Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Well, that wasn't supposed to happen

New York City's tallest building - the Empire State Building - is glowing red and yellow to honor the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.

If you're the cadres, that's supposed to be fantastic news, a sign that they have finally arrived as an institution that can be accepted and celebrated. Now, New Yorkers and Americans can look at the skyscraper and marvel at the oceans of blood spilled in their name.

If that sounds a little odd, it's because things haven't quite gone according to plan.

The Empire State had barely turned on the CCP lights before Fox News was wading through a smorgasbord of furious anger from tourists, a historian, and a local Congressman (Anthony Weiner). So, instead of "oohs" and "ahs," the cadres are reading this:
"I think it's a bad idea," said Dick Paasch, 69, from Billings, Montana. "The Chinese Revolution ... in the years 1958-1960, there were something like 26 million people starved to death. Why would we want to celebrate something like that?"

"China gets treatment that other dictatorships can only dream of — a free pass on human rights," said Arthur Waldron, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

"Would we have lit the Empire State Building for the USSR knowing what we
do about the Gulag?"

New York politicians have paid notice as well, and say they are let down by the light-up. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., said it was a mistake to pay tribute to what he
called "a nation with a shameful history on human rights."
Um, that wasn't supposed to happen.

Even worse for the cadres, their 60 years of rule have been permanently linked with another number: its 72 million victims. That certainly wasn't part of the plan, but it has darkened any celebration.

In fact, no matter where one looks (the aforementioned Fox News, Associated Press, The New York Times, National Review Online, U.S. News and World Report, NBC, etc.), the "celebration" is given so perfunctory quotes while the anger and outrage gets a majority of the coverage.

Of course, the real purpose of the lighting - to ensure the Chinese people are told how much the rest of the world loves the CCP - was a smashing success. So long as the peasants, migrant workers, prisoners, and appellants don't see the seething of the American people, it's all systems go for the demoralizing propaganda.

Keep in mind, stuff like this isn't about Chinese pride; it's about debasement. It's about keeping the Chinese people scared, isolated, and quiet. It's about making sure they have no idea that the people of the democratic world would love to see them rise up and take their country back.

Still, that would have been a lot easier had the red-and-yellow vibe lasted longer than a New York minute. Now the cadres will have to keep an even tighter grip on its contacts with the outside world. All nations dealing with it will have to be even more intrusive within its own borders so as not to "offend Chinese dignitaries."

All of this brings inevitably closer the day when the democratic world throws up its hands in exasperation - the exact opposite of the long-term objectives stemming from the 60th anniversary.

If anything, here in this country, the Empire State fiasco revealed an anti-Communist majority as strong as it ever was - if only one of the political parties would step up to represent them.

The American and Chinese peoples are still waiting.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The fall of Tom Friedman

If you want to see how and why so many otherwise enlightened people have fallen for the snake oil of the Chinese Communist Party, look no further than the New York Times' Tom Friedman.

Friedman embarasses himself with an ode to the "enlightened" CCP in his latest column:
One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

Nothing is more dangerous than claiming to know the future, and Friedman painfully proves it here. This is a regime that is still working its citizens to death - literally - in labor camps, still imprisoning and killing those who refuse to put the Party between themselves and their God, and still actively helping America's enemies abroad. None of it matters to Mr. Friedman, because so long as the regime dyes its bloody hands "green," it can become "a reasonably enlightened group of people."

Keep in mind, Mr. Friedman, and so many like him, know nothing of the real CCP. They have spent time in one or more of the Potemkin cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Shenzhen), and fool themselves into thinking they've seen China.

Only this can explain the nonsense Friedman spews next:
It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

Of course, this would come as a shock to Canada, which is watching these very same leaders make a massive move on Alberta's oil sands, which according to Friedman et al is not only a no-no because it is oil, but even worse, it's "dirty" oil.

What would a regime "committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power" want with Albertan oil? Well, they'd want energy, and unlike Friedman, they understand that it takes more than pies in the sky to get it. Meanwhile, China outside of the Potemkin cities remains an ecological nightmare.

So what's driving this strange impulse by Friedman to embrace dictatorship. It is as simple as it is tragic: Friedman is not getting what he wants politically in America. Frustrated with the American people refusing to agree with him, he longs for the will to impose his views on them anyway.

It is the typical column of a frustrated "in" pundit - railing at the "out" party (in this case the Republicans) as doomed to irrelevance and powerful enough to stop the Democrats at the same time. The problem is, the GOP can't be both. Unable to control the agenda in the House or even slow it down in the Senate, Republicans can do nothing but dissent - unless the American people stand with them.

It is the same in any democracy - even the parliamentary ones where traditionally a majority government reigns supreme. If the opposition has the ear of the people (or vice versa) governing suddenly becomes difficult, if not impossible.

The proper, democratic thing to do is try to persuade the people that you are correct and they are not - but that requires effort, effort "in" parties usually don't have after some years in power. That Friedman is already exhausted after mere months of the Obama Administration is tellng about its weakness.

That said, different people resort to different methods. President Bush, for all his faults, made a dramatic pitch to the American people on the "surge" in Iraq. The people were surprised, and more than a little apprehensive, but they agreed to give it a chance, with very good results.

President Obama may face a similar choice in Afghanistan. That one of the capital's leading columnistst is now longing for the power to imprision dissidents is a sign of trouble.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The week that was

By any indication, this was a week that began just awfully for anti-Communists. Yet, as it comes to an end, it may be the CCP itself who rues the seven days.

The week began (badly) in Japan, where Taro Aso - the latest and possibly most passionate in a line of anti-Communist Japanese premiers that included Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe - became the first Liberal Democrat in sixteen years (and arguably the first in over fifty) to suffer an outright defeat at the hands of the voters. The newly empowered Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has been spouting about moving away from the United States and closer to the Chinese Communist Party for years. Now, with a hammerlock on Japan's House of Representatives, they can form the government for the first time in history.

The next day brought a double-whammy: the family of Chen Shui-bian (former President of Taiwan and former leader of the anti-Communist Democratic Progressive Party) were convicted of perjury in his corruption trial. Chen himself will hear his verdict in about a week (Epoch Times); a conviction is all but certain. Meanwhile, Petrochina put in a nearly $2-billion bid for a major Albertan oil project, possibly turning North America's alternative to Middle Eastern oil into Beijing's overseas resource center.

All in all, the week looked horrific - and it was only Monday.

In fact, however, that was the whole point: the week still had five days left. Much as you don't declare the football game over at half-time, one cannot declare a week a disaster just two days in. On the contrary, as the week wore on, it started to wear a little better.

While the anti-Communist leaders were reeling from the Chen drama in Taiwan, the anti-Communist populace were making their presence known. President Ma Ying-jeou continued to take it on the chin politically on several fronts, while the presence of the Dalai Lama (whom Ma could not dare to ban from the island democracy) brought out the worst in the CCP - and reminded all who live on Taiwan just what reunification under Zhongnanhai would mean (Central News Agency). Much like the Republicans here have sprung back to life with the departure of George W. Bush, recent events on Taiwan make clear the anti-Communist DPP could have a revival of its own once the Chens leave the scene (voluntarily or otherwise).

The situation in Japan also improved - or to be more precise, it was revealed to be better than originally thought. For all the DPJ talk of moving closer to Beijing, one glaring obstacle stares them dead in the face - the choatic House of Councillors (known as the "upper house"). While the outgoing LDP lost control of that chamber in 2007, the DPJ doesn't control it either. Instead, it will have to rely on smaller parties from left and right - the latter will likely be nonplussed with any serious move in Beijing's direction. Until new Councillor elections next year, any new move in foreign policy could lead to trouble, which is why the triumphant DPJ is suddenly talking down any references to them.

Even the situation in Canada improved, and not just because the anti-Communists in the country began rousing themselves to take on their former friends in the governing Conservative Party (Calgary Herald). The bigger news may have come from the Gulf of Mexico, where a massive oil reservoir was discovered deep underground (Washington Post). While it will be a while before the field brings oil to the market, there is already talk of its effect on world oil prices. This could dampen the dollars enough for the Tories in Ottowa to clear their heads and give the Petrochina deal the long, painful look it deserves.

Meanwhile, word leaked out to the Epoch Times that the latest attempt by the cadres to pilfer state-owned assets and line their pockets had been met with a labor strike in Hunan Province - a telling reminder that the CCP's ongoing struggle to silence and dominate its own people continues to run into problems.

Of course, we have no idea how any of these items will resolve themselves, but we can be more optimistic about them than we could have been earlier in the week. While no one is really sure who coined the phrase "a week is a lifetime in politics" (the late UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson came close with the British subdued/deadpan version "a week is a long time in politics"), they were certainly validated this week.