Q&A Forum: October 24, 2016

Posted in Open Forum | 212 Comments

Breaking news: Solicitor General Justin Gleeson resigns

Posted in Federal Politics | 44 Comments

Is there nothing these people don’t corrupt?

In this case, we are talking about polling. The aim is to get people voting for Republicans not to bother since it’s all over. This is from Zero Hedge: New Podesta Email Exposes Dem Playbook For Rigging Polls Through “Oversamples”.

Now, for all of you out there who still aren’t convinced that the polls are “adjusted”, we present to you the following Podesta email, leaked earlier today, that conveniently spells out, in detail, exactly how to “manufacture” the desired data. The email starts out with a request for recommendations on “oversamples for polling” in order to “maximize what we get out of our media polling.”

I also want to get your Atlas folks to recommend oversamples for our polling before we start in February. By market, regions, etc. I want to get this all compiled into one set of recommendations so we can maximize what we get out of our media polling.

The email even includes a handy, 37-page guide with the following poll-rigging recommendations. In Arizona, over sampling of Hispanics and Native Americans is highly recommended:

Research, microtargeting & polling projects

– Over-sample Hispanics

– Use Spanish language interviewing. (Monolingual Spanish-speaking voters are among the lowest turnout Democratic targets)

– Over-sample the Native American population

For Florida, the report recommends “consistently monitoring” samples to makes sure they’re “not too old” and “has enough African American and Hispanic voters.” Meanwhile, “independent” voters in Tampa and Orlando are apparently more dem friendly so the report suggests filling up independent quotas in those cities first.

– Consistently monitor the sample to ensure it is not too old, and that it has enough African American and Hispanic voters to reflect the state.

– On Independents: Tampa and Orlando are better persuasion targets than north or south Florida (check your polls before concluding this). If there are budget questions or oversamples, make sure that Tampa and Orlando are included first.

Meanwhile, it’s suggested that national polls over sample “key districts / regions” and “ethnic” groups “as needed.”

– General election benchmark, 800 sample, with potential over samples in key districts/regions

– Benchmark polling in targeted races, with ethnic over samples as needed

– Targeting tracking polls in key races, with ethnic over samples as needed

The aim is to have the poll record as closely as possible the outcome they are intending to rig on the day. And what may be the most astonishing part is that were it not for the leaked emails, no one would have heard a thing even though hundreds of people must be in on the scam.

Posted in American politics, Politics of the Left | 43 Comments

Roundup Oct 24

Suicide of nation..

Mr. Obama, who understood that a legislative push would be fruitless, told his advisers to figure out how to enact deep emissions cuts without Congress. They found a way through the Clean Air Act of 1970, which gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to issue regulations on dangerous pollutants.
In 2014, Mr. Obama unveiled the first draft of what would become the Clean Power Plan: a set of Clean Air Act rules that could lead to the closing of hundreds of coal-fired power plants.

Dan Mitchell on the downside of a big public sector.

We get bad policy because voters get seduced into voting for politicians who promise to pillage the “rich” and give goodies to everyone else. And since voters generally don’t understand that this approach leads to “an inferior economic outcome,” the process can continue indefinitely (or until the ratio between those pulling the wagon and those riding in the wagon gets too imbalanced).

And the rule of law and the global freedom index.

The great contribution of western civilization is the notion that the power of government must be constrained by laws. This doesn’t mean that all laws (or even most laws) are good. But, as explained in this video, if the choice is between the “rule of man” (the arbitrary and capricious exercise of power) and the “rule of law,” there’s no contest.

Judith Curry’s scientific week in review. Her political week in review. Jo Nova on the rule of skepticism and the way that voters will not buy climate change mitigation if they get a say in the matter.
•Fully 42% of US adults don’t want to pay more than a piddling $12 a year to stop climate change
•Only 3% of US people think climate is most important issue
•In a US Rassmussen Poll — 61% of US voters said the climate debate is not over
•Nearly one third in the US would go so far as to say “climate change a total hoax”
Check out The Spectator. And the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, The Institute for Public Affairs IPA. The Centre for Independent Studies. The Sydney Institute. And Mark Steyn.

Books. Art and photography books from AbeBooks.

For nerds. Plato for Plumbers, winner of the New Philosophy writing award on technology, h/t Judy Curry. Actually I can see how it got a prize from philosophers but I think it is special pleading because I don’t think engineers have much to learn from philosophers. Certainly not the one teaching critical thinking at the Uni of Qld.
Summary of Popper’s first introductory lecture on the philosophy of science. Full text.

Welcome to the lecture. Do not expect too much because I am a very bad lecturer and the important part of learning is what you do yourself. Be free to interrupt and to criticize.
Degrees of understanding and levels of criticism.
The distinction between tentative criticism and serious criticism that is based on good understanding of the issue (but understanding can always be improved).
The wrong reason to go to university, to learn to speak impressively.
The proper reason is to find out how little we can ever know.
The overwhelming importance of simplicity and clarity.
We should try to educate people to tell the difference between a charlatan and an expert.
Confusing clarity with precision. Clarity and simplicity are ends in themselves but precision is context-dependent.
Second point for the day, on fast and slow reading. Not enough people recognize the difference between skimming and reading. And the first part of scientific method is the method of reading a book.
Don’t believe me, but do try to understand me and be prepared to argue, to criticize me and force me to clarify my views.

See also Stuart Firestein on the way science is driven by ignorance. In this sense, ignorance is not stupidity. Rather, it is a particular condition of knowledge: the absence of fact, understanding, insight or clarity about something. It is a case where data don’t exist, or more commonly, where the existing data don’t make sense

Dan Mitchell on attracting high quality, job-creating immigrants.

The good news is that we have some policies designed to make this happen, including the H-1B visa for skilled workers and the EB-5 visa for job-creating investors. And if the data on median income for certain immigrant groups is any indication, we’re getting some good results.

Posted in Rafe, Rafe's Roundups | 5 Comments

Monday Forum: October 24, 2016

Posted in Open Forum | 452 Comments

“The ‘most substantial threat’ to press freedom in his five decades”


I will start with this from the papers today: Bill Leak cartoon probe biggest threat to press freedom.

Media proprietor Kerry Stokes has launched a blistering attack on a controversial ­investigation by the Australian Human Rights Commission over a cartoon by The Australian’s Bill Leak portraying an Aboriginal father and son.

Mr Stokes, the Seven Group executive chairman, said the probe was the “most substantial threat” to press freedom in his five decades of owning and running media businesses.

And then there is John Spooner, himself a cartoonist, asking why should a satirist like Bill Leak be forced to explain himself?. His advice:

Rather than argue against the government’s right to interfere with our freedom (they can legitimately do so in cases of criminal conspiracy for example) Leak should defend himself if possible with satire.

He should force everyone to focus on the dangerous overreach of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. After all the right to offend and insult are, in part, necessary ingredients of serious argument. How else can we combat racism? And don’t tell me about exemptions in 18D. The overall intent of the act is intimidatory. You need an expensive lawyer to rid yourself of the stigma of prosecution. Look at history. Read Ben Wilson’s The Laughter of Triumph, a life of William Hone, friend of William Hazlitt, publisher of the great cartoonist George Cruikshank, and admired by Charles Dickens.

Hone should be famous. In 1817 he courageously defended himself against charges of blasphemy and seditious libel; over a satire that offended and insulted many people. He wrote a parody of the Book of Common Prayer and the Athanasian Creed. He also libelled the Prince Regent and his corrupt government for good measure. A jury acquitted him to great public acclaim.

And to add to the defence, Mark Steyn has also again weighed in on our Human (Last) Rites Commission: Punching Back Twice as Hard (Oz version).

I’m glad to see, following the latest attempt to use Australia’s disgraceful Section 18C to throttle freedom of speech Down Under, that The Australian’s Bill Leak is introducing the concept to the Antipodes. His latest cartoon (above) features Tim Soutphommasane, the totalitarian hack who trousers a third of a million a year as Oz’s “Racial Discrimination” Commissar. Mr Leak invites Commissar Tim Jong-Un to sue him for “facial discrimination”.

Free speech should mean you can say anything you want short of incitement to violence – or, if you like, shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre – without the full weight of the law falling on your head, in fact without even the most minimal weight of the law falling on your head. According to the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, under the entry Freedom of Speech, there is a lengthy discussion of the Andrew Bolt case and human rights in Australia. And in spite of Spooner’s advice, I will mention this since it seems important. According to the entry, in Australia, apparently 18C is delimited by 18D, which states:

Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith: (a) in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or (b) in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or (c) in the making or publishing: (i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or (ii) a fair comment on any matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.

This attack on Bill Leak really does look like an underemployed HRC Commissioner trying to find some purpose in life, as discussed in August in The Oz: Tim Soutphommasane may be drumming up work as race hate cases fall.

When it comes to discrimination, context is everything. Words that might appear completely innocent can take on a very different character when the full context is understood.

Which brings me to the words of Tim Soutphommasane, the Race Discrimination Commissioner who encouraged people to complain about a cartoon by Bill Leak that appeared in this newspaper.

The commissioner advised the public that complaints should be directed to the organisation where he works, the Australian Human Rights Commission.

His attempt to drum up work for the commission was followed by a torrent of abuse against Leak, whose cartoon depicted an Aboriginal policeman returning a delinquent Aboriginal youth to his equally delinquent father. On Soutphommasane’s Facebook page, the commissioner reproduced Leak’s cartoon and invoked the heads of liability in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act: “If there are Aboriginal Australians who have been racially ­offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated, they can consider lodging a complaint under the ­Racial Discrimination Act with the commission.”

He had seemingly prejudged those complaints, which raises doubts about whether the commission itself can now deal fairly with this affair.

It appears to be his job to be offended on behalf of the community. If no one else will take offence, then he will just have to do it himself. But to be quite frank, when it comes to being offended by what other people write and say, I would rather do it myself. I don’t need or want some government agency to do it on my behalf.

WILLIAM HONE ADDITION: From areff in the comments who guides us to this book on Hone: The Triumph of Laughter. This is the description of the book at Amazon and perfectly parallel to our own situation, except that this is the supposedly more enlightened 2016 and that was back in the Dark Ages of 1817.

William Hone is the forgotten hero of the British Press. In 1817 he was compelled to defend himself against a government determined to enforce censorship. His fellow journalists, opposition MPs and the ministers believed that a verdict against Hone would silence all critical voices. It was a show trial, and Hone – a self-educated and obscure Fleet Street journalist who had to defend himself against the Lord Chief Justice and the Attorney General and in front of a jury hand-picked by the ministry – was the underdog, a supposedly easy victim for the state. Hone’s crime was ridiculing the government. He was a noted satirist, who used laughter as a weapon to destroy censorship. His humour captured the imagination of the public; his satires sold in the hundreds of thousands. They were symbols of resistance for an angry public and were genuinely feared by his enemies. The Laughter of Triumph looks at the history of the struggle for free expression against repressive laws through the life of William Hone. Could the state push the law so far that humour was a crime? Or was it the only way to subvert censorship? As Hone implored his jury on the second day of his trials, ‘Is a laugh treason? Surely not.’

Posted in Freedom of speech | 25 Comments

Missing the obvious

Tony Abbott’s friends are out and about putting a good word in for Abbott’s return to the cabinet and/or his side of the events of last week.

There is another point, however, that nobody seems to be discussing.

Irrespective of whether Abbott personally knew about the guns for votes deal or not it is quite clear that the Liberal government that Tony Abbott led had no intention of honouring the deal it had made with David Leyonhjelm. Even if we accept Abbott’s argument that there was no deal, it is clear that David Leyonhjelm was induced to believe that there was a deal.

This simply adds to the pattern of deception and deviousness that surrounded Abbott’s tenure as prime minister.

Posted in Federal Politics, Politics | 114 Comments

Lets hear it for the heterodox academy

A heads up on the activities of the Heterodox Academy.

We are a politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines and universities.

We share a concern about a growing problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged.

To reverse this process, we have come together to advocate for a more intellectually diverse and heterodox academy.

The blog with weekly roundups of activities. A profile of Jonathan Haidt, a prime mover for heterodox thinking. Confession of a partly silenced tenured professor. A college ranking that matters.

Heterodox Academy, the new organization led by Jonathan Haidt dedicated to increasing the range of viewpoints represented in academia, has done something a little bit different. Instead of offering students a list of which colleges confer the highest levels of status in elite social circles, it has created a ranking of colleges based on their commitment to principles of ideological openness and academic freedom.

My contribution in 2008 on the topic of political bias in university teaching.

Course contents and reading lists. On course contents, there is a need for a data base on what is being taught, a survey of course outlines and reading lists to identify courses that are not providing students with an introduction to the best thinkers and ideas in the field. This should lead to suggestions for improvements. This may be done in a manner that is contentious and divisive, but it should be possible to proceed in way that is illuminating and educational in its own right. The aim is to recruit the spirit of cooperative scholarship, using a base of evidence to advance the cause of learning and scholarship. There is no need to deny university teachers their own interests, their points of view and their politics. The question is how the courses stack up when they are examined in a climate of civil and robust debate.

Posted in Cultural Issues, Freedom of speech, Rafe | 16 Comments

Time to prepare for the Trump anointment?

With Trump leading in four of the most recent seven polls, and Clinton in only one (two being tied), how here’s my take on his policy summaries


  1. Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress.♥ 
  2. Hiring freeze on federal employees to reduce the workforce through attrition ♥
  3. Requirement to eliminate two federal regulations for every new one ♥
  4. Five-year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists ♥
  5. Lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying for foreign governments ♥
  6. Complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections ♥


  1. Cancel Obama’s ‘unconstitutional’ executive actions, memoranda and orders
  2. Pick a conservative replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
  3. Cancel all federal funding to ‘sanctuary cities’ that harbor illegal immigrants
  4. Begin removing the 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the U.S., and cancel visas to countries that won’t repatriate them
  5. Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where incoming people can’t be properly vetted.


  1. Renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement or withdraw from it. XX
  2. Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. XX
  3. Order the secretary of the treasury to label China a ‘currency manipulator. XX
  4. Use U.S. and international laws to end foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers XX
  5. Lift restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of U.S. energy reserves including shale, oil, natural gas and coal. ♥♥
  6. Approve the Keystone XL pipeline project and other ‘vital energy infrastructure projects’ ♥♥
  7. Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to improve U.S. water and environmental infrastructure ♥♥


  1. ‘Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act’: Economic plan designed to grow the economy 4 per cent per year and create 25 million new jobs. Involves tax cuts, trade reform, regulatory relief, lifting restrictions on energy production, and encouraging companies with offshore funds to bring them back to America.

  2. ‘End The Offshoring Act’: New tariffs on goods brought into the U.S. by American companies that relocate jobs outside the U.S. XX

  3. ‘American Energy & Infrastructure Act’: Uses public-private partnerships and tax incentives to generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years 

  4. ‘School Choice And Education Opportunity Act’: Redirects education dollars to allow parents to choose any public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school; ends the ‘Common Core’ federal standards; and expands vocational and technical education 

  5. ‘Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act’: Replaces the Affordable Care Act with health savings accounts, removes barriers to purchasing health insurance across state lines, allows states to manage Medicaid funds and speeds up drug approval inside the Food and Drug Administration 

  6. ‘Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act’: Provides tax deductions for childcare and elder care and incentivizes employers to provide on-site childcare services 

  7. ‘End Illegal Immigration Act’: Funds a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, ‘with the full understanding that the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States’; establishes 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after deportation, 5-year mandatory minimum for felons who illegally re-enter, and 5 years for coming back after multiple deportations; increases penalties for overstaying visas 

  8. ‘Restoring Community Safety Act’:Creates a Task Force On Violent Crime, increases federal funding of police forces and boosts federal support for anti-gang prosecutions

  9. ‘Restoring National Security Act’:Eliminates the federal defense ‘sequester’ to restore military funding, guarantees veterans the option of private health care if VA facility wait times are long, institutes new defenses against cyber-attacks, and establishes new immigration screening based on ‘values’ 

  10. ‘Clean up Corruption in Washington Act’: Enacts new ethics reforms affecting politicians and their staffers 

A score of 23 out of 28 is not bad and hopefully his proposed trade protectionist policies will flounder.  Especially good for Australia is the way forward Trump would show in energy policy, especially getting out of the Paris CLIMATE CHANGE agreement, and arresting the stacking of a Supreme Court which has been steadily undermining property rights.

American withdrawal from the climate treaty will unravel the whole of this fraud, leaving only a crisis ridden EU (and Canada) on the train.  In doing so, this will provide licence for the Australian government to wind back the planned 23.5 per cent share for renewable energy with its threefold cost premium and inherent unreliability imposing debilitating effects on the primary and mining industries that are central to our comparative advantage.

Posted in Uncategorized | 105 Comments

Notes for ATA conference

Yesterday I gave a talk at an ATA Conference on how to create a positive agenda for the 45th Parliament. Unfortunately I had to leave early for a BABBA concert (who knew that there would be a market for that? Highly recommended) but the bit I attended had great discussion and questions and interaction.

My speaking notes are below.

I think the most important point that I wanted to make is this: Every vote in the Parliament is a conscious vote. Ultimately they make choice each and every time they vote to vote the way they did. The Budget is voted every year (true – many aspects of the budget are in legislation and on auto-pilot so to speak, but any piece of legislation can be opened up and re-voted. Parliamentarians choose to pass the bulk of the budget on a nod and a whim). So the fact that we have a budget deficit and growing debt is the result of a choice made by each and every Parliamentarian and then those Parliamentarians acting in concert. So I you are worried about the deficit and growing debt ask your MPs (most Australians will have one representative in the House and 12 Senators) why they have voted for a deficit.


Comments to ATA conference

  1. Be an Adult government
  • Keep your promises.
    • If you have to break a promise keep your promises to your friends.
    • If you break a promise to your friends be apologetic.
  1. Behave with dignity and humility
  • Party infighting must stop – the electorate has zero-tolerance for that.
  • Improve Parliamentary behaviour.
    • Every vote is a conscience vote. Voters do not subscribe to Burkean democracy.
    • Streamline Parliamentary processes – time wasting and game playing procedures that were valuable in the 18th century can be eliminated.
  1. Be a Liberal government – not a luvvie government
  • Wage war on defective institutions such as the ABC.
    • Commercialise and privatise.
  • Withdraw from UNESCO (at least while they insist there is no relationship between Judaism and Jerusalem).
  • Do not wage culture wars against individuals.
    • Gay marriage is not a vote changer.
    • Abolish 18C – also a state institution that wages war against individuals.
    • Abolish star chambers and regulatory star chambers.
  1. It’s the economy, stupid
  • Re-introduce the debt ceiling.
  • Stop spending money.
    • No new government programs until old government programs are under control.
  • Work on competitive federalism.
    • At present mechanisms to keep states falling behind, but no mechanism to ensure they keep up.
      • Too many carrots and not enough stick.
    • Have a serious discussion about a state-based income tax.
  • Have an active policy to deduce deficits, pay down debt, a cut taxes.


Some of my points riff off op-eds by John Roskam in the AFR on Friday and Peter van Onselen in the Australian on Saturday.

Posted in Economics and economy, Federal Politics | 39 Comments