October 22, 2005

Nicholas Kristof and Mao: He Just, Can’t, Let, Go

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:33 pm

At the end of his review of “Mao: The Unknown Story,” Nicholas Kristof shows just how hard it is to shake off the effects of the romantic Communist and collectivist kool-aid:

Finally, there is Mao’s place in history. I agree that Mao was a catastrophic ruler in many, many respects, and this book captures that side better than anything ever written. But Mao’s legacy is not all bad. Land reform in China, like the land reform in Japan and Taiwan, helped lay the groundwork for prosperity today. The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. Indeed, Mao’s entire assault on the old economic and social structure made it easier for China to emerge as the world’s new economic dragon.

Perhaps the best comparison is with Qinshihuang, the first Qin emperor, who 2,200 years ago unified China, built much of the Great Wall, standardized weights and measures and created a common currency and legal system – but burned books and buried scholars alive. The Qin emperor was as savage and at times as insane as Mao – but his success in integrating and strengthening China laid the groundwork for the next dynasty, the Han, one of the golden eras of Chinese civilization. In the same way, I think, Mao’s ruthlessness was a catastrophe at the time, brilliantly captured in this extraordinary book – and yet there’s more to the story: Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.

Kristof’s “Hitler did some good things too” excuse-making for Mao is unconscionable. As long as Communist China’s one-child policy exists (a policy the government says “must be permanent,” and has led to “Forty Million Missing Girls“), Kristof’s statement about “the emancipation” of Chinese women will remain a sick joke. And I guess the 70 million deaths attributed to Mao by the authors (which Kristof spends an inordinate amount of time quibbling with) merely represent unfortunate collateral damage–as if there was no other way to shake off the “slumber.”

In Kristof’s review, he notes Mao’s statement to the Soviets before the “Great Leap Forward” that “half of China may well have to die.” We should at least be relieved that the person who may be the “greatest” mass murderer in history fell far short of that.
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UPDATE: Dean notes at Comment 1 below that there’s a debate as to whether it’s Stalin or Mao with the highest body count, and the last sentence above has been changed to reflect that.

UPDATE 2: Roger Simon notes very accurately that Deng Tsaio Peng, not Mao, was the economic architect (AFTER Mao’s death, I would add), and gets in these two good rips (and others):

  • “Kristof’s blithe ‘the ends justify the means’ contempt for human life boggles the imagination.”
  • “Kristof’s paying audience doesn’t want to believe that Mao was all bad. After all, many of them marched or chanted in his behalf. I know this full well, because I was one of them. I even went to China in the Seventies and wore, once upon a time, a Mao cap. Of course I was one of Lenin’s ‘useful idiots.’ So is Kristof.”

UPDATE 3 (Oct. 23, 3PM): Don Luskin–”Walter Duranty Still Works at The Times” (link to Duranty’s sordid legacy added by me).

The Illegal Immigration and English-Only Debates Have Heated Up in Southwestern Ohio

Filed under: Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:17 pm

The two issues (English as official language and illegal immigration) should be kept separate. If you speak perfect English and you’re here illegally, the law says you should be deported. If you’re here legally, struggling with English, and don’t think the official language idea is a good one, it’s your right as a citizen to speak out, vote, and even run for office.

You see? They’re separate. But now, thanks to our local PC paper and a local legislator, the two will probably be joined at the hip around here for years (bolds are mine):

Butler Co. talks tough on illegal immigrants
Officials want state law to keep them out of Ohio

HAMILTON – Officials in this county with one of the region’s fastest growing Hispanic populations are taking extreme measures to clamp down on undocumented immigrants.

(Aside: Extreme? Figuring out at the state level how to enforce laws on the books that the Feds refuse to enforce is “extreme”? The Enquirer usually isn’t this obvious in their bias, but there it is.–Ed.)

Saying the federal government isn’t doing enough to stop people from living in the country illegally, the sheriff, a county commissioner and a state representative, all from Butler County, are pushing to create a state trespassing law aimed at deporting people who have entered the country without permission.

County Commissioner Mike Fox said the measure is not targeting Hispanics but noted that 90 percent of the illegal immigrants in the United States are from Mexico.

The Hispanic population in Hamilton, the Butler County seat, has grown by 500 percent from 1990, to about 4,000.

“This is not about an ethnic group. This is about national security. This is about the federal government’s failure to act,” Fox said Friday.

He said the government is too “politically correct” in dealing with immigration issues and alluded to a recent civil rights action against a Mason bar that posted a sign saying “For Service Speak English.”

“My theory is that if you’re too stupid to learn how to say ‘I want a beer’ in English, you’re too stupid to drink to begin with,” Fox said. (Thanks, Mike. What a pal.–Ed.)

State Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Fairfield, who earlier this year introduced legislation to make English the official language in Ohio, said he intends to propose the law at the state level by year’s end.

His staff is researching the issue to make the sure the bill would pass constitutional muster.

South Carolina legislators are considering a similar proposal that was introduced in April. Police in New Hampshire ran into trouble in August when a judge threw out criminal trespass charges against seven illegal immigrants, saying the law could only be applied to private property.

….. The proposal would call for people who are arrested for crimes or stopped for traffic infractions to be charged with trespass and order them to be deported instead of waiting for the federal government to make that decision, Sheriff Rick Jones said.

“Right now, I cannot arrest anybody for being in the country illegally,” he said. “The federal government has to pick and choose. They are doing the best they can. The officers who work for Immigration & Customs Enforcement don’t have the people to do it…so we have to start dealing with it ourselves.”

The rest of the article covers the same old tired ground you would expect:
– ICE officials saying they’re doing all they can.
– ICE saying it’s ultimately up to judges.
– “Hispanic spokespeople” worried about destroying trust and good will between police and and Hispanics.
– Dire predictions that low-paying jobs won’t get done.
– Blah blah blah.

The Enquirer makes an additional attempt to link the two issues by listing the 2000-2004 increase in the Hispanic population for each county in the 7-county Greater Cincinnati area. Guys, I DON’T CARE about the growth of the total Hispanic population. I welcome ANYONE who is here legally and with good intention, especially those who have gone through or are conscientiously going through the process of becoming a full-fledged US citizen. I DO CARE about the growth of the illegal immigrant population, no matter where they are originally from, and about the fact that no one else in authority, or in business, seems to.

The state should pass the trespass law. Whether English should be the official language of the state is a separate debate. I would favor it, but reasonable citizens can disagree.

The obvious right of a tavern owner to have a “For Service Speak English” at his establishment is NOT debatable. That debate ended in 1787 or 1788 (scroll to bottom), depending on whether you prefer when the Constitution was adopted or when it was ratified.

Mr. Fox, thanks for nothing. The sign is NOT an (illegal) immigration issue, it’s a free-speech issue. The sign may be a smart or stupid idea, but that’s HIS call, and none of the business of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
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UPDATE: Porkopolis does a complete, thorough, and awesome fisking of the entire Enquirer article.
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Background:

  • BizzyBlog on “For Service Speak English”–”Questions for the Thought Police at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and The Cincinnati Enquirer”
  • Wizbang on the New Hampshire trespass enforcement effort (here, here, and here)
  • From Boston.com, the unfortunate ultimate result in New Hampshire (judge dismissed trespass charges, saying the Feds have sole enforcement responsibility)
  • The R-Rated Whistleblower’s latest offering (the contents of his Sunday edition should be up by early Saturday evening)
  • Steve Fritsch on Free Speech

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Oct. 22: Wizbang Weekend Carnival participant.

“Waste Ted” Stevens Threatens to Resign. He Should.

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:09 am

Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is hereby christened “Waste Ted.”

“Waste Ted” has been senator for 37 years, is a walking advertisement for term limits, and apparently has come to believe that the government is a bottomless ATM machine.

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Positivity: John McCain’s Encounters with a POW Guard

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:11 am

They can try to suppress belief in God, but they never seem to be able to kill it off (HT Happy Catholic):

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Chinese Censorship: Bad News and Good News

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:02 am

From RConversation:

Latest censorship news: Wikipedia has confirmed reports from bloggers and others that the online peer-produced encyclopedia has been blocked in China. At the same time …. podcasting is taking off like crazy in China. Censorship and information crackdowns on one hand, proliferation of user-generated online content in China at the same time. What gives?

“What gives” is that, for the moment, there is another outlet for personal expression the government hasn’t figured out how to suppress. A tentative hat tip to Steve Jobs and Apple for perhaps helping to undo what Yahoo! and others have wrought.

She paints the Chinese big picture nicely (but darkly) at the end of the post:

….. a business and regulatory model is emerging that enables censorship to work in a way that is actually tolerable for most Chinese internet users (except for political dissidents who are – to put it mildly – out of luck). As a result, China’s extensive system of censorship and internet controls doesn’t hold businesses back when it comes to innovating and making money from products and services that enable users to create media (blogs, podcasts, etc.). We are also looking at a future in which soft censorship will be “baked” into a new generation of software and online services coming out of China. And these products and services will prove very attractive not just for the Chinese government but for many other governments – including some that call themselves democratic.

Here is where the heavyhanded Wiki blackout could end up being good news. It could tip off, and tick off, Chinese Internet users who are normally apolitical to what their government is really up to. And those of us in places “that call themselves democratic” need to stay vigilant.

This Week’s Unanswered Questions (102205)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 12:01 am

Another installment in a nearly-regular series of mysteries and pseudo-mysteries (usually 3-4) this inquiring mind would like to have answers for (some links included may require free registration):

QUESTION 1: Remind me again–Which party has control of the White House and Congress?

From the Club for Growth, citing a Chris Edwards book, “Downsizing the Federal Government“:

Number of Pork Projects in Federal Spending Bills
2005 – 13,997
2004 – 10,656
2003 – 9,362
2002 – 8,341
2001 – 6,333
2000 – 4,326
1999 – 2,838
1998 – 2,100
1997 – 1,596
1996 – 958
1995 – 1439

On Friday, again from CFG, The Senate could not even do something sensible that would have helped Katrina-victimized Louisiana directly and tangibly:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate tonight defeated an amendment by Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) by a vote of 15 to 82 that would have blocked funding for two extravagant projects in Alaska and directed $125 million from those projects to the repair of the Twin Spans Bridge over Lake Pontachartrain which was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The Coburn amendment was offered to H.R. 3058, the Transportation, Treasury, HUD, Judiciary and District of Columbia Appropriations Act.

How bad is it? Daily Kos had an opportunity to get his licks in, and he took it:

A $223 million bridge serving 50 people was more important to these people than rebuilding storm-battered New Orleans.

Simply unconscionable. Those who voted against these amendments have zero credibility on issues of fiscal responsibility. Zero.

Could the fact that elements of the far left are disgusted mean that even free-spending Democrats are vulnerable in the next election cycle? That seems far-fetched, but I’d like to see credible fiscally conservative primary challengers across the political spectrum this spring. Or will it take a third party to stop this nonsense?

Update: Larry Kudlow“I can tell you right now, after having coffee with a dozen or so Republican Senators on Tuesday morning, that not only are these pork-barrel spending cuts up in the air, so are the tax cut extensions.” Given that taxes have been at their current level for almost two years, here is the translation: “GOP Senators are more willing to allow tax increases to take effect than they are to eliminate even the most outrageous examples of pork-barrel spending.”

QUESTION 2: Are Americans Becoming Europeans?

Given the spoiled-brat results described in Question 1, it doesn’t seem unthinkable. Neither does Jim Glassman, but his worry is with our international standing in science and engineering:

My concern is with Americans. Is it inevitable that, as we grow more prosperous, we will become more like Europe — losing initiative, insisting that our governments coddle us?

I worry that we are beginning to see the initial signs of just such a turn for the worse. A distinguished 20-member panel of experts convened by the National Academies, America’s top science advisory group, has warned in a new study that the U.S. “could soon lose its privileged position” as the world’s top innovator and growth engine. With competitors “who live just a mouse click away,” we stand to lose high-paying jobs, especially to Asia.

Key statistics: The number of U.S. doctorates in science and engineering peaked in 1998. In 1970, the U.S. accounted for more than half such degrees; by 2010, just 15 percent. By 2010, China will produce more science and engineering doctoral graduates that we will.

The whiners think that we can opt out of a globalized world, cocoon ourselves in protectionism. In fact, if we take that course, the crack-up will come sooner.

….. America has a choice: more like Europe, or more like Asia. Actually, Asia has become more like America in recent years, so the real choice is whether we want to be complacent Europeans or to our hard-working, compassionate, imaginative American selves.

Our underachieving elementary and secondary schools don’t help.

QUESTION 3: Guess who’s paying in this deal?

The UAW and GM reached an accord (is that a bad pun?) on health care, and it’s worth noting who’s getting socked harder:

Under terms of the deal — which GM has said would reduce its retiree health-care benefits by about $15 billion and result in a 25 percent cut in the company’s hourly health-care liability — health care will no longer be free for GM’s hundreds of thousands of hourly retirees, their spouses and dependents.

But most will be required to pay no more than a maximum of $752 per year for their family health-care coverage, including monthly premiums and drug co-payments, according to the UAW.

It said retirees with GM pension incomes of $8,000 and less, whose GM pension benefit rate is $33.33 per month per year of service or less, will continue to get their health care free of charge.

Coverage for active GM hourly employees will continue with few changes, although drug co-payments will go up by $5 in most cases and they will be required to defer or forgo $1 an hour in future pay increases to help fund their health-care coverage.

The GM-UAW health-care agreement will remain in effect until 2007, when the union’s labor contract with the world’s largest automaker comes up for renewal.

The hourly workers, who get to vote on contract changes, took a very small hit. The retirees, who I’m fairly certain don’t get to vote (correct me if I’m wrong), are absorbing the brunt of the cost increases. Coincidence? I think not.

Update: From The Wall Street Journal (requires subscription), the union filed a lawsuit against GM for the express purpose of solidifying the agreement, because it “is hoping the lawsuit will prevent legal challenges by retirees to the cuts it says it negotiated on their behalf.” So the retirees don’t get to vote.