F for a mess-up 0

Investors’ Business Daily deplores the strengthening American dictatorship and the manner in which it is spreading and tightening its control by means of an increasing and ever more privileged bureaucracy:

With the passage of health care reform and the ongoing boom in federal hiring, it’s becoming increasingly clear that America is now run by a new, privileged class of bureaucrats.

For those who remember the old Soviet Union, it was a grim place — at least for average citizens. But not so for those in government. Contrary to the official ideals of equality and a classless society that the ruling communist regime espoused, the USSR created a privileged class of party members inside government — the nomenklatura.

This semipermanent bureaucracy earned higher incomes, got better health care, ate better food and had greater job security than average Russians, the much-despised proletarians. Today, our bloated federal government seems, in significant ways, to be creating this same dynamic.

Take the just-passed health care bill that carefully excluded the White House, congressional leaders and their staffs from having to live under the reforms’ restrictions.

“President Obama will not have to live under the Obama health care reforms, and neither will the congressional staff who helped to write the overhaul,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley. “The message to the people at the grass roots is that it’s good enough for you, but not for us.”

The hypocrisy of these officials and the contempt they show for average Americans is bad enough. But  Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public can also go to jail or be fined up to $250,000 for not buying insurance. And the government is spending $10 billion to hire 16,500 new IRS agents to make sure they don’t escape the new system. [But see below]

Under current budget plans, this won’t end soon. With $45 trillion in new government spending planned over the next decade, this new privileged governing class can only grow.

Today, as we witness a massive shift of resources from the private to the public sector, the only place adding jobs is government. Since the start of last year, the federal government has added 81,000 jobs. By contrast, private-sector payrolls have shed 4.71 million.

Big government is the place to be these days. Federal workers are some of the country’s best-paid, earning far in excess of their counterparts in the private sector. …

The average government worker gets a whopping $40,785 a year in health care, pension and other benefits compared to $9,882 for a private worker. The difference in total compensation widens to $38,548 a year — for the same job with the same duties.

Anyone who has visited the slow-moving Post Office, talked to the surly and often hostile IRS agent or even gone to the local DMV to spend time in waiting-room hell can tell you that pay gap doesn’t represent productivity, training or ability.

What it does represent is the new Nomenklatura — the privileged apparatchiks who now run our government and with it, sadly, much of our lives. This is very much a result of years of “progressive” thinking that has pushed the Democratic Party sharply leftward across the political spectrum.

Since the Civil War, the so-called Progressive Movement’s dream has been to exalt bureaucratic expertise and control over free-market efficiency. With the new administration, their dream has become our nightmare.

It’s true and very bad – but  one statement  needs qualification:

Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public can also go to jail or be fined up to $250,000 for not buying insurance. And the government is spending $10 billion to hire 16,500 new IRS agents to make sure they don’t escape the new system.

According to this report by Morgen Richmond at Big Government, there is no provision in the act for enforcing the individual mandate:

One of the more controversial elements of ObamaCare is the mandate for most individuals to purchase insurance beginning in 2014. There is really no precedent for a federal mandate of this scale requiring individuals to purchase a product or service. So not surprisingly a number of state Attorney Generals have indicated they will be filing suit questioning the constitutionality of this provision.

Of course the individual mandate is also very risky from a political standpoint, as the Democrats who orchestrated the passage of this bill are mandating not only that the young and healthy obtain insurance, but also that even their most fervent liberal constituents must purchase this coverage from the “evil”, private insurance industry.

Republicans for their part have focused on the fact that this mandate will be enforced via threat of a financial penalty (or tax), with the added assumption that it is the dreaded IRS which will be enforcing this. And sure enough, it’s already been reported that the IRS anticipates hiring possibly in excess of 15,000 additional personnel to deal with the collection of the individual mandate, and other tax related provisions within the bill.

However, it turns out that the Democrats who crafted this bill significantly – and I mean significantly – hamstrung the ability of the IRS or any other federal agency to enforce or collect on this mandate. Here is what the federal Joint Committee on Taxation had to say about this issue in a report released earlier this week:

The penalty applies to any period the individual does not maintain minimum essential coverage and is determined monthly. The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the [Internal Revenue] Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.

According to a footnote in the report, “subtitle F of the Code” is the portion of the tax code which grants the IRS the authority to assess and collect taxes. In other words, as the law is written the federal government has no legal authority to enforce this mandate, nor will it have any recourse to collect any penalties that go unpaid!

Without an effective mechanism of enforcing the individual mandate, the entire system is likely to collapse. (The individual mandate is the “third leg of the stool” as many a liberal has been pointing out for months.) Given that the bill also bans insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, WHY WOULD ANYONE OBTAIN INSURANCE COVERAGE PRIOR TO NEEDING IT? This was already going to be a problem with the relatively low cost of the penalty, but take away any meaningful enforcement of it and it is a complete and total joke.

The net result will be an ever increasing shift of healthcare costs on to those who remain in the insurance system (or to tax payers), and possibly even the bankruptcy of the insurance industry. Given all the double-talk the past year over the public option, and the demonizing of private insurers, it is hard not to wonder whether this was by design. But let’s give our Democratic friends the benefit of the doubt, in which case this represents an inexcusable level of incompetence from the people we have just entrusted with overseeing one-sixth of the economy. Nice job guys.

If it’s a mistake it could be a lucky break for the oppressed  But if the apparent mess-up is part of the plan, what fresh hell awaits us?

Is America in decline? 2

Is the world entering a post-American era? Will the 21st century be dominated by some other power, or several others?

In the splendid speech that John Bolton delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2010, he said of Obama, “He is the first post-American president.”

In Obama’s eyes, American superpower status is already over. The decline is happening. There’s no reason to regret it, and it would be pointless and unnecessary to try to halt or reverse it. Obama is content to let America be a nation among the nations, no different in any important respect, and certainly no better. “He sees American decline as a kind of natural phenomenon,” Bolton said.

In Bolton’s own view, however, America is still exceptional and still the one and only superpower. If its status as such is under threat, that threat proceeds from Obama himself, who, almost casually – not caring very much, as John Bolton remarked, about foreign and national security policy – is himself weakening it.

What Obama does care about is domestic policy. To achieve his redistributionist goals he has put America into crushing debt; and being determined, it seems, to turn America into a European-style socialist state, he can only make the debt vaster and heavier. That alone weakens America.

China is America’s chief creditor, but that does not mean China is now a second superpower. A China growing in wealth and confidence, and becoming an increasingly significant world actor, may pose an economic threat to America but is not, or not yet, a rival world power. Militarily it is far from a match. Militarily, America is still far and away the most powerful nation.

But there again, if Obama has his way, it won’t be for much longer. He has, in Bolton’s words, an “incredibly naïve idea” that if the US would get rid of its own nuclear weapons, other countries would give up theirs; those that do not have them but want them – such as Iran and North Korea – would abandon their intense efforts to obtain them; and the world would live at peace forever after. This belief or ambition represents, as John Bolton put it, “a pretty deep-seated strain in the left wing of the Democratic Party.” Obama will soon negotiate an arms control agreement with Russia by which he will undertake substantially to reduce America’s nuclear capability. America will not develop new nuclear weapons, or arms in outer space, or even keep its existing arsenal battle-ready by testing for safety and reliability. It is as if America had no enemies; as if America were not under attack; as if 9/11 had never happened; and as if Iran and North Korea would not drop nuclear bombs on America and its allies if they could do it and get away with it.

Furthermore, with the rest of the dreaming Left both at home and internationally, he aspires to another vision of a new earth: one that is not only sweetly irenic but held forcibly in union by a supreme governing authority. Those proposals for world taxes that we hear of; the intricate business of trading in carbon indulgences in the name of saving the earth from being consumed by fire or ice; international treaty regulations that would result in banning the private ownership of guns – all these are measures to realize the tremendous objective of “world governance”. It would mean the end of American independence, the end of national sovereignty. It would mean that the Revolution was lost, as Bolton said.

In a sense it would be the end of America, because America is an idea of liberty. And it is an idea that the world needs. Its loss would be a colossal disaster, a tragedy for the whole human race.

Can America be saved?

In his book titled The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria asserts that “America is closing down”, but allows that it “won’t be demoted from its superpower position in the foreseeable future” because “it’s not that the United States has been doing badly over the last two decades. It’s that, all of a sudden, everyone else is playing the game.”

America can “remain a vital, vibrant economy, at the forefront of the next revolutions in science, technology and industry, as long as it can embrace and adjust to the challenges confronting it”.

“The challenges” come from other nations, now rising, which he groups together as “the rest”.

China is the first of them because it is becoming an economic giant. The 21st century, he considers, may be the Chinese century.

What if [China ] quietly positions itself as the alternative to a hectoring and arrogant America? How will America cope with such a scenario – a kind of Cold War, but this time with a vibrant market economy, a nation that is not showing a hopeless model of state socialism, or squandering its power in pointless military interventions? This is a new challenge for the United States, one it has not tackled before, and for which it is largely unprepared.

Next in line is India. Poorer but democratic, India is “the ally”. Then come Brazil and Chile (plausibly); South Africa (less plausibly); and (implausibly) Russia. (Russia is a demographic basket case.)

Ironically, Zakaria says, these nations are rising because they learnt from America:

For sixty years, American politicians and diplomats have traveled around the world pushing countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology. … We counseled them to be unafraid of change and learn the secrets of our success. And it worked: the natives have gotten good at capitalism.

America, then, has not been a malign power, or not always. In Roosevelt’s day other countries believed that “America’s mammoth power was not to be feared”. It was after it had won the Cold War, when it became the only superpower, that it began to go to the bad. “Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has walked the world like a colossus, unrivaled and unchecked”, and this “has made Washington arrogant, careless, and lazy.” Furthermore, he tell us, “people round the world worry about living in a world in which one country has so much power.”

To relieve that worry, America “must reduce its weaponry and work towards a non-nuclear world.” It is hypocritical for the US to insist that other countries should not have nuclear weapons while it is hoarding a nuclear arsenal of its own. By giving them up it would “gain credibility”, an end he apparently considers so desirable that it would be worth risking the nation’s very survival to achieve it.

The summer of 2002, Zakaria says, was “the high water-mark of unipolarity”. The world felt sympathy for America after 9/11. America went to war in Afghanistan, which was not good but not too bad. But then it invaded Iraq, which was very bad, and the world’s sympathy dried up. America was being too “unilateral”, too “imperial and imperious”.

George W Bush and “the nefarious neoconservative conspiracy” antagonized the world. He and his conspirators “disdained treaties, multilateral organizations, international public opinion, and anything that suggested a conciliatory approach to world politics.”

So the world’s dislike, contempt, and fear of America were justified, or at least understandable, in the light of the foreign policies of the “arrogant” Bush administration. Zakaria even claims that the animosity filled the Republicans – already full of “chest-thumping machismo” – with pride.

He asks:

Can Washington adjust and adapt to a world in which others have moved up? Can it respond to shift in economic and political power? … Can Washington truly embrace a world with a diversity of voices and viewpoints? Can it thrive in a world it cannot dominate?

The advice he gives to “Washington” for success in adjusting, adapting, responding, embracing, and thriving is to be conciliatory, apologetic. It must listen more; proclaim universal values”, but “phrase its positions carefully”; be like the chair of a board gently guiding a group of independent directors. America must “learn from the rest”. The president must meet more non-government people, have smaller entourages, rely more on diplomacy. Consultation, cooperation, compromise are the key words. He objects to such accomodations being called appeasement. Consult and cooperate, he urges, with Russia, and with “multilateral institutions” such as the UN, NATO, AFRICOM, OAS, and the International Criminal Court. (Even internally, the US legal system “should take note of transnational standards”.)

The federal government has been “too narrow-minded” about terrorism. When bin Laden got America to “come racing out to fight” him (in response to 9/11) this was “over-reaction.”  Zakaria’s advice: “take it on the chin” and “bounce back”. The government must stop thinking of terrorism as a national security issue, and think of it as criminal activity carried out by “small groups of misfits”. Although Democrats were on the whole “more sensible” about terrorism, both parties, he says, spoke “in language entirely designed for a domestic audience with no concern for the poisonous effect it has everywhere else.” His solution is better airport control round the world. The more urgent problem in his view is that American Muslims have become victims of over-reaction to terrorist attacks. Instead of being “questioned, harassed, and detained” they should, he urges, “be enlisted in the effort to understand the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism.”

Zakaria does not consider himself anti-American. He does not even see himself as a man of the left. He reiterates that he is a free marketeer. It is because America became “suspicious of free markets”, he says, that partly explains its “closing down”.

He wrote his book before the economic crisis. He saw a globalized economy bringing about an increasingly prosperous world in which the poorest nations were rising strongly enough for him to declare that “the world is swimming in capital”, and “there really isn’t a Third World any more “. But even then the dollar was sliding, and America was showing signs of being “enfeebled”.

At a military-political level America still dominates the world, but the larger structure of unipolarity – economic, financial, cultural – is weakening… every year it becomes weaker and other nations and actors grow in strength.

For all its military might, its chest-thumping phase is over and now it is “cowering in fear”. It must, he says, “recover its confidence.” ‘It must stop being “a nation consumed by anxiety”, with a tendency to “hunker down”, unreasonably “worried about unreal threats” such as terrorism, and rogue nations like North Korea and Iran. (Iran, he explains, has good reason to fear the United States, with its armies on two of its borders. It’s only to be expected that Iran would try to arm itself with nuclear bombs and missile delivery systems. He does not explain why America should not fear this as a real threat.)

He is certain about what America needs to do to propitiate and serve the world it has alienated. It should ‘‘build broad rules by which the world will be bound’’, rather than pursue “narrow interests”.

What the world really wants from America is … that it affirm its own ideals. That role, as the country that will define universal ideals, remains one that only America can play.

We know Obama has read Zakaria’s book, or at least looked into it, because there is a photograph of him holding it, one finger marking his place. Obama is doing much that Zakaria advises in foreign affairs. But that’s less likely to be because the writer has impressed the president with his arguments than because they have both drunk from the same ideological well.

Obama’s foreign policy lets us see if Zakaria’s theory works. So far it has not.

So is America’s decline beyond all remedy?

It’s a relief to turn from Zakaria’s dull and weakly reasoned book with its uncongenial credo to an article titled The Seductions of Decline (February 2, 2010) by brilliantly witty and insightful Mark Steyn. If America believes it is in decline, he says, it will be. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The view that America has been too arrogant a power; that it is not and should not be exceptional; that humility and apology are required of it; that only endlessly patient negotiation in a spirit of compromise will improve foreign relations and dissuade states like North Korea and Iran from acquiring nuclear arms; that Islamic terrorism should be treated as crime and not as the jihad its perpetrators declare it to be; that Russia should be consulted on, say, the deployment of American missile defense; and that the US should reduce its nuclear arsenal and work towards a non-nuclear world – will bring about the decline.

National decline is psychological – and therefore what matters is accepting the psychology of decline.

His answer to the question “is America set for decline?” is yes, because of the policies of Obama and the Democrats, which arise from their acceptance of decline.

Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: Unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the American economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet.

American decline, he says, “will be steeper, faster and more devastating than Britain’s – and something far closer to Rome’s.” It will not be like France’s, or Austria’s.

Why did decline prove so pleasant in Europe? Because it was cushioned by American power. The United States is such a perversely non-imperial power that it garrisons not ramshackle colonies but its wealthiest “allies”, from Germany to Japan. For most of its members, “the free world” has been a free ride.

And after “Washington’s retreat from la gloire” as hegemon of the world, when America “becomes Europe in its domestic disposition and geopolitical decline, then who will be America?”

Of the many competing schools of declinism, perhaps the most gleeful are those who salivate over the rise of China. For years, Sinophiles have been penning orgasmic fantasies of mid-century when China will bestride the world and America will be consigned to the garbage heap of history. It will never happen: As I’ve been saying for years, China has profound structural problems. It will get old before it gets rich.

Not China then. Russia?

The demographic deformation of Tsar Putin’s new empire is even more severe than Beijing’s. Russia is a global power only to the extent of the mischief it can make on its acceleration into a death spiral.

Not Russia. How about the Caliphate that the terrorist war is being fought to establish?

Even if every dimestore jihadist’s dreams came true, almost by definition an Islamic imperium will be in decline from Day One.

So what might the post-American world look like? Mark Steyn’s answer is deeply depressing:

The most likely future is not a world under a new order but a world with no order – in which pipsqueak states go nuclear while the planet’s wealthiest nations, from New Zealand to Norway, are unable to defend their own borders and are forced to adjust to the post-American era as they can. Yet, in such a geopolitical scene, the United States will still remain the most inviting target – first, because it’s big, and secondly, because, as Britain knows, the durbar moves on but imperial resentments linger long after imperial grandeur.

But nothing is inevitable, and Mark Steyn offers a last hope. Though “decline is the way to bet”, the only thing that will ensure it is “if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy.”

When in 2008 a majority of the American electorate voted for Barack Obama to be president of the United States, it seemed that the deal had been made. But now Obama is failing, the Democratic majority is under threat, and the Tea Party movement is reclaiming the Revolution.

This could be another American century after all.

Jillian Becker   March 1, 2010

To remind, expose, condemn, accuse, and praise 0

In this article, at Pajamas Media, Jamie Glazov does five things that we applaud:

He reminds all of us who are free – and trying to remain free under a government that prefers collectivism to libertyhow terrible it is to live under collectivist totalitarian oppression. Specifically he writes about how it was in the Soviet Union.

He exposes the feminists for what they are – indulged, self-absorbed, ignorant, silly, and petty.

He condemns the leftists, who are blind to the value of the freedom they have and strive to destroy it.

He accuses Islam of threatening us with totalitarianism now.

He praises Glenn Beck and his outstandingly excellent film The Revolutionary Holocaust, that conveys, entirely adequately in a very shot space of time, an enormously important lesson to an American generation who are not taught it in their schools, their universities, or by the mass media.

The tortures included laying a man naked on a freezing cement floor, forcing his legs apart, and then an interrogator stepping on his testicles, applying increasing pressure until the confession surfaced. Imagine the consequences of no surfacing confession. Indeed, many people refused to confess to a crime they did not commit. Daughters and sons were raped in front of their fathers and mothers — for the sake of extracting “confessions.”

These are just some of the delicacies that the Stalinist machinery inflicted on its citizenry in the hope of bringing socialism into earthly incarnation. …

Both of my grandfathers were exterminated by Stalinist terror. Both of my parents, Yuri and Marina Glazov, were dissidents in the former Soviet Union. They risked their lives for freedom; they stood up against Soviet totalitarianism. They barely escaped the gulag, a fortune many of our friends and relatives did not share. I come from a system where a myriad of the closest people to my family simply disappeared, where relatives and family friends died under interrogation and torture for their beliefs — or for simply nothing at all.

Now try to imagine me sitting in the company of left-wing “intellectuals” in the West who think they are oppressed. This is my lifelong experience. I remember one radical feminist, whom I sat next to in a graduate student lounge, lecturing me sternly about how women in the West are oppressed because they wear bikinis on beaches; with a reprimanding tone, she explained to me that this represented the way capitalism objectifies women, marginalizes them from spheres of power, and metaphorically decapitates them as human beings. I remember asking her what she thought of female genital mutilation and honor killings in the Muslim world. To this I received a stone-cold silence and a frightening hateful stare, a stare with which I have become accustomed: I would be confined to a gulag or a psychiatric hospital if this particular individual had the power to place me there. This would be done for the good of society of course. My question was heresy: she could not, naturally, admit that evil adversarial cultures and ideologies existed — under which women truly suffer real oppression — for if she did, then she would have to sacrifice her entire worldview and personal identity.

My family’s nightmarish experience in the Soviet Union was followed by a providential escape from totalitarian hell. We were among the lucky ones, the ones who got away. The United States gave us a safe and protected home — a home of unbelievable material well-being (in comparison to Soviet starvation) and human liberty. I will never forget the awe I felt experiencing my first taste of freedom, even as a young five-year-old boy who wasn’t completely sure what it was. My parents could now, for the first time, speak out without fear of brutal repercussions in defense of Soviet citizens who were being persecuted for their political and/or religious beliefs. For the first time, we lived without the dread to which I had been accustomed throughout my young life.

I remember while we were cherishing our newfound freedom, we encountered a strange species: intellectuals in the universities who reviled my parents for the story they had to tell. For the first time in their lives, my father and mother confronted an intelligentsia that was hostile to them. Back in Russia, dissident intellectuals risked their lives when they pronounced one word of truth about the horrible history (and reality) of their country under communist rule. In America, most of the intellectuals who surrounded us scoffed at the importance of real intellectual freedom and dismissed my parents’ experience; they demonized their own society, wished for its defeat, and supported the communist enemy that muzzled free speech and tortured millions of human beings.

As a very young boy, I learned that these intellectuals were “leftists.”… While my family agonized about the relatives and friends we had left behind, and as we kept the memory of their suffering alive in our hearts, our leftist acquaintances reprimanded us for our views, instructing us to see America — our personal liberator — as the most evil entity not only in the Cold War, but in all of human history. They wanted us to dedicate our lives — as they had done — to the victory of the West’s totalitarian adversaries.

But … today we have a best friend in the West … We aren’t orphans anymore. There is a certain individual in this land, by the name of Glenn Beck, who has a television show on the Fox News Channel with a mass following; he is masterfully exposing this phenomenon that we experienced — and are still experiencing. He is telling the truth about the Soviet regime and about communism and he is beaming a light on leftists and liberals for their long romance, which continues till this day, with communist systems and the ideologies that brought them into place. Just recently, Beck’s program featured his profound documentary, The Revolutionary Holocaust, which powerfully illustrates the evil of communism and the leftist ideals that brought its horrors into existence. Beck’s documentary exposes the crimes against humanity perpetrated by mass murderers such as Che Guevara and Mao Zedong, who, till this day, enjoy great idolization in leftist milieus and, as we know, in the Obama White House itself. …

Mr. Beck, thank you for having the courage and integrity to tell the truth about communism, despite the price you have had to pay for doing so. …

Because of people like you, the millions of victims of communism will not be pushed into the invisible sphere of historical amnesia — where the liberal left has perpetually tried to confine them. Mr. Beck, by producing documentaries like your recent The Revolutionary Holocaust, you are bringing personal affirmation to myriads of families like my own — and to all victims and survivors of communism — by validating our experiences and by telling the whole world that, despite the left’s attempt to impose gulag denial on our culture, we did live what we lived, we did endure what we endured, and we did see what we saw. And you are crystallizing the pernicious socialist idea that comes in the form of humanitarianism, but culminates in mass terror.

Glenn Beck, you are leading the crucial fight of the 21st century. In battling on the front lines for moral clarity on the issue of communism, you are setting a firm terrain on which free men and women will be able to fight the new jihadi totalitarians who seek to destroy our freedom and lives… Thank you.

In commemoration of the fall of the Berlin wall 0

Today, November 9, 2009, is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It was one of the greatest events of history.

The wall both literally and symbolically marked the division between tyranny and freedom.

It was erected on Sunday, August 13, 1961, to prevent people living under the Soviet-controlled Communist regime in East Germany from fleeing into free West Berlin.  About 1500 people a day had been migrating westward.

Within 24 hours West Berlin was sealed off from the so-called Democratic Republic of Germany.

At first it was a fence consisting of barbed wire, spread over some 96 miles.

In 1962 an inner wall was built. The 100 yard gravel area between the fence and the wall was booby-trapped with trip wires, and mined.

In 1975  a stronger, higher, thicker wall made of concrete and reinforced with mesh fencing and barbed wire was constructed. It was known as the ‘Grenzmauer 75’. Soldiers stationed in some 300 watchtowers had a clear view of the space, and orders to shoot down anyone attempting to cross it.

Over 100,000 people tried to escape to freedom. Some 5,000 succeeded, mostly in the early years before the ‘Grenzmauer 75’ was built. Later, successful crossings were made through tunnels. Two families succeeded by hot-air balloon, and one man in a light aircraft. At least 136 people were killed in the attempt, most famously 18-year-old Peter Fechter, shot on August 17, 1962, as he tried to climb the wall. He lay for hours in the space between the wall and the fence, crying out for help while he bled to death. The East German border guards waited for him to die before they carried him away.

Twenty-five years later, on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan of the United States stood on the west side of the Brandenberg Gate beyond which the wall ran, and said to the Russian leader in a famous speech, ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’

The speech was symptomatic of the firm stand he maintained against the Soviet Union.

Two and a half years later the wall was brought down.

Its fall heralded the collapse of Soviet Russia and its evil empire. It marked the end of the Cold War and the victory of the free world, led by the United States of America.

The conquering hero of that stupendous victory was President Reagan. How he won the Cold War is the subject of volumes, but win it he did.

Of inestimable help to him was Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain.

A few days ago Mikhail Gorbachev, George H. W. Bush who was president of the US when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, and Helmut Kohl who was Chancellor of West Germany at the time, met on the stage of a Berlin theatre to commemorate the fall of the wall.

Margaret Thatcher, who had not wanted the reunification of Germany but nevertheless played a decisive part in defeating the Communist tyranny over Eastern Europe, was not included.

The president of the United States, Barack Obama, has refused to attend any of the celebratory ceremonies in Germany. His excuse is that he is ‘too busy’.

Jillian Becker  November 9, 2009

A well of poison 3

A diary has been found in the US National Security Archive which reveals details of the relationship between the British Labour Party and the Soviet Union. It was kept by one Anatoly Chernyaev, the man who pandered between the Kremlin and the Labour leaders (particularly Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock). If anyone should know, he should. And it’s quite likely he’s telling the truth, though with such people there can be no certainty, of course.

The diary is making some headlines in Britain, notably in The Spectator, which has made it this week’s cover story, and the Daily Mail.

Among its ‘revelations’ is a story that the Labour leaders tried to get the Soviets to help them beat the ‘common enemy Margaret Thatcher’. The Soviets apparently agreed to help these treacherous men, and maybe they did something or other, but whether they did or not, Mrs Thatcher remained triumphantly in Downing Street throughout the 1980s, to be replaced by another Conservative leader, John Major, in 1990.

The Mail, realizing perhaps that this isn’t much of a revelation, and that as news it is rather stale, does its best to work up something juicier:

More worrying, perhaps, is the fact that the document shows in stark detail how the political ideology of so many of those who govern today was shaped by the unspeakable communist creed of the Soviet Union. The unpalatable truth is that many ministers in Government today rose through the ranks of a British socialist movement that was heavily influenced – and even controlled – by the Kremlin in Moscow. … In Britain, those on the Left who know about the depth of the Soviet influence over this country in the latter half of the 20th century, have maintained an embarrassed silence about this shameful episode in British political history. Above all, the intimate co-operation between Moscow and the trades unions which nearly brought the country to its knees in the Sixties and Seventies has been an utterly taboo subject. … This diary reveals that the cosy relationship between the Kremlin and Labour was far more widespread than previously thought – and had been going on for years. …’

Actually, it was pretty well known that the particular trade union leaders mentioned by the Mail were sponsored by the Soviets. The subject, far from being ‘utterly taboo’ was discussed at length and often in Conservative circles, especially when Prime Minister Thatcher tamed the trade unions good and proper. As for the ‘intimacy’ between the Labour Party rats and the Soviet top brass, such details as the diary records – and only the details are news really, the general picture being well known to anyone who took an interest in such things back then – show the rats in a rather pathetic light. It seems that they had to beg for a few minutes with Brezhnev, and later with ‘the senile’ Chernenko, so they could tell the newspapers back home that they were received by the Man. Hardly a ‘cosy’ relationship!

The Mail tries harder yet:

It is not just the Left’s close connection with the Soviet Union, but the lasting influence of that connection that should concern us all.

By which it means that Gordon Brown, who is still in power though not for much longer, was originally given his safe seat by the decision of two senior trade union officials who were themselves sponsored by the USSR. Thus, urges the Mail, ‘the control the Soviets had over Labour, its leadership and aspiring politicians, is still having a profound impact on Britain.’

Even this, we surmise, will not greatly scandalize or even startle most British readers.

We find one comment interesting. It’s made by Peter Oborne in his Spectator column on the subject. He says that ‘these communist influences’ account for many of the ‘characteristics’ of Tony Blair’s New Labour. The characteristics he notes are:

‘Its deep suspicion of outsiders, its structural hostility to democratic debate, its secrecy, its faith in bureaucracy, embedded preference for striking deals away from the public eye, its ruthless reliance on a small group of trusted activists .’

Why this list strikes us as worth noting is that it applies equally to Obama’s Democratic Party. And the influences are of the same sort, and from the same poison well: not the Kremlin, which was only a conduit, but the Communist creed itself.

A president who knows what of he speaks 0

 From Yahoo News:

 The European Union has turned into an undemocratic and elitist project comparable to the Communist dictatorships of eastern Europe that forbade alternative thinking, Czech President Vaclav Klaus told the European Parliament on Thursday.

Klaus, whose country now holds the rotating EU presidency, set out a scathing attack on the EU project and its institutions, provoking boos from many lawmakers, some of whom walked out, but applause from nationalists and other anti-EU legislators.

Klaus is known for deep skepticism of the EU and has refused to fly the EU flag over his official seat in Prague during the Czech presidency, saying the country is not an EU province.

He said current EU practices smacked of communist times when the Soviet Union controlled much of eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic and when dissent or even discussions were not tolerated.

"Not so long ago, in our part of Europe we lived in a political system that permitted no alternatives and therefore also no parliamentary opposition," said Klaus. "We learned the bitter lesson that with no opposition, there is no freedom."

He said the 27-nation bloc should concentrate on offering prosperity to Europeans, rather than closer political union, and scrap a stalled EU reform treaty that Irish voters have already rejected.

Klaus said that questioning deeper integration has become an "uncriticizable assumption that there is only one possible and correct future of the European integration."

"The enforcement of these notions … is unacceptable," Klaus said. "Those who dare thinking about a different option are labeled as enemies." Observers had been expecting Klaus to deliver a critical speech during his first and only visit to the EU chamber at a time when his country holds the EU limelight as chair of the 27-nation bloc.

"I have never experienced a situation where the presidency of the European Union … compares the EU with the Soviet Union," said Belgian lawmaker Ivo Belet.

Posted under Uncategorized by Jillian Becker on Thursday, February 19, 2009

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Biden’s hypocrisy over human rights 0

Why did this article by Vladimir Bukovsky and Pavel Stroilov (in Front Page Magazine on October 10) not surprise me?

It is about a US delegation to the Soviet Union, of which one of the Soviet officials noted:

 

This time, the [US] delegation did not officially raise the issue of human rights during the negotiations. Biden said he did not want ‘to spoil the atmosphere with problems which are bound to cause distrust in our relations.’ However, during the breaks between the sessions the senators passed to us several letters concerning these or those ‘refuseniks’.

 

Unofficially, Biden and Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing to the American public that they do care for ‘human rights’. They must prove to their voters that they are ‘effective in fulfilling their wishes’. In other words, the collocutors directly admitted that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Monday, October 13, 2008

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