43 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. I see my earlier predictions that the Arab Spring would fail and descend into a series of failed states and warlordism is being borne out. Libya is descending into tribalism. Syria is falling apart. Egypt will take longer but will go the same way. The real dynamic driving these collapses are the resource shortages being caused by the limits to growth.

    Western Europe is following the same path hastened by the disastrously misconceived monetary union.

  2. What they really need is a genuine “Pro-Democracy” drive.

    We could use one of them here in the ‘West’, too!

    The people want it, but the powerful are not going to allow it.

  3. The perfect storm of the Libor scandal seems to be gathering momentum, even as a smug-looking former Barclay’s CEO emerges from the House of Common’s investigation. The adversarial contest between leading opposing politicians, which might be supposed to be normal, serves to undermine the effort to keep a distance of the political process from the unfolding disaster. Financial capitalism has it seems created economic mayhem with toxic derivatives, but in this instance the internal corporate environment was driven by fear. So much for “the end of history”. Unfettered capitalism shows itself to be an unmitigated disaster (as might have been expected).

  4. One has to feel sorry for Barclay’s CEO in the same way one is forced to feel sorry for Bernie Madoff. Really, its not as they have done anything out of ordinary for those involved at the top of the finance tree. Especially in view of what a fine fellow Bob Diamond is:
    One can feel their pain, and shocked disbelief at being singled out for wrong doing that has become and been now acceptable for so long. Similar shock and disbelief must have accompanied Rupert Murdoch during his recent experiences with the horrid British.

  5. “Unfettered capitalism shows itself to be an unmitigated disaster (as might have been expected).” says ‘wmmbb’.

    Yes, it turns out to be the disaster that Marx and Engels diagnosed and predicted.

    Freelander’s posts are amusing. News Biscuit is an hilarious spoof of “news before it happens”. The idea of taking six filthy, disease and vermin laden kittens out of a dumpster and straight to a kid’s cancer ward full of immune-compromised children is after all about as smart as setting up toxic derivatives and rigging the Libor rate in an economy staggering under an immense private debt burden.

    And “Mishap Accomplished” indeed! The cost of US materiels and lives wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan could have transitioned the US economy to energy self-sufficency (step 1) and then a fully renewable energy economy (step 2). That possibility has likely been lost forever. The US seems past the tipping point now. I doubt that sufficient imagination, will, reserves and resources remain to complete the transition.

  6. The NSW Labor Right is once again seeking to bring on a brawl between Labor and the Greens. At some point the wiser heads in the ALP (and there are some) are going to have to assert, and argue within the party for recognition of, three fundamental realities:

    1. Australia now has two significant parties of the centre-left and this state of affairs is going to continue for the forseeable future.

    2. It is in the interests of both parties (although for somewhat different reasons in each case) for them to achieve some kind of cooperative accommodation, even continuing to have principled disagreements from time to time.

    3. Labor will not be able to come to a sensible position on its relations with the Greens, or anyone else, until it has worked out unresolved questions about it own values, purpose and identities.

  7. “Australia now has two significant parties of the centre-left…”

    Really? I can only think of one (despite some wishful thinking from a lot of people who refuse to accept the ALP is now root-n-branch neo liberal).

  8. Paul Howes of the AWU has been talking through his fundament about the 2010 Senate results, claiming that the Greens did not receive a quota in any mainland State and would not have won any mainland Senate seats without Labor preferences. I have looked at the figures and the preference distributions and can advise that:

    * Richard De Natale was elected with a quota in his own right in Victoria;
    * Lee Rhiannon was elected on Liberal Democratic Party preferences (!) in NSW and Labor preferences were irrelevant as the context for the last place was between her and the third Labor candidate;
    * Larissa Waters would have been elected on Sex Party preferences in Queensland;
    * Rachel Siewert would have been elected on Sex Party preferences in WA;
    * Penny Wright was elected on Sex Party preferences in SA so Labor preferences were irrelevant;
    * and of course Christine Milne had a quota in her own right in Tasmania.

    Of course the possibility exists that in the 2013 Senate election a decision by Labor to preference the Greens last could, given certain configurations of votes and preferences for the vatious parties, materially affect the Greens’ electoral chances and contribute to the election of a Coalition Senator, or a Senator from a party like the DLP, Christian Democrats or Family First, in some states. If this eventuates it will be interesting to see how vocal people like Paul Howes and Sam Dastyari will be in claiming credit for such an outcome.

  9. Party ownership of preferences is nonsense anyway. If Howes can’t remain faceless surely he could remain silent.

  10. @Megan

    According to the web-site linked, CDs are mainly traded among financial institutions. So the ‘interest rate’ is the yield rather than a central bank determined discount rate.

  11. They could still be worth purchasing if there was an expectation of the currency appreciating.

  12. For whom? Considering the foreign exchange data published on the same web-site, the non-Euro Scandinavian financial institutions might have bought a few Danish CDs.

  13. Further to BBB@C #12, Paul Howes wrote a villifying, slanderous and scapegoating article published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail today. Talk about bite the hand that feeds you.

    This sort of unprincipled backstabbing will not improve Labor’s popularity. I have little fear of such smearing having much effect on the Greens vote. I have more fear that the Greens have been tarnished by having a close association with the modern Labor party with it’s lack of principles and directionless, faceless men who turn like a yellow dog when they need someone else to blame for their failures.

  14. The Labor party is nothing but a coalition of factions with each faction having at most one member. Every one, with a few notable exceptions, seems motivated by “but what’s in it for me?”. Latest also being KRudd being spruiked by his wife “for the national good”. Give me a break!

  15. The ALP need my vote and a Heck of a lot of other votes too, but their current antics simply make that less likely. As Christine Milne quipped, if the ALP put Family First ahead of the Greens, then we know which party are the real extremists^fn1. In her words:

    But Senator Milne says Labor are aligning themselves with the real extremists by preferencing the conservative Family First ahead of the Greens.

    “That’s where the extremism is in Australian politics and the Greens actually represent mainstream values and mainstream opinion,” she said.

    FN1: Meaning, of course, the ALP for putting an extremist group such as Family First ahead of the Greens. Paul Howes should ponder that long and hard, before his next bagging of the Greens.

    PS: After reading several recent news fictional accounts, I thought I should include a footnote. Just in case.

  16. Lee Rhiannon was elected on Liberal Democratic Party preferences (!) in NSW and Labor preferences were irrelevant as the context for the last place was between her and the third Labor candidate;

    This assertion is rubbish but I’ve seen it repeated several places. The LDP group preferences for NSW in 2010 are on the public record and the Greens were essentially preferences last. Well actually Communist Alliance was preferenced last but for all the difference it makes the Greens may as well have been. See for yourself at the following link:-


  17. TerjeP @21, I’ve rechecked the distribution of preferences in the NSW Senate poll and you’re right,

    There was a parcel of approximately 100,000 votes which were distributed to Lee Rhiannon, and got her elected, after the final LDP candidate was eliminated. However almost all of this parcel appears to have been Australian Sex Party votes which parked with the LDP before being passed on to the Greens at the final count, not LDP votes.

    The main point I was making, namely that ALP preferences were irrelevant to the Greens’ success in the 2010 Senate poll in NSW and that Paul Howes is talking through his fundament, still stands.

  18. This article is worth reading also and explains the attitude that some of us have noticed about a certain type of person.


    They “showed through quizzes, online games, questionnaires, in-lab manipulations, and field studies that being rich can make people less ethical, more selfish, more insular, and less compassionate than other people.”

    “While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything, the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”

  19. Thanks to the helpful link Terje provided, we also now know that the LDP preferenced the Citizens Electoral Council and the One Nation Party ahead of the Coalition and Labor.

  20. Ikonoklast @1 wrote: “I see my earlier predictions that the Arab Spring would fail and descend into a series of failed states and warlordism is being borne out. …”

    Megan @2 wrote: “What they really need is a genuine ‘Pro-Democracy’ drive.”

    Saudi Princess seeking political asylum in Britain

    Saudi Princess Sara bint Talal bin Abdul Aziz is seeking political asylum in Britain, alleging physical and mental abuse at the hands of Saudi authorities.

  21. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy :
    Thanks to the helpful link Terje provided, we also now know that the LDP preferenced the Citizens Electoral Council and the One Nation Party ahead of the Coalition and Labor.

    You seriously don’t want to know how sausages are made. It’s a beastly business and I wish we could simply have above the line preferencing by the voters rather than this system of group preference tickets. That said at least the LDP put the socialists and communists low on the list. Take a look where the Greens preference the Communist Alliance:-


    Do the Greens really want Australia to be run by communists?

  22. Perhaps, Arabs are victims of false consciousness, obstinately refusing to follow the advice of well-intentioned folk everywhere who recommend a cleansing dose of “real democracy”.

    The glum fact remains that insufficient numbers of Arabs appear to value any form of democracy admired by folks who claim to know what “real democracy” consists of.

    I predict that first-world lovers of democracy will continue for a long time to be disappointed by events arising out of the “Arab Spring”.

  23. In Syria the regime will stay as long as they can stomach killing large numbers of people. That is without external intervention of some kind. The only reason the Soviet Empire fell was because the military lost the will to kill. Having seen what has happened to the defeated elsewhere in the regime changes, the Syrian regime is unlikely to lose the will to kill anytime soon.

  24. When there is a history of violence stopping the violence is not easy. But it can be done. The end of white rule in South Africa,where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu provided remarkable moral leadership was one example. No evidence that anything similar will be forthcoming in any of the Arab countries, except perhaps in Egypt.

  25. @Katz

    Regrettably, killing people on a very large scale in order to achieve/hold government is multi-millennial tradition in the area now described by Syria. In most cases, the local instigators had outside urgers (if not invaders) as well.

  26. Katz @ 28 wrote:

    Perhaps, Arabs are victims of false consciousness, …

    A good many Arabs may be the victims of ‘false consciousness’ but no less so than people in Western industrialised countries who largely accept the lies they are fed by newspapers such as the Melbourne Age which commenced its deceitful reporting of the Houla massacre of the 25 May with the report ore than 90 massacred: Syrian activists. This and the Age‘s subsequent reporting of the Houla massacre and the Syian conflict were shown to be lies by this report in the Franfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung of 13 June 2012: Syrien- Eine Auslöschung (Syria – an Extinction, English translation here) This report shows that the massacre was not carried out by the Syrian Army or Police as was alleged by the Western newsmedia, but by the NATO-backed Syrian insurgents.

    Katz @ 30 wrote:

    In Syria the regime will stay as long as they can stomach killing large numbers of people. …

    No government can defend itself against a terrorist insurgency sponsored by outside dictatorships and prospective colonisers, without killing people. In fact, if you examine the evidence, you will see that the Assad Government, its police and Army have behaved with extraordinary humanity given the circumstances they faced. Until a few months ago, they avoided bombing residential areas. However, they had to change this policy because of the supply of sophisticated anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to the terrorists.

    The people who are fomenting the terrorist insurgency are no different than those who invaded Libya last year causing 30,000 deaths and the plunder of Libya’s oil wealth by Western oil corporations, and, before that, the criminal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in which many hundreds of people died. The lies being peddled by the Western newsmedia and phony human rights organisations such a Amnesty International and Avaaz are no less lies than were the lies used to justify the invasions of Iraq in 1991 and 2003, namely the Incubator Babies lie and Iraqi WMD’s

    Those who want to try to help prevent a repeat of the vast tragedies of the previous two decades, but are not yet sure which side to believe about the Syrian conflict, should take the effort to follow links such as those which are to be found on my own site’s stories about Syria and from there own judgement. A very good resource is a YouTube broadcast by French journalist Thierry Mayssan. I will post the link later.

  27. Sorry about the mis-typing just above (I managed to place an ‘s’ where I should have placed an ‘a’ at the start of the link tag.)

    The YouTube broadcast by French journalist Thierry Mayssan which I referred to just above, is here.

  28. Yes, its foolish to believe our ‘free press’ feeds us true and balanced news anymore than the not so free press. It seems in the west the press is just more successful in telling us lies. I had foolishly thought AI a good organization and had been a regular donor but angrily worked out they to are quite partisan and ignore an awful lot of the bad the good guys do while at timed lying and exaggerating the sins of the evil doers. Working out what is true is tenuous and non-trivial. Probably why it’s so easy to lapse into some ideology or some other form of wishful thinking.

  29. I tend to believe what journalists like Robert Fisk (The Independent) say about it.

  30. You have Hillary Clinton spouting everyday the US line although presenting it as what the international community demands. When did she become spokeswoman for the rest of the world? Contrary to what they think no one voted the US leader of the free world. Believing the American narrative is always fraught with risk.

    That’s how they got the coalition of the witless into Iraq and Afghanistan. The witless at war with the American’s former proxies. We should leave the US to clean up its own messes in future.

  31. On Sunday night, Australia’s SBS ‘news’ service after reporting that
    Russia and China has supplied Syria with weapons stated: “This reminds us who
    is backing the regime in its fight against the people”.

    The implication that the Syrian Government is opposed by the Syrian people is a
    lie of which the reporter cannot be be unaware.

    Even Wikipedia shows that 8,376,447 out of Syria’s 14,589,954 registered voters
    defied terrorist death threats to vote in the referendum to support the new
    constitution which ends one-party rule in Syria. Of those, 7,490,319 or 89.42%
    of voters or 51.3% of Syrians voters, elegible to vote, voted ‘Yes’.

    Contrast that, for example, with the 2000 US Presidential elections, at which
    George W Bush stole victory. Only 50,456,002 or 25.48% of elegible voters cast
    their vote for Bush (in comparsion with 50,999, 897 for Al Gore).

    Given that that the SBS’s lie about Syria was broadcast from a country which
    in 2011 and 2102 fanned the flames of war against Libya and Syria and which, in
    the recent two decades, participated in the illegal wars against Afghanistan
    and Iraq, how is the above lie about Syria broadcast by the SBS any diffent from
    the lying propaganda for which Nazi radio propagandist Hans Fritzsche was
    convicted at Nuremburg?

  32. Good that the news is sticking to the narrative. China and Russia are the bad guys; the US, UK, our fickle friends in Europe, and us, we’re the good guys.

  33. @Malthusista

    Syria is a dictatorship. General Hafez al-Assad in 1970, led the “Corrective Revolution” which was a military coup.

    “As a result of the 1970 coup, de facto leader Salah Jadid was ousted and the party was purged. This revolution turned Syria’s social and political structures upside down. The Alawites, Assad’s tribe, although no more than 12% of the population, came to occupy plum positions in every sector of life in Syria.[1]” – Wikipedia.

    “The authoritarian government was not without its critics, though open dissent was repressed. A serious challenge arose in the late 1970s, however, from fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, who reject the basic values of the secular Ba’ath program and object to rule by the Alawis, whom they consider heretical. From 1976 until its suppression in 1982, the arch-conservative Muslim Brotherhood led an armed insurgency against the government. In response to an attempted uprising by the brotherhood in February 1982, the government crushed the fundamentalist opposition centered in the city of Hama, leveling parts of the city with artillery fire and leaving between 10,000 and 25,000 people either dead or wounded, mostly civilians (see Hama massacre).[52] The Syrian government’s actions at Hama have been described as possibly being “the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East”.[53] – Wikipedia.

    “Syria’s human rights situation is among the worst in the world, according to human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch.[102] Freedom House ranked Syria “Not Free” in its annual Freedom in the World survey.[103]

    “The authorities arrest democracy and human rights activists, censor websites, detain bloggers, and impose travel bans. Arbitrary detention, torture, and disappearances are widespread.[104] Although Syria’s constitution guarantees gender equality, critics say that personal statutes laws and the penal code discriminate against women and girls. Moreover, it also grants leniency for so-called honor crimes.[104] As of November 9, 2011 during the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, the United Nations reported that of the over 3500 total deaths, over 250 deaths were children as young as 2 years old, and that boys as young as 11 years old have been gang raped by security services officers.[105][106]” – Wikipedia.

    So, Malthusista supports butal dictatorship.

    My belief is that both sides of supporters (The West for the insurrection and Russia for the Regime) should cease outside support and let the Syrian people decide the issue themselves. The Real Politik is that this will never happen. I suspect with Russian and Iranian help, Assad can hold on to his dictatorship for some considerable time yet.

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