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Weekly Open Thread, 20-24 June 2011

Dave’s still off exploring the farthest reaches of the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s not time for a new Open Thread.

It’s a week already brimming with silly media stories, from Tony Abbott’s asinine “plebiscite” demands (we need the people to vote again before they see the reality of the carbon price and realise how absolutely deranged our scaremongering has been!) to the devastating news that Kate Middleton WORE THE SAME DRESS TWICE. Labor’s poll numbers remain bad, and their frenemies in the media seem to be suggesting they either knife Gillard or knife Rudd or both at once IN A SUICIDAL ORGY OF GIVING US JUICY HEADLINES. The smart money is that Labor will, this time, have the sense to do neither…

And there’s only a little more than week before we lose Labor’s Senate accident, Steve Fielding, back to obscurity.


  • 1
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I dipped my toe into the media this morning and struck rock bottom.

  • 2
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Bolt gets ugly (for a change).
    The last time he published a photograph and named a scientist in this way, it resulted in that scientist receiving death threats. I wonder if his thugs can resist the temptation this time….

  • 3
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Iraq claims US institutions stole $17 billion post-invasion. That’s capitalism for you.

    Iraq’s parliament is chasing about $US17 billion of Iraqi oil money it says was stolen after the 2003 US-led invasion, and has asked the United Nations for help to track it down.

    The missing money was shipped to Iraq from the United States to help with reconstruction after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

    In a letter to the UN office in Baghdad last month, parliament’s Integrity Committee asked for help to find and recover the oil money taken from the Development Fund of Iraq (DFI) in 2004 and lost in the chaos that followed the invasion.

    “All indications are that the institutions of the United States of America committed financial corruption by stealing the money of the Iraqi people, which was allocated to develop Iraq, (and) that it was about $17 billion,” said the letter sent to the UN with a 50-page report.

    The committee called the disappearance of the money a “financial crime” but said UN Security Council resolutions prevent Iraq from making a claim against the United States.

    “Our committee decided to send this issue to you … to look into it and restore the stolen money,” said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

    UN officials were not immediately available for comment.

  • 4
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Yeh isn’t it time we acknowledged that anything reported by the MSM and led by News Ltd is in fact neither news nor representative of anything more than the wishes of the coalition and their cronies…including some of the dregs we see posting here, busily defending the indefensible..

    Labor should absolutely ignored it and ride this shit out…they’ll get tired of it because not everyone is buying it.

  • 5
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Apparently the CEO of FASTS is not permitted to represent her members in denouncing the misinformation and denigration of scientific work in general and climate change specifically on the basis that, well, I’m not sure what basis really. It seems that the main reason is that she’s worked in politics before, so should be excluded from entering in to any discussion regarding the Federation and in fact should apologize. For what I’m not sure.

    It seems a little hypocritical, therefore that a totally unqualified typist feels he has the right to represent the views of the denial side of the climate change debate.

  • 6
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    monkeywrench @ 2, your very valid concern aside, Bolt’s post satirised already here,

    Lets just ignore the 68,000 scientists and technologists for the moment and ask: who has the most qualifications? The administrative head of this organisation, Anna-Maria Arabia or Professor Richard Lindzen?


  • 7
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    The OO editorialises on same sex marriage:

    The Australian upholds the rights of individuals to live their personal lives as they choose, but cautions against governments moving too far ahead of mainstream opinion on social issues.

    A clear majority of Australians support legalised same sex marriage, so I don’t know why they would think this.

  • 8
    Matthew of Canberra
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Two things.

    (1) Jon Stewart explaining things to fox again:


    I’ve only watched 1/2. The problem he has is that it’s more or less impossible to prove bias without a survey, and as long as fox can play a clip of somebody on ABC or NBC overstating arizona’s immigration bills or an isolated clip of stewart mocking a gop, the audience can always kid themselves that it’s something that all networks do. He does much better when he can roll the clips himself, showing clear editorial opinion being shown during “core news” times, hypocritical double-standards and their refusal to let a campaign go when their facts are shown to be bunkum. Oh, and outright fabrications … let’s call them lies.

    But it’s a nice try. And doesn’t it just thoroughly sh1t journalists that a clown can get away with commentary without having to be a journalist, while journalists have to try to push commentary without looking like clowns. Meanwhile, stewart doesn’t have to sell out his credibility to do it, more people like and respect him (or at least his on-screen persona, I have no idea what he’s like as a human being) and he probably earns more to boot.

    (2) The GOP’s current obsession with sharia:


    These people aren’t even in the real world. They apparently prefer to campaign against a made-up danger. I reckon they should start picking on klingons. Klingons are the real threat … or maybe cylons. Cylons look just like us now. Just terrifying. Except for #6. I like #6. She rescues cats and rides a harley (or at least she did).

    I feel sorry for Mitt. He’s trying to soar like an eagle when he’s surrounded by turkeys.

  • 9
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I actually don’t mind the plebiscite idea.

    We should be all jumping on this little bandwagon.
    Government by democracy, what an idea.
    In this case the government should ask

    “Do you support:
    a) a market mechanism which has been shown to be the least expensive option to reduce carbon emissions or,
    b) a more expensive option that will be paid for by a tax on you and that will continue to see emissions rise.

    On a wider scale we could then expect to be consulted upon important policy that would mean that we would never have become embroiled in Iraq or had to deal with inequities like workchoices.
    Further we would see that there was no real requirement anymore for elections or for that matter politicians. We could save so much money and be ruled by democracy.
    A plebiscite? Is that really what the coalition and news limited want?
    Somehow I don’t think they are really interested in democratic rule at all and would squeal bloody murder if such a rule by popular opinion were ever seriously contemplated.

  • 10
    Matthew of Canberra
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    confessions @7

    S/s marriage is going to happen. It’s just a matter of when (predictions are more or less impossible – it’s a question of opportunity and public sentiment, but I suspect it’s not far off). I can’t imagine how anyone can seriously imagine otherwise.

    Conservatives shouldn’t despair, though. When we finally do recognize same sex relationships as first-class marriages, that’ll be something else they can use to beat up on more backward regimes. You know, like letting women work after they’re married, or letting them vote, or not throwing homosexuals in prison (or rivers – little nod to sapol, there), or not allowing child labor, or dangerous workplaces that kill employees and leave families without a breadwinner. Stuff like that. Stuff that meddling leftist totalitarians reformed.

  • 11
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    This morning Bolt is getting stuck into Anna-Maria Arabia for using the word “denialist” to describe climate sceptics. In the very same post he describes Anna-Maria Arabia as a “warmist”

    Funnily, no mention made of the threats of murder and rape being directed at her by climate sceptics.

  • 12
    Matthew of Canberra
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    twobob @9

    In all serious, it’s a bloody terrible idea. California’s #1 governance problem is the mess that direct democracy has made of its laws and budget. It’s a dream for single-issue lunatics, but it doesn’t lead to balanced, rational governance.

    Just listening to tony on AM. He can rely on hearing about this again in future. I can’t imagine it being particularly popular to require the liberals to take backflips to a plebiscite in future. So … if it applies to changes which were ruled out at an election, should it apply to changes which were promised?

  • 13
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The Gap widens:

    Insiders – 203,000
    Insiders Business – 150,000
    Bolt Report – 147,000

  • 14
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    But Mathew are you really saying that the people are too dumb to rule themselves?

    I wonder if that would be true if we had a more mature media who sensibly covered the consequences of certain outcomes and did not pander so much to the loudest or richest voices in the discussion?

    I do view this an an opportunity to do very much with one of the main outcomes being the output of the media being rationalised.
    If not we could descend to the shenanigans of California but that is where we are now heading anyway. And in the end we will have the governance we deserve. If that leads to ruin how is that really different to the rule by murdochracy that we now have?

  • 15
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I’m surprised at so little comment about Pierless on INCITERS yesterday virtually saying that Dame Elizabeth Murdoch is ga-ga. With some fancy foot.errr, tongue work he managed to head himself off at the impasse and say that she’s not physically up to heading a debate but his intented meaning was clear.

  • 16
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    For a wonderful example of “democracy” gone mad. I highly recommend “The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer” starring Peter Cook and a supporting cast of some of the legends of British comedy.

    It is particularly relevant in light of this call for a plebiscite. It takes a very funny look at politics in general, but also the consequences of giving “the people” too much say in policy decisions.

  • 17
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Funnily, no mention made of the threats of murder and rape being directed at her by climate sceptics.

    That’s because he’s a ‘denialist’ himself…probably best not to draw too much attention to the ‘articles’ in the comments section of his own blog.

  • 18
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Does anyone have access to the ratings for “that” TV Show for yesterday? The Southbank Narcissist has very humbly announced a cumulative total of 300,000. I’d be interested to see comparative ratings for both screenings, as well as the cumulative total for Insiders including its repeat on News24.

    I’d also like to know if it managed to outrate Bananas in Pajamas this week and whether the morning screening was as low as 107,000 again.

    Last week he was gloating over the fact that the ABC is concerned that people were turning of Inside Business at 10am. The thinly veiled implication being that he is stealing the ratings. I’d be interested to see the ratings for the various programs at 10am since his show started to see what has actually happened. I suspect it’s actually got nothing to do with him.

  • 19
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    MoC, We have nothing to fear from Klingons, at least not for another 200 years.

  • 20
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    DOWNTON ABBEY Seven 1,717,000
    SEVEN NEWS – SUN Seven 1,679,000
    DANCING WITH THE STARS Seven 1,551,000
    NINE NEWS SUNDAY Nine 1,526,000
    60 MINUTES Nine 1,054,000
    MERLIN TEN 978,000
    N THEIR FOOTSTEPS Nine 892,000
    THE MENTALIST -EP1 Nine 821,000
    HAWAII FIVE-O TEN 717,000
    SEVEN’S AFL: RND 13: CARLTON VS SYDNEY Seven 386,000
    INSIDERS ABC1 203,000

  • 21
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Accumulating ratings to include repeats is meaningless unless you do the same for the other shows you are comparing to. How do you know that your acolytes aren’t watching it twice?

  • 22
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    His 4.30 timslot picks up a lot of viewers switching over / on to watch the 5.00 news.

    All shows on before the news have a big jump in ratings 15 minutes before they go to air.

  • 23
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink


    bortaS bIr jablu’DI’ reH QaQqu’ nay’.

  • 24
    John Reidy
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    twobob, Bob Brown was on RN breakfast this morning saying the same thing – re the questions….

    He said there was no point in spending around $70mill on a non-binding plebiscite – where if the question was asked properly it would be defeated.

    In theory I don’t have a problem with plebiscites in theory, it comes down to how they are used, in Australia today I don’t think it would be very pretty.

  • 25
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Didn’t take them long, but who expected otherwise…

    Of course, irony is completed missed on them:

    Mr Shelton (ACL Cheif of Staff) said the Queensland Labor Party risked alienating mainstream voters by fixating on a small, activist component of the population instead of dealing with the issues most Australians were concerned about.

    Not only does it miss the fact that polls show a majority in support of the act, they actually complain about “fixating on a small, activist component of the population”. Really? ACL, know thyself!

  • 26
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    To all you enemies of the great Klingon supremacy, I have only this to say –

    baQa’ baktag, verengan Ha’DIbaH, ‘urwI’ !

  • 27
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Tony Abbot says that if a plebiscite is held, the Government should be bound by it, but he wouldn’t.

    Tony Abbott says the Opposition won’t adopt the Government’s carbon pricing scheme if it was put to a plebiscite and passed.

    The Opposition Leader indicated today only the Government would be bound by the result.

    When asked his position should a carbon price be accepted at a plebiscite, he told news.com.au:

    “I would still think a carbon tax was bad.”

    DenIb Qatlh !

  • 28
    Matthew of Canberra
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    “But Mathew are you really saying that the people are too dumb to rule themselves?”

    Not at all. But they are too uncoordinated and individually unaccountable. A government can face the consequences of its decisions very acutely at the polls. If they screw up, they’ll be turfed out. And they have to take (to some extent) the long view, to ensure their own political survival. When direct democracy actions screw up, everyone just sort of puts up with the results and blames somebody else. Responsibility is too diffuse to really matter. Government involves tradeoffs and coordinated decisions. That’s precisely the sort of thing that occasional plebiscites can’t achieve. Back when davis was recalled and replaced by the governator, 1/2 (probably more, now) of california’s budget was allocated to programs and hobbyhorses that nobody in government could do anything about. When the economy tanks and revenues plummet, the legislature and governor are still unable to redirect any of those funds to more critical problems (like, say, building enough prisons to actually hold all of the people that previous ballot initiatives locked away). Regardless of how much of an emergency things might be, that money still gets doled out and nobody can touch it. It can send the state bankrupt, but that’s just tough. Even if the public WAS behind reform, it’d just have to wait until the next electoral cycle anyway. Long-term, rational government can’t rely on short-term popularity, or the reforms that helped australia ride out two major financial crises in the last 15 years would never have happened. Any sensible foreign policy would be impossible.

    I can’t think of any better demonstration of what’s wrong with government by mass ballot than just looking at the places where they actually do it.

    Likewise, the direct election of state attorneys, prosecutors and judges has been shown in the US to lead to appalling legal and financial corruption. No, they’re not all corrupt (or even very many), but wow – when they are, they’re spectacular. We get a judge lying about a traffic ticket. They get judges locking kids to get kickbacks from prison management companies, or prosecutors prosecuting innocent people (and breaking the law to do so), either because it’s the sort of case that gets people fired up, or because they get so far in that backing down would mean embarrassment and electoral disaster (see the duke lacrosse case).

  • 29
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    gtpfb13 – I normally have a glance at the ratings at tvtonight.com.au but its not very comprehensive.

    If you want to be completely accurate when comparing Bolt to Insiders you need the ABC24 figures as Insiders runs simultaneously on ABC24 and ABC1 (ABC1=203,000, don’t know ABC24) So obviously the combined figures are unique viewers (unless you’re watching two TV’s at the same time!)

    Additionally, Bolt often combines his morning show with the afternoon repeat when talking about viewer numbers and as you note, the 8pm Sunday ABC24 repeat of Insiders would need to be added to the morning viewing numbers for a Sunday comparison.

    In any event his boast of “first goal reached in two weeks” (when he pipped Insiders by 8,000 viewers), didn’t include ABC24 viewers and he has never looked close since.

  • 30
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Angra, “taH pagh taHbe’!”

    You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.

  • 31
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    They should split every hour of Masterchef into 2 half hour episodes, cumulate the totals together and double the ratings!!!!! Who makes this science behind the ratings? Are the ratings peer reviewed? We all know who are the true “ratings deniers”!

  • 32
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink


    wachk ihw, wachk kkor-duh

    Are related to Kurn?

  • 33
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Marc Hendrickx, leading exponent of gotcha denialism, insisting that attention to details is paramount – but only those that are irrelevant, petty and considered in a vaccuum (scroll to comments).


  • 34
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    To get an inkling into the true Shakespearean heritage of Klingon rhetoric, check these outstanding examples of great script-writing…


  • 35
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Oops, wrong link.


  • 36
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Wait a minute! Along with Steven Fielding going, is Nick Minchin going a well???

    Party. On!

  • 37
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Mr Shelton (ACL Cheif of Staff) said the Queensland Labor Party risked alienating mainstream voters by fixating on a small, activist component of the population instead of dealing with the issues most Australians were concerned about.

    This seems to be the new line of attack for the ACL and other SSM opponents. They’re sort of catching on to the fact that they are not the majority any more, so now it’s –

    “Any time spent on this is to neglect far more important issues facing Australians!”

    In other words, when there’s no famine, war, political unrest, homelessness or any human suffering in the world, then we can talk about SSM.

  • 38
    Matthew of Canberra
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Let it not be said that fielding did nothing lasting.

    He gave us the VSU.

    Revenge is sweet.

  • 39
    Will S
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    That line of argument is so unbearably retarded. You’re right… so just make 1 simple change to 1 law, and then we can forget about it forever and get back to the big issues.

  • 40
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    MoC @38

    bortaS bIr jablu’DI’ reH QaQqu’ nay’

    “Revenge is a dish best served cold”

  • 41
    Rich Uncle Skeleton
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Really? Bolt’s criteria for being allowed to speak about AGW is now predicated on whether you have the credentials of Richard “I could live with five degrees warming” Lindzen? The same Richard Lindzen who keeps on having to refine his stance every time his pet theory of the year is proven wrong?

    In that case Bolt should take his own advice.

    Deniers hate being called out for what they are. Everybody should do it repeatedly and as loudly as possible.

  • 42
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Is there some kind of Godwin’s equivalent for when people start talking about Star Trek?

  • 43
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    returnedman – yes, it should be known as a Roddenberry.

    I’m guilty, so I’ll stop it.


  • 44
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Is there some kind of Godwin’s equivalent for when people start talking about Star Trek?

    I believe the equivalent to Godwin’s Law that you are looking for would be named Nerd’s Law:
    “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nerd bringing up Star Trek or a battle between Superman & Batman approaches 1 (100%).”

    For what it’s worth, I am a nerd and reckon Batman would kick Kal-El’s backside.

    Fun fact, Kal-El resembles the Hebrew words קל-אל, which can be taken to mean “voice of God”. Which is important because Siegel and Shuster (Superman’s creators) were both Jewish, the race tortured & killed by Nazis, thus completing the Six Degrees of Godwin ;)

  • 45
    David McRae
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Oh my – the Wollongong professor demonstrates Godwin’s and I think Poe’s Law in this spray of rubbish

    I’m sure the comments section could fuel the cut and paste – the nutterism is strong there.

  • 46
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    But the good news is:


  • 47
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Wait a minute! Along with Steven Fielding going, is Nick Minchin going a well???

    No surely both sheer stupidity AND evil can’t be banished at the same time???

  • 48
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Well being a nerd is more entertaining and less harmful (although admittedly just as annoying) than being fixated endlessly on the evils of Sauron the HUN.

    Can we talk Elvish?

    Cormamin lindua ele lle

  • 49
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Angra, @ 32 kxawm.

    I’ll leave it at that, Qapla’

  • 50
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink


    Bolt gets ugly (for a change).
    The last time he published a photograph and named a scientist in this way, it resulted in that scientist receiving death threats. I wonder if his thugs can resist the temptation this time….

    Quelle surprise:

    Members of the scientific community are receiving death threats as debate over Julia Gillard’s carbon tax intensifies.
    In the latest incident, Federation of Australian Science and Technological Societies executive director Anna-Maria Arabia received an email today saying she would be “strung-up by the neck” and killed for her promotion of mainstream climate science.