NBC nonplussed about slavery, mass murder, cannibalism

We wrote previously about how NBC, in its Olympic coverage, deployed an appalling euphemism by referring to the Bolshevik revolution as a “pivotal experiment.” Well, NBC wasn’t done yet, because later in the week, Meredith Vieira declared the demise of the Soviet Union to be “a bittersweet moment.” As Jim Geraghty noted, this line was even worse than the “pivotal experiment” euphemism

because it suggested there was something sad about the greatest retreat of oppression in modern history. The phrase “pivotal experiments” is cowardly in its unwillingness to judge, but “bittersweet” is worse because it’s the inverse, saluting the oppressor and lamenting his departure.

NBC’s nonplussed attitude toward the crimes of communism was also noted by Jonah Goldberg.

By the time Western intellectuals and youthful folksingers like Pete Seeger were lavishing praise on the Soviet Union as the greatest experiment in the world, Joseph Stalin was corralling millions of his own people into slavery. Not metaphorical slavery, but real slavery complete with systematized torture, rape, and starvation. Watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, you’d have no idea that from the Moscow metro system to, literally, the roads to Sochi, the Soviet Union — the supposed epitome of modernity and “scientific socialism” — was built on a mountain of broken lives and unremembered corpses.

To read Anne Applebaum’s magisterial Gulag: A History is to subject yourself to relentless tales of unimaginable barbarity. A slave who falls in the snow is not helped up by his comrades but is instantly stripped of his clothes and left to die. His last words: “It’s so cold.”…

Multiply these stories by a million. Ten million.

“To eat your own children is a barbarian act.” So read posters distributed by Soviet authorities in the Ukraine, where 6 to 8 million people were forcibly starved to death so that the socialist Stalin could sell every speck of grain to the West, including seed stock for the next year’s harvest and food for the farmers themselves. The posters were the Soviet response to the cannibalism they orchestrated.

The awful details of the Ukrainian terror-famine, engineered by Soviet authorities in the early 1930s, can be found in Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow.

An agronomist describes finding, on a walk with another official between two villages, a young woman dead, with a living baby at her breast. He saw from her passport that she was twenty-two years old and had walked about thirteen miles from her own village. They handed the baby–a girl–in to the nutrition centre at their destination, and wondered if anyone would ever tell her what became of her mother.

Arthur Koestler saw from his train starving children who ‘looked like embryos out of alcohol bottles’; or, as he puts it elsewhere: ‘the stations were lined with begging peasants with swollen hands and feet, the women holding up to the carriage windows horrible infants with enormous wobbling heads, stick-like limbs and swollen, pointed bellies…’ And this was of families with at least the strength to reach the railway line.

There are many such descriptions of the physical condition of the children. [Vasily] Grossman gives one of the fullest descriptions of how they looked, and how it got worse as the famine closed in: ‘And the peasant children! Have you ever seen the newspaper photographs of the children in the German camps? They were just like that:  their heads like heavy balls on thin little necks, like storks, and one could see each bone of their arms and legs protruding from beneath the skin, how bones joined, and the entire skeleton was stretched over with skin that was like yellow gauze. And the children’s faces were aged, tormented, just as if they were seventy years old. And by spring they no longer had faces at all. Instead, they had birdlike heads with beaks, or frog heads–thin, wide lips–and some of them resembled fish, mouths open. Not human faces’. He compares this directly with the Jewish children in the gas chambers and comments, ‘these were Soviet children and those who were putting them to death were Soviet people’.

Slavery, mass murder, and cannibalism. For anyone like Meredith Vieira on NBC to euphemistically gloss over the enormities perpetrated by communism is absolutely reprehensible.

14% of Those Aged 24 to 34 Are Living With Parents

Here is some further evidence that the weak economy is particularly damaging to the young.

Fourteen percent of adults between the ages of 24 and 34 — those in the post-college years when most young adults are trying to establish independence — report living at home with their parents. By contrast, roughly half of 18- to 23-year-olds, many of whom are still finishing their education, are currently living at home.

Of course, the economic harm works in both directions since if people are moving into their parent’s basements because they are unemployed, uneducated, on parole, or have degrees in English literature, then that is bad for the economy indeed.

Lookin’ Sharp

Economists have long known that the true cost of taxation is not the transfer being made to the government, but rather, the inefficient or wasteful things done to avoid the tax.  This, of course, includes wearing diamond encrusted go go boots:

The glittering hotpants, sequined jumpsuits and platform heels that Abba wore at the peak of their fame were designed not just for the four band members to stand out – but also for tax efficiency, according to claims over the weekend.

Reflecting on the group’s sartorial record in a new book, Björn Ulvaeus said: “In my honest opinion we looked like nuts in those years. Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were.”

And the reason for their bold fashion choices lay not just in the pop glamour of the late 70s and early 80s, but also in the Swedish tax code.

According to Abba: The Official Photo Book, published to mark 40 years since they won Eurovision with Waterloo, the band’s style was influenced in part by laws that allowed the cost of outfits to be deducted against tax – so long as the costumes were so outrageous they could not possibly be worn on the street.

Google geeks are ingrates

Today is the day we officially celebrate the birthday of George Washington, the father of the United States of America. The day is often referred to as ‘President’s Day,’ but that is incorrect. The day is officially George Washington’s, and all references to other presidents are inappropriate nonsense.

Now, to commemorate various holidays and anniversaries, the people at Google adorn their homepage with cutesie logos, called ‘doodles’. Here for instance is the doodle for Valentine’s Day.

doodle_valentinesAnd here is the doodle to commemorate the 200th birthday of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, whoever the heck that is.

doodle2So what did Google come up with to celebrate the birthday of George Washington? Answer: nothing. In neither this year nor in any other year has Google honored George Washington with a doodle. Here is Google’s stated policy on doodles:

“A group of Googlers get together regularly to brainstorm and decide which events will be celebrated with a doodle,” the company writes on its description page for Google Doodle. “The ideas for the doodles come from numerous sources including Googlers and Google users.

“The doodle selection process aims to celebrate interesting events and anniversaries that reflect Google’s personality and love for innovation.”

Well if Google is all about innovation, they should be all about George Washington, because without George Washington, Google would not even exist. That’s because without George Washington’s singular leadership, the United States would not exist. And without the United States, there would be no Google.

It is no accident that Google was founded in California in the United States, and not in India or Egypt or even France. Only the United States, among all countries, offered the legal, cultural, and intellectual environment that made Google possible. That environment is characterized above all by ordered liberty. The founders of Google had the freedom to innovate and to implement their ideas, and could do so with the confidence that their property, intellectual as well as physical and financial, would be protected by the rule of law. One of Google’s two co-founders, Sergei Brin, is now worth approximately $24 billion. Brin immigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union at the age of six. It’s fair to say that, had he remained in the Soviet Union, he would not now be worth $24 billion, and Google would not exist. And yet, Brin and the rest of the crew at Google can’t even manage to come up with a doodle to honor George Washington, the man who made it all possible. Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, yes; George Washington, no.

“Ingratitude,” wrote Kant, “is the essence of vileness.”

And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s return to our regularly scheduled celebration of George Washington’s badassery.

If you can’t beat them….

The fact that regulators often end up working for firms in the industry being regulated is one of the predictions of regulatory capture theory.    So it shouldn’t be surprising that the early establishment of a legal pot industry in two states would open up some job opportunities for former DEA agents:

If you can’t arrest them, why not go to work for them? That’s what some local and federal law enforcement officers are doing in Colorado and Washington, the nation’s first two states to legalize commercial marijuana.

Trained in special weapons tactics, Craig Kloppenberg used his 30 years on SWAT teams arresting pot dealers to become a private consultant for pot producers in Colorado.

He and another ex-cop, Joel Smith, work together to help about a dozen suppliers stay within the confines of the new law.

“If you could make more money, give a better life to your family, why not?” Kloppenberg told CNBC. “I believe it’s going to be very lucrative.”

Even former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents are cashing in on the new industry.

Paul Schmidt worked for the DEA for 23 years, investigating more than 100 illegal marijuana operations.

Now, the retired federal agent teaches seminars to medical marijuana dispensaries on doing business and not violating the law.

Then and Now, Part Quatre

Today, considerable news coverage was devoted to the passing of Shirley Temple. We’re glad that someone remembered her, because when her name came up in a UD classroom about 15 years ago, not one student out of about 25 was able to say who she was. In any event, Shirley Temple provides the inspiration for the latest edition of our ever-popular series, Then and Now.




NBC whitewashes communism

NBC, in an apparent attempt to suck up to the Russian government, on which NBC depends for the privilege of broadcasting the Olympics, trotted out one of those euphemisms that Orwell warned about, which are “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.” Specifically, NBC referred to Russia’s so-called Bolshevik Revolution as “the revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments.”

First, the “revolution” was not a revolution but a coup; Bolshevik lowlifes armed with handguns broke into the Duma and arrested the parliamentarians. But more importantly, NBC’s “pivotal experiment” involved using unwilling humans as test subjects. And according to the definitive Black Book of Communism, the experiment resulted in the deaths of approximately 100 million of those unwilling subjects.

NBC_communismIn fact, communism in the 20th century constituted the most widespread, comprehensive, and systematic assault on human rights in the history of the world.

communism_tweetIndeed, communism is a murderous ideology akin to Nazism, yet NBC would never dream of trying to whitewash Nazism. The odd double standard is perhaps attributable to the fact that communism always employed the more skillful propagandists. Plus, unlike Nazism, communism as an ideology was never tainted by racism. Communism promises oppression on an equal-opportunity basis.

The NBC promo features beautiful images of Russian art treasures–produced under the regime that preceded communism. But here are some images from the communist era that you won’t be seeing on NBC.

People dead from starvation during the Ukrainian famine/genocideHolodomor 14Holodomor

We agree with the great Garry Kasparov.


Can’t fix stupid– an ongoing series.

Last week, Nobel Laureate and leading hackonomist Paul Krugman defended Obamacare by asserting that “nobody has ever found that their private insurer has told them the doctor they were using is no longer in the network.”

Nobody? Well, does this lady count?

Aliso Viejo resident Danielle Nelson said Anthem Blue Cross promised half a dozen times that her oncologists would be covered under her new policy. She was diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and discovered a suspicious lump near her jaw in early January.

But when she went to her oncologist’s office, she promptly encountered a bright orange sign saying that Covered California plans are not accepted.

“I’m a complete fan of the Affordable Care Act, but now I can’t sleep at night,” Nelson said. “I can’t imagine this is how President Obama wanted it to happen.”

Gotta wonder what it would take to shake her faith in Obama and Obamacare. She can’t sleep at night, but does she really believe that Obama is losing any sleep over it?

Such touching naivete reminds us of an old Russian novel.

Rybakov’s novel has two protagonists: a (fictional) student named Sasha Pankratov, and Stalin. Sasha is handsome, a good son and friend, reasonably intelligent, an enthusiast–terribly naive, and a bit of a prig. As a young Communist he commits some minor ideological gaffe when preparing a wall newspaper at his college. Although normally this sort of thing would be dismissed, or incur a mild admonition, unbeknownst to Sasha the organs of state security have been building up a case against an old Bolshevik, and in a roundabout way he becomes implicated in the frame-up. Thus a student’s prank is transformed into an act of treason; Sasha is arrested and sentenced (leniently) to three years of administrative exile in Siberia. Poor Sasha does not, of course, understand what has happened to him, and believes that it is all a horrible misunderstanding which could be immediately rectified–if only comrade Stalin knew.

“I can’t imagine this is how President Obama wanted it to happen.”

If only comrade Obama knew.

What’s the least free place in America?

With the possible exception of America’s prison system, the least free place would have to be, sadly, the university campus. Although universities are supposed to be in the business of facilitating the free exchange of ideas, in practice they actively suppress speech. Some of the appalling facts of the matter are reported by the video below, narrated by Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). Lukianoff reports that, among other things, many universities have confined speech to designated “free speech zones.”

Newsflash for university administrators. There is only one free speech zone and it is called the United States of America.