Vote losing victories. The Gillard Labor government added another parliamentary achievement to its list this week with the passage through the House of Representatives of a bill to reduce government spending on subsidies for private health insurance.

It joins the mining profits tax and the carbon emissions tax as a victory unlikely to win a single vote but guaranteed to lose some.

Dogs against Romney. Rusty is howling mad about Mitt Romney. He stars on the website that is becoming a significant force in this US presidential election campaign. Rusty wants to spread the message that a man who put his dog in a crate and carried it on the car roof to go on vacation is not a fit and proper person to run the country.

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National Public Radio revived overnight the story of what happened to the Romney dog.

It seems that during a 12-hour car ride from Massachusetts to Canada back in 1983, there wasn’t enough room in the family station wagon for the five Romney sons as well as Seamus, the Irish setter. So Romney put the dog in a crate on the roof instead. “He’d built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog,” according to the story.

But what has really outraged dog lovers is what happened next, according to the story, when the first sign of trouble was spotted by oldest son Tagg. “‘Dad!’ he yelled. ‘Gross!’ A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours,” the now infamous story reads.

At that point, Romney pulled into a gas station, borrowed a hose, washed down both the dog and the car, returned the dog to the roof, and the family continued on its way.

Knowing a cabinet minister worth $177,000 a year? British academics at the Centre for Economic Performance of the London School of Economics have calculated that close friendship with a Cabinet Minister could be worth £113,000 a year to a lobbyist.

The calculation was based, reports London’s Daily Telegraph, on the $177,000 fall in annual income suffered by US lobbyists when the senator they used lost office.

“Like senators, cabinet ministers have a lot of strategic power in policy-making and they seem to be the main target of lobbying activity in the UK political system.”

“The scale of the business dealings of Adam Werritty, Liam Fox’s associate, suggests that the return to cabinet-level access in the UK could also be very high,” they wrote in an article for CentrePiece.

“That said, Werritty’s case is unusual because it appears that he was functioning as a lobbyist and as a political adviser at the same time. This would have been difficult to achieve in the more transparent US and Canadian systems.”

Perhaps it is figures like these that explain the somewhat subdued and sad face on television these days of Bruce Hawker, a man who juggles the roles as chairman of the lobbying firm Hawker Britton with playing, as that company’s website puts it, “a key role as an election campaign strategist in more than 30 Australian Federal, State and Territory elections.”

The departures of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister and Mike Rann as South Australian Premier, both of whom he worked closely with, along with Labor’s defeats in Victoria and New South Wales, cannot have been good for business.

Beware of young girls. It was surely the most scathingly beautiful get-square in the history of modern popular music. Dory Previn, who died overnight, was one of that rare group of lyricists who wrote poetry to be put to music and never more so than when commenting on her husband Andre divorcing her to marry Mia Farrow:

“Beware Of Young Girls”

Of young girls
Who come to the door
Wistful and pale
Of twenty and four
Delivering daisies
With delicate hands

Of young girls
Too often they crave
To cry
At a wedding
And dance
On a grave

Read the full lyrics here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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