Posts Tagged ‘Janet Albrechtsen’

Dr Janet

Albrechtsen declares that her blog’s purpose is to provide catharsis for teh angry Left. Could that mean she really doesn’t believe the idiocy she puts forward and is just fabricating opinions to serve the public good?

I certainly feel better about the world when I read Janet – it reminds me that you don’t need to be rational or sensible to succeed in this world, and I take hope from that.

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When Virginia Bell was announced as the next nominee for the High Court, I suggested that the usual suspects would not quibble with the Rudd Government’s choice since they were going to see the back of Michael Kirby. I was wrong.

Janet Albrechtsen, concern troll – apparently, appointing women to the High Court is a threat to gender equity because it creates an impression of “jobs for the girls”.

In my opinion, Janet’s column on the appointment of Justice Bell should be a late but prime contender for the worst blog post of the year. The illogic of her argument in this piece is a match for the most notorious blog commenters. Try to reconcile statements like this:

And it is true that Bell has had a distinguished career as a criminal silk and judge.

There are plenty of male members of the legal profession – on the bench and at the bar – of equal if not greater ability who are entitled to mumble that this is a deliberate gender-based appointment.

Even if Bell’s appointment was not based on gender, the gender perception emerges to detract from Bell’s ability.

Recall when US President George W. Bush nominated the well-meaning but utterly unqualified Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. [IIRC, the concern about Miers’ nomination is that it was jobs for the mates rather than jobs for the girls.]

Bell is no Miers. Legal sources confirm her name deserves to be on the list of potential High Court judges.

To have three females out of seven High Court judges – a proportion vastly in excess of the proportion women represent of the pool of judges and barristers from which High Court judges must be drawn – inevitably raises doubts about whether this was truly an appointment on merit.

Janet laments the fact that there is “talk” that Bell’s appointment was undeserved and that she was an affirmative action choice – but isn’t she the one doing the talking? Well, yes she is, but that doesn’t make it her fault. No, Janet knows who is responsible for her actions:

Labor has only itself to blame.

It is unfortunate and undeserved for Bell that there is talk that her appointment was a case of the Labor Government filling a High Court vacancy according to the out-dated gender politics of Emily’s List.

But that’s what happens when a political party, now in government, has for so long wedded itself to gender selections where the mediocre trump the meritorious.

Pay attention, Labor. Stop making Janet write this shit – for all of our sakes. Heed this advice: in future, don’t even think of appointing a woman. It doesn’t matter if she is distinguished and deserving. There is bound to be another person who is distinguished and deserving, while also having a penis. Pick that one. If there is more than one male who deserves consideration, pick whichever one you like. Do not depart from this formula until you have re-established your misogynist credentials – and then our dear Janet will not need to write these columns warning you that it looks like you engage in affirmative action.

ELSEWHERE: More on the Bell appointment from Legal Eagle.

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Teh Right

Credit where it’s due to the Bolt and Blair audience – they have largely been graceful and accepting of the election result. While Andrew started out handling the defeat pretty well, his inability to keep from injecting snippy remarks into every update. My favourite came right at the end:

Now he’s doing his “yes, we can” riff, and it’s draining away into slogans. He finishes on this limp note, but the music is soaring. On walks his wife, Michelle, pumping a clenched fist with a fierce grin. Hmm.

A “fierce grin”? Is that like a terrorist fist jab?

Andrew also picked up on one of the hot themes from the conservative commentators – Obama won because his race helped him. That’s right – black people are racist. Bastards. Even Janet says so.

But the angry right has come out a bit further on other sites. Trawl the comments at Little Green Footballs for some good examples. Not my President. America is doomed. Israel is doomed. I’m leaving the country. Time to secede. And that’s after the more dramatic comments have been deleted.

Of course, there’s  bound to be plenty more to come from bitter conservatives. GrodsCorp is on A Western Heart watch. Kudos to those who have taken it on the chin, but I’m going to reserve the right to have a laugh at those who have fulfilled their own caricature of Teh Left.

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Planet Janet says the poor American banks have had the deck stacked against them:

Socially progressive regulation caused much of the mess that has enveloped the US. In pursuit of the perceived social benefits of home ownership, the mortgage dice has been ridiculously loaded in favour of American borrowers.

For instance:

Unlike the situation in Australia, the American dream was founded on a house of legislative cards that deserved to topple. Take non-recourse mortgage loans. When Australians borrow money to buy a house, they know that if they default and the mortgaged property doesn’t cover the debt, they will be responsible for the shortfall and the lender will chase them for it.

It’s a neat way of reminding Australians to borrow responsibly.

In the US, where populist post-Depression laws in many states have mandated loans be non-recourse, the opposite is true. Americans can take out a mortgage loan more or less as a one-way bet.

If you can’t afford the repayments and can’t refinance, you just send the keys back to the bank. The banks collect the jingle mail. Borrowers wipe their hands of liability. So, naturally, an American in financial strife will pay off debts that carry personal liability, such as credit cards, before they pay off their mortgage.

Now I’m not a banker, but here is my question. If you were a lending institution and are providing non-recourse loans, wouldn’t it be prudent to consider the risk of losing out on mortgage defaults? Wouldn’t it make sense to be a bit more risk-averse in such an environment and ensure that one did not extend loans beyond the value of the secured asset or the repayment capacity of the borrower?

And my favourite bit of irony from Janet:

What happened to the US being the land of sturdy individuality and personal responsibility?

What about the personal responsibility of the corporate directors who responded to a largely unregulated market by engaging in risky investment practices?

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I suspect that Planet Janet really didn’t need to write this column – if you had asked anyone familiar with her previous work to imagine what she would write about the new Chief Justice, they would have been able to conjure up a word-accurate copy of what the Oz has printed. Richard Ackland likes him, George Williams says he’s difficult to predict, the spectres of Anthony Mason and an activist Court, etc. She depicts Robert French as a young Anakin Skywalker, trying to tread the path of black-letter law as he grows in his Jedi powers, but inevitably vulnerable to the seductions of the Dark Side – judicial activism.

Janet’s projections should make an excellent movie one day.

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I have written at Public Polity about Janet Albrechtsen’s latest crusade against the dirty hippie brigade. I want to note a couple of other points that didn’t fit with the issues I addressed in that article.

Albrechtsen’s concerns about “activist judges” deciding how society should operate is nothing new. But in attempting to critique the Boumediene v. Bush decision, Janet draws on some arguments about what the decision could imply for the three branches of government that are frightfully flawed. Let’s begin with the notion that:

As The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto noted, for all the wailing about the evils of Gitmo, “perhaps decades from now we will learn that detainees ended up being abused in some far-off place because the Government closed Guantanamo in response to judicial meddling. Even those who support what the court did today may live to regret it.”

The suggestion is that the Government may respond to a judgment against them by engaging in even shadier practices. Given the Bush administration’s history, it is entirely plausible that this could happen – or more precisely, that it could happen even more than it has in the past. But that doesn’t mean it’s a valid criticism of the judicial decision. It means that the United States has a toxic executive branch that has nothing but contempt for the Constitution.

The second notion Janet draws on is that:

… as Chief Justice John Roberts concluded, the majority’s decision was no win for democracy. Stripping Congress of power, the American people lost “a bit more control over the conduct of this nation’s foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges”.

Appeals to democracy might have an inherent appeal, but the fact is that the judiciary was given exactly the kind of power it exercised in this case. The Constitution is the foundation legal document of the country, and it is the Supreme Court’s responsibility to protect the integrity of that Constitution. Judicial review of the actions of the other branches of government was always part of the system, and it is a sad indictment of America’s politicised judiciary that the highest judge in the land would fail to say so.

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Good Grief

They’re at it again – or, in the case of Shanahan and the Editor-at-Large, they’re still at it. Both are continuing to tell their readers about Labor’s backflip on international greenhouse gas emission targets. Paul Kelly at least has the decency to point out some of Howard’s flaws and mistakes in this area. But Dennis Shanahan is all about Labor’s faulty policy and the “me too” charge that arises from Rudd having to modify Garrett’s original statement. No mention in either column of the renewable energy targets Rudd set yesterday. They have just carried yesterday’s story through to a second day of Labor criticism for the hell of it.

Meanwhile, Janet Albrechtsen finds a new menace lurking in the Labor Party – “lady lawyers” who will want to contaminate the justice system for the years (or decades) to come by appointing activist judges. What has anyone in federal Labor said or done to suggest this is a key priority? Nothing. What might this “activist judiciary” do? Focus on things like human rights. But the pinnacle of Janet’s argument is when she points to the upcoming retirement of Justice Michael Kirby as an opportunity to create an activist judiciary – the same Justice Kirby Janet has targeted in earlier columns for his own “activism”. So Labor might get to swap one progressive judge for another? That should make a huge difference.

It seems that the GG has taken it upon itself to ensure that we know all of Labor’s faults – both real and imagined.

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Shorter Albrechtsen:

Malcolm Fraser said the election would be about Muslims.

Nobody is talking about Muslims.

I’m going to talk about Muslims.

Gosh, Malcolm Fraser is stupid.

Happy Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, Janet.

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It’s pro-Howard editorials ahoy! at the GG this morning. From Janet Albrechtsen:

The Prime Minister is undaunted by a presidential campaign. Indeed, on the day the real election campaign began, Howard pinpointed Rudd’s weakness. As he said on Sunday when announcing the November 24 election, love him or loathe him, voters have always known where the PM stands on an issue and what he believes in. During the past decade he has earned himself a reputation as a conviction politician, tackling issues unfazed by the howls of opposition from some quarters. Witness his long-time involvement in the culture wars, his sponsorship of gun controls, the introduction of the GST, Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war, the intervention into indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. Each was pursued because of Howard’s conviction on these issues.

WTF?! The “never ever” GST? And the NT intervention, followed by the reconciliation pseudo-backflip? I’m surprised that she didn’t point out his commitment to climate change. And we’re supposed to like the fact that he has been an unwavering sycophant on Iraq? Apparently, having conviction is more important than being right and open to new ideas.

Then we have academics Sinclair Davidson and Alex Robson (the same authors who recently published a critique of the Australia@Work report in the GG) lauding the Coalition’s “tax reform”:

How should Labor respond to the tax challenge? That Peter Costello appears to have caught the Opposition off-guard reflects poorly on its own tax policy (or lack thereof). If Kevin Rudd really is the economic conservative he claims to be, he will embrace this tax plan and go even further to avoid any possible me-too criticism.

But this will be difficult. The Labor Party platform already includes a proposal to increase the superannuation guarantee by 66per cent (from 9 per cent to 15per cent). That this impost is to be jointly funded by employers, employees and taxpayers is little consolation. It is a tax increase, no matter how you look at it.

A tax increase intended to ensure that retirees have enough super to prevent a greater burden on the welfare system as our population ages? How daft – it sounds like Labor is showing “the vision thing”, which these authors say a government doesn’t need.

Finally, we have the editor-at-large. Larvatus Prodeo already has a spot-on commentary about this one – Kelly’s focus is entirely on how the Team Howard announcements have been received, or indeed is an attempt to shape the narrative of how it has been received. There is no consideration of the fact that these policies actually have societal implications. Here’s my (least) favourite example:

Claims that Howard should have spent the revenue on better services are ludicrous in political terms. Health and education are Labor issues, no matter how much funding Howard provides. Howard and Costello must play to their strength: the economy, tax and jobs. This is the only avenue to their election victory. If they cannot win the election on their strengths then, by definition, they cannot win the election.

So, Howard is entitled to neglect key social issues such as producing the healthiest and best-educated nation he possibly can, because they are “Labor issues”? Possum Comitatus used the Crosby-Textor data to illustrate the way that issues can “belong” to one party or the other, so I can appreciate the political reality of what Kelly is saying here, but that does not mean that the media should give the pollies a free ride on issues. The candidates will try to keep the message on the issues they want to talk about – the voters should be given an opportunity to hear about the good and bad aspects of their policies. Kelly, along with the rest of the GG’s editorial staff, is helping to sell the political message for Team Howard rather than helping to facilitate a substantive consideration of the issues.

UPDATE: Shanahan was up to his usual tricks today, this time spinning the Newspoll analysis of how the parties rate on key issues. Possum Comitatus has shown it for the load of crap that it is with a couple of quick regressions.

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One line suggesting objective and rational analysis is essential:

Ultimately, Buchanan’s study will stand or fall on its own merits.

surrounded by paragraphs of suggestions that Buchanan is a self-declared socialist whose objectivity must be called into question. Of course, Janet’s rant is part of a broader GG package to discredit Buchanan’s research – a news story on how Albrechtsen “uncovered” a publicly available transcript of Buchanan’s 2005 speech and an editorial on “Comrade Buchanan” appeared this weekend, after publishing a critique on Friday by two other academics (whose objectivity and political leanings must be above reproach, since Janet doesn’t mention them). It’s great to see the objective and unbiased beacons of the journalistic trade applying their same standards to the academic profession.

There is more discussion going on at Larvatus Prodeo.

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