Sunday, February 23, 2014

In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen!

The American left has reacted to recent opinion polls depicting Hillary Clinton as the unchallenged successor to Barack Obama - unassailed by credible opponents on left or right - with ambivalence, as in this rumination by Booman Tribune or this conflicted conversation at Balloon Juice.

The argument goes like this: we know Hillary has astoundingly good numbers across all demographics and would walk into the White House with control over both houses on Congress if they hold up, but we all flocked to Obama last time because she wasn't left enough for us, especially on foreign relations (i.e. she's a hawk), and we're apprehensive of the desperate mudslinging that will result from GOP reactionaries faced with their worst nightmare. The left would all love for another Obama to rise up from relative obscurity and save them from the terrifying prospect of Galadriel, um I mean Hillary with the full power of the One Ring, um I mean the Red Button.

The closest analogue to a Frodo who would shoulder that burden is Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, who appears to be the Moneyball candidate with much talk of his Nate Silver-like reliance on stats and deep analysis. Elizabeth Warren isn't running, the one person who was most Obama-like among a fairly weak set of contenders. O'Malley as VP would be interesting, as it would give the left something to hold onto for a succession plan.

No, it looks like America is going to have to come to terms with Obama trudging off to the White Ships as Hillary ascends the throne, and the left suspects they are not going to like the "all shall love me and despair" bit all that much. It's not that Galadriel with the One Ring would have been evil, per se, just that living in a country with a Lawful Neutral monarch is not much fun. Though it would be cool if she developed those blue wavy CGI effects to liven up the Correspondents Dinner.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Short Kicks: Hockey kicking buttocks for Keynes

Another week where I'm hard at work on my other commitments, so only time for a short roundup. Not that I'm trying to compete with Homer!

- Joe Hockey wants the other G20 nations to engage in Keynesian stimulus so that he can implement austerity in Australia and not have it plunge the domestic economy into recession. We have benefited from China's stimulus during the latest resources boom, and Hockey can see the terrible effect it would have on the nation if it was scaled down at the same time as the high Australian dollar continues to cudgel manufacturing. This is a classic example of talking one's own book; then again, it's rare for a politician not to do so. Judith Sloan feigns ignorance of Hockey's motives, but she knows that Hockey is a Keynesian. The "age of responsibility" palaver from Hockey is a crock, he merely wants someone else to pay for his free lunch.

- Speaking of manufacturing, those blaming the carbon price or union demands for Alcoa's closure should read this, which details how the real reason is most likely cartel price manipulation.

- Mark Kenny points out that the WA Senate byelection would fall just after Hockey's first full budget, which is looking like a stinker. Fat chance of the Libs retaining those three Senators.

- I'm not the first person to say this, but how do you shoot someone in the buttock unless they are running away from you? Perhaps the Libs could take a leaf from the book of Turkey, which seems to know how to build refugee camps. (Yes, I know Manus Island was a Rudd initiative, but it's six months into this government already, at some point the Libs have to be responsible.)

- It was pointed out on Twitter that the last Liberal PM not to hold a royal commission into unions was John Gorton... so that's the last four. The previous one resulted in zero convictions. The witch hunting continues.

- Craig Thomson was found guilty of some of the charges against him, with sentencing due on March 18. I am tipping no jail time and a wet lettuce fine, as the pre-judgement comments by the judge regarding the flaws in the charges make the case ripe for appeal so there's not much that would stand up in a higher court. The question, as is so often the case in law, is whether Thomson will have enough money to pay for lawyers to achieve the correct decision.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Short Kicks: Br'er Abbott and the IR patch

Spending more time on work lately so don't have mental bandwidth for feature length posts on a single subject, or proper sentence structure. Dot point time!

- Tony Abbott's War On Workers continues apace, with a raft of rightwing lies about SPC's industrial relations which were summarily shut down by the company, the stupidity of Judith Sloan telling the orchardists to have a cow or two, and continuing with Paul Howes trying to come across all Hawkey-esque with talk of a grand bargain. Howes is playing Br'er Rabbit: please don't throw me in the IR patch! Only fools could pretend that Abbott has anything like the power and skill of Hawke to achieve anything like the Accord. While Howes looks like a shag on a rock, Abbott's swift repudation of any sort of deal with unions only highlights how little of substance he has to say on industrial relations.

- Regarding SPC, SPC is Shepparton in certain respects. I have relatives around the Goulburn Valley (I was born in Shep), and they tell me that the northern part of that region has been forgotten time and again due to it being so uncontested. Seymour is included in the Federal seat of McEwen so it gets some attention (bugger all really), but even in the regional movement in which Jeff Kennett failed but Steve Bracks succeeded for so long in state politics, the battlegrounds were always Bendigo and Ballarat, with Shep not featuring. There is no Cathy McGowan in that area, though Sharman Stone is being pushed to emulate her through her own party's abandonment. Now she knows how it feels to be a National MP.

- Tom Sizemore, so flakey that he spent most of his appearances on the Celebrity Rehab reality show obviously still on drugs, made up the story about Liz Hurley having an affair with Bill Clinton which was passed around the wingnut blogs... because he got high. Hillary is going to have a field day with this crap.

- The Kouk has been acting like a jackrabbit who found Sizemore's stash lately because he's got it in his head that the RBA are going to hike rates due to the economy heating up again, and he's excited to be going against consensus predictions. He is quoting insanely short-run market fluctuations as if it's a herald of the Second Coming. Koukoulas' theory seems to be that Joe Hockey has already nobbled Treasury and that Treasury's forecasts are significantly lowballing reality, which along with the RBA grant money possibly being refunded at an opportune moment, means that Hockey will be able to build some sort of war chest for the next election. Empirical testing of economic assumptions is always good, I suppose.

- Is it just me, or does anyone else not remember the dressup scene in Groundhog Day at all? Did the Australian censors cut it from all those times I watched it?

UPDATE: Stephen Koukoulas has confirmed the nature of his conspiracy theory.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings

From candy in the comments in a recent Open Thread at Catallaxy Files, in the face of an onslaught of support from the wingnut denizens for Scott Morrison to dethrone Tony Abbott:
So, we’ll have an overnight coup, because the polls have gone down a bit, where Tony Abbott is stabbed in the back and Mr Morrison put in as PM, but the electorate doesn’t like this kind of shenanigans with the PM they voted for, and the LNP suffers. Eventually they are voted out because of instability and poor management, even though Tony Abbott makes a comeback, but it’s all too late. And the ALP brings back some socialism for another 6 years.
Is that what you mean?
An excellent point candy makes there. In this scenario being cooked up by the crazies on the lunar right, Morrison is to Abbott as Gillard was to Rudd. There is no difference, it's exactly the same thing they cried blue murder about from opposition not too long ago. Abbott's government has lost its way, and the Cat is full of faceless men wielding long knives, suffering from Abbott Disappointment Syndrome.

The current surge of desire among the conservative base for Morrison, like the cat in South Park who gets aroused watching lions mate, is nothing more than submissives getting excited by someone acting dominant, as in yesterday's televised exchanges in Senate committee between Morrison and Sarah Hanson-Young et al. Of course, the Cat inmates are attacking SHY in the most sexist language they can think of, because they'd rather it was them that Morrison was acting all alpha and handsome at.

BTW, candy is one of the more interesting characters at Catallaxy Files. It's an open question as to whether she's real or a sock puppet, as she comes across as a caricature of a doctor's wife. Her careful prose combines bland motherhood statements with incisive commentary, and she's treated by others as if she's genuine. Can such a person exist in reality, or is the account a fake to try to broaden the turf of the Cat with a bit of plastic? The mystery continues.

UPDATE: in further Cat own-petard-hoisting news, usual suspect Tom is now predicting Bill Glasson to win Griffith, dismissing the prohibitively long odds the bookies are giving him based on nothing more than poll truther feelpinions. This, after the Cat spent months supporting the bookies on their Abbott odds until the cows came home.