A small matter of disaster!

If not for writer Mark Steyn the following disaster might never have been known outside US military circles. This cover-up, or lack of attention could indicate the increasing success of Taliban strikes. Harriers cost around $30 million per unit.

Two weeks ago in this space, I wrote that, in striking contrast to the official line, the Benghazi slaughter was not a spontaneous movie review that got a little out of hand but a catastrophic security breach and humiliating fiasco for the United States. Even more extraordinary, on Sept. 14, fewer than two dozen inbred, illiterate goatherds pulled off the biggest single destruction of U.S. airpower since the Tet Offensive in 1968, breaking into Camp Bastion (an unfortunate choice of name) in Afghanistan, killing Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Raible, and blowing up a squadron's worth of Harriers. And, even though it was the third international humiliation for the United States in as many days, it didn't even make the papers. Because the court eunuchs at the media are too busy drooling over Obama's appearance as what he calls "eye candy" on the couch between Barbara and Whoopi.

www.ocregister.com

The walls have big ears

When 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones addressed a $100-a-head dinner at the Sydney University Liberal Club he must have thought he was speaking privately amongst "friends" in saying that Julia Gillard's father John had "died of shame" about his daughter's propensity to tell porkies.

This will be one to watch as the "lynch mob bay for blood. Awaiting with the metaphoric rope in hand is Malcolm Turnbull. Jones has made a mistake on this and an apology seems his only way out.

www.theage.com.au

GC.Ed.

Clark and Dawes, eat your hearts out!

Toby

Toby Jug was delighted to welcome the Deputy PM and the World’s Best Finance Minister the Honourable Wayne Swan recently.

 -Welcome to the Shoalhaven, Mr. Swan.

 -Shoalhaven? I am supposed to be in Shellharbour.

 -It’s very near. Just up the road a little bit. You are actually practically there.

 -OK. And who are you?

 -Toby Jug at The Post, Mr. Swan

 -The Jerusalem Post, New York Post, Goulburn Post – not the bloody Trading Post?

 -The London, Paris, Washington and Shellharbour Post. Let’s have a bit of background for our readers, first. You were special advisor to Bill Hayden?

 -Yes, Bill relied on me entirely for everything.

 -How is he these days?

 -He’s rather dead.

 -Of course, and you were special advisor to Labor Minister, Mick Young?

 -Yes, set Mick straight on many a matter. He was always grateful.

 -And how is he?

 -He carked it too.


977be9afe4fb0797136c16077364711d2

The infant Swan trains for World's Best Treasurer.

 -Well, Kim Beasley then. You were his advisor as well. How is he?

 -He was arseholed by Kevin Rudd. So he is technically dead.

 -Arseholed? I’m afraid I…

 -It’s a technical term. Used in politics and international relationships. Take too long to explain here.

 -Yes, well now, how is Mr. Rudd?

 -I arseholed him.

 -Perhaps we can get on to the half a billion dollars you just sent to Bill Clinton. What was that for?

 -It was for Kenyans to do a Carbon Assessment program under Kyoto.

 -But Kenya doesn’t have any obligations under Kyoto – it is not one of the industrialised nations.

 -I don’t know anything about that. Bill Clinton just asked me for the money, so I sent it.

 -Then he sends it on to Kenya?

 -I know what you’re thinking. You think he might be using it to get Obama elected?

 -Well…

 -I resent that. Bill told me himself it was for Carbon thingies in Kenya. and I believe it.

 -Like you believed him about not having sex with Monica Lewinsky?

 -Of course.

 -Why not send it direct to Kenya?

 -I couldn’t find the address in the phone book.

 -Speaking of half billion dollars. You sent half a billion to Indonesia to build Islamic schools.

 -Yes, that is the idea.

 -So are you going to give half a billion to church schools here?

 -Are you stupid?

 -No.

 -Then what makes you think that I am?

 -I can’t imagine. Now then, the deficit?

 -Everything is going according to plan.

 -The deficit is over 40 billion?

 -Yes, that was the plan.

 -We'll leave that. You were given the title of the World’s Best Finance Minister?

 -Yes. But I am not proud for myself. I accepted it on behalf of all Australians.

 - Best finance minister because you have not one surplus budget; deficits every year; the Education Revolution program; Pink Batts; Green Loans; the Solar Rebate Scheme; and the scheme to buy everyone off with a cheque for $900 for something or other that nobody can remember?

 -Carbon Tax.

 -Thank you, the Carbon Tax. You got the world’s best treasurer award because of those things?

 -No, I got it before those things. They could see where I was heading. Not like Australians. I’m sorry, I have to be off. It is always a pleasure to come to Shellharbour.

 -Or near enough.

 -Exactly. Near enough is good enough. That’s how the Treasury is run. Thank you.

 -And thank you, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister.

 

Menzies House is represented on channel 7 tonight

Assistant Managing Editor Geoff Crocker is interviewed by TodayTonight's David Richardson about our story covering the dangers of targeting pensioners hoarding large sums of money. Don't miss it. That channel 7 program airs at different times in different places. Check your local listing. And, please fellas, no rude comments about our Geoff.

If you saw the show please leave a comment. I will pass them on to David Richardson in a message of appreciation for using Menzies House. His options were many!

Thanks. GC.Ed.

Making the Speaker truly independent

Travers-headshot

Jeremy Travers has explained what most people don't know. The role of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Fair play would dictate that the speaker be impartial. However, fair play is totally ignored in this matter.

When people visit the public galleries at the House of Representatives, watch Parliament online or listen to it on the radio, they instantly notice the Speaker sitting in the Chair. The person that the House has entrusted to uphold the standing orders of his or her own volition. The most common comparison that I hear is that the Speaker is ‘akin to a rugby league referee’. The Speaker determines who will speak, whether or not motions or questions without notice are in order and is charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights and privileges of all Members of Parliament.

However, since the 2010 general election, the public are expecting that the Speaker actually be independent. They expect the Speaker to be impartial.

Sadly, in Australia, we have a tendency to treat the Speakership like some sort of political prize. Apart from six occasions, the Speaker has always been a member of the governing party. Several occupants of the Chair have a reputation in history for being too biased against their own side or being intimidated by their own side.

Sol Rosevear, Speaker during the Curtin and Chifley Governments, was known to be drunk in the Chair and lacked consistency in his rulings. In 1975, Jim Cope resigned as Speaker after the Whitlam Government failed to support him after he had named Immigration Minister Clyde Cameron (a disciplinary action that requires the House to take action to suspend a member) for saying that he did not “give a damn” what the Speaker thought.

There is a solution to that: make the Speaker truly independent.

It is not well known by the Australian public that our first Speaker, Sir Frederick Holder, resigned from his party upon becoming Speaker. He also contested two general elections as an independent, and as Speaker, remained aloof from party politics. When he died in 1909 (from a cerebral haemorrhage after collapsing on the floor of the House during committee), that independence was not seen again.

Sir Billy Snedden, Speaker during the period of the Fraser Government, was well known for his preference for an independent Speaker, similar to the Speaker of the House of Commons at Westminster. In 1979, he distributed a paper to all Members of Parliament where he advocated for the conventions to be adopted. 

In short he recommended that the parties should meet and agree on a candidate, candidates for the Speakership should agree to resign from their party if successful, the Speaker should hold office for five to seven years (even if there is a change of government), the Speaker should stand unopposed by the major parties at general elections and that when the Speaker leaves the Chair, he or she leaves the House.

Both the Liberal and Labor parties rejected Sir Billy’s proposals.

John Howard had promised to give the Speaker the same independence as his or colleague at Westminster during one of his Headland Speeches in 1995. This did not happen. During the period of the Howard Government, in which the House of Representatives had four Speakers, three were former party whips (Bob Halverson, Neil Andrew and David Hawker) and one served as Leader of the House and a Minister during the Fraser Government (Ian Sinclair). 

To their credit, Simon Crean and Mark Latham both proposed a system where the House would rotate between Labor and Coalition Speakers. Under their proposals, from 2002 and 2004 respectively, the Prime Minister would nominate the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition wold nominate the Deputy Speaker. After two terms, the two would swap positions. 

I see two problems with that. The first is that the proposal only permits members of the Coalition or Labor to put their hands up. In a time where there are more members from minor parties and who are independents, I believe that they should have a chance to put their hand up for the Speakership. The other is that the Speaker, upon completing the two terms, is not compelled to leave the House upon leaving the Chair. This is a fundamental violation of the Westminster convention.

You may read this and think that Australia already has conventions for Speaker and that it is the duty of the Government to provide the Speaker. In my honest opinion, that is part of the problem. The Government provides the Speaker and, in one way or another, expects the Speaker to be ‘politically reliable’.

House of Representatives Practice, the text of procedure and practice, says that a Speaker should “give a completely objective interpretation of standing orders and precedents, and should give the same reprimand for the same offence whether the Member is of the Government or the Opposition”.

I contend that the only way to achieve that objective interpretation and for members to receive equal reprimands for the same offence is for the House to adopt Sir Billy Snedden’s proposals and to make the Speaker truly independent, accountable to the House as a whole and not to the majority.

Jeremy Travers, a former NSW parliamentary officer, is currently a member of the Campbelltown Young Liberals and studying at Campbelltown TAFE. He can be found on Twitter @JeremyTravers.

And, where are the feminists?

Much has been written lately on the wearysome matter of Islam. Although, little if any about the suffering of women under that regime of love and peace. The following should have feminists of the West jumping up and down with rage. Sadly, not a squeak can be heard. Shame on them.

A 27-year-old Tunisian woman who alleges she was raped earlier this month by two policemen now stands accused of indecency, her lawyer said. The woman was called by a judge to confront her two assailants on Wednesday, but in an unexpected development, the judge decided to pursue the victim for “outraging public decency” attorney Saida Garrach told Al-Monitor. 

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/are-womens-rights-threatened-in.html#ixzz27jsxeEqQ

(Thanks reader Abe.)

Perth Council Forbids Church From Feeding Poor; Threatens $1m fine

Meuhlenberg

Bill Muehlenberg looks at how a Perth Church is facing $1 million in fines for giving away free food to the poor:

For almost as long as it has been around the Christian church has been up to its ears in helping the poor and needy, and providing all sorts of help in the social arena. And that is for a good reason: Jesus and the early disciples said much about the practical expression of the Christian faith.

I just penned a piece yesterday about the work of the Salvation Army in its early days, and how they knew that preaching the gospel must include meeting the very real needs of those they were ministering to.

So the Salvos were simply doing what the church has always done: showning the love of God by feeding the poor, helping the destitute, providing for the needy, and so on. And churches all over the world are doing exactly the same today.

Yet for some of these churches, it seems such charitable services are frowned upon by some governments and by some bureaucrats. As hard as it is to believe, some churches are actually being attacked by the state for expressing the love of Christ in tangible ways.

Consider this incredible case coming out of Perth. Indeed, consider this incredible headline: “Church faces $1m fine for meals”. The story goes like this:

“A Scarborough church risked a $1 million fine last night by serving its weekly free Sunday meal, after the City of Stirling deemed many of the church’s activities were in breach of local planning regulations.

“Under the planning scheme, Scarborough Baptist Church is allowed to use its land on the corner of Westview Street and Brighton Road as a place of worship and child daycare centre. In a letter sent on September 18, the council identified activities such as serving dinner at weekly Sunday evening services, craft classes, band practice and preschool dance classes as unapproved use of the land.

“These activities mean the 65-year-old church risks a $1 million fine and a further $125,000 fine for each day it is found to be in breach of council regulations.

The council said it was obliged to investigate after receiving complaints from residents over late-night noise and antisocial behaviour such as urination in public.

“Senior pastor Andre van Oudtshoorn said the church had held such activities for years with minimal issues, including the Sunday meal, which often fed the needy. ‘In the 10 years we’ve been running the meal, we’ve twice had an occasion of people who came who were inebriated and we had to ask them to leave,’ he said. ‘We have told the City of Stirling we have a protocol that if we find people like that, we call the ranger. Nobody’s ever caused a disturbance as far as we know’.”

Wow: a million dollar fine for feeding the hungry and helping the needy. Talk about bureaucratic bumbling. Talk about governments overstepping the boundaries. Talk about what seems to be a nasty vendetta against this church. Talk about more gross government incompetence.

In defending themselves the church has put out the following media release:

On 18 September 2012 Scarborough Baptist Church received notification from the City of Stirling requiring the Church to cease all activities (including feeding the needy and running craft and pre-school dance classes) not defined by the City as “religious activities”. The penalty for not complying is an immediate fine of $1,000,000 plus $125,000 per day that the Church fails to comply.

Many of these activities are central to the Church’s pastoral role within the community, and have been operating in the church for years; the craft group, for example, has been holding weekly craft meetings for 35 years, and the evening service and community meal has now been running for nearly a decade.

The City of Stirling has failed to provide any evidence that Scarborough Baptist Church has contravened any local by-laws. Through this Direction, the City has taken upon itself the right to define what constitutes a religious activity. According to the City’s correspondence, religious activities exclude, among others: funerals, weddings, Easter services, youth groups, quiz nights to raise funds for local schools, fêtes and fairs to raise funds for world aid, and the provision of meals and services to the community.

It is the position of Scarborough Baptist Church, in accordance with the separation of Church and State, that local government officials not take it upon themselves to define what a religious activity is, be it in the context of a church, mosque, temple, synagogue, or other place of worship.

It is absolutely mind-boggling that these aggressive bureaucrats could even say something as foolish as demanding the church immediately stop all non-religious activities. The church was absolutely right to say what the secular state regards as non-religious activity the church regards as absolutely vital to its very mission.

Feeding the poor and helping the destitute is of course a religious activity, and an essential one at that. The last thing we need is some secular bureaucrat deciding for a church just what is and what is not religious activity. The next thing you know these guys will be telling churches that preaching the Word of God is not religious activity.

This is nothing other than the beginning steps of sinister persecution of the churches. When the state dictates what a church can and cannot do in terms of its core ministry, then we should all shudder. Of course all totalitarian states have always attempted to do just that.

But the last time I checked, Australia in general, and Perth and particular, were free and democratic places where religious freedom exists. But it looks like some authorities at least are not big fans of either freedom or democracy. And sadly there would be many more like them.

Bill Muehlenberg is a Melbourne based author who lectures part time in ethics, theology and philosophy. He has an interactive blogsite called CultureWatch

Why I burned my ‘Proof of Aboriginality’

I don't usually direct people to read our online taxpayer-funded government propaganda mouthpiece, The Drum, but today is an exception with this must-read column by Kerryn Pholi.

An extract: 

I used to identify as Aboriginal, and I have worked in 'identified' government positions only open to Aboriginal people.  As a professional Aborigine, I could harangue a room full of people with real qualifications and decades of experience with whatever self-serving, uninformed drivel that happened to pop into my head. For this nonsense I would be rapturously applauded, never questioned, and paid well above my qualifications and experience.

I worked in excellent organisations that devoted resources to recruiting, elevating and generally indulging people like me, simply because other people like me told these organisations that's what they needed to do to 'overcome Indigenous disadvantage'.

In these organisations I worked alongside dedicated, talented and highly skilled people – and there may have been room for one more dedicated, talented and highly skilled person if I hadn't been there occupying a position designated for someone of my 'race'.

In my years of working as a professional Aborigine, I don't think I did anything that really helped anybody much at all, and I know that I was a party to unfairness, abuses of power, wastefulness and plain silliness in the name of 'reconciliation' and 'cultural sensitivity'.

Aside from a nagging sense of feeling like a complete fraud, things were reasonably OK until I made the mistake of reading works by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Amartya Sen's Identity and Violence and Thomas Sowell's Affirmative action around the world: an empirical study. (Please – stop reading what I have to say right now. Go and read this instead).

After that, I could no longer ignore the fact that my career was built on racism. Not 'reverse racism' or 'positive discrimination' – just plain racism, of benefit to nobody except a select gang of privileged people with the right genes and a piece of paper to prove it. In other words, of benefit only to people like me.

About 18 months ago I burned my 'proof of Aboriginality' documentation (a letter from the NSW Department of Education acknowledging that I was Aboriginal, on the basis that my local Aboriginal Lands Council at that time, circa 1990, had said so). I walked away from the Aboriginal industry for good.

Seriously, read the whole thing. 

Ethical politics—is it?

Thursday-crocker

H.L. Mencken said: “If experience teaches us anything at all, it teaches us that a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
RadioNational’s program, “Life Matters” hosted by Natasha Mitchell, recently aired “Civility, Sexism, and Democracy.” A cosy chat featuring guests, journalist Anne Summers, and federal Independent Tony Windsor.

In keeping with the ABC’s creed of balanced reportage, the three unanimously appealed ad misericordiam. Summers implored the community to cease the mountain of abuse and sexist attacks against the Prime Minister. Both Summers and Windsor said politics and politicians are being degraded by nasty quips on social media, and mainstream media. Both believed that Officers of the Crown deserve respect, consideration, decency, and civility.

 Summers exampled the denigration of Julia Gillard by cartoonist Larry Pickering’s work in which she wears a strap-on dildo. Facebook censored that and now Pickering’s work has added the now trademark-dildo hung over her shoulder, on the desk or somewhere in the cartoon. That may be repugnant to some while others find it hilarious.

Tony Windsor agreed with Summers in their collective disgust at unruly citizens that dare to share such cartoons and jokes with names like “Juliar” via social media. Windsor targeted radio 2GB’s broadcast personalities, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley as particular demons who have set their sights on Windsor’s, and other politico’s decisions. They wonder why?

Well, the answer lurks in the words, “ethics” and “politics.” Two meaningful words increasingly sullied; an oxymoron. Their use together in any sentence is laughable; suspicions driven by subconscious memories are immediately raised.

In lieu of the prescribed ABC-styled, stewed prunes and laxatives for interviewing party pets, Windsor should have been asked, “Tony, do you think politicians like you, and the prime minister, and so many others, have done anything to warrant all this rudeness from the voters?” Now that’s a question!

The disdain of politicians begins with Parliamentary Question Time. This stolen hour from a person’s life exposes our politicians at work—it’s on national television. Their behaviour is worse than a kindergarten of vile mannered delinquents bereft of all civility. It is a national embarrassment. Children visiting from far away schools remark as such. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

National leaders should set examples of good citizenry. Their spoken words are to be measured with wisdom and recorded in Hansard for evermore, some as oratorical excellence, most as bickering drivel. They should be inspirational, especially to the young who might later aspire to the noble profession.

Windsor’s recent tirade against Abbott in parliament, on camera, is one example, ‘…I will do anything, Tony, to get this job. The only thing I won’t do is sell my arse,’ he alleged. Funny, Windsor’s defection to Labor was contrary to the will of his electorate, he sold them out, and he didn’t give a rat’s arse. What of his “fortuitous” land dealings, and his defence of Coal Seam Gas permit holders intent on raping the landscape? Will he face his electorate for another time? Ha!

Honesty is surely part of the “ethics” our ABC wants restored to politics—wouldn’t you think? For that exemplary we begin at the highest level. “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” And, the still unanswered questions about her days with Slater and Gordon/Wilson, the “slush funds” and the AWU go begging despite the sham that she settled the matter. That rings of probity? So does her comradely stabbing of Rudd. Yet another off-key trill on the Wurlitzer organ of public rectitude is Craig Thomson. Union money, prostitutes, credit cards. What a guy! “I want to grow to be like Craig,” kids tell their Mums. Yeah?

However, the sermon on goodness would be remiss without mention of everyone’s darling, that king of parliamentary theatrics, Peter Slipper, that narcissistic buffoon and Liberal turncoat who exemplified inner beauty and virtue as an alleged rorter of privilege.  I wonder if his constituents share their benevolence with him at local coffee shop, or the booze shop? Do kids clamour for his autograph?

Yes, I know, I lecture about “balance” in reporting, but these matters are in the minds of most people now. My father once said, “Respect is earned, not demanded.” I later ran aground on that gem of wisdom in the military sense. “You are saluting the uniform, not the man,” I was reminded.

So, convention dictates we should respect the office of the prime minister along with other officers of the Crown without consideration of those who occupy those positions—this they would wish. Times have changed, however, and the electorate have wearied under relentless abuse of privilege and incompetence. The offices are tarnished, the profession of politics is soiled, and so is faith in leadership virtue.

It will be a long time requiring major change in attitude before respect is returned to such offices. In the meantime they should stop bleating and get used to public vitriol for it is they who earned it and it could get worse, much worse.

When the office itself is tarnished, what respect is now owed to that office?

Thought for today: All of the above.