July 23, 2015

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City Journal on the transformation of the city of Hanoi and all of Vietnam. Seems they like markets. The leaders elected by our fellow citizens are too blinded by ideology and hate to understand what free enterprise offers to ordinary people.

After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Hanoi, capital of a now-unified, Communist Vietnam, was a bombed-out disasterscape. Residents lived under an egalitarian reign of terror. The grim ideologues who ran the country forbade citizens to socialize with or even speak to the few foreign visitors. People queued up in long lines past government stores with bare shelves to exchange ration coupons for meager handfuls of rice. The only traffic on the street was the occasional bicycle.

Since then, however, Hanoi has transformed itself more dramatically than almost any other city in the world. Today, the city is an explosive capitalist volcano, and Vietnam is rapidly on its way to becoming a formidable economic and military power. “Many revolutions are begun by conservatives,” Christopher Hitchens once said, paraphrasing John Maynard Keynes, “because these are people who tried to make the existing system work and they know why it does not. Which is quite a profound insight. It used to be known in Marx’s terms as revolution from above.” That’s exactly what happened in Vietnam, though the revolutionaries weren’t conservatives. They were Communists.

Hanoi had a rough twentieth century. …

… In the mid-1980s, a fight broke out between those who wanted to continue with the old system and those who had already benefited from quiet micro-capitalist reforms enacted in 1979 and wanted to expand them. Southerners made noise about returning to the pre-Communist system that they knew, from personal experience, worked much better. The relative economic success of other Southeast Asian nations, especially Thailand, was obvious even to the ideologues.

The advocates of change won the argument, and in 1986, the government officially abandoned Marxist-Leninist economics and announced the Doi Moi reforms, defined as an attempt to create a “socialist-oriented market economy.” Presumably, party leaders left the word “socialist” in there because they were embarrassed by Marxism’s failures and couldn’t admit that they’d been wrong. Or perhaps they feared that their remaining supporters were allergic to the word “capitalism.” No matter. Vietnam officially junked Communism a mere 11 years after imposing it on South Vietnam.

State subsidies were abolished. Private businesses were allowed to operate again. Businessmen, investors, and employees could keep their profits and wages. Farmers could sell their produce on the open market and keep the proceeds instead of giving them up to the state. The results were spectacular. It took some time for a middle class to emerge, but from 1993 to 2004, the percentage of Vietnamese living in poverty dropped from 60 percent to 20 percent. …

… “Not in my wildest dreams,” said an Australian man on holiday I bumped into, “could I have imagined what an absolute madhouse Hanoi is.” I was a little less shocked, having lived in Beirut, but he’s right. Hanoi is a madhouse, the diametric opposite of dead cities like Havana and Pyongyang. The city thunders with a never-ending cacophony of honking, zooming, blaring, shouting, pounding, and jackhammering, even late into the evening. …




An example of our country’s stupidity is provided by Michael Barone as the administration continues its war on suburbs.

Disparate impact — it’s a legal doctrine that may be coming soon to your suburb (if you’re part of the national majority living in suburbs). 

Bringing it there will be the Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing program. It has been given a green light to impose the rule from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project. …

… HUD Secretary Julian Castro, mentioned as a vice-presidential candidate despite having previously been just a part-time municipal mayor, wants to use the disparate-impact doctrine to overturn local zoning laws and place low-income housing in suburbs across the nation. Such social engineering is likely to be widely unpopular.

How did disparate impact come into the law? In a 1971 Supreme Court case, Griggs v. Duke Power Co., the Court, acting when memory was still fresh of Southern resistance to desegregation, ruled that the company’s aptitude test amounted to discrimination because whites passed at higher rates than did blacks. But that’s true of most aptitude tests — which as a result aren’t used much in hiring any more.

An approach more appropriate for a society where there is no significant forcible resistance to desegregation was advanced by Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissent. “We should not automatically presume that any institution with a neutral practice that happens to produce a racial disparity is guilty of discrimination until proven innocent,” he wrote. “The absence of racial disparities in multi-ethnic societies has been the exception, not the rule.” …




Federalist sees the NY Times running interference for Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is in hot water due to videos showing its executives haggling over the prices of baby body parts, and the New York Times wants to make sure its readers know that Planned Parenthood is awesome and its detractors are icky. …

… The video and news stories about it went viral almost immediately, with the topic shooting to the top of trending topic lists for both Twitter and Facebook. If you exclusively read the New York Times, however, you’d know nothing of the story. That’s because the paper, along with sites like Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, refused to publish anything about the new video yesterday.



Nevertheless, according to The Hill, the left fears the backlash as Planned Parenthood people are making cringe inducing statements.

Critics of Planned Parenthood on Tuesday released a second secretly recorded video related to fetal parts, putting the group on the defensive and spurring fears on the left of a new ACORN scandal.

The new video shows Dr. Mary Gatter, a Planned Parenthood official, apparently negotiating the price of fetal tissue for medical research. The Center for Medical Progress, which is behind the video, says it shows Planned Parenthood illegally profiting off the sale of fetal organs.

Planned Parenthood rejects that claim. In both videos, the officials in question say they are looking for compensation for expenses, not profit.

But there are also embarrassing statements in both videos that are painting the organization in an unflattering light.

At one point in the latest video, Gatter jokes, “I want a Lamborghini,” when negotiating prices. She also refers to using a “less crunchy” technique for keeping fetal body parts intact. In the first video, the group’s senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, is heard candidly describing the uses of fetal organs in between sips of wine and bites of salad. 

“Once again we are at a loss for words by the brazen manner in which Planned Parenthood employees casually discuss the harvesting of aborted babies’ tissue and organs,” Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said in a statement. “These videos give us a window into the soul of the big abortion industry and expose their past statements as flat-out lies.”

The growing firestorm over the footage is alarming supporters of abortion rights. …




But the media will not be bowed. Power Line posts on the reporter WaPo has hired to report on the conservatives he hates.

… Weigel’s contempt extended beyond conservative personalities to broad precincts of the conservative movement. He moaned: “Honestly, it’s been tough to find fresh angles sometimes–how many times can I report that these [tea party] activists are joyfully signing up with the agenda of discredited right-winger X and discredited right-wing group Y?”

He also accused conservatives of using the media to “violently, angrily divide America.” (Emphasis added) Their motives, he said, included “racism” and protecting “white privilege,” and for some of the top conservatives in D.C., a nihilistic thirst for power.

After these and other such remarks were made public, Weigel “resigned.” He has acknowledged that, in effect, the Post fired him.

The Post’s then-Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli cited his paper’s lack of tolerance for “the perception that people are conflicted or bring a bias to their work.” “Perception” was, I believe, the key word.

Anti-conservative bias might be okay, but the Post believed it would not do for a reporter whose contempt for, if not hatred of, conservatives had been publicly exposed to hold down the paper’s conservative beat. One hopes that it also questioned whether a reporter this intemperate should hold down any serious news beat.

But now the Post has brought Weigel back and given him a portion of the 2016 presidential beat. Perceived as too biased to cover conservatives in general, he will now cover conservative presidential candidates. What should we make of this?

The Post, without referring to Weigel’s 2010 resignation/dismissal, explained that Weigel brings a “one-of-a-kind perspective and voice to our campaign team.” That’s a way of putting it, albeit a question-begging one. …