Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Chapter in the Bloody History of Communism: Mao's Great Leap to Famine





Mao's Great Leap to Famine
By FRANK DIKÖTTER
Published: December 15, 2010


HONG KONG — The worst catastrophe in China’s history, and one of the worst anywhere, was the Great Famine of 1958 to 1962, and to this day the ruling Communist Party has not fully acknowledged the degree to which it was a direct result of the forcible herding of villagers into communes under the “Great Leap Forward” that Mao Zedong launched in 1958.

To this day, the party attempts to cover up the disaster, usually by blaming the weather. Yet detailed records of the horror exist in the party’s own national and local archives.

Access to these files would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago, but a quiet revolution has been taking place over the past few years as vast troves of documents have gradually been declassified. While the most sensitive information still remains locked up, researchers are being allowed for the first time to rummage through the dark night of the Maoist era.

From 2005 to 2009, I examined hundreds of documents all over China, traveling from subtropical Guangdong to arid Gansu Province near the deserts of Inner Mongolia.

The party records were usually housed on the local party committee premises, closely guarded by soldiers. Inside were acres of dusty, yellowing paper held together in folders that could contain anything from a single scrap of paper scribbled by a party secretary decades ago to neatly typewritten minutes of secret leadership meetings.

Historians have known for some time that the Great Leap Forward resulted in one of the world’s worst famines. Demographers have used official census figures to estimate that some 20 to 30 million people died.

But inside the archives is an abundance of evidence, from the minutes of emergency committees to secret police reports and public security investigations, that show these estimates to be woefully inadequate.

In the summer of 1962, for instance, the head of the Public Security Bureau in Sichuan sent a long handwritten list of casualties to the local boss, Li Jingquan, informing him that 10.6 million people had died in his province from 1958 to 1961. In many other cases, local party committees investigated the scale of death in the immediate aftermath of the famine, leaving detailed computations of the scale of the horror.

In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.

Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction. People accused of not working hard enough were hung and beaten; sometimes they were bound and thrown into ponds. Punishments for the least violations included mutilation and forcing people to eat excrement.

One report dated Nov. 30, 1960, and circulated to the top leadership — most likely including Mao — tells how a man named Wang Ziyou had one of his ears chopped off, his legs tied up with iron wire and a 10-kilo stone dropped on his back before he was branded with a sizzling tool. His crime: digging up a potato.

When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, the local boss, Xiong Dechang, forced his father to bury his son alive on the spot. The report of the investigative team sent by the provincial leadership in 1969 to interview survivors of the famine records that the man died of grief three weeks later.

Starvation was the punishment of first resort. As report after report shows, food was distributed by the spoonful according to merit and used to force people to obey the party. One inspector in Sichuan wrote that “commune members too sick to work are deprived of food. It hastens their death.”

As the catastrophe unfolded, people were forced to resort to previously unthinkable acts to survive. As the moral fabric of society unraveled, they abused one another, stole from one another and poisoned one another. Sometimes they resorted to cannibalism.

One police investigation from Feb. 25, 1960, details some 50 cases in Yaohejia village in Gansu: “Name of culprit: Yang Zhongsheng. Name of victim: Yang Ecshun. Relationship with Culprit: Younger Brother. Manner of Crime: Killed and Eaten. Reason: Livelihood Issues.”

The term “famine” tends to support the widespread view that the deaths were largely the result of half-baked and poorly executed economic programs. But the archives show that coercion, terror and violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward.

Mao was sent many reports about what was happening in the countryside, some of them scribbled in longhand. He knew about the horror, but pushed for even greater extractions of food.

At a secret meeting in Shanghai on March 25, 1959, he ordered the party to procure up to one-third of all the available grain — much more than ever before. The minutes of the meeting reveal a chairman insensitive to human loss: “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”

Mao’s Great Famine was not merely an isolated episode in the making of modern China. It was its turning point. The subsequent Cultural Revolution was the leader’s attempt to take revenge on the colleagues who had dared to oppose him during the Great Leap Forward.

To this day, there is little public information inside China about this dark past. Historians who are allowed to work in the party archives tend to publish their findings across the border in Hong Kong.

There is no museum, no monument, no remembrance day to honor the tens of millions of victims. Survivors, most of them in the countryside, are rarely given a voice, all too often taking their memories with them to their graves.

Frank Dikötter is a professor at the University of Hong Kong, on leave from the University of London. His books include “Mao’s Great Famine.”

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Reductio Ad Nativitatum



The Ghost of Christmas Past


In recent years I have been struck by the fact that types of music and great musicians who were once huge eventually fade away to the point that you never hear them on the radio or in other public forums, except at Christmas. It is now almost the only time you will hear traditional Protestant hymns -- even in many Protestant Churches. You even hear old Latin hymns, like "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

Pop musicians fare no better. Perry Como, for example, is almost never heard anymore, except at Christmas time. As time goes on, more musicians join the legions of the ghosts of Christmas past. The Beach Boys will soon only be remembered for their "Little Saint Nick"... which is certainly not the best song they ever produced. John Lennon, who once said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ, will ironically only be remembered for his song "And so this is Christmas" ... also, not the best song he ever sang. The day will no doubt come when the only Beyonce songs you will hear will be from her Christmas albums.

Believe it or not, Burl Ives really did sing something other than "Holly Jolly Christmas":



It's nice to hear these old and otherwise forgotten sounds from the past at least once a year, but it is a shame that all else is eventually forgotten.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Bloody History of Communism

In Dostoyevsky's prophetic book "The Possessed" he vividly unmasked the evil face of socialism. Among other things, one of the characters advocated the "hundred million heads theory", which was that to make real progress in the establishment of a socialist utopia, 100 million heads would have to roll. At the time, I am sure many criticized Dostoyevsky for being over the top. As it turned out, he underestimated how bloody they would actually be.

Every time socialist utopians have attempted to establish their utopias they have in fact established hells on earth. The Communists killed about 100 million people in China alone, and it has only ceased to be less of a hell hold to the extent it has departed from Communism.



To watch the additional parts, double click on the video to go to youtube.

The video is done by a Muslim Group, and so ignore the occasional insertion of their beliefs, but the footage tells the story.

See also these videos of the desecration and destruction of Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow:





One of thousands of Church so desecrated and destroyed.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The times they are a changing



Oh, the irony:

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

Saturday, October 30, 2010

How liberal do-gooders criminalize the poor

Here is an old forum post of mine that was written in 1995, in response to someone who asserted: "The GOP is criminalizing all poor while helping BIG BUSINESS get richer." At the time, I was working in the Food Stamp, Medicaid, and TANF (then AFDC) programs, and HUD subsidies were less than they are now.

*************************************************************

Let me tell you how Liberal regulators are "criminalizing" the poor. First off HUD housing subsidies for welfare recipients raise the rent on the honest working poor. In Houston, HUD pays $500 a month to subsidize a two bedroom Apartment -- usually for a dump that most people wouldn't live in if they were paid $500 dollars a month to do so. Now if you are an Apartment owner, and the Government offers you $500 dollars a month Guaranteed -- would you rent the same apartment to a poor working
man who could only afford $350 dollars a month?

Secondly, even in Houston, the public transportation system is not good enough for someone to depend on it to get to and from work, unless they are willing to spend several hours a day doing so. As a result people generally must depend on their own transportation -- and in rural areas, there is no choice but to do so. Liberal regulators have made owning a car and running it legally prohibitively expensive for
many borderline working poor. For one thing, they must have insurance, they must have a current inspection sticker, and they must have a current vehicle registration. And had the Democrats won the Governor's race last year, the cost of an inspection in Houston would have climbed from about 15 dollars to possibly $400 dollars. Most working poor folks, with families to take care of, cannot afford all this. As a consequence they simply drive uninsured vehicles.

In Texas, you can just count on getting a traffic ticket every so often. But if you don't have insurance, or an inspection sticker, or a valid registration sticker -- you get a ticket for each. Now this poor stiff has several hundred dollars in fines to pay, but if he could have paid the fines, he could have paid the insurance and all that other stuff. So consequently he doesn't pay the fine. Next time he gets stopped he has warrants out for his arrest -- of course he could pay the bail, but
if he could have paid the bail, he could have paid the tickets. Instead, he sits in jail for a couple of weeks. But now he is unemployed, because he missed two weeks worth of work without a good excuse.

You know where this guy goes from here? He comes to my office to apply for food stamps, Medicaid, and AFDC (if he can get it). I've seen this happen to a number of honest hard working citizens that found themselves in my office for the very reasons outlined.

Furthermore, government regulations also cost Jobs. Whereas once upon a time, poor people could start there own businesses and make their own jobs -- now due to all the red tape, this is impossible. The only free-enterprise available for poor people, is illegal.

That's how Liberal's criminalize the poor. They have made it extremely difficult to be poor and honest in this country. Your parents and mine may have been poor, but they were at least allowed to be honest and make a living.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The German Mind and Biblical Scholarship

I ran across a very interesting section of "War and Peace" last year when I finally picked the book back after my first attempt 20 years previous, and there was a very insightful comment about the national character of Germans that is relevant when you ponder much of the German Scholarship on the Bible. In this section, Tolstoy is talking about a German strategist (Karl Ludwig von Pfuel) who was serving in the Russian Army:

"Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion— science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing, and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German’s self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth— science— which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth."

I discussed this with a parishioner who is German, and he agreed that it was an insightful observation. Of course, as with any generalization, it is only generally true, and not always true in any given case. Nevertheless, keep this in mind as you read about such scholars as Bultmann, Wellhausen, and Schweitzer. There is a sense you get from these scholars that the mysteries hidden from the ages were waiting for Drs. Rudolph Bultmann, Julius Wellhausen, and Albert Schweitzer to come along and unveil them. All previous generations had been fooled, but not these clever fellows.

This arrogant rationalism is to be found to one extent or another in most Western European and American thinking since the so-called "Enlightenment".

I should note I am not sure whether I am more German or more English genetically, but it would be a close call... so no slam on Germans intended.

And by the way, if you have picked up the book War and Peace, only to put it back down after losing track of who is who, I would encourage you to get the Soviet era multi-part movie (Russian title "Voina i Mir") by director Sergei Bondarchuk.

It is one of the best movies ever made, and is surprisingly respectful of the book, and of Orthodoxy -- though Orthodoxy is somewhat downplayed compared with the book. Watch the movie, and then read the book.

The movie is available with English subtitles.

Here is a clip of excerpts from the movie, to give you a taste of it:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2011 St. Innocent Liturgical Calendar





If you've wondered why I have not posted much lately, it is because I have been finishing up work on the 2011 St. Innocent Liturgical Calendar. This calendar is based on the Jordanville Calendar, though it will of course be in English.

Now that I'm done, I can relax for a week or so before starting on the 2012 calendar.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dr. E. V. Hill preaches at his wife's funeral



This image links to a biography of E.V. Hill, the videos are below:



This is a very touching eulogy:



Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Recent History of Looney Left Violence in America





Recently The Commie Zombies are trying to paint the Tea Party Protesters as violent racists. They claim that a black congressman was called the n-word, and spit upon during a march through the protest that was filmed from multiple angles... none of which verify the claim in question. In fact Andrew Breitbart is offering $10,000 to anyone who can provide proof of this claim... and so far no takers.

However we have recently seen a protest in which a black was called the n-word, and beaten up... and we have it on video tape. The only problem is that the people using the n-word and beating the black man were Obama supporters from the SEIU union:



Then we have the gun toting white woman who shot up the University of Alabama and killed three people of color. The only problem is that she is a leftist Obama Zombie.



Then there was the guy who flew a plane into the IRS... the only problem, he was a democrat who hated George Bush, Christians, Capitalism, and thought 9/11 was an inside job:



Then there was the guy who attacked the pentagon... the only problem, he was a democrat who hated George Bush, Christianity, and thought 9/11 was an inside job.



Then there was the protester who bite off a man's finger because he disagreed with him. Problem is that it was a liberal Obama supporter who bite off an old man's finger who was protesting against Obamacare.



Then there were the jack-booted thugs who were intimidating voters in the last elections... the only problem is that they were the Black Panthers, supporting Obama, and intimidating voters at the polls in Philadelphia:



The United States Government took them to court, and had a default judgment against them, but when the Obama administration came in they took the unprecedented move of asking the court to withdraw the judgment:



And this is just the recent stuff.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Quotations from the Ladder of Divine Ascent on Prayer

"If we wish to stand before our King and God and converse with Him, we must not rush into this without preparation, lest, seeing us from afar without weapons and clothing suitable for those who stand before the King, He should order His servants and slaves to seize us and banish us from His presence and tear up our petitions and throw them in our face." Step 28:3

"During prayer and supplication, stand with trembling, like a convict standing before a judge, so that, both by your outward appearance as well as by your inner disposition, you may extinguish the wrath of the just Judge; for He will not despise a widow soul standing before Him burdened with sorrow and wearying the Unwearying One." 7:11

"The work of prayer is one and the same for all, but there are many kinds of prayer…" 28:6

"Before all else, let us list sincere thanksgiving first on the scroll of our prayer. On the second line, we should put confession and heartfelt contrition of soul. Then let us present our petition to the King of all. This is the best way of prayer, as it was shown to one of the brethren by an angel of the Lord." 28:7.

"Do not be over-sophisticated in the words you use when praying, because the simple and unadorned lisping of children has often won the heart of their Heavenly Father." 28:9

"If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it; for then our guardian angel is praying with us." 28:11

"Oil and salt are seasoning for food; and tears and chastity give wings to prayer." 28:14

"Try to lift up, or rather, to enclose your thoughts within the words of your prayer, and if in its infant state it wearies and falls, lift it up again. Instability is natural to the mind, but God is powerful to establish all things. If you persevere untiringly in this labor, He who sets the bound of the sea of the mind will visit you too, and during your prayer will say to the waves: Thus far shall ye come and no further. Spirit cannot be bound; but where the Creator of the spirit is, everything obeys." 28:17

"Constantly wrestle with your thoughts, and whenever it wanders call it back to you. God does not require from those still under obedience, prayer completely free of distraction. Do not despond when your thoughts are plundered, but take courage, and unceasingly recall your mind. Inviolability is proper only to an angel." 4:92

"Do not admit any sensory phantasies during prayer, lest you become subject to derangement." 28:42

"Ask with tears, seek with obedience, knock with patience. For thus he who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." 28:56

"Always let the remembrance of death and the Prayer of Jesus, being of single phrase, go to sleep with you and get up with you; for you will find nothing to equal these aids during sleep." 15:54

“Flog your enemies with the name of Jesus, for there is no stronger weapon in heaven or earth.” 21:7

"Let the remembrance of Jesus be present with each breath, and then you will know the value of stillness." 27:61

"War proves the Soldiers love for his king; but the time and discipline of prayer show the monks love for God." 28:33

"Your prayer will show you what condition you are in. Theologians say that prayer is the monk’s mirror." 28:34

Texas Welfare Fiasco comes full circle

Unbelievable. I have not commented on this mess in a while, but it has not gone away. And now the guy who started it all is getting paid to clean up the mess.

Exclusive: State privatization champion gets contract to help clear up welfare mess

11:59 PM CST on Saturday, March 13, 2010

By ROBERT T. GARRETT / The Dallas Morning News
rtgarrett@dallasnews.com


AUSTIN – A former state official who played a major role in the state's biggest privatization fiasco is now making money trying to help Texas fix the problems that resulted.

Gregg Phillips was the state's No. 2 social services official several years ago, and he led a push to hire a private company to evaluate applications for public assistance.

Now his Austin-based company, AutoGov Inc., has received $207,500 since November to help the state eliminate errors in deciding whether an applicant gets food stamps or other aid and how much recipients get. AutoGov was hired without other companies having a chance to bid for the work.

Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said that the agency's commissioner, Tom Suehs, and his predecessor, Albert Hawkins, agreed that the company's software might alleviate the problem.

"They both faced the same problem – high error rates – and thought it offered a potential solution," Goodman said.

State laws on former employees lobbying or contracting with agencies would not prohibit such an arrangement, given that Phillips had been off the state's payroll for several years. But critics of the deal say it's troubling that a former employee is getting paid to try to fix problems spawned by an idea he helped hatch.

A leader of a state employees union complained that Hawkins and Suehs – both appointees of Gov. Rick Perry – again have sought high-tech, low-cost fixes for the loss of experienced state workers.

Mike Gross, vice president of the Texas State Employees Union, also said he's troubled that Hawkins approved a vendor subcontract with two of his former aides – Phillips and AutoGov's chief executive, Rose A. Hayden, Hawkins' former chief of staff. The company is paid as a subcontractor to the larger firm that the state hired to run the system.

"The whole thing smells very bad," Gross said. "We're now hiring the guy who got us in the mess in the first place. It is absolutely stunning."

Call not returned

Phillips couldn't be reached by phone or e-mail to answer questions about the contract. A receptionist at AutoGov said Hayden was in a meeting and would not be able to return a call.

Hawkins said AutoGov was the right choice because it had experience doing similar work for the Texas Youth Commission and in other states' social programs. He said he saw no conflict of interest or appearance problem.

"Both of them had been gone from the agency, what, four or five years?" Hawkins said. "So I certainly didn't perceive it as being any kind of conflict-of-interest concern."

Hawkins said he didn't put the work up for competitive bidding because "it was within the scope of a contract that was already in place."

He was referring to an interim deal under which Texas pays Reston, Va.-based Maximus Inc. $134 million a year to run eligibility-screening call centers, enroll youngsters in the Children's Health Insurance Program, and assign them a doctor.

It's unclear whether the state could have found a better deal by seeking bids for a contract. Hawkins suggested that had he tried, Maximus might have sued the commission. When pressed, he said: "It at least would have required some contract discussions with Maximus."

Lisa Miles, vice president for investor relations for Maximus, declined to discuss the company's hiring of AutoGov. She referred all questions to Goodman, the state spokeswoman.

Goodman said Suehs, who formally approved Maximus' hiring of AutoGov as a subcontractor on Nov. 10, showed no favoritism toward his former colleagues.

"Played no role in the decision," she said in an e-mail.

Phillips, a former Mississippi state official, served under Hawkins in 2003-04. He headed Perry's 2004 investigation of ineptitude at Adult Protective Services before resigning for health reasons in September 2004.

Hayden was Hawkins' $125,000-a-year chief of staff at the commission and played a role in the agency's help with legislation in 2003, Hawkins said. Earlier, the two were colleagues in Gov. George W. Bush's budget office and at the Legislative Budget Board. Hayden left the state in October 2004.

Phillips helped former Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, R-Burleson, fashion a 2003 legislative requirement that privately run call centers be used to help process applicants for Medicaid, CHIP, food stamps and cash assistance. He testified before lawmakers on the idea.

Hawkins says the state's key misstep came two years later, when lawmakers ordered a 40 percent reduction of state eligibility staff. But his critics have said he didn't stand up to the state's GOP leaders and demand enough money and time to adequately support and test the proposed public-private screening system.

It was launched in late 2005, after a large outsourcing company, Accenture, won an $899 million, five-year contract. But soon after the state notified its own workers that they might lose their jobs and shifted duties to Accenture – and its main subcontractor, Maximus – the project went sour.

Call centers were jammed, people were wrongfully cut from benefits, and it took months for services to begin once Texans applied.

Most infamously, applicants for a time were given a wrong fax number for sending pay stubs and other private documents. It belonged to a Seattle warehouse that had no part of the deal. That company shredded and threw away the paperwork after unsuccessfully trying for weeks to alert Texas that something was amiss.

By mutual agreement, the Accenture deal was terminated, state workers were rehired and Maximus mostly took over a scaled-down contract. In June, the commission tentatively chose Maximus' bid to continue the work. However, the two sides are still negotiating and haven't settled on a proposed three-year contract, Goodman said.

Delays continue

For Texans hammered by the recession, problems persist. Long processing delays for food stamps and Medicaid have continued for a year.

A Feb. 25 report by the commission shows the state overpaid or underpaid food stamp recipients 7.3 percent of the time in August, compared with a national rate of 4.3 percent. And it wrongly denied people benefits in 14.3 percent of cases that month, while the nationwide error rate was 8.2 percent.

Celia Hagert, a social programs analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for low- and middle-income Texans, said that between 1999 and 2005, Texas received federal bonuses each year for having low error rates in food stamp processing.

She called it "ironic" that Phillips has re-emerged as fix-it man.

His computer software, no matter how good it may be, is no substitute for hiring back enough state workers "who know what they're doing," Hagert said. "That's the key. The system we have now is neither accessible nor accurate."

Goodman stressed that the commission has no obligation to retain AutoGov if it doesn't meet expectations. The company has billed the state an additional $62,500 but hasn't yet been paid.

"There's no obligation for additional payments beyond those if the tool isn't proven effective during testing," Goodman said.

She said that the commission is exploring whether "similar services are available through DCS," a vendor that checks industrial payroll databases and automobile ownership records to spot applicants who make too much or own too much property to qualify.

Meanwhile, a March 4 AutoGov news release suggested that Phillips and Hayden intend to take their software to terrain even more troubled than Texas.

It said the company recently won contracts from the University of Miami's Project Medishare and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to "implement the software in Haiti's central plateau."

Thursday, January 07, 2010

St. Jonah's is ready to build, but needs your help





Our parish voted a few weeks ago to go forward with a contract to build our Phase II Church.

This link is an appeal for your help:

http://www.saintjonah.org/appeal_phase2.htm


In short, we have raised a bit more than $100,000.00 to construct this building. The actual costs are going to be about another $50,000.00.

We are starting the permit process, and hope to begin construction in February. If you can help, we need to hear from you before the end of January.

Our parish is the only parish in the world dedicated to the memory of St. Jonah of Manchuria. Our goal is to have a Phase III Church built in time for the centennial of his repose in 2025... but to get to Phase III by then, we need to get to Phase II now.

Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated.


Click here for more donation options and suggestions.