China Daily is a propaganda rag, which I stop in a local Starbucks to read for the news (mostly straight), interesting cultural pieces, and sports summaries. My eye often however drifts to the opinion page, which is a mixture of North Korean-style rants, and more nuanced pieces.
What is most disturbing is to find some of those rants are by westerners who are willing to sell their soul to a propaganda organ to vent their bile at their own country, or at their perceived enemies in America.
This is particularly obnoxious because China Daily never airs any of the many grievous short-comings of the Chinese dictatorship. While disasters are mentioned, the paper's coverage of their own bosses, aside from those targetted for corruption, is universally fawning. Always the fault lies entirely with whatever country China is having a hard time playing well this week -- whether the US, or Japan, Taiwan, or even the Phillippines.
It is reprehensible for a westerner, who surely knows the truth, to feed the appetite of such a propaganda outlet for anti-American propaganda.
Today, for instance, I found an article on the faults of American democracy ("democracy") by an economist named Mike Bastin. I should have been an easy audience to please, because Bastin was attacking Donald Trump, and I'm a sucker for attacks on Trump. But in his rush to paint his own country in the darkest colors, Bastin couldn't even bother to get his most basic facts correct. (Most of the present generation of Chinese communist propagandists do better than his piece.)
In the following rebuttal, I will include all of Bastin's article, which is fairly short, so no one can accuse me of quoting him out of context.
"Even though US presidential candidate Donald Trump's rivals in the Republican Party appear to be gaining some kind of momentum, it still looks as if the billionaire businessman is about to secure the nomination to contest one of the most powerful positions on the planet."
Accurate enough so far, except that rather than "one of" the most powerful positions, "the most powerful position" would probably be more accurate.
"What is at stake? Is it Trump's often nonsensical and barmy rhetorical rants? Or, is it yet again the phony, money-centric system of democracy that defines the United States?"
So America's democracy is "phony?" What about China's "democracy?" (One of the twelve "core socialist values" the government is pushing is "Democracy.") Are you going to say anything critical about that -- like, that it's a complete illusion? That more than 1.3 billion people are completely disenfranchised from choosing their own leaders?
No, of course not.
Obama didn't have much money. Neither does Bernie Sanders, nor did Ben Carson. Their popularity was based not on huge finances, but on the support of millions. Could a Ben Carson rise to contest the presidency of China?
Don't make me laugh.
"The answer is the latter.
"Trump relies on one thing and one thing only: financial fortune (most of which was inherited from his late father).
Two grotesque errors, here.
In fact, what propelled Trump to the lead in the Republican race was not his money -- he hasn't spent much of it, actually -- but his pithy if, yes, 'barmy' rants. Lots of people like the bastard. I don't, but in fact he hasn't won by spending the most money -- if money settled everything, then Jeb Bush would be the Republican winner.
And no, most of Trump's money was NOT inherited.
"Not that Trump is the only one. All the presidential frontrunners rely on huge amounts of money without which any hopes of power would be a pipe dream."
Yes, just as power in every country relies on money -- even North Korea. This is just an inane Marxist truism, dressed up to sound cynical and cutting. If you want to sell Coke, you need to spend money on advertising. If you want to convince voters Bush or Sanders or Trump is the best guy, you also need to pay for advertising. And the Core Socialist Values campaign also spends a massive amount of money.
Welcome to the real world.
It is neither moral nor immoral, but intrinsically necessary, that it takes - has always taken - a lot of money to communicate to hundreds of millions of people.
"The presidential race, and Trump's presence in particular, also highlights the gross unfairness of wealth distribution across the US. All the frontrunners that appear so regularly on our television screens are white, middle class. Where are the African Americans? Where are the Asian Americans? vIncumbent President Barack Obama's election appeared to break the mold and herald a new dawn but clearly little, if any, progress has been made with regard to equality of opportunity."
Either Baskin has not been paying attention, or he has a very short memory. Ben Carson, a black surgeon, was the front-runner in the Republican campaign for a while. Why did he slide? Because after the Paris attacks, he was perceived as being too uninformed and gentle for the job. (Trump is also uninformed, but so far no one has accused him of being too gentle.)
The Republicans also have had two leading Hispanic candidates this session, along with a female businesswoman. The leading candidate on the Democratic side is a woman, for the first time.
What, in a country where one in eight are black, now all the candidates should be black, or something? Or else this is "clear" evidence that "little progress has been made to equality of opportunity?"
And last round Herman Cain, a black businessman, similarly did well until his weaknesses as a candidate were exposed.
By contrast, when was the last time a Tibetan or a woman was elected to supreme power in China?
"Money talks in the US and Trump does a lot of talking. In fact, another feature of US-style "democracy" is the incessant, fatuous drivel spouted by all those running for power. Rarely do we see a serious debate on serious economic and/or social issues affecting the US and the wider world. Instead, we are tortured by Trump's tirades against rival candidates (both Republican and Democratic) and jovial jingoistic "God bless America" sound bites and little else."
"Even the live telecasts of debates descend into farce, nay nonsense, with each contender trying desperately to score cheap brownie points against the others."
I watched several Republican debates, and this is simply false. The debates were often highly substantive. Admittedly, the one at which Trump failed to show up was probably the best, but that's not the fault of his rivals.
There has been a great deal of debate over policy towards Iran, Israel, China, and so forth, as well as economic debate. Bastin either did not watch the debates, or only managed to notice what he didn't want to see.
And what is "jingoistic" about "God bless America?" A jingoist is someone who wants to start a lot of wars. One can hope God will bless one's country without wishing for more wars, and one can start wars -- as Chairman Mao did, in all directions -- without invoking God.
"Perhaps most disconcerting of all is the fact that Americans cannot find anyone better. It appears that Trump really does embody many of the personality traits shared by a large number of Americans."
On this point, I actually agree. And I would say the same, even more so, about Chairman Mao's continued and disconcerting popularity in China, despite his willingness that one third of Chinese die in a global nuclear war, if such were needed to ensure the victory of communism -- not to mention his millions of actual murders. Surely China could have found someone better?
Or better than the present Xi Jinping, who seems to want to start trouble with most of his neighbors? (Not while invoking God, but while tearing crosses off of churches?)
Little mute on that subject, are we, Bastin? Yet this stage you're mounted on, the official Chinese press, is dedicated to the propaganda that makes the likes of Mao a continued national hero, and puffs up Xi all day long.
"Even Trump's claim to be a "self-made man", personifying the "American Dream" is without foundation. A cursory examination of Trump's business career reveals an inherited foundation marked by his numerous blunders."
While again, I'm easy on Trump criticism, this is, again, lazy. Most of Trump's money, he did not in fact inherit. Trump exaggerates the extent to which he is a self-made man. The solution to lies is not to tell opposite lies, but to tell the truth.
"While we can only hope Trump is finally trounced and roundly rejected by the American people, his apparent popularity among voters is also a disturbing feature of US-style "democracy". Americans appear to fall under the spell of the most outspoken, raucous, aggressive presidential candidate regardless of what they actually stand for."
A plainly false generalization. The last Republican candidates were named Romney, McCain, Bush, and Dole. Raucous rabble-rousers? Baloney.
Obama might be accused of that, but he tried to sound competent and reasonable when he was running for president.
"Not that the other candidates represent anything less hypocritical. The Bush family and the Clinton family appear to believe they have an automatic right to power and, in effect, abuse this putative "democratic" process."
Actually, there are no provisions in the American Constitution that deny the sons or wives of former presidents from running for public office. Does Baskin suggest that there should be? Or merely that they should run without confidence?
Was it a tragedy that John Q Adams, or Franklin D Roosevelt, were elected president, thanks to family fortune and fame? Baskin is confusing "freedom" with "equality."
But now here's where Baskin shows his true colors:
"Fortunately, and what also appears to escape these most unworldly US presidential frontrunners, the American influence around the world continues to decline - a downward spiral that will only accelerate under the presidency of any of the frontrunners."
So here's the good news, world. China will increase, and the United States of America -- which won World War II, won the Cold War, defended numerous countries against totalitarian and Islamic aggression, and rebuilt Europe and Japan, is now fading into the sunset.
So my bosses in Beijing (after killing millions of innocent people in their own country, destroying much of the world's great art and architecture, and sucking the soul out of Chinese culture) can do whatever they like to Taiwan, or punish Japan or the Philllipines, in a few years. And they can continue to feed their people with any lies they like, with no fear of competition, or tear down churches, or torture cultists. The whole world should breath a sigh of relief! No one will be around to constrain the mad Kim family in North Korea, or Islamic terrorists!
"So until then let's content ourselves with the belief that Trump's political career will at some stage in the future come to an end and let's also try to advise this charismatic candidate on a life after politics: Surely a promising career beckons in the world of TV shows, for leadership and diplomacy are a totally different cup of tea."
Or he might try his hand at flattering the prejudices of tyrants, like you do, Mr. Baskin. He seems to admire Putin.