Saturday, June 06, 2009

Peace in whose time, BHO-BHO? [updated]

Barack Hussein Obama, boy, that’s the new cat’s name notes Toby Harnden at The Daily Telegraph.

Barack Hussein Obama. Say it proud. Say it out loud. The middle moniker that dared not speak its name during the election campaign is now front and centre of the US president's attempt to woo the Muslim world, the theme of his visits to Riyadh on Wednesday and [his speech in] Cairo [this morning]. . . To say Barack Hussein Obama - BHO for short - now appears to be the height of political correctness.

The Obama Administration is now embracing its “inner Muslim” in Cairo – the home of Al Qaeda’s hero and the murderous Muslim Brotherhood (whose representatives were invited to the afternoon of apology) – speaking at an institution whose Grand Sheikh, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, has given his approval — on Islamic grounds — to suicide bombing, in an attempt to do what Neville Chamberlain couldn’t do in similar circumstances: to fake reality sufficiently to avert a conflict that in this case was declared decades ago.

No wonder those he is trying to appease see him as insufferably naive.

While he talks of a “new beginning,” he shows no conception how such a beginning might be made – and simply continuing the pretence that we’re dealing with a “religion of peace” won’t cut it, I’m afraid. If the atrocities committed in recent years were truly carried out in the name of a “religion of peace,” then I’d sure as hell hate to se what they’d have been doing if they followed a religion of violence, savagery and blood lust.

Quite frankly, the Obamessiah shows no idea he knows what needs to be done, an ignorance of history so complete as to be wilful, and no conception that appeasing radical Islam will only stoke its flames.

He promises to “fight negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” yet only to “relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security.” [My emphasis.] Does anyone else see a dangerous imbalance there? Or an abject ignorance of the real truth about the “religion of peace.” Bosch Fawstin does: “If Washington P.C. fought the enemy the way they fight the truth about the enemy....... “ Here’s a question that gives you a clue about the truth:

Which religion has a doctrine of warfare, begun and practiced by its founder, against all unbelievers, to be waged by the faithful until all mankind submits:
A. Christianity
B. Judaism
C. Buddhism
D. Hinduism
E. Scientology
G. None of the above

obama_index_june_5_2009“We will have peace with the Arabs,” said former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, “when they love their children more than they hate us.” Until BHO Boy understands that goes double for Islamic totalitarians, then he’s an ally of our enemies and not our friend. To quote a recent Thomas Sowell column:

President Obama is acting as if this [and related conflicts are] something he can finesse with talks or deals. Worse yet, he may think it is something we can live with.
Burke had something to say about things like [this]: "There is no safety for honest men, but by believing all possible evil of evil men, and by acting with promptitude, decision, and steadiness on that belief." Acting -- not talking.

Here’s a few good pieces analysing the most important foreign policy speech for this political term – a Speech that Will Live in Infamy – and the perfidy of a man now officially confirmed by Rasmussen polling as being President Zero:

toon060509

toon060409

UPDATE: Good piece from The Daily Telegraph [hat tip Marcus B]
...Buried within the text, possibly in the hope that few would notice, was an effective acceptance of Iran's nuclear ambitions: "No single nation should pick and choose which nations should hold nuclear weapons." Mr Obama did warn that an Iranian bomb could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region. However, the Cairo speech did not include the threat of action against the Islamic Republic – not even sanctions. The message was clear: the US was distancing itself from the resolutions passed against Iran by the UN Security Council.
As if all that weren't enough, Mr Obama dropped words such as "terror" and "terrorism" from his vocabulary. The killers of September 11 were "violent extremists", not "Islamist terrorists". In this respect, he is more politically correct than the Saudis and Egyptians, who have no qualms about describing those who kill in the name of Islam as terrorists.
Mr Obama may not know it, but his "Muslim world" is experiencing a civil war of ideas, in which movements for freedom and human rights are fighting despotic, fanatical and terrorist groups that use Islam as a fascist ideology. The President refused to acknowledge the existence of the two camps, let alone take sides. It was not surprising that the Muslim Brotherhood lauds him for "acknowledging the justice of our case" – nor that his speech was boycotted by the Egyptian democratic movement "Kifayah!" ("Enough!"), which said it could not endorse "a policy of support for despots in the name of fostering stability".
In other words, the President may find that by trying to turn everyone into a friend, he has merely added to his list of enemies
Which will include an increasing number of former friends.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Media-slut

Cartoon courtesy cartoonist 'Knutz'

Beer O’Clock: The challenge of American Pale Ales

Beer writer Neil Miller talks up an Epic brewing battle, the fruits of which might just be worth travelling to Wellington to sample.

The world has always loved a great battle - David taking out Goliath, the armies of Rome battling the Vandals, the Royal Air Force defeating the Luftwaffe, Ali versus Frazier, George W Bush against the English language…

290319929_fd66e15c24 In July 2009, one of New Zealand’s most heated brewing rivalries will be re-kindled at the Second Annual American Pale Ale Challenge.  Two of the country’s best brewers will each produce an exclusive hop-fuelled and American-inspired pale ale looking to knock their opponent to the floor.  Round one last year was a hard fought match with no clear winner declared.  On 17 July at the Malthouse in Courtenay Place it’s round two.

Cue the voice-over which sounds quite a lot like Michael Buffer but clearly isn’t for exciting copyright reasons:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of All Ages.  The Malthouse, in association with Colin the Handsome and Softly-Spoken Scotsman, is proud to bring you the rematch that everyone wanted to see.  It’s The Imp versus The Plough and this time it’s personal!  Brewing out of the blue corner, from Epic Brewing Company, the man who put the twit into twitter, Luke “The Imp” Nicholas!  And his opponent, brewing out of the red corner by way of the Hallertau brewpub, the Nature Boy Steve Plowman!  Let’s get ready to rumb…”

Let’s get ready to get sued if we go too much further down that track.  The key point is to put 17 July 2009 into your diaries right now because it will be a hoppy main event.

little-creatures-pale-ale-707275 As a style, American Pale Ales (APAs) are becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand.  They tend to be far hoppier and stronger than traditional pale ales and make extensive use of assertive American hops.  Probably the first APA I tried was Little Creatures Pale Ale from Fremantle, Australia.  The Little Creatures brewery is housed in a former crocodile farm and the name is a reference to the live yeast which is left in the beer.  They are totally committed to using the best American hops and even ship in whole hop flowers from the US Pacific Northwest.  Apparently, Australian Customs were more than interested in the first shipment of hop cones because of their strong resemblance to another botanical product…

It is all worth the effort though.  The use of American hop flowers takes this beer to whole new levels of aroma, flavour and bitterness.  Pouring a cloudy gold, Little Creatures Pale Ale (5.2%) is a seriously tasty drop with lashings of hop, pine, citrus, grapefruit and lychee notes before a rousing bitter finish.  I drink mine with the Little Creatures (yeast) poured in though that is a matter of personal preference.

I was once perusing the supermarket beer shelves (as I am wont to do) when a gentleman I knew approached me to remonstrate about one of my beer selections.  According to him, I had recommended a particular beer and he had bought it but the beer wasn’t really any good at all.  This worried me so I asked which beer it was.  His answer was Chimay Blue which prompted me to respond that he was, of course, entitled to his opinion but he was, in this instance, quite wrong.

However, as a gesture of good faith I was willing to recommend another beer which I was sure he would like – Little Creatures Pale Ale.  He balked slightly at the $20 price tag so I offered him a guarantee – if he did not like the beer, he could return five bottles to me on the Monday and I would give him his $20 back.

Monday duly arrived (as it is wont to do) and I’d heard nothing all weekend.  The morning and afternoon passed and still silence.  Finally, at 4:55pm his email arrived containing the world’s shortest endorsement of a beer.  It simply read “I think I will keep them.”

Cheers


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine
(Cross-posted from The Malthouse Blog)

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And it’s important because . . . [updated]

Could someone please tell me why what Richard Worth did or didn't do in a Wellington hotel last March -- or what John Key did or didn't do when he heard about it -- is more important than the fiscal child abuse Bill English committed right out in the open in Parliament last Wednesday? 

Because to judge by the level of discussion, gossip about the former is far more important than analysis of the latter -- and it's Bill English's Budget that is going to affect us all far more.

UPDATE:  “The resignation of Dr Richard Worth is the most serious scandal to impact on the new National government,” says The Dim Post , and lists several “other embarrassments” the Key government has suffered in the last six month.  I’m pretty sure it’s a tongue-in-cheek list – leastways, I hadn’t heard about the great body non-desecration scandal at the Hutt Hospital mortuary before, or the decision to chemically neuter veteran Radio New Zealand announcer Sean Plunket.  Had you?

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David Bain [updated]

I haven‘t commented on this case up until now since I was out of the country when the first trial took place, so didn’t know enough to talk about it.  Now that the jury is out this time, however, I think I’ve seen enough to make a call (based, to be fair, only on media reports of the trial, never a completely reliable thing to do).

One thing about this case is that the usual rules of “beyond reasonable doubt” don’t apply.  This is a unique situation in which one of two people did the job, either David or Robin, and one of those two is dead.  Which means that if you prove one did or didn’t do it, then the reverse holds true for the other.  No other possibility exists.

And for any jury to believe that it was Robin who killed the family, there’s a list a mile long of things you would need to believe that simply defy reality – and fortunately for me, David Farrar has done the hard work summed them all up beautifully.

To me it looks as conclusive as it’s possible to be.  It can’t have been Robin, not unless you can believe thirty-five impossible things before breakfast.  Which means it must have been  the other guy. David.

I think Joe Karam has wasted his money, and his devotion.  And I think, despite the munted police evidence, that the juries got it right before.

UPDATE: In relation to the question of beyond reasonable doubt, Justice Panckhurst’s summing up is worth noting.

    Was it Robin or was it David? . . .
    It can in fact be refined in this way: is it proved beyond reasonable doubt that David killed all five members of his family, including Robin, [or to put it another way, has] the Crown proven beyond all reasonable doubt that this was not a case of suicide?

“There is simply no place for emotion,” said Panckhurst, referring to the frankly odd summing of Bain’s defence counsel, who invited jurors to bring in a ‘not guilty’ verdict on the basis that David is “a nice guy” and must have found it hard to sit through all this evidence again.  In the end they have to answer four questions:

  • Did Robin Bain commit suicide?  My answer: It’s not in any way realistic.
  • Whose bloody footprints were found in the home? My answer: Inconclusive.
  • Who typed the message: “Sorry, you are the only one who deserved to stay.” My answer: It could only have been the bloke who thought he was.
  • And who had the violent fight with Stephen? My answer: Well, only one of the two had injuries consistent with such a fight.

So in short, was it Robin or was it David?  That is the basic question.  And my answer: David.

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Holt 24, Homeopathists 0

If there’s one thing Dr Shaun Holt enjoys it’s taking on frauds, charlatans and shysters.

In recent days he’s been taking homeopathists outside for a good thrashing, both on TV and radio.  Check out the debris here at his Natural Remedies That Work blog.

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‘Green’ architecture?

P3245894 hemicycle-diagram Designing buildings to meet their environmental context should be a basic skill (meet the solar hemicycle of the Second Jacobs House for example, or so much vernacular architecture), but for some reason in the earlier part of the modern movement the whole idea of designing shelter to fit its context was shunned as unfashionable, and now in the later part is forced upon us green-buildingas all but compulsory – but with little understanding of what exactly it might all mean, and far too little architecture that even does what it purports to.

“When in doubt plant a shrub” – or (these days) whack in a bloody wind turbine – or do some complicated bloody calculation – that’s about all so much of the dubious modern mantra amounts to to make the latest unattractive box conform to the latest “green” fashion.

Oh, and a lengthy sermon on the often imaginary benefits of all the extra expense.

skyscraper-wind-turbinesFrank Lloyd Wright reckoned that the job of architecture is “to make human life more natural, and nature more humane” – a job description that needs neither fashion nor compulsion to succeed, but which these days is made more difficult by both.

The bloggers at the Architecture + Morality site have a lengthy meditation on the problem which, if you’re at all interested, is worth your time to contemplate.  As they say,

    Much of what is considered responsible design is already green and has been so for the last 3,000 years. Siting the building to maximize natural daylighting and breezes while reliably sheltering occupants from the elements was fundamental since not doing so would make life indoors extremely unbearable and a threat to health. Stale air, excessive heat, mold, water-borne diseases, and smoke inhalation from cooking fires were the consequences of from a failure to design according to traditional 'green' principles. 
    If designing green is nothing new, how come is it seen as the next big thing?

A fair question.  And why is the compulsion behind “designing green” killing what is – or should be – mostly just basic environmental common sense?

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bloggers drinks, Auckland

A late reminder here about bloggers drinks tonight at Galbraith’s, top of Mt Eden Rd, kicking off at 6:30pm.

Be there or  . . . be somewhere else, I guess.  :-)

Far Goff, Phil

When Phil Goff refused to front on Close Up last night if self-described right-wing blogger Cameron Slater appeared, TVNZ kept The Whale and told Phil to join the far queue.  A rare sign of courage from the state broadcaster and a spineless performance from Phil Goff, who reportedly “not only refused to go on with Whale - he also insisted that Whale be filmed earlier so they don’t share the Green Room, and then finally said he would not appear at all, if Whale was on the same show.”

Which gives me an idea.

Back in the 1996 election when Lindsay Perigo was Libertarianz leader, we were told by TVNZ – still smarting over being dubbed “braindead” – that they wouldn’t be filming any meeting which Perigo attended.  We responded by making hundred of life-size Perigo cardboard cut-outs which we took to every political meeting of every political opponent we could find. The ruse succeeded. Many meetings went unreported, or at least unfilmed – and the Perigo cutouts ended up on studio walls all over Auckland.  I believe Bomber himself stole two.

So here’s my idea. If Phil’s so easily spooked then perhaps Cameron’s chums could produce numerous life-size cardboard cutouts of the Whale with which they could taunt Phil at his every public appearance.  It surely wouldn’t be long before Phil developed a severe far cough.

Gold for cocaine

Has the spontaneous remonetisation of gold* already begun?  When cocaine dealers start demanding gold as payment rather than rapidly devaluing US dollars, you certainly have to wonder.

Hat tip for this story goes to Bernard Hickey whose Top Ten at Ten this morning is well worth a read – particularly for the comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke who is belatedly warning that “the government couldn’t keep borrowing forever and the Fed wouldn’t help by ‘monetizing the debt’ (ie printing money to buy government bonds)”; and Auckland art philanthropist and “hedge fund guru” Julian Robertson, who reckons it’s already too late and the inflationary genie is already out of the bottle.

* What does “the spontaneous remonetisation of gold” mean?  Briefly: “As inflation becomes perceived as a serious problem, a growing demand for gold and silver develops as an "inflation hedge"-i.e., as a store of value. Once this demand reaches a certain level, the stage becomes set for a spontaneous remonetization of the precious metals. For, just as in the process by which the precious metals became money in the first place, once enough people want to own gold and silver as an inflation hedge and thus are willing to accept them in exchange for their own goods and services, others become willing to accept them too, even though they themselves do not wish to hold them as an inflation hedge or as a store of value.  Conditions exist, in other words, for a growing acceptability of the precious metals, to the point at which they become universally acceptable, i.e., become money once again.” George Reisman, Capitalism.

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NOT PJ: Worth-less

If Richard Worth can be fired for allegedly not leaving someone alone, asks Bernard Darnton, then why do we still have a Cabinet?

_BernardDarnton Yesterday morning the Prime Minister announced that his government was officially worthless. Richard Worth-less, but a good start nonetheless.

No one will yet say exactly what it is that Worth may (or may not) have done but the innuendo is that it’s something lecherous. There have been mutterings about “inappropriate behaviour” and “unwanted attention towards women.”

It’s odd that he should be fired for that. All of us are the objects of government ministers’ unwanted attention. For most of them it’s their bloody job.

Ministers for Labour, Food Safety, Customs, Internal Affairs, Building, Infrastructure, Sport, the Environment, and all sorts of other crap are all unwantedly attending to me. John Key promised that the Revenue Minister would be reducing his unwanted attentions slightly but I still find his wandering hands on every pay slip.

And that’s why I care more that this government is worthless than that it’s Worth-less. Because whatever it is that Worth may (or may not) have done it probably pales against the scale of damage done by a government trying to spend its way out of poverty - a government that is only getting more attentive.

After all the post-election hoopla about getting rid of the nannying socialists – and I admit I hummed a little tune from The Wizard of Oz that night – we ended up with more nannying socialists. Nothing changes.

In fact nothing has changed for millennia. Pericles had it right 2,400 years ago when he warned, “You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.”

Many libertarians are involved in politics not because we enjoy the game of politics but as an act of self-defence. If I could reduce the sphere of politics, maybe it would pay less unwanted attention to me, and then I wouldn’t have to be interested in politics.

I suspect the reason that I don’t see eye-to-eye with the dead-rat-swallowing cheerleaders for the current government –many of whom should know better – is that they don’t share that distaste for politics.

Politics should be a means to an end. A good end might be, say, promoting human freedom – just off the top of my head. Politics may be one tool towards that goal.

If politics becomes an end in itself you start believing that convincing people that freedom is good is too hard. Better to hide your intentions, don’t let voters know just how free you want them to be, and sneak into power. And then with that power you can … continue to hide your original intentions and evade the difficult questions so that you can remain in power.

If this is Act’s current strategy, steps one and two are working brilliantly. No one observing them would divine the secret plan to unshackle us. The question is: what’s step three? Will they do something useful or will they keep propping up the orthodoxy so that they can retain power so that they can keep propping up the orthodoxy so that they can retain power so…

How many rats do you have to swallow before you become a rat?

* * Read Bernard Darnton’s column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

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A car quiz

It’s a simple quiz with only one question. 

General Motors failed because . . .

  • a) It “is an indictment of American management in general. It highlights the damage to our economy that results when finance becomes the tail that wags the economic dog. And it shows what happens to any company that rests on its laurels and fails to adapt to change.”
        This is the conventional answer.
  • b) They made too few electric cars.
        This is the environmentalist’s answer.
  • c) They attracted too few subsidies for an essential American industry.
    This is Obama’s answer, that if anything stops moving you throw bailouts at it.
  • d) They were brought down by too little attention to sex, i.e., “The car industry is giving the public what they think they want” instead of what they really want.
      “They assume the car purchasing public are focused on fuel economy, safety and the car manufacturer's social commitment. . . .   What the surveys don't tell car manufacturers is that most people purchase a car as a sex aid.”
        This is Motella’s answer, that “we are too caught up in trying to be politically correct.”
  • e) They were “brought down by a kind of philosophical and economic tapeworm that consumed the company from within.
        “The economic tapeworm was the United Automobile Workers union, which transformed the company into a carcass upon which it could feed while tying GM’s hands and feet with arbitrary work rules that prevented it from competing and providing any addition to what was to be consumed by the UAW’s vultures.
        “The philosophical tapeworm lay within the minds of those running the company. For decades, it led them never to take a stand on principle and forcefully resist the UAW. Always the present cost of a major strike was allowed to outweigh the prospect of the ultimate destruction of the company, which was never considered fully real because it lay in the future.”
        This is George Reisman’s answer which, he says, “is symbolic of what is happening to the United States.”

So which of these is the most fundamental answer. Post your answers in the comments.

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Library porn

Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura Rio De Janeiro 3 

“Libraries gave us power,” said the Manics.  That’s how I felt when I first discovered the local library as a youngster, but having checked out many of the country’s library’s in recent years I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t now. It’s not power they give you now, but indigestion.

RIJKMUSEUM-AMSTERDAMEvery council in the country seems to have the idea that bigger is better – bigger, that is, when it comes to blowing the budget on the building instead of the books.

Libraries aren’t about books now, they’re about “communities.” They’re about looking good.  But they’re rarely, if at all, about books.

Every library I’ve visited in recent months is “new and improved” -- which seems to mean that its book stacks are now anaemic, an dhidden “down the far end,” while the building designed to house them suffers from grandomania.  Acres of space is given over to entrances and meeting areas and spaces for “culturally appropriate” community activities, but the space given over to actual books in these places is decidedly the poorer cousin.

If knowledge is power, then the country’s libraries have given up the struggle.  Grandomania has beaten purpose.

Not so however with the wonderful libraries pictured here, taken from the hundreds collected at Librophiliac: a Compendium of Beautiful Libraries. My thanks to Danyl for sending me there (and giving me the title for this post).  These are my idea of what real libraries looks like.

TRINITY-COLLEGE-LIBRARY-DUB ()

The three beauties pictured here are (from top to bottom) the Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; the Rijkmuseum Library, Amsterdam; and the Trinity College Library, AKA, The Long Room, Dublin, Ireland.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Labour government can make the hard decisions, so why the hell can’t the Tories?

Responsible adults know that you don’t promise what you can’t deliver, and you don’t spend what you haven't got.

This is not a government made up of responsible adults.

Responsible governments know that if you want to cut taxes, then you have to make spending cuts to match.  They know that in hard times, you have to make hard decisions.

This is not a government that likes making hard decisions.  They prefer to duck them.  They’ve just ducked this hard decision – they lack even the courage of their own election promises --  and now, as Bernard Hickey points out, It means the Government will borrow the equivalent of $13,225 for each New Zealander in the coming decade to pay for that lack of courage – at the same time as the income of each New Zealander is tipped to be around $10,500 a year lower unti 2011.

    That figure [$13,225 for each New Zealander in the coming decade to pay for that lack of courage] is the amount the Government is likely to borrow to fund its deficits for the next decade - $52.9 billion, according to Treasury's assumptions spreadsheet stuck inside its website.
   
It means that every week the Treasury will go into the wholesale money markets and ask to borrow around $200 million. Every week the Government will borrow the equivalent of what it costs to build a hospital.
   
Every working day it will borrow about $50 million. That's the equivalent of a big Lotto winner every hour. In the space of that 10 years the Government will borrow an amount so large that it will dwarf the amount saved by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. It will be a massive lead weight dragging on the economy.
   
To put it into context, this borrowing is worth more than half of the entire savings built up by New Zealanders in bank accounts and directly in the stock market over the past century of around $100 billion.
   
It will push up interest rates. Key and English were worried about a credit rating downgrade because, they said, it would push up interest rates by 1.5 per cent in the coming years.
   
They managed to stave off that downgrade, but they may not keep interest rates down. Long-term rates have already risen that much in the past three months.

And they’ll keep going right on up because every irresponsible government in the world is now competing for credit from the same credit markets, and what government can’t borrow then government will just printAnything to avoid making the hard decisions – no matter the bill that leaves for future generations.

But there are still some few governments in the world who are prepared to confront hard time with hard decisions.  Governments who understand that if you’re going to keep promises that matter, then sometimes you have to have the courage to do what’s right.

In fact, there’s a Labour Government just over the Tasman who’s making that kind of decision right now – a Queensland state government under Premier Anna Bligh who is responding to the economic crisis by selling off state assets and discontinuing an expensive fuel subsidy [hat tip Christopher Westley].

    Only two months after winning an early election on a platform of financial management, Ms Bligh yesterday confirmed five government-owned corporations would be sold over the next five years and the 8.35 per cent fuel subsidy abolished from July 1.
   
Queensland Motorways Limited, the Port of Brisbane, Forest Plantations Queensland, and the Abbot Point Coal Terminal will be privatised, as will Queensland Rail's coal business and possibly even its freight arm and regional network.
   
Ms Bligh - who had not canvassed such drastic measures during the campaign and briefed caucus and selected union leaders only on Monday night - said the Government expected to raise $15 billion from the sales and save $2.4billion over four years on the fuel subsidy. . .

That’s the sort of thing a responsible government does when it’s confronted by reality and it can’t pay its bills.  That’s what, repeat after me, a Labour government is doing.

But not New Zealand’s Tory government.  Not this National/ACT government. They’re boasting in the House as I write this that they’re boosting spending on this, and boosting spending on the other – talking about extra money wasted on welfare as if it were an “investment” – while the only decent promise they did make, the promise to deliver tax cuts,the only promise they made that will actually deliver real productivity growth – as John Whitehead at the Treasury affirmed just this morning -- that’s the very promise on which they welched so cynically.

It’s a broken promise we’re going to be paying for for years to come.

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How does it feel?

Here’s a question for erstwhile ACT voters:

How did you feel when Rodney Hide and Roger Douglas stood and applauded a budget that reneged on promises of tax cuts?

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Admiral sunk [updated]

As you’ve probably already heard, Richard Worth – known in his days at law firm Simply Gruesome as The Admiral – has resigned his ministerial portfolios on the basis of some undisclosed alleged criminal behaviour, and is expected to “be asked” to clear his desk altogether.

And we’re all left stunned.  Who would have expected dodgy behaviour from a lawyer?

UPDATE: From John Key’s press conference this morning, via Kiwiblog:

    “All I can tell you is his conduct does not befit a minister and I will not have him in my Cabinet,” Mr Key told a press conference this morning.
  
“If he hadn’t resigned I would have sacked him.” …
   
Mr Key said an outside party had informed his office of the allegation of a “relatively recent” incident last week.
   
Dr Worth had not come to him about it.
   
Dr Worth has been given a two-week leave of absence from Parliament: “because I think he needs some time to reflect on his future and whether he intends to stay as an MP.” 
   
Mr Key said it was up to Dr Worth to decide whether to leave Parliament, but if police laid charges he may be suspended or expelled from Caucus.

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Doctors, diggers and do-gooders

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes an irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines.

  1. “Keeper leaves his pride for the last time– Dalu Mncube, the wildlife park attendant mauled to death last week, was yesterday farewelled by fellow workers, family and friends. A picture depicts a lion standing “as if at attention.” Oh, please!! We are talking wild animals here. Animals are incapable of conceptual thinking. The quarter-ton tiger that ended Mr Mncube’s life has no regrets and probably little memory of the event. The lion pictured in the news item was quite possibly sizing up his next meal from among the mourners. This episode is a stark reminder that, firstly, animals have no respect for the individual rights of humans and, secondly, that humans have a distinct physical disadvantage when it comes to competing with the lesser forms of life on this planet – but we can usually out-think them.
  2. “GPs get approval to raise fees by 6.5pc– A news story near and dear to me, as one of those GPs. The government in its infinite wisdom, has recommended the District Health Boards allow doctors to raise their fees by 6.5% this year, which they regard as a “reasonable increase” (which is not to say the DHBs will allow it). Doctors should be grateful to their political masters, though. In 2004/5, they were allowed a 2.4% increase. The over-riding assumption is that medical services are a “public good”, that people are entitled to subsidized health care – that health care is a right. If you believe this, then you sanction slavery. For if there is a right to health care, the state must provide it. And if the state can’t find anyone willing to provide health care on their terms – for instance under conditions of price controls – then they will have to force people to provide it, by force. That is, as slaves. As a director of a company whose business is providing health services to 18,000 clients, I will be advocating for our prices to rise by far more than 6.5% on July 1. Watch this space.
  3. “Murder accused dies of liver cancer– Gee, I can’t remember the last time a liquor store owner, dairy proprietor or pharmacist shot one of his competitors and buried the corpse with a digger. Perhaps that’s because the products they sell, which can all be abused and which can all kill in overdose (even bottled water), are legal. Whereas Brett Ashby and Grant Adams were dealing in illegal recreational substances, a situation that guarantees high prices, criminal involvement and therefore violence. Had the substances in question been legal, Messrs Ashby and Adams (or some other entrepreneurs) may very well have had adjoining shops competing peacefully for clientele.
  4. “Why peaceful NZ leads the world – We are apparently the most peaceful nation in the world (despite having more more gun homicides than the UK per capita). Hmm, wonder who came to this conclusion? None other than the Institute for Economics and Peace. And who are they? A group focused on “global peace.” A group who believe: “It is impossible to accurately portray the devastating effects that global challenges such as climate change, lack of fresh water, ever decreasing bio-diversity and overpopulation, will have on all nations unless global unified action is taken.” World government, and action to ensure survival of centipedes, cockroaches, poisonous spiders, snakes, malaria parasites, loaloa worms and other species that cause suffering and death to humankind. What nice peaceful people the IEP turn out to be.  

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

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Take the trough away from the country's highest-paid beneficiaries

Here's a thought.

We know from the British expenses scandal that British politicans will take whatever they can get.

We know from Labour's pledge card scandal, Jonathan Hunt's taxi bill and the accomodation rorts by the likes of Bunkle and Hobbs that local politicians will do the same when they can.

And we know from the truckloads of taxpayers' money being used to campaign in Mt Albert that nothing's changed since, and that when they can take advantage they will.

Why should you and I pay extra for Phil Goff's power and rent, when he's already on a good taxpaid wicket.

Why should we pay for Russel Norman 's taxis, when he wants to make everyone else use the bus.

Why should people who don't even like the ACT Party pay for the running costs of their communications and research staff?

Why should we accede to the claims bubbling under that it shouldn't just be MPs and their spouses that are paid by the taxpayer to go about their business, but political parties as well?

In short, we know that if there's a trough around then these bastards will want to get their snout into it -- and even in our neck of the wooods there's one hell of a trough. [Scroll down a little to see a partial list]

So instead of holding another "cross-party" committee meeting to decide what to do about it here -- a meeting of those whose noses are in the trough to see how they can continue to get away with it -- why not simply take the trough away.

Instead of paying every dollar it takes to run these pricks  -- instead of paying all their expenses and then some -- taxis, hotels, travel, rents, mortages, carpet-bagging, a very nice superannuation package -- why not just pay them the very nice salary they're already getting, and let them pay their own bloddy expenses out of that.

After all, that's what everyone else is expected to do, right?

Just take the trough away from these beneficiaries, and let them pay their own way themselves. That would be the honest thing to do, wouldn't it?

Coldest May on record . . .

News just in from NIWA, Jim Salinger's former employer, that May was cold. How cold? Temperatures last month were the lowest on record for May in some parts of the country, says NIWA, and colder than normal for all.

Just thought you should know.

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Bavinger House – Bruce Goff

bavinger_house_photo_viewer003001

After its recent “birthday celebrations” bavinger_house_photo_viewer024001 there’s now a whole new gallery of photos of one of my very favourite houses: Bruce Goff’s utterly unique creation, the Bavinger House.

Check out the images here at the Bavinger Conservancy site[hat tip Prairie Mod and Eric Corey Freed].

And read more about the house and Goff (and see a floor plan) here.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Blog stats for May – “Mt Albert Month”

A definite theme in popular posts here this month, and another steady rise in reader numbers -- which is very good news (as Tom Waits used to say, it would have been kind of lonely if none of you showed up), yet while reader numbers have gone up Alexa and Technorati ratings have gone down.  I’ll leave that as an exercise for readers, and for blog stat compilers who rely on them, to work out what that means.
And I think David Slack might need to work on his manners.  ;^)

NZ Political Blog Ranking for NOT PC in April: 3rd (March: 3rd)
Alexa Ranking, NZ: 2883rd (April: 1821st)
Alexa Ranking, world: 304,831st (April: 280,130th)
Avge. Monday to Friday readership: 1620/day (April: 1582)
Unique visits [from Statcounter]: 45,485 (April: 44,979)
Page impressions [from Statcounter]: 64,617 (April: 63,878)

Top ten posts for May:

Most commented upon posts

Top referring sites
Fark.Com 1479 referrals; Kiwiblog 1192; No Minister 1185;  Libertarianz 535; Facebook 321; Tumeke 227; Cactus Kate 208; Whale Oil 185;  SOLO 155; The Standard 152; Libertarianz.ning 136; Anti Dismal 122;  Home Paddock 132; Lindsay Mitchell 113; Roar Prawn 105; Oswald  Bastable 101
Top searches landing here:
not pc/peter cresswell etc 815; causes of global financial crisis 245; wine flu 148; “david slack” swine 122; broadacre city 116; toxicity of environmentalism george reisman 98;  david knowles artist 76;  nude olympians 68nz libertarian constitution 61; bavinger house 60; john adams 43; beer songs 43; julian pistorius 41; peter rabbit tank killer 37; leighton smith bob carter 36
They're reading NOT PC here:   
MayStatsStill no visit from Sarah Palin?
Top countries/territories (from Google Analytics)
NZ 43%; USA 28%; Australia 4.6%; UK 4.5%; Canada 2.8%; Germany 1.8%; Italy 1.2%; France 1.0%
Top cities
Auckland 22%; Wellington 6.3%; Christchurch 4.0%; Sydney 2.0%; London 1.9%; New York 1.6%; Melbourne 1.0%; Palmerston North 0.9%;  Brisbane 0.9%; Dunedin 0.7%;  Los Angeles 0.6%
Readers' Browsers
Firefox/Flock 47%(45); IE Explorer 38%(38); Safari 9.1%(9.4); Chrome 3.7% (3.3); Opera 1.8%(2.1)
Readers’ OS
Windows 83%;  Mac 14%; Linux 2.2%; iPhone 0.3%
Readers’ Screen Sizes
1024x768 24%; 1280x800 20%; 1280x1024 15%; 1680x1050 12%; 1440x900 11%
Readers' Connection Speeds
Unknown 35%(35); DSL 32%(32); Cable 21% (19); T1 9.1%(10); Dial-up 2.7%(2.2)

Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading, linking to and talking about NOT PC this month,
Peter Cresswell

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George Tiller' murdered in the name of "life"

Over the weekend so called "pro-lifers" murdered Kansas doctor George Tiller -- sacrificing his life to defend the so-called "right to life" of clumps of cells. Since it's almost impossible for me to put the disgust I feel into words, let me quote Ayn Rand's:
Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living. . .
Santi Tafarella has a short video interview with Dr Tiller talking about his experiences as a doctor under attack.  (And by the way, if you're going to comment here on this disgusting murder then be very careful what you say.  Commenters defending murder will have their comments deleted.)

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Schiff on GM & the US dollar slide

Take a look at Peter Schiff's new video blog, in which he comments on the slide of the US dollar (as investors gradually realise that all the bailouts and "stimuli" are all paid of by fiat dollar printed out of thin air and backed by nothing), and the rise of currencies like the NZ dollar (up 38% on the US dollar since March!).

And he talks too about the so called "bankruptcy" of General Government Motors.  This is not a real bankruptcy, he says.  If this was a real old-fashioned bankruptcy then new investors could take up the resources being wasted by General MOtors and use them more efficiently.

Instead, the government and the unions will be running them even less efficiently than the previous management!

Nobody wins!  Which, as Pravda noted recently (in the highest of historical ironies), is pretty much the problem with modern-day American "capitalism."
 It must be said [says Pravda], that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath-taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple . . .

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Sotomayor not sotto voce on nonsense

Tara Smith clearly and explicitly lays out the ground rules on whch to choose new judicial appointments -- beware the activist; beware the "umpire"; and beware the lawmaker says the University of Texas philosopher --  and the importance of getting it right [hat tip Gus van Horn].  Take-away quote: 
The rhetoric of "activism" notwithstanding, the proper interpretation and application of our law cannot be reduced to a purely mechanical process. If it could, we would be replacing Justice Souter with a computer.
That said, Justice Souther is not being replaced with a computer but with something far worse - with an advocate of "subjective emotional decision-making" and the notion that "there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives." In other words, says Tom Bowden,
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, recently nominated for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by the retiring Justice David Souter, is unqualified to become a member of the [Supreme] Court . . .
. . . not because she's a Latina, and not because she's a woman, but . . .
. . . because her judicial philosophy explicitly rejects objectivity and impartiality.

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The costs of carbon legislation [update 2]

CapGraphicColor Let’s see how many of Bob Murphy’s propositions you can agree with:

    The global-warming debate has now been completely politicized, and partisans on both sides have often injected hidden values masquerading as scientific facts. I understand that even some libertarians believe the underlying science proves that "business as usual" will mean a huge form of aggression on the property rights of some of the world's most vulnerable people.
    Even so, I think that the real threat to humanity comes from governments growing ever more powerful in the name of fighting climate change. .
    Whether you are a "denier" or whether you think carbon dioxide emissions need to be sharply reduced very quickly, you should be extremely skeptical of the process now unfolding in Washington [and in Wellington]. This isn't about saving the planet; it's about money and power.

It usually is, isn’t it.

UPDATE 1: Tom Woods throws the Broken Window Fallacy at the whole Green New Deal crap:

I won't ask if they think [people] are this stupid, since they obviously do. Leaving aside the question of whether carbon needs to be capped, since that has nothing to do with whether doing so "creates jobs" on net, is there a non-drone, non-bought-and-paid-for human being on this earth who thinks throwing obstacles in the path of production "creates jobs" in a non-trivial sense? Couldn't I, with equal justification, say that forcing every business to destroy its roof and then build a new one out of clay, or chopping off every third worker's right hand, would create an analogous series of jobs?

Moral of the story? The problem is not about creating jobs, as George Reisman tells Paul Krugman it’s about creating productive jobs at prices employers can afford.

UPDATE 2:  Christopher Brooker reckons the carbon tax/ emissions trading scams are going to be "the world's biggest ever bill."

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Bloggers’ bar bash this Thursday

I’ve just been reminded that Auckland bloggers’ drinks are on again this Thursday – the first Thursday of every month – at Galbraith’s.  Glasses should begin being raised about 6:30pm.  Talking nonsense should begin within the hour.

Government motors

“Where Would General Motors Be Without the United Automobile Workers Union?” asked George Reisman back in 2006.  The answer, as everyone outside the Obama Administration or the offices of the New York Times now understands, is: “probably still in business.”

The irony is that the United Automobile Workers will partly inherit another company they helped to destroy. And, while

Entirely predictable, the unintended consequences of nationalization of GM and Chrysler will still come as a surprise to Obama partisans and the media.

Go figure.

Meanwhile, the Australian taxpayer will continue to subsidise Australasian Holden buyers, just as they have for decades.

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160 Harvard MBAs from whom you should run like the plague

A few friends spotted this in the New York Times:

A new oath to be taken by graduates of Harvard Business School next week says, in effect, that greed is not good . . . -- that the goal of a business manager is to “serve the greater good” . . . that Harvard M.B.A.’s will act responsibly, ethically and refrain from advancing their “own narrow ambitions” at the expense of others.

“What happened,” asks the Times, “to making money?”

Fair question.  As Paul McKeever says, “here are 160 Harvard MBAs from whom you should run like the plague.”

NB: So you’re probably asking yourself, is greed good?  Well, depends what you mean by “greed,” says Yaron Brook.

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LIBERTARIAN SUS: Road Tolls & Tax Cuts [update 2]

Susan Ryder tries to take a day off.  If only Nanny could.

Another Queen’s Birthday weekend has come and gone and it’s pretty much the same every year. The weather is usually awful and another batch of Kiwis are officially recognised for their various “services to New Zealand” in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. And then there is the official holiday road toll.

New Zealanders are tragically killed in motor accidents every day, but our electronic media is obsessed with long weekends and the road toll in particular. No sooner does a holiday weekend officially get under way on the Friday evening than the fever starts. Short of something like Al Qaeda getting up to its old tricks, every news bulletin is guaranteed to start with the toll, even when nothing has happened. “The long weekend has officially started and there have been no reported crashes as yet.” And should the fatalities be slow in coming, the newsreaders almost sound apologetic. “The official holiday road toll still stands at two,” as if it’s somehow a bad thing that the news hasn’t changed. Boring!

As the official period came to a close yesterday, TRN reported that last year’s QBW road toll was three in comparison with nine this year. All last week we were inundated with predictions of foul weekend weather, coupled with respective travel warnings. Saturday dawned beautifully in my neck of the woods but, as forecast, had changed its tune markedly by early afternoon. I had to drive down to the Waikato and the weather was lousy indeed. Thankfully, though, the travel authorities were there to warn me to “take care” and “slow down because of the wet roads” and “put my lights on.” And just as well, too, because after 30 odd years of driving in numerous countries in all conditions, I would never have thought to do any of those things. Thank God for the LTSA – or whatever the hell it’s now called.

For the last few years, we have been flooded with Nanny State advertisements “brought to you by the New Zealand Government” on both radio and television. You know them: they tell you what to eat and drink and how to behave. The latest cringe is the promotion of breastfeeding, featuring a couple of Polynesian rugby league players discussing the benefits. There’s a pun in there somewhere and more than a touch of irony, because the one thing in which New Zealanders need no education is how to suck on a mammary.

Somebody at TVNZ must have noticed something, because in May 2008 Close Up covered a story on the topic. I usually miss the programme, but had spotted the trailer so thought I’d tune in. The figures were astonishing and thinking they might come in handy one day, I kept them. I fished them out yesterday and, lo and behold, here’s what the Close Up team reported just over a year ago.

  • The (then) government spent a total of $213 million pa, $98 million via television alone
  • New Zealanders were subjected to an average of 63 x 30 second ads per day
  • In the first quarter of 2008 there were nearly 6000 30 second ads

That represented an increase of 20% on 2007 figures and a staggering 80% increase from 2002. And by the end of 2008 we were to have been subjected to some 18,200 ads from 40 different government agencies, the LTSA alone accounting for one-third.

That’s not good television.

Back to the holiday weekend road toll. The stark reality is that the more traffic on the roads, the higher the risk of crashes. Add bad weather to the mix and the risk increases again. It’s not tricky. But common sense and bureaucracy are seldom synonymous. Nine tragic deaths will be seen as a “three-fold increase on last year’s figures” and, rather than can the bloody ads that anyone with half a brain ignores anyway, I can see the officials clamour for even more public money to waste. “Something, after all, has got to be done!”

Well, here’s a different thought altogether. Let’s tell John Key and Bill English that the $98 million spent on Nanny State television ads last year – ads that show no sign of abating, unfortunately – would neatly fund the first year of the recently cancelled tax cuts. That they could then keep two election promises at the same time: give us our promised money back and reduce government expenditure.

Not to mention treating us like the adults we are.

* * Read Susan Ryder’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *

UPDATE 1: Nannies are everywhere. Jeff Perren sent through this astonishing report on Canadian nannying he picked up from David Solway at Pajamas Media:

I am both delighted and proud to report [says Solway] that the police force in my hometown of Montreal, acting in the interests of public safety, recently handcuffed and fined an inveterate miscreant, a certain Ms. Bela Kosoian, for failing to grasp the rubber handrail on the subway’s escalator. The force is to be praised for its timely intervention in preventing what may well have been a public disaster of inordinate proportions. The horrifying scenario of said Ms. Kosoian hurtling down the escalator steps and setting off a chain reaction resulting in the maiming, crushing, mutilation, and deaths of musing innocents beggars the imagination. Although there is no record of such a catastrophe having occurred before, the servants of the state must nevertheless ensure that its citizens are protected against the whims and eccentricities of wayward individuals.

UPDATE 2: Nannys are everywhere.  Fresh from nannying taxi drivers, announcing the bulldozing of people’s homes, and placing a ban on driving down a street more than once in an evening, National’s transport minister and inveterate busybody Steven Joyce is now about to announce a ban on using your hand-held cellphone while driving.  And just to show he hasn’t got a clue either, National’s David Farrar suggests a nannying ad campaign instead . . .

Coming up soon: bans on nose-picking, conversations, changing the radio station and lighting a cigarette while driving.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Look what Muriel found hidden in the Budget

Bill English’s first Budget wasn’t just a cynically delivered broken promise on tax cuts, a broken promise erroneously sold as “unavoidable” if the National/Act Government was to assuage the gnomes of the rating agencies, it also contained at least one cynically concealed spending increase – a spending increase that will do more to lower New Zealand’s productivity than anything since the war and which, taken together with all the other promised spending increases, fully wipes out the “revenue gains” to government from the broken promise.

As Muriel Newman points out,

The promised tax cuts – and remember that they were already pre-funded by the cutbacks to KiwiSaver and the dropping of the R&D tax credits – were not massive. Just $98 million was needed to fund the tax cuts next year, $494 million in 2011, and over $800 million thereafter.

Not massive, no, especially not when stacked up next to the billions of dollars of existing spending on so called “entitlements” to moochers, or the billions of dollars of extra spending promised on the various black holes of government mentioned in headlines this  week – but some recompense to long-suffering producers buckling under long years of high taxes, onerous government and (now) the effects of economic downturn.

The billions of dollars already going to moochers is bad enough, but what about all this extra spending?  The headline response by Billy Bob English to hard-pressed taxpayers who voted for tax cuts is curt: “Let them eat Batts.” That’s the three-hundred million dollars of extra spending on Batts to help buy Green support. But look beneath the headlines and there’s something even more odious: an appropriation of $550 million – more than half a billion dollars – set aside to to get National’s Emissions Trading Scam off the ground.

So Bill English isn’t able to keep his promise to tax payers, but he is able to do them over with the most irrational attack on producers since Karl Marx fist visited the British Museum Reading Room.  Says Muriel:

Keeping in mind that the “unaffordable” tax cuts would have cost $98 million next year, how do we feel about the appropriation of $550 million that has been set aside for climate change? Most of this has been ear-marked for buying carbon credits to give to businesses to get the emissions trading scheme off the ground. Those who believed that the Government was genuinely awaiting the outcome of an “independent” Select Committee review will be disappointed to see that the die is already cast. And consumers worried about the added cost of an emissions trading scheme will be especially concerned to find out that the half a billion dollar cost is only the beginning of what will be an enormously unproductive drain on our already fragile economy.

Of all the odious defences raised in support of Bill English’s disgraceful capitulation to the spending fairies this week, perhaps the most irrational is the claim that he needed to break his promise on tax cuts to assuage the gnomes of Moodies and Standard and Poors.

What he needed to do was to keep his promises to taxpayers – to the productive New Zealanders who bankroll every single dollar spent in this economy – and to knock on the head everything that does them over.

Sadly, he’s done the reverse, which shows you in the end who he sees as his real supporters.

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