A standard reminder. This is a government which cannot actually govern. It lacks the numbers. That is something we should all keep in mind every time we hear a Labor Party Minister promise to do something. The harsh reality of the tyranny of the minority has been brought home again with the announcement by Senators Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding that they will not be voting for the much promised FuelWatch scheme. Kevin Rudd can argue as much as he likes that he has a mandate for such legislation, but without the support of either the Coalition Senators, or all of the odds and sods Senators, he cannot deliver.

This is bound to be a frustrating experience for Labor for there is no obvious common ideological link between Greens, Family First and No Pokies parties. The one thing they appear to have in common is the knowledge that an eventual double dissolution election will do none of them any harm.

Admiring Brendan Nelson . You just have to admire the pluck of Brendan Nelson. There’s the poor bloke trying to have a few quiet weeks out of the spotlight and those journalists track him down in Washington to ask about opinion polls! If he was a dog the RSPCA would be charging those mean spirited interrogators with cruelty to animals.

A US housing loan peculiarity. The news from the United States about falling housing prices continues to be grim and the situation clearly being made worse in at least some states, particularly California, by laws which means that if the value of a mortgaged property falls below the amount owed to the bank, people can just hand it over to the bank and not be liable for any difference between what the bank is owed and what it obtains by selling it. If they are not concerned about the impact on their credit rating, people just stop making payments when they are confronted with “negative equity” and enjoy six or eight months of rent free living while the bank goes through the process of having them evicted.

Obama’s presidential progress. Barack Obama had his holiday rudely interrupted by those pesky Russkies but a ceasefire should enable him to get back into the Hawaiian sunshine and enjoy the revival of his electoral fortunes. The last couple of weeks have seen the Democratic Party candidate consolidate his position as the presidential favourite. On the measure of the opinion polls Obama is now nearly five percentage points in front, if we take the Real Clear Politics poll average as our guide, and by more than that in a majority of the individual polls

On the Crikey election indicator based on the prices at the betting exchanges like Betfair Obama is given almost a 70% chance of winning.

A good big man will always beat a good little man. Those of you impressed by neither opinion polls nor the odds might find the theory of Washington Post writer Jay Mathews more appealing. Mr Mathews, a journalist of similar height, it would appear, to Australia’s very own poison dwarf, has been trying for many years to warn America of “a bone-deep bias that has poisoned our presidential politics and rendered our media’s campaign analysis largely irrelevant.” His thesis is that taller candidates normally beat shorter candidates and on that measure too Barack Obama at 6ft1 is favoured to beat the 5ft9 John McCain. 

Peter Fray

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