Archive for July, 2011

Oakeshott: Robert not Michael
July 25, 2011

Robert Oakeshott, MHR (Lyne, Qld.) continues to put the interests of the government ahead of his fellow citizens. His main concern is to serve parliamentary despotism. He has confidence neither in the ability of his friends to make a case for change, nor for the good sense of the electorate in whom, at least in theory, sovereignty resides.

His namesake, a historian and philosopher, reckoned somewhat differently:

Because all action is conditioned by presuppositions, Oakeshott was inclined to see any attempt to change the world as reliant upon a scale of values which themselves presuppose a context of experience. Even the conservative disposition to maintain the status quo relies upon managing inevitable change, he would later elaborate in his essay On Being Conservative.

We see here in Australia, as elsewhere, governments displaying a rearkable level of contempt for citizens. There is a deepening comparability of various occasions over the last century when stubborn governments basically threw people under a bus. The Great War was just the beginning. As someone remarked recently: “Only Poor People Should Be Allowed To Fail”. In coming years the number of poor may rise exponentially, certainly in the West and among those who have but recently emerged into some level of prosperity. In Australia, false science shrouds a common thread of statism and contempt for the individual person. Elsewhere, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany proclaimed a few days ago: ‘It is our historic task to protect the euro. Europe without the euro is unthinkable.’ All that no matter the cost, no matter the legality of the measures concerned and regardless of public opinion.

It is astonishing that yet again governments and their mates should have fallen for such a self-evident temptation. But as Bertie Wooster once observed, “So it goes on, Jeeves, so it goes on”.* Bertie never seemed to age much, he rarely failed to make ghastly decisions but from it all he did learn. No such capacity from today’s politicians.

 

* P. G. Wodehouse, ‘Jeeves and the Song of Songs’ in Very Good, Jeeves, p. 95.

 

Advertisements

Cadel Evans & the maillot jaune
July 24, 2011

There is but one response required in Australia: award him the honour of Australian of the Year. Now. In contrast with many, and having shown himself to be one of the world’s greatest athletes Cadel Evans has truly earned it. The award itself would benefit.

The culprit in Norway
July 24, 2011

Whatever psychological conditions or ideological drives may have spawned the murderous intent–and feat–of Anders Behring Breivik, being a Christian was not one of them. Even so, western media appear (see here, or here, or here, for example) to delight in using the term, along with what has become its alter ego: fundamentalist.

No justification whatsoever for murder adheres to being a Christian, including one who might be reckoned fundamentalist. After all, what is a fundamentalist? He or she is a Christian, commonly evangelical, who tends to read the scriptures literally not doubting the authorship of God. Doctrinally, the Fundamentals are clear.

It is worth recalling that in the opening weeks of the Great War, the Australian Christian Commonwealth (extravagant title of the South Australian Methodist as it became later) reprinted the Fundamentals, yet the editor and indeed the bulk of his denomination were of a more liberal character. The defining moment of the twentieth century for fundamentalists was the educational and political argument over teaching evolution in Tennessee. The term fundamentalist has, most unfortunately, travelled far, indeed much farther than its origins could possibly justify. Evangelical Protestantism has likewise endeavoured, if not universally, to surmount and transcend the intellectual slough into which it had fallen in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.*

Describing Mr. Breivik then in these terms is to abuse the language, even if the precedents for such laziness are many. To suggest, as did Julian Marshall of the BBC’s Newshour last night, that it along with an attitude of anti-immigration was a means to slander countless thousands of quite ordinary, decent people who under no circumstances would contemplate murder in furtherance of their political views or in revenge for various change already in train, nor for any other consideration.

Over time we may take receipt of evidence providing the ground for this dreadful event. One certainly hopes so. Mystification and insult and slur we don’t need.

 

*See, most especially, Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1994.

Malcolm Turnbull: climate change (apd) and (massively reduced) living standards
July 21, 2011

For some time I have argued that the foundation of policy in response to climate change (apd) is to reduce living standards. Evidently, when per capita “Australian emissions” (of CO2?) equal those of China and India, Malcolm Turnbull will be content. A number of critics of western governments’ obsession with climate change (apd) have held that the object is to reduce the possibility of rising living standards in the developing world. This always seemed a somewhat forced line of reasoning. To the degree that it was true, it also held for people of the west whose living standards, as Mr. Turnbull makes abundantly clear (and as have many before him) must reduce greatly. Anybody arguing for renewable forms of electricity generation have that as their starting point.

Then, too, Mr. Turnbull holds the old furphy that sceptics of means—presumably he includes scientists such as Richard Lindzen—simply endeavour to maintain the filthy sources of their wealth. Thus:

Mr Turnbull said parties with vested interests were trying to muddy the waters on climate science to prolong the export of coal, comparing their actions to tobacco companies discrediting the connection between smoking and lung cancer.

Some may do so; there’s always someone. Otherwise the claim is outrageous. It tells, again, of the pitiful state of Australian political and intellectual life. One should make mention, at this point, of the rent-seekers pursuing so-called renewable energy.

And contrary to this particular best friend of the ABC, this is an ideological issue for it is about remaking the world in which we live, mostly with a view to stamping out the human frailties that have resulted in climate change (apd). Contrary, too, to the ABC (AM and radio news), Mr. Turnbull appears not to have defended the science of climate change (apd). Rather he implicitly denies the right of Liberals—for starters—to ponder arguments of sceptics, what he reviles as denial. Science represents a monopoly of truth, what Bob Hawke used to call consensus.

In that context he is right to observe that the Liberal Party offers no substantial alternative to the government in the race to reduce living standards not only of those least able to manage but of the great majority of the population.

He also offers a false argument, or rather creates degree a straw man by which to indulge his want of curiosity. Opponents of the carbon tax, he said, would castigate a Liberal government no less than they do the incumbents. In short:

[T]he opponents of the science of climate change will be criticising that expenditure as pointless and wasteful with as much vehemence as they are currently denouncing Julia Gillard’s carbon tax. . . .

I mentioned a few days ago the public is piling a great deal onto the phrase “Julia lied”. Evidently Mr. Turnbull has failed to recognise this. He assumes that criticism of the carbon tax is based on the public’s perception of the science of climate change (apd). No doubt that is a part of it. Even so, the great bulk of the criticism is that the Prime Minister lied in order to win re-election.

No effort at parsing events and statements can change that. It provides the essence of the current political climate. If the government has not the courage of its convictions—even with the collaboration of numerous Liberal Members of Parliament such as Malcolm Turnbull—then it may expect to pay a very heavy price in future time. What form that price may take remains to be seen. At present the public is encountering the very heavy head winds of parliamentary despotism, despotism supported by the media which, much to its chagrin no doubt, has found itself heaping fuel onto the fire by its own overt support of the ideology and implicit support of the government.

Bear in mind that no branch of Australian media questions climate change (apd), least of all The Australian (although that paper has, apparently, ignored Mr. Turnbull’s speech). Look at the language of any article; one or two op-eds a year change nothing even if they are too much for true believers for whom absolute control of the debate is reckoned a proper duty. The political outlook is most discouraging.

Which brings us briefly to the NBN. In short what proportion of the public will be able to afford an internet connection when the entire system is controlled by a government monopoly? The great attraction for government and, it seems, opposition, is to stifle even the possibility of dissent. Like smoking, stamp it out by means of price.

Update:  “Tony Abbott says he and Malcolm Turnbull are at one on climate change.” If so, then the Liberal Party is irrelevant, at least on this issue—and probably well beyond. They could fight an election on the government’s apparent determination to terminate the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. meanwhile mark Colvin of the ABC makes the absurd claim that “The former Opposition leader gave a strong defence of climate change science last night”. He did nothing of the sort. Instead he denied that citizens here (0r elsewhere for that matter) have a right to question the so-called “science” of climate change (apd—which he fails to acknowledge).

 

Public not wanted
July 18, 2011

More evidence of official censorship.

Thus: CERN: “Don’t interpret the CLOUD experiment results”.

And this, also from Watts Up With That:

In an interesting opinion piece in The New York Times entitled “On Experts and Global Warming,” Gary Gutting, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, argues that the non-experts must accept the findings of the expert authorities in climate science.

Anthony Watts then proceeds to demolish this particular argument for collectivist uniformity. Kevin Rudd, you may recall, when Prime Minister likened the official position on climate change (apd) to that of Galileo. (JoNova rightly observed that official science is the establishment.) Given that peculiar instance of absurdity he, too, might care to read of genuine scientific endeavour. Not very likely, true, given his choice to side with lying propaganda and parliamentary despotism.

Meanwhile, A Look at the Australian Climate Network has examined The “Climate Data Derivatives” Market. This, in particular, examines the various sets of data available from the Bureau of meteorology, not least those manipulated to served a particular argument. In summary:

If an accountant were to use these same methods in preparing financial reports, he would surely go to jail for his efforts. And yet this obvious data manipulation seems to be the mainstay of modern “Climate Scientology”. It bears similarities to the financial manipulation that underlies the derivatives market in that the end product is almost unrecognisable from the data on which it is based. One wonders whether this “homogenised data” might better be labelled “Climate Data Derivatives”.

Whatever claims the BoM may have to operating an efficient weather station network, it is all for nothing when they let their data disappear into this cesspool of “homogenisation”.  As we can see from this small sample, none of the “homogenised” records bears any resemblance to the graphs produced from the presumably more realistic station data records. And when a whole century’s worth of “homogenised” data can be produced out of thin air, one has to ask – “what happened to the quality assurance procedures we were told about”.

Finally JoNova alerts us to “Election Now! National Rally Canberra + Tamworth event”.

Election Now 2011 National Rally

Canberra

Tuesday 16th August 2011

Parliament House

Canberra

It’s just the beginning for reclaiming sovereignty from the federal parliamentary despots. Difficult, because Australia’s frankly feudal-cum-totalitarian media will either ignore or condemn any initiatives emerging from ordinary people.

Election now? No way—media
July 17, 2011

Australian media seems greatly shocked by the very low public regard for the PM and the seeming loathing of the government’s so-called carbon tax. Worse, given Australians’ general dislike of elections, the electorate insists upon a fresh election, the proposed carbon tax being the point of contention or, more correctly, the PM’s pre-elecion statement of “no carbon tax”.

For those of us who have often wondered whether the public could be bothered to conjure any opinion not given by the media this turn of events is most interesting. Add to it the loss of consumer confidence which has flummoxed many celebrities, journalists and academics and the times take on a truly interesting hue.

Consumers, we are told hither and thither, have no reason to doubt their economic futures. It is surprising, true but does that make consumer sentiment “irrational” (Hugh McKay on Radio National one recent  morning or here). Australian media, most especially TV news bulletins appears to have done its best to keep information regarding European sovereign debt away from viewers. Yet enough seeps through that people, brought up on a steady diet of international interconnectedness, sense a fragility in economic activity that may mean personal difficulty or disaster. And they are right, even if their fears are, at present, somewhat or even largely inchoate.

Perhaps, too, people have begun to wonder about our own government’s approach: deficit spending in the (alleged) service of demand (the great Keynesian crux), as though borrowing, rather than “creative destruction” (Schumpeter) and hard work and personal discipline could provide a foundation for the future. I’ve neither seen nor heard any evidence for this, more often quite the contrary, but the unspoken possibility remains.

Adam Smith undoubtedly would have understood all this; Hayek, too, probably. But Keynes? No. Unlike Ms Gillard—and her media friends— the public, while not be very enthusiastic democrats, remain strongly democratically inclined. How long will it be before the media, in op-eds or editorials begins to respond positively to public demands for an election. Or is “do as I say, not as I do”, confined to people in far away places?

Then there remain the streets, the only place for people left to go. The media should love that but, again, I suggest, not at home. Fine, Cairo, London, Athens, Madrid, Kiev, Sanaa and so on and so forth. Media remian enthralled with violence in, say, Libya, Syria and Cote d’Ivoire.

Media and academic contempt for the general public, ordinary people, has deepened as the carbon tax has come closer to reality. The public demands that government seek a mandate for this, ahem, reform, after having denied that any such tax would become law. The public piles much onto the notion that Gillard lied.

Then, we ask, “by what right does a government exercise authority?” Parliamentary sovereignty can generate despotism, as we now have it here, apparently. Will Australians wish to subject themselves to this sort of abuse. Time will tell. As matters stand, the only way to redeem an essential political action of dishonesty and to ensure that sovereignty resides in the people of the country is an election. The alternative is most unattractive but people may deduce the necessity of it.

 

 

Media vermin
July 11, 2011

In the wake of an appalling crash brought about by a vehicle from France Television on stage 9 between Issoire and Saint-Flour in cycling’s tour of France, Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland, expressed unwarranted generosity in his remark: “We can still be happy that we’re alive. Nobody can be blamed for this,” he said. Fortunately, tour director Christian Prudhomme was less accommodating of media barbarity and arrogance: “They [the people in the French TV car] caused the crash of both riders. This behaviour is intolerable”.

a vehicle from France Television on stage 9 between Issoire and Saint-Flour

Australian media celebrities and sports journalists have made it clear for some years that sport exists for their benefit. In Adelaide, South Australia, they go even further. Here the same conceited and ignominious class of person have, in collaboration with dying sports clubs, managed to convince the government of the state that taxpayers should cough up 535 million dollars largely for the benefit of themselves and their mates. They puff Australian Rules (sic) football continuously across twelve months of the year. Like their political counterparts who have gradually sunk to the same level of arrogance, ignorance and self-importance, they have convinced themselves that the would revolves around them.

Journalists are a species of low life that warrants extirpation from public life. But that is only possible if the public begins to treat them with the contempt they deserve. It is an oddity that even as politicians have debased themselves in the public eye, when almost every remark brings parliament into deeper contempt, no similar contempt has generally adhered to the same journalists who have helped reduce the public mind to its present state of sloth and clumsiness. As the public mind has deteriorated journalists have puffed their own importance.

And now the same class happily and literally runs down the people upon whom they so closely depend. Professional sport is a questionable pursuit. Most is completely ignorable. Cycling differs from most in its demands of skill, strength, not only of physique but of mind and character as well, as well as trust in one’s team. Friendships and similar trust go beyond the usual boundaries of team. The Tour of France is truly a marathon. Over quite a few years now one has been privileged to witness numerous truly astonishing performances by these athletes, one determined last year by family loyalty at the expense of a possible stage win.

Contemporary media make it possible for no-bodies like me to able to know of such a race. Yet the same media make it increasingly difficult to maintain an interest in this particular professional sport. Commentary is rarely accurate. Endless clichés rule their speech.

At least, race organisers have announced that the French TV car would be excluded from the remainder of the race. Cycling News continues:

Christian Prudhomme said that the offending car had not taken directives from race radio.

“I announced on Radio Tour, which is the channel everyone should be listening to, that all cars should pull to the side and give priority to the team cars,” he explained.

“The car previously received the order from the race direction not to pass and let the Europcar team manager get through to the breakaway to give Thomas Voeckler the bottle he was asking for. They did not take that order into account . . . and caused the crash of both riders. This behaviour is intolerable.”

French TV’s apology smacks of today’s cowardly politics effectively disclaiming fault. Linguistic effluvia complement scam and bribe.

Update

Far too generous: Hoogerland refuses to sue French TV; accepts their apology.

“They have apologized and we’ve accepted their apology. We’re not looking for a scapegoat. They went too far and they know that,” team manager Daan Luijkx said according to De Telegraaf.

It isn’t about looking for a scapegoat. But responsibility, that’s another matter.

For the moment one hopes that Hooegerland will be able to begin stage 10. Then it may be that we will be able to do no more than look forward to his presence in France in 12 months time.

Further, from the tour management:

Special Prize For Wounded Riders . . .

Today is the first time that two men will be awarded the prize that’s sponsored by Brandt and called the ’Fighting Spirit Award’. Also known as the most aggressive rider, it is a competition based on votes. The votes today have been cast and both Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland will stand on the podium to collect a red dossard. They were shunted off the road with about 35km to go while they were part of the escape group. But both have finished the stage. Bravo to both!

Quite.

Scam and bribe—contemporary Australian politics II
July 10, 2011

Any doubts about the condition of political life in Australia were surely dispelled by the comments by the appalling (former Senator) Graham Richardson:

After the lie of ‘No carbon tax” Richardson is thrilled by the compensation to pensioners:

“When it’s in your pocket, then you’ve got to say, ‘Well, she didn’t lie this time’. Again, cunning, very cunning.”

On top of which is this is the yet more appalling term: “carbon pollution scheme”. All life on earth is carbon-based. For Greens, as too few know, human life is incapable of justification. And so any means of reducing human significance is increasingly urgent. Any scheme that reduces the busy-ness and creativity of people has their support. They will support all means to human discomfort and physical distress. In addition, euthanasia and abortion are just two means to the (literal) end.

Further, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott  observed:

There may be compensation in the federal government’s carbon tax plan unveiled on Sunday but there is no compensation for people who lose their jobs.

Of course not! How can there be? Long live the scam; long live the bribe.

Scam and bribe—contemporary Australian politics
July 10, 2011

The government has just announced, if that’s the right term, the so-called “carbon price plan”. This is based on an intellectual nonsense and defended accordingly, that is, not defended at all. Government then bribes the electorate to tug the forelock to the scam in all its alleged but indefensible urgency.

Will government prohibit greenhouse horticulturalists from adding carbon dioxide to their crops, will government ban Coca Cola and all like effervescent drinks, will state governments that claim a similar concern
“for the environment” and so reduce speed limits in order to reduce emissions from motor cars? And so on and on one could go.

Intellectual corruption and electoral bribery: there you have contemporary Australian politics. Scam and bribe: it’s all that’s left— until the next real crisis rooted in eastern recession and near-collapse of western economies. it’s only a matter of time. Meanwhile scam and bribe rule. Because of that corruption, not least of the body politic, the real problems, as they arrive, may well prove insurmountable.

Rann, Ellis and the ABC—the beat goes on
July 6, 2011

 

 

 

Rann berates Bob Ellis and ABC for contentious articles.

These people seem to deserve each other. Interesting that Rupert Murdoch’s name was scrubbed completely from Ellis’s proffered draft. They’re not so coy in the House of Commons, apparently. (Note that yet again the ABC’s web-site differs from radio reports: why is this?) ABC Radio News has basically used the debate in the House of Commons as a means to denigrate Murdoch. Which Murdoch? Labour MP Tom Watson made clear his choice.

Meanwhile, hope springs eternal. Gary Johns, formerly a Labor MP, writes to say that “[d]espite [recent and continuing] travails, Labor remains essentially humanist, concerned with the needs, wellbeing and interests of people”. Well, to the extent that such concern has some electoral significance at least. And even that’s not guaranteed. Do not live in a non-Labor electorate, such the one in which Keith Hospital could be found (read the document titled ‘Keith and District Hospital Inc Information regarding Hospital Funding’). Test Mr. Johns’ assertion against that.

More tabloid journalism rather than less might alert the public to the sheer hostility that governments and oppositions—Labor and Liberal—have toward ordinary people.