Thursday, 22 December 2011

General Roundup

1) Thanks to this article at, we have the news that thousands of Greeks are seeking to leave their country for sunnier economic climes, meaning Australia. This is all to the good - the Greek community has a large presence and a long history in Australia with no glaring problems; and a new wave of Greek immigration should have no trouble integrating, especially if (as the article indicates) they are mostly educated, skilled workers. I make no secret of the fact that I would rather have 40,000 educated Greeks emigrating openly than half that number of unknown, undocumented "refugees" of uncertain educational standard who bring a set of cultural and political values that is at severe and almost irreconcilable variance with the West.

The only problem is that at the rate we're going, by the time those 40,000 all arrive, the spendthrift Labor government Australia currently has will have turned it into a carbon copy of the economic basket case the Greeks left behind them.

2) Here is one solution to cutting down the time needed for security scans at airports. Potential travellers are advised to have a very high embarrassment threshold and no fear of spilled hot coffee. Ouch. Plenty of advice is also available for where to go and what to do when you get there.

3) What is it with the Left and hate? Why do these people never get mentioned when a Left-wing government talks about manipulating the media in response to a supposed lowering in the tone of political discourse?

4) Robert Manne is desperately realigning his position on asylum seekers. Lots of "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" from Latrobe University's Professor of Politics, which in my mind has less to do with the renewed functioning of his moral compass and more to do with reinventing himself to ensure his political survival. As I see it, the political and intellectual environment which sustains and nurtures him is due to come to a crashing halt the minute the Australian Government is obliged to call an election, and with the progressive and systematic failure of the Fairfax Press (both financial and intellectual), his mouthpiece is as doomed as his patronage.

As much as he tries to subtly bite the hand which has until now fed him, in the hope that future generations will not associate him with that politically gangrenous limb, the simple fact is that he cannot wrigge away from the disgustingly two-faced and intellectually bankrupt mode of thinking that forms the core of his being.

There is no possibility of finding a solution to the problem of asylum seeker boat arrivals that will not be seriously morally, legally and politically flawed.

This is Professor Manne's straw-grasping attempt to claim the moral high ground. In fact, all he is doing is calling a pox on both houses, sitting on the fence until he knows which way the chips will fall. The trouble with fence-sitting, as a friend of a friend once told me, is that if you do it long enough or often enough, you stand a high chance of getting splinters in your scrotum.

Nothing will work except making it clear to undocumented arrivals that the best they can hope for is a trip behind razor wire for three meals a day, a bed and clothes until their status is confirmed (if it is; otherwise, immediate deportation as a lying scumbag), and then a visa good only for themselves and only until the situation in their home country has resolved itself. Nobody who has arrived illegally in any country should ever be allowed to become a citizen there. Ever. They have broken a basic trust, and deserve nothing less than eternal suspicion.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Climategate MkII

So, here we are on what might in grand sweeping terms be considered the eve of the Durban Climate Change Conference, and behold from the depths of the internet comes more of what rose up to entertain us just before Copenhagen.

I won't go into nauseating detail on what's going on, except to post one link to a relevant site, because I assume that anyone who follows this blog also follows the ebb and flow of politics in general and has not been living under a rock since I started posting here. I also make no apologies for the site posted to - I'm sure everyone knows where I stand on the matter.

There is a difference between then and now - in Copenhagen, the Forces Underpinning Climate Change (for want of a better term, and FUCC is certainly what I want to scream whenever they open their mouths these days) were seemingly on the rise to their zenith. In my (then) country of residence, the government was on a roll to push an emissions trading scheme through Parliament with the IMO craven assent of the Leader of the Opposition - who it was alleged was once a merchant banker, always a merchant banker, and saw in the ETS the pot of gold at the end of the merchant banking rainbow.

It didn't work out that way. Climategate erupted, the Australian Liberal Party grassroots erupted (after which said ex-merchant-banker was no longer the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Reps), and the Copenhagen conference which was to have been the crystal-goblet-smashing high note of the F.U.C.C. thus far, degenerated into a farce in which nothing was accomplished and in the course of which dozens of screaming young zealots interrupted sub-conferences of a more skeptical bent and one of them later thrust one of the conferees (Viscount Monckton) into the gutter. The Emissions Trading Scheme likewise died, its champion seemingly unwilling to go into the double-dissolution election he had threatened the Opposition with before his predecessor's chief headkicker became his official opponent.

Since then, a fair bit more has come out that puts the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis in doubt - or at least the assertion that "the science is settled" - and it could justifiably be said to be in retreat, with emission trading schemes everywhere proving vulnerable to rorting, wind turbines having severe maintainability problems (that have been known for some time), and nations which attempted to switch to a "green economy" instead haemorrhaging green banknotes (and productive jobs) at a rate of knots. Unfortunately it did not stop the Australian government pushing through the Carbon Tax that Prime Minister Gillard unequivocally stated would never happen under a government she led (so who, if she is not to be called a liar or at least grossly misleading, is leading that government?), nor from apparently doing its best to ensure that tax could never, ever, ever be repealed without ruinous cost.

That small victory for the anthropogenic warmists notwithstanding, the whole deal could generally be said to be in retreat now. China has always been loath to embrace "decarbonisation", India likewise, and the US is backing away at a rate of knots. Britain may be swallowing the kool-aid, but at least expansion of nuclear power is part of the formula (if you're going to shut down fossil-fired power, replacing at least some of it with another 24/7 baseload system goes a way towards proving you're still half sane), while France already draws 80% of its electricity from nuclear power and could probably "decarbonise" without plunging its people into the horror of perpetual rolling power shortages (pity the Australians, whose government will not even let a private concern contemplate setting up a single reactor, and whose fringe elements want to dismantle the research reactor which supplies Australian cancer sufferers with much of their diagnostic and treatment radioactives).

So as we go into Durban, with AGW/CC in retreat, along comes Climategate II - I shall say very little except that from the content of what I have read, one or two people did have the honesty to say that what the rest of them appear to have been doing was at best grossly foolish and at worst scientifically indefensible... and one of them raised the possibility that it really might all be a natural variation they hadn't explained yet.

There is a great deal of correspondence indicating the failure of "the models" to work as expected, and once more I detect the suggestion that data were being smoothed and corrected in very creative ways. Much that is slanderous appears to have been said about skeptics of the AGW/CC theory, and there are hints that a great deal of fobbing off was taking place with regard to raw data. Deletion of correspondence is advised at one point, as is waiting until the very end of a Freedom of Information request period to refuse (in hope of wearing the applicant down, perhaps?).

This is, allegedly, nothing new - much of whatever is here was apparently also in the possession of the leaker(s) before Copenhagen - but it seems to confirm the pattern and to strengthen what many have been thinking since. One can hardly blame the leaker(s) for holding something critical back against the hour of need, and indeed it probably pays them well not to have put all their eggs in one basket.

AGW/CC is clomping into Durban with proverbial concrete boots on its feet. The IPCC, formerly AGW/CC's authority of choice for appeals to authority, is itself backing away from the claims and wondering if it's all just noise in the natural variation of weather and climate. And now this.

I am beginning to think the skeptics may have won.

IN BREAKING NEWS - the (Labor) Speaker of the House of Representatives has announced he is standing down, and a Liberal Party politician will take his place. This moves Labor, formerly with one foot in the grave and the other on the slippery edge, back from the brink: either Adam Bandt or Andrew Wilkie can pull out of the Labor-Green-Independent alliance without bringing the government down at once. This may mean that Gillard is about to lose one MP and knows it - either a certain Mr Craig Thomson (facing allegations of malfeasance in his previous role as a union heavyweight, successful prosecution of which would see him in prison and out of Parliament) or - given that Gillard has been repositioning herself towards the centre, perhaps in a bid to make herself electable - even Mr Bandt, if she angers the Greens sufficiently. But Bandt will never side with the Liberal-National coalition, partly because they are anathema to him and partly because the election that follows will wipe him out and quite possibly decimate his party in the Senate. In the end, it makes no difference - there must be an election in 2013, and all the indications are that the ALP and probably the Greens as well will be given the hammering of their lives.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Inventiveness, with reflections upon today's society.

For some time now, I've had an interest in dabbling in electronics. This got to the point where I'd bought myself an oscilloscope and was ready to invest in some breadboards and a huge pile of components. Three things got in the way - a small and very time-consuming little squawky creature of the human variety came into my life, I got seriously into target shooting and rabbit hunting, and all of a sudden the local electronics store stopped stocking resistors, capacitors, LEDs, diodes and what-have-you. JUST LIKE THAT.

Following my move to another country far, far away, I decided in a moment of what little totally free time I have from my TWO squawky little creatures of the human variety, that it might be nice to start dabbling again. Well blow me down if the electronics store which is round the corner from me now also has a dearth of electronics components. This bothers me a fair bit, because now almost everything in an electronics store is something that someone else has put together, rather than something you yourself can buy the pieces for. It would seem to be a demand-side effect - fewer and fewer people are dabbling in their own electronic inventiveness and drawing stuff up from scratch - but demand feeds through to supply, and it worries me that in time we will have advanced (???) to the point where these things are no longer available at all.

I've probably already linked to Mark Steyn's article in which he bemoans the death of inventiveness and inquisitiveness in kids. The child who takes a screwdriver to his or her toys is, in the words of Christ, a pearl of great price. It is these kids - the combined thinkers and doers - who grow up to make a nation great.

It's interesting, in that context, to have a look at what's happening in the Occupy movement. This article from Victor Davis Hanson is of interest, and I hope he shall excuse me for quoting verbatim a large chunk, the choicest and most relevant part for comment.

, for much of the 20th century, college was not that exorbitantly expensive (my hardscrabble grandfather farmer sent all three of his daughters to college, two to Stanford, on the meager profits from 100 acres of raisins in the midst of the Depression). Students emerged literate and mostly disinterested and inductive.
 By "disinterested" here, I am pretty sure he means "ideologically unbiased". It's an old, but very legitimate use of that word for that purpose (compare "disinterested friendship" as a synonym for "platonic"). As an aside, Hanson is not a young man - that his grandfather would consider it worthwhile to send three daughters to university is worth noting. It's a shame that he doesn't mention what degrees they did.

The most impressive degrees, of course, were not history or English (much less environmental studies). Instead the palm went to engineering, physics, mathematics, and biology. These were the hard sciences and skills that few of us could master. Social sciences were relatively small enclaves. And while science majors got As in their gut GE anthropology, sociology, and psychology courses, the opposite was not true: the latter majors panicked when forced to take a basic physics or physiology class to graduate.
It's little wonder, if standards to get into the sciences are generally high, that science majors will do relatively well in other fields. To what extent the humanities were a flight from the demand to do well or the last resting place of those who couldn't measure up is a question I can't answer.
I note in passing that not only were there no black, Latino, gender, green, film, gay, peace, or leisure studies courses, programs, and empires, but also a general impression that no one would wish to pay for such classes that imparted little real knowledge about the inductive method or the necessary referents of literature, history, and science. 
 In other words, nobody was willing to fork out for something which would not, in the long run, enhance their prospects of employment. 

So many of these classes were therapeutic. Some were downright accusatory: go back through history and as melodrama point out the bad and good guys (based on present-day liberal standards), or study how modern capitalism should be replaced by a more humane model — in environmental, financial, religious, racial, class, and gender terms.

Hanson nails his ideological colours firmly to the mast here. It's probably worth taking all this with a hefty handful of salt, but underneath it all what we have is disciplines where everything is interpreted through an ideological filter that is imposed by the first people into the game, and there is no objective standard to which the 'teaching' can be nailed down. And at the end of the day, what do any of these things actually prepare the graduate for? What are his or her marketable skills, besides aspiring to faculty and tenure? But with every "useless course" that is added to the community colleges and the universities, and every tenured professor or lecturer, there is a dollar cost - and that must be recouped from the students.

So here is where the last thirty years all led: to too many students who are indebted, poorly educated, and without skills like high-tech engineering, sophisticated medicine, or computer design that the country needs. They are consumed with contemporary furor as the education bubble of nearly a trillion dollars in debt is about to burst. They are mad at the system that they were taught oppresses them, but also at themselves. Who would not be after spending so much money for something of so little value? 
 It's valueless because ultimately it leads nowhere - one may go into faculty, if there's enough room for one more lecturer or assistant professor, or one may try for a cosy sinecure in some Department of Ethnocultural Diversity or what-have-you as Advisor or staffer to the Minister of Touchy-Feely Subjects, or one may (if one is lucky and one has a journalism co-major or sufficiently powerful minor) find a paid niche within the media in which one may regurgitate that which one has learned. The trouble is, all these things are ultimately dead ends. The left-wing governments - whether at state/provincial or federal level - which have spent the last four to ten years establishing and empowering all this have either fallen or are due to fall, and the nations, universities (some of which are no more than overpromoted technical colleges) and even media outlets which support these people in paid employment are increasingly broke.

Nothing is more embarrassing to watch than arrogance coupled with ignorance — and spiced with occasional glibness and the slow realization that they’ve been had.
One wonders by whom. While it is to a certain extent true to tell a child "You can be anything you want to be", there was always in the past an understanding that the "anything" ought to be something that would lead to some sort of paid, productive employment. Here is a case in point, and the closing comment by the gentleman the article is about should give the "Occupy" crowd pause for thought.

"I'm qualified enough now that I'll always have a job," he said. "Without mining, I'd be an auto mechanic making $600 a week. I love mining, mate."

This man is making $200,000 a year; he is part of the 1% the Occupy crowd love to despise. He is also a working-class high-school dropout - hardly a spoiled scion of the rich. The Occupy crowd could do worse than take a look at how he got where he is today, though perhaps their movement could do with a whole lot less of the reason why. The reason why some of them would never contemplate such a career might be the subject of a subsequent post, when I have the time.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The "Occupy" movement update, and other news.

In Zucotti Park, the love may be free; however, the consequences are anything but, as the New York Post bluntly reports:

Occupy Wall Street protesters are flocking to nearby health clinics for STD and HIV testing after getting their freak on in ’60s-style hookups with crusty strangers, sources told The Post yesterday.

Crusty strangers? No, thank you. Meanwhile, in Australia, Tim Blair gives us the lowdown on a bunch of Occupiers who won't be dissuaded by typographical and grammatical errors that stand out like dogs' balls.

The first most of us learnt of this was at the Treasury Gardens on the 29th when Jeff from the Logistics Working Group gave a report back to the crows what marched there with the intention of re-occupying.
Blair points out quite correctly that the Spelling Working Group might have been consulted:
On Sunday night and Monday during the day, the State Library Occupation limjped on only due to the persistence and tenacity of those present in the face of ongoing harassment and threats made by the management of the State Library and without the presence of structures.  

I suspect they mean "limped". When someone's literacy is this poor, their failure to find adequate employment ceases to be a mystery. In fact, all sorts of other things cease to be a mystery too - they have a Logistics Working Group and a Kitchen Working Group, and God only knows how many other Working Groups, all sitting around making decisions... but are any of these Groups actually achieving anything? Or are they living up to John Howard's assessment of the current Labor government - that there is an obsession with the process of governing which overshadows the actual task? I'm also reminded of the saying that one should not mistake effort for achievement.

In other news, the sharp-tongued but rarely inaccurate Professor Bunyip gives the lowdown on one man's efforts to shape the news. And not for the better. This is very serious and extremely worrying, as this chap, his fellow travellers and his political enablers are basically working towards the "right" to control, at least within Australia's borders, who publishes or comments on the news and in what way. That includes personal blogs. Combine that with a national broadband network owned and operated by the government, the removal of parallel infrastructure (the good old copper wire, some of which has already been ripped up), and the same government's desire to filter the entire nation's internet access, and you have the recipe for a slippery slide towards totalitarianism.

Gay Republicans, you say.  Surely they're in the closet? No, they're very much out and about, proving that what you are is irrelevant so long as you bring the right ideas to the GOP table:

During a press gaggle as McDonnell was about to depart the fundraiser, another reporter asked the governor if supporting an openly gay candidate like Forrest will hurt him or other Republicans in rural parts of Virginia.
“No,” said McDonnell emphatically, pointing out that “Patrick Forrest is all about creating jobs, controlling government spending.  He’s a fiscal conservative.  He has his finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the Fairfax and Arlington communities.  He’s a great messenger for the fiscal conservative message and that’s what people care about right now.”

Unfortunately, it appears that there are some people for whom his homosexuality is everything. Moving on from the sexuality and concentrating on the policies, the article continues:

“ would be nice to see a current or former governor be the next president, people who know how to balance budgets, create jobs, and get stuff done on time without making excuses.  That’s exactly the kind of leadership we need in Washington.”

No wonder some people are eagerly backing Herman Cain, irrespective of his outsider status. So now we have openly gay Republicans, presidential-hopeful black Republicans, and in my mind at least, an erosion of the stereotype that the GOP is automatically racist and homophobic. We must also remember that George W. Bush appointed the first two black Secretaries of State in US history, one of them a woman. It's interesting and heartening to note that where I've seen conservatives pick Cain's candidacy to bits and think him unfit for the office (or at least, less fit than other candidates), the one thing they have not attacked him on is the colour of his skin. The general gist of their criticisms, as I understand it, seems to be that while he has a fine record as an economic manager in the cut-and-thrust of real world business, and is good at turning financial basket cases off the road to perdition, he is weak on policy at a level that really matters. There are of course other things being said about him, but how much of this is truth and how much is smear will need time to sort out.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Climate etc.

This is shaping up to be a very interesting little bunfight.

Also interesting to see will be the Australian Senate vote on the Carbon Tax, that filthy abomination of a plan which oozed its way (just) past the guardians at the gate thanks to a bunch of people who are either incredibly misinformed, incredibly stupid, incredibly greedy, or a combination of the above.

The Opposition will of course block it - fruitlessly, because Labor and the Greens have the numbers to pass it. But the Greens are now of two sorts - the ones we are used to, and an extremely disturbed fringe that got in at the last half-Senate election, with which Bob Brown does not see completely eye to eye. I foresee a slim possibility that they will somehow contrive to wreck it as not being severe or ideologically pure enough for them. And with the Opposition now standing firm, there's no way for Gillard to get it through if the Greens in the Senate go mad and renege.

If they push it through, they will be cutting their own political throats. The damage this will do to the Australian economy and the pain it will put ordinary working men and women through, for no measurable good, will ensure their electoral annihilation. Some of those ordinary working men and women may (probably will) lose their jobs. And unlike, for example, the British in the Blitz - who had the defeat of Germany as the fixed end goal to which they could aspire - these ordinary working men and women have been informed that the measured endpoint for their efforts is sometime in the middle or even the end of this century. By the latter date, most of them and even most of their currently living children will either be elderly or dead.

The British in the Second World War individually knew that there might not be a chance they would see victory, but they knew they would see it if they lived long enough. The Australians who must suffer under the damage that the Carbon Tax must inevitably cause will suffer in the knowledge they will never see the victory, never reap the gains... and never know if the idiots who inflicted this misery on them were right. At the next election, they will rob those idiots of their jobs.

It is said that Kevin Rudd is the only Labor MP who will survive in Queensland if current polling is reflected across the board. Let him - he can sit in opposition till the end of his parliamentary days and preside over the wreckage he unleashed on his country and his party, despised along with his successor (and if rumors of Gillard's dispensability are true, also his predecessor) as the worst Prime Ministers Australia has ever had.

Monday, 10 October 2011

"Occupy Wall Street"

The whole business just gets more and more bizarre (second link is definitely not suitable for children and the audio is possibly not worksafe).

I suspect the movement (such as it is) is eventually going to collapse under the weight of its own unsustainable idiocy. Sure, the protesters can stay out there for as long as they can feed, clothe and (hopefully) wash themselves; but as the second link shows and Matt Labash's excellent (though tongue-in-cheek) article describes, the thing seems to have become a magnet for all sorts of crackpots demanding, advocating or promising that which is variously illegal, immoral or impossible (or at the very least inadvisable).

In addition, this article at Catallaxy Files has (or had - there seems to be a problem with it as I type this) a picture showing just how many of the protesters were sporting items manufactured by the greedy corporations they claim to loathe. (EDIT: it can also be found here, and at somewhat greater resolution to boot.)

Ultimately there is no single coherent message being sent and no coherent solution being proposed, and - it seems to me at least - nobody in this movement who is either willing or able to propose one. If I were one of the people this movement claims to champion, I wouldn't be wasting my time there - or I might give it the barest whiff of support in between filling out job applications, attending interviews where possible, and beating on every conceivable door that might offer me gainful employment. And as a last resort, if I were young and medically fit and no more desirable option presented itself, I would be approaching the armed services.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


News not long in from Menzies House - with only a week to go before the uselessness which is the Carbon Tax vote, the government threw open the gates to public submissions "without terms of reference", which meant that anyone who had any opinion was welcome to contribute.

OR WERE THEY? It seems something's gone seriously wrong with that process, and numerous people not happy with the government's proposal (about 4500 according to the link) had their submissions quietly junked.

The ragers against the machine continue to occupy Wall Street, and show that they are ill-organised and ill-disciplined. Some of them may not even be genuine. Mark Steyn talks here about the hypocrisy of people who scream about "corporate greed" while receiving tributes to Steve Jobs on their iPhones.  I recall reading these anti-corporate persons are using the toilets in McDonald's, which is probably a good thing, or the sanitation problem detailed above would be even worse than it is now.

 Elsewhere, the Australian Greens continue to show that it isn't just the environment which motivates them. Envirofascists indeed. This sort of conversation should not even be thinkable in any nation which fought in the Second World War, less so one on the winning side. Nor is he the only one to want to call in the authorities whenever a journalist disagrees with him, regarding which behaviour the editorial team at The Australian makes its point succinctly.

Meanwhile, some people seem never to suffer for their gaffes.

And speaking of those who stretch the truth and get it wrong, Jo Nova has a neat little article showing where the whole Climate Change debate is going - and where the money truly is (hint - it's not on the side of the doubters!). And while we're on the topic of money,  UK MEP Daniel Hannan continues to beat his head (futilely, I fear) against the brick wall of Europe's financial woes. The sooner the UK walks away from that shemozzle, the better. In fact, the sooner the entirety of Europe walks away from the whole EU shemozzle, the better.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Growth and its obstacles.

From Andrew Bolt's blog: a plan to green the North of Australia. By which the Federal Opposition means "turn it into a food bowl" as opposed to the Australian Greens' idea of locking it up and preventing anyone from doing anything with it, including, it must be said, the Aboriginal population - which was regularly and repeatedly fetishised and fawned over whenever the loony left wanted a stick with which to beat the Howard Government.

Unfortunately for them, Howard is now gone and their usefulness to the "environmental" cause is at an end, to the point where Aborigines who voted in favour of a huge ($30bn) natural gas export infrastructure development have been the targets of racial slurs. Of course some people will resort to extraordinary lengths to cripple or delay development and get this thing shut down, to the point of asking inane questions in Parliament and not accepting reasonable answers. If there are bilbies there, pick the bloody things up and move them - we have enough experience with raising the things in semi-captivity to do this.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

10 years since Sept 11 2001...

Those who carried out the attacks have, of course, been screaming in hell from the moment they did the deed.

He who commanded it has since joined them, and good riddance to him.

However, they still have many admirers in certain well-known parts of the globe, who have not felt the West's lash - and for that omission the West deserves to feel eternally ashamed.

Also deserving of eternal shame are the Western apologists for that outrage. They would do very poorly under the rule of the individuals whose cause they defend - in fact, they would probably not last a week alive and free.

If Islam has an image problem, it's because of the outrages committed in its name - 9/11; suicide bombings using mentally retarded people, disgraced rape victims and little children; the beheading of unarmed aid workers; the stoning of raped little girls in Africa (and the gunning down of people who try to help them); the flogging of raped women in Saudi Arabia; female genital mutilation; and the judicial execution of homosexuals just to name a few.

It's not hard to see where the "Islamophobia" is coming from when people who identify themselves as Muslims do unspeakable things in the name of their religion and their god. If that's really Islam, then there's nothing wrong with Islamophobia - we've every right to fear it.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

On my mind today.

Much was said about Sarah Palin's "responsibility" for the shooting (by an unhinged psychopath) of Gabrielle Giffords, inasmuch as she advised that opposing members of the US Govt be "targeted" electorally; advice which was associated with a map bearing crosshairs in the relevant areas. Much was also said about the need for less inflammatory language from both sides of politics.

Unfortunately it doesn't seem like Jimmy Hoffa Jr heard that message, nor did the inventors of the videogame described here.  The poison continues outside of the United States, with conservative (which in the Australian context means secular centre-right) female politicians coming in for their fair share of abuse, to quote the Rolling Stones.

Let's get one thing straight - politics is not a pretty game, and anyone who enters it should go in with a fairly thick skin and the expectation of being called some pretty vile things. I can accept that. What I do NOT like is when the left-wing side of politics screams and rants and raves whenever "hate speech" is used (whether that be sexism, racism, etc. or just really poorly-worded advice of the sort Palin gave), but then proceeds to dish out the exact same thing against its opponents - and not a word is spoken.

A similar bit of hypocrisy raises its head whenever Palestinian rocket attacks "threaten the fragile peace", whereas the peace is only "ended" when the Israelis (rightly) shoot back. And speaking of Israel, it's nice to see people standing up against anti-Semitic crap from a Left that really should know better. The only reason Max Brenner chocolate shops should be obstructed by crowds is because they're all desperate for the chance to go in and buy Brenner's goods. As for John Zelig (see the link), he should know better.

In the meantime, things continue to look grim for the Australian Prime Minister. Negative media coverage suddenly being pulled doesn't help her cause. Nor does this story, which strongly suggests that the government really is in zugzwang, that unenviable point in the game from which all roads lead downwards.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Links of interest

1. The Australian Labor Party - the gift that keeps on giving.

THE federal government has come under unprecedented attack from one of its biggest union allies over the failure to bail out hundreds of family businesses owed more than $7 million from collapsed Building the Education Revolution (BER) projects.

A sordid tale of unintended consequences, some of which have already devolved upon the public school system (late completion, shoddy workmanship, schools forced to accept buildings that didn't match their needs, and so forth). "Unintended consequences" seems to be what this government does best. Unfortunately, all of those consequences are bad. From the link:

A spokesman for Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans said last night the government sympathised with sub-contractors who worked for builder Project Kendall. "It is, however, the state and territory governments and non-government education authorities who are responsible for managing the implementation of BER projects in their schools including tendering, contracting and procurement," he said.

He can 'shift the blame all he likes, but this was the Federal Government's baby and the ultimate responsibility rests there. Specifically it was the current Prime Minister's baby - this was her ministerial portfolio at the time. In retrospect, that should have been a warning sign. It's a bad sign for a Labor government when the unions take up the cudgel against it.

2. It's a bad sign anyway, because in related news...

Hard-working Federal MP for Chisholm Anna Burke, popular lefty Bendigo MP Steve Gibbons, painful and Ruddite Daryl Melham, grumpy teddy bear Laurie Ferguson, NSW Right patriot John Murphy, and former Minister and Left factional titan Alan Griffin have all decided not to re-contest their seats.

There was a lot of this sort of thing in the lead-up to the New South Wales state election, an event which saw NSW Labor utterly routed after a long string of scandals, screw-ups, and more leadership changes than you can poke a stick at. The rats are deserting the sinking ship. (I use the phrase metaphorically; there is every possibility that these are honest men and women who are despairing of their chances and would rather retire than face inevitable defeat - the political equivalent of tipping over one's king in chess.)

3. When your position is under siege, when the 'facts' you spruik are eroded by observations, and when the science suddenly isn't all that settled any more, there's always ad-hominem attack:

One day climate change skeptics will be seen in the same negative light as racists, or so says former Vice President Al Gore.

Um, no. From the article:

When Bogusky questioned the analogy, asking if the scientific reasoning behind climate change skeptics might throw a wrench into the good and evil comparison with racism, Gore did not back down.
“I think it’s the same where the moral component is concerned and where the facts are concerned I think it is important to get that out there, absolutely,” Gore said.

The most fascinating part of this is that Gore is trying to reframe the debate as a moral one. It isn't - it's firmly scientific. The thing about science is that it's very rarely "settled", and those parts of it that are settled are the ones which can be subject to rigorous analysis - shifting one variable at a time while the others are held constant and seeing where theory and observation diverge. The other problem I find with "settled" climate science is that we have detailed historical records of massive climate shifts with no human input at all, which suggests that the science either isn't really all that well understood or that the models have massive holes in them, or possibly both. As for Gore's assertion that...

This is an organized effort to attack the reputation of the scientific community as a whole, to attack their integrity, and to slander them with the lie that they are making up the science in order to make money,

I would point him to this and this and this as evidence of the sort of money there is to be made. In addition, this is by no means an attempt to attack "the scientific community as a whole", which is not a monolith on the topic of climate change and never has been. When those who question a majority opinion in science are vilified and have their ethics and morality called into question for doing so, especially by public figures who are not themselves scientists, we have stopped doing science and started doing dogma. The way you "beat the climate denialists" is by repudiating their opinions scientifically, not by attributing dubious motivations in the first instance.

The other big problem I have with the whole carbon-trading business is that it is an invitation to a South Sea Bubble of enormous proportions, mostly because it's a trade in toxic intangibles - and that should remind you of something.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


The Sydney Morning Herald's chief political editor, Phillip Coorey, quotes a Labor MP on Craig Thomson, a fellow Labor MP currently under fire due to serious accusations of criminal stupidity in his previous life as a union boss. From the article:

And of course, Craig Thomson. The whole affair is a millstone to drag down Gillard. No matter how implausible his denials become and how unpleasant any new revelations, the government does not have the luxury of sacking him.

Why not? Because it's a minority coalition hanging in by only one seat, and his seat would likely fall to the Opposition in the ensuing by-election. Bye-bye government.

And survive he should, because the only mechanism to force him out is a criminal conviction and there is no investigation under way.

Survive he should not if he is guilty of horrific malfeasance. That no investigation is (at the time of writing and to my knowledge) under way is something I regard personally as curious in the least. But let us get on to that quote:

"Mate, if he f---ing murdered someone, we'd try to keep him in until 2013,'' a Labor MP said.

At which point an election would be constitutionally mandatory. If we take that statement at face value, it says nothing good about the government's moral compass. Julia "No Carbon Tax Under A Government I Lead" Gillard must be feeling the heat by now, and I restate my belief that the government is in zugzwang. Thomson certainly is.

Former Hawke/Keating Labor MP Graham Richardson is said to have had the motto "Whatever it takes". It seems that attitude has rubbed off.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A cosy, but dangerous fantasy.


I don't currently have time or opportunity to go into it in detail. Suffice to say that this is the sort of "Green" propaganda that causes my blood to boil - a factory formerly spewing ugly smoke, suddenly transformed into something "clean and green" with the addition of a windmill and a few solar panels.

The utter ignorance of scientific and engineering reality that goes into propagating these images is mind-boggling. And that's before we even get started on the assumptions underlying the accompanying text.

Wind and solar have their place, but that place is in relatively small-scale applications in carefully chosen locations. To insist that they and they alone can replace the 24-hour baseload requirements of a major industrial civilisation without a massive impact on standards of living - particularly among lower-income-earners - is a dangerous fantasy.

I have stated my opinion before, and will do so again. If any industrial civilisation is serious about consuming less fossil fuels per quantity of electrical energy it uses, it must actively embrace the large-scale use of nuclear energy, not to mention any hydroelectric assets it may have.

(Picture sourced via this Andrew Bolt post.)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Questions climate scientists should be obliged to answer.

Given that governments everywhere seem determined to press forward with extremely expensive and generally non-productive policy on the basis of "the science" and "the models" that "the science" produces, it seems fitting that "the science" should answer some rather harsh questions.

1) To what extent do the predictions of the models correspond to what is seen in the real world? Beginning in 1995, for example, to what extent do their predictions correspond to what is known to have happened in 2000? In 2005? In 2010? What are the confidence levels and the size of the error bars at these various waypoints?

2) Are any new models that are generated being validated in this fashion, or is their inner mathematics being adjusted against known observations for a "better fit"? If the latter is the case, how valid are the starting assumptions?

3) Every computer simulation has to be fed a starting set of input values in order to produce an output. What is the exact nature of these input values? Are they assumed to be fixed over the timespan covered by the simulations, or are they allowed to vary? If fixed, how does this correspond to real-world behaviour? If varied, in exactly what way? Are the input values also output variables, which are then recursively "fed back" into the simulation for the next iteration? If so, are those variables being output in such a manner as to correspond to what has been happening in the real world? Is the real-world variation of these inputs adequately understood? If not, what faith can we have in the models?

4) "Garbage in, garbage out." To what extent are real-world data influenced by urbanisation of the areas in which the data are gathered?

This is before we even begin to consider the question of "who is actually right". These are the questions that Government should have been asking of the scientists before embarking on multi billion dollar policies that may or may not actually alleviate the problem if it exists. And I say "if it exists" because if any of the steps above have not been adequately performed, we can't be sure that it does.

Australia points to what China is doing to "alleviate" the problem, but what China is doing (apart from building huge numbers of coal-fired powerplants) is includes building massive hydroelectric schemes and embracing nuclear power, something the current Australian government will not even permit consideration of and which its Green compatriots consider moral anathema.

ETA because I was interrupted by real life:

Meanwhile, the only solution Australia can consider is regulatory. Build nothing, improve nothing, prepare no mitigating defences or construction, just regulate. And insist that the population accept government-mandated restrictions in the standard of living.

This is not the way for an advanced civilisation to behave.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Today's links of interest

Don't go chasing polar bears... Memo to soft-lefty nature lovers: Mother Nature is a bitch, and she will kill you  if you are not adequately prepared. In this case Mother Nature was a polar bear who snacked upon a 17 year old would-be medical student on Svalbard Island. (Yes, the same Svalbard that features in Philip Pullman's novel Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass). Apparently it is illegal there to leave human settlements without a firearm.

Boy versus wild. With a father like Bear Grylls to set the example, what do you do when the little girl you're playing with falls into the river? Why, you fish her out, of course. Well done to Master Grylls, aged seven, who keeps alive the finest traditions of British boyhood. Somewhere, Enid Blyton is smiling.

The Nanny State is coming to save you! The Australian Government is set to throw ten million dollars at programs to help teenagers avoid binge drinking. Perhaps if the Australian Government was not so expert at screwing up employment opportunities for said young people by imposing stupid workplace restrictions, and so determined to put the fear of God (or should that be the fear of Gore) into its youngsters that they will all die screaming if they don't pay through the nose whenever they flick on a switch or fill a car or even buy food, youngsters wouldn't feel the need to binge-drink so much?

Then again, if every teenager who binge-drank got a large-calibre nasogastric tube rammed down their gullet and their stomach pumped out every time they presented to hospital intoxicated, they might not be disposed to repeat the experience.

A few years too late, and not necessary. The 66th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb is upon us, which means the anti-nuclear nutcases are coming out to play once more. This nauseatingly obsequious individual feels the need to apologise for something neither he nor his ancestors had any part in or control over, a common obsession among the (virulently anti-nuclear) Australian Left. Perhaps he doesn't understand that what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the demonstration to the world of how destructive these weapons really were; and that if they had not been used then, they might have been used later when both sides of the Cold War had them and their destructive power was orders of magnitude greater.

Nuclear weapons are the bulwark of the West's defence against tyranny, because dictators and demagogues want them (and sometimes get them), don't give a damn what people like that nauseatingly obsequious individual think, and usually take pains to have them rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, shot, or "any or all of the above". A world without Western nuclear weapons is a world in which dictators and demagogues who have them can bully others into submission. If Obama takes the US out of the nuclear club, he should be impeached and tried for treason. Ditto Cameron, ditto Sarkozy (though I think the French have a far more hardline and realistic attitude to their nuclear arsenal, and will hold on to it as long as they can afford to).

They could probably be done for treason against humanity too, because a well-placed nuke or three or four or five could be the only thing powerful enough to give an approaching asteroid the heavy nudge to the side* that will get it out of Earth's path - ironically it is only nuclear weapons which might one day save us from what is commonly called "nuclear winter" but would in fact be caused by any large celestial body throwing a sufficient volume of dust into the atmosphere. If the time came and the window of opportunity was short, I would not want to have to go begging, cap in hand, to an autocracy (or worse, an Islamofascist theocracy) for the warheads needed to save the world. We need lots of them and we need them to be REALLY powerful (on the order of several megatons). 

* = A nudge to the side is the correct manoeuvre, using a close-range or contact burst to vaporise part of the rock and create a reaction that will divert it to one side. Because the conditions for a hit have to be just right, a hard enough shove the right way will convert it to a miss and buy us some time to ensure that the offending object is either diverted into the Sun or shifted to an orbit guaranteed not to interfere with the Earth-Moon system. Most of these things are too big and tough to blow to small bits, and even if they were we'd be faced with a radioactive meteorite shower when the stuff arrived in Earth orbit. Granted, given the number of nukes we have exploded in tests over the last sixty-odd years without too much damage, and depending on the yield we throw at it, this MIGHT be preferable to taking a hit from an intact object. The further back we find it, the less angular deviation we need to make it miss, but having the ability in extremis to seed its path with nuclear explosives and give it shove after shove after shove is not something I'd like to give up in any great hurry.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Today's links of interest

DIY Cholesterol Treatment: Drug company Pfizer is looking to sell the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor over the counter. The FDA has previously said no, and rightly so in my opinion. People will abuse this as a magical eat-all-the-crap-you-want-and-not-get-heart-disease solution, and go on it when they shouldn't. Then will come side-effects and lawsuits. Pfizer should seriously rethink this. Plus the dose is something that needs to be juggled with regular bloodtests, which is WHY it's a prescription drug.

The Death of Free Enterprise: When a kid needs to dive through bureaucratic hoops to set up a lemonade stand, you know something is drastically wrong. Likewise when the church fundraising bake sale gets nailed by intrusive inspectors or the local wholefoods store gets done in a snap raid more suited to the sellers of crack cocaine or illegal firearms. (I smell a rat about that last one for some reason I can't put my finger on, and there could be something we're not being told.)

Spending without a budget: Quite literally, it seems. The standout quote is this:
Meanwhile, it has been over two years since the Democrat-controlled Senate passed any budget at all.
How is that even possible? There is no way in hell an Australian government could even begin to behave like this, and the last time attempts were made to get around the need to pass a budget through the Senate, the Prime Minister was sacked by the Queen's representative and a general spill of every seat in both Houses of Parliament followed shortly thereafter - the result of which effectively ratified the Governor-General's decision.

A Bad Penny? The chaps over at Catallaxy Files discuss the possibility of the return of ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to his former position at a moment when the Australian Labor Party's poll hopes could not be much lower.  Okay, they could in mathematical terms, but when your party's primary vote is 29% and even your preference allocations don't get you much above forty, the only word to describe your future is "dismal", and it gets proportionally worse below that. The debate is sharp, and the reply-posts are at least as informative as the actual article. (Disclosure: yes, I am part of that debate.)

Supercilious twaddle doesn't sell papers: The blogger who calls himself Professor Bunyip (and if you don't know what a bunyip is, think of it as the Australian Aboriginal version of an Eldritch Abomination) reflects upon the miserable fortunes of the share price of the Fairfax Press, publisher of two of Australia's major dailies. He offers a reason why, namely a mind-destroying column of twaddle in the online version of The Age, in which the writer (who normally scribes for the Sydney Morning Herald) bemoans the lack of aesthetically pleasing places in her vicinity to drink her champagne. 

I'm quite familiar with both of the major broadsheet dailies in question, and I can vouch for their utter irrelevance to the man or woman in the street - the one who fixes pot-holes in the roads or mops the floors of the local hospital before going home to three kids under ten - who can barely afford a glass of bubbly on a good day, let alone have the time to sit somewhere congenially upmarket and sip an overpriced glass or three of the best methode champenoise while whining piteously about how dreadful the surroundings are. I can afford the champers, and I can afford to sit somewhere congenial and drink it too, so it's not envy that makes me want to ram my fingers down my throat until everything I've eaten in the last six hours retraces its steps. It's that staring at the result of that return journey would be more palatable to me than either the article or the mind-set behind it.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Today's links of interest

Tim Flannery, Climate Prophet: James Paterson writes a scorching exposé on the man the Australian Labor Party pays $180,000 a year to spew what amounts to quasi-religious bullshit. The willingness of some climate-change advocates to tinker with the idea of ‘suspending democracy’ is frankly scary. This is becoming less and less about saving the world (if it ever was) and more and more about riding a gravy train to wealth and power – if you can get on it.

Terrorist idiot stymied: Not from carrying out more terror attacks, thank heavens, but from making money from his autobiographical fantasy. Naturally his supporters, including the Australian Greens, aren’t happy. Suck it up, folks. Your hero elected to plead guilty before he could face trial, which means that he is indeed a convicted terrorist supporter and that what he’s doing now is indeed making money from telling the story of his crimes. He’s lucky he isn’t a pile of bones in Afghanistan, with a small hole in the front of the skull and most of the back missing.

Civil discourse, my arse: Jonah Goldberg writes on the US Democrats’ hypocrisy regarding ‘civility of speech’, noting that it’s all about who’s doing the speaking. The Democrats’ reflexive demonisation of the Republicans and their Tea Party confreres does them no credit, pisses in the mouth of ‘civility of speech’, and blinds them to any possibility of accepting that they themselves may be at fault on an issue. Their willingness to stick the boot into Sarah Palin, especially with regard to her personal life, is particularly nauseating. If the Republicans were to perform a similar hatchet job on a female Democrat with a pregnant teenage daughter and a special-needs baby who was married to a part-Native American, there would be hell to pay. Can’t the Dems see they’re up to their necks in double standards? Or have they stopped caring?

Spinelessness and Creeping Fascism: The long and the short, a Canadian in a public place in Canada gets hit in front of his nine year old son for taking photographs of a well known tourist attraction before which certain members of a certain well-known religion happen to be standing. Islam is claimed as the justification. A crowd surrounds the photographer and angrily demands the camera. Police get involved. Or rather, not.

Beauty Pageant Update: Following on from my earlier posts, it seems the Australians are just as mad. “Best personality” at the parade went to a nine-year-old autistic girl, whose mother is incensed that she walked away with that particular prize, because she “doesn’t have the best personality” (the mother’s words). Maybe she doesn’t, but a lot of people find Harry Potter’s Luna Lovegood (who’s pretty close to autistic) strangely endearing, and maybe they thought the same about Tahnee Myles. Usually these sorts of competitions get slagged for ignoring or marginalizing someone who’s different or disabled. Now they go out of their way to give this child a prize and they still get slagged.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Today's links of interest

(Header "Links Today" moved to formal title. No other changes made.)

To cut a long story short, there’s evidence to suggest that rival current-affairs programs are behind this, with one of them offering the visiting mother money to pull her daughter (on a pretext) out of the pageant its rival had exclusive rights to, in order to bushwhack the other’s story and create its own. Death threats to the managers and/or the parents are way out of line, but they are an accurate barometer of the (justified) moral repugnance felt against people who are (probably rightly) perceived to behave in this fashion.

I’ve got no problem with the concept of child beauty pageants, but some of the parents are definitely taking it too far…

…and need to be removed from the pageant environment and probably their children as well. Canning the whole phenomenon is (as with restrictive gun laws in the wake of massacres) simply punishing the innocent along with the guilty, the antithesis of the Western moral and legal tradition. Some people will do anything to get their kid in lights and money in the bank. But that is their problem and nobody else’s.

Onto another topic: Libya. It would appear that the ‘limited’ war in Libya is taking a turn for the worse. Not only are our nominal ‘allies’, the Libyan rebels, seemingly unable to finish what they started despite ongoing Western airborne intervention, but they’re fighting among themselves in a manner which suggests that we’re backing the right horse for the wrong bettors:

The outstanding successes of the Western World in war come when the objectives are clear and every effort is made to carry them out. Nothing could be less true about the shemozzle in Libya. Our allies are unreliable and may incorporate a significant proportion of our enemies, and the pretext on which we went in - an exclusion of Libyan government air assets to even the odds - has now expanded to the striking of ground targets with still no indication of when the end will be.

On top of that, the Tunisian and Egyptian "revolutions" are at significant risk of being Islamicized, meaning that what they end up with could well be worse for all concerned than what went out (much worse in the case of Egypt, which for all its faults was friendly - or at least not actively hostile - to Israel). In the light of this I have to view what's happening in Syria in two minds, knowing that it could easily be more of the same.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Links of interest.

“…it is an issue that has the potential to impoverish us while creating positions of power for individuals with terrifying authoritarian personalities who have not a single useful thought about how to successfully manage any single one of our collective affairs.”

…say the ‘Cats’ themselves, and I thoroughly agree. Czech President and former PM Vaclav Klaus, currently in Australia on the speaking circuit, is basically saying “I have lived your future and it doesn’t work.”

Remote Sensing: (via Catallaxy article above.) The meat of this journal article is that observed heat losses from the atmosphere into space are significantly greater than IPCC climate models allow for. This says nothing good about the premise on which Australia’s Carbon Tax hangs its hopes, and further rubbishes former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s claim that ‘the science is settled’.

Tea Party: Those racist Hispanics, blacks and Ecuadorians. Go have a read. There’s all sorts of inflammatory stuff, like
If the immigrants understood what was happening in America there would be a revolt against those politicians,” said Muñoz, who became a citizen in 2008. “Obama’s talking one way and doing another and the Hispanics do not know about that hanky-panky.”
Why do immigrants leave their country? Because they don’t have opportunity and they don’t have freedom, because politicians control everything,” he said. “We come to America and we are going to have the same crap? Then we might as well go back there.”
Beauty pageant blues: Like them or hate them, these contests are a big thing and some of the contestants at least are clearly there because they want to be. With the protest groups doing the decent thing and agreeing not to rabidly picket the venue, the onus is on the parents to act sanely and encourage the daughters to do likewise… but sanity seems short on the ground where the US visitors are concerned.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce recently put out a press release in which he addressed the issue of CO2 regulation, and quoted a line which he stated was from a cowboy movie (which one I don't know), but which younger bloggers will probably best remember as having been sampled by Nate Dogg and Warren G in the song "Regulate".


And so, with Mr Dogg and Mr G's song firmly in mind, I went and wrote this:

REGULATE. Bob Brown and Julia G. (With apologies to Nate Dogg and Warren G).

Regulators – we regulate any emitting of this molecule
And we’re damn good too
But you can’t be any geek off the street
Gotta be cosy with the Greens, if you know what I mean, to earn your keep!

It was a clear black night, a clear white moon
Julia G was on the streets trying to resume
The search for a tax, but I was in a funk
Just rolling in my Prius, chilling all alone

Just hit the left wing of the ALP
On a mission trying to find PM Julia G
Got a new carbon tax that we need to tweak
Just make sure that the press club’s Murdoch-free

So Rudd pinned his hopes on Turnbull and CRU-ists
Got GetUp on his side so he said let’s do this
He put up the tax, he said what’s up
But Abbott pulled a coup so he said “I’m stuck”

See the Greens causing me to glide and swerve
My ETS looks like it’s hit the curb
Can’t they let it through now for a later fix
I see the Libs have got Kevin all in a fix

Now Kevin’s stuffed; he did it himself
He just can’t see, he blew the country’s wealth
Just look at the polls they’ve gone to heck
I looked at the Party, said damn, what’s next

They had Kevin hemmed up and they’re all around
Election coming up, they’ll get their fleshy pound
I gotta boost the polls quick ‘fore they’re too far down
I best pull out my knife and bring Kevvy down

They got knives in my back
I think I’m going down
I can’t believe it’s happening here in Canberra town
If I had wings I would fly, let me contemplate,
Off to the UN, to ingratiate

There’s no carbon tax” was my ace in the hole
Bob Brown helped me stop Tony Abbott stone cold
Now they’re screamin’ and yellin’, it’s a tad bit late
Bob Brown and Julia G said we’ll regulate

I got all those GetUp votes,
I watched the rolls explode
Now I’m switching my mind to Carbon Tax mode
And though I need votes, sit back and observe
Those new-elected Greens over there on the kerb

Now Bob got the votes and that’s a known fact
Lib Preference mistakes got him on the right track
Back up, back up, ‘cause it’s on, B.O.B. And me
the Carbon ALP

Just like before, Polls are in the same spot
In need of some desperate help
But Bob Brown and the G-girl
Are reprieved by something else
Some tabloid rag was awful as hell
Did things we all despise
I said “Murdoch’s black heart is cold as ice,
let’s en-qui-rize...”
I got a fistful of Greens and it’s going real swell
The next stop is the media inquiry from He-e-e-e-ell.

I’m tweaking... into a whole new era
mess with this, we dare ya!
Laws, on a whole new level
Bolt, Blair and Murdoch’s face is the face of the Devil!

Gore sings, we brings enquiry
Where ignorance is strength
and strength is ignorance

If you know like I know
You don’t want to mess with this
It’s the Grünreich era
Funked out with a Brownshirt twist
If you smoke like a chimney
Down near Battersea way
And if the gas should be “carbon”
ALP will regulate.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The unions were once the heart of the ALP... when one turns around and sinks its teeth into a Labor government like this, you know there's a problem.

Original article in italics, my comments plain.

ONE of the nation's biggest trade unions has turned on the Gillard government, savaging Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans as incompetent and unworthy of his office. 
Days after strident criticism of the government by business leaders, Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon yesterday likened Senator Evans to a corpse, accusing him of failing to implement Labor policy and endangering the lives of truck drivers.

I’m no fan of this government, but this seems like a fairly long bow to draw. Let’s see what there is to it.
The condemnation, rejected by Senator Evans, came as a trio of senior ministers dismissed a claim by Suncorp chairman-elect Ziggy Switkowski that there was " a whiff of illegitimacy" about the government.

A claim not without foundation, given Julia Gillard’s spectacular change of mind over the “Carbon Tax” business and the Government’s spectacular record of absolute failure on every single score. That being said, such illegitimacy is more moral or professional than legal or constitutional.

Wayne Swan, Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet accused business critics of acting out of self interest, vowing the government would stick to its guns on the carbon tax and govern in the national interest.

WHAT? No, I’m sorry – sticking to your guns on the Carbon Tax is not governing in the national interest; it is precisely the opposite, for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with whether climate change is anthropogenic or not.

Labor has suffered a series of poor results in opinion polls, including a weekend poll suggesting Julia Gillard was losing support in her Melbourne electorate.
Despite a rise from record lows in today's Newspoll, Labor has its back to the wall as it campaigns to win public support for the $23-a-tonne tax to be introduced next July.

Not much of a rise. Still terminal, still enough to send Labor to the crashing defeat it so richly deserves, and which it would have got had Rudd contested the last election. In retrospect I wonder if he didn’t engineer his own removal, in order to avoid having to face the hammer.

While the government has anticipated attacks from businesses affected by the tax, it was blind sided by Mr Sheldon's assault, based on the fact the impost -- which he on Friday called a "death tax" -- will apply to the heavy transport industry from 2014.

The flow-on effects are as follows: higher fuel bills for the independent truckers, higher fuel bills for the transport companies, higher delivery costs, higher costs on the shelves, more expensive everything. Everywhere. All the time. Just how well has the Government calculated its compensation package? Not well enough, I fear.

Mr Sheldon, whose 90,000- member union represents truck drivers, wants the government to prevent trucking companies from passing the cost impact to drivers and owner-drivers. The TWU argues that passing on the costs to drivers will lift stress and drive up accident and fatality rates on roads, not just for truck drivers, but also for all motorists.

A stressed driver is a less careful driver. If the cost of delivery goes up and the amount paid to drivers per delivery goes down, the drivers and their families suffer. Drivers pushing themselves to make more deliveries in a certain time frame to keep food on the table for their families (in the context of rising costs) and pay the mortgage to keep the roof over their heads are fatigued drivers as well as stressed drivers. Some of them bite the bullet and take amphetamines in an attempt to preserve their alertness, but amphetamines only help so much. Mr Sheldon has a point.

Speaking on the Sky News Australian Agenda program yesterday, Mr Sheldon said Labor had contested the past two elections promising to act on driver safety, but that Senator Evans had failed to act. "I have no confidence in Chris Evans's capacity to deal with the fundamental industrial relations issues in this country and the undertakings it will make working life in the trucking industry better and safer for all road users," Mr Sheldon said.

Evidently there are also unsettled issues.

"If he cannot carry out his duties he should not be in the portfolio. There's a broad feeling that the minister has real deficiencies in carrying out his responsibilities as minister. He has not been able to implement government policy."

This government couldn’t implement policy successfully if its life depended on it. That has been the continuous criticism from the moment the feel-good stuff (“Stolen Generations” apology, 2020 summit) was over. GroceryWatch, FuelWatch, the Pink Batts program, the Building the Education Revolution program, the refugee policy... one shocking failure after another. Even if you agree with the policies themselves, you have to take a cane to the government over their execution.

Mr Sheldon likened the minister to a corpse in the movie Weekend at Bernie's -- "the dead guy that stands in the middle", unable to act or perform his duties.

Oh dear.

Senator Evans said the government had investigated the TWU's Safe Rates campaign, released a discussion paper, sought public submissions and was finalising a response.

Former Prime Minister John Howard, the one unlucky enough to lose to these mountebanks, made the astute observation that the Rudd Government seemed far more interested in the process of government than in actually governing. Please note – it investigated the union’s campaign, it wrote and released a paper, it sought public submissions and is now ruminating over them. NO ACTION. By the Minister’s own admission.

"There's never any shortage of robust advice for industrial relations ministers, but it's unfortunate that Mr Sheldon has chosen to express his frustrations in the form of a personal attack," Senator Evans said.

The Minister should consider that if he was doing his job right, Mr Sheldon would have no need to attack him. In any case, Mr Sheldon’s criticisms (as included in the news article) appear restricted to the manner in which he perceives Mr Evans is doing (or rather, not doing) his job. A personal attack would involve saying awful things about Mr Evans’s parentage, his sexuality, his masculinity and so forth.

The Prime Minister backed Senator Evans. "Minister Evans is doing an outstanding job in an important portfolio," Ms Gillard said.

Yeah. Right. Rose-coloured glasses if I ever saw them. That, or the other possibility – which is to mouth bland platitudes because a reasonable defence of the Minister’s conduct is impossible. 

The exchange came as the government counterattacked in the face of business criticism fanned by the carbon tax. On Friday, Dr Switkowski, former Telstra chief and Suncorp chairman-elect, told a conference in Melbourne there was " a whiff of illegitimacy" surrounding the government while Westpac Bank chairman-elect Lindsay Maxsted said it was focused on short-term political gain ahead of the national interest.

I’m not sure about that. This government has reached the point where it is simply lurching from disaster to disaster. There’s a word in chess, zugzwang, which is used to describe the situation a player is in when they’re on the brink and where every possible move weakens their position. They would love to skip a turn or sit on their hands, but the rules don’t allow that – all they can do is play and lose, or resign.
Mr Shorten said it was not surprising some business people would criticise a government that was making decisions which did not promote their own interests.

Labor might like to paint this as a “greedy big business defending its turf” issue, but it’s a lot harder to take that line when trade unions are weighing in with the same argument. Memo to Labor – it’s big business which employs a lot of the ordinary Australians whom you would like to see yourselves as the defender of, and which contributes to the tax base which keeps Australia in something approaching a state of solvency (but we’re $200bn in debt less than four years after we were free and clear with surpluses in the tens of billions, and another term of this government will just about finish us.)

"People are entitled to promote their sectional interests, but our Prime Minister and our government govern for all Australians and some of these business leaders won't be there in their positions in 10 years," Mr Shorten told the Sky News Australian Agenda program. 
I suspect some of those business leaders were there ten years ago, and I’m willing to bet that some of them could well still be here ten years from now. Mr Shorten, on the other hand, is as good as gone in 2013 if not before. These are words that could come back to haunt him.

"This country is doing better than some of the news reportage of it would indicate and some of the comments from some of these business leaders." Mr Shorten said Australia had rates of unemployment and debt that "the Yanks and the Europeans would give their eye teeth for".

Not for much longer, Mr Shorten, because your government is plundering Treasury at a rate of knots and is about to perform the economic equivalent of frontal lobotomy upon the powerhouse of the economy, not to mention what ructions on the sharemarket are doing to the superannuation on which ordinary Australians are depending in their retirement. How do you compensate that?

And, while he noted Mr Maxsted had criticisms, he said Westpac was supportive of another government reform -- lifting compulsory superannuation contributions from 9 to 12 per cent. He said Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford, who on Friday was critical of industrial relations laws, had "quite a background in industrial relations".

Using the fact that someone who’s criticising the living shit out of you agrees with you on one point IS NOT the same as addressing those criticisms, and it certainly does not invalidate them. Major fail. Lifting compulsory super contributions is going to be necessary if that superannuation isn’t going to yield as much in the future, thanks to this (IMO) idiot government’s policies.

"These guys have also got other agendas -- legitimate business agendas . . . but you sort of expect them to do that," he said.

Mr Combet said the carbon tax had been well-received by business as he rejected an ad campaign funded by an alliance of business groups as "Liberal Party ads".

Did I just see an ad-hominem attack? Playing the man? As for the carbon tax being well-received by business, perhaps readers (as well as Mr Combet) would like to consider this list.

It was important, Mr Combet said, not to assume that "one or two business people" critical of the government spoke for the entire business community. He told the Ten Network's Meet the Press program that since the carbon tax details were revealed a fortnight ago many business leaders had described it as workable.

See the list above. One or two business-people my eye. As for the business leaders who consider it workable, perhaps he’s talking about the wind and solar energy providers who stand to do very, very well indeed out of his tax.

"They are concerned about international conditions and the high value of the Australian dollar, for example, but generally I think the carbon pricing package has been pretty well received in the business community," he said.

“What I tell you three times is true” applies only on Snark hunts. Given the propensity of such events to end with someone ‘softly and suddenly vanishing away’, perhaps he would like to reconsider his words, especially given that he’s one of those in line to vanish if current polls are anything to go by. 

Mr Swan also said businesses were continuing to invest in mining and that industrial cities like Gladstone were "powering ahead".

Despite you, Mr Swan; not because of you.

"Despite the reality on the ground, the well-funded vested interests are still out there trying to talk down the future of our economy, of our great industries like coal and LNG and of great towns like Gladstone," the Treasurer wrote in his weekly Economic Note.

No, sir, they are not trying to talk down the economy. They are offering a brutally honest forecast of what is going to happen to the economy if you keep on doing what you are doing. If anyone’s talking down the future of the coal industry it’s you and your fellow-travellers, who have done nothing but demonise local consumption of coal while you plan to tax the hell out of anyone trying to extract it.