Trigger warning:

This site may, in fact always will contain images and information likely to cause consternation, conniptions, distress, along with moderate to severe bedwetting among statists, wimps, wusses, politicians, lefties, green fascists, and creatures of the state who can't bear the thought of anything that disagrees with their jaded view of the world.

Nov 30, 2011

Johnson likely to seek Libertarian Party nomination.

Image: 'Speechless' courtesy, Citizens for Gary Johnson.

The blatant exclusion of Governor Gary Johnson from the GOP debates has been a continuing topic here and elsewhere. For some time Johnson seems to have been willing to keep tilting at the media windmills in the hope that someone would relent and allow him into the debates, but a couple of weeks ago a note of disillusionment seemed to be creeping in. There is just a chance that he may be included in a Fox debate that is to come.

Recently he filed complaints with the FCC, and FEC over his exclusion, which have been ignored. The last straw however seems to have been the rejection of an appeal to the RNC asking them to campaign for fairness. More here.

Recently he has been reported as being in talks with a number of Libertarian Party heavyweights including Wayne Allyn Root, and it is looking very much like he is seriously considering a third party bid. Root was himself a Goldwater Republican for most of his life until, realizing that the party no longer represented his views, left and sought the LP nomination in 2008.

Below is a video of his latest interview with Capitol Report New Mexico:

When, not if, Johnson stops flogging a dead horse and bites the bullet with an LP bid, just watch the Republicans squeal like stuck pigs about ‘disloyalty’ and treachery. There will be no excuse for this as they have sat on the sidelines and watched mutely as the mainstream media, most of which is hostile towards them have deliberately excluded a two term governor from the debates. Only Newt Gingrich has supported his inclusion.

Johnson stated recently that were he to seek the LP nomination he would not be taking it for granted that he would get it and accepted he would have to work hard to get it. The LP would be a better fit for him than the GOP, which has all but abandoned fiscal responsibility, and has no concept of social tolerance. Even Ron Paul tends to be a social conservative.

The LP would reap many benefits from having him as a nominee. It would be the first time they have had someone who has the credibility of a successful two term state Governor, is an accepted libertarian, and has an incredible record for vetoing nanny state bills. Add to this the fact that when he won in New Mexico as a Republican, the state was majority Democrat by 2 to 1, which means he has cross party appeal.

The GOP may have significantly damaged their chances for next year, something that would never have happened were they to have given him a fair go:

Political strategist Roger Stone told the Daily Caller that a third-party run such as Johnson’s could be disastrous for Republicans in 2012, especially if they nominate a candidate unappealing to the party’s conservative base. “The Libertarian Party, for example, is on the ballot in all 50 states, and should the Republicans nominate, say, Romney, then a candidate running on a tea party fiscal platform would…pose a great danger,” Stone said.

But, could anybody blame Johnson? All he wanted was a fair chance to earn the support of Republican voters, and the Republican Establishment stood in his way at every turn. Should he seek other alternatives to get his message out, the consequences would be squarely on the shoulders of those that pushed him in that direction.

Johnson's conservative economic views, and liberal views on social issues, give him mass appeal, even across party lines. This could be particularly devastating against a milquetoast Republican in the general. Johnson may not pick up the support of values voters, but his track record on spending, and limited government take on the role of government, could attract many grassroots activists and Tea Partiers disgusted with the GOP’s continuous failure to get serious about eliminating debt.

Maybe Johnson is the wake-up call the Republican Establishment needs to shake things up. While Barry Goldwater failed to win the general election in 1964, his candidacy gave birth to today’s conservative movement. Johnson may be in the same position to force the hand of the Republican Establishment, which has largely been given a free pass to run roughshod over the limited government principles that once defined the party.

Is the CIS calling for compulsory voting?

The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) is described in their own ‘about’ section as, “the leading independent public policy 'think tank' within Australasia. The CIS is actively engaged in supporting a free enterprise economy and a free society under limited government where individuals can prosper and fully develop their talents.” Wikipedia refers to it as “… a libertarian think tank founded in April 1976 by Executive Director Greg Lindsay.”

It seems odd for their correspondent James Allen writing on the NZ elections to claim:

And did I mention the awful voter turnout? It was the lowest since the end of the nineteenth century at 73% of the registered voters but only 68% of eligible voters. If you want a buttressing argument for compulsory voting, just look at voting trends in countries where voting is voluntary. New Zealand used to be amongst the best of all of those. Not so much now.
The general rule in a democratic society is that every responsible adult has the right to vote. This tends to get confused in places like Australia, where our right has been determined to be so important that the state has made it compulsory, thus it is illegal not to vote unless you have a damn good excuse. It is fairly typical statist thinking to assume that compulsion equates to rights, but in reality compelling the unwilling is as bad as denying the right of those who wish to do so.

The New Zealand Electoral Commission (or whatever name they call it over there) seems to have gone to considerable lengths to ensure that anybody who wished to participate had a chance to do so. There were a large number of polling places where six or less votes were cast, which indicates that they possibly went a bit overboard on this. This indicates that those who failed to vote probably didn’t wish to.

It is difficult to see any merit at all in forcing people to vote against their wishes and much to indicate that it is a silly idea. It might increase the donkey vote, which is pointless. There are no figures available at present on the informal vote cast, but it is fair to assume it is less than we have here.

While the writer seems to be regretting that the conservatives did not get a larger proportion of the seats, it is arguable as to whether compulsory voting would change this. The idea that Nationals voters, realizing that they were going to win handsomely, didn’t think they would bother making the effort can be reasonably balanced against the possibility that Labor were so ‘on the nose’ that many of their usual voters couldn’t be bothered supporting them.

By having voting as a voluntary exercise, it is made reasonably certain that those who choose to exercise their right to do so, are those in society who care enough to acquaint themselves with the issues and make a rational choice. If the policy of “Ve haf vays of making you vote” were adopted, the result would be less representative of the deserved outcome.

Nov 29, 2011

Barnaby Joyce on Murray Darling plan.

Cartoon: By Pickering.

After the disastrous first attempt at coming up with a plan to close down a large proportion of the nation’s agriculture, after which farmers made bonfires of the booklets offered but the Greens loved it, the government has tried again, this time seeking a balanced approach. The result is a plan nobody likes and most are seriously pissed off with, so it seems they have achieved bipartisan dissent.

Senator Barnaby Joyce is one of the few really interesting characters in Australian politics, unfortunately a bit too conservative for most libertarians, but has the ability to think beyond the shackles of the party line. Like most conservatives he gets some right and some wrong, but unlike Abbott he tends to put his brain in gear before letting out the clutch on his mouth.

What follows is his take on the Murray Darling plan. In it he displays his understanding of the thing that really disturbs regional people; governments believing that they can solve perceived problems with solutions designed to please the city folk.

Don’t worry, a consultant will fix it.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Murray-Darling basin results in the answer of 2750 gigalitres, and all grief can be alleviated with a consultant. Of course! What the people of Griffith need at this time of crisis is for someone from Pitt Street in Sydney to come out and tell them how to adapt.

A form of Darwinian enforcement from an opulent airy spire from somewhere in Martin Place.

I must say the crowd in Griffith was really happy when they found out they were going to send out a consultant. They were really worried for a while that the Labor party was going to stuff this up again. Like the crisis budget from this crisis government. Like the $219 billion in gross debt they have left us.

Minister Crean, when you say something like that I get a sinking feeling that you really do not have a clue.

It's some perverse form of logic that you have never ever understood the realities of an area and that is why this is turning into a debacle. And when you really need to understand this issue you send out a consultant instead of doing your homework and understanding the issue.

Minister Crean said in a media release issued today that, ‘regional experts would work across the Murray, Murrumbidgee, Goulburn-Broken and Condamine-Balonne catchments to help communities adapt to a future with less water.’

Minister Crean has announced that he will be using more of your money borrowed from overseas to pay inner city experts to tell people in the regions how to run their lives.

Farmers aren't mugs Mr Crean, neither are people who live in the regions. They run their businesses and households just like any other Australian, they have to account for every dollar they earn and penny they spend. Which is more than can be said for this government. They have already spent over $10 million on consultants to deliver a plan that does not even say how they are going to use that water.

The bush doesn't need more consultants, the government needs to do its homework.

Some color coming into European politics.

One thing that we in the newer western democracies sadly lack is a bit of humor and color. While many of our politicians give us a good laugh on occasions, this is in the main, not the result of genuine humor, but crass stupidity. Apart from the odd humorist like Barnaby Joyce, they mostly cause outrage.

Not all Europeans promote the unsustainable nanny state with bloated entitlements destroying their economies. Some of them have introduced a really funny overtone to the mix. One of the notable ones is the Best Party, an Icelandic party started as a satirical exercise but which managed to attain the highest vote in the Reykjavík City Council election.

Best Party, was founded in 2009 by Jón Gnarr, an Icelandic actor, comedian and writer. The party has from the beginning admitted that it will not honour any of the promises given before elections.[5] It claims all other parties are secretly corrupt, so it promises to be openly corrupt. Among its original goals was to satirize common themes in Icelandic politics, partly by mimicking the standard phrases, idioms and jargon used by Icelandic politicians. Their theme song is a classic (with subtitles):

We are not so sure of the promise of a drug free parliament by 2020. Given the state of Australian politics serious consideration should be given to the possibility that it might be less costly, and less damaging to keep the lot of them stoned for the duration of their terms.

But in Europe, even the economists have a sense of humor. Here is Nobel Laureate, FA Hayek with a bull named Inflation which it was claimed never stopped growing. He is holding it by the balls in a humorous photo by Australian libertarian icon, the late Ron Kitching. It was intended to have Hayek sitting on the bull with the caption, “Hayek gets on top of Inflation,” but a compromise was reached after Mrs. Kitching objected. Full story here.

The latest dash of color comes from Austria, where the rash of Islamic immigration is causing social problems like much of the rest of Europe, and resulting in the formation and growing popularity of right wing parties. The Austrian Freedom Party, (FPO) has also a tendency towards smaller government and fiscal responsibility. It is currently leading in the polls for next years election.

H/t Libertarian Republican.

Austrian Freedom Party leader Heinz Christian Strache goes by the alias "HC Strache" when he is in rap mode. This is one of his earliest videos from 2010 which put him on the map. In the lyrics he rants against Islamism, loose immigration, corrupt politicians and lazy welfare frauds. He may well be the next Austrian Chancellor:

Nov 28, 2011

Farmer jailed for firebreak while Department starts wildfires.

Official who ordered fire, previously ruled incompetent by Coronial inquest.

Image: Some of the aftermath of the WA DEC burnoff.

The recent escape of a controlled burn in Western Australia burned out thousands of hectares of land and has destroyed thirty-nine homes. The burn was ordered by the Department of Environment and Conservation, in a national park as a fuel reduction measure. The fire is now under control but not out.

While there is incredulity that the department would order a fire during summer with hot days and high winds forecast, it has now been revealed that one of the officers who ordered the burn was ruled incompetent by a coronial inquest into the deaths of three truckies who were incinerated when a road was prematurely opened:
A government official who approved the prescribed burn that led to the destructive Margaret River bushfire was labelled extremely incompetent and stood down over the fire deaths of three truck drivers in 2007, before being reinstated. …

WA Coroner Alastair Hope found Mr Commins and two other DEC officers had failed to consider key weather information when they approved the reopening of a road when a bushfire was burning in the Boorabbin National Park in WA's Goldfields region in December 2007. “This constituted extreme incompetence,” Mr Hope found in the inquest into the deaths.

Mr Commins stood down from his DEC post after the inquest but was reinstated last year by the department's Director-General Keiran McNamara, who has said he stands by that decision. The DEC has confirmed Brad Commins approved the prescribed burn, along with other senior fire officers, at Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park near Margaret River in September.
Meanwhile a farmer has been jailed for contempt of court over dozing firebreaks after a stop clearing court order at the behest of the same department. While court orders are not to be ignored there is a special irony in this one owing to the fact some farmers have had to take the department to court in order to obtain permission to make firebreaks:

"The DEC brought the action and they claim you can't touch any country even though you own it.” Mr Rogers said Mr Szulc argued that he had already cleared the land in 1984 and that he was only clearing re-growth when putting in a 20-metre wide fire break he thought necessary to prevent a fire hazard after the injunction.

"The DEC claimed it was pristine bushland, but it was not original bushland," Mr Rogers said. In a letter to Farm Weekly in June, Mr Szulc said the DEC was out of control.

"Some of their area managers are making disastrous decisions affecting lives, public safety, the environment, native and introduced animals and birds. The DEC lights fires in summer time, which have a habit of getting out of control, causing massive palls of smoke to the detriment of public health.
Mr Szulc pointed out that having the DEC manage land clearing applications was a conflict of interest:
"In the past, senior departmental staff have been quoted as saying that there should be no more land clearing. It seems that this attitude is still current as applications by farmers are rarely granted. If an individual appeals the refusal the action is held up for unexpected lengthy periods. Private property rights mean nothing to the department.”

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) private property rights policy director Milan Zaklan said under legislation farmers could re-clear land if it had been done within 10 years of the original clearing. But if they were one day over 10 years they could be prosecuted.

"The rule needs changing," Mr Zaklan said.
The rules and regulations, which cover what landowners may do on their properties, are even now, growing exponentially along with constant exploration by bureaucrats to expand the parameters of the powers conferred on them by such legislation. These actions create considerable sovereign risk to agriculture in this country, and are creating the situation whereby landholders are being reduced to serfdom under the overlords of the state.

Election swings New Zealand to the right.

NZ Act party retains Epsom, no list seats though.

The New Zealand National Party have dad a massive win in the latest national election there winning nearly half the vote (48%) and one short of a majority in its own right of members in the national parliament. With the almost guaranteed support of ACT Party, and one other and the possible support of the Maori Party they are set to govern in coalition.

It is unlikely that they will degenerate into the circus act of our governing Labor Party as the coalition parties are rock solid, rather than the quirky, eccentric, and downright insane independents and Greens that Gillard has tied her hands to.

The bad news for libertarians is that the ACT Party failed to get enough votes to gain list seats, only managing to hold Epsom, the former seat of Rodney Hyde who declined to stand after losing the party leadership. One bright spot in all of this though is that one of the reasons for the strength of the Nationals win is that evidence suggests that they have embraced some ACT policies, thus contributing to the loss of ACT support.

It is to be hoped that with the somewhat divisive and over the top leadership of Hyde, the more sensible elements of the party such as Sir Roger Douglas will be able to rebuild the party as a separate and influential entity.

Among the other news, the more ‘pure’ libertarian, Libertarianz Party only received 0.07%, less than the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party on 0.47%. Libertarianz are relatively new to the scene and there is little news of their campaign style, but given the support for Cannabis reform they really should have done better. It is doubtful that ‘pure’ libertarian parties will achieve a great deal of traction until the more practical libertarians in the form of Classic Liberals pave the way.

The bad news is that the Greens increased their vote and appear likely to hold 13 seats, all of them ‘list’ in the new parliament. They though won no seats outright. It is to be hoped that NZ Labour are sane enough to avoid doing any deals with them in the hope of enhancing their electoral hopes, something that would guarantee that they would remain at less than 30% of the vote and needing to rely on the most aggressive competitor for the left wing loony vote for their political survival.

Their primary vote is about the same as that of Labor here and a deal with the Greens will only see that situation get worse.

Nov 26, 2011

Windsor reveals his character in Slipper statement.

Statements by Gillard independent, Tony Windsor on the deal to make Peter Slipper Speaker of the House of Representatives reveal a great deal about his own character. Slipper has a fairly serious alcohol problem and a sense of entitlement that has resulted in profligate use of expenses over the years, as well as having an increasingly dysfunctional relationship with his own party.

Matters between the Liberal Party and Slipper came to a head a week ago when he invited former PM Kevin Rudd to his electorate at the same time as former Liberal PM John Howard was visiting to do a fundraiser for a state candidate a few kilometers away. While Abbott and his federal colleagues tried to keep a lid on it, the long-suffering state branch was outraged.

Windsor however sees nothing wrong with Slipper and believes it is all the fault of the Liberal National Party:

Independent Tony Windsor yesterday described Slipper's ascension as an own goal for the Coalition. "Obviously the government would be pleased about that, but I think they can thank the opposition . . . it has been obvious that there has been a witch-hunt on for Peter Slipper in his own seat and his own state," Windsor said.

"People, nine (or) 10 months ago, they knew this was a potential possibility and in a sense they have driven the man to a position where they are not going to preselect him again anyway, so what's in it for him to lose?”
Windsor has shown a seething resentment towards his own electorate over the reaction within it to his deal to put Gillard in power. Here he has demonstrated his belief that an MP should be immune to criticism of his conduct. He would have to be more than dumb, possibly Oakeshott dumb, not to be aware that the problems existed long before the Rudd visit. Slipper has been bad news for the coalition for a long time.

Neighboring Liberal MP, Alex Somlyay, has been scathing over Slipper’s conduct for years, writing 18 months ago:
"Slipper has a disgraceful reputation both in his electorate and in the parliament," Somlyay wrote. "Many of the people I see in my electorate office are his constituents who refuse to deal with Slipper. I have a constant stream of complaints about his behaviour . . . You will be aware of . . . the refusal of Qantas to fly him to Darwin after off-loading him in Gove for abusing staff and drunken behaviour.” …
"While I prefer to spend my spare time in my electorate, he has the highest frequent-flyer points on the backbench. He also has the highest mobile phone usage and oveseas travel of any Queensland MP. Comcar drivers dread the thought of driving him.

"I cannot understand how you would support this discredited person. I can only assume that you support his actions and continued bad behaviour.”
Windsor and his Labor mates are fellow dead politicians walking and should be welcome to keep Slipper.

Nov 24, 2011

More about that new Speaker of the House.

Cartoon: By Pickering.

The new Speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper, or Slippery Pete as he is better known, has something of a mixed history, most of it on the downside. He is almost guaranteed to be a mixed blessing to Labor who now have to own him, Abbott having demanded and got his resignation from the Liberal Party. It is very likely that the only thing keeping the Liberals from doing so before would have been the tightness of the political situation.

Here are some excerpts from an article in the Age:

Sometimes, the social and political embarrassment blur - three years ago, a patron of the national capital's well-known drinking hole The Holy Grail dumped Slipper on his behind at 3.30am, apparently because he'd failed to butt his cigarette before sauntering inside.

Slipper has been the Liberal Member for Fisher on the Queensland Sunshine Coast since 1993. What is less remembered is that he served an earlier term - 1984-1987 - as a National Party MP. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the weird Joh for Canberra campaign in 1987, which blew away John Howard's chances of winning the election that year. Slipper was also blown away by the voters of Fisher, only to rat on the Nationals and re-emerge six years later as a Liberal.

In December 2002 Slipper felt the need to visit a toilet during a parliamentary sitting. Somehow, he found himself in the disabled toilet - and when he had completed his business, he couldn't get out. He pushed and pulled at the door before hitting the panic button. Four parliamentary attendants hurried to his aid. Disabled toilets, it was gently explained to him, have sliding doors. When reporters sought comment, his office responded, apparently straight-faced: ''He can't talk to you because he is in the House on chamber duty.

The following year, he couldn't get on a plane. Qantas flight attendants refused him permission to board a plane in Darwin, claiming his behaviour wasn't acceptable. It was all down to dental medication, a couple of drinks and ''a flight attendant's bad day'', he later explained to the Sunshine Coast Daily, which has compiled an amusing file of stories on Mr Slipper's varied adventures. ''I wasn't in any way, shape or form drunk,'' he declared.

Old-timers remember Slipper's past efforts to change the words he had spoken in parliament in the Hansard record. Way back in March, 1986, he was bitterly critical of a decision by the Hawke government to increase aid to the Philippines. It was, he told the parliament, ''to the detriment of the Australian taxpayer.''

Later he apparently thought better of this rush of blood to the head and persuaded Hansard to expunge the words. When it was revealed that a tape-recording indeed had him saying these precise words and the Labor Party tried to have him investigated by the privileges committee for contempt, he swiftly asked that Hansard correct the record.

Last year his phone bill alone was $14,764 - larger even than then prime minister Rudd's. Then there was $16,000 in cabs, $3000 on chauffeur driven cars and $8600 on private-plate cars - for the six months between July and December, 2009. All up, his six-month bill - including keeping his electorate office running - was $640,562 - which was rather more than fellow Queenslander Treasurer Wayne Swan's $491,236.
And a little more from the Sunshine coast daily:
PETER Slipper is no stranger to alcohol and trouble. Most famously, in 2003 Qantas staff refused to allow him to reboard a Darwin-bound plane at Gove, where it had stopped for refuelling, because of his behaviour towards staff.

In 2004, on the weekend he survived a pre-selection challenge from Alexandra Headland barrister Glen Garrick, he copped a black eye after an unexplained scuffle at a Mooloolaba nightspot.

Last year he was in more hot water over a satellite phone calls made to his family and office from HMAS Stuart in the Arabian Gulf. Mr Slipper was accused of disclosing key security information which led to the abortion of the war ship's planned boarding of a tanker.
Be grateful he’s gone, Tony.

Speaker change, a Labor dirty deal but may save money.

Image: Peter Slipper in his new role. His sellout will give him a bigger salary, more super, and removal next election. His half year expenses were nearly $415,000 last year. Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Australian

The possibility of Labor prevailing on its Speaker on the House of Representatives, Harry Jenkins to resign and be replaced by Liberal Party member, Peter Slipper has long been discussed as a method of strengthening the minority government. Now it appears they have gone ahead with it. Jenkins resigned this morning and it appears Slipper will be Labor’s nominee.

This effectively gives Labor another voting member on the floor of the House, and the Liberals one less. Peter Slipper, who is a dead man walking politically as he is about to lose preselection for his safe Liberal seat, has been the subject of considerable controversy within the party and his region owing to extravagant expenses. He also went against the wishes of the party to accept the Deputy Speaker role:
Both sides expect an election for speaker within hours and Peter Slipper to be the endorsed candidate of the Labor Party. The Coalition has formally been informed Mr Slipper is standing as speaker. It has resolved not to run a Coalition candidate for the post, ensuring Mr Slipper’s election.

Mr Slipper is expected to resign from the party, after a series of internal wrangles, to enable him to become speaker.

Sources said Mr Jenkins visited Ms Gillard in her office at 7.30am today where his resignation was discussed. The Prime Minister the contacted Leader of the House Anthony Albanese, who spoke to Mr Slipper about 8.30am. It’s understood Mr Slipper agreed to be Labor’s candidate for the post, after which Mr Albanese called a meeting of caucus.
Ironically this deal may save a great deal of the money spent wildly on a daily to weekly basis to placate the independents who are needed to drag the festering carcass of the government over the line in passing legislation. The amounts involved are huge; the deal with Tony Windsor alone cost $200 million to pass the mining tax. The deal with the Greens to make up for what was promised to get Wilkie’s vote cost Australians the chance for cheaper mortgage rates.

This is not out of the ordinary in the life of this government, or at least what passes for one. The dell with Wilkie, Oakeshott, and Windsor to allow Labor to form a government, involved running out the NBN to their electorates first, denying them the opportunity to run it through more profitable areas first, thus costing millions down the track. It has to be said though, that with the low take-up rate for the NBN, a bad idea whose time has passed, means that it probably makes little difference in the long run.

The change of speaker effectively gives Labor another vote on the floor, against one less for the Liberals. This means for the independents that their day in the sun is effectively over, or at least that their influence is greatly reduced. Wilkie for example had ‘the power of one’ which he exercised in order to get the unpopular poker machine legislation on the agenda. Prior to now he had the power to bring down the government in his own right, now he is irrelevant, unless Windsor and Oakeshott get stroppy.

Labor can be pretty confidant that Wilkie will not vote with Abbott on anything much anyway.

The Greens are still in a position to cause a lot of grief but in the long run a more secure Labor majority may mean a lowering of the ‘deal costs.’ It may however make the independents a bit less reliable for the government in future.

GOP super committee should embrace the joy of failure.

For those not on WAR’s mailing list, here are his views on the actions of the Republicans on the Super Committee.

By Wayne Allyn Root.

The Congressional "Super Committee" tasked with cutting the debt has failed. Good. Embrace the joy of failure. Sometimes failure works out for the best. Because in this case "failure" leads to the Holy Grail: $1.2 Trillion in forced spending cuts. That's the best thing that could have ever come out of this unconstitutional "Super Committee."

Congress is now forced to accept automatic across the board cuts to spending- including defense spending. This is what the GOP should have been aiming for from day one. Play out the clock and force $1.2 Trillion in spending cuts.

But our GOP friends never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. They are scared, spineless weaklings. They are actually panicking because there wasn't a compromise that raised taxes. Could they possibly be this dumb?

The GOP had the perfect campaign message tailor-made for a 2012 landslide. "The GOP stands for smaller government, lower taxes, less spending. Obama is for bigger government, higher taxes, more spending." The same simple clear contrast that led to a historic Tea Party landslide in 2010. All they had to do was play out the clock and let the spending cuts take effect.

Instead the GOP "super committee" members were so scared of actually forcing real, honest-to-goodness, spending cuts that they desperately tried all last week to compromise with Democrats. They practically begged Democrats to increase taxes on the wealthy (by taking away deductions). The GOP was anxious to sell out every small business owner, homeowner, and GOP contributor in America. Listen carefully- it was the GOP who offered a deal based on Obama's philosophy to punish successful Americans for their hard work, sacrifice, and financial risk-taking.

Republicans offered a deal to Democrats that included only slightly larger spending cuts versus tax increases. And guess where all the tax increases were aimed- at wealthy taxpayers. Even as GOP Presidential contenders lied to our faces during televised debates, all agreeing they would not even accept a deal of 10-to-1 spending cuts versus tax increases, the GOP Super Committee members attempted to sell out the entire conservative base for close to 1-to-1.

That is the reason I left the GOP during the Bush reign. Republicans talk a good Tea Party game about smaller government, tax cuts and spending cuts. But as far as actually carrying it out? Not so much. No sooner than the super committee fell apart, the GOP was screaming from the highest rooftops that they will block the automatic defense cuts. They have obviously received too many calls from defense contractor contributors.

This could be one of the most self-destructive game plans in political history. First, we need across-the-board spending cuts to save America from a fate like Greece or Italy. There is no way to cut the debt and avert an economic tragedy without cutting from every department of government- including defense.

Second, these "automatic spending cuts" aren't really even cuts. Not a dollar of today's defense spending will be cut. Not one General or Admiral will lose their job. All that's being cut is future increases in defense spending. If we can't agree on that, America is doomed.

Third, U.S. voters are looking for someone to show they have courage. If the GOP won't cut one dollar of future increases in defense spending, despite the pending insolvency of America, than how can we ever shame the Democrats into cutting domestic spending Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid? 

Lastly, how could the GOP be so ignorant of history? By compromising on taxes to get spending cuts, they would be cutting their own throats. Ask Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Both were lied to and fooled by Democrats who promised future spending cuts in return for tax increases, but never delivered. Worse, Reagan and Bush were forever more called "tax raisers" by Democrats. No conservative can ever win by raising taxes, stupid. 

Are Republicans really that tone deaf? Don't they realize the key to winning next November is to stand firm against any tax increases? Don't they realize the "enthusiasm gap" in favor of Republicans is now as large as the Grand Canyon? All because of the Tea Party and the excitement of conservative anti-tax activists.

If the GOP members of the Super Committee had voted for not only "revenue increases"...but increases designed as punishment for wealthy taxpayers, the enthusiasm gap simply vanishes. By limiting the deductions of upper income taxpayers, you are raising taxes and punishing your own supporters and contributors- exactly what Obama wants you to do. Divide, demoralize, and conquer.

Has anyone in the GOP noticed what is happening in Europe? Greece and Italy are insolvent. Yet they have among the highest tax rates in the world. Higher taxes don't save the economy. High taxes don't lower debt. High taxes have destroyed the European economy. We need spending cuts, not "revenue increases."

Here's my message- from a Tea Party American and small business job creator. Embrace the failure of the unconstitutional super committee. Accept the automatic across the board spending cuts as a Christmas gift from the heavens. Stop considering compromises over taxes with Obama. If you accept the notion that the rich should be punished, stop calling Obama a socialist...because you're no better than Obama. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Compromising with Obama to wreck the finances of your own supporters is only going to kill the enthusiasm of your own base, and get you defeated just like George H.W. Bush.

One last message to the GOP- Grow a spine.

Nov 23, 2011

More settled science; IPCC finds need for more research funding.

Cartoon; from the late Stan Cross.

In the January floods that inundated many areas in Queensland and New South Wales, Greens leader Bob Brown assured us that the mining industry should be made to pay for the damage owing to his belief that they caused global warming, and that was the cause of the whole thing in the first place. The science is settled he told us.

Of course, for the few years leading up to the big floods, governments were abandoning any plans to build new dams. The reason for this was that climate guru, Tim Flannery, had predicted that it would never rain again so there was no point in building dams that would never fill. It would be much better to recycle sewerage, and build desalination plants powered by renewable energy. The science is settled he told us.

Some years prior to that, the doomsday predictions of rising sea levels made by all round everything guru Al Gore, caused astute property investors to rush into buying potential ocean front properties in Colorado and Montana. The science is settled he told us.

And so around the chorus ran
"It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out." (The science is settled he told us.)

Now we have a new IPCC report, the gist of which is that they really have little understanding of why the hell they have come up with the current predictions they have made. Scientific understanding of global weather systems is inadequate, and there is an immediate need for massive new grants to carry out more research into the subject. The science is settled they told us:

The report concedes that extreme events are rare, making it difficult to say with precision what changes have taken place or what to expect in the future. On human impact, the report concludes that "anthropogenic influences have led to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures on the global scale."

And it says there is "medium confidence" that anthropogenic influences have contributed to intensification of extreme precipitation on the global scale. The question of whether this has led to increased flooding is hotly contested. "There is low agreement in this evidence (regional flooding), and thus overall low confidence at the global scale regarding even the sign of these changes," the report says.

Given the central scientific thesis on climate change -- that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide will lead to rising global temperatures -- it would have been extraordinary had the report not forecast the prospect of more frequent heatwaves. But what this actually means remains uncertain and will not become clear for decades.
Perhaps the science is not all that settled.

The words of old Mrs. McLennan come to mind here; “When the weather was in the hands of the Good Lord everything was fine, but since the government took it off him and gave it to Lennox Walker, there’s been nothing but droughts.” The science probably wasn’t settled on that either.

Nov 22, 2011

Johnson campaign faltering; GOP deserves censure.

Media bias and bastardry and Republican cowardice deny the US a great candidate.

Any avid reader of the Ruidoso News is by now aware that the former two term New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson is standing for the Republican Presidential nomination. Unfortunately, apart from a couple of passing references in the Adderville Examiner and a fairly positive Op-Ed in the Galts Gulch Gazette there has been little media coverage of his candidacy. The media has in the main staged a lockout.

While it is unreasonable to expect candidacy to automatically entitle anyone to inclusion in media coverage and a place in the debates, a candidate who meets the requirements should not be excluded. This is what has been done to Johnson. In May CNN blocked him from a debate in New Hampshire, although he qualified as an announced candidate with 2 percent support in three national polls during the month.

Despite being even in polls with Herman Cain and ahead of Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum he was excluded from other debates, which included them. Since then it has been standard practice to omit him from the polls that decide places in the debates. With his campaign now faltering, it seems that media bias and bastardry has denied America a candidate who has the track record and principles to revitalize the nation.

The most disturbing aspect to this whole affair has been the silence of the Republican Party in the face of it. By remaining mute in the face of this outrage, the establishment wing of the party has essentially abrogated its responsibility to ensure that the party’s credible candidates get a fair go. Worse still, they are allowing the mainstream media to select their nominee by default.

This of course suits the business as usual crowd of Washington Establishment Republicans who have no interest in seeing any change to the status quo in case they become victims of it. There are numerous reports of efforts by the party machine to ensure that only the ‘right people’ get up. Recently this came from Bawb, a Montana man:
The Montana GOP has figured out a way to take the rank and file voters out of the loop in our state's primary election. In February, they have a "special" primary, in which only 1,100 specially selected party faithful statewide are allowed to vote. Then, in June, us peasants may vote, after the party candidate has already long since been selected.

They do have "public meetings" before the Feb. vote. We went to ours in '08. Three or four people spoke up for Ron Paul, one for Romney, and one Romney person who endorsed no one but gave a well-thought-out and impassioned speech against McCain.

Then the small unit of establishment-picked party faithful went behind the curtain to vote and lo and behold John McCain swept our county with more votes than all the other candidates combined. Go figure.

The GOP caught a lot of flak over that, especially in the newspaper editorials (my letter to state GOP headquarters went unanswered), but the furor eventually died down and the Party Machine kept the whole crooked mess in place. Mission accomplished. The people's input negated.
By allowing this sort of action to go unchallenged, the Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot in much the same way as the Liberal Party are doing here. Allowing the establishment to simply remain doing the same old thing as has been done before is a guarantee of inertia and eventual collapse. In the US the Republicans are acting as Democrat Lite, in much the same way as the Liberals here are trying to be Labor Lite.

If these parties remain terrified of new blood and new ideas to challenge that which has gone before, they are going to have to rely on winning through their opponents screwing up, which is likely but not guaranteed. What is not guaranteed is that the GOP or the Liberal Party would make much of a difference if elected.

Both opposition parties, here and in the US should be embracing their time in the back paddock accompanied by the unpopularity of both governments, as a chance to renew, revitalize, and come up with an exciting new vision that will catch the imagination of the electorate.

Minority government descends into a circus over mining tax.

Cartoon: By Nicholson.

If any Australian is in any doubt that the current government is unworkable, they just have to take a look at the follies surrounding the passage of the mining tax. A rerun of the now standard ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ has been going on for a while on this one between the government, independents, and the greens in order to drag it across the line.

The system seems to do constant replays of the same scenario whereby; the government puts up a proposal, Wilkie, Winsor and Oakeshott claim they can’t possibly agree to it, Gillard holding urgent talks with them, then to the surprise and delight of everyone in the parliamentary press gallery they agree as long as a hell of a lot of money is spent on their favorite obsessions.

In this case its an increase in the threshold on paying the tax, $200 million on another study, this time on coal seam gas, and an increase in the regulatory burden on miners. This time there is the additional complication of the Greens objecting to any decrease in the revenue to be generated by the tax:

The independents have secured a $200 million program to examine environmental concerns over coal seam gas mining and an increase in the tax threshold from $50 million to $75 million for small companies. But the passage of the bill is by no means assured.

The Greens, who have threatened to block the legislation if the tax threshold is increased, are insisting the foregone revenue of $20 million a year be made up by other means.

However the support of the independents is a big boost to Julia Gillard's Government, which is trying to get the tax through the Lower House before Parliament rises for the year on Thursday. It has been buoyed by Labor Party-commissioned research showing 56 per cent of people do not think average Australians are benefiting from the resources boom.
ABC reports are always very optimistic for the government but the fact that 56% of people do not think average Australians are benefiting from the resources boom is meaningless as in any boom some industry does well out of it while others miss out other than flow on effects. Meanwhile the Minerals Council of Australian is worried about red tape and duplication:
Chief executive Mitch Hooke said that if the deal worked as intended, the changes could add to the value of "an already rigorous project approvals process". He warned there was "a real risk of regulatory overburden and a potential quasi-moratorium on new coalmining projects" if the expert panel did not work within state approval timelines. "The commonwealth does not have the resources to carry out projects assessments on the scale required," he said. "The trigger could potentially delay projects for years as the commonwealth works through EPBC referrals and approvals, which largely duplicate existing state processes.”
But not to worry, the PM has announced she would create a special body of experts - the Independent Expert Scientific Committee. The possible reason for this is that there are now so many expert committees, that all of the good names have been used up. Senator Barnaby Joyce should have the final word here:
Well I have just watched my nation’s Parliament at work. Not in the Cabinet or the Chamber but in the Senate Courtyard rolling press conferences.

The result of the Mining Resource Rent Tax vote was that it was off because of some stumbling Windsor position on CSG when in reality, as he always does, he was going to rollover for Labor so as expected he had a chat then he changed his mind and it was back on, then Oakeshott said that he was sort of where Windsor was with something random about the Henry Tax Review, then Wilkie said it was on but different and then Bob Brown said it was off if Wilkie’s different position was on.

Yes we can run a country like this, this is totally politically sane. After another two years of this chaos the best we will be able to say about our government is that it is very entertaining.

Very similar to: What is your surgeon like? Well there are a fair few of them and they argue a lot about what they are going to cut off but they are very, very entertaining.
Thats pretty accurate when you come to think of it.

Nov 21, 2011

Few take up NBN government broadband.

Cartoon: By Bill Leak.

When the then opposition leader Kevin Rudd came up with the concept of a national broadband network, it was supposed to be the savior of the nation. It caught the imagination of the electorate, with its promise of ultra high-speed service, allowing uses in telecommunications and medical services that were to be the envy of the world despite the heavy price tag which was not talked about to any great degree.

The government was solidly on the back foot and rushed to catch up with its own scheme. It worked its way into the Australian psyche as the new sacred cow of the future. After the last election, promises of early rollouts in the electorates of the independents were part of the deal that delivered minority government to Gillard.

The problem is that for all the enthusiasm for the concept, the reality of it is of little interest to those who have the chance to take it up:
NBN Co has confirmed that the $36 billion network - which so far passes about 18,000 homes - has attracted about 2000 paying customers nationally, representing a connection rate of about 11 per cent.

The Weekend Australian can reveal that internal NBN Co figures from mid-October show the take-up rate has been as low as one in 50 homes at Armidale in Mr Windsor's NSW seat of New England, where Julia Gillard, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley launched the first mainland NBN service in a ceremony that cost taxpayers $138,000.

The low take-up rates emerged as one of the nation's most respected business figures, Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan, called for a cap on price rises by NBN Co to encourage consumers to take up the NBN. Mr O'Sullivan warned that NBN Co would probably become one of the most powerful monopolies the nation had seen, and said it must be curbed by tough regulatory measures including Reserve Bank-style requirements to publish board minutes.

Take-up rate figures obtained by The Weekend Australian show that, on the mainland, Willunga in South Australia had the highest rate of active connections in mid-October at 18.5 per cent. This was followed by Kiama in NSW at 9 per cent, while Victoria's inner-city suburb of Brunswick has only reached 5.5 per cent take-up and Townsville comes in at 5 per cent. …
This is a disastrous result made worse by the deals with independents, which resulted in the rollout being diverted into areas more sparsely populated and less commercially viable, ahead of more profitable regions that could have generated some cash flow to offset costs. It makes little difference though if the majority of customers don’t want it, but the government is attempting to put a positive spin on it:
NBN Co yesterday defended the nationwide 11 per cent connection rate, saying it was still early days and that "the overall data on take-up should be generally illustrative of initial interest." Spokeswoman Rhonda Griffin said NBN Co was "extremely pleased" with the take-up. The project came out of trial mode only early last month, she said, and not all the existing telephone and internet service providers operating on the NBN had begun to offer plans in the market.

NBN Co said it had expected the initial take-up would be modest because most consumers remained locked into long-term internet contracts with their existing providers.

A spokesman for Senator Conroy said the take-up rates were no longer a relevant issue. "People need to finish their existing retail contracts now before they migrate over to the NBN," the spokesman said. "But eventually because of the Telstra deal all of its customers will be migrated over to the NBN.”
The internet has been around for years and there would not be a huge proportion of users on ‘initial’ or ‘long term’ contracts. Many people are moving to mobile connections in this day and age, and NBN may turn out to be an expensive rollout of a redundant system. One of the selling points was that the government would provide what the private sector would not. Perhaps there is a damn good reason for the reluctance of the private sector.

Nov 20, 2011

Queensland government keeps punishing the Mary Valley.

Image: Mary Valley Chamber of Commerce president Col Huddy says the tender process is scaring away potential buyers of land owned by the State Government for the now defunct Traveston Dam project.

For five years since July 2006 the lives of Mary Valley residents have been turned upside down by the Queensland Government. At that time the then Premier Peter Beattie announced amid much fanfare that a new dam would be built at Traveston Crossing to supply Brisbane with water. Residents in the footprint of the dam were harassed and intimidated into selling their properties, and a huge area of productive land was effectively sterilized.

Around three and a half years later in November 2009, the federal Environment minister, Peter Garrett rejected the proposal noting that it could impact on a number of fish, turtles and frogs. The effect on people in the area was not considered a matter of concern at the time, but that seems to be the way in these modern, enlightened times.

In the two years since this event the value of the almost 500 properties acquired for the dam has declined by 50% from $449.5 million, to $225 million. The whole area is suffering severe economic repercussions owing to the huge area taken out of production. With the number of enterprises ruined in the process, unemployment has skyrocketed and the value of properties still in private hands has declined, causing stress on surviving landholders.

Rather than extract itself from a disastrous situation, the government has decided to stick with it and sell down its landholding in the area over the next twenty years. Amid much fanfare, three properties have been placed on the market. The premier Anna Bligh has stresses the need to avoid flooding the market with the 500 properties owned by the state in the area.

Rather than continue to hold these properties for the long term in the hope that market trends will eventually bring about a break-even point at the expense of the entire area, it would be better policy to place the lot on the market with a reasonable reserve in order to unload them to private owners who will then proceed to bring the area back into production.

The state government is perusing the incredibly stupid policy of paying the enormous interest bill on the purchases while continuing to keep vast areas out of production in the vague hope of getting the money back at some time in the dim distant future:

Real estate principal and Mary Valley landowner John Cochrane said what the government was trying to sell now was not what it had purchased several years ago. "They were (then) well run, well managed properties," he said.

Mr Huddy said those most affected were the residents and businesspeople who weren't bought out by the government, but who had lost business or property value in the fallout without any compensation. The Co-ordinator General is staggering the land sales to avoid flooding the market but only a handful of the properties have so far sold in a challenging market.

Rural property agent Amanda Bambling said strong buyer interest in three of the dam properties had been turned away because the land in question was not yet for sale.
So, properties that people want are not for sale currently, while others are on the market but are not the ones the demand is for. Crazy.

Nov 19, 2011

Dishonesty in anti gas generation claims.

The report done for AAPEA on the benefits of power generation by CSG over coal-fired power stations was always going to cop criticism from Green groups. The Greens are not interested in more efficient conventional power generation, favoring a move to unproven solar and wind generation. The possibility that power stations running on gas could reduce emissions of CO2 by up to 70-80% has been greeted by hostility and spin.

The report stated that, “coal could compete with gas on greenhouse emissions only when the cleanest coal technology was compared with the dirtiest gas-fired plant.” In the opposition to these claims that is precisely the line taken. Despite the fact that any new gas fired power station would be most likely to use the best and most efficient system available, the oldest systems of gas are being compared with the most modern power station in the country:

"The report shows when coal seam gas is burnt in old peaking plants like most of those in use in Australia today, the emissions are up to 44 per cent higher than burning coal in the latest coal plants, such as Queensland's 700MW Kogan Creek supercritical plant,'' Beyond Zero Emissions executive director Matthew Wright said.

"What the industry and APPEA are really proposing is to build a huge amount of gas capacity, damaging Australian farm land to delay and displace renewable energy, which is a true climate solution.”

The report was released in the wake of an escalation of the row between Independent MP Tony Windsor, who has called for a review of coal seam gas mining, and Santos, which is exploring in the politician's electorate.
Most of Australia’s power generation is from older power stations, and Kogan Ck is one of a kind here. Any move to gas will utilize the latest and most efficient technology available, and as such will not be the same as the “old peaking plants like most of those in use in Australia today.”

It would be a tragedy if ideology were to be the decider in the move to more efficient power production. Green groups have set their sites on ‘renewable’ power but the field has not advanced to the point where it can be relied on in all conditions and thus requires base load production which in most cases can only come from conventional fossil fuel based generation.

One of these days someone may come up with a efficient renewable form of power generation that is available 24/7 but until that time, fossil fuels need to be used unless the Green zealots learn the benefits of nuclear. It is nonsense to try to denigrate the more efficient use of available conventional technology while it is needed to make up for the failings of their preferred option.

Nov 18, 2011

News CEO stands up to media inquiry.

Cartoon: By Pickering.

There is not much in the news today other than the Obama visit. TV news is even worse, with endless shots of Gillard gazing soulfully at the President as if smitten.

The Media Inquiry offers some respite, with the Fairfax boss, Greg Hywood wondering what its all about. Greg is probably wondering how come he is in the position of having four of his staff, editor-in-chief, Paul Ramadge, senior editor Mark Baker and reporters Royce Millar and Nick McKenzie being investigated for hacking into the ALP electoral database, after pointing the finger at News Corp over the News of the World scandal:

''What problem are we solving here?'' he asked. ''What's the issue current in the media, in the way that we're operating, that needs a solution? What we have not got are examples of serious atrocities of the like that occurred in the UK that must be fixed. There's nothing systemic here that needs fundamental institutional change.”
News chairman John Hartigan generated much more interest. Alluding to the origin of the inquiry which was an effort to intimidate News Ltd and placate the Greens, who resent being placed under scrutiny by News, he let fly:
THE Gillard government had called the print media inquiry because it was "on the nose with the public and looking for someone to blame", News Limited chairman and chief executive John Hartigan has told the inquiry.

The inquiry's existence rested on three presumptions, he said: That journalists in Australia had been guilty of the same sort of behaviour exposed in Britain by the phone-hacking scandal, that News papers were "waging a campaign of bias" against the government, and that print media watchdog the Australian Press Council was a toothless tiger.

"Each presumption is demonstrably false," Mr Hartigan said. "And yet here we are.” “The Gillard government had sullied the reputation of News journalists by linking them with the phone-hacking scandal with out putting up any evidence to support that, he said.”

"Critics are now deafening in their silence," he said. "They didn't put up and now they have shut up.”

The Gillard government announced the print media inquiry in September, backed by the Greens, after criticising the political coverage of some News mastheads, including The Australian.

Inquiry chairman Ray Finkelstein asked Mr Hartigan if he accepted that News (publisher of The Australian) and Fairfax Media wielded enormous power to change laws and change history.

"I accept when you're reaching that proportion of the Australian population huge responsibility goes with that," Mr Hartigan answered. "In some instances ... we bring pressure to bear on behalf of our readership to make changes.” If News wielded as much power as some people claimed Australia would be a republic "as we campaigned long and hard for that", he said.
Its not quite up to the way Kerry Packer stood up to parliament, but its nice to see a CEO with guts and a willingness to call bullshit when he saw it.

Nov 17, 2011

Fly-in, fly-out workers cause political schizophrenia.

Fly in fly out workers have been noticed by state and federal governments and are now something of a cause in the halls of power throughout the nation. In some cases they have been embraced by those politicians who see this phenomenon as a cure for unemployment in cities, while others see them as a scourge who really ought to settle down with their families in whatever mining town they find work in for the duration of the job.

FIFO has been established as the best way for mining companies to get experienced staff and workers into out of the way places where there is insufficient population to conduct operations. Many workers favor it as a way to have a stable home environment while working away, without the need to drag families from place to place as needed. Normally it involves 12 hr shifts for x weeks on, followed by y weeks off.

Senator Barnaby Joyce has noticed some of the complications to the rapid rise in economic activity involved in a mining boom:

The Mackay Daily Mercury reports today that rents in Moranbah have sky-rocketed to up to $3000 per week for a standard three bedroom home.* For the same money you can rent five-bedroom, five bathroom and swimming pool mansions on the Gold Coast.

Moranbah might be at the epicentre but the mining boom is having the same effect all around the country in places like Roma, Karratha and even bigger centres like Mackay.

Meanwhile this government has a $100 million Building Better Regional Cities program which aims “to invest in local infrastructure projects that support an increase in the number of homes for sale and rent that are affordable for working families on ordinary incomes.”** Places like Moranbah, Karratha and Roma do not qualify for funding, however, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and Geelong do.

“Minister Burke said that his program was to help fly-in, fly-out workers, maybe he actually meant fly-in, fly-out surfers” said Senator Barnaby Joyce.
Barnaby raises some good points here however he appears to miss others. One of the things that he should be looking at is that with rents as high as reported home owners are looking at a return of $150,000 per year, which sounds like a very good investment. Under those circumstances, given a long term future for mining in the area, it would seem reasonable to assume that landholders in the area would have little trouble to secure financing to build any number of reasonable homes suitable for the rental market.

Such activity should rapidly stabilize the rental market. If this is not happening, perhaps some investigation might be necessary to find out why it is not.

The whole system of government grants from taxpayer funds for regional infrastructure needs to be overhauled. Those funds will always come from the regions where the money is being made, ie Moranbah, Karratha, Roma and so on, and will always flow to places which have the most political pull, such as the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Geelong, etc. It seems reasonable to assume that these mining regions would be better off were they to have more of their money left there in the first place and fund their own infrastructure out of it.

One method of achieving this has been championed by Barnaby recently. If landholders were allowed to profit from mineral, oil, and gas extraction on their properties, considerable wealth would be retained within the regions much of which would be invested there. A couple of hundred millionaires in Roma or other regional cities would make a big difference.

All the government would have to do is get out of the way and watch the boom occur.

Nov 16, 2011

CSG companies slammed and deservedly so.

Image: Gas wellhead at Scotia. Courtesy Santos.

Last week former BHP chief geologist and current chairman of small uranium company Toro Energy, Dr Erica Smyth delivered a scathing assessment of some Coal seam gas explorers and their behavior. While delivering the 37th annual Essington Lewis Memorial Lecture in Adelaide, she referred to some of the newcomers to the industry as rogues who are acting irresponsibly.

The mineral exploration industry has been around in this country for most of our post British settlement history and has come to place a high priority on having good relations with property owners. The high handed attitude of CSG companies is likely to sour relations with mining companies who have consistently done the right thing. Dr Smyth is absolutely correct in saying that the onshore gas industry "urgently needs a set of guidelines and for newcomers to abide by them.''

The former BHP chief geologist and current chairman of uranium minnow Toro Energy said that unlike Santos, which had been mining coal bed methane for 50 years, the latest explorers were behaving irresponsibly.

"There are many newcomers who I call rogues,'' Dr Smyth said. "How can you just rock up onto someone's land and drill a hole without even asking and without even shutting the gates?''

In delivering the 37th annual Essington Lewis Memorial Lecture in Adelaide last night (Friday), Dr Smyth said the onshore gas industry "urgently needs a set of guidelines and for newcomers to abide by them''.

"These guidelines also need to address the access protocols for the drilling of thousands of wells and how the many low pressure gas pipelines, which will be needed to gather the gas from these wells, will be positioned to minimise the inconvenience to locals.''

Dr Smyth said the relationship between farmers and onshore gas producers could be repaired with community forums and pre-agreed protocols.

"But this needs to be done in consultation and with no surprises,'' Dr Smyth said.
This situation has occurred because of the government’s decision that the CSG industry is of national importance and has therefore allowed the needs for revenue to trump the property rights of farmers. The inevitable result is that while long established companies abide by best practice, the Johnny Come Lately’s have formed with a sense of entitlement, which includes a belief that they can treat landholders with disdain.

People involved in mineral drilling tend to be acutely aware of the need for good relations with landholders, who are in the main, not hard to get along with. All it requires is a bit of courtesy, respect, and cooperation in avoiding getting in the way of their management practices. It is not that hard and it doesn't take Einstein to work it out.

Johnson responds to debate exclusion.

For most of the current campaign Gary Johnson has been excluded from nearly all debates. The ploy used by the media is to claim that he has not achieved the necessary percentage of the vote to be included as a credible candidate. To make sure that he does not get he required percentage, they exclude him from the polls.

Recent news from the campaign indicates that he is becoming irate with this treatment. This is now borne out by the news that he is taking legal action, filing complaints with the FEC and FCC over the matter:


The Presidential campaign of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is filing complaints with both the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protest Johnson’s exclusion from Saturday’s Republican debate in South Carolina.

Citing prohibitions against corporate contributions, the campaign’s FEC complaint makes the argument that, by arbitrarily choosing who benefited from valuable air time during the broadcast debate and excluding others, CBS was “directly and significantly supporting those candidates it favors, and advocating the nomination of one of their favorites and opposing the nomination of Complainant, whom CBS evidently disfavors.”

Similarly, in a complaint filed with the FCC, the Johnson campaign asserts that “The public owns the airways over which CBS broadcasts, and the public deserves to be free from bias- favoring some candidates over others- as well as illegal support of certain presidential candidates on national network television.”

In a statement, Johnson senior campaign advisor Ron Nielson said, “As this campaign progresses, it is clear that nationally televised debates are having a tremendous impact. Candidates are moving up and down in the polls with every debate, fundraising is impacted dramatically, and Republican voters obviously remain undecided. When one looks at the inconsistent and arbitrary criteria networks such as CBS have used to decide who gets to be on the stage for the debates, it is apparent that decisions are being made in board rooms that are having the effect of ‘preselecting’ candidates.

“That is just wrong. We owe it to our supporters and to the process to take this basic unfairness and clear bias to those agencies whose job it is to insure that the power of the airwaves is not being misused in an arbitrary manner in the Republican nominating process.”
The gist of the complaint is that:
By excluding viable candidates like Complainant, who has been included by cable networks in their debates CBS is directly and significantly supporting those candidates it favors, and advocating the nomination of one of their favorites and opposing the nomination of Complainant, whom CBS evidently disfavors. In so doing, CBS is making an illegal corporate in-kind contribution to those favored candidates. The value of this contribution vastly exceeds the contribution limit that applies to any category of lawful donor.
Essentially the networks are attempting to pick winners in this contest. Johnson is an exceptional candidate with all the credibility that comes from being a two-term governor with an exceptionally successful record. It appears from the coverage of the campaign that the networks wish to end up with a Romney Vs Obama election and a guy like Johnson who has economic sense, as well as being sensible on social issues is not on their agenda.

The full details can be found here.

Nov 15, 2011

Cameron becomes Euro sceptic, for now.

Cartoon: Rafa Sañudo.

It is difficult to think of any British political leader, left, right, or whatever the hell they call the middle over there, who has not campaigned as a Euro sceptic, only to reverse course later. It’s almost like they think the public will support leaving Europe while they are in opposition, only to realise that the electorate cannot do without all of those directives coming out of Brussels, once in power.

There is another theory that might explain this phenomenon though. There is the possibility that those directives provide the sort of powers loved by politicians on both sides of the divide. By having them created by the European parliament and bureaucracy, British authorities get what they crave yet are able to deflect the blame to those pricks in head office.

PM David Cameron has broken the mould to some extent by claiming to ‘seek powers back’ while in a position to do so. Unfortunately this seems to be a ploy to bet some concessions from the Europeans before slipping back into good little Europhile when it suits him:
The Prime Minister said that the chaos in the eurozone presented Britain with the chance to begin loosening its ties with Brussels. "Change brings opportunities," he said, striking a sceptic tone in the annual foreign policy address to the Lord Mayor's Banquet. "An opportunity, in Britain's case, for powers to ebb back instead of flow away.” …

Mr Cameron used last night's speech to talk of "we sceptics" being right to question "grand plans and Utopian visions."

He is to spend the next three weeks lobbying European leaders to exempt the City of London from a raft of new directives from Brussels as the price of his support for any treaty change to strengthen fiscal ties within the eurozone. The Prime Minister will make whistlestop visits to Berlin and a number of other capitals.
It is possible that the exemption of the city of London is an effort to minimize the damage expected from a proposed financial transactions tax to help deal with the debt crisis. Such a move has been reported as likely to disproportionately affect the market there.

There is little doubt that Cameron would not wish to pull out of Europe. Were he to do so, a certain popular British Conservative MEP might on finding himself redundant, choose to seek a career in politics at home, which could cause discomfort among any number of career politicians at home.

Coalition split, what coalition split?

Ben Packham of the Australian seems to be a little confused as to what constitutes a split between the Liberals and Nationals in the opposition coalition parties. Either that or he is simply regurgitating the political spin of Trade Minister Craig Emerson. The Prime minister has announced the possibility of a Pacific free trade agreement between nine countries.

The opposition trade spokesperson, Julie Bishop has welcomed the effort to attain this. At the same time Senator Barnaby Joyce from the Nationals has tossed cold water on the deal, not because he is against such deals, but because he maintains that such deals normally tend to leave agricultural products out. He is correct in this assertion; the deal between Australia and the US dealt our sugar industry out.

It is difficult to view this as a split between the parties without the help of some serious spin doctoring. On one hand you have a party saying it’s a good idea, and on the other you have the other party saying that agricultural produce has to be included. Some split:

Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce today ridiculed the announcement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, saying the reality of free trade deals rarely matched the rhetoric. As opposition trade spokeswoman Julie Bishop welcomed the push for the new multi-lateral trade deal, Senator Joyce said agriculture was inevitably cared out from such agreements.

"Of course, if you have genuine free trade agreement - and there are very few such species - then obviously its beneficial for farmers,'' he said. "But what you usually end up with though is a free trade agreement which, surprise, surprise, has exclusions on agriculture.”

Senator Joyce questioned the ability of US President Barack Obama to deliver a deal that benefited Australian farmers at the expense of his own. "I don't think Barack Obama is going to be telling the mid-west he's going to hurt trade,'' he said.
Barnaby is quite correct in his assessment of this. The agricultural lobby in the US is powerful and Obama is weak. The Japanese who appear to be involved have a tariff barrier of over 700% on rice to protect their farmers. There is little doubt that extreme pressure will occur to prevent any roll back of these protections or the subsidisation surrounding them.

The proposal is a good one, but our primary producers must not be thrown under the bus to make it happen for the umteenth time.

Nov 14, 2011

Fairfax newspaper investigated for hacking.

Hubris is closely followed by nemesis.

Cartoon: By Nicholson.

After the extent of the phone hacking by the News of the World was revealed a number of inquiries have been set up, most of which are based on little other than speculation that there is more to be revealed and on anonymous allegations given currency by other media outlets. There is a media inquiry here which seems to be concentrating on the Murdoch press, based on the hope of the government that they might find something.

Government shills and other media outlets (but I repeat myself) have been cheering it on. Other than possibly the ABC, none have been more strident as a cheer squad than the Fairfax press, which is adamant that their major, and most successful competitor has to be guilty. Unfortunately for Fairfax it now appears that the first major scandal seems to be breaking in relation to the activities of their Age newspaper.

VICTORIA Police has launched a criminal investigation into allegations reporters from The Age hacked into an Australian Labor Party electoral roll database and searched for data about prominent Victorians:
Detectives from VicPol's E-Crime Unit executed a search warrant on the ALP's Melbourne headquarters on Thursday. The warrant named reporters Royce Millar and Nick McKenzie, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Paul Ramadge, and senior editor Mark Baker.

The Labor Party database contains personal details of voters including names, addresses, phone numbers and marital status. It also contained confidential information about individuals' dealings with the party. A Victoria Police spokeswoman confirmed on Friday the matter was under investigation.

"Victoria Police E-Crime Squad is investigating the allegation that personal details of Victorians were electronically accessed by a media outlet via a confidential political party database without authorisation," she told the Sunday Herald Sun. "As the investigation is active and ongoing we are not in a position to comment any further.” ...
It will be interesting ton see whether this matter finds its way into the Murdoch inquiry, or whether it falls outside the terms of reference.

Nov 13, 2011

Oleg Atabashian of The Peoples Cube; interview.

Oleg was a Soviet propaganda artist who moved to the west and has been using his skills to combat the creep towards socialism. His book Shakedown Socialism is excellent as is his faux Marxist slogan "We cure weak liberalism with strong communism." His website is here:

Now that 11/11/11 is over.

Yesterday was Remembrance Day which required respect, but there were a couple of items on the lighter side which are now appropriate to publish.

The 11th day of the 11th month was coopted for many years by the Labor Party to mark the anniversary of the dismissal of the incompetent and hopelessly mired Whitlam government back in 75. At some stage they have stopped doing this, probably out of the realisation that no one cared. Even the left wing ABC, our public broadcaster has stopped rerunning it’s ‘The Dismissal’ documentary in the leadup, and just before elections. Pickering reminds us of this. (Left)

Then there is the 11/11/11 Cain Cartoon by Steve Kelly.