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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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.

This will be my last post on this subject.

I have not read Anita Heiss’s book Am I Black Enough For You?, so I cannot comment on its literary merits.

But there seems to be to be a very clear difference between those who have left negative reviews on its Amazon page, and those who have left positive reviews.

It is not clear that the writers of the negative reviews have all read the book. Some are concerned about the quality of the writing, others about politics, the hypocrisy of the title, the shutting down of any response to Anita Heiss and her arguments. Some are quite forceful. A very few contain personal criticism of Anita or other Amazon reviewers. Even fewer could be considered mildly racist, in that they appear to make assumptions about aboriginal people as a whole. But in general, the negative reviews are well-written, thoughtful, and about the book.

The five and four star reviews are not. There is very little comment about the book and its merits, and rather more discussion of what a vile person Andrew Bolt is, and how the controversy is all his fault, and anyone who wants to ask the same questions he did must be one of his trolls and a racist.

I have copied below one review and the comments which followed. They seem to me to summarise the methods of both sides of the debate.

For more, see my earlier posts on Andrew Bolt’s trial, and Anita Heiss’s book.

Miriam Dorset

Five Star Reviews Are Politically Motivated

It is simply impossible that anyone who has read this book could give it five stars, or even four. This is the second of Heiss’s books I have read. The other was Manhattan Dreaming. On the Kindle page for that book she is described as the “best-selling author of Not Meeting Mr Right and Avoiding Mr Right.” But look at the sales figures for her books. Manhattan Dreaming is ranked 258,720th. In other words, two of Heiss’s friends have read it, and me. She writes at the same level as a moderately talented high school student. Her writing style is awkward and her plots are predictable. If she were male you’d call them puerile. I didn’t review Manhattan Dreaming because when I got to the end of it I had already given it far more time than it deserved. I could not finish “Am I Black Enough for You?” It is a trivial, self-obsessed book. The book makes it clear that Heiss, not mainstream Australia, is obsessed with notions of identity.

In 2010 Heiss was awarded $90,000 by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board to produce two non-fiction books – a collection of essays and a memoir. She has no reputation as an essayist. Am I Black Enough For You? is the memoir. On the Random House website she describes the hardships she had to endure while living in Paris at tax payers’ expense:

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!

Ms Heiss has made her race a matter of public interest, because she has claimed awards and benefits on the basis of race. The public is entitled to ask whether money given in grants, awards or benefits is going to the people for whom it was intended. She, and now the Australian ABC and her publishers, Random House, have attempted to shut down any discussion of this with which she does not agree. If it were not for this controversy, I suspect this book, like her others, would be languishing at 250,000th on Kindle, and in remainder bins at any shop silly enough to have bought it.

randr says: Great review. I also have read a couple of Heiss’s books, out of curiosity only as the genre of the books she writes are not to my taste. Regardless of any other issues she is a poor writer who I suspect would not normally get a look in by any publishing company. I’m sure she has valid points to make but is not skilled or imaginative enough to do herself justice. In many ways it’s a shame that she has generated all this response as her writing doesn’t warrant it.

Simon Santoro says: It is pretty clear that anyone who answers Anita’s question the wrong way, or even wonders about whether she is entitled to the benefits she claims, is going to be labelled racist scum or worse, or described as a hater or a blind Bolter. Silly. If there are issues here – and Anita has raised them in her book’s title – why not have a sensible exchange of views without calling people names?

The real point for potential buyers is simply that this is a dud book – boring, predictable, narcissistic.

Matthew says: Simon, if you have an opinion that is informed by facts and doesn’t resort to stereotypes and generalisation, then let’s hear it.

The problem with so many of the comments here are that they’re written by people who (a) have never read the original articles (eg people who claim they just “asked questions” or “didn’t attack anybody” or refuse to accept that there were stunning inaccuracies), (b) don’t understand (or haven’t even looked at) the case and judgement against bolt (eg people who think the judge inferred things that weren’t in the articles, or that it was all subjective or that he was only found guilty because he got irrelevant things wrong or because he was rude – all false), (c) think that there are now “illegal topics” or “illegal opinions” in australia (there aren’t – not only are mainstream newspapers – including The Oz – talking about them, the judge specifically said that he wasn’t setting a precedent to prevent discussion about anything), (d) think that andrew bolt has been “silenced” in some way (god forbid!), (e) think that he has been treated unfairly because the plaintiffs wouldn’t have won a defamation suit and took the soft option (almost certainly not true, not at all) or (f) actually believe the inferences made in those articles in the first place (a very misinformed decision).

So we get angry remarks based on misinformation by people who don’t know any of the facts of the stories, the case, the law or the truth behind the articles. They make angry generalisations that try to pin blame for serious problems on a selection of aboriginal people who – purely on the basis of skin colour and what they might happen to believe about their life story – are undeserving. And these are people whom practically nobody here would have even HEARD of had they not featured in a series of bogus articles and decided not to take the abuse lying down.

So sure, if you think you’re not one of those people, and you think you’ve got the bases covered, then let’s hear it. I promise not to call you racist

Simon Santoro says: Matthew you seem to have taken up a position as permanent Amazon commenter. I don’t have that much time. I did read Bolt’s blog posts, I followed the trial with interest, and read articles from both sides of politics afterwards. I think I am reasonably well informed on the issues. I am not quite sure why you make the assumption that anyone who sees things differently from you must be either ignorant, an idiot or a racist. The simple point is that regardless of the politics, this is a tedious, self-righteous and self-obsessed book.

Mal says: That’s right folks, Miriam Dorset must be right, because all those 1 star reviews couldn’t possibly be politically motivated could they? No, of course not. Especially since they rapidly went up after a certain Mr Andrew Bolt made an issue of it on his blog. Humbug! By the way, Miriam, you and a load of others around here obviously don’t understand that free speech generally doesn’t apply to the comment pages of corporate bodies. If it did, you and I would have blogs and columns and paychecks alongside Andrew Bolt. As to this “Ms Heiss has made her race a matter of public interest, because the public is entitled to ask whether money given in grants, awards or benefits is going to the people for whom it was intended.” – No, Miriam, Mr Bolt made it an issue by not properly researching his original articles (all of which can be read), getting a judgement against him for breaching the Racial Vilification Act, and now urging his witless followers in the most craven fashion to do his bidding for him. Finally I see that you are following the herd instinct her by attacking the person rather than reading the book.

Mal says: Stop being such a troll, Simon. In this post you are quite happily involved in the very abuse you are saying others are engaged in. And you do it in such a sneaky nasty way, don’t you. All this oleaginous concern about calling people names and then your last little piece of invective.

Simon Santoro says: I have read the book. I consider it to be poorly written and of little value. How is saying so abusive? There is a difference between discussion and criticism of a book – that is what these forums are for – and hurling abuse at people who do not share your view.

Mal says: Yes and you obviously followed his coded instruction to get on here and condemn the book, Mr Troll.

Miriam Dorset says: I am sorry my review has caused so much angst.

I wanted to make two points which seemed uncontroversial to me.

First, that by any normal measure, this is not a good book, either in insights or literary merit. This cannot be contentious for anyone who has actually read the book.

Second, when taxpayers fund special benefits or awards for people of a particular race, height, hair colour or whatever, they entitled to ask whether those who receive those benefits are the people for whom they were intended. In other words, if you claim publicly funded awards because of your race, then your race becomes a matter of public interest. Again, I cannot see how this is contentious. Nor can I see why making this point should justify such rage.

It also seems odd to me that the people who are asking why race should make any difference, and suggesting awards and benefits should be offered on the basis of merit or need are being called racists, while those who demand special privileges for themselves or others on the basis of race seem to assume a moral superiority which justifies insulting anyone who disagrees.

Cameron Dale says:

Yes – thankyou. It really is that simple:

1. This is not a good book, by any standard.

2. Race is only an issue because Anita has made it one.

Mal says: 1. Whose standard? yours and miriam actually – there isn’t any agreed upon standard about what constitutes a good book.

2. Wrong – Andrew Bolt made this and issue. The books is a partial response to that.

Mal says: Interesting that the proponents of “free speech” here are doing their best to cover up the speech of people who disagree with them.

Mal says: Watch out, folks that doyen of literary taste arbiters, miriam dorset has spoken. She has said there is no literary merit in the writing – so there mustn’t be – because miriam said it, and miriam is…Actually what are your qualifications miriam?

Mal says: And quit it with the phoney apologies while you’re at it, miriam. I also not a tone of moral superiority in your last comment.

Miriam Dorset says: If you think I am wrong, Mal, please feel free to quote some passages you think are especially insightful or well-written. I am happy to be convinced.

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!

Our State member Michael Pengilly is in the news again, having suggested in Parliament yesterday that Minister for Transport Chloe Fox should be put down.

Chloe Fox is an airhead. Her only experience in the transport industry is watching school crossings. Making her Minster for Transport makes as much sense as making Noddy Minister for Health.

But there she is, Chloe Fox, Minister for Transport. One of two things must be true. The state Labor Party is simply contemptuous of the people of South Australia, or their ranks are so lacking in talent that they have no choice but to put a teeny-bopper in one the state’s most responsible executive positions.

Michael Pengilly is right to say that Chloe is out of her depth. She’d be out of her depth in a wading pool.

If an animal was as completely confused, lost and miserable as Chloe, you might come to the conclusion that it should be put down.

No one would even have noticed if Michael had made this remark about other (male) Labor ministers like Robert Rau or Paul Caica. No problem at all.

But Chloe is a girl. Sexist, isn’t it?

The utterly unattractive Catherine Deveny shines again in her tweets about the LNP victory:

Queensland, beautiful one day, run but (sic) right winged maggots the next

Perhaps they should now rename Queensland ‘Cuntsland’

Shit for education, human rights,health, the disabled, the disadvantaged, sluts, homos and queue jumpers…but great for comedy

Like Anna Bligh with her misapprehension of how ordinary Queenslanders would respond to her slagging of Campbell Newman and his family, Catherine cannot seem to understand that most Australians do not find her regular droppings of hatefulness amusing or clever. Just nasty and childish.

Campbell Newman will win Ashgrove, and the Liberal National Party will win the election so comfortably they won’t even notice it going down.

As they should. Like the federal Labor Party, Anna Bligh has nothing but failure to offer in terms of policy and outcomes.

She seems to have believed that a few nasty allegations about Campbell Newman, made on the basis of no evidence whatever, would distract voters and incline them to vote for her. She could only have been assuming that Queensland voters are much like her. She has seriously misunderestimated the people of Queensland.

Campbell Newman will be a good premier. He is compassionate, speaks well, has years of administrative experience, and understands how wealth is generated.

He is not a social conservative. But for now, I am happy to settle for a fiscal conservative who is also a good leader and an honest man.

As for tonight’s results, the outcome will be roughly 69 for the LNP, 14 for Labor, 4 for Bob Katter’s Australian Party, and two independents.

I notice that Laurie Oakes has written an article about Labor’s collapse in Queensland without suggesting it is all Tony Abbott’s fault. He even draws parallels between Bligh’s prevarications and Gillard’s. Well done Laurie!

6.00pm in Queensland. Exit polls are suggesting an even bigger swing against Labor than the 10% I figured in my predictions. It is possible Labor could win less than ten seats. That would be an unprecedented humiliation for a major Australian party, and a kick in the head for the federal Labor Party and the Prime Minister.

7.15pm in Qld. This is not just a landslide, it’s a meltdown. Congratulations Campbell Newman and the LNP. Rudd has been in the limelight in Qld over the last few days. Without his campaigning things might have been even worse for Labor. Julia Gillard must be worried now.

7.45pm. The ABC is now predicting 75 seats for the LNP and 10 for Labor. Ouch! The key ALP seats of Nudgee, Logan and Ipswich look almost certain to go the LNP. Anna Bligh looks likely to hang on (just – with Greens preferences) in South Brisbane. Overall a slight fall in votes for the Greens. Interesting.

8.15pm. The ABC now predicting 77 for the LNP, 8 for Labor. Even Stretton, held with a 9.5% margin, will fall to the LNP. Woodridge, held by the ALP with a 24% margin, had a swing to the LNP of over 20%. Overall, the swing against Labor is holding steady at just under 16%. Deputy Premier and Treasurer Andrew Fraser is gone. Hard to feel sad about that.

9pm. Rob Katter has taken Mt Isa from the ALP. A mighty win for Bob Katter’s son in what has long been a Labor stronghold. The LNP might even win Mackay, depending on the strength of Katter preferences. Unthinkable until tonight. It looks like the LNP’s Anne Maddern has taken Maryborough from independent Chris Foley. Mixed feelings about that one – Chris is a decent bloke and has worked hard for Maryborough. It looks like Rob Messenger in Burnett made a bad choice when he resigned from the National Party to stand as an independent. Burnett will go the LNP on Katter preferences. The ABC now predicting 78 to 7, with 4 to Katter and the independents. The Greens still slightly down overall. No seats for them. Bob will be disappointed.

9.45pm. It’s all over. The worst defeat for a governing party in Australia’s history. The ABC is still predicting 78 to 7. Labor’s 7 includes Bulimba, which I think is too close to call and may yet go to the LNP’s Aaron Dillaway, who is ahead 3% on primary votes, and Mackay, which as mentioned above, may still go to the LNP on Katter preferences. The end result could easily be 79 to 6, with two for Katter and two independents. (A later note – I was wrong about this. The ABC’s prediction is for Labor to win one of Bulimba or Mackay, not both, so the end figure probably will be 78 to 7). I was way off with 69 to 14. But I don’t think anyone realised till tonight just how smelly the Labor brand has become.

Gracious comments from Campbell Newman, thanking Anna Bligh for her service to Queensland:

“Particularly, I think it’s appropriate this evening that we all thank her and acknowledge her inspirational leadership during the 2011 floods and Cyclone Yasi,” he said. “I also want to acknowledge my opponent Kate Jones, for her services to the people of Ashgrove since she has been elected member.”

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.

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.’

The Australian Labor Party is the girls’ team on Celebrity Apprentice, and Lisa Lampanelli is Kevin Rudd in drag.

Kevin Rudd / Lisa Lampenelli

Lisa Lampanelli / Kevin Rudd

Something is coming that will leave the world a different place. Not something wicked perhaps, though made necessary by wickedness. Certainly something sad, bad and dangerous.

I wrote a couple of days ago about what I thought was a likely sequence of events leading to a major war in the Middle East in 2012.

The initiating factor (underlaid, as always, by longstanding hostility and mistrust) is the imposition of stronger sanctions against Iran.

President Barack Obama has just signed into US law the strongest sanctions yet against any trade with Iran’s central bank. These sanctions are not only against Iran, but against any country which trades with Iran through its central bank. The US is effectively saying, you either trade with us or Iran. You can’t trade with both.

Meanwhile, the EU continues to consider sanctions specifically against Iranian oil. EU foreign ministers will meet again on January 30th to try again to formalise an agreement.

When imposed, those sanctions will cause huge difficulties for Greece, because Iran is the only major oil exporter still willing to offer Greece credit. Greece will need to be plied with promises of support and energy supply before it will agree. Some of those promises will not be kept, because when the time for payment comes, countries that made the promises will be in such financial straits they will be struggling to pay their own energy bills.

Meanwhile, Iran is flexing its muscles in the Straits of Hormuz, test firing a new medium range anti-radar missile, a weapon that could strike a US aircraft carrier, or more easily, other major shipping including oil tankers carrying Saudi or Kuwaiti oil.

Europe is weak. It has spent the last twenty years undermining the strength of its democracies and economies, and handing power to a bunch of mealy mouthed bureaucrats.

The US is economically weaker than at any time since the 1930s, and is lead by an ineffective and ill-informed president.

The West, in the sense of the world’s liberal democracies, will win. But the fight will be economically crippling, and tragically costly in human life.

I am not sure ‘earns’ is the right word, but it is, as Governor General Quentin Bryce noted in her congratulations to John Howard, ‘a rare and singular honour for his service to Australia.’

It is rare in that only 24 persons can be members at any one time (other members include Baroness Thatcher, Prince Charles, and Tom Stoppard), and singular in that he is the only Australian politician to whom this honour has ever been granted. Other Australians admitted to the Order of Merit include Howard Florey, Sidney Nolan and Joan Sutherland.

If you are not sure why he deserved to be honoured in this way, why not buy his autobiography?

The Kindle edition is only $15.25. It is a great read. Not only is Howard a good writer, but he is consistently fair to both colleagues and political opponents.

I wholeheartedly wish and pray for my readers and all people of goodwill, a happy, purposeful, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

But I don’t think it is going to happen.

Over the last six years the UN Security Council has passed four resolutions calling for economic sanctions against Iran, primarily relating to trade in nuclear technology. Various individual countries including the US and Australia have imposed wider sanctions. The US sanctions amount to an almost complete ban on any financial interaction with Iran.

These sanctions are motivated by disgust with a violent and oppressive regime, by growing concern over Iran’s refusal to wind back its nuclear programme, by Iran’s support for terrorist groups, and its threats against other nations.

Iran’s economy depends almost entirely on oil. EU foreign ministers, along with the US, Canada, Japan and Australia and other nations, have begun to wonder whether the only way to to encourage regime change without military intervention, or at least, to force Iran to shut down its nuclear programme, is to impose even tighter sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.

This would bring Iran’s economy to a grinding halt. Iran has said it will regard such sanctions as an act of war. It has promised that if oil sanctions are tightened, it will close the Straits of Hormuz. It could easily do so. The Straits are only about thirty miles wide.

Closing the Straits of Hormuz will not only stop the movement of Iran’s oil, but also most of Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s oil, and that of some smaller states like the UAE and Kuwait. About 35% of the world’s oil travels through the Straits of Hormuz on its way to Europe, Asia and the Americas.

If tighter oil sanctions are imposed and remain in place for any length of time, Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs will believe they have nothing to lose. Even allowing for Russia’s likely refusal to co-operate, Iran will become unstable, and regime change will be inevitable. Iran is unlikely to back down from its threat.

Industrial nations will not be able to accept a 35% reduction in world oil supplies. The Saudis will not tolerate a complete stop to their oil exports.

Military intervention will become inevitable. Barack Obama has seen Wag the Dog. He will be desperate to look strong and decisive.

Iran will resist any foreign forces on its territory, and they will not hesitate to use chemical or any other weapons at their disposal. They will also attack Israel, in an attempt to draw other islamic nations into the conflict. This did not work when Saddam Hussein tried it. Given Iran’s influence in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and now Egypt, it may well work when they try it.

There is a strong possibility of a major war in the Middle East in 2012.

It certainly isn’t getting any warmer here, with the coolest start to Summer in Australia for the last fifty years. But according to the alarmists, that’s just weather.

Ed Caryl suggests that most of the land based warming recorded in the USA over the last 60 years can be traced to the influence of nearby heated buildings, with measuring stations more than 100 metres away from a heated building showing cooling rather than warming over the same period.

As can be seen on the plot, town population made almost no difference to the trend. The dots are nearly completely random with respect to population. On the other hand, the distance from a heated dwelling made a much larger difference. The two coolest sites were more than 100 meters from the nearest building. Within the population limits of this study, the Urban Warming Influence is simply the distance to the nearest heated building, not the size of the city.

This phenomenon is the reason for much of the Arctic warming. Urban Warming in the Arctic, and indeed in the Antarctic, is an occupied-building-to-temperature-sensor distance problem. In the polar regions, the temperature differential between occupied buildings and the outdoor temperature sensors is much greater than in the temperate mid-west U. S., so the distance must be greater to avoid the UWI problem. But man doesn’t like digging long cable trenches in ice or permafrost (it’s like concrete!), or walking long distances in –40° weather, so the measurements are not done properly.

It is clear to this author that measured “Global Warming” is simply due to increasing nearby energy use and the temperature sensor proximity to the resulting heat.

In other words, as Ed himself points out, if you heat up your thermometers, you will find warming.