Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Oh gods. Keep an eye out for the Four Horsemen

... I just found myself agreeing with Andrew Bolt.

He was just interviewed on Triple J and Michael Atken, the interviewer, was indulging in the worst kind of blinkered harassing push-interviewing. Bolta made some comment about how there's been a dramatic reduction in troop numbers since the surge strategy and this is a good sign - so far I'm with him - but then spun that to a claim of victory and stated that the violence that's happening now is no threat to the stability of democracy in Iraq. Well, Andrew, I'm sure the innocent civilians dying will be glad to know it's the good kind of violence that's occurring right now.

My problem with Atken is he kept trying to hammer the point that Bolta was an insensitive, logic-impervious, America-cheerleading war-hawk jackass. Given that Andrew Bolt *IS* an insensitive logic-impervious America-cheerleading war-hawk jackass, that should be a doddle. Except if you pick completely irrelevant statistics, try to thwap down strawmen and completely ignore any re-directions or clarifications that your interviewee comes out with, putting words in their mouth instead. And Atken kept doing it even after Bolta called him on it.

I've been a big fan of the Hack show for a long time, but this kind of thing is happening more often and it's more worthy of the so-called current affairs shows on commercial TV than of the excellent journalistic team that Triple J has (Ronan Sharkey, Ali Benton, Kate O'Toole et al are fantastic). Joe Hockey's interview with Kate O'Toole was a great example of what the team can do when they don't try to make a nutter look bad, but just give him enough rope to hang himself.

Lift your game, Triple J. Journalism is about investigation. If you can't out-argue Andrew freakin' Bolt, you shouldn't have aired the interview. And if necessary take some crib notes from Anonymous Jeremy.


Some days, the jokes just write themselves

Tasmanian Senate candidate pushing to decriminalise incest between adults.

I could spin a spiel about the questions raised, such as whether or not euthanasia and incest between consenting adults are indeed "victimless" crimes...

But then I'd have to throw away perfectly good lines about proposed sixth toe removal subsidies and family hedges and the Tasmanian BDM workers getting hazard pay.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My punt on Melbourne Cup Day

Labor's 2PP for the election at 52-53%, which means 76 to 82 seats in the House of Reps, and Greens (and possibly Xenophon) to hold the balance of power in the Senate (again with Labor slightly ahead of the Coalition).

I'd like to say Dems will hold a seat but even with the pref swap deal with the Greens, I can't see it happening. Pity - Andrew Bartlett seems to me to be the only truly accessible Senator we have.

There may be a touch of the wishful thinking about this one, but short of something catastrophic going the Coalition's way I think it'll be a tight win to Labor. The Rodent has to go, and I think there's just too many people sick of him.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Battery Link Farm 31-05-07

The best of the recent blog posts, crammed into pens for your convenience.

Ken A. Lovell on Barack Obama.
Mr Lovell also goes to town on an article in the Guardian liberally sprinkled with weasel words.
Ken again, with two fantastic posts on IR: one about Howard's socialisation of IR regulation, and another ripping apart the WorkChoices talking points (in his words, "let it carry that name like a rotting albatross").
Eric Martin writing about the insurgents in Iraq learning and studying from CoW tactics and procedures; the example he gives is a coordinated attack on response teams after a helicopter was downed. Frightening stuff.
And Mr Lovell comments on Bush's admission that he intends to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely. Money quote: "I’ve begun to think that it’s pretty much immaterial now whether the CoW reduces or increases its presence in Iraq or leaves it the same as it is now … events have acquired their own momentum. It’s now a regional conflict and it’s beyond the capacity of any one country, even the Most Powerful Nation the World Has Ever Known, to anticipate the way the future will play out, let alone control it."

Blogocracy, brought to you by Uncle Rupert:
The Good Tim (as I refer to him, to differentiate him from the Evil Tim) with a post about why WorkChoices isn't popular, and it has nothing to do with Julia Gillard being prettier than Joe Hockey.
Also, the Howard Government appears to have a very low opinion of the Australian public.
Joe Hockey foams at the mouth a bit (I had the misfortune of catching him on Question Time the other day, and he speaks like that ALL THE TIME - it's like he thinks slanderous sound-bites are a legitimate substitute for reasoned debate).
Tim also posts about why interest rates aren't necessarily the big problem for Aussies.
And most interestingly, Tim takes part in a blogging experiment, where a bunch of bloggers have written responses to the same question (link goes to Tim's response, which has links to answers by other bloggers). I would have written one myself, but I wasn't paying any attention to politics back in '96 so I don't feel I could give any kind of informed comment on what happens when government changes hands.

Around the traps:
Gummo Trotsky writes about Australian aid money not making it out of Australia.
tigtog with a great roundup of blog posts about the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum.
Cast-Iron Helen uncovers this brilliant globe-trotting project which is much, much cooler than the name "cubic structural evolution project" makes it sound. Check it out!
Both Broken Left Leg and AnonymousJeremy highlight the idiocy of the "disagreeing with the treatment of David Hicks = ZOMG YOU LOVE TEH TERRORISTS!!~!" crowd.
Gristmill dissects the Global Warming Denialists' arguments. Yes, all of them. (h/t tigtog)
MachineGunWeez shows that when it comes to taxpayer-funded election campaigns, what goes around comes around.
Trevor Cormack @ Solidarity puts together a great rebuttal of anti-Labor talking points.
Bryan "Ozpolitics" Palmer with his breakdown of both the polling results and the bookies' predictions for Election '07. I'll be the first to admit that single polls are virtually meaningless - but 3-4 months of steady (within polling error) 58% support for Labor is pretty meaningful in my book, as is the trend of the betting markets over time...
Radio National did a show about the political impact of blogging. You can listen to the show or read the transcript over here (h/t Andrew Bartlett).

It's late and this little blogger needs sleep. Part II with the American blogs some time this weekend. Also, I was scared to find my little blog sitting on Bryan Palmer's blogroll feed. Jeez, now I'd better make sure I write something worth reading!


Monday, May 14, 2007

Raise your glass to the Mothers of the world

Happy Mothers' Day, y'all.

We put our mothers through hell, don't we? C'mon, all of us. From the first time we try to stick our hand in a flame or on the stove, we give our mothers stress and aggravation. Next they try and stop us from using that bad word we just learned and keep saying over and over and over. Or try to keep us from eating grass or mud pies or whatever's in the cat's bowl or whatever's up our nose.

Then comes teenagerhood, and all the worrying they do when we're back hours later than we said we'd be - that's good for a dozen grey hairs right there (each time!). Or the people that it's a bad idea to spend time around, and us not admitting to ourselves that Mum might just be right until someone screws us over. Or the boys and girls (or boys and boys or girls and girls) and all the heartbreak they know we're going to go through, that they have to sit back and let us suffer because we can only learn from the experience, especially at that point when we know everything and we're bulletproof.

This isn't really coherent (forgive me, sleep deprivation does strange things to a blogger) but I guess what I'm saying is, even if you're not on good terms with your mother, like I'm not, today's still a day to give her a call. Or at least think about the things she did for you, that you might not have appreciated at the time.

And it's a day to think about the mothers all around the world. The mothers in Beirut, or Gaza, or Tel Aviv, or Belfast, or Basra, or Darfur, who might not have their sons tomorrow because of wars outside their control. The mothers who have had to console and comfort their baby girls (and sometimes boys) who've suffered sexual abuse and rape, like Melissa McEwan, and the soul-wrenching anguish they must feel. The mothers of thirty-two Virginia Tech students, and thirty-five Port Arthur residents, and thousands of others who've known the senseless loss of life that can take place when some lone psycho has access to overpowered firearms.

The unwilling mothers who are shamed or cajoled or threatened into carrying an unwanted child to term, for whatever reason, instead of having a right to decide what they do with their bodies in a society that values their lives and their choices. The mothers who want a better life for their kids but don't have the opportunity or the means to get their kids out of the cycle of poverty. The mothers of drug addicts and petty thieves and vandals who might be visiting their children from the other side of bars today, because our society still hasn't found a more civilised way to get these kids rehabilitated than locking them away with our worst criminals.

Spare a thought for those mothers today, and all the other mothers. Because even your most hated nemesis, your most despised ideologue, your most reviled scapegoat has a mother. A mother who wanted the best for her child. A mother who had hopes that her child would far outshine her achievements. A mother who muddled along the best she could and made mistakes along the way.

Happy Mothers' Day.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Auspolitics Slang 101

I just thought I'd go through a quick rundown of some terms used in the Aussie blogosphere, particularly the politics side, just to clarify for non-locals. Given that there's a lot of sporting metaphors I wouldn't be surprised if there's Americans out there scratching their heads.

Ozblogistan - the Australian blogosphere, esp. the political one.
ozplogs - an amalgam, meaning Australian political blogs.
Dorothy Dixer - roughly analogous to "softball" in US parlance, eg. an easy question given by an interviewer. "Dorothy Dixer" carries additional connotations of being arranged in advance (as opposed to just being an easy question to use for posturing), and it is often used to refer to a member of one's own party setting up such a question during Question Time in Parliament.
Laura Norder - a common platform for politicians to run on to demonstrate their "tough on crime" credentials (say it out loud, kids). Pejorative.
stoush - colloquialism for disagreement, fight, dispute etc. For a more in-depth explanation, see Liam's post @ larvyprod. Also. a great group blog.

Sporting metaphors:
free kick - giving away ground to the other side with a mistake. AFL/soccer origin.
own goal - like a free kick, but more disastrous. Soccer origin.
hit(ting) for six - what a pollie usually does with a Dorothy Dixer. Roughly analogous to "out of the ballpark", I guess. Cricket origin.
let [something] go through to the keeper - to leave a topic or question well alone, seeing that no good can come of "taking a swing" at it. Cricket origin (unlike baseball, in cricket you don't have to swing at a ball in the strike zone - if a tricky ball comes in and it's not going to hit the stumps, a batsman will often just lift his bat and leave it for the wicketkeeper to catch).
playing a straight/dead bat - not giving anything away or revealing anything, keeping to safe but uninspired talking points or policy. Like letting through to the keeper, but less confident. Cricket metaphor (to play defensively, not aiming to score but also keeping to safe shots unlikely to get you out - thanks to Suki for this one).
"I'll pay that" and variations - to give credit for something well said, handled or accomplished, often grudgingly used in relation to people one doesn't agree with, or approvingly when someone coins a particularly witty turn of phrase. Complimentary. AFL origin (for some reason I've never understood, AFL fans refer to free kicks and marks being "paid" to a player when they're awarded).

meeja - pejorative for the media.
Curious Snail, Daily Terror/Terrorgraph/Telecrap, Orstrayun, 'tiser, Hun, etc etc. - nicknames given (with varying degrees of affection or contempt) to various newspapers around Australia. The examples given are the Courier-Mail, the Daily Telegraph, The Australian, The Advertiser and the Herald Sun respectively.

Ausblog history:
pandagate -

Anything else that needs to be added to this? Any improvements to make? Please suggest something in comments, if it'll help non-locals through the Aussie poliblog chaos. (thanks to saint for a couple of suggestions)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Statistics ignored due to lack of interest

One of the great talking points for this Federal Coalition Government is their consistent claim that interest rates would be higher under a Labor Government. Every time I hear or read this little chestnut, I have to resist the urge to shake a Liberal voter by their collar. It's simply crap. There's no clearer or easier way to put it.

Historically, they say, Labor presided over 17% interest rates!!! Overlooking for a second the global economic factors that contributed to those figures, let's just look at the numbers, shall we? I'm borrowing here from Seeker's illuminating summary, in comments over at Blogocracy. (Thank you, Seeker, and in all cases below emphasis has been added by me)


Compare and contrast Howard’s interest rate track record when treasurer, with Labor’s interest rate track record from Mar 83 to Mar 96 (the last time Labor held power federally):

• The lowest interest rate (90 day RBA bank bill) during Howard’s time as treasurer (Nov 75-Mar 83) was 7.65% (Jan 76), and the highest was 21.39% (Apr 82).

For Labor the lowest interest rate was 4.78% (Aug & Nov 93), and the highest was 19.56% (Dec 85).

• When Howard became treasurer interest rates were at 8.05%, when he left the treasurer’s office 7 years later they were nearly double at 15.26%.

When Labor took office (Mar 83) interest rates were at 15.26%, when they left (Mar 96) interest rates were less than half at 7.53%.

• Howard: From Sep 79 to Mar 83 interest rates were above 10%, often well above.

Labor: With two exceptions (Dec 83 and Jan 84), from Mar 83 to Aug 91 interest rates were above 10%, often well above.

Labor: Sep 91 to Mar 96 interest rates were well under 10%, as low as 4.78% (Aug & Nov 93).

• Howard: From Oct 79 to Apr 82 interest rates more than doubled (10.04 to 21.39%), and then fell to 15.26% when the Coalition lost office (Mar 83).

Labor: From Dec 83 to Dec 85 interest rates more than doubled from 8.89 to 19.56%, then from Dec 85 to Aug 93 interest rates went from 19.56 to 4.78%, and then rose again to 7.53% when Labor lost office (Mar 96).

Obviously this is not the full picture, in particular it doesn’t include Howard’s time as PM, but clearly Howard’s overall track record on interest rates when he was treasurer is no better than the subsequent Labor government. And Labor didn’t have the advantage of relatively low interest rates when they took office. But Howard did, both as treasurer, and later as prime minister. Notice him giving much credit to Labor for that? Me either."

And from pre-dawn leftist, in the same comments thread:
Dont forget that in 1982, housing interest rates got to 13.5% when the bond rate was 21%. The only reason they didnt go higher then was because they were capped at that rate by the Government - I remember this distinctly because I worked for the then Bank of NSW. Do you remember who was treasurer then? It was John Winston Howard.

And some more, from The Age:
"Impossible as it sounds, the data records that at one point in Howard's last year as Treasurer, the cash rate briefly hit 85 per cent as the Reserve tried to stave off a run on Australia's overvalued currency. It has never been that high before or since.
From go to whoa, interest rates in fact fell under both Hawke and Keating.
Howard argues that high interest rates occur because governments run deficits. Is the PM unaware that in the United States, President Bush is running a deficit of about 5 per cent of GDP, yet cash interest rates are just 1.5 per cent? Or that Japan is running a deficit of almost 8 per cent of GDP, yet cash rates are zero? And has Howard forgotten that when interest rates hit 17 per cent here, the Hawke government in fact was running up two years of the largest budget surpluses Australia has ever seen?"

And lastly, some snippets from various places via Alert And Alarmed:
"[from The Australian's letters page, 05/05/04, referring to the 90-day bank bill interest rate - which peaked at 21.39%, as mentioned above, under a Fraser Govt with JW Howard as Treasurer]
'The highest during the Hawke government was 19.56 per cent in December 1985. The highest under Paul Keating was 7.95 per cent in December 1994, which is only marginally higher than the highest under the Howard Government of 7.57 per cent in April 1996.'
Dr Allan Thomas, Lochinvar, NSW"
Not only was Treasurer Howard not concerned with high interest rates as Treasurer, but he was defending them. In the Australian Financial Review of 22 April 1982, journalist Tom Connors reported a Howard interview on the Channel 9 Today program.

'Mr Howard said that while he copped flak over higher interest rates, there was little he could do about it.'"

It's a far cry from his claims about keeping them lower than a Labor Govt could, isn't it? So please, can we put this myth about dream interest rates under the Coalition to rest? Can we see some evidence that Coalition supporters can listen to reason and facts, rather than just parroting the old promotional soundbites?

Sigh. A blogger can dream.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Battery Link Farm 30-03-07

Strapped for time, so it's just the basics:

# I Am Not My Cock - a scathing condemnation of all those "girls should be more careful/guys can't help themselves" apologists for rape.
# Tanya at Just Something I Do on Why Isobel Redmond Is An Idiot - she obviously has problems with the idea of determining consent like an adult.
# Shakespeare's Sister with a moving piece on the Equal Rights Act in the US, and why it's important that support is building for it once again.
# Anna Winter @ LarvyProd on AWAs and other WorkChoices stuff - apparently pattern agreements are only okay if the employer is the one writing them.
# David Hicks pieces from Larvyprod, AnonymousLefty, The Reality-Based Community, H. Candace Gorman, Saint in a Straitjacket, Shakes Sis, OzPolitics and Road To Surfdom.

And finally, the money quote to counter any "Nobody saw the Iraq chaos coming!" talking point from Bush supporters:
"Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome." -- George Herbert Walker Bush.