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.

Oct 31, 2012

AFP close case on Rudd video

Back in February, a video was leaked of an outtake from what is thought to have been one of his video statements. In it, he used somewhat colourful language to express his frustration with the difficulties involved. (Warning: frequent swear words)

Now the Federal Police have dropped their investigation of the leak: 
FEDERAL police have closed the case of the mystery surrounding the leaking of Kevin Rudd's expletive-laden video during the leadership showdown. 
The potty mouthed video was recorded in the prime ministers office when he was Labor leader and then leaked at the height of leadership speculation this year. 
But the Daily Telegraph has confirmed that the Australian Federal Police has declared “case closed’’ on the matter after an eight month investigation and they have not found the culprit.
In a statement today the AFP said it had now concluded the investigation that was launched in March. 
"The AFP did not identify sufficient material or evidence to substantiate charging of any person for theft or unauthorised disclosure," a spokesman said. …
It’s not difficult to guess where this came from or in whose interests it was done at the time.  After a period of speculation that Labor was having some buyers remorse about Gillard with a Rudd return touted, the leadership decided to bring matters to a head.
As Rudd boarded a plane to the US for talks, the video somehow mysteriously appeared on YouTube, leaving Kev in the position of having to defend himself from the other side of the world.  Immediately this happened, most of the Ministry went on the attack, forcing him to resign as Foreign Minister.  This led in turn to a leadership challenge, which he lost.
 The material that the video was taken from was most likely stored in the archives of the Prime Minister’s office.  The abandonment of the investigation in no way clears the Labor ministry of blame; it just indicates that these people have covered their tracks pretty well.
It is difficult to understand the degree of sanctimoniousness expressed by the government and elements of the media over this.  We all get frustrated at times and most of us swear about it.  It is not as if he delivered this language in a speech.

Newspoll has a problem

Cartoon: By Pickering 
Recent movements in Newspoll don’t seem to make any sense and are not reflect in other polling during the same timeframe.  While others have been relatively constant since the start of September, Newspoll has fluctuated wildly, from having the Coalition up 55-45%, then even, then Coalition up 54-46%, then in the latest, even again. 
There are two indications that the results are wrong, the first being the lack of movement in other polls.  The second is the lack of movement in the vote for the Greens despite actual results in recent elections indicating a drop in support for them.  They were soundly thrashed in the New South Wales local authority elections, and then lost three of their four seats in the Australian Capital Territory election.
After rushing to claim that Abbott had run out of puff, today political pundits came out in force to claim in unison that Gillard successfully painting Abbott as a sexist or misogynist caused the result.  This has to be treated with scepticism owing to the absence of news on the issue as Labor tried to deal with its budgetary problems, boat arrivals, and an unaffordable ‘Asian Century’ white paper.
 It is also negated by a new Newspoll on ‘Tony Abbott sexist behaviour’, which seems to indicate that it is only an issue along party lines, essentially Labor plus a bit (probably Greens) thinks he is, while Coalition thinks he isn’t.  This makes sense, as the Gillard misogyny speech was essentially a histrionic response to Abbott’s criticism of the government’s defence of Peter Slipper, a lecherous old coot accused of sexual harassment, whose tweets on female genetalia made him infamous. 

Oct 30, 2012

Clarkson attacked by Milliband over suicide comments

British Labour leader, Ed Milliband has taken issue with Jeremy Clarkson over what he called ‘belittling people with mental illness’ in order to demand a ‘fight to end intolerance’.  He needed to burn down a field of strawmen to do it, as Jeremy simply criticized those who suicide in ways that cause disruption: 
 Ed Miliband today accused TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson of ‘belittling’ people with mental health problems.  The Labour leader used a speech in central London to criticise the Top Gear host, who he claimed was responsible for promoting a culture of ‘intolerance’. 
Mr Mililband said stars were wrong to make light of mental illness, as he unveiled plans to tackle what he called ‘the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age’. … 
… He added: ‘Jeremy Clarkson, who may have at least have acknowledged the tragedy of people who end their own lives, goes on to call them "Johnny Suicides" whose bodies should be left on train tracks rather than delay journeys.  ‘It is attitudes like these that reinforce the stigma that blights millions of people's lives, and holds our country back.
Here’s Clarkson:
Jeremy Clarkson caused controversy last December after criticising people who kill themselves on train lines.  The notorious presenter said that anyone who committed suicide in this way was 'very selfish' for traumatising train drivers and inconveniencing commuters. … 
In a newspaper column he wrote that killing oneself by jumping in front of a train 'is a very selfish way to go because the disruption it causes is immense.' 
He went on to label those who killed themselves 'Johnny Suicide'.  Clarkson claimed that train drivers involved in these cases are 'traumatised for life', and complained that passengers would 'have to sit around for hours'. 
And he added that trains should not wait until all the remains of the body had been removed from tracks, saying - grotesquely - that drivers should instead 'get the train moving as soon as possible and let foxy woxy and the birds nibble away at the smaller, gooey parts that are far away and hard to find.' 
However, in his article for The Sun Mr Clarkson stressed that he had 'the deepest sympathy for anyone whose life is so mangled and messed up that they believe death's icy embrace will be better.
While Clarkson’s comments may seem insensitive to some of his viewers, labeling them as belittling people with mental illness, makes about as much sense as accusing shows like Steady Eddie, Mr Bean, and ‘Some Mothers do have em’ of making fun of the handicapped.  They were not directed at the mentally ill as a group, but at a specific group of suicidal people.
The issue of suicide has been handled in film in an unsympathetic manner before, without causing much of a ripple.  Three that come to mind are, Dirty Harry, Lethal Weapon 1, and Crocodile Dundee 2, none of which sparked outrage, but Clarkson was not the star.  None sparked an outbreak of jumping off tall buildings.
The comments will if anything cause those contemplating such an act to visualize the result and possibly be discouraged from it and even better, seek help.  Most people in society have some sympathy and understanding of those with difficulties.  On the other hand, the Clarkson ‘tough love’ approach may have benefits of its own.

Andrew Sullivan; ‘keeping the skeer’

The left hand side of politics, both here and in America tend to follow the aphorism of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, "Git 'em skeered and keep the skeer on 'em." 
While not admitting to being terrible in government, they recognize that the public thinks so and as result resort to tactics based on painting the opposition as worse than they are.  The main method of doing this is to use scare tactics, by painting the opposition as misogynists, racists, maniacs, destroyers, old people killers, slayers of Bambi’s mother, and eaters of puppies and kittens while demanding to be treated with civility themselves.
Leftard political commentator and gynecological conspiracy theorist, Andrew Sullivan has come up with the rather exotic theory that if Virginia and Florida go to the Republicans, the South will rise again with a new Confederacy: 
SULLIVAN: If Virginia and Florida go back to the Republicans, it's the confederacy, entirely. You put the map of the Civil War over this electoral map, you've got the Civil War. 
GWEN IFILL, PBS: I don't know. 
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're rolling your eyes, George. 
SULLIVAN: Am I wrong? 
George WILL: You are, and I'll say why. 
WILL: Democrats have been losing the white vote constantly since 1964, so that's not new. 
IFILL: John Kerry lost the white vote. 
WILL: Here's -- right. Here's what we're trying to talk about. 2008, from Obama, gets that many white votes. This time, the polls indicating may get this many. We're trying to explain this difference. Now, there are two possible explanations. A lot of white people who voted for Obama in 2008 watched him govern for four years and said, "Not so good. Let's try someone else." The alternative, the confederacy hypothesis, is those people somehow for some reason in the last four years became racist.
The left have been pursuing gutter politics for some time, parsing and spinning every statement, comment, event, and possibility through filters of racism, misogyny and anything else that has a nasty sounding ism they can use.  Sullivan tends to hyperventilate while being hyperbolic about wild conspiracy theories that exist only in his own mind, presuming that he is not just making it up as he goes along (and that he has a mind.)
Democrats would be well advised not to fret about all those Rebs down below the Mason Dickson Line digging out their old Civil War arsenals and stashes of Confederate dollars in anticipation of a new ‘War of Northern Aggression.’ 

Oct 29, 2012

Gary Johnson ‘first time’ parody

Some of LP Nominee, Gary Johnson's advertising has been somewhat quirky in an interesting way; many of us made the effort to freeze frame the early ones to find out what the flash of words was at the bases of the lightning bolts. Now he has done a parody of Obama’s rather puerile ‘Don’t waste your first time’ advertisement:
 The release of the Obama effort was met with deserved derision, in part for its attempt to appeal to the fatuous element of the late teen first time voter element in an effort to keep their minds off the poor economy, lack of jobs, and the mountain of debt that they will be saddled with in the future. Other criticism was made of it being a copy of a Vladimir Putin Ad.

One thing Americans have missed is that this ad originated in Australia on behalf of the Greens, by Sarah Hanson-Young. Sarah doesn’t seem to be making a play for the young guys vote; she’s not exactly what a young man’s mind envisions when his fancy turns to lust. If the soulful gaze at Bob Brown means anything, the double entendre is somewhat wasted.

Quadrant Online has the full story of the genesis, including the three videos.

NYT endorsement; little relevance but great excuses

Well, we have reached that stage in the four-year cycle when the New York Times announces its endorsee for President of the United States.  For the last couple of weeks, the whole nation waited with baited breath to see who the old grey lady would come up with as its recommendation.  Speculation has been fueled over the last few days by a number to traditionally liberal newspapers doing a backflip and giving Romney the nod.
Liberals who rely on advice from the Times for a reason to vote Democrat were in a spin. Was it possible that a backflip was on the cards and the coveted endorsement could go to Romney?  Heaven forbid; that the lead of the Chattanooga Times could be followed and the Johnson-Grey LP ticket got the nod.  Could it go to Virgil Goode, a real turn-up for the books?
Fortunately for the left, none of this is going to happen: 
The economy is slowly recovering from the 2008 meltdown, and the country could suffer another recession if the wrong policies take hold.  … embroiled in unstable regions that could easily explode into full-blown disaster. An ideological assault from the right … to undermine the vital health reform law   are eroding women’s access to health care, and their right to control their lives. … cheapened by the right wing’s determination to deny marriage benefits to a selected group of us. … the very right to vote is being challenged.  
That is the context for the Nov. 6 election, and as stark as it is, the choice is just as clear. 
President Obama has shown a firm commitment to using government to help foster growth. … sensible budget policies that are not dedicated to protecting the powerful, … to save the social safety net to protect the powerless. … impressive achievements despite the implacable wall of refusal erected by Congressional Republicans so intent on stopping him that they risked pushing the nation into depression, held its credit rating hostage, and hobbled economic recovery. …
So there you have it folks.  Romney = recession like the current one, Obama care repeal, ‘war on women’, possible attacks on Americans in Libya, and denying the deceased the right to vote and restrictions on voting more than once.  Obama, all good things to all people, … lots of free stuff, ‘sensible budget, maybe even get to present one, Democrat talking points …
This was entirely expected. NYT has not endorsed a Republican since Eisenhower in 1956, meaning that nobody under the age of 77 has voted for anyone other than a Democrat on the advice of this paper. The best bit though is the interactive feature, which details endorsements through the ages. Even better is to scroll through to their excuses reasons for them: 

Look at the ringing endorsement for LBJ: -
In his frenetic dashing about the country, President Johnson stuck mainly to the safety of pious platitudes, interlaced with cloudy visions of the “Great Society.” …… It just cries out the quality of the candidate.
Well if you didn’t like that lets see why they liked Carter enough to recommend him over Reagan: -
Again and again Jimmy Carter seemed to be all sail and no boat, what did he do when his popularity sank in 1979? He fired half his cabinet and blamed the public for succumbing to malaise. …..
Mr. Carter’s economic policy amounts to nothing more than muddling through. But (here’s the good part, probably written by their finance editor) isn’t muddling through just where economics is today? …. You can just see why they considered him a top man.
No, there is no satisfying you people, well here is why Mondale got the tick: -
Mondale has all the dramatic flair of a trigonometry teacher. His Nordic upbringing makes it hard for him to brag.
All right, that didn’t get you to vote the Donks in, the Dukakis one will do it surely: -
Michael Dukakis is not the unfocused incompetent his late and lame response made him seem. …. Now really you have to back a man of that quality.
The paper has backed five Republican contenders in the 132 years since 1880, McKinley, Taft, Wilkie, Dewey, and Eisenhower.  Supporting them 6 times (twice for Ike) in 33 elections has to seem fair.

Oct 28, 2012

The Greens just keep winning

Image: The Greens have good reason to look pleased. Source;
The issue of policy differences, or lack thereof between the Liberals and Labor has been raised here on a number of occasions.  Such differences as exist at all, are mainly semantic in nature or arguments over slightly divergent nuances of similar policies.  Viv Forbes of the Carbon Sense Coalition has an example here in another of his “The Last Word” statements, pointing out how it gives the Greens a winning hand: 
The Last Word
 Wind and solar can never change the way the sun shines or the way the wind blows. Even if we discover or construct (at great cost), massive electricity storage systems, these green energy options will always be inferior in all ways to well-designed coal, gas, nuclear, hydro or geothermal generators for industrial power supplies. It is thus sad in the extreme that the energy policies of the alternative government are little better than the policies that are failing so spectacularly in Europe.  
Can you believe that the policy of Australia’s alternative government supports “Action on Climate Change” including the creation of a $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, additional funding for one million solar homes by 2020, clean energy hubs, solar towns, solar schools, geothermal projects, carbon farming, studies into algal synthesis and the planting of 20 million trees? 
Their promises include:
                Spending over one billion dollars on a “Solar Continent Policy”. 
                A million Solar Roofs policy. 
                $100 million for at least 25 Solar Towns and 100 solar schools. 
                $50 million to create a minimum of 25 new Geothermal Towns and Tidal Towns. 
                Plus a new green army and massive expansion of the green bureaucracy. Looks like, no matter who you vote for, the Greens win.

83 year old defends home; police warn on ‘reasonable use of force’

The homeowners. PIC: Rose Brennan Source: The Courier-Mail

The chronology:
  • Dropkick breaks into home
  • 83-year-old owner and 76 Y O wife present
  • Both have black belts in martial arts
  • Dropkick badly injured, flees
  • Police warn on ‘reasonable use of force
  • We probably have some reason for concern as to whether the homeowners who put the invader to flight with serious injuries, might themselves be charged: 

POLICE are trying to find a home invader who was badly hurt when he tried to force his way past an 83-year-old black belt home owner last night.  The home invader, a muscular man in his thirties who may be linked to other burglaries, broke into the high-set home in Gilruth Rd, Kenmore at about 8.30pm. … 
... When the couple - who both have black belts in the Japanese art of Aikido - realised there was an intruder in the house Mr Dowdy grabbed a knife from the lounge room he had kept for security and went to confront the burglar and warn him he was armed. 
He said he confronted the intruder and told him he had a knife, but the man tried to push past him and ran onto the blade. 
The injured burglar - who was bleeding heavily from a knife wound to his stomach - took two of Mrs Dowdy's handbags and ran onto the balcony and jumped to the ground.A large amount of blood was visible there this morning. … 
… Police have warned homeowners that while they have a right to defend themselves from intruders only "reasonable" force should be used.  "Our advice is that people should avoid confronting anybody it's not my advice that people should arm themselves and confront anyone in a house," Detective Inspector for Brisbane West Robert Hitch said. 
"People have a right to take action to defend their own person, to defend their dwelling and to defend other people. The force that they use must be reasonable and must fit the circumstances, it must be considered in relation to the threat that they're facing," Det Insp Hitch said. 
Det Insp Hitch said police were unsure how seriously injured the intruder may be and said they are investigating how he was hurt.  Blood was found inside the house and a trail of blood was found in streets around the home. 
"The owner of the home has been interviewed.... the reality is we don't know what injuries have been caused, we don't know who the injuries have been caused to. We have insufficient evidence in relation to what sort of actions have taken place in the house," Det Insp Hitch said.
So, we have ‘a muscular man in his thirties’ targeting an elderly couple and gets injured when they fight back.  They would have had reason to believe that their lives were in danger.  It is doubtful whether anybody other than the police and a few ambulance-chasing lawyers care very much what happened to this dropkick.  Homeowners should not be required to provide thieves with a safe workplace.
Police need to understand: (a) whose side they are on, and (b) while they might be unionized this is not something to have a demarcation dispute about.

Oct 27, 2012

‘Seal Team Six’; America’s answer to ‘The Dismissal’

 “The buck stops here.” – President Truman
"Suppose they'd [Seal Team 6] been captured or killed? The downside would have been horrible for him." – Bill Clinton

National Geographic intends to run the film ‘Seal Team Six’ two days out from the Presidential election.  There are conflicting reports as to the degree to which it is a propaganda effort to enhance the role of President Obama in the raid; one, which liberals and the White House contend, was truly heroic.  That is only the case for those who put a political agenda ahead of national security.

Notably, those associated with the making of the film are defending the timing, claiming that it is “well timed for us because we believe the topic is interesting at all times.”: 
National Geographic Channels CEO David Lyle says the film was indeed recut — but to show less footage of the president than an earlier version of the film.  “I think the end titles run longer than Obama’s time on screen,” Lyle said. 
Conservatives have accused the movie of having a political agenda in part because of its Nov. 4 premiere date and it’s backing by Obama supporter Harvey Weinstein. On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that a copy of the film provided to the paper showed that it had been recut to strengthen Obama’s role. 
Lyle said the movie was “well timed for us because we believe the topic is interesting at all times” and called the notion that two minutes of screen time would affect the election laughable. … 
… Freddy Rodriguez, who plays a Navy SEAL in SEAL Team Six, said there was no political agenda behind the film.  
“I think people who are in the opposing party are going to say that, of course. It’s bound to happen because it fell on Obama’s watch. And there’s footage of him in the film, so how could people not have that criticism? It’s almost expected,” Rodriguez said. 
His co-star, Kathleen Robertson, doesn’t believe the criticism is fair.  “It’s impossible to make a film about the killing of Osama bin Laden without the president being a part of that film,” Robertson said.
Making a movie of the raid without the President being a part of it would after all be a bit like Australians making a movie of the Milne Bay battle without including Prime Minister John Curtin.  Old John though would not have wanted a starring roll and would have been embarrassed if such a thing occurred.  A real leader doesn’t try to insert himself into the narrative when others have carried out the heroics.
Over here in Oz, just prior to federal elections, we are accustomed to seeing the government broadcaster, the ABC show a rerun of ‘The Dismissal,’ a leftist puff piece relating to the events of 11November 1975 when the Whitlam government was sacked by Governor General John Kerr.  This was a seminal event in the victimist thinking of all lefties and being reminded of it gets them all worked up into the right frame of mind to go to the ramparts.
The reality was that The dismissal ended a constitutional crisis in the nation when the inept Whitlam government was attempting to cling to power without being able to pass a budget.  Australians grasped the opportunity to thrash them for it in the ensuing election.
It looks like the Americans are catching up. 

The Third party debate

This is a great effort by ‘Free and Equal Elections Foundation’ in arranging this, along with Larry King as a moderator. Larry seemed a bit pedantic about time, but with four nominees and 90 minutes this was probably necessary.
 Gary Johnson was a clear winner with a lot of good lines, probably the best of which was, “Wasting your vote is voting for someone you don’t believe in.”

For second place it is probably, though reluctantly Virgil Goode, with his position on the drug war being the main downside.

Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson had some good points but lost it with the old leftist cliché about how the nation cannot afford not to guarantee free higher education for all. Its what is affordable that counts not what you can’t afford not to have. If the nation can’t pay for it without crippling the economy, it’s out of the question. Anderson doubled down with his claim that the US needs prosperity not austerity. Government spending is not the pathway to prosperity.

Oct 26, 2012

Crony capitalism; mining tax compliance costs fall on small sector

Cartoon: By Pickering 
Last night’s post on the tax that yielded nothing mentioned a number of costs associated with its implementation.  One, which was inadvertently left out, was compliance costs for the companies, which may have to pay the tax.  Regardless of liability for the tax, companies that can potentially be required to pay; i.e. iron ore or coal miners have to do the paperwork and assessments just the same.
We mentioned that the majors of the industry helped to design the tax and seem to have come out quite well from their efforts.  The juniors, minors, and minnows though, still have the burden of costs associated with it imposed on them: 
… The smaller end of the sector, which was left out of the room when Julia Gillard negotiated the minerals resource rent tax with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata, is being hit with huge compliance bills to address the complexity of the tax. 
Atlas Iron managing director Ken Brinsden said the Pilbara miner had already spent about $2 million only to determine it will not pay the tax, adding it was unlikely the juniors would have to pay the tax under any scenario. 
"Nobody wins at where we are at today," he said.  "If you love the idea that the mining industry should be taxed, you haven't won because nobody is paying it, and in the meantime, it is costing us to comply to be a part of the mining tax regime, only to find that we are not paying it. 
"We have spent the best part of $2m in compliance to find that we are not paying the tax and that we wouldn't reasonably expect to pay the tax under almost any circumstance you can imagine as we go forward with the iron ore price." 
The Australian exclusively revealed yesterday that Australia's three biggest miners -- BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata -- have zero liability under the MRRT so far in 2012-13. 
Simon Bennison, chief executive of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, said the majors had negotiated such complex arrangements that it made it extraordinarily expensive for the junior miners to comply.
Mid range mining executives such as Twiggy Forrest were outraged when the three majors decided to drop their opposition, and negotiate the tax with Gillard and Swan.  These people are smart enough to know that the big three see them only as competitors and that any agreement arrived at, would not bring much joy to them.
The whole episode is a classical lesson in the machinations of crony capitalism, in which the bigs get into bed with the government bit the smalls are the ones that get screwed. BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata, have done a deal in which a tax was imposed that they paid nothing on, but the smaller companies have the disadvantage of having to pay similar compliance costs out of a much smaller bottom line.
The MRRT is a dud tax from a dud government which has only succeeded in raising the cost of doing business, while the proposed beneficiaries have been dudded as well. 

Mining tax fails to collect any money

Suppose they gave a war tax and nobody came paid.
One way to ensure that crime doesn’t pay would be to let the government run it. – Ronald Reagan
One of the old favorite libertarian adages, “Taxation is theft,” is justified by the contention that these impositions are involuntary in nature and the implied threat of the use of force is used in their collection.  Creatures of the state hotly contest this, insisting that our membership in society carries with it an implied social contract under which we all agree to pay whatever the government asks, whenever it likes.
The Reagan quote and the taxation is theft statement are appropriate to this story.  They come together with the result of the first collection, or should we say, scheduled collection of the brand spanking new mining tax instituted by Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan with an aim to take ‘excessive’ profits from mining companies and spread it about.
None of Australia's biggest miners - BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto or Xstrata - has any liability under the minerals resource rent tax so far in 2012-13 and the government did not receive any revenue by Monday's payment deadline. 
Tax revenues are also down from the oil and gas sector through the petroleum resource rent tax, and the mining companies - the biggest contributors to corporate tax - are warning that price cuts, the high dollar and falling profits will drastically reduce their company tax contributions. 
The government has already slashed predictions for the MRRT revenue in 2012-13 from $3.7bn at the May budget to just $2bn in Monday's mid-year economic forecast, which was prepared before the mining giants confirmed there would not be any payments under the tax. 
It was publicly estimated that BHP and Rio alone would provide between $1bn and $1.5bn in MRRT payments in 2012-13 but this now seems unlikely to be reached given that the first quarter has passed without payment and low commodity prices are predicted to continue.
It is difficult to pin down just how much this debacle has cost taxpayers.  Substantial amounts were spent in advertising just how good this was to be for us, bureaucrats were hired to administer it, and several thousand acres of timber has been felled to provide for the paperwork. 
The costs of the promises associated with the tax like helping cut the company tax rate, funding superannuation and providing infrastructure spending in the regions have not been a problem as these were reneged on very early in the piece.  They have not been saved though as they have been splurged elsewhere.
It’s not like the tax was designed by idiots like Gillard and Swan on their own.  The companies that were expected to pay the lions share of it, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata, who have the best and brightest people around, helped to design and write the tax.  If they can’t get it right; who can?

Oct 25, 2012

Monster energy drinks hysteria debunked

The background hysteria from the food fascists, over caffeinated energy drinks, which has been simmering quietly for some time has hit a fever pitch over the death of a fourteen year old girl with a heart condition who consumed two of them in the US.  The death has gained prominence owing to the lawsuit from her parents against the manufacturer, Monster Energy.
The ABC has weighed in here with a report including a number of ‘authorities’ expressing various concerns over possible dangers etc.  In it’s related stories recommendations was one on calls for ‘poison warning’ labels on energy drinks.
Warning labels on food products has always been a favorite rousing refrain from the Cloud Cuckooland Chorus but it is difficult to think of a sillier idea, although a quick read of political news will probably provide us with something.  The dangers posed by cheapening the effectiveness of warning labels on real poisons would vastly outweigh any beneficial effects from such a move; like a reduction of dangerous hypertensive tendencies, and stress levels among busybodies and neurotics.
The second report states in part:
Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia shows 65 people called the New South Wales Poisons Centre with problems caused by energy drinks in 2010, up from 12 people in 2004.  The average caller was 17 years old, and in some cases callers reported hallucinations, seizures and heart problems. 
The study found symptoms were most frequently reported when energy drinks were being used for recreational use by teenagers and young adults. Co-ingestants included alcohol, caffeine tablets and illicit substances.
Radley Balco over at the Agitator points out some of the silliness of the current rantings, including: 
... Note too the bullshit use of the “emergency room visits” statistic. Remember, this does not mean that the drink caused any of those emergency room visits. It means that x number of people, when asked by an emergency room doctor what they had consumed in the last 24 hours, mentioned that they had drank a Monster. 
For example, if you’re in the ER because you got kicked in the face while attempting to make love to an elephant, but tell the doctor that you had consumed a Monster the night before you were overwhelmed with proboscidean lust, that would be considered an energy drink-related emergency room visit.  Any drug or food product that becomes popular over a short period of time will see a sharp rise in “x-related emergency room visits,” simply because a higher percentage of the population is using the product. …

Role reversals; politics without convictions

Cartoon: Larry Pickering   
Australians could be excused for getting somewhat confused about the state of the political parties over the last week.  First Treasurer Wayne Swan did his mid year budget review in which he outlined massive ‘savings’ most of which were tax increases. One of the only genuine cuts to expenditure was the reduction of the ‘baby bonus’ from $5,000 to $3000 for second and subsequent children.
For the benefit of overseas readers, feminism in Australia (at least in the form acceptable to the state) tends to be so left wing and entitlement dependant, that women find it impossible to fall pregnant without stimulus from the government.
Most of us expected the conservative Liberal Party response to be a criticism of the tax rises and the fraudulent manner in which they were touted as savings.  No such luck; Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey went on the attack over the reduction in the ‘baby bonus’ likening it to China’s one child policy, and claiming that the government was penalising anyone who had a second or third child.
Now an MP from the spendthrift leftie Labor Party, Kelvin Thomson has turned out to be the only fiscal conservative in the House by calling for the abolition of the bonus: 
Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson said there was no need to lift the birth rate and the money spent on the baby bonus could be better spent elsewhere.  "It was originally introduced on the claim that we need more people. I don't subscribe to that," he told The Australian. 
"Births every year are twice the number of deaths, and furthermore, we have a massive migration program that is projected to bring in 200,000 people this year. That's 4000 more arrivals than departures each week." 
Under changes announced in this week's mid-year financial update, the government slashed the baby bonus from $5000 to $3000 for second and subsequent children.  Mr Thomson said the money allocated to the baby bonus should be used to cut the cost of tertiary education.  "I think there are better ways of spending public money," he said. 
Meanwhile, opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey was attacked in an article posted on conservative website Menzies House over his comments comparing the baby bonus cut with China's one child policy. 
The article, by Menzies House editor Tim Andrews said the cut to the baby bonus was "one of the few good things to come out of (Monday's) mini-budget", which he described as an "ineffective and wasteful welfare policy". …
The real problem in Australian politics at present is not merely the inherent dishonesty of a government, which cannot even afford principles owing to the parlous position it finds itself in.  It is the situation whereby the opposition, which can afford to take the high moral ground if it had any, so lacks conviction that it takes the old populist path of least resistance.
In reality, the only conviction the Liberals have is that they ought to be in power.  Despite Labor being less popular than a dose of clap, the Liberals would be in real trouble winning an election if the Labor Party was to find itself a half decent leader like perhaps Malcolm Turnbull.  Even Oakeshott would give them a run for their money.