Sunday, September 07, 2014

Pictures, pictures!

I have just gone through my blogs for the first half of this year and picked out what I think are the "best" pictures that appeared in that period.  You can access the result here or here.


Leftist president of France is revealed as an elitist snob – common on the Left 

As well as being a bore, a fornicator and a nincompoop, François Hollande stands accused of being a snob. His former mistress, Valérie Trierweiler, has revealed – along with other peccadilloes too excruciating to recount here – that the man who publicly professes to loathe the rich privately despises the poor. The son of a solidly bourgeois home, Hollande apparently sneered at Miss Trierweiler’s humbler origins, and referred privately to the underprivileged as “les sans-dents”: the toothless.

Miss Trierweiler finds this attitude incongruous in a Leftist politician, which makes me wonder how many Leftist politicians she can have spent time with. Snobbery is a well-established socialist vice. It began with Karl Marx, who could be vicious about the people modern Leftists primly call “the most vulnerable in our society”. The old cadger had no time for such euphemisms.

Alongside decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin, alongside ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, were vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, pimps, porters, literati, organ grinders, ragpickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars — in short, the whole indefinite, disintegrated mass which the French call la bohème.

Not all Leftist politicians are snobs, obviously. Some honourably speak to and for their poorest constituents without ever patronising them – Tony Benn was an outstanding example. But others are clandestinely dismissive of the people they purport to represent. Gordon Brown’s “bigoted woman” remark was a rare – because recorded – glimpse into the way Labour can privately view its core voters.

After a lifetime of observing such hypocrisy, George Orwell – who was a socialist, but no snob – brilliantly portrayed it in Nineteen Eighty-Four. On the one hand, the Party claimed to be on the side of the masses.  But simultaneously, true to the Principles of doublethink, the Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules.

Snobbery is not confined to any party or faction, of course. What seems far more common on the Left, though, is the need to find some inert, subjugated, grateful mass to champion. At first, that mass was supposed to be the industrialised proletariat. But, when working people were enfranchised, they often turned out to have troublingly conservative opinions. The needy politicians then turned to immigrants and other minorities. Annoyingly for them, some of these groups were equally unwilling to play the part allotted to them.

So Lefties began to cast the net wider, searching for people who could be relied on not to contradict the official line: oppressed colonials, Palestinians, black South Africans. Sadly, these groups, too, refused to be either unconditionally grateful or politically correct.

I sometimes wonder whether political neediness explains the popularity of the animal rights movement: here, finally, is a constituency that can be relied on never to gainsay its self-proclaimed champions. Passive, predictable and in need of protection, animals are the perfect political prop.

As for Hollande, the French saw through him long ago. With 13 per cent approval ratings, he is the most unpopular leader in the history of his country (though, in fairness, there were no opinion polls during Charles X’s reign). Some French people may be toothless, but they’re evidently not mindless. They are on the receiving end of  the Euro-correct socialism that is immiserating France, and they know it. Vivent les sans-dents!



American warmongers at work

All Democrats or "progresives"

By Patrick J. Buchanan

About how America became involved in certain wars, many conspiracy theories have been advanced — and some have been proved correct.

When James K. Polk got his declaration of war as Mexico had "shed American blood upon the American soil," Rep. Abraham Lincoln demanded to know the exact spot where it had happened.

And did the Spanish really blow up the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor, the casus belli for the Spanish-American War?

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, involving U.S. destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy, remains in dispute. But charges that North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked U.S. warships on the high seas led to the 1964 resolution authorizing the war in Vietnam.

In 2003, Americans were stampeded into backing an invasion of Iraq because Saddam Hussein had allegedly been complicit in 9/11, had weapons of mass destruction and was able to douse our East Coast with anthrax.

"(He) lied us into war because he did not have the political courage to lead us into it," said Rep. Clare Luce of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, according to many historians, made efforts to provoke German subs into attacking U.S. warships and bring us into the European war through the "back door" of a war with Japan.

This week marks the 75th anniversary of World War II, as last month marked the 100th anniversary of World War I.

Thus, it is a good time for Eugene Windchy's "Twelve American Wars: Nine of Them Avoidable." A compelling chapter in this new book, by the author of "Tonkin Gulf," deals with how Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, schemed to drag America into Britain's war in 1915.

In 1907, Britain launched the Lusitania, "the greyhound of the sea," the fastest passenger ship afloat. In 1913, Churchill called in the head of Cunard and said Lusitania would have to be refitted for a war he predicted would break out in September 1914.

The Lusitania, writes Windchy, was "refitted as a cargo ship with hidden compartments to hold shells and other munitions. By all accounts there were installed revolving gun mounts."

On Aug. 4, 1914, after war was declared, Lusitania went back into dry dock. More space was provided for cargo, and the vessel was now carried on Cunard's books as "an auxiliary cruiser."

Churchill visited the ship in dry dock and referred to Lusitania as "just another 45,000 tons of live bait."

When war began, German submarine captains, to save torpedoes, would surface and permit the crews of cargo ships to scramble into lifeboats, and then they would plant bombs or use gunfire to sink the vessels.

Churchill's response was to outfit merchant ships with hidden guns, order them to ram submarines, and put out "Q-ships," disguised as merchant ships, which would not expose their guns until submarines surfaced.

German naval commanders began to order submarines to sink merchant ships on sight. First Sea Lord Sir John ("Jackie") Fisher said he would have done the same.

Churchill, seeing an opportunity to bring America into Britain's war, wrote the Board of Trade: "It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hope especially of embroiling the United States with Germany. ... We want the traffic — the more the better — and if some of it gets into trouble, the better still."

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan wanted to warn Americans not to travel aboard British ships. But President Woodrow Wilson, writes Windchy, "said that American citizens had a right to travel on belligerent ships with impunity, even within a war zone," a defiance of common sense and an absurd interpretation of international law.

On May 1, 1915, Lusitania set sail from New York. As Windchy writes, the ship "secretly carried munitions and Canadian troops in civilian clothes, which legally made it fair game for (German) U-boats.

"After the war, Churchill ... admitted that the Lusitania carried a 'small consignment of rifle ammunition and shrapnel shells weighing 173 tons.' New York Customs Collector Dudley Malone told President Wilson that 'practically all her cargo was contraband of various kinds.'"

Future Secretary of State Robert Lansing knew that British passenger ships carried war materiel. German diplomats in New York warned American passengers they were in danger on the Lusitania. And instead of sailing north of Ireland to Liverpool, the Lusitania sailed to the south, into waters known to be the hunting ground of German submarines.

Lusitania blew up and sank in 18 minutes. Munitions may have caused the secondary explosion when the torpedo hit. Some 1,200 people perished, including 128 Americans. America was on fire, ready for war when the next incidents occurred, as they would in 1917 with the sinking of U.S. merchant ships in similar waters.

Had Wilson publicly warned U.S. citizens not to sail on the ships of belligerent nations and forbidden U.S.-flagged merchant ships to carry contraband to nations at war, America might have stayed out of the war, which might have ended in a truce, not a German defeat.

There might have been no Adolf Hitler and no World War II.


By the Way, ObamaCare Is Killing Employer-Based Insurance

When then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously declared in 2010 that Congress had to pass ObamaCare in order “to find out what’s in it,” who knew that the contra-factually named Affordable Care Act would be the unwanted gift that just keeps on giving (or, rather, taking)? Well, actually, everyone who opposed the bill knew – and warned against it. But it’s become increasingly obvious that even the ObamaCare-loving Democrats knew. Only they lied about it. And that’s putting it nicely.

According to Ezekiel Emanuel, a former White House special adviser on health policy who was in the inner circle of designing ObamaCare, 80% of employer-provided health coverage will be gone within the next 10 years. And according to research by S&P Capital IQ, that number will be closer to 90%. This isn’t an “oops” side effect of Obama’s health care plan – it was the plan all along.

Of the disappearing health plans, Emanuel said, “It’s going to actually be better for people. They’ll have more choice. Most people who work for an employer and get their coverage through an employer do not have choice.” Of course, what he leaves unsaid is that Barack Obama’s White House firmly believes the government knows what’s “better” for Americans more than Americans do.

Recall, if you will, that Obama criticized a Republican health care proposal during his first campaign, arguing it “would lead to the unraveling of the employer-based health care system. That I don’t think is the kind of change that we need.” Then again, he also repeatedly said, “If you like your plan you can keep you plan.” And we’ve all seen how well that turned out.

Alas, a lot can happen between campaign promises and government takeover. And politicians developing a penchant for truth-telling typically isn’t one of them.

The reason so many employer-based plans will be going the way of Obama’s campaign promises is, under ObamaCare, companies pay a $2,000-per-employee penalty for not providing a government-approved health care plan – far less than the cost of actually providing coverage. But that’s okay, supporters argue, because those who lose their employer-provided coverage will be dumped into the ObamaCare exchange. Of course, that’s exactly where Democrats planned for them to be all along – a government run health care system with “more choices,” as long as those choices are within the limits of what the government deems Americans should want to choose. It’s for your own good.

That truth made it all the more laughable when Obama declared this week, “[P]eople want more control over their lives, not less.” He’s the one taking that control away.

This isn’t to say employer-provided insurance plans are perfect. Written into our tax law for the past seven decades is a provision (born from Word War II wage freezes) that gives tax preference to employer-provided insurance, making the cost of the insurance deductible for employers and not counted as income for employees. The problem, as political analyst Michael Barone points out, is this: “High-earning employees with gold-plated, employer-provided health insurance get deductions that are worth many thousands of dollars. Those without employer-provided health insurance, or low-earners who are among the 40 percent of earners who do not pay income tax, get exactly zero.”

In another column, Barone notes, “A freer market in health insurance means eliminating this tax preference, presumably through a tax credit for those purchasing health insurance on their own.”

This is what Sen. John McCain suggested in 2008 when Obama accused him of yanking the string to unravel employer-based coverage. Which brings us exactly to where we are today thanks to ObamaCare: the unraveling of employer-based coverage, only this time, dishonestly and covertly.

As imperfect as this coverage may be, it’s undoubtedly better than the debacle we are only really beginning to suffer, and eliminating employer coverage is hardly how Obama billed his plan. Then again, his advertising isn’t known for accuracy. Far truer were the warnings that from the beginning ObamaCare was little more than a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. Just watch out. As things on the health care front get even worse, the Left will undoubtedly swoop in with the “real” fix. Forget Greeks bearing gifts. Beware of Democrats bearing promises.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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)


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