Flogging a moribund horse

I suppose if you’re on the race track heading for a distant finishing line, one you can’t really yet see, even although your horse is tired and lagging way behind the field, you keep flogging it mindlessly, desperately hoping it will survive the race, buoyed by wild imaginings that it will get its second wind and bolt to the post.  What else can you do?  To acknowledge that the horse is moribund, to accept that it probably can’t even get to the finishing line, to have to dismount and quietly lead it back to the stables to be put out to pasture, would evoke ridicule from rivals and a realization by the betting public that the horse is finished, indeed was never really a starter.  So you press on, convincing yourself that each shout of the race-caller confirms that you’re on track for victory, no matter how far ahead the other horses are. More...

Loathing kills logic

Serious contributors to the political blogosphere genuinely feel they have a legitimate contribution to make to political discourse in this country, and occasionally they get the feeling that their offerings are making a difference, are changing thinking among the conventional commentators.  A combination of accurate factual evidence, thoughtful analysis relatively free of bias, logical reasoning, and carefully considered conclusions characterize much of what is posted on serious sites.  But it is what is posted by some blog-sites that detracts from sensible discourse, and devalues not just these sites, but the blogosphere in general.  The MSM is ever ready to discount the ‘amateur’ blog-sites which they seem to find competitive to their outlets and blog-sites.  Those of us, who conduct such sites, are seen as uninformed irritants who distort the high level discourse they believe they provide. More...

Memo to journalists – don’t praise the PM

Unless you are senior and well endowed with gravitas, if you want to stay within the Journos' Club, stick to the club rule – don’t praise the PM.  Otherwise you may end up on the outer, shunned by the majority – the timid compliant majority too inhibited to flout the rule.

Yesterday, in his introduction of Kevin Rudd as a panellist in the opening session of a conference to discuss global issues at the Clinton Global Initiative think tank, Bill Clinton said: “In my opinion, he is one of the most well informed, well read, intelligent leaders in the world today.''  Clinton detailed Rudd’s diplomatic background in East Asian affairs, portrayed him as an expert on China, commended his recognition of the need to take urgent action on climate change, and welcomed his advocacy of the G20 as the best forum to deal with issues such as the global financial crisis.  He mentioned that for his 52nd birthday on Monday, his wife, Therese Rein, had given him a book of Revolutionary War maps. ''In other words, this guy's pretty smart.'' More...

Milne sinks deeper into it

After the extraordinary media beat-up of Kevin Rudd’s outburst at some of his backbenchers critical of the Government’s reduction of parliamentarians’ printing allowance, I questioned whether giving this pitiable story more oxygen was apposite, but as it continues even today, and encouraged by the comments of Bushfire Bill and others on The Poll Bludger over the weekend, here goes.

It was never more that a one day story, but as it emerged on a Sunday, I suppose the weekday shock jocks had to have their go this morning. More...

How do you rate our federal politicians?

The idea for this exercise came from bloggers on The Poll Bludger a few days ago.  They were giving scores out of ten to our senior politicians.  I thought it might be of interest to visitors to The Political Sword to join in this attempt to evaluate the people whom we have elected to govern us almost two years ago, and twelve months after Malcolm Turnbull's ascension to leadership.

It is inevitable that judgements will be dominated by one’s preferences politically.  You will have guessed mine.  But in making my judgements, I’ve tried to be as objective as I can and have attempted to justify my position. More...

Should mainstream journalists be political cheerleaders?

Accurate reporting of the facts and the coherent expression of opinion by mainstream journalists ought to be possible.  Yet sometimes the facts they advance are incomplete or distorted and the opinions they offer confusingly intertwined with them.  This often leads to bias and the impression that the writer is a campaigner for a particular party rather than an advocate for a particular point of view.

To be seen as a party cheerleader diminishes the influence a journalist can exercise over public opinion.  Readers regard the writings of avid cheerleaders as biased and unhelpful, and ignore them. Who, except rusted-on Coalition supporters, read Piers Akerman and take him seriously? More...

The dark art of opposing

What a contrast there is in Federal politics today.  We have a Government that has many programmes in train, chief among them protecting the nation from the effects of the GFC.  Then we have an Opposition that opposes almost everything, relentlessly attacks the Government’s stimulus plans and those responsible for overseeing them, criticizes almost everything the Government does, is consistently negative, and regularly engages in scare campaigns.  It seems to take to heart the Randolph Churchill dictum for oppositions: ‘oppose everything, suggest nothing, and toss the government out’.

Does it have to be this way? More...

The fatal march of the fiscal lemmings

There’s lush high country that all political parties seek to occupy.  It’s called the ‘land of economic credibility’.  If you live there the people trust you with the economic management of the country or the state.  It has a high peak that no party has ever climbed.  But to occupy even the lower slopes is regarded as a politically powerful place to be.  At the edge there’s a cliff.  Below it is a steep slope on which it is hard to maintain safe footing.  Below that the terrain falls away steeply and the surface become so slippery that once on that greasy slope, the slide accelerates right to the swiftly flowing torrent far below.  Even if the fall is survived, return to the high country becomes almost impossible; it takes a long, arduous walk around the mountain. More...

What value are economists to our society?

Clearly, banks, large companies, government instrumentalities and forecasting firms believe the employment of an economist on staff is valuable, despite the high cost of top professionals.  But what value are economists to the man in the street? More...

A state of unhealthy denial afflicts the Coalition

Yesterday’s GDP figures came as a surprise to most.  So the economists, who were scrambling the previous day revising their GDP estimates down in the light of new economic data, were now scrambling to explain these unexpectedly good figures.  Most, but not all commentators conceded, some grudgingly, that the Government’s economic stimulus package probably had made a significant contribution to it.  No, it wasn’t entirely due to it, but credit had to be given to that measure. More...

The guru of prediction strikes again

Prediction is difficult, prophesy is often wrong, but being wrong again and again does not deter gurus of the calibre of Glenn Milne from making yet another foray into telling us what’s going to happen and giving us his interpretation of what’s already transpired.  In Poodle's bite may yet wound the government in yesterday’s edition of The Australian he pulled out all the predictive stops and turned up the interpretive volume to fortissimo. More...