What do you want from The Political Sword?

With a quasi-election campaign already underway, and an increasing number of issues upon which to comment, the Easter break seems a good time for The Political Sword to review its modus operandi, and provide a chance for visitors to express their views about how TPS should proceed.

Please let us have your opinion.  TPS is for you.

The Political Sword is a privately-owned political blog site that focuses almost exclusively on federal politics.  It carries no advertising and is not-for-profit.  At present there are just two who post original contributions, Bushfire Bill and me, Ad astra.  We prepare material in our spare time and therefore have a limited capacity to feed the site.

Although TPS started in September 2008, my first posts were in June of that year on Possum Box, a subset of Possum’s Pollytics before he joined Crikey.  Counting these, to date TPS has had over 180 posts which can be reviewed in Sword Watch, the link being in the right panel under ‘site pages’.

Most of the posts are substantial pieces of 1500 to 3000 words.  These take considerable research and writing time.  It is unlikely that Bushfire Bill and I could write more than three items per week between us; two is reasonably comfortable, three is a stretch.  We have different styles and write on different topics, which provide variety for visitors.  Bushfire Bill is a graphics wizard; his pieces are adorned with splendid colour representations of his theme.

Traffic through the site has grown steadily and this year has more than doubled.  Visitors view about two pages per visit.  Some of the posts have been mentioned on Crikey; when such a link occurs, the traffic soars.  The number of comments has increased from a handful last year to over a hundred for most pieces now.

With the increased traffic, a number of new visitors have become regulars, and many make thoughtful and detailed comments regularly, to which other visitors respond.  The site is now more in the nature of an online forum where visitors liberally exchange views with each other.  In contrast to other political blog sites where most comments are brief, many comments on TPS are lengthy and richly add value to the original post; these informative and enlightening contributions match the originality and insight of the original post.  Some who comment treat us to delightful satire.

For the most part, the theme of each post is maintained through the thread, whereas on some blogs several threads run simultaneously and often confusingly on the one piece.  Our preference is to maintain consistency of comment throughout an individual thread, rather than jump from theme to theme, although that need not be a rigid rule.

The site has attracted high quality contributors who have maintained the decorum we have established.  Abusive comment is rare, and is deleted when it occurs.  Courtesy to each other, and to those we critique, is a hallmark of the site, although that does not prevent strong views being expressed.  Evidence-based comment, with references or links, is our preference.  The mindless rants that afflict many commercial media blog sites have not been a significant problem here.  Sometimes visitors have deposited a heap of criticisms of one party or another that clearly have come from a collection of boilerplate they have on their computers.  This is discouraged.  We’ve seen it all before ad nauseam.  No one objects to criticism, but it should at least be based on verifiable evidence; unsupported assertions impress only those who might agree with them.

Recently another valuable feature has been added – lyn1, a regular, has undertaken the demanding task of scanning the online media and political blog sites to dredge up the material most relevant to the topic and to contemporary political discourse.  This saves the rest of us from having to seek out this valuable and interesting material ourselves.  The links are posted among the comments under the heading ‘TODAY’S LINKS’ alongside a yellow tweedy-bird Gravitar.

A feature of TPS that can be easily missed is on the side panel under ‘site pages’.  The links there are to Blog Watch which lists a large number of blog sites of interest to the political tragic, updated daily; to the websites of the major political parties where their press releases are to be found; and to Sword Watch where there are links to all the pieces that have been posted on TPS.

Above all, TPS has set out to build camaraderie among visitors.  Each new commenter is welcomed.  His/her contributions are valued. 

Because this site uses an off-the-shelf blog engine, BlogEngine.NET, we have not been able to find a way of avoiding the mindless spam that seems to infect the site, sometimes in epidemic proportions.  So a task each morning is to delete the spam that has arrived overnight.  Your understanding and tolerance is appreciated; the spam is deleted as soon as we see it, but some slips through when we sleep and when we’re away from our computers (we still have family obligations).  As spam seems to arrive, like babies, more at night than during the day, I am considering closing comments last thing at night and re-opening them in the morning.

It has been suggested that in the lead up to the election TPS might provide ‘an open thread’ to allow continuous comment.  We are unsure how this might best be done, but one way would be to present shorter pieces more regularly and to have several threads running simultaneously.  Some sites operate this way and seem to fill a need that some bloggers have to comment on a variety of topics.  Alternatively a long piece could be interspersed between shorter ones to provide variety.  You may have ideas about other ways we can make the site more attractive and potent.

Apart from any pleasure derived by the original contributors in writing pieces, apart from the pleasure visitors might derive by reading them and responding, the aim of TPS is to make political statements that resonate with visitors and have some influence, even though not nearly as profound as that of the MSM, on visitors and on the professional political commentariat who enjoy such a privileged position, having access as they do to many thousands of readers, viewers and listeners.  We suspect some of these professionals visit blog sites, including TPS, and if one can judge from the brickbats hurled at bloggers by some of them, our criticisms do have an impact.  Sometimes they seem to evoke anger; at other times a change of behaviour. 

The Fifth Estate is having an increasing influence here and overseas on public discourse and opinion.  We can be a modest force in holding to account those who have the privilege to work in the media by insisting that they base their reporting on verifiable facts accurately and completely recorded; that when they express an opinion they do so openly so we know that is what it is; and that they present a balanced and unbiased appraisal of the issue they are addressing.

We can identify groupthink when it occurs and call it for what it is.  We can continue to expose and condemn the pernicious habit of bootstrapping that creates a perverted version of the truth with which the media too often sets out to brainwash its consumers.  This is a serious issue; we need to counter it at every turn. 

We do have an influence; our efforts are not self-indulgent as some would have it, they can and do make a difference.

So in summary, please let us have your preferences for TPS – do you prefer the longer pieces posted about twice a week as is the current pattern, or in the lead up to the election would you like to see shorter pieces posted more frequently, or perhaps a mixture of the two?  Are there any other features you would like added?  Your comments on the usefulness of features such as Today’s Links from lyn1, Blog Watch and Sword Watch would be welcome.

So it’s now over to you.  Please comment on how you would like TPS to operate in the lead up to the election and we’ll try to meet your wishes and your needs. 

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Bilko

1/04/2010AA Now that your blog is getting an abundance of responses which is great, I find that rechecking the list a problem, due to there being a lack of a number against the entries. I have mentioned it to you previously and hope that one of your bloggers can provide technical assistance in overcoming this minor irritation. have a good break to you and your fellow contributors and keep up the fine work

Michael Cusack

1/04/2010What I want from "Political Sword" is what I am getting right now and every day. Relatively in-depth articles well written with some humour, always in good spirit and always well researched. The comments are usually written in the same manner. I think it would be a mistake to change the format at the approach of the Federal election, thereby encroaching on the turf of existing blogs such as Poll Bludger and possibly lowering the current standards of Political Sword in the haste of a frenetic campaign. Retain the current format, it is about the best in the business. I agree with Bilko above re numbering. Regards

bilgedigger

1/04/2010This blog is one of the better ones on the internet. I much prefer the longer pieces which are easily digested and thought about. Bearing in mind that both yourself and Bushfire Bill do have other lives to live apart from the time consuming task of preparing material for this blog, it seems to me that two long pieces per week with the same capacity for as many comments as possible allows a better discussion if this were manageable between you both. Perhaps if a third piece were to be considered in the lead up to the election, it may be that you could look at a guest spot from a trusted source (?titled "Separating fact from fiction") where some of the election material with a political tinge could be dissected and commented on. Lyn1's posting of links is greatly appreciated but it does seem to impose a restraint on her each day when it's possible she might just want to go for a wander or sit in the sun or whatever. It must be pretty time consuming for her. Perhaps this could be one or two times a week and then the onus is on us to follow up earlier posts on the blogs mentioned by Lyn1. What do others think? One bonus for both yourself and Bushfire Bill is that the added tasks of undertaking the writing of the blogs must surely be beneficial in keeping your braincells nice and active - a great advantage when you reach old age!

Sir Ian Crisp

1/04/2010What do you want from The Political Sword? A straightforward question that deserves a straightforward answer. Here’s what I want: Be honest and exhibit integrity Address issues of importance, and avoid the trivial Use an original approach rather than the stereotypical Be willing to tackle complex issues, acknowledge the complexity, and avoid simplistic solutions Be prepared to challenge ‘sacred cows’ Be prepared to confront and disassemble dishonest, disingenuous, biased speech or writing Be accurate and rich with verifiable facts Include all the relevant facts, not a biased selection Include accessible references to support facts and assertions Be rich with hyperlinks – one of the advantages of online journalism Clearly separate opinion from facts Clearly denote quotations, acknowledge and reference sources Structure the piece understandably – consider the classical introduction, body and conclusions Use logical, well reasoned arguments Be intellectually honest Use fluent, clear, simple prose Go easy on the adjectives Avoid verbosity – embrace brevity Avoid exaggerated language, clichés and mantras Be modest in making assertions – avoid arrogance Be respectful of persons, even those with whom one disagrees Be fair – be careful about impugning the motives of others Use first and last names of persons when first mentioned, then last names Avoid heavy sarcasm and personal jibes Be unafraid though to call it the way it seems to be Be unintimidated by power, position or influential people Use a catchy title, one that reflects the substance of the piece Use a little flair and style, be unique where possible Use metaphors and idioms freely Use humour where appropriate Draw readers in and hold them to the end Begin and finish with a flourish Ensure the conclusions match the presented facts and the arguments Use visuals, still and movie, where they add to clarity Be as objective as possible, acknowledge any subjectivity Acknowledge biases and conflicts of interest Include background information on the writer Encourage comments Moderate comments to exclude personal abuse or stereotypical mantras Respond quickly to comments that warrant a response Respond reasonably, use sound logic, avoid defensiveness and invective Be enjoyable for the writer and intellectually rewarding Be enjoyable, informative, challenging, provocative and intellectually stimulating for readers. You are timorous when certain occasions call on you to criticize the PM and his camorra. Remember if the leader of the opposition can perform a backflip so too can the PM. If the leader of the opposition is a dunce and lackwit in certain areas the PM is more than likely guilty of being an absolute dunce in certain areas. Don’t be afraid to call it as it is. Leave the spin department to the backroom lads and lasses.

mick smetafor

1/04/2010seems you are pretty much getting what you want sir ian.i probably agree with bilge digger about the length of the pieces.one suggestion i would make is that you may like to have something like a suggestion box on the side so that we could put forward ideas for future topics.this may help you and bb.

janice

1/04/2010Ad astra, I'm of the same opinion as Bilko and Michael Cusack. I think The Political Sword is the best blog site on the web and I believe this is because of the quality of the articles you and Bushfire Bill present for comment. As far as the election campaign is concerned I see no reason to change anything but, should something crop up that you consider should not be ignored then why not just add an update to the thread currently running? Because I would expect PS will attract a great many more visitors who wish to comment and the threads will become longer and longer during the election campaign, I do think you will find it necessary to find a way to number the comments. I also think that the time is fast approaching when you will be unable to respond to each poster as you have been diligently doing. I know we all very much like this special attention that tells us our opinions are not only read, but valued. You might like to have a think about how you can get over this hurdle. I just love Tweety Bird's (Lyn1) links and feel she does a very worthwhile job in helping to make this site the success it has become. Blog Watch and Sword Watch are also features that are helpful and, I suspect, popular among us all.

lyn1

1/04/2010BILKO Do you mean each time you come to check The Political Sword, you need to scroll down a long way. What I do is leave The Political Sword on the task bar (on the last comment that I am up to. Then when I come back click on the task bar and the page will appear on the lAST COMMENT that I had been reading, this saves scrolling from the top down each time. THEN RIGHT CLICK ON THE TAB THAT HAS POLITICAL SWORD ON IT, CLICK REFRESH TO ADD ANY NEW COMMENTS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN POSTED. IF YOU DON'T HAVE TABS, CLICK ON VIEW AND THEN CLICK REFRESH Hope this helps it saves me time.

Steve of Adelaide

1/04/2010I love the Political Sword; I've been reading it since it started. I enjoy the in-depth articles by both Ad Astra and Bushfire Bill. I wouldn't want to see the depth of these contributions diminish for the sake of more posts. Quality trumps quantity in my opinion. Lyn1's 'Today's Links' are great and have been a welcome addition to the TPS. My only suggestion is that they could be made into a separate feature of the blog, rather than posted in the comments.

Snoozer289

1/04/2010Ad astra, As a new blogger,( your article inspired me to become apart of the discussion rather than a by-stander. I would like to say, I have found Bushfire Bill and your site very thought provoking and insightful. I agree with most of the previous comment, the longer thoughtful and considered commentaries would provide the opportunities for more open discussions rather than been caught up in the daily manipulation of the MSM. I look forward to being apart of future discussions which allows people to have an open discussion and express their opinions Snoozer289

lyn1

1/04/2010Hi Steve of Adelaide Thankyou for your kind compliment and your suggestion. I think it would be impossible to put the links anywhere else but in the comments. You see I do them as the Bloggers write daily, they are writing at all different times. I need to start collecting from about 7am until around 9.30am before I can post the links. I haven't seen your comments before, please keep commenting, your opinion is valuable, so then we can keep Ad Astra's wonderful blogg going, providing us with valuable information and allowing us to get our message across the blogosphere, also elsewhere according to Dennis Shanahan. Ad will have more to offer later, you will have given him an idea, anyway thankyou.

lyn1

1/04/2010Hi Janice You are just nice, thankyou for your concern and kind remarks. I love doing the links I have been reading the bloggers for a long time anyway, so why not share, I agree with you, I think The Political Sword should stay the way it is, what do they say if it's not broken don't fix it.

lyn1

1/04/2010Hi bilgedigger Like Janice, you are just so nice, thankyou for your kind comments and your kind concern. I love doing the links it is my hobby, I don't post any link that I haven't read, they are all hand picked. Reading is one hobby along with fine hand crochet, you guessed it my favourite Politics, mind you I am a bit of a nerd. The Political Sword, Ad Astra opened up a new world for me.

Ad astra reply

1/04/2010Folks I’ve just read your very kind comments. Thank you. They give me a warm glow. I’ll respond more fully tomorrow. Goodnight

Ebenezer

1/04/2010Ad this is a great blog. I would leave it pretty much as is. You and BB complement each other very well. You have also managed to get a thoughtful group of blogger's to comment here. Thanks one and all. Lyn thanks for the task bar tip. (Numbered post would be good though) Cheers Eb. :)

lyn1

1/04/2010Hi Eb I agree numbered posts would be good, sorry I should have mentioned that in my comment. Glad my tip helped a little for now anyway, Ad will find another solution I am sure. I am happy you don't want The Political Sword changed, it really is good quality and allows us all so much freedom. Some of the blogs (I frequent a lot) are hard to navigate also limited comment space.

The other Brian

2/04/2010Guys I'd like to congratulate Ad BB & Lyn1 for the best political blog in Aust IMHO DON'T change it!!!! I very rarely comment on any site & I assume that they're many people like myself who mightn't be visible but greatly appreciate this quality site Keep up the good work THX The other Brian

vote1maxine

2/04/2010Hi AA Congratulations on your well deserved success. 1) I agree with Bilko about numbering posts. Being under the pump atm it takes me several days to read the comments of each topic. 2) I think the flexibility of both short & long posts may better the suit the volatility of the election campaign. 3) Perhaps the appointment of site moderators to share the workload such as the acknowledgement of each poster's comment may help with the efficiency of the site. 4) Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the other posters here such as HillbillySkeleton, Bushfire Bill, Daisey May, lyn1, janice, Bilko and numerous others for their time in posting additional informtative and stimulating posts that allow time pressed political tragics such as myself to keep up with whats happening. It enables this site to have a real "community feel" about it. AA, this site has been become ,imho, the vanguard marching onto the battlefield of political ideas in this country. The fifth estate is rapidly filling the void left by the fourth estate who have abandoned balanced reportage in favour of biased opinion to pursue pro-conservative agenda. Keep up this good and important work!!

HillbillySkeleton

2/04/2010I'm still considering my contribution to this blog(had no time yesterday). For the moment I'd just like to say that Shanas has gone over the top again today: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/easter-reshuffle-to-shield-peter-garrett-avoid-scrutiny-of-insulation-schme-debacle/story-e6frgczf-1225848548504 But we must remember who it was that had the embarassing reshuffle this past week, as opposed to the Prime Minister's reprioritising of duties.

HillbillySkeleton

2/04/2010Also the Opposition under Tony Abbott are becoming more shrill and attempting to land low blows every single day, especially when it comes to the Asylum Seekers: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/christmas-island-now-a-taxi-service-after-asylum-seeker-boats-slip-through/story-e6frgczf-1225848827798 What the voluble and demonstrably anti-Christian, Scott Morrison, is not saying is that the government is sending home many of the Asylum Seekers that are turning up. On this most holy of days in the Christian calender, we have the faux Christian, Mr Morrison, behaving not like a Christian at all.

HillbillySkeleton

2/04/2010Tony Abbott the 'Big, Fat Liar' is at it again: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/abbotts-thin-tissue-of-lies-20100401-rhxr.html

lyn1

2/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] http://loonpond.blogspot.com/ http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1227102/-I-don-t-need-classes-I-m-dramatic-enough http://newmatilda.com/2010/04/01/abbotts-economic-fundamentals http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/01/the-polligraph-debate-drilldown-men-not-women-are-abbotts-problem/ http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2862264.htm http://bigpondnews.com/articles/TopStories/2010/04/01/Abbott_learns_lesson_on_peaking_too_soon_446832.html http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2010/03/31/academic-warning/#more-5616

HillbillySkeleton

2/04/2010Ad Astra, A very thought-provoking scaffold upon which to build the future of TPS. Let me start by saying that the core of TPS, AA and BB pieces, on a bi-weekly basis, is sound. However, I would add that, in the run-up to the election, you and he may feel inclined to contribute more, and we would all appreciate that, I'm sure. Nevertheless, I do believe that their needs to be a 4th leg to the TPS table, beyond the contributions of AA, BB & lyn1. As we cascade towards the election, we will, I can confidently say, be desirous of a forum for instantaneous comment on the issues of the day, as they present themselves in a fast-moving election environment. So, it is for this reason, that I propose that the floor should be open to anyone to submit a blog, on a topic that takes their interest, but adhering to the TPS guidelines and ethos, for open discussion. For example, a party may make an announcement or promise in the election campaign, or a media outlet may write or produce something, that one or other of us deems to be worthy of discussion. If a TPS commenter wishes to take the next step and become a blogger, then the way should be open to them to submit their work to AA or BB for adjudication and a thumbs up or down, and publication on the blog. I imagine that this wouuld be technically possible if we flagged our intent to AA or BB, and they then provided the mechanism for us to submit an Office or Word document to their e-mail address, or similar, for publication on the site, once they had read through it and OK'ed it, or not, as the case may be. Then the applicant would have their post put up on TPS in a new blog space. As for moderating the new blog, the author would get temporary rights to reply, as do AA and BB. However, the blog would have to be closed for comments at the end of the day, so that there wouldn't be any loose ends. This is in contrast to AA and BB, who can keep their blogs open for however long they choose. I offer this scenario because, as the election nears, voters will be looking to trusted political blogs to be on top of the issues for them, and continuing to make the thoughtful and considered commentary that they have chosen to squeeze into their bust workaday lives. The beauty of the Internet is that it is real-time and spontaneous, and thus, if we wish to provide a trusted service, we should endeavour to be as much that way ourselves as is humanly possible in the run down the straight to the election. We could also identify various members of the TPS 'family', who seem to have more time at their disposal than others, for more encouragement to lead some debates and contribute from a perspective that is not normally given expression here in the overriding blogs. In this boat I am placing Sir Ian Crisp, Acerbic Conehead, and even, You Must Be Kidding, although he hasn't been here of late. If they wish to put their 2c-worth from their perspective in, I'd appreciate reading it, and having it open for debate. I also hope that AC keeps hitting his satirical winners out of the park all the way up to election time. I must add that I hope janice contributes more of her work. I say this because I especially appreciated the slice of life perspective she brought to a question I asked her once. If she could keep her finger on the pulse of her neck of the woods up till the election, I know that I, for one, would most appreciate reading about what is going on in the minds of her friends there. Just casually observing what people out there are talking about, the 'BBQ-stoppers' if you will, and then letting the rest of us know. In this way we can develop a web of political life in the lead-up to the Rudd government's 2nd really big test-the first being the GFC. We will also be fulfilling the promise of Web 2.0 and its function of providing increased transparency and involvement in the democratic process, that we all care so passionately about.

Ad astra reply

2/04/2010Folks Thank you for your kind comments, supportive feedback and encouraging remarks. The consensus seems to be that [i]TPS[/i] should be left much as it is. The longer in-depth pieces that Bushfire Bill and I have been writing seem to have struck a responsive chord. The willingness of regular visitors to contribute thoughtful, detailed and informative comments that enrich the site is appreciated by other visitors to [i]TPS[/i], some of whom visit often although they may not comment themselves. It is satisfying to know that our silent audience finds [i]TPS[/i] worth visiting regularly. The regular posting of links by lyn1 is greatly appreciated. We all hope she will have time to continue this great service to us all. The numbering of posts, mentioned by Bilko and others, such as Poll Bludger does, is a great idea, as it makes cross referencing easier. I’ve investigated this before, and again today, but have come up with no solution; off-the-shelf blog engines have their limitations. One suggestion is that when you post a comment that you give it a number, for example Bilko 1, and if you post several comments on the same piece, give them serial numbers. That way it would be possible for other bloggers to refer to, say, Bilko 3 if that was the comment upon which they wished to comment. Alternatively, you could reference to a particular comment by mentioning the date and time of posting. That’s not as good a solution as automatic numbering, but it may have to do. The suggestion that lyn1 makes (April 1, 6.51 pm) for finding what comments have been added is a good one. As most seem not particularly attracted to shorter pieces, we’ll continue the longer ones, but should the occasion arise that a short piece is appropriate, we will consider that. You suggestion bilgedigger ‘separating fact from fiction‘ as a generic title for such a piece is a good one. There will certainly be plenty of material to which that will apply. It was nice of you Sir Ian to remind me of the criteria of good online blogging. For those who don’t know the history of Sir Ian’s list, I compiled it in response to a request by Mark Bahnisch of [i]Lavartus Prodeo[/i] for the features of good blog writing. I subsequently posted it on [i]TPS[/i] as [i]What makes good online journalism?[/i] http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2009/02/27/What-makes-good-online-journalism.aspx in February of last year. Sir Ian points me to the list when he feels I’m straying from its ideals. mick, as there’s no capacity for adding a suggestions box, you could make your suggestions for future pieces through the comments facility, or by emailing me directly via the ‘contact me’ tab on the top menu. janice, I take your point about the time it takes me to respond to comments. I believe that by doing this the welcoming genial character of the site has been established, but realize that with the increasing number of comments it may not be possible to keep it up. What I find gratifying is the way in which others who comment on [i]TPS[/i] have taken up that role themselves and now communicate with each other, thus reducing the need for me to do so. Steve of Adelaide Welcome to [i]TPS[/i]. Please come again. I wish there was a way of posting lyn1’s links separately; doing so via comments is the only way this blog allows. lyn1’s bright yellow tweedy bird Gravitar makes her list of links stand out. Snoozer289 Welcome to [i]TPS[/i]. We hope you will return. I’m glad you are enjoying [i]TPS[/i]. Much of the MSM is pretty dismal, and disingenuous. The other Brian Welcome to you too. Please return. Thank you for your kind remarks. We realize from the traffic through [i]TPS[/i] that there is a large number who visit regularly but don’t comment. I must say I’m a regular visitor to several other sites but don’t always comment either. Time is a limiting factor. vote1maxine Thank you for your complimentary remarks. Already we have a group of visitors to [i]TPS[/i], like the ones you mentioned, who perform the role of responding to other comments. This is very helpful and has changed the site into a well-informed online forum where multiple conversations are going on. lyn1 You can see that everyone is enthusiastic about your daily, and sometimes twice daily links. I hope you will be able to continue. The fact that you include other blog sites makes the links so much more valuable. You really are an enthusiastic participant in [i]TPS[/i]. HillbillySkeleton Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions for adding variety to [i]TPS[/i]. You have been a great contributor with your well thought-out and insightful comments. I would welcome you or other visitors here submitting a piece for consideration. The text could be sent by email to me via the ‘contact me’ tab on the top menu. MS Word is probably the best format, as emphasis can be so easily indicated. Links can be placed right after the words to which they are to be linked. Alternatively, a text file (using Notepad) could be sent with emphasis indicated in the usual way in square brackets. As I’ve been an editor for a long while now, I’m happy to act as such, but would send the edited piece to Bushfire Bill for his opinion. If we both agree the piece is suitable it would be posted under the name of the contributor; we have the capacity to add contributors using their pseudonyms. I trust you find that mechanism suitable. janice has been a regular contributor since my first blog on [i]Possum Box[/i]; I agree with you that she has much to offer. There is an abundance of material from the political parties and in the MSM to critique, dissect and disassemble; it will expand as the election campaign gathers momentum. Sometimes the media do that for us, as was the case you mentioned today when Jessica Irvine savagely disassembled Tony Abbott’s ‘headland’ speech on the economy, [i]Economic Fundamentals[/i]. We need this sort of analysis to expose disingenuous ill-informed statements for what they are. Such dissection fits the style and purpose of [i]TPS[/i].

Grog

2/04/2010AA for my part leave it as is - the articles are great and the comments worth reading. HillbillySkeleton linked to Jessica Irvine's article, for those who haven't read it - it is a must read. I doubt I have read a better slaughtering of Abbott's economic credentials: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/abbotts-thin-tissue-of-lies-20100401-rhxr.html

HillbillySkeleton

2/04/2010Grog, Would it be one of these films? 1990 Miller's Crossing 1991 Barton Fink 1994 The Hudsucker Proxy 1996 Fargo 1998 The Big Lebowski 2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou?

lyn1

2/04/2010[b]HI AD AND EVERYBODY [/b] [b]HERE IS GROG, BRILLIANT, ALWAYS THERE FOR US, THANKYOU GROG[/b]. http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/04/tax-breaks-for-nannies-oh-mister-abbott.html

Ethistan

2/04/2010Hi Ad, I would echo other comments made here regarding the style of the site. The reasoned approach to the material and the lack of an "angle" make it a worthwhile vehicle for understanding and discussing the news of the day/week. As regards to lyn's links, I notice at the top right of the site you have "Site pages" and "Sites of interest". Would it not be possible to add a new blog entry which is entitled "Lyn's links" and then make a link to it in one of those lists. The "Lyn's links" blog entry itself is just like any other except that only Lyn comments on it and she (I assume? sorry if wrong :p) puts heading on the comments to say "2nd of April links" or whatever. Then she can either leave a link in the comments of the current thread to say new links are up (and leave a link there to her links page) or people can access it through the link on the side. But that way they are all together in one place yet people will know when new ones are collated.

Kim

2/04/2010Some analysis of Conroy's bizarre internet filter would be nice. I never believed that they'd actually try to go ahead with it, but they seem determined to prove me wrong. That policy now has me placing Labor as worse than Liberal. At least lame climate change policies, brawls over pink batts, and maternity leave silliness are fairly fleeting political issues. This horrid internet filter (where the government tries to censor, but don't tell you what they're censoring) is a long-term freedom grab, which for me overrides all of the other policy for now in terms of importance. Once it's implemented, it's going to be difficult to un-implement. At least this is one issue where the media have been fair to my mind. Conroy has made himself seem a fool, and the media have simply reported it.

Rx

2/04/2010May I suggest AA and BB widen their coverage of the media? For sheer number of words put out into the public domain, the talkback jocks cannot be beaten. For hours every day they rabbit on (or, that should more accurately be, they [i]Abbott on[/i]). What, with the partisanship, the diatribe, the character attacks, the outrageous exploitation of the audience's emotional instincts, etc, there must surely be a rich lode of material "to put to the verbal sword". It's time they were called on a lot of the rot they mouth off - and I don't mean 'call' as in ringing them up to 'talkback' to them on the air... Thanks for the blog, and the chance to suggest input on its direction.

Paul of Berwick

2/04/2010Well, I too like what is happening on this blog. But if we can turn our thoughts specifically to an election campaign. What does it consist of - policy pronouncements, advertising, messages targetted to specific audiences. Plus, all the colour of people getting their lines wrong, of journo's missing the facts/stories, etc. Not to forget events like the live interview that Fran Kelly had with the Liberal member from the electorate that had those dodgy election flyers. Plus, we'll have messages on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. It will be quite frenetic (is it possible to get on the list for press releases?). So, should there be the main "column" like this flowing blog posting for the main flow of the campaign (with the say twice weekly major analysis pieces), plus another couple of tabs for "policy analysis" and "message analysis", and even a third for "candidate analysis" (ie, what is specifically happening with Malcolm Turnbull, or Maxine McKew, etc)? Standing back and looking at the comments, it may well be that the vital needle information/comment/analysis may get lost in the overall haystack of information/comment/analysis that will flow during the campaign. So, perhaps a different structure specifically for the campaign?

HillbillySkeleton

3/04/2010Sorry to bleed another issue into this blog, however this article by Peter Van Onselen is extraordinary in the face of the Opposition's and The Australian's scare campaign on Asylum Seekers: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/whos-afraid-of-4500-boatpeople/story-e6frg6zo-1225849056560

janice

3/04/2010I read that article this morning HillbillySkeleton and I must say I did a double take upon realising the author was Peter Van Onselen. Whilst the scare campaign re assylum seekers worked for Howard, I really think the Coalition and the Media are flogging a dead horse trying to resurrect it. The only comments I hear around this part of the world are phrases like "who cares?" and "what about all those who turn up on aeroplanes or get a holiday visa and hope no-one notices when they don't go home?" As I mentioned previously though, I live in a solid labor electorate so perhaps those who would be swayed by Abbott's and his media cheerleaders are few and far between. It may interest you HBS that my friends who are liberal (or national) voters, are not enamoured with Abbott's PPL scheme or his new announcement for tax deductions for nanny childcare.

Ebenezer

3/04/2010Thanks HBS for the link. Extraordinary is the word, finally something of Van Onselen's that is not just Liberal cheering. Cheers Eb. :)

lyn1

3/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS [/b] http://andrewelder.blogspot.com/ http://www.sauer-thompson.com/archives/opinion/2010/03/abbott-on-econo.php http://tomjconley.blogspot.com/2010/04/governments-insulation-scheme-and.html http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10248 http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/abbotts-fitness-regime-an-exercise-in-keeping-it-real-20100402-rjsn.html http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/coalition-weak-on-economics/story-e6frfhqf-1225849047678 http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/why-that-surge-in-popularity-could-be-a-load-of-balls-20100402-rjy3.html

HillbillySkeleton

3/04/2010janice, I believe that Tony Abbott is alienating a lot of potential Liberal voters, like those that you speak of, by pitching his policies, such as the PPL scheme and the Nanny tax deduction, at the elites, as opposed to Howard's Battlers. As you probably know yourself, a lot of those people in the electorate that voted for Howard because of his social conservatism and focus on 'values', plus an economic conservatism stance, are not wealthy enough to benefit from Abbott's new policies, which I would hazard a guess Mrs Bronwyn Bishop has had a hand in pushing to the front of the Coalition agenda. It's almost as if the 'Love Child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop' has been let loose in the candy shop of policy and chosen all the ones that are really bad for you!

HillbillySkeleton

3/04/2010Here's a link to another thoughtful piece from Peter Hartcher: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/abbotts-fitness-regime-an-exercise-in-keeping-it-real-20100402-rjsn.html

Ad astra reply

3/04/2010Ethistan Thank you for your comments and the suggestion that Lyn’s links be placed under ‘site pages’ or ‘sites of interest’. As the former is more suitable (that’s where other [i]TPS[/i] pages are listed), I’ve added LYN’S DAILY LINKS at the top that list. It’s not yet linked to a page, but when it is my intention is to manually copy Lyn’s links as they arrive to that page, so visitors can access them both ways. The latest links will be at the top, together with the date of posting. Your idea has an additional benefit - it will keep Lyn’s links together making future reference much easier. Kim Thank you for your suggestion. I’m not familiar with all the ins and outs of Internet filtering, which is why I haven’t tackled it. Rx Your comments are appreciated. You’re right, the media onslaught is overwhelming, but maybe it’s counterproductive. I’m preparing something along that line for next Monday. We can’t match their intensity or volume, but we can keep hacking away. How much extra comment can be added to [i]TPS[/i] is debateable; perhaps with the help of some of our visitors we can up the ante. Paul of Berwick It would be good if we could expand the variety of material on [i]TPS[/i]. It seems most visitors want a continuation of the two main pieces a week. Some, like you, would like shorter pieces interspersed along the lines you suggest, perhaps in another section of the site. Because we use an off-the-shelf blog engine, we are constrained by what it can do. I can see no way to add a parallel stream to which comments can be added, so we are restricted to serial sequencing, somewhat like [i]Poll Bludger[/i]. So we could run more than one piece simultaneously, but one after the other, keeping several open at the same time. If additional authors come to the fore, this would be easier. HillbillySkeleton, janice, Eb The van Onselen article was a surprise, but a plaesant one. It’s time our politicians stood up as real statesman and insisted the dog-whistling about boat arrivals cease, instead of pandering to those who insist on demonizing these unfortunate new arrivals. John Howard and Pauline Hanson began the dog-whistling, Howard for political purposes, Hanson because she believed ‘these people’ should not be allowed here. Now it’s hard to reverse the attitudes that the dog-whistling encouraged, but like you, I sense that this may be the time as the public seems to be becoming bored with the rhetoric, and indifferent about recent boat arrivals. Lyn1 Interesting links, as usual. Thank you. HillbillySkeleton I agree. There may be more disillusionment about Tony Abbott among Coalition voters than we hear about. Possum’s appraisal of Roy Morgan‘s PolliGraph brings this out. Abbott may be now losing the very Liberals he felt he had coaxed back to the Liberal fold. Peter Hartcher's article was good.

Bilko

3/04/2010lyn1 thank you for your suggestion however it does not seem to work for me even my guru grandson could not get it to work. I use firefox is that a problem. kim you should read "Google is the worlds biggest filter By James Riley" it may open your eyes on the whole filtering beat up. Personally the monitoring should be done in the home with a catch all filter available not the rubbish thingo the rodent team came up with. But no way would it cause me to vote for the coalition, they are of the same mind. It may not get through the Senate anyway.

lyn1

3/04/2010Hi Bilko I am sorry the tip is not working for you. Try one more time, because it will save you time, especially when there is 130 comments posted. I just keep The Political Sword on my desktop, then click icon, when the page opens scroll to last comment (important), then click on minus sign top right side of page, then TPS will go down to your task bar. When you need to check on TPS just open up from the task bar, the page will open on the last comment. Press refresh from the drop down menu on the VIEW tab at top left on your toolbar, the page then puts up the recent comments that have come in while you were away. Cheers

lyn1

3/04/2010[b]Hi Ad Oh Dear Tony Abbott is not good with numbers [/b] http://petermartin.blogspot.com/2010/04/oh-dear-maybe-tony-abbotts-not-good.html

mick smetafor

3/04/2010the tide may be turning,two positives in one editionhttp://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/the-batts-may-have-burnt-but-they-averted-a-greater-tragedy-20100402-rjso.html

lyn1

3/04/2010Hi Mick Smetafor Thanks for the link, I agree the tide may be turning, I'm glad, it's been a rough ride with Tony Abbott at the helm, with his ridiculous punch lines everyday.

Acerbic Conehead

3/04/2010lyn1 and AA. I love the pathways to other articles that lyn provides. It certainly saves us a lot of time. And putting them in a section on the webpage is also a great idea. Can I suggest a heading - the Missing Link? Or maybe on second thoughts...

HillbillySkeleton

3/04/2010lyn1, Yes, I agree that Tony Abbott AND Scott Morrison should be ashamed of themselves the way they are demonising the refugee Asylum Seekers. Such a small number of people compared with the overall numbers of migrants that come into this country each year. When they are on the street, and we pass them by, how can we know the difference between one who has come here by boat, another who has come out of a refugee camp(if one exists in the country they have fled from), and one who may have come here by 'plane and overstayed a visa? Who can tell which one may be more or less prone to not fit into our society? I really do think that the Health Debate will be seen as pivotal in turning the tide against Tony Abbott and the Coalition. The spell has been broken and we are starting to see the naughty boy as not mischievous but maleficient. I'm waiting to see what the Coalition finally unveils as policies. That will tell us all we need to know about the direction they would take the country in as a government. One other aspect of the election year that I am finding interesting to observe, is how each particular TV network is reporting on the issue of the day, and developing certain narratives. For example, with the asylum seeker story, I see Channel 9 News making more of a big deal about it and following the Coaliton line; less so Channel 7, sort of having a dollar each way at the moment; SBS is a bit more changeable, one day being reasonable, the next being unreasonable and sounding like the Coalition; as for the ABC, well we have mentioned their variability across the wide range of their Newscaf programs before. Suffice to say that, here in Sydney, I find it jarring to hear exaggerated anti-asylum seeker lines issuing forth from the dark lips of our latest 7pm News presenter, Jeremy Fernandez, an obvious son of an immigrant family. One can only hope that articles from obvious Liberal-leaning commentators like Peter Van Onselen make the rest of the media sit up and reflect on what it is that the Coalition, and the Murdoch media as well, are leading them on to do and say.

lyn1

3/04/2010Hi HIllbilly Skeleton How wonderful you write, how come I think exactly what you think. Tony Abbott and the rabble party he leads is coming unravelled fast, stupid punch lines, punching the air, can only last so long. They, the Liberals say he is authentic, authentic to what!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hillbilly Skeleton I love your comments, I wish you could email Ad with some or your columns and have them posted for the lead up to this election. I read your comment on Political Homeless, excellent. This election is probably going to be the most important one for most of us, we are under severe threat if Tony Abbott gets elected, because he is so radical and punch drunk. We need to get our message across the blogosphere bit by bit, little by little.

lyn1

3/04/2010Hi Acerbic Conehead Thankyou for your kind comment. I always enjoy what you have to say. you are very up to the minute, I have enjoyed all of your comments so much. I hope we are in a small way helping Ad Astra, he has provided us with a wonderful chance to report and express our opinion on this blogg The Political Sword.

BH

4/04/2010AS - I don't think you need to make big changes to the site. It is superb as it is. There is enormous depth in the articles by you and BB and the responses of commenters. They are so enjoyable. I agree that Lyn's valuable links in a sidebar would make it easier on the reader. I take so long reading the site that it leaves me no time to make what I would think is worthwhile comment.

HillbillySkeleton

4/04/2010HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

HillbillySkeleton

4/04/2010lyn1, Thank you! I hope to put up some work in the lead-up to the election. I also hope people like it!

Acerbic Conehead

4/04/2010No problems, lyn1, and thanks also to HS for the kind words earlier. If Easter is a special day for any readers, have a happy and holy one. If it's like any other day, have a great one anyway. And don't be like me and eat all your chocolate at breakfast time!

Sir Ian Crisp

4/04/2010Looks like err, ahhh, ummm Abbott is not the only one who has trouble with figures: PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has appointed Tony Burke as the nation's first population minister, amid growing concerns the number of Australians will rise to unsustainable levels. Mr Rudd has been under pressure to better examine the nation's population, which is on a trajectory to reach 35.9 million by 2050. He told reporters in Canberra the announcement came after a month of consideration. "Many Australians have legitimate concerns about the sustainability of the population levels in different parts of the country,'' Mr Rudd said. "Particularly its impact on urban congestion, its impact on the adequacy of infrastructure, its impact on the adequacy of housing supply, its impact on government services, its impact also on water and agriculture and on our regions.'' Think it through Mr Rudd. The examples are everywhere. Cities teeming with humans do not offer a quality life.

sawdustmick

4/04/2010SIC, you know who is to blame for this populations explosion, bloody Pistol Pete, have one for mum one for dad and one for the nation, what a bone headed idea that was. Sawdustmick

Ad astra reply

4/04/2010Sir Ian First, the 36 million figure for Australia’s population by 2050 is a projection, not a target. Kevin Rudd expressed no opposition to that projected population, and saw advantages to it in terms of productivity. He never said he was aiming for that population. But it would be foolhardy to ignore the need to examine the effects of population increases, and to establish the infrastructure and set about planning for such a population or a lesser one if that turned out to be more sustainable. That is why he has appointed Tony Burke as Population Minister. He is also responding to those who are concerned about Australia’s capacity to sustain such a population. What else would you have him do? There are only two ways to restrict population growth – lower childbirth or lower immigration. Some countries such as China and Singapore have restricted the number of children a family may have, although Singapore has now reversed that. How acceptable would that be in Australia? Restricting immigration is a popular solution but with skills and labour shortages constraining business and industry how many captains of industry would find that acceptable? There is no easy populist answer, which is why Rudd’s cabinet has gone down the path of appointing Population Minister. No, Rudd does not have a problem with numbers as does Tony Abbott. If he did, heaven help us.

Ad astra reply

4/04/2010sawdustmick Welcome to [i]TPS[/i] Come again. And wasn't Peter Costello proud of that fatherly advice. He appeared on the front of a magazine, I don’t remember which, with a large smile on his face surrounded by babies. I wonder does the Coalition still endorse that policy?

Ad astra reply

4/04/2010BH Thank you for your kind comments and your assurance that the [i]TPS[/i] format suits you and gives you enjoyment. With LYN’S DAILY LINKS on the right sidebar you will be able to see the links she posts in comments without having to scroll down the comments page. This will save time. Her links will still be in comments for those who prefer to access them that way.

lyn1

4/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS [/b] The Australian: the voice of the nation? Gary Sauer-Thompson, Public Opinion http://www.sauer-thompson.com/archives/opinion/2010/03/the-australian-8.php CUNNING STUNTS By VEXNEWS http://www.vexnews.com/news/8785/cunning-stunts-tony-abbott-wages-war-on-illegals-to-reconnect-with-howards-battlers/ The perils of paranoia, David M Russell http://davidmrussell.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/the-perils-of-paranoia/ Faine-ing indignation ,John Styles Quadrant Online http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/qed/2010/04/faine-ing-indignation this week's Piers Akerman column, Loon Pond http://loonpond.blogspot.com/ Why do Australian male conservative commentators hate on female politicians ,DARRYL MASON http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-do-australian-male-conservative.html Opposition leader Tony Abbott, Darryl Mason, The Orstrahyun http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/2010/04/opposition-leader-tony-abbott-is-not.html Population pulls parties in different directions, Bernard Keane, The Stump http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2010/04/04/population-pulls-parties-in-different-directions/ All The Bloggs Blogotariat http://www.blogotariat.com/politics/australia

HillbillySkeleton

4/04/2010Hi guys, I came upon this blog today. It's rather good, and I don't think it's in lyn1's Links for today: http://moderatelyleft.blogspot.com/

lyn1

4/04/2010Hi Hillbilly Skeleton Happy Easter to you too

lyn1

4/04/2010Hi Hillbilly Skeleton Thankyou for your link "Ramblings of a political tragic". Mac he is good isn't he. He is in my files, I have posted him in today's links a few times in the past, depending on the topic. Today is a fairly slow day, a lot of the bloggers have shut down for Easter.

Ad astra reply

4/04/2010Folks Lyn's links are now on LYN's DAILY LINKS. The link to that page is on the right panel under 'site pages'. Lyn has kindly agreed to add the article title, author and source to her links, making them even more valuable. HillbillySkeleton Thank you for your link – Ramblings of a Political Tragic is a good read.

Rx

4/04/2010There are a lot more outlets for political commentary in this country than just the Liberal-friendly ABC and News Ltd. They tend to be little-known yet deserving of greater exposure. Good to see [b]Lyn's Daily Links[/b] now has its own section, with stories identified by title, author and source. http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/Lyns-Daily-Links.aspx Out and further go the words and insight of alternative political commentary ... Excellent!

fredn

4/04/2010Moving lyn's links to an article is about all I wanted. Someone sane putting the liberal parties point of view would be nice for variety, Andrew Welder is the only blogger I can suggest, the rest seem to be as crazy as the current crop running the Liberal party.

Ad astra reply

4/04/2010Folks Thank you all for your kind remarks, your supportive comments and your suggestions for [i]TPS[/i]. It is apparent that the existing format of two substantial pieces each week is your preference. Rx, HillbillySkeleton, bilgedigger, Paul of Berwick and others have asked for some additional shorter pieces, possibly by another author, as the election approaches. I hope some of our visitors who contribute so much to this site will be forthcoming with succinct analyses of articles, events, statements and policies that can be posted for us to digest and comment upon. They can be emailed to me via the ‘contact me’ tab on the top menu. Ethistan’s bright suggestion that we include Lyn’s links under ‘sites pages’ has been implemented. Now you can see Lyn’s links not only among the comments, but also in LYN’S DAILY LINKS that you access by clicking the link at the top of the list under ‘site pages’ in the side panel. The links, which now include title, author and source, will accumulate there and become a rich reference source. Each day’s links will be placed at the top, pushing down the others, which will be date labelled. When the list becomes too long, an archive will be established. You will be able to search Lyn’s links for an author, a keyword, or a source using either the [i]TPS[/i] search facility (which however will search the whole site) or your browser’s search option, Control F in Internet Explorer or Firefox, which will highlight the word(s) entered in the search box on that page alone. As we are near the end of comments on this piece, tomorrow morning I’ll post a piece [i] Who on earth is advising the Coalition on media strategy?[/i] that asserts that the Coalition’s unremitting negativity has turned into a negative for it.

HillbillySkeleton

5/04/2010Shanas is parsing Newspoll the way he wants us to see it, again today: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/kevin-rudd-faces-struggle-in-key-states/story-e6frgczf-1225849658887 What he fails to state is that , whilst Abbott may have had good ratings for most of the last 3 months, they have gone down, not up, on the most recent taking of the electoral pulse.

Ad astra reply

5/04/2010HillbillySkeleton You're right. Shanas is living in the past. Everyone knows that the ratings of Kevin Rudd and his Government declined in the first quarter of this year from the heights of last year, but it is what is happening now that counts. The trends are upward again, Possum's [i]Pollytrend[/i] is going up for Labor again. Now we know this upward trend may not last and may reverse, but let's live in the present. Dennis still longs for the glory days of the Coalition.

Ad astra reply

5/04/2010Folks I've just posted [i]Who on earth is advising the Coalition on media strategy?[/i], so I'll close comments for this post.
How many umbrellas are there if I start with two and take 2 away?