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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Watch out for anyone carrying a pay cheque.

He he.

This is hardly a news flash – it happened a week ago. But I had seen nothing about this in the mainstream media, and only heard of it this morning from Uppity Woman.

A fuller version of the story can be found on the (US) ABC website.

As senators, both President Obama and Vice President Biden co-sponsored the Community Choice Act. During the campaign, then-Sen. Obama said the “legislation is vitally important to the independence, community integration, and equality of hundreds of thousands of Americans with disabilities,” that it will help to empower them “to take full advantage of their talents” and “ensure that everyone can live independently as full citizens in their communities.”

At the moment, disabled people can only use Federal social security funds to access nursing home care. The Community Choice Act would have amended the Social Security Act so that disabled people can use those funds to support them to live at home. More dignity for them, better for their local communities, and less expense for the taxpayer.

But now that he is in office, this does not seem to be such a high priority for Obama as it was when he was campaigning.

At least, not such a high priority as firing the CEO of General Motors, or threatening Chrysler lenders.

I am trying hard to imagine what the real Notre Dame, the Blessed Virgin Mary, would make of a Catholic university named in her honour, and I presume, relying on her patronage and intercession, inviting someone who publicy opposes Catholic teaching on the sancitity of human life to speak to students at commencement.

Speaking at commencement is about giving students direction for their lives as they complete their studies. At a Catholic university, or any Christian university,  it is also about the reason for those studies in the context of the needs of the world and the mission of the Church.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Notre Dame University is also presenting Obama with an honorary degree. For what? A book of memoirs written by Bill Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist?

Local diocesan bishop John D’Arcy said ‘President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.’

This support for the direct destruction of human life extends to withholding care from children born alive after an attempted abortion.

I am not a Catholic, and I find this baffling. It is hardly surprising that it has turned into a public relations disaster for both Notre Dame and the White House.

A petition of more than 300,000 signatures has been delivered to Notre Dame’s fellows and trustees, asking them to think again.

The University hoped to soften some of the (clearly unexpected – and that tells a story in itself) backlash by awarding the Laetare Medal to Mary Ann Glendon, a pro-life Harvard law professor.

It then announced: “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former US ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

But Glendon would not be used in this way, and said she would not accept the medal. This is the first time the award has been declined.

The always interesting Amy Welborn has posted a homily by Bishop Wenski, preached at a Mass of reparation prompted by Notre Dame’s decision to honour Obama.

In his homily Bishop Wenski says:

Notre-Dame chose to defy the Bishops of the United States who have said that “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

The hurt felt by many throughout the United States is real, for Notre-Dame’s actions, despite its protests to the contrary, seem to suggest that it wishes “to justify positions that contradict the faith and teachings of the church; to do so, as Pope Benedict reminded Catholic educators in Washington, DC last year “would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission.” At the very least, Notre-Dame’s actions suggest that, unlike a beauty queen from California, it lacks the courage of its convictions.

Some of the comments to this post on Amy’s blog are dismaying, if they come from Catholics. To paraphrase:

‘We live in a diverse society, and have to accept that others have beliefs which are different from our own.’

Yes, but accepting that others believe differently does not mean we have to deny what we believe.

‘We have to respect the views of others.’

Do we? Do we have to respect the views of a religious leader who says it is OK to have sex with a nine year old girl? Do we have to respect the views of a man who thinks it is his right to beat or rape his wife?

Then why do we have to respect the views of a man who thinks it OK to partially deliver a living human baby, and then crush its head?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma, recently returned from the UN’s Conference for Racism and Anti-Semitism, says that Australia’s indigenous people will be hardest hit by climate change.

If temperatures in North Queensland continue to rise, icebergs in the Torres Strait will begin to melt. This will result in dangerous sea level changes, distressing crocodiles and poisoning banana trees.

OK, you got me. He didn’t say that. But what did say was almost as ridiculous.

“According to all the experts, Australians will be hard hit by climate change and none more so than indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples are at risk of further economic marginalisation as well as perpetual dislocation from, and exploitation of their traditional lands, waters and natural resources.”

Wow. All the experts. It must be true then.

It isn’t clear how economic marginalisation, or exploitation of traditional lands and natural resources, could be made worse by climate change. And in any case, there is no evidence of sea levels rising at unusual rates, nor of changes in average temperatures in northern Australia, nor of any increase in extreme weather events.

But hey, Tom, don’t let that stop you.

Wait a minute. I thought women were going to be hardest hit by climate change. Or was it minorites? Or Africa? Or Southeast Asia? Or fish? Or formerly common species of salamander? Or snow?

Or beer?    Arrrgh! No! Australians must unite in demanding a stop to climate change now!

A $1.2 million arson attack on forestry equipment. Selfish, irresponsible, idiotic, criminal. But pretty much no risk of anyone being harmed.

But attaching wires to trees where loggers cannot see them to make those trees fall in ways loggers will be unable to predict?

MP Daniel Hulme claims activists have put lives at risk by setting up booby traps. He said they were to blame for a trap in the Styx Valley, which Forestry Tasmania said could have seriously injured or killed a timber faller.

A strand of fencing wire was strung between two trees in a forestry coupe last month, 30 metres above the ground so the wire could not be seen from the ground, Forestry Tasmania told police.

A contractor discovered the trap after a tree limb was snapped by the wire as a tree fell to the ground, fortunately missing the faller. Such traps redirect the path of falling trees or limbs, meaning workers, believing they are standing in a safe spot, can be struck.

This is a callous disregard for life – greenies believing their political views are so important that it doesn’t matter if workers are killed or injured.

I wonder what their views on waterboarding are?

In laboratory conditions, increases in the proportion of CO2 in air result in a small, but proportional increase in heat retention. It was reasonable to ask whether a similar effect might apply in the real world.

If increased CO2 was responsible for warming, then this warming would occur more quickly in the upper troposphere, and at the poles. This has not happened.

Most obviously, if human produced CO2 emissions had an effect on global climate, then there would be a correlation between changes in CO2 levels and changes in climate. No such correlation has been observed.

So we know, and have known for some years, that anthropogenic global warming theory is wrong.

Jennifer Marohasy has posted a discussion of the work of Hungarian physicist Ferenc Miskolczi which helps to clarify why it is wrong.

If more care had been taken with maths and research when the theory was first proposed, it would have been clear right from the start that it was wrong.

Some years ago this Hungarian physicist, then working for NASA, discovered a flaw in an equation used in the current climate models  discovered a flaw in how those constructing the IPCC climate models deal with the issue of the atmosphere’s boundary conditions.  In order to progress this research Dr Miskolczi eventually resigned from NASA claiming his supervisors at NASA tried to suppress discussion and publication of his findings which have since been published in IDŐJÁRÁS, The Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service.

The key point:

.. the Earth’s atmosphere dynamically keeps its greenhouse effect right at its critical value, regardless of our continuing CO2 emissions, regardless of any change in atmospheric CO2 concentration in the past ten thousand years. Miskolczi’s dynamic constraint keeps the greenhouse effect “climatically saturated”: emitting CO2 into the air cannot increase the normalized greenhouse factor g because any impact of human addition of CO2  is dynamically countered by about 1% decrease of the main greenhouse gas, water vapor (moisture) in the atmosphere.

In other words, changes in ‘greenhouse gases’ do not affect the climate because any increase in CO2 or other heat retaining gas causes a corresponding and counter-balancing reduction in the concentration of the main greenhouse gas – water vapour.

Global climate can and does and will change. This has been and will continue to be primarily because of changes in the amount of heat and light received from the sun.

The Rann government’s ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags starts today. I predict chaos and frustration at supermarkets around the state.

Tim Blair notes that the people who grow marijuana are subject to a fine of $300, while those who provide their customers with a plastic shopping bag are subject to a fine of $315.

This is a letter I wrote to my local paper about this late last year. ‘The Islander’ is the Kangaroo Island paper. The arguments still apply.

I am all in favour of more thought about environmental issues, including the use of plastic shopping bags.

Thinking without acting is pointless, but acting without thinking is dangerous.

A basic level of thinking is ensuring that one has one’s facts correct. Bernard Baruch once said “Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions. But no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.” Those who undertake to change public policy have a special responsibility to ensure they present their case fairly and without distortion.

This is one of the reasons I have become concerned about the debate over the use of plastic shopping bags.

Three weeks ago the front page of The Islander claimed that the government was going to ban single use polypropylene bags. This claim was repeated on page nine of the November 6th edition: “Old Bags Day is about shoppers saying no to single-use poly-propylene bags.”

I would wholeheartedly support a ban on single use polypropylene shopping bags. Polypropylene is a tough plastic which does not easily break down.

There is only one problem. The government is not proposing to ban single use polypropylene shopping bags, because single use polypropylene shopping bags have never been available in Australia. What the government is proposing to ban is light-weight polyethylene bags.

I was astonished to see, also in the November 6th edition of the Islander, a photo of a shop employee putting a product packaged in plastic into a reusable bag printed with the words “Put an end to plastic bags.”

This is almost beyond parody, given that the bag with these words printed on it is made of a highly durable plastic – about fifty times as much as plastic as a light-weight shopping bag. Just as astonishing was the caption “(the shop assistant) packs a reusable bag instead of using plastic.” No, the reusable bag is made of plastic.

Imagine this conversation. “So you’re going to ban light-weight plastic shopping bags to benefit the environment. Sounds great! What are you going to replace them with?”

 “Well, instead of giving people light-weight bags made in Australia, we are going to sell them bags which contain about fifty times as much plastic, of a type which takes much longer to break down, and which are made in China.”

“Oh.”

The argument is that because they last longer, re-usable plastic bags will in eventually result in less plastic waste.

The state government, on its Zero Waste website, thoughtfully tells us that its calculations of the environmental benefits of the ban are based on the assumption that one reusable polypropylene plastic bag will replace ten ordinary light-weight plastic bags each week for two years. Does this strike anyone else as manifestly ludicrous?

This means that if you take home ten bags of groceries and other products each week, the government’s case for banning light-weight bags is based on the assumption that from now on you will take all those groceries home in a single reusable “green” plastic bag.

A more reasonable estimate would be that each reusable plastic bag will replace two light-weight shopping bags a week for six months. At the end of the six months the total amount of plastic used is about the same.

But instead of light weight polyethylene mixed with starch or oxidising agents, which breaks down over 12 to 18 months, you are left with a dense mass of polypropylene which may take up to 1000 years to break down.

But it gets worse. Once ordinary shopping bags are replaced by denser reusable plastic bags, people will have to buy other plastic bags; bin liners, dog poo bags, nappy bags, etc to replace the light-weight shopping bags they used to re-use for those purposes. The end result is more plastic waste, not less, much of it a harder plastic to dispose of.

People are right to be concerned about the impact of plastic waste on wildlife. Plastic shopping bags are a very small part of this problem. Of course any wildlife lost to plastic bags is unacceptable. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that the best solution is to ban them, any more than rusting car bodies left in the bush is a reason to ban motor vehicles.

Instead, we should ensure that litter regulations, and the already stringent international laws banning the disposal of plastic at sea to which our government is a party, are rigorously enforced.

Don’t be bullied into a “solution” which is inconvenient, more expensive and offers no benefits to the environment.

Former US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice talks with students at Stanford University.

As always, she is intelligent, dignified, respectful of others. She respects the students who question her enough to listen to them, and to give straight answers to their (often poorly informed) questions.

 

Key moments:

First, do what’s right…

Unless you were there in a position of responsibility after September 11 you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that we faced in trying to protect Americans. A lot of people are second guessing now but let me tell you the second guessing that would have hurt me more is if there had been 3,000 more Americans dying because we didn’t do everything we could to protect them…

Do your homework…    Read….

In relation to waterboarding, etc:

1) Torture is illegal in the US.

2) The President made it clear that no matter how urgent the need to protect the US from further attacks, anything that was to be done had to be legal.

And 99 more awesome thoughts about the 100 days of awesomeness, from Doubleplusundead.

Here’s a sample:

12 When his wife twisted off the Queen of England’s head like a beer cap, he reattached it with nothing more than the sweat of his brow
13 You can see his awesomeness from space
14 He fires CEOs like other presidents change socks
15 He can hold two contradictory opinions and still be the model of consistency
16 White House maids report that the Presidential Toilet smells like roses and honey even when he forgets to flush
17 He encourages hate-mongers to moderate themselves via his silent presence, like he did at the Summit of the Americas.  Or in his church.

“This is a modest number,” said Huang Yueqin, the director of the National Centre for Mental Health.

Mental illness has now overtaken heart disease and cancer as the biggest burden on the Chinese health system, according to the World Health Organisation.

Does this mean that one in every thirty people in the world is a mentally ill Chinese?

And why do socialist dictatorships have such high rates of mental ilness?

I like the Dixie Chicks, even though their politics are entirely unrelated to reality.

This song, though, could be a message from the free world to terrorists everywhere.

Not Ready To Make Nice.

I love this clip.

World Wide Words defines a snollygoster as ‘a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician.’ 

Snollygoster has not been heard much for the last sixty years.

President Truman used it in 1952, and defined it, either in ignorance or impishness, as “a man born out of wedlock”.

Many people put him right, some quoting this definition from the Columbus Dispatch of October 1895, with its splendid last phrase in the spirit of the original: “A Georgia editor kindly explains that ‘a snollygoster is a fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principles, and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnacy’.

Remind you of anyone? It’s been used of Arlen Specter (well, by me, anyway), but I was thinking of someone else.

It’s no surprise that snollygoster is making a come-back.

A few people, including Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt, have picked up these comments from Sir Michael Caine, originally published in the  UK Telegraph:

The Government has taken tax up to 50 per cent, and if it goes to 51 I will be back in America,” he said at the weekend. “We’ve got 3.5 million layabouts on benefits, and I’m 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them. Let’s get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it up.”

Sir Michael is a perfect example of someone who came from nowhere and got somewhere, by thinking, planning and working.

Lots of people don’t like to think or work, and would rather imagine that the poverty and dullness of their lives is caused by people with money keeping them down, or by bad luck, or indeed by anything except the likely real causes, stupidity and laziness.

The best hope for people who are in that situation is not to have some bleating social worker pat them on the hand and say ‘There, there, it’s not your fault, the system is keeping you down, you never had a chance.’

Sir Michael and thousands of migrants to Australia prove that no matter what your background, you can succeed if you are willing to think and work hard.

People who are unhappy, poor, lonely, need to hear that in many cases their unpleasant situation is a result of choices they have made. And (and this is something that really is empowering) that they can change their situation by changing those choices. That is, if they want things to be different, they have to act differently.

Gordon Brown’s (UK) and Kevin Rudd’s (Australia) government do not see things in that way. Both seem to be driven by resentment of people who have worked hard and done well.

Both Brown and Rudd are determined to introduce tax regimes which will undermine future economic development. Those regimes will undermine development by taking so much of the income of those who risk money they have saved for years, mortgage their homes, etc, to develop new ideas and new businesses, that no sensible person would bother.

 Or if you were going to bother, you would go to some other country to do it.

Such policies are economic suicide. Taxes come from successful, profitable businesses, and the people they employ. Without profitable businesses, there is no tax income. If there is no tax income there is no legislature,  no infrastructure, no social services.

Today marks 100 days of President Barack Obama.

Yes, I know. So many people are talking about this it is getting boring already.

Nonetheless, lots of valuable information at Policy Watch, including this graph:

Obama's 100 Day Spending Spree

Obama's 100 Day Spending Spree

Somebody take back the credit cards!

Further news:

1.  In the US, NBC, CBS and ABC will screen Obama’s 100 day press conference. Fox will stick to its normal programming, screening the show ‘Lie to Me.’  Much mirth follows, as some commentators suggest it might be difficult to tell the difference.

2.  White House staffer Robert Gibbs tells reporters they have earned a ‘strong A’ for their reporting on Obama’s first 100 days. In related news, circulation of US newspapers falls at unprecedented rates in the first three months of this year. Via Small Dead Animals.

Michelle Malkin has some interesting, and snarky, comments about the first 100 days, as well as the Scare Force One story:

Come on, who’s surprised? The White House-engineered photo-op of low-flying Air Force aircraft that caused terror in New York City this week epitomizes the Age of Obama. What better way to mark 100 days in office than with an appalling exercise in pointless, taxpayer-funded stagecraft.

The superficiality, the unseriousness, the hubris, the obliviousness to post-9/11 realities: They were trademarks of the Obama campaign and they are the tattoos on his governance.

He never leaves home without his teleprompter. All the Obama world’s a stage. Or a world ready to be staged.

Except that it isn’t.

Nick Xenophon has called the increased allowance a back door pay rise, but he knows very well it is not. That is just popularist grandstanding.

It is an increase of 17% in their electorate allowance. MPs cannot use that money as disposable income. It must be used to meet the cost of providing services in their electorate. A large part of what (good) MPs do is provide an information and advocacy service to people in their area.

17% may sound a lot, but this is the first increase in the allowance since 2000. If it were a pay rise for teachers or dockers, I doubt their unions would consider this an adequate increase over the same period.

“Australians have two choices,” said Coalition spokesman on matters of state, Michael Ronaldson. “MPs either set their own terms and conditions or an independent umpire does. I suspect the community would be very much in favour of the latter.”

It’s just that the timing could have been better.

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