Anita Dunn names Mao Zedong her “favorite philosopher”

Anita Dunn is the White House Communications Director, who’s been quoted everywhere for her on-target assertions that Fox News is a Republican channel, not a news channel. When I heard her say it a few days ago I was stunned (in a good way) that she was making this the official White House position. Sure, we’ve all known it for years, but it’s never been said by the Democrats on the record, and this was long overdue.

And now, just seconds ago, I watched Glenn Beck take Anita Dunn’s scalp, playing again and again a video clip of her telling an assembly of high school students, “My two favorite philosophers are Mao Tse-Tung and Mother Teresa.” He kept playing it, holding up a picture of Mao and reciting the usual litany, including the claim that Mao had killed more people than Hitler (70 million is the number he used). It was devastating. Beck is evil, but you have to give him credit for cunning and for dramatic effect. This made for very good theater. And you have to wonder, could Dunn actually have said this? How could she not see the danger?

[Update: You can see the clip here. Apologies in advance for linking to a right-wing site.] Malkin’s Hot Air has it, too, along with the obligatory 70-million murdered meme.

I see Fox News as bad news (pun intended) and I see Glenn Beck as a bad man. But unless that clip was doctored and shown wildly out of context, Beck scored a coup today. I don’t think it was entirely fair, but when is politics fair? And you can’t really fault Beck, as much as I’d like to. If the Democrats had a similar clip of Rush, I think they’d trot it out, too.

Dunn clearly meant that she admired Mao’s determination to continue going after his goal – to overthrow the Nationalist government – despite being told it was an impossible dream. She was talking about persistence. And Beck, of course, twisted that to make it sound as if she were endorsing the cold-blooded murder of 70 million Chinese. However, there are many wonderful examples of people who persevered in the face of difficult odds. To single out Mao, of all the inspiring people throughout history to choose from, as her mentor in this regard is inexplicable, and she will pay a heavy price. Needless to say, it will give Beck and the wingnuttosphere more fuel for claiming it’s an administration of radical Marxists who are scheming to impose their own Cultural Revolution on America. It was painful to watch. She actually said Mao is one of the people she turns to most.

Yes, Mao was persistent, as most tyrants are. Unfortunately – and again, like most tyrants – he also left a stream of death and destruction in his wake that China is still reeling from. How could she not know this? My jaw dropped. Score one for Beck.


Why did the Chinese starve to death in the ’50s without protest?

Please, go read these two posts by one of my very favorite writers right now. She knows whereof she speaks.

I remember reading how the Georgian peasants were convinced Stalin was unaware of their plight as they starved to death in the 1930s, and if there was only some way they could alert him…. But alas, millions and millions died. And Mao knew, and Stalin knew. No, I don’t believe Mao wanted the peasants to die and there’s evidence he was horrified when he learned what the peasants were eating to survive. (Stalin, on the other hand, ever the “man of steel,” showed no such concerns.) But Mao was too wrapped up in his own ideology to admit his Great Leap Forward was anything but. And the result is one of the tragedies so immense, so incomprehensible, like the Holocaust, that the more we read about it the less we can comprehend it. Xujin’s wonderful posts help us comprehend it, but they don’t make it any less of a crime against humanity.

Thirty percent bad – Deng was awfully kind.


Obama blows off the Dalai Lama

Only, not quite.

Of course, if you were listening to Fox News and the assorted voices of Greater Wingnuttopia today, you’d think Obama had just handed Czechoslovakia over to Hitler.


Jeremy Goldkorn on the PRC’s blocking of Danwei

Superb article that I can certainly relate to. Closing lines:

Last week Beijing saw a display of military and economic might that the Chinese government and a huge number of its people are rightly proud of. But China wants more for itself. The government is constantly calling for home-grown innovation in science, technology and culture, and for China to wield more “soft power” and have a greater cultural influence on the rest of the world. These aims will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to achieve as long as China’s bureaucrats retain their iron grip on culture and information.

Think about that. China is reaching for the stars, its ambitions are boundless and it’s gone so far. But by censoring, by jamming its airwaves, by trying to control its people’s brain-waves, China chokes its own creativity and imposes limits on itself. And of course, it’s just plain irrational. I can at least understand the logic behind banning Epoch Times and Taipei Times. But Danwei?? (Not to mention The Peking Duck.) Dumb, counter-productive and an indication of an infantile insecurity and raging inferiority complex. Try to imagine a China that was confident enough in its own achievements, its own greatness that it wouldn’t have to always be in reactive mode, cowering even in the face of the most questionable threats. Imagine how much greater China would be then. Imagine how much more respect it would command, instead of being snickered at for being so obviously terrified, a cowering child.


Report on the October 1 parade from Beijing

Got this email from a friend and thought it was good enough to share. He has lived in China for about 10 years and never wants to live anywhere else. You can love China and be critical at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive, and in fact I’d argue they go hand in glove. His email:

Subject : The Party Here In Beijing Today


“….Hey what a party, hey what a show…..” Miss Saigon =>

‘Thought I would share what happened today here in Beijing, it was a 1st for me & you won’t get this side of it from the news in Europe and the Americas.

This morning in Tiananmen Square there was a colossal military parade followed by a “normal” / civilian parade – Chinese style, which means big and over-the-top (100,000 performers.) Watch the news reports, I doubt in the US or Europe it will get more than 60 seconds of replay, certainly not the 2 1/2 hours we watched live here on TV.

Yes, me and absolutely everyone I know in Beijing, and everyone who knows anyone else living in Beijing could only watch it on TV. My office is right next to Tiananmen, perfect viewing location – except that every building within viewing sight of this was evacuated yesterday and searched with sniffing dogs. No one knows anyone who got the special invitation to watch it live. You will notice / see on the broadcast news there are no people lining the Chang An Boulevard parade route, and the VIP spectators were specially picked (and I assume trained) for this event. At most a few hundred people, you can see them all boxed in front of the Forbidden City. None of the foreign journalists I know here were even allowed to attend and cover this event. Which is a bit strange for China these days, and for an event of this magnitude.

The preparations for this have gone on for 1 year. Cost? No one will ever know. They completely re-did the entire square, boulevard and surrounding roads, neighborhood facades, etc. which were already (and alway have been) the best in the city, and which were just all redone for the Olympics last year. Going to the office each day I kept thinking, “Why don’t you use this money to build 100 hospitals or schools in the poor areas of this nation?” I said exactly that yesterday having lunch with my Chinese friends who are from Beijing, they said, “Agree, but we can’t say that.”

Now this is funny/interesting; there was a pre-parade talk show (local TV) I watched this morning during which 2 top military generals were interviewed and commented that this miltary parade was “planned in a frugal and environmentally friendly manner.” I don’t recall Gen. Swartzkof saying anything like that when I was in DC for the military parade to welcome home the US troupes from the Gulf War. I certainly didn’t see that when I was in Paris for the 200th anniversary of the F rench revolution – I think les Francais are a little more “green” concious than us Americans and certainly more than here – I know that to be true. The point is, it seems public opinion does play into the rhetoric of this administration. Their comment was definitely not ad hoc.

What struck me as absolutely the most bizarre was the president’s speech referring to the success of ….(get this) Marxism. Who’s Hu’s speech writer? If you could see behind him reviewing the troupes standing up through the roof of his (hong qi = red flag brand) limo, that’s Oriental Plaza – a luxury shopping center. Street level (hidden by the tanks) are Burberry, Gucci, Tiffany, and all the other top foreign (non-Marxist) luxury brand shops you have ever heard of. (NB: Each have at least 5 locations just in this one city! And, numerous others all around China.) Who’s Marx again??? Is he referring to Groucho? Barbara Marx (Frank Sinatra’s last wife?) I was just losing it to connect the dots at that point.

There was a heavy emphasis on the important role of the Chinese minorities and women in this society. The supersonic jets were flown by women training in their space program, their was reference to a Chinese woman being the 1st lady to walk on the moon. Great, admirable, totally support that. None of the officials are from the local minorities or are women. The most important woman formerly in the leadership, Madame Wu Yi, I could not see on the dais. (NB: Her old boss, Pres. Jiang was there – with brown hair, go figure? He’s from Shanghai, that explains everything.) I heard she refused to participate – FYI, she brought China into the WTO. At least in the US, we can say we have come beyond that. We Americans have women & minorities in power now, and they seem quite widely respected. When will La France have a Mssr. Mohamed, Le President?

It was a fascinating build-up during several weeks of SWAT police in tanks on Tiananmen Square going to work each day. Tiananmen Square with tanks doesn’t exactly excite me. Yes, you know why.

To put things globally in perspective, we had a very expensive innauguration for President Obama during which we (the people) are told is the “worst financial crisis in US history.” But, I heard…”the people” showed up unabated in masses to be there….

I do love living / working here in Beijing, when life here is normal. Nothing about this day (or time leadin up to this) was normal. The Olympics were a breeze compared to this. What’s next for Beijing???


Outrage! Empire State Building “goes PRC” on October 1

China has done bad things, and it’s done good things, like all countries. China has its fair share of atrocities, injustices and a considerable legacy of repression and injustice. But China is not Nazi Germany, they are not a nation of deranged Maoists, and they happen to be one of the linchpins in the global economy that keeps America afloat. They happen to be moving in the right direction, despite some infuriating steps backwards. We all know the story, we all know the bad stuff and the good stuff.

So when I see Americans go insane over the Empire State Building turning red and yellow to mark the 60th anniversary of the PRC, I have to say it’s simply nuts. We recognize China, we trade with China, we work with China – our fates are tied together, perhaps inextricably. Seeing the outpouring of hate and paranoia from the right-wing blogs, while predictable. is a good reminder of the prejudices many in America bear toward our No. 1 trading partner, and of our ongoing inbred stupidity when it comes to scare words like “Red China.”

The Village Voice today rounds up some of the hysteria, and here are some samples:

Empire State Building, Drenched in Blood!

China Rape

In celebrating The Peoples Republic of China’s 60th anniversary the Empire State Building in New York City will be lit up with both yellow and red lights on Wednesday. I find this most appropriate since red will represent the blood of the millions of innocent people China has murdered or thrown in their Gulag System. The yellow will represent the cowardly conduct of a nation who has chosen to rape and murder Falun Gong members as well as the Uyghur People of Turkistan.

When Chinese consul, Peng Keyu, and other officials take part in the lighting ceremony there should also be a laser light show depicting the people who’ve been tortured and used for organ transplants. The light show should also focus on U.S. Industries who have profiteered from China’s lucrative slave labor and absents of environmental laws. The laser show should also depict the million or so peasants who were displaced for the Olympic Arena. They should show the innocent people who were killed or silenced so as not to reveal what China did to them.


Celebrating COMMUNIST CHINA’s 60th birthday??!!!

What’s next, Marx, Lenin and Trotsky’s birthday’s too?

What about Allah while we’re honoring our enemies under the “Commie Obammie” administration?

First it was the flying of the Commie flag of China right next to the Stars and Stripes right in our own Rose Garden of the White House last week we blogged and bi*&^%$ about here, now they’re gonna honor the birth of Communist China by turning the lighting on the Empire State Building Commie Red and Yellow???!!!!


Tune in next week when the Empire State goes Red & Black to honor the Nazis


Former Bush attack dog Jules Crittenden also has to get into the act, of course:

Let’s hear it for putting labor camps to good use! Controlling the means of production rocks! Kleptomaniacal post-Marxist autocracy, yeah!

I know, the Chinese blogs and message boards aren’t always overflowing with nuanced, compassionate, thoughtful dialogue about the US, but really, this is absurd. The hypocrisy is beyond belief as these bloggers pound on their made-in-China keyboards.

I’m all for constructive criticism of any autocratic regime. I’m for calling China (and the US, etc.) out for their crimes and misdemeanors. But this is not only ridiculous when you consider how innocuous the actual event it – this hyperbolic, coordinated reacton is much more sinister than that. It is being used as a tacit attack on “Obama’s America,” as Rush Limbaugh has proudly called it. What these ignoramuses are saying has almost nothing to do with China, a country they know virtually nothing about. It is all about smearing Obama, because this is happening here, in “Obama’s America,” an America that encourages palling around with terrorists and coddling dictators and appeasing madmen, the new socialist communist fascist Muslim America. Of course, none of these gasbags had a word to say five years ago when we saw this:


Now the sky is falling. And, by the way, some liberals, I am sure, will also get into the act – misperceptions abound on all sides about China (I cringe when I read certain lefty blogs I usually like when they go on about Tibet, blithely unaware of even the most basic facts). It’s embarrassing and it’s stupid. The PRC plays a vital role in America’s interests, it’s here to stay (at least throughout our lifetimes), it sucks in many ways but the extension of this courtesy, lighting up the Empire State Building, is not an act of appeasement or treason. This is diplomacy, whether it’s done by Bush or Obama. Grow up and get used to it.


I love a parade


A total must-read – the NY Times on the 60th anniversary preparations. Anal-retentiveness has been totally redefined:

Performers have been carefully screened. Even the workers who are decorating the city with tens of millions of flowerpots had to undergo “political inspection,” according to news reports. Soldiers have practiced endless hours to hold their rifles at precisely the same level. Photos show their instructors holding threads as rifle guides, or sticking needles in soldiers’ shirt collars, pointed at their necks, to correct poor posture.

They have trained to stand motionless for a solid hour, to refrain from swaying during the second hour and not to collapse after three hours, reported Xinhua, the state-run news agency. They have been schooled in shouting phrases in perfect unison: “Serve the people!” and “Hello, senior leader!” They are also expected not to blink for 40 seconds at a time.

Chinese news media have reported that the government has limited parade participants in Beijing’s celebration to 187,000 — at least 300,000 fewer than in the last decennial celebration. Performers have been carefully screened. Even the workers who are decorating the city with tens of millions of flowerpots had to undergo “political inspection,” according to news reports.

Mental-health professionals have been called in to help those whose performance is not up to snuff. As of Sept. 12, 1,300 soldiers had received counseling, Xinhua reported.

And then there’s the paranoia concerns over security.

Knife sales have been banned in at least some stores. Beijing’s international airport will be closed Thursday for three hours. Along the parade route, the authorities have forbidden parade-watchers from opening windows or standing on balconies.

Three journalists from the Japanese Kyodo news agency said that when they stood on a hotel balcony to cover a Sept. 18 parade rehearsal, the authorities stormed into the room and assaulted them. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the journalists ignored explicit instructions not to report the event, apparently out of concern that details of the spectacle would be revealed.

Another, more provocative article I read today, paints an even more bizarre picture:

Black-clad Swat teams of police will be deployed at key intersections and thousands of agents will stage a security clampdown exceeding anything seen for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Dissidents have been shut up at home or arrested. Police have banned peasants from coming to the capital to present their grievances as petitions, a tradition that dates back thousands of years.

Counter-terrorist squads, backed up by informers, are prowling the districts where Muslims from China’s restive far west live. Peaceful Tibetan Buddhists are also under surveillance in their incense-filled temples. Internet users say censorship has never been so restrictive. Facebook and Twitter are among the sites that have been blocked.

At the last parade 10 years ago, diplomats were able to watch from balconies in their compound. This time residents have been warned that if they step out they may be shot.

“We must abide by Deng Xiaoping’s instruction that China must be under the leadership of the Communist party,” declared the People’s Daily on Friday. “If this fundamental principle is altered, China will go backwards, split and fall into chaos.”


I can kind of see doing this for the Olympic Games, which were, of course, a magnet for many thousands of visitors who had never been to China before. But the 60th anniversary celebration of the birth of the PRC is something of a mystery to many China watchers I know, all of whom have essentially the same reaction to the big day, namely, Who cares? I understand, any anniversary date ending with a 5 or a 0 is seen as a big deal in China (and in many other countries, though usually to a lesser extent; in the US, the 50th and 100th and 200th anniversaries of the birth of America, for instance, were super-big deals, while the anniversaries in-between were not), and I understand it from China’s perspective. But are they aware, on the other end, how mystifying this whole exercise looks to those on the outside? I know, they don’t really care about that, and maybe they shouldn’t. This is their party. But I do hope readers realize why Americans write about the preparations and the event itself with an air of amazement. The 60th anniversary of the PRC doesn’t mean much to anyone outside China, especially since the principles on which the nation was founded in 1949 have been drastically diluted if not discarded altogether.

The aggravation that this celebration has generated in terms of getting a visa, in terms of disruptions of daily life in Beijing and in terms of general anniversary-fatigue are nearly all that the foreigners I know bring up when the anniversary is mentioned. (This was true six months ago as well.) Along with a general sense of mystification: What other country would put so much money and effort into a parade like this, in the midst of an economic crisis? And let me reiterate, I do understand from the Chinese perspective why they are doing this, even if I believe they are not going to score many points in the court of global public opinion with this event. Then again, just as with the Olympics, the parade isn’t being held for the outside world. It is being held by China, it’s about China, and it’s for China. They don’t care if we’re pissed about not getting our visa. And I understand that.


Note: Link via a tweet by this blogger.


World Bank Head: Dollar will lose its place to the euro and renminbi

Funny that we talked about this just yesterday in regard to a relatively obscure article, and now it is the 2nd leading story on the front page of the NY Times. Get a load of this:

The president of the World Bank said Monday that America’s days as an unchallenged economic superpower might be numbered and that dollar was likely to lose its favored position as the euro and the Chinese renmimbi assume bigger roles.

“The United States would be mistaken to take for granted the dollar’s place as the world’s predominant reserve currency,” the World Bank president, Robert B. Zoellick, said in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. “Looking forward, there will increasingly be other options to the dollar.”

Mr. Zoellick, who previously served as the United States trade representative and as deputy secretary of state under President George W. Bush, said that the euro provided a “respectable alternative” for financing international transactions and that there was “every reason to believe that the euro’s acceptability could grow.”

Over the next 10 to 20 years, he said, the dollar would face growing competition from China’s currency, the renmimbi. Though Chinese leaders have minimized their currency’s use in international transactions, largely so they could keep greater control over exchange rates, Mr. Zoellick said the renmimbi would “evolve into a force in financial markets.”

Read the article. It is beyond extraordinary that the US-appointed head of the World Bank would be so in-your-face provocative, casting doubt on Obama’s strategy to lead us to financial recovery under the supervision of the Fed (as opposed to the Treasury) and openly questioning whether we can pay our debts without igniting inflation. I personally don’t think so, and it’s clear Zoellick doesn’t, either. All of these points were discussed here yesterday, and it’s clear Zoellick read this site before presenting at Johns Hopkins.


Peyton’s Place

I was standing in my kitchen during a visit back to the US about a year ago when a rather sinister-looking black snout suddenly burst through the pet door used by the cats. I would soon learn that the creature was a pot-bellied pig that, for reasons too complex and uninteresting to go into here, is now living in my backyard. Her name is Peyton, and she’s actually fearsomely smart (way smarter than any cat). That said, she rolls in dirt all day long, eats like a vacuum cleaner, makes all kinds of strange noises and isn’t really my ideal type of pet. Maybe I just need to get used to her. Meanwhile, this blog wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share a couple photos of my new housemate. (She’s actually a yard mate at the moment, but when winter comes she moves into the house. We’ll see how cute I think she is then.)

Peyton scarfs down beef stew from the pot.

Peyton scarfs down beef stew from the pot.

Peyton takes a bath.

Peyton takes a bath.


“The dollar is dead – long live the renminbi”

That’s the headline from this new article, one of many I’ve been seeing on the inevitable arrival of the post-dollar world. This one sees the current economic upheaval as a sort of gigantic correction that will restore equilibrium to a global economy knocked out of whack by huge trade and capital imbalances.

A seminal shift in behaviour is being forced on the deficit nations where, despite massive fiscal, monetary and financial system support, there is a continuing scarcity of credit and a growing propensity to save. Neither of these two constraints on demand will reverse any time soon.

This, in turn, is forcing change on surplus countries, whether they like it or not. Export-orientated nations can no longer rely on once profligate neighbours to buy their goods. Against all instinct, they are having to stimulate their own domestic demand.

The most startling results are evident in China, where retail sales grew an astonishing 15.4 per cent in August. Fiscal action has succeeded in boosting consumption in Germany, too, despite mistrust of what one German politician has dubbed “crass Keynesianism”.

…The challenge for a developing nation such as China is a rather different one. In China, the propensity to export and save is driven by an absence of any meaningful social security net, in combination with the legacy of its oppressive one child policy, which has deprived great swathes of the population of children to fall back on for support in old age.

What’s more, most Chinese don’t earn enough to buy the products they are producing, so in what has become the customary path for developing nations, they export the surplus and save the proceeds. Yet even in China the establishment of a newly affluent, free-spending middle class may now have gained an unstoppable momentum. In any case, the country can no longer rely on American consumers to provide jobs and growth. It needs a new growth model, which means ultimately adopting the Henry Ford principle that if you want a sustainable market for your products, you have to pay your workers enough to buy them.

How China actually goes about doing that – adopting Henry Ford’s model – is anybody’s guess, but I’d say if it ever happens it’s generations away. (It reminds me of hopes that Afghanistan’s poppy-growing peasants will adopt democracy in short order, become a second Vermont and work out their most pressing problems in civil town halls over chardonnay and quiche.) That’s the flaw in this article, glossing over just how excruciatingly difficult such a sea-change would be to implement. Its observations about the fate of the dollar and the new balance of power, however, seem to me spot on:

These trends – all of which pre-date the crisis but which, out of necessity, are being greatly accelerated by it – will eventually drive a move away from the dollar as the world’s reserve currency of choice. As China takes control of its economic destiny, spends more and saves less, there will be less willingness both to hold dollar assets and to submit to the domestic priorities of US monetary policy.

This is still a couple of years off, but China is preparing for it now. The dollar will spurt up periodically between now and then, but its general trend has to be downward. It is literally inevitable that the value of the dollar will be slashed over the next couple of years. The government needs to lower the value of the dollar, but is hoping to do so slowly. The problem is, those holding dollars, like China, are hardly stupid and know what’s going on, and will not cheerfully stand whistling on the deck as the Titanic goes down. And if there’s a panic and a global dumping of the dollar, it could mean havoc. For a good description of why this is so, and why the dollar simply must go down, check out this clip from CNBC (scroll down). Highly recommended, especially toward the end.

For the record, i have no background in economics and make no claims that I have even the slightest idea what I’m talking about. I just like to write about money and politics. What I do know, however, is that I first recommended buying gold here in the closing days of 2006. Here’s where it was when I recommended it then compared to now.