Jon Stewart’s Daily Show exemplifies the media’s horrible whitewashing of communism

Forced labor in a Soviet GulagIf you read Timothy Snyder’s wrenching Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin about life West of Russia and East of Berlin from 1933 through 1945, the first thing you’ll learn is that Hitler wasn’t an innovator when it came to mass murder. Instead, he learned about it from Stalin, who had been practicing mass murder for almost a decade before Hitler really caught on to its possibilities.

It was Stalin, after all, who killed tens of millions in the Ukraine by confiscating every single bit of grain they produced, including the grain that was needed to seed the next season’s harvest.  He did this for two reasons:  (1) to break the back of the independent farming class, which did not want to become cogs in the socialist machinery; and (2) to sell the grain overseas to create the false impression the Communism was economically self-sustaining.  Hitler was inspired.

Hitler was also inspired by Stalin’s Gulags.  Anne Applebaum’s Gulag: A History, explains what was going on in these labor and death camps.  Jonah Goldberg introduces just two of the terrible stories Applebaum tells:

A slave who falls in the snow is not helped up by his comrades but is instantly stripped of his clothes and left to die. His last words: “It’s so cold.”

Hava Volovich, a once-obscure newspaper editor turned slave laborer, has a baby, Eleonora, in captivity. Eleonora spends her first months in a room where “bedbugs poured down like sand from the ceiling and walls.” A year later, Eleonora is wasting away, starving in a cold ward at slave “mothers’ camp.” She begs her mother to take her back “home” to that bedbug-infested hovel. Working all day in the forest to earn food rations, Hava manages to visit her child each night. Finally, Eleonora in her misery refuses even her mother’s embrace, wanting only to drift away in bed. Eleonora dies, hungry and cold, at 15 months. Her mother writes: “In giving birth to my only child, I committed the worst crime there is.”

Multiply these stories by a million. Ten million.

Goldberg wasn’t retelling these horrific narratives just to depress us.  Instead, he’s challenging the anodyne, bloodless narratives in which the American media is engaging during its Sochi Olympic’s coverage:

What to say of the gormless press-agent twaddle conjured up to describe the Soviet Union? In its opening video for the Olympic Games, NBC’s producers drained the thesaurus of flattering terms devoid of moral content: “The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures.”

To parse this infomercial treacle is to miss the point, for the whole idea is to luge by the truth on the frictionless skids of euphemism.

Bad as the Olympic coverage is on NBC and other news channels, what happened on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show the other night is worse.  Staff member Jason Jones went to Russia for the show and did a so-called “humorous” piece in which he looks longingly back on the good old days of the Cold War.  He commits so many fact crimes along the way that it’s hard to keep track.

The one that irked me most was the way Jones created a significant lie by telling a half-truth.  Thus, he gave deserved credit to Gorbachev for signing the paper that ended the Soviet Union, but forgets to show that Gorbachev did so, not just because he was courageous and principled (which he was), but also because the system was already collapsing.  He could retreat elegantly or be buried under a pile of bullets and rubbish.  Between the intense moral pressure from Pope John Paul II, Maggie Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Lech Walesla; and the economic pressure from Ronald Reagan, the Soviet system, which was always unsustainable, finally ended, not with a bang, but with a long, drawn-out whimper.

More subtly horrible is the way Jones, playing a Stephen Colbert-esque stupid American, deliberately allows Vyacheslav Nikonov, a Duma member, to run rings around him. Jones may be smart enough and informed enough to be in on the fact that Nikonov is whitewashing the Soviet Union’s past and Russia’s present, but I’m quite sure that the 18-35 demographic watching the Daily Show has no idea what the reality is and was.

When Nikonov brushes off the fact that the Soviet Union was an “Evil Empire,” Jones challenges him by teasing his accent.  Jones next allows Nikonov to boast about the fact that the Soviets defeated the Nazis, and at great cost too.

While it’s true that the Soviets lost more people to the Nazis than did any other nation or nationality, those horrific losses were in large part due to the sheer inefficiency of the Soviet War machine. The Communists quickly turned their factories to war production, but the products were dreadful. More than that, it was always cheaper for Stalin to throw men at the Germans to absorb the German bullets, than for Stalin to waste his own bullets on the Germans. The sheer number of bodies Stalin had at his command was his greatest weapon — and Russia’s greatest tragedy.

Jones’ and Nikonov’s silly, staged argument about who won the war also obscures a much more important fact: until Hitler’s megalomania got the best of him, he and Stalin were allies during the first years of World War II. Right up until the maddened Nazi dog turned on him, Stalin was perfectly happy to make common cause with Hitler.

And so it goes, with Jones’ being the stupid American schooled by the polished Nikonov. None of it’s funny (as in, at a pure comedy level, it’s poorly done) and all of it is a huge steaming pile of pro-Communist misinformation, ending with Jones begging for a return to the Cold War and laughing at Americans who feared nuclear annihilation.

Here — see for yourself:

Goldberg opened his masterful slam against the media by talking about Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase, “the banality of evil”:

The phrase “banality of evil” was instantly controversial, largely because it was misunderstood. Arendt was not trying to minimize Nazism’s evil but to capture its enormity. The staggering moral horror of the Holocaust was that it made complicity “normal.” Liquidating the Jews was not just the stuff of mobs and demagogues but of bureaucracies and bureaucrats.

Thanks to the Daily Show, we’ve seen that banality sink to new lows.  It’s become the stuff of comedy.  And worse, it’s not the devastating comedy that exposes evil for what it really is.  Instead, through bad jokes and canned laughter, it gives moral stature to an evil system, all the while ridiculing the country that liberated tens of millions of people from endless slavery and brutal death.

Best flash mob ever!

You always read that something is the “best flash mob ever,” and many really do seem to live up to that billing.  Orchestras play beautiful music, dancers swirl across the floor, and people break into song as if they’re living in a 1930s Hollywood musical.

This particular flash mob, however, is truly the best one ever.  Not only is the performance delightful on its own terms, but its context raises it to amazing new heights of flash mob-ness.

To enjoy it fully, think about these facts before you start watching:

Irving BerlinIn 1893, five-year-old Israel Isidore Beilin and his family arrived in New York, having escaped the terrible anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia. After surviving (and, indeed, thriving in) a childhood of extreme poverty in New York’s Lower East Side, he grew up to become Irving Berlin, one of the most successful songwriters of all time.  He was also a man who never lost his sense of gratitude for the wonders of his adopted country, a sentiment he expressed perfectly in “God Bless America.” He wrote other songs celebrating American life, everything from Easter, to white Christmases, to the wonders of New Yorkers “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (written in 1929, right before the Roaring 20s came to a whimpering end).

Soviet May Day paradeIn 1917, the Soviets took over Russia, and settled in for a seventy year totalitarian run. America was the enemy and American culture a dangerous weapon that had to be banned from the Soviet Union at all costs.

And then, in February 2012, a young couple got married on a cold day in Moscow and their friends put on a most amazing show for them. Enjoy the show, and don’t forget the history as you watch it.

Obamacare seen through the prism of Cold War jokes about life in the Soviet Union

Soviet-Bread-Line

During the Cold War, there were two types of jokes about the Soviet Union: those told within the Soviet Union about how bad life was there, and jokes told outside of the Soviet Union about how bad life was there. Americans told the jokes with gusto. Secure in their freedom from a totalitarian government’s constant surveillance, and rejoicing in the overflowing shelves of a free market economy, these jokes reminded Americans that their political and economic systems were indeed superior.

As we work our way through the second decade of the 21st Century, however, those old Soviet jokes are becoming eerily apposite – not to describe Putin’s Russia (although the surveillance state jokes still have their place), but to describe Obama’s America. Thanks to our newly acquired knowledge about the way the NSA and other government entities have turned America into a surveillance state (which implies a very short journey to a full police state) and thanks to the burgeoning economic disaster that is Obamacare, we’re now the Soviet joke.

To prove this point, I’ve copied below myriad Cold War-era jokes, some of which I remember from my childhood, some of which I culled from Cold War-era joke books, and most of which came from my readers (with special thanks to Zombie, who came through with a mother lode of jokes). When I say copied, I mean it: they’re there verbatim, with their original Soviet references. The only changes I’ve made have been to use strike-throughs on those Soviet references and replaced those words with more appropriate “Obama’s America” references.

It’s sad how well the jokes work as rewritten. People shouldn’t just be saddened, though. They should be outraged — and this outrage should lead to action. As Mary Theroux of the Independent Institute said at a luncheon I attended today, it was collective outrage that started in a Polish shipyard that finally brought down the Soviet Union.

And now, the jokes:

On a bitterly cold day in Moscow Washington, D.C., word has gone out that a store has received a shipment of food supplies an Obamacare Navigator has a functional computer. People start lining up early. Soon, the line doubles around the block. After a couple of hours, an official emerges from the store office.

“Owing to the Zionist-dominated American Tea Party interference with Soviet Obamacare concerns, supplies are slightly more limited than we had originally anticipated. All Jews Tea Partiers must therefore leave this line.”

Grumbling, but unsurprised, the Jews Tea Partiers head home empty-handed.

The sun rises in the sky, but gives no warmth. Another couple of hours go by, and the same official comes out.

“The Americans Tea Partiers were worse than we thought, and our supplies are more diminished than we realized. All of those who do not belong to the Communist Party Democrat Party must leave this line.”

Disgruntled non-Party members head home, leaving only the hard-core Soviets Progressives waiting for food.

The sun begins to set. The cold becomes worse. The Party members Progressives huddle together, trying to get warm. At long last, after they’ve spent eight or ten hours waiting, the official emerges from the store one last time.

“We regret to announce that American Tea Party depredations were so great that we have no food supplies Obamacare policies available today. You must all go home.”

As the Party members shuffle away into the cold night, one loudly says to the other, “Those damn Jews Tea Partiers! They get all the luck.”

***

First Communist Progressive: Come the revolution, we’ll all be driving Rolls Royces have “Cadillac” health insurance plans.

Second Communist Progressive: But I don’t want to drive a Rolls Royce a Cadillac health insurance plan.

First Communist Progressive: Come the revolution, you’ll have to want one.

***

A foreign Republican delegation showed up unexpectedly at a collective farm the office of Health and Human Services. There was no time to prepare. After they left, the Chairman of the collective farm called the District Party committee Kathleen Sebelius called the White House. “You didn’t warn me in advance, so they saw everything, the ruined cow sheds antiquated computers, and all the dirt brain-dead programmers, and all our misery and poverty.”

“Don’t worry,” the Party secretary White House said.

“But now they will tell about it all over the world.”

“Let them indulge in their usual slander,” the Party secretary White House said.

***

Stalin Obama summoned Orlov Jay Leno and said, “I have heard through informers that you are telling jokes about me. It’s treasonous!”

“What exactly do you mean?”

“I am the Great Leader, Teacher, and Friend of the people!”

Orlov Leno thought for a while. “No, I haven’t told anybody that joke yet.”

***

A Russian woman walks into a store an Obamacare Navigator’s office. “Do you have any meat health insurance policies?”

“No, we don’t.”

“What about bread a list of doctors who will treat me anyway?”

“We only deal with meat Obamacare policies. Across the street is the store with no bread doctors.”

***

In a gulag federal prison, two inmates share their experience.

“What did they arrest you for?” one of them asks. “Was it a political offense, or a common crime?”

“Political, of course. I’m a plumber computer programmer. They summoned me to the District Party Obamacare exchange headquarters to fix the sewage pipes computer program. I looked and said, ‘Hey, the entire system requires replacement.’ So, they gave me seven years.”

***

One day, far in the future, a boy in Moscow New York asks, “Grandpa, what is a ‘line’?”

“A line? I will explain. You see, many years ago, in the bad old days, there was not enough meat in the stores, so people stood in long rows at the stores’ entrances and waited, hoping some meat would appear on sale. That was called a ‘line.’ Do you understand?”

“Yes, Grandpa. But — what is ‘meat’?”

***

Okay, this one doesn’t relate directly to either Obamacare or surveillance, but it’s so apropos, I just had to include it. It is, after all, the perfect metaphor for the Obama media:

To alleviate the perennial shortages of butter, The Politburo of the Communist Party ordered the Soviet scientists to develop a technology for converting shit into butter, and to complete this project on or before the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. After six months of work, the Politburo demanded an interim progress report. The scientists reported that they had achieved a 50% success. The party requested elaboration. The reply from the Academy of Sciences explained, “One can already spread it, but not yet eat it.”

***

A Muscovite Manhattanite goes to the Obamacare Navigator’s office to fill out a form for fixing the decayed wiring in his apartment getting insurance through the Obamacare exchange.

The official navigator looks through his calendar and says, “Three years from today.”

The man asks, “What time?”

The official naviagor looks at him with a puzzled expression on his face. “What possible difference can the time make if it’s three years from today?”

“Because the plumber is coming I have my first doctor’s appointment in the afternoon.”

***

A Soviet labor official Democrat Senator up for reelection is sent by Moscow the DNC to British labor leaders in London his state Democrat party for a round of talks. As he delivers the party line on the issues at hand, one of the Laborites local Democrats interrupts and says to the man, “Look, you’re among friends here. Just say what you think.” The Soviet official Democrat Senator pretends not to hear and continues with his programmed remarks. “Enough,” says the trade union rep local Democrat. “We know what Moscow the White House, the DNC, and the media thinks. Don’t you have an opinion of your own?” “I do,” says the man, “but I don’t agree with it.”

***

At a Moscow May Day parade in the mid 1930s the mandatory celebration for Obama’s fourth inauguration, a very old Jew man carried a sign that said, “Thank you, comrade Stalin President Obama, for my happy childhood!”

A Party Progressive representative approached the old man. “What is the meaning of this sign? Everybody can see how old you are — when you were a child, comrade Stalin President Obama was not yet even born!”

“Precisely,” the Jew man said.

***

A Russian, A Frenchman and an American Progressive, a Republican, and a Libertarian are shipwrecked on a desert island. For weeks they barely survive, half-starved, eating only whatever washes up on the beach.

One day they find a magic lamp on the sand and when they rub it, a genie pops out and grants each one of them a wish.

The Frenchman Libertarian says, “I wish to return to France Idaho, where we have the best food and the most beautiful women in the world!” And Poof! he disappears and returns to France Idaho.

The American Republican says, “I wish to return to the good ol’ USA, where have more money and more time-saving gadgets than anywhere in the world!” And Poof! he disappears and returns to America.

The Progressive, a hardcore communist, says, “Those others were greedy and lazy. A hard life is good for a man’s soul! So I prefer to stay here, hungry and without possessions, on this desert island.”

“If that’s the case,” says the genie, “Then what is your wish?”

“Well, I’ll probably get a little lonely, so my wish is — that you bring those other guys back here for company.”

Poof Poof!

***

And a Soviet-style joke that came to me ready-made, without the need for strikethroughs and interlineations:

A loyal Party Citizen in Chicago spends two days nonstop on his computer trying to get Obamacare coverage for his family.

When he finally succeeds and discovers the price of his premiums and copays, he is shocked and angry. He rushes out of his Park Avenue apartment and begins screaming at the top of his voice, “Obama is an incompetent idiot fascist!”

Immediately, an NSA satellite homes in on his location and a Department of Homeland Security SWAT team swoops down on him, tasering him into submission between rifle butts to the stomach and kidneys.

When the disgruntled Party Citizen wakes up on a gurney in the Obamacare hospital corridor, he is informed by the Local Party Boss that the recently remade U.S. Court System will charge him with two crimes.

“What are those”, he asks? ”

“Insulting our Dear Leader and revealing state secrets”, came the reply.

***

And another Soviet-style joke that came to me ready-made:

A visiting tourist stopped at the corner Moscow newsstand to purchase a paper. He sees that there are three choices. ”I can’t read Russian,” he confesses to the vendor, “I just want one as a souvenir.” He points to the largest stack of papers, unsold. ”Which one is this?”

“Oh, that’s Pravda”, the vendor says. ”But you don’t want that one.”

“Why not” asks the tourist.

“Because it does nothing but parrot the party line, and is filled with lies, half-lies, and deceptions,” the vendor explains. ”We refer to it as the ‘Russian New York Times’.”

As Obamacare defines America’s economic landscape, are we going to see a new trend of Soviet-era jokes?

Soviet-Bread-Line

Shopping Soviet style — the bread line

Those of us who remember the Cold War also remember the Cold War joke.  Many of these were jokes that had actually originated within the Soviet Union itself, as Russian citizens used mordant humor to deal with communist life.  When I was growing up, those jokes had a great deal to do with my understanding of the day-to-day realities of life in a Communist state, both in terms of the oppression and the deprivation.  Here’s a joke that illustrates both:

A man was somehow able to finagle visas to get his family out of the Soviet Union, but he was forced to remain behind.  He promised to write his family regularly to let them know how he was doing.  Because the family knew that the KGB would be monitoring everything the man wrote, they agreed upon a code:  If the man wrote  his letter in black ink, he was telling the truth; if he wrote his letter in red ink, he was telling a lie.  Not long after the family settled in their new home, they received a letter from the man written entirely in black ink:

My dearest family,

How foolish you were to leave our beloved Soviet Union.  Although you may remember a brief period of shortages, I can tell you that life now has gotten better in every way.  The stores are overflowing with food and merchandise.  At the green grocer, there are fruits and vegetables from all corners of our glorious Soviet Union.  In the clothing stores, the clothes available for purchase are packed so tightly on the rack that one needs to use excessive strength to pull out a shirt just to try it on.  Even though it is January, our dear little apartment is oppressively hot.  I must repeatedly tell the manager to turn the heat down.  Indeed, peculiarly enough, in the midst of all the plenty flowing from Stalin’s great Five Year Plan, the stores are short only one item:  red ink.

With love,

Papa

Other jokes spoke about deprivation and the pervasive, state-sponsored antisemitism:

On a bitterly cold day in Moscow, word has gone out that a store has received a shipment of food supplies.  People start lining up early.  Soon, the line doubles around the block.  After a couple of hours, an official emerges from the store.

“Owing to the Zionist-dominated American interference with Soviet concerns, supplies are slightly more limited than we had originally anticipated.  All Jews must therefore leave this line.”

Grumbling, but unsurprised, the Jews head home empty-handed.

The sun rises in the sky, but gives no warmth.  Another couple of hours go by, and the same official comes out.

“The Americans were worse than we thought, and our supplies are more diminished than we realized.  All of those who do not belong to the Communist Party must leave this line.”

Disgruntled non-Party members head home, leaving only the hard-core Soviets waiting for food.

The sun begins to set.  The cold becomes worse.  The Party members huddle together, trying to get warm.  At long last, after they’ve spent eight or ten hours waiting, the official emerges from the store one last time.

“We regret to announce that American depredations were so great that we have no food supplies available today.  You must all go home.”

As the Party members shuffle away into the cold night, one loudly says to the other, “Those damn Jews!  They get all the luck.”

(Incidentally, I published this joke in connection with a Maxine Waters comment, which reminds us that antisemitism is becoming pretty pervasive in today’s Democrat Party.)

For me, Obamacare is a rich area for Soviet jokes.  We’re being ordered to buy a product that we don’t want; that is described as being overwhelmingly full of delights, even though we don’t care about those delights; and that is, in any event, unavailable.  It’s a Soviet-style economic policy that is fully deserving of Soviet-style jokes.  To date, I’ve fallen back on one of my old favorites:

First Communist:  Come the revolution, we’ll all be driving Rolls Royces.

Second Communist:  But I don’t want to drive a Rolls Royce.

First Communist:  Come the revolution, you’ll have to.

What fascinated me was discovering that I’m not the only one dredging up the Cold War past in connection with Obamacare. Megan McArdle, an admirably level-headed, honest writer whose background as a programmer has given her solid insights into the Obamacare debacle, has felt the same impulse:

Left-leaning columnists and policy wonks have been suggesting that the cancellation letters were part of an insurance company scam to enroll their customers in expensive policies, but the administration itself has been remarkably oblique. It needs the insurers, especially with the exchanges in so much trouble. Their cooperation is essential to avoiding another round of nasty premium shocks next year.

It reminds me of a late-Soviet joke: A man stands in line all day for bread, only to have the baker come out and say there is none. He loses it, and begins ranting about the government. Eventually, a man in a trench coat puts a hand on his shoulder.

“Be careful, comrade. You know, in the old days, it would have been …” and he mimes a gun pointed at the head.

The man walks home, dejected. When he walks in the door, his wife takes one look at his face and drops the plate she is holding.

“What’s wrong, Ivan? Were they out of bread?”

“It’s worse than that. They’re out of bullets.”

The administration has run out of political bullets. Unless the Affordable Care Act starts working, and delivering big benefits to more people than are losing their insurance, it can’t do much to improve those sagging poll numbers.

I’m wondering now if we’re going to see a general resurgence of Soviet jokes.  They’re pretty much pre-made for the communist style economy Obama has thrust upon us.  So I have a twofold request for you:  First, do you remember any old Soviet-era jokes (and they have to be the genuine article) that work just as well now, in America, as they did during the Cold War in the Soviet Union?  Second, if you find other writers falling back on old Communist jokes in connection with Obamacare specifically or the Obama economy generally, could you let me know?

 

Mandatory voting — a Soviet idea that should be reborn in the U.S.

If you’re old enough to remember the Soviet Union, you’re also old enough to remember that, when the American news reported that voter turnout was 50 or 60% for a given election, the Soviets would boast that they had 100% turnout for all elections.  Even I, a child, realized that there was a connection between that high voter turnout and the fact that the Communist party candidates routinely received . . . wait for it . . . 100% of the votes cast by 100% of the population.

In those countries that haven’t yet become Leftist dictatorships, mandatory voting is still Leftist party-line voting, because coercion is the only way to drag to the polls people who are so inert they can function only if the government provides continuing, low-level maintenance for them.  Is it any surprise, therefore, that a Leftist wants to use the power of the state to force American voters to the polls?

Peter Orszag, former head of the Obama Office of Management and Budget, is desperate. With even Roll Call recognizing that President Obama is fighting an uphill battle for re-election, Orszag is floating a trial balloon: mandatory voting. His call for forced voting comes in an op/ed for Bloomberg News:

The U.S. prides itself as the beacon of democracy, but it’s very likely no U.S. president has ever been elected by a majority of American adults.

It’s our own fault — because voter participation rates are running below 60 percent, a candidate would have to win 85 percent or more of the vote to be elected by a majority.

Compulsory voting, as exists in Australia and more than two dozen other countries, would fix that problem. As William Galston of the Brookings Institution argues, “Jury duty is mandatory; why not voting?”

Don’t you just love the thought of police knocking on doors and hauling people off to the voting booth? The whole thing also makes me wonder what the penalty would be for not voting. How many years before we start vanishing during the night and showing up in various Gulags (Detroit, maybe?)?

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.

Individualism as a psychiatric illness — what the NPR kerfuffle reveals *UPDATED*

Juan Williams breached PC, group-think protocol by giving voice to a personal feeling, which is the fear of Muslims on airplanes.  This is not an irrational fear.  While the percentage of Muslims who will be threats on airplanes is small, the percentage of mass murderers who board airplanes and happen to be Muslims is large.

Normal people understood what Williams said.  Leftists intentionally misconstrued him — and then one of them said something more, and it’s a something that, to me, reveals a lot about the true nature of statism.

The “something more” that emanated from the Left after Williams violated the PC shibboleth was this statement from Vivian Schiller, the CEO at NPR:

After the firing, Schiller said publicly that whatever feelings Williams had about Muslims should be between him and “his psychiatrist or his publicist — take your pick.”

It took me a while to figure out why that remark was so awful, and the “so awful” part doesn’t have to do with the fact that it’s demeaning or unprofessional.  It was a little trip down memory lane that made me realize what was so terrible about it.

Walk back with me in time.  It’s sometime in 1970.  The Soviet Union is still a completely committed Communist nation.  As a completely committed Communist nation, it is also a complete totalitarian nation, which means that it must exert total control over any citizens who dare to challenge its hegemony.  (I bet some of you have figured out where I’m going with this one.)  One of the ways the Soviet Union controlled dissidents, whether they dissented because of religion, political beliefs, homosexuality, or whatever else made them challenge the statist monolith, was to send them to psychiatrists for “reeducation“.

For those too young to remember those times, you have to appreciate that psychiatry in America and psychiatry in the Soviet Union were two vastly different things.  In the Soviet Union, psychiatry wasn’t about voluntary commercial relationships between an individual and a doctor, with the latter helping a person break a bad habit, find greater happiness, control anxiety, make personal relationships richer, or whatever else got a person thinking a psychiatrist might be a good thing.

In the Soviet Union, psychiatry existed to support the state.  Psychiatrists used the new science of the mind, not to educate people, but to mentally coerce them into singing the state tune, so that they would abandon their dissenting ways forever.  Or, sometimes, they just tortured them with mind games:

In the Soviet Union, psychiatry was used for punitive purposes. Psychiatric hospitals were used by the authorities as prisons in order to isolate hundreds or thousands of political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally; as such they are considered a form of torture.[1] This method was also employed against religious prisoners, including especially well-educated atheists who converted to a religion; in such cases their religious faith was determined to be a form of mental illness that needed to be cured.

So, when the head of NPR lashes out at someone for deviating from Leftist orthodoxy by suggesting psychiatry, that’s a significantly more creepy and unguarded response than its superficial snark and immaturity would seem to imply.

UPDATE:  Turns out I’m not the only one thinking along these lines.

UPDATE II:  Garry Hamilton reminds me that psychiatry in America hasn’t been that innocuous either.

When the policeman goes away — or what happens when a big nation retreats

In 1989, when it became clear that the former Soviet Union could no longer stop the spread of Democracy in the Eastern Bloc countries, many of us naively assumed that a new dawn of peace and harmony was about to arrive.  We envisioned lions and lambs frolicking together, all bedecked in dewy flowers.  What actually happened, of course, was that Central Europe exploded.  It turned out that one of the benefits of Soviet dominance was that the Soviets squashed traditional tribal rivalries that used to send those nations into periodic convulsions.  Without the strong arm of the Soviets, ethnic and religious warfare broke out with nice historic ferocity.

Although we didn’t like the former Soviet Union, which was a brutal totalitarian dictatorship, its fall did remind us that a superpower is often times useful to keep the peace.   You and I learned that lesson.  The Ivory Tower Obamites clearly did not.

Obama’s first act upon moving in to the White House was to retreat.  He retreated everywhere he could.  In the former Eastern Bloc, when he abandoned allies; in the Middle East, when he abandoned allies; and in Latin America, when he abandoned allies.  As if the years 1989 through 1994 had never happened, he blithely assumed that, with the withdrawal of a bullying superpower (because that, quite obviously, is how Obama views the nation he leads), the lion and lamb would frolic together, bedecked in dewy flowers.

What’s happening, of course, is precisely what happened when the Soviet Union retreated:  long simmering discords, held in check only by a super power’s presence, are coming to the fore.  Putin is bullying and killing left and right, both within his borders and in countries that were formerly part of the Russian republic, while Chavez is bullying and killing left and right within his own borders, and is working hard to destabilize democratic regimes within Latin America and to ally himself with Islamists and Communists outside of Latin America.

And then there’s Iran.  It got the green light from Obama to savage its own citizens and to build a bomb that it manifestly intends to use for two reasons:  (a) to destroy Israel; and (b) to become the Super Power in the Middle East.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are aware of what Iran’s goals are in the absence of the U.S.’s strong hand.  And as I long ago predicted, they are joining forces, according to the old dictum that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  They may hate and fear each other, but they hate and fear Iran more.  It remains to be seen whether Israel really is setting up a functional military base in Saudi Arabia, capable of strikes against Iran, or if this is just an elaborate feint, intended to scare Iran into retreat.  Either way, it’s interesting to see how nations are struggling to fill the vacuum America behind left when Obama unilaterally retreated.

The difference between the Soviet Union and Iran

In his excellent post about the myriad flaws in the administration’s probable (and inchoate) containment plan for Iran, Max Boot makes a very important point, one I’ve somehow missed when reading others on the same subject.  He argues that Leftist nostalgic for the realpolitik of the Cold War, which saw us learning to live uneasily alongside a nuclear Soviet Union, can be replicated here:

Those policies worked against the Soviet Union, but no one should have any illusions that they provide a painless fix to the threat posed by Iran. In the first place, even with the Soviets, there were a few moments when nuclear war was a serious possibility. Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? There is no guarantee that a replay with Iran — say a Lebanese Missile Crisis — would be resolved so peaceably. Moreover, even if we avoided World War III, containing the Soviets was hardly bloodless — it cost the lives of nearly a 100,000 American soldiers in Korea and Vietnam.

Well, there is that, but there’s also a more abstract problem, and that is the nature of the nuclear opponent.  The Soviet Union was made up of political ideologues who dearly wanted power in this world.  Power, after all, is a thing of the real world.  This meant that a certain pragmatism infused all of the Soviet efforts.  They were willing to play nuclear chicken with us, but the Soviets were not personally inclined to be the ones driving off the cliff.

How different are the Iranians.  They are not ideologues, they are zealots.  They’re orientation isn’t this world, it’s the next.  They are aiming for Armageddon.  Their particular world view demands a man-made conflagration as a prerequisite for the coming of the 12th Iman.  As far as they’re concerned, the game of chicken is won if everyone drives off the cliff.

This profound ideological difference between the Soviets and the Iranians is why containment is foolish at best and suicidal at worst.  The mutual deterrence strategy that characterized the Cold War worked because each side, ultimately, wanted to live.  The Soviets may not have cared about the bodies strewn in their paths, but they cared a great deal about their own power and about having a base over which to lord it.  Personal nuclear immolation didn’t factor into their plans.

How different are the Mullahs, who see their job on this earth as destructive — of others and of themselves.  So what if they start a nuclear war?  When everything is dead and gone, the truth faith will still hover over the dust.

Life in Iran is a joke

During the 1970s, in the era of the Jewish refusniks, this joke emerged from the Soviet Union:

Papa was able to get his family out of the Soviet Union, but he ended up staying behind, hoping for an opportunity to follow them.  Until then, he promised he’d write.  The code he used to keep the family abreast of live in the Soviet Union was a simple one.  Don’t pay too much attention to the letter’s content.  The real message would lie in the ink color.  Papa would write his letter in red ink if things weren’t going well.  Eventually, the family received a black ink letter from Papa, which read as follows:

My dear ones,

It is a shame that you had to leave our wonderful Soviet homeland to suffer in the West.  Here, we have everything in abundance.  Spacious homes, cars, clothes and more food than one could ever imagine.  It is almost unbelievable that, in the midst of this land of plenty, we could actually be missing such a little thing as red ink.

As you know, I don’t usually tell jokes randomly.  I’m telling this one because of Jonathan Tobin’s masterly attack on Roger Cohen’s rose-colored view of Iran, and especially of Jewish life in Iran — a view that readily qualifies him for this year’s Walter Duranty award.  With regard to Cohen’s cheerful burbling about happy Jewish life in Iran, Tobin has this to say:

In “What Iran’s Jews Say,” published on February 23, he quoted a 61-year-old antiques dealer in Isfahan who leads the service at one of the remaining synagogues in the city as saying he was not worried about the chants of “Death to Israel” that “punctuate” Iranian culture. “‘Let them say ‘Death to Israel,’ he said,” Cohen related. “‘I’ve been in this store 43 years and never had a problem. I’ve visited my relatives in Israel, but when I see something like the attack on Gaza, I demonstrate, too, as an Iranian.’”

Morris Motamed, who previously served as the token Jew allowed to sit in Iran’s toothless parliament, told Cohen that he was not a “Quisling.” While the “Death to Israel” chants “bothered” Motamed, he was just as bothered by the “double standards” that allowed other countries, including Israel, to have a nuclear bomb, but not Iran.

What Cohen did not write, though he admitted it in his Los Angeles talk, is that his interviews of Iranian Jews were conducted through a government-appointed translator and handler (Cohen does not speak Farsi) who he acknowledged would report to his masters in Tehran about both the journalist and those he met. Given the penalty for bucking the Islamist line about Israel for any Iranian, let alone a member of a despised minority, a less credulous journalist would not have taken the fruit of such interviews at face value. But Cohen not only reported the answers of his interlocutors as if they were a genuine reflection of Jewish opinion in Iran, he inflated them into a rationale for the Iran policy he wishes the United States to follow.