Fall of Berlin Wall anniversary offers lessons for misguided millennials

Blogger next to Berlin Wall slab at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in 2018

By John Ruberry

Saturday was the thirtieth anniversary of one of the most profound events of the 20th century, the fall of the Berlin Wall. What began as a bureaucratic slip became a people power moment as oppressed East Germans stormed the wall checkpoints and with the help of West Berliners, literally began hacking away on what Winston Churchill called “the wall of shame.”

It was also a wall of failure. The smartest and most gifted people of communist East Germany were more likely to seek freedom and prosperity in the West. The brain drain threatened the stability of East Germany, so after receiving permission from his fellow dictator, the USSR’s Nikita Krushchev, Walter Ulbricht ordered construction of the wall in the summer of 1961.

Just a few days ago Dennis Prager explained on his show that there is a difference between a dictatorship and a totalitarian state. Augosto Pinochet’s Chile was a brutal nation in the 1970s, but if you didn’t like it, you could leave Chile. Not so in the USSR, until its final days, where my wife was born, or in the absurdly-named German Democratic Republic. East Germans who tried to escape to West Berlin would have to conquer not just the wall, but also beds of nails, attack dogs, and barbed wire, as well as avoid sharpshooters in watch towers. The number of people killed attempting to escape in the 28-year existence of the wall is disputed–about 200 is a common estimate.

Of growing up in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, Mrs. Marathon Pundit told me this morning when I was discussing this post, “We were slaves, really.”

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll released last week shows that over one-third of millennials approve of communism, which betrays the failure of our schools and universities that seem much more interested promoting the 56 genders and waving their fingers at guys like me over “white privilege.” Oh, the founders of the communist movement, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were white dudes. As were the earliest communists in power, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky. All five of them came from middle class or wealthy backgrounds. They had white privilege.

OK, millennials!

The lessons of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the evils of Nazism obviously should never be forgotten. But what is overlooked by schools and society are the murderous regimes of Stalin (20 million killed, maybe more), Mao Zedong (65 million killed, maybe more). and Cambodia’s Pol Pot (1.5 million killed and perhaps more, roughly 20 percent of that nation’s population).

Another 30th anniversary involving a repressive communist regime passed this summer–the Tianammen Square protests in China that ended in the slaughter of pro-democracy activists. For 24 straight weeks there have been pro-Democracy protests in Hong Kong. The more things change…

Ulbricht and his successors’ East Germany didn’t have the high death count, but it excelled in mental torture. Its KGB was the Ministry of State Security, commonly known as the Stasi, whose goal was to “know everything about everyone.” Two movies are essential viewing for millennials–actually for everyone–to learn more about East Germany. Both of them are available on Netflix, Karl Marx City, a documentary, and The Lives of Others, an Academy Award winner for Best International Feature Film. Fittingly, The Lives of Others is set in the year 1984.

Apologists for communism regularly point out that the reason these Marxist regimes failed is that the wrong people were in charge and “real communism” has never been tried. It is they who are wrong. People in power, for the most part, have one thing in common. They want even more power.

There are exceptions of course. King George III asked an American what George Washington would do now that he had defeated the British Empire. When told that the general would return to his farm, the king replied, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Is that lesson being taught in many American schools? I doubt it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Imagine if South African PM Pieter Botha invested in the NBA in 1979

After watching the NBA in general the last week and LeBron James in particular this week there must be a bunch of elderly South African exiles kicking themselves today. If only they had known!

Just think, if back in 1979 or the early 80’s South Africa PM Pieter Botha had the foreknowledge of today he could have invested a big chunk of South Africa’s not unsubstantial wealth in the NBA. What a difference it would have made!

Imagine Magic Johnson or Doctor J or Michael Jordan out there saying how misunderstood South Africa is. Ponder Celtics big three of Bird, Parish and McHale insisting that we have no business butting in. Picture Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman James Worthy, Patrick Ewing and the lot having no comment and finally Sir Charles statement on china rephrased defending his fellow players not getting into the issue of Apartheid in South Africa because of finances.

And why stop at South Africa? Think of all the other oppressive regimes in the past 100 years, if they only knew that a stake in an American sports league might have made the difference for them. The Central Powers might have won World War 1. Saddam might still be feeding people into wood chippers, the Soviet Union might not have fallen (the idea of funding US colleges turned out to operate too slow to save them), Idi Amin kids would be ruling Uganda, Hitler might still control most of Europe and completed his final solution.

And of course if baseball crazy Japan had thought of this in 1940 this entire China kerfuffle wouldn’t exist because Japan, thanks presumably to the support of US Ballplayers they had paid, wouldn’t have felt the need to hit Pearl Harbor. Instead they would still be ruling China with an iron fist.

All of these things could have been if they had only thought of investing in a US sports league the way China has the NBA.

Of course it’s just possible that today we are dealing with lesser sons of greater fathers who would not have sold themselves, but there just might be some elderly Japanese vet in a nursing home who fought in China in 1940 watching all this unfold on TV & thinking to himself. “It would have been worth a shot”

Reminder that Climate Change Activists are Full of It

by baldilocks

School children went on strike in the name of climate change last week. I don’t even feel like checking to see which day it was because I know that the activists who put these kids up to skipping class don’t really care about the climate. If they did, the United States would be far down on the list for castigation.

But the activists are all over Americans and Europeans about climate change and pollution for simple reasons: they know that the West is capable of being shamed about it and that Westerners have money. Activists pretty much ignore the real problem nations, places like India

Twenty-two of the world’s 30 worst cities for air pollution are in India, according to a new report, with Delhi again ranked the world’s most polluted capital.

The Greenpeace and AirVisual analysis of air pollution readings from 3,000 cities around the world found that 64% exceed the World Health Organization’s annual exposure guideline for PM2.5 fine particulate matter – tiny airborne particles, about a 40th of the width of a human hair, that are linked to a wide range of health problems.

Every single measured city in the Middle East and Africa exceeds the WHO guidelines, as well as 99% of cities in south Asia and 89% in east Asia.

… and China.

According to search results, China and Pakistan compete for the most polluted countries in the world. Most of the other top polluters are in South Asia and Africa, as mentioned in the Guardian link.

Some of these lists of Top Ten Most Sh*tholiest Countries slide the United States and other First World countries into the mix, but I wonder, in spite of what we’ve seen lately in Baltimore and in Los Angeles.

Look at this video. It’s said to be from the Dominican Republic.

Look. I understand why none of the activists want to go bother the children of Middle Eastern Muslims, Africans, or the Chinese. I mean who wants to die or get arrested in, say, Nigeria?

But let’s stop pretending that America is the Devil in the religion of climate change.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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You Can’t Eat Debt

Col Von Luger: Flyers are gentlemen, not peasants to dig in the earth. So I am surprised.

Group Captain McDonald: The English have always been keen on gardening.

Col Von Luger: Oh Yes, but flowers? It this not so?

McDonald: You can’t eat flowers

Col Von Luger: Good Point

The Great Escape 1963

 

I must confess that I was concerned when President Trump started slapping Tariff’s on China having been taught from youth that tariff’s had been one of the underlying causes of the Great Depression and knowing that China has been a great holder of our debt.

His confidence in his ability to manage our trade problems apparently has not been misplaced:

China will exempt some agricultural products from additional tariffs on U.S. goods, including pork and soybeans, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said Friday, in the latest sign of easing Sino-U.S. tensions before a new round of talks aimed at curbing a bruising trade war.

This development is of some disappointment to those looking to defeat him politically but not to producers of Pork and soybeans:

“The importance of this market to U.S. pork producers is clear,” said National Pork Producers Council President and North Carolina hog farmer David Herring. “U.S. pork exports could single handedly make a huge dent in the trade imbalance with China.”


An outbreak of deadly African swine fever, which has cut China’s pig herd by a third since mid-2018, has propelled Chinese pork prices to record levels and left the country in need of replacement supplies from overseas. U.S. pork exports to China so far this year have largely fallen short of expectations.

Ed Morrissey sees what it means.

The concessions on pork and soybeans are significant, much more so than a two-week delay in tariffs. It signals that China can’t afford to deal with a lengthy trade war, especially not this year. They may not like it, but they still need to trade in order to feed their massive population, and China might have to get used to fully opening their markets and complying with agreements to do so.

President Trump, being more successful and more experienced in business than myself and recognizing that checking China’s expansion without military confrontation was a vital American interest apparently understands one of basic facts of life, a fact that he as a person who was born to wealth might not be expected to remember.

The most imposing nation no matter how large a standing army or how broad a shadow it casts on their neihbors, is impotent if it can’t feed it’s people.

This Just In: Trump is Right on China

A trifecta of anti-Trump organizations—DaTimes, DaPost, and the Council on Foreign Relations—has endorsed the president’s policy on China.

As I have noted in the past, China has used government support illegally to dump cheap exports to the United States. Moreover, President Xi has claimed the South China Sea, one of the richest waterways in the world, as his own. His Belt and Road Initiative is intended to open up markets on nearly every continent. And then there’s Hong Kong.

“China can’t join all the right international clubs and go on playing by its own rules. It can’t make some trade ‘deal’ and then not be held fully accountable, relying on the infinite global capacity to turn a blind eye to its predations,” Roger Cohen writes in DaTimes.

“The president’s statement linking a trade deal and the Hong Kong demonstrations — ‘It would be very hard to deal if they do violence. I mean, if it’s another Tiananmen Square, it’s — I think it’s a very hard thing to do if there’s violence’ — was perhaps his finest hour.”

In DaPost, a Chinese dissident goes even further.

“[A]s someone who has spent years with the knife edge of the Chinese Communist Party bearing down on my throat for my human rights work, I know that the president is on to something. Tariffs and economic threats may be blunt tools, but they are the kind of aggressive tactics necessary to get the attention of the CCP regime, which respects only power and money. It’s not just about ‘winning,’ as the president sometimes puts it, and it’s not simply about trade: It’s about justice, and doing what’s right for ordinary Chinese and American people,” writes Chen Guangcheng, a professor at Catholic University.

The Council on Foreign Relations gives Trump a B+ on his China policy, noting that “his administration has taken the lead in awakening the United States to the growing threat that China poses to U.S. vital national interests and democratic values.”
Although the trade war will cost almost every American some amount of cash depending on the electronics, textiles, and shoes we buy, I think the policy will save us a great deal of money in the long run. And with DaTimes, DaPost, and the Council actually praising Trump, we may finally have something that conservatives and liberals can finally agree upon.

Trump Playing the Old Reagan Game with China

Back in the days when I was a Democrat I was suspicious of Ronald Reagan.  There were still anti-abortion Democrats pro-defense democrats who understood that Communism was as bad as Nazism or worse and that opposing it was a moral duty so I wasn’t quite alone but when the whole concept of Star Wars came all hell broke loose.

The entire media and a good chunk of the academic community went nuts.  The idea of a missile defense was crazy, lunacy and it would bankrupt up.  Almost nobody said it was impossible, America left hadn’t yet completely conquered academia so we weren’t at the point where we didn’t believe in ourselves yet but many claimed that such a system was not worth it because it couldn’t stop every missile.

I thought their arguments were weak, nobody said ships shouldn’t have AA guns because you couldn’t stop every attacking plane and I was in the computer field as a student and knew how good we were.  But more importantly Russia also knew how good we were and decided that they had to try to do what we were doing.

So in addition to financing the left and the protests against Star Wars (a tactic that our enemies still use with even greater effectiveness today) they tried to match us, but with no economy to speak up, and the need to prop up regimes in Cuba, South America and elsewhere it soon became apparently that to them (but not to the academic left) that they risked collapse, thus they started talking but when they were unwilling to make a fair deal Reagan to the astonishment of everyone walked way.

Five years later the Soviet Empire that guest speakers at my college and the smartest minds in media and government insisted was here to stay folded like a wet blanket.

Which brings us to Trump and China.

Like Russia China is in a spot, you have them trying to prop up our foes like the  Venezuelan tyranny and the North Koreans among others, they are short key natural resources and greasing others to keep them.

They are trying to build up their military and sinking a lot of money there as well.

They have their own Islamic issues with the Uyghurs and  despite their deal with Francis they are still having issues with the underground Catholic Church that is not as big of a sucker as he is, they still have Falun gong issues and now are dealing with revolt in Hong Kong.

Adding to that problem is a male heavy population that is unable to find a mate thanks to the effects of the now gone one child policy and a population that has now gotten used to better than the subsistence life that they once had to endure.

It’s a tough balancing act but as long as you have pliant companies willing to do your bidding and a weak United States it can be done.

But then comes Trump.

  • Suddenly he is reasserting US strength in the region at a time when neighboring countries are most afraid of your power.
  • Suddenly he is making moves on North Korea and when they launch missiles in to the sea isn’t willing to come hat in hand to China to beg them to stop.  He’s wiling to call the bluff.
  • Suddenly he is willing to put on tariffs to force fair deals and when you retaliate instead of folding he doubles down even in an election year.
  • Most importantly business’ seeing what’s going on decide that it’s a good idea to relocate to neighboring nations making both your economic and social problems worse.

Worst of all he does it knowing the same thing that Reagan did, that the powerful US economy fueled by dynamic citizens with the freedom to react and innovate, something that the Communist Chinese aren’t allowed,  can absorb the hit that tariff’s bring particularly since he’s made the country energy self sufficient.

China can not and every day this goes on China exacerbates their social problems and drains the funds needed to keep their balls in the air.

They could of course choose war,  but unfortunately for them their land forces can’t reach us and their naval and air forces are no match for ours.

And if you’re thinking nukes, well let’s say that a communist regime who loses it’s head wouldn’t last long, particularly with an unfriendly India and a ravenous Russia next door with a long memory and a score to settle.  Plus there is Tibet and the Uyghurs waiting for a chance to revolt for self determination.  Then consider what would happen if a Nuke hit DC and NYC and LA.  You would still have Democratic state governments able to function food production, energy production and more would go on unabated and despite the best efforts that our foes can buy in the green movement there are more than enough sufficient number of pipelines to keep things flowing and a giant strategic reserve in place.

And I haven’t even mentioned Taiwan.

China might hope for the defeat of Trump and they will likely put all their eggs in that basket but if that fails then their already weak bargaining position will be even worse, particularly since Trump has a “Trump” card concerning the debt of ours their currently hold.  as the old saying goes, if you own the bank $100 dollars it’s your problem, if you owe a million it’s theirs.  Multiply those numbers by a few million and you can see my point.

Furthermore there is the temperament of Trump, the longer this goes on the higher price he will demand because he understand that if this trade war goes on China as a nation will grow weaker, while we will still be in a position to at worst tread water, and at best still grow stronger, and as I said China has a bunch of enemies around them with scores to settle.

If China is smart they will make a deal now while their bargaining position is strongest and the damage done to this point is controllable.  If they are not they will put all their eggs in the NeverTrump basket where they will find plenty of Americans ready to play.

But the longer they wait the more industries will decide that it’s safer to move their manufacturing elsewhere and future manufactures will think twice before committing there.

So even if they manage to put a Democrat in office by then they will lose both in the short term and the long.

Trump and anyone who knows history understands this, which is why Democrat voters do not.

Update: I can’t believe that I forgot to mention the Chinese Pork crisis in this piece.