousness, at top volume. Outside my window a couple was getting a tour. Their guide and the couple stared at my window. The guide looked sick, which was not surprising as I was repeating some curse words that had been directed by “bad guys” at a woman I had known.
I told myself to shut up, but it was hard to shut up.  It was as if I was on a drug.  I certainly appeared to be a lunatic.

The next day I headed down the hill in the very early morning, hoping that the “bad guys” hadn’t put a thin rope across the road to interrupt my descent with a flying dive into the asphalt. They hadn’t.
Anyone reading this will recognize pure paranoia. That would be understandable, but it would be a misdiagnosis.

When you are in a real situation, where you have enemies that don’t make life easy by identifying themselves, you can easily become paranoid.

Imagine this (fictional) situation. You have robbed a bank, and the robbery went wrong. Maybe the mask slipped, or the getaway car crashed. You have taken off, and managed to get a thousand miles away, to a quiet road in a rural state, before your money ran out. As you walk, wondering what to do, a lone car appears in the distance.

lonePoliceAs it approaches, you see its a police car. You say to yourself – “The games up!” and you consider running into the adjacent field. The police car reaches you, and the policeman waves. All of a sudden you realize that the game is not up after all.
So the advice I give myself, is that whenever an experience is at all ambiguous, to dismiss it. There is enough bad reality going on, in the world, and in my life, that I don’t have to believe bad fiction.
My experiences would fill a book, but I’ll mention a few here:
My saga started in high school, when I had some sort of depressive illness. There was a fatigue that was worst in the morning, and frozen fingers, and an lack of willpower. I did sickening things, and ended up the butt of jokes, and even was called a “filthy Arab” by one of the students (I’m Jewish).
I’ve had people express serious disgust and animosity in the many years following, but people should realize that being out of control is no fun.  If you are so lacking in self-discipline that you eat so much food that you feel sick, and you repeat this every day, you are more to be pitied than despised.  If you shame yourself with sexual compulsions to such an extent that you feel your body burning up in tension as you sit in class – you really should not be self-destructing in school at all, you should be in front of a psychiatrist, hopefully one willing to experiment with drugs.  Interestingly, one of the medications tried on me for my bulimia was an anti-depressant, but that came years later.

I’d say to those people  who have expressed understandable contempt sporadically over more than three decades, that participating in the humiliation of a person who has been through the wringer, while simultaneously ignoring the very nasty and disgusting events that go on in the world, is a deviation from reality.

I live in two universes. There is the universe of my brothers and parents, who don’t believe anything untoward has happened, apart from having a son/sibling who has been crazy for 35 years of his almost 60 years of life, and shows no sign of ever getting cured.

Therefore much of my life I talk (with them) about normal topics (such as computer issues, or politics, or the bargain on cherries at Stop n’ Shop). That is strange too, its as if I’m on the Titanic, discussing my favorite song as the iceberg cracks a hole in the hull.

Anyway, in graduate school my regrettable propensity to disgusting behavior was set off again, this time by a very pretty young woman who looked my way. I won’t go into the details, but this time my behavior was recorded for posterity on video, probably by a fellow student in my dorm.
The video resonated, and became quite popular, and some very unkind people made some very hurtful comments – enough to consist a micro-aggression tsunami in the very least. That they weren’t politically correct didn’t seem to bother them though.

In such a situation the target (me) starts pushing back. I tried to rehearse arguments against these people, and would go through the landscape, sometimes talking aloud as I thought of replies. Of course trying to defend disgusting behavior is not what I wanted to be doing.
So life wasn’t good.
I tried writing to the woman whose pretty face had destroyed the city of Troy (actually, it did nothing to Troy, though it ended doing something to me).  I was asking her help vs the video.  My parents found out about this and consigned me to a mental hospital. That was an unpleasant experience – I’m a person who likes to move, and I was confined to a small ward, forced to take huge quantities of Thorazine, plus ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) and on top of that, my parents convinced the psychiatrist that I was an anorexic, so I was given the choice of being locked up in extremely small glass room, or eating huge protein shakes along with the meals.
After two months of this, I used the payphone, called a relative of mine who is a psychiatrist, and he said “You don’t belong there, I’ll get you out!” And he did.  But now, I had a stay in a mental hospital permanently in my record.  My appearance had also changed somewhat for the worse in the hospital, due to all the overfeeding combined with drugs.

Being incorrigible, when the movie struck again, this time in New Haven, CT, I went again into self-defense mode.  I started putting posters up in the various spots that the town and campus had for that purpose. In them, I tried to defend myself against the movie. To my dismay I noticed that a local Chinese restaurateur covered my posters with his own. I guess to him making a living was at least as urgent as my problems were to me, certainly more urgent than preserving some anonymous crazy poster about a movie (assuming he could read English).

Yale.  One of my posters would have been on that wall.

I decided that my posters were not getting anywhere, so I crossed over into the slightly illegal world.  I invaded the college library, and put my posters on the books of people who were away for whatever reason (maybe they had stepped away to find a book, or go to the bathroom). I invaded some of the professor’s offices, and put posters on their desks.  I can imagine the reaction – some peaceful professor goes to prepare for a lecture and realizes a possibly dangerous lunatic has visited his desk.  In retrospect, I was an obsessed nuisance, and a fool.
But, my goal was to start a discussion. And judging from the dramatic comments I ran into, I succeeded.
Unfortunately, I also attracted attention from criminals.

The criminals devised their plan, and executed it. As the days and weeks went on, I started feeling sick. And stranger yet, my brain was changing.  My sex drive was elevated to huge heights (or depths, if you prefer). This reminded me of my past, and I hated it.  Feelings, thoughts, dreams – all were affected.  It was a very unpleasant experience. As the year went on, it just got worse and worse.

Finally, I had the idea of changing my lifestyle. I thought that instead of eating at home, I would bicycle from work into the nearby hills, after first buying some sardines and yogurt and fruit at the local supermarket. So I did that for several days, and all the symptoms cleared up. I did not understand why they cleared up, or why I had them in the first place, but I was overjoyed.
Then one day, I bought a bottle of spring water, drank some of it, and put in my refrigerator. I read a newspaper, and phoned my parents, and went to sleep.
That night someone came into my apartment. He headed for my refrigerator. He put a soluble powder (or drops of a liquid) into the bottle I had bought. Then he left.
The next morning, I rose, eager to go to work (my job was interesting) but first I made the mistake of drinking the rest of the spring water.
Immediately I felt very, very sick. I felt like punching the walls. But the strangest and most revealing feeling was that my sex drive rose, and rose, and rose. Now, I finally understood what had been happening all year. I finally understood why my handsome looks had faded that year, why I had all that sexual imagery tormenting me for the past 12 months, and why I had felt so sick for so long.
I staggered down Whalley Avenue toward work. My brain was a mess of raging urges. I stopped in a market, and was shocked how all the staid, middle aged housewives doing their shopping looked like seductresses. I reached my office, but I could not work. I took leave, and as I took the train to my parent’s town, I noticed my kidney area felt as if a huge number of little items had landed and attached themselves.
The symptoms did not subside in 24 hours. They subsided in about two weeks. Many people, I am convinced, would have changed their behavior in those two weeks.  They would have succumbed to the very dramatic urge amplification. I think I know what saved me – partly having already been so completely without willpower for years, I had finally developed ways of coping and a fierce desire not to be back in the swamp. I also went to a psychiatrist and asked for some kind of mood stabilizer, and he gave me Zyprexa, which also helped.

If you were in the mood to humor me, you might ask “why” at this point.  If a criminal wanted to target me, why didn’t they shoot me on a dark night?  What is the purpose, as one woman mentioned in my presence, of “sexually compromising him”?  Why, as another woman said in my presence, should, indeed must, “he be kept down!”  For this to make any sense, there must be a big chunk of my story that is missing, in the very least.

In the years that followed I have seen (and felt) a very morally defective subclass of people that pass as normal, and can look and act normal. But when the mask drops – there is something frightening beneath.

But the good news is that I have met people who treated me with a friendliness and warmth that surprised me in a different way. I am a fairly dried-up individual inside – I can’t feel positive about my life, I feel persecuted, and I carry a huge weight on my (mental) shoulders. But to see how genuinely nice some total strangers have been, is a revelation too.

It may be obvious, but I was still surprised to find that for a person to be frightening and powerful and effective and evil, he does not have to be seven foot tall. Evil comes in both genders, and in all shapes, sizes, and ages, and races. So does good.

But here is my point about paranoia. I firmly believe that the bad guys can spray people from close up with drugs that have been made into an aerosol or a fine powder. In fact, there is proof of that in one case, you can google the drug Scopolamine, which you will find is used by criminals, and sprayed at people.

I also believe that the bad guys ran with the technology, developing new types of drugs, and new ways to deliver them. As far as delivering them to victims, victims can be sprayed from a car, or in a crowd, or on a train.  And victims can absorb drugs (like other chemicals) by contact as well.

Now obviously, if I believe that, I will be in a constant state of paranoia, even if the Mob takes a winter break for a month and goes to Hawaii to surf. While they are walking on the beach, I am here, looking over my shoulder in the cold Northeast, and if a car passes and a wave of dust hits my face, I will wonder if I have been hit. If a wave of droplets enters my mouth, I will likewise wonder if something has happened. If I take a nap in a deserted room in a library, and I wake up and there is strong perfume of a rather obnoxious variety around me, I will wonder as well.

But as I said, there is more than enough incontrovertible evidence so that I can dismiss all these experiences, and still have enough remaining to be convinced that my parallel world is the real one. My life has been derailed, my world has shrunk (physically I cannot travel more than 30 miles without running into eventual inevitable reprisals) and my career cannot of course go on under the circumstances.

The joke’s on me. But the joke’s on everyone else too. Consider this. If drugs can be sprayed at me, they can be sprayed at you. The drugs include
1. drugs that amplify urges
2. drugs that put you to sleep
3. drugs that put you into a daze
4. drugs that cause serious heart pains and damage that takes days to recover from (you never fully recover).
5. drugs that make you talk.
6. a drug that gives you such a headache that you will ignore your surroundings, or misunderstand them.

You can be hit with these, and not know what hit you. You will put it down to accident, or disease, or the inexplicable bad luck that happens to people.
Of course you could be correct that no drugs, no foul play is involved.  There is no way to know, which makes it all the more creepy.

In other words, what I’m saying is because the bad guys wanted me to know what was going on, I do know some of the tip of the nasty iceberg out there, but many of you may be attacked, and you will not even know that you were attacked.

In some ways I am saner than most people. I know the temptation of paranoid thinking. I know what it is like to jump to unwarranted conclusions.  So I know what to avoid.  There have been times when I’ve been demonstrably wrong, and I’ve learned from those times.  But I also know not to shy away from radical conclusions, when  they are warranted.
The joke is on all of us, unfortunately.

Stealing America – rich capitalists – or envious progressives?

Dinesh D’Souza wrote a book called Stealing America in which he applies the lessons he learns being imprisoned with hard core criminals to the progressives who he says are stealing the wealth of America. This sounded wrong to me right off the bat, because I looked at the left as misguided utopians. But Dinesh’s book is worth reading, whether you end up agreeing with him or not. He starts off saying that :

The founders recognized that every system of government is vulnerable to theft. In monarchies, the king has the power to steal from the people. In aristocracies, the aristocrats have the power to steal from the people. And in democracies, the majority has the power to steal from the rest of the people..

He says that to create an anti-theft society, the founders wrote the constitution, which enumerated what the government could do, giving it no authority to do anything else.
He says the progressives talk often about the greed of capitalists, but

the greed and selfishness is not in capitalism; it is in human nature. Capitalism takes human nature as it is, and seeks to channel it in a way that serves fairness and decency. One may say that capitalism civilizes greed in much the same way that marriage civilizes lust.

Progressives believe in taking from those who have more, to help those who have less. Dinesh also saw examples of this mindset among the criminals he spoke to.

Consider the case of Hero, a South Side Mexican who beat and robbed an old African American woman. I learned about the incident in the confinement center from one of his fellow gang members, Sancho…
“We called the woman Mabs,” Sancho told me. “She had lived in the neighborhood from the time we were kids. We didn’t talk to her, because Mexicans don’t like to talk to black people, but everyone recognized her, because she was bent over, you know, and walked with a cane and a little dog…
Apparently Hero, one of the young punks in the Forty-Fifth Street gang, decided to jump Mabs and take her money….It wasn’t as easy as one might expect. The woman put up quite a fight, whopping the guy with her cane and even biting him. Still what can an elderly woman do against a strapping young man..she ended up unconscious in the street while the punk made off with her ring and a paltry sum of money.
When word got our in the gang about what happened, Sancho said, “Everyone felt bad. We didn’t know this woman, but we thought it was pretty f*cked-up to go after a person who had even less, you know, than we did.

On the other hand, this same gang had no problem with Hero when he

beat the sh*t out of this Asian store owner. The wife and son showed up, so he beat the sh*t out of them. Then he cleaned out the place. I think he got nearly two grand from that job. We were like f*ckin A!

Dinesh says that”in their [the gang’s] mind, it is fundamentally unfair for someone to have more than they do. Therefore it is perfectly fair to rob them. The same principle, it seems applies to modern progressivism.”

As far as crooked progressive politicians, Dinesh goes after a woman who may well be our next president.  He says the

Clinton foundation has raised more than $2 billion in contributions. A substantial portion of that came from foreign governments…The foundation, although ostensibly a charitable enterprise, gives only one dollar out of ten to charity.

Good things happened to donors to the Clinton foundation. To take just one example:

Mining tycoon Stephen Dattels in 2009 donated two million shares of stock in his company to the Clinton Foundation. Two months later, with the support of the U.S. government, including one Hillary Clinton, the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh pressured that nation to reauthorize a mining permit that benefited Dattel’s company. The Clinton Foundation never disclosed Dattels’s donation.

Two of the other examples he cites (from Peter Schweizer’s book, Clinton Cash) are worse, because they affected U.S. national security.

Hillary Clinton wrote her thesis on Saul Alinsky, an activist she admired who used clever methods to achieve “social justice”.

One stunt was to have thousands of activists walk into banks and open up accounts of one dollar each, in effect paralyzing the bank’s normal operations. This became the model for a number of leftist groups that took up the cause of bank intimidation, notably an Alinskyite organization called ACORN. Supposedly banks were discriminating against poor and minority home loan applicants. Even though such applicants had less wealth, less income, and less reliable credit histories, these groups insisted that banks should lower their lending standards to accommodate them. According to these activists, home ownership was a “right”…

Hillary helped to raise money for ACORN. So what did the noble acts of the organization lead to?  The lowering of previously strict lending standards played a large part in the housing bubble and collapse that caused so much financial damage to America, and helped discredit the Republican government at the time, leading disgusted voters to vote for Barack Obama (who was also associated with ACORN). Quite ironic.

Alinsky recalls that from his earliest years he disliked rules and had little respect for other people’s property. “..I was the kind of kid who’d never dream of walking on the grass until I’d see a sign, “KEEP OFF THE GRASS,” and then I’d stomp all over it.”
At sixteen, Alinsky moved out of the house and in his words, “was shackin’ up with some old broad of twenty-two.” On the slum streets he learned the art of petty thievery..
He got into the University of Chicago, and proposed to his professors a unique project: an in-depth study of Chicago’s criminal gangs. He managed to befriend the gang of Al Capone, and says “I was a nonparticipating observer in their professional activities, although I joined their social life of food, drink and women. Boy, I sure participated in that side of things, it was heaven.”

alinskyUnfortunately for the rest of us, according to D’Souza, Alinsky realized that politics was the answer to his desire “to emulate the Mob’s shakedown operations without getting killed.” He used lessons from his criminology experiences to launch shakedowns of various companies, and he taught his techniques to other activists.

Alinsky does not says his motives were thievery or envy.  He said the real enemies (of the middle class) are the “corporate power elite that runs and ruins this country.”
Dinesh does not buy this motive. He asks “What has this corporate power elite done that is so reprehensible? For Alinsky, this is the wrong question.. The real question is a very simple one: who has the money?”

Dinesh grew up in India, which he says is getting better, but “crime and corruption reach into the highest echelons of government…and truth be told, the rest of the population is pretty much implicated, because its hard to get by without participating in at least some types of illicit and corrupt activity.”
He talks of a fellow who was elected to be a governmental minister;

he had a long criminal record, and had in fact conducted his election campaign from prison. I was so shocked that I called my uncle, ..who has worked closely with the Indian police force, to explain what was going on…[The Uncle replied] “there are close connections between politicians and gangsters. In this country, most people go into politics for one purpose–to loot the people.” The Uncle also told Dinesh  about a minister who was involved in a hit and run – he was drunk, and killed four slum dwellers. No witnesses dared come forward. The case was dropped.
“And the minister is still in office, giving speeches about the plight of the poor and sharing the wealth and social injustice.”

Barack Obama famously said “You didn’t build that” – implying that entrepreneurs are not responsible for their success – rather society is since society provided them with the support system for their success, including roads, communications, safety, etc. Relevant to that, Dinesh says of criminals

if your success is all due to luck, then I have every right to take your stuff, because I’m not depriving you of something to which you are justly entitled. This is the justification for criminal activity; it is also the justification for …wealth redistribution.

Dinesh believes that the rhetoric of the progressives is a con. He says they are motivated by envy, and try to recruit alienated, envious groups in society.

Of course its hard to step inside someone else’s mind. A progressive would deny a desire to pull down the successful, simply because they are successful.

Various studies have been done on what makes leftists different (see The Atlantic article in sources). Supposedly, leftists just perceive the world differently. But D’Souza believes there is an element of dishonesty – a kind of thinking that is similar to the rationalizations of criminals.
Whether he is correct or not, a search for justice where misfortune is confused with injustice, can lead to outcomes that concentrate power in the hands of the supposed do-gooders, and reduce the freedom of the individual.

Dinesh D’Souza

Stealing America: Dinesh D’Souza (2015)
Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer (2015)
The Quest For Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell (2002)

Is Government a “protection racket”?

Kevin Williamson argues that organised crime and government spring from the same root, in his book The End is Near and it’s Going to be Awesome. That is to say, government began as a mafia protection racket claiming a monopoly on violence and extracting a rent (tax) in return for protecting its citizens from outsiders.

Matt Ridley quotes this in his own book, The Evolution of Everything and says that

in ancient Rome, consuls, generals, governors and senators, each with his own organised crime syndicate of thugs and legions, fought over the spoils of imperial conquest in a series of civil wars, assassinations, and plots that grew steadily more desperate–until one emerged with sufficient wealth and power to impose a monopoly of military might. He called himself Augustus and ushered in a Pax Romana that lasted, with occasional bloody interruption, for 200 years.

Ridley adds that with the notable exception of the United States and some other ex-colonies, government originated as a group of thugs who, as Pope Gregory VII put it in the eleventh century,

raised themselves above their fellows by pride, plunder, treachery, murder…

The first president of the U.S., George Washington said this:

Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. Government is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master.

Ridley continues:

Just as Henry VII acted like a Corleone, so Islamic State, the Colombian FARC, the Mafia itself, the Irish Republican Army all come to behave more and more like government – enforcing a strict moral code, ‘taxing’ commodities (opium, cocaine, waste disposal), punishing transgressors, providing welfare.
And even modern governments have an element of the crime syndicate about them. Police forces repeatedly harbor criminals all over the world: the US Department of Homeland Security is only a little more than a decade old, but in 2011 over three hundred of its employees were arrested for crimes such as drug smuggling, child pornography and selling intelligence to drug cartels.

Ridley did not mention this, but Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch said this during an interview with Boston Public Radio:

Back in August, we did an investigation—the inspector general did—of the Department of Homeland Security, and they had 72 individuals that were on the terrorist watch list that were actually working at the Department of Homeland Security..

So what are we to make of all this? If we live in a democracy that long ago replaced a prior dictatorship, we may realize that we have some rogues in the bureaucracy, but surely our leaders are well-intentioned, and if they are not, surely we can get rid of them?

I would normally think so, but we see an elected government in Russia that has changed into one that actually rehabilitates Stalin, (see sources). Stalin was responsible for the death of millions of his own citizens, and moreover, was so paranoid that he purged most of his own Russian military generals so that few experienced commanders were able to take their places in the field when the Nazis invaded.  He was ruthless, a trait which may be admired in Russia,  but he was also destructive of his own country.

Kimberly Strassel, who writes for the Wall Street Journal, said this of our great leader:

Barack Obama has done plenty of damage to the country, but perhaps the worst is his determined destruction of Washington’s guardrails. Mr. Obama wants what he wants. If ObamaCare is problematic, he unilaterally alters the law. If Congress won’t change the immigration system, he refuses to enforce it. If the nation won’t support laws to fight climate change, he creates one with regulation. If the Senate won’t confirm his nominees, he declares it in recess and installs them anyway. “As to limits, you set your own,” observed Dan in that editorial. This is our president’s motto.

Mr. Obama doesn’t need anyone to justify his actions, because he’s realized no one can stop him.

… Mr. Obama egged on his IRS to target conservatives, used his Justice Department to exact retribution on politically unpopular banks, and had his EPA lead an armed raid of an Alaskan mine. Is it any wonder that Bernie Sanders’s climate plan, released this week, includes a vow to bring criminal prosecutions against “climate deniers”? And he would.

Kimberly Strassel

A critic of Obama, Dinesh D’Souza, improperly donated money to a friend who was running for the Senate, and so was sentenced to eight months in a state-run confinement center near his home in San Diego. In the facility, he lived among hardened criminals—drug dealers, thieves, gangbangers, rapists, and murderers. In the view of the hardened criminals, America is  a jungle in which various armed gangs face off against one another, with the biggest and most powerful gangs inhabiting the federal government. That may sound like a rationalization or excuse, but D’Souza thinks that America is beginning to resemble corrupt third world nations, run by gangs of kleptocrats.


In fact, he wrote a book about it, Stealing America (2015), which I hope to review.

But none of the above proves that we are currently ruled by gangsters.  It is true that gangsters don’t have much of a problem getting into government positions – for instance a Texas Police Chief named Juan Gonzalez says that “We all know for a fact that the cartels have infiltrated law enforcement at all levels here: local level, county, municipal, state, federal…”.
We also know that ideologues who do not believe that democracy is a good thing do get into government positions: Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin claims that people with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood are in vital positions within every significant area of the U.S. government such as the Pentagon, DHS, etc.

We also know that various senators, congressmen, and bureaucrats have gotten remarkably rich in government – much more than their salaries would indicate.

So there are various incentives for gangsters to get into government, and of course various ideologues see government as a means of implementing their agenda.   The best solution is to shrink the power and size of government.


The Evolution of Everything – Matt Ridley (2015)