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Saturday, 13 February

00:59

You go to war with the army you have Catallaxy Files

I read the comments on Donald Trump in 2013 with some dismay. We are now down to seven people who might become President of the United States:

Jeb Bush
Hillary Clinton
Ted Cruz
John Kasich
Marco Rubio
Bernie Sanders
Donald Trump

Maybe Joe Biden might get into this at some stage, or Michael Bloomberg, or Ben Carson may come back into it, but that’s all that’s left. That’s it. No one else. It is one of the above and no other.

Then there are the problems the United States now confronts – the US being our last hope for a defence of the West – problems from open immigration, a rapidly descending economy and a clueless millennial generation who you could easily imagine voting in a Hugo Chavez. And so I said, after watching the video of Trump in 2013, that Trump is the best of the lot. He not only has sentiments that match my own [92% as it happens] but he has the force of personality that might actually bring it off. He is our Churchill circa 1940.

I can see just as easily as anyone else that he is not your standard issue highly polished product of the elite establishment in the US. He is crass and loud and bumptious and vulgar. All true, but he is also smart, and shrewd, and tuned in and hard edged. But most of all, the things he wants are the things I want, the most important ones being the preservation of the United States as the land of the free and the defender of our values. He also has the one element none of the others on the Republican side have, a fighting will that will not be pushed around by the media and the left.

And I am not even going to say something like he’s not perfect, because, for all I know, given the way things are and what now needs to be done, he may well be exactly what is needed. He may exactly suit the times we are in.

There&#8217...

00:15

Quote of the Week North Coast Voices


"Four banks, and we all know who they are – the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac, and ANZ – three big mining companies, in Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and Fortescue Metals, you've got your two big grocery chains, and you've got your big telco, which is Telstra…..They have "unprecedented concentration of corporate influence" in Australia…...
The entire political debate has become so dominated by the interests that they're pushing, and the agenda that they're pushing. And [we've] ended up with this complete crowding out of a proper political discourse in this country because there is one sectional interest that is so much louder than every other voice out there combined." [Labor Senator Sam Dastyari quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 2016]

...

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Friday, 12 February

22:00

Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce Independent Australia

Prime Minister Barnaby JoyceIt's been a week of ructions and divisions, belated resignations, bizarre promotions, perplexing awards and humiliating backdowns — all of them on the conservative / reactionary side of politics, writes managing editor Dave Donovan. read now...

17:41

Shorten must show courage and back Senate Inquiry into Super Rich Death Tax: Lambie Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

JLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie and Victorian Senate Candidate Hugh Dolan have called on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to show some political courage and back a Senate Inquiry into a Super Rich Death Tax.

“A brilliant article today by Peter Martin (see here) proves that the Liberal’s GST increase was a sly attempt at a reverse Robin Hood (give to the rich, while taking from the poor).

Rare photo of Treasurer at time of GST debate

Rare photo of Treasurer at time of GST debate

And while I know the Liberal party and Malcolm Turnbull will fight any tax like hell that targets their super rich friends, I still have hope Bill Shorten and Labor will be reasonable,” said Senator Lambie.

“Even though the Labor party receives in political donations hundreds of thousands from Australia’s BRW top 200 rich list – (see table 1 below), its now time for Bill, as leader, to show he has the courage to stand up for the battlers, while making the rich pay their fair share,” said Victorian Senate Candidate Hugh Dolan.

“After listening to charity leader Tim Costello yesterday, it’s clear that he informed our nation that his new tax would only affect 0.8% of Australians while it raised an extra $5B a year for budget repair – from our rich.

“However, after listening to Scott Morrison and our Prime Minister during the recent GST debate, it’s clear that they informed o...

16:30

Absent even the drover's dog, Barnaby snags the Nats leadership unopposed Independent Australia

Absent even the drover's dog, Barnaby snags the Nats leadership unopposedAbsent even the drover's dog (apologies to Bill Hayden), the clownish Barnaby Joyce seized the leadership of the Nats unopposed and, to an astonished public, became our new deputy prime minister. David Tyler reports. read now...

14:13

Here no evidence of wrongdoing, no wrongdoing here, just dead dogs, parrots and rams ... loon pond


That popped up just after eleven today ...

Maestro, ticking clock please ...


Thank you maestro, now please, off to Canberra with the reptiles and the Fairfaxians ...

Back to the original story ...

13:52

Memo to Sussan Ley: It’s the cover up not the stuff up II Catallaxy Files

We have been following the dodgy “3.4% decline in tobacco clearances” claim here at the Cat for some time (here, here, here …). It even inspired a this magnificent clip:

Senator David Leyonhjelm has been pursuing this is the Parliament. Most recently he asked:

Senator LEYONHJELM: I might ask you to take on notice why the calendar year data was released rather than data for the applicable period for the policy implementation. Professor Sinclair Davidson published an article entitled ‘Department of Health telling porkies on plain packaging’ on the Catallaxy Files website on 19 August this year and in the IPA’s FreedomWatch on 20 August this year. In that article, Professor Davidson takes the monthly data on your freedom of information disclosure log to replicate your figures for the 2012 and 2013 calendar years and your calculation of a 3.4 per cent decline between these periods. He also calculates figures for the period starting 1 December 2012 and the year prior to 1 December 2012, and the change from one period to the other is negative 0.8 per cent. Have you done this calculation your...

12:54

Markets get distorted Catallaxy Files

Bryan Caplan misses an obvious explanation when addressing this issue:

Libertarians love to preach the virtues of markets. Yet in the “marketplace of ideas,” their bundled product has been regularly and thoroughly rejected for over a century. Until libertarians acknowledge that market verdict and re-think either what they’re selling, how they’re selling it, or both, they will remain on the margins of American political life.

Caplan points to some explanations:

  1. There may be large negative externalities in the market for ideas. So the costs of irrationality in the market for ideas are imposed on others. Maybe. Yet he ignores positive externalities – so when a a few libertarians get it into their heads that, say, a mining tax is bad idea and blog and op-ed about how silly the idea is until almost everyone realises that it is silly and the tax gets dropped, the benefits to society are very large, yet society has not become “libertarian” and those libertarians remain on the margins of political life.
  2. Then he suggests that the market is ideas is about truth while consumers in that market are more likely to demand “comfort and entertainment”. Maybe. Yet it seems to me that truth could be a bundled product.

That is all well and good but it seems to me that the market for ideas – like all markets – can be, and is, distorted by government intervention. The most obvious mechanism to distort the market for ideas is public education. Thirteen years of free and compulsory statist brainwashing is very likely to distort the ideas that people are likely to find more or less attractive. Public broadcasting too. Government financed NGOs – whose primary function is to then lobby government – publicly funded “think” tanks, and increas...

12:46

No freedom of the press in Australia No Right Turn

In 2014, Guardian Australia journalist Paul Farrell revealed that Australia had intruded into Indonesian waters in its efforts to turn back refugees. The Australian government later admitted the incursion - but in the meantime they were having Farrell investigated by the Australian Federal Police in an effort to expose and punish his sources:

Sitting on my desk now are more than 200 pages of heavily redacted police files. Every journalist, in fact every Australian, has a right under the country’s privacy law to access personal information held on them by government agencies.

The files are made up of operational centre meeting minutes, file notes, interview records and a plan for an investigation the AFP undertook into one of my stories. Most concerning is what appears to be a list of suspects the AFP drew up, along with possible offences they believe they may have committed.

The documents show that during the course of an investigation into my sources for a story I had written, an AFP officer logged more than 800 electronic updates on the investigation file.

It’s a mosaic in document form of state surveillance of journalists by police. The files give an insight into the fragile state of journalism in Australia and the ease with which the police choose to take up these investigations because of poorly defined laws.


And Farrell is n...

12:35

Senate voting reform looks set to go ahead The Tally Room

According to a report in this morning’s Guardian, the Coalition, the Greens and Nick Xenophon appear close to an agreement on Senate voting reform. There’s also an accompanying media release from Lee Rhiannon.

The proposed plan, put to the government by the Greens, would abolish group voting tickets (the mechanism whereby preferences flow according to pre-lodged party preference decisions when voters vote ‘1’ above the line for a party), and would allow voters to number their own preferences for parties above the line or for candidates below the line.

This proposal is very similar to that proposed unanimously by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), with a few exceptions:

  • Voters would be expected to number at least six boxes above the line or twelve boxes below the line. As I understand it, there would be a savings provision so votes that don’t number enough boxes would still count.
  • The Greens don’t propose any changes to party registration rules, whereas JSCEM had proposed raising the threshold for party registration from 500 members to 1500 members.

While the article is written as if agreement has been reached, it’s unclear whether the Coalition has agreed to the Greens’ demand that party registration be taken out of the package. It’s also unclear where Labor stands on the proposal – while some senior Labor senators are opposed, there are others in the party who support Senate reform.

While some have been strongly opposed to any changes to group voting tickets, a lot...

12:00

Mystery explained: Hunt's award handed out by the oil industry Independent Australia

Mystery explained: Hunt's award handed out by the oil industryThe nation's satirists stormed Twitter this week crying mass unemployment over the shock announcement of Greggie Hunt's global gong. But Lachlan Barker was on to it. No mystery. Hunt’s award was handed out by the oil industry. read now...

11:21

The Advocate – Scott Morrison’s tax change would have taken from the poor and given to the rich Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

By Peter Martin

The most shocking thing in the Treasury analysis delivered to Scott Morrison on January 25 isn’t the finding that a cut in income tax funded by a lift in the goods and services tax wouldn’t boost the economy at all.

It’s what Morrison asked the Treasury to model.

He asked it to model a lift in GST from 10 to 15 per cent and then the handing back of back every possible cent in income tax cuts. Because boosting the GST automatically results in extra spending on benefits such as Newstart, family allowances and pensions as prices climb it isn’t possible to give all of it back.

But it is possible to hand back $30 billion of the $35 billion as tax cuts, and that’s what Morrison asked the Treasury to model in the first instance, not legislated increases in benefits of the kind delivered by his predecessor Peter Costello when introducing the GST.

The impact is horrific.

High earning households do very well. In the top fifth, 81 per cent are better off. In the fifth below that, 80 per cent are better off.

In the bottom fifth, only 9 per cent are better off. Put another way, the change makes 91 per cent of the lowest-earning households worse off.

It makes 79 per cent of the next lowest earning households worse off, and 60 per cent of middle earning households better off.

Morrison had asked the Treasury to model a change that enriched middle and high earners at the expense of the least-well off.


And the results tell us something about the nature of the change. It appears to have been one that cut tax rates or adjusted thresholds at the top more than the bottom. All of the Prime Minister’s talk about how any change must be fair appears to not have sunk in.

At his request Treasury and its consultants Econtech and KPMG also did sensitivity analysis. What would happen if, say, $6 billion of the tax cuts were diverted to low earners in extra be...

10:19

Heydon Royal Commission Secret Volumes: No threat to the power and authority of the Australian State – Lambie Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

JLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has called on Prime Minister Turnbull to redact and de-identify the secret volumes of the Heydon Royal Commission and release them to all Senators, under special circumstances, after she read the secret report.

“When I was finally allowed to read the secret volumes of the Heydon Royal Commission, I expected to find, as commissioner Heydon wrote: grave threats to the power and authority of the Australian State.

The only grave threat I found was to the credibility of the Liberal government,” said Senator Lambie.

“I didn’t find anything like a grave threat to our nation’s power or authority.  In fact, the average Australian would find that sort of warning is grossly misleading – and that is why all Senators – no matter what political party they belong to, should be able to make up their own minds – after viewing redacted and de-identified secret volumes.

The Liberal government made a fuss about Labor politicians viewing these secret volumes. They were treating the Australian public like mugs! The Liberals were caught out trying to cover-up their lie. The Royal Commissioner had already made the secret volumes available to all of Australia’s Premiers, including Labor’s state leaders and their staff weeks earlier!” said Senator Lambie.

“After reading the two slim secret volumes in about an hour, I was left with the feeling that taxpayers had been ripped off after paying out $80M for them.  The last secret volumes I’d read were from the Defence Abuse Review Taskforce (DART).  Unlike Heydon’s two slim secret volumes – the 33 secret defence abuse files were thick, heavy, ring bound folders; about 10 cm thick – and it took myself, and a staff member 5 hrs. each, just to skim those top secret files.

The defence abuse secret volumes showed a real threat to the power and authority of the Australian state – by proving that our defence force senior officers had deni...

10:18

NATO is now an alliance against refugees No Right Turn

Back during the Cold War, NATO had the task of protesting Western Europe from Soviet Invasion. With the Cold War over for more than 25 years, they've struggled to find a reason to justify their existence. But now they have a new role: enforcing Europe's racist anti-refugee policies:

Nato has sent a patrol of three warships to intercept migrants trying to reach Greece by sea and send them back to Turkey, as Europe steps up efforts to contain the refugee crisis.

The mission has been agreed and ordered to the Aegean sea in less than 24 hours, an extremely rapid move for the alliance. Nato normally spends months deliberating over decisions and agreeing details.

The German-led patrol will be backed by planes that can monitor the flow of people attempting illegal crossings. Greece and Turkey have agreed that any migrants they intercept will be sent back.

“They will not be taken back to Greece. The aim of the group is to have them taken back to Turkey. That is the crucial difference,” said the British defence secretary, Michael Fallon.


So, Europe is basically going Australian, with Turkey as their Nauru - another example of how the European dream of a continent-wide federation committed to democracy and human rights is dying. As for NATO, no matter what you thought of the politics, their Cold War role was at least understandable; now they're just a jackboot stomping on the weak.

08:30

Why did Turnbull dump the proposed GST increase? Independent Australia

Why did Turnbull dump the proposed GST increase?How did the "bedwetters" and workers force a backdown on the GST by PM Turnbull? Former ATO Assistant Commissioner John Passant reviews the reasons and how we keep the GST off the table. read now...

07:52

In which the pond can't take a break because of the climate for most unique opportunities for Barners cartoons ... loon pond

(Above: and more Rowe in a china shop here).

The pope was supposed to be on a break, and then last night on The World, the host of the show - yes you Beverley O'Connor, the pond is looking right at you - advised the pond to keep watching because coming up would be a story about the way the zebra was one of the world's 'most unique' animals.

Now the pond can come at many things, even Barners being deputy PM, even though that brings great disgrace to Tamworth and casts it far into the darkness, away from the great centre of the universe it once was. After all, Barners offers the chance of infinite comedy ...

(And more Mickey Mouse Popery here).

Yes, the Davids are in top form, but the pond was content to hold its tongue. Talk of gravitational waves floated through the body like a Barners' interview voided the brain.

Even the complete disconnection between the Fairfaxians and the reptiles had no...

00:24

Setting the record straight on one of Tony Abbott's phantasies in 2016 North Coast Voices


Malcolm Turnbull’s first official visit to the U.S. since becoming Australian Prime Minister occurred this year. He met with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington DC on 19 January 2016.

The occasion was attended by an obligatory White House press release and photo opportunities:


At the end of January sacked former prime minister Tony Abbott hotfooted it to Washington and then briefed News Corp to the effect that on 30 January he attended...

00:20

Donald Trump in 2013 Catallaxy Files

This is Donald Trump receiving an award from the American Spectator in 2013, long before he was running for President. Listen to not just what he says – which are themes he has been discussing since entering the race – but also how he says it – which is temperate, balanced and filled with common sense. And he knows a thing or two about budgets, deficits and getting value for money. There is no doubt in listening to this that he is not a Democrat and is a Republican, but of a kind not hitherto seen. From this point on, for me it is Donald Trump for President. America’s problems may be too large to fix, but if they can be fixed, he is the only person in public life who has the potential to do it.

00:15

Minister for Human Services & Minister for Veterans' Affairs showing his contempt for the Australian electorate North Coast Voices


Liberal MP, Minister for Human Services & Minister for Veterans' Affairs, lobbyist and professional investor, Stuart Robert, elevates the non-answer to an art form in an effort to keep the Labor Opposition, mainstream media and voters in the dark – as evidenced by these examples of his answers to questions without notice in the House of Representatives.

Question Time, House of Representatives Hansard 9 February 2016:

Mr DREYFUS: My question is to the Minister for Human Services. I refer to the minister's trip to China in August 2014 and the statement from the minister's office in The Courier Mail:
Mr Robert was on approved leave and attended in a private capacity.
Minister, is this accurate?

...

Thursday, 11 February

22:39

Roundup 11 Feb Catallaxy Files

Is Australia a real democracy? Nice work from Don Aitkin. Steyn on line. Don’t miss him in Australia soon! This week in The Spectator. Launch of the Gary Johns book No Contraception, No Dole.

Culture. Books for the end of the world. Great moments in real (Australian) football. The Spectator Culture House. Two books on the French Resistance during WW2. Ruth Park’s Sydney.

Still regarded by many as the best book about Sydney, this is a lively account of the history and culture of Sydney told by a much-loved local author. The book is intended for residents interested in the history of their city, and for the more cultured tourist. Conta...

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