Senator Flakey

In one of the most ridiculous incidents I have ever seen, a woman demonstrator stopped the elevator for senators in the Congress and subjected Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona to a diatribe against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Judge.  Not only had she no right to do this, but the Capitol police, who were there, did nothing to stop her.  This is “political correctness” taken to its extreme.   But, what is even more incredible, was that Flake continued to listen to her and allow her to shout at him without any response and later changed his vote because of this incident.

Whatever the merits of the case, what happened to due process, is the mob going to rule, to determine how US democracy works, are Senators (without a spine) going to be intimidated by the person who screams the loudest?  And what about security, surely it is illegal for demonstrators to be able to waylay Senators and hold their elevator, what if she had a weapon and didn’t like his response?

In any case, Sen. Flake(y), a key Republican vote on the Committee, who had announced he would vote to approve Kavanaugh, decided to organize a group of moderate Republicans to push for an FBI probe of the issue regarding Judge Kavanaugh.  It seems to me that some sophomoric act, if it occurred, 37 years ago, should not be the linchpin of the decision to appoint.  Further, whatever happened to “innocent before proven guilty” as far as the Democrats and the politically correct are concerned, it is now guilty until proven innocent.  This is a clear case of character assassination, with unproven and unprovable accusations.

As a result of Flake’s turnaround, Pres. Trump ordered an FBI probe into the issue, but it is clear at the outset that there is no forensic evidence, it comes down to she said/he said.  As a compromise, the probe will take only one week.  I doubt that it will resolve anything and the Democrats will continue on their merry way, ignoring due process and the finer details of decorum to make political points.

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Rajneesh in America

I watched the 6-part Netflix documentary series entitled “Wild Wild Country” about the establishment of the settlement of Rajneeshpuram in the wilds of central Oregon. This was supposed to be a farming community of the followers of the Indian guru Rajneesh, named the Bhagwan. They had been essentially forced to decamp from their compound in Poona, India, for tax and other violations. The Bhagwan, a frail beaming, long-bearded man, usually dressed in pure white flowing robes, entrusted this move to his assistant, a 17-year-old Indian acolyte named Sheela.

This seemed quite a risky thing to do, but Sheela was bursting with confidence and hubris, and as the representative and top administrator of a new religion, she chose to move the whole religious cult to the USA and to the wilds of Oregon.  Let it be said that although she was an excellent organizer, she knew precious little about the US and although she chose an isolated area, she misjudged the reaction of the American people.

Rajneesh had written some books on philosophy and had developed what in America was called a New Age Cult, a mixture of Indian mysticism, free love, and opposition to established values.  What attracted many western youth to his cult was that they were allowed to express themselves without restraint and to engage in unbridled sexual activity and they were also expected to engage in meditation and self-criticism.  The sessions with thousands of people consisted of these 4 main aspects, always ending with the sex that went on for hours.

Sheela took a course at a College in the US and met and married an American Jew and became Mrs. Silverman.  But, her husband soon died, and played no role in the further events.  Sheela chose an area in central Oregon near a small town (pop. 40) called Antelope, where the cult bought a large unused farm.  They seemed to have unlimited money, although they depended on the contributions of their followers (called sanyasins), who all dressed in maroon or orange clothing.

Once they had bought the farm in 1981 they started moving in and developing the area, both expanding the farming and building many buildings.  To do this they had their own experts in construction, architecture, plumbing and so on.  They had their own generators and water supplies.  The inhabitants of Antelope were both amazed and frightened by the influx of strange people dressed in red passing thought their small town.  They became upset that the local authorities and the State of Oregon did nothing to check what the Rajneeshis were actually doing on their farm, now a new town called Rajneeshpuram.  They seemed to have unlimited funding, they built roads, an airfield, they had two planes and the Bhagwan had 7 Rolls Royce cars, that later became 20, all money supposedly obtained from their followers.  Certainly the locals were upset with what they heard was going on there, but they also resented that all this development was going on without any permits or checks as required by law.

A law suit was started because the Rajneeshis were supposed to be developing a farm not a city, that they said would have 10,000 people and eventually 100,000.  Because they did not have any legal right to incorporate as a city, Sheela, the manager of the whole project, found a  way around this.  They bought up property in Antelope, forced some of the people out, and took over the City Council and voted to merge Rajneeshpuram with Antelope, and then dropped the latter name.

Then Sheela made a big mistake, she went on TV and said that yes, they had taken over the town of  Antelope and they would soon take over the Wasco County.  This made people sit up and take notice and a movement started to prevent their expansion plans.  The Bhagwan had given Sheela the task of getting some Rajneeshis on the County Council.  But, she realized she did not have the votes, so she made another clever move.  She sent buses out all around the US, as far away as New York, Texas, and Minnesota, and they picked up all the homeless people they could persuade to go with them.  Some 2,000 were bussed back to Oregon, where they were given food and a place to sleep, and were registered as voters in the County.  Now she hoped she could obtain enough votes.

But before the next election, this tactic backfired.  Some of the homeless became unruly, they started fights, destroyed property, and one even tried to choke Sheela.  She had no option but to remove these anti-social elements from her “perfect” society, so she put them on buses and dumped them in the surrounding towns.  This did not sit well with the local inhabitants, who now had the homeless from all over the country dumped in their lap.  As a result of the bad feelings the hotel that the Rajneeshis owned in Portland was bombed and went up in flames.  It was at this point that Sheela started buying weapons on a large-scale and threatening that if they were attacked the Rajneeshis would fight back.  See how quickly a cult based on free love turned to violence.  It was also at this point that she started planning the assassination of several US officials.

Sheela also organized a campaign by her followers to spread salmonella over the salad bars in local restaurants so that people became ill.  But, to ensure that the Rajneeshis did not take over the county, the inhabitants did the same as Sheela had done, they bussed in people from surrounding areas and they stayed with them for a few days as required to register to vote and they then outvoted the Rajneeshis who got no representation on the County.  This was a significant defeat for Sheela.  Soon after this the Wasco County offices were set on fire.

At more or less the same time, in 1984, a group of wealthy Californians moved to the ranch, and one couple became very close to the Bhagwan, the man became his doctor and the woman an adviser.  Sheela saw her control over the Bhagwan and access to him being eroded.  By this time she had a small group of her own loyal followers and so they decamped in a plane to Germany.  In doing so she narrowly missed being arrested. The Bhagwan denounced her, claimed that she had stolen m$45 from his Foundation that she was administering, and cooperated with the police in attempting to get her extradited and charged.  In doing so he claimed no knowledge of any crimes she had committed.  He also claimed that he had never had sex with her, although this seemed unlikely since she had joined him when she was 16 and openly stated her love for him, and he preached free love.

After an investigation by the FBI, she and others were charged with the following crimes: 1. Attempted murder of the AG of Oregon and the US Federal AG (she had planned these assassinations and the US AG narrowly missed being shot); 2. Spreading bacterial infection (a bio-terror incident) in order to affect the outcome of an election; 3. Burning down the Wasco County Offices; 4. Illegal activities at Rajneeshpuram that included, an extensive secret wire-tapping system, including in the Bhagwan’s house, buying arms illegally and outfitting an army larger than the combined police forces of the State of Oregon;  5. Fleeing the US to avoid arrest.

Sheela was finally extradited from Germany to the US, where she was tried, found guilty and received a sentence of 20 years.  She now lives in Switzerland where she runs a Home for the aged and infirm.  Two of her loyal supporters received sentences of 10 years. Sheela claimed that the Bhagwan was complicit in all her crimes, but the FBI could not prove this. However, his claim that he was a religious leader was undermined by the fact that he had taken a vow of silence and had not preached in three years.  He was arrested in 1985 while fleeing to South Carolina and given a choice, either go on trial or leave the country.  Although he claimed his innocence, he chose the latter and returned to India, since no other country would allow him entry. He died there in 1990, with rumors circulating that he had been poisoned by some of this followers to obtain access to the wealth he had amassed .

In the course of 5 years he and Sheela had done irreparable damage to the inhabitants of the State of Oregon and to the trust anyone might have in such so-called “enlightenment” movements.  The Bhagwan had turned from a relative aesthete to a power-hungry leader, from wearing pure white clothes to flashy jewelry, gold watches and thick blue robes and driving around in his many Rolls Royces.  Sheela had turned from an ambitious girl to a murderous criminal.  And yet people gave up their lives and their fortunes to follow them!  It is ever thus.

The UNRWA Scam Exposed

The organization known as UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency, is really a cover name for what should be called The Palestinian Conflict Perpetuation Agency (UNPCPA), since this agency was started by the pro-Arab majority of the UN to ensure that the Palestinian refugee problem would not only never end, but would get worse with time.  Because according to international law a refugee is one who leaves his/her country under duress, while UNRWA defines a refugee to include the descendants of those who left their country (the Palestine Mandate) until the nth generation.  And what is worse, the Arab countries have paid only a minor part of its funding, while the sympathetic Europeans and the US have paid most of the costs of keeping the Palestinian so-called refugees in a permanent welfare state for 70 years.  This is unique in history.

Jared Kushner, Pres. Trump’s son-in-law and the head of his Team to solve the Israel-Arab conflict has just said essentially the same thing.  That UNRWA perpetuates the conflict by maintaining the so-called refugee problem.  So that 70 years after the initial war for Israeli Independence in 1948, instead of the actual number of Palestinian refugees decreasing sharply with time, as all other refugee problems have done, to now about 30,000 people, it is supposed to have increased to over 5 million people.  This is purely a result of the Arab countries policies of never wanting to accept the Palestinian refugees into their own countries as citizens and to keep political pressure on Israel to “solve” the problem.

Actually only the Kingdom of Jordan gave the Palestinians citizenship, so the former “Palestinian Arabs” living in Jordan are in fact Jordanian citizens and should not be supported by UNRWA.  Also, all those so-called Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank and Gaza should not be counted as refugees because they remain inside the borders of “their own country” and so are not in fact refugees at all, but displaced persons. Added to which is the fact that UNRWA runs schools and summer camps that are controlled by Hamas and Fatah in which Palestinian children are indoctrinated with hatred for Israel and Jews and taught that the only solution to the problem is through violence.

The US has already halved its financial support for UNRWA causing a significant reduction in UNRWA services (free food, free medication, free education forever).  If in fact the US withdraws its support entirely for UNRWA, it would probably collapse, because the Arabs States are not going to foot the bill for the Palestinians, whose cause they espouse, but who they actually detest and want to have nothing to do with them.  Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf States do not allow Palestinian Arabs to enter their countries.  Only the Western liberal elite consider the Palestinians as a special case for unique sympathy, while their movements are in fact virulently anti-Western and anti-American.  If that isn’t an example of anti-Semitism, what is, when there are many more urgent and deserving refugee problems (Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Rohingya, as well as all the Black Africans trying to reach Europe)?  So Jared Kushner is correct, in order to resolve the Middle East problem peacefully it is first necessary to remove the UN Palestinian Conflict Perpetuation Agency (UNPCPA).

A Russian Romance?

At first glance it seems strange that US President Donald Trump would be cozying up to Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin.  After all, not only has Russia (under the Soviets) been a traditional adversary of the US, but Putin himself has basically destroyed democracy (such as it was) in Russia, and has turned it into an authoritarian dictatorship.  In doing so he has murdered about 30 journalists as well as numerous politicians.  His chief opponent, Boris Nemtsov, was assassinated in broad daylight in the center of Moscow in 2015.  A clear warning to anyone thinking of opposing Putin.  He has also expanded Russian power and influence by annexing the Crimea and invading eastern Ukraine and essentially taking over Syria.  All this you would think, in a conventional sense, would make Putin an enemy of the US and of Trump.

But, consider what could be behind this strange coupling.  My explanation is one word – China.  In the current ranking of Gross Domestic Product (GDP; i.e total size of the economy), the US is of course ranked #1, and second comes China, and China’s economy has been growing at a phenomenal rate (of 5-10% pa).  In the IMF listing of countries Russia comes 12th in this category. So from the point of view of competition or rivalry for world-wide domination based on economic factors, China must be seen as the major competitor for the US, not Russia.  This is why we have seen Pres. Trump emphasizing tariffs that are intended to make a fair playing field with China, because Chinese leaders have been manipulating their currency and their tariffs to gain advantage over the US, that previous Presidents had essentially ignored.

On the other hand, in the list of most powerful countries in the world, published annually by US News and World Report, after the US, Russia comes second, and China is third.  If you had to choose which country to be friendly with in order to avoid an international conflict and yet improve your relative situation, I submit that it would be better to choose Russia and not China.  China has embraced capitalism (although with an authoritarian system of government) and although it has expansive plans regarding the area of the South China Sea, there is no doubt that Russia under Putin is more expansionist.

I believe Trump’s apparent cozying up to Putin accomplishes two things: first, it sends a message to China that it is possible that the two most powerful states on earth, the US and Russia, can combine against it; second, it attempts to disarm Russia to some extent by undermining the traditional anti-Western views of the rulers of Russia.  This is hard-ball power politics on the international stage.  You certainly don’t want China and Russia to be allies against the US.  Trump is flexing US muscle and playing the game according to new rules.

Could 9/11 Have Been Prevented?

A 2015 docudrama entitled “A Good American,” written, produced and directed by Friedrich Moser in Austria, exposes the world of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and claims that 9/11 could have been prevented.  This film based on true events, with interviews with real people, tells the story of Bill Binney and several of his colleagues, who worked at the NSA and were eventually fired.  Here is a brief summary of this explosive story.

Bill Binney was a mathematician and a brilliant data analyst, who early on saw that what mattered in decrypting masses of information was not what people were saying to each other, that is the content of a communication, but rather the analysis of the traffic, i.e. who was talking to whom, how often and from where to where. By analyzing this kind of information, he and others warned of the Tet offensive by the Communist Viet Cong in 1968, but due to “the arrogance of power” it was ignored by the US military in Vietnam.  He was then able to establish a structure of the Russian military command from traffic analysis, before the advent of real computers, and he was able to predict the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 months before it occurred.  Typically his warning was also ignored.

However, his work got him a job in the NSA, where he was given the task of expanding on his method of analysis.  He established a small group and continued his approach of traffic analysis using raw date that was pouring into the NSA from many sources.  At that time the work of NSA involved mainly total data capture and analysis for selected “red flags.”  For example, the use of the word “revolution” might be searched for, and then in each case the conversation would have to be analyzed for its security threat, to distinguish between someone using the word “revolution” to mean let’s start a revolution against the US government, from someone who was talking about turntable speed, i.e revolutions per minute.  This type of analysis involved a great deal of man hours, so much so that the NSA analysts were literally drowning in data.

The NSA had fallen woefully behind in computer technology, and so a new Director was appointed to update the agency, he was Gen. Michael Hayden.  He decided on a new program called “Trailblazer” that would gradually update the hardware at NSA but basically continue the established analysis approach.  The new computer hardware cost billions of dollars, and brought in even more data, thus preventing the NSA from actually doing its job effectively.

Meanwhile Bill Binney’s group had developed a program called ThinThread based on algorithms developed by them, that he showed using NSA raw data could identify groups (networks) constituting real security threats in real-time.  Not only was this traffic analysis approach far faster than the”content analysis approach, and was independent of language, but it was also much cheaper.  However, the leadership of the NSA rejected this approach,.  How could 6 people with a small computer do anything better than 500 analysts with lots of huge computers? Ultimately Bill and his group were prevented from further developing their approach and eventually were fired.  Trailblazer was used to analyze communications between US citizens and lacked the personal protections that had been included in ThinThread.  It was this kind of unlawful intrusion into the lives of innocent US citizens that led to the actions of whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

The failure of the NSA to predict the 9/11 attack, after the previous 1993 attack on the Twin Towers and the known threats emanating from al Qaeda, was one of the worst mistakes in US history, and led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 American and other citizens. Later Bill and his colleagues used ThinThread to analyze data that was actually already in the NSA system, and were able to show that they could have predicted the 9/11 attack before it happened from traffic analysis stretching from Afghanistan thru Hamburg and several US cities.

Bill and his colleagues set up a private company that tried to use ThinThread for other US Government agencies.  But by this time the NSA was so defensive in trying to cover up their terrible blunder that they intervened in every case and got the contracts and contacts cancelled.  Then one day FBI agents burst into the homes of several of the group, including Bill, co-worker Ed Loomis, and Diane Roark, who had worked for the Congress and had been convinced of ThinThread’s superiority to Trailblazer. They were arrested at gunpoint.  But, when it came to trial the case was thrown out by the judge for fabrication of evidence by the NSA.

So let’s remember Bill Binney and his colleagues.  They were trailblazing analysts who saw the superiority of traffic analysis, and who were whistle-blowers long before anyone else.  They showed that the NSA was corrupt, incompetent and more interested in bringing in funds than doing its job of  protecting the American people. And above all Bill Binney was a very good American.  And by the way, Gen. Hayden was promoted and became head of the CIA.

Trump and Putin

The historic summit of Presidents Trump and Putin in Helsinki was notable for its lack of discord and disagreement.  Like two gentlemen, the two leaders of the mightiest and the largest countries in the world, respectively, agreed politely to differ.   Trump was at pains to avoid blaming Putin for anything, and was certainly not going to be led into a contest over who was responsible for the so-called Russian collusion investigation.  The Mueller investigation in fact has been going on for over a year and has come up with nothing definitive.  As far as Putin is concerned, if there was any Russian cyber interference in American affairs it was not by his government.  The fact that he controls almost everything that happens in Russia, including the murders of hundreds of active critics, was, of course, not mentioned.

But, Trump is right.  The US, for good or ill, has to deal with Putin, and its better to be in the game with him talking, than merely shouting at him from the sidelines (to use a topical football metaphor).  The US has dealt with many evil and dangerous men like Putin, including Stalin (who supposedly murdered ca. 70 million Russians) with whom Roosevelt sat down and negotiated the future of the world (although it didn’t turn out as they expected).  The US has also dealt with the Chinese leaders, no less evil, such as Chairman Mao, and currently with Chairman Kim Jong-un of N. Korea, not known for his support of human rights.  No, in the real world such people who wield power have to be dealt with, rather than fought.  Time is on our side, such dictators never last.

During the Summit press conference it was expected that the leaders would refer to issues that divide them, such as their difference over Crimea.  But, what did surprise was their apparent willingness to come to terms over Syria.  Trumps stated that Russia and the US are working together to ensure Israel’s security in relation to the Syrian regime approaching the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.  This presumably refers to Iran and Hezbollah embedded with Syrian troops.  Putin said Syria could be the first example of successful joint work, that would ensure peace and stability in Syria and allow the delivery of humanitarian supplies for the suffering Syrian people.

Most media attention in the US has been on the denial by Putin that he did not interfere in the US election, and Trump’s seemingly lame acceptance of this.  But, what do you expect him to do, there and then insult his negotiating partner.  There seems to be solid evidence of Russian interference and Trump knows this, but he is a politician and he has to be diplomatic.  All those who accuse him of not being diplomatic, namely the liberal media and the Democrats, are now up in arms over his supposed “disgusting” lack of confrontation of Putin.  This is really ridiculous.

British Hypocrisy

The hypocrisy of the British knows no bounds.  They have bayed against Trump, called him incompetent, unfit to hold office, inveighed against his immigration policy (the latest version of which was upheld by the Supreme Court)  and his “wall,” taunted his tweets, and convicted him in advance of “colluding with the Russians.”  Yet, when a newspaper asks him a question in an interview, and he responds giving his opinion, as he is wont to do, he is accused of “intervening” in the internal affairs of the UK.  They can put up a balloon lampooning him, 50% of the British nation in a poll can say they don’t want him to visit, yet he must not give an opinion about Brexit, and he must not insult the Mayor of London.  What one-sided hypocrisy!

There are, according to experts, two kinds of American Presidents.  One is the Imperial kind, who issues dictats, who says “invade that country,” who acts as a leader.  They take their model from the Emperors of Imperial Rome. Examples of Imperial Presidents were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan.   Then there is the Accountant kind of President, who stops and thinks about every action, who consults his many advisers and still can’t make a decision.  Examples of this kind of President are Jimmy Carter, who got detailed analyses from all his advisers, studied them overnight, and came back the next morning not with a decision, but with a request for more data. This kind of President dithers and considers himself a kind of super-accountant.

Imperial Presidents use the might of the most powerful nation on earth while Accountant Presidents are afraid to use that power. A classic example was the aborted pathetic debacle by Carter to rescue the hostages in the US Embassy in Iran, rather than threatening to annihilate Tehran.  Note that the Ayatollahs released the hostages as soon as Reagan was inaugurated. Calculating Presidents are afraid to take any step that might seem to be using power, they prefer diplomacy.  Another example is President Obama, who tried to engage US enemies rather oppose them.  In this way he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, because he backed down from his supposed “red line” when Assad used chemical weapons and allowed the entry of Russia under Putin into Syria, that resulted in the Syrian Civil War lasting 7 years and the current victory of the Assad regime, contrary to American interests.

For good or ill, Trump is an Imperial President.  Someone said he likes to “throw a grenade into a room before he enters.”   He wants to wield (or threaten to wield) US armed might to get what is rightfully in American interests.  Why is it that previous Presidents moaned about the US footing almost the entire bill for NATO, without doing anything about it?  Why is it that previous Presidents allowed the southern US border to become as pervious as Swiss cheese?  Why is it that previous Presidents were afraid to confront N. Korean dictators, leading to them developing nuclear weapons and ICBM’s while their people starved?  History has shown that it is better to oppose an enemy than to try to contain them.  Where would the World be today if Pres. Roosevelt had not declared war on Japan (after a severe attack) and on Germany, but had followed the path of appeasement?

I received a note from a liberal American friend lambasting Trump for being a liar and a cheat.  He still hasn’t got it.  Trump is the US President and he will twist arms (like LBJ did) in order to get what he wants.  That too is the American way.  A true leader doesn’t worry about what people think of him, as long as he is effective.