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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

I discriminate every day.

When buying products for the shop I discriminate against products which are poorly made or over-priced. I discriminate against suppliers who do not have items in stock when they say they do, or who charge too much for delivery, or don’t respond to questions.

I do the same when at the supermarket or liquor store. I discriminate. I choose based on my perception of differences between products. I do it every day.

Social welfare organisations also discriminate. They have to.

Several years ago I was a member of Synod in the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane. Legislation was introduced which would enable to provision of welfare services to particular groups. There was a page listing the ways in which those groups and individuals would be identified. In other words, how services would be offered in a discriminating way, so as to target people most in need. Then at the end was the assertion that all services would be provided without discrimination.

I objected to that on the basis that the entire preceding page set out the kinds of discrimination that would be used to target services. The Church is supposed to be about the truth, always and everywhere. It was doublespeak to set out at length what kinds of discrimination would be employed, and immediately after to say “all services will be provided without discrimination.”

They couldn’t even say “without discrimination on the basis of race or gender,” because some services were to be offered to refugees, to women, to aboriginal people. So why say “without discrimination” at all, except to appear righteous, pious, etc?

Of course, I was howled down. “We can’t discriminate!”

“But the whole preceding section sets out the ways in which you intend to discriminate.”

“No it doesn’t.”

It was a bit like this:

John Stossel writes in praise of discrimination when it comes to health insurance.

I have never had car insurance. I have been driving for over thirty years; cars, tractors, trucks, motor cycles. I have never had an accident. Motor vehicle insurance is a scheme designed to allow bad drivers to be subsidised by good ones.

Insurance only makes sense when you have no control over the level of risk. In every other circumstance, insurance will always be the careful and responsible subsidising the careless and lazy.

Health insurance is a perfect example. It is a scheme designed to allow the fat and lazy, smokers and heavy drinkers, the sex addled and gluttonous to be subsidised by people who make choices which lead to better health.

I have never smoked. I have a couple of drinks most nights, never more. I am approximately the right weight for my height. I run or walk every day. I look after my teeth. I have only been in hospital once, for one night. It makes far more sense for me to put aside a little money for health care on a regular basis than to put money into a collective in which I not only pay for the foolish choices others make, but also for the bureaucracy that supports them.

Other people have the right to make whatever choices they want. If they want to chain smoke, have casual sex and live on chocolate and beer, well, more joy to them. But I don’t see why I should have to pay for the consequences of those choices. Of course, if they had to pay for the consequences of their choices, they might choose differently.

Until then, until someone offers health insurance specifically for people who don’t make those choices, and which doesn’t offer expensive non-therapies like chiropractic, homeopathy and reiki, I’ll just look after myself.

Is that discriminatory? You bet.

Michael Coren on MRC TV:

To pick just one Islamic Brotherhood lie, take “Copts are not real Egyptians.” The word “copt” is the “gypt” in Egypt. The Copts are the original Egyptians. Like the Jews in Israel, they are told by Hamas, the Islamic Brotherhood, the New York Times and other fellow travellers that they have no place in their own land.

That lie is used to portray them as invaders or parasites, so violence towards them becomes OK.

Lies can be powerful weapons.

From James Delingpole:

Here we are in a world turned so ignorant, self-hating and wrong that not just thwarted lefty journalists but a host of celebrities too actually believe that there is some merit in the argument that a failing left-wing media organisation should be permitted by some special charter arrangement to go on spewing drivel regardless of the bottom line or who owns the business or whether the readership gives a damn anyway. 

In a letter to Fairfax’s Melbourne newspaper, The Age, a range of prominent Australians including Malcolm Fraser, the former prime minister, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Peter Doherty and the actor Geoffrey Rush today urged the Fairfax board not to abandon the charter.

The fact that we live in this World of Stupid is precisely what makes Gina Rinehart’s move on Fairfax both so heroic and so very necessary. It’s heroic because so few business people put their money where their mouth is these days, never championing free markets when they can do better via cosy regulatory stitch-ups with big government instead. And it’s very necessary because, as I argued yesterday and will no doubt many times again, the world economy is on the brink of a precipice.

The things that have brought us to the edge of that precipice are the things that Gina Rinehart has spent her business career opposing: over-regulation; destructively high taxes; bureaucracy; government meddling; and insane overspending by the state.   Gina Rinehart is doing what all business people should be doing, but which so few of them are. She is sticking up for the free market system which is the only way we’re all going to get of this mess in one piece.

Gina Rinehart is a totally bloody heroine – and Australia should count itself very lucky to have her. As should those wretched ingrates at Fairfax Media.

James also has some nice things to say about Australian coffee.

Yet another ship carrying illegal immigrants sinks in the Indian Ocean.

Somehow this is Tony Abbott’s fault, or George Bush’s or John Howard’s, or something. Even though the boats had slowed to a stop under the Howard government.

Michelle Grattan gives a perfect demonstration of why the Age is in such a parlous state:

It’s time Abbott agrees to Labor’s deal on asylum seekers

Tony Abbott’s intransigence over asylum seeker policy looks more indefensible and irresponsible after the latest boat disaster.

This is the kind of flummoxing dullness that causes people looking for intellectual stimulus to walk past the Age and pick up Zoo magazine.

What has it got to do with Tony Abbott? Labor is in government.

Michelle? Hello? Michelle? Labor is in government. You know, Julia, Wayne, Kevin, that mob?

It is the opposition’s job to oppose. That is what they are meant to do. Oppose.

If the Labor party cannot govern, why are they still in power? If they cannot make and implement decisions about border security, how is that Tony Abbott’s fault?

Nonetheless, Tony Abbott has said he will agree to any deal that means illegal immigrants are processed in any country which is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention. Well done. That is reasonable and fair and sensible.

But there is no reason why he or the Liberal Party should need to agree to anything. It is the government’s job to govern.

It is the Labor Party which needs to be serious about acting to save lives, and that means making it absolutely, unmistakably clear to those who would come here that if they try to circumvent the rules, they will not set foot in Australia.

If you haven’t visited it lately, Dr John Brignell’s numberwatch site has a great list of everything so far blamed on global warming. Over six hundred links listing everything from AIDS to haggis to lampreys to feminised turtles to women cheating on vacation.

Of course, global warming hasn’t caused any of these things, because the world hasn’t warmed at all for the last fourteen years, and the total global increase in temperature over the last one hundred and fifty years (including ‘adjustments’) has been 0.8 degrees; nothing at all out of the ordinary, and a difference a normal person cannot even feel.

For more see Daren Jonescu in the American Thinker.

What, you didn’t know?

Hardly surprising, since attacks on Israeli civilians get short shrift in the Australian media.

From Times of Israel:

Gaza-based terrorists fired 25 rockets into southern Israel on Saturday, causing damage to a school and factory. The latest attacks bring the total number of rockets and other projectiles fired from the Strip to approximately 150 over the past six days …

Sderot mayor David Buskila convened a special meeting Saturday morning with police and Home Front Command officials. He demanded that the government restore calm to his city.   “We have known this reality for 11 years already.” 

During a visit to Sderot and neighboring towns surrounding the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said “Israel cannot remain silent following the events in the South in recent days.”   He said Israel holds Hamas fully responsible for everything happening around the Gaza Strip, and that Israel will continue to use a heavy hand against anyone who tries to escalate the situation.

Interesting that when Syria shoots down one Turkish fighter jet, no one suggests that Turkey would not be within its rights to respond with force.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Syria’s actions were “outrageous” and underlined “how far beyond accepted behaviour the Syrian regime has put itself”.

“It will be held to account for its behaviour. The UK stands ready to pursue robust action at the United Nations Security Council.”

But when Israel responds to relentless attacks on its people within its own borders… well, that’s different.

Over the last week I have been doing some research on Highland single malt whiskies. Well, why not?

I came across this delightful video featuring Iain McArthur. Iain has worked at the Lagavulin distillery for forty years.

One of things I like about this is his humility. We can’t change tradition, he says.

Lots of young people come into my shop, and most of them I like. But almost all seem to believe that they are smarter than their parents and grandparents, that everyone who has gone before was an idiot, and that previous generations have left them a mess to clean up.

Iain clearly does not believe that. He has a deep respect for the work of those who have gone before, and is proud to be part of something bigger than himself.

Umar Patek, the last of the Bali bombers to be caught, was, according to the evidence, the chief planner of the attack and the bomb maker. He has been sentenced to twenty years in gaol.

As well as the two hundred and two people killed in Bali in 2002 (and the subsequent enormous harm to Bali’s economy and people), Patek also murdered nineteen people in bomb attacks on churches in Jakarta in 2000.

And he is given the same sentence as a ditsy Australian broad who tried to smuggle some marijuana in a pillow case?

Indonesia, what the heck?

Anna Funder has won the Miles Franklin award for her first novel All That I Am.

I haven’t read the book, so I can’t comment on its literary merits. Winning a Miles Franklin is not necessarily a recommendation, since they seem frequently to have been awarded based on the level of agreement between the author’s political opinions and those of the judges. The general opinion in the Amazon reviews is that it is heavy going, but worthwhile.

The theme of the book seems to be the importance of standing up to totalitarianism, even in the face of personal failures, rejection and betrayal. It is a good theme, though well worn.

The problem is that it is easy for an author to look back at a troubled period in history and claim it was obvious what needed to be done, and by proxy, that she would have had the courage to do it.

I have known clergy to preach bravely about the need to learn from the martyrs about standing up for the faith, for justice and mercy, but who would not lift a finger to support lay people being bullied by members of the hierarchy, simply because they were scared some of the other clergy might not talk to them, or that, at worst, they would lose their jobs.

It is much harder to recognise and confront real threats to freedom now, than it is to recognise them fifty years later, and in imagination confront them. We always like to think ourselves wise and courageous.

I have heard nothing from Ms Funder about the two greatest totalitarian threats of our own time; radical environmentalism and radical Islam.

Instead, like Lady Gaga, she chooses safe targets. Most recently Queensland Premier Campbell Newman. Consider some of the comments she made while accepting the Miles Franklin:

She has taken aim at Campbell Newman who, in one of his first acts as Queensland Premier, axed the Premier’s Literary Awards to save taxpayers $245,000.   “I don’t really think they are the Premier’s to scrap. It’s the people’s money and the people want to have this recognition of the writers who reflect their world back to them,” she said on ABC Radio.   “And the first thing that someone with dictatorial inclinations does is to silence the writers and the journalists…

“Abolishing writers awards is a cost cutting measure but also a step towards the unscrutinised exercise of power.”

Firstly, let’s note the utter absurdity of talking about being silenced while giving a speech accepting a major national writers award, to hall full of people, being broadcast on the ABC, reported widely, while criticising the premier of the state in which the award ceremony was being held.

Second, to compare the removal of funding for a book award with the actions of the Nazis is devoid of any sense of moral proportion. Diminishing the evil of Nazism to make a point is either deeply immoral or so ignorant that it makes one wonder whether Funder has any understanding of the period and the people about whom she has chosen to write.

Third, it is not true that dictators go after writers and journalists first, for the simple reason that they can rely on ninety per cent of writers and journalists not to cause them any problems. Totalitarian regimes go after their scapegoat minorities first. Again, to put oneself in the same category as the Jews in Nazi Germany or the Copts in Egypt demonstrates an alarming lack of moral sense.

Fourth, a politician’s declining to take people’s money and force them to pay for books they don’t want to read is not a “step towards the unscrutinised excercise of power.”

For the government to take people’s money and give it writers who write the kind of books the government wants people to read, whether directly or through grants and awards, is far closer to being an illegitimate use of power and antithetic to democracy. For one thing, it means people have less money to buy the books they do want to read.

Finally, it is not Campbell Newman or Tony Abbott who are trying to restrict the free speech of journalists or anyone else, but Labor with its media enquiries, commissions, councils and tribunals. No word from Funder on those.

Based on her Miles Franklin acceptance speech, I very much doubt Anna Funder has anything to teach most Australians about reason, moral sense or courage.

The end result of quantitative easing (governments printing money to pay their bills):

Lots of money. Nothing to buy.

 

100 Billion dollars. Three eggs. Go Keynes!

In 1980, the Zimbabwe dollar was worth more than the US dollar. In 2009 Mugabe’s government printed notes with a face value of 100 trillion dollars. At that time they were worth about $300 US. Shortly after that, Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency. Zim dollars were worth less than toilet paper, so that is what people used them for.

That is the end point of excessive government spending; an economy down the toilet.

Ha, ha, ha, ROFL.

Wayne Swan says Gina Rinehart’s interest in Fairfax is a threat to democracy. No Wayne, that would be a minority government that introduces destructive legislation it promised it would not introduce, then spends millions on bribes to retain power.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy (who?) says Gina Rinehart is not entitled to trash the Fairfax brand for other shareholders. No Stephen, she doesn’t need to. The crony crowd of Karl worshiping clod-hoppers who call themselves Fairfax journalists have been doing that for years.

Meanwhile, back at boring central, David Marr, who seems to find it difficult to think rationally at any time, offers the following brilliantly irrational analysis:

The charter which gives journalists complete control over the Fairfax product “Has protected the assets of Fairfax. It has protected the readers, it’s protected the community and it’s also protected the journalists and that is now what is under direct challenge by Mrs Rinehart.”

He may have a point about the readers, if he means they have been protected from ever having to read an opinion that might cause them to rethink their own.

But “has protected the assets of Fairfax”? Only if protecting means acting in such a way that the share price has fallen to about ten per cent of what it was five years ago, and two state of the art print plants must be sold off to keep the company going.

“Protected the journalists”? Really? Almost all daily papers have seen declining circulations over the last ten years. But Fairfax papers are right at the bottom of the pile. They offer a product few people want. That does not lead to a secure work environment for journalists.

If you grow pink mushrooms, and they sold well for while but now they don’t, you can’t just sit around whining about it and demanding the government support your right to keep growing pink mushrooms. Grow something else, something people want. It’s the same with newspapers. You do not have the right to keep producing a product nobody wants. Well, you do, you just don’t have the right to demand people pay for it.

Journalists, readers and public will all be better served (and protected, whatever that means) by a Fairfax press with a sound business model, and a board that encourages, no, demands, the production of news and information services that offer Australian consumers worthwhile products at a reasonable price.

But hey, let the Fairfax journos go on strike with the printers. No papers is a great way to undermine the share price even further, and maybe some Age readers will pick up another paper by mistake and discover what they have been missing.

The Sydney Morning Herald breathlessly reports that members of Federal Parliament who are supporters of gay marriage have been receiving hate mail.

Greens MP Adam Brandt claimed some of the mail he had received was vitriolic and said “The attacks and homophobia we have all experienced on Twitter, Facebook and the street will not deter us from standing up for what is right.”

Cor! Poor beggars. Let’s see some of this hate mail then.

The SMH gives two examples.

One letter said “A small minority of heterosexuals fail their biological reality and as a consequence of dysfunctional experiences, developmental and emotional immaturity become addicted to homosexual practices. ‘Unhealthy addictions need healthy solutions and redefining marriage will not heal biological self-deception and self-delusional fantasies.”

“Another letter said MPs were trying to indoctrinate children ”with compulsory homosexual propaganda in violation of parental rights.”

Umm… Nothing too hateful in either of those really. Mr Brandt may disagree with the views expressed, but that does not make them homophobic or hateful.

As for the comment about homosexual propaganda being forced on children in public schools, has Mr Brandt seen SA’s SHINE curriculum? Children have to participate, and it explicitly portrays homosexual and lesbian relationships as acceptable, healthy and normal.

The SMH has fallen for another Greens/Labor left attempt to portray anyone who questions the normalisation of homosexual behaviour as dim-witted and hateful .

If the case for gay marriage is so strong, let’s hear some real arguments instead of this constant and desperate demonising of anyone who disagrees.

Lady Gaga has cancelled her scheduled concert in Indonesia after threats and protests.

All very courageously provocative when it comes to offending the Salvation Army or the local Methodist ladies guild. They are not likely to chop your head off or burn your house down.

Not so courageous about being ‘transgressive’ in a place where courage might really be needed.

Everyone else has been blabbering on about Craig Thomson for weeks. No need for me to do so.

But just a couple of quick points.

His speech in parliament showed only that Craig Thomson, whom we all believed to be a thieving lecherous slimeball, is actually a vindictive thieving lecherous slimeball. It did nothing for him or for the Labor Party. Except, as some people have already pointed out, the Labor Party can now fairly claim to have someone qualified to organise a cock-up in a brothel.

And as for feeling sorry for him – no. He is reaping the consequences of his own actions.

Craig Thomson is under extraordinary pressure. It must be very uncomfortable. But he can get out of it any time he wants. All he needs to do is tell the truth, and then resign.

I certainly hold no candle for Peter Slipper. He let down his party and his electorate when he accepted the Speaker’s chair, and he appears to have a great deal of explaining to do over expenses claims. On the other hand, he works hard for his electorate, has a long-lasting and by all appearances loving marriage, and is said by those who know him well to be intelligent and caring.

Accusations of sexual harassment by a former staffer seem both unjust and carefully planned.

Mr Slipper may be gay or bi-sexual. In that case he has some things he may need to talk over with his wife. He may already have done so. It would be wrong for me or anyone else to make any assumptions about Slipper’s marriage. It would certainly be wrong to assume that Slipper has ever had a gay affair. He may simply be comfortable enough with his own sexuality to enjoy the company of gay men, and even the occasional flirtation.

His accuser, James Ashby, certainly is gay. He is also a member of the Liberal National Party. He appears to be less than stable.

Mr Ashby’s impulsiveness surfaced during a press conference in Queensland last month when he responded to a question about Mr Slipper’s parliamentary expenses by flinging the reporter’s still-recording iPhone into the air and then taunting him to “go get it”.

It was a throwback to 10 years earlier when Mr Ashby, then 23, was forced to depart Newcastle radio station NX-FM after making a string of abusive phone calls to a rival shockjock, branding him a “psychopath” and threatening to assault him “next time I see you riding your f . . king bike”.

Mr Ashby’s solicitor at the time argued he was a “gentle, fun-loving, young fellow” who had done a “stupid” thing; he was fined $2000 and placed on a good behaviour bond.

Mr Ashby later moved to north Queensland where he appeared in the Townsville Bulletin’s social and news pages. In 2005, he recounted how a thief walked into his printing business, Newa Image, and stole a laptop and electronic goods worth $12,000 from his back room. Two years later, he was among thousands short-changed by the collapse of internet provider Rawnet, saying it owed his business $7559 for brochures.

He later joined Gowinta Farms, the Sunshine Coast’s largest strawberry farm, as a marketing manager, writing on his blog that it reminded him of spending time at his grandfather’s farm at nearby Woodford as a boy.

Mr Ashby also garnered widespread attention last May when he announced poison had been found in one of the farm’s water tanks.

A similar story had previously emerged from tomato crops in Bowen, in north Queensland.

If the Liberal Party thinks that in James Ashby they have found someone who will bring Slipper down, and with him, the Gillard government, they are on very shaky ground.

So far, the evidence of wrongdoing appears to be a complaint by Ashby that Slipper was sexually interested in him, when he, Ashby, was not interested in Slipper, along with a few text messages which seem to confirm the impression of a sexual interest by Slipper in Ashby.

But surely this is not evidence of any offence. As an employee, it may have made Ashby uncomfortable. But the adult thing to do if someone appears to have a sexual interest in you which you do not return, is to tell that person how you feel, and set some boundaries in the relationship. It only becomes sexual harassment when you have made your feelings clear to the other person, and the sexual suggestions continue regardless. I have not seen anything in the evidence presented by Ashby that shows this was the case.

Ashby’s suggestion that Slipper was in the habit of handing out blank cab-charge dockets is already under fire from at least one limo/taxi company.

So what is in these complaints for Ashby? And who encouraged him to make them?

It would be disappointing if the Liberal Party were behind this. If they are, it will seriously damage their credibility in the long run. And credibility is the biggest single commodity they have over the Labor Party.

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