Complimentary politics:

James Burke writes: Re. “Tea party not quite a template for Abbott” (yesterday, item 13). Charles Richardson’s checklist, of the parallels between the difficulties of the US Democrats and the ALP, skips the most significant item — their timidity in the face of their enemies.

Bush and Howard were never made to answer to a tribunal on Iraq, even one as feeble as the Chilcot Inquiry which Tony Blair faced in the UK. Rudd let the mad ideologues carry on at the ABC; Obama, after a brief outbreak of hostilities, moved Fox News up the ranks of White House correspondents. Obama mimicked the Republicans on offshore oil drilling; Gillard mimicked the Liberals on asylum seekers.

“Bipartisanship” was a buzzword for both the ALP and the Democrats. Rudd and Gillard have been just as willing to compliment Howard as Obama is to compliment Bush. From the President’s speech on Iraq yesterday: “It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.”

Pathetic. Quoting that line, Salon’s Joan Walsh drily noted that “Democratic statesmanship and generosity is almost always a one-way street.”

In both cases, the base has become alienated. In Australia this means voting Green or informal, in the US it means not showing up at all. Meanwhile, the crooks and fanatics who should be forced to spend every waking hour of the rest of their lives trying to defend or atone for their misdeeds, are busily making plans for their next bout of misrule.

And when we come to name the Lord of that Misrule, a certain Australian-born American comes to mind …

The economy:

John Turner writes: Re. “We’re approaching boom levels of growth: ABS” (yesterday, item 3). Glenn Dyer mentions the government having a higher level of debt due to the stimulus package. The government only created more money without having to borrow money to fund an increase in the capital adequacy base of the Reserve Bank.

To pay for each new school building the sovereign government wrote a cheque which the Reserve Bank honoured. The government only owes the money to the Reserve Bank, which it owns on our behalf. Tony Abbott repeated the debt claim ad nausea during the election and not one economist or journalist pointed out the untruth of the claim.

In a downturn, when there is little chance of an inflationary effect, the government can increase the money supply to keep employment buoyant and avoid a substantial rise in the cheques it would otherwise have to write to pay unemployment benefits. The School Building Programme ensured we received something of value for keeping the economy from falling off a cliff.

That is in contrast to the Howard/Costello practice of letting the banks borrow unnecessary foreign currency to add to their capital adequacy base, and consequently increase the money supply growth at rates well in excess of the growth rate necessary at the time. The effect was an asset value bubble that priced young families out of the housing market.

In January 2007 I wrote the following to the SMH but it wasn’t published:

“If present economic policies continue we are heading for a cliff. The USA is printing money to pay for its fuel needs and to fight an unwinnable war. Scheming scoundrels are then using the bank balances of the suppliers of essential materials to the US to purchase real assets like agricultural land or even Qantas and thus, with the help of the extortionate pay of senior executives, causing asset value inflation.”


“The Australian Government has a fetish about avoiding government debt. Such debt has two main purposes; firstly to provide essential infrastructure and such essential services as winning a war and secondly to absorb surplus funds in private hands and thereby reduce capital asset inflation. Our supposedly well educated treasurer has the policy of “let her rip.” Sooner or later that policy leads to going over a cliff.”

We only avoided going over that cliff because the Labor Government was quick on its feet with a sensible stimulus package. However present policies haven’t managed to get housing back to a sensible and affordable price range.

The Greens:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Your editorial states “The Greens are coming after Labor in its inner-suburban strongholds”. Can we hit this factoid on the head? The Greens are vying with Labor in a couple of inner-city seats dominated by the intelligentsia, while Labor’s heartland remains the heavily working class areas.

The conflict between the two parties in no greater than that between the Liberals and Nationals. In Victoria, where of course Crikey is based, the Greens picked up the electorate of Melbourne and came second in Batman.  For that matter, the state saw a swing to the ALP!

But contrast that with Sydney electorates, such as Keating’s old seat of Blaxland, where Labor got 51% and the Greens 6%. Some threat!

Chris Hunter writes: The deal between Bob Brown and Julia Gillard is yet another Labor panic attack. Now the independents have a simple choice; a conservative government with one leader, or a desperate red/green amalgam clinging to power at any cost.

Dying to vote:

Lindsay Beaton writes: Andrew Lewis (yesterday, comments) takes issue with the catch-cry “people died for the right to vote” want to know who exactly well, Emily Wilding Davison certainly did. She threw herself under the horses in the Derby horse race in England in 1913, campaigning for “Votes for Women”.

And around 20 Chartists (the campaigners for universal men’s suffrage)  in 1839 during the Newport Uprising.

That’s just from the UK. Further research into other countries would no doubt reveal more.

I hope that sufficiently answers Andrew’s question.

The Constitution:

Justin Pettizini writes: In relation to Niall Clugston (yesterday, comments), I would just like to admit that I was wrong in relation to the Constitutional power to make laws in respect of any race.  But I cannot agree with him that is unreasonable that the Constitution differentiates between Australians and non-Australians.

It is not racist to have a power to make laws about immigration. Nor is it racist to use the word foreigner in relation to someone who is not a citizen.

Malcolm Fraser on Q&A:

Chloe Stanley writes: As well as Malcolm Fraser’s welcome denunciation of the virulent anti Labor campaign by News Limited, he also stated that at least one of the leaks that damaged Julia Gillard, was not leaked by Labor. That comment also, was not followed up by Tony Jones and was ignored the media the following day.


Steve Crilly writes: Justin Templer (yesterday, comments) is buying into exactly the same disinformation that helped manufacture the “Ground Zero Mosque” outrage in the first place. There are a lot of things wrong with the huffing and puffing, but I’ll just point out one. Park51 (that’s the development’s real name, incidentally) will contain a large prayer space in addition to a theatre, auditorium, basketball court, gym, crèche, and, besides many other things, a 9/11 memorial. Strangely controversial indeed.

Equating Islam with terrorism is just wrong — Al-Qaeda represents American Muslims about as well as the IRA represent my Irish Catholic family — but that’s not the main issue. The real point is that the First Amendment protects religious expression even if people don’t like it. That’s why it’s in the Constitution — so that majorities cannot suppress unpopular forms of religious expression.

I understand why some people are upset about Park51 (though many are outraged because they have been lied to and/or dislike Muslims), but in 1790 the American people decided that popular outrage is not a good enough reason to suppress religion.

Finally, anyone who thinks that Glenn Beck meant to mock those on camera has clearly never seen the Glenn Beck Program.

Climate change:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Rundle: Bjørn again? Reshaping the climate change debate” (yesterday, item 5). Guy Rundle should stick to his pretentious mutterings about politics from the view of a former Maoist instead of pretending to know the climate change story.

If he cared to punch around the better blogs such as Skeptical Science for a few months and delve into the theory, he might come to the reasonable conclusion that the science is increasingly unsettled and far from certain in its conclusions. The “multiple lines of evidence” to suggest accelerating warming are in fact increasingly contradictory.

Better measurement has in fact flattened the warming trend and found less heat stored in the oceans and flattened sea level rise in spite of certain “scientists” who keep chanting the old mantra that the opposite is true. Even the IPCC’s Maharishi looks like he is ready for the tough titties treatment due to the preposterous mistakes in the IPCC reports.

Get with the program Guy — your information is dated and derivative and inspired by Green politics rather than real numbers.