Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Labor is heading for the scrapheap

How can one begin to describe the rout that took place in NSW politics on the weekend? I have heard a few descriptors including, “a shift of tectonic proportions,” “a voter paradigm shift”, “a shift in political gravity”, but whatever the explanation or ultimate narrative, one would have to agree, the implications for the Labor brand may be profound. Moreover, do not be fooled by Labor figures who claim it has no federal implications. You will clearly recall, just eight (8) short months ago, Labor experienced a crushing defeat in the Penrith by-election. So spooked were some in Labor’s NSW right, that Penrith was the catalyst that saw them install a new federal leader, out with Kevin Rudd in with Julia Gillard. So please, do not suggest to me that the 2011 NSW state election is of no consequence to federal Labor.

The shift in “political gravity” may provide another catalyst of sorts, the final about-face of the Green-Left-Labor cultural drift. One that has presided but more accurately, increased as a result of the Rudd-Gillard governments pompous support of those leftist morally self-righteous, cultural, religious and institutionally detached hare-brainers and there related inner city green cohorts – a sea change that would do the Labor much good.

Speaking of Labor, I recently found myself defending the Labor brand suggesting that it is unfair to judge the party of the basis of the Rudd-Gillard era. Though I will never identify with the ALP’s collectivist values, in terms of governance, and historically speaking, the federal ALP is a better outfit than these past 3-4 years would indicate. That said, I could not ever identify with what the ALP stands for, just as Labor would never equate itself with the words of William J. H. Boetcker.

Suggested reading:

Party rout a work of genius

The death of politics, Richo-style

Monday, March 28, 2011

MPs told to embrace the Carbon script

With the Gillard government’s climate campaign barely begun, MPs have been directed to warn constituencies that left unchecked; climate change would wreak havoc on us. From this alone, it is clear that government scaremongering will far overshadow the oppositions scare overtures about the proposed Carbon tax.

The reality remains that impending government warnings about imminent climate mayhem for failing to adopt a Carbon tax are based on a host of falsehoods whereas the opposition’s warnings are true and correct in anyone’s language. Prices will rise because of the tax, its purported purpose, while the impact of a Carbon price will drive up prices and have zero impact on the environment.

Among the dire warnings:

"If we don't act then we will see more extreme weather events like bushfires and droughts. We will have more days of extreme heat and we will see our coastline flooded as sea levels rise.”

"People in northern NSW will feel like they live in Cairns. That will affect the crops we grow, it will affect our native animals, and it will affect our lifestyles."

"Sea levels could rise by up to a metre and possibly even more by the end of the century … "Up to 250,000 existing homes are at risk of inundation.”

"Climate change will see the average snow season contract by between 85 per cent and 96 per cent by 2050, and disappear by the end of the century."

“Tony Abbott does not care about climate change."

MPs are also urged to warn that extreme weather leads to associated additional deaths.

All the warnings are false and simply based or the most dire warming predictions that in turn, are based on poor models that to date, have failed to predict anything even remotely accurate about the weather.

Truth is, even the notable Flannery does not give his preachers any confidence:

If the world as a whole cut all emissions, tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as a thousand years.

Therefore, Flannery tells us that even if the “world as a whole cut all emissions” nothing will change, thus, any intelligent person would ask, what would be achieved with a Carbon tax just here in Australia in terms of the stated goal; to cut emissions through behavioural changes associated with consumers.

As for Tony Abbott, he does believe in climate change though he is sceptical, whereas Tim Flannery needs a crash course on sales technique.

Further reading: Click the Climate Change or Environment label below.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Muslim hostility is real and ripe for debate ...

Mark Durie a Melbourne Anglican vicar and human rights activist nails the fact that Muslim religious faith has been conclusively linked to acts of violence.

Those who denounce critics of Islam should allow that, like all global faiths, Islam has its detractors and a religion will be judged on what its followers say and do.

There is a debate going on about Islam. The question being asked is: Does Islam itself - not just poverty or social exclusion - provide ideological fuel for extremism and violence?

Violence in the name of Islam is well-attested in nations in which Muslims are dominant, and it is non-Muslim minorities that suffer the exclusion. It does not do to argue that religion has no relevance to such events.
He concludes
Unfortunately, this link cannot be dismissed as the product of media prejudice or ''Islamophobic'' propaganda. It is in part an issue of some Muslims behaving very badly, and their often strident claim is that they do this in the name of religion.

Taking such claims seriously and debating them publicly must not be equated with stigmatising law-abiding and peaceable Australian Muslims.
As I argued here
...it is my belief that we can never discount the possibility that radical Muslims or simply those susceptible to elements of such will remain a threat to our way of life, not merely those from aboard but unfortunately and most alarmingly, the home grown variety.
Further reading: Radical to forms of liberal Islam – Is intrinsic change possible in a new country?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Has the U.S. been deliberate in taking a back foot on Libya

In a previous post I condemned Obama for his administrations apparent dithering over action in Libya. But what if, the Americans were merely pretending to be useless, or rather, back footed in there dealings. This is the question posed by American-born British journalist Janet Daley.

In other words, they were only pretending to be useless: it may have looked like a collapse of moral leadership, but it really went completely according to plan.

Even if we take this wildly charitable interpretation at face value, what does it say about the role that America is choosing to adopt on the global stage? That in future we can expect it to follow rather than lead? That it has abdicated its role as defender and standard bearer for the principle of freedom - the idea that all men are born with inalienable rights to ''life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'', which the great founding documents of the United States declare to be universal and not simply the birthright of residents of one nation?

If America is now to make its commitment to those values conditional - even when the oppressed populations of totalitarian countries are putting their lives at risk to embrace them - then we are living in a very different world from the one to which we have been accustomed.
I am increasing becoming concerned about a future where America turns inward and begins butting out of world affairs and hot spots as so many seem to wish for. As Daley writes:
What would an America be like that did not expect to be called upon to support democratic movements and defend oppressed people? Its citizens have always been taught to see themselves not just as fortunate residents of a lucky country but as bearers of a spiritual truth - a model for the world of how men should live. Are they to become just one more self-preserving, inward-looking populace obsessed with entitlements and an easy life like so many - dare one say it - cynical, war-weary Europeans?
The United States is increasingly dealing with a challenging world. At a time where countries as China, India, Russia and Iran are vying for regional predominance, where competition between liberalism and absolutism has re-ignited, where and nations are once again, gradually lining up along ideological lines, where the rift between tradition and modernity (Islamic fundamentalism verses modern secularism) is widening, and finally when anti-Americanism is so pronounced we need to take stock and hit the pause button. The Australian's Janet Albrechtsen nailed it in piece from 2007:
Which is why we ought to be careful about demanding that the US butt out of world affairs. Just in case they do. Who will pick up the slack if the US does the multilateral thing, sending in token troops to the next genocide hot spot? Which country’s ships will be among the first into port laden with aid and troops when the next tsunami hits Asia? Are we happy to leave it to Russia or China to guard Western interests when it comes to Iran and North Korea? And just remind me the last time European soft power, not to mention hard power, solved a major conflict.

And so it goes on. Everywhere one looks, the US is there. Not always perfect. Criticise them for specific failures by all means. But acknowledge the scorecard: the full spectrum of US hegemony, from its brute military muscle to the soft seduction of American ideas, has been an overwhelming force for good.
I am not convinced that the U.S. will turn completely inward toward elements of isolationism, but Libya has shown us a clear departure from past ways. A foreign policy predisposed to being traditionalist (as opposed to transformationalists), pragmatist (as opposed to neocon) and internationalist (as opposed to unilateralists). So why should we hit the pause button? If in fact America does turn its back on other nations for a sustained period, say 25 years, world order, as we have come to know it, will be turned on its head. As I wrote in 2007:
... if the day were to come that the U.S. does collapse economically, financially, politically and strategically, or alternatively butt out of worldly affairs as most seem to wish, not completely but enough to cause major shifts, then the world may be faced with a global situation of startling instability and great risk. A global shift in power of which the end product cannot be accurately guessed at, nor can it be forecast with any exactitude's" ...
Further reading: Preserving Primacy

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is there a real Julia Gillard or is she under construction ...

Consistent with my previous post, the Australians Paul Kelly explains,

The Australian public does not know Julia Gillard, and remains divided and confused about her values, beliefs, journey to power and what she really represents ... She appears too much as a work in progress. The reason is obvious - Gillard is a Prime Minister under construction. She is engaged in self-discovery, sorting out not just her policy framework but the convictions for which she will live or die. She is not fully formed as a political persona because she got the job too early. By the time Bob Hawke, John Howard and Paul Keating became prime minister the public had a clear view of their political identity. This had its negatives as well as its positives. But as Howard kept saying, "at least the public knows what I stand for".

It is hardly a surprise that people are confused.
What is it with the resent crop of Labor luminaries, Rudd was displaying the same confusing characteristics, did anyone know the real Rudd?

As I wrote in another post, Julia appears to be an:
fluid and fragmented evolving self, just getting to know her place in the world ...
This brings concepts of self to mind, of one being 'constructed' by experiences, ah yes, Julia the post modernist.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The enigmatic Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard who just a decade ago was a member of, no correct that, a leader of the Socialist forum, is actually a conservative.

Julia Gillard has revealed herself to be a cultural traditionalist, indicating she will oppose moves by the Greens for euthanasia and gay marriage laws and that she believes it is important for people to understand the Bible- despite the fact she is an atheist.
Hello!!!! Julia suggests it's important for us to understand the bible, and rightly so, but when Tony Abbott suggests the same thing the press goes haywire.
The Rudd Government has strayed onto a theological and political minefield, calling on Tony Abbott to rule out including Bible studies in a national curriculum. In a week when most Australians at least acknowledge Bible stories, the government sent backbencher Kate Lundy out to accuse the Opposition Leader of wanting to impose Bible studies on students.
When I consider Julia Gillards place along the ideological continuum, a now hackneyed statement comes to mind.
There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.
For more on our enigmatic PM click the Julia Gillard label below ...

Must read: Now it’s Julia the social conservative

Is the PM’s new-won social conservatism simply a cynical attempt to distance her ALP Government from the Greens or is the ‘real’ Julia happy to be portrayed as a Tony Abbott mini-me when it comes to teaching the Bible and the culture wars?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Libya: The battle begins

The United States, France and Britain have finally begun pounding Libya with air strikes and Tomahawk missiles to force force leader Moamar Gaddafi from power. The U.S. is making use of Tomahawk missiles from five combat ships in the Mediterranean, including at least one guided missile destroyer, but there are no U.S. aircraft carriers close to Libya.

Aviano, south of the Alps in Italy, is the region's only U.S. air base with aircraft assigned to it.

But it's not just Britain, France and the U.S. involved here. Canada's HMCS Charlottetown warship has joined naval actions and Canadian fighter jets have reached the region but need another day or two of preparation before they can join in. The Italians have deployed dozens of combat aircraft at its base at Trapani, in western Sicily in readiness for possible involvement. They include, Tornado fighters as well as F-16s and Eurofighters. The resources are presently being moved from Northern Italy to Sicily.

I'm thinking though, who is driving the offence? At first Obama told us that Gaddafi had to go but by last week, even though talk of military action was advanced, the President was giving Gaddafi “a choice.” So what is the objective? To halt Gaddafi advance on the rebels or to remove him from power? Do the French and Brits have different ideas and how far will this latest offensive go? How can it be justified if Gaddafi remains in power? Obama, Sarkozy, and Cameron have to make the goal clear or are they still discussing this.

But in the end, is air power going to be enough to dislodge Gaddafi's hold on power? The world has no appetite for more western led ground offensives so it's going to have to do. In this context, be prepared for a hell of an air show....

Finally, one thing stood out from events in Washington, it was clear that Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton assumed the reigns of presidential power, not the dithering Obama.


Awesome video of jet going down ...

More on the launch of 'Operation Odyssey Dawn'

And for heavens sake Where is the leader of the world's most powerful office?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Of Politics and Science by Crichton

In light of current events, I found this interesting, hope you do to ...

Such a great thinker was Crichton ... note what he says about Chernobyl, at around 8 mins ... health issues were exacerbated by "bad information".

Visit Michael Crichton's site here

Monday, March 14, 2011

Neilson Poll: Turnbull preferred to Abbott

Listen up Neilson, in future try targeting the question to existing coalition voters ...

I cannot help but shake my head upon reading the latest Nielsen Poll results  particularly those related to the question, who is their preferred Liberal leader, Turnbull or Abbott.

While ABC news sites  are happy to report that Tony Abbott trails the man he deposed, Malcolm Turnbull let us be clear about something. Imagine if you will you or I interview one thousand (1,000) Australians and ask them same question, who is your preferred Liberal leader? What do you think would be the answer? Moving away from Nielson and to Newspoll, the latest Newspoll Poll result  (4-6 March 2011) shows support for the Labor party at 30% and the Greens at 15%, mathematically the result would indicate around 45% of respondents answering, you guessed it, Malcolm Turnbull.

He’s the bottom line, if you, unlike the Nielson Pollsters, target your question to existing Liberal party supporters the result would be unequivocal; Tony Abbott is the preferred liberal leader. Hence, of course Labor, Greens and others would not choose Abbott.

Accordingly, Tony Abbott is perfectly justified when he says that he is just trying to get on with his job in the face of the Neilson Poll.

Listen up Neilson, in future try targeting the question to existing coalition voters and surprise surprise, the result will be entirely different.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Julia Gillard’s speech to US Congress

Julia Gillard’s speech to joint sitting of the US House of Representatives and the Senate earlier today was mostly excellent. Assuming she means all she said, our PM would appear to have a clear picture of the United States and its place in the world. Moreover, she added, that America is indispensable to maintaining world order now and into the future. On this note, I could not agree more.

Nonetheless, two thoughts came to mind after reading the transcript.

Firstly, how would the same speech have gone down, if it were Tony Abbott PM not Julia addressing the Congress, one could imagine the outcry from the left accusing Tony of selling out to “imperialist” power thirsty America, the land of multinationals that scavenge the planet, of assuming a deputy sheriff role in Asia Pacific, and accusations relating to Australia, as America’s puppet. I remain certain that Julia will draw criticism but she remains from the left, albeit a fluid and fragmented evolving self, just getting to know her place in the world. Still, the left does not attack its own as harshly.

My second thought relates to the Governments chief allies in power, the Greens. Has anyone asked Christine Milne or Bob Brown for an opinion of The PM’s address today? Let us hope someone in the press gallery does, I would be interested in the response.

I cannot help but recall how many within the Labor party including Julia Gillard vilified John Howard and George W Bush's America when they responded to 9/11. Fast forward to 2011, and we note Julia heaping praise on Howard and showing steadfast support for the war on terror. In the context, she is a hypocrite.

Michelle Gratton echoes my thoughts about Gillards performance:

... her congressional performance a revival of her political flair that will be admired by her Labor colleagues, or will it reinforce doubts about her policy substance and even her political identity?

The images back home out of her appearance in the US House of Representatives chamber were compelling. But they add to confusion about the ''real Julia''. How could someone who once came from the left of Labor be seen to outdo Menzies, Hawke and Howard in her rhetorical genuflecting to the US?

Now really think about it, Julia Gillard suddenly sounding like a Capitol Hill hawk? A a few short years ago she was a peacenik dove. Who are you Julia? That’s what the press gallery ought be damanding. Just maybe the PM wants to be a hawkish dove? Thus, Julia Gillard is more akin to something of a dove hybrid.

Finally, for those interested in John Howard's 2002 address to a joint meeting of the United States Congress click here.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Greg Sheridan seems ropable about PM's latest foreign policy gaffe

Greg Sheridan tells it like it is. Julia Gillard's office can't seem to get anything right with matters foreign policy. He refers to comments made about the East Asia Summit.

What on earth is going on in the PM's office? These are scripted speeches, for heaven's sake. It is one thing to proclaim proudly that as Prime Minister you have had no previous interest in foreign policy. It is another all together to show such colossal ignorance of such basic matters of regional diplomacy ... Were these speeches not reviewed in advance? Is the PM's office utterly chaotic in these matters? How can anyone take Australian prime ministerial diplomacy seriously when on the one hand it is fixated on fantasy and on the other it cannot get the most basic elements of regional diplomacy right? So far almost everything the PM touches in foreign policy she turns into a humiliating mess.
I'm beginning to worry about the speech Gillard reads when she addresses a joint session of the US Congress later this month. Clearly she's out of her league ...

Off topic: My view of the proposed Carbon Tax is here

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Libyan crises prompts a first for Chinese Navy

The Wall Street Journal reports that China has used the Libyan crisis to showcase its ability to project naval power. It also sent chartered ships and aircraft to evacuate 30,000 Chinese nationals stuck in Libya.

China has sent one of its most modern warships to protect vessels extracting thousands of its citizens from Libya, in the Asian power’s first naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea and its first deployment of military hardware in a civilian evacuation mission.

The Chinese navy diverted the Xuzhou, a 4,000 ton missile frigate, from anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia and dispatched it to the Libyan coast on Thursday, according to a statement on the Chinese Defense Ministry’s web site.
Meanwhile no less than ten retired British senior officers have asked, “where are the carriers?” according to the BBC.
Ten retired senior military officers have written to the prime minister to voice their concerns over the loss of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal ... A former field marshal, three generals and six admirals say the loss of Ark Royal and its fleet of Harrier jets has damaged Britain's defence capabilities ... They say Britain can no longer mount amphibious operations without putting troops' lives at "considerable risk".
Apparently the former officers criticized the British government for not having an aircraft carrier to cover a possible operation which we guess evacuation of British citizens if things escalate. However a defence spokesman replied, ‘why should we when the Americans are not?’ The British can’t field a carrier because they have nothing to field. Now this poses are pertinent question. Where are the U.S. carriers?

CVN Enterprise: North Arabian Sea
CVN Vinson: North Arabian Sea
CVN Lincoln: Singapore
CVN Washington: Japan
CVN Stennis: San Diego
CVN Truman: Norfolk
CVN Reagan: Eastern Pacific
CVN Bush: Western Atlantic

No carrier group in the Mediterranean. The Nimitz, Roosevelt and Eisenhower, are in overhaul. The Stennis, Truman, Reagan and Bush are undergoing training and preparing to deploy or are recently returned and awaiting an overhaul. So what would former President Carter do, or Reagan or GWB for that matter. While we're speculating perhaps we should ask what will Obama do? Finally, after some negative media from former defence personnel the Enterprise has been dispatched.

Back to China, we note that this is the Asian power’s first naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea!

Julia Gillard and Colonel Gaddafi

LIBERAL MP Sophie Mirabella has compared Julia Gillard to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Personally I think its a bit rough on Gillard to compare her to Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi. He's got over 40 years experience at mismanaging an economy and impoverishing a nation, on the other hand Julia is just a roookie getting started, admittedly though, she has us well on the way.