Saturday, October 08, 2011

News Items and comments

Thank you, Steve

Miranda Devine – Friday, October 07, 11 (09:57 pm)

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WHAT a lovely tribute to Steve Jobs.

From Cupertino to Beijing, Sydney to London, fans held aloft iPads and iPhones showing an image of a single flickering candle, in honour of an extraordinary man who, more than anyone of his generation, has shaped the way we live today.

I knew him and ‘worked’ with him on his site iCompositions.com. He founded that music site circa 2003 AD so as to attract artists from around the world. It also attracted me. I don’t have the talent of Andreas Hermann, George Peter Tingley or any of many who produce music there and collaborate with others.

I once did an acapella track of “Where have all the flowers gone?” and got a reply from an in residence artist who was nephew to Seeger. Another time I sang the verses to “Auld Lang Syne” and Hermann, possibly the world’s top choral conductor, put some music to it.

Jobs managed to keep a diverse community together and give them spirit and drive. He did it in his free time. He even made the first piece written on it. On Christmas he had snow fall across screen images. On Easter there was a proliferation of rabbits.

A few times the interface collapsed, and all that was available was chat and Jobs would be on chat talking with members. I showed him a piece I had written for a new iPod and he gave it criticism. I offered to take it down, and he said I didn’t need to do that. Later, when it might be assumed I was no longer on line, he wrote that I was weird. He knew me.

When he got too sick, he gave iCompositions to some trusted lieutenants. They didn’t have his talent for working with others. It had been a privilege to be involved in the site .. just like it has been a privilege to have been alive when such a talent was on the Earth.

Personally, I wish he had been a Christian. He was reportedly Buddhist in outlook. Regardless of his fate, he was blessed.

DD Ball of Carramar/Sydney (Reply)
Sat 08 Oct 11 (04:46pm)
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Regarding the recent rash of the anti-social sentiment called “envy,” one point to keep in mind is that the common use of the term “income distribution” (or “wealth distribution”) stacks the deck in favor of those people who are prone to envy – and in favor also of those politicians and pundits and community organizersagitators who are prone to feather their own nests by exploiting the propensity of many people to succumb to envy and to suppose that envy is a sound basis for government policy.

In market economies (which America’s still largely is), incomes and wealth are not “distributed”; they are created – and, hence, earned by their creators.

If the semantic convention were to refer, not to “income distribution,” but to “income creation,” then we’d have headlines (Or would we?) such as the following “Last year, the Top 10 Percent of Income Creators Created Even More Income than the Year Before.”

Such a headline is far less likely to conjure in readers’ minds images of prime-time-soap-opera demons who craftily steal money from the pockets of unsuspecting innocents. But such a headline would be far more accurate than one that uses the term “distribution” in place of the more-correct term “creation.”

….

The above point is hardly original to me. It’s been made many times in the past by many sensible people. But it bears repeating.

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Robert Lieberman, a political scientist at Columbia University writes in Foreign Affairs:

The U.S. economy appears to be coming apart at the seams. Unemployment remains at nearly ten percent, the highest level in almost 30 years; foreclosures have forced millions of Americans out of their homes; and real incomes have fallen faster and further than at any time since the Great Depression. Many of those laid off fear that the jobs they have lost — the secure, often unionized, industrial jobs that provided wealth, security, and opportunity — will never return. They are probably right.

And yet a curious thing has happened in the midst of all this misery. The wealthiest Americans, among them presumably the very titans of global finance whose misadventures brought about the financial meltdown, got richer. And not just a little bit richer; a lot richer. In 2009, the average income of the top five percent of earners went up, while on average everyone else’s income went down.

I’m not sure where he gets that statistic from. In the Census data (here, Table F-3, ) scroll down for the numbers in 2010 dollars, corrected for inflation) this is the mean income for the top 5%:

2010 Dollars
201014,99137,06660,36391,991187,395313,298
200915,54137,65760,89692,464192,614330,388
200816,10738,60762,36193,326192,809331,064
200716,89640,27964,61296,618196,146332,943
200616,80439,76263,24595,589202,641358,700
200516,49239,24362,79793,921196,891344,699

The first five columns are the various quintiles. The last column is the mean income of the top 5%. This is family income. Maybe Lieberman has it for individuals. But for families, the richest 5% have seen their income fall on average for the last four years. Much or maybe all of that is the people at the very top taking a hit, pulling down the mean. We don’t know, but I’d like to see Lieberman justify the figure. Or maybe he means the share going to the top 5%. Lieberman continues:

This was not an anomaly but rather a continuation of a 40-year trend of ballooning incomes at the very top and stagnant incomes in the middle and at the bottom. The share of total income going to the top one percent has increased from roughly eight percent in the 1960s to more than 20 percent today.

This is what the political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson call the “winner-take-all economy.” It is not a picture of a healthy society. Such a level of economic inequality, not seen in the United States since the eve of the Great Depression, bespeaks a political economy in which the financial rewards are increasingly concentrated among a tiny elite and whose risks are borne by an increasingly exposed and unprotected middle class. Income inequality in the United States is higher than in any other advanced industrial democracy and by conventional measures comparable to that in countries such as Ghana, Nicaragua, and Turkmenistan. It breeds political polarization, mistrust, and resentment between the haves and the have-nots and tends to distort the workings of a democratic political system in which money increasingly confers political voice and power.

The death of Steve Jobs is a useful reminder of the fact that much wealth is not winner-take-all but winner makes everybody better off. Steve Jobs’s estate is estimated to be something between $6 billion and $7 billion. About 2/3 of that is Disney stock he received when Disney acquired Pixar. The rest if Apple stock. This is clearly a fraction, maybe a small fraction of the wealth Jobs created for the rest of us.Yes, he made a lot of money. But he made it by making the rest of us better off. He didn’t take it from us. He shared it with us.

One reason that the top 1% only earned 8% of the income in the 1960′s vs. 20% now is that our economy has changed in ways that are good for all of us. I pause here to mention the obvious–the bottom 99% can be better off with a smaller share of the pie if the pie is getting sufficiently bigger which is what has happened over the last 50 years. But the top 1% gets a bigger share not because they are hoarding more of the pie. The top 1% gets a bigger share because the opportunity to create a lot of wealth for everyone has changed.

Think of it this way. The IBM Selectric was a wonderful improvement in the typewriter market. The people who created it and ran IBM made a lot of money from that improvement. And that’s nice. But improving the personal computer makes you a lot richer now than it did then. It creates more wealth. So the most creative people in technology today (Brin, Jobs, Page, Gates, Zuckerberg) make a lot more money than they did in 1960. That’s good.

Here is another way to see it. I often point out that the top 1% is not a club with a fixed number of people. There is considerable movement in and out of the different parts of the income distribution. But the fact is that once you are in the top 1%, if you fall out, you often don’t fall far. But there is a more important aspect of it not being the same people. Think of it this way. A great NBA player today earns a lot more than a great NBA player of 30 years ago. Magic Johnson, at the peak of his career made a little over $3 million dollars, annually, plus some endorsement money. LeBron James makes over $15 million and a lot more money from endorsements. Why? Because basketball, via technology and expanded wealth around the world, is a more popular sport than it was in the 1980s. That’s good. That’s why Lebron James captures a bigger share. He makes more people happy and they have more money to spend on basketball than people did in Magic Johnson’s day.

The top 1% are different people and the share that goes to the most talented people at the top has grown.

But not everyone in the top 1% earns their money as Steve Jobs did and LeBron James does by making other people’s lives better. As I have said many times, and will continue to say, the financial sector has made lots of money for executives in that sector because of government policies bailing out creditor which allows leverage to grow artificially large. That in turn, makes it easier for investment banks to profit and justifies large salaries for executives. That in turn, ratchets up earnings of people in related fields–hedge fund managers and even professors of economics who must be paid more now to keep them in academia and away from Wall Street.

Some of those gains to the financial sector are literally zero sum–bonuses paid for with my money and yours.

If we stop bailing out creditors–socializing the losses of the financial sector–the top 1% numbers will become “healthier.”

If we fail to distinguish between ill-begotten gains and those gains that enrich all of us, we are headed down a very dangerous path.

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… is from Part II, Sec. 5, Chapter 3, para. 3 of Ludwig von Mises’s 1944 bookOmnipotent Government:

The policy of democracies is suicidal. Turbulent mobs demand acts which are contrary to society’s and their own best interests. They return to Parliament corrupt demagogues, adventurers, and quacks who praise patent medicines and idiotic remedies. Democracy has resulted in an upheaval of the domestic barbarians against reason, sound policies, and civilization. The masses have firmly established the dictators in many European countries. They may succeed very soon in America too.

(HT Dan Klein)

Mises is certainly correct about the unthinkingness of most of such protesters, and about the political consequences of their, and others, mistaking publicly expressed passion about economic matters for knowledge and wisdom about such matters.

But keep in mind that Mises (a scholar forced to flee his home by one of history’s vilest dictators) penned these words nearly 68 years ago, at a time when the belief in full-fledged socialism still was widespread throughout the western world (and not only in university social-science and liberal-arts departments). America did not then establish a dictator. (Who knows, I concede, what would have happened had FDR not died in 1945? He certainly had all the makings of a first-class secular savior, and was disgustingly insistent upon playing the role.) Yet despite countless unwise pieces of legislation enacted over the past 80 years, the U.S. economy then remained – and, I argue, today still remains – sufficiently free to permit entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs to bestow enormous, sometimes unmeasurable, benefits through the market upon consumers. And we are not yet a police state. (But see David Henderson.) We are moving in the wrong direction, to be sure – toward more knee-jerk celebration of the collective and away from genuine respect for individual preferences and choices.

But I emphatically dissent from the concern of my more distraught friends who see little too-little substantive difference between the USA circa 2011 and, say, the USSR (circa anytime).

Perhaps the know-nothing know-it-alls today protesting on Wall Street – or their better-coiffed and better-dressed comrades occupying official office in Washington – will fail to transform America into a truly totalitarian regime.

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WORKER NOTICED

Tim Blair – Saturday, October 08, 11 (02:01 pm)

Comment of the week, following coverage of the white kid play-date known as Occupy Wall Street:

The only black guy there is also the only guy working – the cop.

UPDATE. “Sanitation is a growing concern” at the Occupation site, according to NYC park officials.You don’t say.

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MAP FIGHT

Tim Blair – Saturday, October 08, 11 (12:35 pm)

“Check this out,” emails Dan F. “A webcam looking at Mt. Everest is now online. Watch live as the Himalayan glaciers don’t melt!” Dan’s shocking denialism will probably see him included in an update to the New York Times‘s Map of Organized Climate Change Denial, a project that leaves James Delingpole underwhelmed:

I personally was very disappointed in it. For one thing, it did not show the $10 million per day the Koch Brothers funnel directly into my account for the deliberate lies I tell on their behalf about Man Made Global Warming. For another, it did not include a picture of the splendid hooded purple velvet cloaks, nor the elaborate Blood-Diamond-encrusted cod pieces which we Deniers sport at our orgiastic convocations where we ritually sacrifice at least one polar bear cub, one snail darter and one California Delta Smelt to our God whose name (Long may he reign!) is Evil Selfish Greedor.

All hail Greedor. Following the NYT’s effort, Jo Nova presents her Climate Change Scare Machine Cycle:

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Click for a larger image. Further from a delighted Delingpole:

Why, the Australian Denier Minx has gone and used some of the A$258 billion she gets every day from the Australian mining industry to fund a lavishly detailed flow chart which impudently suggests that it’s the Warmists who are the real bad guys in all this.

I ask you: why is she allowed to get away with saying all this true stuff?

The Greens are working on a fix.

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TOTALITARIAN BOB

Tim Blair – Saturday, October 08, 11 (10:20 am)

Greens Senator Bob Brown is doing his best to make this column come true, lately considering a plan that would require journalists to be licensed. On that subject, here’s the Guardian‘s Alan Rusbridger:

Totalitarian governments can never allow a free press. Our own relative freedom has been fought for over 400 years, and there can never be a moment when freedom can be considered “won”. When people talk about “licensing” journalists or newspapers the instinct should be to refer them to history. Read about how licensing of the press in Britain was abolished in 1695. Read about how Wilkes, Cobbett, Locke, Milton, Mill, Junius and countless anonymous writers, lawyers and printers argued and battled for the comparative freedoms the press in Britain enjoys. Remember how the freedoms won here became a model for much of the rest of the world. And be conscious how the world still watches us to see how we protect those freedoms.

Leftist types who are happy for Brown to constrain the terrible “hate media” should ask themselves how journalists with fewer resources than those targeted by the Greens will fare under any licensing scheme. In other media news:

Internet giant Google has lost a landmark legal battle that is expected to open the floodgates toonline litigation against anonymous online commentators.

Interesting.

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SOURCE MISSED

Tim Blair – Saturday, October 08, 11 (10:07 am)

It’s correction time again over at Crikey‘s dumb farm.

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A tight little team

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (10:21 am)

All very cosy:

A FORMER bodyguard and staffer to Julia Gillard who was at the centre of a political storm during the 2010 election has been employed by a government-funded health group linked with the First Bloke, Tim Mathieson.

Andrew Stark has been hired as marketing, fundraising and communications manager for the Australian Men’s Shed Association after it received $3 million in federal funding.The ex-policeman was Ms Gillard’s national security adviser when she was deputy prime minister. He was sensationally named, in a front page article, as the man who deputised for her during highly sensitive cabinet meetings.

Last night, Mr Stark publicly pointed the finger at supporters of Kevin Rudd as the source of the leak - which undermined Labor’s election campaign. “We knew exactly where it came from,” he said....

During the election, Mr Stark was also reported to be “babysitting” Mr Mathieson, who kept a low profile for much of the campaign.

Mr Stark admitted he played the role of minder but rejects the babysitting tag.

(Thanks to reader Alan RM Jones.)

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A Government committee to discover you love this tax

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (09:46 am)

Many readers have complained aboutthe Labor/Greens- dominated Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Clean Energy Future Legislation’s refusal to publish many of the submissions damning the carbon dioxide tax.

Of the many warming sceptic readers with anecdotes of their own submissions being deep-sixed, Wandzia is the one who has managed to measure the bias after receiving this email delivering some sad news:

From: “Committee, JSCACEFL (REPS)”
Date: 6 October 2011 1:15:32 PM
To: “‘XXXXXo@gmail.com’”
Subject: RE: Signed Carbon Tax Submission-W XXXXX



Thank you for your contribution to the inquiry by the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Clean Energy Future Legislation.

The committee has received your email as correspondence. While the committee considers the views in correspondence, it does not publish correspondence on its webpage. This does not lessen the importance of your contribution, however only those documents that went to specific detail about the Bills were published as submissions....

Secretary
Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Clean Energy Future Legislation

Wandzia now writes:


The Joint Select committee on its website says it received a total of 326 submissions


“The department has published 267 non-confidential submissions on the legislation received from individuals, academics and business, environmental and community groups. The remaining submissions are either confidential or express general views on the carbon pricing mechanism.”

I decided to check all the letters from private persons in this list of 267.

The following 22 letters were all VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL TEMPLATES SAYING THE SAME THING :-

41 John Bartholomew

48 Deanna Booth

67 Michael Clark

68 Charlotte Clarke

81 Anna Cooke

82 Bruce Cooke

83 Susan Cooke

88 Christine Davis

91 Ian Dixon

97 Susan Dunn

122 Emma Gordon

128 Dr Robbin Gunning

136 Joanne Horton

143 Wendell Judd

146 Rolf Keulsen

159 Dr Graham Mackay

163 Fiona McCleary

180 Bob Noble

223 Giovanni Sottile

240 Paul Taylor

259 Jessie Wells

266 Christopher Wright

The next following 22 letters were roughly the same letter following a second FORMULA template with individual small changes - three letters marked with * were very long elaborate versions. Once again all say virtually the same thing.

42 Alice Beauchamp

106 Helen Evans

107 Iain Fyfe

111 Ellen Finlay

130 Manuela Hancock

131 Jocelyn Hansen

141 John Jeayes *

145 Samantha Kent

153 Peter Lendfers

168 Jim Morrison

194 Robyn Phillips

195 Rob Pittman

204 Amy Quinton

207 Jayne Ramshaw

221 Jonathan Smith

227 Paul Stark*

239 Louise Taylor

241 James Tedder

250 Greg Twitt

253 Bas Van Riel

258 Richard Weller*

262 Kirralee Wishart

The following 9 letters were totally general and some were as short as a paragraph (marked*). All said the same thing but very very general. Those with a ? are very very basic.

52 Peter Brown -general

56 Chris Cannizzaro-general

60 Kerrie Chandler-? general

121 Tom Gordon-? general

166 Robert Moore –general

186 Monica O’Wheel general

193 Alan & Meg Peterson *

212 Blair Roberts-totally general

236 Fiona Taber-general

This makes a total of 53 letters ALL SEEMING TO BE FROM THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE AND ALL PRO CARBON /PRO GOVERNMENT SAYING THE SAME THING..

The website says it has chosen to NOT PUBLISH 59 letters (326-267) of which my submission was one. ...I sent it plainly as a submission and they are calling it correspondence.

My beef with this is that this government is skewing the submissions from private persons. Nearly every private submission is from one of these pre programmed people! I would dearly like for this to be revealed to the public and for the Government to be brought to account and possibly direct the committee to put up those that they are not revealing. Many people l know from around Australia submitted and none of their letters are revealed here. If they published the last nine then they may as well publish the lot.

An extremely good source tells me the overhelming majority of private submissions or “correspondence” to the committee is in fact from people opposed to the tax.

UPDATE

Reader Michael also had his submission redefined as “correspondence” and left unpublished. His reply:

I respectfully disagree, it was not correspondence but a formal Submission. It was a written submission in pdf format, as only 7 days were permitted to make Submissions (and I sent a hard copy). I have made similar submissions before and this is the first time someone is seeking to censor my submission. Please consider this a formal request to accept my submission. If it is not going to be treated as submission, please formally escalate your administrative decision to a more senior officer for review. I wish to be informed in wrtting of the result of that review.

I reserve my right to complaint to the Ombudsmen, take action before the Administrative Review Tribunal. or refer my concerns to members of Parliament.

Dr Michael XXX

XXXX

XXXX NSW

Reader Bruce can’t understand why there seem to be different rules for sceptics:

I was forwarded an email today which, in explaining why my email was not listed as a submission, said

“The committee has received your email as correspondence. While the committee considers the views in correspondence, it does not publish correspondence on its webpage. This does not lessen the importance of your contribution, however only those documents that went to specific detail about the Bills were published as submissions.”

I thought, fair cop, until I decided to follow the link to the published submissions, where I found that of Kerrie Chandler, whose entire submission was

“To Whom It May Concern

Even with all the confusion surrounding the Carbon Tax, I would like to support the move the Government is making. In order to reduce our Carbon Polution you have to place a monetary value on the air we breathe. I hope this is a step in the right direction and, I hope the Government sets a model and digs their heels in to become a world leader in this arena.

My support is with the Government at present.”

UPDATE

Reader Tim corrects:

4500 Australians were denied submissions to the most recent inquiry.

Some of the comments on your webpage are slightly incorrect, as they conflate previous enquiries (the APH website is slightly unclear as to the nature), however the fact that 4500 Australians were denied a voice is historically unprecedented, and a flat out disgrace.

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Monbiot made poorer by his his green faith

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (09:14 am)

Credit to warming alarmist George Monbiot for walking the talk, but it turns out that living green costs plenty:

I have two investments:

A savings account with Smile, which currently contains £12,971.

A savings account with Alliance and Leicester (now Santander), which currently contains £1,200.

Until recently I had more savings, but I spent them eco-fitting my house. In view of what has now happened to the market, that might not have been the wisest of investments.

(Thanks to reader Robert.)

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Rudd rampant

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (08:35 am)

YESTERDAY was another brilliant day in the rise and rise again of Kevin Rudd.

The Foreign Minister has long plotted to do to Prime Minister Julia Gillard what she did to him a year ago.

This week he went to one of his happiest hunting grounds, the Rudd-friendly 7pm Project, to show his soft side with an appeal for famine victims, and then to spend a lot of time grinning as he batted off questions about replacing Gillard.

It was Rudd in campaign mode. He rubbed the back of comedian Dave Hughes. He patty-boxed Hughes’ shoulder. He was achingly desperate to please.

It was the ersatz Rudd, which makes serious people cringe, but which reassures voters that a man who tries so hard to charm them will also try harder to please as prime minister.

Not satisfied, Rudd also took the chance this week to undercut Gillard’s two-day tax summit.

Asked by journalists what he thought of it, Rudd smirked and said: “It’s in Canberra.” Not a ringing endorsement.

Yesterday he stepped up the pace, holding two press conferences, sucking all the air from Labor’s room.

He’d already made sure of that with his first effort, when he repaid former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson for what “Richo” might have thought a favour.

Richardson has long thought Gillard a disaster as Prime Minister who should quit.

He seems to be working overtime to make sure his diagnosis proves correct.

This week he even named two backbenchers he said were ringing around for Rudd—former veterans affairs minister Alan Griffin and Senator Mark Bishop. And he gave Rudd helpful advice on when to make his move.

Gillard’s mild response was of a woman who does not dare to provoke an enemy or give him oxygen: “Ex-Labor politicians who have become media commentators are going to chatter about insider gossip because the media wants that kind of chatter.”

But Rudd took the long handle to Richardson, by sheer coincidence amping up a story Gillard was trying to play down.

“There’s a thing in politics called relevance deprivation syndrome,” he said.

Which was all he needed to say, but Rudd had a news bulletin to fill.

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What I’d say to that lone child in the playground

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (08:33 am)

SO, said the lovely woman from Inner Hero on Thursday, “What would you say to a child being bullied?”

And she pushed the recorder under my nose, to add my burbling to words of wisdom from better-known Australians for a book of buck-up advice.

And, whoosh. I was suddenly no longer the seemingly grown man she was talking to, but a teenager.

It’s odd, isn’t it, how that child we were is us still? Or part of us, never gone.

Just a couple of days earlier, I’d been told by a friend how he’d years ago found a mutual acquaintance, a famous man, one night looking lost, friendless and uncertain, as he faced a disaster in his great career. Neither of us had ever imagined this strong person feeling anything but certain in himself and his power.

I wonder whether that long night he’d once more seemed to himself the most lonely person in the world, which is a child, feeling abandoned? Loveless.

The memory of that old dread and shame often stays with us, I think, and at our weakest we forget what we’ve since learned of love and those who showed it.

I’m not saying I’ve been bullied myself.

I was happy at my first couple of schools, and it was only at the third where I felt . . . not bullied, but just not at home. You know, a shy stranger at yet another school. The child of migrants, in a town of English names. A swimmer from a tropical city moved to sheep-and-wheat country where the sport was cricket, never seen before. A bookish boy where farms ran to the silo-punctuated horizon, and so far beyond.

So, not bullied, but an outsider, looking to other outsiders for some mutual difference I couldn’t define that might make us connect.

And this is the child I become when the talk turns to bullies.

Again, not because I was bullied, but because I know who bullies choose, and why. They choose the different, because that makes them feel more of the mob, themselves.

Or let’s put it as it once was in some places: hang the witch, to prove you’re a Christian. That’s why bullies are themselves so often the weak, maimed or vulnerable. They need the power and the affirmation more.

My children are incredibly lucky, being at schools where bullies are few.

Yet I still know of two friends of the oldest, who years ago were pulled out to escape a cruel teasing, and I know the difference that their tormentors homed in on, bees to nectar.

One was of a faith that knows a lot about rejection. The other was artistic. And neither was a sportsman

Both were also gentle and sensitive—which in children is a danger, but in certain adults a great virtue. Sensitivity, after all, is one of the great civilising influences, and the secret of so many of the happiest families.

But what do children know of that consolation, when that sensitivity is just what makes the hurt feel worse?

And in how many fresh ways can such children now be hurt?

I know a boy, thank God not much longer at school, who is bullied not just in the traditional way, with punches and the usual moronic cruelties but also with the cyberbulling that makes misery more humiliatingly public.

So what would I say to a child at school, being bullied?

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What real Julia will McTernan deliver?

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (07:54 am)

Laurie Oakes gives us the best of John McTernan, the excellent Scottish columnist (pity about his politics) who now heads Julia Gillard’s media team:

It’s instructive to read some of McTernan’s columns in The Scotsman and his blogs for The Telegraph in London to get an idea of the kind of tips he’s likely to give her.

For a start, McTernan is full of pithy bits of political wisdom.

Such as: ... “It’s a fundamental law of political campaigning that you should always be talking about whatever it is your opponent doesn’t want to mention.”

That makes sense. The trouble is, somebody obviously gave Tony Abbott the same advice some time ago.

In one of his columns, McTernan quotes what he says is a saying from the advertising industry: “How do you beat a man with a six-foot spear? Don’t start with a three-foot spear."…

One of the reasons Gillard hired him is presumably his ruthless, take-no-prisoners approach. McTernan says bluntly: “Politics is about winning.”

How should a politician go about it? He says he agrees with famous African-American activist Malcolm X.

“By any means necessary.”

And he means it.

“Everyone who aspires to public office has to be, at least in part, an intellectual thug,” McTernan asserts in a recent column.

“It’s not pretty, but the public’s view is straightforward - if you won’t fight for your own job, why should I believe that you’ll fight for mine?”

While Gillard criticises Abbott for constant negativity, her new spinmeister is a strong believer in negative, attacking politics.

“There are a lot of myths about political campaigning. Top of these is the idea that negative campaigning never works,” he writes....

“Around the world, campaign after campaign shows that fear beats hope. And why wouldn’t it?

“After all, politics is a contact sport.”

That last is true, and this will be very interesting. McTernan is no idiot. But I do wonder, among other things, whether a more aggressive, even strident, Gillard will work. What’s struck me over the past year is how the personal warmth I saw in her on the occassions I used to meet her have not translated at all to the TV screen as Prime Minister, and to her detriment.

She seems to have been conscious of needing to seem and sound Prime Ministerial, but picked a regal tone that rings like a cracked bell in a cemetary. I’d have thought a note of cheerful optimism and pleasure in can-do politics is what’s needed now, rather than a touch of the harpy.

If I were McTernan, I’d be cautious about reaching as a Briton to the familiar template of Margaret Thatcher and look more to our Maggie Tabberer.

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Taxing credulity: lots of seeming, no doing

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (07:53 am)

Laurie Oakes thinks the tax summit worked:

JULIA Gillard had a pretty good week, for a change. Thanks to the tax forum and the jobs summit, political discussion was all about the economy… The calm and constructive tone, and the surprising amount of agreement that emerged, lowered the political temperature.

On the other hand, Peter van Onselen saw a circus:

Wayne Swan set up the forum to deliberately achieve two goals, neither of which involved tax reform.

The first goal was simple: to tick the box on Oakeshott’s requirement of holding a forum. No outcomes required there. The second was - as far as possible - to make the event a media spectacle, presumably to help win applause for the government’s commitment to tax reform…

Already plenty of commentators have been taken in by the show....

The entire structuring of the forum was the equivalent of a circus in the round. A pair of journalists MC’ing an event (like a poor man’s episode of Geoffrey Robertson’s Hypotheticals program) is not conducive to achieving consensus on serious and complex policy settings. On the contrary, it turns the entire experience into high farce....Many participants (when they weren’t caught by the cameras nodding off in the back rows) wondered out loud what was the point of this whole exercise when the government wasn’t likely to be around for much longer anyway, and the government-in-waiting wasn’t even present.

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It’s tiresome work, but thank Henderson for bothering

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (07:34 am)

Gerard Henderson answers the call of duty and reads Susan Mitchell’s bizarre rant against Tony Abbott - and then, with a sigh, dutifully starts to document the howlers.

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Those rains the experts swore would not fall

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (06:31 am)

Melbourne Water a couple of years ago explained why we couldn’t have a cheap dam, instead of an overpriced desal plant:

Unfortunately, we cannot rely on this kind of rainfall like we used to.

Oh no?

Around the nation, water storage reserves are at levels not seen since the start of the decade-long drought in the late 90s.

The Bureau of Meteorology estimates Australia’s 261 largest drinking water and irrigation storages, with a total capacity of 78 million megalitres of water, are on average 80 per cent full. This time last year, the figure was 65 per cent.

Drinking water supplies for the major cities have been replenished by the wettest 10-month period ever recorded, between July last year and April. Sydney’s city water storages are now 79 per cent full, while dams supplying Adelaide and Brisbane are at a healthy 83 per cent capacity.

Even Melbourne’s once critically low dams have climbed to 63 per cent full with recent rainfall, their highest levels in 12 years.

The locals, not peer-reviewed, knew this would happen:

“It was hard to stay positive,” says Mr Scales, whose family owns and runs Dartmouth’s only pub and motel, as well as its sole farming property. ”But the locals, we all knew it would rain again.”

Australia’s Climate Commissioner did not:

In 2005, Flannery predicted Sydney’s dams could be dry in as little as two years because global warming was drying up the rains, leaving the city “facing extreme difficulties with water”. ...

In 2008, Flannery said: “The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009.” ...

In 2007, Flannery predicted cities such as Brisbane would never again have dam-filling rains, as global warming had caused “a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas” and made the soil too hot, “so even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and river systems ... “.

UPDATE

Marxist Brendan O’Neill on the true new rebels:

EXPERTS continue to hunt for the psycho-social underpinnings of that alleged mental disorder, climate-change denialism… So this week Scientific American informs us of a new academic study titled Cool Dudes: The Denial of Climate Change Among Conservative White Males in the United States. Having pored over polling data on climate-change denial collected in the US between 2001 and 2010, the study’s authors deduce that 29.6 per cent of conservative white men believe global warming will never have much of an effect, compared with only 7.4 per cent of the general adult population....

Apparently, there’s something called “the white male effect”, where, because white men have faced fewer obstacles in life than other groups, they are “more accepting of risk than the rest of the public”. In short, having lived cushy lives, they now laugh in the face of the End of Days.

There are so many problems with this report it’s hard to know where to begin....Even worse is the report’s suggestion that white male conservatives are likelier to be sceptical about climate change because they don’t like “challenges to the status quo”.

Wait: green thinking represents a challenge to the status quo? That’s a laughable idea. From schools and universities to every corner of the Western political sphere, the climate-change outlook is the status quo. It’s the new conservatism…

... at a time when everyone from Barack Obama to stuffy stick-in-the-muds such as Prince Charles sing from the climate-change hymn sheet, in what sense can it be described as a radical creed? These apparently dangerous white male deniers are straw men set up by greens who can’t quite handle the fact it is they and their friends who are now the promoters and protectors of the political status quo. Perhaps this means green-baiting white male conservatives actually represent a new and weird band of rebels?

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Rudd isn’t going quiet any time soon

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 08, 11 (06:04 am)

I’m not sure I can read what Dennis Shahan does into Rudd’s literal words, but Dennis is surely right on what is actually going on:

KEVIN Rudd has defied advice to delay a bid to regain the Labor leadership until next year, aggressively declaring his aim to “do anything” to stop Tony Abbott and fuelling a campaign to destabilise Julia Gillard.

The Foreign Minister yesterday embraced the role of his friend and former minister Alan Griffin as his parliamentary “numbers man”; made clear his intention to take on the Opposition Leader outside foreign affairs; and refused to say that he was not actively undermining the Prime Minister.

After weeks of conducting a barnstorming media campaign, the naming of two Labor backbenchers pushing his leadership bid, the sounding out of union leaders for support and growing concern in the Labor caucus, Mr Rudd yesterday pushed leadership speculation to new heights.

Asked whether he was trying to actively undermine Ms Gillard to get back the top job, Mr Rudd did not deny the destabilisation. “What I am actively seeking to do is to do everything possible to prevent Mr Abbott becoming prime minister of Australia,” he said.

“In that context, I’m working hard with my Prime Minister and with my ministerial colleagues to do that because Australia would change radically. That’s what I am about.”

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Obama was desperate. He still wants $1 billion a day
The Obama administration was considering whether to pump another $5.4 million into the failing solar panel manufacturer Solyndra in late August, according to hundreds of pages of new emails obtained by Fox News.
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ALP were bad managers and federally have promised much but delivered little
MELBOURNE was left with just one ambulance available to respond to the city's four million residents while 41 Code 1 jobs were awaiting action
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A happy, hard working mind is a healthy one
IT'S a long way from managing a classroom to managing a building site, but Andrew Smith made the transition.
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A vote for ALP is a vote for corruption
THE Auditor-General will investigate claims that the government's regional grants scheme rorted, amid concerns over pork-barrelling.
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Take the rough with the smooth
IN A blow to dads across the state, more than two-thirds of Queensland mums prefer a perfect night's sleep to a night of great sex.
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Tragedy
A NINE-year-old boy hit and killed by a bus on the Central Coast died while trying to do a good deed.
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‎$3730 is not much
A MOTHER has been ordered to repay child support to a man she claimed was her son's father after he discovered he cannot conceive.
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The headline is evocative. The article is good. But they aren't related
IF ever there was a showman who knew how to end on a high note - leaving his awed and adoring audience begging for more - it was the man in the trademark black mock turtleneck.
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They are dead. They aren't hiding them.
Archaeologists found a round Aztec ceremonial platform studded with stone carvings of serpent heads at Mexico City's Templo Mayor ruin, raising hopes in the search for an emperor's tomb, authorities said Thursday.
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Left wing criminal
George Soros, the billionaire financier and liberal activist, was dealt a legal blow this week when the European Court of Human Rights refused to overturn his nine-year-old criminal conviction for insider
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Because Yemen and Liberia are famous for their women's rights.
www.news.com.au
THE 2011 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen for their work on women's rights.
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I would not want Rudd as my defender, or Gillard or Brown. The kid is an idiot, but he has uncovered this mess ingeniously
www.news.com.au
AN Australian schoolboy faces more than six years in an Indonesian prison after being arrested for possessing marijuana while on holidays with his parents.
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Bolt wouldn't be allowed to write it
fairfield-advance.whereilive.com.au
THE ongoing importance of Fairfield's indigenous population is the focus of a new history book.
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Why blame the technology when it is the fault of Government in China and custom in India?
Reproductive technology that allows parents to know the gender of their fetus has led to a shortage of 117 million women in Asia, particularly in China and India

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