Despite prognostications by #NeverTrumpers going into President Trump’s first year in office, he hasn’t been the liberal Democratic plant some expected him to be. I expected a couple of liberal programs and policies to hit this year, but so far they have all been pushed forward. 2017 has focused on Obamacare repeal, dismantling the regulatory state, improving border security, getting right-leaning judges on the bench, and our latest push for tax cuts.

This is good and bad news for conservatives. It’s good because we’ve been able to stay focused on the active components of the agenda and so far those active components have been aligned ideologically. I could go into great detail about the failings of the false attempts to repeal Obamacare (we were presented with “tweak and rebrand” efforts instead of “repeal and replace”) or the small degree we’ve been taking down the regulatory state (it should be a three-pronged attack with major cuts instead of the minor PR victories we’ve been seeing), but at least they’re sort of trying. It could have been worse.

Rich Lowry over at National Review went after those who continue to point to President Trump’s liberal actions when in reality, they haven’t been as liberal as many of us thought they’d be. I was on the verge of contacting him to explain what I’m about to write about here, but he finished the article by acknowledging what everyone needs to know.

The good conservative stuff was intentionally frontloaded into the administration’s agenda. Before the midterm elections, expect the White House and Congress to push the populist and liberal aspects of their agenda:

  • The trillion-dollar infrastructure plan that mirrors Chuck Schumer’s plan nicely will get a big push
  • Amnesty may be coming, regardless of what they call or it or how the President tries to justify it
  • “Fair trade” is still being pushed hard as the Establishment tries to convince conservatives in 1984 doublespeak style that we are opposed to free trade and have always been opposed to free trade
  • Budgets are going to be quietly engorged until the GOP is able to spend more money than we did in the Obama era
  • A continuation of silence on social issues; we’re still funding Planned Parenthood even today

It’s important for conservatives to be cognizant of all these things and anything else that screams of creeping liberalism coming from the GOP-controlled House, Senate, and White House. All of them, particularly the President himself, have demonstrated a willingness to be reasonable and even malleable when it comes to denouncing liberal ideas. We have to be loud. We have to be willing to oppose even when faux-conservative sheep announce their undying support for whatever their dear leader pushes. Be aggressive. Stay conservative.

By John Ruberry

If you know a millennial who craves communism, then I suggest that you sit that person down to watch the documentary Karl Marx City by Petra Epperlein and her husband, Michael Tucker, which was released last year. Epperlein was born in 1966 in Karl-Marx-Stadt, East Germany, which is now, as it was before, the city of Chemnitz.

And as it is was when she was a child, the most noticeable feature of her hometown is the giant bust of Karl Marx, which looks over the dwindling population of Chemnitz. Its bulk makes it too expensive to remove from its perch on the former Karl-Marx-Street.

The Marx monument is the ideal metaphor for the former East Germany. Just as Big Brother is always watching in George Orwell’s 1984, the Ministry for State Security, colloquially known as the Stasi, was watching too. Cameras were seemingly in every public space, as were Stasi agents and informants. In a nation of 17 million people, there were an astounding 90,000 Stasi agents aided by 200,000 informants. In contrast, the FBI employs a paltry 35,000.

What was the Stasi looking for? Everything. Just grab whatever information that can be found and use it for a case later. Because not only was everyone a suspect in this worker’s paradise, everyone was probably guilty. And if they weren’t guilty they likely would be soon.

Early in Karl Marx City Eppelein tells us that her father, 57, committed suicide in 1999 after washing his company car and burning his personal papers. Afterwards her family discovers cryptic typed letters anonymously mailed to her father that accused him of being a Stasi informant.

Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Shot in black and white, perfect grim communist hues, Epperlein, looking similar to Liv Ullmann’s mute character in Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, in a bit of twisted humor wanders the decrepit and mostly empty streets of the former Karl Marx namesake town holding a massive boom microphone and wearing vintage headphones while we listen to her voiceovers–in contrast to the clandestine recording done by the Stasi.

Epperlein visits the Stasi archives in Chemnitz and Berlin where we see file after file on multiple floors. She’s looking for her father’s file, but we learn that the German Democratic Republic didn’t organize its files in the manner that Google stores information on mainframes where we can instantly retrieve volumes of information on just about anything. Instead there’s something here, there’s something there.

We see a grainy Stasi film of a couple walking on sidewalk. The man picks up an object. Then he puts it down. Why did he do that? Another man picks it up. The object turns out to be a knife. He keeps it. Why?

Epperlein tracks down a childhood friend who was a true-believer in communism. Now she worships trees. Her father, a retired Stasi agent, recounts his regular break-ins at apartments. What was his most common discovery? Handwritten schedules of West German TV shows and small bags containing a tooth brush and other personal hygiene items, just in case the occupants are arrested–or forced to escape to the West.

Many political prisoners were indeed locked up for subversion. Many ended up in the West, but rather than this being an innocent Cold War liberation, we learn they were sold by the workers’ paradise for ransom to the West for much needed hard currency.

The suicide of Epperlein’s father was hardly an anomaly, taking one’s own life in the GDR was common after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Recently Chemnitz had the lowest birthrate of any city in the world.

One of the experts interviewed for the film scorns the Oscar-winning film, The Lives of Others. While Oskar Schindler of Schindler’s List was real, there was no Stasi hero fighting back against oppression.

Near the end we learn the truth about Epperlein’s father.

Karl Marx City is available on Netflix and on Amazon.

John Ruberry, whose wife was born in the Soviet Union, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Two weeks ago DaWife, DaYoungest and myself took a day away from political coverage for a day trip to Western Massachusetts. The Primary Stop, Yankee Candle.

There is the Museum

The Mancave

The Candy Store

The Bavarian Castle

The Chocolate:

There are trains and of course a large selection of candles

People come from all over to visit and see things like king candle

and

Our next stop was Mystic Pinball but before that we grabbed some very good pizza in Turner Falls

And then came the pinball

This was a great time at a good price (and a lot cheaper than Yankee Candle I can tell you) so if you are in western MA you’ll want to add it to your list of things to do.

You might ask, with so much news why am I posting on candles and pinball, my answer: Everyone talks about unity and coming together, the easiest way to do so is to share things we can enjoy together outside of the political world. Life is more than a political fight and the less you believe that the more you need a road trip like this to remember what real life actually is.