Facing the modern KGB: What we can learn from Natan Sharanksy

Fear No Evil, by Natan Sharansky, 1998 edition (Public Affairs)

What would you do if you were arrested as a result of actions you’d taken on behalf of your religious and/or political beliefs, threatened with execution or long imprisonment, but offered leniency if you confessed and testified against your colleagues? Most of us would automatically say we’d resist, but consider the kind of pressure levied by Robert Mueller and his team of investigators against Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, who as a result of being accused of lying to the FBI, lost his job, had his life and that of his family destroyed, and has been facing prison time for two years while Mueller and the boys (there are no girls on that team as far as I know) pressured him into naming names. In other words, he was punished before he was convicted. But this is America, you are probably saying. Nothing like that could happen in America. Wrong.

If Robert Mueller hasn’t personally studied the methods of the KGB, I’ll bet someone on his team has. The KGB was masterful in their methods. Torture, you’re imagining, but would it surprise you to learn that physical torture, such as beatings and waterboarding, were not used in the case of political prisoners like Natan Sharansky, the Jewish refusnik who spent nine years in the Soviet prison system many of them in the Gulag, the Soviet Union’s desolate Siberian territory.

The KBG specialized in psychological torture, such as threats to imprison one’s family and loved ones; isolation in punishment cells where you were not allowed to lie down during the day; promises of better treatment and shorter sentences if you only name names––these methods it turns out were effective on 99% of those sucked into the system. Sharansky was the one percent who successfully resisted.

How you ask? By refusing to cooperate on any level with the KGB. He refused all offers and all threats. He accepted long stays in punishment cells even though he knew he might die as a result. He lost so much body weight that he had severe heart problems that required long prison hospital stays. He went on hunger strikes over principled issues, including demanding his copy of Psalms be returned to him or demanding that his letters home be released to his family. He protested when other prisoners were mistreated even though it meant more stays in punishment or prison cells, but he knew from day one that only by having nothing to do with the KGB could he survive his ordeal without selling out his soul.

What gave him the courage to stand up to the KGB when almost no one else could? A combination of factors, including a sharp mind that he used to become a child chess prodigy, a relationship with the woman he married only days before being arrested in 1977 whose garnered support from thousands including world leaders like France’s Mitterand and the U.S.’s Ronald Reagan, and the fact that his commitment to Judaism allowed him to separate himself from anything and everything that had to do with the Soviet Union.

Anyone wanting to strengthen their own system of belief––religious or secular––can benefit from reading Sharansky’s memoir which was first published two years after he was released in a prisoner exchange in 1986, which brings us back to 2018 and the Mueller investigation.

Hampered by one’s belief that the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice are incorruptible, and that KGB methods would never be applied in this country, good men such as Mike Flynn when arrested by Robert Mueller naively assume they can tell the truth and not be victimized. Of course, I wasn’t present at any of those interviews. So, I must speculate on the basis of what is known, and it is clear that Mueller’s methods of exacting cooperation and confessions out of people whose deeds were not criminal must be modeled on the techniques perfected in the Soviet Union. How else can one explain what has been done to Mike Flynn despite the fact that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did so under false pretense while he was still an official of the Trump White House and who did not believe he lied. His failure to understand that others were out to get him and the President at any cost would allow them to undertake such nefarious methods is what led to his downfall. Hence, his recent confession must be understand as that offered by a man who has undergone two years of psychological torture and who has confessed as part of a deal that might keep him out of prison and save his family further suffering.

I doubt Mike Flynn will be writing about his experience with America’s version of the KGB. His plea deal will probably require him to swear he’ll never reveal the details of how they got him to confess. Natan Sharansky withstood nine years of psychological warfare on his character. How long this country must wait for the American KGB to be brought down is anybody’s guess.

Why I’m Closing My Twitter Account and Why You Should Also

An inevitable phenomenon has happened in the aftermath of the explosion of Internet-related technologies: the monopolization of service and social media providers, echoing the monopolization of heavy industry that occurred at the end of the 19th century which led to major anti-trust legislation in the early 20th century.

Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Twitter dominate their unique industries to the extent that they can get away with monopolistic practices such as undercutting or buying out potential competitors.

The leaders of today’s Internet and social media monopolies are conscious of the danger of anti-trust oversight and thus are using their financial and other resources to keep potential enforcers off their backs.

One example of how they do this is to lend their services to those in power. A prime example is Facebook’s aiding the Obama Administration target potential supporters in the 2012 election. It’s reported they even had an office at the White House. (See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/17/obama-digital-data-machine-facebook-election)

Use of Facebook’s database to target potential Obama supporters was not challenged either by anti-trust enforcers or by the mainstream media until they learned that Cambridge Analytica had been able to access the same technology on behalf of conservative causes. As a result, Mark Zuckerberg had to be brought back in line by Congressional hearings and a public wrist-slapping.

The lesson of Facebook has been clear to the other giants. Support for left-liberal politicians and causes is acceptable; support for conservatives is not.

Today it’s not uncommon to hear conservative Facebook users report that they had been censored––that their accounts had been shut down and they had been unable to post or repost. Facebook claims it is unbiased in these efforts, but the evidence is overwhelming that any hint of “alt-right” leanings puts one on the watch list. (see https://www.foxnews.com/tech/dozens-of-facebook-employees-challenge-intolerant-liberal-culture)

Twitter is one of the less important, less celebrated services, but it has aggressively engaged in censoring of conservative viewpoints. The most eggregious example is the recent censoring of Laura Loomer, a conservative activist who called out Ilhan Omar, the Muslim woman recently-elected to Congress from Minnesota.

Loomer tweeted “Isn’t it ironic how the twitter moment used to celebrate ‘women, LGBTQ, and minorities’ is a picture of Ilhan Omar? Ilhan is pro-Sharia, Ilhan is pro-FGM (female genital mutilation). Under Sharia, homosexuals are oppressed & killed. Women are abused & forced to wear the hijab. Ilan is anti-Jewish.”

For that tweet, Loomer was permanently banned from Twitter. She had to chain herself to the entrance of Twitter headquarters in New York City to obtain any press coverage of her situation. While legal action is underway to rectify the double-standard censorship by Facebook, Twitter and Google, there is another way to deal with the situation. Remove one’s presence from those organizations.

Listen to Michelle Malkin’s CRTV analysis of the way that Twitter censored Loomer while applauding a leftist hater at (https://www.facebook.com/MichelleMalkinCRTV/videos/346201796156790/UzpfSTE1MzgzMTIxMzc6MTAyMTc2NzEwNzkzMTg5NDI/) and then if you agree Twitter is a place you no longer can support, follow my example. Close your Twitter account.

When Jews Betray Jews

Imagine a contingent of German Jews sometime in the late 1930s visiting Adolph Hitler to tell him they understand why he hates Jews so much. It must be those Eastern European Jews that bother you so much––the ones who speak that pseudo-German language called Yiddish, who wear those odd black hats and black coats and who conspire against German greatness. It’s not us good Jews you hate, Adolph, they tell him. It’s those other Jews.

Now consider the recent visit of Jeremy Ben-Ami, the leader of J-Street, to Ramallah to meet Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and “president” of the State of Palestine. I wasn’t there, but I didn’t need to be present to know the message Ben-Ami and his organization conveyed just by arranging the meeting.

We understand why you hate those Israeli Jews, Ben-Ami conveyed. They resist your claim for the entire land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. They prevent your people from killing more Jews in knife, motor vehicle, and bomb attacks. They conspire with America to cut off your financial pipeline and your desire to claim Jerusalem as the capital of your city. It’s not us American Jews you should hate, Abu Mazen. It’s those Israeli Jews.

Of course, Adolph Hitler would not have taken a meeting with a contingent of German Jews, but if he had, he would have gotten a good laugh out of their plea. He would have said fine. I’ll kill the Eastern European Jews if you promise not to complain, and then later he’d come for those fine, upstanding “good” Jews.

The message J-Street conveys is equally pernicious. They divide the Jewish people into “good Jews”––the ones who hate Benjamin Netanyahu––and the bad Jews––the Israeli people who elected him prime minister and who refuse to accept his vacuous claims for the entire land. Wait until 2020 when the Democrats take back the White House Ben-Ami must have told Abbas. Then, your money will be restored. Then the U.S. will reverse the decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. Then the U.S. will interfere in the next Israeli election to make sure Netanyahu is defeated. Then you can have your country back and the bad Jews will go back to Europe where they belong.

Where’s the Hatchet? The Washington Post’s final attempt to derail Kavanaugh

Friday, October 5: As Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination fight nears its final hour, the Washington Post made one last attempt to derail his confirmation by digging into Kavanaugh’s past. I expected the front-page story entitled “The rise and reckoning: Inside nominee’s circles of influence,” to bring out last minute hatchets finely honed in order to decapitate the candidate. What a let down!

The Post must have assigned their top investigative reporters. I can imagine them spending overtime hours on the phone with every last person to ever cross paths with Kavanaugh from high school to the present. They state their conclusion upfront: Kavanaugh had a circle of “friends, loyal and true . . . [who] made it their business to buff and defend Kavanaugh’s reputation.”

Okay, I thought. Let’s hear examples of how his reputation needed buffing and needed to be defended. The juicy details must follow. But they don’t. There are no juicy details. Oh, one high school student who was teased says, “Brett was a jerk.” Wow! That disqualifies him right there. Is there more? Well, there’s a female Yale student who says he was a sloppy drunk. But did he try to ‘get into her pants?’ Apparently not, because the story moves on with zero reference to such behavior on Brett’s part.

There are references to things boys do as they become men: “a bar fight, groping attempts to get somewhere with women, perhaps worse.” But is anyone quoted saying that Brett did those things? Apparently not with the kind of conviction that the Post needed. The best the reporters can do is attack Brett’s “community”––people who attend prep schools and colleges like Yale. In other words, children of those who achieved some measure of success in American society, as if that should be sufficient evidence that he’s not qualified to serve on the court.

That in the final analysis is why the media and the Democrat Party hate Brett Kavanaugh. He is on the wrong side of the divide they have created and militates against their narrative that America is the land of the unjust. If America has been constructed on a foundation of racism, sexism, and the rest of the Left’s complaints, then anyone who is near the top economically and socially needs to be knocked off their pedestal.

Kavanaugh, not surprisingly, believes in the foundational values embodied in the U.S. Constitution. The Post and the Democrats do not. It’s as simple as that. The Post could find no hatchets to throw at Kavanaugh other than he came from a family that made it, and that expected a great deal of their son. He excelled––graduating first in his class in high school, as a Yale undergraduate and at Yale Law School. For shame. He has to be stopped.

On behalf of those who are not currently in the upper echelons of our society who would like to attain those heights, let’s hope Kavanaugh is confirmed because the kind of society he’d like to preserve is one where you’ll have a chance on your own merits to become the best you can be. You do not have to reside at the bottom accepting charity in return for your loyalty to the Democrat Party.

Brett Kavanaugh is not a perfect human being. There is no such thing. Did he go through normal growing up experiences? Yes. Did he ever go too far? Probably. Who can say they never did! Do you want to appear before a judge who has never made mistakes, who has no experience with pushing the limits? I’d hate to be the defendant before a judge who pretends to be perfect and denies he (or she) ever did something they wished they hadn’t done.

So the attempted hatchet job reveals more about the Post than it did about Brett Kavanaugh. It shows us their bias against people who send their kids to prep schools, who hold conservative views, and who have friends who they support and who support them.

Time to move on to the rest of the paper. Or maybe I’ll just skip the stories and go right to the crossword puzzle. That can’t be imbued with political ideology, or can it?

The GOP is on Thin Ice in the House of Representatives

According to polls of 30 House seats conducted by Siena College between August 20 and September 26, the GOP is in trouble. Twenty-six of the thirty districts polled are currently held by Republicans. Two are open and two are held by Democrats. Yet Republicans have a solid lead in only 10 of the thirty races while Democrats lead by a wide margin in 8 seats—7 of which were or are held by Republicans. Twelve of the races were within 2 percent points and could go either way. Of course, something could happen between now and November 6th that would change voters’ minds, and polls conducted in late August or early September might have been taken before voters started paying attention to their local races.

What will it take for the GOP to hold the House?

Tip O’Neill, the former Speaker of the House, famously said ‘all politics is local.” In other words, many voters select their representatives on the basis of local, rather than national issues.

The Republican Party in 2018 must overcome this political rule in order to hold the House. They need to nationalize the election, getting Trump supporters to come out like they did two years ago to vote the party line. The only person who can accomplish that is Donald Trump. He must spend a lot of October making speeches in districts where Republican candidates are in trouble.

Will the Kavanaugh Fiasco Impact Control of Congress?

The Kavanaugh battle rages in the Senate, not the House, which means it is unlikely to impact voters choices for their district representative. It may influence Senate races, however. The Republicans need to retain control of the Senate in order to get more conservative judges appointed to district courts. There are over a hundred vacancies that are being held up. Unless the GOP increases it’s lead in the Senate, those vacancies may not be filled pending the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election.

The One Week Delay

The question that the one-week delay for yet another investigation of whether Brett Kavanaugh is a serial sex offender is what happens if nothing is found. Let’s go back over what we know and what we can conclude.

We know that the Democrats are trying to advance an argument that Kavanaugh enjoyed drinking beer so much that he committed the act that Christine Ford has charged him with. The question then becomes will the FBI find other examples of Kavanaugh’s engaging in anti-social behavior as a result of having too much to drink AND what happens if they do not find any such record?

There is a presumption, which I think is based on well-establish psychological principle, that people who commit anti-social behavior don’t do it once in their lives and then stop. Sex offenders, in particular, are known to escalate the seriousness of their behavior if not stopped by some form of intervention. Initially it might be exposure, but then it can move on to physical contact and eventually to rape.

Unless the FBI finds at least one other such incident in Kavanaugh’s past, the likelihood that he did what Ford charges him with is vastly reduced. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen; but the chances are extremely slim. It would also raise the question for those who believe Ford: You think he’s guilty of attacking Ford. Okay, but does your attitude towards his qualification to serve on the court change if it was his one and only such incident or are you willing to destroy his career over something that happened one time when he was a teen-ager?

Right now the weight of testimony from people who knew Kavanaugh in high school and at Yale is overwhelmingly in his favor. For people who do not listen to Rush Limbaugh, here’s the transcript of a call from a woman who was a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale from 1983-1987:

RUSH: Jenny in Wyoming. Welcome. I’m glad you called.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thanks for all you do.

RUSH: Thank you. Thank you very much.

CALLER: So I thought it was important that I call in because just by coincidence I was at Yale the same year as Brett Kavanaugh, and I was even in the same residential college that he was a member of —

RUSH: What year are we talking about here?

CALLER: So from 1983 through 1987.

RUSH: And you were in the same residential college?

CALLER: Yes. So that —

RUSH: What does that mean for us dropouts? What is a residential college?

CALLER: (chuckles) They assign people to colleges. There’s twelve colleges at Yale, or now there’s one more. At the time there were twelve, and there’s about 120 at each college and it just subdivides the grouping of the students so that they know each other more closely. They live in the same dormitories —

RUSH: Okay, residential. It’s where you live. Okay. I just wanted to make sure.

CALLER: Yeah. They get to know each other fairly well.

RUSH: Right. Okay.

CALLER: So if I had to describe Brett Kavanaugh that I knew from 1983 through 1987, I would describe him with one word as “kind.” He is kind, he is gentle, he was gracious, he was thoughtful. He was never somebody I would ever think of as a quote “partier.” He was a good man, and I’m just offended that all of this coming out. I don’t associate that at all with the person that I knew.

RUSH: Were you afraid of him?

CALLER: He was very soft-spoken, very, very thoughtful.

RUSH: Were you ever afraid of him?

CALLER: Never. Never! He was gentle. A sweetheart.

RUSH: Well, how…? You had to know him pretty well, I mean, to make a judgment that he was gentle and a sweetheart. You wouldn’t say that about somebody you would see walking on the quadrangle. I mean, you’d have to know them a little bit.

CALLER: Right. No, we weren’t close friends or besties or anything like that. You know, he was just another person in this group of 120 that all kind of know each other. You’re the in dining hall together and —

RUSH: Let me ask you this. Okay, 120 people. Were any of them, as you recall…? Was there any scuttlebutt, reputation, winks and nods, whispers, “Be careful of this Kavanaugh guy? The guy, he’s a snaky, sneaky, looks like this. But don’t be in a room alone with him”? Was there ever anything like that?

CALLER: Absolutely not. And if there had been, I would have known because it was a small group of people. No! He was just a normal, nice guy.

RUSH: So all of this that you’re hearing about him, it has to sound like nothing you experienced or knew. It has to sound strange and almost incomprehensible?

CALLER: Exactly. I even had two reporters contact me. The Huffington Post called me yesterday and it’s so strange ’cause I live in Wyoming out in the middle of nowhere and reporters do not usually call me of all people. (giggling)

RUSH: Right.

CALLER: They’re trying to get dirt on him. I’ve had this happen once over the summer, and the person who called — the reporter — in the middle of the summer, when I wasn’t able to give her any dirt, she started to lead me, just like leading the witness. She started suggesting terrible things that I should say about him, and when I wasn’t able to do that she started leading me down the road. “Can I say anything negative about the groups that he participated in, you know, the clubs that he was a part of while he was at Yale?” Again, I wouldn’t say anything negative about them as well. I didn’t have anything negative to say but he was really offended. The reporters are calling me, of all people, to get negative things to come up with, and it really makes me suspicious that these women who are coming forward have had something similar to them done to them as well, that somebody’s leading them and spurring them on and urging them.

RUSH: You said you had a call from the Huffing and Puffington Post yesterday?

CALLER: I did.

Brett Kavanaugh must either be the most extraordinary leopard––capable of changing his personality, or Christine Ford must be mistaken in terms of what happened or who was involved. I cannot see any other way to explain the evidence provided by people like his Yale classmate.

This woman’s testimony, by the way, puts to bed the Ramarez women’s story which was already suspect since the NY Times could not find any corroborating evidence for and was unwilling to publish when it first became public.

Time will tell, but let’s focus on one more point. What if the investigation does NOT turn up anything that corroborates Christine Ford? Will the Democrats throw in the towel and allow a vote without trying to brow-beat Senator Flake or others, or will they fight for another delay? If the latter, how can we not conclude that the handling of this entire matter from the moment Ford’s letter arrived in Diane Feinstein’s office to this week’s vote to delay was politically motivated and had little if anything to do with their supposed support for the “survivor?”

100 Swan Song Editorials

The American newspaper industry has responded to an appeal for 100 newspapers to write editorials on the same day attacking President Trump for being critical of the news media. This act is an admission of the extent to which the national media has lost power and credibility. It may just be their swan song––a last minute attempt to regain status and authority. My bet is that it will fail. It will fail to sway any members of the public who aren’t already Trump haters and it will fail to restore the national media’s position as the arbiter of right and wrong in America. That horse left the stable years ago and is not coming back.

Why do I claim the media has lost its power? First, you need to concede that once upon a time everyone counted on newspapers for national and local news. Even with the emergence of radio and TV, newspapers held their own, funded by advertising, as the primary source of not only in-depth coverage, but by reporting on a greater number of stories each day than the broadcast media.

The handwriting signaling the end of their monopoly came with cable TV. Now people could hear about breaking news immediately and didn’t have to wait for the morning or afternoon paper to learn about it.

P.S.: Yes, there were afternoon newspapers. In my hometown––population 20,000 there were morning and afternoon newspapers until well into the 1960s.

But the largest nail in the newspaper’s coffin was the arrival of the Internet. The Internet is cable TV on steroids. It not only enables people to learn about breaking news within seconds, but it offers both scope and depth of coverage from a variety of official and unofficial sources.

The newspaper industry responded slowly and poorly. Why? Because of the huge capital investment required to produce a daily newspaper. That’s why newspapers have shut down and some dailies now publish twice or once a week, and why all but a few major newspapers print many fewer pages than they did just a generation ago. Union domination of newsrooms also made it difficult for newspapers to adapt.

Newspapers found they had to compete by offering web versions. Some have been able to charge subscriptions; many find they lose more money doing so than offering free access and selling ads on those pages. Either way, newspaper websites are not the only source of news. Millions rely on other sources. Some of those are poorly vetted and over time followers figure that out and abandon those outlets.

But that’s just the structural story. The rest of the story is that what was once an industry where views varied widely from conservative to liberal, has on the national level, pushed aside the conservative outlook, and united to become not just the reporter of news, but the maker of news created on behalf of a liberal-left ideology.

Consider how papers like the New York Times and Washington Post transformed their editorial outlook of the CIA and FBI. In the 1960s, both papers were highly critical of those agencies, seeing them as emblematic of a nascent police state––above the law and accountable to no one. Today, however, those papers love those agencies because they did exactly what they were accused of doing in the 1960s. They took sides in a national presidential election, acting outside the law on behalf of one candidate to the detriment of the other candidate. Further, their illegal and unethical behavior continued after the election to the extent they tried to subvert the Trump administration. They created false evidence, suborned perjury and leaked classified information to the news media.

I don’t think I’m being naïve in suggesting that the national media today is different than it was 50 or 100 years ago. Yes, some media organizations in those days had greater access to power than others and they used their power on behalf of certain parties and candidates. The difference is that there was competition in those days. The fact that 100 newspapers today (out of 1200+) are willing to act in unison is testimony to the lack of competition for viewpoints and scope of coverage, which is why subscription numbers are down and editorial pages are not read by the majority of subscribers.

One hundred editorial writers will be claiming they are defending freedom of the press. This self-indulgent, holier than thou, attitude doesn’t fly with me. Mr. Trump’s criticisms focus on the reality that some media are out to get him, and he has that right. It’s called free speech.

The President’s criticisms have not resulted in any reporters being personally attacked, or newspaper offices being bombed or burned down. (The incident in Annapolis had nothing to do with national politics.)

The national media is mad, but they are not telling the truth about why they’re mad¬––which is that millions of Americans agree with the President. Long before 2016, millions came to view newspaper coverage as biased against them. They read stories that made the average American out to be deplorable, racist, misogynist, bigoted, and a despoiler of the environment. How many of you like being attacked on a daily basis without the chance to defend yourself?

Newspapers have not learned the lesson that they don’t represent the majority of Americans. Acts like 100 editorials attacking the President make that clear and will likely hasten the day when the number of dailies sinks below 1,000.