Crikey’s US election coverage:

Neil Thompson writes: Re. “Rundle08: Obama should eat this moment” (yesterday, item 3). Your coverage of the US presidential election is grossly biased and journalistically unprofessional. It is of no interest that your correspondents are committed to Obama and can find no criticism of him and have a corresponding dislike of McCain. That is just boring, useless risible partisanship. In the case of the bailout both candidates and Biden are senators and Congress has to act extremely quickly. Why the hell wouldn’t both of them take a few days out of this campaign to deal with issue as members of Congress? first debate is about foreign policy. Obama opportunistically wants to turn it into a debate about economics and this is before the vote on the bailout, this is plainly ridiculous. The Democrat’s role responsibility for the Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac is never mentioned. If Crikey wants it coverage to be taken seriously its got to move up a notch or ten.

Steve Walz writes: Was just looking at the Real Clear Politics website, Intrade Market Odds for the US Presidential Election. It has Obama 55.3 v McCain 42.3 … a huge difference between National Average of the polls — Obama 47.9 v McCain 44.4. Every election has polls and many betting agencies take bets — definitely in Australia and the US. Also, there have been some notable elections, in both Australia and the US, where the polls have been wide of predicting the outcome. So, I’m wondering if anyone has ever done any analysis of whether the polls or the betting agencies are more likely to be predictive of the result? Reckon that would be interesting reading…

Wall St, WMDs and WDGs:

Julian Gillespie writes: Re. “Steve Keen: Paulson’s plan is like bailing the Titanic with a thimble” (yesterday, item 2). Someone needs to hand American taxpayers a pad-n-pencil to just note the following — the current cost of the war in Iraq is $582,000,000,000 USD (that’s billions not trillions) and counting — all spent on the war Bush said would cost only $50 billion. The war Bush said we had to have because of WMDs (three letters that never materialised into anything else). The current real cost of the Bush’s war would certainly have go a long way in providing relief for the current financial “pickle” they have got themselves into domestically. But it is the parallels that strike me — the fear mongering about WMDs and now Financial Disaster — I am starting to get a sense of déjà vu.

Mark Freeman writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). A lot of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be met with just a hundred of the seven hundred billion proposed for the New Socialist Republic of Wall Street. And it would help feed, educate and house a lot more people.

Let’s disband the Senate:

Andrew Lewis writes: Re. “Steve Fielding: Defender of the wealthy” (yesterday, item 5). If ever an example was needed to highlight that the constitution is broke, and needs fixing, Steve Fielding presents it perfectly. Fielding is holding up the elected government’s budget, on the basis of no economic mandate whatsoever. Does anyone think the people who voted for Family First did so because they were afraid that the government might want to impose a luxury tax on cars, or give the less wealthy a tax break via the Medicare levy amendments? I would dearly love to see Rudd take this to a double dissolution as soon as possible. I would never normally support this, but it would be worth it to get rid of this unrepresentative swill.

While Rudd is at it, let’s see a referendum to amend the constitution to abolish the Senate altogether. What was a house of review is nothing more than a place for time servers and spivs to bleed the public purse. Let government’s govern, and if they make appalling policy (hello WorkChoices) then let them be voted out, but at least let them govern. The gerrymander that gives the 174 people in Tasmania the same representation as 5 or so million in NSW is a disgrace. Let’s get rid of the Senate, the Governor-General and the Queen as head of state while we’re at it. Make it a job lot. I am disgusted by this perversion of the principles of democracy. I am disgusted that he is too stupid to see it.

Turnbull on Q&A:

Lloyd Lacey writes: When Rudd fronted the ABC’s very first Q&A program he provided them with a high interest draw card on which to launch the new series with Tony Jones. For the inaugural program, the program producers seated Rudd on a bar-style stool — apparently with his feet not in contact with the ground and the stool unable to move. Rudd was fully exposed to the audience, only able to place his hands in his lap and with no ability to adjust his position. The format was in the classic “hot seat” style. While Rudd seemed to accept this arrangement and participated cheerfully, an objective assessment of a person in this position would recognise the physical discomfort of the position and the potential to boost their emotional stress — and the impression conveyed of a witness under interrogation. There was literally no wriggle room there! The “hot seat” format suggested a robust interview, even a “grilling” — and there would be nothing wrong with that.

However, anticipating that Turnbull would be subjected to the same treatment, and interested to see how he would react, I was surprised to see him in his Q&A appearance last night seated on a chair behind a table — alongside Tony Jones and able to be framed from various angles against deep red, textured backgrounds. Why were both politicians presented so differently — one (Turnbull) comfortably seated and able to adjust his body position and maintain his physical dignity throughout the interview, and the other (Rudd) perched on a fixed stool and presented in the style of an interrogation?

How does this represent either fair or reasonably even-handed treatment of competing political leaders — let alone a Prime Minister, even one prepared to play along for the sake of a program launch? Did Turnbull object to being treated in the same fashion? Was such a set even offered to him by the producers? Or did the producers decide to offer Turnbull something different from that provided to Rudd? If so, why?

16 months in Baxter: $160K:

Chris Graham writes: Regarding Justin Templar’s mean-spirited, nasty little piece to Crikey (yesterday, comments) on the outrageous $160,000 bill imposed on a refugee. Is there any chance we could give Mr Templar’s residency status to Kasian Wililo, and then deport Justin to Tanzania? Inevitably, he’ll seek a better life too and hitch his way back to Oz. Then we can all watch him walk a mile (about 8,000 actually) in someone else’s shoes.

Ross Copeland writes: In response to Justin Templer, 1) Mr Wililo, broke no law on entry to Australia, as it is perfectly legal to claim refugee status on arrival and to have that claim assessed, and 2) if the costs levied on Mr Wililo are waived then no one will have to pay, but it is very generous of you to offer.

Nancy-Bird Walton style:

Terence- Ho Gan, formerly Terence Hogan, writes: Re. “Nancy-Bird Walton” (Wednesday, comments). This Nancy-Bird Walton style seems to be catching on. On page 6 of Thursday’s Age, after going old-skool earlier in the column (boring), Tony Wright finally had a crack at it with “Mandy-Rice Davies”. It’s fresh, it’s cheeky, and I’m down with it. Yours, Terence-Ho Gan.

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Peter Fray

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