Now in his 70s, and alarmed by the perverse sympathies toward communism and socialism he’s seeing in our new America, especially among Millennials, Cole in 2017 marked the centenary of communism by writing a memoir of his six surreal months in the USSR, in hopes of not only preserving that history but begging Americans to pay heed to the lessons of the failed communist experiment. He hopes to offer truth as an antidote to “mind-numbing propaganda,” then and still today.
Cole’s account is titled In Russian Wonderland, an engaging journey through unique remembrances of everything from Russia’s laughable but scary “Aeroflot” airlines, to the Russian people’s shocking abuse of “oceans of vodka,” to the omnipresence of state surveillance, to the grim behavior of Soviet workers from waitresses and waiters to hotel maids, to the diabolical annihilation of religion — from what the Kremlin called its approved “working churches” to the desecration and conversion of great holy places like Leningrad’s Kazan Cathedral into the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism.
On and on it went, this strange life in the worker’s paradise. Truly, it was a Wonderland, at times more bizarre than the oddest scenes from Lewis Carroll’s classic. Indeed, Alice might have found herself less confused in her weird Wonderland than this baffling Bolshevik rendition drawn up in Russian.
Among Cole’s many telling anecdotes, here are a few that beg our attention and remembrance:
At one exhibit in Kazan, which, as usual, was monitored by heckling KGB hacks pretending to be passersby, an elderly gentleman discreetly brought Charles a bag of freshly picked apples. He asked Charles to accept it as a gift from an old Russian who admired the United States. Before walking away, he winked at Charles and whispered, “The sweetest of these apples are toward the bottom of the bag.”
Charles later retrieved from the bottom a piece of paper folded into a tiny cube. He opened it to find this note from the old timer: “We have a totalitarian regime. If we had a democratic republic, we would have progressed further and achieved more. Nowadays the psychiatric hospitals are filled with dissidents. All the positive comments in your comments book are immediately torn out by the KGB. You should take pride in having such a democratic country and not be overly tolerant in the face of those who have been blinded and deceived by propaganda.”
The KGB plants were stationed at every exhibit — watching, staring, brooding. As soon as the American representative would strike up a conversation with curious Russians, the plants would start up with their canned litany of harassing questions, badgering the American about his country being rife with racism, sexism, unemployment, homelessness, excoriating U.S. foreign policy, especially in Vietnam, and on and on (what we’d call liberal talking points). “But you discriminate against black people.” “Why is your government killing babies in Vietnam?”
In one case, something tragic ensued that remains seared in Charles’ memory: During most Q&A sessions at the exhibits, everyday Russians quickly clamped up when the KGB plants started their antics and barrage of mendacity. They didn’t want trouble. One day in Leningrad, however, a young man couldn’t contain his rage at the masquerade of lies dished by the government propagandist. He responded, and then the plant responded, and back and forth it went. Fact vs. falsehood, fact vs. falsehood. The young man would not back down. The crowd watched nervously. The young man’s wife pleaded with him to stop, tugging at his coat to leave. She knew the danger, but the young man couldn’t help himself. This was too unjust. In short order, says Cole, a group of “dour-looking guys in black leather jackets” suddenly materialized, as did a black van at the rear door. A goon in the van got out, signaled to the thugs, and they seized the young man, speeding away.
Charles many times has wondered what happened to that poor kid — hauled off by scoundrels serving their police state.
And if that image doesn’t shake you, picture this scenario reported by Charles when finally departing commie wonderland as his train approached Finland: The locomotive came to an unexpected full stop on an elevated trestle. From the window, Charles and friends glimpsed a powerful searchlight from somewhere below the railroad bridge. It turned out that this was standard procedure for Soviet border guards. They fixed their beaming lights under the train cars to see if any desperate soul had somehow clung himself to the bottom of the locomotive to escape utopia.
They hate heritage, culture, identity, and will do anything to destroy it.
Since coming to power in Poland in 2015, the nationalist Law and Justice party has enacted one outrageous measure after another, placing the nation’s courts under political control, trying to do the same with the news media, purging the civil service and, most recently, criminalizing any suggestion of Polish complicity in the Holocaust. Behind these moves runs a concerted and dangerous rewriting of history to create a narrative of heroic Polish victimhood — under the Nazis and Communists, of course, but also as a maligned defender of traditional values against a degenerate and controlling European Union.
. . . .
In fact, what the Polish government is doing is eroding democracy, and Europe must do what it can to defend its founding principles of “democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.” The union has already taken the unprecedented step of warning Warsaw that it could lose its voting rights in the organization if it carries on.
It may not be easy for the European Union to follow through on that threat, since Hungary, for one, has vowed to veto any such sanction. But it cannot back down. If Hungary does cast a veto, the bloc could divert some of the aid that flows to Poland, and diplomats from other members could minimize contacts with Warsaw. Mr. Kaczynski will no doubt scream “diktat,” but it will come with a price.
In the treaty, Bolshevik Russia ceded the Baltic States to Germany; they were meant to become German vassal states under German princelings. Russia also ceded its province of Kars Oblast in the South Caucasus to the Ottoman Empire and recognized the independence of Ukraine. According to Spencer Tucker, a historian of World War I, “The German General Staff had formulated extraordinarily harsh terms that shocked even the German negotiator.” Congress Poland was not mentioned in the treaty, as Germans refused to recognize the existence of any Polish representatives, which in turn led to Polish protests. When Germans later complained that the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 was too harsh on them, the Allies (and historians favorable to the Allies) responded that it was more benign than Brest-Litovsk.
The treaty was effectively terminated in November 1918, when Germany surrendered to the Allies. However, in the meantime, it did provide some relief to the Bolsheviks, already fighting the Russian Civil War, by the renunciation of Russia’s claims on modern-day Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Lithuania.
Even during the turbulent and lawless decade that followed the end of communism in 1989, no reporter was ever killed in Slovakia. Beaten and threatened, yes — on multiple occasions. But never executed with a single bullet to the heart or head, as befell Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírova in their home late last week.
The deep state hates Trump, and they hate America.
“This was back in 1980, and I thought back to a previous election where I voted, and I voted for the Communist Party candidate,” Brennan said. “I froze, because I was getting so close to coming into CIA and said, ‘OK, here’s the choice, John. You can deny that, and the machine is probably going to go, you know, wacko, or I can acknowledge it and see what happens.’”
Russia launched a gas war against Ukraine and the rest of Europe on Friday. The opening salvoes looked like Russia’s use of gas supply blackmail in the past, with “let them freeze in the dark” threats looming over Ukrainian gas consumers and westward, down-the-pipeline victims of Putin’s so-called gas weapon. But four years since the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine and four years of fighting Russia’s invasion of Crimea and Donbas have forged Ukraine into a formidable adversary for Muscovy’s imperialist aggression. By the end of the day on March 2, Russia had backed down and failed in its blitzkrieg attack against Europe’s energy security.
On February 28, Russia suffered a major defeat in a tribunal of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. The Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal decided in favour of Ukraine’s Naftogaz and against Russia’s Gazprom in a dispute about transit of Russian gas through pipelines across Ukraine. Gazprom was ordered to pay Naftogaz $2.56 billion, and faces half a million dollars in fines for every day that it doesn’t pay the arbitration award.
Russia never abides by international agreements and is at war with Ukraine. On March 1, Ukraine’s Naftogaz detected that Russia’s Gazprom was failing to supply the contractually obligated pressure to the pipeline transiting Ukraine. Naftogaz and the Ukrainian government sprang into action. First, they called out Gazprom on its breach of contract. Then the Ukrainians took steps to maintain pressure to down-the-pipeline customers in the European Union. The Ukrainian government and Naftogaz decided that even though Russia and Gazprom was in breach of contract to supply gas to Ukraine, Ukraine was not going to be in breach of contract to supply gas to the European Union. On March 2, it was announced that all kindergartens, schools, colleges, universities in Ukraine will be closed until March 6 to prevent an energy crisis. Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, appealed publicly for all Ukrainians to turn down their thermostats and to reduce demand for natural gas.
On March 2, around noon, Gazprom declared war and announced that it would intentionally fail to meet its obligations under all its contracts with Naftogaz. It is clear that Putin thought Naftogaz would then pass on the effect this breach of contract to its down-the-pipeline customers in central and western Europe and cut their supply – rather than have Ukrainians “freeze in the dark” during a wintry cold spell that is affecting Ukraine and much of Europe besides. Instead, the Ukrainian government announced an intensification of conservation efforts and maintained pressure in the transit pipelines. Right in the afternoon, Naftogaz announced a new contract, with Poland’s PGNiG, for “reverse flow” supply of gas to Ukraine for Ukrainian domestic consumers. A bit later, Ukraine’s Ukrtransgaz warned its partners in the European Union about potential problems with gas transit because of unreliable sourcing from Russia, while reassuring them of the steps Ukraine was taking to meet its obligations for delivery of natural gas.
Having badly underestimated the resilience, business acumen, and moral integrity of the Ukrainians, by the evening on March 2 Gazprom admitted defeat in this phase of Russia’s gas war against Europe, and announced the resumption of its contracts with Ukraine’s Naftogaz.
I heard this figure from an acquaintance who has contacts all over the Ukrainian bureaucracy. If true, it is downright treasonous.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry proudly announced last month that it had improved its previously meager medical services for its wounded troops with the purchase and delivery of 100 new military ambulances.
Not mentioned, however, was that many of the ambulances had already broken down. Or that they had been sold to the military under a no-bid contract by an auto company owned by a senior official in charge of procurement for Ukraine’s armed forces. Or that the official, Oleg Gladkovskyi, is an old friend and business partner of Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko.
Ukraine’s spending on defense and security has soared since the conflict in the east started in 2014, rising from around 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product in 2013 to more than 5 percent this year, when it will total around $6 billion.
This bonanza, which will push procurement spending in 2018 to more than $700 million, has enabled Ukraine to rebuild its dilapidated military and fight to a standstill pro-Russian rebels and their heavily armed Russian backers.
But by pumping so much money through the hands of Ukrainian officials and businessmen — often the same people — the surge in military spending has also held back efforts to defeat the corruption and self-dealing that many see as Ukraine’s most dangerous enemy. . . .
He recounted how a small screwlike piece of metal purchased by Ukroboronprom for an aircraft repair factory in Lviv had skyrocketed from $50 in early 2014 to nearly $4,000 a year later, after Ukroboronprom mysteriously shifted its business to an outside supplier.
Mr. Maksimov said he had raised this and other inexplicably high prices with his superiors, but was told to drop the matter and was later fired, a dismissal he is challenging in court. . . .
“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
Let’s be honest. The reason Americans need guns is to protect themselves from the radical left. There are no break on their ideological train. Just like their predecessors today’s radical leftists are mass murderers waiting for the opportunity.
По всій Україні офіційно було оголошено, що кобзарів з усіх областей запрошують до Харкова на Всеукраїнський кобзарський з’їзд. Всі повинні були з’явитися з бандурами, тому що крім власне з’їзду, будуть і творчі змагання. 30 грудня 1930 – день відкриття з’їзду. У кожного в руках інструмент, кожен одягнений у святкову вишиванку. Делегатів (337 людей) утримували в залі до вечора, потім, під суворим наглядом, стали виводити у двір, щільно уклали в вантажівки і накрили брезентом. Вже через 1 годину всi делегати були в залізничних вагонах для тварин. Їх привезли до околиць станції Козача Лопань, вивели з вагонів до лісосмуги, де були заздалегідь вириті траншеї. Вишикували незрячих кобзарів i їхніх малолітніх поводарів в одну шеренгу. Загін особливого відділу НКВС УРСР почав розстріл. Коли все було закінчено, тіла розстріляних закидали вапном і присипали землею. Музичні інструменти спалили поряд. Комуністична більшовитська верхівка назвала українські народні музичні інструменти «класово-ворожими». Влада зобов’язала музичні фабрики виготовляти гармошки, баяни і балалайки навіть не сотнями, а мільйонами.
It’s nothing new. Communists always want to obliterate culture and history.
Like when you try to grasp sand, utopia is always slipping through the fingers of communists. Maybe they’ll put up a wall to keep delusional counter-revolutionaries from fleeing their paradise?
Like Peter Thiel, Tech Workers Feel Alienated by Silicon Valley ‘Echo Chamber’
Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel has said he plans to leave Silicon Valley in part because of its perceived cultural uniformity. He isn’t the only one.
Several tech workers and entrepreneurs also have said they left or plan to leave the San Francisco Bay Area because they feel people there are resistant to different social values and political ideologies. Groupthink and homogeneity are making it a worse place to live and work, these workers said.
“I think the politics of San Francisco have gotten a little bit crazy,” said Tom McInerney, an angel investor who moved a decade ago to Los Angeles from the Bay Area.
“The Trump election was super polarizing and it definitely illustrated—and Peter [Thiel] said this—how out of touch Silicon Valley was,” said Mr. McInerney, who describes himself as fiscally conservative, but socially liberal.
Tim Ferriss, the tech investor and best-selling author of the “4 Hour Workweek,” moved to Austin, Texas, in December, after living in the Bay Area for 17 years, partly because he felt people there penalized anyone who didn’t conform to a hyper liberal credo.
People in Silicon Valley “openly lie to one another out of fear of losing their jobs or being publicly crucified,” said Mr. Ferriss in a recent discussion on Reddit.
A Russian military doctor said around 100 had been killed, and a source who knows several of the fighters said the death toll was in excess of 80 men.
The timing of the casualties coincided with a battle on Feb. 7 near the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor where, according to U.S. officials and associates of the fighters involved, U.S.-led coalition forces attacked forces aligned with Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russian officials said five citizens may have been killed but they had no relation to Russia’s armed forces.
The clashes show Moscow is more deeply involved in Syria militarily than it has said, and risks being drawn into direct confrontation with the United States in Syria.
The casualties are the highest that Russia has suffered in a single battle since fierce clashes in Ukraine in 2014 claimed more than 100 fighters’ lives. Moscow denies sending soldiers and volunteers to Ukraine and has never confirmed that figure.
The wounded, who have been medically evacuated from Syria in the past few days, have been sent to four Russian military hospitals, according to five sources familiar with the matter.
The military doctor, who works in a Moscow military hospital and was directly involved in the treatment of wounded men evacuated from Syria, said that as of Saturday evening there were more than 50 such patients in his hospital, of which around 30 percent were seriously wounded.
The doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to disclose information about casualties, said at least three planeloads of injured fighters were flown to Moscow between last Friday and Monday morning.
He said they were flown back on specially equipped military cargo planes which can each accommodate two or three intensive care cases and several dozen less severely wounded patients.
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said initial information was that five Russian citizens in the area of the battle may have been killed, but they were not Russian troops. She said reports of tens or hundreds of Russian casualties were disinformation inspired by Russia’s opponents.
It was 1969. Kate invited me to join her for a gathering at the home of her friend, Lila Karp. They called the assemblage a “consciousness-raising-group,” a typical communist exercise, something practiced in Maoist China. We gathered at a large table as the chairperson opened the meeting with a back-and-forth recitation, like a Litany, a type of prayer done in Catholic Church. But now it was Marxism, the Church of the Left, mimicking religious practice:
“Why are we here today?” she asked.
“To make revolution,” they answered.
“What kind of revolution?” she replied.
“The Cultural Revolution,” they chanted.
“And how do we make Cultural Revolution?” she demanded.
“By destroying the American family!” they answered.
“How do we destroy the family?” she came back.
“By destroying the American Patriarch,” they cried exuberantly.
“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?” she replied.
“By taking away his power!”
“How do we do that?”
“By destroying monogamy!” they shouted.
“How can we destroy monogamy?”
Their answer left me dumbstruck, breathless, disbelieving my ears. Was I on planet earth? Who were these people?
“By promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution and homosexuality!” they resounded.
They proceeded with a long discussion on how to advance these goals by establishing The National Organization of Women. It was clear they desired nothing less than the utter deconstruction of Western society. The upshot was that the only way to do this was “to invade every American institution. Every one must be permeated with ‘The Revolution’”: The media, the educational system, universities, high schools, K-12, school boards, etc.; then, the judiciary, the legislatures, the executive branches and even the library system.
Tension is rising between Ukraine’s administration and the IMF over Ukraine’s anti-corruption failure.
Here’s an argument in the UBJ against the perception by some that Ukraine doesn’t need the IMF.
Me? I’m torn. Ukraine definitely needs help fighting corruption, but I’m deeply suspicious of organizations like the IMF. There’s an argument to be made that international help stabilizes Ukraine’s existing regime that the corruption rackets they run.
On 10 February, a US drone destroyed an advancing Russian-made T-72 tank from the “same hostile force,” the US military said on Tuesday.
While reports have varied widely, claiming anywhere from a handful to more than a hundred Russians were killed and describing them alternately as military troops or private contractors, the 7 February clash nonetheless appears to have been the deadliest between US and Russian citizens since the Cold War.