There was a lot of speculation about the role of blogs and the Intertubes more generally would have in this election, mostly focusing on the political commentary role of blogs like this one. As it’s turned out, the campaign has been so soporific that neither blogs nor conventional media have had an awful lot to say about it. The stars of the show have been psephological blogs such as Pollbludger, Possum’s Pollytics, Mumble and Bryan Palmer. Showing the borderless nature of the blogosphere, one of the best such sites comes from the other side of the Pacific. Simon Jackman at Stanford has prepared a comprehensive pooled analysis of the polls which is well worth reading.
It’s time, once again for the Monday Message Board. As usual, civilised discussion and absolutely no coarse language, please.
There’s too much happening on climate change to keep up with it all, so I’ll give some links
* In Crikey, Guy Pearse points out that in 1990 the Liberals had a policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade. His book, High and Dry, showed where that all went. If the predicted wipeout occurs, the climate delusionists in the government’s ranks (and in its leadership) will bear a large share of the responsibility.
* Giving the lie to regular claims that the EU is not serious about cutting emissions, the EU Parliament has imposed caps on emissions from the airline industry, stronger than those suggested by the EU commission.
* A call for action from Kate Carroll of Greenpeace
* More surprisingly, the same from former NSW Liberal leader, Peter Debnam
Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.
Another guest post, this time from Don Harding, who’s looking again at the apparent conflict between betting odds on a Labor win and those in individual seats.
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Last week the Prime Minister is reported to have said that economist Richard Blandy had estimated Labor’s plan to abolish Work Choices would destroy between 200,000 and 400,000 jobs. This claim has provoked a response from Australia’s (and one of the world’s) leading econometrician, Adrian Pagan. My one line summary: Blandy has derived this estimate by comparing levels, but has ignored the pre-existing upward trend in employment.
The full piece is over the fold – if there are any opinion editors among my readers, this would make a great contribution for the final week of the campaign.
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It’s now looking just about as certain as any electoral outcome can be that the Howard government will be defeated, and that the Federal Liberal party will join its state and territory counterparts in opposition, possibly for several terms to come. Given that the economy is doing well, and that the Australian electorate is not obviously in a state of leftwing ferment, this (still putative) outcome needs some explanation.
One striking fact, despite having received an overwhelming mandate in 1996 for a policy of making Australia “relaxed and comfortable”, the Howard government, and, even more, their supporters, see themselves as being engaged in a “culture war”. An even more striking fact is that the other side in this culture war has been just about invisible, particularly in political debate. It’s hard to see either Kevin Rudd or his smooth and scrubbed counterparts at the state level as engaged in a struggle to undermine traditional Australian culture. Even the Greens, led by Bob Brown, don’t fit the bill. And this is consistent with my day-to-day experience. Maybe UQ is riddled with extreme cultural leftists, but if so, I don’t get invited to their parties.
Yet opinion columns, talk radio and the rightwing blogosphere are dominated by diatribes against what appears, in their telling, as an amorphous mass of political correctness, environmentalism, radical feminism and general hostility to ordinary Australians and their values, which supposedly dominates not only the Labor party but all of our major cultural institutions including universities, the legal system, the ABC and even, in many accounts, the commercial mass media in which these bloviators are writing.
The pursuit of the culture war is, in my judgement, one of the main reasons that the conservative parties have become increasingly unelectable.
For a long time, I’ve insisted on civilised discussion on this blog, to the point of banning coarse language, not because I don’t allow such words to pass my own lips but because I think it tends to encourage flaming and other such behavior. I may not have done a perfect job, particularly as I tend not to follow the kind of long-running interchange between two or three commenters where flames emerge, but I hope the place is a bit less offputting in this respect than a lot of other blogs. It’s nice to get some reinforcement in this view and here is a piece from Gary Kamiya at Salon.
I installed Mac OS X Leopard on my laptop a couple of weeks ago, and tried out the spiffy new Time Machine feature which does differential backups to a hard drive. On the first run, of course, it had to back up the whole machine and I was a bit startled to see that it was copying over a million files. Of course, lots of those are system and applications files, but my documents folder, which is mostly stuff I’ve created myself, has over 250 000 files. And today I got a message from Eudora telling me (not for the first time) that my Inbox could only hold 32000 messages.
I can remember when I knew, by name, every file on the computer, and what it did. It was not that hard with a machine (128k Mac) that ran off a couple of 400k floppy disks.
I just got the edited highlights of Howard’s policy launch, but the commentary confirmed my impression that the main initiatives (tax-favoured savings accounts for homebuyers, rebates for parents of school students, money for childcare centres) were ripoffs of policies announced by Rudd earlier in the campaign. This kind of “me too, too, only more so” approach seems to be tactically and politically silly for a lot of reasons.