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Spy scandal. What spy scandal?

Posted November 9, 2013 into Politics by John Birmingham

My bit in the Herald this morning.

I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that our nefarious spy agencies have been spying on some guys. Some of these guys are likewise understandably and volubly shocked and outraged to discover they have been spied upon by our spies. The second most shocked and outraged of all, are all the guys who’ve been spying on our spies while our spies where spying on their guys. But the most shocked of everyone who has been shocked and appalled by all of these shenanigans is the delightfully naive Greens leader Christine Milne.

“We’re up to our neck in it!” she gasped last week, when learning, apparently for the first time that (1) spies were a thing, (2) we had a heap o’ them, and (3) they were spying on people!

(Next week, Senator Milne discovers that the army is not just a branch of the rural fire service. Pratfalls and hilarity, guaranteed.)

“They do what now? Omigod! Who gave them all those guns?”

Rest of it's here.

4 Responses to ‘Spy scandal. What spy scandal?’

damian would have you know...

Posted November 9, 2013

A glance over the comments suggests that you managed to attract a matching pair of history trolls, knowing each others buttons and essentially having their own conversation.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted November 9, 2013

Awesome

damian has opinions thus...

Posted November 9, 2013

Seems that way

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Anthony has opinions thus...

Posted November 10, 2013

I did like the line over there...

Will the member for Lothlorien please resume her seat

Although I seem to remember Tolkein's elves as agressive buggers.

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Spy scandal? Pfft

Posted November 8, 2013 into Politics by John Birmingham

I wrote a column for the Herald yesterday (published tomorrow in News Review) about the collateral damage to Aust-Indonesia relations from the NSA fallout. For US burgers, your gubbermint is not the only one which has been poking around in other countries' unmentionables. Under the Echelon or Five Eyes arangement, Australia takes responsibility for collecting SIGINT throughout SE Asia on behalf of the NSA, GCHQ and so on.

Move along, Marty. Nothing to see here.

Every SE Asian government knows this, and puts up with it because until now there's been nothing they could do about it. Not technologically, and really not even politically. Everyone spies in ther own special way.

Meantime, I really liked this entry at the Lowy Institute's Interpreter blog, pondering six reasons why Jakarta might have decided to lose its shit over something about which it was perfectly well informed long ago.

I tend towards thinking the upcoming election over there might have something to do with it – and wouldn't it be a delicious irony to see Toned Abs undone by somebodyelse's dumb arse nationalist rhetoric in the mad scramble for votes? But even more compelling was the idea that the Indon FM, Marty Natalegawa, is just bringing a bit of old school softening up to the field in the first ten minutes of play.

That's such a simple explanation it seems to be what's left when you slash through all the speculation with Occam's Razor.

Natelagawa, who studied in Australia, has probably watched the odd State of Origin game. He knows the first 10 minutes of the match are known as the “softening up period” – a stanza of ferocious physicality in which each side tries to cow the opposition into a disadvantageous state of mind. Right now, there's a new government in Canberra, and neighbouring governments are likely to be keen to test its mettle. The odd diplomatic jab can give a better sense of what can be expected from a new government than years of polite cocktail discussions.

10 Responses to ‘Spy scandal? Pfft’

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted November 8, 2013

isn't it already starting with Indo refusing to assist with a return of "illegals"

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted November 8, 2013

Great SOO analogy JB. Maybe our FM should be using the Brick With Eyes in the early biffo stages.

I liked the "Its not cricket" line he used. Obviously he knows we're now shite at cricket as well as negotiating stuff about brown people in boats. Death Stare Bishop will either be treated with the respect due her position or seen as some sort of crazy-eyed death stare woman who should be at home rustling up some gado gado for the wayang kulit festival.

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BigWillieStyle ducks in to say...

Posted November 8, 2013

Reading the Saturday SMH is something to which I look forward every week. I tend to wake up at about midday, then spend the afternoon going through every supplement (even Domain, FFS), while drinking several cups of coffee and eating breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. I shall save my protein smoothie for your article.

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yankeedog swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 8, 2013

Every nation that can afford it spies on every other nation-even friends and allies. I rather thought everybody knew that by now.

Yeah, Canada. We're watching you. (and from behind the wall: "We're, like, watching you too, eh? Hosers.")

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Therbs reckons...

Posted November 8, 2013

Everyone's watching Canada, YD. Just in case something happens.

Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted November 8, 2013

It was "The Last Wave" or "Black Rain" for foriegners...

damian mumbles...

Posted November 9, 2013

It's like the Simpson's episode with the Yakuza where Homer talks about the little guy who hasn't done anything yet, but when he does something you can bet it'll be really cool. We're watching Canada like that little guy.

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Dino not to be confused with mutters...

Posted November 8, 2013

Didja ever read the book that came out around 1979?

"The Wave"

Aussie book. Can't remember the author?!

They made a film with Richard Chamberlain in it.

Seems to have disappeared.

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tqft swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 9, 2013

I think the real issue isn't so much what has happened in the past but what will happen in the future.

Now the subject is out in the open and widely discussed it can't be ignored like "in the good old days".

Commercial negotiations.

Treaty talking (there was an article in the afr the other day about how some treaty the usa wants to get up is being stymied by countries wanting data sovereignty provisions which the treaty tries to breakdown).

Oh dear things might have to be done transparently and/or in public so that no embarassing leaks appear.

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Spanner is gonna tell you...

Posted November 9, 2013

*sob* I read the comments over at the SMH. The partisan stupidity it burns.

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This is why he's a former top spook

Posted October 25, 2013 into Politics by John Birmingham

I love this story at BT about Michel Hayden, the former head of the NSA, who was tweeted up by some bloke on a train as he gave a not-off-the-record-now-interview bagging out the Obama Admin, at great volume on a crowded train. Hiding in plain sight, maybe.

Totally worth a look and giggle.

Was kind of amazed by Hayden's reaction to being told he was being pantsed on the twitterz however. Rather than freaking he posed for a happy snap with the guy who just ended his career.

8 Responses to ‘This is why he's a former top spook’

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 25, 2013

Going home to a fat retirement account soon to be augmented by some sort of consulting job?

Of course he was smiling.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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MurcanDownunder ducks in to say...

Posted October 25, 2013

His reaction doesn't suprise me. General Hayden's always been a people person. He also has a sense of humour.

I've actually met him a couple of times. First in the early 80s when he was Chief of Intelligence for 51 TFW and I was assigned to a unit at the same air base. I returned to the same unit in the mid 90s and Gen Hayden was touring the Pacific on his way to become Commander AIA.

He walked right up to me on the ops floor and asked if I'd ever left country. I was impressed that he remembered me. Then again, I was the only sailor assigned to that air force unit, so I guess I stood out.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted October 25, 2013

The Michel Hayden you describe isn't the one I knew back in the 80's. He was notorious as "the thing that wouldn't leave" - he was always the last to go home from a party. And he would drink all your beer. And he had this high pitched laugh that really, really grated on your nerves.

puma mutters...

Posted October 25, 2013

LOLOLOL

MurcanDownunder puts forth...

Posted October 25, 2013

Probably still the same guy. I've seen officers go through major changes in personality at different stages of their careers.They're stressed out, overbearing assholes when they think they're at the cusp of a promotion to flag and aren't sure that they've ticked off all the boxes. Once they get their star or resign themselves to the fact that they'll never see another promotion, they sometimes chill out and become really good bosses.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted October 26, 2013

The Michel Hayden I knew back then - before the transformation you describe - also freely, and frequently, described his fear of clowns. I hold no animosity towards the man (even though he still owes me $40.00 that I am sure I will never see again). I sincerely and honestly hope he's gotten over his phobia.

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Brad ducks in to say...

Posted October 27, 2013

A fear of clowns is perfectly justified given the outbreak of payasesinos that Mexico has been having recently.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted October 28, 2013

Clearly, Mexican clowns are nothing to laugh at.

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The new American centre

Posted October 17, 2013 into Politics by John Birmingham

As scarifying as it's been watching the US do it's crazy man routine over debt ceilings and shutdowns and so on, it must have been incomparably worse being trapped inside the rubber room.

It's tempting to imagine the US political system has lost its mind, torn itself apart in an orgy of partisan madness. But that may not be the case. It might be a question of alienation, not of the extremes, but of the center.

We have quite a few burgers and lurkers from over the pond hanging around these parts and at times they seem to be separated by unfathomable political chasms. But again, that may not be the entire truth.

There's a piece over at Esquire, some analysis and reporting of opinion data that seems to indicate there is a great mass of voters who have been abandoned by both 'mainstream' political parties as the parties have sought to energize their base vote. As willing as some of the encounters have been between, say, Murph, McKinney, Boylan and so on (Yankee dog is always an exemplar of restraint), looking at this survey and measuring it against what I know of their opinions, they don't seem that they're that far removed from each other.

Really, go have a look at it. It's infographic rich and well worth checking out. I was looking at it originally to see whether the results were translatable to a local setting, but I don't think they are. Not most of them, anyway.

Some of the findings about the American center? It's pretty white, and not much interested in policy discussion of diversity. For the moment it is more alienated from the Republicans than it is from the Democrats. It's really not interested in God and guns as a policy issue. And while the center believes that the state should support only those who really, really need it, that distaste for intervention cuts both ways. The center is not interested in being told how to live its life by questionable moral authorities and God botherers.

There's a lot more to it than that, and as I said a lot of the issues covered in the survey data are of marginal relevance to anybody outside the US. But it's still fascinating.

28 Responses to ‘The new American centre’

Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted October 17, 2013

Apparently I'm one of the Pickup Populists.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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MurcanDownunder would have you know...

Posted October 17, 2013

Reading the article makes me think I'm part of the centre. My results from the survey say I'm a right wing talking head. I became a Republican when my High School English teacher told my class she was voting for Jimmy Carter because she loved his teeth when he smiled.
Starting with Clinton and getting stronger with every administration and Congress, I've become more and more Libertarian and less Republican, believing in a more strict interpetation of the Constitution. The founding fathers deliberately made governing difficult in the Constitution because they knew the more power and authority a government has, the more they'll screw things up. I hate all the bastards and believe the federal government's role should be restricted as much as possible. From what I've seen, the government makes things worse every time they try to fix something.
The government should only do what the Constitution requires it to do. Everything else should be left up to the individual states. If someone has a hairbrained idea to either help or control society, let them do it at the state level. If it works out, other states can try it, too. If it makes things worse, the other states should know to stay away from that idea.
I'm just glad I'm here in Australia now, where that clusterfark has limited reach to my life.

Lulu puts forth...

Posted October 17, 2013

"If someone has a hairbrained idea to either help or control society, let them do it at the state level."

"I'm just glad I'm here in Australia now"

Those statements seem ... contradictory. Do you dislike federal action on principle, or just as it is practised in the US?

MurcanDownunder mutters...

Posted October 17, 2013

Yeah, it does look contradictory. I must be a more complex bloke than I thought.

I dislike the way the federal government has been practiced in the U.S. The constitution is fairly specific. There are a handful of fuctions that the federal government is required to perform and everything not specifically mentioned is a right and responsibility left to the individual person and states.

Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted October 17, 2013

Article One, Section Eight doesn't mean anything to you then, right?

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

MurcanDownunder ducks in to say...

Posted October 17, 2013

Not at all. I especially think the enumerated powers should be enforced. It's just that many of these powers are being abused. For example, using the Commerce Clause to prevent someone from growing cannabis in their own backyard for personal use. How does growing your own to fill your personal bong fall under " ... regulate Commerce with foreign Natings, and among the serveral States, and with the Indian Tribes?"

Murphy would have you know...

Posted October 17, 2013

Regulatory power under the Pure Food and Drug Act? <grin>

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 17, 2013

Gerrymandering fucked the system. Because there is no need to court the center with candidates, you get extremists who value ideology over getting stuff done. One of the great things about the AEC is that they've managed to keep a lot of seats in Oz competitive - which means that governments that stray too far from the center get turfed on their arse.

Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted October 17, 2013

The only part that is gerrymandered is the House of Representatives. While one can bitch about it one might point out that the Senate did their job in serving as a check on the House of Represenatives by getting a bill together that will get things rolling again.

Or to put it another way, you can't gerrymander an entire state. Senate Republicans are vulnerable and the ones most likely to be punished. In fact, there had been a chance until recently that the Senate Republicans might regain control of the Senate. That chance is pretty well gone now.

So, while the politicians might not be working optimally it should be pointed out that a vocal minority was finally, eventually, shut out of the process.

What I can't fathom is why the Speaker tolerated this sort of crap for any length of time.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Blarkon mutters...

Posted October 18, 2013

Because the house has been gerrymandered to the point where it's almost statistically impossible for 90% of seats to switch to another party. As these seats are safe, it becomes a question of ideological purity, with the most ideologically pure candidate getting elected. It isn't in the congressperson's interest to compromise because that would open them to attack from the ideological purists.

As long as everyone is convinced of the genius of the system (which doesn't work though it had a great run) no one will come and revise it before it collapses.

At some point in the not too distant future the house is going to talk itself into pushing the US into a default. Destroying the village to, in their view "save it"

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted October 17, 2013

Thomas Jefferson's Strict Interpretation is often trotted out by Conservatives as if it is, "The Truth and Nothing but The Truth," when it comes to what the Founding Fathers wanted concerning the Constitution. They have a habit of interpreting the Bible that way as well but that is another topic.

In fact, they'd have you think, especially if you never had American History 120 or didn't pay attention in class, that Thomas Jefferson always believed in, "small but frugal government," and he always stuck to the strict interpretation model.

We like to talk about Flip Floppers on the Right. Think Thomas Jefferson was a flip flopper?

1. During the Election of 1800 he campaigned against Alexander Hamilton's Finance Plan and specifically agains the First Bank of the United States. The same bank that put the country on sound economic footing until the War of 1812. Funny thing happened once Jefferson got elected.

A. He kept the Bank.

B. He used revenues from the bank to facilitate the acquistion of the Louisiana Purchase.

2. Speaking of the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson sat down with the Constitution of the United States to see if the Federal Government had the authority to engage in a real estate deal with Napoleon.

Wouldn't you know it, if you stick with the Jeffersonian Interpretation, it doesn't say a fucking thing about real estate deals. Nothing at all.

Suddenly, realizing he was about to lose the center of the country, Jefferson decided that maybe using a bit of Article One, Section Eight, necessary and proper power, might not be a bad idea after all. He could have got himself a constitutional amendment but that would have taken too long given the circumstances. And thus he bought the land and expanded the Republic.

A Republic, I might add, that he had argued was too big to begin with. Going all the way back to Plato's work on The Republic, Jefferson's minions (he couldn't be bothered to show up to class, he was in France sipping wine and eating cheese) at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 argued that Big Republics always went off to the Dark Side to become Big Evil Empires like the Romans did.

Oh and the States do such a great job of managing things. I mean, they did so well under the Articles of Confederation with the Confederation Congress.

Well, except for Shay's Rebellion, which had to be put down by the state militia instead of a central army.

Or maybe the fact that we couldn't pay our bills, get credit or get anyone to pay attention to us as a result.

Or get foreign nations to respect our borders, not incite the Native Americans to mischief, etc, etc, etc.

And giving state power precedence has always led to such wonderful things in our country. Like, well, there was that Civil War that was all about rights and shit.

Yeah, teaching American History for seven years at the college level has probably corrupted me to a degree. Not quite as far to the right on a number of issues.

I'm not particularly sorry about that fact. In fact, it is the one thing Jefferson and I have in common.

We keep an open mind, try to think about new data and act accordingly rather than mindlessly follow some literalist interpretation.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted October 17, 2013

"But it's still fascinating."

Like an insect under a magnifying glass. Fascinating, but ugly, alien and dying.

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yankeedog puts forth...

Posted October 17, 2013

(Yankeedog is always an exemplar of restraint)

Also a National Treasure and Friend To All. Plus, not to put too fine a point, quite the charmer as well. And modest.

I took that Esquire poll and came out as a 'Minivan Moderate', the 14% of the electorate that advocates personal responsibility and everyone doing their fair share. Only 14% of the people with me on two values I think we'd all consider the pillars of a workable nation? That's scary.

My apologies to the world on behalf of America-sorry we continue to look like knuckleheads because the government can't seem to manage economic processes. Sorry we looked like some backwater banana republic or any country ending in '-Stan'. We'll get better at this. Maybe. I hope.

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MurcanDownunder asserts...

Posted October 17, 2013

What it boils down to for me is that I don't want the government telling us what we can or cannot do, if our actions are not causing harm to others. If I want to blow my paycheck on hookers, drugs and booze at the casino, how is that anyone else's business? It's my life to ruin. It's not the government's job to keep me from being stupid.

NBlob puts forth...

Posted October 17, 2013

"how is that anyone else's business"

I'd sugest it becomes everyone else's business when we have to pay for the consequences of your poor decisions.

Being an unconstructed lefty I strongly believe there is a role for government in making individual's lives better. Through providing rehabilitation services, schooling, health & civl infrastructure.

When I was in the USA last year I couldn't believe how Republican the bottom %20 were. I questioned our hosts and they replied along the lines of "Everyone who is poor is convinced they are about to be rich and when they get rich they don't want to be paying taxes." This strikes me as a laughable proposition, but Many USAnians seem to believe it down deep in their bones.

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MurcanDownunder reckons...

Posted October 17, 2013

Why are you paying for my bad decisions? The problem I have with that thinking is that since you've decided to bail me out from the consequences of my poor choices, you now make claim to decide which of my choices are good or bad, and to manipulate my life in line with your view on how I should live it.

NBlob asserts...

Posted October 17, 2013

Because no one else will pay for them and it is antihuman to just throw people who make bad choices on the scrap heap. How 'bout the kids of parents who make bad choices? Surely seeing their pinched little orphan faces would make anyone straighten up & fly right? Oh wait,that's right it doesn't. People just go on making terrible choices that affect themselves, their families, their neighbours and fellow citizens. The government has a role to catch those who fall, support them & their families and help them back on their feet.

The science is unequivical; early intervention and harm minimisation save people and the taxpayer in the long run.

Let's return to the example you proposed. "If I want to blow my paycheck on hookers, drugs and booze at the casino, how is that anyone else's business?"

When you're loaded to pussy's bow with the good gear, half a case of beer and a couple of shots "just to even everything out" and you roll your Transam on the way home from the casino, who scrapes you off the bitumen? Taxpayer funded 1st responders.

The problem with Libertarian-ism from my perspective is it assumes that all animals are equal and that much of the social infrastructure just pops out of the ground fully formed.

MurcanDownunder puts forth...

Posted October 17, 2013

Could it be that no one else besides the government will pay for the consequences of my bad decisions is that regular people think that I should be responsible for my own actions?

Of course I believe we should support those who need help, whether that help is physical, emotional, financial, medical or whatever. I just think that "we" means family, friends and community first. Why is government the first and usually the only response?

I also emphasis that we should help. You seem to think we, through the government, must help. I think that many government programs that are set up to help are just minimising the consequences of poor life decisions and not helping people change the decisions they make.

I've done many things wrong in my life. Usually I've had friends or family point out my mistakes. Sometimes I've listened. When I did listen to their advice, things usually improved for me. I didn't need government to step in and hold my hand.

Milage may vary, but I think most people are better off with the support of friends, family and community rather than government.

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted October 17, 2013

Thank you for your thoughtfull response.

I formed the opinion years ago that I'd prefer a poor system to catch those on the brink of poverty, than no system at all. Of course we'd all prefer a society that didn't result in some, through any circumstance; mental or other health problem, family breakdown, even a lack of moral turpetude causes them to suffer poverty.

It is only in a few lucky countries, over the last century or so that we have beaten poverty. The multi-generational consequences are proven & hideous. To fling people to the wolves of a short, dirty brutish and life to save government revenues seems heartless.

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Lulu is gonna tell you...

Posted October 17, 2013

"I just think that "we" means family, friends and community first. Why is government the first and usually the only response?"

The government represents the "we". I pay taxes, and I thereby outsource the 'help' work (identifying the needy, designing programmes, providing the help, etc) to the government. Much more efficient and effective than the alternative.

MurcanDownunder ducks in to say...

Posted October 17, 2013

Yes. The government does represent "we." That's part of being a Republic. I pay taxes, too. Both here and in the US, btw. Can't get away from the damned IRS even though I haven't lived there in decades.

I also donate regularly to charities such as the Salvos, Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and Team Rubicon. I have friends who have either been helped by these charitable non-government organisations or who actually work for these groups. I disagree with you that the government is more efficient and effective than the alternative.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted October 17, 2013

Yes, but what if you believe that it is better to be "free" than it is to be efficient, effective, educated, healthy and prosperous?

The American model isn't that government represents the "we." Government is the means by which some benefit at the expense of everyone else. Government isn't something that includes; it is something to control by hook or by crook.

Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 17, 2013

Which countries have better health outcomes for their people - those in which the government takes some responsibility for universal healthcare, or those which do not? Which countries spend *less* per capita for *better* outcomes than the one in which people are arguing that giving medical cover to poor people is against God's plan?

MurcanDownunder ducks in to say...

Posted October 17, 2013

"Yes, but what if you believe that it is better to be "free" than it is to be efficient, effective, educated, healthy and prosperous?"

That isn't a one or the other choice. You can't have one without the other. I'm in favour of helping people achieve those goals. I just think that more than 90% of the time, government isn't the answer.

damian puts forth...

Posted October 17, 2013

The bit that makes us all scratch our heads and wander what the others are going on about, is with what we mean by government, what we think it is, what it's for and how it figures in our societies. Also what it means to be free. Or efficient. Most of us (I think) find the Libertarian versions of these concepts very strange.

That strangeness leads to conclusions that are simply wrong on an empirical basis. We have science that makes some things non-contraversial. But it really comes down to those first principals. So it's fine if you think some abstract ideas override practical benefits and lived experience. But if it means you don't want to help, at least please stay out of the way of those who do.

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yankeedog mutters...

Posted October 17, 2013

While I, too, don't believe 'government' is the magic answer to any society's ills, there are times when 'government' is the only body big enough to do a particular task.

I use as an example passenger rail funding. There are people who complain about Amtrak being a subsidized service. It is. Passenger rail never MAKES money on its own. But all of our roads and airports didn't just magically appear out of the ground one day. Most of those, too, were government projects. Sometimes you need 'government'. A circle of British thinkers touched upon this some years back. Just substitute 'government' for 'Romans' as you read it.

REG: They've bled us white, the bastards. They've taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers' fathers.

LORETTA: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers.

REG: Yeah.

LORETTA: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers.

REG: Yeah. All right, Stan. Don't labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!

XERXES: The aquaduct?

REG: What?

XERXES: The aquaduct

REG: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.

COMMANDO #3: And the sanitation.

LORETTA: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like?

REG: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.

MATTHIAS: And the roads.

REG: Well, yeah. Obviously the roads. I mean, the roads go without saying, don't they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads--

COMMANDO: Irrigation.

XERXES: Medicine.

COMMANDOS: Huh? Heh? Huh...

COMMANDO #2: Education.

COMMANDOS: Ohh...

REG: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.

COMMANDO #1: And the wine.

COMMANDOS: Oh, yes. Yeah...

FRANCIS: Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

COMMANDO: Public baths.

LORETTA: And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

FRANCIS: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let's face it. They're the only ones who could in a place like this.

COMMANDOS: Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

REG: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

XERXES: Brought peace.

REG: Oh. Peace? Shut up!

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SenatorMckinneyTexas swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 18, 2013

<i>There's a lot more to it than that, and as I said a lot of the issues covered in the survey data are of marginal relevance to anybody outside the US. But it's still fascinating.</i>

I wonder if the result of a similar poll, tailored for the UK or France or Oz would be noticeably different. Perhaps. Don't read too much into apparent indifference to diversity. My take is that it stems from the same antipathetic response to moral lecturers: the center doesn't like being nagged about the virtues of diversity any more than it likes being hectored about the need for Jesus.

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Trashman is gonna tell you...

Posted October 18, 2013

Apparently I'm a flaming liberal. As a centre-right Scot (we're rare!) that's probably about right by American standards.

American politics is getting scary...

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If the US government shutdown was happening anywhere else

Posted October 1, 2013 into Politics by John Birmingham

A brilliant thought experiment at Slate. Writing about the US budget crisis as if the US was a foreign country...

WASHINGTON, United States—The typical signs of state failure aren’t evident on the streets of this sleepy capital city. Beret-wearing colonels have not yet taken to the airwaves to declare martial law. Money-changers are not yet buying stacks of useless greenbacks on the street.

But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink. Because, at midnight Monday night, the government of this intensely proud and nationalistic people will shut down, a drastic sign of political dysfunction in this moribund republic.

It doesn't mean this impasse won't be resolved like every other one, but it is great example of the filters we use in media.

The best line is the one about the stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

18 Responses to ‘If the US government shutdown was happening anywhere else’

Murphy would have you know...

Posted October 1, 2013

I haven't bothered with the Slate article yet (because frankly, Slate gives me the shits most of the time). But before I duck over to do the obligatory reading that the detractor brigade will require (one that will probably verify what I already suspect from the sample) I will point out one thing.

They passed a resolution to ensure two things:

1. Soldiers will continue to get paid.

2. That folks will still get their social security checks.

Both of those should be rather ominous to students of history.

That said, this will probably blow over in a month or two max. The Republicans remember the absolute fucking pounding they got the last time they did this. They'll be eager to avoid another such pounding.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

SZF ducks in to say...

Posted October 2, 2013

#1 helps me sleep a little easier. I'd hate to think the quartermasters at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge are getting IOU slips...

#2 is just human fucking decency.

Good luck over there man, and especially to your mum. Hope they sort it out right quick.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted October 1, 2013

Wow. Seven short little paragraphs?

Sheesh.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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I.F. Adams mumbles...

Posted October 1, 2013

Gov't shutdowns aren't exactly new, and the reasoning behind this one is remarkably similar to several prior re: budget hostage/pissing contests http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_shutdown

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Murphy mutters...

Posted October 1, 2013

I have just learned that my mother will not receive her Widow's Benefit from the Department of Veteran's Affairs. A so called, "entitlement," she EARNED that benefit after taking care of my father, an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Army who served in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange for his troubles, for seventeen years until he died in 2011.

I'm nominally right of center in many respects, I think most Burgers know that. But I have to admit that I am past tired of the ideological train wreck that is the Republican Party. You'd have my mother go without because you are afraid someone you consider to be undesireable might get healthcare? Oh, and such fine healthcare it will be too since it will most likely be very much like the same substandard, shitty care that I've received from the Department of Veteran's Affairs Medical Malpractice Center.

Find a better way to solve your issue with the current President. Last I checked, like it or not, he won his election. His party controls the Senate. That means you fucking horsetrade for a solution like everyone has done since the Federalist Era.

I do believe I will remember this for the forseeable future.

Dick mutters...

Posted October 1, 2013

Jeez, Murph, that sucks.

Dino not to be confused with has opinions thus...

Posted October 1, 2013

Ditto

Monster Yuppy reckons...

Posted October 1, 2013

Your mum loses her pension because these clowns are having a pissing contest ?

That's. Fucking. Fucked.

Murphy asserts...

Posted October 1, 2013

She got her Survivor's Benefit for this month. If the shutdown continues, she likely won't get the next one.

In the meantime, if you are a veteran on disability, you can probably forget about getting your check after today. If you are a veteran trying to use your rightfully earned (that is not a fucking entitlement) educational benefits, you can probably forget about that too.

Boneheaded stupidity of the First Order.

2014 is just around the corner. Pissing off a bunch of veterans, many of whom have given body parts to the cause? Not smart.

Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted October 2, 2013

Jeebus Murph. That sucks the big one.

As a RAAF veteran's daughter & one who was supported as a child by Dad's war service pension, and then an allowance from Veteran's Affairs to help me through uni - I know what that would have meant to us if it got nixed, even for a few weeks.

Thinking of your mum & all the vets getting screwed by this debacle. I watched the 7.30 report last night & there was a comment that the guy who has instigated this may have aspirations for the presidency so his real motivation for doing it is to get a name for himself. yeah, as a total a$$hat.

xoxox

Let's hope it gets resolved ASAP.

SZF swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 2, 2013

From an outside perspective Murph, people like me find it astonishing that the hard right of the GOP is willing to inflict harm upon the US economy - not to mention population - over what doesn't seem to be that awful an idea (Obamacare) and which appears to be motivated almost solely by ideological differences.

I don't know enough of the detail around what's obviously a hugely complex issue, but surely there's NO good reason to allow the world's largest economy to begin defaulting on its debt? Especially when to the rest of the world it looks like a fit of pique.

Murphy would have you know...

Posted October 2, 2013

The latest stunt, aside from aiding and abetting veterans who went to visit various monuments in Washington today (can't blame the vets but as a vet myself, I'm not sure I'd let myself be used like that) is to send separate spending bills to make sure veterans get paid, parks stay open, etc.

They were all shot down. Fund it all or fund none of it. If we let this start, it'll never end.

And as sick as I got of the Democracts saying they were the friends of soldiers/veterans, I'm pretty sick of hearing it out of Republicans. Their actions speak otherwise.

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ShaneAlpha reckons...

Posted October 1, 2013

Welcome to Tea Party Land, the Mad Hatter is seated to your left.

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Blarkon puts forth...

Posted October 1, 2013

If you've got a system where it's almost statistically impossible for most seats to change hands, you end up with representatives who can stir up the base of the party rather than ones that need to be able to convince the middle ground that they will make a good rep.

Long term solution is for the US to have an independent body like the Australian Electoral Commission that is responsible for running elections and drawing boundaries. While you have politicians drawing boundaries, you get gerrymandering and as is plainly evident, gerrymandering lead to the sort of ideological nutters getting control of the congress.

The system encourages these sorts of outcomes - so they'll continue until the system is reconfigured.

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BigWillieStyle mumbles...

Posted October 2, 2013

Why can't Jed Bartlet be called in to put a stop to this shutdown? He's done it before, only took him an episode and a half.

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Sinnysider puts forth...

Posted October 2, 2013

Commiserations Murph,...may I call you Murph ? I find it perplexing that these boneheads could cause financial distress to so many of those who will be deciding their political future next time around; all in the name of ideology.

No doubt, these Tea Party Tossers have ensured that their own remunerations will continue uninterupted.

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted October 2, 2013

Murph is fine.

Thanks for the thoughts, folks. My Mom is the one in distress. My income sources are, for the moment, immune to this sort of crap.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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ShaneAlpha ducks in to say...

Posted October 2, 2013

This is just the preview, wait until the feature called "We aint gonna approve your debt ceiling" opens.

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The Fall of KRudd

Posted September 29, 2013 into Politics by John Birmingham

I took on a difficult commission during the recent election, writing about the fall of the Rudd Government before it fell. Yeah, it seemed like a foregone conclusion and in the end it was. But nobody who does this kind of work has ever forgotten the image of Truman holding up that newspaper screaming out in 300 point type 'Dewey Defeats Truman'.

You don't even have to go back very far in local political history to find an equivalent. Paul Keating's defeat of John Hewson surprised everyone so much that even Keating himself had no victory speech prepared.

I also didnt want to do the standard news review piece where you just regurg' a couple of pars from Fairfax, a couple of pars from the Oz and call it balance. As far as possible I wanted to avoid talking to any of the usual suspects.

Partly that was because I was writing for Anne Summer's new online mag, ASR, and they want to be different. Partly I know from personal experience that 'churnalism' where you just throw in all of the usual ingredients and give it a stir, has no intrinsic value. Hence my decision to interview bookmakers rather than pollsters, and the former soc-media wrangler for Telstra, rather than, say, former party leaders. As the initial commission was framed in terms of explaining Rudd's inexplicable popularity - then reframed as his numbers collapsed - I even considered talking to Lara Bingle about the fickle nature of fame and love.

But she was doing a nude shoot and proved unreachable.

Anyway, the article is at annesummers.com.au

It's an online PDF-based magazine (which should really just become a web and/or native app, perhaps when prss.com finally launches) and you need to subscribe to get the content. But the subscription is free. You can donate if you like, or you can save your coins for yet another Candy Crush rip off.

I think it's an interesting response to the death of the old media and I was going to write about it at length here, but put that off when they commissioned me.

Anyway. Below is my fave par from the story.

... But since 2007, the desire of the parties to conventionalize and control online media has misread it, and Rudd in particular has suffered because so much of his apparent popularity was nothing like the tribal loyalties inspired by the demands of old-school political allegiances and combat; it was more akin to the hyper-accelerated sequence of emergence, metastasizing popularity, over-exposure, backlash and collapse that characterizes the shortened life-cycles of internet phenomenons. he was, in the end, just a trending topic, with less staying power than Justin Bieber.

31 Responses to ‘The Fall of KRudd’

Blarkon asserts...

Posted September 29, 2013

Stopped the annihilation of the party that would have occurred if Gillard had been in the leadership. Having 55 seats is better than 15.

Halwes is gonna tell you...

Posted September 29, 2013

I'm a labor party member (55yo male) and I would have rather gone overboard with Gillard than ever going back to Rudd. Hell, I didn't like him the first time the smug p22fter went on sunrise and it didn't improve. I was however one of the deluded masses that cheered him to victory and hoped for the best. The best thing though was how the party let big gina and twiggy roll him over the mining tax and then knifed him. Labor could never have afforded that kind of publicity. I think Julia was a pretty good PM. One who delivered on labor values like disability schemes, workers rights and the environment. I'm proud of her, and to be a party member with women like her around, but didn't Aussie women give it to her from day 1.? Good old aussie women. Look at her hair ! Look at her clothes ! Do you think he's one of them?" Oh that voice ! isn't it horrible?" all the while failing to realise what shrill vacuous idiots they themselves sounded like. Women belonging to the great unwashed group turned to sunrise, murdoch and alan jones to form their opinions. It's so much easier than thinking isn't it Sheila? I think we might become the dumbest country on earth if this lot keep breeding. The libs never hurt me. I generally put my head down and make money whenever they are in. The libs hurt poor people and, funny as it is, their swinging votes are the ones that always put them in.

HAVOCK21 has opinions thus...

Posted September 29, 2013

still means we have 55 cockheads and that their is a fair portion of the population that think a COMPLETE FKN RETARD LIKE HIM IS OK!. the gutys a SERIOUS fkn retared fkn CONTROL FREAK that needs capping as soon as fkn possible!

Better yert, I love the exposay on PILLARD and how she used the sexisum debat to further her cause, ..SHE SHOULD BE FKN CAPPED AS WELL, GOOD FKN RIDDANCE TO SERUIOUSLY FKN BAD FKN RUSBBISH I SAY, I WOULD NOT PISS ON EITHER OF them if they were on fkn fire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!yeah Tonnnny aint no fkn saint, but for fkn sure, hes not as big an ARSE FKN as that snowy fkn git! and the ORANGE fkn PILLOW...well actually its prolly a fkn sofa in MY fkn OPINION!

Fact is, the LABOUR PARTAAAAAAAAAAAAAY IS LOST...fkn from its members and if its not smart enough to evolve..ITS FKN DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blarkon would have you know...

Posted September 29, 2013

Gillard didn't have the "midichlorians" to break through and communicate her government's accomplishments. The special charisma/force of personality that allowed people like Hawke and Whitlam to cut through and be revered beyond their accomplishments.

You can be the most amazingly competent government in the world - but if the people aren't listening to you you've failed at the "politics" part of the equation.

Abbott doesn't have the "midichlorians" either. He doesn't have to slip far to lose government on the next round and it's hard to imagine him being able to reinvent himself into someone likeable enough to reelect. He's being given a go on the swings, but most people expect that he'll start yelling obsenities and punching, kicking, and verbally abusing the other kids in the playground because it's always been in his nature. He's was a boxer because he likes hitting people.

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 29, 2013

He also got to make some changes to party structure that will probably help in the long run. It would be fun to see the conservatives run a vote through their party membership.

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HAVOCK21 mutters...

Posted September 29, 2013

well its least its not run by FKN THUGS and PORN and fkn PROSTITUE using fkn muopets that are supported in turn bt Legal mobs whi aint got not tangles dangles between their colective fkn legs to do jack shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ANDDDDDDDD! the libs aint much fkn better to be brutally fkn ohonest, not that most LABOUR supports are, but CLIVE...and the shooooters party..yeah baby!, bout time the main stream fkn retards got it in the fkn kneck they have been maniupulating the sytem for that fkn lomng its simply not fkn funny and now they got skewed in teh arse by it. serbves the muppets righ,!

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted September 29, 2013

It's when he segues into Clive Palmer that it goes from incoherent ranting to performance art.

HAVOCK21 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 29, 2013

nothing wrong with CLIVE!!!!!!!!!!! And I NEVER FKN RANT!..itslaid out streqms of fkn INTELLECTUAL GODLIFKNESS!

damian asserts...

Posted September 29, 2013

Nah Orin, it's still incoherent ranting. The shift to Clive just emphasises the lack of connection to any rational basis.

HAVOCK21 ducks in to say...

Posted September 30, 2013

Politicians..thats gotta be the link, then again, I fully suspect that the real link, common tread, might well have Been BOAGS!

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted September 29, 2013

Actualky the more I devote precious fkn metalk time toi this, the more I realise its not that the rudd fkn muppet wa s a brigt shooting star or something like that, its that in aqll reality has was more fk akin to a fart in a bottle..funny to look at fnad fkn BAAADD when ya opened it up IMHO!!

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Frip puts forth...

Posted September 29, 2013

All politician's suck - it's just the amount of suck that varies...

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Guru Bob asserts...

Posted September 29, 2013

Krudd never seemed to realise that more than half of his twitter followers were probably waiting for puberty to start, let alone getting old enough to vote. Apparently he was very popular with the same demographic as Justin Beiber. No-one has ever won an election by appealling to people who can't vote... Maybe it also demonstrates how irrelevant the twittersphere is to most people outside the media?

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BigWillieStyle puts forth...

Posted September 30, 2013

Meh. The ALP's downfall was set in concrete the moment the shock-jocks and Murdoch tabloids decided to seize upon "There will be no carbon tax under a Government I lead". Wedge the electorate with a single issue, and make it into something bigger than what it actually is, by repeating it over and over and over and over and over and over and fucking over. Keating did it in '93 by making the election all about the GST. Play on people's base fears and prejudices - THAT'S how you win an election.

Accordingly, I suspect Abbott's will be a one-term Government. Give the Opposition a few months and something will come up. George Brandis and Barnaby Joyce using taxpayer funds to attend a private wedding, having their no-speakies policy on boats backfire immediately, and pissing off Indonesia is a promising first two weeks.

Lulu reckons...

Posted September 30, 2013

I don't hold hope of it being a one-term govt - probably to their 'advantage' to get all that crap in the first two weeks rather than the last two weeks.

BigWillieStyle puts forth...

Posted September 30, 2013

Lulu, the crap is just beginning. Enormous difference between being in Opposition and being in Government - I genuinely think the Coalition are shitting themselves, and they'll come apart at the seams quickly. Pyne has already been rebuked by Abbott for going off script. Abbott's style of leadership, where nobody is allowed off his leash, will cause dissent in the ranks. They'll unravel, and will struggle to recover, because they don't have any big ideas to save them.

Halwes ducks in to say...

Posted September 30, 2013

I particularly liked the way that the truth was handled over the carbon tax. Media outlets, including the ABC, only ever played the first half of the sentence." There will be no carbon tax in a government that I lead however I'm determined to put a price on carbon" was the full statement as I remember it. Australians are pretty stupid and greedy ( a very dangerous combination in my experience) if they think that we can be the worlds highest per capita emitters of carbon and not incurr the wrath of the rest of the world and future generations at some point.

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Guru Bob mumbles...

Posted September 30, 2013

Sadly the electorate have shown that they have a very short memory, lots of times.... In three years no-one will remember or care about ther current stuff-ups...

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted September 30, 2013
I'm still in denial. No-one would let a supporating-fuck like Pyne be education minister. (Please excuse me ladies and those gentlemen of sensitive natures) It stands to reason that no-one would let Julie Bishop chair the UN seciruty Council. Dito Abetz Minister for employment? Andrew Robb Minister for Fisheries &/or Scullion for Indigenous affairs ? Ha, a cheaper joke than a spinning bow tie.

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted September 30, 2013

Again with the style fail.

Guru Bob mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2013

I thought that they were sending Mirabella over to look after the UN now she doesn't have a job any more?

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted September 30, 2013

Ha! Havsy loves Chris Pyne!

Why does anyone think that Abbott wouldn't avoid questions and do a runner whenever confronted by the press? He. Has. No. Answers. Abbott is the triumphant result of the skills and persistence of teachers of special needs classes. Interesting to see Bishop gloat in the glory of Australia's chairmanship of the UNSC which she thought was a waste of time and money.

Are Abbott's minders really going to let him talk to the Indo Prez? That is sheer madness, he'll be outsmarted before he walks through the door. He ain't the sharpest tool in the shed as he demonstrated when he couldn't win over the independent senators back in 2010. Let's hope Abbott doesn't hand over too much territory in trying to gain traction in his retarded policy of turning back boats and buying boats. Mind you it is fun to have our own dumbed down version of Geroge W at the helm. Comedy gold.

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 30, 2013

It was probably Sun Tzu, Ho Chi Minh or possibly Colonel Sanders who said "if you under-estimate your enemy you are lost." I don't think the Mad Monk is stupid per se, the man was a Rhodes Scholar after all. I do think it is the ultimate in "just because you can Get the job, does not mean you can Do the job."

I'll never forget the gold-fish gulping silence on a TV interview when the journo had the temerity to ask a question outside of Toned Abs briefing notes.

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted September 30, 2013

The Rhodes has a few interesting conditions that make a lot of insanely clever people ineligible. Mostly around the "sports" provisions. I know a few people (and one Uni friend) that were awarded the scholarship, and while all of them were sharp cookies, there were a lot of sharper cookies that either didn't apply because they wouldn't meet the non-academic criteria or that they saw going to Oxford as a diversion from where they wanted to go with their academic career. While the Rhodes scholars I knew did go on and do their Ph.Ds, a lot of the ones you hear about don't. It's sort of one of those "get prestigious scholarship but what the fuck do I study?" scenarios - with some people thinking "well I really want to study X and Y and while the scholarship looks amazing on the CV I really want to get to Y as soon as possible" (even more so today where a lot of people run off to create their own startup rather than faffing about with a thesis)

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted September 30, 2013

Aye, I can't argue that. But one would expect that the recipient of such an honour to be above the velcro-shoe-laces percentile. Unlike Our Minister for Agriculture who struggles with the difference between GDP, PRC and KFC.

Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 30, 2013

There's intelligence & then there's emotional intelligence, and being genius level in the former won't save you if you're utterly lacking in the latter.

Tony is dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to handling people, which is why he resorts to bully-boy tactics when other methods fail.

Normally I hit the mute button when he comes onscreen but the Indonesia visit should be the comedy gold as he blunders round in that mess. I wouldn't miss it for quids.

Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted September 30, 2013

I did rather enojoy the cartoon in today's Age, showing Tony & Julie in Indonesia:

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-letters/bigger-and-louder-is-not-always-a-winner-20130929-2umfg.html

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 30, 2013

Like Bob Hawke, Kim Beesley and Malcolm Turnbull; Tony Abbott was a Rhodes scholar. While not wishing to downplay that achievement, I understand that the strong support of influential Jesuits was a significant help in the success of his application.
Abbott had already expressed and displayed his interest in being a political advocate of a conservative Catholic philosophy, being inspired and personally mentored by Bob Santamaria, amongst others.

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted September 30, 2013

D'oh. I'm blaming wine.
* Kim Beazley.

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Therbs reckons...

Posted September 30, 2013

Like the old officer class of the British Army and Navy, becoming a Rhodes Scholar is more about connections and patronage, not smarts I reckon he has a certain amount of shallow rat cunning but there's about as much depth as a collapsed thought balloon..

"Gold-fishing gulping silence" - gold.

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Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted October 1, 2013

JB

They are all mostly "Ratfuckers".(IMHO)

A few exceptions.

Hope you were renumerated adequately for the profanity.

Any discussion of Politics that doesn't contain any is insincere.

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