How the Israel/Palestinian conflict shows unattractive mysteries of human behavior

Take a look at this picture:

She looks like a happy nice little girl.
Take a look at this picture:

She has grown up to a handsome young woman, who attended Evergreen State College (one of those colleges where students emerge more leftist than when they came in), and she has become an idealist.
rachel-corrie-flag-burner1
Above is the final picture. Rachel Corrie is burning an American flag in Gaza, a mini-state on Israel’s border ruled by Hamas.

Rachel later died facing an Israeli bulldozer. The driver of the bulldozer, a Russian immigrant, knew that the ISM protesters were trying to interfere with the demolishing of Arab houses, but he claims he did not see Rachel. Also, the house that was being demolished was above a smuggling tunnel. You can look at Wikipedia for more info.

Rachel was later celebrated in a play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” that played in London and New York.

Intuitively, since I support Israel myself, I would see her as a misguided idealist who met a tragic accident. But there is something odd about the trajectory Rachel took, as can be seen from the last photo. How do you get from Photo A to Photo C?

Jack Engelhard

Jack Engelhard

And there is this statement from a Philadelphia journalist, Jack Engelhard, of his experience:
On this fact-finding tour of Israel, I represented a major news organization from Philadelphia. The others came from all over.
Some were big time journalists. Some small time. I listened to their hostile chatter as Shlomo, our driver and guide, took us around this glorious country.
Not so glorious for the boys and girls on the bus. There was impatience and murmuring. They shouted him down when, nearing the Western Wall, he began about the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967. To them the enemy was Israel. They demanded he skip Yad Vashem.
They scoffed and cackled when Israeli music was piped in. “Shut it off,” they hollered.
So that’s how it is, I thought. So that’s how it is.
Finally Shlomo had taken enough. He stopped the bus and walked out for a smoke. I approached him. He was crying, this high-ranking officer of the IDF.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as if I didn’t know.
“They didn’t come here to learn about us. They came only for the Arabs.”

This conflicts with my intuition too. Are not journalists representative of a wide range of opinions, with a commitment to objectivity? What is Engelhard witnessing here?

Pro-Israel folks often puzzle over what they see as a double standard. For instance, Marilyn Penn writes:

Boko Haram has announced its establishment of a caliphate and continues in its slaughter of thousands of Nigerians and its kidnapping of young women for use as sex slaves. Not a word of protest from American campuses.

The death toll in Syria is currently 70,000 murdered with over 2.2 million refugees, half of whom are children, who have fled to detainee camps in any neighboring country that will harbor them. American students are unfazed.

ISIL has announced its caliphate and has captured increasing territory in Syria and Iraq while attaining professional mastery in filming the barbaric beheadings and conflagrations which are now a staple of American t.v. news. They have successfully combined the dark ages with the most up to date cyber-access. College kids have no comment.

What has engaged these morally dormant minds? Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the pseudo-accusation of its apartheid – the excuse for the Boycott/Divest/Sanction Movement, energized by Arab money, leftist propaganda and radical student groups that openly endorse Hamas, the terrorist organization that calls for the murder of Jews worldwide. In the latest YouTube to show the degradation of acceptable standards of behavior at the University of California campuses, we can see the demonstration at U.C. Davis by Palestinian students shouting Allahu Akbar after a Jewish protest of the Student Body vote to boycott Israel. They were joined by the support of graduate students represented by the UAW Local 2865, the first labor union in the U.S. to make such a move..

In my (the blogger’s) naive intuitive view, I ask why do these idealistic young people not see what Marilyn sees?

Then there is this:

Matt Friedman

Matt Friedman

Matt Friedman, also a reporter, says of his colleagues:
The dogma posits that the occupation is not a conflict like any other, but that it is the very symbol of conflict: that the minute state inhabited by a persecuted minority in the Middle East is in fact a symbol of the ills of the West – colonialism, nationalism, militarism, and racism. In the recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri, for example, a sign hoisted by marchers linked the unrest between African-Americans and the police to Israeli rule over Palestinians.
… boycotts of Israel, and only of Israel, which are one of the cult’s most important practices, have significant support in the press, including among editors who were my superiors. Sympathy for Israel’s predicament is highly unpopular in the relevant social circles, and is something to be avoided by anyone wishing to be invited to the right dinner parties, or to be promoted. The cult and its belief system are in control of the narrative, just as the popular kids in a school and those who decide what clothes or music are acceptable.

My naive intuition gets floored by the next item:

In January, a student group at DePaul University, Feminist Front, produced a short video in which they proclaimed their support for a petition being circulated by DePaul Divests that asked the university to “uphold its Vincentian values by divesting from [companies that profit from] the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” Members of the Feminist Front, who, if they were living in Hamas-controlled Gaza would be subjugated into silence and persecuted for their alternative sexual orientation, have also decided that divestment is “a feminist issue” and “a queer issue.” Why? Because, they contend, “Israeli forces target queer folks with blackmail . . ,” and because Israeli “methods of occupation historically target women, through violence, kidnapping, and rape.”

Richard L. Cravatts, the author of the article Queers for Palestine that mentions DePaul University, says that

Self-identified progressive students on campus are also enthralled by pursuing “social justice” on the part of the Palestinians precisely because Third-world victimism parallels the identity politics of the same student groups who fuel the promiscuous BDS resolutions being proposed on campuses around the country.

Thus, African-American student groups frequently rally in support of divestment when they are attracted to the narrative in which Israel is positioned as a racist, apartheid regime that suppresses an indigenous colored people and deprives them of human rights.

That is his explanation. But still, there is much that simply  does not square with a intuition about how people think.  Are we as rational as we think we are?

In fact, how rational do we want to be?

Tuvia Tenenbom was brought up in a very religious environment in Israel, rebelled, and emigrated to Germany and the US.  Then he went undercover.  He went to Israel, pretending to be a Christian German, and talked with Arabs in areas where no Jews would dare go.  He also talked to peace activists, settlers, and Europeans, some in “idealistic” organizations.  He said that vast amounts of Western money were being spent catchTheJew2on the Palestinians in the West Bank, and their handsome houses and cities showed this, but then he took a trip into neighboring Jordan, a country that also has many Palestinians, and saw cases of extreme poverty.  He wrote a book about this undercover trip, called Catch The Jew.  The reason for the title was that he found that the Europeans participating in the left-wing NGOs were coming to Israel to not only to help the Palestinians, but to frame the Israelis.

And again, this is counter-intuitive. Surely if are a young idealist and you care about Palestinians, you help them wherever they are, in Jordan, in Lebanon (where basic citizenship rights were denied them), in Syria, where one headline (in the Times of Israel) says Assad is starving Palestinians to death in a Syrian camp, and nobody cares. There are a huge number of refugees from Syria in Jordan right now. How about helping them? Or helping the many Christians displaced by Jihad?

And what happens to the Palestinians when the European money dries up? Where are the exports, the industry, the agriculture that will sustain them?

We could also ask:
Shouldn’t the constant propaganda against the Jews be stopped? Do people like Rachel Corrie, or the many NGO’s and their idealists ever confront the Arabs about their conspiracy theories and lies about the Jews?
And:
If Israel disappeared tomorrow, to be replaced by a Muslim state, would the world promptly forget about the Palestinians?

Israel is a place with more foreign reporters per person than any other country in the world. But one can say for Tuvia, that unlike many of them, he believes in testing the truth. And when he does, he comes up with surprises.

So to sum up, Israel is a very small place, but the reaction to it lays bare, like no other, unattractive mysteries of human behavior.

Sources:
http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2015/01/hacks-guide-covering-israel/ (Matt Friedman)
Queers against Israel: The Logic of the Pro- Palestinian Coalition on Campus by Dr. Richard Cravatts
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/16476#.VO80X_nF-T8 (Jack Engelhard)

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Hatred – can we explain it, excuse it, defend against it?

Handing out candy in Gaza to celebrate deaths of Americans at the bombing of the Boston Marathon

Handing out candy in Gaza to celebrate deaths of Americans at the bombing of the Boston Marathon

In this blog on the psychology of evil, there is very little mention of raw emotion. To rectify this, I read a book called Hatred by a professor of psychiatry named Willard Gaylin. He says that real haters are different from you and me. They are obsessed with their enemies, “attached to them in a paranoid partnership.”

Does anyone hate us for no reason?
“We have been treated to pictures of jubilant Arab crowds cavorting in the streets and shouting their delight at the tragic deaths in the United States as a consequence of the World Trade Center massacres. Their palpable hatred of us leaps off the screen…”

Gaylin distinguishes between bigotry and hatred. Prejudice may dehumanize its object, but the hater demonizes its target. Gaylin says slavery was the result of dehumanizing – the slave was not loved or hated. At best, he was treated like a domesticated animal. “Prejudice turned to hatred in the United States with the liberation of the slaves…”

So what are the characteristics of hatred? it requires both a passion and a preoccupation with the disdained group. it is an intense emotion. Gaylin claims that it is a disorder of perception. It involves quasi-delusional thinking. Rage is a hot emotion, hatred is a cold passion. And it is more the characteristics of the hater that cause the hatred, than the characteristics of the hated. He adds that the opposite of hatred is not love, it is indifference.

Aristotle says about hatred “Whereas anger arises from offenses against oneself, enmity may arise even without that; we may hate people merely because of what we take to be their character…Moreover, anger can be cured by time; but hatred cannot..”

Sir Francis Bacon wrote: “A man that hath no virtue in himself ever envieth virtue in others…and whoso is out of hope to attain to another’s virtue will seek to come at even hand by depressing another’s fortune.”

Gaylin points out the bad logic in envy: “It is not just that we do not have that which they have, it is that we do not have it because they have it.”

One patient of his, an actress, was enraged and despondent when she heard a friend had been cast in a choice part in a movie. She explained to him that in order to be happy “it is not enough that I succeed. My friends have to fail.”

So to some, life is a “zero-sum game”. To win, others must lose. Even if you call them your friends.

Hate may arise when we feel that we have been denied that to which we are entitled – or we have been deprived – by some other person or persons. In reality we may have real grievances, but often the hatred is targeted to a scapegoat group- a group that is not responsible for our problems.
The Jew is often blamed for many problems, so it is interesting that in 1994 in Japan and Korea, it was found that there was a “mystifyingly positive response to the antisemitic stereotype of the Jew found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (the Protocols is a forgery, and at the time was being circulated in Asia). And when China opened up to the West, antisemitism seemed to be one of the first Western ideas to be heartily embraced by the Chinese.
To me [the blogger] This suggests that certain ideas (such as  the idea of a small plotting group controlling us behind the scenes) fits certain patterns of thinking that many of us innately have.
In his diary for March 27, 1942, Joseph Goebbels wrote: “The Jews will destroy us if we do not defend ourselves against them. This is a war of life or death between the Aryan race and the Jewish virus.” Gaylin says this encapsulates various elements of a paranoid state since it identifies a life-threatening situation, it dehumanizes the enemy (a virus), and this sort of thinking can create satisfaction at the sight of a pile of Jewish corpses, or for a Jihadist, the sight the results of a suicide bombing.
Gaylin says that the typical anti-Semite is not an active Jew hater. the anti-Semite stereotypes the Jews, denigrates them, but for the most part ignores them. He is not preoccupied with them. He wants less involvement, not more.
But to a Muslim child, says former Muslim Wafa Sultan: “JEW must be one of the words they hear most frequently before the age of ten…in their imagination it conjures up visions of killing, depravity lies and corruption. When two people quarrel, each calls the other a Jew.”
She continues “We hold the Jews “responsible” for our military failures, our economic backwardness..We believe that Jews control the world…

In the west, Muslim immigrants face a conflict between Muslim religious law and the way of life around them. Islam forbids Muslims to accept a job where their boss may be a non-Muslim. But they do have to accept such jobs, and compromises such as this leave Muslims with a sense of frustration. Wafa talks to these people, and she says the frustration gives way to a terrible anger against everything around them in their new society..
So again, when we talk about hatred, many of the forces are internal, and in this case, not the fault of American society.
Obama administration representative Marie Harf attributed the attraction of ISIS partly to lack of jobs.  Obama’s administration puts a high priority on economic justice and redistribution and sometimes resorts to class-warfare rhetoric, and Gaylin would seem to back this idea up when he says:

The impoverished Afghans or Palestinian in refugee camps can view on television the good life that others enjoy…leading to feelings of unfairness..Such people can then be convinced that their misery is part of a zero-sum game that is necessary to support the indulgences of a rich society like the United States.

But there is  a big problem with the poverty-causing-hatred notion.  ISIS, for instance, has attracted at least 15,000 volunteers for martyrdom from almost all Western democracies. Indeed, more Western citizens are fighting for the “caliph” (of ISIS) than against him.

His army, including many women from the West, … all seem fairly well-fed and stylishly dressed, bearing smartphones and expensive Swiss watches and cruising in bullet-proof limos.

It is interesting that the hatred in the Muslim world is usually not directed at Russia or China, but at the U.S. It might seem reasonable to assume that Israel were to disappear, this hatred would too. And influential people have said as much. However, Gaylin argues that the US is hated, not “for the evil it has inflicted, but for its envied achievements, its seductive way of life.”

So China, which has killed Muslim Uighurs and sometimes transplanted the organs from the Uighur corpses into wealthy Chinese or Western “organ tourists”, is not hated anywhere near as much as the U.S. is.  Russia, which has waged a no-holds-barred war against Muslim separatists in Chechnya, is not hated as much either.
Now what about valid hatred? Did the Jews in the concentration camps have a valid reason to hate? And if so, to hate who? Nazis? Germans? For the most part, they did not take revenge, apart from killing some guards. So where was the hatred?

Michelle Knight was held lured into a house in Cleveland, Ohio, held captive for 11 years, and beaten and raped. She hated her captor, but after she got out she had therapy, and she now feels he had a disease.

It might be a mistake to call criminals “sick” though. Gaylin says:
One would have thought that the one community that would resist the conflation of evil into sickness would have been the world of theology…[but when priests in the Catholic church began molesting teenage boys]…it was astonishing to read the reports from the Boston archdiocese. The leaders indicated that whereas previously they had viewed sexual offenses of priests in terms of moral transgressions, in the past twenty years of so they were encourage to adopt a therapeutic approach to the problem. The “problem” being no less than pederasty, lying, violating a position of trust, and desecrating sacred vows.”

…I first became aware of this dangerous slippage…when I was examining the brutal slaying of a young Yale coed by her fellow student and former boyfriend (Richard Herrin)…the seat of the Catholic chaplaincy at Yale–chose to view Herrin, a poor Mexican-American boy from the barrio of Los Angeles, as a victim..[as if] we might all pulverize a loved one’s head.”

Michelle Knight’s desire not to hate is laudable. Most of us are not haters. Even when we have reason to be.

I also feel uncomfortable with the idea, embraced by some of our leaders that, for instance, a group such as ISIS recruits people with resentments caused by poverty. Without belief in Islam, there would be no ISIS. Beliefs can take existing hatreds and channel them, but they also cause them.

For instance, Glynn Harding sent mail bombs fulled with nails to people on the basis that they were cruel to animals. Was he really expressing an internal rage that was shaped by animal rights propaganda? That would seem to be the case, his victims were not always involved in any animal mistreatment, in face one victim was a six-year-old whose father made his living clearing wasp’s nests.

As far as the Palestinians go, Gaylin says, that without judging their claims relative to the Israelis, they have become a community of hatred and the Israelis have not.  They show this when they demonize the opposition.  They are told constantly to dedicate themselves to the destruction of the opposition.  They celebrate even when a few members of the opposition are blown up or stabbed.

I personally have good reason to hate.  But I have a total inability to defend myself from the “bad guys” or to achieve justice, and so I cope by seeing the perpetrators as defective human beings. I see them as people with a defective moral logic, and a defective moral makeup, and a defective view of the world. That is similar to the way Michelle Knight copes – by seeing Ariel Castro as sick.

A determined and long-lasting desire to defeat an enemy is necessary sometimes.  It is strange though, that often hate has a delusional component.

Sources:
Hatred, by Willard Gaylin M.D.

http://http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2799618/cleveland-kidnap-victim-michelle-knight-says-believes-captor-disease-tells-story-live-audience-time.html#ixzz3SPygEhJw

A God Who Hates – Wafa Sultan 2009, St. Martin’s Press

http://http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/gaza-arabs-celebrate-boston-marathon-attack-with-dance-candies/2013/04/17/?src=ataglance

http://nypost.com/2015/02/20/obamas-elementary-errors-on-islam/

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Giving life to some by killing others – organ harvesting and the crushing of Falun Gong

Ding Yan, demonstrates a police shackling procedure to the NY Times and other papers.  Two years later she died in a water dungeon.

Ding Yan demonstrates a police shackling procedure to the NY Times and other papers. Two years later she died in a water dungeon.

The Falun Gong practitioner was puzzled by Ethan Gutmann. She wanted to tell him about the abuse she had suffered, but he was interested in seemingly irrelevant details, such as why the doctors gave her blood tests, or why they looked at her cornea (a big transplant market exists for those) but did not give her any normal eye exams.
But Ethan was getting a chill at her answers.
Ultimately, he wrote a book titled The Slaughter about organ harvesting of executed-to-order prisoners of conscience in China.
I’ll highlight some interesting points about it, but first we could ask, what is so wrong about harvesting organs? For instance, when I got my driver’s license, I signed up to donate mine. Chinese medical schools have taught that many otherwise wicked criminals volunteered their organs as a final penance. Suppose a murderer is executed. Why shouldn’t we take his kidney, for example, and give renewed life to someone else?
As one policeman, Wang Lijun, said “…to see someone executed and within minutes to see the transformation, in which this person’s life was extended in the bodies of several other people–it was soul-stirring.”
The story of what happened to Falun Gong, which was basically a Buddhist revival movement, demonstrates the ultimate consequences.

Falun Gong took the Chinese leadership by surprise. There were plenty of semi-mystical exercise groups in China, but Falun Gong grew to have 70 million adherents. The leadership came to see it as a threat, and proceeded to crush it.  For foreign consumption, Westerners were told that it was not only an evil cult, but also racist and homophobic! Chinese who otherwise didn’t understand what the fuss was about turned against Falun Gong after several adherents burned themselves to death in Tiannamen Square, including a woman burning herself and her child. (The woman turned out not to be a member of Falun Gong, and there were other holes in the story, but it did turn Chinese against the sect). They were also told that Li Hongzhi, the originator of Falun Gong, was an agent of American imperialism who caused an attack by his followers (this was a lie, it was not an attack, it was a demonstration ).

There are several interesting questions we could ask at this point:
1. Why would a non-political movement, by people who generally believed that their rulers were good people, be seen as a threat by that government?
2. Why would the Chinese government and its enforcers treat these people with the most unbelievable brutality?
3. Why would a government that preaches the socialist doctrines of caring for the “people” then imprison vast numbers of those people, and execute perhaps 65,000 on order, and sell their organs to desperate Westerners and to wealthy Chinese?

Organs are less likely to be rejected if they are removed from a person who is still alive. Some of those live persons, due to slip-ups, may have even been conscious, as their bodies were dissected.

Here is Gutmann’s theory on question #1:
Li Hongzhi, the originator of Falun Gong, had made not just a mystical exercise system, but a system of morality.
To the party, suggests Gutmann, Li’s principle of “Truthfulness” was really just a form of unilateral disarmament–since to negotiate, one must lie. “Compassion” boiled down to a China too soft to pull the trigger. “Forbearance” was the worst– instead of getting rich and powerful, Han Chinese were expected to quietly suffer blows of those who were already powerful, in the international context it meant that China should be good at taking crap, not dishing it out. In short, Falun Gong was weak, feminine, inviting of domination.

Jiang Zemin, the leader of China at the time, took a look at the protesters at one demonstration against the start of the crackdowns, and then released a letter to the politburo saying that the demonstration was the most serious since Tiananmen, and he added that the protestors’ impressive discipline and ability to mobilize could be the product of foreign influences. Then he ended it with “If the CCP cannot defeat Falun Gong, it will be the biggest joke on Earth.”

As the government moved against FG, there were some truly remarkable acts of resistance. I’m not talking about the sometimes incredible heroism of prisoners who would not recant under torture, though that happened often, but of one small group of a few men that found a way to divert the local TV station. Near “People’s Square” in Changchun, Tang Feng, who knew of the plot, saw it in action when he viewed people watching a bearded man on the TV set tell them that the self-immolation was a “false fire,” a lie, and a criminal propaganda campaign by President Jiang Zemin. The hijacked broadcast had reached an audience of over one million people.

Unfortunately, the men who accomplished this remarkable feat in their closed totalitarian society met a terrible fate, as you might expect.

Falun Gong members abroad devised ingenious ways to penetrate the great internet wall that China had erected to keep wrong-ideas away from its population.

The Chinese took this so seriously that Chinese hit men attacked Falun Gong’s system administrator in Atlanta Georgia, beating him and rolling him into a carpet, and other agents went to South Africa and shot at a car that contained Falun activists. A Chinese diplomat defected in Australia, and told Ethan that there were more than a thousand Chinese agents in Australia, monitoring the “five poisons”: Tibetans, Falun Gong, democracy activists, and activists for an independent Taiwan, and Uyghurs (Chinese Muslims).

One could ask – why should we believe the testimony of people who have left China, and belong to groups that have a gripe with the government? Surely they could be lying.
One investigator tried an experiment. She called a hospital that was near a labor camp, and asked if they performed kidney transplants.
“Yes, we have kidneys. All of them are from living young people. You should come quickly. The wait is only one or two days.”
The investigator wondered – why, if in other countries there is such a shortage of organs, did this hospital have such a large supply, and why was there not a delay for the normal procedure with death-row prisoners, a court order to set a date for execution, and a signed statement by the criminal on his willingness to donate?

This type of investigation hit pay dirt eventually – recorded conversations that positively affirmed that hospitals were harvesting Falun Gong – in seven medical centers.

A Dr. Ko from Taiwan, who obtained organs for his patients, was told that his patients would “receive nothing but the best: all the organs will come from Falun Gong. These people may be a little fanatical, but you know? They don’t drink. They don’t smoke…

Eastern Lightning is a fringe Christian group to us – to the Chinese they were incurable deviants. They too were probably harvested, given the medical tests that other prisoners saw them getting.

To sum up, Ethan estimates that about 65,000 individuals before 2008 were harvested, hearts still beating. And despite Chinese government denials, he believes it is still happening.

We could ask how a government that preaches that it is for the people can be against so many of the people? And if you have a soft spot for “socialism”, you might wonder how such a thing could happen in a socialist country. But though socialism to some may mean “fairness”. I can speculate that it also appeals to any power-hungry government more than the alternative of economic power being decentralized among many different companies of all sizes. And socialism makes for a good indoctrination tool – you learn from kindergarten on that your government defends you against the capitalist imperialist exploiters.

Ethan does not think the Chinese rulers want just a powerful nation. He thinks they are expansionist. I would add that such a government sees power – military especially – as something to be pursued, and any internal movement that might interfere with that pursuit as a threat to be crushed – and not only crushed, but its hard-core adherents annihilated – in this case to be reprocessed into organs for others.  And if they do that to their own people, what might they be planning to do to us?

There is an irony here as well. A Swedish paper (Aftonbladet) came out with an article accusing Israel of organ harvesting, and the same belief is echoed among some of the British “peerage”. Israelis got upset, seeing this as an extension of the medieval accusation that they killed Christian children so they could drink their blood. It turned out that some Israeli freelancers had taken organs from dead people, including from Israeli soldiers, but it was not a systematic government policy of killing people to get their organs. The oldest organ-recycling I’ve heard of was in the U.S. in the Civil War when dying soldiers on the battlefield would sometimes have their teeth pulled out by people who were trying to supply dentists with false teeth.

But I digress.

For more evidence of the above, you can read The Slaughter, or if you lack time, you can watch the videos below. The first is from http://ethan-gutmann.com.  


Also see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvAOOwvJMZs
Sources:
The Slaughter – by Ethan Gutmann (2014)

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The problem with being “pure”.

Dawn Perlmutter - who studies symbols and "purity" in Islam and elsewhere

Dawn Perlmutter – who studies symbols and “purity” in Islam and elsewhere

The idea of being pure can be taken too far.  Not only that, but it can lead to remarkable cognitive contradictions. It is a very important motive in Islam, according to Dawn Perlmutter, who is an expert on symbols used by ideologies.
Before reading her essay, I had thought that much of Islamic behavior could be explained by an exaggerated sense of honor. For instance, there are many cases of “honor killings” where a father or brother will actually kill a daughter or sister, due to some dishonor such as her running away with the wrong man.
There is something odd about this concept – should not a Muslim be equally dishonored by accepting a bribe? And we could ask a Muslim member of ISIS, why is it not a dishonor to force captive infidel women into slavery? Though it is not likely that members of ISIS would sit down for an honest debate.

However, honor is not everything.  Purity is also a big driving force, and I’ll first quote some findings of Ms. Perlmutter:

First of all, most religions believe you should purify yourself before communicating with your God. 
In Islam that purity is equated to honor.
Purity requires ritual washing. For instance, you should wash yourself before handling a Koran.  And like germs, impurity is contagious. Impurity causes dishonor.

If an enemy occupies your holy sites, or your wife is subject to “sexual violation” — that qualifies as impurity.
That explains to me why women who are raped are often treated as guilty in the Muslim world.
“True believers experience ritual uncleanness as an impurity of the soul as much as of the body, and for this reason it cannot be washed away with water and soap.”
Dawn adds the purity rites “deeply embeds visceral responses that can make it difficult or even unbearable to assimilate to other traditions.”
I’m not sure she is right there that purity alone is responsible, after all, if you believe any religion intensely, I would think you will look with hostility and suspicion at any person who tries to weaken your allegiance.

And here we get to another interesting point. I remember a defender of Islam saying that “Jihad” was really an internal purification. He’s partly right, but:

“The spiritual struggle for self-purification is described as the greater jihad, an internal effort to lead a pure good life. Self-purification as the sole definition of jihad is the meaning that Islamist apologists choose to focus on, as opposed to holy war, the physical outer struggle of jihad, a purification of Islam through violence. … Personal jihad purifies through water. Political jihad purifies through blood.”

Almost “all natural bodily functions are designated as impure,” which is the reason, that when you reach the Islamic heaven, you don’t have them any more. There you will have “a pure body devoid of all excretions” and you will have “shame-free drinking and sex.” The women of Paradise are described as pure which is often misinterpreted in the West to mean that the women are virgins. However, it also means they never have to go the bathroom.

A Muslim who believes all this will naturally look at our Western culture  as a filthy culture, and a contagious impurity that could affect him too.  I can empathize somewhat: I recently saw an article on a sex-crazed American celebrity named Miley Cyrus.  The article’s first sarcastic line was “Time to Break out the Burqa?” (NY Post)   You really just have to read the paper to see signs of cultural collapse, including one article I just saw on 300 Rutgers University Coeds signing up to a service where they “befriend” older men in return for money for their huge student loans. But I digress.

I remember when a Muslim threw a shoe at then-President George Bush. It was more than a convenient missile though: shoes are the definitive symbol of impurity because they continually come in direct contact with inherently unclean things…For this reason, shoes are not worn in mosques, shrines, temples, or peoples’ homes and are frequently used in demonstrations and thrown in protests as a highly symbolic insult.

Good and evil can be confused with pure and impure. One preacher, addressing worshipers at the Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham, characterized homosexuals as “perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered”.

Likewise, “On September 30, 2005, a Danish newspaper published a set of editorial cartoons, many of which depicted Muhammad, that led to over 200 deaths, attacks on diplomatic missions, churches, Christians and an international boycott of Denmark.”

From all the above, we might conclude that these cartoons were an attack on the sacred, and an attack on honor, and an impurity and stain that had to be be cleansed. And they were cleansed – by the Jihadists in France who shot cartoonists responsible.

(I recall an interesting fact about the cartoons, which is that at least one Muslim religious leader lied about what was in them, to make them seem more insulting than they were).

In fact, even unbelievers who do nothing to anyone “symbolize evil in the form of contagious pollution.”

Robert Lifton, a psychiatrist who interviewed the Nazi “doctors” who operated on live Jews, and also studied the re-education sessions that US POWs were subject to had some thoughts on purity, and Permutter quotes him.
“In his book The Broken Connection: On Death and the Continuity of Life, Robert Jay Lifton describes one of Hitler’s greatest rhetorical talents as portraying the Jew as an impure, life-threatening force to the German people: “The Jew was the embodiment of moral decay—of physical and sexual perversion, spiritual petrifaction, and cultural degeneracy. The images are closely linked to death and deterioration—the Jews as carriers of filth and disease, of plague and syphilis and ‘racial tuberculosis,’ as spreaders of every kind of ‘poison,’ and as parasites, vampires, bloodsuckers, and racial contaminators.”

You see one upshot of all this “impurity” combined with conspiracy theories was this:
The fear of infectious impurity corresponds with several full-blown Muslim conspiracy theories claiming that the West infected Muslims with diseases. Allegations include … that America infected Africans with AIDS through Christian missionary groups by putting the virus in medicine used to inoculate people. The conspiracy theory that Americans were lacing polio vaccines to sterilize Muslims resulted in an epidemic of polio in sixteen Muslim countries in Africa and Asia where polio had been eradicated.

It also partly explains why Osama Bin Laden did not want American troops in Saudi Arabia, even though they were defending Arabia.
He justified the 9/11 attacks as a response to humiliation and defilement of sacred places: “Our umma (nation) has been tasting this humiliation and contempt for over 80 years. Its sons have been slain, its blood has been shed and its sacred places have been defiled …..

The Christian world is not exempt from themselves overdoing the impurity theme as is shown by the following:
One of the more prevalent Islamist expressions is “dirty infidel.” An Arabic language Google search of the phrase produces over four hundred results often in combination with other popular slurs such as “filthy” and “dog”. The phrase “Dirty Jew” produced over ten thousand results in Arabic and over fifty-nine thousand results in English.

I agree with the Muslims that cleanliness should be striven for. We should maintain our honor, as much as is possible. But what does that mean? If honor means courage in the service of what you believe is right, and self-control when faced with urges that lead you or others to disaster, then fine. If it means honesty, and fair-dealing – then go for it. But if cleanliness is “purity” in the sense that you feel that those you do not believe in your God are contaminating filthy beings, then your desire for purity shuts you off from them. And if every natural function of the bunch of cells that make up your body is considered a source of shame, then you feel bad about yourself, and in an endless battle with contamination.  We are all less than perfect, but we should concentrate on our real flaws, not on whether our body secretes fluids or not.

And ultimately, when .. “sacred violence is a cleansing ritual that functions as expiation of individual shame and as a method to cleanse Islam …” then innocent people get killed by fanatics.

Sources:
The Demand for Purity: The Nature of Islamist Symbolism, Protest, and Violence by Dawn Perlmutter

The following is not a source, but it is an outfit that Dawn directs which helps solve crimes using knowledge of symbols.  The website is: http://www.symbolintelligence.com/

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Can we make a Taxonomy, or a tree, of evil personalities?

Do people’s personalities fall into clusters – or are we all on a continuum of traits? Assuming that people exist in a “personality space” where each dimension is another trait of personality, is this space populated by dots – each dot being a type of person — or is it populated by one big continuous area of personalities grading into each other?

Pertinent to this is an interesting new book by Joe Navarro, who worked for the FBI as an agent and a criminal profiler, on the 4 types of “dangerous personality”.
He lists them as:

  • The Predator
  • The Narcissist
  • The Emotionally Unstable personality
  • The Paranoid Personality.

The cluster idea also raises other questions. Stanton Samenow interviewed criminals for many years, and he has written books on the way they think, which is quite different from the way most people do. So is criminality like “autism” – a (possibly genetic) disorder with certain identifiable behavior and thinking changes? We do know there is a genetic component to criminality – at least in some criminals – from studies of twins reared apart.

And then there are terrorists – some say they are just criminals who latched on to an ideology, and others say they are normal people who were indoctrinated.

Muslim training camp - USA

Muslim training camp – USA

I used to believe that criminals are very practical people who do not believe in any cause apart from themselves. However, it is not rare for criminals to embrace causes, in fact there are 22 or possibly more militant Islam “camps” scattered across the United States. They are part of or linked to a Pakistani militant group called Jamaat al-Fuqra, which was founded in New York in 1980 by radical Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Gulani. Gulani recruits young men, many from prison, into joining his “Soldiers of Allah” fight. They are being trained in kidnapping, explosives, weapons use and guerrilla warfare to prepare them for jihad.
But on the other hand, the world’s most successful terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, did not have a criminal history. He believed in something bigger than himself. He was an “idealist.”

Killing Compartments

Killing Compartments

A good point was made in a recent book “The Killing Compartments” where the author points out that mass murderers are not at all beasts, monsters, or psychopaths. In fact the proportion of psychopaths among mass murderers is in fact no greater than in the rest of the population—about 5%. Before engaging in the brutal slaughter of unarmed civilians, most of the perpetrators “may not have ever harmed a living soul,…Once it is over, most of them by far will never again physically hurt another person.” The men who carry out these acts (nearly all genocidaires are men) are fully functional members of their society before, after and even during their participation in the murders; they have normal friendships, are devoted fathers and loving husbands, are economically successful.
And when interviewed, years after, they are not even sorry for what they did – Robert Lifton interviewed Nazi doctors who did horrible experiments on living victims – and he was fed up with their lack of remorse, even years later.

My uncle, a history professor, told me that “humans are infinitely plastic.”

Now let’s go back to the Joe Navarro book:

He says of the “unstable type”

These personalities often don’t take criticism well, are very sensitive to real or perceived slights, and can turn on you when they feel insulted. They’re quick to feel victimized, so they immediately demonize others or accuse them of disloyalty based on unfounded suspicions.
They stockpile and are constantly on the alert for social slights, mistreatment, incidences of inadvertent forgetfulness, or faux pas in order to later unleash reminders of them, like arrows, to hurt others.
Unstable personalities are perennial “wound collectors.”‘
At home or in business, if you give in to them, they’ll walk all over you, always wanting more of your time, special treatment, attention, or rule bending. Refuse to accommodate and you’re accused of being uncaring, bad, or disloyal.
For these personalities, there really are no boundaries or social conventions. Because they fear abandonment, when they feel needy, they need you now…God help you if they get your cell phone…
In essence, they become stalkers, but they can also become saboteurs.
“If you have children with a parent like this, you have a responsibility to try to provide safety and respite for them. Sadly, in my experience, most parents fail to act…”

Then here is the “paranoid” type
Some examples are:

  • The driver who thinks you cut him off. intentionally, so he tailgates you with horn honking, headlights flashing, rude gestures, and cursing. He may even follow you all the way home.
  • The man who thinks everyone’s hitting on his wife or girlfriend, so at parties he sticks his nose into every conversation she has, especially with men, and makes sure those men don’t loiter very long.
  • The anonymous author of an acrid online attack, accusing you of having a hidden agenda and knowing what you “really meant.”
  • Navarro notes that President Richard Nixon, who had many of the features of the paranoid personality, kept an enemies list and repeatedly stated to others that he just could not “confide in anyone.”‘ It is claimed that Obama has such a list too (see sources).

The paranoid type may seek space, isolation, and distance to calm their fears. Sadly, that can’t be done because the paranoia comes from within them.
Some isolate themselves at a school, at work, in a city, or even within a family—they become the loners. Some take it a step further and live in the wilderness (the desert Southwest, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska are favorite choices) to get away, avoid others, or “prep” for some apocalyptic event.

Randy Weaver

Randy Weaver

Francis Degan

Francis Degan

In extreme cases, they may take their whole family to live in the middle of nowhere, as happened when Randy Weaver and his wife took their family to live in a cabin they constructed in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992.  In August of that year the FBI came to try and collect him and a siege began. Eleven days after it had begun, a 14-year-old boy, a 42-year-old mother, and one yellow Labrador retriever had all been shot dead by the FBI, and the Weavers (or an ally) had shot a federal marshal, Francis Degan.  Randy Weaver had been a Green Beret, and Francis Degan a former marine.  A sad irony.
Events at Waco Texas, where law-enforcement besieged a compound of a cult led by “David Koresh” also reinforced anti-government attitudes by militias and others.

…law enforcement officers tried to arrest David Koresh. That attempt transformed itself into a threat against those who believed in the divinity of Koresh. When government agents tried to rescue the children from within the compound, the Davidians themselves set fire to the buildings, immolating themselves rather than allowing the breakup of the group. The siege lasted 51 days and 76 people died, including many innocent children.” Once again, paranoia overrode parental sensibilities.

Moving on to the narcissistic type:
Leaders of cults fit this description.

The narcissistic personality as sect leader purports to have all the answers and secrets to a better life and makes all the decisions.

Navararo adds:

Those were our observations about cults, but if you think about it, many of these same characteristics (secrecy and isolation, psychological and/or physical abuse to weaken free will, absolute power concentrated in one person’s hands) can be found in toxic work environments or organizations, in homes ruled by tyrants, or even in nation-states.

For instance, Joseph Stalin, took on titles such as:

  • Coryphaeus (literally “the leader of the chorus”) of Science
  • Father of Nations
  • Brilliant Genius of Humanity.

He changed his name to Joseph Stalin to reflect his view of himself, literally, as the “Man of Steel” (Stalin means “steel” in Russian).
He also killed tens of millions of people, remarking that “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.”

If you are around these types long enough, they cause you anxiety, which can be a good thing, because it is a warning to you not to hire them, marry them, or befriend them.
For instance, Navarro writes: “Paranoid personalities will suck the joy out of your life. They will make you tense, worried, irritable, and edgy. You see, you must view and fear their enemies as they do; otherwise, in their opinion, there is something wrong with you.”

When people are dealing with a dangerous personality, the usual well-meaning advice they hear is generally some version of “Try to talk to him; try to get her some help; try to work things out together; give him another chance.” Nicole Brown Simpson, former wife of 0. J. Simpson, did all of that. She’s dead. I think this is fine advice when you’re dealing with run-of-the-mill interpersonal problems. But when it comes to the four dangerous personalities in this book, things are a little different.”

There is also the predator – the worst of the four types to run into, but I lack space here to summarize the section on him.

So as a final speculation from this blogger, perhaps we can ask:

1. Are there more than 4 types of dangerous personality?

2.  Thoughts interact with temperament.  If we all were perfectly rational, perhaps we would come to similar conclusions about the world we live in, and who the villains are and who the heroes are, but we aren’t and we don’t. Sometimes we do evil because of mistakes in what we believe, and sometimes we do evil because of mistakes in how we think, and sometimes we do evil because of our personality, and all three interact. If we are going to cluster people, do we cluster them by a combination of these three?
For example, on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, (a day when Jews were attacked in Nazi Germany) neo-Nazis marched through Stockholm (Sweden) in solidarity with the Greek Golden Dawn party followed by a protest of “leftists” some of whom were waving Hamas flags. Both groups agree on some things, and both groups are “extremist”. They don’t think like I do. Do they represent a different moral system than me, a different personality cluster, or do they just happen to have different ideas?

Judging by Navarro’s book, work has been done to cluster personalities and thought patterns of the troublemakers of our species. It would be interesting to see if more clusters can be found, and plotted on a graph in high dimensional space, and whether those clusters can be correlated with genes, or for that matter, environment.

Sources:
Dangerous Personalities  – by Joe Navarro (2014) published by Rodale Press
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/cbs-news-reporter-sharyl-attkisson-745982 – on Obama’s “enemies list
http://www.wsj.com/articles/book-review-the-killing-compartments-by-abram-de-swann-1420841846 – on the “Killing Compartments” book.
http://www.timesofisrael.com/swedish-jewess-files-for-asylum-in-her-own-country/ on Nazis and leftists in Sweden

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Genocidalists with a dream of a Golden Age

Prof. Ben Kiernan

Prof. Ben Kiernan

Ben Kiernan, a history professor at Yale, has found some common threads in some of the larger genocides in history. For instance, there is often an idea by murderous theorists of a golden age that has been contaminated and should be restored. His book “Blood and Soil” analyzes genocides, including the the Nazi genocide of course, but also of less known mass-killers.

Let’s start with Pakistan. When Britain left India, there was murder and mayhem, until the subcontinent divided into two countries, a Hindu one (India) and a Muslim one (Pakistan).

Islam says that Muslims should not fight other Muslims, but in Pakistan, that is what happened. West Pakistan was dominated by Punjabis and Pathans, who considered East Pakistan’s Bengali Muslims to be insufficiently martial, insufficiently Islamic, and overly influenced by Hindu culture.
Pakistan’s dictator – Ayub Khan, stated that the easterners demonstrated “all the inhibitions of downtrodden races.”

Trouble began when the dictatorship was overthrown, elections were held, and East Pakistan’s Awami League, which wanted independence, won a national majority. Quickly Pakistan’s army chief, Yahya Khan, intervened to squelch this threat and he told a group of generals, “Kill three million of them, and the rest will eat out of our hands.” He appointed a new governor-general for the eastern region, who announced he would implement a “final solution.”

The army had a list of supporters of the Awami league, who they systematically killed, and they killed Hindus and Muslim Bengalis because East Pakistan had to be ‘cleansed’ and as one officer said, it was a holy war (jihad). They also set out to kill “the most respected and influential intellectuals in each city and town.” By the time they were stopped (by an army from India), they had killed at minimum 300,000, and maybe over a million.

In the above example, we see a threat to the integrity of a nation, and the reaction becomes murder of Muslims and genocide of Hindus.

There are other examples of mass killing when a country seems to be falling apart. Turkey (a Muslim country) had lost much of its empire, and murdered its Christian Armenian population in a famous massacre mentioned by Hitler when he said of his own plans of killing “Who today still talks about the annihilation of the Armenians?”  The “Young Turks”  believed in restoring ancient glory, and had a preoccupation with the land and its cultivation. They turned against the Armenians, who were described as “tubercular microbes” that were contaminating the state. The Young Turks dreamed of an empire uniting all Turkic-speaking peoples. Turkic armies pushing eastward would supposedly find their own origins in a “Shangri-La-like area in the steppes of Central Asia” (Shangri-La was a imaginary eastern paradise in the novel ‘Lost Horizon’). The concept of Armenians and Greeks in Turkey (and in eastern lands beyond Turkey) interfered with the pan-Turkic dream. The Young Turks may have also worried about a revolt as well. So they took action. The resulting genocide may have killed up to 1.2 million people.

As for the Nazis, though they employed modern organized methods, they had an obsession with supposed traditional values of antiquity and agriculture. They were going to reclaim a once pristine, lost agrarian Germandom. Hitler had insisted in 1941 in the creation of a “Garden of Eden in the newly occupied eastern territories.” The Nazis had an ideological aversion to cities – Jews were archetypal urbanites, and the purebred ancestors of the Germans were peasants. The “Volk” was rooted, the Jews were rootless. Hitler wrote that modern cities were “…places where all evils, vices, and sicknesses appear to unite. They are above all hotbeds of blood-mixing and bastardization.” He later said: “Work on the land ..teaches energy, self-confidence, and a readiness to make swift decisions; the town-dweller…must have everything exactly mapped out for him.” Himmler agreed: “Cowards are born in towns. Heroes in the country.”

It is interesting to note that early Zionists also believed that working the land would ennoble Jews and renew them and remove their faults.

But back to the Nazis – like the Turks, they wanted to expand eastward, and there were other peoples in the way – urbanized Jews and Slavic peoples. These people had to be removed.

Even genocides that seem to have nothing to do with soil – like the recent killing of the Rwandan Tutsis in Africa by their Hutu fellow citizens, did have a connection in that the murderers had theorists who romanticized the soil.

The Communist Khmer Rouge in Cambodia emptied the cities and put the inhabitants in the countryside to farm. They also killed intellectuals, and even people with glasses. Murderers in Rwanda and in Cambodia had in common “racism, a bitter sense of lost ethnic dominance, inchoate cults of agriculture, and ambitions of territorial expansion.”

Kiernan’s book was written in 2007, but in 2015 we see the “Islamic State” trying to bring back a Golden Age of Islam, by adhering very strictly to the practices of the time the Koran was written, and to the letter of the Koran. So we have beheading, crucifixion, murder of infidels who do not convert (and even some who do), slavery and sex-slavery. Any alienated angry young man who lives in an attic in Europe can join the IS armies, become a holy warrior of Islam, and play his part in a glorious vision of the final victory of Islam. IS tells recruits who can’t make the journey to the Middle East that they can stay home in Europe and kill Jews instead. But the point is, they have successfully ethnically cleansed areas more than 3 times the size of Lebanon of Christians. They don’t seem to have a particularly “back to the farm” mentality, but they do have the expansionist mentality, and the “Golden Age” mentality.

I’m sure farming, as any self-employment, does produce self-reliance.  And there have been centuries (such as the 19th) where Westerners were more optimistic about the future.  But pursuing a vision of a Golden age that requires massacring vast numbers of people who somehow don’t fit your dream of social improvement does not put you on the side of the angels.  The “end” does not justify the means, especially if the “end” is dubious in itself.

Sources:
Blood and Soil – by Ben Kiernan (2007)
Genocide Studies Program at Yalehttp://www.yale.edu/gsp
“Stay home and Kill Jews:”

http://http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/12/05/dont-want-to-come-to-the-middle-east-stay-in-europe-and-kill-jews-is-tells-aspiring-jihadis/

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Politicians who say one thing, but do another

I would think that the career of politician would attract, not only idealists, but people with low ethics who want to make an easy salary.  To get elected, you would just study your constituents, and their beliefs, and then you reflect those beliefs back at them.
A good example would be California State Senator Leland Yee, who strongly supported gun control – the only problem was, he was secretly buying automatic firearms and shoulder-launched missiles from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamist extremist group located in the southern Philippines and attempting to re-sell those weapons to an undercover FBI agent!
I would also think that the job would attract ideologues who do believe in something other than making money, but they might also tell voters what they want to hear, rather than reveal the extent of their radicalism.
For instance, if I were unethical, and I wanted to run for office in liberal San Francisco, I would talk about the “income gap between rich and poor”, and how police profiling must be stopped, and how we should have free preschool, more maternity leave, and gay marriage.
If I wanted to run for office in conservative Colorado Springs, I might argue for a strong military, family values, smaller government, less regulations, helping the entrepreneur, reducing the national debt, etc.
It is so easy.
Once in office, there could be several ways to make money on the side. For instance, I could make it clear to certain companies that if they want government contracts, I expect some reward. Or if they want to avoid a punitive regulation favored by some of my constituents, that I’m open to a bribe. I might also promise favors in return for political support – for instance passing a law that a union favors so that the union will get out the vote in the next election.

My approach might be too crude though: recently, the speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested, but not for directly taking bribes. Instead, if a person asked him for a donation from the state, perhaps for a worthy cause such as cancer research, Sheldon would ask in return a favor – that the person who wanted to be helped use a law firm that Silver referred him to. The law firm would give money illegally to Silver for the referrals, but the person who used the law firm’s services had not been asked directly for a bribe. This was clever – if Silver directly asked people for bribes, it might result in those people reporting him.

Michelle Malkin

Michelle Malkin

To check my theory on corruptible politicians, I read parts of Michelle Malkin’s book Culture of Corruption. She goes after the Obama administration, and I’ll just concentrate on the findings that show that what politicians promise is at odds with both their personality and their actions.
For instance Obama said “it is important to know that the promises we made about increased transparency we’ve executed here in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” But transparency is not a strong point of Obama’s government. For instance Malkin finds that:

  • The No. 2 official at the Dept of Housing, Ron Sims, was the most fined official in his state’s history for suppressing public records from taxpayers
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for years fought disclosure of massive donations from foreign governments…[to her husband’s library]
  • Obama advisor David Axelrod ran fear-mongering campaigns in Illinois in support of a huge utility rate hike but failed to disclose that his ads were funded by the utility.
  • Labor Secretary Hilda Solis failed to disclose that she was treasurer and director of a lobbying group pushing legislation that she was co-sponsoring as a congresswoman.

We could add to this that Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber said that Obamacare had to be made as hard-to-understand as possible, so that it could be passed. Michelle Malkin herself has more examples, but you get the idea.

Obama also said: “I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.”
However, Obama ended up with an administration that had about 40 former lobbyists – including Eric Holder, Tom Daschle, Leon Panneta, and Patrick Gaspard.

Malkin adds that spouses and relatives of many of Obama’s top officials have been involved in getting favors they should not get.

Conversely, a federal inspector general named Gerald Walpin was digging up uncomplimentary evidence on the “Americorps” national service program and also  on the Democratic mayor of Sacramento, a popular former NBA basketball star and Barack Obama booster. Pressure was brought on Walpin to cease and desist, but he did not buckle to political pressure. At this point the White House announced it had “lost confidence” in Walpin and fired him.

But Obama did have confidence in Alexi Giannoulias and supported him as Democratic nominee for the US Senate.  Alexi had played pickup basketball games with Obama, Michelle Obama’s brother and other folks who ended up in the administration. Unfortunately, Giannoulias had also run a bank that loaned tens of millions of dollars to Mafia felons.

So we have to wonder about our president’s character here. It’s true Obama wasn’t loaning money to Mafiosi, but he was supporting the nomination of someone who had. I remember when Obama was first elected president – a woman in my company broke down crying – it was so moving to her to have a black, progressive idealist president. People fainted at Obama rallies.

Politicians sometimes claim military experience they did not have – for instance, “We have learned something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” declared Richard Blumenthal who was running for office in Connecticut.   The problem was that though he had been in the Marine reserves, he was never sent to Vietnam.
More humorous is Hillary Clinton, who said that she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire, and had to run with her head down to get into a vehicle. She told this story several times, but she left a few details out, such as:
Along with her on the dangerous mission, was her then-teenage daughter Chelsea, and singer Sheryl Crow. Somehow she also forgot the eight year old Bosnian girl who peacefully read her a poem on the tarmac. But confronted with inconvenient facts, Hillary refused to recant, until a video surfaced, at which point she said she had “misspoke.”
Hillary has also insisted that she was named after the great mountain-climber Sir Edmund Hillary – the first man to climb Everest. But he climbed it in 1953, and she was born in 1947.  Nonetheless, despite some unflattering facts like these, Hillary at one point was ahead in the polls relative to any possible Republican challenger.

Then there is the issue of politician fidelity to their spouses

We know of President John F Kennedy’s affairs, including with Judith Exner, who claimed to be a go between for him and the Mafia. (she may not be telling the truth in this, though it has been proven that she had an affair with him and we also know she later became mistress of mob boss Sam Giancana)

Ronald Kessler

Ronald Kessler

And recently, Frontpagemagazine.com ran a speech of Ronald Kessler, who has interviewed the people who really know what goes on in the lives of the politicians they guard – the secret service.

According to Kessler:

We know about Bill Clinton’s affairs, but even now, “Bill Clinton has a mistress who has been unofficially codenamed by agents “Energizer.”

President Lyndon Johnson, the Democrat who created the “Great Society” programs to combat poverty, was having sex with five of his eight secretaries. One time his wife, Ladybird, caught him having sex in the Oval Office with one of his secretaries. And Johnson blew up at the Secret Service and said, you should’ve warned me, and insisted that they install a buzzer system to warn him in the future, if he was having sex and Ladybird was in the area.

These presidents could be inspiring: JFK told us “we will bear any burden, pay any price, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.”
Johnson told us “Every night before I turn out the lights to sleep, I ask myself this question: Have I done everything that I can…. Have I done enough?”
Bill Clinton told us: “If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.”

Inspiring yes, but if you can’t stay loyal to your wife, can we believe your principles?

Kessler has more serious allegations than just the “rolling in the hay” on some of the politicians he mentions – I’ve embedded the vimeo video below (under sources)

One lesson I take from all this is: it is not enough to listen to speeches, even if they sound sincere and they resonate with us. We need to study character. We need to look for danger signs. If we are careful with who we would hire to take care of our kids, we should be careful on who we hire to take care of our country.

Sources:

Culture of Corruption – by Michelle Malkin (Regnery Publishing, 2009)

fainting incidents at Obama rallies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhzkltz3ipI

secret service speech by Kessler: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/frontpagemag-com/ronald-kessler-on-the-secrets-of-the-secret-service/ also video embedded here:

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