Obama’s chances versus McCain:

Kapil Talwar writes: Re. “Obama = disaster. Like McGovern” (yesterday, item 11). Why did Bernard Keane bother with an article that offers nothing new, something you can gather from even the tabloids? The certainty of the article is breathtaking but disappointing. Dude! Stick to Canberra, which you obviously know a hell of a lot about, and on which you write about with your characteristic wit. This item reads like you’re straying into unfamiliar territory (even if it’s not true that you are) with the confidence of a fresh-off-the-boat Pom civil servant in early 20th century Afghanistan. Sure, the GOP will aim its attack dogs on the meat that’s been left on the ground after this last fight, but, since you’ve raised the subject of foreign policy, you should consider Obama’s stand on the most visible foreign affair by far, and rethink your position. If he’ll lose because “all he’s got are words”, why’d he beat Clinton, the erstwhile shoo-in? If war heroes are so sh-t-hot (which they should be if they’re truly heroes), why did Kerry lose?

Les Heimann writes: Hooray! Bernard Keane agrees. But does it matter to Australia if the US was “ruled” by President Obama? Well yes actually and not a single Crikey reader would need to be convinced of that. Would he last more than one term — of course not — Bernard has him right down to his oh so shiny shoes. Would it help if Hillary was his VP? Actually only if Obama resigned his Presidency – otherwise she would go down with him the second time around and never be seen again. But anyway he almost certainly will not get elected. It probably will be McCain with the lowest voter turnout in US history. Isn’t it just a downright shame that the first female party candidate won’t be a presidential candidate? And isn’t it just as much a shame that the first black candidate is so lacking in substance to be almost unelectable. Well it sort of looks like the USA will require all presidential candidates in the future to be white older men. That’s progress folks.

Mingus Drake writes: What kind of kool-aid has Bernard Keane been drinking? Clinton as VP rather than a foreign policy expert like Biden or Richardson to combat McCain without the encumbrance of being Hillary? He speaks as if Obama is a loner without an entire party behind him who lack the burden of being Republican. Oh, and as for the GOP not killing people — now who’s being naive?

Piers Kelly writes: Holy Shiite, has Bernard Keane bought into the myth that John McCain has foreign policy credentials?

Freedom of expression:

Richard Hooker writes: Re. “The US Supreme Court Judges who back Henson” (yesterday, item 13). Greg Barns’ piece, whilst laudably contributing to a complex debate on the nature of “rights” or “freedoms” of expression, contains material inaccuracies. Fundamentally, Australia does not have an implied “right to freedom of expression”. What is implied in the Commonwealth Constitution is a freedom to communicate about government or political matters. To legitimately burden that freedom, government must be able to able to show, in essence, a legitimate legislative or executive purpose, to which the relevant law is appropriately adapted. Moreover, it is not the position under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, that freedom of expression “is such a fundamental right that the state should not override it”. Broad as the freedom is, there are nevertheless numerous categories of speech which remain unprotected, such as defamatory statements which are known to be false or made with reckless disregard for their truth, “obscene” speech or images (as defined by the US Supreme Court) and certain kinds of false or damaging commercial speech. The significance of the cited comments of Justice Brennan is overstated by Barns.

The environment and the economy:

Trevor Best writes: Re. “ABARE ignores inconvenient truths” (yesterday, item 4). Bernard Keane berates ABARE for (in past years) “describing land clearing restrictions as irrational” and (horror) being in synch with the Howard government. I am a farmer in the Surat Basin. Many sawmills sourced timber from local cattlemen in rotation year-by-year on a fully sustainable natural regrowth basis. Greenies interfered however, and all the mills in this rough country have been closed. Now however, a giant coal mine and power station has been competed, and many prominent companies are producing CSG and building power stations. To do this, the timber in the district has just been bulldozed, and the sub-artesian water (previously sustaining cattle) pumped out. The Bligh state Labor government is sucking mightily from the coal and promised gas royalties, and is flat out encouraging massive expansion. East Australia is said to have gas resources equivalent to the N-W Shelf. This reality brings us demand from a couple of countries who have to balance the needs of their population against greenhouse concerns. The Labor government is raking in the created lucre, and basking in the resultant high employment, just like a coalition government might. But they won’t even give up their last-century Luddite opposition to uranium mining. Wouldn’t it be better to have a government which recognised the economic consequences of unstoppable energy needs, but at least then dealt with that reality in ways to benefit the environment while moderating pain to our economic survival?

Not knowing Kevin Rudd:

Walt Hawtin writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. So not many people in the UK know that Kevin Rudd is the Australian Prime Minister? Big whoop. Who is the PM of Canada? France? Ireland? I am not sure what point Crikey is trying to make here, apart from trying to be cute, but perhaps a bit more depth can be expected?

The Fairfax Express in Pyrmont:

Elizabeth Elenius, convenor of Pyrmont Action writes: Re. Peter Rowley’s, Acting CEO of STA (Tuesday, comments). Pyrmont Action welcomes any additional bus services to and from Pyrmont. However, we do not support the 448 returning empty from its shuttle runs to and from the businesses it serves. We have been pressing for improvements in public transport for Pyrmont for many years but have only experienced cuts in service over recent years. As many of us experience waits of up to 30 minutes at the QVB in the evening peak, it is extremely frustrating to be turned away from the empty 448 express service returning to Pyrmont. We note Mr Rowley’s advice that two buses will be freed up for use elsewhere and urge that they be used to boost the frequency of the 443 and 501 services in Pyrmont. We now have a residential population of 12,000 and a worker population of 16,000 in Pyrmont, yet have far fewer services now than when the residential population was 5,000. How can State Transit justify an empty bus run when the rest of the service is so stretched?

Cops and drugs:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Economy resolutely refuses to stall” (yesterday, item 5). I am embarrassed to say that your Mark Cornwall cartoon which incorporated the news of the crooked drug cop reminded me that I took false comfort from the sign on the back of a Wicked campervan which read “cops take drugs from drug dealers.”

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