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Monday, 01 February


Former Australian defence minister Kevin Andrews skips first week of parliament to address Koch Brothers' funded U.S. Heritage Foundation event North Coast Voices

Former prime minister Tony Abbott was a guest speaker at an Alliance Defending Freedom dinner on 28 January 2016 and now his political ally former defence minister Kevin Andrews is scheduled to deliver a speech at a Heritage Foundation event being held in the Allison Auditorium, Washington DC.

This speech can be watched live online from 3am AEDT (Sydney) on 3 February 2016 at .

Like Alliance Defending Freedom, the Heritage Foundation is a far-right American organisation which seeks to influence federal and state elections, as well as politicians and government policy.

It is a pro-gun, pro-coal, pro-deregulation, anti-universal health care, anti-gay marri...


In the hope of winning back the highest political office in the land is Tony Abbott committing a cardinal sin against gender equality and Australian democracy? North Coast Voices

Did anyone really think that American hard-right religious extremism was confined to U.S. shores and missionary outposts in third world countries?

Does anyone really believe that former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott is currently courting the misogynistic, homophobic, religious extremist group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) simply to support the notion of Christian family ideals?

The reality is very different.

Religious extremism USA-style is already in this country and it appears that Tony Abbott may be intent on tapping its influence and money in order to rebuild his personal political power.

Indeed, in The Guardian on 27 January 2016, a phone conversation between a journalist and an ADF representative is quoted which seems to indicate that Abbott may be doing just that:


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Sunday, 31 January


Guest Post: John Comnenus – An Open Letter to the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP Catallaxy Files

Dear Barnaby,

There has been some chatter that you might soon become the National Party leader. If so, allow me make a suggestion to more effectively use the electoral power of the National Party and to wrench policy back in a more conservative direction.

Upon becoming the Nationals leader you should immediately go to Bill Shorten and ask him what the ALP is happy to offer the Nationals if it were a junior Coalition parter. Think about the potential power of such a move.

The biggest threats to Bill Shorten’s leadership are Albanese and Plibersek who are both from the Left and in seats vulnerable to the Greens. The biggest block to the ALP being more centrist and electorally popular is the need to placate the Green leaning voters in a handfull of inner city seats in the major cities.

Shorten might be happy to lose a couple of inner city seats if it means he disposes of his leadership rivals and can regain some more centrist outer suburban and regional seats that are currently held by the Liberals. These types of seats in places like Surfers, the Central Coast, Mandurah and the like might vote ALP if they knew Labor will be moderated by the Nationals as a junior partner.

After speaking with Shorten you should speak with Malcolm Turnbull and advise him that the Nationals are no longer going to be a doormat for a left wing Liberal party. Advise him that the Nationals will decide who forms Government after the next election and that the support from the Nationals is up for grabs. Let him know that you have already spoken to Shorten and are expecting the ALP’s pitch. Let him know you will compare offers, put it to a vote of the National Party room and act accordingly.

You might just get Turnbull to actually take conservatives seriously. Of course if you are not supporting the Liberals you can contest a number of three cornered contest, get ALP preferences to win a swag of regional seats off the Liberals. You would m...


Is Trump a “conservative”? Catallaxy Files

I don’t vote according to labels but there is no doubt that so far as modern political labels go, conservative is the closest it gets. This is from an article on Why I Support Donald Trump and Not Ted Cruz which begins by addressing what does it mean to be a “conservative”:

“Conservatism,” as [Russell] Kirk explained it, encompassed an inherent distrust of liberal democracy, staunch opposition to egalitarianism, and an extreme reluctance to commit the United States to global “crusades” to impose American “values” on “unenlightened” countries around the world. Conservatives should celebrate local traditions, customs, and the inherited legacies of other peoples, and not attempt to destroy them. America, Kirk insisted, was not founded on a democratic, hegemonic ideology, but as an expression and continuation of European traditions and strong localist, familial and religious belief. Indeed, Kirk authored a profound biography of Senator Robert Taft, “Mr. Conservative,” who embodied those principles.

It’s a long article and well worth reading through. Here, however, is the core point on why Trump is preferred to Cruz:

What is needed in this nation now is dramatic, even radical change. What is needed is not someone who will simply raise Hell, but someone who will be more like a bull loosed in a terrified china shop. Half measures and regular politicians, “mainstream conservatives” like Ted Cruz, I don’t think can pull it off. Trump, I believe, just maybe can.

“Just maybe can” is a better probability statement than is attached to any other candidate at the present time. Interestingly, and by no means a coincidence since this is a central issue in this election, Byron York has asked Trump...


Don’t just watch; listen and learn. Catallaxy Files

Paul Kelly in the Weekend Australian:

Turnbull needs to watch the populists and intellectuals on the Right. They dispute his strategy, oppose GST reform and demand deeper and faster spending cuts, a stance unlikely to translate into a viable position for the election year.


Family violence and the middle class No Place For Sheep

  I’ve just read yet another white, middle-class journalist, female this time, assert that there are forces other than misogyny and gender inequality that are accountable for family violence, and that this type of violence is perpetrated in predominantly low-income families. This view is also held by Miranda Devine. I wrote about this last year when […]


From Zero Hedge – Some of the Crazy Laws on the Books in US Catallaxy Files

Granted these are “odd”, but I venture there are some equally odd laws in the books in Australia.

My personal favourite is Minnesota where it is illegal to cross the state line with a duck atop your head.

Close second, Alabama where it is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in a church.

If you think these are crazy, I can imagine what might happen if the Greens are ever given a legislative mandate …



Green economic vandalism throttling farming Catallaxy Files

As a result of irrigation, the Murray Darling Basin became Australia’s premier agricultural province – accounting for up to 40 per cent of the nation’s farm output.  It did so while making the river system more pleasing and safer by creating a placid, ever-flowing river.

The farming benefits of the river having been achieved, green groups led by the ACF and acting under the umbrella of the “Wentworth Group” (founded in 2002 and named after the posh Sydney hotel where they met) started campaigning to suppress irrigation in the area.  The group contained the usual suspects, including David Karoly, Tim Flannery, Martjin Wilder, Peter Cullin, Peter Cosier and were bankrolled by the heir to the Clyde Industries fortune, Robert Purves.

In attacking irrigation as the key to commercial farming on the Murray, the Wentworth group first claimed it was creating salinity and we had a stream of ABC programs (e.g here, here and here) purporting to demonstrate this.  That furphy was unfounded and we hear little of it now.  Salt was never a problem (the Darling is naturally salty) and it is easily remedied.

But economic vandalism gained a whole new focus with the greenhouse scare.  This, coupled with the Millennium drought 1995-2009, brought intensified calls for reducing irrigation – The Garnaut Report even maintained that irrigated agriculture in the area would need to cease by 2050.  The drought having broken, analysis of rainfall records shows it was just another episode in the endless volatility of the rainfall over much of Australia.

In addition to these claims about the need to cease irrigated agriculture and revert to nature there was a third rat...


Corruption under Turnbull: An international embarrassment Independent Australia

Corruption under Turnbull: An international embarrassmentJanuary has been another bad month for corruption in Australia. Alan Austin reports, in what is now becoming an embarrassingly regular series. read now...


Turning up the heat on climate denialists Independent Australia

Turning up the heat on climate denialistsWith ten of the hottest years on record occurring in only the last 18 years, DeSmogBlog's Graham Readfearn says the chances of this not being due to manmade greenhouse gases are 'vanishingly slim'. read now...


Be warned of “self-determination” and Constitutional reform Catallaxy Files

The shape of things to come in Australia? Winston Peters warns of the tribalization of NZ.

Under the new bill, every council in New Zealand will be required by law, to invite the local iwi to “discuss, agree and record ways in which tangata whenua” through iwi authorities, can participate in the formulation of policy plans, including water management plans,he said…

The proposed changes to the RMA are a signal flare to the entire country that the two parties are taking us down the track of separatism. We are no longer one people. We are moving towards two separate groups with separate rights.

Beware of the push for “self-determination” of national, racial and ethnic groups. The principle, in its pure form, amounts to the demand that each state should be a nation-state: that it should be confined within a natural border, and that this border should coincide with the location of an ethnic group.

However apart from the possible example of Iceland there are virtually no nation states of that kind and the attempt to realise that state of affairs has caused endless conflict and strife when ethnic minorities demanded that they be allowed to break away or join an adjacent state where they would be the majority. For example Czechoslovakia was formed under the principle of national self-determination but as soon as it was formed the Slovaks demanded t be free (in the name of the same principle), and finally it was destroyed by the German minority, in the name of the same principle. The latest example of this principle is the demand for a Palestinian nation state which is used as a rationale for waging war on Israel.

From “The History of our time, an optimist...


Still more on framing the political debate - the key to winning The Political Sword

I began this short series on political framing with the image above, and illustrated the concept with some overseas examples. In the second part I used examples from the contemporary federal political scene, pointed out the dangers of accepting political opponents’ framing, and examined ways of countering that framing. In this final part, I will further illustrate framing with some very contemporary political framing.

I hope that these pieces will convince you of the continuing reality of framing in our political scene and the power of a strong and plausible frame in setting the political agenda. I hope too it will offer some hints to Labor leaders as they seek to counter and match the Coalition’s skill at framing.

Abbott was a master at framing. He’s gone now from the top job, or we hope he has, but his legacy persists.

Take the ‘Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption’. If the title had not included ‘and Corruption’, it might have been seen as a neutral body assigned the task of examining how unions are managed and governed. But Abbott was determined to frame the Commission’s task as a legal investigation into what he asserted was widespread union corruption. His framing prejudged the outcome. Now that the Commission’s findings are public, Abbott will not be disappointed.

He could have achieved his purpose had the Commission been simply into trade union governance; the terms of reference would have defined the scope of the inquiry. But typically Abbott has...


Deconstructing the closet Independent Australia

Deconstructing the closetDarin Grace explores the relationship between the societal acceptance of terms such as “homophobia” and “coming out of the closet” with depression and suicide among non-heterosexual people. read now...


Cat Stevens, Pellists, Jensenists, what have you got, because the pond's agin it, unless it happens to feature manly men in frocks ... loon pond

The pond realises that it's been failing in its duties in relation to meditative Sundays ... we simply haven't been pounding the keyboard hard enough.

This came upon the pond while watching Spotlight last night.

It isn't a particularly good film. The reporters at the Boston Globe are each given haloes, and Mark Ruffalo is given an obligatory intense speech to ensure nominations, while good old Stanley Tucci acts the socks off him. And then there's the banality of the underscore, which frequently delivers bouts of "doing" music to accompany montages of activity (a Christmas carol also performs this duty).

And poor old Rachel McAdams is given the job of becoming a female beagle, such is the intensity of her winsome looks (punters will recall with affection that Anthony Lane awarded Ryan Gosling the title of male beagle when he noted a sure way for the local animal shelter's fund-raising leaflet to raise oodles of money was to have Gosling as the beagle on the cover. It never fails ...)

And yet the sheer enormity of what the Catholic church got up to in Boston, the cover-ups and the abuse, carried the pond through the movie, and made it wonder whether we will ever see the Pellists back in Australia ...



US radio show Majority Report interview on Disaster Capitalism Antony Loewenstein

Last week I was interviewed from Berlin by the US radio program Majority Report with Sam Seder. We discussed my book, Disaster Capitalism, Haiti, the Clinton Foundation and Australia’s brutal refugee policies.


To Kill A Whooping Crane North Coast Voices

This is the beginning of a letter sent in relation to an 18 year-old Texan’s 11 January 2016 alleged killing of two Whooping Cranes protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Read the rest of this sad letter here.

Image of a pair of ...

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Saturday, 30 January


How can it still be possible for Hillary Clinton to become president? Catallaxy Files

That there has been more controversy around Donald Trump than around Hillary Clinton is further evidence, if more were needed, of the deeply corrupt nature of the media, and the American media in particular. Hillary should go to jail. She illegally used a personal server for her correspondence as Secretary of State because in this way nothing she wrote could be subpoenaed by the American Congress. Instead, every email she sent could be read by governments around the world. Just think of this:

The ex-CIA official said there is “zero ambiguity — none” about the impropriety of SAP-level intelligence being housed on an unsecure private email server. Faddis added that the very existence of that information on her server means that highly classified information must have been moved off of a “completely separate channel” under a process that is “specifically forbidden.” If you had done this while working at the CIA, Hemmer asked, what would’ve happened to you? Faddis’ response: “My career’s over, I lose my clearance, I lose my job, and then I go to prison, probably for a very long time.” Faddis explained that the “consequences are enormous” when information at this level of secrecy is made vulnerable to foreign penetration. “The reason this stuff is in this channel is because it’s going to do incredible damage to US national security if it gets out in the open. That’s why we protect it this way.” When Hemmer inquired whether Hillary’s conduct could have cost lives, Faddis didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely. Without question,” he asserted.

That she protected her husband from harassment charges and highly plausible accusations of rape in order to protect Bill’s presidency and her own political prospects is...

Thursday, 28 January


Invasion Day: Ignoring History DUCK POND

History, we are told is written by the victors. If history is not is not accurate it has little value as memory. Propaganda can be very serviceable. Means have a habit of presaging ends. Orchestrated delusion, or at least failure to address the truth of the past, or worst to embrace ignorance, does not serve the larger of cause of humanity.

Winston Churchill, who seems to have had an opinion of everything, expressed the view:

I do not admit… that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia… by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race… has come in and taken its place.
Churchill to Palestine Royal Commission, 1937

As Howard Zinn noted:

These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.

Columbus wrote:

As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.

The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold? He had persuaded the king and queen of Spain to finance an expedition to the lands, the wealth, he expected would be on the other side of the Atlantic-the Indies and Asia, gold and spices. For, like other informed people of his time, he...

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