Posts filed under 'Samuel’s Editorials'

On the passing of Gough Whitlam

Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam passed away this morning at the age of 98.

I was sad to hear of Mr. Whitlam’s passing.

I respect greatly the fact that he was an effective agent for change as it is hard to cause societal change, especially on the scale he did, and he reinvigorated interest in the political and legislative processes to the point of inspiring people to enter the political fray on all sides, not just that of Labor.

I respect Mr. Whitlam for these reasons even though I disagree with almost everything he did politically, and while I would gladly undo much of what he did if I had the opportunity, it is worthy of respect and a testament to his impact on the nation that most of his changes live on in some form many decades after he left political office.

Mr. Whitlam’s place in Australian history will not be forgotten. May he rest in peace, and his family grieve in peace and dignity.

Samuel

1 comment October 21st, 2014 at 10:06am

Hume and Pacific Highway speed limits may rise, and so they should

Back in February I noted that the Northern Territory was trialling an open speed limit on a 200km stretch of road, and that this is a good idea which will hopefully lead to speed limits in other places being reconsidered. Today there is news that the NSW government is considering increasing some speed limits as an effect of the successful trial in the Northern Territory.

The NSW government has nominated the Hume and Pacific highways as major roads where it could raise the speed limit from 110km/h to 120km/h.
[..]
The government will also monitor the progress of a controversial open speed trial in the Northern Territory before deciding whether to permanently raise highway speed limits in NSW.

With a safer roads network and increasing active and passive safety technology in new cars, [Roads Minister Duncan] Gay said, the government would consider introducing the legislation to parallel highway policies in European countries, where the posted speed limits are typically higher than in Australia and in many cases the road toll is lower.
[..]
Fairfax Media has been told the Northern Territory open speed trial, which at present applies to a 200 kilometre stretch of the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs, has not resulted in a single serious injury or fatality since it began on February 1.

(h/t Sam Hall, Drive.com.au)

120km/h is a start, but 130km/h would be a better option for most of the Hume Highway and much of the Pacific Highway. The Federal Highway would be a suitable road for a 120km/h limit with 110km/h remaining in place around the intersections at Collector.

It seems that Duncan Gay has a bunch of pressure groups ignoring evidence such as the NT trial and bombarding him with “speed = bad” arguments (there’s an example in that article) so it might be prudent to start with a small increase and then continue after it proves to be successful. It’s an annoying way to have to do it, but it might prove to be the only politically viable option. Regardless, it is true that on roads which are safe enough, allowing some extra speed leads to more alert and responsive drivers, so I congratulate Duncan Gay on starting the inevitably long and drawn out process of increasing speed limits.

Samuel

Add comment August 9th, 2014 at 09:40am

Reaction to the racist rant shows the law is unnecessary

The lady who gained national attention earlier this year for a racist rant on a train has been given a sensible sentence by the courts: no fine and no recorded conviction. Unfortunately she has been placed on a good behaviour bond, but I suspect Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan did this only because Karen Bailey pleaded guilty to using offensive language, and failing to hand her some sort of punishment would have led to an appeal in front of a judge with less sense when it comes to matters of freedom of speech.

The real travesty here is that there is a law which makes her racist rant illegal. This law is entirely unnecessary as, apart from anything else, public reaction on the train where other people used their own freedom of speech to counter her absurd rant was enough to eventually shut her down. The public humiliation which followed when footage turned up online and on television was further punishment for her, as her court statements show.

Karen Bailey, 55, pleaded guilty to offensive language in the Downing Centre Local Court today and told Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan she was “absolutely appalled” at her behaviour.
[..]
She had written a letter of apology to the court

(h/t Amy Dale, The Daily Telegraph)

Both the on-train reaction and the public airing of her rant and accompanying condemnation were exercises of freedom of speech, and proved the best defence against absurd uses of free speech is more use of free speech. Laws prohibiting certain types of speech inhibit this ability of a society to self-moderate, and worse still if such laws do reduce the amount of absurd speech, we end up in a situation where some groups don’t hear regular reminders that society doesn’t accept certain views, and can become radicalised in those views because they believe such views are widespread but silenced…at least when such views are intermittently aired and reacted to, people holding such views understand how these views are seen by society.

Unfortunately there are bigger issues with a lack of freedom of speech in Australia as, right now, there is a court order which can not be mentioned either by content or name (even writing this is skirting on the edge of the law) and we have to rely on foreign press to mention it as domestic media and citizens would be in contempt of court if they mention it. That law is a true disgrace as, while it is reasonable for a court to prevent some details from being mentioned while the court proceedings are in progress, the prevention of noting that such a court order exists is a sure fire way to diminish trust (which is dependent on relative transparency) in the courts.

Freedom of speech, while never enshrined in law in this country, really is in trouble while we have all of these restrictive laws in place.

Samuel

2 comments July 31st, 2014 at 06:30pm

If governments didn’t stick their noses in where they don’t belong, this sort of thing probably wouldn’t happen

If the facts are as stated (and that is for a court to decide), then what happened is inexcusable and I don’t seek to excuse it.

A Department of Environment and Heritage worker is believed to have been shot dead while attending a property 55 kilometres north of Moree.
[..]
A source at the department said the worker had been serving a notice on an elderly man at the property when he was shot.
The man was receiving the notice because he was suspected of illegally clearing vegetation.

(h/t Eryk Bagshaw, The Sydney Morning Herald)

There are calls for better protections for “frontline workers” in the wake of this incident, and that is fair enough, but something else which should be considered is that none of this would have happened if the government wasn’t interfering with how people run their own land. If people wish to clear land which they own, then the government should not be in a position to stop them. It is not as if the NSW Government, in particular, has been a beacon of great sense with such interference either as they are the people who refused to let people make fire breaks on their own land…land which burned as a result.

If governments wish to dictate how land is managed, then the government should take ownership of such land after (and only after) providing reasonable compensation. The NSW Government, thanks to laws (The Native Vegetation Act — Thanks Jim Ball) passed by Bob Carr’s government, are not required to provide any compensation and, as a result, seem to think they can dictate to all and sundry about how land should be managed, despite their own dismal record.

Samuel

July 30th, 2014 at 02:12pm

Today’s West Australian Senate re-election

I have two hopes for today’s Senate re-election in Western Australia.

1. Enough seats are won by conservatives for there to be a conservative majority in the Senate.

It’s impossible for the Coalition to get an outright majority by my count as winning all six seats would only get them to 37 seats in the Senate (39 is a majority) but it is possible for them win enough seats to have a conservative majority once certain crossbenchers are taken in to account. Four Coalition seats in today’s election (achievable with a very small swing to them compared to the 2013 election) plus one other conservative winning a seat should make it possible for there to be a conservative majority in the Senate on most issues.

2. Bye bye Scott Ludlam.

Even if he was to be replaced by another Green I’d be happy. His speech in which he came up with all sorts of inaccurate statements about Tony Abbott being some sort of racist was an embarrassment…it was almost as ludicrous as Julia Gillard’s infamous misogyny speech. The country would be better off with anyone other than Scott Ludlam in the Senate.

Good luck and vote well Western Australia; The country is counting on you.

Samuel

2 comments April 5th, 2014 at 01:10pm

The real march is the conservative one at the polls today, not the kooky one outside Federal Parliament on Monday

Voters in Tasmania and South Australia go to the polls today for their respective state elections, and the opinion polls indicate that conservatives are likely to win which would put conservative governments (or right-of-centre at least…I struggle to characterise the Victorian government as “conservative” although they are “to the right”) in power in every state, territory, and federal government in the country except for the Australian Capital Territory. Meanwhile, not surprisingly within the ACT, there is going to be a protest march against the conservative federal government on Monday, which is going by the name of “March in March”.

State elections are not generally fought on federal issues, but federal issues have an impact. It is fair to say that after Kevin Rudd and Labor took power federally in 2007 and all of the state and territory governments also went to Labor around the same time, the Liberal Party brand was on the nose and that was largely due to federal issues. The same thing appears to be happening now, just the other way around, and even Labor Party “elders” agree.

LABOR Party elders are calling for the party to embark on a new debate about key values to restore its economic credibility, as it faces the possibility of wall-to-wall state Coalition governments in its darkest electoral days since the defeat of Gough Whitlam in 1975.

(h/t Sid Maher and Mark Coultan, The Australian)

On that point there is an issue which has damaged Labor at all levels: reckless spending. Federal Labor did the most damage with it and dragged down their state and territory counterparts, but the state and territory Labor governments did it on a smaller scale and reinforced the image of irresponsibility.

The Liberal Party should win in South Australia today. Newspoll yesterday had the Liberal Party ahead of Labor 53-47 on a two-party-preferred basis. With a number as close as that, it’s possible that the Liberals might win the most seats but not take an outright majority, but the numbers look pretty good for a majority government.

In Tasmania the margin is much bigger. Liberal 53%, Labor 23%, Greens 16%, Palmer United 4%. This easily creates a two-party-preferred figure around 55% for the Liberal Party. Oddly enough though, Tasmania has the same curse of an electoral system as the ACT (Hare Clark) and numbers like that can very easily lead to nobody having an outright majority and Labor/Greens together having enough seats to form government. The margin should be large enough to avoid that, but Hare Clark is an awful electoral system which delivers results which quite often have very little to do with the intention of the way people voted.

The mood across the nation is clearly a pro-conservative and anti-left-wing one, but trust the ACT to supply many of the people who will attend the “March In March” on Monday, where people will express their “no confidence” in the conservative federal government. They seem to be lacking confidence in the federal government on three main topics:
1) Gonski school reforms
2) Illegal immigration and social justice
3) Climate change

Well, on the first point, objective evidence from around the world shows clearly that centralised control of education of the type Gonski proposed results in worse educational outcomes than school which have general autonomy over curriculum and staffing. On the 2nd point, under this government there have been no illegal boat arrivals in about three months, with only one death which actually didn’t happen at sea but in a detention centre, whereas under the previous government our shores and maritime authorities were being overrun by illegal arrivals and multiple people were dying at sea each week and often each day. And on the third point, the planet has not warmed in nearly 20 years, and the theory of man-made global warming caused by carbon dioxide has been proven to be a complete and utter nonsense, and yet these people who will march on Monday want the federal government to tax people’s carbon dioxide emissions to stop warming which isn’t happening, ignoring the fact that carbon dioxide is an important part of life on this planet.

It’s quite clear where the real march is and the real mood of the Australian public is. It’s in a conservative direction, in the direction truth and sensible government and government keeping out of people’s lives as much as possible. The people on Monday can march and get media attention to their heart’s content…and make a dumb spectacle of themselves in the eyes of the sensible majority of conservative Australians.

Good luck to the voters of South Australia and Tasmania today. May your votes be good, and the outcomes match your votes.

Samuel

March 15th, 2014 at 09:13am

Griffith by-election

An email to 2UE’s George Moore and Paul B. Kidd in regards to the Griffith By-Election where, unfortunately, the brilliant LNP candidate Dr. Bill Glasson looks set to be defeated despite winning first preferences 43.6% to 39.0% (at latest count) over the Labor candidate.

Hi George and Paul,

I feel sorry for Dr. Bill Glasson. He’s a great man who has put in a lot of effort in Griffith and was forced to put in his time and effort a second time by the duplicitous Kevin Rudd taking his bat and ball and going home when he lost the Prime Ministership to Tony Abbott.

Bill would have been a great MP, but I hope that he can now get away from politics and focus on his medical career.

As for preferential voting…what a joke. A system based on the idea that if you can’t get an absolute majority, you have to rely on the preferences of the least popular politicians…in other words a system which favours the supporters of fringe kooks. First preferences should be the only preference…whoever gets the most votes wins, absolute majority or not. It’s the only fair way.

Regards,
Samuel

P.S. I’m leaving for the US for a few weeks on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to listening to US talk radio while I’m over there but will be sure to tune in to you as well. Keep an eye out for a postcard!

1 comment February 9th, 2014 at 10:17am

Dodgy goings-ons in unions…is anyone surprised?

Yesterday’s revelations about some of the things which go on in unions (the CFMEU is named, but other unions have their problems too) came as no surprise to me or, I would think, many Australians.

A FORMER senior union official in Queensland has pledged to provide Attorney-General George Brandis’s planned royal commission into unions with evidence of alleged corruption, dodgy elections and unlawful industrial actions in the state’s mines and energy sector.

(h/t Hedley Thomas, The Australian)

The claims came from Stuart Vaccaneo who used to be the CFMEU’s senior vice-president.

At the same time, there were also claims of similar activities within the CFMEU in New South Wales involving corruption and the Barangaroo construction project in Sydney. Sadly, but not surprisingly, death threats have been made against certain people who have tried to expose the grubbiness within the CFMEU.

A building union stalwart says he received death threats after he tried to stop his union’s dealings with a Sydney crime figure.
Brian Fitzpatrick, a senior industrial officer and 25-year veteran of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union in NSW, said the infiltration of organised crime into the union had plunged it into a “crisis” and called for “a very serious clean-up.”

(h/t Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker, Sydney Morning Herald)

Tony Abbott has taken aim at Labor for abolishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission, and quite rightly so. The ABCC was very effective at stamping out this sort of behaviour and ensuring people were prosecuted for breaking the law. Not that you’d be able to draw the link clearly enough for a legal case for “proceeds of crime”, but it’s fair to say that Labor benefited from this illegal activity by way of the revenue they receive from the union movement, and how much extra revenue the unions were able to rake in through dodgy means after the ABCC was abolished.

The sooner Tony Abbott can restore the ABCC, the better.

Is it any wonder that I refuse to let my superannuation be managed by one of those union-owned funds. Apart from the fact that the non-union funds tend to perform better (the union-run funds claim they perform better, but they use very carefully manipulated data to make that false assertion), I just don’t want any of my fees going towards the unions. The unions already openly push for and fund socialism and the Labor Party…that’s bad enough without them helping organised crime groups along the way. I won’t help them do it.

Samuel

January 29th, 2014 at 07:13am

No boat arrivals for five weeks!

One thing the federal government has been very good at is following through on their promise to stop the boatloads of illegal immigrants and customers of people smugglers. Today the good news came to light that there has not been a single illegal boat arrival in Australia for five weeks, which is the first time we have had such a five-week period in five years.

In other words, from late 2009 until this past five weeks, we have had at least one illegal boat arrival in each five week period, and more often than not it was multiple boat arrivals every week and sometimes every day. Those arrivals were due to Kevin Rudd scrapping John Howard’s Pacific Solution and the utter incompetence of his government and Julia Gillard’s government in failing to address the problem when the human costs of their policy became apparent.

Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and the Australian military should be proud of their work in reducing the human suffering caused by the awful people smuggling trade. The vast majority of people who used the boats of the people smugglers were not refugees as they did not stop at the nearest safe port of call and instead paid to continue on to another location, and in many cases they weren’t even refugees to begin with and instead were paying to knowingly illegally enter Australia. The reduction in the false asylum claims which have to be processed will mean that the federal government is able to resettle genuine refugees who are currently living in refugee camps, and will be able to save an awful lot of money as well.

There is more work to do, but for now it is very safe to say to everyone involved in Operation Sovereign Borders “well done, and keep up the good work”.

Samuel

January 24th, 2014 at 08:42am

Sean Hannity would make a good US President

When I selected a few people recently who I would support if they chose to run for the presidency of the United States, I deliberately did not select radio and Fox News host Sean Hannity as I didn’t think there was any serious chance of him running, especially not in 2016. While I still think he won’t run in 2016, it does look like his interest in running for public office is increasing in the wake of his decision to (eventually) leave New York state after Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that “ultra-conservatives” are not welcome in the state.

A source who was on Hannity’s Fox News show last fall told The Hill the conservative commentator mentioned the possibility — off camera — of running in Florida.

“He wasn’t joking,” the source said. “It was definitive, but he didn’t mention a specific office in Florida.”
On his radio show, Hannity said he “can’t wait” to leave New York in the wake of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) remarks that extreme conservatives have “no place” in the Empire State.

Hannity, a native New Yorker, has repeatedly ripped the state’s tax rates. He said he would move to Texas or Florida, which don’t have state income taxes.
[..]
During an appearance on Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record” Fox show Tuesday night, Hannity said his departure isn’t imminent.

Hannity noted his son is still in high school, and he has more than 100 staffers who work on his television and radio shows, suggesting it would be irresponsible to immediately move his media operation elsewhere.

He added, “As soon as I am able, some time probably when my son graduates from high school, I’m getting out of here as quick as I can.”

(h/t The Hill’s Bob Cusack)

Sean Hannity is an interesting creature in conservative circles in that he is one of the few genuinely conservative people who is both unafraid of standing by his convictions and has good friends in the more moderate “establishment wing” of the Republican Party. As such, Hannity could be one of the few people who could unify the GOP behind a truly conservative platform.

I have been critical of Sean in the past for giving some of his moderate Republican guests (especially regular guests like Karl Rove) a bit too much room to explain their point of view without challenging it, which isn’t to say that he doesn’t eventually challenge it, but I have thought he has sometimes left a few too many points unaddressed, however I have noticed that he has been much more strident in his promotion of conservative principles and solutions ever since his radio contract negotiations were finalised and he gave his Cumulus Radio affiliates the heave-ho in favour of Clear Channel affiliates. I put this down to not having to expend energy on contract negotiations, and not having to deal with pressure from Cumulus to be a bit more moderate in his views.

I think Sean would do a good job as US President and would be especially effective at “rallying the troops” in the House and Senate to support his conservative agenda. His lack of governing experience could be made up for with a good Vice President and also by his business experience. I’m not convinced that Sean would greatly enjoy the job, but I think he would be very effective.

That said, he has made no mention of a run for President and seems instead to be giving consideration to some other public office such as a congressional seat. I think Sean’s talents would be wasted in Congress or in a state government (although after two terms as President I would love to see him become a state Governor…but after, not before) as his ability to influence public policy from the media on a national scale is of much greater importance and value to the nation than his ability to be a conservative vote in the House or Senate, or to reform a state. If he is to run for office, then I think his talents dictate that the most suitable office is the top job.

But as much as I would like to see it, I doubt it will happen, and certainly not before 2024. He will be 63-years-old in 2024 so it’s not out of the question, but I rate the chances of it happening as being quite low.

Samuel

January 24th, 2014 at 05:37am

Federally-funded marriage counselling is the wrong priority in a time of federal budget deficits

I’m not entirely against the idea, but while the federal government is dealing with continuous budget deficits it is a bad time to start handing out vouchers for marriage counselling.

NEWLYWEDS across Australia will be given a $200 voucher for marriage counselling from July 1, as part of a $20 million trial to strengthen relationships and avoid family breakdowns.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews confirmed the Federal Government’s $200 voucher scheme would proceed with a 12-month trial of 100,000 couples starting on July 1.

The Federal Government believes the move will strengthen relationships, create more happiness and stability in the home and create a better environment for children.

“The evidence shows that strong relationships between parents make a substantial difference to a child,” Mr Andrews said.

(h/t The Courier Mail’s Laura Chalmers)

Based on current averages, the program’s 100,000 vouchers would be handed out to newlyweds within a year.

While Kevin Andrews is right that having children grow up with their biological parents in a loving household where the marriage of those parents is a strong and loving bond is by far the best option, I see two issues with the planned trial.

1. Newlyweds are the wrong target. If the vouchers are going to be handed out, they should be given to couples who are actually having problems, not couples who may or may not one day run in to problems.

2. The federal government currently spends more than it takes in. This is mostly due to the profligate spending of the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard governments, however Tony Abbott’s government has not yet shown much initiative in reigning in the budget. An argument could be made that this program might lead to reduced federal benefits for single parents being paid to divorced parents at a future date, but it seems unlikely that this would save the federal budget much money, and the initial and ongoing expense of the program makes it the type of high cost to potentially minimal yield program which should be trialled when the budget is in a much stronger position.

Ultimately I’m not sure that the government really needs to be involved in this area at all, but if it insists on being involved, then this program should surely be of a much lower priority for implementation than reducing immediate spending and paying off the federal government’s debt.

Samuel

January 24th, 2014 at 12:28am

An emptier than usual speech from Obama

I really can’t figure out why Obama made a speech about the NSA today. Usually when he makes a speech it is either him talking about how wonderful one of his ideas is (which is usually false) or is a long-winded speech without any real substance, designed to distract from whichever fiasco of his happens to be in the news at the time. Today’s speech was long-winded at a mind-numbing 45 minutes, and contained almost no substance, but there hasn’t been a predominant fiasco in the news in the last couple days so unless he was worried that the media might be bored enough this weekend to take a proper look at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report which was highly critical of the way he and his executive team handled Benghazi, he may have just made the speech so that people would pay attention to him. Either that, or something else is happening which needs to be hidden behind the limelight of a high-profile Obama speech.

Obama’s speech today was supposedly an announcement of an overhaul of the way the NSA’s phone-and-email-and-more tapping program works. It turned out to be nothing of the sort.

President Obama announced Friday he would end the National Security Agency’s ability to store phone data collected from millions of Americans.

While the president did not say the program would end, he did say the information collected would no longer be held by the NSA. He did not offer his own plan for where the phone records should be moved and will instead call on the attorney general and members of the intelligence community to recommend a transfer point

So the NSA can collect data but can’t store it…but it doesn’t make sense for anybody else to store it so the NSA will just keep storing it.

The president’s directive, delivered at the Justice Department, also requires intelligence agencies to obtain approval from a FISA court – a secret U.S. court that governs surveillance of terrorist and foreign espionage targets – before accessing the records.

They already require this. They already ignore this. Nothing is changing.

More importantly, the accessing of the records isn’t the main concern. The main concern is that the mass and indiscriminate collection of the data is a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure unless a court provides a specific warrant for a specific individual. If the collection was being done in a manner which was consistent with the Constitution, then accessing the records would not be a problem as the data would have been collected for the same reasons for which it would then be accessed.

FISA courts are an interesting beast as well as there is no good reason why a normal court couldn’t perform the same functions in a closed session. The records would be sealed and everything would be a secret for a period of time as determined by the court in consultation with the necessary parties. Eventually some or all details would become public, but that’s how the courts are supposed to work, even with closed sessions.

He also said that ‘dozens’ of foreign leaders would be safe from NSA surveillance techniques but did not offer that protection to their advisors.

Effectively that is saying “we will continue to spy on you, but we will do it via the people closest to you”. Another statement which changes absolutely nothing of substance.

Obama also said the government could no longer request data beyond two people from the terrorist target.

But they’re still collecting the data, and…

Obama also said the U.S. doesn’t indiscriminately snoop on people who pose no threat

As the NSA indiscriminately snoops on almost every communication which goes via an American network, and a heap of international networks as well, he has just declared that the US government sees everyone as a threat and a potential terrorist, and will continue to indiscriminately snoop on them.

Obama’s 45 minutes of droning on and on and on boiled down to a simple statement of “we will continue to spy on everyone and nothing will change that…I will, however, stand here and make noises which might make some of you think something is changing”.

While Obama tried to make it sound like something is changing, the speech is so much more transparent and easily seen through than usual that it really does make me wonder what he is trying to distract people from…because there is no other good reason for him to make such an utterly pointless speech.

Samuel

January 18th, 2014 at 05:54am

The apology for entering Indonesian territory is nice, but Rudd, Gillard, The Greens and Indonesia should apologise first

I was more than a little befuddled when I heard that the Australian Government has apologised to Indonesia after the Australian Navy accidentally sailed in to Indonesian waters during an operation to turn around an illegal boat which was heading for Australia before it could reach Australia.

This is a bizarre apology in a way as, while it is nice to see the apology, the Australian Navy has entered Indonesian waters on many occasions to deal with boats which were illegally headed for Australia, and the Australian government has never had to apologise for it before now.

The only difference I can see between those previous occasions and this recent occasion is that previously, under the Rudd and Gillard governments, the Australian Navy was rescuing sinking boats and bringing the people from those boats to Australian territory (which saved Indonesia the hassle of dealing with people who, by rights, could and should have been returned to Indonesia which was the nearest port of call, and should have been rescued by Indonesian vessels anyway), whereas in this instance there is no indication that the boat the Australians intercepted was sinking and it was turned around and sent back to Indonesia rather than escorted to Australia.

It seems that the Australian government is being made to apologise for being civilised and protecting lives by sending the boat back to the nearest location, and for deterring future dangerous boat trips in the process.

In my view the Abbott government should not be apologising. The precedent for Australian involvement in Indonesian waters was set years ago and it is hypocritical of the Indonesians to request an apology now just because Australia is turning boats around instead of escorting them to Australia. The people who should be apologising are Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Bob Brown, Christine Milne, Sarah Hanson-Young, and everyone else involved in the Labor/Green dismantling of John Howard’s successful border protection policies…these people lured people to their deaths by incentivising dangerous boat trips organised by people smugglers. Indonesia should also apologise for turning a blind eye to the people smugglers and avoiding their responsibility to monitor their own waters and help the many people who were in distress in those waters and were rescued by Australians in the absence of Indonesian rescuers.

The Abbott government is being nice and trying to lead a civil discourse by apologising, but until Indonesia apologise for their part in the problem and commit to properly monitoring and securing their own territorial waters, the Abbott government should not be apologising for doing the humane thing in picking up the slack and trying to save lives by destroying the business model of the people smugglers.

It’s sad but true that there is such a thing as being too nice, and when it comes to dealing with the stubborn and irresponsible Indonesian government, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison are being too nice.

Samuel

2 comments January 18th, 2014 at 02:36am

Some early picks for 2016 Republican Presidential candidate

The Republican Party has started an online straw poll to gauge interest in various candidate for the 2016 Presidential nomination. While I applaud the effort, I wonder if it would be a better idea to focus on the 2014 midterm election at the moment as I think that if Republicans can gain control of the Senate and maintain control of the House, they can lay some very powerful groundwork for the agenda of the 2016 candidate.

Still, The Blaze has reposted the Washington Examiner’s list of people on the GOP straw poll and Glenn Beck and co-hosts’ reaction to it. I’m disappointed that they so quickly dismissed Herman Cain as I would like to see him run again, but I’m happy with the rest of their selections.

First, to The Blaze. My selections and thoughts follow below.

The list has 32 names, and includes governors, senators, business leaders, and more.
[..]
– Sen. Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire
– Haley Barbour, former Mississippi governor
– John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations
– Jeb Bush, former Florida governor
– Herman Cain, radio host and former CEO
– Ben Carson, author and neurosurgeon
– Chris Christie, New Jersey governor
– Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas
– Mitch Daniels, former Indiana governor
– Newt Gingrich, former House speaker
– Nikki Haley, South Carolina governor
– Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor
– Bobby Jindal, Louisiana governor
– John Kasich, Ohio governor
– Rep. Peter King, of New York
– Susana Martinez, New Mexico governor
– Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor
– Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky
– Former Rep. Ron Paul, of Texas
– Tim Pawlenty, former Minnesota governor
– Mike Pence, Indiana governor
– Rick Perry, Texas governor
– Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio
– Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state
– Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida
– Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin
– Brian Sandoval, Nevada governor
– Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator
– Sen. Tim Scott, of South Carolina
– Sen. John Thune, of South Dakota
– Scott Walker, Wisconsin governor
– Former Rep. Allen West, of Florida
[..]
Names the three immediately [Glenn Beck, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere] struck from the list included former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Herman Cain, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Beck said they were either progressive Republicans, or we’ve “been there, done that.”

Many names were left on the list simply because not enough is known about their policies and beliefs at this point.
[..]
Four candidates quickly emerged as the top contenders among the group: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Gov Scott Walker (R-Wis.), and former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.).

I agree with those four being great options. I’ve been thinking about this a bit myself in recent weeks and had forgotten about Scott Walker and Allen West and am glad to see them on the list.

With the exception of Herman Cain, I would dismiss the same people (Huckabee wouldn’t have been dismissed if he hadn’t run away from his radio show late last year while blaming his syndicator for not finding him an audience…he was in Rush Limbaugh’s timeslot…if he wanted an audience, he had to build it himself rather than waiting for someone else to do it. That approach makes me worry about his passion to carve out his own success) and would also dismiss Ron Paul (not to be confused with his much more sensible son Rand).

It’s nice to see Ben Carson on the list, and I think he would make a great Cabinet secretary, but I’m not sure that he is Presidential material.

It’s also good to see Sarah Palin on the list and, if she were to run, she would have my support without hesitation.

One person I was disappointed to see missing from the GOP list is Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. As Governor she has been very successful and hasn’t been afraid to take on the federal government when it has done something which has put the interests of Arizona in harms way (eg. the Feds refusing to secure the border, making her state a major illegal entry point; and funding the Grand Canyon while the federal government was shut down so as to protect the tourism industry in Arizona which depends on the Grand Canyon). On the weekend Jan met with Rand Paul and posted a photo of their meeting on Facebook, which left me thinking about how fantastic it would be to see them both on the Presidential ticket as they’re both fantastic candidates and are so good that I wouldn’t really mind which one of them was running for President and which one was the running mate.

Rand Paul and Jan Brewer (image courtesy Jan Brewer's Facebook page)
Rand Paul and Jan Brewer. Image courtesy of Jan Brewer’s Facebook page.

Alas I think Jan is more interested in serving her state than the country. This is great news for Arizona and I’m sure the rest of the country will learn things from her example, but it’s a shame for the country, even if it’s nice to see a Governor who takes the job very seriously and doesn’t necessarily see it as a stepping stone in a political career.

So, anyway, my list of preferred candidates in no particular order (other than being my picks from the GOP list first, and my additions afterwards). I’m not too fussed about who does which job, but I would like to see both the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate drawn from this list.

Herman Cain, radio host and former CEO
– Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas
Mitch Daniels, former Indiana governor
Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor
– Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky
Mike Pence, Indiana governor
Scott Walker, Wisconsin governor
– Former Rep. Allen West, of Florida
Jan Brewer, Arizona Governor
– Former Sen. Jim DeMint, of South Carolina (now President of The Heritage Foundation)
Dan Bongino, former Secret Service agent and now 2014 midterm candidate for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District
– Rep. Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota
– Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas
– Sen. Mike Lee, of Utah
Todd Starnes, host of Fox News Radio’s “Fox News & Commentary”.

Of course there are some people on that list who I think would do a better job than some other people on the list, but I have confidence in all of these people. Ideally I would probably add a couple more media people to this list, but the two I have listed are people I think would not have much to lose by leaving their media career behind to seek public office.

My ideal scenario would be a combination of someone with federal government experience and someone without federal government experience. This would provide a duo which both understands the Washington process and how to bend it to your will, while holding on to the important understanding that in the US system, the federal government is only supposed to exist to do things which can’t be logically done by a state or local government, or the private sector. I believe that all of my preferred candidates understand this, but I still think that people who have spent time in Washington D.C. can unwittingly lose sight of the importance of the smaller jurisdictions and the non-government sector, and it would be helpful to have someone there on their team to keep them on track.

Samuel

2 comments January 17th, 2014 at 06:56pm

Victory for Internet freedom: Net Neutrality defeated

The US Government (and in particular the Obama administration) has suffered a major setback in an attempt to regulate the Internet and the way Internet Service Providers do business.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down the Obama administration’s net-neutrality rules.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its authority by prohibiting Internet providers from blocking or discriminating against traffic to lawful websites.
[..]
The decision is blow to President Obama, who made net neutrality a campaign pledge in 2008, and erases one of the central accomplishments of former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who pushed the “Open Internet” order.

The regulations were strongly backed by Internet companies like Google and Netflix, which fear that Internet providers will charge them more for the heavy use of their sites by customers.

On the winning side of the decision is Verizon, which filed the lawsuit, and other major telecom companies. They argued the rules created a huge regulatory burden while stifling innovation in the marketplace.

(h/t The Hill’s Kate Tummarello. Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/195360-court-strikes-down-net-neutrality-rules#ixzz2qOnJV9ik

The reason this is a big deal is that Net Neutrality effectively prevented service providers (both retail and wholesale) from favouring certain websites and services over others, or from offering special deals to certain websites. It was promoted as providing equal access to everyone, and to an extent it may have achieved that aim if allowed to run its course, but could only have done so at the expense of a lot of competition.

A few examples for you. Suppose Google decide to build a new data centre in Alaska and decide that building their own fibre network infrastructure there is unnecessary because there is a already plenty of fibre up there being run by three competing service providers. Google request that all three providers give them quotes to join the new data centre to the existing networks…all of them do and Google negotiate with them and eventually come to an agreement with two of the providers, one of whom will provide the bulk of the bandwidth at a cheaper rate and the other provide a bit less bandwidth at a cheaper rate, while both will have the capability (for an extra fee) to provide all of the bandwidth if the other fails. The third carrier will not have direct connectivity to Google’s new data centre but will instead use one or both of the other carriers, and will probably already have an agreement with one or both of the other carriers for network access (and if they don’t, they can route via an interstate network…it will just be slower).

Under Net Neutrality laws, it would technically be illegal for one of those providers to offer Yahoo a better or worse deal than was offered to Google. It would also be illegal for one of those providers to sign an exclusivity deal with Google whereby they would not offer their services to Yahoo and would receive an extra fee from Google as compensation, while Google would not seek out the services of other local providers…such a deal would not prevent customers of the service provider from accessing Yahoo or prevent customers of other service providers from accessing Google, but it would mean that customs of the provider with the exclusivity deal with Google would have ever-so-slightly faster access to Google, and other local providers would send extra traffic to this provider when their customers access Google as the local data centre would be faster to access than any of the interstate ones, and this would generate extra revenue for the provider with the exclusivity agreement.

Effectively Net Neutrality destroys competition which means there is no reason for prices to come down. It would also mean that, rather than having lots of redundant and cheap connectivity paths from your computer to any website via your ISP, there would be a lot fewer and more expensive paths. Speeds would also not increase as much as, without competition, there is no reason for service providers to provision services ahead of demand. You would end up with a slower, more expensive, and less reliable Internet connection, and less choices of provider.

The other argument which was often used in favour of Net Neutrality was this one, also from the article linked above:

Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, said [FCC Chairman Tom] Wheeler “has to act.”

He pointed to the court’s decision to strike down the no-blocking rule, which he said will require FCC action. “It’s just a completely different world” if Internet providers are able to keep users from accessing certain websites and services, like Netflix, Skype and YouTube, Wu said.

Let’s go back to my original example above. To recap, there are three wholesale fibre providers. Providers A and B have direct access to Google’s new data centre. Provider C does not, but connects via both A and B. A, B and C all also run their own retail ISP and other retail ISPs in the area use one, two, or all of the fibre providers to connect their customers to the Internet-at-large. In turn, A, B, and C all have their own agreements with interstate and international network providers which overlap to some extent.

In Professor Wu’s understanding of a world without Net Neutrality, Provider C could decide to block all access from their network to Google because Google didn’t give them a contract to provide connectivity for the new data centre. While this is true, it ignores all of the market forces at work on the Internet. Yes, Provider C could do this, but why would they when almost every one of their retails customers would leave them and go elsewhere, and absolutely any ISPs who solely rely on them would quickly sign up with either A or B to regain connectivity to Google. If Provider C also hosts websites, well those websites will be moved to another provider as soon as their owners realise that Google can’t see them any more.

Provider C could block Google, but they go out of business very quickly. Instead Provider C would be wise to either reach a better agreement to Provider A or Provider B for access to the local Google data centre, or with one of their interstate providers for better access to an interstate data centre, or even attract some other well-known websites to the local area under their own exclusivity arrangement. A lack of Net Neutrality laws promotes innovation among services providers and a desire to find a way to make their offering better than others.

Another problem with Net Neutrality is that it prevents niche providers from providing services to meet the specific needs of specific markets. For example, opt-in Internet filters for families who would like their ISP to block non-child friendly sites; these become illegal if implemented at the ISP level (although I’m sure the FCC would see fit to exempt such a thing). Also illegal would be an ISP specialising in pre-filtered Internet access for schools, child care centres, and summer camps…especially if it blocks Skype and the search engines and replaces them with their own VOIP and search facilities.

There is a little bit of wriggle room in the court’s ruling which allows the FCC to continue to regulate the behaviour of Internet Service Providers and perhaps even reintroduce smaller portions of bits of Net Neutrality, but for now the Internet is back to being a place of market freedom where competition makes things better for everyone.

Samuel

January 15th, 2014 at 06:23am

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