Friday, October 11, 2013

Federal Thugs Use Force As Anti-Obama Civil Disobedience Spreading

Recently, we suggested that the civil disobedience of those World War II vets who stormed the shutdown-closed World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, might be catching, and it looks like we were right.

Of course some of what looks like civil disobedience doesn’t have any clear political content – people who planned a vacation or wish to drive through a scenic vista the government has fenced off as federal property simply want to follow through on their plans and don’t understand why armed federal law enforcement officers are being employed to keep them out.

However, such inadvertent civil disobedience isn’t without its risks – even if it has no obvious political content – and the reaction of the National Park Service in particular has been completely outrageous in both the use of force and the use of supposedly furloughed federal employees.

Among the most egregious examples of excessive use of force by the National Park Service we have discovered was the experience of Pat Vaillancourt of Salisbury, Massachusetts, as reported by John Macone of the Newburyport (Massachusetts) Daily News.

Macone reports that “Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1. For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.

The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.

When their bus stopped along a road as a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.

“The armed ranger responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.

When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.

Macone quoted Ms. Vaillancourt as saying her experience with the National Park Service reminded her of her father, a World War II veteran who survived three years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

“My father took a lot of crap from the Japanese,” she recalled, her eyes welling with tears. “Every day they made him bow to the Japanese flag. But he stood up to them.”

“He always said to stand up for what you believe in, and don’t let them push you around,” she said, adding she was sad to see “fear, guns and control” turned on citizens in her own country.

In the thuggery of the National Park Service the American people are finally getting a taste of what Obama and Obamacare are really all about – fear, feds with guns and most of all control.



Obamacare Waivers Granted to Nevada and New Hampshire

President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), headed by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, has now granted Obamacare waivers to the entire states of Nevada and New Hampshire. In its letter to Nevada, HHS admits that, without the waiver, “there is a reasonable likelihood” that Obamacare would result in “market destabilization, and thus harm to consumers.” Thus, to try to keep insurers from fleeing that state, HHS has exempted Nevada from a portion of Obamacare’s long list of mandates and requirements. HHS also admits to a “reasonable likelihood” that Obamacare would “destabilize the individual market” in New Hampshire, and has granted it a statewide waiver as well.

So, just to summarize: The federal government passes almost unbelievably complicated and intrusive legislation that even its own Department of Health and Human Services admits is reasonably likely to disrupt markets and harm people. States and other entities then make the case to HHS that this would in fact happen. Sebelius and her underlings then decide — or decide not — to bequeath exceptions to the law for given states, companies, unions, or collections of companies in a given representative’s district. This is not how things are supposed to work.

Nevada and New Hampshire will be two of the most closely contested states in the upcoming presidential election, which of course will determine whether Sebelius will get to keep her job. In the past eight presidential elections, the candidate who has won Nevada has also won the presidency. And in seven of the past eight presidential elections, the candidate who has won New Hampshire has also won the presidency (the only exception being when John Kerry, from neighboring Massachusetts, beat George W. Bush by just over 1 percentage point).



Varieties of conservatism

In 2008, the writer George Packer argued in a New Yorker article titled “The Fall of Conservatism” that the disarray then engulfing the Republican Party was actually symptomatic of deeper problems characterizing American conservative thought. Conservatism’s apparent meltdown in the United States, Packer suggested, partly flowed from fierce internal disagreements over issues ranging from foreign policy to government-spending levels. Yet the challenge facing conservatives went far beyond, Packer claimed, these explicit tensions. Conservatism’s real crisis, he said, was one of ideas per se. To this end, Packer quoted one of contemporary conservatism’s most astute products, the political analyst Yuval Levin, who maintained that “The conservative idea factory is not producing as it did. You hear it from everybody, but nobody agrees what to do about it.”

For many conservatives, ideas have never been something that people should embrace too enthusiastically. Some ideas, they note, have helped facilitate some of history’s greatest barbarisms. There is a straight line, for example, between Karl Marx’s ruminations jotted down in the sedate settings of the British Library, and the Killing Fields of far-away Cambodia one hundred years later. In this light, we shouldn’t be surprised to find some conservative thinkers such as the Tory M.P. and later Lord Chancellor Quintin Hogg insisting in his 1959 book, The Conservative Case, that conservatism wasn’t “so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself.”

The truth, however, is that for every “attitude-conservative,” there has been just as many “idea-conservatives.” Indeed few things divide conservatives more today than ideas. Among the many groups that have appropriated the term “conservative,” we find self-described fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, southern agrarians, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, conservative liberals, business conservatives, traditionalists, libertarian conservatives, national security conservatives, conservative Democrats, Reagan conservatives, limited government conservatives, Tories, isolationists, bioconservatives, Thatcherites, progressive conservatives, federalists, fusionists, religious conservatives, and so on and so forth.

The differences between these ever-shifting clusters are often profound. The deepest, usually unspoken philosophical division is perhaps between those conservatives who ground their thinking in natural law reasoning and those committed to its polar-opposite: skepticism. But even within particular conservative alignments, there are sometimes noteworthy splits regarding specific questions. Some social conservatives, for instance, are outspoken free traders. Other, however, verge on economic nationalism.

The imprecision associated with the word conservative becomes even more evident when we consider figures that claim the moniker. Britain’s David Cameron, for example, never ceases proclaiming his conservative credentials. Yet does anyone seriously doubt that David Cameron has more in common with President Barack Obama than with, say, Senator Rand Paul or Senator Ted Cruz? What, some might ask, does Britain’s present Conservative Prime Minister have to do with conservatism at all?

That said, it’s worth noting that the various forces associated with conservatism haven’t ever and aren’t likely to achieve complete unity. Conservatism’s political expressions have often consisted of alliances of constituencies united less by common commitment to deeply-held beliefs, than by agreement on particular points during certain time-periods and some degree of “the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend” logic. The imperative of defeating the diabolical evil of Communism, for example, produced a number of less-than-obvious bedfellows. Beyond these political conveniences, a considerable degree of internal debate on the right is highly desirable, not least because it forces people to defend and refine their positions.

The political importance of building and sustaining “broad-church” conservative coalitions shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, they help realize what has to be an important part of modern conservatism’s agenda: opposing and rolling-back a left that, however absurd its goals, is truly relentless in seeking to realize its dreams. But any revival of conservatism can’t just be about focusing upon what it is against. Nor can conservatism’s energy be completely consumed by policy-battles, as important as these are. For if conservatives lose the broader conflict about the type of civilization we aspire to live in, then all their policy-victories will ultimately count for naught.

Genius of the West

This brings me to what I think has to be conservatism’s long-term agenda as well as a central element in any lasting conservative resurgence: the defense and promotion of what we should unapologetically call Western civilization. By this, I mean that unique culture which emerged from the encounter of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome, the brilliance of which—if I may be deeply politically-incorrect for a moment—is somewhat harder to discern in other societies. As anathema as this culture may be in the contemporary faculty lounge, this is the tradition that conservatives should be in the business of safeguarding and advocating: not just in opposition to those who deploy violence in the name of a divine un-reason, but also against the obsessive egalitarianism, rank sentimentalism and wild-eyed utopianism of those who live inside the West’s gates but who have long inhabited a different mental universe altogether.

The best minds from whom conservatives continue to draw inspiration, ranging from Edmund Burke and Wilhelm Röpke to Augustine and Alexis de Tocqueville, have always understood that civilizational questions are the ones which ultimately matter. The genius of the West can be expressed in a number of propositions, but among the most prominent are the following: that freedom is to be found in the self-mastery that results from freely choosing to live in the truth rather than lies; that reason includes but encompasses far more than just the empirical sciences; and that in awareness of our fallen nature and the lessons of history we find some of the best defenses against our restless impulse to attempt to construct heaven-on-earth.

Yet as the French theologian Jean Daniélou S.J. once observed, there is no true civilization that is not also religious. In the case of Western civilization, that means Judaism and Christianity. The question of religious truth is something with which we must allow every person to wrestle in the depths of their conscience. But if conservatism involves upholding the heritage of the West against those who would tear it down (whether from without and within), then conservatives should follow the lead of European intellectuals such as Rémi Brague and Joseph Ratzinger and invest far more energy in elucidating Christianity’s pivotal role in the West’s development—including the often complicated ways in which it responded to, and continues to interact, with the movements associated with the various Enlightenments.

Such an enterprise goes beyond demonstrating Christianity’s contribution to institutional frameworks such as constitutional government. Conservatives must be more attentive to how Judaism and Christianity—or at least their orthodox versions—helped foster key ideas that underlie the distinctiveness of Western culture. These include:

their liberation of man from the sense that the world was ultimately meaningless;

their underscoring of human fallibility and consequent anti-utopianism;

their affirmation that man is made to be creative rather than passive;

their insistence that there are moral absolutes that may never be violated,

their tremendous respect for human reason in all its fullness;

their crucial distinction between religious and civil authority; and

their conviction that human beings can make free choices.

This last point is especially important precisely because of the difficulty of finding strong affirmations of the reality of free choice outside orthodox Judaism, orthodox Christianity, and certain schools of natural law thought. Beyond these spheres, the world is basically made up of soft determinists (like John Stuart Mill) or hard determinists (like Marx).

There is, however, something more elemental of which modern conservatism stands in desperate need. In the first episode of his acclaimed 1969 BBC series Civilisation, the art historian, the late Kenneth Clark, sat in the foreground of an old viaduct and spoke about the Romans’ “confidence.” By that, he didn’t mean arrogance. What Clark had in mind was the Romans’ self-belief: their conviction that the ideas and institutions which they had inherited, developed, and extended throughout Europe and the Mediterranean amounted to a singular cultural accomplishment worthy of emulation.

Obviously the Roman world was far from perfect. As illustrated in the novel Satyricon, most likely written by the Roman courtier Gaius Petronius Arbiter during Nero’s disastrous reign, substantive decay had already set in among Rome’s elites by the first century A.D. What, however, seems difficult to dispute is the need for contemporary conservatives—however they prefix or suffix themselves—to develop and display a Roman-like confidence in the West’s achievements. For, absent such confidence, how will conservatives be able to re-infuse self-belief back into a West presently awash in soft despotism, nihilism, emotivism, and rampant self-loathing?

“Civilizations,” wrote the historian Arnold Toynbee, “die from suicide, not from murder.” Preventing the West from continuing to drift toward self-oblivion is surely a task—nay, a duty—of any principled conservative worthy of the name. In fact, as Margaret Thatcher was fond of saying, there is no alternative.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Are European Jews mostly of Italian ancestry?

Greg Cochran is one of the authorities on Jewish genetics so his conclusions below carry weight.  As usual, he even has some little jokes about it.  From my own observations, I must say that there does seem to be an unusual warmth towards Israel among modern-day Italians -- JR

For some time, we have known that many Jewish populations  had mostly-Near Eastern  paternal ancestry (looking at y-chromosomes) and mostly-local maternal ancestry  looking at mtDNA). Autosomal admixture studies generally agree. This is easiest to see when the host population is fairly distant from Europe or the Near East, and thus has significantly different mtDNA types: it’s obvious in the case of Indian Jews.  Roughly speaking,  Jewish men settled distant lands, as traders or sometimes refugees and POWs.  They married local girls, and later, mostly with the advent of Rabbinical Judaism, rules emerged that forbade further intermarriage – and  presto, Roberta’s your aunt.

It’s a bit more difficult when comparing Europe and the Near East, since there has been a lot of population movement between those regions, most of it from the Near East into Europe in the form of the first farmers.  So even though the mixed origin of Jewish populations (Near Eastern men and local women) was clear in a number of cases, it wasn’t so clear in the most important case, the Ashkenazi Jews, who make up most of the world’s Jews and and account for almost all Jewish intellectual accomplishment.

But even when the same mtDNA haplotypes are found in both Europe and the Near East, the sub-haplotypes are different – the fine details clarify the story.

Back in 2006, Doron Behar and company looked at Ashkenazi mtDNA.  Four mtDNA lineages accounted for almost half:  K1a1b1a, K1a9, K2a2a, and N1b.  About 20% of Ashkenazi Jews have K1a1b1a mtDNA.  Behar concluded that all of these lineages originated in the Near East.  This was plausible for N1b (about 9% of Ashkenazi mtDNA), which is common in the Near East and rare in Europe (although it was common back in the LBK culture).  He couldn’t find any closely related versions of the K1a9 and K2a2a lineages outside of the Ashkenazim – and went on to say that they probably originated in the Near East, based on nothing. He also concluded that K1a1b1a was probably Near Eastern, since the only close non-Jewish versions were found in Portugal, Italy, France,  Morocco, and Tunisia: a conclusion which flew in the face of what evidence he had.  It is if one knew that all the languages closely related to Russian (Polish, Ukrainian, Serbian, etc) were found in Eastern Europe, and then concluded that the Russian language must therefore have originated in South Africa.

In other words, Doron Behar is a liar.  I was going to include something about the probable origins of Ashkenazi mtDNA (mostly Italian) and Behar’s follies in the book. I wrote it up (in a little essay titled “Special K”), but space prohibited, and anyhow liars are boring.

A new paper by Maria Costa et al (with Martin Richards as senior author) settles the issue.  We have a lot more data now – more people, and more detail.  Turns out that all of those major Ashkenazi mtDNA lineages originated  in Western Europe – even N1b, fairly rare in Europe.  The majority of the less common Ashkenazi mtDNA  lineages also originated in Europe – probably mostly in Italy. Altogether, > 80% of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry is European – mostly Italian, but a bit from France and Germany as well.

You may have heard of Arthur Koestler’s Khazar hypothesis – the notion that Europeans Jews are largely descended from Khazar converts. It’s not true – these results show that it is impossible. Charles Murray suggested that selection leading to higher intelligence in Jews occurred a long time ago, as far back as  the Babylonian Captivity.  That’s not true either. It never made any sense, because there’s not a scintilla of evidence that Jews in Classical times were smarter than the average bear – but  the Ashkenazim being half Italian crushed it yet again. If ancestral Jews had the genetic IQ magic, the Ashkenazim should be watered-down, closer to the European norm: but they’re not.

Lots of European admixture does not contradict our model of the evolution of superior Ashkenazi intelligence, because we think that the relevant selection occurred well after that admixture, during a period in which inward gene flow among the Ashkenazim was very low – as evidence by the fact that this study found plenty of Italian mtDNA, but little from Eastern Europe.

As Michael Balter cheerfully points out in Science, this result may be a bit troublesome to those that believe that Jewish identity descends through the female line.  In that case, most Ashkenazi Jews – aren’t.

I haven’t heard anyone else mention this, but logically, someone who is Ashkenazi could now decide that he and his cousins are really the true heirs of the Roman Empire, rather than a member of the Chosen People.  I’m sure that wouldn’t cause any trouble.

Doe this mean that the Palestinians have a better genealogical claim to the land of Israel than the Ashkenazi Jews? Maybe – but over the years, they’ve mixed too. They have a lot of South Arabian and African ancestry that wasn’t there 2000 years ago. That’s true of much of the Middle East – but that’s another post…  I’m sure that modern DNA technology will answer this question anytime anyone cares to look, and obviously everyone will accept the verdict of Science, whatever it may be.

Anyhow, if Italy really is the Ashkenazi urheimat, that’s not so bad.  I’d trade the Judean Hills for Tuscany in a New York minute. And even if trading homelands would require some toe-to-toe combat with the Italians – how hard would that be, really?



Why the Left Hates the Old

Dennis Prager

The latest left-wing tactic to discredit conservative views is to dismiss the age and race of conservatives. "Old white males" and "old white people" are the left's latest favored negative epithets for those holding conservative views.

Chris Matthews of MSNBC, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman of the New York Times, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ("angry old white men") are among the many on the left who have used this epithet.

Last week, on her nightly MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow showed a picture of an ad for Washington, D.C. talk radio station WRC that featured the station's talk show hosts. You will notice, she said, that they are all "old white Republican males." It was brought to my attention because I am one of those talk show hosts (and, it should be noted, nearly all of my colleagues and I are younger than her colleague, Chris Matthews, an old white Democratic male.)

What is going on here?

The answer is: quite a bit. The left's dismissal of old people is much more than another left-wing ad hominem attack. Therefore, to understand it is to understand much of what animates leftism.

As a rule, the left rejects the old.

The left's attack on teaching the works of "Dead White European Males" was one such example. It infuriated the left that Shakespeare was studied so much more than, let us say, living Guatemalan playwrights. As a result, one can now obtain a college degree in English -- let alone every other liberal arts department -- without having taken a course in Shakespeare.

So, too, in art and music, the new is almost always favored over the old. New composers and artists -- no matter how untalented -- are studied as much as or more than the great masters of old. And the old standards of excellence are neglected in favor of the latest avant-garde experimentation.

Rejection of the old is a reason the left has contempt for the Bible. To progressives, the idea of having 2,000 and 3,000-year-old texts guide a person's behavior today is ludicrous.

Low regard for the old is also a major factor in the left's dismissal of the Founders and of the original intent of the Constitution. Talk about "old white males," the Founders are white males who are now over 200-years-old. What could they possibly have known or understood that a progressive living today does not know more about or understand better?

What, then, is at the core of the left's contempt for the old, and its celebration of the new and of change?

There are two primary answers.

One is the yearning for utopia. Since Marx, the left has sought utopia in this world. And that means constantly transforming every aspect of society. As then-Senator Barack Obama said prior to the 2008 election: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

By definition, those who seek to transform consider the old essentially worthless.

The other answer is self-esteem. The left began the self-esteem movement in large measure because of its own high self-esteem. Those on the left are certain that they are smarter, kinder, more moral and more compassionate than -- in every way superior to -- their opponents.

That is a major reason for the left's problem with the old: If the old is great, then they and their new ideas are probably not that great.

Just about everyone who is not on the cultural left knows that all the great masters were incomparably superior to Jackson Pollock and other 20th-centuries artists who produced meaningless and talentless art. And because there are so few artists at any time who measure up to the old standards (standards that are synonymous with standards of excellence), the old standards have simply been abandoned.

This applies equally to morality. The left doesn't want to be bound or answerable to a higher moral authority. Rather, one's heart and reason are the best moral guides. Here, too, the old codes, especially as embodied in traditional religion, must be overthrown.

Prior to the ascendance of the left, it was assumed that the old had more wisdom than the young. Indeed, even every leftist I have asked, "Are you wiser today than 20 years ago?" has answered in the affirmative.

Nevertheless the left has transformed "old" -- a title that commanded respect in every civilization prior to the pre-1960s West -- into a pejorative.

As a result we live in the age of new music, new art, new families, new morality, new education, and now new marriage. If you think all these are good, then "old white males," like almost everything else old, do indeed constitute a threat. If you think the left's belief in "new" and "change" hurts society, "old" sounds good.



"Diversity" as Fascism

If any of the mainstream media outlets in the United States, with the obvious exception of Fox News, were to draw up a list of the least tolerant groups, associations and organizations in the nation, the result would be completely predictable. Not necessarily in this order, it would read: The TEA Party; the NRA; the Republican Party; Rush Limbaugh listeners; Fox News viewers and, no doubt, anyone who works for Fox News; Glenn Beck listeners; Christians; any other group that believes in patriotism, the Constitution and traditional values.

The pre-programmed refrain would be that these groups do not accept diversity. True diversity, however, occurs when people of different faiths, lifestyles, ethnic backgrounds and nationalities come together organically. When diversity is forced upon a people, it is nothing more than a political charade; it is, indeed, a type of fascism.

The above list is, of course, dictated by those who provide the thoughts that fill the heads of today’s American Liberals. Completely ignored is the fact that neither the TEA Party, the NRA nor the Republican Party have any more restrictions on who they accept than does the Democratic Party or any leftwing organization in the country. Demographically, the make-up of the TEA Party closely reflects the make-up of the nation in every way but age-group.

The Republican Party has put more blacks in Congress than the Democratic Party, whose members founded the Ku Klux Klan. In addition, the Republican Party has given the nation more female cabinet members and state governors than the Democratic Party. It has also given the nation more state Governors from ethnic minorities. As for Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck; these three undisputed media giants employ, collectively, more Liberals than all other media outlets, collectively, employ Conservatives. Their viewers and listeners, if intolerant at all, are no more so than those who watch MSNBC or CNN or those who listen to NPR.

The Progressive movement, in order to conceal its agenda of complete control and enslavement, has, years ago, taken up the banner of ‘diversity’. In truth, however, the Progressive movement is the least tolerant and least diverse entity in the US. Those who identify with it have routinely – and publicly – made sexist, racist and homophobic comments; they have issued death threats and incited violence against those with whom they do not agree. President Barack Obama himself – the Progressive movement’s most useful puppet – is notoriously thin-skinned and completely unwilling to even engage in a serious discussion with anyone who opposes him politically or ideologically.

The various special interest groups in the US which pretend to fight for nothing more than acceptance, equality and ‘social justice’, such as the LGBT community, the NAACP and amusingly titled Planned Parenthood are, in fact, pushing for far more than mere equality; they are campaigning forcefully to impose their views upon everyone. Whilst the American political Right is more and more influenced by the Libertarian philosophy of Don’t Tread on Me, the political Left has become an alarmingly authoritarian movement; a veritable SS panzer division, ready to crush all those who oppose it and round up the survivors for re-education – or extermination.

Case in point: A private citizen with their own business – a bakery – refuses to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Firstly, that should clearly be a matter of the individual in question making a decision based upon their personal values and principles. The same-sex couple in question could merely have taken their business elsewhere. However, they were so filled with hatred and intolerance for anyone who refuses to conform to their beliefs that they stimulated – no pun intended – a campaign that lead to the afore-mentioned small business owner shutting down the business. Which party was the least tolerant, here? Which, the greater believer in ‘diversity’? The baker did not start a campaign to prevent the couple getting married, they simply declined to be connected with that marriage. The same-sex couple, by contrast, was determined to ruin a business – and quite prepared to destroy a life – because they came across someone who did not share their values.

Are those same-sex partners believers in diversity? Clearly not, or they would have brushed off the baker’s refusal to co-operate with a shrug and gone elsewhere for their cake; they would have accepted the fact that ‘diversity’ extends also to opinion and to values. The couple in question have every right to marry, if they are living in a state that permits same-sex marriage. The federal government has no constitutional right to deny their wishes; other private citizens may disapprove, but have no right to prevent their marriage – other than through the state-level ballot-box. Members of the LGBT community – or, as Al Sharpton calls them, homos – have a right to expect tolerance and freedom from persecution; they have no right to force everyone else to accept their lifestyle as normal.

Aside from the fundamentalists of the so-called Christian Right – America’s very own version of the Muslim Brotherhood – nobody else on the political Right wishes to force gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals to give up whatever lifestyle they have chosen. One has the right, however, to disapprove of whatever one wishes. The moment any group forces its will upon others and hounds, threatens, ridicules, demonizes – and discriminates against – anyone who happens to hold a different set of values, then that group has, itself, become the standard for intolerance, hatred and bigotry.

Diversity is, by definition, a complete acceptance of – and, indeed, a complete disregard for – differences of faith, lifestyle, skin-color, principle and belief. One simply cannot claim to embrace diversity whilst, at the same time, declare that anyone who holds a different opinion should be silenced, excluded and even punished.

The LGBT community – so long as it remains complicit in the drive to eliminate all dissent – is nothing more than a willing tool – no pun intended, again – of a Progressive movement that promotes a grotesque parody of ‘diversity’ which is, in reality, a form of fascism.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Is Iran a Lunatic State or a Rational Actor? Neither: It is a Rational Aggressor

Barry Rubin is an astute and experienced observer of the Middle East so his unusual analysis below is thought provoking

So is Iran a lunatic state or a rational actor? A hell of a lot more rational than U.S. foreign policy is today

Iran is a rational actor in terms of its own objectives. The issue is to understand what Iran wants. Policy is always best served by truth, and the truth is best told whether or not people like it. Iran is an aggressive, rational actor.

Remember: The problem is not that Iran is eager to use nuclear weapons but that the Obama Administration is not going to apply containment properly and credibly.  And that encourages Iran’s non-nuclear aggression and terrorism.

The fact is that the history of the Iranian Islamic regime does not show suicidal recklessness. A key reason for this is that the leaders of Iran know they can be reckless without risking suicide. In other words, Iran did face threats from the West commensurate with what Tehran was doing. Therefore, the risks it took were not suicidal. If apparently suicidal rhetoric does not produce suicide but serves a very specific purpose, that rhetoric is not in fact suicidal.

What, then, did Iran want?  Its basic goal was to be as powerful a regional hegemon as possible–including control over Syria and Lebanon. It would like to take leadership of all Muslims in the area. Today, however, it is clear that the Sunni Arabs reject Tehran’s leadership and will fight against it.

In other words, the ultimate extent of Iran’s zone of influence could only include part of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, southwest Afghanistan, Bahrain, and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. That is the maximum, and Iran is far from achieving that goal. And it will probably never achieve it.

Iran’s influence is limited by the location of Shia Muslims. Not all Shia Muslims favor Iran, and pretty much all Sunni Muslims oppose it. Therefore, whatever the outcome is in Syria–in other words if the regime wins–Iran will at most keep its current levels of influence. But if the regime wins, the Sunnis will hate Iran even more and will fight against it harder.

So Iran still wants to get the most power without fearing reprisal.  Nuclear weapons are a defensive shield to carry out conventional aggression.

As I’ve insisted for many years, it is increasingly clear that Iran will get nuclear weapons. We should start discussions in that framework. The recent brilliant decision of the Iranian elite–who is not only more ruthless but strategically smarter than Western leadership–to pick a national security insider, who is at best a slightly moderate extremist, as president guarantees it.

The question is only: when will Iran get nuclear weapons? The evidence seems to show that this is several years away. (It would be interesting if that development was too late to affect Syria’s civil war, and such will probably happen.)

Why will Iran certainly get nukes?

First, the West isn’t going to take strong enough action to stop it because the alternatives are deemed–perhaps accurately so–too risky. No surgical Israeli strike is going to stop it, and Obama will never support such a strike.

Of course, there is a great deal of indifference about the potential victims and lots of greed about the money to be made from Iran. The sanctions may seem tough, but there are more holes than cheese.  U.S. companies sensing profits as sanctions hopefully  fall are chomping at the bit.  After Ahmadinejad, though, there is perhaps a better money-making climate. His successor will further soothe Western willingness to battle on this nuclear issue.

And of course they just don’t care that much about potential genocide in Israel.

Second, with international support at a low point, the logistical difficulties, and a U.S. president who is incredibly reluctant, Israel is not going to attack Iran to stop it from getting nuclear weapons. What Israel should and will do is to make clear it will attack Iran if there is any reason to believe that Tehran might launch nuclear weapons. It will build up a multilayer defensive and offensive system.  This is not mere passive containment but would mean assured massive retaliation.

Note that there is more than one potential victim of Iran’s nuclear weapons. People, including the Israelis, talk a lot about Israel. Yet the Sunni Arab states are increasingly involved in shooting situations with Iranian proxies. Unlike Israel, they won’t do anything and perhaps can’t, except to beg the United States to take strong action. But the U.S. won’t do so.

And of course everyone can just hope everything will turn out all right.

A rare piece of good news, however, is that before the “Arab Spring,” it was conceivable that Iran might become leader or hegemon of the Arabic-speaking world. Israel-bashing was an important tool to do so. Now the Sunni Muslims have their own successful–even U.S.-backed!–Muslim Brotherhood movement. They not only don’t need Iran any more, they fight against Tehran.

Pushed on the defensive with more limited prospects–and knowing the Israel card won’t work–Tehran has lots less incentive to stake its survival on that issue. The nuclear weapons arsenal isn’t intended for a big bang to get revenge on Israel, it’s intended to keep the current regime in power against a growing number of enemies.

Put bluntly, Iran won’t waste its nuclear weapons on Israel or, as they might put it in Tehran, to give Israel an “excuse” to attack Iran. No pile of quotes from Iranian leaders to the contrary changes anything.

The key factor is not an appeal to the “international community” to protect Israel. Israel’s power rests precisely in old-fashioned credibility and deterrence:  Only Israel can credibly destroy the Islamic regime.  And the Islamic regime in Iran knows that.

Israel was so important in Iranian verbal declarations precisely because Israel could at one time be turned into a card that strengthened Iran’s appeal with the Arabs and the Sunni. Iran certainly had very few other cards. But the Sunni and Arabs don’t care about this, given the big change of the last two years. The Israel card–as shown by the Syrian regime’s failure with it–is worthless.

Note that while Iran has been the leading sponsor of international terrorism and poured invective out against Israel, Iran did not notably take any material action against Israel beyond terror attacks and its sponsorship of Hizballah, Hamas, and Syria–which were its allies at the time. Compared to Arab efforts in the second half of the twentieth century, this was not very much.
In other words, against Israel, the Tehran regime talked a big game but did relatively little.

On other issues, too, Iran did not act like a country bent on suicide. Against its Arab enemies, it did not take considerable risks. Iran could wage a proxy war against America in Iraq, because the United States didn’t do very much about it.

All of the above in no way discounts an Iranian threat. Yes, of course, Iran sponsored terrorism and sought to gain influence and to spread revolution. Yet it did not attack a single country in open terms of warfare. Remember, Iran was invaded by Iraq. And when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini himself was persuaded that the United States was entering the war against him, he quickly ended it, though he said that doing so was like eating snakes and scorpions; but that was necessary to preserve the regime.

Iran is the kind of aggressor who was once described by Winston Churchill as a thief who went down the street rattling doors to find one that was open.

Second, Iran sought to defend itself by threatening antagonists with total destruction and by obtaining the ultimate deterrence, nuclear weapons. This does not mean one should sympathize with Tehran since, after all, it sought nuclear weapons to ensure its defense while it continued aggressive policies.

Iran can also complain about American encirclement. Of course, if it did not follow the policies that were being practiced, there wouldn’t be a U.S. motive for any such efforts. The point, however, is that the claim that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons so it could destroy itself by attacking Israel is just not demonstrated.

Thus, Iran is not a demonic, crazed, kamikaze country. It is simply a typical aggressor who wants to have insurance against having to pay the price of such continued activity. North Korea and Pakistan sought nuclear weapons for the same reason, and it is working for them.

Let’s approach the issue in another way. Suppose Iran helped the Syrian regime win the civil war. Would the danger to Israel be increased? No, certainly it would not be from a nuclear standpoint. Assad would reestablish control over a wrecked and tottering country where the damage would take years to rebuild. But the problem is that Iran will be more secure in defending itself which means it will be more aggressive, but now with nuclear weapons.

The USE of nuclear weapons loses whatever the possession of nuclear weapons gains.

Iran would be relieved at the Syrian regime’s survival but would not be better able to carry on a (nuclear) war against Israel. The Sunnis would be prepared to cooperate with the United States against Iran and even, covertly, with Israel up to a point.

Indeed, the ability of Sunni Islamists to attack Israel would be reduced because of their obsession with the principal danger.

Again, I don’t want Assad to win in Syria. I believe that Iran is a threat. I think Iran will succeed in getting nuclear weapons. I don’t think the Tehran regime consists of lunatics who cannot wait to immolate themselves in a fiery funeral pyre. They want to stay in power for a long time. Israel has an alternative of preemption if necessary. But the United States will never help stop Iran’s getting of nukes.

This analysis should be conducted in a sober fashion. I believe, indeed I see clearly, that Israeli policymakers understand these issues. We should remember that Iran is not an insane state and that there are threats other than Iran in the Middle East.

The problem is not that Iran is eager to use nuclear weapons but that the Obama Administration is unlikely to apply containment properly and credibly. And then its version of containment might fail.



Shutdown Preparations Prove Most Government Is Waste

Some prescient comments from before the shutdown

When the government shuts down, the president will do without three-fourths of his White House staff — 1,265 taxpayer-salaried federal workers. That's a fraction of the government's total waste.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who didn't show up to vote on the budget last week, recently claimed, "the cupboard is bare. There's no more cuts to make" in a government that spends almost $4 trillion each year.

But it's funny how when the massive state apparatus is starved of its cash flow, lots of things magically appear in that bare cupboard.

A Sept. 26 letter from the assistant to the president for management and administration to the director of the Office of Management and Budget (couldn't those jobs be merged?) comically outlines the shutdown plan.

"Approximately 436 employees will be designated as excepted or exempt to perform excepted functions," the manager of the White House budget tells the manager of the executive branch budget. "The remaining 1,265 will be placed in furlough status once they have concluded activities necessary to shut down their offices."

Activities like what? Turning off the lights?

The Executive Office of the President "has carefully reviewed its personnel needs ... to ensure that the mission ... is carried out without significant interruption."

But the letter says during the shutdown it'll take 12 taxpayer-paid employees "to support the vice president in the discharge of his constitutional duties." Call them the dirty dozen, since they take care of what Vice President John Nance Garner called "a bucket of warm spit."

What do these 12 absolutely essential non-Secret Service vice-presidential staff do, guarantee that Joe Biden doesn't make a gaffe during the shutdown?

He also gets one staffer for the vice president's residence. Can't "average Joe," who as a senator famously rode the commuter train with the riffraff from Delaware to Washington every day, make his own meals for a few days? Or put up with Dr. Jill's cooking?

Why are 61 U.S. Trade Representative employees required during the shutdown "for developing, coordinating, and advising the president on U.S. trade policy"?

And how many of the more than 20 members of the first lady's staff, at least four of whom are paid six figures by the taxpayers, will be deemed non-essential?

The White House is just a microcosm of the out-of-control growth in federal government personnel. Shameless federal worker unions already plan to sue to get paid for days they stay home during the shutdown.

One thing a government shutdown does is prove that millions of them can, and should, stay home every day.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Sticker Shock: Californians suddenly discover why all the Republican shouting over #Obamacare

Meet Tom Waschura, Californian, father of two – oh, and right: Obama supporter. Just got a letter from his healthcare provider telling him that his private health insurance just went up by ten grand a year:

“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,” Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.

“I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”

Let me tell you a secret: we don’t need people like Mr. Waschura to love us. We just need people like him to vote their class interests, to quote the Marxists who unaccountably confidently expect this rotating disaster of a health care rationing system to fuel public outcry for socialized medicine.

They don’t have to vote Republican forever, you know. We’ll be happy if they vote Republican just enough to allow the party to kill this thing. With that in mind, let me just be the first to assure Mr. Waschura that his hope that the rates will be adjusted down in a few years is only half-justified: left unchecked, they will be adjusted. Only upwards.

The Democrats always expected and planned that Obamacare would be funded by raiding the incomes of as many people as possible; making the insurance companies the mechanism for jacking up premiums was the only way to get the insurance companies on-board.

In other words, Mr. Waschura: what happened to you was not a bug in the system. It is the system. And now you have to ask yourself: are you really prepared to pay ten grand a year and rising for the privilege of having a legislator theatrically agree with you on, say, first-trimester abortion? – Because I’m sure that the California Republican party will be able to find a candidate that won’t go out of his or her way to aggravate you on that topic.

We’ll finish this up with an observation from Cindy Vinson. Also Californian, also Obama supporter; she got hit with a $1,800/year increase on her individual policy.

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”

The most expensive thing in the world is something that’s free, Ms. Vinson. And if you sit down at the poker table and you don’t know after a half hour which person is going to be taken to the cleaners, it’s going to be you.



California’s New Feudalism Benefits a Few at the Expense of the Multitude

Once famous as a land of opportunity, the Golden State is now awash in inequality, growing poverty, and downward mobility that’s practically medieval, writes Joel Kotkin

California has been the source of much innovation, from agribusiness and oil to fashion and the digital world. Historically much richer than the rest of the country, it was also the birthplace, along with Levittown, of the mass-produced suburb, freeways, much of our modern entrepreneurial culture, and of course mass entertainment. For most of a century, for both better and worse, California has defined progress, not only for America but for the world.

As late as the 80s, California was democratic in a fundamental sense, a place for outsiders and, increasingly, immigrants—roughly 60 percent of the population was considered middle class. Now, instead of a land of opportunity, California has become increasingly feudal. According to recent census estimates,  the state suffers some of the highest levels of inequality in the country. By some estimates, the state’s level of inequality compares with that of such global models as  the Dominican Republic, Gambia, and the Republic of the Congo.

At the same time, the Golden State now suffers the highest level of poverty in the country—23.5 percent compared to 16 percent nationally—worse than long-term hard luck cases like Mississippi. It is also now home to roughly one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients, almost three times its proportion of the nation’s population.

Like medieval serfs, increasing numbers of Californians are downwardly mobile, and doing worse than their parents: native born Latinos actually have shorter lifespans than their parents, according to one recent report. Nor are things expected to get better any time soon. According to a recent Hoover Institution survey, most Californians expect their incomes to stagnate in the coming six months, a sense widely shared among the young, whites, Latinos, females, and the less educated.

Some of these trends can be found nationwide, but they have become pronounced and are metastasizing more quickly in the Golden State. As late as the 80s, the state was about as egalitarian as the rest of the country. Now, for the first time in decades, the middle class is a minority, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Great polarization of wealth -- as in other Latin American polities

California produces more new billionaires than any place this side of oligarchic Russia or crony capitalist China. By some estimates the Golden State is home to one out of every nine of the world’s billionaires. In 2011 the state was home to 90 billionaires, 20 more than second place New York and more than twice as many as booming Texas.

The state’s digital oligarchy, surely without intention, is increasingly driving the state’s lurch towards feudalism. Silicon Valley’s wealth reflects the fortunes of a handful of companies that dominate an information economy that itself is increasingly oligopolistic.  In contrast to the traditionally conservative or libertarian ethos of the entrepreneurial class, the oligarchy is increasingly allied with the nominally populist Democratic Party and its regulatory agenda. Along with the public sector, Hollywood, and their media claque, they present California as “the spiritual inspiration” for modern “progressives” across the country.

Through their embrace of and financial support for the state’s regulatory regime, the oligarchs have made job creation in non tech-businesses—manufacturing, energy, agriculture—increasingly difficult through “green energy” initiatives that are also sure to boost already high utility costs. One critic, state Democratic Senator Roderick Wright from heavily minority Inglewood, compares the state’s regulatory regime to the “vig” or high interest charged by the Mafia, calling it a major reason for disinvestment in many industries.

Yet even in Silicon Valley, the expansion of prosperity has been extraordinarily limited. Due to enormous losses suffered in the current tech bubble, tech job creation in Silicon Valley has barely reached its 2000 level. In contrast, previous tech booms, such as the one in the 90s, doubled the ranks of the tech community. Some, like UC Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, advance the dubious claim that those jobs are more stable than those created in Texas. But even if we concede that point for the moment,  the Valley’s growth primarily benefits its denizens but not most Californians. Since the recession, California remains down something like 500,000 jobs, a 3.5 percent loss, while its Lone Star rival has boosted its employment by a remarkable 931,000, a gain of more than 9 percent.

Much of this has to do with the changing nature of California’s increasingly elite—driven economy. Back in the 80s and even the 90s, the state’s tech sector produced industrial jobs that sparked prosperity not only in places like Palo Alto, but also in the more hardscrabble areas in San Jose and even inland cities such as Sacramento. The once huge California aerospace industry, centered in Los Angeles, employed hundreds of thousands, not only engineers but skilled technicians, assemblers, and administrators.

This picture has changed over the past decade. California’s tech manufacturing sector has shrunk, and those employed in Silicon Valley are increasingly well-compensated programmers, engineers and marketers. There has been little growth in good-paying blue collar or even middle management jobs. Since 2001 state production of “middle skill” jobs—those that generally require two years of training after high-school—have grown roughly half as quickly as the national average and one-tenth as fast as similar jobs in arch-rival Texas.

“The job creation has changed,” says Leslie Parks, a long-time San Jose economic development official. “We used to be the whole food chain and create all sorts of middle class jobs. Now, increasingly, we don’t design the future—we just think about it. That makes some people rich, but not many.”

In the midst of the current Silicon Valley boom, incomes for local Hispanics and African-Americans, who together account for one third of the population, have actually declined—18 percent for blacks and 5 percent for Latinos between 2009 and 2011, prompting one local booster to admit that “Silicon Valley is two valleys. There is a valley of haves, and a valley of have-nots.”

The Geography of Inequality

Geography, caste, and land ownership increasingly distinguish California’s classes from one another. As Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and the wealthier suburbs in the Bay Area have enjoyed steady income growth during the current bubble, much of the state, notes economist Bill Watkins, endures Depression-like conditions, with stretches of poverty more reminiscent of a developing country than the epicenter of advanced capitalism.

Once you get outside the Bay Area, unemployment in many of the state’s largest counties—Sacramento, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Fresno, and Oakland—soars into the double digits. Indeed, among the 20 American cities with the highest unemployment rates, a remarkable 11 are in California, led by Merced’s mind-boggling 22 percent rate.

This amounts to what conservative commentator Victor Davis Hanson has labeled “liberal apartheid,” a sharp divide between a well-heeled, mostly white and Asian population located along the California coast, and a largely poor, heavily Latino working class in the interior. But the class divide is also evident within  the large metro areas, despite their huge concentrations of affluent individuals. Los Angeles, for example, has the third highest rate of inequality of the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan areas, and the Bay Area ranks seventh.

The current surge of California triumphalism, trumpeted mostly by the ruling Democrats and their eastern media allies, seems to ignore the reality faced by residents in many parts of the state. The current surge of wealth among the coastal elites, boosted by rises in property, stock, and other assets, has staved off a much feared state bankruptcy. Yet the the state’s more intractible problems cannot be addressed if growth remains restricted to a handful of favored areas and industries. This will become increasingly clear when, as is inevitable, the current tech and property boom fades, depriving the state of the taxes paid by high income individuals.

The gap between the oligarchic class and everyone else seems increasingly permanent. A critical component of assuring class mobility, California’s once widely admired public schools were recently ranked near the absolute bottom in the country. Think about this: despite the state’s huge tech sector, California eighth graders scored 47th out of the 51 states in science testing. No wonder Mark Zuckerberg and other oligarchs are so anxious to import “techno coolies” from abroad.

As in medieval times, land ownership, particularly along the coast, has become increasingly difficult for those not in the upper class. In 2012, four California markets—San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles—ranked as the most unaffordable relative to income in the nation. The impact of these prices falls particularly on the poor. According to the Center for Housing Policy and National Housing Conference, 39 percent of working households in the Los Angeles metropolitan area spend more than half their income on housing, as do 35 percent in the San Francisco metro area—both higher than 31 percent in the New York area and well above the national rate of 24 percent. This is likely to get much worse given that California median housing prices rose 31 percent in the year ending May 2013. In the Bay Area the increase was an amazing 43 percent.

Even skilled workers are affected by these prices. An analysis done for National Core, a major developer of low income housing, found that prices in such areas as Orange County are so high that even a biomedical engineer earning more than $100,000 a year could not afford to buy a home there. This, as well as the unbalanced economy, has weakened California’s hold on aspirational families, something that threatens the very dream that has attracted  millions to the state.

This is a far cry from the 50s and 60s, when California abounded in new owner-occupied single family homes. Historian Sam Bass Warner suggested that this constituted “the glory of Los Angeles and an expression of its design for living.” Yet today the L.A. home ownership rate, like that of New York, stands at about half the national average of 65 percent. This is particularly true among working class and minority households. Atlanta’s African-American home ownership rate is approximately 40 percent above that of San Jose or Los Angeles, and approximately 50 percent higher than San Francisco.

This feudalizing trend is likely to worsen due to draconian land regulations that will put the remaining stock of single family houses ever further out of reach, something that seems related to a reduction in child-bearing in the state. As the “Ozzie and Harriet” model erodes, many Californians end up as modern day land serfs, renting and paying someone else’s mortgage. If they seek to start a family, their tendency is to look elsewhere, ironically even in places such as Oklahoma and Texas, places that once sent eager migrants to the Golden State.

 In neo-feudalist California, the biggest losers tend to be the old private sector middle class. This includes largely small business owners, professionals, and skilled workers in traditional industries most targeted by regulatory shifts and higher taxes. Once catered to by both parties, the yeomanry have become increasingly irrelevant as California has evolved into a one-party state where the ruling Democrats have achieved a potentially permanent, sizable majority consisting largely of the clerisy and the serf class, and funded by the oligarchs. Unable to influence government and largely disdained by the clerisy, these middle income Californians are becoming a permanent outsider group, much like the old Third Estate in early medieval times, forced to pay ever higher taxes as well as soaring utility bills and required to follow regulations imposed by people who often have little use for their “middle class” suburban values.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, October 07, 2013

Obamacare attempts to transfer healthcare resources from whites to  blacks

If Obamacare did anything to expand the number of doctors, hospitals and nurses, blacks could be benefited without reducing services to whites. But the controls and regulations show every likelihood of REDUCING the numbers of doctors and nurses.  So what will actually happen?  EDs will close; doctors will impose "no new patients" rules;  British-style waiting lists will emerge; Costs will rise for all; and blacks will have LESS access to healthcare.  So the optimism below is amusing.  Perhaps the writer thinks that Obama can repeal the law of supply and demand.  The implosion will be amusing to watch and the Donks won't be able to shrug off responsibility for it  -- JR

The verdict was in even before the first enrollee inked their signature October 1 on a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act. The law is an unmitigated triumph for the millions of uninsured in America. The triumph is even greater for African-Americans. The checklist of pluses is well-known. More than 7 million African-Americans will now have access to a health plan, there will be subsidies for low-income persons to offset the costs, a half million children will be covered under their parent's plans, millions of dollars will be allocated for research and testing, the establishment of more than 1000 new health care facilities in many rural and urban communities, the National Health Service Corps workforce will be tripled and more than 4 million elderly and disabled African-Americans covered under Medicare will have no cost access to health care preventive services. The triumph is even greater because of the grim figures on the health care crisis that has been a national disgrace for so long for African-Americans

The dismal figures have repeatedly told why. Blacks make up a wildly disproportionate number of the estimated 50 million Americans with absolutely no access to affordable or any health care. The majority of black uninsured are far more likely than the one in four whites who are uninsured to experience problems getting treatment at a hospital or clinic. This has had devastating health and public policy consequences. According to a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, blacks are far more likely than whites to suffer higher rates of catastrophic illness and disease, and are much less likely to obtain basic drugs, tests, preventive screenings and surgeries. They are more likely to recover slower from illness, and they die much younger.

Studies have found that when blacks do receive treatment, the care they receive is more likely to be substandard to that of whites. Reports indicate that even when blacks are enrolled in high quality health plans, the racial gap in the care and quality of medical treatment still remains low. Meanwhile, private insurers have routinely cherry picked the healthiest and most financially secure patients in order to bloat profits and hold down costs. American medical providers spend twice as much per patient than providers in countries with universal health care, and they provide lower quality for the grossly inflated dollars. Patients pay more in higher insurance premiums, co-payments, fees and other hidden health costs.

It's been a perfect storm mix of politics, race, and ignorance and fear that has driven the GOP's mania to dump Obamacare. It's included every slander, lie, and false flag, countless votes and threats to defund the Act and a crude attempt at blackmail to shut down the whole government over it. Some claim that this is big government intrusiveness since it allegedly whipsawed Americans into buying insurance and that it was too costly, too overburdening on businesses, and supposedly too unpopular with a majority of Americans.

The race part is two-fold. One it was proposed by President Obama, and anything, that's any program or initiative that's been proposed by him by him for every moment of the five years he's been in the White House has been the trigger for GOP knee jerk opposition. The other part is the great fear of GOP health care reform opponents and the health care industry lobby which includes private insurers, and for a time pharmaceuticals and major medical practitioners was that they'd have to treat millions of uninsured, unprofitable, largely unhealthy blacks. That would be a direct threat to their massive profits. The pharmaceuticals eventually dropped their opposition only after getting assurances that they would not have to cut costs of drugs to make way for more generics and drug competition from Canada and that the millions of newly insured recipients will be drug purchasers.

The Act is not totally out of the woods. House Republicans have already gotten their way on one point and that's to delay for one year requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees provide health insurance to their workers or pay a penalty. They will play for time and push their inept demand for a one year delay. After the provisions kick in, they will latch onto to too every real or imagined mishap or negative experience with a business owner, provider, or recipient to scream loudly that the Act is a bust and must be scrapped. GOP ultra-conservatives will continue to assault the Act with their favorite attack weapon and that it is big government run amok at the expense of the health of Americans.

Their ploys will not succeed in scuttling the Act. Too many millions will have been helped, even saved by it, for that. And millions of them are African-Americans. Obamacare is a triumph that can't be taken away.



Obama to usurp Constitutional power from Congress

According to sources in Congress and the White House, Barack Obama is preparing to usurp the Constitutional power of Congress to control the purse strings of the federal government. The Obama plan entails using the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to bypass Congress on the upcoming debt ceiling debate and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling without the approval of Congress.

On Thursday Mark Levin cited several Congressional sources who have told him that Obama has no intention of negotiating with Congress on the debt, which is just under $17 trillion, the highest in U.S. history. When unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare are added in, the real debt is over $125 trillion -- a figure so astronomically high that the country has no hope of ever paying it back. Uncontrolled spending has led the nation to this point.

According to Levin, Congressional sources say that Obama does not want any limits on his spending ability, in spite of the fact that the Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to control spending. Further, the use of the 14th Amendment to bypass Congress has never been done before. Thus, such an act would be an entirely new "interpretation" of the 14th Amendment and would raise a plethora of Constitutional issues concerning separation of powers.

The 14th Amendment is written in several main sections, one of which deals with debts incurred by the federal government. Nowhere does the Amendment give a president the power to raise the debt ceiling. Nowhere does the Amendment mandate that overall federal spending be increased at the whim of a president, or anyone else in government, not even Congress.

The only mandate contained in the 14th Amendment regarding the national debt is that if the government runs out of money, the interest and principal on Treasury Notes, Bills, and Bonds, must be paid first before money is spent on anything else.

This means, simply, that the federal government must first make payments on the national debt before it funds anything else. Nothing is stated concerning raising the debt ceiling and borrowing more money, and certainly not spending more money in the middle of a debt crisis.

Thus, the use of the 14th Amendment to excuse such actions on Obama's part would be illegal and an impeachable offense. Yet he is being urged, according to Levin, to break the law by advisers inside and outside of government, such as Bill Clinton, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, liberal law professors, and members of liberal think tanks.

It is also safe to assume that he is being urged to break the law by George Soros, given that the last time this subject was raised a couple of years ago, it was Soros who encouraged Obama to bypass Congress entirely, set the Constitution aside, and do whatever he wants.

Levin maintains that this would create a Constitutional crisis of historic proportions, one that could lead the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.



Tackling leftist anti-Semitism

Success of Jews and Israel poses life-threatening challenge to worldview of leftist intellectuals

Most Jews are baffled by the reaction of leftist commentators to events in the Middle East. There is relatively little outcry when Syrians butcher Syrians, no outcry when Iraqis murder Iraqis, whereas any Palestinian finger grazed by an Israeli bullet invites immediate outbursts of wholehearted indignation. The cognitive dissonance of leftist elites has reached such proportions, that many Jews have decided that perhaps anti-Semitism plays a role in generalized hostility towards Israel.

Claiming that criticism of Israel is a manifestation of anti-Semitic feelings is a risky business. After all, many Israel-bashers are deeply enamored of Jewish thinkers like Marx, Trotsky and Walter Benjamin and count as allies Jewish figures like Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe. Thus, can we still classify their attitude as anti-Semitic? Or does one do a disservice to the Jewish people by labeling leftist foes of Israel the same way one would genocidal Nazis?

In order to address this issue one must recall that Nazi anti-Semitism was far more than an aesthetic aversion towards stereotypical Jewish facial features. Nazism loathed the values which the Torah and the Jewish tradition embodied, namely – justice, compassion and love for the destitute and the stranger. It is no coincidence that those driven by the belief that the weak should serve the strong, saw in the Jewish ethos an intellectual and ethical threat of the highest order. Thus, one could say that the racial anti-Semitism of the Nazis was merely a pretext for a far more deeply-embedded spiritual and ethical anti-Semitism.

In our day and age the threat posed by rightwing anti-Semitism has been supplanted by the spiritual anti-Semitism of the left. In fact, the social success of Jewish minorities in the Western world, together with the astonishing economic and scientific achievements of the State of Israel is unbearable for leftists. The reason for this is simple: This reality shatters the cultural romanticism and social worldview of the left. If second- and third-generation North Africans of Jewish descent successfully integrate in European society while their Muslim peers populate urban ghettoes, it becomes hard to claim that racism, welfare-spending cuts and capitalist alienation are to blame for some of the most pressing social problems of the Western world.

Likewise if Israel as a democratic free-market economy vaunts impressive human development figures while its neighbors are mired in poverty and strife, it becomes hard to persuade people that Western political and economic institutions are to blame for the region’s problems. It is thus evident that Jews and Israel pose a life-threatening challenge to the worldview of leftist intellectuals. This threat can only be countered by highlighting with disproportionate diligence every abuse and injustice committed by Jewish Israelis, since doing so is critical to the intellectual credibility of the left.

In order to reduce leftist antipathy to Israel it does not help to flaunt the Jewish state’s economic and technological achievements. Doing so only exacerbates leftists’ conviction that Israel is the spoilt child of the West. Instead, Israel should showcase selective strengths such as the few kibbutzim where communal property has flourished and highlight happy Arab-Jewish gay couples living in Tel Aviv.

In addition, in order to reassure intellectuals that Israel is another excellent example of how free-markets threaten the well-being of society, Israel should publicize domestic problems like pollution, poverty, alcoholism and drug-use. This approach is more likely to win over leftist hearts than boasting about achievements in the fields of high-tech and business.

Unless Jews realize that leftist anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment is a phenomenon with far deeper roots than the presence of checkpoints near Ramallah or Hebron, they will misdiagnose the disease and the therapy needed to treat it.



Rent controls and the Bombay tragedy

There's a growing number of calls for rent controls here in the UK. This really isn't all that sensible an idea for as has been pointed out before:

"Swedish economist and socialist Assar Lindbeck commented years ago that, “In many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing.”

As Mark Perry goes on to point out this has implications for that most recent disaster in Mumbai, when an apartment block collapsed in the night, killing scores:

"Mumbai’s buildings department is known for its corruption, and bribing inspectors and other government officials is considered part of the normal cost of doing business. One result is that many buildings are visibly crumbling. Another problem is rent-control rules that allow tenants to live in apartments for a few dollars a month and even pass those rights on to their descendants, giving landlords little incentive to invest in building maintenance. The city requires extensive approvals for even minor repairs, a process so cumbersome that repairs are often either delayed or done illegally and without consultation from engineers."

Rent controls are exactly like any other form of price control. If you set the price above the market price, as we've been doing with farming for decades, then we'll get a glut. If we set the price below that market price (as has always been true of rent controls, always, everywhere) then we'll get a shortage. And that shortage will come about in two ways. Less new building than otherwise will take place and extant building will not be maintained leading to appalling tragedies like this one.

There is of course the vague possibility that the government might stumble across a rent price which doesn't cause either shortage and decay, nor a surplus, but at that point said rent controlled price would be exactly the same as the market price so why bother?

The real question we should be asking those who advocate rent control is, well, so why is it that you want to reduce the quantity and quality of housing in the UK?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, October 06, 2013

Munich on the Hudson

The article dated Oct. 5 from Sweden below (excerpts only) uses the Hitler/Chamberlain history to warn of the way Western countries today are prepared to sacrifice Israel to its enemies.  The article rightly points out that Chamberlain was frantic to avoid war but in the end facilitated it.  Another point that is less well known is that Chamberlain was not totally foolish in hoping that Hitler was a man of peace.  In his election campaigns of the '30s Hitler repeatedly presented himself as a man of peace  -- as Leftists generally do.  Western leaders of today have no such excuse.  The boiling hostility of the Muslim world towards Israel is there for all those with eyes to see and ears to hear

The German philosopher Hegel once remarked that great historical patterns seem to appear in human history twice, in a repeating configuration. Karl Marx added that, though great historical patterns may appear twice, they appear first as tragedy, and the second time as farce.

Historical patterns surrounding Munich seem to be casting a shadow on current Middle Eastern events. Let's refresh our memory with a quick look at Munich's original 1938 context.

Hitler's vision of world conquest began with a push to create a Greater Germany (Grossdeutsches Reich). This began with the annexation (Anschluss) of Austria on March 12, 1938, one day after the successful Nazi coup d'‚tat in Vienna. Rogers and Hammerstein built their box-office hit The Sound of Music around these events.

Hitler's next step involved the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. His preference was straight military conquest, and he gave orders that a military invasion should begin by October 1, 1938.

This caused his top generals much trepidation. They believed that an armed assault on Czechoslovakia would lead to immediate hostilities with Britain, France and possibly the Soviet Union. The generals felt that Germany was not ready for such a conflict.

At that time the German Wehrmacht had only 31 active divisions and 7 reserve divisions, while France had over 100 divisions and the Czechs had 45. On August 4 Nazi Chief of General Staff General Ludwig Beck  presented a super-secret strategic analysis to Germany's top military brass, urging a cancellation of Hitler's plan.

Incredibly, Chamberlain believed that negotiations with Hitler could avoid a World War. His impression was that Hitler could turn out to be a man of peace. "In spite of the hardness and ruthlessness I thought I saw in his face, I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word."

At meetings with Hitler on September 15th (Berchtesgaden, Bavaria), 22nd (Rheinhotel Dreesen, Bad Godesberg) and 29th (the brand new Nazi building Fuehrerbau, Munich), Chamberlain was manipulated and bullied into finally abandoning England's Czechoslovak ally to the tender mercies of the Nazi juggernaut.

The representatives of Czechoslovakia were not allowed to take part in any negotiations due to Hitler's refusal to allow their participation. Up to that point the Czechs had refused to bow to any form of diplomatic surgery, preferring to trust in their small though well-trained army and in their political alliances with France and the Soviet Union.

The Munich Agreement was signed at 01:30 on September 30, 1938 by Hitler, British PM Sir Neville Chamberlain, Italian Fascist PM Benito Mussolini and French PM Edouard Daladier.

This Quartet's meeting was known as the Four-Power Conference. It sanctioned the immediate Nazi invasion and annexation of Czech Sudetenland. A few hours after having signed away Czechoslovakia,

Chamberlain took a light nap, arose and asked Hitler to sign a peace treaty between the United Kingdom and Germany. Hitler happily agreed. The German High Command's plot to stop Hitler was shelved, and Europe tumbled slowly into the abyss.

But Hitler no longer had any fear that the West would opposite his genocidal plans. His comments about Chamberlain and Daladier were telling on this point: "I did not think it possible that Czechoslovakia would be virtually served up to me on a plate by her friends."

Even more telling was Hitler's conclusion, "Our enemies are little worms. I saw them at Munich" ("Unsere Gegner sind kleine Wuermchen. Ich sah sie in Muenchen" - In March 1939 Hitler invaded and conquered the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Back in England, Chamberlain stood in front of Number 10 Downing Street, London on September 30, 1938 and proclaimed:    "We regard the agreement signed last night as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again ."

On Monday October 3, 1938 PM Chamberlain addressed the House of Commons in London and declared:  "It is my hope and my belief, that under the new system of guarantees, the new Czechoslovakia will find a greater security than she has ever enjoyed in the past."

"I say in the name of this House and of the people of this country that Czechoslovakia has earned our admiration and respect for her restraint, for her dignity, for her magnificent discipline in face of such a trial as few nations have ever been called upon to meet.It is my hope and my belief, that under the new system of guarantees, the new Czechoslovakia will find a greater security than she has ever enjoyed in the past."

On October 5, 1938 MP Winston Churchill spoke boldly in the House of Commons against the Munich Agreement, calling it "a total, unmitigated defeat."

"I will, therefore, begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing. I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which I must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat . we are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude which has befallen Great Britain and France. Do not let us blind ourselves to that...The system of alliances in Central Europe upon which France has relied for her safety has been swept away, and I can see no means by which it can be reconstituted. we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: `Thou are weighed in the balance and found wanting.' And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."

The majority of British public opinion at the time wanted to appease Hitler. They were prepared to abandon a democratic Czechoslovakia as the price for avoiding international conflict and destruction.  The mainstream believed that protecting an ally was not worth risking a wider conflict. This is the essence of the Munich dynamic.

One of the main differences between those who supported the Munich Agreement and those who opposed it had to do with trust. Was Hitler a man of peace, a man whose word could be trusted?  Was he bent on conquering Europe and establishing a totalitarian dictatorship there? Or was Hitler only interested in self-determination for his own people and in righting historic wrongs?

Would he be satisfied with the fruits of diplomacy, and then would he agree to disarm and agree to peaceful co-operation? Were his calls for destruction of the Jewish people merely politicking and meant only for `internal consumption'?

Only when the blitzkrieg against Poland began on September 1, 1939, did the unpalatable truth become unavoidably clear.

Churchill and his comrades - those once ridiculed as warmongers - were belatedly seen as prophets who had tried to mobilise a generation of soporific cowards.

On Friday October 5, 2001 Israeli PM Ariel Sharon gave an evening press conference where he said:

"We can rely only on ourselves.Today Israel suffered another murderous Palestinian terrorist attack which took a heavy toll. All of our efforts to reach a cease-fire have been torpedoed by the Palestinians. Fire did not cease, not even for one day. We are currently in the midst of a complex and difficult diplomatic campaign. I turn to the Western democracies, first and foremost the leader of the free world, the United States. Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938, when the enlightened democracies of Europe decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for the sake of a temporary, convenient solution. Don't try to appease the Arabs at our expense. We will not accept this. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terror."

In a blunt response on October 6, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer  said: "The President believes that these remarks are unacceptable. Israel could have no better or stronger friend that the United States and no better friend that President Bush."

Why Sharon's strongly worded declaration? What were the events that shaped the immediate context of Sharon's words?

Point one -   Barely a month before Sharon's statement, President George W. Bush decided to abandon traditional diplomatic positions vis-…-vis Israel due to Saudi Arabian pressure. His decision was to unilaterally push for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Point two -   what weighed heavily on Sharon was the post- 9/11 White House's determination to block Israel from participating in a coalition of nations fighting terror - even though Israel had been and still is one of the main targets of jihadi Islamist attack.

Point three - was a spate of Palestinian terror attacks that occurred that very week. On Tuesday October 2 two Palestinian terrorists attacked Elei Sinai, a Jewish farming community in the Gaza Strip, killing two and wounding fifteen.

Sharon saw the writing on the wall. America was brushing off Israel as an embarrassment. It was trying to curry Arab favour by giving Israel the cold shoulder. All this would involve a sea-change in diplomatic Middle East strategies.

The majority of Western leaders in October 2001 sought appeasement with the Arab world and were prepared to turn a cold shoulder to Israel (their democratic ally) as the price for avoiding increasing Middle Eastern conflict.

This was truly a modern-day expression of the Munich Agreement dynamic.

The recent address by Hassan Rouhani (President of the Islamic Republic of Iran) at the United Nations has raised the spectre of Munich-style appeasement once again.

The representative of a radical jihadi Shi'ite Islamist dictatorship - which has publicly declared (as did Hitler) its intention to annihilate the Jewish state - greeted the world body with smiles, talked about inaugurating direct flights between Teheran and JFK, and spoke of peaceful nuclear intentions.

European leaders fell over each other with unconcealed enthusiasm, suggesting that the UN authorise continuing nuclear development in Iran "for peaceful purposes" while Western leaders insisted that they needed to "give peace a chance"; perhaps Rouhani was representing a newer, gentler Iran.

Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu also addressed the UN General Assembly a few days after Rouhani. At the conclusion of his address he emphasised a point that would have made Czechoslovakia and Ariel Sharon proud: "Ladies and gentlemen, Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map."

"Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet, in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others"

One day after PM Netanyahu warned the U.N. General Assembly on October 1 that Iran is only months away from having the capability to build nuclear weapons, the U.N. member states elected Iran on October 2 to serve as the rapporteur of the U.N. First Committee on Disarmament and Internal Security.

This puts Iran in charge of officially reporting on of all the committee's proceedings and actions. This committee is chaired by Libya, while Iran currently serves as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, the largest bloc of nations at the U.N.

Iran's website crows that "the UN General Assembly members ....  chose Iran to prove ineffectiveness of the row stirred up by the Zionist prime minister . The recent a clear indicative of the world community trust in Iran's efforts in the course of disarmament and a practical response to the groundless allegations of the spurious Zionist regime" (ed. sic.;

An appeaser, in the words of Churchill, is one who feeds the crocodile while hoping it will eat him last.



Chad Henderson Exposes The Media

Just another Leftist liar

 There is no greater hatred than that born out of affection spurned and trust betrayed. Yesterday, the media loved Chad Henderson. Today, they hate him.

He, along with a handful of other individuals, were recently the subject of profiles in the press demonstrating both how navigable the exchange system is and how they are benefiting under the Affordable Care Act. It’s difficult to overstate how absurd the media coverage of Henderson’s reportedly successful effort to sign up to health care exchange has been.

Henderson’s story was particularly attractive. He was precisely what the media, and the White House, needed: a young, ostensibly healthy individual willing to pay a substantial portion of the meager income into the system so that it can support older, more chronically ill patients who will be partaking in health care services regularly.

In the media’s rush to make a star out of Henderson, they failed to vet him thoroughly. Most of the press missed the fact that Henderson is a current political activist and Organizing for America volunteer. Somewhat more egregiously, they also missed the fact that Henderson’s story was not true.

According to Henderson’s father, Bill Henderson, neither he nor his son have enrolled in any plan associated with the ACA. “As of yet, however, the pair had not picked a plan or completed enrollment,” reported Reason’s Peter Suderman. “ But he hoped they would shortly.”

Suderman goes on to note that the other details Henderson provided the press were “difficult to verify.”

"He told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he got his coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield. But the cheapest unsubsidized Bronze exchange plan at Blue Cross Blue Shield’s online Quick Quote system offers for a 21-year-old in Flintstone, Georgia is $225.09 a month.

Additionally, Chad could not have purchased a separate plan for his father from his own login to, the website for the federal exchanges. A customer assistance representative on’s LiveChat system told me that purchasing separate plans for a son and a father in Georgia would require two separate logins. Which means that Chad would have had to successfully create two different accounts, and complete enrollment twice, at a time when almost no one was able to get through on the system."

This is not say that Henderson is not still valuable to the press. On Thursday, his story provided Mediaite readers with entertainment after reading the comically absurd deluge of press interest he was exposed to for simply being able to complete the reportedly three hour process of signing up for a health care exchange. On Friday, Henderson provided the nation with another service: exposing the media’s interest in painting the ACA in a positive light regardless of the facts.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)