Obama in Oz:

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “We’re not in Canberra any more — welcome to DC on the Molonglo” (yesterday, item 1).  Bernard Keane sets the right, independent-thinking tone. Remember before the Sydney Olympics, when the Chinese wanted to send their own security personnel to protect the torch relay? The AFP told them firmly and correctly that Australia was quite capable of looking after security on our soil, and that Chinese officials would not be allowed to play a role in security. We should have used the same line with every US president’s visit.

Sure, we may not have been able to suspend as much hardware in the sky as they Americans can, but we all know the hardware is there to awe, strut and intimidate to achieve subservience and obedience — far more than it is there for protection. It’s also there to shape Australian public opinion in such a way that pro-US thinking and behaviour springs directly from fawning Australians.

The US does not need to ask for X number of troops for Iraq or Afghanistan, because we volunteer 2X before the US have given Australia a thought!

Phil Huzzard writes: Bernard Keane wrote: “Our imperial overlord wings his way into Canberra today. Let us hope he finds all is satisfactory when he surveys one of his most loyal vassal states.”

I like your publication! I like its independence and balance. What I don’t do is buy Crikey to read crap that treats me like a halfwit. Opinion is fine. Hyperbole and dogma are not.

So when you do that “imperial overlord” thing about the Obama visit, it diminishes you. Please stick to your knitting.

The US remains the dominant power in the region. And the most benign superpower in history. So when we make a fuss over the US President, it doesn’t make us sycophants, it makes us polite and engaged (regardless of what you think of his politics). We’d expect to do the same thing for Hu Jintao, even though China has never come to our assistance in a war and has a bleak human rights record. And to go to great lengths to ensure nothing bad happens on our turf seems to me to be logical in the current environment.

What you’ve done is to take the core of a valid and interesting piece and cleverly disguise it as pap.

Stop doing that please. Be Crikey.

Pamela Papadopoulos writes: Thank you to our government for allowing Mr Obama to seek political asylum and respite in our country from the Republican movement and the Tea Party.

Conscience votes:

Ben Green writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 11). I share Richard Farmer’s cynicism about conscience votes, or at least echo it with my confusion. I see no reason why the proposed amendments to the Marriage Act, or the other matters he identified, require more “conscience” — and by implication, permit less rational argument and thought — than others debated and decided by our parliamentarians.

However, referendums on such issues, assuming we could define “such” issues, would simply be more extreme pandering to the “militant minorities” Farmer identifies, potentially damaging the pace of reform for years to follow.

Further, a referendum and especially one cast as “moral” is precisely the wrong approach when the very problem being addressed (curtailment of a minority’s civil rights) is a symptom of that disease of democracy known as the “tyranny of the majority”.  That disease is as old as its host, and Polybius — who named it ochlocracy or “mob rule” — held one of its elements, along with demagoguery, to be the rule of passion over reason.

Which reminds me of where I started. Our system of parliament is our best attempt to represent the will of the people in a reasoned and equitable way, and that’s how it must proceed.

Collins Foods:

Tom Osborn writes: Re. “How private equity ‘dud’ bids destroy value, not create it” (Tuesday, item 19). Glenn Dyer gave the impression that Collins Foods owns KFC. It does not even own KFC Australia.

Yum! Brands owns KFC. Collins operates the KFC stores in Queensland, which amounts to about 20% of KFC’s 500+ outlets in Australia.

For the rest of Australia, the outlets are franchised or owned by YUM! Collins Foods does own Sizzler (globally) but Sizzler is a much smaller operation — 26 outlets in Australia.


Creative writer and freelancer Gabe McGrath writes: Re. “The Power Index: the digital money men at #4” (yesterday, item 16). Do I get a prize for pointing this out to you, at least once a year?

This time, after far too many Playschool CDs in the car, I’ve written my message “in song”, to the tune of If you’re happy and you know it:

Kazaa is a program, not a site.
Kazaa is a program, not a site.
A tractor’s not a car, and a planet’s not a star.
Kazaa is a program, not a site.