Friday, June 28, 2013

Homosexual "marriage"

The SCOTUS verdict recognizing homosexual "marriage" shows clearly how a self-selected liberal elite can run roughshod over the will of the people.  Effectively striking down a referendum result in California was particularly objectionable.  It is clearly the whims of a very unrepresentative Supreme Court that are sovereign in the USA, not the people or the States.

As a libertarian conservative, I think that marriage is no business of the State.  It should be a matter of private contract or a religious arrangement.  As it is however, the issue has become one of homosexual acceptance and the SCOTUS verdict has enforced that acceptance.  Again as  a libertarian conservative, I think such acceptance or non-acceptance should be a private matter, not one officially endorsed.

If homosexuals can find a church (Hint:  Episcopalians) that will let them wear pretty clothes and perform a ceremony it calls marriage, let them go for it  -- but leave the rest of us out of it.  As it is, we now have an official declaration that a union between two sodomites is equivalent to something which is basic to the survival of the human race -- a union between a man and woman.  And that surely disrespects and cheapens the standing of traditional marriage. Karl Marx would be pleased.


A shameful day for France:  A second Dreyfus case

The French establishment convict the innocent again.  And once again it is all about "The Jooos"

A French media analyst was convicted today of defamation for accusing a state television network of staging a video that depicted a Palestinian boy being killed in a firefight between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces.

The footage more than a decade ago galvanised anti-Israeli sentiment, and shaped perspectives of the Mideast conflict during the second Palestinian uprising.

The al-Dura case has long stirred emotions in Israel, tapping into a larger sense of the Jewish state being victimised in the media.

The footage by France-2 broadcast on September 30, 2000, showed the terrified boy, Mohammed al-Dura, and his father amid a furious exchange of fire in the Gaza Strip.  It then cut to the motionless boy slumped in his father's lap. The report blamed Israeli forces for the death.

In a report issued in 2004, Philippe Karsenty said the footage was orchestrated and there was no proof that the boy had been killed.

France-2 sued for defamation, and after a long legal battle, a Paris court fined Karsenty £6,000 today. He called the verdict 'outrageous'.

Over the past decade Karsenty has amassed hours of video about the day of the shooting. At the heart of his claim is the fact that, according to the reporting by France-2, father and son were hit by a total of 15 bullets but in the video, neither appears to be bleeding.

He says the firefight is real, but the shooting of the man and boy was staged for the camera.

'I am serene because I know the truth will come out,' Karsenty said. 'Despite 15 bullets not one drop of blood was on their clothes, their bodies, the wall they were leaning against.'

Last month, the Israeli government issued a new report on the incident that said the report was misleading, provides no evidence and was part of a smear campaign against the Jewish state.

Benedicte Amblard, a lawyer for France-2, said the verdict would allow journalists to retain confidence in their work.

France-2 Jerusalem correspondent Charles Enderlin said he and France-2 parent company France Televisions welcomed Wednesday's decision.  'Today's result is a relief,' he said, but added it did not put the matter to rest.

Enderlin, a French-Israeli national, said conspiracy theorists continue to hound them over the incident.

He said despite years of litigation and Israeli officials accusing him of fabrication, he welcomed an investigation.  'We are ready whenever Israel wants to go for a professional investigation following international standards,' he told The Associated Press.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said he had no comment on a case that delved into the intricacy of French defamation law. He said, however, that the Israeli position on the al-Dura case remains unchanged.

'It is improbable, not to say impossible, that the bullets which hit Jamal and Mohammed al-Dura came from the Israeli position,' he said. 'Where they did come from remains subject to many hypotheses, though none can be proven.'



Played Out: the Liberal Racists' "Uncle Tom" Card

By Michelle Malkin

Meet Ryan Patrick Winkler. He's a 37-year-old liberal Minnesota state legislator with a B.A. in history from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. He's also a coward, a bigot, a liar and a textbook example of plantation progressivism.

On Tuesday, Winkler took to Twitter to rant about the Supreme Court's decision to strike down an onerous section of the Voting Rights Act. The 5-4 ruling overturned an unconstitutional requirement that states win federal preclearance approval of any changes to their election laws and procedures. Winkler fumed: "VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas."

This Ivy League-trained public official and attorney relied on smug bigotry to make his case against a Supreme Court justice who happens to be black. "Uncle Thomas" wasn't a typo. Denigration was the goal, not an accident. It was a knowing, deliberate smear.

After being called out by conservative social media users for his cheap attack on Clarence Thomas, Winkler then revealed his true color: yellow. He deleted the tweet (captured for posterity at my Twitter curation site, and pleaded ignorance.

"I did not understand 'Uncle Tom' as a racist term, and there seems to be some debate about it. I do apologize for it, however," he sniveled. "I didn't think it was offensive to suggest that Justice Thomas should be even more concerned about racial discrimination than colleagues," he protested.

Holding a black man to a different intellectual standard based on his skin color. Accusing a non-white conservative of collectivist race traitorism. Employing one of the most infamous, overused epithets against minority conservatives in the Democratic lexicon. "Apologizing," but disclaiming responsibility. Sorry ... that he got caught.

Just another day at the left-wing racist office.

Rabid liberal elitists expect and demand that we swallow their left-wing political orthodoxy whole and never question. When we don't yield, their racist and sexist diatribes against us are unmatched. My IQ, free will, skin color, eye shape, name, authenticity and integrity have been routinely ridiculed or questioned for more than two decades because I happen to be an unapologetic brown female free-market conservative. My Twitter account biography jokingly includes the moniker "Oriental Auntie-Tom"—just one of thousands of slurs hurled at me by libs allergic to diversity of thought—for a reason. It's a way to hold up an unflinching mirror at the holier-than-thou NoH8 haters and laugh.

We conservatives "of color" are way past anger about the Uncle Tom/Aunt Tomasina attacks. We're reviled by the left for our "betrayal" of our supposed tribes—accused of being Uncle Toms, Aunt Tomasinas, House Niggas, puppets of the White Man, Oreos, Sambos, lawn jockeys, coconuts, bananas, sellouts and whores. This is how the left's racial and ethnic tribalists have always rolled. But their insults are not bullets. They are badges of honor. The Uncle Tom card has been played out.

Of course Winkler didn't think it was offensive. Smarty-pants liberal racists never think they're being racist. In their own sanctimonious minds, progressives of pallor can never be guilty of bigotry toward minority conservatives. Ignorance is strength. Slurs are compliments. Intolerance is tolerance.

And when all else fails, left-wing prejudice is always just a well-intended joke. (PBS commentator Julianne Malveaux's death wish for Justice Thomas set the standard: "I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease. ... He is an absolutely reprehensible person.")

Back in her day, before the advent of democratizing social media, Malveaux and her elitist PBS friends could get away with such vile bile. But liberal crabs in the bucket, viciously trying to drag dissenters "of color" down, can no longer engage in hit-and-run with impunity. Conservatives on Twitter have changed the dynamic in an underappreciated, revolutionary way. The pushback against liberal political bigotry is bigger, stronger and swifter than it's ever been.

You can delete, but you cannot hide.



The Regulated States of America

Tocqueville saw a nation of individuals who were defiant of authority. Today? Welcome to Planet Government


In "Democracy in America," published in 1833, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the way Americans preferred voluntary association to government regulation. "The inhabitant of the United States," he wrote, "has only a defiant and restive regard for social authority and he appeals to it . . . only when he cannot do without it."

Unlike Frenchmen, he continued, who instinctively looked to the state to provide economic and social order, Americans relied on their own efforts. "In the United States, they associate for the goals of public security, of commerce and industry, of morality and religion. There is nothing the human will despairs of attaining by the free action of the collective power of individuals."

What especially amazed Tocqueville was the sheer range of nongovernmental organizations Americans formed: "Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations . . . but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fetes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools."

Tocqueville would not recognize America today. Indeed, so completely has associational life collapsed, and so enormously has the state grown, that he would be forced to conclude that, at some point between 1833 and 2013, France must have conquered the United States.

The decline of American associational life was memorably documented in Robert Puttnam's seminal 1995 essay "Bowling Alone," which documented the exodus of Americans from bowling leagues, Rotary clubs and the like. Since then, the downward trend in "social capital" has only continued. According to the 2006 World Values Survey, active membership even of religious associations has declined from just over half the population to little more than a third (37%). The proportion of Americans who are active members of cultural associations is down to 14% from 24%; for professional associations the figure is now just 12%, compared with more than a fifth in 1995. And, no, Facebook FB -2.43% is not a substitute.

Instead of joining together to get things done, Americans have increasingly become dependent on Washington. On foreign policy, it may still be true that Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus. But when it comes to domestic policy, we all now come from the same place: Planet Government.

As the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Clyde Wayne Crews shows in his invaluable annual survey of the federal regulatory state, we have become the regulation nation almost imperceptibly. Excluding blank pages, the 2012 Federal Register—the official directory of regulation—today runs to 78,961 pages. Back in 1986 it was 44,812 pages. In 1936 it was just 2,620.

True, our economy today is much larger than it was in 1936—around 12 times larger, allowing for inflation. But the Federal Register has grown by a factor of 30 in the same period.

The last time regulation was cut was under Ronald Reagan, when the number of pages in the Federal Register fell by 31%. Surprise: Real GDP grew by 30% in that same period. But Leviathan's diet lasted just eight years. Since 1993, 81,883 new rules have been issued. In the past 10 years, the "final rules" issued by our 63 federal departments, agencies and commissions have outnumbered laws passed by Congress 223 to 1.

Right now there are 4,062 new regulations at various stages of implementation, of which 224 are deemed "economically significant," i.e., their economic impact will exceed $100 million.

The cost of all this, Mr. Crews estimates, is $1.8 trillion annually—that's on top of the federal government's $3.5 trillion in outlays, so it is equivalent to an invisible 65% surcharge on your federal taxes, or nearly 12% of GDP. Especially invidious is the fact that the costs of regulation for small businesses (those with fewer than 20 employees) are 36% higher per employee than they are for bigger firms.

Next year's big treat will be the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, something every small business in the country must be looking forward to with eager anticipation. Then, as Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) warned readers on this page 10 months ago, there's also the Labor Department's new fiduciary rule, which will increase the cost of retirement planning for middle-class workers; the EPA's new Ozone Rule, which will impose up to $90 billion in yearly costs on American manufacturers; and the Department of Transportation's Rear-View Camera Rule. That's so you never have to turn your head around when backing up.

President Obama occasionally pays lip service to the idea of tax reform. But nothing actually gets done and the Internal Revenue Service code (plus associated regulations) just keeps growing—it passed the nine-million-word mark back in 2005, according to the Tax Foundation, meaning nearly 19% more verbiage than 10 years before. While some taxes may have been cut in the intervening years, the tax code just kept growing.

I wonder if all this could have anything to do with the fact that we still have nearly 12 million people out of work, plus eight million working part-time jobs, five long years after the financial crisis began.

Genius that he was, Tocqueville saw this transformation of America coming. Toward the end of "Democracy in America" he warned against the government becoming "an immense tutelary power . . . absolute, detailed, regular . . . cover[ing] [society's] surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way."

Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: "It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."

If that makes you bleat with frustration, there's still hope.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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, June 27, 2013

Google protect crooks

I think there are some serious concerns about how Google operates.  My post on the topic is here.  In case they block access to this blog in response to my criticisms, make a note now of the address of my mirror site here.


So Much For “Patient Privacy”…….

The Obama Administration has been getting hammered recently for their lack of preparation in the lead-up to the “official” roll-out of The Great and Powerful Obamacare on January 1, 2014.

A mere 100 days before people are supposed to start signing up to be in the government exchanges, the administration finally decided it might be time to put up a hotline for people to get more information about what it’s all about, and what they need to do.

Wanting to be helpful (no, really - I just wanted to see how efficiently my tax dollars are being used; being a pest was merely a happy little added benefit), I decided to give the folks at the hotline a call (1-800-318-2596) and see just how much help they were going to be to the unsuspecting Low Information Voter (LIV) who decided they wanted to throw some extra money the government’s way (remember, the Supreme Court said that the government cannot force the citizenry to purchase ANYTHING).

Whoo boy.

Let me just start out by saying that if the young ladies I spoke with are any indication, Obamacare is one big implosion just waiting to happen.

There are currently 30-35 states (out of 50) who took the SCOTUS at their word, and chose not to “take advantage” of the government’s poison pill for setting up their own exchanges.  So Obama’s team gets to set up exchanges in those 30-35 states (have fun with that, m’kay guys?).

Guess who has no idea who is going to be running the exchanges in those states?  Or how much a basic policy is going to cost?  Or who is going to be paying the difference between the amount a “low-income” person will have to pay and the cost of the policy? (I neglected to point out that any exchange run by the federal government will not be eligible for the subsidies promised by the President and Congress, as expressly written in the bill – didn’t want anyone’s head to explode)

The first young lady told me that “nobody” has to pay that difference – the insurance company would be paying it.  When I tried to explain to her that the insurance company most definitely DOES NOT pay for a person’s policy, she tried her best to convince me that oh, yes, they do……

These people have no idea what a bare bones policy will cost – only that there will be a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum level of coverage.  They don’t know what the deductibles are going to be, nor do they know what the co-pays will be.  They have no idea how much of a percentage of a family’s income will be required to be shelled out for a policy premium – even though it is spelled out in black and white in the original legislation.

(She helpfully informed me that the insurance company had to pay “80/20″, but I had to inform her that the number she was quoting – per what I can only guess she was reading verbatim off of the screen in front of her – referred to the amount that had to be paid out by the company in health care costs vs. administrative costs, and had nothing to do with the cost of individual policies whatsoever).

I guess I flustered the first sweet young thing too much with my desire for explicit answers, because I was asked if I wanted to speak to an “escalation specialist” - I guess that’s the new customer-friendly term for a supervisor.

I said sure, and she asked when would be a good time for “The Escalator” to call me back.

I said I would just wait on the line – I didn’t trust them to “get back to me” otherwise.

Apparently that wasn’t something Obamabette was expecting to hear - she said “Wait a minute”, put me on hold…….and then I got disconnected.

So I called back.

I got a different Obamabette, who wasn’t any more help than the first one, but interestingly enough, she saw on her screen that I had already called in once before, and that The Escalators were scheduled to call me back – she said I should hear back from them within 2-5 business days (good thing I didn’t need a lung transplant).

She even started to call me by name – before correcting herself and calling me Ma’am.

There’s just one problem.

When Obamabette #1 asked me for my phone number, I told her I didn’t want to give it out.  I never gave her my name, either. So there should have been no way of anyone knowing anything about that first phone call when I called back the second time.

When pressed, it turned out that Obamabette #2 knew not only my name (and phone number), she knew my husband’s name as well – she even tried to tell me that perhaps my husband had also called earlier, and maybe he was the one who gave them that information.  Which he most definitely did not do, seeing as he WORKS FOR A LIVING, and therefore doesn’t deal with stuff like this (that’s my job).

When I asked her how they had gotten access to my personal information, she couldn’t give me a good explanation.

When I asked her why my information wasn’t kept private – per my explicit request – she couldn’t give me a good explanation either.

When I mentioned that a citizen might have grounds for a privacy lawsuit in light of this information, she sounded taken aback.

When I said that maybe all of the stuff that’s been reported in the media about Big Brother snooping on all of us has some merit, she got really quiet…….

Mind you, I don’t fault her for this – she’s just an entry-level employee; what bothers me is that if our government wants to make life difficult for people who are asking “inconvenient” questions, all some employee would have to do is to flag a call like mine for “further review”.

We can’t have any troublemakers in Obama’s land of Skittles and unicorns, now can we?

What happens if they look further into such an inquiry?

Will someone like me be denied coverage – even though they “promised” me that I wouldn’t be - for being obese?  For having high blood pressure?  For having high cholesterol?  For having Celiac Disease?  For having Myasthenia Gravis?

What about for voting Republican?  For supporting the Tea Party? For sending contributions to a conservative candidate’s campaign?

Will they deny my youngest daughter coverage because I didn’t have any prenatal testing done – which would have revealed her Down syndrome – and gave birth to a child who is going to be a “burden” on their system (which, I might add, we pay into quite handsomely each year)?

When I was asked for my phone number in my first call, I SPECIFICALLY stated that I did not want to give it out; I also made quite sure never to give them my name.

And yet, they had all of that information in front of them, and passed it along in a file to a supervisor.

One wonders what other information was on that computer screen – and just how they plan on using it in the future.

But no worries - The Administration promises that all of your data will be perfectly safe, and that no one will have access to your personal information unless you want them to.



Americans' foreign affairs strike home

Ever since President Clinton "did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," whatever remains of standards seems to have fallen even lower among people who hold offices and positions once thought to require good behavior and strong moral character.

Last year, several Secret Service agents left the agency amid scandal after allegedly engaging the services of prostitutes while advancing a trip to Cartagena, Colombia, for President Obama.

A side note: One of the prostitutes, Dania Londono Suarez, wrote a tell-all book about the incident titled "Room Service." According to the Huffington Post's Latinovoices, she's also opening a nonprofit to "help hookers" and "has a modeling contract, plus a deal to bring her story to television." Of course, she does.

Just this week, CBS News reported that "the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within its ranks." The allegations were contained in an internal Office of Inspector General memo, leaked by a former State Department investigator, which, according to CBS News, "cited eight specific examples" of impropriety, including the 2011 investigation into an ambassador who "routinely ditched ... his protective security detail" in order to "solicit sexual favors from prostitutes."

The ambassador, of course, denies the allegations. So, not surprisingly, does the State Department, which, reports ABC News, "offered a point-by-point pushback" to the memo's claims.

"We take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate thoroughly," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday. Not so, says the memo. It alleges State Department investigations into the charges were "influenced, manipulated, or simply called off."

As if that isn't enough, the memo claims the State Department may have covered up details about an underground drug ring operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that allegedly supplied security contractors with drugs.

According to CBS News, the memo also includes allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards" and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security details "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries."

The solicitation of prostitutes among security details, alleges the memo, was an "endemic" problem.

This is worse than outrageous. These incidents, if proved true, are a stain on the honor and reputation of the country these people are, or were, supposed to represent.

In 1958, William Lederer and Eugene Burdick published a novel called "The Ugly American," which graphically detailed why U.S. diplomacy failed in Southeast Asia and why communism didn't. Our arrogance and boorish behavior doomed us there.

Unfortunately, the book turned out to be prophetic. Is history repeating itself, not on a military or political level, but in the destruction of what remains of our moral underpinnings?

How can the United States project its core values when people who represent it behave like out-of-control college kids on spring break?

There was a time when bad behavior carried serious consequences; a time when those who exhibited bad behavior suffered socially for their lapses. They lost jobs; they lost marriages; they lost friends.

Today, they're rewarded with book contracts and reality TV shows. What happened to doing what's right, instead of doing who's easy?

People who grew up with parents who instilled a strong moral code, attended schools that reinforced it and lived in communities that affirmed it, now find that if they question bad behavior today they're considered behind the times, even prudish.

With the media portraying all sorts of behavior as acceptable; with politicians in high places getting away with low behavior and in some cases paying little or no penalty, where are the deterrents?

Disappointing family used to be the default position for avoiding extramarital entanglements in cases where religious or ethical values did not apply.

While each man should be held accountable for his own behavior, the rest of us should consider what we're promoting and tolerating as a nation and the permission it gives others to follow bad examples.

Irving Berlin wrote a silly song called "The Secret Service (Makes Me Nervous)." We should all be nervous. We should also ask ourselves what we intend to do about it.



Obama's disturbing, hypocritical silence on Chicago gun violence

That's what we're getting from the president of the United States in the wake of Chicago gun violence that left eight dead and 46 wounded over one weekend.

Chicago is the adopted hometown of one President Barack Hussein Obama. It is a city that has some of the most draconian gun restrictions in the nation.

The weekend that began Friday, June 14, and ended Sunday, June 16, found Chicagoans enduring three days of gun carnage. According to a story on the website, Chicago police were involved in at least three of the shootings.

That means there were no fewer than 51 incidents of civilian-on-civilian mayhem. In one weekend.

You would think, as vociferous as our president was about the need for gun control and the need to end gun violence after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that we'd hear from him about the gun violence that occurred in just one weekend back in his hometown.

But our president is no fool. He might be a smarmy, smooth-talking demagogue, but he's no fool.

He knows that saying anything about gun violence in Chicago will only highlight just how useless laws that seek to control or ban guns are.

He knows that he won't be able to make cheap, tawdry, demagogic appeals to emotion the way he did in the Newtown massacre, trotting out the parents of dead children to make the case for gun control.

He knows that probably few, if any, of the gun incidents in Chicago involved so-called assault weapons, which the Democrats howled about banning after the Newtown shootings.

And above all, the president knows this: there is no opportunity for him to be the demagogue when it comes to the Chicago shootings. There's no upside, at least not for Democrats.

Discerning Americans will note that Democrats, members of the president's party, have run Chicago for quite some time.

And those same Americans might point out that Chicago's mayor is one Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's former White House chief of staff.

You can bet that if Republicans controlled Chicago as tightly as Democrats do, and that the gun violence the city experienced in all of 2012 and just last weekend happened on the Republican watch, it would be HUGE news in the mainstream media.

And yes, there would be television and newspaper editors pointing the finger of blame for Chicago's gun violence in one direction and one direction only:  Directly at Republicans.

So lets' force Democrats -- and their esteemed leader in the White House -- to take ownership of their failure to control or even stem gun violence in Chicago.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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, June 26, 2013

New Deal Utopianism

BOOK REVIEW of Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning Review by George Leef

Drive south from Morgantown, West Virginia, and you soon come to the little town of Arthurdale. At the outskirts of town, there is a roadside plaque informing those who stop to read it that Arthurdale was “Established in 1933-34 under the Federal Homestead Act.” We also learn that it was a “pet project” of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and that the town was created to “assist the unemployed through self-sufficient farming and handicrafts.”

That certainly makes Arthurdale sound wholesome and quaint — proof that the federal government has the ability to improve the nation. As usual, however, there is much more to the story, and in Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning, C.J. Maloney, a writer for Bloomberg News, gives us a commendably thorough and illuminating history of Arthurdale. The town was a gigantic economic flop that was kept alive only with transfusions of taxpayer money. Far from an advertisement for the glories of government social intervention, the Arthurdale story is a testament to the social and economic damage that such intervention does.

Maloney begins with that most horrendous of all government interventions — war. World War I caused many economic changes, and one of them was that the price of coal rose dramatically, especially after Woodrow Wilson managed to drag the United States into the conflict. That led to a huge expansion of the American coal industry. Working in the coal industry paid rather well compared with the hard life of Appalachia, and many families were drawn to the “coal camps.” Coal prices remained high after the war but began to fall in 1926. Many workers left the industry, but others were “stranded” in the increasingly decrepit camps. Matters were made considerably worse by the militant posture of the United Mine Workers, which repeatedly called strikes against declining wages, refusing to recognize that consumers simply wouldn’t pay the old prices that made higher wages possible. The coal fields were riven by violence, hunger, and desperation.

As the Great Depression settled on the nation, conditions went from bad to unspeakable. Journalists wrote about the hungry, ill-clad children; the cheap, filthy houses; and the lack of sanitation. Among those who read about this extreme poverty was Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of soon-to-be president Franklin Roosevelt. She was determined to help the suffering people, and one of the earliest of the New Deal programs greatly appealed to her, namely the Division of Subsistence Homesteads (DSH). She and many other Progressives who were intent on remaking America along collectivistic lines, saw DSH as a perfect opportunity to show how wonderful things could be under their philosophy. The idea was that if people would leave cities and industrial employment and go “back to the land,” clean, moral, natural life would replace the nasty conditions under capitalism. Arthurdale (and many other planned communities) would lead the way.

Many years before, in 1911, Roosevelt himself had written a piece for the New York Globe extolling the Rousseauian notion that Americans should “return to the land” because, he claimed, those who live on farms “have more time to think and study.” He had never lived on a farm, much less done the tedious and exhausting work that farming involves. His was just a romantic notion, a yearning for an imagined golden past. He was full of such foolish ideas, and they flew out of the Pandora’s box of his New Deal like a swarm of vampire bats.

The subsistence-homesteads concept also appealed to one of Roosevelt’s top advisers, Rexford Guy Tugwell. Tugwell, trained in the Progressive economic theories of Richard Ely, had gone to the Soviet Union, and like so many other western intellectuals, came back convinced that central economic planning was the wave of the future. He was eager to show that the traditional American beliefs in individualism and free enterprise were outmoded and harmful. Arthurdale would help him prove his point that socialistic, communitarian life was far better. It just had to succeed, no matter the cost.

It is noteworthy that America had had quite a few of these collectivist/agrarian societies in its past. Maloney provides some of their history. All failed rapidly, foundering on the rocks of human nature. They did not, however, have the backing of government officials eager to spend vast amounts of money taken from taxpayers to shore up their idealistic experiments. The DSH communities would.

Funding for DSH came in a single paragraph inserted into the hastily enacted National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933. It stated that $25 million was “made available to the president, to be used by him through such agencies as he may establish and under such regulations as he may make, for making loans for and otherwise aiding in the purchase of subsistence homesteads.” It did not matter that there has never been any authority under the Constitution for Congress to make such appropriations for the president to do as he pleases. Five days later Roosevelt issued an executive order placing responsibility for this program with the secretary of the interior.

Blunder after blunder

Government officials promptly went to work designing new towns. They were no good at it, of course. Why should anyone expect bureaucrats to know anything about the numerous problems and tasks building a new town entailed? Maloney recounts the numerous blunders they made, beginning with the fact that the planners chose a poor site for the farming the people were expected to do. Moreover, because of a porous rock stratum, the water supply was unsafe. Next, the prefabricated houses that an eager official purchased to get the project moving quickly would have been suitable as beach houses, but they were a lousy choice for the cold winters in northern West Virginia. The houses, once delivered, did not fit on the foundations that had been prepared for them. Many of the houses, once constructed, suffered water damage because the officials did not think to have downspouts attached. This expensive comedy of errors continued on and on.

Homes that were built in the later stages of Arthurdale’s development were much better — so much so that they put most of the other housing in the area to shame. They were faced with native stone and had all the modern amenities, which rankled people in neighboring towns who were not lucky enough to be among the favored few. Moreover, the question of exactly how the residents would pay for their houses was unsettled a year after Arthurdale was begun. Because construction was costing far more than originally estimated, officials floated the idea of selling people their houses not on the basis of what they cost, but of what purchasers could afford to pay.

And how were the residents chosen? Faculty members at West Virginia University devised an eight-page questionnaire for anyone who wanted to apply for Arthurdale. (Large numbers did.) Applicants also had to go through extensive interviews that included intimate personal questions. One of the nonpersonal questions was whether the applicant had had any farming experience, an important consideration given that the residents were to engage in subsistence farming. Of those selected, however, a large majority had no farming experience. The entire process, Maloney writes, “had a healthy dose of the subjective and arbitrary.” A federal directive instructed the local officials to favor applicants “who seem likely to welcome supervision and guidance from project administrators.” In other words, they should discriminate against self-reliant individualists.

In a way, though, that discrimination made sense because the Arthurdalians were expected to be obedient. They were not allowed to modify their homes or grounds in any way (without approval that was very hard to obtain), and they could be removed from the community if they displeased their federal overlords, as five families were. Among the things they were forbidden to do was to sell any of their crops to outsiders. That would be inconsistent with the collectivistic philosophy behind the project. Secretary of
Agriculture Henry Wallace, a committed socialist, directed that crops be grown only for “home consumption or consumption of their neighbors in the community.” Any excess was the property of the government.

Arthurdale’s adults were also supposed to have work other than tending their small plots of land — after all, the growing season there was only about 130 days. But what would they do? The planners in Washington tried many different ideas but each proved to be a failure. In anticipation of the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams, (“If you build it, they will come”), DSH officials built a 10,000-square-foot factory. It wasn’t used until June 1936, when it was leased to a company that made vacuum cleaners. It provided jobs for 29 residents — until the company closed it during the sharp economic contraction (“the depression within the Depression”) that began in 1937. But the bureaucrats were undaunted. They proceeded to spend more taxpayer money to build two more, substantially larger factories. Little use was ever made of either facility.

Another financial blunder was the Arthurdale Inn, built on the site of an old mansion that Tugwell had ordered destroyed. It provided jobs for a few residents, but the only customers it had were visiting federal bureaucrats and Eleanor Roosevelt, who frequently stayed there while checking up on her “pet project.” Once again, taxpayers shelled out a lot in return for virtually no value.

Naturally, there were children to be educated. The officials in charge of Arthurdale would not allow “their” children to be schooled with other West Virginia kids. No, they wanted a school just for them and proceeded to build, at huge expense — although not very competently — a state-of-the-art school. Then they chose a woman as principal who was a true believer in progressive education theory. Education, in her Deweyesque view, was to be used to shape young minds according to the collectivist philosophy of the New Deal. She believed in “learning by doing” rather than old-fashioned “book learning” and was determined to socialize students differently than in the past. She had the students sent out into the surrounding fields when the weather was good, and when it wasn’t, the boys were sent to home economics and the girls to shop class. Grading was taboo.

Eventually the people of Arthurdale, even though they had been selected for their compliance, rebelled at the pseudo education their children were getting and demanded that the school comply with West Virginia standards. It wasn’t just the miserable education that the parents were upset about; they were equally upset over the entitlement mentality the school was fostering in their children. Maloney writes, “The settlers in Arthurdale were lucky in escaping the debilitating effects of welfare before it could become too deeply ingrained within them or their children.”

Finally, with the country’s entry into World War II, the administration’s interest in Arthurdale and the other experimental communities evaporated. The houses were sold to the homesteaders at a huge loss. They had cost on average more than $16,000 to build and were sold at prices ranging from $750 to $1,249. The factories and farmland were sold for nominal amounts — $1. Arthurdale had been a stupendous loss for the taxpayers. And yet the visionaries continued to defend their planned communities. In 1958 Tugwell gave a speech in which he argued that government was superior to private enterprise because “we provided sewer and water systems, schools, parks, and other utilities. No speculator did any of those things.”

Maloney responds to that with a devastating counterattack. In truth, many “speculators” who built homes did provide those good things, and they did so without any use of coercion to take money from unwilling people. In particular he points to James Grimes, a Pittsburgh businessman who built durable homes (and whose son was instrumental in Arthurdale). “It is men like Grimes,” Maloney writes, “who built this country and created (rather than destroyed) wealth in the process; he made a profit while making a city.” Private enterprise uses resources wisely and efficiently when the state keeps hands off. In contrast, “Those responsible for Arthurdale were like a plague of locusts, consuming far more than they gave.”

Back to the Land is a book with a message that vast numbers of Americans need to grasp: When government goes beyond its purposes of defending our liberty and property, it is certain to be wasteful, arrogant, and authoritarian.



Farm Bill death is Republicans’ opportunity on food stamps

By Robert Romano

On June 20, the $939 billion so-called “farm” bill — it should really be called the food stamp bill with 80 percent of it is dedicated to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — went down in flames in the House of Representatives, failing by a vote of 195 to 234. The reason?

62 House Republicans found the cuts to food stamps, amounting to just $2 billion a year for an $80 billion a year program, to be simply too small. House Democrats, on the other hand, thought they were too much, and were also upset with an amendment to the bill that would have allowed states to increase work requirements for receiving food stamps.

Turns out when you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody. In the meantime, the program is still growing out of control.

Since 2009, the amount of individuals on food stamps has soared by 15 million to 47 million on the heels of the deep recession and high unemployment, but also a 2008 sweeping expansion of eligibility for the program. That’s a 46 percent increase in the program in just four years.

For comparison, the population has only grown by 3 percent in that time to its May 2013 level of 315.7 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2012, Republicans routinely bashed the Obama Administration for the dramatic expansion of the program, at least implying they intended to rein it in and reform the program. Now, with the first farm bill since 2008, the House had — and still has — an opportunity to make good on its word.

The question is what lesson House Republican leadership has drawn from the farm bill’s failure. Was it that the legislation failed to attract enough Republican support? Or enough Democrats?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor might have an answer. “I’m extremely disappointed that Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership have at the last minute chosen to derail years of bipartisan work on the Farm Bill and related reforms,” he said after the failed vote.

So, Republicans were counting on Democrat support — not their conservative caucus — to get the bill across the finish line, implying the goal never was to rein in the program.

Cantor further suggested that any differences between the bills, including the state-determined work requirements, would have been worked out in conference. Is that to suggest that any conservative provisions would have been simply gutted in conference?

Leaving that aside, if a conference was inevitable, what need was there to reach a “bipartisan” compromise in the House version? Why not pass something that was pleasing to the House majority to begin with?

It’s not as if the version they attempted to pass would have had a chance in the Senate anyway, despite the fact there was so little difference between the two versions. The House version would spend about $75 billion a year on food stamps, the Senate $77 billion. That’s a distinction without much of a difference.

Which is why the 62 House Republicans who broke ranks with their leadership, holding out for real reform, are to be praised. If not for their courage, the GOP would be missing yet another opportunity to take on the welfare state.

As Americans for Limited Government Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rick Manning noted after the farm bill’s failure, “It is time for Congress to begin considering what is in the best interests of taxpayers instead of constantly doling out corporate subsidies and expanding welfare without question.”

Indeed. It is time to stop rubberstamping these government programs. It is time to take a stand.



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

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A prophet who got it right

In 1884, Herbert Spencer wrote what quickly became a celebrated book, The Man Versus The State. The book is seldom referred to now, and gathers dust on library shelves — if, in fact, it is still stocked by many libraries. Spencer's political views are regarded by most present-day writers, who bother to mention him at all, as "extreme laissez faire," and hence "discredited."

But any open-minded person who takes the trouble today to read or reread The Man Versus The State will probably be startled by two things. The first is the uncanny clairvoyance with which Spencer foresaw what the future encroachments of the State were likely to be on individual liberty, above all in the economic realm. The second is the extent to which these encroachments had already occurred in 1884, the year in which he was writing.

The present generation has been brought up to believe that government concern for "social justice" and for the plight of the needy was something that did not even exist until the New Deal came along in 1933. The ages prior to that have been pictured as periods when no one "cared," when laissez faire was rampant, when everybody who did not succeed in the cutthroat competition that was euphemistically called free enterprise — but was simply a system of dog-eat-dog and the-devil-take-the-hindmost — was allowed to starve. And if the present generation thinks this is true even of the 1920s, it is absolutely convinced that this was so in the 1880s, which it would probably regard as the very peak of the prevalence of laissez faire.

Yet the new reader's initial astonishment when he starts Spencer's book may begin to wear off before he is halfway through, because one cause for surprise explains the other. All that Spencer was doing was to project or extrapolate the legislative tendencies existing in the 1880s into the future. It was because he was so clearsightedly appalled by these tendencies that he recognized them so much more sharply than his contemporaries, and saw so much more clearly where they would lead if left unchecked.

Even in his Preface to The Man Versus The State he pointed out how "increase of freedom in form" was being followed by "decrease of freedom in fact….

"Regulations have been made in yearly growing numbers, restraining the citizen in directions where his actions were previously unchecked, and compelling actions which previously he might perform or not as he liked; and at the same time heavier public burdens … have further restricted his freedom, by lessening that portion of his earnings which he can spend as he pleases, and augmenting the portion taken from him to be spent as public agents please."

In his first chapter, "The New Toryism," Spencer contends that "most of those who now pass as Liberals, are Tories of a new type." The Liberals of his own day, he points out, had already "lost sight of the truth that in past times Liberalism habitually stood for individual freedom versus State-coercion."

So the complete Anglo-American switch of reference, by which a "liberal" today has come to mean primarily a State interventionist, had already begun in 1884. Already "plausible proposals" were being made "that there should be organized a system of compulsory insurance, by which men during their early lives shall be forced to provide for the time when they will be incapacitated." Here is already the seed of the American Social Security Act of 1935.

Spencer also pays his respects to the anti-libertarian implications of an increasing tax burden. Those who impose additional taxes are saying in effect: "Hitherto you have been free to spend this portion of your earnings in any way which pleased you; hereafter you shall not be free to spend it, but we will spend it for the general benefit."

Spencer next turns to the compulsions that unions were even then imposing on their members, and asks: "If men use their liberty in such a way as to surrender their liberty, are they thereafter any the less slaves?"

In his second chapter, "The Coming Slavery," Spencer calls attention to the existence of what he calls "political momentum" — the tendency of State interventions and similar political measures to increase and accelerate in the direction in which they have already been set going. Americans have become only too familiar with this momentum in the last few years.

Spencer illustrates: "The blank form of an inquiry daily made is — 'We have already done this; why should we not do that?'" "The buying and working of telegraphs by the State" (which already operated them in England when he wrote), he continued, "is made a reason for urging that the State should buy and work the railways." And he went on to quote the demands of one group that the State should take possession of the railways, "with or without compensation."

The British State did not buy and work the railways until 65 years later, in 1948, but it did get around to it, precisely as Spencer feared.

It is not only precedent that prompts the constant spread of interventionist measures, Spencer points out,

"but also the necessity which arises for supplementing ineffective measures, and for dealing with the artificial evils continually caused. Failure does not destroy faith in the agencies employed, but merely suggests more stringent use of such agencies or wider ramifications of them."

One illustration he gives is how "the evils produced by compulsory charity are now proposed to be met by compulsory insurance." Today, in America, one could point to scores of examples (from measures to cure "the deficit in the balance of payments" to the constant multiplication of measures to fight the government's "war on poverty") of interventions mainly designed to remove the artificial evils brought about by previous interventions.

Everywhere, Spencer goes on, the tacit assumption is that "government should step in whenever anything is not going right…. The more numerous governmental interventions become … the more loud and perpetual the demands for interventions." Every additional relief measure raises hopes of further ones:

"The more numerous public instrumentalities become, the more is there generated in citizens the notion that everything is to be done for them, and nothing by them. Every generation is made less familiar with the attainment of desired ends by individual actions or private agencies; until, eventually, governmental agencies come to be thought of as the only available agencies."

"All socialism," Spencer concludes, "involves slavery…. That which fundamentally distinguishes the slave is that he labors under coercion to satisfy another's desires." The relation admits of many gradations. Oppressive taxation is a form of slavery of the individual to the community as a whole. "The essential question is — How much is he compelled to labor for other benefit than his own, and how much can he labor for his own benefit?"

Even Spencer would probably have regarded with incredulity a prediction that in less than two generations England would have rates of income tax rising above 90 percent, and that many an energetic and ambitious man, in England and the United States, would be forced to spend more than half his time and labor working for the support of the community, and allowed less than half his time and labor to provide for his own family and himself.

Much more HERE


Regulation nation a symptom of an incurable disease?

Niall Ferguson has a piece in the Wall Street Journal which talks about the growth of regulation within the nation.  He starts with a quote from de Tocqueville in which de Tocqueville marvels at how Americans manage to self-regulate through associations.  He then notes that de Tocqueville wouldn’t recognize the US if he were to suddenly come back.  It looks too much like Europe.  Why?

Regulation has crept in to help smother us all the while the culture has changed to where Americans seem to no longer look to each other to solve problems, but instead look to government.

Regulations are simply a symptom of this business and autonomy killing movement.  And their growth track pretty well with our demise:

As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Clyde Wayne Crews shows in his invaluable annual survey of the federal regulatory state, we have become the regulation nation almost imperceptibly. Excluding blank pages, the 2012 Federal Register—the official directory of regulation—today runs to 78,961 pages. Back in 1986 it was 44,812 pages. In 1936 it was just 2,620.

True, our economy today is much larger than it was in 1936—around 12 times larger, allowing for inflation. But the Federal Register has grown by a factor of 30 in the same period.

The last time regulation was cut was under Ronald Reagan, when the number of pages in the Federal Register fell by 31%. Surprise: Real GDP grew by 30% in that same period. But Leviathan’s diet lasted just eight years. Since 1993, 81,883 new rules have been issued. In the past 10 years, the “final rules” issued by our 63 federal departments, agencies and commissions have outnumbered laws passed by Congress 223 to 1.

Right now there are 4,062 new regulations at various stages of implementation, of which 224 are deemed “economically significant,” i.e., their economic impact will exceed $100 million.

The cost of all this, Mr. Crews estimates, is $1.8 trillion annually—that’s on top of the federal government’s $3.5 trillion in outlays, so it is equivalent to an invisible 65% surcharge on your federal taxes, or nearly 12% of GDP. Especially invidious is the fact that the costs of regulation for small businesses (those with fewer than 20 employees) are 36% higher per employee than they are for bigger firms.

Got that?  224 new regulations which will have an economic impact that will “exceed $100 million” dollars.  Negatively of course.  That was the purpose of having regulations rated like that – to understand the probable negative economic impact.  And we have 224 in the hopper, in a very down economy, which will exceed the negative $100 million dollar mark.  What are those people thinking?  Or are they?  Indications are they give it no thought when these new regulations are proffered. They just note the cost and move on. No skin of their rear ends.

And if you think that’s bad, just wait:

Next year’s big treat will be the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, something every small business in the country must be looking forward to with eager anticipation. Then, as Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) warned readers on this page 10 months ago, there’s also the Labor Department’s new fiduciary rule, which will increase the cost of retirement planning for middle-class workers; the EPA’s new Ozone Rule, which will impose up to $90 billion in yearly costs on American manufacturers; and the Department of Transportation’s Rear-View Camera Rule. That’s so you never have to turn your head around when backing up.

Yes, that’s right, they’re hardly done. In fact, they’re not even slowing down. The accumulation of power within the central government – the ability to intrude in almost every aspect of your life – is attempting to reach warp speed.

To say America has lost it’s way is, well, an understatement. We aren’t close to being what was envisioned at our founding and we’re almost kissing cousins of that which our Founders attempted to keep us from becoming – today’s Europe.

Unfortunately, that ruinous drift and over reliance on government seems to be fine for all too many of those who call themselves Americans today.



Trust the Constitution, not the government

Without the slightest hint of irony, President Obama said last week, "if people can't trust not only the executive branch but also don't trust Congress, and don't trust federal judges, to make sure that we're abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we're going to have some problems here."

Yes we are, because more and more of us don't trust government. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, "trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high."

Furthermore, notes Pew, a "majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms." What has led to this distrust?

The Benghazi cover-up, the IRS fiasco, the Justice Department's monitoring of reporters, the commandeering of phone records of private citizens in the name of national security, "data mining," the so-called "kill list," drones with the power to spy and kill, the proliferation of surveillance cameras, DNA swabs after arrests, Obamacare, unrestrained spending and unending debt. This is the federal government encroaching on our civil liberties.

The federal government long ago exceeded its constitutional boundaries. It has reached into our public schools, our colleges and universities, our wombs, our wallets; Congress banned incandescent light bulbs, Bloomberg tried to ban Big Gulps, and now government wants to insert itself into our health care. Government does few things well, but it does them at great expense.

A loss of some privacy was supposed to be the price we had to pay for security following 9/11. Obama declared the war against terrorism over, but the surveillance expanded. Now it seems there are more cameras out there then there are cicadas.

The president claims, "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls." But the government has the ability to listen. Michael Isikoff of NBC News, citing two former U.S. intelligence officials, reports, "The National Security Agency has at times mistakenly intercepted the private email messages and phone calls of Americans who had no link to terrorism, requiring Justice Department officials to report the errors to a secret national security court and destroy the data." Oops.

When I was a kid, some of my relatives had party-line telephones. People shared the same phone line but were assigned different numbers of rings so you'd know which call was yours. My cousins and I eavesdropped on other people's conversations. Will the federal government now take listening in to a new level?

We have an "on the one hand, but on the other hand" attitude about security. On the one hand we want to be safe; on the other hand we don't like government intruding on our rights because once we've lost them, they will be difficult to regain.

The notion that we should trust government is foolish and dangerous. Government officials, like all human beings, have the capacity to do wrong as well as right. That's why the Founders gave us a Constitution, to control government that "the blessings of liberty" might be secured.

Here's some history for those who missed it in history class: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution ... are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite." -- James Madison.

"Freedom is lost gradually from an uninterested, uninformed, and uninvolved people." -- Thomas Jefferson.

On this 64th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell's novel "1984," uninterested, uninformed and uninvolved Americans should consider his concocted language called Newspeak, which includes: "War is peace; freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength."

Obama is speaking in Newspeak when he says government can be trusted. Government cannot be trusted. We -- and he -- must trust the Constitution.


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, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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, June 24, 2013

The Ominous Parallels

Fascism: a system of government, marked by stringent socioeconomic control, and strong central government, usually headed by a dictator. (Webster’s II New College Dictionary)

Under fascism, private ownership is in name only. There is forcible oppression of opposition and criticism and regimentation of industry and commerce. The more the private sector is controlled the more fascistic is that society. A total fascistic society does not begin as such. A society must go through a transition before it becomes totally repressive and does not necessarily have to be led by a single dictator. A fascist country can be led by any entity that enforces socioeconomic control, such as a king, a political party or a committee. Fascism develops by stages because if a king or dictator or political party were to mandate or pass laws of total oppression overnight, its evil would be so evident that rebellion would become rampant. Therefore, the authorities use the frog-in-the-slow-boiling-water effect to eventually get you.

In The Ominous Parallels, written in 1982, the author, Leonard Peikoff compared the creeping regulations in America to the creeping regulations that occurred in Nazi Germany in the 1930s leading to the oppressive fascism of the 1940s. He then predicted that the ever-increasing government controls in America would eventually result in a fascist-style government, similar to Nazi Germany. At the time he wrote this, few believed that it was possible for fascism to take hold here in America, the land of the free. Indeed, I too, was incredulous in 1982 when the book was published. Well, I believe it now!

We already have enormously strong and stringent regimentation of industry and commerce. In fact, to make matters worse, in recent months the government has taken over ownership of many businesses, partially or totally.

Peikoff wrote, “Contrary to the Marxists, the Nazis did not advocate public ownership of the means of production. They did demand that the government oversee and run the nation’s economy. The issue of legal ownership, they explained, is secondary; what counts, is the issues of control. Private citizens, therefore, may continue to hold titles to property – so long as the state reserves to itself the unqualified right to regulate the use of their property.” Peikoff continues, “But the Nazis defended their policies, and the country did not rebel; it accepted the Nazi argument. Selfish individuals may be unhappy, the Nazis said, but what we have established in Germany is the ideal system, socialism.” "To be a socialist,” says Goebbels, “is to submit the I to the thou; socialism is sacrificing the individual to the whole.” In addition, Peikoff wrote, “The system which Hitler established – the social reality which so many Germans were eager to embrace or so willing to endure – the politics which began in a theory and ended in Auschwitz – was: the 'total state.'"

At this point I digress. When I was about 14 years old I was told a joke that was mildly funny but the joke is worth telling to make a point. A Jewish mother brought her son to a psychiatrist because whenever she served him kreplach he would have a nervous reaction by flailing his arms about and yelling, “keep it away, keep away the kreplach,” like he was insanely afraid of kreplach. (For those who don’t know, kreplach are square pieces of noodle with meat inside. The noodle is laid down flat on the table, the meat is placed in the center and each corner is folded over the meat so that the meat is enclosed inside of the noodle, similar to ravioli). The psychiatrist suggested that the son watch her make the kreplach such that he could see it made in stages and have nothing to fear. So the mother went home with her son and sat him in front of her while she made the kreplach. She cut out a square piece of noodle from a larger piece and placed it flat on the table. No reaction from the boy. She placed the meat in the center. No reaction from the boy. She folded over the first corner. No reaction from the boy. She folded over the second corner. No reaction from the boy. She folded over the third corner. No reaction from the boy. She folded over the fourth corner and the boy immediately went into a tantrum, flailing his arms about and yelling “keep it away, keep away the kreplach.”

There is an analogy here. How far must the regimentation, the oppressions, the controls, the regulations progress before they are recognized as fascism (kreplach)? Could one say that it is only 25% kreplach when the first corner is folded and 50% when the second corner is folded and 75% when the 3rd is folded and 100% when the final corner is folded? Is the oppression not fascism until it is total? Isn’t it 25% fascism and then 50% and then 75% some where along the way until it finally approaches 100% fascism? As demonstrated in Peikoff’s Parallels, fascism must be recognized before becoming total in order to prevent a Nazi-type catastrophe. A little bit of fascism is never good for a society and, most importantly, there is no law of nature dictating that total fascism can’t happen here. Fascism is creeping up on us at an increasing pace.

Ludwig Von Mises and F. A. Hayek, two of the greatest economists of the twentieth century, and Fredric Bastiat, one of the wisest economist of the nineteenth century, in their various writings, proved that there can be no mixture of freedom and fascism, just as the mixture of pure water and poison is still poison. Once a little fascism is condoned, it becomes part of the system and will eventually lead to full fascism, unless there is a complete turn around in the philosophy and ideology of the masses.

As I listen to the news on the radio and TV, I witness fear and anger in so many people. However, they are not aware of what it is that they fear and of the actual cause of their anger.

Previously, I wrote that fascism entails “forcible oppression of opposition and criticism of government policies.” In August of 2009 I heard on the news that we now have a government office within the Federal Communications Commission headed by Mark Lloyd, a “diversity officer,” whose job is to ensure that there is “fair diversity” over the airwaves. Lloyd chose Venezuela (a repressive society) as his model, which will have the effect of limiting freedom of speech and forcibly oppressing opposition and criticism of government policies. Oppression of the freedom of speech has already started with the concept of “political correctness.” Lloyd will have the power to fine those who do not cooperate with his idea of “fairness.”

Now in June of 2013 we are faced with a government that has been exposed for the communo-fascist system it really favors. Even the New York Times is criticizing the Obama administration for its allowing and promoting the listening in on our conversations via telephone, emails and other communication devices that most of us use on a daily basis. The Benghazi murder cover up and the IRS attacking those with political views that are antithetical to the views of the present administration are other examples of the threat that is upon us. Another example, of limiting freedom of speech is where politicians accuse as “unpatriotic” those people who dare to criticize government-proposed policies, past and present. I am one of those who dare to speak out. Will there be a knock on my door some day by those with the power, but not the right, to drag me away to some unknown prison camp for dissenters?

The dictator who takes over in America does not have to be a loud spoken, German speaking, mustached man or an overweight, round-faced man, wearing a military uniform, who speaks Italian. He can be a soft-spoken, clean-shaven man, in a business suit with a charming smile, who goes to church every Sunday, and with his minions insists on the enforcement of his fascist mission. It is the presence of the socioeconomic controls, government regulations and government suppressions through legal and illegal coercion that defines fascism.

For fascism to get a stronghold on a nation, one more condition might develop, but is not essential. When a serious crisis occurs, citizens cry out for someone to do something about it at any cost. Of course, that “someone” is the government. In Germany of the 1930s the crisis was runaway inflation. However, any crisis will do. For America the crisis could be another terrorist attack using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons; a depression; a stock market crash; a food shortage; a torrent of bankruptcies and bank failures; a bursting of the housing bubble, etc. In most cases, the crisis is government-generated, while the government’s solution is to continue to do the very same thing that caused the crisis in the first place.

In some cases, as depicted in the movie “Z,” the government surreptitiously causes a crisis in order to motivate the citizens to succumb to more government control. This gives those on top of the power pyramid even greater power. That’s why the State loves war in spite of statements to the contrary.

Some of you may say, “There is a vast difference between America and those countries where fascism ruled. Those countries did not have a system of checks and balances with free elections to prevent such a take over, as we have in America. With those two mechanisms in place, it can’t happen here.”

In reply I remind you that Adolph Hitler was freely elected into office. In addition, if we did have a system of checks and balances that actually worked in practice, America would never have already gotten this far into fascism. We are being checked and balanced into becoming a third world country, with a currency that the world no longer respects, with the threat of terrorist attacks forever with us, with Tea Parties springing up everywhere, where anger is rampant, where we have a failing education system, and a failing socioeconomic system and a plethora of failing banks and failing businesses, with a huge unemployment rate and huge mortgage foreclosure rates. You can no longer blame the “other” political party or the greedy businessmen, or the unions or the rich or the illegal immigrants or capitalism or pick your favorite scapegoat, for our problems. Such blame won’t hold water any longer. It is time that one’s ideology is examined.

The problem is enormous when the common people who support the present course of government control, from the left or the right, do not recognize that they are supporting fascism. The man on the street thinks, “after all, fascism is bad and I am a good person, therefore I can’t be fostering fascism. Only the other guys in Nazi Germany were fascists. I am nothing like them.” Then, there are the uncommon people – those fascists in Congress and the White House who also think of themselves as humanitarians who are trying to do the right thing for their country, just like the other dictators or politicians of the past tried to do for their homelands. However, the results will always be the same—eventual destruction.

I believe that the common man on the street in Germany during the Nazi regime thought that he was supporting a good cause when he supported Hitler and his thugs. Like us, the German people and the Nazis loved their children, went to church, played bridge, went to the opera and concerts, played tennis and engaged themselves in the same everyday activities as we do.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Fascism can come from the right or the left. Doing what feels good and doing what is right and works are not necessarily the same thing. To determine what works, one must analyze cause and effect. The reasoning of the “feel good” proponents goes something like this: “wouldn’t it be nice if the poor were more prosperous?” (We all would like to see that the poor were more prosperous.) Solution—“let’s give them some of my money and your money and everybody else’s money.” Problem solved. Fascist doctrine does not bother to look at the morality of such acts, the unintended and long-term negative consequences of such a policy, the side effects of the policy and never bothers to seek out the cause of the very prosperity that they wish to establish. The problem is magnified by the fact that when the unintended consequences do become a reality, fascist ideology is never blamed. Other people, groups and greed are blamed.

I am at a loss to identify what is going on in our country as anything other than “fascism,” so allow me my passion to strive for a fascist-free America by pointing out in this essay, the underlying principle that constitutes fascism. Some of the pro-fascists may say, “We only want partial fascism. What harm can that do?” Leonard Peikoff already answered that in The Ominous Parallels. I reply, “A little fascism can go a long way – a long way to catastrophe.” It’s like a communicable disease that must be stopped or it will spread until it devours the entire country.

If you desire a system of government, marked by stringent (or non-stringent) socioeconomic control, a strong central government, whether it is headed by a president, a congress, a parliament, a political party, or any entity with the power to enforce control, you are a supporter of fascism, by definition. When you support the idea that the government should own, run, regiment, control, or regulate things such as healthcare, the banking industry, the insurance industry, commerce, the schools, prices, contracts, wages, rents ad infinitum, and in addition, provide largess to those who don’t earn it, you are supporting fascism. The devastation that will follow from such policies is not some mystical Nostradamus-like prediction. It follows as sure as night follows day. Full fascism will eventually envelop the lives of our children and grandchildren and may even occur within our own lifetime if the tide is not turned.

As Thomas DiLorenzo wrote in his book Organized Crime, “It would be very difficult indeed to argue against the proposition that the U.S. economy today is even more heavily controlled, regulated and regimented by the state than Nazi Germany was at the time Hayek was writing The Road to Serfdom. Americans have traveled many miles down the road to serfdom by deluding themselves that the god of democracy will somehow save them from statist slavery. As Hayek warned, ‘there is no justification for the belief that, so long as power is conferred by democratic procedure, it cannot be arbitrary...’”

You can stem the tide. Refrain from voting for more and more government control of my life, your life and the lives of your neighbors and fellow American citizens! Peikoff is correct. The parallels are ominous. Start espousing the opposite of fascism – total freedom!



Medicaid Expansion: Sense and Nonsense

Some states are refusing to expand Medicaid, even though the feds have promised to fully fund an expansion for a few years. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is apoplectic. In a recent piece, he cited a study estimating that a Medicaid expansion would prevent 19,000 deaths per year. What he didn’t say about the study’s author is telling.

The estimate comes from a report by Katherine Baicker and her colleagues at RAND. Since then, Baicker has co-authored what Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman calls a “much more careful study”—the recently famous study on Oregon’s Medicaid experiment. “That study,” Goodman writes, “found no effect of Medicaid (versus uninsurance) on health! Further, the Oregon study is consistent with most of the serious literature on this subject, including a very famous study by the RAND Corporation itself.”

That finding from Oregon came as a surprise, but it shouldn’t have. One might have predicted such an outcome based on the low rates that Medicaid pays providers compared to what private insurers pay: 38 percent in California, 33 percent in New Jersey, 29 percent in New York, 59 percent nationwide. You get the idea. Would moving low-income patients into state-created exchanges, where they could purchase subsidized insurance, make more sense than enrolling them in Medicaid? Not necessarily. In some states the subsidized plans may pay even less than Medicaid, Goodman notes. If the Obama Administration wants to look for a better reform worth emulating, it should consider block grants to states. “Rhode Island has shown that Medicaid block grants can save money and improve care,” Goodman writes. “It’s time to allow other states to have a shot at similar reforms.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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, June 23, 2013

Angry Liberals in America

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell is staring at me with the uncontrolled intensity usually reserved for serial killers and time-share salesmen. "We know how to get the country back to work. The government needs to lead the way."

He folds a napkin in what looks like some expensive oyster bar, but is probably just a television studio backdrop. "The government has to get us back to work."

O'Donnell already has a job. His job is to yell angry things on MSNBC. Most of his listeners also have jobs or at least they have parents.

MSNBC is not a news network for the unemployed. It is a news network for aging liberals still addicted to listening to angry liberals yell about George W. Bush.

On the television, O'Donnell, doing his best imitation of a strangler, wrings his hands and leans into the camera. Lean Forward, the ad, sandwiched between a drug ad that features smiling families at a picnic while the announcer soothingly tells you all the ways it can kill you and that multiracial Cheerios ad that General Mills hopes to use convince a new generation of consumers that racial progress is more important than good taste, tells me.

The ads are more soothing than the angry MSNBC segments that they bookend. And soothing is code for upscale. Even Lawrence O'Donnell angrily leaning forward in his imaginary upscale oyster bar where there are no other people smells of that same soothing patina of a moneyed world where nothing can go wrong except minor servant problems.

Strip down MSNBC to its skivvies and you find an angry NPR. It's as if all the NPR people have given up speaking in their supercilious voices and after a few drinks at a cocktail party began holding forth on everything wrong with the canap├ęs.

MSNBC is chock full of anger, but like Lawrence O'Donnell choking down his fury in an imaginary oyster bar over the inability of some people to understand that the government has to get us back to work in the fifth year of a liberal administration that promised to do just that, it's an anger that makes no sense.

Liberals like to mock conservatives as a bunch of angry white men, but there are more angry white men yelling at the camera in two hours of MSNBC than in two days of FOX News.

It's not the kind of yelling that unemployed men do when they get a call from the bank telling them that there will be no loan modification. It's the prissy raised voices you hear at Starbucks when the Chris Hayes lookalike is shocked to be told that the java isn't locally sourced and that if he doesn't like that he can take his MacBook Air and finish his Great Unamerican Novel in some other coffee shop with free Wi-Fi.

MSNBCers don't quite yell. Instead they tighten up, grind their teeth and treat viewers like the waiters in their oyster bar who got their order wrong. They aren't going to yell, but they make it clear that they are furious and the only thing keeping them from turning red and breaking down in a screaming fit over nothing is that they suspect deep inside that the only response to their innermost volcanic venting will be a shrug. What angry leftists who grew up convinced of their snowflake specialness fear is that their anger will not change the world. That like a squalling infant in his third rate news network crib, no one will even care.

That is liberal anger, the privileged wheeze of entitled brats who do for politics exactly what their younger counterparts do for music with Pitchfork Magazine. It's not righteous anger, but snob rage, the frustrated fury of the aesthetes of the Hill who hate what is on your iPod, your Kindle and your news feed.

"Republicans," they spit with the venom of a Mohammedan rug merchant matching wits and saliva with his camel on a hot desert day.

"Tea Party. Ted Cruz. John Boehner." These are the dread curses of the MSNBC set and are spoken like obscenities over an overturned car, like a starving urchin cursing the thief who stole his last loaf of bread, like a man sitting in an empty oyster bar speaking the name of the waiter who took his order an hour ago and then never came back.

These are the tales of the tribe that leans forward cupping hands around the smartphones that tell them who their enemies are and how they wronged them in the days of Nixon, the great betrayal of Bush v. Gore and the latest horrible plot just uncovered by the intrepid fabricators at Media Matters.

The tribe has few identities. It isn't big on religions and nations. The borders of the United States are an outdated detail to them and the only ancestry that interests them is the stark divide between white and official minority. What they have are tastes. Their tastes in music, movies, food and politics are more than interest or enjoyment... these things are their identity. The things that they love in a way that they could never love people... give them meaning.

The left is a creature of trends, it pops up in trendy places as the alternative and it is always changing and spawning alternatives to itself. It is always trying to be edgy as it can before it settles down to the pudgy displays of choked down anger of the man who does not quite dare to yell at a waiter on display nightly on MSNBC.

There is a lot of anger on MSNBC, but it is mostly misdirected anger. It is the anger of men who want to yell at their wives and sons but instead gibber at viewers in empty oyster bars that are as fake as their economics. It is the petty anger of men who have put so much of themselves into their hobbies because their shallow egotism permits them no more human a connection and tolerates not even the slightest slights against the objects of their impeccable tastes. It is the anger of an old elite that has become foolish and deranged and does not really know why it is angry anymore... except perhaps because it is dying.

Liberalism in those northeastern circles used to be a matter of good taste. There is nothing good about it anymore. It has become a suicide pact for angry lonely men who wait in imaginary oyster bars for a waiter who will never come, for an Age of Aquarius that will never be born and a transcendence of government that will never arrive no matter how they twist their hands, tug at their red napkins and lean forward.

Liberalism has become sick with its own disease. It is as dogma-ridden as any Red drinking sour beer in 1920s Chicago. It has nothing to offer to anyone except the ideological denunciation of thought crimes and the attendant superiority of being on the right side of the guillotine. And it has the misplaced self-righteousness of those who are busy pretending that they are angry about what is being done to other people, rather than their own egotistical anger with which they confront their sense of futility.

Liberalism, like all trends, seeks novelty, it burns brightest among the young, it plots to escape from history through the engine of progress only to discover that the mortality that is the greatest fear of the intellectual mayfly outlives the schemes of men.

The left personifies vanity. Its activists and advocates envision an escape from time only to drown it. Anger is their engine of change, but their anger makes only a little light and a little heat before it burns out leaving them alone in a cold dark oyster bar with history behind them, leaning forward into oblivion.



The media and the Obama administration are linked at the hip

All sorts of personal ties -- But that doesn't influence their reporting, of course (!)

The mainstream media might just be owned and operated by the Obama Administration-lock, stock and barrel. They are married at the hip, quite literally, and often have relatives within the Administration.

The Washington Post names names in a recent piece entitled, "Media, administration deal with conflicts." Conflicts of interest, that is.

But the Post takes an unusual approach to the conflicts. It says the media are unconcerned and can police their own behavior. Does this sound familiar? Eric Holder, anyone?

"So what to make of all the family ties between the news media and the Obama administration?" writes Paul Farhi for The Washington Post. "According to the news media, nothing much at all," he writes (emphasis added). "News organizations say they've worked out the conflicts-real or potential-involving their journalists. But that hasn't stopped a few eyebrows from being raised."

Consider the words of Richard Grenell, a political consultant who in an appearance on Fox News noted that top networks ABC, CBS and CNN have intimate family ties to the Administration. "CBS News President David Rhodes and ABC News President Ben Sherwood, both of them have siblings that not only work at the White House, that not only work for President Obama, but they work at the NSC on foreign policy issues directly related to Benghazi," said Grenell.

CNN's deputy bureau chief, Virginia Mosely, is married to Tom Nides, who was appointed by Obama to work under Hillary as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. This means that the Benghazi scandal causes some familial angst. What better (or worse, depending on your perspective) reason to go soft on reporting than because your own family is involved?

"Conservatives have suggested that these relationships may play a role in how the media cover Obama, specifically in their supposedly timid approach to reporting on the White House's handling of the terrorist attacks last year on American facilities in Benghazi, Libya," writes Farhi.

Clearly, ABC, CBS, and CNN cannot be trusted to tell the whole story on Benghazi. But the bias doesn't end there.

It is commonly known that David Plouffe, Obama's former campaign manager, has joined Bloomberg News as a commentator, and former senior advisor to the president David Axelrod was hired by MSNBC. (The President went so far as to joke at the latest White House Correspondents' Association dinner that "... David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod.")

What is less well known is that 14 or more journalists have joined the Obama Administration and taken key posts there. "Those inside the administration hit 14 this month when the Post's Stephen Barr joined the Labor Department," reported the Washington Examiner last February. "That's a record, say some revolving door watchers, and could even be much higher: The [Washington] Post reports that "dozens" of former journalists have joined the administration, although Washington Secrets couldn't verify that tally." After all, there's "... a whopping 19 journalists and media executives, including five from The Washington Post and three each from ABC and CNN, who've gone into the administration or center-left groups supporting the president."

So the media have relatives in the Administration, accept political hacks from the Administration as commentators, and have former colleagues who work there. The interrelations are so complex that reporters have to recuse themselves behind the scenes and even reassign employees because the conflicts are too great.

What possible reason, then, would the media have to cover for the Administration's missteps? It looks like there are lots of reasons.

The Washington Post article outlines several more journalists with marital or familial conflicts. For example, "NPR's White House correspondent, Ari Shapiro, is married to a lawyer, Michael Gottlieb, who joined the White House counsel's office in April." And, "The Post's Justice Department reporter, Sari Horwitz, is married to William B. Schultz, the general counsel of the Department of Human Services; the reporter of this article sometimes writes about CBS News and is related to an employee there." In addition, "Biden's current communications director, Shailagh Murray (a former Post congressional reporter), is married to Neil King, one of the Wall Street Journal's top political reporters."

It's no wonder, then, that The New York Times and ABC News reported the recent IRS targeting scandal as a Republican attempt to gain political traction in Washington and throughout the nation, rather than as a Nixonesque grab for power.

But we are supposed to trust the media to recuse themselves from stories in which they have a conflict of interest. "Some outlets demand that their journalists recuse themselves from assignments that might tread too close to a family member's area of responsibility," reports Farhi. "ABC, for example, says that Sherwood doesn't get involved with any stories dealing with arms control, his sister's specialty," he writes. "NPR said Shapiro avoids any story in which a member of the White House counsel's office participates, such as a recent background briefing on Benghazi."

"And CNN said [Virginia] Moseley, who formerly was with ABC News, recuses herself from working on any story about the Benghazi investigation, even though her husband left the State Department in February." Note that two of the examples involve the Benghazi scandal.

While journalists may recuse themselves from stories that they may influence, that doesn't mean their existence as an employee-or, especially, as a leader-doesn't put soft pressure on a news organization to cover the story from a different angle. Sometimes all it takes is a behind-the-scenes comment to influence a story. And generally the biases are known in advance. Accepted truths are just that: the diffuse influence of friends, colleagues, and family members on a person's perspective.

But Farhi certainly leaves readers with the idea that we are safe from media bias. After all, ABC's Shipman "stopped covering politics in late 2008 after her husband, Carney, left Time magazine to become press secretary for Vice President-elect Joe Biden." Carney, of course, later became White House spokesman for President Obama. And late last month, after he had been caught either lying, or passing on wrong information about who at the White House knew about the IRS targeting of conservative groups and when they knew it, he was rewarded with a 900-word, two-page Style section puff-piece in The Washington Post about his musical proclivities and favorite band. If he were a conservative, this would have been said to have humanized him.

"She's [Shipman] now the senior national correspondent for ‘Good Morning, America'" and covers soft topics such as "diet and fitness," says Farhi.

Farhi quotes Jeffrey Schneider, ABC News' chief spokesman, as saying, "There is zero evidence, zero, that [Ben Sherwood's relationship] has had any impact on our coverage." Evidence is an interesting word in this context. How about common sense and human nature? Though not quantifiable evidence, they certainly lead us to draw conclusions. Conclusions that our liberal media clearly don't want us to draw.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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)