Blogger As The Best Blogging Platform

June 12th, 2014

batbbOne of the greatest challenges of bloggers is to choose the best blogging platform for their contents. Basically, it is important that they build their site in a reputable platform so that they can reach their targeted audiences and be able to establish trust and loyalty from them. If they cannot do so, a blogger will have a hard time reaching out to people and generate traffic. Hence, some experts recommend “Blogger” as the best blogging platform for beginners. This is a popular blogging service that is free of charge so bloggers would not be spending a dime to use it.

The greatest advantage of using Blogger is its convenience and instant set-up. There is no need for bloggers to complicate their selves or research online on how they can manage their articles to this platform because Blogger is created for beginners. It supports a kind of editing that simply drags and drops the template and it also has dynamic updating. If one uses Google Docs, Windows Live or Microsoft Word for editing, it is not difficult to do so. This is the reason why Blogger is considered to be the best blogging platform for first time bloggers and even experienced bloggers.

Why Use Popular Blog Topics

Popular blog topics are necessary so that the website will be able to gain traffic and generate potential income. These topics can be found through the internet. However, a blogger should understand the importance of these topics. First, popular blog topics will give the website a brand. This means that it serves as a platform to a certain thing. For example, if dog training is used as a topic, this will allow the internet users to know that a particular website gives tips and advices on how to train a dog. Second, the blog topics will allow proper positioning in the search engines. Bloggers aim to have their website at the first page of search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Through the popular topics, this objective is possible to attain.

Third, popular topics will entice several online readers. People would not mind reading a blog if it does not interest them at any point. If you choose to write a popular topic, there is an assurance or a possibility that these online users will browse and click the page of your blog. This will later provide traffic and potential income. These are the reasons why popular blog topics are helpful.

See more beginners blogging tips here.

Getting A NAS Recovery Started

March 5th, 2014

nasrNAS recovery is always possible nowadays. Even if you lost your files accidentally for some reasons, it would not be hard to have it back as long as you seek the right person to do it. However, some people would prefer to do the NAS recovery all by their selves. It is always possible to perform this kind of procedure manually as long as one has knowledge about this. The network storage attached tool has to be attached in a computer with Linux operating system or installation because it will support the file system of the NAS. As soon as it is successfully connected to a personal computer, there will be a specific command entered into the system in order to commence the recovery.

Easy as one may think, recovery of files needs to be done by an expert. There are different commands that should be followed step by step in order be guided on the proper recovery of it. If a person attempted to recover the lost files without having any knowledge of it, it can potentially harm the computer system which will aggravate the condition eventually. NAS recovery should only be performed by an expert professional and nothing else.

How Do You Know When To Use Recover Promise RAID

They say you can recover Promise RAID arrays to get your back up files recovered but according to most users, most of the time this is not going to be necessary. Much as anti-virus is for the hard drive, RAID is known for standing up against viruses. This is one thing that keeps the RAID customers since it seems like no anti-virus is working for the corruption for other hard drives is as promising as they make it sound like. According to statistics, many people use an alternate way of backing up their files instead of relying on other back up services.

It’s too bad, though, that for a good hard drive they have poor maintenance system. Their recover and backup system does not seem to work really well if you base on the number of people or users who complain about the services and how the backed up files are still lost. There are so many alternate ways on how you can back up your files with the assurance that your files will not be lost. However, in some of the other branded hard drives can be paid but still, there is an assurance that your file will not be lost or corrupted.

Is There Any Way I Can Do A RAID 5 Recovery?

Sometimes, there is an instance where you lose all the data in your hard drive. Just like any other hard drive, RAID 5 encounters problems because it is a mechanical system. You noticed how there are different version from 0 to the fifth version. Why? Because they are working on improving the system even more. One of the things that they are trying to have in their new system is having a RAID 5 recovery. They want this RAID 5 recovery to have a backup even if the system gets corrupted.

What everyone needs right now is a recovery system for their hard drives. As we all know, not all computers or laptop have sufficient space to back up the files. That is why we all need external hard drives to keep the duplicate of the folders in there, and we can bring it anywhere and you can share the contents without having to bring your laptop. Despite the hard drive’s usable function, they also encounter problems such as files being corrupted. That is why every system of the hard drive needs recovery solutions so you can easily recover your important files.

Still Can’t Choose Which Tax Relief Company?

March 3rd, 2014

sccwtrcIf you still can’t choose among a lot of tax relief companies then simply search top rated tax relief companies. You’ll then be returned a lot of blogs about this topic. Most of the time, you will see taxpayers’ forums about taxes and tax reliefs. If you will click on these sites, you will see comments, advises and feedbacks about some tax relief companies. Or, if you even get lucky then they might give you a list of top rated tax relief companies where you can choose from.

There are many ways how you can choose from top rated tax relief companies. Just choose the leading company and look for feedbacks about them or maybe a suggestion for a better company. Internet is a really big help nowadays because of the things you can search on it. If you don’t want to call your fellow businessmen friends then the internet is your friend. Just simply search things you want to know! Easy as that!

Another good thing you can find by using the internet is you can easily spot a scam tax relief company. How? It is by reading the feedbacks in the forums or websites. By reading further, you will also find more things about these companies and how their policies work.

Things You Need To Know Before Asking Help With Tax Debts

Yes, we all know that everyone and anyone will come to the point where he will struggle with tax payment. If you were to ask what taxes are for, taxes are similar to paying rent. How so? It is as if you are paying taxes as a contribution or fee for being part of the country. Just like renting an apartment, you need to pay the rent and the rental fees include your water and/or electricity consumption. And just like renting, not everyone can afford to pay including their consumptions.

Many people ask for help with tax debts just like how they loan money for rental fees. And just like loaning companies, there are tax relief companies that will lend you money. However, unlike loaning companies, tax relief companies will only lend you money for the purpose of paying your tax. And unlike loaning companies, you can’t scam tax relief companies because they pay the tax bureaus directly in your behalf. 8 out of 10 people ask help with tax debts and on a monthly basis people get assistance from tax relief companies to avoid their back tax from piling up. Piled up back taxes can lead to problems with credit score and even being sued by the tax bureau.

How Will I Know If I Need Tax Relief Services Instead Of Just Paying It All At Once?

Here is a tip for the proper use of tax relief services about using it to be safe in case you spend your allotted money for tax or you don’t really have money to pay for tax. Tax relief services are not to be used for trying to make sure you still get to pay your tax on time after spending your allotted money for tax. Getting a loan from tax relief companies are expensive. Try computing its monthly cost plus interest rate and compare it to the original amount. Too much, is it?

Services from tax relief companies are expensive but they do it for a reason – to teach people how to properly manage their time and money. True or not, it makes sense that it teaches people these values. How? If a person unnecessarily uses these services just to spend their tax money on something less relevant then it is just right for them to pay the interest rate as a penalty or if it is their first time to use this service just to try it, then it will serve as a lesson for them not to take this service for granted. Another is for the person to think for their self that they should only get it when they need it.

What Cause Skin Tags?

February 19th, 2014

stThere are many cases where people ask how do I remove my skin tag, but it is better to search for a cause, and then look for a solution. The Achrocordon is the final product of blood vessels that get trapped into the thick skin. The best thing is knowing that this is not a life-threatening condition, but it can still be very disturbing for many people.

The skin tags can appear just anywhere, but can be mostly seen under the armpits, on the face, on the eyelids, and on fingers. They can be of different sizes and colors, and it all depends on the place, and type of the skin one has. When it comes to causes, there are thousands of theories, but it is never proved what actually makes them appear all of a sudden. Some say that overactive hormones at pregnant women can be one of the causes, and even the insulin rejection, but the truth is they can appear at any age and health condition. Although they are not dangerous, they can cause itching and irritated skin area, so those may be reasons enough to ask how do I remove my skin tag. Those little menaces can cause annoyance, especially if they are on the eye lids, or in constant touch with the clothes.

Treatments For Facial Skin Tags

Skin tags can be very annoying, especially if they happen to appear on some visible body parts, such as face or neck. Although skin tags are definitely not dangerous for overall health, they can lead to low self-esteem and even depression due to the visibility. The first question that comes to one´s mind is can skin tags be removed non-surgically. Luckily, one can choose from different methods, but only few of them can help with this problem for good.

If it is not about the beauty, the other reasons so get rid of skin tags is that they may lead to irritations and since they may tear, that ends up with bleeding. Skin tags can even be in very unpleasant places, such as eye lids, and for this procedure, the ophthalmologist must be included, as well. What is very interesting about these skin tags is that they may be hereditary; so many generations may have the growth at the same place. In order to get rid of them, the liquid nitrogen can be used for freezing, and there are many kits that can be found in every pharmacy. However, the question is – can skin tags be removed non-surgically? For sensitive skin parts, such as face and neck, it is always better to try some home remedies, and the results will finally come.

What Is A Linden Method Review?

February 16th, 2014

lmrBefore we can talk about a linden method review, we need to understand what the linden method is.  This is a proven way to defeat anxiety attacks. In recent times, there has been a steep incline in the number of people that face anxiety issues. The usual approach to anxiety is relaxation techniques that we learn to use. This and other such methods have been known to help people and they can find any amount of information online. When you find the linden method review, you can expect to see the pros and cons of the method. This can be a review written from a purely personal perspective too.

It all depends on what type of relief you find from a different set of techniques. From what we have on record the linden method review shows that it is just like any other method that requires complete commitment from the user. It is clear that it is not enough to sign up for a few lessons on the techniques but more important to practice it daily until it becomes a habit. The advantage is that you get a year’s guarantee along with support from medical and psychological professionals.

Overcoming Panic Attacks Begins At Home

At some time or another, we are given a situation that triggers a panic attack in us. This is particularly true of those that have loved ones depending on us.  For instance, our child crossing the road can cause us to panic. But, it is unrealistic and even foolish to go through life in this manner. So, we employ our own unique ways for overcoming panic attacks. In most cases, it works and we calm down. The children have to go out on their own at some time and we would need to learn to trust their judgment if we have taught them all. This is only a small example of how people need to learn all about overcoming panic attacks. Then, take it further. If it works here at home, it can surely work outside in the world too.

This is a simple approach to overcoming panic attacks. You could try different approaches to find one that suits your temperament the best and use those each time you are faced with panic attacks. You have to believe that it is in your control. That would always be the first step. Nothing and no one can take that control away from you. It is only when you are calm you will be able to act rationally and productively.

Yes, You Can Look Younger Too

October 31st, 2013

wdtsYou will be surprised to learn the birth date of a number of women. With proper care of skin, one can look fabulous as they increase in age. Wrinkles that develop around the eyes and lips make someone look older than they are. Using a good anti wrinkle cream can reverse the effects the elements have on your skin. Most people have tried several types of anti wrinkle creams with varies results; some of the anti wrinkle cream reviews given online can act as a buying guide. It is imperative to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes for great skin.

An anti wrinkle cream that increases skin elasticity will make you look younger with continued use. Choose one that favors your skin type; it is important to get adequate sleep to prevent developing bags under the eyes. An anti wrinkle cream for the eyes should be purchased to eliminate craw feet that develop slowly as one age. It is necessary to apply sunscreen even in winter, as the sun is always present.  Moisturize your skin before retiring to bed for soft glowing skin in the morning. Furthermore, do not forget to apply anti wrinkle cream on your face, neck and hands to look younger than you are.

Fulfilling My Wish to Look Attractive Despite My Age

I bumped with a friend this morning. We have not seen each other for a number of years but I can tell that there’s something different about her aura. I am sure that she has been using the best wrinkle cream. The last time I saw her, she looked aged. Fine lines were obvious around her eyes and mouth when she laughed or smiled. But even if I was looking intently at her face this morning, I could not see that she once had wrinkles. Of course, I did not bother to ask her anything about it. But it’s unquestionable that the changes on her appearance were brought about by a really excellent wrinkle cream. I can tell who among friends went through Botox or dermabrasion just to get rid of the obvious signs of aging on their complexion. My friend inspired me to take on a reliable wrinkle treatment. Many people have been asking me to make use of wrinkle cream to free my skin from fine lines and other imperfections. But after realizing how this can benefit one’s confidence, I am giving it a go. My friend obviously enjoys her attractiveness. I want to experience the same. It’s only with an excellent wrinkle cream that this wish can be fulfilled.

LA And Earthquakes – Old News?

August 21st, 2013

laeRecently the New York Times reported a type of story that Southern Californians like me know well. It was about earthquakes, and the gist has often been told in newspapers and on national television, each time as if the news really were new. “Seismic Team Detects a Killer Beneath Los Angeles,” the front-page headline declaimed. You see, there’s this “blind thrust” fault, nine miles deep and right below downtown. Such faults under L.A. have been known for years. To justify front-page treatment, the Times needed some fresh angle. Aha! The angle was that geological information long “jealously guarded by oil and gas companies” had been revealed to scientists, who could at last confirm the existence of the “killer” fault.

The type of newspaper article that reports the forthcoming destruction of Los Angeles by earthquake is just a subcategory of another classification, the “L.A. Is Doomed!” article, which may also take the form of a magazine piece, movie, novel, or other book. In these, destruction threatens my hometown by earthquake, flood, fire, volcano, or tornado. It doesn’t matter which, since their effects are depicted as interchangeable. Though most of this material is fictional storytelling, let’s stipulate that the genre wouldn’t be so popular if it didn’t somehow satisfy a widespread wish to see the real L.A. in ruins.

Hollywood is a reliable producer of such stuff, as in recent films like The Crow: City of Angels (earthquake), Escape from L.A. (earthquake), Independence Day (evil space aliens), and Volcano (volcano). But creative folks have been destroying L.A. for fun and profit for more than half a century. A chapter in Mike Davis’s book Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster lists 138 depictions-in movies and novels-of Los Angeles laid waste since 1909.

Scanning this list is like watching boys torture a stray cat: How many ways can they figure out to make it scream? Sometimes destruction comes at Nature’s hand. The first instance of L.A. getting washed into the Pacific-”swiftly, relentlessly”-occurred in Myron Brinig’s 1933 novel The Flutter of an Eyelid. Nathanael West burnt the place down in The Day of the Locust (1939), while in the 1954 B-movie Them! giant ants consumed the populace. I distinctly remember another film, Earthquake. Released in 1974 when I was 9, it introduced Sensurround, a system of large speakers under the theater seats, emitting bass noises famous for terrorizing moviegoers by making their behinds quiver.

Almost as often, L.A. has been subjected to ruination by human evil, whether environmental degradation (Blade Runner, 1982), religious cults (Gore Vidal’s 1954 Messiah), or racial holocaust (as in the popular neo-Nazi fantasy novel The Turner Diaries, 1978). Nor have highbrow writers disdained the trashing of Southern California. Mike Davis cites a “quorum” of the region’s fanciest authors-Octavia Butler, Carolyn See, Steve Erickson, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Cynthia Kadohata-who have set their novels amid the debris of the city’s nightmare future. The best known may be Carolyn See’s Golden Days, in which, following a nuclear war, a pair of earth-mother gals establish an eco-sensitive matriarchy.

With the publication of Ecology of Fear and a previous book, City of Quartz, in 1998 and 1990 respectively, Davis himself became the most distinguished example of the creative entrepreneur cashing in on the public’s apparent hope that L.A. will be destroyed. For insisting that overdevelopment by nefarious capitalists has set the city on a freeway to ruin, he has been rewarded with a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award ($315,000) and (in the case of Ecology of Fear) 14 weeks as an L.A. Times bestseller.

Taking Davis as representative of the “L.A. Is Doomed!” school of thought, I wondered what would be revealed by a few days in a rental car, touring some of the localities he describes as being perfumed with the scent of apocalypse. After all, cultural pileups like the pattern described above occur for a reason. This reason tends to have something to do with underlying social dynamics-rather than with chance and randomness alone, as in an auto pileup on the Golden State Freeway where one car spins out of control, another crashes into it, another into that one, and so on. In a culture like our own, beset by symptoms of a spiritual illness, secular liberalism, such phenomena inevitably reveal an aspect of the disease. That’s why I flew to Los Angeles for a diagnostic drive.

lanWhen you look out the window of an airplane at night over Los Angeles, the city and its environs appear below as an endless grid of light. A rabbi I know says that no view is more conducive to belief in God than the Manhattan skyline, but L.A. must share the honor. There is no grid to be found in the natural world; that pattern can only be a human artifact. As powerfully as the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, Los Angeles by night unfolds at your feet testimony of the divine spark in man. Without that spark there would be no possibility of our triumphing so utterly over nature. The grid turns out to be the key to the diagnosis.

For Davis, triumph over nature is exactly the problem, in particular man’s hubris in constructing an enormous city on this location, which is vulnerable to earthquakes, floods, and tornadoes. In his view, greed and a willingness on the part of developers to let poor people shoulder the brunt of the inevitable cycle of natural disasters have guided the city’s growth.

As with the “L.A. Is Doomed!” genre in fiction and film, all the exploitation of people and nature leads to a situation of ultimate urban dread. Readers with a taste for such dread, poetically expressed, will enjoy Mike Davis. Wherever he goes the landscape is “eerie,” “ghostly.” During “the infernal season” from late August to early October, along skyscraper-lined Wilshire Boulevard “homeless people huddle miserably in every available shadow.” Police “helicopter gunships” “patrol” the beaches, which are closed after dark. In the “industrial wastelands” of South-Central L.A., “wild dog packs now threaten the lives of small children.” In short, “fear eats the soul of Los Angeles.”

Oh, does it really? In actual fact, L.A. is a pleasant, livable city from which the aroma of disaster is totally absent. By a quirk, I arrived in the real Los Angeles even before I left New York. An originally L.A. institution called Super Shuttle has recently been grafted onto New York. It’ll never work. By nature, New York constantly harasses and impedes you. It does so by means of traffic, crowds of pushy pedestrians, sullen cash-register attendants, passive-aggressive subway Metrocard vendors, telephone-cable disruptions. On the other hand, Los Angeles is a city that works. At stores, the guy or gal behind the register smiles and sincerely wants to help. Freeways mean more freedom from traffic than you might expect. Public utilities can be relied on. It’s also much easier to fly in or out because the blue vans called Super Shuttles transport citizens who wish to share a ride to or from the airport, cheaply, efficiently, and pleasantly.

I shared a Super Shuttle ($15), progressing slowly up Manhattan’s West End Avenue, with a smartly dressed woman in her 60s and an effeminate man in his 30s. They couldn’t get over the Super Shuttle or its driver, who was pleasant in a Los Angeles sort of way. “He’s so amiable!” said the effeminate man. “And polite!” said the woman. The man agreed: “It’s a lot cheaper than taxis and they speak English!”

Later that day I was really in L.A., specifically Santa Monica, in the latter’s beautifully refurbished seaside downtown. Around 10 at night I walked the few blocks to the beach, as I’ve done lots of times before here, and found as usual the beaches open. Pace Mike Davis, it’s nearly impossible to “close” a beach. I saw no “helicopter gunships” on “patrol,” nor have I ever seen one.

Next day I drove to the rural Santa Clara Valley, in northern L.A. County. On the way I stopped at the old Mission San Fernando, founded in 1797, now in the middle of the valley which bears the mission’s name. A photo in the museum there showed the San Fernando Valley as it appeared more than a century ago: empty even of trees, with the little complex of half-ruined mission buildings the only point of visual interest. By the 1930s, the valley was covered by orange groves. By the 1950s it was being rather abruptly filled with tract homes. Nature had been transformed with a speed that makes some visitors uneasy. Mike Davis says he fears that the same fate awaits the Santa Clara Valley and its orange groves.

There is an intoxicating quality to those groves, the colors green and orange being particularly beautiful when juxtaposed in the form of an orange tree and set off by angular brown and green hills. Anyone who cares for natural beauty will be concerned at Davis’s news that the Newhall Land & Farming Company plans next year to start construction on a big housing tract where the valley intersects with the 405 Freeway. Then this “last authentic landscape of [the] prewar way of life-Eden’s last garden-will be destroyed.”

But this is more poetry than reality. It’s just not true that the Santa Clara Valley is Southern California’s “last garden.” One morning when I was there, the L.A. Times ran a story about another “last garden.” This one, Trabuco Canyon in Orange County, is menaced by zoning changes. But even if Trabuco Canyon were paved over tomorrow, there would still be plenty of wilderness left in the area. One glance at a map on page 203 of Ecology of Fear, intended to explain where deadly mountain lions might emerge into suburban tract lanes, makes the point. Los Angeles is gated all the way around by mountain ranges. Their enormous area is immune to development because you can’t build tract houses on a mountaintop.

Admittedly, apart from the mountains, just about wherever you go the spread of tract developments is striking. L.A.’s doomsayers loathe housing developments. In City of Quartz, Davis denounces the Antelope Valley, in the Mojave Desert, where since 1984 there’s been a “landrush.” The result: “traffic jams, smog, rising crime, job competition, noise, soil erosion, a water shortage and the attrition of a distinctly countrified lifestyle”-along with the despised “gated subdivisions.”

I visited the Antelope Valley. Its two main towns, Lancaster and (palmless) Palmdale, are drab and strip-mall infested, patched with wide squares of desert: queer, vaguely retarded-looking Joshua trees and tumbleweeds that haven’t yet become detached from the yellow earth. What draws Californians isn’t the scenery. They come for the prices, homes in subdivisions for $200,000, about which one can only say it seems rather hardhearted of this self-identified Marxist to deny working families the opportunity to purchase a house they can afford.

In Fontana, a town that gets a chapter to itself in City of Quartz, the houses are even cheaper. According to billboards, the cheapest development offers “Large Homes on Large Lots” for $124,950. But Mike Davis is disgusted because Fontana was once a utopian, semi-cooperative community of lemon growers and chicken farmers, decimated by capitalism at the dawn of World War II when Henry Kaiser’s steel mill opened. The mill closed in the early Eighties, having reduced the lemon groves to what Joan Didion in an essay once called “the greenery of nightmare.” Didion paid special attention to the stones nearby the trees, which “look not like natural stones but like the rubble of some unmentioned catastrophe.”

When I went to Fontana, out in the San Bernardino County, I looked hard for Didion’s sinister stones, but couldn’t find any. In this “junkyard of dreams,” as Mike Davis puts it-of dreams junked by capitalism-I looked for the “vast number of dismantled or moribund cars deliberately strewn in people’s yards like family heirlooms,” but saw only two or three. On Valley Boulevard, I looked for the “boring repetition of adult bookstores,” but saw only one (“Fine Adult Entertainment”). Like the homeless crowding “every available shadow” along Wilshire and the beach-patrolling “helicopter gunships,” the sinister stones and junked cars and innumerable adult bookstores exist only in the mind of a creative writer.

So then are the many readers of Davis’s books stupid, especially the ones who actually live in Los Angeles? No. But locals here are often remarkably ignorant of what might seem to an outsider to be “local” conditions. It’s not their fault.

Because of the vastness of metropolitan Los Angeles, one tends to stay in one’s own pocket of it. And ignorance here means not bliss but terror, as evidenced by the violence and salaciousness of local TV news, much worse than in New York. Four mornings in a row I watched KTLA, Channel 5. There was the story about a seedy white guy who tried to lure into his car an 11-year-old black boy, Rahssan Davis, who explained to a TV reporter: “I think he was going to kill me! Then he was going to pick up somebody else and kill him too!” There was the half a human brain found by a tow-truck driver in an abandoned car in Van Nuys. There were the three pit bulls found on the loose in South- Central, having escaped from their owners’ backyards. In Los Angeles, stories like these don’t seem too freakish to bother with because most Angelenos are prepared to believe the worst about prevailing conditions in places they’ve never seen.

This explains the how of the “L.A. Is Doomed!” articles, books, and movies-how residents of L.A., never mind East Coasters, could be so gullible-but not the why: why so many people crave hints of apocalypse. Stuff like this is a kind of poetry, and poetry evokes a sentiment that its readers find pleasurable. Just what sentiment that may be is hinted at by the sight of L.A. from the air, that unnatural grid and all it has to tell us about creativity and createdness.

L.A. is the ultimate city of creativity. Of course, one thinks of Hollywood, where the screen universe is brought into existence in a flash out of nothing. Just as important is the grid itself, which didn’t exist fifty years ago. Because it was built almost overnight, Los Angeles can’t be confused with anything natural. New York was also once a wilderness. But that city and its suburbs grew up gradually. Since there was never an analogue in Brooklyn or Queens for the instantaneous eruption of the suburbanized San Fernando Valley, you can entertain the impression that New York came about organically.

L.A. makes many of us distinctly uncomfortable. In a nation whose spiritual health is troubled by spreading secularism, it must. At a time when high-toned opinion is turned violently against the notion of man as a created being, this city of creativity can’t help but give offense. For there could be no real creativity without a Creator. It has been a longstanding belief, suppressed in the past century only through tireless secular propaganda, that one sense in which man is the “image” of God can be found in the first line of Genesis: He created, and so do we. On one reading, the one encouraged by an auto tour of L.A., the cultural conflict that wracks our ailing country comes down to a dispute about creativity. If man has a Creator, then human creativity is our tribute to Him. If man has a Creator, then we urbane Americans must before long reassess our cherished secular assumptions.

The city of creativity thus promotes the formation of neurotic cultural symptoms-”L.A. Is Doomed!” pronounced in hundreds of books, movies, and periodicals-as a defense against the true meaning of creativity. For that part of the public which consumes newspapers like the New York Times and books like Mike Davis’s, it would be deeply reassuring if such a place were destroyed-whether by earthquake or fire, wild beasts or overdevelopment . . . it really doesn’t matter.

Laissez Faire Moves

July 7th, 2013

lfmThe strangest position Al Gore took in the course of his mid-June campaign launch was on the Lewinsky affair. On the one hand, he described President Clinton’s sexual conduct as “inexcusable.” On the other, he had no sympathy with those who thought the president should have been called to account on the matter. In fact, Gore didn’t have any opinion whatsoever on the political merits of the case. No-what angered him most is that the Lewinsky affair disrupted his schedule. As he told CBS’s This Morning, “What makes me the most upset about it is that we lost a lot of time.” For NBC‘s Today, he added, “That’s what angered me. And I feel an extra sense of urgency now to make up for that lost time.”

“Lost a lot of time”? Time for what? It’s always possible that Gore thinks the clock is ticking on some sort of vast national emergency, a 1990s equivalent of the evacuation of Dunkirk. But the closer you look at the agenda Gore hopes to ride to power, the more it appears the vice president really thinks the nation’s most pressing political objective is to save time. He’s against long commutes and airport delays, in favor of Internet wiring and government-subsidized Internet sites, and positively rapturous about a variety of neato ways to spend that extra time. And that’s about it. Virtually every arrow in his policy quiver is a plan to make things less time-consuming, or more efficient, or more clean. It is a politics whose core principle is convenience. When Gore announced his “reinventing government” initiative in the early days of the administration, he said he wanted to reform the state along the lines of the market. It’s beginning to look like he meant the supermarket.

Gore is offering Americans a host of picayune initiatives, many of which merely build on Clinton’s lead. He is well disposed, for instance, to retro-fitting automobiles for lock-in car seats that will soon come onto the market. He wants to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow parents time off from work to attend parent-teacher conferences. Both are measures the president has test-marketed in various speeches over the last several months. “No parent,” says Gore, “should have to risk losing a job to go to a parent-teacher conference at school or to drive a child or an aging parent to the doctor.” This no-one-should-ever-have-to-choose formulation is of course a Clinton staple, as if hard choices violated the laws of nature.

But Gore has a more expansive idea of convenience-or, to use his pet word, “livability”-than even his boss. The centerpiece of Gore’s lifestyle liberalism is “smart growth,” which will give us “good, strong, livable communities with green spaces.” Gore has not been more specific than that, other than to express a vague distaste for the admittedly appalling landscape of most American suburbs and an inchoate wish that we were less dependent on our automobiles. There’s an irony here. For it was Gore’s father, the late Tennessee senator Albert Gore Sr., who sponsored the $25 billion Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which the younger Gore has always praised for showing that government can “make a difference.” It can thus be argued that Gore Senior did more than any other American this century to wreck the country’s public-transportation infrastructure and render our automobile- dependence irreversible. No wonder, then, that Al Gore feels so pressed for time-there’s so much of his favorite legislation to undo!

Gore has made easier access to the Internet his signature issue. His drive to wire high schools for the World Wide Web has been funded by a special FCC levy that has raised the average household phone bill by ten dollars a year. (In a corollary move, he has taken credit for a private-sector plan to equip those school computers with “firewalls” to protect the kids from all the smut to which his Internet initiative would otherwise expose them.) His Airline Passenger Fair Treatment initiative, dreamed up in tandem with transportation secretary Rodney Slater, would require airlines to give away goodies to air travelers who are delayed without explanation in airports. Then there is Triana, the much-ridiculed plan for a $32 million satellite that would take pictures of the earth from space and download them. It was shot down by Congress in late May, but not before Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner ridiculed it as a “multi-million-dollar screen-saver.”

fcc1Gore calls the anti-suburban part of his platform a “livability agenda,” but in fact his whole politics is a livability agenda-and has been for much of his career. Such wow-that’d-be-cool! initiatives as Triana were Gore’s hallmark as a senator. The last decade of his pre- vice-presidential career was marked by such immortal legislation as the All-Terrain Vehicle Consumer Protection Act of 1988, the Fire-Safe Cigarette Implementation Act of 1988 (“to implement the recommendations of the Interagency Committee and the Technical Study Group on Cigarette and Little Cigar Fire Safety”), the Telemarketing Fraud Prevention Act of 1988, the Campus Safety and Security Act of 1989, the Clean Food Transportation Act of 1989, the State-conducted Lotteries Clarification Act of 1990, and the Tropical Forest Consumer Information and Protection Act of 1991.

Fancy food, rain-forest gewgaws, all-terrain vehicles, smoke-free environments-this is a politics of, by, and for the yuppies. The model for this type of politics is the natural-foods store Fresh Fields, which heretofore was politically instructive only in that it gave us an idea of what European supermarkets would have looked like had Germany won World War II. In pursuing a Fresh Fields politics, Gore appears to have been ahead of his time. In May, California Democratic congresswoman Anna Eshoo announced she would sponsor the House version of the Imported Food Safety Act of 1999. (Ted Kennedy and Barbara Mikulski are in charge of the Senate version.) And why not? In this dangerous world, “eating a South American strawberry shouldn’t be a game of Russian roulette,” as Ms. Eshoo puts it.

Like various Clinton-era tobacco measures, which would have allowed the president, through the Food and Drug Administration, to regulate what people smoke, the new food act would let the president use the FDA as a protectionist tool. The legislation gives an idea of how Democratic coalition-building will work if we have a Gore era. The president, while proclaiming himself a free trader, will use “health hazards” to protect American agricultural interests through de facto tariffs. While proclaiming himself a free-marketeer, the president will act under the mistaken belief that you can regulate foreign businesses without harming U.S. consumers. And while proclaiming himself a president for all Americans, the president will aim his generosity directly at the suburban yuppies whose greatest fear in life is of encountering sub-par pesto, and who now constitute the Democratic party’s bedrock. Gore’s livability agenda is appropriate for a party that is rejiggering itself as the party of America’s new-economy elite.

There are pitfalls to an approach like Gore’s. First, Gore has always operated to “enhance” people’s “quality of life” through tapping the productivity of the free market. That gets expensive. For two years in a row, Gore was named the Senate’s biggest spender by the National Taxpayers Union. But if there’s a risk of backfire in Gore’s livability agenda, it lies with a second problem. The politics of livability-or “convenience” or “lifestyle” or whatever one chooses to call it-rests on a snobbery that cannot be concealed for long. As the University of Southern California transportation scholar Peter Gordon said to The Chronicle of Higher Education last spring, “Who are the smart people who are going to direct smart growth?”

A politics based on improving lifestyle favors those who have more lifestyle to improve. We seem to be witnessing a reversal of partisan constituencies in which, under Gore’s tutelage, the Democratic party becomes the party of fat cats. With only modest rhetorical changes, Gore is proposing a departure from the traditional Democratic project of softening the blows suffered by those who don’t share in widespread prosperity. In its place, Gore is promising to soften the blows of prosperity itself.

The FCC And Race – Interesting Partners

June 21st, 2013

fccIf you were trying to dramatize the plight of minorities in the broadcasting industry, you probably wouldn’t choose Stevie Wonder as your poster boy. After all, he is one of the most successful entertainers of all time. But when Federal Communications Commission chairman William Kennard needed a witness last February to testify about the difficulties facing black radio- and TV-station owners, he called on . . . Stevie, of course, who owns an FM radio station in Compton, Calif.

The multimillionaire singer-songwriter complained that black station owners are “an endangered species pursued by large corporate predators,” and he portrayed himself as one of the masses whose concerns are “not dominated by the Dow Jones but by Mary Jones.” Kennard praised Wonder’s testimony as “very, very compelling.”

Of all the officials in this administration, the Justice Department’s Bill Lann Lee and the Education Department’s Norma Cantu have drawn the most attention for their zeal in employing racial quotas and preferences, often in defiance of federal courts. Undeservedly left out of the limelight, however, has been Kennard (pronounced “canard”). His tenure as the nation’s top telecommunications regulator has been marked by a dogged pursuit of racial preferences. Indeed, he has stated that his “biggest challenge” is to ensure that the ongoing telecommunications revolution is an “inclusive” one.

Kennard’s bid for such “inclusiveness” seemed to suffer last year when the D.C. circuit court struck down the FCC’s affirmative-action regulations for radio- and TV-station employment as unconstitutional. In the wake of this ruling, however, the FCC quickly proposed new affirmative-action rules. Although the court had rejected the commission’s previous regulations as encouraging stations to hire by quota, the new rules would do exactly the same thing, if by a more indirect route.

As written, the rules require stations to institute recruitment quotas. When filling job vacancies, broadcasters must use a specified number of “recruitment sources” (such as newspapers) targeted to minorities, with the required number of such sources determined by the percentage of minorities in the local labor market. Stations must also keep track of the racial and gender breakdown of applicants generated by each recruitment source. For example, an ad in the Washington Post might draw 14 applications: from six white men, four black men, three Hispanic women, and one Aleut man.

Broadcasters are then supposed to assess the “productivity” of their recruitment sources and can be fined for failing to drum up a sufficient number of minority applicants. In other words, they are expected to create an applicant pool that looks like the local labor force.

fccrIt would be bad enough if the FCC sought only to require broadcasters to recruit by quota; but its interests obviously run beyond that. Once a station produces a proportional applicant pool, you can bet the FCC won’t rest easy until the station hires minorities on at least a proportional basis. As Reps. Michael Oxley and Ralph Hall noted in response to the FCC’s proposed rules, the commission’s contention that it has no interest in whether stations actually hire certain numbers from this or that group “stretches credulity.” Chances are, any station that fails to hire by quota once it has recruited by quota will put itself at severe risk of sanctions, including fines and the loss of its license.

Kennard, of course, realizes that such practices face tough sledding in the courts. Under current jurisprudence, documented evidence of persisting discrimination is crucial to any hope that preferences will survive judicial review. The chairman has therefore announced that the commission will conduct a series of studies to document racial and gender bias in the telecommunications industry, studies that will go on to be used in the legal defense of affirmative action.

Earlier this year, the commission released its first report, purporting to document the discrimination faced by minority owners in competition for advertising revenues. While funded by the FCC, the study was actually produced by the Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy, a liberal group that describes itself as working “to bring civil rights organizations and community groups into the current debate over the future of our media environment.” One FCC staffer likened the arrangement to a contract between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the NRA for a study on gun control.

The FCC’s report is a shockingly shoddy piece of research that proves almost nothing. Its central finding is that stations aimed at minority listeners earn less advertising revenue per listener than stations aimed at the general population. Advertisers, the report’s author concludes, therefore undervalue minority consumers in a discriminatory fashion.

There is, however, one gigantic flaw in the report. As the study’s author acknowledges, the average listener of a general-format station has an income approximately 20 percent greater than that of the average listener to a minority-geared station. As these customers have more disposable income, it makes sense that advertisers would be willing to pay more to reach them. The phenomenon is also common in television, where companies cough up top dollar to reach affluent professionals irrespective of race: For example, you have to pay more to advertise on Fox’s Ally McBeal than on CBS’s Everybody Loves Raymond, even though the latter has attracted more Monday-night viewers.

As he girds for further courtroom battles over preferences, Kennard is moving forward on other fronts as well. Early in his tenure, he signaled that he would condition FCC approval of mergers and acquisitions on “a company’s willingness to help diversify the ownership in the marketplace.” His stance recently paid off in a big way for Chester C. Davenport, one of the nation’s wealthiest black entrepreneurs.

SBC Communications, Inc., a “Baby Bell,” is now trying to win FCC approval for its acquisition of Ameritech, another Baby Bell. So in April, in what SBC executives openly described as a bid to appease Kennard, Ameritech announced that it was selling half of its wireless- telephone business to GTE and a company owned by Davenport, who is reported to have a net worth of as much as $100 million.

Speaking of ways to make the wealthy even wealthier, Kennard has asked Congress to reinstitute the program that gave tax breaks to corporations that sold radio and television stations to minorities. That program is the only racial preference eliminated by the Republicans since their takeover of Congress and was widely regarded to represent affirmative action at its worst: Among other problems, companies often used wealthy minorities as fronts to acquire stations on the cheap. As a result, a few lucky black Americans ended up making a bundle for little or no work.

Over the last couple of years, William Kennard has turned the FCC into a hotbed of race-conscious activism. While his agenda may benefit a Stevie Wonder or two, dividing Americans by race, in the telecommunications industry or elsewhere, will do little to aid the truly disadvantaged. Nor will it bring us closer to the day when, to paraphrase one of songs with which Stevie is associated, ebony and ivory will live together in perfect harmony.

Medicare Will Always Be A Problem

May 13th, 2013

mcLast November it was the president’s cheap sex that sent older Americans into the arms of the GOP. This year, Democrats hope to win seniors back with cheap drugs.

Now that Republicans have neutralized “the third rail of American politics” with their pledge to protect Social Security, a recent Democratic poll finds that the GOP enjoys a 12-point lead among seniors. And growing bipartisan support for the free-market reform of Medicare means liberals may have to scotch forever their dream of a nationalized health-care system.

Enter the Medicare prescription-drug benefit about to be proposed by the administration. It is designed both to win votes and to block Medicare reform (and hence keep seniors on the dole for years to come). There is no coordinated GOP response planned to this high-stakes Democratic gambit. Says a GOP House leadership aide of Republicans, “They’re terrified.”

Republicans realize that the Democrats’ drug proposal is hugely popular. Polls from both parties confirm that a large majority of the public favors Medicare coverage of prescription drugs. With nearly nine out of ten Medicare beneficiaries using prescription drugs, the new benefit wins near-universal approval from the Medicare set. But younger voters support it too. Republicans point to one of their own polls showing that 42 percent of their conservative base would favor a Democrat who backed the benefit over a Republican who argued that it would bankrupt Medicare. “Terrified” sounds about right.

Some Republicans are therefore counseling their party not to get on the unpopular side of the issue. One set of talking points circulating among House Republicans warns, “Republicans should not blast or bash Clinton on Prescription Drugs-he has the high ground going in. The goal should be to get outside third parties to question the plan’s viability, honesty, and credibility.” The injunction to enlist such outside help shows just how timid Republicans are on the issue.

But the pharmaceutical industry and conservative analysts have indeed challenged the plan’s “viability, honesty, and credibility.” The Heritage Foundation, for example, refutes the case for a universal benefit by pointing out that the majority of beneficiaries already enjoys prescription-drug coverage. More than two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries who use prescription drugs have some of their costs covered through Medicare HMOs, private health plans, the Veterans Administration, “Medigap” policies, or Medicaid.

mwabapAnd there is little evidence of hardship in meeting the uncovered costs of prescriptions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1997 the average senior spent $637 on prescription and non-prescription drugs. The lowest-income seniors reported spending less on drugs than they did in restaurants. Only 10 percent of the elderly spent between $1,000 and $2,000 a year on drugs, and only 4 percent reported costs of more than $2,000.

Still, the administration will rail against the gaps in coverage and predict a coming decline in coverage in order to justify their universal benefit. Although there is no evidence that a large number of the elderly cannot afford medication, many seniors are upset about the high cost of prescription drugs even if they don’t pay it themselves. They can be expected to support a proposal that promises to reduce the cost of prescriptions, not because they need relief, but because they want revenge on drug companies.

The Democrats happily reinforce the notion that drug companies have enriched themselves at the expense of the ailing elderly. House Democrats have been touting their own district-based studies purporting to reveal price-gouging by the pharmaceutical industry. The studies compare the drug prices paid by federal bulk purchasers, like the Veterans Administration, with retail prices and conclude that the elderly are victims of widespread “price discrimination.” Democrats who have road-tested the message are delighted with local headlines such as, “The Elderly Get Taken on Drugs.”

But not so fast. An analysis by a health-care economist at the Wharton School points out that the Democratic studies compare the price paid directly to manufacturers by bulk purchasers with the price charged by a drug store that includes wholesaler and retailer markups. The Democratic calculations also fail to include generic drugs, which have a far lower price differential. Clearly, the Democrats hope to demonize drug companies just as they did the insurance industry in 1993.

But the drug industry hasn’t waited to defend itself until pending legislation forces the creation of its own “Harry and Louise” ad campaign. For the past few years, the industry has been running ads heralding breakthroughs in drug treatments, hoping that the public will resist price controls that threaten future research.

And proponents of the new benefit face problems of their own. Although the polls and slogans favor the president’s idea of providing a Medicare benefit to cover prescription drugs, the thorny details have postponed the introduction of his plan. The bills that create a new entitlement for prescription drugs keep the price tag of the new program down by including price controls on new drugs. The White House plan will likely not include controls-an easy target for critics-so the president has to choose among unattractive options to pay for the new benefit. His choices include increasing tobacco taxes, raiding the Social Security surplus, and raising premiums on beneficiaries. Depending on how the benefit is designed, estimates of its cost range from $20 billion to $40 billion a year.

That’s why some Republicans are convinced that the president will present a press-release proposal with few details; it’s a way to duck the hard financing choices and avoid the reception his last specific health-care proposal got. “I expect two pages,” says Deborah Steelman, a GOP health-care expert. That would deny Republicans the chance to criticize details.

If the GOP doesn’t design an attractive alternative to the costly new benefit-say, a new tax credit for drugs-Democrats stand to score major political and policy victories. Minority leader Dick Gephardt is reportedly convinced that a slogan that wins back older voters is his ticket to the Speaker’s suite: “Want free prescriptions for seniors? Vote Democratic.” And his fellow liberals recognize that a new drug benefit would prop up the current Medicare system, which could yet prove a launching pad for “national health care.” Once Medicare is sweetened with a new drug benefit, risk-averse seniors are likely to sour on plans to reform the program through consumer choice and competition.