Wednesday, August 31, 2011

News Items and comments

OUT OF HERE

Tim Blair – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (11:52 am)

I’m gone like a.cool breeze. Back in October. Roadrunning is underway.

So if your prediction comes true and the Ranga topples in Sept you won’t be commenting wink

Sol1 of Perth (Reply)
Wed 31 Aug 11 (12:01pm)
DD Ball replied to Sol1
Wed 31 Aug 11 (02:54pm)

Road runner, the coyote is after you. Road runner, if she catches you your through.

That coyote is really a crazy clown. When will she learn that she never can hold you down?

Ah, she might write to your boss, or call him on the phone demanding you take a month off. Enjoy it. You have earned it. Then come back and give ‘em hell.

===

The Keynesian defense of breaking windows or the economic virtues of hurricanes would go something like this:

Yes, breaking windows is destructive. Yes, it reduces wealth. But when there are large amounts of unemployed resources, say in the glass business, then breaking windows is close to a free lunch. In a world of unemployed glaziers, breaking windows can jump-start the economy by putting the unemployed back to work. They will spend the money they receive for repairing the broken windows.

When confronted with the claim by those of us who like Bastiat, that the money to repair the windows will now be unavailable to spend on something else, the Keynesian responds like this:

But people are sitting on money that is doing nothing. The insurance company that will now pay back the homeowner whose house was damaged by the hurricane was sitting on piles of cash. That cash was sitting in the bank where the bank has excess reserves not being lent out, not being invested. So yes, breaking windows can improve the incomes of glaziers and start a process of recovery.

What do we respond, those of us who are enamored with Bastiat and who think he’s right?

I would re-state the Bastiat story and tell it a little differently than it is usually told. The usual point is that the money has to come from somewhere–we see the repaired window but ignore the things that don’t get built or bought. But I think a better way to tell the story is to point out that the RESOURCES have to come from somewhere. The hurricane increases the demand for glaziers and that is good for glaziers. But that is good for all glaziers, employed and unemployed. It pushes up the price of glass repair. That discourages some folks from having glass work done who otherwise would have done it. So there is some offset of the hurricane’s impact on glazier employment. And as the Hayek character says in “Fight of the Century“:

You see slack in some sectors as a “general glut”
But some sectors are healthy, only some in a rut
So spending’s not free – that’s the heart of the matter
Too much is wasted as cronies get fatter.

So while glaziers (and carpenters) may be unemployed, other sectors (such as the wood market) may not be having such problems. The hurricane has a big impact on the price of wood, discouraging a bunch of would-be demanders of wood from buying as much as they did before. Again, there’s an offset. The point is that “aggregate demand” doesn’t tell the whole story.

But the real problem with breaking windows is that it’s not productive. I know. That’s obvious. But think about what the words mean. Right now, there are a lot of unemployed construction workers. What does a hurricane do? A hurricane IS good for carpenters and glaziers and roofers. But it’s unproductive work. It gets the home owner back to the status quo. It doesn’t create anything new or valuable. I’m not saying the production is wasted. I’m saying it’s a repair. Why is that important?

Imagine a world where there hasn’t been a hurricane and I want to help the unemployed carpenter. Here are two ways to do so. One is to burn my house down and then call the carpenter and give him $100,000 to rebuild my house. Here is the second way. I call the carpenter and say, I feel bad that politicians artificially increased the demand for housing at the end of the 20th century, pulling you into an industry that cannot be sustained at its current leve. I feel bad that you’ve been unemployed for three years. So I’m going to give you $100,000.

Which of those two policies would have the bigger stimulative effect? The charity should have a bigger effect. No offsets from pushing up the price of lumber and so on. But giving people money doesn’t change the underlying problem that there are more carpenters than work available for them. Creating temporary work either by burning down houses deliberatively or accidentally through a hurricane doesn’t change the fact that there are too many carpenters and glaziers relative to demand.

So the hurricane will put carpenters back to work. But it would be even better if there had been no hurricane and people had just given them a check. Charity is more productive than destroying stuff and paying people to get back to square one.

But the charity approach is what we’ve been doing for the last few years. It’s called unemployment insurance. I know, it’s supposed to be stimulative but there’s no sign that it is. Why would it be? It doesn’t solve the problem that there are too many carpenters.

This is related what Arnold Kling calls “Patterns of Sustainable Specialization and Trade.” Repairing houses damaged by a hurricane isn’t sustainable. And if I just give carpenters money because I feel sorry for them, that isn’t trade. That’s charity. Both have the same stimulative effect–very little, because they don’t get at the underlying problem. Prosperity is the way we specialize and serve each other, creating products and services that we each value. Destruction cannot be the source of prosperity.

===

Teachers

by RUSS ROBERTS on AUGUST 30, 2011

in PODCAST, UNCATEGORIZED

The latest EconTalk is a back-to-school special–Eric Hanushek talking about the importance of teachers. Very provocative. Education would be much more effective in the full sense of the word if we let competition transform it.

===

Magic

by RUSS ROBERTS on AUGUST 30, 2011

in BEAUTIFUL

Human creativity keeps expanding. Beautiful.

===

Susan Hockfield has a piece in the New York Times on manufacturing. She is probably a very smart person. She is described as a neuroscientist, president of MIT, and a member of the GE board. Here is how her piece opens:

The United States became the world’s largest economy because we invented products and then made them with new processes. With design and fabrication side by side, insights from the factory floor flowed back to the drawing board. Today, our most important task is to restart this virtuous cycle of invention and manufacturing.

Rebuilding our manufacturing capacity requires the demolition of the idea that the United States can thrive on its service sector alone. We need to create at least 20 million jobs in the next decade to offset the effects of the recession and to address our $500 billion trade deficit in manufactured goods. These problems are related, given that the service sector accounts for only 20 percent of world trade.

The piece goes on to talk about why we need government to get involved. But let’s just look at the opening. I disagree with almost every sentence. But the most important error is the idea implicit in this piece that there was a decision made somewhere by someone to gamble on a service economy instead of a manufacturing economy. If the idea of returning to what allegedly made America great is such a good idea, why does she need to write a piece in the New York Times? If making the stuff we invent is so virtuous, why isn’t it happening? There are four possibilities.

1. No one has thought of it.
2. People have thought of it but something stops them from implementing the idea.
3. People have thought of it but the gains go to others so no one does it.
4. It’s not a good idea.

So why does Apple, for example, outsource so much of its production? Because it’s cheaper and it allows more people to be able to afford more Apple products.

Making stuff the cheapest way is the road to prosperity.

Trying to find expensive ways to make stuff (because it once was a good idea but no longer is) is the road to poverty.

===

Quotation of the Day…

by DON BOUDREAUX on AUGUST 30, 2011

in SCIENTISM, SEEN AND UNSEEN, STATE OF MACRO

… is from page 21 of Hayek’s The Trend of Economic Thinking (Vol. 3 of Hayek’sCollected Works); the quotation comes from the 1933 essay after which this volume is named; in the following passage Hayek is discussing the negative reaction by many people in the 19th century to economics:

The attack on economics sprang rather from a dislike of the application of scientific methods to the investigation of social problems. The existence of a body of reasoning which prevented people from following their first impulsive reactions, and which compelled them to balance indirect effects, which could be seen only by exercising the intellect, against intense feeling caused by the direct observation of concrete suffering, then as now, occasioned intense resentment.

No small part of Keynes’s (and the Keynesians’s) success is due, I believe, to their dressing up in scientific jargon and garb what are, at bottom, little more thanad hoc excuses for people to follow “their first impulsive reactions.” Keynesians’s pose as scientists – their substitution of scientism for science – masks their rejection of a genuinely scientific approach to the study of the economy.

===

Gillard’s Malaysian scheme collapses

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (03:20 pm)

Another humiliating disaster for the Gillard Government:

THE Gillard government’s “Malaysian Solution” has been thrown into disarray after being ruled unlawful by the High Court.
The judgment of the full bench, handed down to a packed courtroom in Canberra, found Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s declaration of Malaysia as a country to which asylum-seekers could be sent for processing was “invalid”.

Chief Justice Robert French said the court ordered Mr Bowen and his department be restrained from sending asylum-seekers to Malaysia.

“The declaration made ... was made without power and is invalid,” Justice French said…

If the government now abandons the plan, it will still be bound under the deal to accept 4000 extra refugees from Malaysia, while being unable to send 800 asylum-seekers there for processing.

Let’s review. Julia Gillard first proposed an East Timor detention centre without checking if East Timor would agree. It didn’t.

Then she signed a swap deal with Malaysia that presumed it would be able to send back 800 of our boat people. It can’t.

A new leader by September’s end.

UPDATE

What makes this so particularly humiliating for the Government is that the reason the deal has been overturned is because the Government did what it swore it wouldn’t - it made a deal to send boat people to a country that has not signed the Refugee Convention:

The full bench found the minister could not validly process asylum-seekers in a third country unless that country was bound under law to provide effective protection for them while their refugee status was determined.

The court found processing countries must also provide asylum-seekers with “effective procedures for assessing their need for protection”, and provide protection for certified refugees pending their resettlement or return to their home countries.

“On the facts which the parties had agreed, the court held that Malaysia is not legally bound to provide the access and protections the Migration Act requires for a valid declaration,” the court said in a statement.

“Malaysia is not a party to the Refugees Convention or its protocol. The arrangement which the minister signed with the Malaysian Minister for Home Affairs on 25 July, 2011 said expressly that it was not legally binding...”

Bunch of clowns.

UPDATE

Dennis Shanahan:

THE High Court of Australia has effectively ruled that the Gillard government is incompetent and incapable of delivering on its most fervently-held policies and beliefs.
This is an amazing judicial destruction of a government policy; there is no grey, no political compensation and no solace for Labor in the High Court judgment ruling “invalid” the Gillard government’s Malaysian solution to illegal boat arrivals.

The High court has demonstrated that from the beginning this prematurely-announced policy was without legal foundation. Australia had no grounds to send boatpeople to Malaysia without processing in Australia, no grounds to send children, and the agreement with Malaysia announced on July 25 was “not legally binding”.

UPDATE

Meanwhile, how to empty the camps of the more than 6000 boat people lured here?

SUCCESS rates for refugee claims have leapt from 30 to 70 per cent in just six months, sparking accusations the government is encouraging boatpeople by virtually guaranteeing them visas…

Early last year the Rudd government was warned its refugee success rate was “out of whack” with other countries and was acting as a “major pull factor”.

(UPDATE: Bowen says there are now 4000 people in detention. No wonder.)

UPDATE

Bowen admits it is a “blow”. He expects people smugglers to “capitalise” on the decision. He is inclined to honor the agreement with Malaysia to take in 4000 of their refugees. He is asked if he intends to offer his resignation. He would not rule out sending boat people to Nauru instead - the very solution this Government foolishly scrapped three years ago, and pigheadly refused to reconsider even when the boats started arriving again..

Complete disaster. Utter shambles. It’s a rabble.

(Thanks to reader Gab.)

===

Gillard considers an inquiry that could muzzle her critics

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (11:01 am)

The threat and the demand:

THE Gillard government has a fortnight to decide whether to hold an inquiry into the regulation and ownership of the media after the Greens leader Bob Brown gave notice last week he would seek to establish one.

Senator Brown’s motion on Thursday went unnoticed amid the furore over allegations against the Labor backbencher Craig Thomson, but a decision will now be made against the backdrop of a bitter dispute between the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and News Ltd over false claims in a column published in The Australian newspaper on Monday.

Senator Brown and the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, have been negotiating terms of reference for an inquiry but cabinet has not made a decision.

Some Labor sources said an investigation was likely but others said there were still strong reservations within cabinet and backed broadening an existing ‘’convergence review’’ into media regulation instead.

Yesterday Ms Gillard attacked The Australian for printing assertions without checking or seeking comment in a column by Glenn Milne. The paper issued a correction and apologised.

I think we can safely conclude that if the Government holds that inquiry, it will be punish and intimidate a news organisation for not being kinder to Labor. And what more leverage would a Prime Minister then have to keep news from you?

UPDATE

More reflections on the threat and how to respond from Professor Bunyip.

UPDATE

This was the apology the Australian ran on Monday:

THE AUSTRALIAN published today an opinion piece by Glenn Milne which includes assertions about the conduct of the Prime Minister.

The Australian acknowledges these assertions are untrue. The Australian also acknowledges no attempt was made by anyone employed by, or associated with, The Australian to contact the Prime Minister in relation to this matter.

The Australian unreservedly apologises to the Prime Minister and to its readers for the publication of these claims.

I think it went too far. And it’s interesting to see these exchanges now:

Ms Gillard said the publication of the article meant there was a “question of ethics and standards here”.

“If you are going to make an allegation or assertion about someone, then you’ve got to give them the opportunity to comment on it. Basic standards—they should be adhered to.”

Mr Hartigan said Ms Gillard’s further complaints yesterday were “pedantic”.

“While The Australian acknowledged no attempt was made to contact the Prime Minister’s office, comment is rarely if ever sought in relation to opinion pieces,” he said.

“This is a widely understood and accepted practice in journalism. All of the company’s journalists abide by a code of conduct which is enforced strenuously by editors.”

The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell, said: ”The bulk of the allegations in the column have been a matter of public record for a long time.”

Most of what Milne said was true. An opinion writer is under no obligation to ring someone he plans to write about.

UPDATE

Scandalous. If John Howard had tried this to punish a criticial media, the ABC and Fairfax media would be rightly aghast at this open attack on a free press.

Laura Tingle reveals the Gillard Government is considering declaring war on News Ltd papers, and ministers have been asked to consider ways to muzzle the papers that include withholding advertising. Then there is the threat of a media inquiry, possibly involving proposals to foce News ltd to sell some of its papers..

Utterly disgraceful and sinister. Have the ministers who are doing Gillard’s bidding in this war no pride? No sense of responsibility? No commitment to free speech?

Right now they are acting like gangsters and standover hoods.

(Thanks to reader Craig.)

===

Why don’t they dig for ore in Balmain instead?

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (05:39 am)

image

Why can’t everyone have a job at Sydney’s ABC, with easy public transport and a lovely bistro around the corner?Deborah Cameron on 702 ABC Sydney yesterday sighs:

ARE you prepared to sacrifice every element of lifestyle to satisfy the efficient operation of an economy? So yes, the big miners really are pulling the cards at the moment but they don’t offer people a nice town to live in. They can’t offer them even a cool breeze on a hot day. You know it’s a dreadful dirty job in the middle of nowhere, far from anywhere where children should even be brought up. I mean, it’s a pretty antisocial kind of life.

Sean Aylmer, Business Review Weekly editor in chief: That’s what you say but everyone has a choice.

Meanwhile, choices offered:

image


===

How Gillard tried to kill a story

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (05:31 am)

The Prime Minister overstepped the line when she called the chairman and CEO of News Limited, John Hartigan.

Calls that look like an attempt at censorship have many sinister overtones, with threats of inquiries and forced sales left hanging in the air.

And I ask her: What are you so afraid of? What else would you stoop to in order to cling to power?

Yesterday morning I was considering resigning as a News Limited columnist.

I thought this company that I love, that I have long admired for its defence of free speech, had caved in to pressure from a Prime Minister to close down reporting of a matter of public interest.

That matter was Gillard’s former relationship, professional and romantic, with union official Bruce Wilson who, unknown to her, was ripping off employers and members of the Australian Workers Union, of which he was state secretary.

I was under instructions not to comment on this myself, after I wrote about it on my blog on Saturday, until further legal advice was received.

Posts from my blog were pulled on Monday, although I believe they were fair, accurate and in the public interest.

Worse, The Australian newspaper, also part of News Limited, on Monday removed from its website a column by Glenn Milne - also referring to Gillard’s past relationship - that had appeared in the morning paper.

In its place, the paper ran an apology for Milne’s “assertions about the conduct of the Prime Minister” and said they were “untrue”. Nor did this silencing of debate affect only News Limited. Presenter Michael Smith, of Sydney’s 2UE, owned by Fairfax Media, was also silenced.

Smith had received a statutory declaration from Bob Kernohan, a former AWU state president, detailing Wilson’s frauds from 1992 to 1995.

But again questions are raised about Gillard’s judgment in having had this relationship, and Smith last weekend pre-recorded a half-hour interview to explore them. He had lawyers clear it to avoid any risk of defamation.

But on Monday, while Smith was on air, his radio station cancelled the interview. It banned him from running it on Tuesday, too.

Here’s how all this came about. Smith on Friday aired some of Kernohan’s statutory declaration, and I then published extracts on my blog, predicting what Kernohan would say to Smith on air on Monday.

As I made clear, the issue was not that Gillard had done anything improper.

There is no evidence of that.

The issue was her judgment in having a professional and romantic relationship with a man now exposed as a conman - and whether Gillard could afford scrutiny like this when she was already hopelessly tangled in defending backbencher Craig Thomson from allegations that, while he was the Health Services Union’s secretary, his union credit card was used to withdraw $100,000 and pay for prostitutes.

Gillard’s office hit the panic button. Gillard herself rang Hartigan on Saturday to check whether I or another News Limited journalist would be pursuing the story.

===

Now Labor slides in Victoria, too

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (05:14 am)

Labor’s last bastion on the mainland starts to crumble:

VICTORIAN Labor’s support has crashed to a two-decade low as Ted Baillieu’s Coalition rides a wave of anti-ALP sentiment in Julia Gillard’s home state.

The latest Newspoll reveals Victorian Labor’s primary vote has dived more than eight points since the state election last November, delivering the Coalition a landslide lead just nine months after last year’s knife-edge poll.

The last time a Labor government was this unpopular in Victoria was when Joan Kirner’s ill-fated administration was in its death throes.

Newspoll shows Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu’s Coalition has a 57-43 per cent two-party-preferred lead, which would cost Labor close to 20 seats if a state election were held today....

The Newspoll will also spark debate about whether the troubled Gillard government is now poisoning the state vote in Victoria.

First, it’s more evidence that the Labor brand generally is in deep trouble.

Second, it shows that in Victoria, at least, less politics is more.

Third, there is indeed a poisoning of Labor’s state vote by the toxic Gillard Government.

Lastly, if federal Labor is losing it even in Gillard’s home state… well, recovery will be a decade away. A leadership change and a radical renewal is becoming urgent.

Adding to that urgency is increasing evidence that independent MP Andrew Wilkie will indeed make good his threat to vote down the Government by May if it does not deliver (and it won’t and can’t) on its promise of a mandatory cap on pokies losses. That denies Gillard its last, false hope that if voters got enough time to see that the carbon dioxide tax isn’t so bad, they’d forgive the government.

In fact, there is no time.

===

Creating racists

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (05:10 am)

image

OUR grievance industry is so short of customers in this tolerant land that it’s going way out of its way to invent injustice and take offence.

Take this week’s example.

Two white men declare a black man, Wallabies rugby star Radike Samo, is their hero and find themselves denounced as racists for their tribute.

Such is this farce that even Qantas is forced to grovel, although not even Samo felt offended.

First, some history.

Once a stereotypical racist was the kind of person who’d see a black man and think him not fully human.

But that kind of racist is thankfully hard to find these days, which leaves a whole industry of offence-takers, professional straiteners and race experts twiddling their thumbs, worrying where their next grant will come from.

In 2001, for instance, Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria’s chairman admitted: “I am not aware of any conclusive evidence that suggests that discrimination is increasing.”

But instead of celebrating a good job well done, the EOCV decided it needed to find more customers.

===

Are Iran’s friends now in control of Libya?

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (04:41 am)

NATO provided the air force that helped the rebels to get rid of Gaddafi, but Iran provided the friendship:

Iran “discreetly” provided humanitarian aid to Libyan rebels before the fall of Tripoli, Jam-e-Jam newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Sunday as saying.

“We were in touch with many of the rebel groups in Libya before the fall of (Moamer) Kadhafi, and discreetly dispatched three or four food and medical consignments to Benghazi,” Salehi told the daily.

“The head of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, sent a letter of thanks to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for having been on their side and helping,” he added.

===

Labor MPs mutinous

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (04:36 am)

She’s right to resist protectionism, but not letting people vent - people on her own side - is a political mistake:

JULIA Gillard faces a possible caucus revolt over her refusal to hold an inquiry into the future of manufacturing. ..

Ms Gillard, who yesterday met workers about to lose their steel industry jobs in Wollongong, south of Sydney, rejected any need for an inquiry, saying it would delay action to help people who had lost their jobs…

The leaders of two manufacturing unions and the Australian Industry Group, who met Ms Gillard to discuss their fears on Monday, said the Prime Minister had left open the idea of establishing a formal inquiry to consider an industry support plan.

Yesterday, Ms Gillard, who had previously rejected any retreat to protectionism, said there would be no inquiry, sparking an angry response from Labor MPs.

Senator Doug Cameron said the decision was arrogant and “politically dumb”.

He told The Australian he would ask the next caucus meeting, to be held in two weeks, to defy the Prime Minister by backing an inquiry. “I just think it’s premature to be saying there should be no inquiry. It’s economically irresponsible not to take a close look at the manufacturing industry,” he said.

“I will move at the next caucus that we should have an inquiry."…

Labor MP Stephen Jones, whose south coast seat of Throsby is bearing the brunt of the NSW job losses and who leads a group of 25 MPs sympathetic to the manufacturing industry, said he would back an inquiry.

===

Enough is enough

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (04:27 am)

When people like Peter Costello now say “responsible adult”, they mean Simon Crean:

We should be encouraging more flexible and productive work arrangements. We should be trying to lower costs for business - costs like electricity - not increasing them. For the first time that I can remember, an Australian government is introducing a policy - the carbon tax - which is consciously designed to cut national income rather than boost it.

Sometimes I think that this government needs a responsible adult - someone who can walk into the cabinet much like a parent would walk into a child’s bedroom and say: ‘’Enough is enough. It is time to clean up the mess. And there will be no more nonsense until that is done.’’

UPDATE

Conroy denies it:

STEPHEN Conroy “cannot stand” his boss Julia Gillard, while Bill Shorten harbours prime ministerial ambitions but is willing to wait for his “moment in the sun"…

A confidential cable sent by then US ambassador Robert McCallum to authorities in Washington in 2008 identifies the Victorian factional allies as potential thwarters of the rising political fortunes of the Prime Minister - then deputy prime minister.

The cable, published yesterday by WikiLeaks, also identifies “socially conservative” veteran union heavyweights - Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association national secretary Joe De Bruyn and Australian Workers Union national president Bill Ludwig - as being potential obstacles to Ms Gillard assuming the Labor leadership.

“So could the head of the Victorian Right, Senator Stephen Conroy (who was a strong supporter of Kim Beazley and cannot stand Gillard), and the ambitious MP and former unionist Bill Shorten (also a strong supporter of Beazley who has prime ministerial ambitions),” it continues.

===

What a tight little team

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (12:14 am)

By some entirely above-board good fortune, businessman Michael Williamson sells his IT equipment to the Helath Services Union, whose president is Michael Williamson, the senor vice president of the Labor party and mentor of Craig “credit card” Thomson:

Mr Williamson is also credited with using his ‘’entrepreneurial skills’’ to bring new services for union members, the ALP website claims.

Among those services are an array of IT, computer and mobile systems which are provided to the union by Mr Williamson’s IT company, United Edge, which has offices on the same floor as the union in the Pitt Street building. Among United Edge’s clients, according to its website, are trade unions and patient care organisations.

Mr Williamson is also a director of Imaging Partners Online, which provides off-site radiology services to both private and public hospitals. Last year Mr Williamson spent $522,000 buying a beach house at Lake Macquarie, having previously spent $470,000 buying the adjacent block.

The well-connected Mr Williamson is a former president of the Labor Party and is vice-president of the party. His daughter, Alex, is a media adviser in the Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s staff. Mr Williamson did not return the Herald’s call.

Williamson’s conflict of interest is properly noted and audited and officially approved. Producers from my TV show have tried to interview him, but no luck. I wonder how much rent his private company pays to his union for sharing the office space.

UPDATE

Meanwhile…

The aftershocks of the Thomson affair are continuing to reverberate inside the government, with intra-factional tensions in Victoria at boiling point.

White powder was left yesterday on the doorstep of right-wing senator David Feeney - a friend and factional ally of the HSU’s Kathy Jackson, who last week referred the Thomson allegations to the New South Wales Police. Ms Jackson herself was targeted with a dirty shovel left at her door after her decision to go to authorities....

Senator Feeney, in a dangerous position on the senate ticket, is likely to seek preselection for a lower house seat. The Right in Victoria is split and relationships between the main powerbrokers are fraught. Senator Feeney is aligned with the HSU; the other group is led by Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy.

There is, of course, not the slightest suggestion that Shorten and Conroy would condone such behaviour, and both have reportedly sent a message to hotheads to “cool it”. I’m not sure they can put a lid on the fury, though.

UPDATE

Do unions exist to funnel money from workers to the Labor party?

THE union at the centre of the Craig Thomson scandal, which is already under investigation by NSW Police and the national industrial relations watchdog, is now being probed by the Australian Electoral Commission after declaring less than one-700th of its actual expenses.

The AEC confirmed yesterday it had sent the NSW branch of the Health Services Union, also known as HSUEast, a “please explain” letter concerning its 2009-10 declaration as an “associated entity”, or affiliated union, of the Labor Party.

As an associated entity, the union is required to declare annually the total amount it has spent.

The Australian understands the AEC also has concerns about the accuracy of political-expenditure declarations lodged by the union’s national branch, which is not affiliated with the Labor Party, and has written to HSU national secretary Kathy Jackson.

The HSUEast declaration, lodged last October, listed total outflows as $22,225. The equivalent amount declared in 2008-09 was more than $31 million.

On Monday the HSU submitted an amended return to the AEC, giving the 2009-10 figure as $16,284,546. The amendment was lodged while the union was fielding inquiries from The Australian on its financial links to Labor, including an undeclared $79,000 discount on rent paid by the party as a tenant of HSUEast in Sydney.

(No comments. Thanks to reader CA.)

===

Howard slaps

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (12:10 am)

I can’t say it’s a criticism anyone could make of Howard:

FORMER prime minister John Howard has re-entered the political debate with a blast for Julia Gillard who he says ”lacks authority‘’.

The nation’s second longest serving PM also predicted independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott would lose their seats at the next election and says the Greens have “peaked’’.

===

Brough tells US an open secret

Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (12:02 am)

Those clever US diplomats managed to find out what all Australia, bar a few senior members of the Canberra press gallery, already knew:

MALCOLM Turnbull “cared only about Turnbull” and some Liberals supported his leadership only because they wanted to set him up to fail, Howard government minister Mal Brough told US officials.

Mr Brough, the former indigenous affairs minister, lost his seat in federal parliament at the 2007 election that swept Kevin Rudd to power.,,,

A confidential cable - dated June 26, 2008, and provided to the WikiLeaks website - relates a conversation in Canberra between Mr Brough and the then US ambassador Robert McCallum.

Mr Brough told Mr McCallum that the then opposition leader Brendan Nelson was a good man but the public had not warmed to him and his poor polling was unlikely to improve.

He predicted that Mr Turnbull was likely to take over as Liberal leader but would ultimately fail.

“Turnbull was only interested in Turnbull and his constant undermining of Nelson had hurt him in the eyes of many of his colleagues,” the cable reads…

Mr Brough also took aim at then prime minister Kevin Rudd’s obsession with control and micromanagement and predicted his popularity would soon fade.

===
August 31st Bible Readings
Source: www.youtube.com
A years plan to read the bible. Each day new text will be read and by the end of the year both the new and old testament will be completed. Some images free sourced from Cathy Ngo and Videoblocks.com. Accidental mistakes will occur Psalm 129-131...
· · 2 hours ago via YouTube

===
Obama is not a friend of any if he promotes tolerance of drugs in Mexico.
American politicians are too quick to criticize Mexico, neglecting the fact that it is our most important ally in the drug war and that its government and people are carrying more than their fair share of the burden piled high by U.S. drug abuse.
===
Hannah was hoping for change. Obama promised much and delivered nothing.
Actress Daryl Hannah has been arrested in front of the White House along with other environmental protesters who oppose a planned oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
===
Liked on www.youtube.com
Aprille Lim Test Showreel Music: Ministry of sound and Train **note** More footage to be added- so final product will be cut shorter with more stuff =) Credits: - Django (Film) - Film Industry Awards opening - The People Upstairs (Fi...

===
Liked on www.youtube.com
Check out this mini-docu that we shot! http://www.playwiththejunglegym.com/
· · 4 hours ago via YouTube
===
Meanwhile in Sydney a magistrate lets them drive taxis.
foxnewsinsider.com
A new investigation by the Chicago Tribune reveals that the state of Illinois subsidized a $750 million a year childcare assistance program that let violent felons, including convicted rapists and child molesters, babysit children for low-income families. State Senator Matt Murphy joined Fox and Fri...

===
The administration was very effective. There were lots of people with unique viewpoints and they can argue for them cogently. Sadly Obama is not the equal of any of them, and has no one on his side who is too.
www.newsmax.com
Powell Says Cheney Taking 'cheap Shots' in Book
===
She doesn't have the answers
inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au
LUKE Ringrose and his mother will occupy two of 200 seats at a carbon tax and climate change forum on August 30.
===
It would have been different if his student was a girl?
www.news.com.au
THE husband of renowned children's author Mem Fox has received a suspended jail term for his illicit affair with a male teenager.
===
ROTFL
www.news.com.au
A NEW Zealand woman who lost a bag filled with cannabis was arrested when she tried to reclaim it as lost property from the local police station.
===
They don't have to have it. It can be useful. Better than the Lenovo.
www.news.com.au
SO you've got to work and switched on your perhaps less-than-state-of-the-art computer - now imagine you had to pay your boss for the privilege.
===
Survivor's guilt.
www.news.com.au
DANIEL Morcombe's twin has told of his anguish over his decision not to go shopping with his brother on the day he disappeared.
===
The ex wife still gets the alimony
www.foxnews.com
The next time you complain about a paper cut or headache, consider these injuries

===
People at college are more independent. Well, the students tend to be.
College may seem like a relative bargain to some families after they see a new study by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) that says early child care can cost more.
===
Obama is all image and no policy
Top spokesmen for the Obama administration on Tuesday defended the White House’s issuance of “talking points” designed to shape how federal officials in this country and American diplomats serving abroad frame the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
===
Yes, but the battle didn't actually involve them hardened criminals
www.news.com.au
APPLE set up a global security team three years ago to combat rampant counterfeiting of the iPod and iPhone in China, according to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
===
Does HSU management qualify for frequent fliers?
express.whereilive.com.au
A BROTHEL in Exceller Ave, Bankstown, has won its bid to remain open and operate for 24 hours each day.

===
I want both cookies now
www.livescience.com
A decades-long study is showing kids who are impulsive and can't delay gratification at age 4 are more likely than those who can wait to have a higher risk of substance abuse, a higher body mass index and lower SAT scores, scientists say
===
UN corruption is rife
AUSTRALIA and the US schemed to block the re-election of the UN nuclear chief in 2005, a leaked US diplomatic cable shows.
===
They soon realized Rudd was a dud
INDONESIA was "almost effusive" when Kevin Rudd won the 2007 election, according to US officials.

===
A few days ago she had been dead for twenty years ..
MUAMMAR Gaddafi's daughter gave birth to a baby girl yesterday in Algeria, which has granted safe haven to family.
===
They are spending election money now
THE Government has given the go-ahead for the Department of Defence to buy 950 unarmoured Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon four-wheel drives to finish the replacement its elderly Land Rover fleet.
===
I promise to do this. But can't guarantee it if I actually visit
AUSTRALIANS travelling to South-East Asia are advised to avoid contact with live chickens following a UN warning about bird flu.
===
What would they call it if it were merely to parent?
MORE than a quarter of Victorian dads use Facebook to keep an eye on their children's social networking.
===
Kill NBN now
THE country's competition watchdog has threatened to derail the Gillard government's $36 billion high-speed national broadband network.
===
ICU won't make you younger
A LEADING intensive-care specialist has warned that too many terminally ill people are dying painful, traumatic deaths in hospital, hooked up to machines and prodded by doctors, when most want to die ...
===
Mr Franklyn?
A TEACHER and six students have been taken to hospital after a lightning strike hit a tree in the state's north.
===
Shut Ivy down for patron safety.
POLICE were sent on a wild goose chase by bouncers as cleaners washed away evidence of an alleged bashing in the basement of the Ivy nightclub, a court heard yesterday.
===
ALP backer in trouble
TEN secret witnesses are ready to give evidence against Ron Medich as police continue to compile their case of murder against the millionaire property tycoon.
===
Support them or bring them home
ONE of the few genuine pleasures for soldiers returning from dusty, sweaty patrols in Afghanistan was a long, hot, cleansing shower.
===
More bungling. Thank you Jason Clare
THE army's first six Aussie Tiger attack helicopters will not be ready to fight in Afghanistan until February next year.
===
Another Howard era reform that is an improvement
FIVE years after the law was changed to encourage shared parenting when couples separate, one in six children are spending between 35 and 65 per cent of nights with both mum and dad.
===
Thomson is unfit for office
BESIEGED Labor MP Craig Thomson now faces a possible third inquiry - with the NSW Commissioner of Fair Trading to investigate claims he misused unions funds to help his election to Parliament.
===
Time to buy cheap
ONE of Australia's key economic drivers -- the housing sector -- has stalled as building approval figures continue their disappointing run.
===
So older dads should have daughters?
THERE has long been evidence that children of older mothers are at risk of illnesses such as Down syndrome - now it seems having an elderly father can increase the odds of developing mental illness.
===
What is she saying now?
FACEBOOK friction is increasingly being diagnosed in internet-savvy couples.

===
I don't blame detainees for bad ALP policy
IMMIGRATION detainees and asylum seekers are spending more than $5 million a year on government-issued telephone cards to call relatives overseas and to talk to their lawyers.
===
When it comes to the rule of law, Clinton does what she wants
THE fate of the Australian businessman accused of strapping a fake bomb around the neck of 18-year-old Sydney high school girl Madeleine Pulver could depend on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
===
I don't bet much or often. No need for an account
EVER heard of a bookmaker coming to the rescue of punters owed an estimated $1 million?

===
Anyone but Julia or Rudd? I suggest Liberals .. Vote for Abbott
BILL Shorten made no secret of his ambitions to become prime minister when he met US embassy officials in his Melbourne office on June 11, 2009 despite a "rumpled appearance".
===
ALP failed immigration policy exposes all Australians to such issues and worse
US terrorist agencies were told to place 23 Australians on a "no-fly" or "selectee" security list requiring them to be detained at US airports because of suspected links to a Yemeni terrorist group.


===
Why does Kelly have to fight to keep an election promise? Whom is he sticking now?
FEDERAL Labor MP Mike Kelly revealed yesterday how he had been forced to use a bayonet to "stick" enemy Somalis while serving with the Australian army.
===
I have done nothing wrong, but I have stood up for a child that died from apparent school neglect. I appropriately reported this and so have not been able to work as a high school Math teacher in four years .. or any other job. I raised this issue publicly with Gillard and was ignored, although it impinged on her IR policy claims. Can you help me get this story told before I lose my last possession?

I have twice run for government on this issue
blogs.news.com.au
Andrew writes for Melbourne's Herald Sun, Sydney's Daily Telegraph and Adelaide's Advertiser. He runs Australia's most-read political blog, is on MTR 1377 mornings. He’ll host Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am
· · · 12 hours ago

    • David Daniel Ball Yes
      11 hours ago ·

    • David Daniel Ball The brief is; I told the school of the child's allergy to peanuts a year before their neglect killed him. The fired me illegally. When the child died the Department threatened me, then had me investigated to see if I was too fat to teach Mathematics. They phoned me to inform me I was a pest and they would ignore me. The premier of NSW apparently parachuted a bureaucrat into a mid level public service position to abuse me. I was ordered to delete my private blogs numbering 2.5 million words and images. I approached the Minister of Education to address the issue and they threatened me. I resigned to speak out and the harassment extended so I could not get casual work. Media were apparently ordered to back off. I believe the abuse is related to an earlier bungled pedophile investigation in which I correctly informed on a teacher, but the ALP would have been embarrassed and it was inconvenient to discuss it.
      2 hours ago ·
    • David Daniel Ball Bolt hasn't printed this comment ..

===
Ray is an awesome musician too.
I try to find the humor in everything but there is nothing funny about what the president, his policies and his associates are doing to this country.
===
He has lots of tools, but he needs good conservative policy ..
President Barack Obama, hamstrung by budget cuts and a tight debt ceiling, is preparing a September jobs package with limited tools at his disposal to prime the economy and crank up employment.