Guy Rundle writes: If Michael Danby (yesterday, comments) thinks that all he was commenting on in his parliamentary speech was Crikey and New Matilda‘s comments policy he should, well, read his speech. Here are two excerpts:

Of course people can be fairly critical of any state in the world and critical of particular actions of any state, but … Scant attention is given in the same publications to Burma, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Tibet, North Korea, Chechnya, Eastern Turkistan or any other place witnessing gross abuse of human rights. That is a double standard.

In examining the evidence of lopsided coverage of these two internet publications, our toughest critique must be of their unadulterated racism: the perverse nature of their criticisms and the vitriol that is not present in the appraisal of other conflicts; the use of terms such as “ethnic cleansing” and “Nazi”; and the dropping of all pretence of anti-Zionism by openly discussing Jews and so-called Jewish proclivities.”

It was these accusations I was replying to. Quite aside from the fact that Crikey has provided excellent and unmatched coverage of oppression in Burma and East Turkestan/Xinjiang among other places, I simply reiterate the point that Israel’s governments repeatedly draw on the notion of a unified West, to legitimise their actions — and since that legitimation has become, post Gaza, increasingly shaky (about to become a lot more so, as the recent UN report circulates) the whining that we are not playing fair will become louder.

In that context discussion of ethnic cleansing now and before, and of the fascist strains within right-wing Zionism, remain legitimate. If Michael Reich thinks that Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism had simply a few incidental links pre-WW2 he should read some history.

Les Heimann writes: What a lot of silly little boys and girls are you. Zionist, Nazi, anti-Semitic, not anti Semitic — claim and counter claim — truth or rumour — baiters and the baited. With the single exception of Michael Danby, the absolute twaddle written by so many concerning the actions of the Israeli government must now come to a halt.

Frankly I am much disturbed by so many pieces of hysterical garbage spewed out that those authors. It makes me very angry that Crikey allows a stage to peddle their hatred. Now it is enough, lest Crikey becomes equally branded and trashed.

It’s like printing the racist Muslim trash expression “not every Muslim is a terrorist but every terrorist is a Muslim”. Clearly the so called “anti Zionists” do protest too much. Pick on someone else for a change, and when you do get it right just for a change. Better still Crikey would be well served by adopting a policy of accuracy coupled with constructive criticism. In the real world — where things get done — the committees and boards do not allow criticism per se.

In the real world you have to prove your point and in the real world you ultimately get trashed yourself if you mislead or demonstrate bad character traits such as racism. Grow up you silly little people.

Mark Day on Mark Day:

Mark Day writes: Re. “Rundle: NUBO is wearing pretty thin” (yesterday, item 3). I am grateful to Guy Rundle for adding a bovrilised Mark Day Version to his NUBO opus for Crikey. Having admitted my difficulty in following his foggy prose, at last I get what he’s saying: Things may improve, or they may not. Such clarity is rare.


Steve Blume writes: Re. “Telstra: out of bad policy by greed” (yesterday, item 1). It seems even hindsight is not 20:20. Laying the blame of Telstra’s monopoly behaviour at the feet of Kim Beazley (and Bob Hawke) with Paul Keating painted as the hero of competition freedom is revisionism.

I have high regard for all three, but although the proximate cause of the problems (now being fixed by separating the wholesale and retail businesses) might have been the creation of Telstra from the amalgamated Telecom and OTC, the ultimate cause was the Howard government allowing a largely unconstrained monopoly to be sold and continue to operate anti-competitively.

Bernard Keane got that right in his commentary, but he too wanted to fire an arrow backwards and into the wrong target. The real debate amongst ITC practitioners on the issues now being fixed was in the early Howard years — I was in that industry at the time and the majority of my colleagues could see the looming problem and thought it self-evident, but Howard and his advisers saw the cash and went for that.

John Shailer writes: Kevin Rudd maintains it was just a co-incidence that the Government’s Future Fund sold a large part of its major shareholding in Telstra just before the Government decided to emasculate it. Since then the share price has tanked, leaving 1.4 million (mainly small) shareholders and about 9 million customers in the lurch.

Not much Future for the average punter in Telstra!

Tabloid Crikey:

Jim Hart writes: Re. “Editor on a G-string: the Penberthy-Dye emails” (yesterday, item 5). OK, it’s your Crikey so if you honestly think that anything at all needs to be reported about someone suing someone else over a disputed sexual harassment case then go ahead but at least you could have condensed Ms Simons down to two short paragraphs, max.

Instead you out-Telegraph the Telegraph with a fuzzy pic of a g-string, some photocopied emails and a pathetic double-entendre. What am I meant to do — titter?

Intelligent people:

Peter Shaw writes: Re. “Norway keeps out the hard Right — for now” (yesterday, item 16). Charles Richardson asks: “How can apparently intelligent people support the free movement of goods and capital, but be so passionately hostile to the free movement of people?” Isn’t it obvious that all intelligent people SHOULD be hostile to the free movement of people?

Every resident of advanced nation enjoys the benefits of that country’s social and environmental capital, community infrastructure, and social welfare free of charge. These benefits are not inexhaustible and as we it is not practical to charge residents for them (thankfully).

Allowing free access to this or any country of anyone without being clear that they can contribute more to the country through things such as taxes or community work than they consume through being resident is not good policy nor should it be supported by an intelligent people.


Mark Newton writes: Verity Pravda (Tuesday, comments) accuses Geordie Guy and myself of “cotton[ing] on to the idea that [we] can chew up taxpayers dollars in reporting iTunes and BigPond.”

That’s an extraordinary thing to say, and it minimizes ACMA’s own role. Neither Geordie nor I believed for one moment that our complaints would be anything other than an open-and-shut case, and as the months wore on we experienced mounting incredulity at the resources ACMA was seemingly dedicating to the task of finding a legal way to avoiding making a decision.

Pravda suggests that campaigners “get over their obsession with the ACMA list as currently constructed,” and instead support Conroy’s position-of-the-week. That misses the mark for several reasons.

Firstly, Conroy’s position has changed many times. As I wrote in New Matilda in April, during the time spanning our ACMA complaints Conroy has supported mandatory blocking of the ACMA blacklist plus “other unwanted material”, the bare ACMA blacklist, “almost exclusively”.

Refused Classification, and Refused Classification. Even now, depending on what you read he appears to be segueing towards mandatory blocking of illegal content. To this very day, Conroy’s departmental website continues to say that ALP policy is mandatory blocking of the ACMA Prohibited Content list, just like it did at the end of last year.

We’d have to be insane to focus our efforts on Pravda’s suggested target.

Secondly, the issue of where to draw the line in the sand between “censored” and “not censored” makes very little difference in practice.

Debates about censorship are always fought in the fuzzy zone around the boundary. We all know that we’re not invoking a free speech issue to suggest that someone with a headache should take an aspirin, but detailed dissections of the availability of Nembutal for voluntary euthanasia or RU486 for the procurement of abortions is on the edge of what is legally permitted in Australia in 2009. It is in that zone of controversy that the debate needs to be fought, and changing the censorship criteria merely relocates the zone, it doesn’t eliminate it.

Advocates of censorship have been “gaming” ACMA for years. In our complaint-based system, we know that Bill Henson photos and copies of “The Peaceful Pill” didn’t simply show up in ACMA’s blacklist by accident, they were censored because one side of politics was motivated to lodge complaints about them. Without backpressure from the other side, censorship systems always creep in favour of banning new things, and Pravda is doing the debate no favours by consistently and reliably insisting that one side (and only one side!) of the debate pulls its punches and unilaterally gives up.

Student politics:

Angus Sharpe writes: Re. “Left and right? Just the beginning of the complexities of student politics” (yesterday, item 14). Chris Summers says: “Not many things make for a better headline than a student union, perpetually the bastion of the battling Left (a training ground for fights to come), falling to the Right.”

Q: What do the financial crisis, climate change, and Lindsay Lohan all have in common? A: They are all infinitely more interesting and important than student politics.


Alan Kennedy writes: Oh goody and thank goodness for David Mendelssohn (yesterday, comments) when he starts a letter “Andrew Crook is incorrect to say that Socialist Alternative is ‘a remnant of the collapsed Communist Party’. Socialist Alternative…”

Dave I can’t tell you the frisson of excitement that ran through the old sclerotic veins when I saw that. Is this the start of a cage match between The Trots the Stalinists, the Peking Comms, the Moscow Comms and all in between?

I can tell you my early political life in Australia and England was enlivened by the hours spent in draughty halls and pubs discussing these issues, not to mention the bloodshed that often occurred. I was like Tony Abbott wrestling with his celibacy advisor as I tried to find the true path.

All I can say is it’s about bloody time we got back to these matters. I never thought they were resolved to my satisfaction and now Mendelssohn has rekindled the flame to bring some finality to the issue so we can all move on to a bigger, brighter future. Bravo!

Annabel Crabb:

Dione McDonald writes: Why are (reluctant) subscribers to the Sydney Morning Herald, such as I, not up in arms about the loss of Annabel Crabb to the ABC?

First we lose Alan Ramsay, thus diminishing one’s interest in reading the Herald by 50%, now with the impending loss of the witty and informative Annabel, that’s a 100% total. I guess all that’s left is to subscribe to the Australian Financial Review and cancel my SMH subscription.

At least Laura Tingle is still at AFR as Political Editor!

Climate change cage match (check out the blog!):

Matt Andrews writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) demonstrates stereotypical behaviour from those who label themselves as “climate sceptics”: be uncritically accepting of any argument found on denialist blogs, assume these arguments are better grounded than real peer-reviewed research, and refuse point blank to learn about the big picture of climate science.

His latest letter (in between misquoting me five times) breathlessly repeats a string of endlessly recycled and long-debunked talking points direct from the “Watts Up With That” climate denial blog, infamous among climate scientists for the shallowness and ignorance of its commentary.

For example: “the surface station record is unreliable because of the urban heat-island effect and appalling maintenance and placement of measuring stations” … in reality, these issues have been long understood and adjusted for, and the real issue — temperature trends — is very strongly correlated across a huge range of surface data sources.

For example, the warming trend is just as strong on windy nights as on still nights; if the urban heat island effect were significant, there would be slower warming observed when looking only at windy nights. Big picture: urban heat island and siting issues have a trivial effect on large-scale temperate trend data. Or “the Medieval and Roman warm periods were warmer than today anyway”: false, false, false, false, false. And so on and so on.

What’s amazing to me is that people can be interested enough in this stuff to devote many hours to digesting wingnut blogs… and yet utterly fail to spend some time learning the basics about contemporary climate science.

Mark Byrne writes: Rather than continue to debunk the bogus points in the Gish Gallop put out by Tamas Calderwood, I would like to emphasize one point that he admits to. The critical point to recognise when reading Calderwood is his admission that he will only be convinced of dangerous global warming after it has occurred. Also consider if Calderwood’s calls for inaction are based on a logical fallacy.

Consider this justification:

Mark Byrne asks if I “will only be convinced of dangerous global warming after it has occurred”? Well, yes Mark, because despite record human CO2 production no dangerous global warming has actually occurred…

So here Tamas reasons that reason that dangerous global warming will not occur, is that it has not yet occurred. With such reasoning it not surprising that Tamas is the source of other bogus claims about the accounting for urban heat, the temperature of the Medieval Warm Period, and cooling oceans.

Kieren Diment writes: I think that Tamas Calderwood has pretty much exhausted his climate sceptic talking points by now. Perhaps you would like to link to George Monbiot’s new column for a nice description of his modus operandi.

Adam Rope writes: I think Matt Andrews, Mark Byrne, and Kieren Diment (who should know better after his enormous efforts in the Climate Change Cage Match), and any others with a scientific bent, should realise something when it comes to debating with Tamas Calderwood. It does not matter what actual scientific evidence or fact you present, it simply “does not compute” with Tamas.

Tamas has made up his mind upon climate change, and then fits his own narrowly sourced band of information to fit that one viewpoint. He simply ignores any evidence that actually contradicts this viewpoint, despite the scientific validity of the data provided, and returns again and again to whatever unnamed or uncredited data he has found.

You’ll note that Tamas hardly ever provides any links to back up his bald claims, although he does seem to rely heavily upon the pseudo-scientific misinformation provided by Watts Up With That? Please remember that Tamas has previously stated that the UK Meteorological Office would “peddle falsehoods” when reporting upon global temperature — because he disagrees with them.

As I have stated before in Crikey about Tamas’s arguments — “This refusal is apparently not down to the accuracy or authority of the facts provided, but simply down to Tamas’ own “common sense”.

The final word:

Brett Gaskin writes: Is there a different type of subscription that allows the publication of comments. I ask as the same people are published over and over (and over). At first I thought these people must have something more important or more factual to say than I do. Then I remembered that Tamas Calderwood gets published more than anyone else.

So here’s to a new rule — one published comment per week per person. How about some variety from the rest of us plebs, instead of the same predictable stuff from the usual suspects?

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