Doughboy monument, Morton Grove, Illinois

By John Ruberry

This week marks the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I, then known as the Great War. Much of Europe had been engaged in widespread slaughter since 1914 when Congress, at the request of President Woodrow Wilson, voted to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

After the armistice ended the war on November 11, 1918, America was a transformed nation.

The war caused an American agricultural expressed a boom. Obliteration of farms and a lack of manpower in Europe created a huge demand American grain. After the war rural America was hit with an economic downturn that ran contrast to the robust industrial expansion in cities like Detroit–and many farms were foreclosed. Bold farmers who borrowed money to plant crops in marginally arable areas such as the Great Plains first endured falling commodity prices and then the Dust Bowl of the 1930s–and of course, foreclosures.

While the Great Migration of blacks from the South to the North may have begun a few years before the declaration of war, the demand for factory workers in northern cities clearly hastened it. Black soldiers fought the Germans in France–and like all American soldiers they were celebrated as heroes by the grateful French and Belgians. When these black troops returned home, they discovered that white American racial prejudices remained, perhaps they were even worse than before the war. A series a race riots swept America in 1919, known as Red Summer. The deadliest riot occurred in Chicago, with 38 fatalities. It began after an African-American man floating on a railroad tie on Lake Michigan unwittingly drifted into a white section of a segregated beach.

Victory Monument honoring African-American World War I soldiers, Chicago.

These riots were a precursor of the urban unrest of the 1960s.

While it’s now considered impolite to ask a person their ethnic background, especially if you don’t know that person well, it wasn’t in the 1970s and 1980s, at least in the Chicago area, where I grew up. For instance, one of my neighbors from my youth had an Anglo last name. But that name was changed, I was told, in 1917, from a German one when their grandparents had to close their business and move to a different part of Chicago because they feared for their lives after being victims of anti-German violence. Thousands of others–maybe tens-of-thousands of others–also changed their surnames and cut ties to their pasts. I know about a dozen people whose ancestors dropped their German last names during that time and picked ones that were more “American sounding.”

If you take one of those Anscestry.com DNA tests and you surprisingly find German blood in your veins, it could because you unlocked a Great War family secret.

During the war many German-Americans were jailed on flimsy evidence as America, for a while, forgot it was a free country. And that’s not all. Irrational fears of communism after the Russian Revolution, itself a result of World War I, brought about the civil rights abuses of the Red Scare of 1917-1920. Wilson, a progressive Democrat, signed the Sedition Act of 1918 into law, which made criticism of the war or the nation illegal. In response to all of this madness, the far-left American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920.

Later that year Americans overwhelmingly elected Republican Warren G. Harding as president. He promised a “return to normalcy.”

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Germans in the United States in the early part of the 20th century were stereotypically viewed as beer guzzlers and saloon owners. The Prohibition movement was already strong when the war began–but the progressive teetotalers preyed upon this new bigotry as they sealed their deal with the passage of the 18th Amendment two months after the end of hostilities. Speakeasies replaced bars–and jazz music, often performed by black musicians who were part of the Great Migration–was the music of choice in many of these illegal establishments. This was not a return to normalcy–it was a new normal.

Europe never completely recovered from World War I–America was the world’s most powerful nation after the armistice was signed.

And it still is.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.


By John Ruberry

Most of the main characters in Hell on Wheels, my last Netflix binge-watching adventure, were shaped, and scarred, by the American Civil War.

In this BBC 2 television show, Peaky Blinders, set in Birmingham, England beginning in 1919, World War I casts its shadow over the lead characters.

Three seasons have been released so far. The action–and the violence–is centered upon the Anglo-Gypsy Shelby family, led by Thomas “Tommy” Shelby (Cillian Murphy), a decorated Great War tunneller who returns home a new man–and a better suited one to run the family business, Shelby Brothers, Ltd, a bookmaking operation set in the grimy and noisy Small Heath section of Birmingham. But the gang is generally called the Peaky Blinders by members and their enemies. His oldest brother, Arthur (Paul Anderson) is clearly more psychologically damaged from the war than Tommy, but he’s better suited to serve as the enforcer for the family. “I think, Arthur. That’s what I do,” Tommy explains to him. “I think. So that you don’t have to.” Third son John (Joe Cole), another World War I veteran, is also employed in the muscle side of the operation, while Finn, the youngest Shelby, is only 11-years-old when the series begins.

Tommy has a sister, Ada Thorne (Sophie Rundle), who is married to communist agitator. But she’s still loyal to the family.

While the Shelby men were fighting in France–the family business was run by Elizabeth “Aunt Polly” Gray (Helen McCrory), a kind of a Rosie the Riveter of the underworld. Tommy quickly takes over from Polly, who serves as his senior advisor. Like Edward G. Robinson’s legendary Rico character in Little Caesar, Tommy becomes a small-time-hood-makes-good-by-being-bad by playing one gang faction against the other, first in Birmingham then in London, while largely ignoring Aunt Polly’s warnings.

When the Peaky Blinders stumble upon a large machine gun shipment in an otherwise routine heist, that gets the attention of Secretary of State for War Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman in the first season, Richard McCabe in the second), who dispatches Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) from Belfast to find the machine guns. Those guns give Tommy power and respect–and enemies. Not only do Churchill and Campbell want those weapons, but so does the Irish Republican Army.

Campbell sends in an Irish domestic spy, Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), to work at the neighborhood pub owned by Arthur, appropriately named The Garrison. She quickly becomes its de facto manager.

In season three, which is set in 1924, Tommy, at Churchill’s request, gets involved in another armaments caper, this time with members of the Whites faction who haven’t ascertained that the Communists have won the Russian Civil War. Arthur warns Tommy to stay out of “this Russian business.” It’s too bad the script writers didn’t take their own creation’s advice. As was the case with season four of Sherlock, what follows is a collection of tangled and confusing plot lines. Possibly realizing their mistake, the writers include quite a bit of gratuitous nudity to accompany the Russian adventure, including a bizarre orgy scene which does nothing to advance the storyline.

On the other hand, the Russian diversion is loosely based on a 1924 scandal that brought down Great Britain’s first socialist-led government.

At least two more seasons are coming.

The cinematography of Peaky Blinders is masterful. Imagine Tim Burton creating a remake of The Untouchables television show and setting it in 1920s Birmingham. And this is an ugly Birmingham. J.R.R Tolkien lived in the city before the Great War and his reaction against it was his creation of Mordor for The Lord of the Rings. Just as the Eye of Sauron looked upon that evil realm–the sparks and the ashes of the foundries oversee the Midlands metropolis here. And the industrial roar is always there too.

Blogger in his flat cap

Without getting into spoilers it’s a challenge to bring a description of Jewish gangster Alfie Solomons into this review, but his portrayal by Tom Hardy is too good to overlook.

Oh, the name. Peaky Blinders? There was a Birmingham gang by the same name who gained that moniker because its members supposedly sewed razor blades into the peaks of their flat caps. And in fights the hoodlums went for the eyes.

And finally, the music deserves special mention too. Anachronistic goth rock dominates, the unofficial theme song is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand.” You’ll find selections from PJ Harvey, Tom Waits, and the White Stripes too.

And Johnny Cash sings “Danny Boy.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

usa-china

By John Ruberry

Building upon Peter Ingemi’s RH’s spectacular Trump’s China Call is a Deliberate Overreach from yesterday, it’s my turn to add my two yuan into the discusssion.

The media loves to dismiss Donald Trump as a showman–as if there was no showmanship with Barack Obama–but those under 45 first encountered our next president as a real estate developer, albeit a flashy one. Developers are many things, including, yes, deal makers, as well as a negotiators. In regards to that last one, when you are sitting across someone you are negotiating with, or as it usually turns out, haggling with, a strategy that has worked since the Babylonian era is to get the person sitting on the other side of the table from you off of his script and on to yours. One tactic is known as “getting-yourself-inside-their-heads.”

And that’s something that Trump may have accomplished by accepting a telephone call last week from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, which has caused a kerfuffle. Because the United States recognizes communist China as the legitimate government off all of China, including Taiwan, a president hasn’t spoken to a Taiwanese leader since 1979. Of course we still have extensive trade relations with the island nation–oops, breakaway province–and we still sell Taiwan weapons. If they are ever fired in defense it would very likely be against the Chicomms.

Oh, Taiwan and China are major trading partners.

Trying to understand international relations is a descent into madness.

Trump made the re-negotiation of what he calls bad trade deals a central campaign promise. Of course those bad deals with China, if they really are awful, are good ones for the Chinese. If Hillary Clinton won last month’s presidential election China could look forward to at least four more years of crony socialism from the former secretary of state. Since then China has been bracing itself for a return to the bargaining table, preparing for difficult deal making with this New York capitalist.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

But Trump, who was a very good baseball player when he was young, threw a curve ball at the Chinese.

He accepted a phone call.

He got inside their heads.

Trump knows what he’s doing.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Update (DTG): I’d like to take credit for the piece that John is referring to but that one was written by RH (NG36B) one of the newest additions to our magnificent 7 writers. I’m delighted to have both John & RH on the team

by baldilocks

Miamians "mourn" the death of Castro. Palm Beach Post
Miami responds to the news of Castro’s death. Palm Beach Post

Below Florida, that is. Michael Totten documents his visit to Castro’s Cuba:

I had to lie to get into the country. Customs and immigration officials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí International Airport would have evicted me had they known I was a journalist. But not even a total-surveillance police state can keep track of everything and everyone all the time, so I slipped through. It felt like a victory. Havana, the capital, is clean and safe, but there’s nothing to buy. It feels less natural and organic than any city I’ve ever visited. Initially, I found Havana pleasant, partly because I wasn’t supposed to be there and partly because I felt as though I had journeyed backward in time. But the city wasn’t pleasant for long, and it certainly isn’t pleasant for the people living there. It hasn’t been so for decades.

Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.

It’s one of those “read the whole thing” kind of essays and now I feel whiny for complaining about my landlords.

After I finished Michael’s superlative travelogue, I got down on my knees and thanked God for the United States of America. Descriptions of totalitarian feces holes, especially one so near, tend to remind this first-generation American of her blessings.

Also, don’t forget this.

One more thing: pray for the people in Tennessee.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter.

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baldilocks

All over TV today we saw Walmart declaring they were pulling the confederate flag because it was a symbol of hate, slavery and many were offended by it.

eBay, Sears, and Amazon quickly followed suit in pulling items with the rebel battle flag.

Now while no honest person will deny what the Reb flag meant to black Americans (and not just during the Civil War but during the years of Jim Crow & the civil rights battle) and can understand why these companies would want to remove a symbol involved with slavery & Murder Imagine my surprise when I went online & found this:

ussr1

and this:

che1

and this at WalMart’s site:

soviet2

and Amazon

soviet3

 

Now there are millions of people who were slain under these banners, and hundreds of millions in many countries enslaved under them.  There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of Americans alive today who escaped the bearers of these flags and those who operated in their name.  In my first job out of college I worked with a man who escaped the Soviet Union and even today people in Ukraine are suffering thank to a Russian Leader who once proudly served under these flags.

So this begs two questions one of which I already asked:

#1.  Given that Walmart & others have removed the Confederate Flag from their sites because of its historic connection to slavery that gives offense, how do they justify continuing to carry these products when hundreds of thousands have living memory of the atrocities committed in their name including the deaths of tens of millions?

#2  Given the media publicity concerning the removal of the Confederate Flag items from these stores will the MSM,  particularly CNN directly question if WalMart, Sears, Amazon and eBay will be as diligent in removing these offensive items, and if the companies equivocate in any way will they ask why the tens of millions who died and the hundreds of millions who were enslaved IN LIVING MEMORY these things do not demand their removal?

Or must we wait until the 21st century when the Cold War has been over for 150 years for their removal?

Update: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit:

“I wouldn’t put Confederate kitsch up in my house, but mainstream media figure Claire Shipman and former Obama press secretary Jay Carney put up Communist kitsch in their house. There is something intriguing about how the elite left tolerates art celebrating those who killed 100 million people in the last century, but seeks the erasure of anything associated with the Confederacy.”

********************************************************************

 

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Two headlines at Real Clear World today:

Desperate Chinese Turn to Mass Suicide – Robert Hunwick, Global Post
Why Cubans Are Still Fleeing to America – The Economist

The common thread between the two stories is that both countries live under stifling Communist systems.

Communism crushes the individual and the human spirit; indeed, it could be said that the word itself, communism, describes the erasing of the individual. Nowhere is this more simply and starkly explained than in the words of one of the Chinese workers who committed mass suicide:

“Our use of death is simply to testify that we were ever alive at all.”

The incidents of mass suicide in China, a closed society, are now frequent enough that they are making the international news.

Cubans in the island-prison at least can find easier means to escape. The Economist explains (emphasis added),

. . . in fact it is the Castro regime that bears final responsibility for the flood of migrants, because its policies—though admittedly exacerbated by the embargo—have produced the poverty and crippling lack of opportunity in Cuba that motivates many migrants in the first place. A series of reforms adopted since 2011 have allowed limited private enterprise on the island, and have sought to spur foreign investment. Yet a gap between the haves and have-nots is growing. As few as one-tenth of the labour force have their own businesses; the rest work in state-owned firms earning pitiful wages. State rations of basic staples like rice and beans add a meagre supplement to incomes, leaving remittances as the only meaningful option for households hoping to increase their earnings. Remittances from abroad are currently estimated at about $3 billion a year. Cubans who make the perilous journey to America are often on a survival mission for their families back home.

Scott Rae and Austin Hill, in their book, The Virtues of Capitalism: A Moral Case for Free Markets explain that the societies whose economic systems have helped a large percentage of its citizenry to enjoy social and economic success are those societies founded on classic Judeo-Christian virtues.

In the absence of those classic Judeo-Christian virtues, and lacking any other alternative, the individual’s only way out is death. In the words of Patrick Henry,

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s blog.

UPDATE:

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Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Evan Sayet points out that

The Modern Liberal will invariably side with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success.

Sayet has summarized in 25 words why Liberals love the Cuban Communist dictatorship. The latest manifestation of that love has been to invite Raul Castro and his thugs to the VII Summit of the Americas, a.k.a. the circus.

What could possibly go wrong? Watch this video and see:
Cuban dissidents, their American supporters brutally attacked in Panama.

Capitol Hill Cubans:

A half-dozen Cuban dissident leaders and American citizens were attacked this afternoon by a group of Castro regime agents in Panama City.

The activists were placing flowers at the statue of Cuban independence hero, Jose Marti, when approached by a group of Castro regime agents, who began to violently beat them.

Among those attacked were a group of American citizens, including Orlando Gutierrez of the Democratic Directorate, Silvia Iriondo of Mothers Against Repression and Gus Monge.

The Cuban dissidents include former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez,” his wife Yris Perez Aguilera and Leticia Ramos Herreria of The Ladies in White.

The Panamanian police watched as the attack took place.  Then, it detained the Cuban dissident leaders and American citizens. Meanwhile, the Castro regime agents were allowed to walk.

As it turns out, one of the attackers has been identified as the head of Cuban intelligence in Venezuela, Col. Alexis Frutos Weeden.

In another incident, Cuban operatives staged an “act of repudiation” on dissidents and U.S. citizens:

About 100 supporters of Cuba’s government aggressively heckled dissidents from the communist-run island attending a civil society forum Wednesday at the start of the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

Opponents of President Raul Castro were greeted to shouts of “imperialist” and “mercenaries” as they filed into a hotel auditorium to attend speeches by summit host Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The Communist regime regularly conducts these “acts of repudiation” to intimidate its citizenry into submitting to the dictatorship.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will share the same stage today. Don’t expect Obama to mention Wednesday’s incidents.

Pres. Obama, upon announcing easing restrictions on Cuba, declared that by Charting a New Course on Cuba (emphasis added),

Our travel and remittance policies are helping Cubans by providing alternative sources of information and opportunities for self-employment and private property ownership, and by strengthening independent civil society.

The Cuban dictatorship, which announced that it was not going to change immediately following the White House declaration, is making sure we all see that it’s “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society.”

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s blog.

The opinions of those of us who strongly oppose easing up restrictions on Cuba are dismissed as “an outdated Cold War perspective” (the link I use here is typical but not alone).

The implication is that the Cuban Communist regime has evolved, and we have not.

Let’s take a brief glance at four points of the Cuban Revolution evolution, then.

1. Commitment to the status quo:
Mariela Castro, Raul Castro’s daughter and member of the Cuban parliament, when asked about Obama’s new concessions,

“If the U.S. thinks these changes will bring Cuba back to capitalism and return to being a servile country to the interests of the most powerful financial groups in the U.S., they must be dreaming.”

“I don’t know what my father plans to do. What I can see at least, as a Member of Parliament is that there’s big concerns about how to do things the best way possible to obtain funds for the many problems we are discussing now.”

You can listen to Mariela’s “outdated Cold War perspective” yourself.

2. Persecution:
Political repression in Cuba has quadrupled since 2010 — and 2014 isn’t over yet

As of Nov. 30, there have been at least 8,410 politically motivated arrests in Cuba this year, compared to 6,424 in all of 2013 and more than four times the 2,074 arrests in 2010, according to the Cuban National Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

3. Labor conditions:
Cuba is an enslaved society. Those who apparently have evolved beyond “outdated Cold War perspectives” cite China – hugely dependent on slave labor – as a reason why the US should grant Cuba credit (which dozens of countries have granted Cuba and lost money) to purchase American goods.

Yesterday I posted at my blog (emphasis added)

comparisons with China policy fall short on a vital aspect:
I have friends who have operated profitable businesses in China in the past 20 years. Their corporations paid their Chinese employees directly. However, anyone employing Cuban citizens does not pay the employee; they pay the Cuban government a stipulated (by the government) amount per person. The communist regime then pays the employee an amount no higher than the maximum salary (yes, Cuba has maximum salary laws), which is approximately 10% of the amount the communist regime received from the business.

That is the case with any of the hundreds of multinationals that have done business with Cuba in the country, and with the thousands of “doctors” Cuba sends to places like Venezuela and Brazil.

I was mistaken, though (emphasis added):

Cubans working for firms with foreign capital on the island received a bucket of cold water Tuesday when a new resolution published in the official Gazette fixes their salaries at only 8% of what the joint venture or foreign companies must pay the government in hard currency for their services.

The announcement published by Granma daily quotes Vice-minister of Labor and Social Security, Zamira Marín Triana, as saying the new wage involves a “significant increase” for workers.

Additionally, foreign businessmen who have tried to collect monies due by Cuba have been thrown in jail, most recently Alejandro Abood, Cy Tokmakjian, Krikor Bayassalian, Nessin Abadi, Sarkis Yacoubian, and Stephen Purvis.

4. Human rights:
In Wednesday’s speech, Obama stated,

we welcome Cuba’s decision to release a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team.

I have been researching for three days trying to find a list of names of the “substantial number of prisoners” who purportedly are to be released, and so far have found none.

Indeed, the Communist regime need not do anything. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson:

“I do not necessarily think that we are talking about direct human rights conditionality in the restoration of diplomatic relations part.”

What do Cuban dissident leaders, who are risking their lives, have to say about President Obama’s announcement to normalize relations with Castro’s dictatorship? Read it at Capitol Hill Cubans.

Four items, briefly looked at.

But let’s go full-Cold War on Cuba’s

harboring of U.S.-designated terrorists; subversion of democracy in Venezuela; support of rogue regimes in Syria and Iran; and illegal trafficking of weapons to North Korea

Mary O’Grady has more on the Cuba-Venezuela-Iran nexus.

Just this week, Cuba Leads Opposition to UN Resolutions on Human Rights in Iran, Syria and North Korea.

And how’s this for Cold War deja-vu? Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared early this year that Russia is planning to expand its permanent military presence outside its borders by placing military bases in a number of foreign countries, among them Cuba.

“Cold War perspective”? Hell yeah.

Outdated? You decide.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Eureka Berlin Wall
Berlin wall segment, Eureka College

By John Ruberry

When President Obama give a public speech before a large crowd, his operatives pack the house with loyalists and sycophants. Such was the case in Kansas City with an Obama address last week that was in all effects a political rally, as are most of the president’s speeches.

But one woman who didn’t fit the Obama-lover profile somehow made it into the crowd at the KC event and she shouted, possibly in relation to his administration’s veiled hostility to the Jewish state, “Jesus is the Lord of Israel.”

Obama replied that he believed in God. Meanwhile, the Obama-bots that made up the rest of the audience chanted, “We love you, we love you!”

I don’t believe they where speaking of Jesus.

Hecklers at a  political speech are usually rude jerks, but once in a while they are spot-on right, as East Berlin factory worker Kurt Wismach was in 1961, days before East Germany began construction of the Berlin Wall.

The nation’s dictator Walter Ulbricht was giving a speech at a cable factory where he criticized the flow of refugees from his country into free West Berlin as well as calls for free elections.

Berlin Wall replica  segment, Dixon, IL
Berlin Wall replica
segment, Dixon, IL

Sitting on a row of cable above the man the head of the Soviet secret police called “the greatest idiot” he ever encountered was Wismach, who belted out, “Even if I am the only one to say it: Free elections!”  Ulbricht, as all demagogues do, expanded the issue to a ludicrous level, mentioning that prior the rise of Hitler, Germany had free elections; while on the other hand, the personality cult leader failed to add that West Germany successfully rose out of rubble of World War II because it was a democratic and capitalist nation.

Undaunted, Wismach shouted back at Ulbricht, “Have you the slightest idea what the people really think?”

Of course Ulbricht didn’t.

Wismach was of course interrogated by communist officials and forced to recant his statements, but he and his family quickly escaped to West Berlin.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

Does, as Wismach asked of Ulbricht, President Obama have the slightest idea what the people really think?

A majority of Americans oppose ObamaCare, they oppose what Obama calls “comprehensive immigration reform” but in effect is really amnesty for illegal immigrants, and they oppose Obama’s hostility to fossil fuels, which is best exemplified by his refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Does Obama know what Americans think?

Does he even care?

Kurt Wismach where are you?

 John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Communism is all about control. Nothing the individual does can be allowed;  everything is done for the purpose of consolidating power around the ruling elite and no one else.

Of course, things like guns and automobiles are anathema to the Communist. Both grant the individual a degree of independence and self-reliance that can actively be used against the whims of the powerful.

I’ll leave the discussion on guns for another time. Let’s talk about cars now.

Cars would not have been possible without capitalism: Competition, creativity, invention, technology, artistry, craftsmanship, all are brought together from free enterprise creating the monetary means to develop, purchase, deliver – and, for the consumer – buy the car.

Cars speak of freedom: freedom of movement, freedom of choice, freedom to hit the road when you best feel like it, freedom to buy, lease, keep, sell, or trade up your car.

Cars speak of individualism: You can personalize your car, or not, as you best see fit.

No wonder Communists hate having the hoi-polloi own cars.

Real Communists want to be the only ones in the cars, not the great unwashed tying up traffic and polluting the air. For decades we’ve been subjected to hogwash about “Cuba’s classic, beautiful cars,” i.e., the remaining 1950s jalopies the Cuban populace must make do with since, a. the Communists keep people poor, and b. the country’s broke. The useful idiots praising the jalopies can admire classic vintage cars any time they want from the comfort of their prosperous societies (since none of them actually have to scrounge in Havana for parts with which they may keep their own jalopies running), while simultaneously ignoring that Fidel Castro owned dozens of limos, some of which are now being used as taxis in Havana. To add insult to injury, one of the articles talking about Fidel’s old limos says,

The new fleet will give tourists a quirky and lighthearted look at Cuba’s history.

I leave it to you, gentle reader to decide whether half a century of misery in the island-prison deserves “a quirky and lighthearted look.”

Venezuela’s Cuba-appointed dictator, Nicolas Maduro, is hell-bent on following Fidel’s footsteps, so, of course, the country is a wreck as chavismo continues to rip off the private economy for well over a decade.

While the ruling chavistas enrich themselves, the country went begging to the Chinese for a bailout. Like the rest of the country, the auto industry – in a country where gasoline is six cents per gallon – is brought to a standstill:
Venezuela’s Car Culture Fades
Production is drying up as big auto makers can’t obtain dollars to pay parts suppliers and sky-high inflation turns older cars into investment vehicles.

The car industry this year began on a particularly dire note, with only Toyota and Volvo AB’s Mack de Venezuela powering up their assembly lines. By March, Toyota halted production for three months, followed by Italian truck maker Iveco SpA in April. Ford, GM and Chrysler rolled back production amid big losses due to currency devaluations as President Nicolás Maduro’s government tried to address a shortage of dollars by weakening the value of the bolívar.

Behold, the assembly line:

But fear not: chavistas ride on, in bullet-proof cars.

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LINKED TO by The Lonely Conservative. Thank you!

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.