August 1, 2016


While lounging on the Attersee shore on June 23, admiring the view of the mountains, sailboats gliding over the lake, and the wind making small ripples on its surface, a seismic change occurred in the distant UK where voters decided that they no longer wanted to be part of the EU. Below is a copy of the front page of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung with its comments on the event:




A translation of the comments is as follows: “Europe is shocked.” “Great Britain has decided to leave” “What Now?” The headlines for subsequent detailed articles inside the paper include words like “Consternation;” “What happens to the EU now?” “The massive fall of David Cameron;” “Old against young” in the plebiscite result as well as fears for the financial markets and Europe’s economy as a whole. There was, however, not only shock but also anger that the Brits just shouldn’t have done that. Two camps immediately arose. One said: If they want a divorce let them have it, but don’t expect it to be amiable. Europe will insist on conditions that will make other European nations who might have similar ambitions think twice about leaving. The other group, represented by Merkel, in essence said: let’s not panic and think this through first. Some experts argued in the paper, let’s get rid of the Brits fast and then concentrate on making the necessary EU reforms, while others argued to go slow. The Brits haven’t left yet and it’ll take two years of negotiations on the terms once they have submitted their resignation.

Since the Scots and Northern Irish had overwhelmingly voted for remaining in the EU there was now talk in these countries of another referendum to decide whether or not they should stay with England and Wales or go their own way with the EU. This would, of course, be the end of the UK, and a result Cameron had hardly envisioned when he undertook this gamble with the EU referendum. It had turned into a colossal blunder, the consequences of which are as yet unforeseeable. On the other hand for the Scottish and the Irish people leaving the UK may not be as simple as it sounds even if they were to decide on it. The British Parliament would have to vote on the question, and what these politicians will do is anybody’s guess.

In the last installment I mentioned that we did not encounter the refugee problem, but it is simmering under the surface. We took cabs to get around in Innsbruck, because with all the one-way streets we would never have found our destination had we been driving. The cabbies were dead set against the asylum seekers of whom Austria had taken about 800.000 (Austria’s total population is somewhat over 8.5 million). This influx of predominantly Muslims into a Catholic country was not welcomed. In addition, the complaint was that tax money has to be spent on housing and feeding them while they are not working but loafing around all day.

 The Salzburger Nachrichten felt obligated to address the problem. The reason why nearly four times more young males than females arrived is that families expect them to work and send money home so that they in turn can join them thereafter. Not everyone who arrives is allowed to stay. The ones from Syria in nearly all instances, but those from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and other countries are more thoroughly vetted. To the key question: why don’t they seek work, the answer was that asylum seekers are not allowed to work for the first three months,  while their request is processed, and thereafter only in certain manual occupations where a need exists. Asylum seekers who have professional credentials are allowed to work in their field provided that no Austrian citizen can be found to fill the position. In regard to cost, the Land Salzburg budgeted in 2016 30 Million Euros for asylum seekers, out of a total budget of 2.88 billion (Milliarden). Asylum seekers receive health insurance, but this cost is regarded as acceptable.

I have gone into these details because the contrast between a nation with a social conscience and the US is, of course, glaring. We refuse to acknowledge any responsibility for the disasters the Bush and the subsequent Obama administration have unleashed. Colin Powell’s advice to President Bush in 2002: “If you break it, you own it,” went unheeded and the current tidal wave of refugees, especially from the Syrian war, is not our concern. This terrible human disaster could be stopped tomorrow if the US were to abstain from its insistence that Assad has to be removed. Let’s face it: he is a dictator; but so is Al-Sisi of Egypt with whom we have no problem, to say nothing of the Saudis and their abysmal human rights record. There are obviously other reasons for which we needlessly prolong this war. If our administration were to give up the demand for Assad to relinquish the presidency, a lasting cease-fire, that is supported by Russia as well as us, could be achieved right away, and with it the need for people leaving their homes. But this is obviously too rational for becoming America’s official policy.

Although Austria has generously absorbed a considerable number of refugees it is a fact that a great many Austrians are unhappy about the situation and this reflected itself in their Presidential election campaign. In contrast to former years when conservatives and socialists shared about 30-40 per cent of the respective vote, they were decisively defeated in favor of an Independent and former Green party member, Van der Bellen, and the Freedom Party’s leader Norbert Hofer. Van der Bellen achieved a narrow victory that was challenged by Hofer in the Supreme Court and a new election is scheduled for October. It should be noted that Hofer’s views on immigration are similar to Donald Trump’s, “Austria for Austrians” But Austria’s President, in contrast to the US, has been in the past largely relegated to a ceremonial role. It should be noted, however, that the Constitution does give him the power to appoint the Chancellor and, by extension, federal cabinet ministers, Supreme Court justices, military officers, and most major bureaucrats. He also may dissolve the National Council (Nationalrat). It is clear, therefore, that a determined person, like Hofer, could bring about a great many changes that will not necessarily be for the better.

          Apart from Brussels’ attempts to overregulate the EU, the refugee problem was one of the main reasons behind Brexit. The recent spate of terror attacks in France and Germany may well tilt Austrians toward Hofer, just as in our country they are grist for Trump’s propaganda mill. Young males without gainful employment are a powder keg, and we don’t know if Austria that was termed under its Jewish Socialist Chancellor, Bruno Kreisky (1970-1983), the “Island of the Blessed,” will be able to escape these looming tragedies.    

For the return to the US I did not choose to go via Paris again but took a direct flight from Munich to Detroit in order to visit with our son Peter and his wife in Grosse Pointe. Driving along I 94 from the airport one sees a freeway badly in need of repair, overpasses that are rusty, and in Detroit itself vacant lots where homes had once been that could no longer be repaired and were torn down. It looked as if about half of the houses on my previous route to work were now gone, with others boarded up and deserted. Closer to downtown efforts have been made at renovation as well as attempts at new malls, but since people have left (Detroit’s population is currently down to 677,000 from somewhat over 1.8 million in the 1950s), their prospects are bleak. The contrast between capitalist America and “socialist” Austria could not have been starker. 

Here the news was dominated by the random mass killings in a number of cities and the impending Republican and Democrat Conventions. The Republicans were faced with the “Trump problem” that was about tear the GOP apart and the Democrats were no better off with Hillary who was saddled with Bernie Sanders’ extremely vocal and determined supporters. During the Conventions I shifted between CNN, which favors Democrats and Fox News, which is firmly in Republican hands. It was interesting to see how these two networks handled the “Bernie” problem. CNN reporting on the Democrat Convention stressed the fact that Sanders had accepted the inevitable and not only endorsed Hillary but urged his followers to work for a Democrat victory because party principles are bigger than any one person. A “President Trump” was the nightmare and catalyst that should urge them to stand behind their standard bearer Hillary Clinton. Fox News on the other hand was happy about the split in Democrat ranks. But when it came to Sanders’ views, they were roundly condemned for turning America into a socialist country like the ones in Europe. Sean Hannity especially seemed like he had to wash his mouth after mentioning Social Democracy.

There is now another interesting parallel between the America of 2016 and Austria during the 1920s and the 1930’s. In those years the Conservatives and the Socialists were bitter enemies, even more so than at present in our country. Each one had their private militia: the Schutzbund for the Social Democrats and the Heimwehr as well as the Frontkämpfer (ex-soldiers of WWI) for the clerical Conservatives who claimed to have God on their side. The battles were initially limited to brawls, but in 1927 the “Sozis” (the abbreviation was subsequently applied to the National Socialists – “Nazis”), took en masse to the street. Vienna’s Supreme Court building (Justizpalast) was set on fire and the police dispersed the crowd with gun fire. That was the beginning of the end of the First Republic. The next event occurred in February of 1934 with a brief civil war. It was won by the conservative government which subsequently made the mistake of executing by hanging some of the lower leadership of the Sozis. The big bosses had already seen that the uprising could not succeed and had prudently left for Czechoslovakia. The Socialist party was outlawed and not only resentment but outright hate lingered in the workers’ districts. The Conservatives tried to rule autocratically but as a minority government they could not succeed in the midst of the world-wide economic depression. The country was roughly split between 30-40% Socialists, 30-40% Conservatives and about 20-25% Nazis. The latter also consisted of two groups. One was the Grossdeutsche, who felt that after WWI the mutilated country was not viable and only union with Germany would guarantee economic survival. Their ranks received a boost when they saw Germany flourishing under Hitler. The Nazi party’s anti-Semitic raving was dismissed with the proverb “that the soup is never eaten as hot as it is cooked.” The other group did subscribe to anti-Semitism because they saw that Jews were in leading positions in the professions that limited the goyim’s access to them. Thus, the common bond was not necessarily ideology but economics. By February of 1938 Austria’s situation had become untenable. The Chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, met with Hitler at the Berghof in the hope he would curb the unruly Nazis and guarantee Austria’s independence. This was, of course, a fantasy and Hitler extracted a number of concessions for vague promises that made the situation in Austria worse. In desperation Schuschnigg made David Cameron’s mistake and called for a plebiscite. This was intolerable for Hitler who demanded Schuschnigg’s resignation and the appointment of the Nazi Seisz Inquart to the chancellorship; otherwise the Wehrmacht would enter the country. Schuschnigg capitulated, the Wehrmacht marched anyway, and Austria ceased to exist. This success emboldened Hitler to go after Czechoslovakia as well as Poland’s corridor to the Baltic Sea, which separated the Danzig and East Prussia from Germany. This relic of the Versailles treaty was to be abolished and WWII was on its way.

Why did I go into such detail about “ancient history” and “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing,” to quote Chamberlain of 1938? For me the years after 1931 are living memory and they present a lesson for America how not to proceed. Bernie Sanders, as an unabashed Social Democrat, achieved at least 46 % of the vote in this year’s Primaries (nearly 80% in Utah), while Donald Trump obtained the Nomination mainly with the help of disgruntled white males without higher education. This should alert our Republicans that there is a fundamental problem in America, which will not be solved by Trump’s Law and Order policy. It was tried in Austria and failed. Not only is a potential class war in the offing, but so is a potential race war. The unemployment rate for young black males is significantly higher than for Latinos and whites and this bodes ill for the future. With time on their hands these youngsters may not only seek recourse to the drug culture and crime but also to social upheaval. Instead of despising “socialist” reforms that in Sean Hannity’s words will “ruin the country,” essential ones should be carefully undertaken on a State by State basis. I mentioned “State by State” because California’s problems differ from Michigan’s or Ohio’s and these in turn differ from Utah’s or Idaho’s. A “one size fits all” solution is simply not feasible for our diverse country.

In the May 1 installment I discussed major concerns about Donald Trump’s nomination for the presidency and these will be further discussed in the next installment since he is now the Republican Party’s official nominee. But Hillary Clinton likewise, carries so much baggage that makes her election to the Presidency hazardous not only for our future but also that of the rest of the world. My main concern is her judgment. Throughout the Convention it has been praised, and her running mate Tim Kaine told us that he would entrust his son’s life, who serves in the Marine Corps, to her. I would not. Some of the reasons have been exposed by the Republicans, but that is “the pot calling the kettle black.” So let us be objective and list examples of her lack of good judgment in chronologic order.   

As Senator she voted for the Iraq war, although she now regards it as a mistake. She should have known that attacking a country that has not harmed us is since the Nuremberg trials a war crime, and the generals who carried out Hitler’s orders were hanged for it. If I, as a private citizen, know this, she with all her vaunted experience should have too. As readers of this site can check, I was even against the Afghanistan war because a formal judicial inquest into who perpetrated the 9/11 crime had not taken place. Both wars were started for reasons other than 9/11; this tragedy was simply the excuse. It is still used by both parties for their ulterior purposes because even after 15 years there has not been a single international unbiased investigation to ascertain the perpetrators and their handlers. The 9/11 Commission does not qualify because even some of its members repudiated the process.

As Secretary of State, Hillary pushed President Obama into the Libya debacle when she sided with the military as the decisive voice. To this day she has not admitted that this was a fundamental misjudgment that led to anarchy in a previously rich country. “Regime change” in Libya provided an additional lesson for autocrats around the world that is not discussed by our media. Kaddafi had voluntarily disbanded his nuclear arsenal and counted on the good graces of the West. That was his literally fatal mistake. France, Britain and the US would never have attacked his country if he still had the bomb. This is the lesson that was absorbed, for instance, by North Korea because the survival of its regime depends on a credible deterrent. The Republicans amply use the death of our ambassador and three service members in Benghazi for their propaganda against Hillary but don’t talk about this fundamental fact.

Another lack of judgment was shown in the use of a private e-mail server for official State Department business. She was warned not to do so because it had none of the security safeguards that were in place on the server for the State Department. Thus, her private server could have been, and in all probability was, hacked. On June 22nd of this year Fox News published an article dealing with the security problem that only recently has come to light. Mrs. Clinton had used her home-server even before she became Secretary of State and the first concerns were voiced in 2010 and 2011. For instance in August of 2011 she received “infected e-mails, disguised as speeding tickets from New York. Opening an attachment would have allowed hackers to take over control of a victim’s computer.” In the Senate inquiry she defended her action by stating that none of these e-mails had contained secret or top secret information. This was not true as the FBI investigation reported on by its Director, James B. Comey, on July 5. He noted that “Although we did not find evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in the handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” In spite of this finding he did not ask for a criminal investigation.


“In looking back at our investigation into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts ….

To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”


          The FBI director found himself on a tightrope knowing fully well that asking for criminal proceedings against the nominee for the Presidency by the Democratic Party is virtual political suicide. He, therefore, sidestepped the issue. But let us look at the existing law that governs such cases as was mentioned by Mr.  Comey earlier in the report:


“Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way [italics added], or a second statue making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems storage facilities.


If a Ms. Hillary Rodham had engaged in this conduct as a cyber clerk in the State Department she would not only have been fired but criminally prosecuted. Yet, the Democrat Party found itself in this bind: they could not disavow the winner of the primaries and, therefore, had to promote her to nominee for the highest job in the country. Let me re-emphasize the extreme importance of this e-mail problem. Anyone who applied for a sensitive position in government, even as a clerk, would automatically be given a background security check. When this would have turned up the above mentioned facts, the application would have been denied. Now let us think about this: she would be rejected for a clerk position in the government but is regarded as qualified to be President. As it was said in one of the former Sci-fi TV series: This does not compute! It also tells volume about how our country is really governed.

There are two additional aspects in the e-mail saga which the official media side-step. On Monday June 27 Bill Clinton had a private conversation with Attorney General Loretta Lynch aboard her plane at the Tarmac of Phoenix’s airport. The former President had been in town for a variety of meetings and Loretta Lynch was scheduled to arrive later in the day. The ex-President’s plane was supposed to have taken off to clear space for that of the Attorney General’s, but Clinton was delayed and both planes were parked next to each other. When Clinton arrived, he walked up the stairs of the AG’s plane instead of his and they had a private 20-25 minutes conversation. We were told that they discussed travel, their grandchildren and golf, at a time when the FBI investigation of Hillary’s e-mails was nearing its conclusion. When we now consider that the Attorney General, as CEO of the Justice Department, is responsible for the decision whether not Hillary’s conduct warrants a criminal investigation, this impromptu meeting takes on a different flavor. One week later Comey presented his report where he did not recommend criminal prosecution and Lynch dismissed the case the following day. A skeptic may be forgiven if he suspects cronyism and Bill’s powers of persuasion to influence the issue.

The second aspect deals with unsung defenders of our freedom and wellbeing: Judicial Watch. This organization of lawyers had requested from the State Department access to Clinton’s e-mails on basis of FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act). This was denied, and Judicial Watch obtained them only after successful litigation. Hillary has never testified under oath why she used a private server. Judicial Watch, therefore, attempted to depose Clinton as well as several of her key associates on the matter. Seven of her colleagues took advantage of the Fifth Amendment that allows a person no to incriminate him/herself. When Hillary refused to testify, the matter was referred to U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan who had previously allowed Judicial Watch “discovery” of the e-mails. At that time the Judge stated that “based on information learned during discovery, the deposition of Mrs. Clinton may be necessary.” In a hearing on that topic last Monday before Judge Sullivan, Hillary’s lawyer, David Kendall, argued that the former Secretary of State has nothing new to say and the Judge should dismiss the request. He took it under advisement and stated that he would issue a ruling as soon as possible. We can expect a ruling whether or not Hillary will have to testify under oath within the next month. But this is not the only law suit against Hillary, there are several others pending which is unprecedented for a person who wants to be President.

There are two additional aspect of Hillary’s State Department conduct. One is the State Department’s conduct during Kiev’s Maidan protests and the other “The Clinton Foundation. Most of us know that the Maidan protests led to the toppling of the elected government of Ukraine with all the disasters that followed: Putin’s annexation of the Crimea, Civil war in East Ukraine, the downing of Malaysia’s flight 17, the plight of the Ukrainian people and the rekindling of the Cold War against Russia. But the conduct of our government that was discussed in “The Ukraine Crisis” (March 15, 2014) is not reported by our official media. Mrs. Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, was the key stage director who put the new government under Arseniy Yatsenyuk in place. This piece of “regime change” was likewise a disaster that can be chalked up to Clinton’s “foreign affairs expertise.” Don’t believe me; instead please “Google” the key words Victoria Nuland and you will be amazed to see how our government really works.

The Democrat Convention kept telling us how much Grandma Clinton cares about our children, but what they didn’t tell us is that she is trigger happy, under the influence of certain sections of the military, and has endorsed the “first strike nuclear option.” For my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren I firmly reject not only the first strike option but would insist that nuclear weapons be banned just as chemical warfare has been. It certainly is not good for children and all other living beings.

The Clinton Foundation is, in addition to Hillary’s e-mail problem, another pigeon that is bound to come home to roost. It has not yet made the national news but is likely to be raised by the Republicans in the upcoming weeks. She reportedly used the State Department as an extension of the Foundation for her family’s financial gain. This is the area where the e-mails and her conduct at the State Department intersect, and why a full disclosure of the e-mails is so important.

One may now ask, why an intelligent person, who she undoubtedly is, would continue to use a private unsecured server for conducting official government business even when traveling in countries we regard as hostile to our interests. Hillary’s answer was that it was simpler to use just one phone rather than several. But this is not true, she did use several but all were connected to the private server.  Judicial Watch came up with a more plausible answer: she wanted to avoid FOIA. The Freedom of Information Act had a turbulent history but emerged in its current form after the Nixon Watergate scandal and had the purpose to keep members of the executive branch honest. The basic idea was to guarantee free access to government business by any citizen of our country. As such it is also an invaluable resource for historians. Hillary, of course, knew this and deliberately chose to avoid this safeguard of the public. I have said deliberately because she was warned that continued use of a private e-mail server was inappropriate for official government business, but she ignored these concerns. It seems obvious that the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, regard themselves as above the law. This confirms that we are not, as commonly stated, a country of laws. Instead we are a country of lawyers and judges were the party that has more money and influence will win the case. This ugly truth must be faced if we want to be a “free” people. Documentation for these statements can be found under, and

It is obvious that none of these problems were touched on in Hillary’s acceptance speech. She appropriated Bernie Sanders’ program and portrayed herself as a strong, experienced, competent, responsible, and caring leader who can be trusted by Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike. The speech was well written, touched all bases, and promised the blue from the sky. It will undoubtedly lead to a boost in the polls but this is meaningless; the only reliable ones will emerge after the first debate at the end of September. Furthermore, intelligent voters will not be swayed by rhetoric but look at the person’s track record which is the only guide to predict future conduct. But this brings up the other crucial question. How many of our voters take the time to truly inform themselves about the people who want to lead the nation. The Internet does provide the data which allows us to sift facts from propaganda. But it is obvious that those who do so are a tiny minority whose voice is drowned out by believers in what is dispensed through the official news media.

I have abstained from further discussing her opponent Donald Trump at this time. Suffice it say for now that he also is embroiled in ongoing lawsuits and his conduct leaves just as much room for concern. Thus, a perceptive reader of Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine I bought while still in Austria, hit the nail on the head. The author wrote: I don’t want to be in the shoes of American voters. They have the choice between cholera and the plague.

These crucial issues for our country and the world will be explored further in the next installment.

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