41 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. Sorry posted too fast and gave a link without context, and on further reflection my context is not nearly as interesting as I thought it was, so just add your own context in and I’m sure it will be better than mine.

  2. I didn’t realise there were any Bob the Angry Flower cartoons except the Atlas Shrugged 2: The Next Day one…

  3. Oh Tim, you’ve missed the best one of all! If you ever feel the need to leave comments on the internet, you should always take with you a link to Smashing Hand With Hammer. I’m writing a high school history book at the moment and the chapter on the occupation of Iraq is simply going to be this: http://www.angryflower.com/smashi.html

  4. Greg Sheridan was on Lateline tonight, spruiking some batsh*t-crazy theory about Obama wanting to make PM Tony Abbott look bad, and supposedly the UQ speech—climate change was spoken about—which President (of the USA) Barak Obama made, was intended as poison to the G20 host. Sheridan neglected to mention that PM Tony Abbott was the first to play at making a conspiracy, but this time as one of the conspirators, as Mark Kenny noted in June of this year. I think Kenny well and truly pinned the tail on that donkey…

  5. @Donald Oats
    Who on earth would know what sort of mad conspiracy actually is going on within the Coalition over how to continue to keep their noses in the trough of fossil fuel money for as long as possible? I think be may be witnessing the global fossil fuel denialist conspiracy hitting the brick wall. It is an amazing stew, to say the least: self interest, vested interest, corporations acting like psychopaths and everyone else taking their cue from them, religious madness of all conceivable varieties (hot earth death cultists), rampant patriarchal entitlement, remnant industrial age classism and money without end.

    Obama, however, whatever his other failings, has played this card well and totally wrong footed and the denialist conspiracy of lies and irrationality. We’re flushing them from cover exposing deep irrationality and people so personally corrupted that only Dante would know what to do with them.

    As further evidence of the raving insanity of these fools we see that Lord Monckton is campaigning in Victoria for ‘Rise Up Australia’ one of whose senate candidates is campaigning her attempt to get the Casey Council to stop promoting same-sex relationships. Pastor Danny Nalliah heads up RUA and Catch The Fire Ministries, is noted for suggesting that the Black Saturday Bushfires and deaths were the Lord’s punishment for Victoria having decriminalized abortion. Oh, and for just, you know, homosexuals too.

    It looks like every carpetbagging lunatic has figured out that Australia’s electoral system, especially the upper house systems, are a better chance than the second coming.

  6. @Donald Oats

    And Phil Coorey on the same program correctly pointed out that in 2007 John Howard gave Obama a massive bagging, so I think the Coalition got off very lightly with Obama’s UQ speech. Typically, the Tories have very short and selective memories as evidenced by their confected outrage.

  7. @bjb
    Yeah, our old PM was most discourteous—and wrong. The ISIL terrorists’ best friend was George Bush Jr, for his administration presided over the wholesale destruction and subsequent failure to restore Iraq as a fully functioning state with strong security (i.e. military). GWB Jr, JWH, and Blair, all failed to appreciate—if they even cared—that invading Iraq and removing its leader, disbanding its military, torturing and humiliating prisoners of war, and destruction of modern civil infrastructure (e.g. power stations) would leave Iraq in an impossible situation. Once the tribes and different ethnic groups were free from the previous oppressive but stable regimes, it was a fight on for young and old, all looking to settle old scores and to capture valuable assets, such as oil wells and refinery assets, what was left of them, anyway. Meanwhile, the coalition of the willing were deluding themselves in thinking that they could wave a magic wand and restore some semblance of order. Once the armed forces were disbanded, the national borders of Iraq were effectively dissolved, and the state of Iraq became a series of city-states in all but name.

    To dump the fallout in Iraq on Obama is contemptuous: the original players in Iraq MkII are too gutless to admit to the full enormity of their errors. They largely blame the Iraqis for their woes, and of course the Democrats and other left-of-Genghis Kahn-parties for drawing down troops, even though the draw downs were articled prior to the election of Obama, for example, and even though the draw downs were years after the invasion happened. This is the usual theo-neo-con way though: act belligerent and bellicose, bullying others, transgressing their rights and freedoms; in years hence, rubbing hands, saying yes in hindsight we could have acted differently, blah, blah, but you’ve got to understand that blah, blah, so we did what was right at the time, blah, blah.

    To this day, I cannot understand what on Earth the neo-cons were thinking—terrorists from Afghanistan planned and executed 9/11, so we invade Iraq?? WTF?

  8. Donald

    To this day, I cannot understand what on Earth the neo-cons were thinking—terrorists from Afghanistan planned and executed 9/11, so we invade Iraq?? WTF?

    Lol … Of course you know why they did it …

  9. @Donald Oats
    From the far distant land of Canada, it is hard to see how anyone could make Tony Abbott look worse although he actually looks almost human compared to our revered P.M. Stephan Harper —they seem best buddies.
    You have my sympathy

  10. @Donald Oats

    To this day, I cannot understand what on Earth the neo-cons were thinking—terrorists from Afghanistan planned and executed 9/11, so we invade Iraq??

    McQuaig, L. (2004). It’s the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet (1 edition.). Toronto: Doubleday Canada.

    Combined with some mystic faith in free markets, the US’s divine mission to save the world and a almost total lack of knowledge of other countries, cultures and, certainly, of any religion other than some warped US version of Christianity—wel,l maybe, a bit of knowledge of militant Judaism from your friendly right-wing Israelis.

  11. The interesting thing is the US has not won a war since WW2. This is true if we do not count minor skirmishes like the attack on Grenada. Some might characterise Gulf Wars 1 and 2 as wins for the US but essentially they are not. To win a war is to win the war aims as well as the battles. No war aims have been won in relation Iraq. Iraq is not conquered, nor is it pacified, nor is it occupied, nor has it been democratised, stablised and made part of the western alliance (as Germany was). Therefore, the war(s) on Iraq have been lost.

  12. I am a late follower, perhaps you have done this. How much would marginal tax rates need to rise to replace all the cost-cutting in the budget? Say for incomes over 200,00, higher again for over 500,000, again over 1,000,000 etc. If over 2,000,000 a marginal rate of 60c perhaps.

  13. @ianse
    I don’t know how high marginal tax rates would need to go, but I can tell you that in the 1950s, the top marginal tax rate in the US was 92 cents in the dollar.

    And we all remember the economic hell that was the 1950s.

  14. @Ikonoclast

    I’d slightly disagree with you on Gulf I. The stated aim of the USA and the rest of the allies was to kick Saddam Hussain out of Kuwait and that’s what they did. G

    B the first was a lot smarter than the Shrub and he and his advisors knew perfectly well what kind of Pandora’s box they would be opening if they invaded Iraq.

    Otherwise I’d agree with you.

  15. Now that it has been established that the LNP are only pro Republican and not pro US I guess we can expect this sort of nuttiness over here

    the bill forbids scientific experts from participating in “advisory activities” that either directly or indirectly involve their own work.

    .. “academic scientists who know the most about a subject can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.”

  16. @ianse
    I read somewhere (can’t find it now, sorry) that if we restored income tax levels to where they were before Costello cut them, the budget would return to surplus in short order.

  17. @rog

    One spokesman for science said: “… we need science to protect public health and the environment.” It actually goes further than that. We need science to protect and develop the economy, wages and profits through technology and avoidance of growth-damaging negative externalities and other problems. I guess the Repubs still like science that furthers military and corporate goals. Howeve, if you start “picking winners” in science from such a narrow ideological perspective and avoid broader and eclectic research this comes at an opportunity cost of discoveries foregone in many fields and failure to give warnings about impending dangers.

    If a free market within sensible control limits* is beneficial (and I think it is) then free science within sensible control limits (e.g. ethics committees) is also beneficial. Narrowly picking winners in each case substitutes corporate or committee intelligence for the entire society’s gruop intelligence.

    * Note: A totally free market without control limits would see for example all d r u g s and all weapons on sale to all people regardless of age. This example is a kind of reductio absurdum designed to show that markets always have bounds. Social and economic freedoms of any kind are always freedoms within bounds. With markets we should talk of a market that is “free within bounds”. The democratic debate is always about where to set those bounds.

  18. @Ben

    Was there a ‘reason’ or some reasoning even that supported these tax cuts?

    The way I understood it, from Libertarian theory/philosophy is that when the rich wealth creators pay less tax they will be kinder to the poor and become philanthropists and help the poor and that this charity will be so much more efficient than when governments do it and of course they will build jobs for us just because work is so liberating.

    I did read this argument many times back in the day, on that blog that shouldn’t be named.

    But that doesn’t seem to have happened in any real life situation that I have experienced. Has anybody else noticed the rich spending their tax cuts on community, social and/or cultural building? And the jobs?

    Well I guess the jobs are coming eventually when all regulation and limits on the entrepreneurs are lifted and then the magic will happen.

  19. Worth noting that the boss of BHP-Billiton has said that coal will eventually be dropped from the miner’s list if they can’t get carbon sequestration (CCS) to work. It makes you wonder if the Australian Government’s current contribution could ring the bell for Mr McKenzie. I can’t imagine BHP going it alone on CCS for long. It would seem to cause a moral dilemma to continue exporting thermal coal.

  20. @Fran Barlow
    …because they could. In reality, there would have been several reasons, depending upon the individuals in the clique: presumably GWB Jr would have had a different set of reasons (with overlap, though) to Rumsfeld or Powell (who didn’t particularly want to go there), or Rice, or the military leaders. When they first announced they were looking at Iraq, via a series of political speeches attacking Saddam Hussein, and arguing he was in violation of all sorts of things which weren’t important enough to fix at Gitmo, I had that face-palm moment: surely GWB wouldn’t be thinking now is a good time to finish what Daddy started? Surely he would be more mature than that…wouldn’t he? I mean, surely the collapse of a dictatorship in a tribal land of colonial borders, lines in the sand or in name only, surely that would spell trouble in the aftermath? Lol, Shirley must get sick of all these rhetorical questions…

  21. @John Brookes

    Pretty much … spending money in defence is one of the few ways you can porkbarrel with impunity in the US. Throw in ‘wag the dog’, existential angst, the potential of racism and xenophobia to force a wedge into the populace. Simole synergy …

  22. And the “Yinon” plan…

    “…a fundamental purpose of the war on Iraq was to ignite the destabilization and fragmentation of Israel’s enemies throughout the Middle East, which has consequently taken place in tandem with a region-wide Sunni—Shiite war.”

    But yes, oil and the MIC too. They’re all really the same thing.

  23. When you read this, and read between the lines….BHP are saying that coal is stuffed.

    Rhetorical question I know but who would invest in coal extraction?

  24. Can you believe that Greg Sheridan is still going on about the untold damage being caused by Omama’s speech at UQ? (See today’s paper)
    There must be a real shortage of foreign affairs to write about at the moment.
    Mind you, you don’t have to search too deep in Google to see that Greg’s has had equally stupid hobby-horses in the past, which have proven untrue. While it turns me off my subscription to the Australain, maybe someone thinks it sells papers.
    Everyone with any sense realises Abbott has chosen to become a climate change denier for domestic political gain. As the old Colgate ad goes, you should tell your friend if they have bad breath. And on cimate change, Australia’s currently stinks.
    Furthermore, how disingenuous is Julie Bishop. It’s an embarrassment for her to tell the world that her “best practice” will save the reef – unless she knows a way of cooling and deacidifying the Pacific Ocean!

  25. @Peter P
    Sheridan is one of several reasons why I stopped reading The Australian around a decade ago. Based on some of the second-hand exposure I’ve had to him recently, he seems to be becoming more shrill over time.

  26. @rog
    Rog, if companies can get govenments such as Queensland’s to cough up enough rail and port infrastructure and discounted royalties they may decided to go ahead and bet on coal prices increasing high enough in the future to make a profit. I don’t think that’s very likely but there may be those who would take the bet provided they can get enough free money from taxpayers to make the downside not too harsh for them. A “tails I win, heads you lose” situation. And also, if things go sour, as I believe they will, they may also be thinking they can get more taxpayers’ money from an obviously insane state goverment to compensate them for believing in their failed beautiful dream of coal soot poisoning generations of children to come.

  27. Not sure of the posting rules here, so preemptive apologies if I transgress, but I found the following in the New York Times intriguing.

  28. I just read a piece on The Grauniad:

    The ABC and SBS could save $6m a year by refusing to pay Foxtel for retransmitting their services

    Isn’t that hilarious? WE pay Murdoch $6 million a year so that idiots can pay him money to watch the ABC?

    The ABC should charge HIM for the transferred credibility the ABC gives to his crap pay-tv channel by appearing on it.

  29. @Megan

    I thought if someone took product from you, they paid you. Murdoch should pay or lose the service. Why do we keep giving subsidies to billionaires? Oh, that’s right, it’s “free enterprise” which means the state gives billions free to billionaires. Just look at the billions in public monies given to fossil fuel tycoons and negative-gearing landlords.

  30. @Ikonoclast

    Mark Scott was asked in estimates about the suggestion of cutting off that payment:

    Asked about it in Senate estimates last week, ABC managing director Mark Scott said he understood the merits of the argument, and it was backed by Turnbull, but he said if Foxtel then refused to carry the ABC, it would end up having an impact on content.

    “I think there is real merit in what Mr Lewis has argued here. But we still need to be able to think through what the content impacts are of making efficiency decisions,” he said.

    That simply doesn’t even make any sense. It couldn’t possibly affect content adversely.

    They should also stop providing a platform for IPA and Murdoch stooges to appear. I try to deliberately avoid all Murdoch content and the ABC is determined to ensure I can’t.

  31. Yes Megan, I was appalled when I heard this too. It seems totally bizarre. If anything, Murdoch should be paying the ABC for the content, not the other way around.

    It just underlines the stranglehold Murdoch has on this country’s politics and culture.

  32. @Fran Barlow
    Couldn’t agree more. Given the open access which the very conservative of the right wing have to the ABC productions, I am still amazed at the regular outpouring of rage at “the left-bias of the ABC,” to quote one already forgotten letters-to-the-editor writer. I mean, are they serious? If you subtract out all the pure entertainment content and concentrate on just the news, and the opinion-based political shows on the ABC, the IPA and the Murdoch media editors and opinion-piece writers have ample access to these vehicles. In fact, it is often the case that the same opinion-piece writers are used—in news pieces—as expert talking heads, when clearly they aren’t; they are presumably drawn upon because of familiarity with them, rather than by bothering to find who are the appropriate experts to use.

  33. Counting is well under way in the Victorian State election and it’s already been declared a defeat for the LNP. A one-term government – apparently that hasn’t happened for about 50 years.

    The results so far appear to support my prediction earlier in the year about the ALP/LNP duopoly losing ground.

    In the last parliament (counting Shaw as LNP) all 88 lower house seats were held by the duopoly. It looks like the Greens have taken 2 seats from them with a third possible.

    In the upper house it’s too early to be sure but it looks like the greens will hold the three they have and the duopoly will either lose some or at least not gain any.

  34. I just wonder when the public will realise that voting flip-flop fashion for the duopoly will never change anything.

  35. @Ikonoclast

    Still too early for final results yet, but I’d say they are showing just that realisation.

    The duopoly lost seats in both houses.

    At least 2 in the lower house and possibly 9 more in the upper house.

    Even the establishment media (if you dig deep enough into their ‘coverage’) is mumblingly admitting that the upper house will be hung with a mixture of greens and minor parties holding the balance of power.

    If we had a functioning media the headlines today should be: “Both ALP & LNP lose seats in Victorian election” – but that would give the game away.

  36. On Monday, when questioned about the recent result in Victoria, the PM Tony Abbott will say “Well, the Victorian Liberals needed an efficiency dividend…, no, that’s not a cut, it’s an efficiency dividend, all back-office efficiency gains, won’t affect the number of seats they have at all…”

    That is the alternate reality of the Federal LNP at the moment.

  37. Andrew Bolt provided some light relief on his Bolt Report today. It seems that the loss in Vic and the falling polls for both Tony Abbott and the coalition can be explained by “it’s all Labors fault”. And the accusation that Murdoch has editorial control of his press – why that’s a leftist/ABC conspiracy that lacks evidence.

  38. According to Fairfax the Nationals are angry about the Victorian election result:

    The party also appears to have lost the fifth upper house spot in the western region, potentially leaving it with just nine seats in Parliament. This would trigger the loss of party status, which requires a minimum of 11 seats.

    It would be a devastating blow, denying the rural party hundreds of thousands of dollars for staff, offices, vehicles and other resources.

    They shouldn’t be too concerned, if the Queensland experience is anything to go by.

    When the ALP fell below the statutory 10 seats required for “opposition” status, and a bunch of upstarts from the LNP joined with others and tried to claim “opposition” status, the ALP and LNP slammed through some midnight laws essentially barring any party other than the duopoly from being the official “opposition”.

    So I would expect the pattern to repeat in Victoria.

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