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    Soviet Union Tag

    The surest sign that Beto is running is that a leader of "Draft Beto 2020" just shared a video of Bernie Sanders on his honeymoon in the Soviet Unino 1988:
    "Recently discovered footage from 1988 reveals a shirtless Bernie Sanders with his wife, Jane, on their honeymoon in the USSR, drunkenly signing “This Land Is Your Land” with a group of presumed Soviets."

    The New York Times recently published an Op-Ed with an eye-popping claim: for all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big.

    This was not the first piece published by the New York Times exploring the Alleged glories of socialism as they relate to women. In August, anthropologist Kristen R. Ghodsee attempted to answer the greatest question of the 20th century, in Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism (oh — you weren’t wondering that?).

    Natan Sharansky is winding down his leadership of The Jewish Agency for Israel, a post he has held since 2009.  The Jewish Agency serves to strengthen ties of Jews around the world with Israel. You can read their most recent annual report on their activities here (pdf.) To honor Sharansky's service and life, the Jewish Agency is encouraging people to share memories about Sharansky, including using the hashtag #CelebrateWithNatan. So I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to recollect Legal Insurrection's prior coverage of Sharansky, plus a new story I just learned about him.

    Hamilton College is acknowledging the hundredth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution with displays of crimson banners, books from International Publishers (a Communist organization), and visages of Lenin in the library. What should be added is a rendering of a hand-less and toothless frozen corpse with the death certificate from 1939:

    On December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachov resigned as President of the Soviet Union. The red flag was lowered at the Kremlin, and the next day, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. The BBC reported:
    Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union for almost seven years and executive president for nearly two, has stepped down from office. He announced his resignation in a 10 minute speech, broadcast live on television, as the Soviet Union passed into history.

    I never pass up an opportunity to play Boney M music. I first wrote a separate post about Boney M was when lead singer Bobby Farrell died in December 2010:

    Boney M

    That is a name I had not heard in decades. When I studied in the Soviet Union many of the East European students loved the group Boney M and were surprised that none of the Americans in our group had heard of it.  To them, Boney M was supposed to be one of the leading bands in the U.S.

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was a KGB spy in the 1980s, recently surfaced Soviet documents reveal. Abbas, who was a long-time aide to Yasser Arafat -- the notoriuos Godfather of Arab terrorism -- was appropriately code-named the “mole” (krotov) by his Russian handlers. Abbas was most likely recruited by the Soviet spy agency back in the early 80s when he was a Ph.D. student at a Moscow university where he was polishing his credentials as an antisemitic conspiracy theorist, needed to rise through the ranks of Arafat’s Palestinian terrorist group PLO. Abbas, leader of PLO's main faction 'Fatah', took office in 2005 and appointed himself as the 'President for Life' of the Palestinian Authority -- refusing to call for any further elections -- very much in keeping with the democratic best-practices of fellow Arab despots.

    The announcement of passing of Uzbekistan's veteran dictator Islam Karimov came as surprise to no one in the Russian-speaking world.  The rumors of his death, following a stroke that his younger daughter announced on her Instagram account, had been circulating for days when, in a situation similar to a true Soviet leader's demise:
    The Uzbek government did not confirm the reports at first but played funeral music on state channels. [Put yourself in their shoes: How does one break the news like that to the population?] Later on Friday the government eventually released a statement saying the 78-year-old president had died.
    Soviet leaders' state of health was never discussed in press, death announcements -- delayed. Western Kremlinologists and ordinary Russians alike had to crack their heads to figure out what was going on. The lack of transparency gives an edge to the strongmen: Recall the Vladimir Putin's pointed disappearance last March prompting speculations of the Russian president's death.  If Putin was only playing with our heads, Karimov was for real.

    All this alarmism surrounding firearms in America lately is getting out of control. I figure it’s time to offer a unique take on the issue–one that puts American gun rights and their continued need into perspective. From the amateurish House sit-in to the full-on assault on AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, your assumptions about Democrats pursuing full disarmanent under the guise of “gun control” are correct. They mean it. As a Virginia gun owner and concealed handgun permit (CHP) holder myself, I hope my perspective get can you to think differently about firearms if you have doubts.

    The BBC aired footage of notorious MI6 traitor Kim Philby briefing agents of East Germany's Stasi secret police on Monday. Philby and his "Cambridge five" cohort of British double-agents working for Soviet bloc organizations eviscerated Britain's intelligence organs and stunned Britain between his recruitment in the 1930s and his flight to Moscow in the early 1960s. Recruited by the Soviets in the 1930s, Philby was nevertheless a decorated British intelligence officer and reputedly in line to be the next head of MI6 (Britain's CIA) by the late 1940s. Over the course of his career on behalf of the Soviets, he betrayed untold Western assets and intelligence missions in the East. Finally under suspicion in the early 1950s, Philby "exposed" two Soviet agents who had already been blown or would be imminently to clear his own name.  Despite that measure, Philby was forced to leave British intelligence in 1951.  Tasked with identifying the third member of the spy ring Philby had exposed, British Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan told the House of Commons in 1955, "I have no reason to conclude that Mr. Philby has at any time betrayed the interests of his country, or to identify him with the so-called 'Third Man', if indeed there was one."

    Apparently, Bernie Sanders' supporters can't stop themselves from expressing their thoughts about how great socialism is. The former former Soviet chess champion has taken to Facebook to express his thoughts about being lectured by the uninformed about something he knows all too well. Garry Kasparov writes:
    I'm enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means! Socialism sounds great in speech soundbites and on Facebook, but please keep it there. In practice, it corrodes not only the economy but the human spirit itself, and the ambition and achievement that made modern capitalism possible and brought billions of people out of poverty. Talking about Socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism. Income inequality is a huge problem, absolutely. But the idea that the solution is more government, more regulation, more debt, and less risk is dangerously absurd.

    Because yesterday was mostly a travel day for me, I missed the 36th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the 1980 U.S. defeat of the Soviet Union in Olympic ice hockey. Most people think it was the finals, but it actually was the semi-finals. The U.S. went on to defeat Finland for the gold. For me it holds a very special memory, even though I didn't watch the game live. I was a student in Moscow at the time, living in a large dorm just inside the city limits, on the last Metro stop before the ring road. I studied at the Pushkin Russian Language Institute, which trained foreigners to become Russian language teachers, the theory being that the adoption of English as the international language was harmful to Soviet interests. I had no intention of becoming a Russian language teacher, but the experience was unique.

    If, dear reader, you are wondering how easy it is to lie to the United States immigration officials, you are not wondering alone. A little over 25 years ago I, along with other Soviet Jews, were going through the immigration process wondering out loud about how easy it would be to deceive our future homeland. That wasn't our main concern, however.  Our main concern was the politics surrounding admission of refugees from the USSR because we knew that ultimately the question of us coming to America was a political one -- just as it is today. We were interviewed abroad, in Italy, and the interview consisted mainly of personal questions, related to political views and religious issues. [caption id="attachment_153649" align="alignnone" width="500"] [Soviet Jews arriving at Vienna train station][/caption]Our scaredy grannies on blood pressure meds feared the day of the embassy trip; no doubt contemporary college students would find it "triggering". Seniors laughed and cried and then cried again when asked "Did you ever work for or associate with (either directly or indirectly) with the Nazi government of Germany?"

    The British-American historian Robert Conquest died on August 3, 2015, at age 98. That name may not ring a bell to you, but it does to students of Soviet history, of which I was one in college. In the 1960s Conquest documented the extent of Stalin's terror, which outlets such as The NY Times had covered up as they were happening in the 1930s. For that, Conquest was hated. But eventually recognized, including the 2005 Medal of Freedom. The Wall Street Journal writes in its obituary:
    Robert Conquest, an Anglo-American historian whose works on the terror and privation under Joseph Stalin made him the pre-eminent Western chronicler of the horrors of Soviet rule, died Monday in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 98 years old. Mr. Conquest’s master work, “The Great Terror,” was the first detailed account of the Stalinist purges from 1937 to 1939. He estimated that under Stalin, 20 million people perished from famines, Soviet labor camps and executions—a toll that eclipsed that of the Holocaust. Writing at the height of the Cold War in 1968, when sources about the Soviet Union were scarce, Mr. Conquest was vilified by leftists who said he exaggerated the number of victims. When the Cold War ended and archives in Moscow were thrown open, his estimates proved high but more accurate than those of his critics....

    One of my early posts at Legal Insurrection, on November 11, 2008, was Is It Time For Conservatives To Sit Down In The Snow?. The post analogized what conservatives were about to experience in the aftermath of Obama's first victory to the experience of Soviet Jewish Refusenik Anatoly (Nathan) Sharansky. I related the story of Sharansky's release from the Soviet gulag, and how he resisted to the very last moment of his release:
    Sharansky spend almost a decade in Soviet prison because of his activities on behalf of Jews who wanted to emigrate to Israel. Sharansky was subjected to torture and other indignities, but never lost his spirit.Sharansky notoriously refused to obey even the most mundane orders from his captors. Sharansky understood that to compromise even a little would lead to compromising a lot. Throughout his ordeal, Sharansky kept his spirits alive by reading a small book of psalms. As Sharansky was being led to the airplane that would take him from the Soviet Union to East Germany for the exchange, the Soviets confiscated his book of psalms.It would have been easy for Sharansky simply to keep walking towards the plane and freedom. But Sharansky understood that the Soviets confiscated his book of psalms not because they wanted the book, but because they wanted to show that even in this last moment, they were in control.