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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

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.

That’s the thing with the diversity loving crowd. They only love diversity when you agree with everything they say.

Former tennis champion and now pastor Margaret Court organised a rally in Perth last night. Church members and the public were invited to learn more about and pray for the preservation of the meaning of marriage; a life long commitment between a man and a woman.

But no expression of this belief is permitted. Every such expression must be declared to be homophobic, bigoted and hateful.

A couple of dozen gay rights protestors (as opposed to the hundreds at the Court/Family Association Rally) forced their way into Court’s church to demand their rights.

Gay Bigots Protest Free Speech

One activist declared that marriage is a celebration of love, and therefore should be open to any two people in love. But that is not what marriage is. Marriage is a life-long commitment between a man and a woman for the purposes of procreation, support of any children, and companionship and care for each other, made in love, with the intention to respect and honour each other for life.

Of course the word marriage could be re-defined. But once it is re-defined, say, as a ‘celebration of love’, what is to stop one man and four women being married, or a woman and her dolphin, or any community of any number of people and animals, no matter how related? Why not have families – parents and children – able to marry? There doesn’t have to be anything sexual in the relationship, after all. It is simply a celebration of love. So why not celebrate your love publicly?

Why not indeed? But a celebration of love is not a marriage. If marriage were to be redefined in this vague way, another word would have to be found for what we now call marriage. All of the above mentioned possibilities are qualitatively different from a life-long, open to children, loving commitment between a man and a woman. And then the protests would start anew, because the gay lobby, the poly-amorous, the bestial, would all want the right to have their relationships called the same thing.

Gay lobbyists declare they have majority support for redefining marriage in the way they want (somewhere between 55 and 60 percent of all Australians, they claim). Such provisions have sometimes been read into the law by activist judges in the US. But whenever they have gone to a referendum, such measures have been soundly defeated.

Gay marriage is never going to be normal. Get over it.

John Darbyshire has copped some fierce criticism over the last few days for his article The Talk: Non Black Version. The article appeared in Taki’s Magazine, but that page has been intermittently inaccessible. Try Taki’s first. If their page is not working, you can find the full version at Camp of the Saints.

Darbyshire referenced articles in which black parents describe The Talk they give their children. The talk about how to relate to white people and Asians. About how racism is built into white society, how they (young black people) will have to work twice as hard before they are granted the same positive recognition, about white tribalism, etc, etc.

He then goes on to describe various talks he has had with his children about how to relate to black people.

Some of these are claims about reality. Perhaps the most controversial is his claim that black people are on average several points lower in IQ than whites. This is true, he says, no matter how ‘culturally balanced’ the test. It also has practical application – blacks are significantly more likely than whites or Asians to default on their mortgages, for example.

Darbyshire provides some interesting links to studies support his views on this. He might be wrong. The studies might be wrong. But facts are not racist. Truths are not racist. They can be used in racist ways, but it is not clear that Darbyshire is doing so.

As black parents talk to their children about reality as they see it, and how to live within it, Darbyshire talks to his children about reality as he sees it, and how white people can live safely and effectively within it. That means knowing the truth. Rather than yell ‘racist,’ it would be more convincing to provide alternate studies which show he is wrong.

Other parts consist of practical advice:

A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously  hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us.  A much larger cohort of blacks—around half—will go along passively if the five  percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial  solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague  feeling that whites have it coming.

(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical  common sense:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at  some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date  (neglect of that one got me the  closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e)If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

You may disagree. Feel free to say why. But I bet this guy wishes his parents had given him some similar advice:

Part One:

Part Two:

That is the title of Anita Heiss’s new book.

Anita was one of the people who sued Andrew Bolt.

The answer to Anita’s question is “No-one cares. Call yourself what you like.”

But if you claim tax payer money on the basis of your race, then expect the tax payers to take an interest. In other words, your race only makes a difference to anyone else when you demand it should make a difference. And if you do demand that it make a difference, you have no right to complain when people ask why.

For example, $90,000 of tax payer money so you could go to Paris and write a very dull book about how you went to court to stop someone discussing the question that is the title of your book. I can understand you might want to write this. I don’t understand why I should be forced to pay for it.

Here are Anita’s comments about the burdens she faces as a writer. No, not just a writer, an aboriginal writer, since that, she says, is the whole point:

It’s not easy being a writer. If you do in fact take the research seriously, there is much to consider… here are just five of the hardships of researching in Paris:

1. WEIGHT GAIN: I had to eat an embarrassing amount of bread and cheese, macaroons, croissants and chocolate – so I could actually write about it! This meant I had to put on weight for my job.

2. SORE FEET: Paris is a city for walking. Strolling down the Champs-Elysees eyeing all the designers stores and cafes is hard on the feet, trust me, I know, I did it quite a bit!

3. FLIRTING WITH STRANGERS: Now, let me preface this by saying, I was in character! Anita Heiss would never flirt with strangers, but for the purpose of ‘research’ I did what needed to be done for my craft. If you are serious about your writing, you will too!

All at the tax payers’ expense. Can I be black too?

One of the things that makes this especially interesting is that having invited discussion on the issue of her race, Anita, her publishers and the Australian ABC have gone to great lengths to shut down any discussion. Comments have been disappeared from all those sites. Well, people answered the question the wrong way, you see.

You can still find reader comments at this Random House page (I am sure this is an oversight, and these will soon be removed), and at the Amazon page for Anita’s book.

And $18.60 for a kindle book she has already been given $90,000 to write? Sheesh!

Update. As expected Random House has pulled all comments from the page linked to above. According to the Random House website, their imprints comprise of (sic) Ballantine Books, Bantam Dell, Delacorte Press, Del Rey/Spectra, The Dial Press, ESPN Books, The Modern Library, One World, Presidio Press, Random House, Spiegel & Grau, and Villard.

Since Random House is not interested in freedom of speech, I suggest exercising the freedom you do have, and choosing not to buy their books.

Amazon is still accepting comments and reviews. Go Amazon!

OK, on one hand I am not surprised. The Sunday Mail is a paper I only ever read when it is being given away free.

The conversation in the shop this morning was

“Would you like a free paper, Peter?”

“What, the Sunday Mail?”

“Yes.”

“No thanks.”

“But it’s free.”

“Hmm…” (remembering I can use it as padding in parcels I send, and to start my fire in Winter) “OK then.”

Once I had it I could not resist leafing through it. Mostly just the usual empty-headed waffle that passes for journalism amongst the educated. A photo of Ian Thorpe emerging from a pool with a bit of mucous hanging from his nose, with the headline “Snot a good look.” That sort of thing.

On page 26 is an article by Lainie Anderson. It is available online.

Lainie seems a nice enough young lady. She has all the currently popular opinions. But she suffers from that curious left-wing journalist’s affliction of being unable to think.

This is the (very small) headline: Doesn’t it make sense to invest now in renewable technology – like the windfarms Denmark has established – and have something else to offer the world when the coal runs out?

Surely before writing that, or after for that matter, a journalist would stop to ask two key questions:

1. Are fossil energy sources running out?

2. Do wind-farms and other renewable energy technologies actually save any fossil fuel over their lifetimes?

The answer to both questions is no. Neither question seems to occur to Lainie.

A really good journalist might go on to consider the relationship between the price of energy and employment rates, and between the price of energy and poverty levels, and write about the possible development of a long term energy policy which would encourage economic growth, noting that this will be better for the planet, because wealthier societies have more liberty to be concerned about conservation.

But this is the Sunday Mail. So we have to read about Ian Thorpe and snot instead.

Lainie says that climate sceptics are just confusing people. They should stop it, because “we’ve got around 97 per cent of the world’s climate scientists telling us that human behaviour is warming the planet.”

Really?

Actually, no.

That figure is passed around like a hanky in a party game. It is based on a single study, Doran, P. T., and M. Kendall Zimmerman (2009), Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(3).

Doran and Zimmerman sent two questions to some 10,000 scientists. About 30% responded. According to Doran and Zimmerman, only 5% of respondents were climate scientists. Climate scientists are people who were authors for the IPCC, or other climate alarmist bodies. The answers given by this carefully selected group were used to arrive at the 97% figure quoted by Ms Anderson. According to the study, 76 of 79 answered ‘Yes’ to question 1, and 75 of 77 answered ‘Yes’ to question 2. That’s about 97%.

Already this is so dubious it smells like five day old road-kill. But what were the questions?

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

Virtually every ‘sceptic’ I know would answer ‘Yes’ to question one. The world has been warming at a pretty constant rate since about 1850. If CO2 is a factor in this increase, it can only have been a factor since about 1940. But there has been no change in the average rate of temperature increase since then.

Question 2 is simply badly written. What counts as significant? If there is a human influence on global climate change, it is so small compared with natural change that it is barely discernible. But that small amount may still be significant in some contexts.

So out of a group of 3,000 scientists, 97% of a very small and carefully selected sub group answered ‘Yes’ to two ambiguous questions, at least one of which would get a yes from almost every sceptical scientist. This is not proof of anything except a depressingly poor level of study design.

Lainie’s other ‘gotcha’ claims are that the world has been getting warmer for a while now, and that sea levels are rising. Both of these claims are true. No one disagrees. We have been coming out of a little Ice Age. Thank God it is getting warmer. Sea levels have been rising for the past 10,000 years, and if anything, the rate of rise is slowing.

No one denies that global climate is changing. It always has and always will.

The real question is, is there any evidence of damaging human influence on global climate? To answer that with a yes, there would have to be a clear correlation between human activity and global climate change. There is no correlation.

Climate alarmism may still sell a few papers. But it is damaging and dishonest. Just stop it.

Andrew Bolt’s blog changed format today, making it harder to read. It also now requires registration to access, although registration is free and gives you the entire Herald Sun site. It will only be free for two months, however, after which it will cost $2.95 per week.

I never read anything in the Herald Sun except Andrew’s blog, and have no particular wish to do so. $150 per year to read a blog? I think, when that time comes, that I will no longer be amongst Andrew’s visitors.

Today Andrew wrote that Bob Katter had disgraced himself with a TV ad pointing out that a vote for Newman’s Queensland Liberals could be a vote for the legalisation of gay marriage.

Nonsense.

Bolt claims the ad is irrelevant. It is not. Queensland Labor introduced legislation permitting ‘civil unions’ between same sex couples. The Liberals do not support such unions and have talked about repealing the legislation. Campbell Newman has said he supports gay marraige.

It is entirely reasonable to create and broadcast a political ad pointing out this inconsistency.

The real question is, is the ad offensive or homophobic?

Belief that homosexual acts are wrong and harmful, and that equating homosexual relationships to marriage between a man and woman is dishonest and will undermine society may be wrong, but it is not homophobic. Simply disagreeing with the homosexual lobby does not make you a homophobe.

Bolt regularly demands that people who disagree with him argue on the facts and don’t simply call him names. He is right to do so. The same courtesy should be applied to those who have concerns about what they see as a dangerous homosexualist agenda.

If they are wrong, explain why. Don’t just shout ‘homophobe’ and think you have made a point.

The ad points up a difference between Katter’s party on one side, and the increasingly indistinguishable Labor and LNP on the other. That is what election ads are meant to do.

Bolt also complains about the images used. But these are very similar to images used by the homosexual lobby – along with slogans like “They are in love, why shouldn’t they be allowed to marry?” or “How can love be a crime?” If it is acceptable for the homosexual lobby to use such images to normalise homosexual relationships, why is it unacceptable for Katter to use them to raise concerns about that normalisation?

As for Andrew’s claim that video of Newman folding a skirt is meant to suggest he is a closet gay, the only possible response is ‘hogwash.’ That video was taken at the same time and in the same place as the other short segment where Newman says he supports gay marriage. At very most, it might highlight a contrast between Newman’s claim to be a decent, ordinary bloke, concerned about ordinary families, understanding ordinary workers (like laundry workers), and supportive of family values, and his support for what many of those same ordinary Australians see as a dangerous undermining of famliy and society.

You may disagree. But yelling ‘homophobe’ at Bob Katter, or the many Queenslanders who think he is right, is not going to convince him or them.

PS I was wrong about needing to register and pay to read Andrew Bolt’s blog. It was not entirely my fault – the blog entry I was talking about had the headline ‘Why we are asking you to register’ and did not make it clear that readers would only need to register to access Andrew’s columns and other Herald Sun print content, not to the rest of the blog. But since the columns normally make up about half the word count of the blog, this is still a blow to readers who have no interest in other Herald Sun print content. I suspect many, like me, will have trouble justifying spending $150 per year on opinion content which was formerly funded through advertising.

Soon to be Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr says it is time Labor exposed Tony Abbott’s weaknesses.

He also says he will reach out to the federal opposition to try to engender a more bipartisan approach to Australian foreign policy.

Make up your mind, Bob.

With that kind of clarity and decisiveness, perhaps it is just as well he also reminded us that we should not think of him as a cure-all:

‘You don’t get saviours in politics, you just get people who are prepared to roll their sleeves up and work hard for Australia.’

Looking forward to it, Bob.

I have said this before, but campaign promises in Queensland and arguments in US about health insurance coverage make the point worth repeating.

When people say something should be free, what they are really saying is ‘Someone else should pay for it.’

When politicians say something will be free, they are really saying ‘We will make you pay for other people’s ….’

For example, Anna Bligh, soon to be ex premier of Queensland, has promised free swimming lessons for toddlers.

What she is really saying to the people of Queensland is ‘We will make you pay for swimming lessons for other people’s kids.’

When Obama says contraception should be free, he is really saying is ‘We will make you pay for other people’s condoms.’