Garnaut and climate change:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Garnaut’s scary glimpse into China” (yesterday, item 4). The chances of the world’s big emitters cutting current CO2 emission levels by 2020 are negligible. The chances of Australia leading a coalition of the willing to adopt any firm global targets are also nil, zero, sub-zero. PM Rudd knows this.

The sham of 5% or 10% Australian CO2 cuts making a shred of difference to Australia’s climate is being played out for those Australians who believe that the science is a “done deal” and who voted Labor or Green for some vague feel good, save the planet feeling.

The only people who will bear the brunt of this nauseous posturing are the low income earners and pensioners who will face up to 40% increase in their power bills and increased basic food prices. The Rudds will be able to afford it without blinking an eyelash, while Kevin thinks about whether to convene a committee to oversee the working group looking at the way we compensate old age pensioners.

Ronald Watts writes: There is much to be sad about in Garnaut. He is proposing what he thinks will fly politically, knowing that the science presages tragedy. The science is about as close to unequivocal as these things get. Those amateurs who claim otherwise simply don’t understand about peer review or the weight of evidence. My cynical view is that nothing much will change until a few million are drowned in Florida. Bangladesh simply won’t cut it.

US election 08:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Rundle08: Like a crumbling mock Tudor, Democrats await demolition” (yesterday, item 5). What a poetic piece… it is indeed a pleasure to read Guy Rundle each day. Obama does not resonate; not with the great middle class. Whereas Hillary does — bring her back, now. She who was Hillary is now Sarah and she demands great attention. In racing parlance she only has to stand up to win. One feels that if the Democrats throw dirt it won’t work on her — she’s tough and seems to love a fight.

Forget the principles — it doesn’t work to say she stands for the privileged and Obama for the oppressed. Who in their right mind would believe that for a nano-second? People out there in Middle America also like the McCain experience — veteran, ex POW etc. Surely not the typical robber baron rich guy exploiting all before him. No, the Democrats snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when they boned Hilary — they deserve to lose.

Kirill Reztsov writes: Guy Rundle wrote: “As soon as there’s a draw-down of troops, insurgents will flood back into Iraq from the Pakistani badlands, and it’s all on again.” Forgive me if I am not up on the latest developments in geography, but how are the insurgents going back and forth between Iraq and the badlands of Pakistan? Terrorist Airlines? A really big tunnel? Wicked Campers?

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Regarding Rupert Murdoch’s apparent about-face. It could be read as a cynically cunning move to remove the stronger foe in that contest in order to greatly improve the chances of a Republican victory in the main event.

Here’s my cynical take on the US election: McCain wins, is dead or disabled within six months due to his advanced years and (no doubt) the life-shortening effects of his war service, and the American people are left with yet another barely compos mentis stooge in the White House while big business (such as Murdoch) get on with really running the country, as they appear to have been doing for some time. It’s all so predictable…

So much for the greatest democracy on earth when a single individual through the media has that kind of power. Here’s hoping that the hurricanes currently sweeping the US will be a timely reminder to voters of where inconvenient (to business) climate change and its denial by conservative political regimes around the world is likely to leave them: up sh-t creek.

Nathan Rees:

Christopher Ridings writes: Re. “Nathan Rees carries baggage from the Orkopolous scandal” (yesterday, item 1). The arrival of Nathan Rees as NSW Premier is somewhat muted owing to the passing shot of the sacked Treasurer Michael Costa. The elephant in the room is not Rees’ former unspeakable boss up in Swansea but the unpalatable fact that NSW is stuffed.

For the last 20 years under successive Liberal/National Party and ALP governments, its economy has been leaking away like neglecting plumbing. Sydney has expanded into a demanding city with a bottomless pit of needs. Like the proverbial black hole, Sydney is sucking into its centre every resource that can be thrown into it and remains insatiable, yet Governments have obliged more and more people to have to work there.

If the rest of NSW had any sense it would secede and form new States that can attract people to flee the concrete spaghetti and the interminable traffic delays. Much as I dislike the manner of Michael “Thistle” Costa, we ignore his facts at our peril. What I ask for is some ideas through Crikey, especially from Stephen Mayne, as to where NSW can go next?

John Bannon writes: Re. “Sydney media finds new hate figure — Premier Rees” (yesterday, item 11). Alex Mitchell may have the sentiment right but the attribution is wrong. It was Rudyard Kipling no less who wrote of Lord Beaverbrook that he sought “power without responsibility; the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages”, so it was not coined but quoted by Stanley Baldwin, who in any case in 1931 was not the Prime Minister of Britain; that was Labour’s Ramsay MacDonald whom Churchill famously called “a boneless wonder”, who was in the process of switching to head a conservative coalition with Baldwin as his Chancellor.

Fannie and Freddy:

Keith Binns writes: Re. “Saving Fannie and Freddie won’t solve US economic woes” (yesterday, item 20). Is the US government that is bailing out Fanny and Freddie the same one that continually trumpets the primacy of the market? I think it needs to be done, but I still find it cynically amusing.

Vegan love:

John Bowyer writes: Geoff Russell (yesterday, comments) writes that 41% of vegans are single — no surprise there! Geoff apparently will not compromise and is wont to froth at the mouth at behaviour he deems inappropriate. Geoff leads a limited social life and broods over reading and thinking about the hypocrisy and compromise of all us carnivores. His solution to global warming is what? From what I can understand it’s to get rid of the animals we have made very successful in the world. Chicken, beef, lamb, pork and all the rest.

Lighten up Geoff, read some history and geography and find out all the things that happened before you landed on the planet. There were quite a few things. Read about “The Ice Age” or is it “ages” there were quite a few and all without human intervention. Sort out your social life and you will probably feel so much better. Have a lovely day Geoff!

Geoff Perston writes: Sorry Geoff Russell but I much prefer life as a meat-eating, happily-partnered, optimistic, well-connected and articulate member of society than as a sad, narrow-minded, pessimistic and socially isolated vegan! I do share a dislike not dissimilar to yours however when mine host garnishes my meal of Sus scrofa domesticus with nutritionally lacking paddock weeds.

Newsworthiness:

Sean Maharg writes: Re. “Media briefs: Random Anna Coren observation of the week, Soapies as social conscience” (yesterday, item 17). Maybe those journalists bleating about “quality journalism” should divert their energies to turning themselves into quality journalists. Do readers really crave quality journalism anyway? I think your Media Briefs item “Election Smection” says it all. The stories with the greatest readership certainly didn’t appear to be in-depth analysis of current burning issues, did they? As for” Forget the rates, check out this stripper story” where you take a swipe at The Age’s online edition news judgement, if you’d inspected yesterday’s digital edition, you’d have found the “most read” stories were:

  1. Police plan Hummer patrol for violent city centre
  2. Palin stirs up smears and loathing in the blogosphere
  3. Best man ‘ridden like dog’ by stripper
  4. Naturopath ‘tried it on’ with clients
  5. Garnaut is wrong, say scientists

Could it be the online editors already have that “finely honed sense of newsworthiness”?

Call me old fashioned:

Tom Cowen writes: Re. Shane Nixon (yesterday, comments) on ticket pricing at the AFL. Call me old fashioned, call me out of touch, tell me I’ve missed the boat, tell me I’ve gone troppo living in far north Queensland but I am astounded at the prices being charged for entry to “family entertainment”.

I drove to NSW for a holiday in June with my family (two adults, two children). On the way back we called into Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. Sadly the price was too high for us to enter ($52 a head). My kids weren’t too disappointed because they understand the value of a dollar and how scarce they are in our family. I spoke to a friend who had been to the Gold Coast the week before and he told me that it cost him $360 to take his family (two adults and three kids — one aged four) to one of those theme parks. Crikey!

I earn a little below the average wage and have a modest mortgage but this is insane. Not everyone lives in Sydney or Melbourne or Perth and has become immune to the sky high prices that are being gouged out of embattled families. I can tell you it is tough on a bloke to raise his kids with expectations that they are going to the zoo and then I have to tell them that they are too poor to enter.

Vietnam:

H.K. Colebatch writes: Re. Neil James (yesterday, comments). The “domino” claim was that the Viet Cong struggle was part of a worldwide plan to extend communist rule, and that if they won in Vietnam, the communists would then turn their attention to the rest of Southeast Asia. This was bullsh-t at the time and has been disproved by events. The new regime in Hanoi concentrated on rebuilding a united Vietnam. Its only use of its military power to achieve regime change was to remove the murderous authoritarian Maoist regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia. It was not that its plans to spread communist rule to Thailand and Malaysia were thwarted by the growth of middle-class democracy (Thailand was under military rule from 1976 to 1992), but that it showed little interest in involving itself.

There is no evidence of a worldwide communist plan (there was more conflict than cooperation within the communist world), and no reason to suppose that if the US had accepted the 1954 settlement of the anti-colonial war in Vietnam (as France and Britain did), the outcome would have been any different. Neil James is an industry lobbyist and has a story to tell. I am an academic social scientist (not, by the way, the poet) and I have to go on the evidence. And the evidence is clear: the communist victory in Vietnam did not have the deleterious consequences for Australia’s security that had been claimed.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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