Archive for the ‘Communism’ Category

For Labor Day Weekend: A Look Back At Solidarity

Friday, September 4th, 2015

For Labor Day weekend, here’s a look back at the birth of Solidarity in Poland.

Robert Conquest, RIP

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Robert Conquest, one of the leading historians of Soviet genocide, has died at age 98.

It’s hard to remember now, but for most of the Cold War, western liberals vehemently denied that genocide had occurred in the Soviet Union (or other communist nations) at all. Conquest’s The Great Terror helped crack that facade of willful ignorance, as did Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s monumental The Gulag Archipelago.

I once reviewed The Harvest of Sorrow, his work on the Holodomor, Stalin’s terror famine in the Ukraine, and it’s a devastating, amazingly well-researched book. “In the actions here recorded about 20 human lives were lost, not for every word, but for every letter, in this book.”

He was also a poet, and dabbled in science fiction as a writer and editor, but it was as a historian he made far and away his greatest impact. Communism was the great evil of the 20th century, and Conquest had a key role in exposing it. “Over all, Mr. Conquest estimated the death toll for the entire Stalin era at no less than 20 million.”

Here’s an obituary from The Telegraph. “Conquest personified the truth that there was no anti-communist so dedicated as an ex-communist.”

Here’s Christopher Hitchens’ essay on Conquest from 2007.

LinkSwarm for July 31, 2015

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Another month down! here’s one final LinkSwarm to finish off July:

  • “Donations to the Clinton Foundation by Swiss bank UBS increased tenfold after Hillary Clinton intervened to settle a dispute with the IRS early in her tenure as secretary of state, according to a published report.” What are the odds?
  • Hillary way, way, way underwater in swing states. (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Lot of Democrats listed among indicted congress critters. And the Kay Baily Hutchison indictment was bogus.
  • “Nineteen sixty-eight was the year normal Americans saw the Democrats for what they were, and that’s the danger for them in 2016 too – that normal Americans will be reminded about what a circus of welfare-chiseling, race-obsessed, work-averse, baby-shredding freaks the Democrat party is.”
  • Iran says it can ban U.S. arms inspections at will. Wow, that Iran deal just keeps getting better… (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Speaking of that Iran deal, the Obama Administration is hiding documents from the public, even though they’re not classified.
  • And the International Atomic Energy Agency refuses to testify to the Senate on Iran, even in a classified setting. Golly, it’s almost like they’re trying to hide something… (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Michael Totten on Hanoi’s Capitalist Revolution. I dare say that Hanoi more capitalist (and hopeful) than Detroit these days…
  • Medicare/Medicaid: Driving us into bankruptcy for half a century.
  • And Social Security could be broke in 12 years.
  • Another day, another American murdered by an illegal alien.
  • More guns, less crime. (Hat tip: Adam Baldwin’s Twitter feed.)
  • “The fact is that there is no point in arguing with liberal gun-control advocates because their argument is never in good faith….The liberal anti-gun narrative is not aimed at creating the best public policy but at disarming citizens the liberal elite looks down upon – and for whom weapons represent their last-ditch ability to respond to liberal overreach.”
  • “Anti-bullying” school seminar is turned into gay sex demonstration.
  • Brazil joins the league of the boned.
  • The mystery of China’s capital outflows.
  • Dice to sell Slashdot. They managed to take a thriving community and managed to drive much of it away with a combination of poor UI design (Beta, anyone) and pro-social justice warrior posts.
  • How #GamerGate shattered shattered Gawker’s myth of invincibility. Turns out that insulting your readers on behalf of social justice warriors isn’t a sustainable business model. Who knew?
  • Even before the hack, Ashley Madison was a complete scam. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Jim Wright, RIP

    Thursday, May 7th, 2015

    Former Texas Democratic congressman and Speaker of the House Jim Wright has died at age 92.

    As Speaker, Wright was a hyper-partisan that ran roughshod over the Republican minority while committing sleazy ethical lapses. As Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) once noted, “Jim Wright was like an evil fog that floated over everyone’s head.”

    Alas, Wright’s death means I’ll never get a chance to get him to sign my copy of Reflections of a Public Man.*

    Wright Reflections

    It’s a slender collection of personal reflections and pithy aphorisms that even at 117 pages is badly padded. It was also a blatant scam to bypass congressional limits on personal honorarium.

    The real focus of the marketing effort for Reflections of a Public Man was on bulk sales to trade associations and other groups. Almost 98% of all sales of “Reflections of a Public Man” were bulk sales of 15 or more books. In some instances, Wright’s staff informed various groups Wright spoke to that because he had already reached the maximum limit on outside earned income for that year, he would not be able to keep an honorarium offered to him. The staff then recommended that instead of paying Wright an honorarium, the organization could purchase books for the same amount . . .

    For example,) Wright spoke at a Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Assn. trade show in September, 1985, just several weeks after SBCA had purchased 1,680 copies of “Reflections of a Public Man” for $10,000. SBCA testified that although it historically has paid honoraria and expenses to congressmen for their appearances, in this case SBCA’s legal counsel, who arranged for Wright to speak at the trade show, suggested that SBCA purchase the books instead. Thus, Wright received a $5,500 “royalty” for his appearances before the SBCA.

    So that works out to a 55% royalty rate. 10-15% royalties for hardbacks is industry standard. It’s possible that J. K. Rowling and Stephen King might (might) get as much as 25%. If J.K. Rowling demanded a 55% royalty rate, her publisher would have no choice but to turn her down, since they’d be losing money on every book sold.

    Through Wright resigned, his strong-handed tactics helped lead to the rise of Newt Gingrich and his Contract With America, which helped pave the way for the 1994 Republican takeover of the House. (And don’t let the New York Times obituary fool yeah; Wright had squat to do with bringing peace to Nicaragua, which was achieved through the pressure of the Reagan Doctrine and the crumbling of the Eastern block, which finally realized it was too broke to prop out communist dictators in Central America.)

    *Though I did get Newt Gingrich to sign it…

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    LinkSwarm for May 5, 2015

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

    Happy Cinco de Mayo! My efforts to move the LinkSwarm back to it’s usual Friday position by posting early have failed, so I’m trying to get it there by letting it drift back one day later each time…

  • “Canadian Partnership Shielded Identities of Donors to Clinton Foundation.” Just in case you missed that. Because trying to keep up with all the sleazy bribery angles of the Clinton Foundation is like trying to drink from the firehose…
  • Speaking of which:

  • “Hillary may want to talk about inequality, but is there any better example of a couple who gorged at the trough of Wall Street and foreign autocrats, chose not to follow the rules, never could stop chasing more and more money and (in Hillary Clinton’s case) went to extraordinary lengths to destroy “personal” e-mails that might have pulled back the curtain on all that?” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Hillary hires Scott Hogan, an organizer of the failed “Everytown” gun-grabber astroturf to run her “Grassroots” campaign. Hopefully he’ll bring Hillary the same outstanding success he brought to gun control…
  • Russian stooges in Ukraine: “Soviet terror famine? No, that was all just a big misunderstanding!” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Islamic State murders 600 more Yezidis. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • The Islamic State also claimed post facto credit for the Garland attack.
  • Speaking of which, here’s an interview with Bosch Fawstin, the winner of the Draw Mohammed contest. (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • Emergency room visits up under ObamaCare.
  • Lefty lawyer Laurence Tribe calls Obama’s “force everyone to use green energy without congressional approval” plan unconstitutional. “After studying the only legal basis offered for the EPA’s proposed rule, I concluded that the agency is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.”
  • Drug cartel violence heats up in Mexico: “Gunmen shot down a Mexican military helicopter Friday in the western state of Jalisco, killing three soldiers, and set fire to buses, blocked roads, and attacked banks and gas stations in a sharp escalation of violence against the government.” This is evidently the handiwork of the New Generation drug cartel.
  • Minimum wage hike hits San Francisco Comic Store.
  • When the Social Justice Warriors started attacking the company Protein World over their “Beach Ready” ad campaign, Protein World didn’t cave, they fought back. Result: They earned an additional $1 million in four days.
  • Not understanding that the Presidency is not an entry level job, and that the Republican field was already packed, Ben Carson joins the Presidential race.
  • Ditto Carly Fiorina, whose tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard was not an unqualified success, and whose 2010 California Senate race lost to Barbara Boxer by 16 points.
  • And evidently Mike Huckabee is going to run as well.
  • Texas Democrats are furious that a new ethics bill might keep them from scratching each other’s backs. (Hat tip: Push Junction.)
  • The Austin American Statesman is moving printing and packing operations to San Antonio and Houston, resulting in about a 100 jobs lost in Austin. Previously. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Social Justice Warriors can’t even win elections at UCLA.
  • Austin’s Highland Mall closed on April 30th.
  • Reminder: Today is Victim’s of Communism Day

    Friday, May 1st, 2015

    Just a quick reminder that today is Victims of Communism Day, the day when we remember the 100 million plus victims of the 20th century’s most deadly totalitarian ideology.

    Lithuania Reintroduces Conscription

    Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

    With Russia still fighting it’s thinly disguised proxy war in Ukraine, other former Soviet states have to be nervous. That’s why Lithuania is reintroducing conscription.

    To my mind, all of the Baltic countries should go to a universal service model like Switzerland or Israel: Everyone does a stint in the military, and everyone has an assault rifle at home (with a good smattering of handheld antitank weapons amidst the civilian populace as well).

    The Baltic countries should all make it as hard as possible for Russia to occupy any parts of their country. Indeed, I would suggest that right now, disguised Ukrainian special forces units should be attacking critical infrastructure (rail lines, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, etc.) all across Russia.

    Evidence suggests that Putin regards the economic damage being done to Russia by sanctions as an acceptable cost for digesting part of the Ukraine. That cost needs to keep rising to deter both present and future aggression.

    Venezuelans Now So Screwed They Can’t Afford to Get Screwed

    Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

    Thanks to the Magic Power of #Socialism™, in Venezuela a 36-pack of condoms now costs as much as an iPhone:

    Venezuelans who already must line up for hours to buy chicken, sugar, medicines and other basic products in short supply now face a new indignity: Condoms are hard to find and nearly impossible to afford….

    On the auction website MercadoLibre, used by Venezuelans to obtain scarce goods, a 36-pack of Trojans sells for 4,760 bolivars ($755 at the official exchange rate), close to the country’s minimum monthly wage of 5,600 bolivars.

    It take a special kind of socialist magic to make your people too poor to have sex.

    In other Venezuela news:

  • The Maduro government has seized a supermarket chain. I’m sure that will do wonders to make more basic goods available to people.
  • They’re also arrested pharmacy owners for “conspiring” to create long lines out their stores. Maybe Maduro thinks business owners can conjure hard currency out of their own asses.
  • Interview with opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
  • One wonders if The Road to Serfdom or Economics in One lesson have ever been translated into Spanish…

    Far-Left Syriza Wins Huge Victory in Greece

    Sunday, January 25th, 2015

    Greece’s far left-wing Syriza Party has won a big victory there, claiming about half the seats in Parliament.

    What does it mean? I took a stab at analyzing it before. Even with a majority, there’s a good chance Syriza will have to continue meeting the EU’s demands (which means pretending to impose austerity measures) if they want mean old Aunt Angela to keep loaning them money. Remember: Greece has never practiced real austerity. Not once since the European Debt Crisis hit has Greece balanced its budget, and its deficit for 2014 was 12.2% of GDP.

    But even the fake austerity imposed has been too much for the Greek people, who collectively want a cushy welfare state but don’t want to pay the sky-high taxes required to pay for it. Promising people something for nothing has been the left’s popular electoral strategy for more than a century, but reality can only be held off for so long. Germany is not due for a federal election, so it’s entirely possible Merkel might still underwrite another bailout or two if Syriza is willing to continue the farce. A Greece shorn of the Euro would still be broke and badly in debt, and newly Drachma-backed securities would likely be toxic investments for all but the most speculative of bond traders. (Perhaps Syriza should investigate how well that printing money thing is working out for Venezuela.) “Forgive our debts or we won’t let you give us more loans!” is a proposition Merkel would probably find quite easy to refuse, and I suspect the risk of a Greek exit from the Euro is already priced into European markets. If Syriza insists on anything more than (possibly) a token debt haircut, the EU will probably be willing to call their bluff.

    It’s generally best for the driver of a 1974 Ford Pinto to avoid engaging in a game of chicken with a Tiger tank…

    In Which I Point To Hot Air’s Venezuela Update and Say “What He Said”

    Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

    It was about time to do another update on Venezuela’s failing socialist economy when I dropped by Hot Air and saw that Ed Morrissey had already done all the heavy lifting for me:

    “The currency in what should be the richest country in South America has collapsed, as well as its economy, under the dual weight of falling crude prices and the Chavista socialism that has been choking the country for more than a decade.”

    More:

    Venezuela’s Chavista policies have always ignored economic reality. Socialism is a fantasy economic system, especially as implemented by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.

    The difference between Venezuela and the nanny-state petro-economy in Norway is that the latter preserves itself by respecting private property and foreign investment. From the beginning, Hugo Chavez attacked both, nationalizing oil production and criminalizing private investors as part of his “Bolivarian” revolution. When it did that, it chased off the talent needed to run oil production and the investment needed for all other kinds of goods and services. For a short period of time, their oil revenue allowed it to succeed in ignorance. When that failed, Chavez and now Maduro reacted to those predictable consequences by predictably imposing all sorts of rationing mechanisms which only decreased incentives for production and investment, especially in the legitimate economy. Now that the price of oil has collapsed, so has the official Venezuelan economy — and a populace used to a high standard of living now endures massive shortages and ever-increasing oppression to cover it up.

    Morrissey, in turn, quotes a big chunk of this Matt O’Brien piece in the Washington Post:

    Venezuela’s government is running a 14 percent of gross domestic product deficit right now, a fiscal hole so big that there’s only one way to fill it: the printing press. But that just traded one economic problem—too little money—for the opposite one. After all, paying people with newly-printed money only makes that money lose value, and prices go parabolic. It’s no wonder then that Venezuela’s inflation rate is officially 64 percent, is really something like 179 percent, and could get up to 1,000 percent, according to Bank of America, if Venezuela doesn’t change its byzantine currency controls.

    What he said. Er, both of them.