Tuesday night stuff (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesJust a few quick links I don’t want to leave on the table before I head down to my perpetual motion machine for the rest of the evening.

Earlier today, I bought a Mark Steyn gift certificate to help fund his legal battle against Michael Mann, a man who rejoices under the title of being a scientist, but is in fact a First Amendment terrorist. Not too long after that, I read Dennis Prager’s article about Bryan Stow. Living in the Bay Area, I had heard about Stow, a SF Giants fan beaten almost to death by some L.A. Dodger’s fans. In the intervening years, I hadn’t realized that his injuries were so devastating. I also didn’t know until today that the men who did this to him got off with prison sentences equal to a slap on the hand — sentences that made them smirk happily when handed down. Please consider donating to the Bryan Stow fund. I did, and only regret that I hadn’t done so sooner.

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When Victor Davis Hanson is good, he’s really, really good. He’s all that in his post about the Bizarro World of Barack Obama’s presidency, in which every manifest failure is presented to Americans as a glowing success. Lincoln famously said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” He was wrong. We live in a P.T. Barnum world, where there’s a sucker born every minute — and they’re all supporting Barack Obama and his administration.

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No link here, just an observation: I was speaking to my fairly apolitical sister about political correctness, education trends, national security, etc. I asked her, “Am I so exercised about this stuff because I’m an old fogey, like the old Yorkshire men famous for beginning each sentence by saying ‘When I were a lad,’ or has the world really gotten weird lately?” She answered, “It’s gotten really weird. The changes are fast and they are strange.”

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It’s not just that Andrew Malcolm wrote a good article about Barack Obama’s myriad foreign policy failures and the disdain in which this Nobel Prize winner is held around the world. It’s also the side by side photos of presidents Bush and Obama with the Dalai Lama. It makes me steam to think that, probably without exception, the Dalai Lama’s supporters voted for Obama. I’m not a fan of the Dalai Lama who, despite China’s constant depredations against his land, has announced that he’s a Marxist, meaning he’s dumb as a post, but I do admire his steadfast fight for his country’s independence (a fight he apparently carries out so that his country, too, can become a large socialist workers gulag). And yes, that was one of the longest sentences I’ve ever written, but I kept my clauses in nice order.

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If the name Margalit Fox is familiar to you, it’s because you pay attention to the bylines on New York Times obituaries. In my humble opinion, the New York Times obituary section is the only section in that paper worth reading — and what makes it worthwhile in significant part is Fox’s delightful writing. Knowing what a good writer she is, I didn’t think twice about picking up The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code when I saw that she was the author. My instincts were good. Fox brings to life the decades’ long (and eventually successful) effort to decipher the Linear B writing found at Knossos, home of the many King Minoses and the famous Minotaur. I’m halfway through the book, and am finding it difficult to put it down.

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If the Thomas Jefferson quotation at Doug Ross’s site is apocryphal, please don’t tell me. I want to believe it’s real. (No, I take that back. Intellectual honesty matters more than wishful thinking.)

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I’ve never managed to be that thrilled by Sen. Marco Rubio. I think with a bit of time at his back, he’ll be something wonderful, but right now he’s not quite all that — except that is, when it comes to ripping apart old Leftists and their sorry love affair with Cuba. That fire is the promise that he can become a great statesman, although he isn’t one yet.

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Speaking of statesmen, I’m beginning to put more and more faith in Scott Walker as a serious potential presidential candidate. If the worst that the Democrat attack dogs can come up with about him as that, back in college in the late 1980s, he announced in advance that he was running for student body president, rather than waiting until the official announcement day to do so, the media is going to have to work hard to discredit him. Add the lack of bad stuff to all the major good stuff in Wisconsin, and you’ve got Candidate Squeaky-Clean-and-Principled. Indeed, my only complaint about him will be the fact that he’s younger than I am. How in the world did it happen that I got to be older than the guys running for president? (Obama is only a month younger than I am, so that doesn’t count.)

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Islamists kill. That’s what they do. And they especially love killing children because, even for psychopaths, soft targets (baby-soft targets) are the best. Or maybe I mean “especially for psychopaths.” Regardless, even as these monsters continue to array themselves in ever greater numbers against the West, our administration announces that it’s going to shrink the Army back to its 1930 size. We saw, of course, how well that worked back in the day.

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This is what Obamacare is all about (from a son’s WSJ article about Obamacare’s death sentence for his mother):

[T]here is something deeply and incontestably perverse about a law that so distorts and undermines the free activity of individuals that they can no longer buy and sell the goods and services that keep them alive. ObamaCare made my mother’s old plan illegal, and it forced her to buy a new plan that would accelerate her disease and death.

[snip]

The “Affordable” Care Act is a brutal, Procrustean disaster. In principle, it violates the irreducible particularity of human life, and in practice it will cause many individuals to suffer and die. We can do better, and we must.

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Sultan Knish makes a point that is obvious only in retrospect, after having read his post: just as raw power isn’t concentrated in corporations’ hands but is, instead, concentrated in a centralized government’s hands, so too is wealth concentrated, not in corporations or amongst a wealthy few, but in a centralized, socialized or semi-socialized government’s pocket.

Throwing links at you before I head to lunch with conservative friends

Quick Link and Open Thread imageI’m off to lunch with two conservative friends (one I knew for years without either of us realizing the other was conservative), so I’m just going to throw these links at you.  Take a deep breath, ’cause here goes:

The 1950s study saying most Americans are mindless, Nazi-esque sadists was a fraud.

The IRS is issuing rules that retroactively and proactively enable it to shut down Tea Party organizations — and only Tea Party organizations.

Charles Krauthammer reams Obama’s incompetence and absence from governing, even as David Brooks insists that this is why now is a perfect time to increase executive power.  Brooks even has a two-liner that will become a classic of sycophantic stupidity:  “This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout. It’s important to advocate greater executive branch power in a chastened mood.”

I think Brooks is delusional to think that the lying-ist administration ever will suddenly become honest and effective.

England, the land that gave us the entire notion of freedom and self-sufficiency, sinks ever deeper into the abyss of political correctness and bureaucratic tyranny.

A weak leader makes our country look like the equivalent of a wounded wildebeest.  No wonder the jackals are running up and taking painful nips at our downed carcase, curious as to whether we’ve still got some fight in us.  The answer, sadly, is no.  No wonder the jackals in Libya are geared up for a second bite.  After all the administration’s response to their first attack was to pretend that it really hadn’t happened.

And then there’s this, which I thought was a hoax, kind of like Ted Cruz’s pwning an Obama tweet, only to learn that it’s real:

 

There is no peace on earth when a weakling sits on the throne

Obama halo

Both my children can sing, which is something of a surprise considering that my own caterwauling sends dogs running from the room.  One of the little Bookworms performed at a choral concert just yesterday and, at the close of the concert, the choir sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”  This song is very familiar to me.  When Obama was first inaugurated in 2009, the other little Bookworm was in a chorus that went to D.C. to perform at the inauguration.  The choir chose to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” for America’s new president, a man who had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Price for doing . . . nothing.

For those of you who are not familiar with this lugubrious kumbaya chant, Vince Gill warbles through it here:

Musically, it’s boring; lyrically, it’s vapid; and politically, it’s deeply misguided.  It implies that simply being peaceful is enough to bring about peace. Too many Americans managed to convince themselves that Obama, merely by existing, was a bringer of peace.

The contrary is true:  Obama is a reminder that, when it comes the leaders of superpower nations, there are only two types of peace bringers: Those who create a Roman-style peace through conquest (“they make a desert and call it peace”) and those who serve as the world’s policeman, warning the bad actors to back off.

While we should all be grateful that Obama is not the first type of peace-bringer, it’s a disaster that he’s not the second type either. Under his weak international leadership, the world is a much more dangerous place. Syria is returning itself to the Stone Ages, one dead body at a time; the Mullahs in Iran are emboldened when it comes to their regional and genocidal aspirations; Iraq and Afghanistan, where Americans spilled their blood to bringing about less barbaric societies, are reverting to their old ways; and competitors in the world powerhouse sweepstakes are testing Obama’s strength — and finding it wanting.

The most recent entrant in that last category is China, which is testing Obama’s mettle when it comes to the skies over the East China Sea:

American leaders,for over two hundred years have recognized that, as a commercial nation, freedom of navigation was and would be vital to both our economic success and our economic security.

[snip]

The US has had a number of crises with China over freedom of air and maritime navigation:  The Matsu and Quemoy crisis in the 1950s; Maritime freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Straits; sailing aircraft carriers into the straits in the 1980s and 1990s; and, most recently, the air collision and forced downing of a Navy P-3 on Hainan Island.

As China becomes more confident, more nationalistic, more powerful militarily, and more economically aggressive (and arguably more desperate), these crises are likely to become more numerous and more escalatory.

The current crisis is unique for several reasons.  First, the East China Sea is not the Gulf of Sidra or the Taiwan Straits: It is a major air and maritime thoroughfare vital to Japanese, and particularly South Korean, economic security.  The precedent of allowing China to assert sovereignty of such a vital section of international airspace would be ominous.

Second, allowing China to do this would embolden further Chinese claims such as asserting exclusive economic and maritime jurisdiction over the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands.  For the Chinese, the objective is ultimately exclusive air, maritime, and economic rights out to the Second Island Chain, a vast enlargement of China’s sovereign control.

Third, the feckless response of the US to foreign crises under Obama does nothing but embolden our adversaries.  The fact that we all but apologized for sending B-52s into the claimed Air Defense Identification Zone (“it was a pre-planned exercise” not a provocation or assertion of air freedom of navigation) is further proof of the raw cowardice of this administration.

(Read the rest of this excellent analysis here.)

Peace on earth doesn’t just happen because we “let” it. It happens when you have a leader strong enough to rebuff the world’s bad actors. When it comes to Obama, the world’s bad actors have weighed him and found him wanting. Violence will inevitably follow.

The wages of socialism — mass murder

Ukrainian peasants starve to death in the streets, 1933

Last year, my friend Bruce Kesler, who blogs at a wonderful conservative group blog called Maggie’s Farm, directed me to a book called Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. What makes this book different from other books about that era is that it doesn’t just examine the murderous years of WWII.  Instead, it also examines the carnage Hitler and Stalin wrought during the 1930s, in the lead-up to WWII.  It is an absolutely devastating book, describing the unimaginable scale of death that two socialist leaders — Stalin and Hitler — visited on the region between their two countries.

Although Hitler industrialized the killing machine, it was Stalin who created the model when he decided to destroy the Ukrainian kulaks (independent small farmers) who were standing in the way of his vision of a collectivized agrarian nation.  To achieve his goal, he brutally starved these farmers to death — 20 to 30 million of them.  Reading author Timothy Snyder’s description of their suffering is horrible — but it’s something that we need to read in order that we never forget how fundamentally evil socialism is.  The ones who really should read this book, of course, are American socialists, but sadly, they’re unlikely to do so.

If you can get a socialist to read Bloodlands, but he has still failed to learn his lesson about what happens when government — which lacks a conscience — decides that its job isn’t to enable individual freedom but is, instead, to control all people without regard to individualism, have him read Yang Jisheng’s book, Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962. Hard as it is to believe, Stalin and Hitler were just the warm-ups for Mao, the Chinese leader who, inspired by Stalin, may well hold the record for being the biggest mass murderer in human history.

Arthur Waldron, writing at The New Criterion reviews Jisheng’s book and his review shows that this is a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand why Leftists are fools when they’re frightened of corporations and, instead, want desperately to place control over every aspect of their lives in government hands.  It is impossible for a corporation to wreak the kind of havoc that socialist governments have visited upon their people.  The estimates for Mao’s killing fields during his “man-created disaster” range from 36 to 70 million.  (The higher number includes the babies that never got born to a starving population.)  As happened with Stalin’s socialist-created famine, people in dire straits did unspeakable things to survive, including cannibalism.  As Snyder said in his book (and I paraphrase), “an orphan was a child whose parents died before they ate him.”

When word of the Chinese famine got out, Mao blamed unspecified natural causes, and a credulous, Left-leaning, Walter Duranty-esque media dutifully passed this on.  It was a lie, of course.  There was nothing unusual about Chinese weather patterns from 1958-1962.  Moreover, even as the people died in the millions, food filled warehouses and party officials dined in style.

Jisheng knows firsthand about the famine:  alerted that something was wrong in his native rural area, he left the city with a rice ration, but arrived too late to save his father who, though alive, had become too starved to do anything but die.  When this happened, Jisheng accepted the party line and didn’t question the thousands of deaths in his area of rural China.  It was only during the mid-1960s Cultural Revolution, which saw many millions more die, that Jisheng began to realize that the problem wasn’t nature or farmers or people who needed re-education — it was Mao’s socialist policies, all of which officials throughout China unquestioningly accepted, either because they were true believers, because they were mindless party drones, or because they were afraid.

Although Jisheng’s book isn’t the first to tell about the famine, Waldron thinks it’s the best:

Tombstone, however, is without a doubt the definitive account—for now and probably for a long time. The Chinese original is two volumes and banned in that country. In Hong Kong it has sold out eight printings. The English version has been most skillfully shortened, edited, and rearranged by a team of Western and Chinese scholars, with an eye to making what is very much a massive compilation of statistics and reportage into a volume more accessible to the English-speaking reader.

This is a book whose importance must be compared with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago (1973) in that it documents beyond the possibility of refutation ghastly horrors that were first rumored, then denied, then written about a bit, but only with Solzhenitsyn and Yang were so thoroughly documented and analyzed as to place them beyond question.

You should read Waldron’s review and then, if you have the heart and stomach for it, read Jisheng’s book.

When socialism fails, as it invariably does, the American Left equally invariably claims that the failure isn’t because the plan was fundamentally flawed.  To socialists, the problem is always implementation and the culprit is always the Republicans who made it impossible for the Democrats fully to implement their plans.  Books such as Bloodlands and Tombstone remind us precisely what happens when the Left has unfettered access to a helpless population.  Every person in America should be thanking God for Republican foot-dragging, and should hope that they drag their feet ever harder and faster.

The Mayan Apocalypse and the end of the world . . . as we know it

Mayan Apocalypse

According to the much sneered at, and much feared, Mayan Apocalypse, tomorrow marks the end of the world.  I’m inclined to believe this is true.  I don’t, however, expect the earth to explode into a giant ball of cosmic dust or some plague rivaling the Black Death.  What I do see, however, is change on a massive scale, greater even than that which occurred when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The changes we’ll see began four years ago and will now accelerate.  They relate directly to Barack Obama and the three defining characteristics of his presidency:  fiscal irresponsibility, weak world leadership, and a realignment of American interests in Europe and the Middle East.

Going out of business

On the economic front, what we can expect in the future is continued American decline, with Americans expecting and accepting a constantly lower standard of living.  The Progressives have us on the road to regression:  little houses; little, unsafe cars; empty store fronts; increased homelessness; product shortages; and, of course, the social unrest the inevitably follows upon economic instability or decline.  In other words, the end of the American world as we know it.

Chinese military

Around the world, Russia, although declining in population and plagued internally by corruption and want, will do what it always does when things are bad:  attack.  It will continue to flex its muscles by making mischief.  It doesn’t care if it goes down, provided that America’s might precedes it.

China, for all its woes (unbalanced population growth, corruption, killer pollution, etc.) will continue its quest to be the world military power.  The world should fear this.  America used its dominant military power to spread individual freedom as much as possible; China’s power will be more imperialist in nature.

The EU, which was touted just a decade ago as the wave of the future, will collapse.  European states will begin feuding with each other over resources.  While that might feel like “same old, same old,” since Europeans have feuded for thousands of years, this go round will be different:  each state will have within it a Fifth Column that unites to bring all of Europe down and re-shape it into a new model.

And now, a brief, but important digression:

Karl Marx

One of the things Marx believed was that the great worker’s revolution he foresaw would transcend national borders.  Remember the slogan “Workers of the world, unite”?  Marx was certain that, within the industrialized nations, the workers would abandon national fealty and join with each other against their capitalist overlords.

Had Marx been correct, World War I would have been the worker’s moment.  Even as the great powers declared war against each other, the workers ought to have laid down their arms and embraced each other across the battle field.  This didn’t happen.  German, English, and French workers put nationalism ahead of everything.

The workers’ revolution Marx expected to sweep the industrial world happened instead in backwards, agrarian Russia.  Stalin then had to retrofit the supposedly “inevitable” industrial revolution by starving his independent peasant class to death, but that’s another story….

And now, back to the point of this post:

Muslim women London

While Marx was wrong about the 19th and early-20th century workers’ allegiance to their nation versus their allegiance, he was correct to envision a group that has loyalty to its unique identity separate from the nations in which its members reside.  This group, of course, is Muslims.

Over the past few decades, all of the European nations have invited tens of thousands of Muslims into their borders.  These Muslims have refused to integrate, living, instead, in segregated enclaves that have often become laws unto themselves.  Within these enclosed communities, the Imam’s preach jihad:  the violent overthrow of all world governments, followed by a Sharia world.

When the European pact disintegrates, the powers that be will discover that, even as Germany feuds with France over resources, the Muslims within both those nations form an allegiance that sees them turn against their host countries.  The result will be ugly and there won’t be a strong America to stop it.

Obama's bitch is Egyptian dictator

And then there are Barack Obama’s profound alignment shifts.  Both by inclination and calculation, Obama has decided that the old world order, the one that’s been in place pretty much since the end of WWII, isn’t correct.  America shouldn’t be palling around with Western nations, which he believes are responsible for Third World oppression.  Instead, Obama looks to the Muslim world as the wave of the future.  He cultivates increasingly Islamist Turkey; encourages the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise in Egypt; is assiduously neutral towards Iran, to the point of cooperation with its nuclear aspirations; and has cold-shouldered and isolated westernized, democratic Israel.

This is a volte face of staggering proportions and implications.  America has now become a prop for the worst kind of dictatorships.  Moreover, these are the dictatorships that will fund the Muslim Fifth Column in Europe.  Now that Obama has more flexibility, he will accelerate this trend.

Obama’s desire to nominate Chuck Hagel as the Secretary of Defense, although that seems to have stalled for now, perfectly reflects Obama’s New World Order, one that sees a weak America mistreating Israel and cozying up to Muslim dictatorships.

All of which leads me to say that the Mayan Apocalypse is on our doorstep.  We just didn’t have the wit or foresight to imagine what it would look like.

End of the world

Mitt was correct about China

One of the points Mitt raised in talking about trade with China is the fact that China cheats, not just be manipulating currency (which Mitt also mentioned) but also by failing to stop counterfeiting.  (I’d be willing to bet that the government encourages counterfeiting, but I don’t have any proof and am too lazy to seek it out right now).  As part of my new computer, I needed to download a driver.  On the driver download page, I found this statement from the manufacturer:

Warning Notice:

Please be warned that counterfeit (fake) PL-2303HX (Chip Rev A) USB to Serial Controller ICs using Prolific’s trademark logo, brandname, and device drivers, were being sold in the China market. Counterfeit IC products show exactly the same outside chip markings but generally are of poor quality and causes Windows driver compatibility issues (Yellow Mark Error Code 10 in Device Manager). We issue this warning to all our customers and consumers to avoid confusion and false purchase.

Please be warned that selling counterfeit products are illegal and punishable by civil and criminal courts according to the trademark, copyright, and intellectual properties laws and regulations. Prolific will take proper and severe actions to cease and confiscate these counterfeit products. Prolific also prohibits the distribution of any PL-2303 drivers (including download links) without written permission from Prolific.

Prolific advices end-users to only purchase vendor branded cable products with company name contact information for service and support. Prolific does not sell cables with Prolific brand and packaging. In case you suspect a counterfeit chip inside, you may also contact Prolific to provide the vendor information.

The above notice makes it quite clear that the counterfeiting doesn’t only steal from legitimate businesses, it also puts American businesses at risk. A fake Gucci won’t cause any problems to the end buyer beyond social humiliation. A fake computer part, though, can cause a disastrous and costly computer failure.

Obama’s “special” banquet halted when activists rescue main dish

I am so lying in the caption of this post.  Nevertheless, it’s precisely what I thought when I saw a story saying that Chinese activists, using a social network, were able to stop a shipment of hundreds of dogs destined for the cook pot:

Dogs destined to be slaughtered and served up in China’s restaurants were saved when the truck transporting them was intercepted by animal rights activists.

The vehicle, carrying 505 canines packed into just 156 tiny cages, was stopped on Yunnan Province’s highway from Fumin to Kunming after other drivers spotted its sickening cargo.

Sadly, many of the dogs were in such terrible shape, they died before their rescue could be fully effected.  Thankfully, though, many others were saved, although I do wonder whether they can ever be domesticated.

Yes, Obama is a Marxist, but the MSM has blunted America’s ability to care

At YID with LID, you get to see proof of something we all knew intuitively:  Obama is now and long has been a Marxist.

The problem is that this news, which ought to be staggering, doesn’t matter.  Even if one strips away the MSM’s reflexive denial about Obama’s Marxism, the fact that he is a Marxist still doesn’t matter.  I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, that forty years of Leftist education and media indoctrination have resulted in an America that views the word without fear.

After forty years of being taught aggressively that America is an evil imperialist; that American values are not only no better than other values but are actually worse; that women and all non-white races are superior to men and the white race (a form of reverse racism, rather than a step toward true equality); that capitalism destroys humans and the planet; that traditional religion is a form of white capitalist dominance; and on and on.  America may not yet be a Marxist nation in fact, but it will be because we’ve had two generations that have been inculcated in Marxist ideology.  It’s what they know and where they go.

I was the first generation.  I struggled with the cognitive dissonance of “the Communists are people just like us, and they want happy families, and they have elections, and we’re the warmongers, and fairies and unicorns,” even while contrasting that with meeting people from the Soviet Union, or getting reports out of China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other Marxist paradises putting the lie to these assurances.  Since 1989, though, Communism has been on the decline at the national level.  The Soviet Union is gone, China has gone to a weirdly capitalist economy, and we’re told that Cuba is a happy, sunny, laid-back, 50s-car driving Caribbean paradise, while the horrors in North Korea aren’t because of Communism, but simply because the Kim family is evil.  It’s Peyton Place on steroids, rather than the logical outgrowth of an evil ideology.  The cognitive dissonance with which I struggled is gone, because the past few generations have had no truth to balance against the lies.

So at the end of the day, no one in America cares that Obama is a Marxist.  The concept has been leached of meaning.

But, just so you know, he is a Marxist.

All of which gets me back to the point I made in the preceding post:  Andrew Breitbart got that the problem isn’t Obama.  He’s a symptom.  The problem is a media establishment that’s created a virtual Newspeak world.  It’s that ideological hegemony that we need to destroy, so that future generations of America can actually struggle with cognitive dissonance, rather than being fed a pure diet of lies and misinformation.  Then, if they’re lucky, they can choose actual facts rather than Marxist unicorns and fairies when they make the political choices.

China’s economy is rosy only if you don’t mind that it’s shrinking, corrupt and sometimes deadly

Andy Stern, who led the SEIU to its current status as a statist political powerhouse, has a lengthy op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, touting the wonders of China’s economic model.  His basic point:  China’s recent economic surge shows that government should control the economy.  To support this premise, he points, not to China’s current economic status, but to its wondrous five year plan:

I was part of a U.S.-China dialogue—a trip organized by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the Center for American Progress—with high-ranking Chinese government officials, both past and present. For me, the tension resulting from the chorus of American criticism paled in significance compared to reading the emerging outline of China’s 12th five-year plan. The aims: a 7% annual economic growth rate; a $640 billion investment in renewable energy; construction of six million homes; and expanding next-generation IT, clean-energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing and environmental protection—all while promoting social equity and rural development.

Gosh!  Propaganda really sounds good when it’s read out loud to an adoring, credulous audience.

Andy Stern

I’d like to introduce Mr. Stern to another article about the Chinese economy, this one by Gordon Chang, a veteran China watcher who’s actually paying attention to the details.  Mr. Chang’s take, which is premised upon actual facts, not wishful thinking is a little different.  With a wealth of detail, he points out that, as with all socialist experiments, China is running out of economic gas:

On Wednesday, HSBC roiled markets around the world by releasing its Flash China Purchasing Managers’ Index for November. The widely followed indicator dropped from 51.0 to 48.1, crossing the crucial line of 50 that divides expansion from contraction. Most worrisome, it appears that the factory sector is shrinking due to weakness in domestic, as opposed to export, orders.

The drop in the HSBC Index, which normally moves only tenths of a point at a time, is just another sign that the world’s second-largest economy is contracting from one month to the next. The troubling news follows October numbers, which also pointed toward a rapid falloff. There was, for instance, a sharp decline in inflation, collapsing real estate prices, and a big decrease in bellwether car sales. The wheels are coming off the Chinese economy, with indicators dropping faster than virtually all analysts—including me—predicted.

Chinese technocrats have already started to react, applying monetary measures. The People’s Bank of China, the central bank, this month cut its required reserve ratio for 20 co-operative banks to 16.0%, a reduction of a half point. Officials maintained that this move did not represent a change in their tightening policy, but, as Tom Holland of the South China Morning Post points out, the denial “stretches credulity.” PBOC watchers, therefore, see the limited relaxation as a hint that the institution will soon cut reserve requirements, now at historic highs, for all banks.

You can — and should — read the whole thing here, and then go back and compare it’s tight focus on real world economic facts and figures with Stern’s airy-fairy press release on behalf of Communism.

Let me toss one more thing into the mix here, which is James’ Taranto’s masterful take-down of Eugene Robinson’s love letter to China’s heavy-handed economic management:

You Say Tomato, I Say ‘the Usually Large Rounded Typically Red or Yellow Pulpy Berry of an Herb (Genus Lycopersicon) of the Nightshade Family’

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson is in Red China, where his shoe-leather reporting has turned up evidence that . . . Republicans are stupid. Seriously, that’s the subject of the first of what he promises will be several columns filed from Beijing. Let’s examine his closing argument, which responds to a quote from Rick Perry:

But this ignores the big picture. Yes, China is governed–in an authoritarian, repressive, at times shockingly brutal manner–by a regime that calls itself communist. But communism self-immolated two decades ago. Walk down any commercial street in Beijing and you see storefronts, venders and hawkers selling anything under the sun. Communism is no longer a system in China. It’s just a brand name that officials haven’t figured out how to ditch.

I’m aware, of course, of the shameful human rights violations that the Chinese government commits every day–and of the government’s selfish, corrupt insistence on maintaining a monopoly of power. These atrocities can never be forgotten.

But I’m betting that the burgeoning middle class will find a way to cast off these shackles. The correct response would be to cheer them on.So, to recap: China’s Communist Party has already abandoned communist economics for something that looks very much like American commercialism. Politically, however, it remains a brutal and corrupt one-party state. But that can’t last. Robinson both thinks and hopes that the Chinese people will rise up and change the regime.

OK, now here’s the Perry quote: “I happen to think that the Communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history.”

Perry said the same thing Robinson did, only much more pithily and memorably. How does that make Robinson the smart one?

And just in case anyone has forgotten that the Chinese economy also runs on slave labor (a peculiar thing for a former SEIU head to laud) and criminal corruption, the links I just gave you ought to refresh your recollection.

My bottom line:  Feudal, slave and communist economies all function the same way, which is to have a powerful central controls system over labor.  It enriches a few, and impoverishes the many, both physically and spiritually.  Even if it looks good on paper, it’s bad for the soul.

(Chinese factory photo by High Contrast.)

What happened to little Yue Yue was entirely predictable

Over the past week, China has been convulsed by a video that shows a little girl — 2 years old — clad in pink trousers, struck by two vans and then ignored by over a dozen passers-by, who cavalierly stepped around her broken, bleeding body:

Little Yue Yue has since died, but China, in an embarrassed way, is trying to come to terms with what her death means.   The MSM  helpfully hints that the problem is China’s burgeoning capitalism:

China’s economic boom and the growing disparity between the rich and poor have made changing social values a contentious topic, with some lamenting what they see as materialism replacing morals.

The same article gets a little closer to the mark, in the last paragraph, when it suggests that China’s willingness to impose severe punishment on people makes them disinclined to get involved:

Many people in China are hesitant to help people who appear to be in distress for fear that they will be blamed. High-profile lawsuits have ended with good Samaritans ordered to pay hefty fines to individuals they sought to help.

I’d like to suggest another possible societal paradigm:  China’s one child policy.  This policy says that urban, married couples may have only one child.  Approximately 40% of China’s population is subject to this policy.  The government takes it very seriously, going so far as to force abortions of full term babies on unwilling women:

During the past week, dozens of women in southwest China have been forced to have abortions even as late as nine months into the pregnancy, according to evidence uncovered by NPR.

China’s strict family planning laws permit urban married couples to have only one child each, but in some of the recent cases — in Guangxi Province — women say they were forced to abort what would have been their first child because they were unmarried. The forced abortions are all the more shocking because family planning laws have generally been relaxed in China, with many families having two children.

Liang Yage and his wife Wei Linrong had one child and believed that — like many other couples — they could pay a fine and keep their second baby. Wei was 7 months pregnant when 10 family planning officials visited her at home on April 16.

Liang describes how they told her that she would have to have an abortion, “You don’t have any more room for maneuver,” he says they told her. “If you don’t go [to the hospital], we’ll carry you.” The couple was then driven to Youjiang district maternity hospital in Baise city.

“I was scared,” Wei told NPR. “The hospital was full of women who’d been brought in forcibly. There wasn’t a single spare bed. The family planning people said forced abortions and forced sterilizations were both being carried out. We saw women being pulled in one by one.”

The couple was given a consent agreement to sign. When Liang refused, family planning officials signed it for him. He and his wife are devout Christians — he is a pastor — and they don’t agree with abortion.

The officials gave Wei three injections in the lower abdomen. Contractions started the next afternoon, and continued for almost 16 hours. Her child was stillborn.

The above story is from a few years ago, but it could have happened last year too:

A pregnant woman in China was detained, beaten and forced to have an abortion just a month before her due date because the baby would have violated the country’s one-child limit, her husband said today.

Luo Yanquan, a construction worker, said his wife was taken kicking and screaming from their home by more than a dozen people on 10 October and detained in a clinic for three days by family planning officials, then taken to a hospital and injected with a drug that killed her baby.

Usually it doesn’t come to actual government coercion. Why not? Because the Chinese people themselves, knowing that they’re limited to one baby, and rejoicing in a culture that values only boys, take matters into their own hands, routinely aborting female babies, a disgusting practice that has earned it’s own name of “gendercide“:

By the year 2020, there will be 30 million more men than women of marriageable age in this giant empire, so large and so different (its current population is 1,336,410,000) that it often feels more like a separate planet than just another country. Nothing like this has ever happened to any civilisation before.

Yuan Quan slipped into a busy down-market establishment in a grim and basic part of town, with a flourishing market for stolen bicycles just outside, and the police looking the other way.

She asked the abortionist if he ever aborted boys. He gaped. ‘Are you mad?’ he almost shouted, ‘Nobody aborts boys unless they are deformed. Girls are what we abort.’

This cheap and squalid storefront business offers abortions from around £10. Scans, which reveal a baby’s sex, cost a fiver. True, this is a rough neighbourhood, but similar businesses flourish in more respectable districts as well.

They usually start from £20, while supposedly painless procedures can go up to about £200.

The authorities, who have no moral objection to abortion itself, have been known to force women to have abortions in their ninth month of pregnancy to keep to the one-child policy.

They cannot really complain about the huge numbers of legal, commercial abortionists. Nor can they do much to ban the cheap portable scanning machines which detect the sex of the baby and condemn so many unborn girls to death.

Once you know more about China’s attitude to girls, it is surprising that so many survive.

So was it capitalism that deadened those drivers and passers-by to the death of one little girl, or was it a culture that traditionally devalues girls and that has, for thirty years, had enforced a government policy that, inevitably, means that girls are killed in utero?  If girls are so valueless in utero, why should their value increase ex utero?  The message that Chinese citizens have absorbed is simple:  Don’t get involved as a general matter because the government is likely to come after you — and considering the risk, you should especially avoid getting involved with a manifestly disposable citizen, i.e., one little girl in bright pink trousers.

 

The Business of China and U.S.

Given this blog’s recent flogging of the China versus U.S. (“us”) question, here is  a primary example of how China may surpass the U.S. by becoming more business friendly as it decentralizes while the U.S. risks having to learn the lessons of socialist history all over again as our over-regulated economy grinds down to a slow crawl.

In this linked article at the American Spectator, an entrepreneur compares and contrasts the difficulties of and disincentives for creating new businesses in our country, under our increasingly socialist, statist form of governance.

http://spectator.org/archives/2011/05/10/killing-manufacturing

Money quote: “Now, this is China so the government and the state share 30% of your business, but considering the ease of entry, increased in-country sales and helpful attitude, this is a small price to pay, especially considering America’s 35% plus corporate tax rates.”

Here, the author makes an excellent point: when the State demands 35% of a company’s earnings (I believe that Mafia shake-down artists usually demand a smaller percentage in protection money, but I may be wrong), the State de facto owns a 35% equity interest in the company…with only one major difference: it shares 0% of the risk borne by shareholders.

Is America on the road to becoming a socialist paradise like, say, Europe’s former Soviet Block during the 1960s? Naaah…don’t think so! Our future will not be one of mythical straight-line Progessive projections.

I predict instead that, given American individual initiative and creativity, our trajectory will be more like that of an Argentina – once a leading economic jewel, now a pathetic, tired, broke 3rd-world backwater. In such economic environs, two groups will prosper: the government-sanctioned nomenklatura and those clever and adept enough to profit from the inevitable underground economy.

Sad story!

They really, really respect us, now

Chinese-born pianist Lang Lang plays an old, Korean-war vintage anti-American song, “Battle on Shangganling Mountain”, at Obama’s state dinner for Chinese President Hu-Jintao. The Chinese, of course, just loved it.

I can just feel the respect our competitors in the world have for us, now that international relations have been “reset”.

This will not end well.