Archive for September, 2011

Manne quacks just like a duck

September 29, 2011

DEBATE: A formal discussion on a particular matter … in which opposing arguments are put forward.         Oxford Dictionary

Robert Manne, immune it seems to the overwhelming criticism about his inclination to want to close down public debate, was reported to have said at a book signing in Sydney this week that newspapers should refrain from publishing the opinions of average Australians.

You read that correctly. On climate change he was quite specific.

I do not believe it makes sense for non-scientists to have views on scientific issues.

He thought that newspapers should report only the views of a “core” of experts in key debates. Wondering who they might be, I chanced on an interview on Slow TV titled: Now Or Never: Tim Flannery In Conversation With Robert Manne On Climate Change.

There was no irony in the programme’s title, “Intelligent talk”.

In the conversation he said that just as we had Winston Churchill to fight fascism, in our age of the greatest challenge of climate change, two of his heros were Al Gore, “an exemplay figure” and the scientist James Hansen. He added, for good measure, his admiration for Tim Flannery in his role in Australia’s climate debate.

These are thus Manne’s three outstanding figures fit for public debate.

Manne believes that ‘non-scientists’ should have no voice, but non-scientist Al Gore is apparently OK. Even when, several years ago, the British High Court issued an injunction against showing his film, An Inconvenient Truth to children in British schools because of scientific errors and the propaganda nature of his film.

Manne names James Hansen, who is a scientist, but one imagines that he discounts or ignores the fact that Hansen’s reputation has been widely discredited around the world for scientific fraud and for fueling baseless alarmism about rising temperatures. Just one article by Professor Bob Carter, another scientist but banned by the ABC when talking about James Hansen, illustrates the difficulty about who decides which scientists should be heard in Manne’s putative ‘authorised’ debates.

As for Tim Flannery, who Manne unreservedly admires, enough has already been said about his scare-mongering and baseless and finally spectacularly wrong assertions concerning impending water shortages in our capital cities for him to be completely disregarded. But again, Manne no doubt would think him a qualified commentator.

Presumably, Manne would also like to eliminate the persistent journalists who exposed Climategate, and who have for years been diligently exposing the misleading information constantly being churned out by the United Nations propaganda unit, the IPCC.

Manne, however, knows which scientists to get for this important debate.

“They should get scientists in the consensual core to debate it.

Just in case the reader thought it could not get any worse, Manne magnanimously urged the media, presumably on other topics of importance, to embrace greater contributions from “controversial left-wing commentators” such as US linguistics professor Noam Chomsky and Beirut-based commentator Robert Fisk.

So, there we have it.


September 27, 2011


John Roskam of the Institute of Public Affairs has organised a petition where people can contribute to protest the decision of the Federal Court today, which found freedom of speech to be less important than the right to not be offended.  


Where is Justice?

An excellent account of the delivery of the verdict from the Federal Court has been given by Michael Connor in Quadrant Online.

Economics 101

September 22, 2011

What do Obama and other Western leaders not understand?
Steven Kates sees clearly what so many of our leaders cannot.

It remains incredible to me to see how shallow economics as a discipline has become. Let me therefore state as emphatically as I can: only value adding economic activity can create economic growth and employment. Wasteful public spending cannot …

So look. I can turn you the reader of this post into a better economist than the majority of the actual certified economists of the world who follow in this Keynesian tradition. Just remember this: if whatever is produced cannot be sold in the open market at prices that cover their cost of production, the economy has, to that extent, gone backwards rather than forward.

The question is, after the train crash, will our politicians and financial managers learn anything.

Swan’s swan song?

September 20, 2011

This is not reassuring  

Congratulations to Treasurer Wayne Swan for winning the Euromoney 2011 Award for Best Finance Minister! 

Global cooling in Europe

September 17, 2011

Julia’s [death] wish may yet come true

Australia has always followed overseas trends with a certain time delay. In this country, because of the present polarisation on the carbon tax, there continues to be acrimonious discussion around our obsession with global warming. However, anyone visiting Europe or almost anywhere else in the world, is surprised at the quiet absence of concern about the issue.

A recent article Simon Kuper, Climate change: who cares any more? in the Financial Times suggests that the Europeans are past all this climate change stuff with big yawns. At a crunch, they have decided to follow the Bjorn Lomborg strategy and buy their way out of trouble by adapting, just like Holland has done with sea levels for over 400 years.

Of course, the worry in Australia with the Gillard government’s insistence on ramming through her carbon di-oxide tax — with buried detail making carbon credits some sort of private property — is the deliberate way the government is locking in this legislation, or at best, making it very very difficult to rescind at a later date. And all of this on the eve of another highly probable financial crisis when real priorities will strike home.

Let us hope that someone, anyone in Labor or the Independents blinks or has weak knees at the critical moment of this nigh on extravagent, dangerous and irreversible vote.

Terrorism and the Left

September 14, 2011

 “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”

An outstanding and detailed reflection on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America appears in the latest edition of Quadrant by an academic specialist in the history of terrorism.  Mervyn F Bendle’s essay, 9/11 and the Intelligentsia, Ten Years On, goes into chapter and verse of the thinking of the radical Left in Australia and the dangerous influence they have on government, academia and the media. I have to confess that it is discouraging, but well worth reading.

The radical orthodoxy seeks to invalidate the term [terrorism], as it views its use as an intolerable affront to its favoured groups. It resorts instead to moral relativism and simplistic clichés (“one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” and the like), so that concerns that the West is under terrorist attack can be rejected as attempts to negatively “label” these groups.

Bendle concludes on a sombre note.

Clearly, ten years after 9/11, the ideological struggle goes on. It is a clash of civilisations, but also a clash of wills. Is it sadly true, as W.B. Yeats observed, that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”? Do liberal democratic societies have the will and capacity to mobilise intellectual resistance to those forces that seek to destroy them and institute a new dark age of theocratic barbarity across the globe? Or will they succumb to their external and internal enemies, destroyed from within by those who snatch greedily at the benefits bestowed by their privileged position, while betraying the community that succours them? Time will tell

Niki Savva and dhimmitude

September 14, 2011

Stifling free speech or just pragmatic?

I was particularly perplexed to see Niki Savva, a usually constant and dependable commentator on the machinations in Canberra, criticising Cori Bernardi for his invitation to the Dutch politician Geert Wilders to Australia. Savva, being a pragmatist, suggested Tony Abbott dump him from the shadow cabinet because “he is a serial offender on Islamic issues” and colleagues think “his behaviour threatens votes in western Sydney”.

Cori Bernardi’s reply to Savva, as posted on Andrew Bolt’s blog, from any view would have to be considered tempered and very reasonable.

You may not like Mr Wilders’ political stance but he commands a larger vote in an open and tolerant democracy than the Greens party in Australia and provides vital political support for the Dutch government. Mr Wilders’ electoral appeal is in response to a range of successive policy failures that have many in the Netherlands (and western Europe generally) concerned about the direction of their country.

I wonder if you would be calling for my sacking if I invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali – a former Dutch politician who is under constant protection because of her criticism of Islam – to Australia. On her most recent visit she was featured on the ABC, hosted at various functions and was even sponsored by a State government to attend an event.

It is disturbing that a “conservative” commentator can take a pragmatic line which is in effect a subtle way of closing down a debate which, however awkard, is central to a fundamental and vital issue of national harmony and security. It smells too much of ‘dhimmitude’.

Manne will never stop

September 13, 2011

Manne believes certain views have reached “uncontested” status and must not be contested.

A reassuring analysis of Robert Manne’s new essay on the evil Murdoch empire was given today by Paul Kelly.  What is it about him?

 This article analyses Manne’s essay for its perspective on journalism and then politics.

Taking the former, the startling feature is Manne’s fixation on repressing stories and debates he doesn’t like. He is a moralistic political censor.

Let me just say, that with a left that reasons like Manne, thank God for The Australian. This country would be without a voice of sanity and balance.

Concerning the so called ‘media monopoly’, Andrew Bolt makes the simple point that News Limited has just one third of the our newspaper titles but that two-thirds of Australian newspaper buyers prefer them.

That, precisely is the Left’s problem with the media.

A reader of this blog offered me a general explanation for Manne’s obsession:

Manne is quite, quite mad; but this is happening a fair bit amongst the left as they are in such a pit of despair.
I mean, it must be someone else’s fault that the party has stuffed everything up so comprehensively. It cannot be that the party is now run by a bunch of chancers, union hacks and political staffers.

Gaddafi’s wife needs help

September 11, 2011

Saphia Farkash spotted in Vietnam

This email would have to be the silliest try-on of all the silly try-ons that usually come out of Nigeria, promising millions of dollars if only we would forward the details of our bank accounts. This time, the email suffix shows that the request is coming from Vietnam.

It is amusing if not for the fact that maybe, just maybe, it sometimes works ???

I am wife of embattled Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who is presently being embattled by the unfaithful opposition leaders in my country. I have a very important money (US$45M) movement issue to discuss with you, if you are interested please send your reply to for further details. Thank you!

With love from,

Safia Farkash

9/11 A monumental confusion

September 11, 2011

‘… instead of planes and skyscrapers, it has Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree,” on which you can hang little tags with your ideas for world peace … ‘

There has been an outpouring of reflection and commentary on the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks on New York in the media. It is a very mixed bag.

Views predictably alternate between the dominant political orthodoxy that basically considers America got what it deserved — Waleed Aly’s seemingly ‘impartial’ po-mo view in The Sunday Age that both sides were just as wrong, citing bin Laden himself,  “As you spoil or security, we will do so to you” — to the fortunately clearer moral view of Christopher Hitchens — “It’s simple really: this was a totalitarian outrage”.

Hitchens aknowledges that “public intellectuals often feel an obligation to introduce complexities into their arguments but he is very clear on this issue.

But what I learned in a highly indelible manner from the events and arguments of September 2001 was this: never, ever ignore the obvious either. To the government and most of the people of the US, it seemed that the country on 9/11 had been attacked in a particularly odious way (air piracy used to maximise civilian casualties) by a particularly odious group (a secretive and homicidal gang: part multinational corporation, part crime family) that was sworn to a medieval cult of death; a hatred of Jews, a religious frenzy against Hindus, Christians, Shi’ite Muslims and “unbelievers”; and the restoration of a long-vanished and despotic empire.

Added to this, another outstanding piece by Mark Steyn critiques the US paralysis with political correctness and its curious concern for, of all things, inclusiveness. The  comments in this latest essay echo the frustration and fury felt in his new book After America. He summarises the present spate of reflections on the New York attack thus: “We retreat to equivocation, cultural self-loathing, and utterly fraudulent misrepresentation of 9/11.” He asks how we in Australia and other American allies are remembering the real victims of 9/11.

How are America’s allies remembering the real victims of 9/11? “Muslim Canucks Deal with Stereotypes Ten Years After 9/11,” reports CTV in Canada. And it’s a short step from stereotyping to criminalizing. “How the Fear of Being Criminalized Has Forced Muslims into Silence,” reports the Guardian in Britain. In Australia, a Muslim terrorism suspect was so fearful of being criminalized and stereotyped in the post-9/11 epidemic of paranoia that he pulled a Browning pistol out of his pants and hit Sgt. Adam Wolsey of the Sydney constabulary. Fortunately, Judge Leonie Flannery acquitted him of shooting with intent to harm on the grounds that “‘anti-Muslim sentiment’ made him fear for his safety,” as Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported on Friday. That’s such a heartwarming story for this 9/11 anniversary they should add an extra panel to the peace quilt, perhaps showing a terror suspect opening fire on a judge as she’s pronouncing him not guilty and then shrugging off the light shoulder wound as a useful exercise in healing and unity.

The rage and indignation goes on. It is a satisfying corrective to all the drivel we read about the importance of  ‘understanding’ these homicidal fanatics.  Steyn gives us an insight into what is wrong with Western culture. He sarcastically concludes:

In the weeks after 9/11, Americans were enjoined to ask, “Why do they hate us?” A better question is: “Why do they despise us?” And the quickest way to figure out the answer is to visit the Peace Quilt and the Wish Tree, the Crescent of Embrace and the Hole of Bureaucratic Inertia.