Friday, March 21, 2014

Our Sociopathic Political Class

EDWARD CLINE below has some good points but is handicapped by his lack of background in clinical psychology.  While the distinction he proposes between psychopathy and sociopathy is reasonable, it is his own.  Normally, Sociopathy is simply the more modern usage  -- meant to stress that psychopaths are not "mad" in the sense of poor reality contact.  Psychopathy is not a psychosis.  Cline seems to think it is.  His list of psychopathic symptoms and suggestions about politicians embodying them is however pretty right.  I have written to that effect myself

In his March 10th FrontPage column, "Obama's Appeasement Leads to War," about how appeasing tyrants has and will continue to lead to war and more international strife, Daniel Greenfield wrote:

    "On the shield of the Strategic Air Command a steel mailed fist grips a lightning bolt and an olive branch. The motto of the organization that was the nightmarish obsession of every Cold War leftist was "Peace is our Profession."

    To the moviegoers who sat through Dr. Strangelove, to the earnest leftists who saw the world going up in a puff of atomic smoke because the military industrial complex was obsessed with killing people, to the pseudo-idealists who passed on atomic secrets to Moscow to avoid an American monopoly on the bomb, the SAC's motto was a demented joke. They knew that the only way to stop war was to disarm."

Coincidentally, I watched "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" the previous evening on Netflix. The last time I saw it in its entirety was the year of its release in 1964, on Larson Air Force Base, 462nd Bomb Wing, in Washington State. And I saw it under the most unusual circumstances.

I was in the Air Police, charged with guarding the base and its B52 bombers, KC135 tankers, and U2 spy planes. Larson was also an ICBM base, but the silos had separate security.  One evening, after a regular 8-hour shift on the flight line, I was one of about eight other air cops selected to serve on a backup or reserve team. This meant that we could sack out in the reserve team's quarters, play cards, read a book, or indulge, as a group, armed with our carbines and sidearms, in some other diversion.

On my first night on the team it was decided to go to the base movie theater, to which we were admitted free. "Dr. Strangelove" was playing. As we sat in a back row behind the audience, the movie thoroughly confused me. My colleagues thought it was hilarious, especially when the motto, "Peace is Our Profession" was prominently juxtaposed with the noisy battle scenes between Army troops and Air Force base policemen.

That was my introduction to how the Left depicted the country and America. Director Stanley Kubrick, I learned later, was not so much a "leftist" as disturbed, obsessed with madness and irony and what he perceived as the ignoble baseness of man. But, that evening marked the beginning of an intellectual journey to investigate and report on what was so wrong with the country that its artists and novelists and filmmakers could so freely paint it in such disparaging and malicious colors with impunity. Were these people sociopaths? Or psychopaths? Was there a difference between the pathologies? Could an ideology inculcate a destructive pathology in a person, or are the pathologically-inclined inexorably drawn to a destructive ideology?

That question arose again, with a different focus, when I read a comment about Andrew Klavan's March 5th review, "A New Thing on Netflix," of the second season of "House of Cards":

    "Pa Deuce:  Fred Siegel has a new book out, "The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Undermined the Middle Class," that addresses this very problem. Elitists cannot express their elitism by repeating the same old things, such as the Constitution of the United States of America has produced the greatest nation on earth. In order to say something different and look smart, elitists take a leftward slant on everything. But the Left has an uninterrupted record of destruction and death. To cover the discrepancy, the Left lies about how bad the USA is and how good the noble Marxists are.

    Siegel's book tells what happens when the elitists are in charge. My take is that the Left is driven by mental disorders and displays the attributes of clinical psychopaths: irresponsibility, pathological lying, parasitic lifestyle, grandiose sense of self-worth, etc. Dr. Robert Hare has written extensively on psychopaths. Now we have a Marxist psychopath in the White House and he is as inefficient, incompetent, and corrupt as the Soviet Union."

Why are so many politicians sociopaths? I make the completely arbitrary distinction between a sociopath and a psychopath in terms of action: A psychopath is more likely to act out his obsessions and manias aggressively and destructively. Sociopaths can be said to be passive-aggressive, acting out their obsessions and manias vicariously by proxy through government force.

In vain I searched the Internet for a good article on the pathology of politicians (never mind of Hollywood directors and producers). I found a few, but while they made some insightful observations, a religious element in their analyses and conclusions spoiled them. For example, Patriot Post's "Pathology of the Left" of February 2006, penned by Mark Alexander, noted:

    "Recently, the American Psychological Association published a study by a few "academicians" from Cal-Berkeley and the University of Maryland. The study, entitled "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," purported to have identified some determinants that are common to those holding a "conservative" worldview....

    The authors received more than 1.2 million of your hard-earned tax dollars from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation in order to, by their own account, "consider evidence for and against the hypotheses that political conservatism is significantly associated with (1) mental rigidity and closed-mindedness; (2) lowered self-esteem; (3) fear, anger, and aggression; (4) pessimism, disgust, and contempt; (5) loss prevention; (6) fear of death; (7) threat arising from social and economic deprivation; and (8) threat to the stability of the social system."

Alexander writes that these symptoms are more correctly observable and attributable to liberals and left-wingers than to conservatives. In practice these symptoms manifest themselves in obvious ways:

    "Liberals are uniformly defined by their hypocrisy and dissociation from reality. For example, the wealthiest U.S. senators - Democrats - fancy themselves as defenders of the poor and advocate the redistribution of wealth, but they hoard enormous wealth for themselves and have never missed a meal. They have always been far more dedicated to their country clubs than our country.

    Liberals speak of unity, but they seed foment, appealing to the worst in human nature by dividing Americans into dependent constituencies. What constitutes these liberal constituencies? They support freedom of thought, unless your thoughts don't comport with theirs. They feign tolerance while practicing intolerance. They resist open discussion and debate of their views, yet seek to silence dissenters. They insist that they care more about protecting habitat than those who hunt and fish, and protest for the preservation of natural order while advocating homosexuality. They denounce capital punishment for the most heinous of criminals, while ardently supporting the killing of the most innocent among us - children prior to birth. [This last "symptom" is where I part with religious conservatives.] They loathe individual responsibility, and advocate for statism. They eschew private initiative and enterprise while promoting all manner of government control and regulation."

Alexander offers an answer for the behavior of politicians and even for many in the news media:

    "Medically speaking, there is a diagnosis for Leftist over-achievers like Bill Clinton, Albert Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama, et al. They are pathological case studies of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - the standard reference used for psychiatric evaluation.

    The diagnostic criteria for NPD includes a "pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts," which manifests as "a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);" "a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; and a belief that he or she is 'special' and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)," and the subject "lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others...shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes."

It was an admirable attempt in mental diagnosis, but the religious angle sinks it. Two other sites, Activist Teacher and Fellowship of the Mind address the same issue but fail for the same reason. The second site does include a chronological list of instances of political sociopathy in and out of government, but it should be perused with reservations.

I did find one (nameless) site that broke down sociopathic and psychotic symptoms without interjecting superfluous conclusions. Because liberal/left politicians and news media personnel express their sociopathy publically but choose to have others do the deeds they deign not to perform themselves (Hitler and Stalin, for example, were sociopaths; the men who eagerly and without question carried out their murderous orders were psychopaths), I think it would be fair to propose a test to see if readers can identify one or more public figures in or out of government who match these symptoms:

*    Glibness and Superficial Charm: Barack Obama? Harry Reid? Nancy Pelosi? Hillary Clinton? Bill Clinton? Any TV news anchor? Anyone else?

*    Manipulative and Conning: They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims. Barack Obama? Harry Reid? Nancy Pelosi? Hillary Clinton? Bill Clinton? Any TV news anchor? Jay Carney? Anyone else?

*    Grandiose Sense of Self: Feels entitled to certain things as "their right." All of the above, in addition to careerists in the welfare/dependency class?

*    Pathological Lying: Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests. Democrats are progressively losing their credibility with the electorate, and I don't think anyone of them is shrewd enough to fool a lie detector test. Knowing this, they would refuse to submit to one, which would be tantamount to taking the Fifth.

*    Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt: A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way. Obama's book-length catalogue of lies? Pelosi's? Harry Reid's?  Either of the Clintons'? And etc.? Has anyone ever seen any one of them blush when caught in a lie? No? Ever hear any one of them stammer in explanation? No? Well, maybe Jay Carney, Obama's newest press secretary and ventriloquist dummy. How many politicians do you think really envy Frank Underwood, the chief villain of "House of Cards," without their having to abide by Constitutional checks and balances, except when they can manipulate others and the rules to their favor (and not have to commit homicides)?

*    Irresponsibility/Unreliability: Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed. You can begin with Obama, and work down your own list of candidates. First on the reader's list should be Barack Obama for Obamacare, which is wrecking countless lives and promises to wreck countless more. After all, you can't "transform" a country without breaking a lot of eggs, spirits, bank accounts - and even heads.

*    Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle: Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively. Remind you of anyone in particular? Golfing pictures? Flying off to his "main turf," Hawaii? Expensive holidays in exotic and expensive locales? Of course, except for Hawaii, these symptoms also are evident in "all of the above," as well. Remember that the chief motive of a career politician in today's political environment is to keep reality at bay by faking reality for himself and for others. And when the faked reality begins to crumble like a dry cookie, his congenital response is to add another layer of faked reality over the crumbling one. He can always depend on the cognitively-arrested and the habitually delusional to buy the new faked reality and not notice the crumbs at his feet. And in today's political environment (which arguably could extend back to the early 20th century), a "realistic life plan" is one contrived to be a professional parasite, most especially in politics.

Yes, there is a distinction to be made between sociopathology and psychopathology. There may even be gradations of functioning amalgams of the two pathologies which could be explored. But, to return to the questions posed above: Could an ideology inculcate a destructive pathology in a person, or are the pathologically-inclined inexorably drawn to a destructive ideology?

I hypothesize that they are mutually attracted to each other, and integrally codependent. The concocters of a destructive ideology, such as Islam, Communism, Socialism, and Nazism, count on the ideology attracting the pathologically-inclined in large enough numbers to make it a viable prospect and over whom to wield power. And the pathologically-inclined must have some rationalized ethic, no matter how primitive or complex, that will sanction their basic selflessness and vitriolic envy of those who are happy and ask only that they be left alone to live their lives. The pathologically-inclined are drawn to a destructive ideology because they need someone to tell them what to think and do. Their faked reality is the faked reality of their leaders and icons.

Without the pathologically-inclined, a sociopath's ideology is simply a wish for the unrealistic and unattainable; without a destructive ideology, the pathologically-inclined become self-aware flotsam and jetsam in "a world they never made." Many of the latter are driven by their self-made inner demons to become psychopaths.

Others enter politics and become members of a sociopathic political class.

The leitmotif and core essence of either pathology is a deeply buried and unacknowledged glop of evil.




Canceling Cancellations: "The Obama HHS has yet another “solution” to the woes created by ObamaCare. This time, a draft regulation says, “We propose that a modification made solely pursuant to applicable Federal or State law would be considered a modification of coverage rather than a product withdrawal.” In other words, HHS is trying to make it easier for a health insurance policy to be “grandfathered” in under ObamaCare. Millions of Americans have already lost coverage because slight changes were made negating grandfather qualification. The new regulation proposal would loosen those requirements. Anything to ease the burden on Democrats come November.

Gates: Don't Raise Minimum Wage: "Billionaire Bill Gates – a liberal but an entrepreneur nonetheless with a far better understanding of capitalism than most lawmakers, not to mention our president – spoke with the American Enterprise Institute and warned against elevating the minimum wage. “When people say we should raise the minimum wage … I worry about what that does to job creation,” he said. His critique contradicts most leftist economic talking points. Why? Because unlike the majority of policy makers on Capitol Hill, Gates understands the challenges of operating a business; meanwhile, Barack Obama, a career community organizer, has yet to even run a lemonade stand much less a company that employs hundreds or thousands of workers. And while liberals are quick to cite Gates on most progressive causes, don't expect them to heed his economic concerns.


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

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


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mr Putin is a true leader of his people

Russian politicians and media were last night demanding Vladimir Putin goes further by grabbing back more former Soviet regions and states.

The nationalistic frenzy whipped up by the return of Crimea - in defiance of the West - has led to calls on state-run TV for Moscow to take back oil and gas-rich Kazakhstan and authoritarian Belarus as well as more slices of a battered Ukraine, already filleted by the Kremlin.

Putin was last night riding the crest of an adulatory wave after righting what many Russians see as an historical wrong and reintegrating Crimea and the Black Sea fleet headquarters of Sevastopol back in to Russia after a gap of 60 years.

Senior politicians openly mocked Western sanctions and discounted Putin's assertion that he did not seek more of Ukraine as long as the West stops seeking sway in his backyard.

The Russian strongman defiantly told a joint session of the Russian parliament that he would not accept NATO 'next to our home or on our historic territories'.

Accusing the West of hypocrisy in pushing for self-determination for Kosovo but denying Crimea, he said the peninsula had been 'robbed' from Russia in Soviet times while 'regions of Russia's historic south' were only now Ukrainian because of a Bolshevik blunder.

In an emotional and historic address he said: 'In the hearts and minds of people, Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia.'

Putin has succeeded in uniting many of his foes behind him but last night it also appeared he had unleashed a tidal wave in favour of more land grabs.

Senior politician Sergei Mironov hailed 'the great day when the gathering of Russian lands began'.

Sergey Zheleznyak, deputy chairman of lower house, demanded Russian 'support' for other Ukrainian regions.  'We cannot feel calm and happy as long as we realise how our brothers in other regions of Ukraine are suffering,' he said.


When a putz like Obama tells Putin it's illegal for Russia to absorb the Crimea which is mostly Russian, and then demands that Israel evacuate 300,000 Jews from historically Jewish Judea and Samaria to appease terrorists, what other reaction can one have but, HUH?!


Was the Crimean vote "rigged"?

Contrary to the reports of 135 international observers from 23 countries, the Western media in chorus has suggested without a shred of evidence that the elections were rigged and that Crimea was under Russian military occupation.

The observer mission reports which include members of the European Parliament have been casually ignored by the mainstream Western media:

Mateus Piskorkski, the leader of the European observers' mission and Polish MP: "Our observers have not registered any violations of voting rules."

Ewald Stadler, member of the European Parliament, dispelled the "referendum at gunpoint" myth: "I haven't seen anything even resembling pressure. People themselves want to have their say."

Pavel Chernev: Bulgarian member of parliament: "Organization and procedures are 100 percent in line with the European standards," he added.

Serbian observer Milenko Baborats "People freely expressed their will in the most democratic way, wherever we were. During the day we didn't see a single serious violation of legitimacy of the process,"

Srdja Trifkovic, prominent and observer from Serbia: "The presence of troops on the streets is virtually non-existent and the only thing resembling any such thing is the unarmed middle-aged Cossacks who are positioned outside the parliament building in Simferopol. But if you look at the people both at the voting stations and in the streets, like on Yalta's sea front yesterday afternoon, frankly I think you would feel more tense in south Chicago or in New York's Harlem than anywhere round here," he said.



The Democrats' Dishonest Koch Habit

Democrats have escalated their attacks on Charles and David Koch, who donate a significant amount of their accumulated capital to conservative groups. The charge is led by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), who now routinely takes to the Senate floor to angrily denounce these two private citizens. “I'm not afraid of the Koch brothers,” he thundered. “None of us should be afraid of the Koch brothers. These two multi-billionaires may spend hundreds of millions of dollars rigging the political process for their own benefit. And they may believe that whoever has the most money gets the most free speech. But I will do whatever it takes to expose their campaign to rig the American political system to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.”

A Democrat ad also recently demonized the brothers, accusing them of having an agenda to “protect tax cuts for companies that ship our jobs overseas.” That was too much even for The Washington Post's “fact checker,” Glenn Kessler, who gave the charge a full Four Pinocchios. Specifically, Kessler says, “The ad not only mischaracterizes an ordinary tax deduction as a special 'tax cut' but then it falsely asserts that 'protecting' this tax break is part of the Koch agenda. It turns out this claim is based on a tenuous link to an organization that never even took a position on the legislation in question.” The truth didn't stop Reid from repeating the same “tax breaks” lie.

This attack campaign is a clear sign that Democrats are very worried about November, and they're lashing out at anyone who's bankrolling the opposition. Americans for Prosperity, a political group founded with the Kochs' support, has spent $30 million already hanging ObamaCare around Democrats' necks. The attacks also reek of hypocrisy coming from a party well funded by leftist billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer. And yet the effort is odd all the same because most people don't even know who the Kochs are, much less how they earned their money or how they use it. That means shutting them out of the political process is not very high on the list of the average American's concerns.

Reid wants to make this a class war, slamming the Kochs for having the “most money” and, therefore, the “most speech.” He aims to silence this speech because it endangers his control of the Senate, and the best way to do that is to follow Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, Rule 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” The Kochs are the target, and polarizing them is intended to mobilize a demoralized leftist base.

But we'll let Democrats in on a little secret. The Founders wrote the First Amendment's bit about “free speech” in order to prevent the government from trying to dictate what or whose or how much speech is acceptable. If Harry Reid & Co. have the better argument on substance, let's hear it. Until then, the Kochs should be free to speak away – like everyone else.



A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

There has been a lot of speculation about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Terrorism, hijacking, meteors. I cannot believe the analysis on CNN; it’s almost disturbing. I tend to look for a simpler explanation, and I find it with the 13,000-foot runway at Pulau Langkawi.

We know the story of MH370: A loaded Boeing 777 departs at midnight from Kuala Lampur, headed to Beijing. A hot night. A heavy aircraft. About an hour out, across the gulf toward Vietnam, the plane goes dark, meaning the transponder and secondary radar tracking go off. Two days later we hear reports that Malaysian military radar (which is a primary radar, meaning the plane is tracked by reflection rather than by transponder interrogation response) has tracked the plane on a southwesterly course back across the Malay Peninsula into the Strait of Malacca.

The left turn is the key here. Zaharie Ahmad Shah1 was a very experienced senior captain with 18,000 hours of flight time. We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us, and airports ahead of us. They’re always in our head. Always. If something happens, you don’t want to be thinking about what are you going to do–you already know what you are going to do. When I saw that left turn with a direct heading, I instinctively knew he was heading for an airport. He was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip with an approach over water and no obstacles. The captain did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000-foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier toward Langkawi, which also was closer.

Take a look at this airport on Google Earth. The pilot did all the right things. He was confronted by some major event onboard that made him make an immediate turn to the closest, safest airport.

For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire. In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one. If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent. It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations.

There are two types of fires. An electrical fire might not be as fast and furious, and there may or may not be incapacitating smoke. However there is the possibility, given the timeline, that there was an overheat on one of the front landing gear tires, it blew on takeoff and started slowly burning. Yes, this happens with underinflated tires. Remember: Heavy plane, hot night, sea level, long-run takeoff. There was a well known accident in Nigeria of a DC8 that had a landing gear fire on takeoff. Once going, a tire fire would produce horrific, incapacitating smoke. Yes, pilots have access to oxygen masks, but this is a no-no with fire. Most have access to a smoke hood with a filter, but this will last only a few minutes depending on the smoke level. (I used to carry one in my flight bag, and I still carry one in my briefcase when I fly.)

What I think happened is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the heading, probably on George (autopilot), until it ran out of fuel or the fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed. You will find it along that route–looking elsewhere is pointless.



Facts and Factions

Thomas Sowell

At a time when polls show public opinion turning against the Democrats, some Republicans seem to be turning against each other. Even with the prospect of being able to win control of the Senate in this fall's elections, some Republicans are busy manufacturing ammunition for their own circular firing squad.

A Republican faction's demonization of their own Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is a classic example. If you listen to some of those who consider themselves the only true conservatives, you would never guess that Senator McConnell received a lifetime 90 percent ranking by the American Conservative Union -- and in one recent year had a 100 percent ranking.

Ann Coulter -- whose conservative credentials nobody has ever challenged -- points out in her column that Mitch McConnell has not only led the fight for conservative principles repeatedly, but has been to the right of Ted Cruz on immigration issues.

Someone once said that, in a war, truth is the first casualty. That seems to be the case for some in this internal war among Republicans. As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts."

Why should those of us who are not Republicans be concerned about any of this?

Fortunately or unfortunately, we have a two-party system in this country. And -- very unfortunately -- we are at a crucial point in the history of America, and perhaps approaching a point of no return.

The unfolding disaster of ObamaCare is only the most visible symptom of a far deeper danger from a lawless administration in Washington that unilaterally changes laws passed by Congress. President Obama has nearly three more years to continue doing irreparable damage to the fundamental basis of American government and Americans' freedom.

Only Republican control of the Senate can rein in the lawless Obama administration, which can otherwise load up the federal courts with lawless judges, who will be dismantling the rule of law and destroying the rights of the people, for decades after Barack Obama himself is long gone from the White House.

Once that happens, even a future Republican majority, led by people with the kind of ideological purity that the Republican dissidents want, cannot undo the damage.

The Senate's power to confirm or not confirm presidential nominees to the federal courts is the only thing that can prevent Barack Obama from leaving that kind of toxic legacy in the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.

Only Republican control of both houses of Congress can repeal, or even seriously revise, ObamaCare. And only Republican control of both houses of Congress plus the White House can begin to reverse the many lawless, reckless and dangerous policies of the Obama administration, at home and overseas.

This year's elections and the 2016 presidential election may be among the most important elections in the history of this country, and can determine what kind of country this will be for years -- and even generations -- to come.

Those Republicans who seem ready to jeopardize their own party's chances of winning these two crucial elections by following a rule-or-ruin fight against fellow Republicans may claim to be following their ideals. But headstrong self-righteousness is not idealism, and it is seldom a way to advance any cause.

Politics, like war, is a question of power. If you don't have power, you can make fiery speeches or even conduct attention-getting filibusters, but that does not fundamentally change anything. And it has accomplished nothing in this case.

No doubt there can be legitimate differences of opinion about tactics and strategy on particular issues. But, if you don't have power, these are just empty clashes over debating points.

Certainly there has been much for which the Republican leadership has deserved to be criticized over the years -- and this column has made such criticisms for decades. But, when the question is whether Mitch McConnell is preferable to Harry Reid as Majority Leader in the Senate, that is not even a close call.

If the rule-or-ruin faction among Republicans ends up giving the Democrats another Senate majority under Harry Reid, not only the Republican Party but the entire nation, and generations yet unborn, will end up paying the price.



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

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


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Russians are Putin's concern

As I do, Pat Buchanan below argues that Putin is simply a Russian patriot who aims at least to protect Russians everywhere -- with an ideal outcome of bringing them all back under Russian rule.  And he is doing that cautiously, simply by supporting unrest among "severed" Russians.

The thing that amazes me is the worldwide dismissal of the vote by Crimeans to rejoin Russia.  Can someone tell me just why a democratic vote is being  disregarded in the West?  There have been no accusations of voting irregularities.  The vote seems perfectly genuine.  The only thing that might be urged against it is that over 90% of the vote was for reunion.  A degree of agreement that high happens only in an election rigged by a dictator, some might say.

But that is not at all true.  Britain got even higher percentages of agreement when it asked Gibraltarians and Falkland Islanders if they wanted to remain in union with Britain.  Were those British-run elections the rigged work of a dictator?  The fact is that "blood is thicker than water", much though the Left would like to deny it.  People tend to become very attached to their ethnicity and want to preserve it.  Russians in Crimea like being Russian just as Gibraltarians and Falkland Islanders like being  British.  Why is democracy OK for Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands but not for Crimea?

It is a sad day when a democratic vote of self-determination is mocked in the crony-capitalist nations of the West.

Vladimir Putin seems to have lost touch with reality, Angela Merkel reportedly told Barack Obama after speaking with the Russian president. He is "in another world."

"I agree with what Angela Merkel said ... that he is in another world," said Madeleine Albright, "It doesn't make any sense."

John Kerry made his contribution to the bonkers theory by implying that Putin was channeling Napoleon: "You don't just, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext."

Now that Putin has taken Crimea without firing a shot, and 95 percent of a Crimean electorate voted Sunday to reunite with Russia, do his decisions still appear irrational?

Was it not predictable that Russia, a great power that had just seen its neighbor yanked out of Russia's orbit by a U.S.-backed coup in Kiev, would move to protect a strategic position on the Black Sea she has held for two centuries?

Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests that Putin is out to recreate the czarist empire. Others say Putin wants to recreate the Soviet Union and Soviet Empire.

But why would Russia, today being bled in secessionist wars by Muslim terrorists in the North Caucasus provinces of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, want to invade and reannex giant Kazakhstan, or any other Muslim republic of the old USSR, which would ensure jihadist intervention and endless war?

If we Americans want out of Afghanistan, why would Putin want to go back into Uzbekistan? Why would he want to annex Western Ukraine where hatred of Russia dates back to the forced famine of the Stalin era?

To invade and occupy all of Ukraine would mean endless costs in blood and money for Moscow, the enmity of Europe, and the hostility of the United States. For what end would Russia, its population shrinking by half a million every year, want to put Russian soldiers back in Warsaw?

But if Putin is not a Russian imperialist out to re-establish Russian rule over non-Russian peoples, who and what is he?

In the estimation of this writer, Vladimir Putin is a blood-and-soil, altar-and-throne ethnonationalist who sees himself as Protector of Russia and looks on Russians abroad the way Israelis look upon Jews abroad, as people whose security is his legitimate concern.

Consider the world Putin saw, from his vantage point, when he took power after the Boris Yeltsin decade.

He saw a Mother Russia that had been looted by oligarchs abetted by Western crony capitalists, including Americans. He saw millions of ethnic Russians left behind, stranded, from the Baltic states to Kazakhstan.

He saw a United States that had deceived Russia with its pledge not to move NATO into Eastern Europe if the Red Army would move out, and then exploited Russia's withdrawal to bring NATO onto her front porch.

Had the neocons gotten their way, not only the Warsaw Pact nations of Central and Eastern Europe, but five of 15 republics of the USSR, including Ukraine and Georgia, would have been brought into a NATO alliance created to contain and, if need be, fight Russia.

What benefits have we derived from having Estonia and Latvia as NATO allies that justify losing Russia as the friend and partner Ronald Reagan had made by the end of the Cold War?

We lost Russia, but got Rumania as an ally? Who is irrational here?

Cannot we Americans, who, with our Monroe Doctrine, declared the entire Western Hemisphere off limits to the European empires -- "Stay on your side of the Atlantic!" -- understand how a Russian nationalist like Putin might react to U.S. F-16s and ABMs in the eastern Baltic?

In 1999, we bombed Serbia for 78 days, ignoring the protests of a Russia that had gone to war for Serbia in 1914. We exploited a Security Council resolution authorizing us to go to the aid of endangered Libyans in Benghazi to launch a war and bring down the Libyan regime.

We have given military aid to Syrian rebels and called for the ouster of a Syrian regime that has been Russia's ally for decades.

At the end of the Cold War, writes ex-ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock, 80 percent of Russia's people had a favorable opinion of the USA. A decade later, 80 percent of Russians were anti-American.

That was before Putin, whose approval is now at 72 percent because he is perceived as having stood up to the Americans and answered our Kiev coup with his Crimean counter coup.

America and Russia are on a collision course today over a matter -- whose flag will fly over what parts of Ukraine -- no Cold War president, from Truman to Reagan, would have considered any of our business.

If the people of Eastern Ukraine wish to formalize their historic, cultural and ethnic ties to Russia, and the people of Western Ukraine wish to sever all ties to Moscow and join the European Union, why not settle this politically, diplomatically and democratically, at a ballot box?



Putin recognizes Crimean independence

Ignoring the toughest sanctions against Moscow since the end of the Cold War, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula as an "independent and sovereign country" on Monday, a bold challenge to Washington that escalates one of Europe's worst security crises in years.

The brief decree posted on the Kremlin's website came just hours after the United States and the European Union announced asset freezes and other sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in the Crimean crisis. President Barack Obama warned that more would come if Russia didn't stop interfering in Ukraine, and Putin's move clearly forces his hand.

The West has struggled to find leverage to force Moscow to back off in the Ukraine turmoil, of which Crimea is only a part, and analysts saw Monday's sanctions as mostly ineffectual.

Moscow showed no signs of flinching in the dispute that has roiled Ukraine since Russian troops took effective control of the strategic Black Sea peninsula last month and supported the Sunday referendum that overwhelmingly called for annexation by Russia. Recognizing Crimea as independent would be an interim step in absorbing the region.

Crimea had been part of Russia since the 18th century, until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine in 1954 and both Russians and Crimea's majority ethnic Russian population see annexation as correcting a historic insult.

Ukraine's turmoil — which began in November with a wave of protests against President Viktor Yanukovych and accelerated after he fled to Russia in late February — has become Europe's most severe security crisis in years.

Russia, like Yanukovych himself, characterizes his ouster as a coup, and alleges the new authorities are fascist-minded and likely to crack down on Ukraine's ethnic Russian population. Pro-Russia demonstrations have broken out in several cities in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border, where the Kremlin has been massing troops.

Fearing that Russia is prepared to risk violence to make a land-grab, the West has consistently spoken out against Russia's actions but has run into a wall of resistance from Moscow.

Reacting to Monday's sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov declared that they were "a reflection of a pathological unwillingness to acknowledge reality and a desire to impose on everyone one-sided and unbalanced approaches that absolutely ignore reality."

"I think the decree of the president of the United States was written by some joker," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, one of the individuals hit by the sanctions, said on his Twitter account.

The White House imposed asset freezes on seven Russian officials, including Putin's close ally Valentina Matvienko, who is speaker of the upper house of parliament, and Vladislav Surkov, one of Putin's top ideological aides. The Treasury Department also targeted Yanukovych, Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov and two other top figures.

The EU's foreign ministers slapped travel bans and asset freezes against 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine.

"We need to show solidarity with Ukraine, and therefore Russia leaves us no choice," Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told reporters in Brussels.

Despite Obama's vow of tougher measures, stock markets in Russia and Europe rose sharply, reflecting relief that trade and business ties were spared.

"I guess the market view is that Russia forced their case in Crimea, pushed through the referendum, and the Western reaction was muted, so that this opens the way for future Russian intervention in Ukraine," said Tim Ash, an analyst who follows Ukraine at Standard Bank PLC.

On Monday evening Vice President Joe Biden was heading to Europe to meet with NATO allies. He was headed for Warsaw, where he was slated to meet Tuesday with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowski. He was to meet separately with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. In Lithuania, Biden planned to meet with President Dalia Grybauskaite and Latvia's President Andris Berzins.

In the Crimean capital of Simferopol, ethnic Russians applauded Sunday's referendum that overwhelmingly called for secession and for joining Russia. Masked men in body armor blocked access for most journalists to the parliament session that declared independence, but the city otherwise appeared to go about its business normally.

"We came back home to Mother Russia. We came back home, Russia is our home," said Nikolay Drozdenko, a resident of Sevastopol, the key Crimean port where Russia leases a naval base from Ukraine.

A delegation of Crimean officials was to fly to Moscow on Monday and Putin was to address both houses of parliament Tuesday on the Crimean situation, both indications that Russia could move quickly to annex.

In Kiev, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov vowed that Ukraine will not give up Crimea.

"We are ready for negotiations, but we will never resign ourselves to the annexation of our land," a somber Turchynov said in a televised address to the nation. "We will do everything in order to avoid war and the loss of human lives. We will be doing everything to solve the conflict through diplomatic means. But the military threat to our state is real."

The Crimean parliament declared that all Ukrainian state property on the peninsula will be nationalized and become the property of the Crimean Republic. It gave no further details. Lawmakers also asked the United Nations and other nations to recognize it and began work on setting up a central bank with $30 million in support from Russia.



If Obama thinks that sanctioning seven Russians is a sanction, he’s living in a different world

It didn’t take long after President Obama announced the implementation of sanctions against some of Russia’s high-ranking officials for Russia to not only respond in kind with sanctions against several U.S. senators but to openly laugh at the suggestion that the measures were any real skin off of their collective nose:

As Krauthammer puts it, “if he thinks that sanctioning seven Russians, out of a population of, what, 150 million, is a sanction, he’s living in a different world.” I don’t know about Dr. K’s suggestion that we could get the Europeans to join in on real, robust economic sanctions, given their degree of energy dependence on Russia, but today’s announcement definitely amounts to little more than weaksauce symbolic gesture:

    "He’s being ridiculed by Russia, especially, because the statement and the policy are ridiculous. He doesn’t have a lot of cards, but he has some cards, and if he thinks that sanctioning seven Russians, out of a population of, what, 150 million, is a sanction, he’s living in a different world. The one thing that we could do is to respond to the Ukrainian request, when the president was here last week, they asked the Pentagon for weapons, and we said no, because somehow, to arm the victim of aggression is a provocation. … This response of, you know, we are not going to calibrate, as if Putin is, they’re going to sanction 11 Russians now, so I’ll have to stop where I am, is really preposterous. Again, if you’re going to do something, do it. Otherwise, say nothing, but this really is a humiliating response by a president who can’t even get the Europeans to join him in effective sanctions, which we could do.



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

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


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Russia calls on Ukraine to become a federation of states (Like some other countries I know)

This is actually a moderate and compromising stand from Putin.  He clearly wants to avoid any war.  His ultimate aim is to reunite all the Russian speaking people of Eastern Europe under Russian rule and the Russian-speaking half of Ukraine is the big prize there.  But having Russian Ukraine substantially independent of the rest of Ukraine and free to develop closer ties with neighboring Russia would be a good compromise

Russia's foreign ministry is calling on Ukraine to become a federal state and call fresh elections.

In a statement posted on Monday the ministry urged Ukraine's parliament to call a constitutional assembly which could draft a new constitution to make the country federal, handing more power to its regions.

The foreign ministry said the proposals are part of its efforts to ease the tensions in Ukraine by diplomatic means.

Moscow insisted that Ukrainian regions should get broader autonomy and that the country should adopt a "neutral political and military status."


NOTE: The attitude of Ukrainian-speakers towards Russia is similar to the attitude of Canadians to the USA, to the attitude of New Zealanders towards Australia to the attitude of the Scots  towards England and the attitude of Koreans to Japan:  They don't like their big neighbor.  In the Ukrainian case that dislike is much multiplied by Russia's tendency  towards tyranny.  The ferocity of that dislike could be seen in the demonstrations that recently toppled their pro-Russian president.  Yet all of the pairs mentioned have a lot in common  -- a clear refutation of the Leftist "one world" dream.  Differences matter, even small ones


Ukraine's economic problems

Still too Soviet;  Still poor

The dramatic events in Ukraine the past few weeks were ignited when Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian ally, said he would suspend efforts to bring Ukraine closer to the EU and thousands took to the streets to protest. Clearly, the threat of Russian political oppression was in the minds of the protesters, but the economic stakes were enormous as well. Indeed, a look at the data suggests that Yanukovych’s act was against the economic interests of his own people.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, former Soviet and Eastern Bloc countries chose between two distinct paths. Ten Central and Eastern European nations (the so-called CEE-10) made integration with the European Union a top priority. The rest, like Ukraine, moved much more slowly toward Western standards, and some even settled under a new Russian umbrella.

Prior to the breakup, Eastern Europe was underdeveloped relative to the West, mostly because of the failure created by central planning. When a market economy is unleashed in such a setting, “convergence” of the standard of living to that of the developed world can be quite rapid. If the U.S. wants to grow sharply, it needs to push the very frontier of what is possible farther out. A former Soviet or Eastern Bloc country, on the other hand, could grow rapidly simply by copying the developed world. Some did.

A large academic literature has emerged analyzing the impact of “going west.” The literature documents that those nations that assimilated into the EU saw dramatic economic growth. A recent EU study co-authored by Ryszard Rapacki and Mariusz Prochniak of the Warsaw School of Economics, for example, concluded that full convergence of the CCE-10 is so far along that it might be complete in as little as eight years.

The countries, like Ukraine, that failed to take that path have stagnated. The nearby chart documents how radically different their experience has been. The chart plots real per capita GDP (in 2005 dollars) for former Soviet and Eastern Bloc countries other than Russia. The purple and dark blue lines on the top illustrate the findings of the study just mentioned. Income per capita has grown sharply since the mid 1990s, more than doubling for the former Soviet countries, and increasing about 50 percent for the Eastern Bloc countries (such as the Czech Republic) that have joined the EU.

The three lines on the bottom of the chart depict what has happened to those nations that have not joined the EU. Each of these countries has stagnated, seeing a standard of living that has barely budged since the fall of the USSR. The experiences have been so different that the increase in welfare for citizens in former Soviet countries that have joined the EU is larger than today’s level of welfare for countries that have not.

Vladimir Putin’s desire to maintain a zone of influence has had a dramatically negative effect on the economic well-being of citizens of the affected countries. It is hard to imagine how anyone could look at such data and not conclude that Putin supporters outside Russia are traitors, if not to their nations at the very least to their compatriots’ prospects of economic security and prosperity



The Tea Party Isn't Dying – The GOP Establishment Is

If the conservative insurgency has been crushed, why was Mitch McConnell walking around onstage at CPAC with a musket? He couldn’t have sucked up to the right any harder if he wore a tri-corner hat and had the Gadsden flag tattooed on his rear.

The death of the conservative revolution, the Tea Party, or whatever you call it, has not merely been greatly exaggerated. It’s been flat-out lied about.

It isn’t dead. It just changed, from a shoestring operation to one with real clout. And it’s well on its way to doing what it set out to do – arm-twist a flabby, comfortable GOP into fighting for conservative values instead of just talking about them at election time.

We conservatives have two very different opponents, opponents who sometimes operate in concert. After all, they both want us gone.

The first opponent is the left. They still call us the “Tea Party,” though we rarely use that term anymore. It’s fun to hear the liberals say it – it’s like listening to grandparents trying to sound cool. Yeah, those hepcats are sure hip with their cool jive, daddy-o.

Every day, the lefty punditry opines about the Tea Party’s death spiral. And every day, the Tea Party refuses to crash and burn.

These clowns really believe that we are a racist movement devoted to the beliefs of the late Democrat icon and KKK kleagle Senator Robert Byrd. It’s hard to imagine a bigger misunderstanding of one’s opponent.

The left is battling not the opponent it is facing but the opponent it wants to face. It’s so much easier to fight straw men than to address the fiasco of Obamacare, the zombie economy or the endless war on women waged by their horny Democrat heroes.

They just don’t get what we are about or what we want, which they will find is a problem. Take it from someone with a little bit of military experience – you really should try to understand your enemy. It helps keep you from being, say, humiliated in a Florida special election.

And that advice isn’t coming from some dead white male – Sun Tzu was saying it 2,000 years ago. So lefties should at least listen for the sake of diversity, but they won’t. They’re too invested in their unearned smugness. And they’re obviously racist.

We conservative insurgents have another opponent, but this opponent recognizes us for exactly what we are – a dangerous, existential threat. This opponent is the GOP Establishment, and its members hate and fear us for entirely different reasons.

The problem with the GOP Establishment is not its ideology – most of its members, in the abstract, probably generally agree with our positions. What they hate is that we intend to utterly upend their world. They have spent years in the Beltway, climbing the ladder, building careers, all within the system as it exists today. They are invested in that system just like the liberals, regardless of superficial differences over mere policy preferences.

They want to gather power within Washington then redistribute it after they take their cut. We want to re-wire the system so that Washington is left off the grid to wither back down to the miserable backwater it used to be – and should be.

D.C. is awesomely wealthy, full of fine clothes, sumptuous food, gleaming restaurants, and much more attractive people than when I interned there in 1986. The recession missed Washington, a town that produces nothing except problems for the rest of America yet is better off than anywhere else in America.

We want to end that. That we want to destroy the cushy status quo is why the GOP Establishment hates us. That we can influence elections is why it fears us.

There is a lot of propaganda about how the Tea Party ruined the GOP’s chances to take the Senate. There’s never any recognition of how conservatives are solely responsible for taking back the House. No one ever talks about the Establishment candidates who failed in places like North Dakota and California.

If the Establishment had its way, we’d have Senator Crist instead of Senator Rubio. Hell, if Crist turns back Republican next week, they’ll probably start backing him for president. That is, unless surefire winner Jeb Bush decides to run.

You always hear about a few eccentric Senate candidates the Tea Party gave us, like the Delaware sorceress and the Indiana gynecology professor, but you don’t hear about how their loser GOP primary opponents supported the Democrats in the general. So we should have supported clowns who turned traitor the moment they didn’t get their way? No thanks. If the Establishment wants loyalty, let’s see it show some.

We conservatives are forcing the GOP Establishment to at least start pretending to act conservative. Mitch McConnell didn’t shake his blunderbuss at CPAC because he loves mixing with peasants; he did it because he’s scared, and he should be. The surrender caucus didn’t retreat on guns and amnesty because they wanted to get slammed by the mainstream media. They did it because we’ll primary them at the drop of a hat.

And some of them – not all, but some – should be primaried. If Pat Roberts can’t deal with the fact that he’s not in Kansas anymore in the primary, he might lose in the general. If Thad Cochran can’t hold his Mississippi seat against an upstart after being a senator for a zillion years, then he doesn’t deserve six more.

Time is on our side. The old GOP is passing away into history. The energy, intellect and grit is all with us conservatives – anyone out there ever see a passionate squish? We’re pushing the party, kicking and screaming, to the right.

And, surprise, surprise, it looks like we conservatives are going to clean their pinko clocks in November, just like we conservatives did in 2010. Not too bad for a movement that’s been crushed.



Government rail at work again

The multiple folds of irony are all most too much to handle. The nation’s government-run passenger rail service – which has never once in more than four decades turned a profit and relies on perpetual taxpayer handouts - plans to start offering free rides to writers. The idea, which stemmed from a New York-based writer’s tweet, will launch an official residency program for writers on its long-distance routes, coincidentally the least cost-efficient and most heavily subsidized in the Amtrak system. Amtrak is a perpetual loser, and it’s unlikely that this writers-ride-free gimmick will have a happy ending.

Perhaps no government program has embodied bureaucratic waste and inefficiency quite like passenger rail travel in the United States – a taxpayer-funded gravy train that has received $40 billion in federal subsidies, has never once made it out of the red, and entered last year well over a billion dollars in debt. Worse, the service asked for another $2.6 billion in federal funding for fiscal year 2014, and yet has the audacity to offer “free” rides to writers.

“I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.” A simple tweet at the agency’s social media account is all it took for the service to offer the writer a free trip from New York to Chicago and back. According to CNN, up to 24 writers will be chosen, and all will be offered trips on “undersold long-distance routes.” The Northeast Corridor is only profitable portion of Amtrak in the entire country – leaving many options for the writers in which to get the creative juices flowing.

The service has resorted to offering free tickets, a bed, desk, outlets, “and a window to watch the American countryside roll by” to a lucky few, perhaps hoping to drum up a little positive copy for the increasingly unpopular and expensive rail service. Each writers package has an estimated at a retail value of about $900 – not exactly chump change. Needless to say, the prospect for return on investment is slim – and that shouldn’t be a surprise to most taxpayers. After all, this is an agency that managed to lose $834 million on food sales alone in the past decade.

Thankfully, some in Congress have taken notice. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) penned an open letter to Amtrak President Joseph Boardman, questioning the logic behind the move.

“We are certain that there is considerable demand for free Amtrak tickets in any number of venues,” the lawmakers wrote. “Unfortunately, given Amtrak’s prodigious annual taxpayer subsidies, this plan raises multiple red flags…revenue from ticket sales was insufficient to even cover Amtrak’s operating expenses.” Hoping for return on investment on thousands of dollars-worth of free trips to help bridge this gap seems like a dubious plan, to say the least.

Amtrak offering free rides, with no metric by which to judge the success of the program, embodies perfectly the systemic problems with this government-run railroad.

Taxpayer-funded projects like Amtrak have no profit motive, no inclination to increase efficiency, and every incentive to continue shoveling taxpayer money into the proverbial firebox. That’s because for more than 40 years, Amtrak’s funding has been all but guaranteed regardless of performance.

Instead of expanding taxpayer subsidies even further and driving Amtrak even further off the rails of solvency, policymakers should be looking for ways to put a stop to what has become a Handout Express to the tune of $15 billion a year.

Not only should Amtrak begin to live up to its promise of getting back on stable financial footing by cancelling the free ride program, Congress should consider not re-authorizing the service at all – ending Amtrak’s free ride at our expense.


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


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

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


Monday, March 17, 2014

Putin is more democratic than John Kerry

Failed Presidential candidate John Kerry seems to have been left in charge of American policy in Ukraine by virtue of the black jellyfish in the White House being afraid to do anything at all.  I would argue however that in this case the jellyfish is right.

After the democratically elected president of all Ukraine was ousted by Ukrainian thugs, Putin has stepped in to enable the people of Crimea to democratically divorce themselves from unstable  Ukraine.  So who is the democrat here?  John Kerry is supporting the undemocratic Ukraininan thugs and resisting democracy in Crimea.  Putin is the good guy.

And Putin had previously made no moves to get Crimea back into union with Russia  -- even though Crimea had been Russian for hundreds of years.  The only thing that severed Crimea from Russia was a decree from Soviet dictator Khrushchev.  So is Kerry supporting the ideas of a Soviet dictator?

There is no doubt that Crimea will vote for a reunion with Russia and it is a credit to Putin that he waited for Ukraine to become ungovernable before he put those wheels into motion.

The basic aim of Putin's policy so far seems to be motivated by Russia's demographic decline.  Russians are dying out and Putin want to bring Russian populations everywhere back into Russia's embrace and thus protect Russian power.  He accepted some returns of ethnic Russians from the Baltic States for that reason and he also chipped off Georgia's Russian-speaking regions for that purpose.  Crimea is simply the next obvious step in rejoining Russians to Russia

Given that basic aim, it seems likely that Putin will not stop at Crimea.  Large areas of Ukraine are Russian speaking so it seems very likely that Putin will give support for the partition of Ukraine into East and West.  And given the precedent in Crimea, that will most likely be done democratically.  There is no doubt that the respective populations would support such a partition.

And what is wrong with partitioning Ukraine?  Britain is at the moment agonizing over whether Scotland should be partitioned off from England and no-one is calling that undemocratic  --JR.


Henry Thomas Schäfer

Some years ago I was given a framed print of a famous painting by Schäfer.  I like it and have it on my wall to this day.  And I am not alone in liking it.  Thousands of such prints seem to have been made.  Schafer has been a very popular artist.

So I was surprised that when I Googled his name, I could find out virtually nothing about his life.  I gather that his art is seen as "chocolate boxy" and hence below the notice of anybody seriously interested in art.  I of course deplore such elitism so would like to put a decent biography of him online if I can get more information on him.  I reproduce below the only two biographical notes I could find and hope that there might be a reader of this blog who can tell me more.

"Henry Thomas Schafer was born in the Lake District in England during the mid 19th-century. His exact birth date is unknown; however, his work was most well known from 1873 - 1915. Both a painter and an accomplished sculptor, Schafer exhibited his figurative studies at the Royal Academy in London in 1875, receiving the prestigious Academia award for excellence. Schafer's signature style was his study of women dressed in "goddess-like" classical vestments. It is for these portraits that he is best remembered."

"Henry Thomas Schäfer (British, 1854?-1915).  Henry Thomas Schäfer is a British Victorian-era genre painter and sculptor, elected in 1889 to the Royal Society of British Artists. He exhibited at the Royal Society, the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy, and other galleries starting in 1873. Several of his paintings have been widely reproduced and distributed in the form of posters."

Below is the picture that hangs on my wall

A Time of Roses


Dupes and Hypocrites: Communism’s Fellow-Travellers in the West

“Tomorrow I leave this land of hope and return to our Western countries of despair,” declared British playwright Bernard Shaw, as he embarked on his return journey from the Soviet Union in 1931.1 American writer and critic Edmund Wilson expressed similar sentiments in 1936: “. . . you feel in the Soviet Union that you are at the moral top of the world where the light never really goes out . . .”

It is astonishing that such comments could have been made about Soviet Russia at a time when Stalin, its bloodiest-ever dictator, was murdering millions of people in internal repression. But these statements reflected the mindset of all too many pro-Communist, Western intellectuals of that period. Referring to Stalin’s multiple purges, British historian George Watson wrote in 1973, “Between 1933 and 1939 many (and perhaps most) British intellectuals under the age of fifty, and a good many in other Western lands, knowingly supported the greatest act of mass murder in human history.” Other scholars have reached similar judgements about the culpability of Communism’s “fellow-travellers” in the West. From the 1920s to the 1980s, at least two generations of leftist intellectuals embraced one oppressive Communist regime after another, whilst remaining fiercely critical of their own imperfect but free societies.

It should be noted, though, that their zeal had its limits when it came to their personal fortunes. Of this type of tourist, American writer Eugene Lyons wrote, “They guarded their foreign passports like the apple of their eye while sizzling with enthusiasm over this ‘new Soviet civilization.’” It was also reported that “another ardent fellow-traveller, Lion Feuchtwanger, was once asked why he didn’t move to the country he praised so regularly [i.e. the Soviet Union]; and the novelist replied, ‘What do you think I am—a fool?’”

This recurring pattern of hypocrisy and double standards first raised its head in relation to Soviet Russia, but as disillusion with Russian Communism at last set in during the 1950s, it did not result in leftist intellectuals’ abandonment of Communism. They merely transferred their emotional allegiance, and their double standards, to a new set of Communist countries in the 1960s and 1970s: Red China (“The Maoist revolution is on the whole the best thing that has happened to the Chinese people in many centuries . . .”); Cuba (“[T]he first purposeful society that we have had in the Western hemisphere for many years—it’s the first society where human beings are treated as human beings, where men have a certain dignity, and where this is guaranteed to them.”); and North Vietnam (“[A] humane socialism . . . was evident in the unembarrassed handclasps among men, the poetry and song at the center of man-woman relationships, the freedom to weep practiced by everyone…as the Vietnamese speak of their country.”).

How is it possible that so many highly intelligent people could be hyper-critical of their own societies and yet totally wedded to the advancement of totalitarian socialist revolutions responsible for some of the greatest crimes against humanity in history? Certainly, their rejection of Christianity was a major factor, and it manifested itself in several unfortunate ways: (1) contempt for Western society in general, which is built largely within a Christian worldview; (2) indifference to God’s law, which forbids much of what drives and sustains totalitarian regimes—covetousness, theft, and even murder; and (3) substitution of a manmade “workers’ paradise” for the kingdom of God, for which their hearts long, but whose Lord they cannot tolerate. Communism, then, became their new faith, one fiercely held. As Gustave Le Bon observed as early as 1899, “Thanks to its promises of regeneration . . . Socialism is becoming a belief of a religious character.”  History, though, has used Communism to teach once again that when men promise “heaven on earth,” the result is something more nearly akin to hell.



Black skin trumps all else?


POLITICO Doesn’t Know Much About Conservatism

POLITICO, Allbritton Communications’ flagship web, video and print outlet has, in seven short years, become the preferred media of the DC elite. However, despite the stellar resumes of POLITICO’s journalists, a recent article titled “Right-left immigration alliance fraying,” by assistant editor Seung Min Kim, constituted such an egregious act of journalism malpractice that it shows the writers at POLITICO don’t really know jack about conservatism and the conservative movement.

Miss Kim’s error was to identify the US Chamber of Commerce and other backers of amnesty for illegal aliens as “conservatives” and to claim that a broad coalition of such “conservatives” backs amnesty and the outrage the Senate passed in the Rubio – Obama immigration “reform” bill.

The notion that the US Chamber is “conservative” is such a gross mischaracterization of what it means to be a political conservative today that it must be seen as wilful ignorance of the history of the conservative movement and POLITICO’s own reporting about the civil war in the Republican Party.

What Miss Kim, who has a Masters in Journalism, apparently missed in all of that education is that the US Chamber and other members of the Big Business – Big Government axis are among the interests opposed by the conservative movement, and particularly by the limited government constitutional conservatives who are today the movement’s most active grassroots adherents.

Divide the pros from the cons in any of the major Capitol Hill legislative battles since the Tea Party wave election of 2010 and you will find the US Chamber on one side and movement conservatives on the other.

Cut, Cap and Balance back in 2009 – conservatives were for it, Big Business was opposed.

Keeping the sequester caps? Conservatives wanted to keep them, Big Business wanted more spending.

The fight over defunding Obamacare and spending that shutdown the government? The US Chamber was and is always opposed when the House acts to use the power of the purse that the Constitution gives it to rein-in an overweening executive branch.

Indeed, a couple of years ago US Chamber President Tom Donohue had the gall to tell conservative opponents of raising the debt ceiling to raise the debt ceiling or we, meaning the Chamber, will get rid of you.

As for the idea that there is a “center-right coalition” led by the Chamber behind the push for amnesty for illegal aliens that is the central premise of Miss Kim’s article, we’d like to have a list of organizations that movement conservatives identify as “conservative” that have signed-on, because we can’t find any.

Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum? Opposed to amnesty.

The Heritage Foundation? Opposed to amnesty.

Richard Viguerie’s Opposed to amnesty.

The major Tea Party movement groups? Opposed to amnesty.

RedState, Human Events, WND? All opposed to amnesty as far as we can tell.

And the major media voices on the right, such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin to name but a few; all opposed to amnesty.

As for the legislators who Miss Kim cites as making up the “conservative” supporters of amnesty, such as California Republican Congressmen David Valadao and Jeff Denham, neither of them even broke 40% on the Heritage Action for America scorecard, placing them well behind conservative members of Congress such as their fellow Californian, and Chamber political target, Tom McClintock’s 96% rating.

But we can’t lay the blame on Miss Kim entirely.

The experienced establishment journalists in the top echelons of POLITICO, such as Jim VandeHei (formerly of The Washington Post) and Rick Berke (formerly of The New York Times) should know better than to allow a writer to call the US Chamber "conservative," but apparently they too missed how conservatism has defined itself over the past fifty years, nor are they apparently reading their own team's reporting on the movement conservatives versus Big Business civil war in today’s Republican Party.

In the days prior to World War II when major business leaders, such as Henry Ford, advocated a non-interventionist foreign policy, it might have been credible to argue that the American “business community” as represented by the US Chamber was “conservative,” but those days are long gone.

The fault line in today’s politics isn’t between Democrats and Republicans. It is between advocates of Big Government in both major parties and conservative proponents of limited constitutional government.  When viewed from that perspective, the US Chamber isn’t conservative; it is one of the leading impediments to the conservative governance of America, and the journalists at POLITICO and other establishment media outlets ought to be clued-in to conservative politics enough to understand that and report the news that way.



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

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


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Are conservatives more emotional?

That good ol' projection again.  As a pretty good general rule, if you want to know what is true of liberals, just look at what they say about conservatives.  Seeing your own faults in others is not only good  psychological defence but it's a pretty good political tactic too.  If one side of politics is (say) full of hate, constant accusations from that side accusing others of hate may well cause uncommitted voters to say, "A plague on both their houses" and believe that both sides are equally haters.  So the constant accusations from liberals that conservatives are guilty of hate speech and racism makes good tactics.

And if there is one thing we know about liberals it is that they are always on the boil.  They are always outraged about something and are constantly protesting.  They are clearly the more emotional side of politics.  You just have to note the utter rage that pours out from Leftists in the comments they leave on conservative sites and on Twitter in replying to conservative tweets.  And their use of foul language is also hugely disproportionate.  And, as has often been said, bad language is the attempt of a weak mind to express itself forcefully.

So the piece of research below is very predictable.  On the basis of the flimsiest evidence, they assert that it is conservatives who are more emotional.

Their evidence is that in portraits of themselves most people show the left side of the face but there is a slight tendency for conservatives to show that side more often.

I could go on but such hugely silly "evidence" just doesn't seem to warrant any further bother.  Leftists will clutch at anything to discredit conservatives.

Right-Wing Politicians Prefer the Emotional Left

Nicole A. Thomas et al


Physiological research suggests that social attitudes, such as political beliefs, may be partly hard-wired in the brain. Conservatives have heightened sensitivity for detecting emotional faces and use emotion more effectively when campaigning. As the left face displays emotion more prominently, we examined 1538 official photographs of conservative and liberal politicians from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States for an asymmetry in posing.

Across nations, conservatives were more likely than liberals to display the left cheek. In contrast, liberals were more likely to face forward than were conservatives. Emotion is important in political campaigning and as portraits influence voting decisions, conservative politicians may intuitively display the left face to convey emotion to voters.


A good summary of the boiling hate continually emanating from the Left is here


Obamacare's famous "mandate" disappears

A central part of Obamacare abolished by the Obama adminstration

ObamaCare's implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.

This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn't think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don't comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.

That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.

In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare's wave of policy terminations qualified as a "hardship" that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.

But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you "believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy" or "you consider other available policies unaffordable."

This lax standard—no formula or hard test beyond a person's belief—at least ostensibly requires proof such as an insurer termination notice. But people can also qualify for hardships for the unspecified nonreason that "you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance," which only requires "documentation if possible." And yet another waiver is available to those who say they are merely unable to afford coverage, regardless of their prior insurance. In a word, these shifting legal benchmarks offer an exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.

Keep in mind that the White House argued at the Supreme Court that the individual mandate to buy insurance was indispensable to the law's success, and President Obama continues to say he'd veto the bipartisan bills that would delay or repeal it. So why are ObamaCare liberals silently gutting their own creation now?

The answers are the implementation fiasco and politics. HHS revealed Tuesday that only 940,000 people signed up for an ObamaCare plan in February, bringing the total to about 4.2 million, well below the original 5.7 million projection. The predicted "surge" of young beneficiaries isn't materializing even as the end-of-March deadline approaches, and enrollment decelerated in February.

Meanwhile, a McKinsey & Company survey reports that a mere 27% of people joining the exchanges were previously uninsured through February. The survey also found that about half of people who shopped for a plan but did not enroll said premiums were too expensive, even though 80% of this group qualify for subsidies. Some substantial share of the people ObamaCare is supposed to help say it is a bad financial value. You might even call it a hardship.

HHS is also trying to pre-empt the inevitable political blowback from the nasty 2015 tax surprise of fining the uninsured for being uninsured, which could help reopen ObamaCare if voters elect a Republican Senate this November. Keeping its mandate waiver secret for now is an attempt get past November and in the meantime sign up as many people as possible for government-subsidized health care. Our sources in the insurance industry are worried the regulatory loophole sets a mandate non-enforcement precedent, and they're probably right. The longer it is not enforced, the less likely any President will enforce it.

The larger point is that there have been so many unilateral executive waivers and delays that ObamaCare must be unrecognizable to its drafters, to the extent they ever knew what the law contained.



David Horowitz Exposes Why Progressives Must Lie

In his book Disinformation, Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet Bloc official ever to defect to the United States, describes the Soviet intelligence practice called "framing" – changing someone's or something's past to suit present political needs.

The Soviets perfected this into a science. Jamie Glazov, editor of, detailed a personal encounter with this Marxist science when he described a 1971 document KGB chairman Yuri Andropov wrote about Jamie's father, Soviet dissident Yuri Glazov:

    "Yuri Andropov is discussing the operation to put the drugs and the documents into the apartment and then five pages later is discussing my father being a drug trafficker and a spy. You see, there’s a self-intoxication here. You create the lie and then somewhere along the process you begin to believe that lie that you yourself have created, and this is a very fascinating phenomenon."

Jamie's boss, David Horowitz, lived this lie for many years. He knows that without lies, the ideology of the left would cease to exist. This is the central truth Horowitz relentlessly reinforces in Progressives, Volume II of The Black Book of the American Left.

Horowitz wastes no time defining what drives the left. On page 3, he states:

    The belief in a perfect future inevitably inspires a passionate (and otherwise inexplicable) hatred towards the imperfect present. The first agenda of social redeemers is to dismantle the existing social order, which means their intellectual and political energies are focused on the work of destruction.

With a false utopia as their goal, the left grants itself permission to commit any crime. With this is a free pass to lie about everything. In their world the victims of Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, and (today) Hamas are all airbrushed from history; the go-to source for political knowledge is Noam Chomsky, the "Guru of the Anti-American Left;" and, most importantly, any deviation is a menace to be snuffed out with an iron fist.

In one of his most revealing essays, Horowitz reviews how in one year (1999), three leading icons of the left were exposed as having crafted fake biographies for themselves:

Rigoberta Menchu – Claimed to have been a landless peasant and an innocent victim of U.S. Imperialism; was actually from a wealthy landowning family and an agent of a Soviet-backed armed gang which picked a fight with a military dictatorship, then blamed the result on America.
Betty Friedan – Claimed to have been an ordinary suburban housewife who realized she lived in a "comfortable concentration camp" and took action to liberate women from American home life; was actually a lifelong Communist and an activist dedicated to overturning capitalism – by overturning family values (as Marx and Engels prescribed).
Edward Said – Claimed to have been a refugee chased from the Jerusalem house he grew up in by a famous Jewish scholar after Israel was created; was actually only born in Jerusalem because his mother was visiting family there when her water broke and spent his entire childhood in Cairo (as Justus Reid Weiner wrote of this discovery: "On [Said's] birth certificate, prepared by the ministry of health of the British Mandate, his parents specified their permanent address as Cairo, and, indicating that they maintained no residence in Palestine, left blank the space for a local address."). Additionally, it was Said's aunt that evicted the Jewish scholar from the house – where he had been legally living with his grandchildren as refugees from Nazi Germany – and not the other way around.

To normal people, living a lie is a sickening existence. In fact, even somewhat abnormal, melancholy people like Edgar Allan Poe recognized the trouble one would have living with a Tell-Tale Heart. However, some people are so morally putrid that they can immerse themselves in a world of falsehoods and still sleep like babies. At the same time, those individuals among the left who are unwilling to be perpetually fake and hypocritical are treated like heretics.

"This tainting and ostracism of sinners is the secret power of the leftist faith," wrote Horowitz. "It is what keeps the faithful in line." The late Christopher Hitchens had longtime left-wing "friends" lining up to publicly end their friendships with him when he dared to call out the compulsive lying of Bill Clinton. For all their talk about "comrades", loyalty to friends, family, and country are secondary and sacrificial to the fib of the day.

In Andrew Breitbart and Stephen K. Bannon's film Occupy Unmasked, Horowitz explained:

    "Communism, which killed 100 million people in its course – in peacetime, not in war but in peacetime – and bankrupted whole continents, created unimaginable poverty for a billion people, artificial mass starvation where millions upon millions of people died because of government schemes that didn't work, showed that this Socialist idea is a bankrupt idea; there's nothing there."



Horowitz at Heritage Foundation: 'The Communist Party Is The Democratic Party'

On Tuesday, former Marxist-turned-conservative icon David Horowitz spoke at the Heritage Foundation to mark the launch of what will be a ten-volume compendium of his writings on leftism, The Black Book of the American Left. In his wide-ranging speech, Horowitz described his transition from left to right, and discussed the shortcomings of a conservative movement unwilling to deal with the ugly realities of what the American left represents.

Horowitz began by distinguishing the David Horowitz Freedom Center from other think tanks, instead characterizing it as a “battle tank.” He labeled himself “monomaniacal” in his focus on the left and its relation to communism. “There are hedgehogs and foxes. The foxes know many things. And the hedgehogs know one thing. I am a hedgehog,” he joked.

“My parents called themselves progressives,” Horowitz explained with regard to his communist parents. “The agenda was a Soviet America...the slogan of the communist party in those days was peace, jobs, democracy. Sound familiar?”

That was the theme of Horowitz’s speech as he continued: how the communists had taken over the Democratic Party. “The communist party is the Democratic Party,” Horowitz stated. “In The Great Gatsby, [F. Scott] Fitzgerald describes the rich as people who break things and leave them for others to clean up. That is a wonderful description of the left.” Horowitz, who began as a radical Marxist, said that the modern left had learned stealth from their failures in the 1960s: “The left have learned from the 1960s...we in the 1960s didn't want to pretend to be Jeffersonian democrats...That's why we failed in the 1960s. That's why they've succeeded now.”

But the right, Horowitz pointed out, has failed to acknowledge that reality. On Obamacare, for example, Horowitz railed against the language used by the left: “single-payer.” Instead, he said, “it is communism,” pointing out that it was state ownership of the means of production. He added, “The left hate the Constitution because Madison designed it to thwart them.”

Horowitz then analyzed what he claimed were the four features of the leftist mentality. First, he said, the left and right are on opposite sides of the “fundamental divide of the modern age”: the left believes that human beings are inherently good and infinitely malleable, and so can be shaped by proper state guidance. Conservatives, by contrast, believe that human beings are responsible for social problems, and concentrating power in the hands of humans is dangerous.

Second, Horowitz said, the left are characterized by the belief that “history is a forward march.” Obama, Horowitz claimed, is a deep believer in this concept, all the way down to his carpet in the Oval Office, which assures those who enter that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. “Leftism is a crypto-religion,” he explained. “They see themselves as a savior. People who believe that redemption will take place in this life and I will be a part of it, that's Hitler. That's Mao...That's the American left.”

Third, Horowitz said that the left was characterized by “alienation from this country... What weakens America is actually good.” Horowitz cited the Obama administration’s eager withdrawal from Iraq as evidence of that proposition: “Obama betrayed every American who gave their life for the people of Iraq.” He also slammed the Obama administration with regard to Benghazi: “Benghazi is the most shameful act in the history of the American presidency.”

Finally, said Horowitz, the American left “lie. And it's not like politicians cannot be a leftist without lying about the most basic strategic facts about who you are.”

Horowitz summed up pessimistically: “We are within reach of a totalitarian state in this country…These are very very dark days for this country.” But, Horowitz held out hope: “there's been an earthquake on the conservative side since I switched sides...the tea party is the earthquake. The best thing that Republicans can do is stop the fratricide.”



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

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