Election, what election?

The front page of The Age today did not have a single story related to the election. They must be working under the guidance of, if you have nothing good to say about someone, in this case Kevin Rudd, then don’t say anything at all. Or perhaps it’s, if you have nothing bad to say about someone, and here we are talking about Tony Abbott, then it’s best not to say anything. Or perhaps they were worried about what they would discuss at this event picked up at Tim Blair:

Join senior Age journalists and a Melbourne Writers Festival guest author on Saturday morning at Federation Square to discuss the day’s headlines.

The Age Arts editor Debbie Cuthbertson will lead a conversation with Literary editor Jason Steger, Opinion editor Sushi Das and London Review of Books writer Jeremy Harding at Optic Cafe, Federation Square.

Entry is free, and for $5 you can enjoy ‘bottomless’ coffee and a copy of the Saturday Age.

Optic Café, Federation Square (enter via main plaza), Saturday, August 31, 9-10am. The Age is a Melbourne Writers Festival partner.

Don Argus on Say’s Law

There is literally only a single economics text in the world that will tell you that for public spending to create jobs – any spending for that matter – it must be value adding. It is obvious and really only common sense but it is also a long-suppressed truth that is bringing us to ruin across the economies of the West. In the old days it was commonly understood that demand is constituted by supply, that to increase demand across an economy you first had to raise the level of value adding supply, a notion all but gone from economics since 1936. But here, picked up at Andrew Bolt, is Don Argus saying what is never normally said. Andrew’s heading is “Argus: this debt is dangerous, and bought us trash”. Exactly so!

The problem is that Australia’s debt accumulation did not deliver the optimal returns. There has been little infrastructure investment through the so-called boom, and remedial measures undertaken like stimulus cash payments and pink batts do not produce any ongoing return…

But one could conclude we have an emerging problem in this country that sizeable projects have not been subject to rigorous, publically disclosed cost-benefit analysis. The NBN is the most notable example of this, and the Government appears to have gone to great lengths to conceal its Budget impact.

Argus’s entire article can be found here.

Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals

It is useful to remember Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals at all time when dealing with the left. These are not just an aimless series of generalisations but the actual tactics used in political war.

The abuse piled onto Rupert Murdoch is a straightforward application of Rule 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” People in general don’t understand abstractions but are happy to wallow in a specific upon which any number of negative characteristics can be attributed. It ought to be obvious that this is in part a tactical manoeuvre to rally the troops just as it is, in part, an attempt to silence critics of Labor’s incompetence. How to deal with those who apply these rules is a serious issue.

Everyone on our side should therefore be 100% aware of what is going on when an attack is focused on one individual who is intended to become the metaphor for all that is supposedly wrong on the conservative side of politics. Here are all twelve rules. They really do constitute the tactics applied by the shock troops of the left who have nothing to offer in terms of useful policy but are masters of the rhetoric of the class war.

* RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)

* RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

* RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

* RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)

* RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)

* RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid “un-fun” activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)

* RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)

* RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

* RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)

* RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)

* RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)

* RULE 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

The list is as compiled by Glenn Beck.

A foreign policy blog to watch

Here is a foreign policy blog to keep an eye on, The Diplomad 2.0, which is interesting for a number of serious reasons but also because it is an American at the US State Department writing even though the blog address extension is “au”. But it is the substance that’s striking and I share his sense of hopelessness at the idiocies that surround us. The particular article which was brought to my attention at Instapundit is titled, Obama and an Edouard Daladier Moment. And as he asks, who was this virtually now forgotten Daladier chap? In his effort to resurrect this name, his relevance is made all too clear.

Daladier, a classic leftist politician of the era, became Prime Minister three times. French politics were rough and tumble, with alliances made and dissolved, and little attention paid to foreign policy. There was a general refusal to acknowledge that Germany was re-arming and preparing for another round. Daladier was a voice in the wilderness. He saw the threat coming from Germany and became particularly alarmed by the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Unlike many others of his time, and today, he understood that Communists and Nazis comprised two sides of the same totalitarian coin. Daladier became PM for the last time in April 1938. By this time, the West’s appeasement policies towards Hitler were firmly set. Daladier desperately tried to convince Britain’s Neville Chamberlain to take a firmer stance against Hitler. Chamberlain would have none of it, and France’s parlous military state prevented Daladier from striking out on his own. Chamberlain had decided to yield to Hitler’s demand for the Sudetenland, and to the effective dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Daladier argued against this, but found himself helpless to do anything but go along. To his life-long shame, Daladier became a signer of the September 1938 Munich Agreement, the now universally recognized monument to appeasement. Heading back home from Munich, Daladier assumed angry French patriots would rip him to shreds. He, instead, got a hero’s welcome. Enthusiastic crowds sang his praises, prompting him to turn to an aide, and utter the famous, bitter, and prophetic words, “Ah, the fools! Why are they cheering?”

Not that they’re cheering at the moment, only paying no attention at all as the world we knew is falling apart with the West led by someone even worse than incompetent. A fine post this one on a blog I will continue to follow.

Melbourne the world’s number one city to live in


This is a list of The Top Ten Cities in the World published by The Independent in the UK and picked up at Drudge. This is the text that goes with the story:

1. Melbourne, Australia: Australia’s second city may not have the glamour of Sydney, but its colonial heritage and multicultural dynamism more than compensates.

Sydney seventh seems about right.

Who does this remind me of?

This is from a post titled, “Eleven Signs You Might Be Dating a Sociopath“:

RED FLAG #1. Having an oversized ego.

RED FLAG #2. Lying and exhibiting manipulative behavior.

RED FLAG #3. Exhibiting a lack of empathy.

RED FLAG #4. Showing a lack of remorse or shame.

RED FLAG #5. Staying eerily calm in scary or dangerous situations.

RED FLAG #6. Behaving irresponsibly or with extreme impulsivity.

RED FLAG #7. Having few friends.

RED FLAG #8. Being charming–but only superficially.

RED FLAG #9. Living by the “pleasure principle.”

RED FLAG #10. Showing disregard for societal norms.

RED FLAG #11. Having “intense” eyes.


The guns of August

It was 99 years ago this month that Europe meandered its way into the bloodiest war in its history, a world changing event whose effects have in no way died down even yet. Now watching the news and reading the sites, there is an eerie sense that events are unfolding with a logic of their own towards an outcome that cannot in any way be foretold. The headline on Drudge reads:


And then there are the subheadings that have this extraordinary list:

FLASHBACK: Biden Wanted to Impeach Bush for Attack w/o Congress…
Strike within days…
Warplanes begin arriving in Cyprus…
Armed forces ‘making contingency plans’…
White House: Not regime change!
Arab Allies Withhold Support…
NKOREA caught trying to send gas masks, weapons to Syria…
Oil Reaches 18-Month High…
Russia warns ‘catastrophic consequences’…
Kucinich: USA Will Become ‘al-Qaeda’s air force’…
‘Rebels’ vow revenge attacks…
POLL: Attack On Syria Would Be Most Unpopular…

Is Barack Obama the Kaiser Bill of the modern era? He is obviously clueless and unfit to be President but he’s the Commander-in-Chief and American credibility is supposedly on the line. Off he therefore goes, perhaps about to plunge us into a conflict he has no idea about, and would have no idea about even if he was Talleyrand, Castlereagh and Metternich rolled into one. But with the simpletons at the helm in the US, where this might end up is anywhere.

Economics and history

This from Scientific American, a brief article with the title, “Is Economics More Like History than Physics?” The conclusion:

Economics, especially the macro kind, has history-like aspects. Its narratives might be woven with data, but not everything that counts can be counted. It must deal with different kinds of change that (to paraphrase Shakespeare) were never dreamt of in our physics. Perhaps this limits economics to moderately reliable maxims.

It’s clear enough that you cannot do economics without history but history is not what economics is.

Reading Abbott’s speech

It is always nice to find yourself quoted by Andrew Bolt but to match my own high regard for Tony Abbott’s campaign launch he quotes someone else who slates Abbott for the very lack of philsophy that is readily evident to anyone who actually understands philosophy. I realise you have to understand the unifying theme that exists as the foundation for what Abbott has said but it really isn’t so hard, not really. Abbott wants each of us to be self-reliant, to get on with our lives and not depend on the state. He nevertheless wants the state to use its resources to help individuals at particular moments in their lives, such as when they are sick, when they are unable to find jobs or when they have children. He also wants our productive efforts undertaken by business with governments only doing what will not be done by the private sector, either at all or to a socially optimal extent. This is, as Abbott says himself, a quite straightforward reflection of the liberal-conservative take on life. It is Robert Menzies and it is the way that all great leaders in our western tradition have exhibited the philosophy that underpins what they do. I can only say that if you can’t see it for yourself, it is because you either have little understanding of this philosophy yourself or you have a different, more socialist philosophy that does not even recognise not just the existence of this philosophical understanding but cannot see that it is superior to anything else you could possibly find anywhere else at all.

Getting up at five

Some people really do change your life. This is an article by Robert Ferrigno whose life really was changed by Elmore Leonard, a great writer but an even more incredible person as this post by someone whose life was changed by Elmore Leonard can attest. A section from the article where we find the advice that Leonard offered. It’s a short article and it’s worth reading it all:

What time you get up? he asked me.

Seven, I told him. I have to be at the office by nine.

It was the same way at the agency, he said. You want to write a novel, you have to get up at 5. That way you have two hours every day to write before your normal day begins.

Five a.m.? I’m a night person, I said.

Mr. L. smiled again. Gave a little shrug.

Okay. I’ll get up at five.

You get up at five and you start work, said Mr. L., no messing around making coffee or buttering toast. You sit down and start writing. At 7 you stop, if you’re in the middle of a sentence, you stop, and then you make coffee, take a shower, have breakfast, whatever you normally do. You’re done working on the novel for the day. You do that every day and at the end of a year, you’ll have a novel. Then you send it out to an agent and you start on the next one.

Sounds just like Trollope.