Archive for August, 2007

Andrew Dolt

Noted blogger, Andrew Bolt, shows just how Web 2.0 savvy he is.

“the Wikipedia collective” – think it leans to the Left? Jump in there, Andrew, and you’ll balance out a thousand lefties all by yourself. Get Piers on board as well, and you’ll have it evened out in no time.

It’s even worse when you head down to the comments – despite the occasional helpful person pointing out that if an entry on Rudd is missing the strip club info, you can add it in, the Boltheads continue to thank their brainless leader for pointing out what a dubious source of information Wikipedia is. Not that they ever went and looked for themselves – they only need one site to tell them what to think.

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The sub-prime bump

The latest Morgan is at 54.5-45.5 2PP, 46-41 on the primary. Given that the last one had swung by a few points in Labor’s favour, I’m not sure that this can be attributed to the economic scare. Now go put the anal in analysis over at The Poll Bludger.

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You gotta know when to hold ’em …

In a battle for his own re-election, with the prospect of the post-election leadership of his party within reach, one thing seems clear about Malcolm Turnbull’s delaying approach to the Gunns pulp mill: he’s either going to hit big or miss big. And Peter Garrett could well be wedged between a rock and a hard place in the process.

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Janet Albrechtsen hates people who hate America

According to Albrechtsen, those who want troops withdrawn from Iraq are unpleasant people:

Many have a vested interest in an American failure in Iraq. Not just the emotional anti-Bushies but also the more level-headed people who believe failure in Iraq is needed to puncture American hubris.

So, the only reasons why anyone could want a change of strategy in Iraq is because (i) they hate Bush, or (ii) they hate America. And advocating withdrawal is “wanting failure” – not voicing a belief that failure has already happened or is inevitable. And of course, she then goes on to paint a wonderful picture of how Iraq will be saved from Al Qaeda – neglecting to acknowledge the problems with the political disintegration and the endemic sectarian conflicts that are key components of the instability in Iraq. Yes, it’s the people you oppose who are feral, irrational, emotional haters, Janet.

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See it coming

One week ago, I made a prediction:

My horrible suspicion: within six months the United States will respond to (and may even, to some extent, precipitate if need be) a conflict with Iranian nationals in Iraqi territory, as the foundation to justify immediately going to war with Iran.

Looks like we’re well on the road to military action.

The impending APEC meeting and a few other events seems to have prompted a fair amount of navel-gazing about the US-Australian relationship lately, with the general trend being to emphasize the value of the relationship and the role America can play as a force for good (e.g., Kevin Rudd’s speech). While this is fundamentally true, there is a specific issue here where the United States is clearly not living up to the role it should play in the world – not provoking, but bringing guidance and moderation. Australia’s politicians and traditional media need to pay some attention to what is going on here – this has the potential to get out of hand very quickly, and the way it is being managed, it will. And we should have something to say about the way it is being dealt with.

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The Iraq

Bush isn’t the only who has invoked Vietnam – he just uses it in the opposite way to most:

An elite team of officers advising US commander General David Petraeus in Baghdad has concluded the US has six months to win the war in Iraq – or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.

That conclusion was reached six months ago.

While things continue to fall apart, the Bush administration is losing a whole lot of staff. And now, the Pentagon is moving away from recommending any single course of action in Iraq. It has to be very lonely for George Walker Bush right now – no wonder he’s been looking so unhappy.

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Mid-week "me too"-isms

Time is short at the moment, so here are some quick links to things worth reading elsewhere:

  • Senator Bartlett has written about the one thing from Labor’s IR announcement that I forgot to cover in my earlier comments on it – their claim that the Senate should immediately pass the reforms should Labor win government. This kind of posturing about a mandate – before the election has even been called, let alone decided – is just silly. The electorate will choose the Senate as well, and I hope that after the last few years we might end up with one that has the capacity for actual oversight of the Government.
  • Something as rare as the lunar eclipse has happened – the Government Gazette has published an opinion piece that cuts through the Government’s bullshit. Mike Steketee has pointed to some of the inconsistencies and falsehoods in their talk about Labor’s IR policy. And Brad Norington points out that most reactions to the Labor IR policy have been stage-managed and could have been predicted before it was even released.
  • As one final IR link, there’s a post at LP by Jim McDonald describing how Labor’s policy is an egalitarian failure. His post echoes much of my own feelings about where Labor has gone on this issue.
  • Frank Luntz gives some advice on campaign strategy to Rudd and Howard – I might try to break this down a bit in a later post, but for now I’ll have to leave it there.

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Is this a turning point?

Well, Labor’s IR policy has some detail to it now. Matt Price thinks it will “do no harm” with the voters. But I’m going to join the chorus of disappointment in the left-leaning blogosphere (e.g., An Onymous Lefty; Larvatus Prodeo; The Road to Surfdom) about the final product that Labor has come up with.

Reinstating protections against unfair dismissal (with a generous probationary timeframe for employers) is a good thing (despite Honest John’s complaint that they are “dreaded” and will push up unemployment). Not bringing those on more than $100,000 under the award protections is perfectly reasonable to me, and the ten requirements to go with that are fine. Letting existing AWAs run their course, I can understand. But the part that I am genuinely disturbed by as a Labor policy platform is the complete abandonment of rights and protections for union activity and industrial action. A party that was built on assuring the rights of workers has simply stepped out of the way and is saying that all of the restrictions placed on unions and workers by the Howard Government, the most effective anti-union and anti-employee government Australia has seen, can stand.

Apart from the fact that I have very quickly taken a dislike to the substance of the policy, I don’t see its political value either. I can only think that Rudd is attempting to cater to business concerns and neutralize the “Rudd is for unions” rhetoric. And I guess he figures that preferences will come to Labor from the left no matter how much he is rubbing up against Howard on his right. But I just don’t see him bringing in votes from the business side of things, even with this shift. People who have concerns about Labor’s IR stance are either going to come across because they are fed up with Howard, or they are going to stay there for fear that the union goon squad from that ad are going to show up and trash their flower shop.

At some point, a party has a responsibility to stand true to its core principles. In this case, Labor has not done it. And at the very least, that has me thinking that my vote may be going elsewhere – sure, it will probably end up going back to them on preferences, but a lower than expected primary vote might be something of a message. And although my intention was always to support minor parties in the Senate, and Senator Andrew Bartlett uses Labor’s announcement to articulate the case for why everyone should do the same.

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"I’m afraid I don’t recall why I am resigning"

At long last, Alberto Gonzales has resigned.

After showing a strong tendency toward stupidity, at least he hasn’t been overplaying the “I’m doing this to spend time with my family” angle, although they do get a mention.

On the other hand, Gonzales’ President is still not short on stupidity. Apparently, everyone has been really unfair to the A-G. Just because he politicised the Department of Justice, then faked memory problems and lied in sworn testimony, doesn’t mean anyone should be calling him names like “incompetent” or “perjurer”.

As noted on JURIST, the resignation doesn’t get Gonzales or the Bush administration clear of all the Justice-related dramas (especially the US Attorney firings and bypassing FISA), but it does take away the possibility of impeachment for Gonzales.

The critical question now is how Congress will handle the appointment of a new Attorney-General. After giving ground on both Iraq and the amendment of FISA, they absolutely have to stand strong in preventing another Bushie from filling Gonzales’s vacancy. An independent Department of Justice is critical to Congressional oversight of the White House – if Congress can rely on the DoJ to assist with enforcing subpoenas on current and former White House employees then it should add to the pressure on the President’s staff to comply with attempts for accountability.

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Larvatus Prodeo has posted some information promoting youdecide2007, an ARC-funded project that intends to present user-created election coverage to bring local perspectives and debates into the federal election reporting. It seems like a potentially useful tool for getting election information that goes beyond the traditional media’s narrative, and it’s also going to be an interesting research project. Check it out and consider making a contribution.

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