The Sociopath: Ben Howe’s documentary on Donald Trump. You need to watch this.

November 4, 2016

For those who haven’t voted yet, but who are leaning Trump and may still be open to argument. I’ll let the video and its “About” text speak for itself:

He’s been called an impostor, a fraud, a fake. A charlatan. His own ghostwriter for the book “The Art of the Deal” called him a sociopath. There are many words that describe Donald Trump, and there are just as many words that don’t describe him: Conservative. Decent. Serious. Presidential.

Donald Trump has spearheaded one of the most divisive campaigns in modern politics and, in the eyes of many in his own party, is unfit to hold the highest office in the land.

But when the dust settles, whether he wins or loses, how will his campaign for the presidency be remembered? As an insurgency? Is it the story of someone “who fights” taking on power while taking power? Or will it be a hostile takeover from an invader that played out on national television as sane people watched and despaired? Will Trump be remember as the head of a movement, or the head of a snake? Or even as the snake-oil salesman and crony who hoodwinked millions?

And what of those who resisted? History will remember the resistance, but it remains to be seen if that will be positively or negatively.

But perhaps most importantly of all, will the people who support him ever get a clear picture of who he REALLY is?

“The Sociopath”, a film by Ben Howe, will show you not only who this man is, but more importantly, how he got to where he is, who supported him in doing so, and what it could mean for the future of the nation if he is elected.

I remain #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary.

via Andrea Ruth on Facebook


Sunday Not Quite A Book Review: “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history 1962-1976”

July 3, 2016

Book Cover Dikotter Cultural Revolution

Since I haven’t been posting much of late, I thought a good way to get back into the swing of things would be to revive the Sunday Book Review series. Great idea!

Trouble is, the book I read is one that I can’t get a handle on the right approach to reviewing it. smiley d'oh! smiley headbang wall

The topic is so large and so complex that I’m left with just one thing to say: if you are ever tempted by the idea that things would be better if we just gave government all the power it wanted, read Frank Dikotter’s “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976”. That should slap some sense into you.

The book tells the story of bloody turmoil China was thrown into for over a decade because of the paranoia and whims of one all-powerful man, Mao Zedong. Setting faction against faction, even against his own Communist Party, Mao threw China into such chaos that at times it seemed a second civil war might result — and in some locales, it did.

Fearing that his “comrades” would sideline or even depose him for his horrific errors in the 1950s, worried that a Khrushchev waited in the wings to bring ideological revisionism and a denunciation of Mao’s legacy as Khrushchev did to Stalin in his 1956 “Secret Speech,” Mao and his allies waged war against enemies often made up wholly in Mao’s mind.

The price, of course, was paid by the people. Whether looking for “capitalist roaders,” “revisionists,” members of various “anti-Party cliques” and agents of foreign powers lurking within the Party itself, or merely people of “bad class background” (for example, former landowners under the old regime and their relations), enemies weren’t just found among a few rivals to Mao. Dikotter’s book tells in appalling detail how ordinary Chinese had to suffer because of Mao’s whims: prison camps, “reeducation” centers, thousands of city residents exiled to the country with no relevant skills and yet expected to survive — and never return to the city. People humiliated, driven to suicide or beaten to death by teenaged “Red Guards.” Knowledge, learning, and arts declared worthless, even evil, if they didn’t conform to “Mao Zedong Thought” and serve the class struggle. The horror stories of Lovecraft and King are nothing compared to what really happened in China in the 1960s.

Over and over, we’re treated moments of madness, but also shown how people resisted, or at least tried to survive. When Mao’s insane economics made even basic goods almost impossible to get, many set up secret factories and trade routes, reestablishing an underground capitalism in Communism’s heartland. Secret book clubs meeting to share a copy of forbidden Western literature. Playing Classical music on old phonographs in a closet, hoping no one would hear and denounce you to the authorities.

It’s said that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” China in the Cultural Revolution is a glaring example of this, and Frank Dikotter’s “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976” should be part of any “scared straight” program for anyone tempted by statism.

Highly recommended.

PS: “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976” is available in hardcover and Kindle format. I’m happy to say the Kindle book was well-formatted and free of any errors as I recall. Fair disclosure, I get a few cents from purchases made through my links.


Bookshelf update – The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976

May 29, 2016

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Frank Dikötter’s  “The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976”.

Book Cover Dikotter Cultural Revolution

 

I’m only a few chapters into it, so far, but it seems to be another proof of something I’ve long believed: that Human history produces far more horror than any story by King or Lovecraft. The Cultural  Revolution, like so many other Leftist attempts to remake humanity –the French Revolution during “the Terror,” Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy (2), the USSR, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea– shows how dangerous it is to let one person, one group, or government in general to have too much power.

The Cultural Revolution is available in both Kindle (1) and hardcover formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) I’m happy to say I’ve found no typos or formatting errors, so far. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.
(2) Yes, Fascism and Nazism, two variations on statism, are products of the Left.


#ConArtist #NeverTrump This is what you’re voting for

February 28, 2016
Approved by Juan Peron!

Donald J. Trump — approved by Juan Peron!

Of all the strange things that have been a part of the 2016 presidential campaign –experienced well-regarded Republican governors turned away, the leading Democrat under federal investigation and her chief rival is a leftover Socialist from the 60s, the media’s blatant bias– perhaps what’s gobsmacked me the most is the rise of Donald Trump.

This started as a year when, of the 16-17 Republican candidates that started the race, 8-10 could make a credible case for their nomination, and several were outstanding. At the time, I thought this was the strongest field to come along in decades and that we were more than able to take on a very weak candidate in Hillary Clinton.

Silly me. I didn’t reckon with a significant portion of the party preferring a blowhard bully with a demonstrable record of supporting progressive positions, screwing American workers, advocating tyranny (1), and having dealings with questionable characters of the organized crime sort.

Let’s take a look at the leading candidate of the nation’s “conservative” party, shall we?

Trump refuses to release his tax returns. Ted Cruz has speculated that’s because they will show Trump has organized crime ties. There is reason to believe he does, including with the Russian Mob.

Just the kind of inspiring figure we want in the White House, right?

He is also content to take praise and endorsements from White supremacists and former Klan leaders. Well more than half of the posts he retweets on Twitter are from White supremacists. After being endorsed by former Klan leader David Duke , Trump has repeatedly refused to repudiate this endorsement or denounce the Klan.

Just the person to repair all the damage Obama has done to race relations in this country, right?

And this fake who pretends to be tough on illegal immigration and spouts inane plans to stop it, who claims he’s the only guy looking out for the American worker, in reality hires foreign workers to do jobs Americans are quite willing to do. Just ask the Polish laborers imported to New York to build Trump Tower. The ones he ripped off. Or the Floridians who couldn’t get jobs are Trump’s Mar a Lago resort because he hired foreign workers on the false claim that no Americans were available to do the job.

This is the guy you just endorsed, Senator Sessions? Kind of makes a mockery of your claim to be an immigration hawk concerned about American jobs, right?

There’s so much more: these are just the items I ran across today. You almost can’t do any research without stumbling across even more appalling stories.

Finally Senators Rubio and Cruz are attacking him where it hurts –his overwhelming ego– and it’s getting to him. We can only hope it’s not too late to persuade those who haven’t sold their souls to him. This emotionally unstable would-be American Peron should never, ever, reach the nomination or, God help us, the presidency.

Never Trump.

Footnote:
1) What else can you say about a guy who praises China for the way it handled Tiananmen Square? Maybe he and Tom Friedman should become roomies.

 


North Korea: more sudden deaths, totally coincidental

January 5, 2016
"You are too short! banished!"

“Likes long walks on the beach and unusual executions.”

I mean, look. Two ex-pat North Korean doctors working in the same clinic die of simultaneous heart attacks after a night of drinking. What’s suspicious about that?

The doctors, An Hyong-chan, 56, and Chol Ri-mun, 50, died in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, late on Friday or early on Saturday after suffering heart attacks. That they died at around the same time from the same cause and in the same location is just the beginning of the tale.

The men, who worked at a clinic that also served as their home in the city’s Tuol Kork district, reportedly died after their wives – also doctors – injected them with an unnamed drug to counteract the effects of an evening of heavy drinking.

The women grew concerned after their husbands developed fevers, abnormal heartbeats and weak pulses after the couples returned home from a night out with 10 other North Koreans, during which the two men had drunk “numerous cocktails”, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

The women told local police they had injected their husbands with “a medicine and a serum” to counteract the effects of the alcohol, and that the men died of heart attacks about an hour later, the newspaper said.

Note that the wives informed the embassy first, then –“hours later”– finally told the locals. Time enough for a clean-up crew and to get stories straight?

As The Guardian notes, this is far from the only mysterious death in which North Korea is part of the picture. One of Kim’s close advisers died in a car wreck just a few days ago. And the regime does have a habit of creatively executing those who somehow offend it. (1)

So, it’s possible it happened as described, but I see other, more likely scenarios:

The wives murdered their husbands on their own. Perhaps the men were abusive, or maybe they were cheating on their marriages, or the women wanted their men gone for other personal reasons. The wives call the embassy because that’s what’s expected of Norks overseas. North Korean officials show up, figure out the plot, and cover things up to prevent embarrassment to the regime and will administer “justice” on their own.

The wives were agents of the regime, willing or unwilling, and executed their husbands on State orders. “Why” is anyone’s guess, but Pyongyang has never been shy about having people killed. In this case, the embassy was called once the mission was completed, and they showed up to get all the details straight before the Cambodians can ask awkward questions. The women will be whisked away and never seen again. Case closed, too bad for the honored dead.

Either one is possible, though I think the last is most plausible.

But the truth? I doubt we’ll ever know.

Footnote:
(1) I was so sorry to learn that the story of Kim feeding his uncle alive to starving dogs was a hoax. Dude, I was counting on you!


From the farcical to the surreal: Putin endorses a grateful Trump

December 17, 2015
Fine as long as the mouth stays shut

Endorsed by dictators

When did I cross into Bizarro World?

Russia’s strongman took time out from bumping off political adversaries, putting his muscle in Iran’s service, and annexing other countries’ territory to praise GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump as “an outstanding and talented personality.”

A grateful Trump reacted: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

So, the currently leading Republican candidate is honored to be endorsed by a man intimidating and dismembering the countries around him, having opponents and critics assassinated, and generally acting like a global thug.

Analyst Tom Nichols offered this apt analogy:

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I won’t go as far as Tom did in another tweet and call Trump a “traitor,” but I do think he is a contemptible buffoon — and a dangerous one, should he win the nomination and the presidency.

Are we sure Rod Serling didn’t introduce this story?


North Korea: Border Guards raided, purged for murdering Chinese?

August 29, 2015
Hungry?

Hungry?

If you’re Kim Jong Un, the Supreme Leader pudgy, alcoholic, and murderous dictator of North Korea, the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a nation, the last thing you want to hear is that your soldiers have crossed the border into the territory of your one ally and murdered its citizens.

And when you do hear that, you bring the hammer down. Hard.

Scores of officers and rank-and-file soldiers from North Korea’s border guard unit have been rounded up and are under investigation by a special inspection team of the country’s Workers’ Party, following an incident earlier this year in which two of the guards crossed the border and killed two Chinese, sources inside the country said.

The team stormed the headquarters of the 25th brigade in the neighborhood of Yonbong 2 in Hyesan city of Yanggang province earlier this month, and arrested as many as 40 soldiers on the spot, said Hee-yun Doh, a representative of the Seoul-based Citizens’ Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees, citing information from a local North Korean source.

Those arrested included the leader of the third platoon from the fourth company of second battalion and six staff sergeants, he said.

 

The head of the Border Guards was replaced after this incident (no word of him being executed in Kim’s usual creative manner), and three staff sergeants were quietly shot — pour encourager les autres, no doubt, for word inevitably got around. North Korea already had a problem with guards being open to bribery to let Koreans cross the Yalu to escape this hellhole (How bad do things have to be to make China look good? Shudder…); if they’re going around shooting people in China, too, well, that’s a problem of a whole other order of magnitude, as Beijing made very clear to Pyongyang.

But the reason they committed these murders should also worry Kim Jong Un:

It was not clear why the North Koreans crossed into the border area, but it is believed that they were trying to obtain food when they killed the two Chinese, according to reports.

In other words, the food situation in North Korea is so bad, Kim hasn’t enough to adequately feed the guys with guns, who are there to keep the rest of North Korea crushed underfoot.

Not good, from a North Korean dictator’s point of view.

Not that the Border Guards are likely to overthrow the government, but this shows Kim is starting to have to put the squeeze on the elites as there just isn’t enough food to go around. I’m willing to bet government officials allowed to live in Pyongyang get plenty, as well as the commanders of key military units and elite bodies of troops. But, if things get worse and reduced rations move (ahem) up the food chain, you can bet there will be grumbling among senior officers already worried about Kim’s predilection for executing people on a whim.

Hence the need to make an example, now.

Long ago, the Roman emperor Septimius Severus is reported to have told his sons, “Ignore everyone else, but take care of the Army.” He knew where the real power in Rome resided, and on whom the Emperor’s safety depended.

Kim, or at least his close advisers, likely knows that lesson, too, but whether he can do it is another question altogether.