Adversity is good for the soul

Read this if you can bear it: David Archibald’s WA election diary. This is how it starts:

I have had more than ten years before the mast fighting the global-warmers. Early on in that interminable campaign, when I talked to federal politicians on the subject their eyes would glaze over. I realized they had no interest in stopping the harm to the country. In fact, when a Perth businessman hired a private room in a restaurant so that a few real scientists could give a briefing to Julie Bishop and Mathias Cormann, the response of those two was “Change public opinion and we will follow public opinion.” No leadership, no sense of right and wrong, no inclination to do the right thing for the country if it meant the slightest bit of effort on their part, or risking any of their political capital.

It’s long but filled with the kinds of detail you only wish wasn’t true but should know about anyway.

Posted in Australian Story, Politics | 65 Comments

Know thine enemy

There is something so lacking in resolve among the supposed right side of the political spectrum that I am at a loss to understand how to get others to see what is right before their eyes. The left knows its own. They can tell from the phrases they all use, their uniformity of perspective on every issue, their inability to reason and make sense of a contrary argument, that they are part of that side of the political world. Comments on my post on John Brennan dealing with Guess who was “a supporter of the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War” has led me to put up this post as a response.

The first of these comments is just empty rhetoric from some Democrat/Hillary troll (however he might deny it) and is hardly worth a moment’s thought. But given that I had been on the left in my youth, one of the many things I have learned is that the most perfect dye-marker of someone who no longer has those views is that they never leave anyone in doubt about the ways their political beliefs have changed by their unrelenting criticisms of the left. Brennan has never said a word to indicate he has changed his political beliefs and was appointed by Obama! If you think he was ideologically a different man in 2013 than he was in 1976, when he could not even bring himself to vote for Jimmy Carter for heaven’s sake, you really ought to rethink these things again.

This comment is purely incoherent:

You can’t have it both ways Kates. On one hand you are complaining that a pinko ran the CIA. On the other you defend Trump’s assertions that Putin’s Russia is no worse than the USA! Make up your mind (if that’s at all possible).

These others, however, make a valid point, I suppose, but seem to be merely a preference to do nothing even as a three-alarm fire is raging right before them. Those asking that we investigate further whether the beliefs that John Brennan hold have changed in a more benign direction are, I’m afraid, forms of rhetorical junk. What genuine point do they make unless they have some reason to think that if we spent time and effort looking more closely at Brennan’s current views something else might turn up?

Christopher Hitchens was a Trotskyist around the same time.

Steve do you agree with what you thought in 1976?

The traffic from left to right is very thin. With no exception I can think of, all of the people I associated with in my student days have not changed their politics in any way other than to follow whatever the modern fashion might be. To remain friends, we just have to stay off certain topics, which is all right since I see them only every year or so at the most. I have a friend from my university days who went on to become Vice-President of a major Canadian insurance company, but when he retired he immediately went back to overtly expressing the political beliefs of his (and my) youth, beginning his instant return to the far left by reading every Chomsky book he could find. No doubt almost every corporate boardroom has imbeciles just like him. There is no country that would not be turned into Venezuela if these people had their way. They are as unable to understand the workings of a free market as they are to understand how hydrogen and oxygen turn into water.

If after eight years you still want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, and John Brennan along with him, I cannot think what can be done to make you see how you are playing into the hands of the left assuming you are not actually part of the left already. And to be quite honest, I am anyway unable to distinguish as a matter of practical politics most of them from these leftist loons, although I am willing to hear in what way I may be wrong.

And having written the above, I have now come across this: Where is the Republican attack machine? It is directed at the impending shutdown of the American government when Congress refuses to pass a spending bill, but this is the serious point that has much wider implications:

Democrats are always so much better at spinning their nonsense than Republicans are. They whine, attack, and rally the troops every time there’s a big battle to be fought, while Republicans think somehow people will come around to their point of view. And Democrats do it in an organized fashion guided by a well thought out, long-term plan that nevertheless seems spontaneous. Republicans focus solely on today’s news cycle and think they can win the PR war via President Trump’s tweets.

It is in part because they have no widespread media vehicles to express their views. It is in part because most people are addicted to other people’s money. It is in part because whatever the label, most people are socialists of one kind or another with no deep personal attachments either to individual freedom or a market economy. And the same may be said for many of the politicians representing the parties of the so-called right.

Posted in Politics, Politics of the Left | 52 Comments

Open Forum: April 22, 2017

Posted in Open Forum | 1,496 Comments

Marching for science?

Hurry to reserve a good place! Please contact us ([email protected]) if you would like to reserve a place at the front for clear viewing.

Send in the clowns! A nice commentary by Roger Franklin.

Raining on the parade, a gory (sorry) history of the great Modern Myth of Looming Environmental Catastrophe.

The environmentalist strand began in 1972, with the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. Olof Palme, the controversial Swedish socialist prime minister, was host. Maurice Strong, who will appear repeatedly in what follows, was secretary general. The conference produced a Declaration and an Action Plan; but, perhaps more importantly, it led to the creation of the UN Environment Programme, with Strong as its first director.

And the rest is history.

A lengthy rejoinder to many of the myths that are getting the folk into the streets tomorrow.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 37 Comments

Call for Applicants – President of the Australian Human Rights Commission

Not a joke.

The Attorney Genera’s Department has made a call for applicants.  The job description is below, but it seems to be missing some of the key competencies of the current President.

Mark Latham – if you are listening.  Please throw your hat in for this one.

Job description

Duties

Applications are sought from suitably qualified persons for appointment to the statutory position of President of the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission). Please note that this position is established by, and the occupant employed under, the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (the Act).

The Commission’s functions are outlined in the Act and other Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation. They include promoting community awareness of human rights, investigating human rights issues of national importance, conciliating complaints of unlawful discrimination, reviewing legislation for compliance with human rights, and advising the Government on legislation and policy relating to human rights.

Applicants should have significant experience with human rights issues. Although they should have a familiarity with the Act and with Commonwealth anti-discrimination law, it is not a requirement that applicants be legally qualified. Fields of professional experience may include the law and other professions, government, public policy, NGOs, academia, the media and the private sector.

Applicants should have the capacity to lead and manage a large and complex organisation. They should have a capacity to deal with dispute-resolution, in furtherance of the Commission’s complaint-handling function. The role of the President also involves public advocacy of human rights issues, working constructively with Government to advance human rights issues, and being accountable to the Parliament through its committees.

The position of President is a statutory position in respect of which remuneration and allowances are determined by the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments

Guess who was “a supporter of the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War”

How can this possibly be true and not have become common knowledge? From: This is the open scandal that Congress should investigate:

John Brennan’s CIA operated like a branch office of the Hillary campaign, leaking out mentions of this bogus investigation to the press in the hopes of inflicting maximum political damage on Trump. An official in the intelligence community tells TAS that Brennan’s retinue of political radicals didn’t even bother to hide their activism, decorating offices with “Hillary for president cups” and other campaign paraphernalia.

A supporter of the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War, Brennan brought into the CIA a raft of subversives and gave them plum positions from which to gather and leak political espionage on Trump. He bastardized standards so that these left-wing activists could burrow in and take career positions. Under the patina of that phony professionalism, they could then present their politicized judgments as “non-partisan.”

This is just a throw-away para and is entirely by-the-way in discussing the role of international agencies in trying to subvert Trump’s run for president which is in and of itself an extraordinary scandal. From Wikipedia:

In 1976, he voted for Communist Party USA candidate Gus Hall in the presidential election; he later said that he viewed it as a way “of signaling my unhappiness with the system, and the need for change.”

And this was the man who headed the CIA from 2013 until January! How does one keep up with all of the skulduggery and deceit? You can read the entire episode here told by Brennan himself from his own perspective. How did this man get top security clearance never mind the job running the CIA?

FWIW I picked this up at Instapundit where none of the comments even so much as glanced at Brennan’s personal history. Does none of this any longer even matter?

Posted in American politics, International, Politics of the Left | 21 Comments

Rabbi Sacks on The Mutation of Antisemitism

Posted in Cultural Issues, Ethics and morality | 34 Comments

CPI is a proxy for inflation

One of my hobby horses – what is inflation?

Arthur Seldon defines inflation as ‘a fall in the value of money due to a persistent expansion in its quantity’. Ludwig von Mises wrote that ‘everyone knows’ that inflation is an increase in the quantity of money. Furthermore he wrote that ‘everyone knows’ that a general increase in prices is a consequence of inflation. Yet, inflation is often defined as a sustained increase in the general level of prices. This latter definition, however, is unsatisfactory.

The Australian is reporting that the CPI contains a flaw, with the following headline:

Inflation figures contain ‘massive flaw’ for potential homebuyers, says CBA

The story is:

The true challenges confronting young Australians seeking to buy their first home are masked by a “massive flaw” in inflation data, according to a new report from Commonwealth Bank’s economics team.

The note, authored by CBA senior economist Gareth Aird, finds potential homebuyers are neglected by official inflation numbers, given the figures ignore the recent dramatic surge in house prices.

As it stands, the core measure of cost-of-living pressures used by analysts is the Australian Bureau of Statistics-released consumer price index (CPI), which does not factor in increases in land values.

Mr Aird contends the exclusion of the single largest purchase an Australian will likely make serves as a “massive flaw” in using CPI as a proxy for cost of living pressures. However, he stopped short of arguing for changes in land values to be incorporated in CPI.

Now I am sympathetic to the argument that the Consumer Price Index contains flaws. This must be true almost by definition. But it isn’t clear to me that the CPI should include house prices. It also isn’t clear to me that CPI is a comprehensive measure of inflation – it is a proxy for inflation but in and of itself isn’t inflation. Changes in the CPI will be due to a combination of factors such as inflation, changes in relative prices, and measurement error.

A true measure of inflation would include things such as housing and other investments and the like, but that isn’t the role of the CPI. This conflating changes in CPI as being inflation does lead to problems, however, as people think inflation is subdued; but Australians are facing price pressures, and a declining standard of living – why did nobody ever warn of this happening?

Posted in Economics and economy | 35 Comments

Odds and ends April 20

Back from Tasmania and packing for China. Tell Dr Michael Spence, Vice Chancellor of “Australia’s leading university” what you think about student union blocking The Red Pill from screening on campus. mailto [email protected] He may claim this is out of his hands but the administration has form on other related issues and it is a toxic environment for conservatives.

Dan Mitchell. The shadow bureaucracy. Don’t be fooled by stable numbers of taxeaters in the capital city, check out the impact of federal programs and funds in the states, local government and the military.

…government has prudently become stealthy about how it becomes ever bigger. In a new Brookings paper, …government expands by indirection, using three kinds of “administrative proxies” — state and local government, for-profit businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Since 1960, the number of state and local government employees has tripled to more than 18 million, a growth driven by federal money: Between the early 1960s and early 2010s, the inflation-adjusted value of federal grants for the states increased more than tenfold. …“By conservative estimates,” DiIulio writes, “there are about 3 million state and local government workers” — about 50 percent more than the number of federal workers — “funded via federal grants and contracts.” Then there are for-profit contractors, used, DiIulio says, “by every federal department, bureau and agency.” For almost a decade, the Defense Department’s full-time equivalent of 700,000 to 800,000 civilian workers have been supplemented by the full-time equivalent of 620,000 to 770,000 for-profit contract employees. …the government spends more (about $350 billion) on defense contractors than on all official federal bureaucrats ($250 billion). Finally, “employment in the tax-exempt or independent sector more than doubled between 1977 and 2012 to more than 11 million.” Approximately a third of the revenues to nonprofits (e.g., Planned Parenthood) flow in one way or another from government.

Tax reform in the USA, Republicans struggle for consistency. The Brazilian future for the US when bureaucrats can retire early on lucrative pensions. This used to be the way in the Commonwealth public service.

But when I write about state governments, perhaps it would be more appropriate to warn about a Brazilian future. That’s because many American states have made unaffordable and unfunded promises to give lavish benefits to retired bureaucrats, a topic that I’ve addressed on numerous occasions.
And why does that mean a Brazilian future? Because as Greece is already suffering the inevitable consequences of a bloated welfare state, Brazil is already suffering the inevitable consequences of a pension system that treats bureaucrats as a protected and cossetted class. Here are some excerpts from a sobering report in the Wall Street Journal.

Inside the deep hidden empire of the almost faceless bureaucrats.

Energy. Don Aitkin on Gary Banks on our self-inflicted energy pain.

Weather. Warmth and CO2 are good for plant growth! Jo Nova and the cotton crop.

Heterodox Academy roundup. Accuracy in Academia roundup.

Posted in Rafe, Rafe's Roundups | 4 Comments

My citizenship might be revoked

The government is proposing stricter rules on new citizenship applications.

Looking at the questions I suspect they are substituting some no-brainers for problematic questions. The no-brainers:

* Does Australia’s principle of freedom of religion mean that it is permissible to force children to marry?

* In Australia’s multicultural society, under which circumstances is it permissible to cut female genitals?

* While it is illegal to use violence in public, under what circumstances can you strike your spouse in the privacy of your own home?

* Under what circumstances is it appropriate to prohibit girls from education?

Mind you – there might be some fun answers and variations to those questions. For example:

*Does Australia’s principle of freedom of religion mean that it is permissible to persecute Catholic bishops for supporting the law of the land?

* While it is illegal to use violence in public, under what circumstances can you disrupt traffic and fellow employees on a picket line?

But it is the old questions that caught my eye.

Which of these statements about Australia’s system of government is correct?
a) The Queen of Australia chooses people to form the Australian Parliament
b) The government is elected by the people
c) The PM chooses our Members of Parliament

Which of the statements about government in Australia is correct?
a) The government does not allow some religions
b) Government in Australia is secular
c) Religious laws are passed by Parliament

The old problem with multiple choice questions – select the most correct answer.

No – alas the Queen of Australia does not select MPs. But the government is not elected by the people either. Individuals votes for MPs. That MP that commands a majority in the House of Representatives is invited by the Governor-General to form a government. While it is correct to say that all (lower house) MPs are elected – the people do not elect the government, nor the PM.

Then it isn’t clear to me what the correct answer to the next question is: Government in Australia is meant to be secular, yet I observe that the Lord’s Prayer (protestant version) is recited in the Parliament. The Parliament is opened each year with a smoking ceremony – this pagan ritual has religious connotations. Then religious laws are passed by the Parliament – try go shopping on easter Friday (to be fair – maybe they mean the federal Parliament only in the test).   To be clear, I have no problem with the smoking ceremony – a bit of pomp and ceremony is a good thing, and it is an inherently Australian custom. The Lord’s Prayer is a bit more problematic. Overall, however, it does suggest there is no correct answer to the question.

Posted in Australian Story | 89 Comments