Friday, January 30, 2009

NSW Labor in free fall …

With NSW primary vote falling to its lowest levels in over a century, Nathan Rees has been forced to dismiss speculation that senior figures in the party are taking aim. All this begs the question, do they actually think they can win the next election?

It's just four months since Nathan Rees became NSW Premier, but the Labor hacks in Sussex Street HQ are getting restless over the constantly poor opinion polls for his Government. In a weirdly compelling display of habitual self-belief, they are carrying on as if they think an against-the-odds election win in March 2011 is actually possible, or could come about through anything they might do, when clearly it would take an act of God to save them now. >> more
Much like Victorian Labor of late senior NSW Labor figures are making the critical mistake of focusing on individual persona’s rather than policy. Speaking of the Victorian ALP we might just be witnessing the onset of real decline as the red ink starts flowing and self imposed problems beset the state. I’m calling it now, The Vic Government will fall at the next election.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

American Interests: End of the blog

Regretfully, I have put an end to my American Interests blog

Yesterdays post, “Culture threat to American Interests” will be my last post on American Interests. After ‘x’ amount of postings and some 21 months, I regretfully end the American Interests blog. >> more

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Defining a Recession

An unwillingness to acknowledge that the economy is in recession can delay the adoption of policies designed to ameliorate its effects says Saul Eslake Chief Economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. >> more

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

$40b budget deficit: NAB

A weaker economy, more industry bailouts and a huge stimulus spend are likely to push the Federal budget into a $40 billion deficit next financial year, the National Australia Bank says. A 2009-10 budget blow-out, spelling a dramatic reversal of Australia's run of surpluses, would arise due to a weaker economy and the need for more economic rescue packages, NAB economist Jeff Oughton said today. >> more Chris Zappone

Courting the Horde

To gauge the extent to which AGW alarmists’ will go have a look at Tim Blair’s “Shoot them” post here. The caption below the second image is completely and utterly incorrect.

Sadly though, our over sensitized print media went into overdrive as the image was published on the front page of the New York Times, the Sunday Telegraph, International Herald Tribune, London’s daily Mail and many a noteworthy more…

Book launch: Thank God for Carbon

The Lavoiser Group is pleased to announce that Thank God for Carbon, by Lavoisier Group Secretary Ray Evans, will be launched in Adelaide on 27 January by Senator Cory Bernardi. Thank God for Carbon explores the demonizing of carbon by climate change extremists – including the Rudd government.

An ETS [Emissions Trading Scheme] is a euphemism for a carbon tax, but because in Australia it will be a tax imposed primarily on our energy-intensive industries, it will have particularly adverse consequences for our export industries and our import-competing industries. Many rural and urban enterprises will collapse. Investment in our energy-intensive industries will cease, and within a few years electricity blackouts will become commonplace. Britain is now facing this prospect in the forthcoming northern winter.
Click here for an overview of the book

Saturday, January 24, 2009

“FINDING OUR WAY BACK”: Young Liberal Movement Speech

Senator Mitch Fifield
SENATOR FOR VICTORIA

“FINDING OUR WAY BACK”

SPEECH TO

THE AUSTRALIAN YOUNG LIBERAL MOVEMENT
FEDERAL CONVENTION & COUNCIL

10:30AM
SATURDAY, 24 JANUARY 2009
RYDGES CAPITAL HILL
CANBERRA

"We’re an opposition. We should be in the business of frustrating bad policy ... Our duty is to oppose policies we know will destroy jobs ... We will not win by being Labor-lite. We will not win by tacking left. And we should never abandon responsible economic policy in the pursuit of political gain ... Running away from what we have always stood for will not regain the trust of the Australian people. It is wrong and the public will grant us no reward for abandoning principle ... "

This morning I would like to make a few observations about opposition. But let me be clear. I do not want us to perfect opposition. Some state oppositions have made an art form of it. I have no interest in being in opposition beyond the next election.

Since November 2007 we’ve been grieving.

Our Parliamentary Party has traversed the well known stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, hopefully, acceptance. [1]

Well, how are we faring?

Serious grieving, psychologists will tell you, usually lasts a year. [2] It typically involves crying, despair, pain, sorrow, disorganisation, intense searching and yearning. Apart from the crying, that sounds pretty much like our first year of opposition.

And at the end of last year we witnessed the final stage of this.

STICKING TOGETHER: THE LIBS AND THE NATS

I am referring to the Liberal/National scrap in the aftermath of the votes on the carbon sink motion and Labor’s infrastructure legislation.

At that time there were unedifying exchanges between Coalition colleagues with some Liberals seriously suggesting that the Federal Coalition split.

The argument put forward was that the Liberal Party would be better off without the Nationals unless there is always unanimity on policy.

It is an argument borne out of a misunderstanding of the relationship between the two parties and a failure to appreciate the full electoral benefits of coalition.

The simple fact is if we are not in Coalition, we can’t win. We won’t win. If we are not in Coalition at the next election we may as well not bother turning up. 1987 is a case in point, where the coalition split caused by the Joh for PM push cost John Howard any chance of victory.

And in the wake of the creation of the LNP there are also real practical difficulties in attempting to dissolve the Coalition. Why? Because the Queensland Nationals are now members of the Queensland Division of the Liberal Party of Australia. We could formally end the Coalition, but 6 (including CLP) out of 14 Nationals would have the right to sit in the Liberal Party Room.

All of us get frustrated at times when our Coalition partner disagrees with our position on particular issues. I personally felt very disappointed when some Nationals opposed our voluntary student unionism legislation.

But such issues should not cause us to forget all the times the National Party has been a strong team player in the Coalition. The previous Coalition Government was able to enact several important reforms which were not popular with the National Party base, including the full sale of Telstra and the tightening of gun controls. These reforms were possible only because the Nationals stuck with us.

We need to recognise that the Coalition consists of two distinct, proud non-Labor parties with their own histories and traditions. We should accept we are with the Nationals. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. Nothing will be gained by scapegoating the Nationals for our polling woes.

Voting differently to the Liberal Party on a couple of relatively minor issues from time to time is no reason to cut ties. Coalition, as opposed to merger or separation, remains the best way to corral the non-Labor vote.

Ultimately, we have a successful partnership because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Make no mistake. The Coalition is the bedrock of electoral success.

BACKING THE BACKBENCH

With that behind us the Opposition is in the rebuilding phase.

As Menzies said in The Measure of the Years, opposition could be a very productive time for a political party:

I found that opposition provided not only a great and enthralling opportunity to create a new and cohesive national party, but also an obligation to rethink policies, to look forward, to devise a body of ideas at once sound and progressive…[3]

It is not the job solely of a leader to turn our fortunes around. It is a collective responsibility.

But to achieve this we have to embrace our role as an opposition.

Our two main tasks are to hold the Government to account and to present ourselves as a viable alternative for voters at the next election.

I believe we are making a good fist of that first task, with Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership on the global financial crisis a standout example.

Although it is still early days, we have a lot of work to do on the second task.

In order to take the best possible policies to the next election, we need to have full, open and honest debate within the Party.

Policy development is not a task just for the shadow ministry. All of us - the parliamentary party, the organisational party, the Young Liberal Movement - must make a contribution. And the backbench too has an important role to play.

But first there must be a culture shift.

Disagreements on policy within the Party must cease to be seen as divisions but rather accepted as a natural part of the process. Discipline and unity are not inconsistent with rigorous debate.

As a party we have become perhaps a little timid in debate. A little scared of ideas. A little scared to state an opinion.

Why? For fear we may be labelled as not being a team player. Labelled a maverick. Afraid the press may run a story about disunity and ill discipline.

Unity is a political virtue, but it should not be elevated above debate.

It is neither realistic nor desirable for policy formation to take place solely in some mythical, hermetically-sealed party room.

It is worth having sometimes inelegant debate to ensure we arrive at policy positions that enjoy broad support in all sections of the Party.

Now is the time to clear away the rubble of defeat and re-build our policy platform on the foundations of our Party’s enduring values – small government, individual freedom and free enterprise.

But it won’t be enough to merely support these concepts in principle. We must give them form through policy.

THE MANTLE OF ECONOMIC RESPONSIBILITY

One of the areas in which we need debate within the Party is industrial relations.

Our approach to it is crucial if we are to regain our credentials as the party best able to manage the economy. Although the last election wasn’t squarely focussed on the economy, inevitably Australian politics always returns to economic management.

Immediately after the last election, it seemed like industrial relations policy would not play a major role this parliamentary term. After all, the Shadow Cabinet declared WorkChoices dead in December 2007. [4]

Indeed, most of us probably expected that Labor would move quickly to overturn WorkChoices, with minimal Opposition dissent, and then move on. This is essentially what happened with Labor’s transitional Forward with Fairness legislation.

But since then three things have happened.

Firstly, the Government’s Fair Work legislation goes much further than Labor’s election policy with a massive shift of power back to the unions.

Reopening the doors of every Australian workplace to unions and giving them access to the personal details of employees will not boost confidence. Allowing unions to engage in pattern bargaining will not create jobs, it will destroy them.

Indeed, there is little doubt that uncertainty about the regulatory and economic environment following passage of Labor’s legislation is a major factor in the announcements of significant job shedding this past week.

Secondly, the economic landscape has changed dramatically. Unlike 2007, we are now facing rising unemployment, slowing growth and a collapse in business and consumer confidence. Labor’s industrial policies will increase unemployment and damage business. As the Minerals Council of Australia has stated:

“… it would unravel many of the advances secured by previous workplace relations reform. It would reverse a steady trend toward increased labour market flexibility… just as the Australian economy faces its most critical challenge for at least a generation.” [5]

Thirdly, there is a reassessment by many in the Coalition as to the wisdom of having been so quick to abandon our core principles on workplace relations after the election.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course, the brand and policy iteration known as “WorkChoices” is dead.

But what should never die, and never fall from Coalition policy, is our commitment to the right of individuals to negotiate without unwanted union involvement and the right of an individual to sell their own labour according to terms they choose.
In other words, the essence of our 1997 legislation. How radical were those reforms? Well, Cheryl Kernot and the Democrats supported them.

The Coalition’s position on the Government’s Fair Work Bill is that we won’t seek:

“…to frustrate the Government’s election commitment to implement its ‘Forward with Fairness’ election policy.” [6]

This reflects the Party Room concern that unless we allow passage of Labor’s legislation, the Government will campaign at the next election on WorkChoices.

But let’s take a reality check.

It doesn’t matter whether we support Labor’s changes or oppose them – Labor will still go to the next election saying the Coalition wants to re-introduce WorkChoices.

Don’t be fooled for a second. Even if Labor’s legislation passes without dissent, Labor will campaign that we have a secret IR agenda.

You can bet that Karl Bitar is already cutting the TV ads and desk-topping the mail-out material. But Labor campaign tactics and rhetoric should not influence our policy.

Sure, Labor demand we “get out of the way” and point to mandate theory.

But I never heard Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard or Wayne Swan agreeing to respect Coalition mandates after elections in 1996, 1998, 2001 or 2004.

Did Labor respect our mandate to balance the budget and pay down their debt?

Did Labor respect our mandate to reform the IR system in 1996?

Did Labor respect our mandate to implement the new tax system and the GST?

Did Labor respect our mandate to sell Telstra?

Labor never once recognised our mandate.

Indeed Labor would cite the separate mandate of the Senate. That there was a constituency that they were elected to represent. That the Senate was a house of review. That they should amend and block bad legislation. The then Opposition Leader in the Senate, Chris Evans said,

“The Senate has both a right and a responsibility to debate and review legislation… it is our responsibility to provide an alternative view of legislation, to speak out when we think things are wrong and to fight for those people whose interests we represent.” [7]

Nick Sherry went further saying,

Whether or not this government has a majority in the Senate and whether or not the Liberal government won the last election, the Labor Party are not required to say, ‘Oh, well, we’re just going to roll over, agree to everything the Government has announced and do nothing for the next three years.’ That is not the approach in a democracy.” [8]

We should take the same approach.

The Coalition should never relinquish the legislative opportunity to defeat bad legislation, regardless of whether the measure in question is within Labor policy or beyond it.

Such an opportunity approaches in the Senate.

We’re an opposition. We should be in the business of frustrating bad policy.

Our duty is to oppose policies we know will destroy jobs.

Our duty is to oppose legislation that will diminish individual rights.

Espousing freedom of the individual, freedom of association and expressing concern about jobs is meaningless if we are not going to stand up for the right of someone to sell their own labour on terms agreed by them without union interference.

Let’s have confidence in our principles. Let’s have confidence in our capacity to make our case.

We will not win by being Labor-lite. We will not win by tacking left. And we should never abandon responsible economic policy in the pursuit of political gain.

Let’s not make the mistake of drafting our policies in response to the circumstances of the last election. Let’s not make the mistake Labor made after 1996 of failing to defend our economic reforms.

Running away from what we have always stood for will not regain the trust of the Australian people. It is wrong and the public will grant us no reward for abandoning principle.

That was one of the Coalition’s great strengths in office. People didn’t always agree with us, but they knew where we stood. They respected our conviction.

CONCLUSION

The answer to the question "why should we vote for you" is to be found in a party's philosophy with policy as its expression.

Our best chance at the next election lies in being true to ourselves and our beliefs, presenting the Australian people with a clear alternative.

If we do this we will give ourselves every chance of taking back Government in 2010 and making Malcolm Turnbull Prime Minister.

Thank you

[1] Kübler-Ross, E (1969), On Death and Dying, Macmillan, New York
[1] Weber, Z.A. (2001) Good Grief. Double Bay: Margaret Gee
[1] Menzies, Sir R.G. (1970), The Measure of the Years, Cassell Australia Ltd, p.16
[1] Transcript of Joint Press Conference, The Hon Brendan Nelson MP & The Hon Julie Bishop MP, 19/12/2007
[1] Minerals Council of Australia, Submission to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee Inquiry into the Fair Work Bill 2008, p.2
[1] Media Statement, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, 25/11/2008
[1] Senator Chris Evans, Senate Hansard, 14 June 2005[1] Senator Nick Sherry, Senate Hansard, 16 June 2005

Global Warming concerns take a plunge ...

The latest Pew Research out of the U.S. suggests that concern for global warming is plummeting.

... Of the 20 issues people were asked to rate in both January 2008 and January 2009, five have slipped significantly in importance as attention to the economy has surged. Protecting the environment fell the most precipitously ...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fair Work panders to Unions

The ACTU's submission to the Senate inquiry into the Fair Work Bill reportedly demands wide-ranging changes, including a return to pattern bargaining. Those changes would further increase the power of the union movement in legislation that already enhances its role, even though unions represent only about 15 per cent of the private sector workforce.

At the same time, reinforced by emerging large union wage claims and a growing realisation that the legislation is already far from balancing the interests of employers and employees, employer groups are making submissions arguing in effect that there is no justification for giving unions relatively favourable treatment. >> more Des Moore

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Qoute of the day

... was that a real good idea, that was 10.4 billion ...

As the Government ppepars to sell us a second stimulas package, Harvey Norman's chairman Gerry Harvey says of the first package:

My view is if there'd been no fiscal stimulus I don't think it'd have been much different ... In retrospect now you say to yourself: 'was that a real good idea, that was 10.4 billion, that's a lot of money'," he said adding. Did it have just a temporary effect for December and then disappear? Gee - let's maybe learn a lesson from that and not do that again, I don't know.
Source

Monday, January 19, 2009

An antidote to global warming hysteria

Lawrence Solomon’s The Deniers is an important book on global warming. As the dustwrapper on the book says, it’s about “the world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.”


The book claims that on every “headline” global warming issue, “not only were there serious scientists who dissented, consistently the dissenters were by far the more accomplished an eminent scientists.”


Al Gore says any scientist who disagrees with him on Global Warming is a kook, or a crook. Guess he never met these guys ...

Dr. Edward Wegman--former chairman of the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences--demolishes the famous "hockey stick" graph that launched the global warming panic.

Dr. David Bromwich--president of the International Commission on Polar Meteorology--says "it's hard to see a global warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now."

Prof. Paul Reiter--Chief of Insects and Infectious Diseases at the famed Pasteur Institute--says "no major scientist with any long record in this field" accepts Al Gore's claim that global warming spreads mosquito-borne diseases.

Prof. Hendrik Tennekes--director of research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute--states "there exists no sound theoretical framework for climate predictability studies" used for global warming forecasts.

Dr. Christopher Landsea--past chairman of the American Meteorological Society's Committee on Tropical Meteorology and Tropical Cyclones--says "there are no known scientific studies that show a conclusive physical link between global warming and observed hurricane frequency and intensity."

Dr. Antonino Zichichi--one of the world's foremost physicists, former president of the European Physical Society, who discovered nuclear antimatter--calls global warming models "incoherent and invalid."

Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski--world-renowned expert on the ancient ice cores used in climate research--says the U.N. "based its global-warming hypothesis on arbitrary assumptions and these assumptions, it is now clear, are false."

Prof. Tom V. Segalstad--head of the Geological Museum, University of Oslo--says "most leading geologists" know the U.N.'s views "of Earth processes are implausible."

Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu--founding director of the International Arctic Research Center, twice named one of the "1,000 Most Cited Scientists," says much "Arctic warming during the last half of the last century is due to natural change."

Dr. Claude Allegre--member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences and French Academy of Science, he was among the first to sound the alarm on the dangers of global warming. His view now: "The cause of this climate change is unknown."

Dr. Richard Lindzen--Professor of Meteorology at M.I.T., member, the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, says global warming alarmists "are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right."

Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov--head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academy of Science's Pulkovo Observatory and of the International Space Station's Astrometria project says "the common view that man's industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations."

Dr. Richard Tol--Principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit, and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, at Carnegie Mellon University, calls the most influential global warming report of all time "preposterous . . . alarmist and incompetent."

Dr. Sami Solanki--director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, who argues that changes in the Sun's state, not human activity, may be the principal cause of global warming: "The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures."

Prof. Freeman Dyson--one of the world's most eminent physicists says the models used to justify global warming alarmism are "full of fudge factors" and "do not begin to describe the real world."

Dr. Eigils Friis-Christensen--director of the Danish National Space Centre, vice-president of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, who argues that changes in the Sun's behavior could account for most of the warming attributed by the UN to man-made CO2.

And many more, all in Lawrence Solomon's devastating new book, The Deniers
Most laymen, most citizens, owe most of what we think we know about global warming not to science directly, but to science as mediated by the media and by political bodies, especially the UN and our governments. We citizens, trying to discern what to do about global warming, must judge not only the credibility of the scientists but of those who claim to tell us what the scientists say.

Greenhouse gas or just a load of hot air

THE rift between members of the federal National Party and the federal Liberal Party over strategy to deal with the Rudd Labor Government’s global warming policy should not be allowed to destroy the Coalition’s electoral hopes. >> more Piers Akerman

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Blogging in support of the Liberal Party: Why bother…

The L Party is my contribution, one that hopefully forms part of the sum and substance of all World Wide Web content that spreads the same message …

While displaying a decipherable sum of sincerity and empathy, a friend recently enquired as to why I bother with blogging. What he was really questioning was the degree to which one could effect change or have any meaning through a one in a 150 million blog or in my case, two blogs. Referring to my efforts to champion the cause of America at American Interests, and stimulating positive discourse vis-à-vis the Liberal Party of Australia, it was suggested that, “in reality” it remains beyond the reach and influence of mere individuals sitting at their desks at home or in the office. The ensuing discussion brought to mind a couple of old parables.

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects of expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying, situation hopeless stop no one wears shoes. The other writes back triumphantly, glorious business opportunity stop they have no shoes.
I hazard to guess that I would NOT be the marketing expert to view the circumstances, what is, as evidence that points to hopelessness.

… a man catches sight of a young women who appears to be engaged in a ritual dance. She stoops down, then straightens to her full height, casting her arm out in an arc. Drawing closer, he sees that the beach around her is litered with starfish, and she is throwing them one by one into the sea. He lightly mocks her: “There are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see, for miles up the beach. What a difference can saving a few of them possibly make?” Smiling, she bends down and once more tosses a starfish out over the water, saying serenely, “It certainly makes a difference to this one.
The L Party Blog may be a small one-man show, but as its faithful author I rather see it as a pointer to abundance and possibility; a way of making a difference, albeit a small one. Approaching the task with my own, very individual perspective that focuses on potential, a way to make a difference and not what stands in the way. The man in the second parable sees only the obstacles, the countless starfish (number of other bloggers), efforts futile, and lack of resources, too difficult, not enough time …

The L Party is my contribution, one that hopefully forms part of the sum and substance of all World Wide Web content that spreads the same message. To this end, I know I am not alone and yet, even if I were that one in a zillion, I would remain undeterred, perhaps even more inspired. Here is another gem to consider.
Four young men sit by the bedside of their dying father. The old man, with his last breath, tells them there is a huge treasure buried in the family fields. The sons crowd around him crying, "Where, where?" but it is too late. The day after the funeral and for many days to come, the young men go out with their picks and shovels and turn the soil, digging deeply into the ground from one end of each field to the other. They find nothing and, bitterly disappointed, abandon the search. The next season the farm had its best harvest ever.
I say to fellow bloggers and especially those with similar goals; it is what we do together as individuals with "picks and shovels" that ultimately makes the difference. The L Party blog is not an arena of and for success alone, more accurately and in the first instance, it is a place of contribution. Can anyone guess the book from which the parables were lifted? Finally, to those reading this, why not consider subscribing to the feed, add this site to your blogroll, or perhaps adding this blog to your Technorati favorites, or otherwise simply say, Hi.

See also: Lisa Molinaro interviews Otto Maraasco about the L Party

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Saturday Funny: Saving man-made climate change…

The possible captions are a source of endless fascination ...

"Gore was the last rat to jump", "Hit iceberg, in the ice free Arctic", "What bloody iceburg","Where did all those icebergs come from?"...

If this year remains cooler then average due to the "Calm Sun" period, then what will happen to the members of the IPCC, will they all start to jump ship by the end of the year?

David Evans, a former adviser (1999 - 2005) to the Australian Greenhouse Office has predicted that by 2010, the only people who would believe in global warming would be “those who have a financial interest in it, the politically correct and those who believe in big government. Everyone else will think it’s a load of rubbish.” Caroline Overington

We came across the image here

See also: No Smoking Hot Pot

Friday, January 16, 2009

President George W. Bush Farewell Speech

"Fellow citizens: For eight years, it has been my honor to serve as your president. The first decade of this new century has been a period of consequence _ a time set apart. Tonight, with a thankful heart, I have asked for a final opportunity to share some thoughts on the journey that we have traveled together, and the future of our nation ... "



Overall, George W. Bush hasn’t gotten much good press in recent years, but other than liberating Iraq from the tyrant that was Saddam, protecting the homeland from further terrorist strikes and taking taking the war on terror to one if its major breeding grounds in Afghanistan, he’s accomplished some important things that the next president would do well to preserve and extend.

In particular, consider three often overlooked achievements:

1. The emerging U.S.-India strategic partnership.

Since 1995, there have been more than a dozen joint U.S.-Indian military exercises, but the size and importance of these operations has expanded dramatically under Bush. In 2007, the two countries conducted a three-week Special Forces counterinsurgency training exercise. That same year, Indian warships joined two U.S. aircraft carriers and warships from Australia, Japan and Singapore to practice maneuvers. India has begun buying U.S. military hardware, requesting more than a billion dollars in arms in 2007 and acquiring what is now the second-largest ship in the Indian navy: the I.N.S. Jalashva, formerly the U.S.S. Trenton, an amphibious transport vessel. And the United States and India have negotiated a new deal granting New Delhi access to nuclear fuel for civilian purposes.

India isn’t always an easy partner. New Delhi’s strategic interests sometimes don’t align with Washington’s - witness India’s comfortable relationship with Iran. And India is always sensitive to any hint it is being treated as anything less than an absolute equal. But with China becoming more assertive, India - along with Vietnam and other states on China’s seacoast - shares some vital interests with the United States. The next U.S. president should therefore build on Bush’s India legacy by drawing New Delhi into a closer defense relationship - not because Washington expects conflict with China, but in order to deter conflict.

2. A more equal partnership with Latin America.

During this decade, the big countries of South America turned to the left. Former union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the presidency of Brazil in 2002. The populist husband-and-wife team of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner has governed Argentina since 2003. Michelle Bachelet, a center-left leader, governs Chile.

In the past, leftist Latin governments have clashed with conservative U.S. administrations. Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez has gleefully goaded Washington, hoping to justify his increasingly authoritarian rule by inciting a clash with the colossus of the North. But the Bush administration frustrated Chávez with something unexpected: nothing. Instead of snapping at Chávez’s bait, Washington largely ignored him. (Except for one bad day, when it briefly seemed to countenance an attempted anti-Chávez coup - a mistake swiftly corrected.)

Given enough rope to hang himself, Chávez quickly alienated his democratic left neighbors, even as Washington showed it was ready to do business with them. The economic policies of the Latin left may have slowed growth and stoked inflation, but there is good reason to hope that South American states have now developed the political means to correct such errors–without crisis or violence. The Latins themselves deserve most of the credit for this. But for the first time since the McKinley administration, Washington under Bush can fairly claim that it didn’t get in the way. The next president could learn a lesson from Bush’s restraint - and perhaps apply it to Cuba, where five decades of U.S. isolation have failed to achieve much.

3. The determination to do counterinsurgency right.

The Bush administration made many serious mistakes in Iraq, but the president got the big thing right. Faced with defeat, his administration first acted to cut off foreign support for the Iraqi insurgency by arresting and (covertly) killing Iranian operatives inside Iraq. It then developed unexpected new allies among the Sunni tribes, adopted effective new counterinsurgency tactics and deployed large reinforcements. The result was an unexpected success that has opened the way for political reconciliation.

The next president will face a very similar problem in Afghanistan. Covertly aided by Pakistan, a nasty insurgency by the resurgent Taliban has taken shape there. While the mission retains broad support in the United States, many NATO allies are under serious domestic pressure to cut their losses and withdraw.

Bush’s Iraq model should be reapplied: pressure Pakistan into ending its assistance to the insurgents, send in more troops and adopt new tactics. The job will be tough. But the new president should know that if the last one could do it in Iraq, surely he can do it in Afghanistan.

Adapted from and via: Hiram 7 review

The full text of Bush's farewell address can be read here

Cross posted at: American Interests

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Emissions Trading Scheme and Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce

Let us not beat around the bush shall we, the coalition is split on emissions trading and at this critical juncture, this is a blessing in disguise. I am not going to reproduce the Senators’ noteworthy comments, as they have been well documented within MSM but what I will do, is provide this short paragraph revealing the motives behind the Senators remarks.

The Senator's comments intend to draw attention to the defamatory and emotive treatment being handed out to those who refuse to fall into line with the government's claims that humans are primarily responsible for climate change and that Australia must take drastic action to correct a problem for which we do not hold full responsibility. The Senator will continue to question the legitimacy of a scheme which threatens the livelihood of our industries while refusing to address the expert evidence that humans are not the primary drivers of climate change.
Source: The office of Senator Barnaby Joyce

I unequivocally lend my support to the Senators efforts in drawing attention to the folly that is, emissions trading.

Senator Barnaby Joyce can be contacted here

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The High Price of Union Demands

WORKPLACE Relations Minister Julia Gillard is whistling in the dark when she calls on militant unions to exercise wage restraint in the interest of protecting jobs in the global economic crisis. History shows that even when Labor has been in power such pleas to put jobs before pay rises have more often than not fallen on deaf ears. The demands by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union for pay increases of between 25 and 33per cent for boiler and turbine operators in Western Australia, which prompted Gillard's call, bear a striking resemblance to action by militant unions in the mid-1970s under the Whitlam government that persisted with pay demands of the same order despite repeated warnings they would seriously damage the economy ... >> more Malcolm Colless

This article served as a catalyst for more general thinking on the subject of unions. In times of economic hardship, the last thing we need is more calls for wage rises and better conditions…. I see unions much the way an economist does; as an organized cartel of sorts. One that works to raise wages and conditions above competitive levels thereby, restricting the supply of labor. They often do win higher wages and better conditions but at the expense of further employment. Think in terms of demand, if unions raise the price of labor employers will purchase less of that labor. Here several other troublesome factors come into play. Firstly, higher wages and better conditions reduce the number of jobs available in unionized industries and secondly, they represent a significant anti-competitive force within the labor market hence, gains coming at the expense of the non-unionized, the taxpayer, the owners of capital and corporations and finally the consumer, the latter of course means everyone. Lastly, and this occurs mostly within unionized organizations, unions are a major promoter of sheer mediocrity and are a counter to productivity …

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Climate Change: Modelling the Modelers and Novel Science

The models tells us that … this model suggests…

It’s no surprise Wayne Swan, Penny Wong and Kevin Rudd seem to love the modelers, those behind the scenes mystery minds willing to forecast what is going to happen to our economies and climate in 2010, 2020, 2050 and beyond. By way of example I draw your attention to the following headlines:

THE Rudd Government will press ahead with its emissions trading scheme, arguing that modelling to be released today proves it is pro-growth and good for the nation's long-term economic competitiveness …

As you know, the Government released its Treasury modelling yesterday on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. And what that modelling demonstrates …

Treasurer Wayne Swan says Treasury modelling proves that acting now to reduce carbon emissions will be cheaper than taking no action …The comprehensive economic modelling released today has painted a rosy picture of how emissions trading will affect the economy and households. The economy and incomes will continue to grow under emissions trading - just by a little less, it says …
Notice what all these statements’ and headlines rely upon? That's right, models, and yet, meteorologists armed with satellite imagery of what is brewing westward cannot accurately provide a 5-day forecast and likewise, the Governments foremost economic minds could not predict the present financial crises a few weeks out.

Unbeknown to some models come in various guises those based on abstractions (abstract models), those based on cause and effect (causal models), the mathematical, those based on probability distributions (statistical models), those based on a computer program which tries to simulate an abstract model (computer model) etc. Indeed, there are many more, however they all have one thing in common, they are based on abstractions, concepts, and theories, though not necessarily hard truths of science, i.e. the models used to derive estimates and thus policy are based on assumptions that have largely gone untested.

In reviewing the book, Economic Models of Climate Change: A Critique by Stephen J. DeCanio one judicious critic wrote:

…”did you know that the models used by neo-classical economists to consider climate change have so many solutions to their equations that they cannot produce information useful to policymakers without being rigged to do so … did you know that the assumptions then used to run the models either have been shown to be completely wrong or have never been validated scientifically … did you know that the energy models being used to project the economics of climate issues decades into the future have been wildly inaccurate in making much shorter term predictions … If not, you need to read DeCanio's book.

DeCanio rips away the fig leaf of objectivity from economists claiming to produce valid information for the climate change debate. Deconstructing their models through all their theoretical twists and turns, DeCanio reveals how their biases shape assumptions that in turn predetermine the outcomes of their analyses, a heads I win, tails you lose approach. DeCanio shows how these models, posing as application of the scientific method, with hundreds of equations that seem objective, actually are a classic example of `garbage in, garbage out'.”
And yet, quite incredibly as a society we are on the verge of consenting to the government’s proposal to tax us over climate change, and in doing so, lowering living standards. In effect, Rudd’s scheme massively increases government intervention in the economy. In its first year alone it involves the Government ripping $11.5 billion from industry and consumers and deciding who best to reward or prop up. State planning is back with a vengeance! Moreover, what is unsettling is that it is all based on treasury models underpinned by untested assumptions.

If we were going to model, it would be sensible to base them on all available science. Meanwhile, the thousands of scientists who are shouting from the rooftops opposing this global warming swindle are being largely blacked out of the news media.

Moreover, here is what some Australian scientists are saying:
When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in 2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or ideologically stupid for not having seen through it. And if the Liberals support the general thrust of their actions, they will be seen likewise.

Dr. David Evans, consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005.

AGW (anthropogenic global warming) is a fiction and a very dangerous fiction.

William Kininmonth, head of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre (1986-1998), Australian delegate to the World Meteorological Organization’s Commission for Climatology (1982-1998).

[There is] an atmosphere of intimidation if one expresses dissenting views or evidence. It is as if one is doing one’s colleagues a great disservice in dissenting and perhaps derailing the gravy train. …The global warming monopoly is seriously bad for science.

David Packham, former CSIRO principle research scientist, senior research fellow in a climate group at Monash University, and an officer in the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

It is my strong belief that CSIRO has passed its use-by date. The organisation that bears the name of CSIRO has very little in common with the organisation that I joined in 1971, one that produced so much of value for Australia during its first seven decades. … As an example, consider the Garnaut Report [on global warming], possibly the longest economic suicide note in Australia’s history. It is based on the dire predictions of CSIRO’s modelling programs.

Dr. Art Raiche, former CSIRO Chief Research Scientist.

I have yet to see credible proof of carbon dioxide driving climate change, yet alone man-made CO2 driving it. The atmospheric hot-spot is missing and the ice core data refute this. When will we collectively awake from this deceptive delusion. …I contend that those professional scientists and advisors that are knowingly complicit in climate science fraud and all that is derived from it, will continue to be exposed by the science itself.

Dr. Guy LeBlanc Smith, retired CSIRO Principal Research Scientist.

Many distinguished scientists refuse to participate in the IPCC process, and others have resigned from it, because in the end the advice that the panel provides to governments is political and not scientific.

Dr. Bob Carter, Paleoclimate scientist, James Cook University and former chairman of the earth science panel of the Australian Research Council.

What terrifies me is the way the state governments in Australia with their emissions trading they are contemplating using the superannuation funds to invest in carbon trading—they’re going to lose their money!

Emeritus Professor Lance Endersbee, former dean of engineering and pro-vice chancellor at Monash University.

Finally, here is what Australia's first NASA astronaut had to say ...

All those urging action to curb global warming need to take off the blinkers and give some thought to what we should do if we are facing global cooling instead. It will be difficult for people to face the truth when their reputations, careers, government grants or hopes for social change depend on global warming, but the fate of civilisation may be at stake.
Melbourne born Geophysicist Dr. Phil Chapman, an astronautical engineer and the first Australian to become a NASA astronaut.

What more can we say ...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The cost of Rudd's Climate Change campaign

... Even readers of FHM, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Day couldn’t escape these advertisements ...

Rudd Advertising Campaign on Climate Change cost $13.9 million

KEVIN Rudd's feelgood advertising campaign on climate change cost taxpayers an extraordinary $13.9 million, with a massive spend on television and even magazine advertisements in lads' mag FHM and Cosmopolitan. Environment Minister Penny Wong has confirmed the true cost of the campaign, “Think Climate. Think Change” in answer to a Senate Estimates question placed on notice by Victorian senator Mitch Fifield. Advertising industry sources had put the cost of the carbon campaign, which began last July, at about $9 million this year. But the $13.9 million cost is expected to rise dramatically when the Rudd Government finalises the design of an emissions trading scheme and launches another advertising blitz to explain the new regime. >> more Samantha Maiden

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

John Howard awarded U.S. Presidential medal

As posted at my American Interests blog Jan 6 posting, click here ... Could not help but chuckle at one ABC commenter thoughts:

K Rudd will have a fit over this - someone else getting international recognition, he will just have to step up his important visits to preschools and get his tame pet press to keep working overtime polishing his image.

Said John Howard

Yes, I am honoured by it, more because of the compliment it pays to our country Australia

See Also: Bush honours 3 foreign leaders

Monday, January 05, 2009

Veolia Transport Business Connex votes for the ALP

In a company newsletter, aptly known as “Connexions”, Melbourne Transport Operator Connex has gone to the trouble of articulating and thereby endorsing details of the Rudd Governments proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme for its 3000 + employees in Melbourne.

Produced and published by its “Corporate Affairs Team” the internal circular ran an article in late December entitled, “CPRS - WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?” It explained:

"The Commonwealth Government released its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) White Paper this week (climatechange.gov.au). Our very own Environmental Sustainability Manager, (name), takes time to break down what it’s all about … He says, “Though conservative the paper marks a pivotal movement in the Government’s stance on the climate change policy and its commitment to manage emissions reduction … The White paper included the Rudd Labor governments targets for Greenhouse gas emissions, 5% below 2000 by 2020".
Presented thereafter are key features of the proposed scheme in addition to the likely impact for consumers. However, and in terms of the latter, the emphasis is placed squarely on the expected assistance measures put forward by the paper in terms of assisting consumers through a “package of $6 billion” to cushion the impact of the proposed measures.

The article is concerning on several levels. Perhaps someone ought to tell the corporate affairs team at Connex that “climate change” per-se, remains a highly contentious issue and that as we speak, many within the science establishment are coming forward to pronounce, in no uncertain terms, that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a scam, with no basis in science and that furthermore, dangerous human caused warming can neither be demonstrated nor measured. A call that is only likely to increase in the coming year. Put simply, while mainstream media has made it s mind up on the issue, a great body of science and indeed economics, is sounding the alarm bells on carbon constrained economies.

Not the first time

Earlier in 2008, the same newsletter ran an article endorsing a previously announced, Rudd Government transport infrastructure-spending package. Admittedly, I cannot recall the articles complete title however, one component of it is still vivid in the mind, “Rudd knows best”, need I say more…

Perhaps we ought to remind Connex that it is not a good look for company newsletters, particularly so pertaining to employers as large as Connex, to publish articles’ with, unambiguous political and/or ideological overtones.

That the term “Carbon Pollution” was created and put forward by the Rudd Government and his Minister for economic destruction Penny Wong in an attempt to seize the higher moral ground on the issue. On this note, I dare anyone to visit his or her local library and find a science text that refers to Carbon Dioxide as a pollutant.

Finally, we are merely referring to a White Paper which has not even been debated in our Federal Parliament. White papers refer to a proposed action and/or policy on the part of Government as to details of planned legislation.

We wonder whether the team at Connex/Connexions will make a similar effort to published details of the Oppositions response to the Governments White Paper upon release.

Intriguingly, the internal article concludes:
For further information visit the http://climatechange.gov.au/whitepaper or contact Environmental Sustainability Manager (name) on extension …
Thus, we can be excused for thinking that Connex’s Environmental Sustainability Manager is a conduit for the Rudd Governments proposed scheme …

Undoubtedly, Connex would deny any support for any party or political persuasion, nonetheless we do know that it contributed to State ALP coffers in 2003-4.

I would venture to suggest that the editorial team behind the newsletter and the companies Environmental Sustainability Manager were and are, out of their depth on the issue. Moreover, I am compelled to add, would it not be wiser, more prudent and professional for the aforementioned manager to limit his office work and commentary to methods for making Connex more environmentally friendly – to reduce its own carbon footprint – as opposed to articulating the merits or otherwise endorsing and sanctioning proposed Government legislation - white papers for heaven’s sake ...

Connex, being a part of Veolia transport has been entrusted to operate suburban train passenger services in Melbourne until its contract expires in November this year. As part of the agreement, it enjoys yearly taxpayer-funded subsidies worth in excess of $340 million a year. It would be wise to focus on delivering a world class transport system commensurate with the greatness of the city it serves. As for its ALP spinsters within the companies corporate affairs team, and notwithstanding other elements of its “Connexions” newsletter - elements that are praiseworthy - perhaps it should focus on matters other than, the indoctrination of its own on issues pertaining to politics.
On present form, we can expect Connex and its corporate affairs Department to endorse the Rudd Government on the eve of the next federal election …

Image credit: ABCNews

Friday, January 02, 2009

Cory Bernardi on Common Sense

Australia is facing a number of immediate and future challenges. Yet the global financial crisis, rising unemployment and climate change are potentially less damaging to our long term interests than the death of plain old common sense.

In recent decades, what was painfully obvious to previous generations has been lost in a plethora of big government programs and politically correct babble.

The wisdom of past ages that included such gems as “only buy a home you can afford” and “money you borrow always needs to be repaid” lent themselves to a prudent society.

Somehow this wisdom was replaced by McMansions and endless cycles of revolving consumer credit. But when the music stops and your debt becomes a millstone (due to some crisis caused by an absence of common sense), fear not, becasue the government will shower you with other peoples money to help you out.

Of course, saving the government’s largesse or paying your debts are not part of the deal. You’ll be instructed by Big Brother to spend, spend, spend in order to keep the party going.

There are countless other examples of where we have suspended common sense in an attempt to appease the unquenchable hunger of those who seek to replace personal responsibility with collective guilt.

The economic and social truisms that have sustained our society for generations have been eroded to such an extent that redressing he imbalance will prove extremely difficult.

Read the rest here

Via The Australian Conservative

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009: Happy New Year

... in each era of our history an astounding sense of self-satisfaction and contentedness is entrenched and prevails. An attitude accepted by most participants of each epoch; a secure consciousness that fails to acknowledge the scope of things to come ...

New Years Eve is also a time of reflection and nostalgia, in my case something came over me as I reflected on this New Year. For no palpable reason, I found myself gob smacked at the thought that it was actually 2009. The first decade of the new millennium is nearly over! To clarify my thoughts permit me to venture away from the realm of this blog, just this once.

Back in mid 1970’s as a teenager I looked ahead to 2000 and beyond with awe, envisioning a world of sci-tech wizardry and commercial space travel and colonization. I guess I was a victim of too many scfi novels, popular science and mechanics magazines, and sitcoms, such as Hanna-Barbera's, The Jetsons.

That said, with advances in robotics, personal networking, mind control interfaces, smart architecture, (buildings), Computing, Biotech’s and Nanotechnologies, we can expect a very different world by 2050. Make no mistake we’re going to witness some pretty amazing stuff in time to come.

Our knowledge is but a few blades of grass, our ignorance however is ...
They were my words in 1998, in fact, no one can be sure that we have even yet discovered all the fundamentals of the physical world. There was a time over a century ago, that many of the world’s eminent scientists and physicists thought just that. Enter Albert Einstein, whose revolutionary concepts - relativity and quantum mechanics - displaced many previously held assumptions. Through history, progress in the sciences has occurred in bursts. As Einstein did, other brilliant minds will come forth; his curious mind will take him down new unexplored paths of thought and analysis. She will dig deeper into the building blocks of matter, he/she will, like many of their great predecessors, challenge the prevailing theories of their time, and we shall witness quantum jumps similar to the Newton/Einstein eras. The American philosopher William James summed it perfectly when remarking upon the views of the science establishment amongst his Harvard colleagues. I find his words so poignant that I present verbatim.

Science has made such glorious leaps in the last 300 years that it is no wonder the worshippers lose their heads…I have heard more than one teacher say that all the fundamental conceptions of truths in science have been found and that the future has only the details of the picture to fill on. But the slightest reflection on the real conditions will suffice to show just how barbaric…crude…such notions are …whatever else be certain, this at least is. That the world of our present natural knowledge is enveloped in a larger world of some sort, of whose residual properties we, at present can frame no positive idea".
Over 110 years have passed since these statements, has time not vindicated him?

It is foolish and inadequate for anyone be it scientist, philosopher, and commoner to believe that as race we have discovered all the facts of the physical world. As a race, we have an enormous potential to grow and discover yet, in each era of our history an astounding sense of self-satisfaction and contentedness is entrenched and prevails. An attitude accepted by most participants of each epoch; a secure consciousness that fails to acknowledge the scope of things to come.

Let us therefore concede that current technology within all its modern day packaging will be primitive in 100, 500, 1000 years hence. Assuming we continue as an intelligent race, technologies of the future can only be envisioned by our imaginative faculties at best. Indeed, if the past 100 years were any indication, any attempt to depict such distant technology would render us incoherent even today.

Any science or technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.
So said Arthur C. Clarke, I am sure that some of the advances destined for commercialization will bring humankind closer to that magic; not that I will be around to experience it…

It is all relative my friends, depending from whence one surveys time; we are both primitive and modern in AD2009.

Stay safe and Happy New Year

Cross posted at: American Interests