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BLOGGING AND COMMENTING September 30, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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The lack of comments on this blog is not so significant as the lack of readers, although, despite my promotion, I am continually astonished that there are any. Then again, I do not have to do much to make the figures look better. After all why should not the virtual duckpond emulate its actual inspiration. You have to walk through the bush and up the escarpment to find it. If I look at google to find this site, it is like looking on a map for the duck ponds on the escarpment.

My purpose is quality (doh!) rather than quantity. As you will appreciate that in itself is a challenge, and doubtless will ever be so, which I think is a good state. By its very nature, the duckpond abhors the vacuum of quacking, other than by ducks. I cannot see any point in flaming, ranting and personal abuse. However, it is appropriate to attack political leaders, without regard to political persuasion who unconscionably lie and mislead the electorates. As I have mentioned before, we might expect politicians to lie, and at times it may be justified. For example, Winston Churchill had to be careful in what he said when Britain was in “her darkest hour”, but we can also appreciate that he maintained trust, in that when he good news to report he would be believed. There is no comparison with the would be Churchills – Bush and Howard.

John Howard copes a lot of abuse here, not because of vindictive of him as a person, but because of anger and concern at the implications of his actions. Still I have never believed that removing Howard will wholly remove the problem. Modern governments have their army of spin doctors, media managers and content producers who operate as quasi-public servants and political operators. Spin is as old as rhetoric and rhetoric has always been part of representative democracy, which sets up systems of government.

To suggest as Karl Rove has that politics is television with the sound turned off is anti-democratic. The blogsphere opens the possibility for direct democracy, that component of the democratic process, the discipline of dialogue implying the faith that all can participate, with the individual possibility of value, but not the assumption that it will be inevitably be so. The town hall meetings in New England were closed down by the British before the Revolution, a source of grievance for some but not for all of the American colonies, and so did not find its way into Jefferson’s list.

As I understand the forums of direct democracy must co-exist and interact with the mass media and the institutions an processes of representative democracy, which are in constant need of reform and revitalization, but can never be made perfect. To me, as I write, this reinforces the personal standards of our representatives in regard to trust and truth, and given the power of the office, albeit a function of political skill of the office holder, the particular responsibility of the Prime Minister.

The comment opinion is important, even as in this case it is almost never employed. Comments seem to be a function of the number of readers. John Quiggin and Chris Sheil, to use two examples, have a high rate of hits, although there are relatively few commentors. Why so? The assumption of anonymity helps overcome the fear of commenting is a fear of seeming stupid or misinformed. Most of my comments are passed by, and I expect that to happen. The opposite is also seen of brazen affrontedness, wrapped in prejudice. I think my comments tend to a predictable course.

The interactive nature of the comments are a distinguishing feature of blogs, and potential superior to the edited letters to the editor. Individual insight is rarer than I, for one, give it credit. We will probably see more and better by engaging with others, and in fact, that is the way we mostly learn. This point has been suggested again to me by Arthur Herman’s The Scottish Enlightenment (Harper Collins, 2001), in which a history which I have a very general knowledge is from what I can judge so far written by a new perspective, including mention of MacArthur and Macquarie and influencing Australia.

The blogsphere is a diverse territory. There is I hope a place for a backwater.

Since I have to rewrite this again starting from scratch, because for some reason blogger went down, I cannot think of anything more to say. But over to you . . .

BLOGGING AND COMMENTING September 30, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
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The lack of comments on this blog is not so significant as the lack of readers, although, despite my promotion, I am continually astonished that there are any. Then again, I do not have to do much to make the figures look better. After all why should not the virtual duckpond emulate its actual inspiration. You have to walk through the bush and up the escarpment to find it. If I look at google to find this site, it is like looking on a map for the duck ponds on the escarpment.

My purpose is quality (doh!) rather than quantity. As you will appreciate that in itself is a challenge, and doubtless will ever be so, which I think is a good state. By its very nature, the duckpond abhors the vacuum of quacking, other than by ducks. I cannot see any point in flaming, ranting and personal abuse. However, it is appropriate to attack political leaders, without regard to political persuasion who unconscionably lie and mislead the electorates. As I have mentioned before, we might expect politicians to lie, and at times it may be justified. For example, Winston Churchill had to be careful in what he said when Britain was in “her darkest hour”, but we can also appreciate that he maintained trust, in that when he good news to report he would be believed. There is no comparison with the would be Churchills – Bush and Howard.

John Howard copes a lot of abuse here, not because of vindictive of him as a person, but because of anger and concern at the implications of his actions. Still I have never believed that removing Howard will wholly remove the problem. Modern governments have their army of spin doctors, media managers and content producers who operate as quasi-public servants and political operators. Spin is as old as rhetoric and rhetoric has always been part of representative democracy, which sets up systems of government.

To suggest as Karl Rove has that politics is television with the sound turned off is anti-democratic. The blogsphere opens the possibility for direct democracy, that component of the democratic process, the discipline of dialogue implying the faith that all can participate, with the individual possibility of value, but not the assumption that it will be inevitably be so. The town hall meetings in New England were closed down by the British before the Revolution, a source of grievance for some but not for all of the American colonies, and so did not find its way into Jefferson’s list.

As I understand the forums of direct democracy must co-exist and interact with the mass media and the institutions an processes of representative democracy, which are in constant need of reform and revitalization, but can never be made perfect. To me, as I write, this reinforces the personal standards of our representatives in regard to trust and truth, and given the power of the office, albeit a function of political skill of the office holder, the particular responsibility of the Prime Minister.

The comment opinion is important, even as in this case it is almost never employed. Comments seem to be a function of the number of readers. John Quiggin and Chris Sheil, to use two examples, have a high rate of hits, although there are relatively few commentors. Why so? The assumption of anonymity helps overcome the fear of commenting is a fear of seeming stupid or misinformed. Most of my comments are passed by, and I expect that to happen. The opposite is also seen of brazen affrontedness, wrapped in prejudice. I think my comments tend to a predictable course.

The interactive nature of the comments are a distinguishing feature of blogs, and potential superior to the edited letters to the editor. Individual insight is rarer than I, for one, give it credit. We will probably see more and better by engaging with others, and in fact, that is the way we mostly learn. This point has been suggested again to me by Arthur Herman’s The Scottish Enlightenment (Harper Collins, 2001), in which a history which I have a very general knowledge is from what I can judge so far written by a new perspective, including mention of MacArthur and Macquarie and influencing Australia.

The blogsphere is a diverse territory. There is I hope a place for a backwater.

Since I have to rewrite this again starting from scratch, because for some reason blogger went down, I cannot think of anything more to say. But over to you . . .

DECISIONS OF INFAMY September 29, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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There obviously has to be a process of checking refugees. Their backgrounds and stories have to be cross-checked. The sources for doing this, may be subject to limitations, such as language and cultural values, which means that the interlocutors may be missing the importance of what the refugee is saying and claiming. I would like to think, being a left wing liberal, which is a personality descriptor, that refugees should be treated like the batsmen in cricket, they should be given the benefit of the doubt. I recognise the value of other personalities who look coldly at the facts. Still I would like to believe that Australia, if not the government, has a commitment to humanitarian values. To send 35 out of 41 people back into “dangerous situations” as this report by the Edmund Rice Centre and The Australian Catholic University suggest a complete lack of compassion, or at least a grave deficiency in the process.

The report goes on to suggest that the practices of the department are almost calculated to cause the asylum seekers/refugees harm

HEALTH REPORT September 29, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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The operation I had at a public hospital was successful. My enlarged spleen was removed, and apparently only just through the incision that had been cut. I am horrified at the larger cut that the surgeon and the hemotologist tell would otherwise have to be made. Bottom line, at this time, the reason for my enlarged spleen is not known for sure. I understand a literature search is to be undertaken. The good news was that I did not have lymphoma, even as all the indications from what I had been told pointed that way.

My case was more the exception than the rule in relation to the cancer fear. All of which goes to the subtlety and difficulty of diagnosis. It is true that when I realized that I would lose it, and after some appreciation for the first time what a spleen was, I did become attached to it, however on the balance of expert medical advice, and my own sense it was a problem helped me to commit to its removal.

While I was in hospital some students nurses came around and questioned me about my operation. I think they were somewhat sceptical about the consultation process. However, I would say that I had been living with the awareness of the problem for eighteen months or more. I had recognized there was a problem I did not understand. The worst part was when I took this to a GP, it was not recognized for what it was. To be told do some exercises and you will be right, was soon disproved. It is disconcerting to know there is a problem that I could not understand, and then not to get the recognition. I was angry. I was lucky that I went to a doctor at a Medical Centre who referred me to a Cardiologist who then authorized a range of tests, including CT (Computerised Tomography) which identified the enlarged spleen. I was then, at my discretion, referred to a hemotologist. When surgery was organized, I then went to a local GP who took up my case. In our area, for sick leave, in my experience, the doctor of choice is often completely booked.

Post Script:

Many of the nurses, at this hospital, if I am not mistaken, were working on a casual basis. My understanding is that the employment practices associated with casualization have been permitted by the State Industrial Relations Act.

DECISIONS OF INFAMY September 29, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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There obviously has to be a process of checking refugees. Their backgrounds and stories have to be cross-checked. The sources for doing this, may be subject to limitations, such as language and cultural values, which means that the interlocutors may be missing the importance of what the refugee is saying and claiming. I would like to think, being a left wing liberal, which is a personality descriptor, that refugees should be treated like the batsmen in cricket, they should be given the benefit of the doubt. I recognise the value of other personalities who look coldly at the facts. Still I would like to believe that Australia, if not the government, has a commitment to humanitarian values. To send 35 out of 41 people back into “dangerous situations” as this report by the Edmund Rice Centre and The Australian Catholic University suggest a complete lack of compassion, or at least a grave deficiency in the process.

The report goes on to suggest that the practices of the department are almost calculated to cause the asylum seekers/refugees harm

OPINION FOLLOWERS September 29, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Following from my previous posting, the answer is that I do not know. This ignorance does not justify the mixed metaphor and strangled syntax of my posting today at Back Pages:

I am in agreement with tb and others.I think that Latham will come out his launch looking good. He can take Howard’s ground away in terms of economic management and the terrorist fear.This, I believe, is critical. Maybe he has to take other positions, for example the Federal Government effectively taking over health, to confirm the momentum of the rolling maul, with options to snipe around the sides and attack out wide. Latham can position himself with the mood change in the electorate at large,[for which I have no evidence] that will like a tide flow through to the swinging voters who will be caught up in the groundswell. After nine (?) years, Howard has the disadvantage of incumbency. Hope and the realization of success are my touchstones.

I still think, despite lack of comment, other than a statement of over optimism, not doubt true that the points are valid:

1. Howard’s case for re-election has not been convincing. The sound or prudent economic management, with obverse cruelty to the less advantaged, has been undermined by his splurge. The terrorism thing was a fiasco, if not treason.

2. Health was clearly an area on which Latham could clearly position himself. I do not understand the position he has taken. This was perhaps a breakthrough moment.

3. The seemingly obvious insight that swinging voters are more likely to be opinion followers, which is why they do not have an opinion, does I think lead credence to the idea of the mood of the electorate, although we may in reality be dealing with six electorates complicating matters somewhat. Ceribus Paribus, Queensland may be the key to the fortunes of the parties and leaders.

4. As I admit, this is mere, hypothesis, or more exactly wishful thinking with a measure of plausibility, and not evidence or observation based.

5. There are advantages and disadvantages of incumbency, and I think the latter are shown particularly when promises are made at the election without the support of consistent pattern of policy development through the terms of the government. In these circumstances, it seems to me appropriate to be sceptical.

I tried to write down twenty reasons why Howard would be returned, and I was not convinced by any of them. The way to do would be think of Howard’s return from a trade association (if not trade union) point of view, such as the Business Council of Australia.

HEALTH REPORT September 29, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Life Experience.
add a comment

The operation I had at a public hospital was successful. My enlarged spleen was removed, and apparently only just through the incision that had been cut. I am horrified at the larger cut that the surgeon and the hemotologist tell would otherwise have to be made. Bottom line, at this time, the reason for my enlarged spleen is not known for sure. I understand a literature search is to be undertaken. The good news was that I did not have lymphoma, even as all the indications from what I had been told pointed that way.

My case was more the exception than the rule in relation to the cancer fear. All of which goes to the subtlety and difficulty of diagnosis. It is true that when I realized that I would lose it, and after some appreciation for the first time what a spleen was, I did become attached to it, however on the balance of expert medical advice, and my own sense it was a problem helped me to commit to its removal.

While I was in hospital some students nurses came around and questioned me about my operation. I think they were somewhat sceptical about the consultation process. However, I would say that I had been living with the awareness of the problem for eighteen months or more. I had recognized there was a problem I did not understand. The worst part was when I took this to a GP, it was not recognized for what it was. To be told do some exercises and you will be right, was soon disproved. It is disconcerting to know there is a problem that I could not understand, and then not to get the recognition. I was angry. I was lucky that I went to a doctor at a Medical Centre who referred me to a Cardiologist who then authorized a range of tests, including CT (Computerised Tomography) which identified the enlarged spleen. I was then, at my discretion, referred to a hemotologist. When surgery was organized, I then went to a local GP who took up my case. In our area, for sick leave, in my experience, the doctor of choice is often completely booked.

Post Script:
Many of the nurses, at this hospital, if I am not mistaken, were working on a casual basis. My understanding is that the employment practices associated with casualization have been permitted by the State Industrial Relations Act.

OPINION FOLLOWERS September 29, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
add a comment

Following from my previous posting, the answer is that I do not know. This ignorance does not justify the mixed metaphor and strangled syntax of my posting today at Back Pages:

I am in agreement with tb and others.I think that Latham will come out his launch looking good. He can take Howard’s ground away in terms of economic management and the terrorist fear.This, I believe, is critical. Maybe he has to take other positions, for example the Federal Government effectively taking over health, to confirm the momentum of the rolling maul, with options to snipe around the sides and attack out wide. Latham can position himself with the mood change in the electorate at large,[for which I have no evidence] that will like a tide flow through to the swinging voters who will be caught up in the groundswell. After nine (?) years, Howard has the disadvantage of incumbency. Hope and the realization of success are my touchstones.

I still think, despite lack of comment, other than a statement of over optimism, not doubt true that the points are valid:
1. Howard’s case for re-election has not been convincing. The sound or prudent economic management, with obverse cruelty to the less advantaged, has been undermined by his splurge. The terrorism thing was a fiasco, if not treason.
2. Health was clearly an area on which Latham could clearly position himself. I do not understand the position he has taken. This was perhaps a breakthrough moment.
3. The seemingly obvious insight that swinging voters are more likely to be opinion followers, which is why they do not have an opinion, does I think lead credence to the idea of the mood of the electorate, although we may in reality be dealing with six electorates complicating matters somewhat. Ceribus Paribus, Queensland may be the key to the fortunes of the parties and leaders.
4. As I admit, this is mere, hypothesis, or more exactly wishful thinking with a measure of plausibility, and not evidence or observation based.
5. There are advantages and disadvantages of incumbency, and I think the latter are shown particularly when promises are made at the election without the support of consistent pattern of policy development through the terms of the government. In these circumstances, it seems to me appropriate to be sceptical.

I tried to write down twenty reasons why Howard would be returned, and I was not convinced by any of them. The way to do would be think of Howard’s return from a trade association (if not trade union) point of view, such as the Business Council of Australia.

WHAT IS GOING ON? September 29, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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I have a confession to make. A couple of days ago when I was out and we came upon a bush rat that trapped in wire mesh. We could not contact WIRES, and following a suggestion, I borrowed a pair of pliers from the Race Course to cut around the native animal, the vet completed the final snips, and the marsupial was returned to the bush around the same spot. Putting these animals in familiar surroundings is important because they have a hierarchial social structure. (Howard is a firm believer, it seems, in the egalitarian myth. Myth was always well understood. Nonetheless, it is interesting, that John Howard should evoke this piece of Australian folklore and practice)

Every time I see a rodent now, even a fluffy toy lying in the supermarket aisle, I think of John Howard.

I have not a clue about what is happening in this election.( I was out visiting doctors today, and we did not talk politics.) Why should Newspoll be more reliable than Morgan or Nielsen? The ABC reported the Newspoll results as follows:

The latest opinion poll has the federal Labor Party four points in front of the Coalition after preferences, less than a fortnight before the election.Support for John Howard as preferred prime minister has increased slightly.The Newspoll published in the Australian newspaper surveyed 1,700 voters last weekend before the Coalition unveiled its $6 billion spending splurge on education, health, small business and families.The poll shows the election is on a knife edge with the Coalition’s primary vote unchanged at 43 per cent, while Labor slipped one percentage point to 40.The Greens are steady on 7 per cent with the Democrats on 1 per cent.After preferences Labor is 4 points ahead on 52 per cent compared to the Liberal and National Party’s 48 per cent.An AC Nielsen poll last week showed the Coalition was in a commanding position to win the election.As preferred Prime Minister, support for John Howard is still strong, edging up one point to 48 per cent, while Mark Latham is 13 points behind on 35 per cent.

Chris Sheil is prepared to call it:

As I’ve said in the comments, my call FWIW is that it’s all over and, barring a major unforseen left field event, a famous ALP victory awaits. I’ll write my perspective up when I get back home tomorrow evening. Amazing! Wow!

Yet if you look at the graph, and assume that all the polls are equally competent, using the same methodology, and there are ghosts in the machine, there is no consistency. The really interesting graph is the one comparing 2001/2004 which suggests a Labor win. CS may have something.

Brain Bahnisch commenting at Back Pages drew attention to The World Today report indicating that Labor must win big in Queensland to have a show. We should look to Queensland for the result. Then BB said he did not have a good feel about it, much like his fellow Bananabender Margo.

I notice that some people at Margo’s, well meaning I am sure, are saying that Australians should vote for altruistic reasons, and I support them in that, but in my experience the swinging voters, who determine election outcomes, have never done so, and I do not expect them to do so on October 9. Beyond the Policy Launches and Latham is to have his tomorrow, I will make the prediction that we back in the country of fear. I think Howard has concluded that fear and bribes will win it for him, although he would never admit that, or even believe (perhaps?) many people understand what he is about.

What are the grounds for hope that Howard’s end is upon us?

1. The terrorist fear campaign did not merely fail; it imploded with the outrageous comments of the Foreign Minister. The dog/rat whistle was well recognized,which goes to reduce its effectiveness, and inhibit, but not preclude further use. Extrapolating there might now be a wider sense of this Government’s incompetence.

2. While recognized by the SMH and the Australian as good politics, the Howard electoral bribe, was seen as bad economics. Let me assume, that some gloss has been taken off the notion that the Howard Group are good economic managers.

3. The Liberal campaign targeted against Latham time as Mayor of Liverpool has little traction. We are seeing the introduction of American campaign tactics. These ads, from both parties, would have pre-tested on focus groups of swinging voters. The hope here is maybe the ads are not working and are counter productive. This is always cause for hope.

4. Howard’s vision for Australia is that he will be Prime Minister.

There has to be more reasons than these. And there must be more reasons for hope and the realization of success. Equally, and grimly, there are doubtless reasons for Howard’s success.

UPDATE 29/09/2004

Tim Dunlop is quoting the oracle Laurie Oakes suggesting that Howard if re-elected will retire giving the job to Costello. We are entitled to know the truth from Howard. No lies. No equivocation.

WHAT IS GOING ON? September 28, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
add a comment

I have a confession to make. A couple of days ago when I was out and we came upon a bush rat that trapped in wire mesh. We could not contact WIRES, and following a suggestion, I borrowed a pair of pliers from the Race Course to cut around the native animal, the vet completed the final snips, and the marsupial was returned to the bush around the same spot. Putting these animals in familiar surroundings is important because they have a hierarchial social structure. (Howard is a firm believer, it seems, in the egalitarian myth. Myth was always well understood. Nonetheless, it is interesting, that John Howard should evoke this piece of Australian folklore and practice)

Every time I see a rodent now, even a fluffy toy lying in the supermarket aisle, I think of John Howard.

I have not a clue about what is happening in this election.( I was out visiting doctors today, and we did not talk politics.) Why should Newspoll be more reliable than Morgan or Nielsen? The ABC reported the Newspoll results as follows:

The latest opinion poll has the federal Labor Party four points in front of the Coalition after preferences, less than a fortnight before the election.Support for John Howard as preferred prime minister has increased slightly.The Newspoll published in the Australian newspaper surveyed 1,700 voters last weekend before the Coalition unveiled its $6 billion spending splurge on education, health, small business and families.The poll shows the election is on a knife edge with the Coalition’s primary vote unchanged at 43 per cent, while Labor slipped one percentage point to 40.The Greens are steady on 7 per cent with the Democrats on 1 per cent.After preferences Labor is 4 points ahead on 52 per cent compared to the Liberal and National Party’s 48 per cent.An AC Nielsen poll last week showed the Coalition was in a commanding position to win the election.As preferred Prime Minister, support for John Howard is still strong, edging up one point to 48 per cent, while Mark Latham is 13 points behind on 35 per cent.

Chris Sheil is prepared to call it:

As I’ve said in the comments, my call FWIW is that it’s all over and, barring a major unforseen left field event, a famous ALP victory awaits. I’ll write my perspective up when I get back home tomorrow evening. Amazing! Wow!

Yet if you look at the graph, and assume that all the polls are equally competent, using the same methodology, and there are ghosts in the machine, there is no consistency. The really interesting graph is the one comparing 2001/2004 which suggests a Labor win. CS may have something.

Brain Bahnisch commenting at Back Pages drew attention to The World Today report indicating that Labor must win big in Queensland to have a show. We should look to Queensland for the result. Then BB said he did not have a good feel about it, much like his fellow Bananabender Margo.

I notice that some people at Margo’s, well meaning I am sure, are saying that Australians should vote for altruistic reasons, and I support them in that, but in my experience the swinging voters, who determine election outcomes, have never done so, and I do not expect them to do so on October 9. Beyond the Policy Launches and Latham is to have his tomorrow, I will make the prediction that we back in the country of fear. I think Howard has concluded that fear and bribes will win it for him, although he would never admit that, or even believe (perhaps?) many people understand what he is about.

What are the grounds for hope that Howard’s end is upon us?
1. The terrorist fear campaign did not merely fail; it imploded with the outrageous comments of the Foreign Minister. The dog/rat whistle was well recognized,which goes to reduce its effectiveness, and inhibit, but not preclude further use. Extrapolating there might now be a wider sense of this Government’s incompetence.
2. While recognized by the SMH and the Australian as good politics, the Howard electoral bribe, was seen as bad economics. Let me assume, that some gloss has been taken off the notion that the Howard Group are good economic managers.
3. The Liberal campaign targeted against Latham time as Mayor of Liverpool has little traction. We are seeing the introduction of American campaign tactics. These ads, from both parties, would have pre-tested on focus groups of swinging voters. The hope here is maybe the ads are not working and are counter productive. This is always cause for hope.
4. Howard’s vision for Australia is that he will be Prime Minister.

There has to be more reasons than these. And there must be more reasons for hope and the realization of success. Equally, and grimly, there are doubtless reasons for Howard’s success.
UPDATE 29/09/2004
Tim Dunlop is quoting the oracle Laurie Oakes suggesting that Howard if re-elected will retire giving the job to Costello. We are entitled to know the truth from Howard. No lies. No equivocation.

IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE BONANZA September 27, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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I will not be elated if Howard is defeated, realizing that any new government will have to be watched closely by the electors. However, I would be pleased. But if Howard is successful, I will be depressed. Of course, I will acknowledge good wishes for his supporters, and understand, as best I can, their euphoria. I will be depressed about the standards of standards of governmental honesty, the success of lies and tactics of fear, and how what I regard as, the only to do so to my knowledge, the divisiveness of the electoral bribes.

Like a brick wall, some things have to be accepted as electoral realities. All elections are lolly raffles – and the lollies are thrown to targeted sections of the crowd. Just like the scramble for life, if you win the lollies, on the basis of self justifying theory, you are a deserving winner. <a href=”John Howard has the words for the occasion:

“It is because we have run a strong economy and we’ve kept the budget in surplus that we’ve delivered the lowest interest rates in 30 years and we are able to afford sensible, targeted initiatives designed to address problems,”

While not economically literate, I would expect that such largesse might put pressure on interest rates. The economically literate Treasurer, eight years in the job, to this question <a href=”simply says “no”. Other than the return of the government, what are the likely social benefits of the policy and what alternatives were there? What has generated the alternative? I suspect the GST. The implication is that Howard has submitted his spending program to costing by Treasury.

Howard is ideological. He, by his own lights, is not cruel to the marginally employed and unemployed. He proposes a historical and sociological fantasyland. He is reported in the SMH as saying at the Policy Launch:

“Australia should never be a nation defined by class or envy, but rather a nation united by mateship and achievement”.

Dream on. Class, as I understand it, is a construct that may be reasonably applied to any society, explaining in part the distribution of life opportunities, behaviors, reference group membership, including voter behavior and other social observations. I am not particularly wealthy, but typical of me, I do not care. We are grateful for what we have – including the society in which I live, and what were I believed its fundamental values, endangered, in my opinion, by the behavior of the Prime Minister. The Liberal Parties own psycho-graphics/demographics of the swinging voters he is so concerned to send dog whistles/rat whistles to, puts the lie to the second proposition.

As a marginally unemployed person, I am offended by the Howard industrial relations policy.

The choice on October 9, he said, was between the Coalition, which had demonstrated a capacity to deliver economic and national security and would continue to do so, and Labor, which was “locked in its trade union industrial relations past”. A deregulated industrial relations system was a vital part of continued economic prosperity and increased living standards, delivering real wage increases of between 13 per cent and 14 per cent against a 2.6 per cent rise in the 13 years of the previous Labor government, he said. “The Coalition has been a better friend of the workers of Australia than Labor could ever dream of being,” he said.

I should leave this analysis to the economists. I suspect there has been losses in real income for lower earners.

Is it likely that Howard will win the election? He is on a winner, we are told with fear and greed. If greed will not work, and that might be the case, say one week from today, and then we will be back to fear – and that will be vicious, nasty and rat-like.

IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE BONANZA September 27, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
add a comment

I will not be elated if Howard is defeated, realizing that any new government will have to be watched closely by the electors. However, I would be pleased. But if Howard is successful, I will be depressed. Of course, I will acknowledge good wishes for his supporters, and understand, as best I can, their euphoria. I will be depressed about the standards of standards of governmental honesty, the success of lies and tactics of fear, and how what I regard as, the only to do so to my knowledge, the divisiveness of the electoral bribes.

Like a brick wall, some things have to be accepted as electoral realities. All elections are lolly raffles – and the lollies are thrown to targeted sections of the crowd. Just like the scramble for life, if you win the lollies, on the basis of self justifying theory, you are a deserving winner. John Howard has the words for the occasion:

“It is because we have run a strong economy and we’ve kept the budget in surplus that we’ve delivered the lowest interest rates in 30 years and we are able to afford sensible, targeted initiatives designed to address problems,”

While not economically literate, I would expect that such largesse might put pressure on interest rates. The economically literate Treasurer, eight years in the job, to this question simply says “no”. Other than the return of the government, what are the likely social benefits of the policy and what alternatives were there? What has generated the alternative? I suspect the GST. The implication is that Howard has submitted his spending program to costing by Treasury.

Howard is ideological. He, by his own lights, is not cruel to the marginally employed and unemployed. He proposes a historical and sociological fantasyland. He is reported in the SMH as saying at the Policy Launch:

“Australia should never be a nation defined by class or envy, but rather a nation united by mateship and achievement”.

Dream on. Class, as I understand it, is a construct that may be reasonably applied to any society, explaining in part the distribution of life opportunities, behaviors, reference group membership, including voter behavior and other social observations. I am not particularly wealthy, but typical of me, I do not care. We are grateful for what we have – including the society in which I live, and what were I believed its fundamental values, endangered, in my opinion, by the behavior of the Prime Minister. The Liberal Parties own psycho-graphics/demographics of the swinging voters he is so concerned to send dog whistles/rat whistles to, puts the lie to the second proposition.

As a marginally unemployed person, I am offended by the Howard industrial relations policy.

The choice on October 9, he said, was between the Coalition, which had demonstrated a capacity to deliver economic and national security and would continue to do so, and Labor, which was “locked in its trade union industrial relations past”. A deregulated industrial relations system was a vital part of continued economic prosperity and increased living standards, delivering real wage increases of between 13 per cent and 14 per cent against a 2.6 per cent rise in the 13 years of the previous Labor government, he said. “The Coalition has been a better friend of the workers of Australia than Labor could ever dream of being,” he said.

I should leave this analysis to the economists. I suspect there has been losses in real income for lower earners.

Is it likely that Howard will win the election? He is on a winner, we are told with fear and greed. If greed will not work, and that might be the case, say one week from today, and then we will be back to fear – and that will be vicious, nasty and rat-like.

TWO WEEKS TO GO September 26, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Given the latest Nielsen poll, Chris Sheil concludes, “Perhaps Labor is stuffed”. Yesterday was a black day for hope and the realization of success. This was especially so for John Guiggin, when the spirit of the “Roys” emerged out the long historical past, as they were beaten by the boys from Port. He then calmly observed: ‘”Now, in the spirit of sympathetic magic, I’ll observe that the government is odds-on to win its fourth successive election.” Sunday, a fortnight from today, is not looking to be a happy one.

Putting aside, the commentary, the “whistling in the dark”, and all the advice and wisdom of the election campaign, might we step forward in time, and ask how that bleak result came about. When I ask the questions, I realize I do not know the answers. How do people make voting decisions? Is is similar to economic decisions? What information is used and how is it sourced and processed? Is the outcome seen as high or low involvement?

The answers probably involve a whole range of sociological and personality differences. In two weeks time, I will not be thinking that the critical change occurred in group X that became important because group Y was countervailed by the change in group Z. And if the results of all this electoral, and in particular marginal electorate chemistry go against my preference, I will be saying they are all bastards. In a more reflective moment, I might curse the dark magicians who fed the secret portions to the sleeping decision makers.

TWO WEEKS TO GO September 26, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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Given the latest Nielsen poll, Chris Sheil concludes, “Perhaps Labor is stuffed”. Yesterday was a black day for hope and the realization of success. This was especially so for John Guiggin, when the spirit of the “Roys” emerged out the long historical past, as they were beaten by the boys from Port. He then calmly observed: ‘”Now, in the spirit of sympathetic magic, I’ll observe that the government is odds-on to win its fourth successive election.” Sunday, a fortnight from today, is not looking to be a happy one.

Putting aside, the commentary, the “whistling in the dark”, and all the advice and wisdom of the election campaign, might we step forward in time, and ask how that bleak result came about. When I ask the questions, I realize I do not know the answers. How do people make voting decisions? Is is similar to economic decisions? What information is used and how is it sourced and processed? Is the outcome seen as high or low involvement?

The answers probably involve a whole range of sociological and personality differences. In two weeks time, I will not be thinking that the critical change occurred in group X that became important because group Y was countervailed by the change in group Z. And if the results of all this electoral, and in particular marginal electorate chemistry go against my preference, I will be saying they are all bastards. In a more reflective moment, I might curse the dark magicians who fed the secret portions to the sleeping decision makers.

HOPELESSLY WHACKO September 25, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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If the polls are to be believed, then the real scare in this election campaign is not terrorism – it might be interest rates. Personally, I am not concerned, not because we do not have a mortgage, but because marginal changes in the cost of borrowed money is unlikely to even affect the repayment, and if it did we have options. So I am personally indifferent to the scare campaign.

This raises the question of rationality and fear. For example, I am afraid that I may still have a lymphoma, despite the splenectomy (surgical removal of the spleen). There is reasonable uncertainty. The determination will depend upon the blood test readings and analysis. If things go bad, I will need to have another bone marrow biopsy, which I will dread. Let us assume that death is the ultimate fear, but inevitable result of our lives, we still have to be rational. We still have to make accurate observations, look unblinkingly at the evidence, work through the inferences and conclusions, while understanding that as best we can, and then finally resolve on a course of action.

While if you had a high mortgage, it is reasonable to be anxious, but surely you simply need to take a range of considerations, including uncertainties, into account. Surely, you would consider expert advice, applying as I do in my case caveats that experts, even with extensive cross checking might be wrong. Then there is the issue of responsibility, which has been made mandatory for the unemployed, but few others.

The interest rates scare does not make sense. I think that electors, as good citizens, should have a overriding concern for the well being of the country, rather than narrow self interest. I think it is elementally a question of duty. I am more concerned about being a contributor than a taker. I am, of course, hopelessly whacko.

HOPELESSLY WHACKO September 25, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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If the polls are to be believed, then the real scare in this election campaign is not terrorism – it might be interest rates. Personally, I am not concerned, not because we do not have a mortgage, but because marginal changes in the cost of borrowed money is unlikely to even affect the repayment, and if it did we have options. So I am personally indifferent to the scare campaign.

This raises the question of rationality and fear. For example, I am afraid that I may still have a lymphoma, despite the splenectomy (surgical removal of the spleen). There is reasonable uncertainty. The determination will depend upon the blood test readings and analysis. If things go bad, I will need to have another bone marrow biopsy, which I will dread. Let us assume that death is the ultimate fear, but inevitable result of our lives, we still have to be rational. We still have to make accurate observations, look unblinkingly at the evidence, work through the inferences and conclusions, while understanding that as best we can, and then finally resolve on a course of action.

While if you had a high mortgage, it is reasonable to be anxious, but surely you simply need to take a range of considerations, including uncertainties, into account. Surely, you would consider expert advice, applying as I do in my case caveats that experts, even with extensive cross checking might be wrong. Then there is the issue of responsibility, which has been made mandatory for the unemployed, but few others.

The interest rates scare does not make sense. I think that electors, as good citizens, should have a overriding concern for the well being of the country, rather than narrow self interest. I think it is elementally a question of duty. I am more concerned about being a contributor than a taker. I am, of course, hopelessly whacko.

INDONESIAN ELECTION COUNT CONTINUES September 24, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Despite, at least on these figures, there seems little chance, that Megawati can survive, despite claims to the contrary. The Jakarta Post gives the latest available figures as:

Provisional results of the presidential election as of 10:01 a.m. [24/09/2004]

JAKARTA (JP): Provisional results of the presidential elections based on votes counted by the General Elections Commission (KPU) on Friday.

No. Candidates — Votes — %

1. Susilo-Kalla (4): 65.888.299 — 61.0033%

2. Mega-Hasyim (2) : 42.119.482 — 38.9967%

– Total: 108.007.781 — 100 %

INDONESIAN ELECTION COUNT CONTINUES September 24, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Global Electoral Politics.
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Despite, at least on these figures, there seems little chance, that Megawati can survive, despite claims to the contrary. The Jakarta Post gives the latest available figures as:

Provisional results of the presidential election as of 10:01 a.m. [24/09/2004]
JAKARTA (JP): Provisional results of the presidential elections based on votes counted by the General Elections Commission (KPU) on Friday.
No. Candidates — Votes — %
1. Susilo-Kalla (4): 65.888.299 — 61.0033%

2. Mega-Hasyim (2) : 42.119.482 — 38.9967%

– Total: 108.007.781 — 100 %

BLEEDING IRAQ September 24, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Juan Cole coolly observes:”The war is costing about $1 billion a week.” A question arises, given the military exigencies, as to how the money is been spent. Even Bomber Beazley could not create as big a blackhole as this one created by Bush and Blair, with a little help from “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” Howard. “The war” is also costing a continuing and substantial amount in human suffering and loss of life and for what? When the killing stops, what will have been achieved? What will have been lost? What guilt by association will we bear? And how might we expiate it?

Iraq seems to be forgotten, as other inconvenient issues in the electoral dialogue, but it will not go away. Hopefully, in the immediate future Howard and Bush, might. I think we have to move out completely – Embassy, security guards, the lot. John Quiggin suggested something similar (although he also foresaw that Iraq would become central to the electoral campaign.)

Then we have to prevail on the Americans and the British to do the same thing. In there place there has to be an international force organized by the United Nations with its composition subject to Iraqi public opinion, and with sunset clauses as to duration and the organization of fair electoral process. Some Iraqis, understandability, will not be taken with Egyptian, Brazilian and South African soldiers either, but at least they will have the UN flag.

Not everyone is as pessimistic as I am about Iraq apparently, and I do not live there, it is true.. Being an Iraqi is one qualification, being a tough guy another, but it turns out the person to die is a Briton, and his government is compromised. Also it seems that Bush’s opponent, John Kerry, has been stuck in an electoral quagmire. Could it be the Bushies are better at American electoral campaigns than they are at foreign military ones. There is a moral here.

Still Kerry seems to be fighting back. I notice that Cheney praised Bush as “a steadfast leader”. It occurs to me you could plausibly say that about any blockhead. But is it realistic to live in the hope that he isn’t?

Kevin Drum is usually balanced about elections in Iraq and that is sufficient cause to quote him.

Of course the theme of this post is democratic elections, and how they should run, in Australia as much as any where else. Iraq is a case in point, since it illustrates that the issues are not been debated. We have a pseudo-dialogue constrained by the political tactics – some of which are abhorrent – and electoral realities. And I am to a degree culpable too, by failing to make a proper contribution.

REFERENCE:

Gary also comments on the lack of democratic substance in the election at Public Opinion.

UPDATE: 25/09/2004:

The Iraq tragedy continues with no end in sight. Kevin Drum, praised above for balance, is going nuts. He notes:

It’s no longer clear if George Bush is merely a cynical, calculating politician — which would be bad enough — or if he actually believes all the happy talk about Iraq that his speechwriters produce for him. Increasingly, though, it seems like the latter: he genuinely doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on. What’s more, his staff is keeping him in a sort of Nixonian bubble, afraid to tell him the truth and afraid to take any positive action for fear that it might affect the election.

Since good sense, might for once prevail,let us decide not to ask John Howard for his opinion. We have heard the original John, so we do not need to hear the repeat.

Imad Khadduri, quoting an acticle by Robert O Keohane and Annie-Marie Slaughter makes a connection, that is critical to us, as much as to the Americans:

“Behind the debate about the conduct of the war in Iraq, and the occupation, is a larger divide – between those Americans who believe that their unique virtues should permit them to act above the law, and those who believe that people in authority, necessarily imperfect, must be constrained by institutions and by law.Those who understand and believe in the theory of the American Constitution should reject the Bush administration’s political theory of personal good and evil. We must continue to insist that the United States is a “government of laws and not of men”.

UPDATE #2 26/09/2004

Ken Parish agrees that Iraq has been a descent into chaos, with no order in sight, except another strongman dictator – Allawi would fit the bill. He foresees the need for a US withdrawal, and envisages the breakup of the country into three. From memory the problem with this scenario is the economic viability of the parts, and the acceptability of the outcome for the majority Shiites. There is hope if elections, beginning with local elections, can be held. Australia could play a decisive role, but will not if Howard is re-elected, by withdrawing in toto.

From this report in The Observer, it seems the British hostage might still be alive. Blair is invoking War II, although the analogy escapes me, other than to see himself as Winston Churchill. Warning Iran not to interfer, suggests that Blair is somewhat behind the play.

UPDATE # 3 26/092004

The Independent reports polling suggesting that 52% of Britons (allowing for polling errors, rouge results) want to withdraw from Iraq. Given that the ALP win, and the Australians are withdrawn – official military, private military and the rest – it may have an important knock on effect. In this instance, potentially Australian voters can have a influence for the better in the world. Tony Blair while accepting that Iraq does exist does not want it to dominate discussions at the Labour Party conference.

BLEEDING IRAQ September 24, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq.
add a comment

Juan Cole coolly observes:”The war is costing about $1 billion a week.” A question arises, given the military exigencies, as to how the money is been spent. Even Bomber Beazley could not create as big a blackhole as this one created by Bush and Blair, with a little help from “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” Howard. “The war” is also costing a continuing and substantial amount in human suffering and loss of life and for what? When the killing stops, what will have been achieved? What will have been lost? What guilt by association will we bear? And how might we expiate it?

Iraq seems to be forgotten, as other inconvenient issues in the electoral dialogue, but it will not go away. Hopefully, in the immediate future Howard and Bush, might. I think we have to move out completely – Embassy, security guards, the lot. John Quiggin suggested something similar (although he also foresaw that Iraq would become central to the electoral campaign.)

Then we have to prevail on the Americans and the British to do the same thing. In there place there has to be an international force organized by the United Nations with its composition subject to Iraqi public opinion, and with sunset clauses as to duration and the organization of fair electoral process. Some Iraqis, understandability, will not be taken with Egyptian, Brazilian and South African soldiers either, but at least they will have the UN flag.

Not everyone is as pessimistic as I am about Iraq apparently, and I do not live there, it is true.. Being an Iraqi is one qualification, being a tough guy another, but it turns out the person to die is a Briton, and his government is compromised. Also it seems that Bush’s opponent, John Kerry, has been stuck in an electoral quagmire. Could it be the Bushies are better at American electoral campaigns than they are at foreign military ones. There is a moral here.

Still Kerry seems to be fighting back. I notice that Cheney praised Bush as “a steadfast leader”. It occurs to me you could plausibly say that about any blockhead. But is it realistic to live in the hope that he isn’t?

Kevin Drum is usually balanced about elections in Iraq and that is sufficient cause to quote him.

Of course the theme of this post is democratic elections, and how they should run, in Australia as much as any where else. Iraq is a case in point, since it illustrates that the issues are not been debated. We have a pseudo-dialogue constrained by the political tactics – some of which are abhorrent – and electoral realities. And I am to a degree culpable too, by failing to make a proper contribution.
REFERENCE:
Gary also comments on the lack of democratic substance in the election at Public Opinion.
UPDATE: 25/09/2004:
The Iraq tragedy continues with no end in sight. Kevin Drum, praised above for balance, is going nuts. He notes:

It’s no longer clear if George Bush is merely a cynical, calculating politician — which would be bad enough — or if he actually believes all the happy talk about Iraq that his speechwriters produce for him. Increasingly, though, it seems like the latter: he genuinely doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on. What’s more, his staff is keeping him in a sort of Nixonian bubble, afraid to tell him the truth and afraid to take any positive action for fear that it might affect the election.

Since good sense, might for once prevail,let us decide not to ask John Howard for his opinion. We have heard the original John, so we do not need to hear the repeat.
Imad Khadduri, quoting an acticle by Robert O Keohane and Annie-Marie Slaughter makes a connection, that is critical to us, as much as to the Americans:

“Behind the debate about the conduct of the war in Iraq, and the occupation, is a larger divide – between those Americans who believe that their unique virtues should permit them to act above the law, and those who believe that people in authority, necessarily imperfect, must be constrained by institutions and by law.Those who understand and believe in the theory of the American Constitution should reject the Bush administration’s political theory of personal good and evil. We must continue to insist that the United States is a “government of laws and not of men”.

UPDATE #2 26/09/2004
Ken Parish agrees that Iraq has been a descent into chaos, with no order in sight, except another strongman dictator – Allawi would fit the bill. He foresees the need for a US withdrawal, and envisages the breakup of the country into three. From memory the problem with this scenario is the economic viability of the parts, and the acceptability of the outcome for the majority Shiites. There is hope if elections, beginning with local elections, can be held. Australia could play a decisive role, but will not if Howard is re-elected, by withdrawing in toto.
From this report in The Observer, it seems the British hostage might still be alive. Blair is invoking War II, although the analogy escapes me, other than to see himself as Winston Churchill. Warning Iran not to interfer, suggests that Blair is somewhat behind the play.
UPDATE # 3 26/092004
The Independent reports polling suggesting that 52% of Britons (allowing for polling errors, rouge results) want to withdraw from Iraq. Given that the ALP win, and the Australians are withdrawn – official military, private military and the rest – it may have an important knock on effect. In this instance, potentially Australian voters can have a influence for the better in the world. Tony Blair while accepting that Iraq does exist does not want it to dominate discussions at the Labour Party conference.

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