U.S. Democratic Primaries: Your Guide to Dinner Party Conversation

It is a law of nature that any gathering of two or more politically active people in Australia will invariably turn to US politics and, irrespective of where we are in the political season, Presidential Primaries, so being conversant with what is going on is essential to all politicos.

But what if you want to hold your way in conversation, but don’t want to dedicate your life to researching every single little detail? What should you do when the question comes up?

The correct answer would be to say: “It’s way too early, are you insane for asking me this question?”

However, that doesn’t really cut it. What you need to do is have opinions – and strong ones at that. Even better is to have opinions that challenge the prevailing orthodoxy.

That’s why, once again, created the following crib notes guide to the US Primaries (starting with the Democrats), so you can confidentaly express an opinion, without knowing any of the facts.

Because really, this is politics, and who needs facts when you have a strong opinion? Continue reading

Best Of The Web

TimAndrews1Tim Andrews brings back his roundup of the weird and wacky news from around the world in Best Of The Web: 

Amazon promises book delivering drones, telemarketers are no long from india, they're now robots – denying they're robots!  But the US Government still uses floppy disks… 

World's top chef's reveal the most overrated and underrated meats

The rich and proud history of 'lowbrow conservatism

 A 10 year old boy suspended from school for violating the "zero tolerance" policy by shooting an imaginary arrow

Another study finds no link between secondhand smoke and cancer

Spies are now "searching for terrorists" by playing online video games

Bohemium Rhapsody: Star Wars Edition

Sign language interpreter at Mandela Funeral a fake – just randomly waving his arms

A german town abolishes traffic lights and almost all traffic rules. Accidents plummet

Join the campaign to scrap the failed alcopops tax!

And finally, 24 types of authoritarians (click to enlarge):


Tim Andrews is the Executive Director of the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance and Publisher of Menzies House. 


U.S. Cities With Travel Warnings: Notice A Pattern?

A few days ago, the Washington Post listed 16 U.S. cities that foreign governments issue travel warnings about due to their high levels of crime.

With policing a responsibility of local government in the United States, I decided to look up the mayors of these cities. 

Do you notice a pattern?

Boston: Thomas Merino (Democrat)

New York: Michael Bloomberg (Independent), Mayor Elect Bil de Blasio (Democrat)

Washington DC: Vincent Gray (Democrat)

Baltimore: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Democrat)

Richmond: Dwight Clinton Jones (Democrat)

Pittsburgh: Luke Ravenstahl (Democrat) Mayor Elect Bill Peduto (Democrat)

Cleveland: Frank G Jackson (Democrat)

Detroit: Davd Bing (Democrat), Mayor-Elect Mike Duggan (Democrat)

Chicago: Rahm Emmanual (Democrat)

St Louis: Francis S Slay (Democrat)

Houston: Annise Parker (Democrat)

Atlanta: Kasim Reed (Democrat)

New Orleans: Mitch Landrieu (Democrat)

Miami: Tomas Regaldo (Republican)  

Los Angeles: Eric Garcetti (Democrat) 

El Paso : John Cook (Democrat)

Tim Andrews is Executive Director of the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance & Publisher of Menzies House.

Best Of The Web Returns!

TimAndrews1In the return of one of our most popular columns, Tim Andrews brings back his roundup of the weird and wacky news from around the world in Best Of The Web: 

A new "reverse microwave" can chill drinks in under 45 seconds! 

Want to prepare for the Zombie Apololypse in style? Then this is the house for you

How Famous 20th Century Headlines would read if they were published today

Leftists at the University of Georgia protest excellence and success. Really. 

You can now buy shares in professional atheletes

Humour: You've all seen clips of TED talks, here's a DED talk – a motivational speech for zombies

A disabled girl in the United Kingdom wants to work – but the government tells her to stay on welfare

Football coach in the US accused of "bullying" because his team is so successful

Heston would be proud: Want to poach some salmon? Or pears? Or make some Bulgoki? Then try using your dishwasher (just don't try shellfish, rice, or eggs!)

And finally, here 218 reasons why even the left should not support President Obama

EDITORIAL: This Government Has Got To Go

TimAndrews1 (2)Menzies House Publisher Tim Andrews argues that this Saturday, Kevin Rudd has got to go: 

Every day this week I’ve been getting the same sort of emails: “Saturday won’t matter, they’re all the same, nothing will change, why should I bother”.

This argument is flat out wrong and you should reject it for one simple reason:

The current Federal Government has advanced the greatest assault on individual freedoms and sound economic management we have seen in over three decades.

As you would be well aware, I have frequently criticised Tony Abbot some of his plans, such as PPL and his desire to keep the Renewable Energy Target. I hold grave concerns about his ability to keep some big government influences in check, and his economic plans leave much to be desired. But any criticism I have of the opposition is dwarfed by the gigantic catastrophe that the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government has proven to be.

Irrespective of what you think about Tony Abbott, there can be no doubt about one thing: This government has got to go.

Here’s why:

Firstly, the Rudd Government’s decision to throw $80 billion down the toilet with a “stimulus package” that did nothing more than destroy our budget finances, and leave us with a mountain of debt was an act of fiscal vandalism unmatched in recent history.
When Kevin came into office promising to be an ‘economic conservative’, we had a budget surplus. In just one year, this became a $27 billion deficit. In two years, it reached a mind-blowing $60 billion. Our national debt is now on track to reach a staggering $300 billion, and we will be  paying $190 million in interest every single week.

Even The Australian Treasury and the Parliamentary Budget Offices have now admitted that the deficit is structural, unsustainable, and the result of massive over-spending. Yes, as Kevin Rudd keeps saying, it could be worse, but do we really want to keep comparing ourselves to Greece?
And all the while, tax receipts were going up and up and up as Labor announced a whopping forty three tax hikes.
And for what? Tearing down one school hall to replace it with another one, even as the schools faced closure? A concrete playground for $1.8 million? Sheds at 10 times the market value? A vote-buying cash splash of $900 per person that even Treasury admitted boosted consumption by just one dollar? A stimulus that was so useless that Treasury cooked the books to make it look like it was working – and then got  caught out and were forced to withdraw their argument.
And don’t even get me started on the job-killing carbon tax… But Kevin Rudd’s budget bungling is just the tip of the iceberg. By dragging our industrial relations system back to the 1960’s, we have had plummeting international competitiveness, small business closures up 48%, and record numbers of crippling strikes across Australia, while working days lost, which had been trending downwards for 15 years, shot up  fivefold At the same time, the number of people without jobs has gone up 222,000 between 2007 and 2013, and the government has resorted to classifying 350,000 people receiving unemployment benefits as “non-jobseekers” so that they won’t show up in the official count.
And it doesn't stop there. This government has also seen the most concerted attack on freedom of speech seen in Australia outside the Second World War. They proposed an unprecedented media censorship and licensing regime, wanting to bring in government-sanctioned journalism. They wanted to make it unlawful to ‘offend’ or ‘insult’ someone, and make you “guilty unless proven innocent” with laws that would also  destroy religious liberties, persecute the innocent, and make a mockery of free-thought. Fortunately, these were delayed after lengthy public outcry, but there can be no doubt a re-election of the Rudd Government will make their return inevitable. 
As if all this wasn’t enough, we have also seen one of the greatest attacks on individual freedoms and personal responsibility through the nanny-state gone mad, with hikes in lifestyle taxes, and more and more restrictions on what adults can and can not do. The Australian National Preventative Health Agency receives $40 million a year to do little more than lobby for more restrictions. We have actually reached a point where we’re no longer seriously considering plain packaging for alcohol and food, but are taxes are going to support bringing in food rationing. Really. This is government-sanctioned insanity funded totally by your taxes.
I am, of course, just beginning to list the cascade of failures, bumbling incompetence, and attacks on liberty by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government – there is a while library that could be filled if I was to list them all.
But there can be no doubt – This Government has got to go. I recognise that many of our members and have concerns regarding Mr Abbott, and if so, you can always vote for a third party. After all – in Australia, you can’t waste you vote by voting for a minor party as long as you preference. There are many minor parties to choose from with far, far more sensible policies than Labor (you can hear me discussing the tax policies of Family First and the Liberal Democrats on ABC Radio HERE).
But whichever party you choose to put a 1 next to, under no circumstances should Labor (or – heaven forbid – the Greens) get your preferences before the coalition (and if you are voting above the line in the senate, look carefully at who your chosen party is giving it’s preferences to: Bob Katter, for example, is supporting Labor and the Greens)
Make no mistake, come Sunday, if Tony Abbott gets elected, I will be doing everything I can to make sure that he too does the right thing! Menzies House& the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance are firmly non-partisan, and if Tony Abbott was to do the same thing, we would be just as critical.
But right now – Saturday is the priority: Australia just can’t afford another term of Labor.
In 1993, one week out of the election, everyone thought John Hewson would win. In 1999 everyone was convinced Jeff Kennett would easily be re-elected. We can take nothing for granted. This Saturday, make your vote count.

Tim Andrews is Executive Director of the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, and Publisher of Menzies House. 

Tony Needs To Dump Paid Parental Leave

As you may have read in today’s papers, conservative Liberal backbenchers have just launched a campaign to dump the expensive far left paid-parental leave policy.

They are absolutely right. And they need our support.

It is no secret who I want to win the next election:  but when it comes to Paid Parental Leave, Tony has been listening to too many left wing advisors and ABC Commentators. This policy is flat out wrong.

I know I won’t be popular for saying this, but this is a scheme that will increase taxes, increase our debt, and hurt every Aussie family. We just can’t afford another big-spending initiative like this. To spend another $3 billion every year to pay $150,000 a year in welfare to wealthy mothers is just wrong.

Our corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world. It’s the reason why businesses are fleeing offshore, and we are losing jobs. As the rest of the world is cutting their corporate tax rate, it is madness for us to increase ours.

Tony needs to dump this policy now – before it is too late.

We have a chance to scrap this policy – if we act fast.

We have created an online portal for our supporters to contact Coalition MP’s to DUMP this policy, 

Click HERE to tell Coalition MP’s that this policy is bad economics, bad social policy – and will lose them votes.

The Australian election will come down to who are the better economic managers. By persisting with this policy that’s to the left of the Australian Greens,  the Opposition is putting their claim in danger. Not a single person will vote for the Opposition because of it – and many will turn away.

I strongly urge you to contact Coalition MPs today.

Tim Andrews

Our “Research Dollars” hard at work

TimAndrews1 (2)Tim Andrews looks at taxpayer For What Artists Think of the NBN, Medieval Sexism Necessitating Christ Was A Man, The Cultural Impact of Iranian Pop Singers And More: 

Following up from my previous post about taxpayer funded radical leftist propaganda masquerading as “research” grants,  I decided to have a look at some of the other grants that were made in 2012 by the Australian Research Council and also in the Discover Category (for younger researchers)

This has got to be my favourite:

The cultural economy of Australian artist-run initiatives which develop an  understanding of a diverse range of artists’ practices, including in relation to the National Broadband Network which  will contribute to policy development for a more vibrant Australian arts landscape ($320,906.00).

Because, that’s right, the opinion of artists in relation to the NBN, is worth of funding.

Although this one comes a very close second:

Sexing scholasticism: gender in medieval thought 1150-1520. This is about… wait for it … “medieval theological debates about why it was necessary that Christ was born as a man” which grants “access to ideas about  masculinity and femininity held by the elite ruling cultures of western Europe” ($357,630.00)

Gender seems a bit of a theme:

How Gender Shapes The World: A Linguistic Perspective. This project will seek to understand and explain gender roles in Australian society, and in nearby nations. Emphasis is placed on training researchers with an immigrant or minority background, working towards the empowerment of women researchers. This will enhance our nation’s capacity to interpret and manage gender roles in multicultural contexts. TOTAL COST: $2,416,141.00

Other ones I noted included:

Mediating the Conversation‘ is an international study of how public participation is facilitated and regulated in online  news and opinion sites. It will evaluate approaches to managing comments and interaction, and will produce best  practice guidelines for news media on promoting inclusive, productive online conversations” ($364,950.00),

Revisiting the foundations of mainstream economics: a cooperative account of wellbeing and moral improvement” which “presents a major theoretical challenge to the individualistic definition of wellbeing that defines mainstream economics ($371,931.00 to promote Marxism, essentially)

A historical study of modern Iran and its diaspora through the music, career and cultural significance of pop star Googoosh: $373,391.00

Secularism in nineteenth-century America: a history $338,512.00 

He’s not heavy, he’s my brother: the acquisition of kinship terminology in a morphologically complex Australian language ($375,000.00)

Children’s active video games: family perceptions, uses and negotiations $365,314.00

Listening to country – Indigenous dance dramaturgy in remote Australia will identify a theory and practice of dramaturgy which ‘listens’ to place, history and  community($322,747.00)

Should I stay or should I go: the extent to which people’s willingness to risk their lives to save animals during natural disasters ($371,622.00)

The public face of the Public Service: whether the  trend towards greater public engagement by public servants fundamentally changes our traditional understandings of how a public service operates  $358,890.00

The Australian penal colonies and British print culture, 1786-1900:  an investigation of the literature surrounding convict transportation and the  Australian penal colonies, and its relationship to British print culture in the nineteenth century ($289,185.00)

Retail price promotions in Australia: are consumers really better off? retail price promotions can confuse consumers, leading to poor purchase decisions.($374,057.00)

Construction of the Bali Peace Park as counterterrorism  which will explore how individuals and communities engage with the Peace Park as a form of counter terrorism ($375,000.00)

Wellbeing, preferences, and basic goods  Since individual choice and public policy aim at promoting wellbeing, it is crucial to understand what wellbeing is. This project develops an account of wellbeing that is grounded in individual preferences, but acknowledges that  people sometimes desire what is harmful to them. ($337,940.00)

I also discovered that there was a special “Discovery Indigenous” category, which granted funding for projects such as: Enhancing the quality of academic supervision provided to Indigenous Australian doctoral students ($109,527.00), literary representations of Aboriginal Australians by non-Aboriginal authors in the post-Mabo period ($41,000), and Early collections of Warlpiri cultural heritage ($513,000.00)

I also started cataloging some of the climate change and environment related ones: 

(Management of Coral Reefs: $2,511,216.00, Coral reef metabolism in a rapidly changing climate: $3,032,447.00, A new paradigm for quantifying the resilience of marine calcifiers to ocean acidification and global warming: $3,229,566.00, Surrogate ecology: when and where can it work to improve environmental management? $2,849,770.00, Sea level change and climate sensitivity $3,079,069.00, Protonic materials for green chemical futures $2,879,582.00, Inter-ocean exchange around Australia and its relation to regional and global climate: 374,354.00, : does microbial priming of degraded seagrasses contribute to global warming?$375,000.00),  Developing predictions of extinction risk for tropical arthropods in the face of global environmental change ($364,015.00), Safe long-term storage of carbon dioxide in coal seams (374,905.00), The further back we look, the further forward we can see: 1,000 years of past climate to help predict future climate change in Australia ($351,805.00)…

But there were too many of them, so I gave up and stopped. 

And then people wonder why we have a budget deficit…  

Tim Andrews is Executive Director of the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, and Publisher of Menzies House. 

Taxpayer Funded Political Activism

I have an article in this month's edition of the award-winning IPA Review on taxpayer funded political activism:

Unintentional self-parody has long being a forte of governments around the world.

Yet a movement in recent years to create multi-layered government and quasi-governmental agencies, each existing simply to lobby each other to in turn lobby other agencies has exceeded anything Kafka could have dreamt of. We have seen the emergence of a new industry in Australia, where an entire class of government-funded ‘non-government' organisations has arisen to lobby government agencies who are created for the express purpose of lobbying another government department…..

The influx of taxpayer dollars has resulted in ‘non-government' actors becoming so corrupted and intertwined with politics as to cease to be ‘non-government', while retaining the benefits of non-partisanship in the public eye. The use by the executive of taxpayer dollars to alter public opinion and pressure the legislature is more than contrary to every tenet of the separation of powers and good governance, not to mention a flagrant misappropriation of public funds. Yet, with both sides of politics engaging in such practices, scarcely a word is said.

Examples of this behaviour are everywhere. While campaigns by taxpayer-funded environmental ‘charities' in favour of the carbon tax are perhaps the most obvious instance, the same is seen in almost every policy area. ‘Public Health' campaigns calling for Nanny State restrictions on alcohol and the implementation of plain packaging regulation (the campaign for which has now been extended to fast food), are almost exclusively conducted by groups in receipt of taxpayer funds. Likewise the welfare lobby seems to have created a self-sustaining industry based upon receiving taxpayer funds to lobby for more taxpayer funds, the political equivalent of the perpetual motion machine.

Even Australia's foreign aid budget, ostensibly to assist developing countries, has become highly politicised, with a recent investigation by the Institute of Public Affairs uncovering millions of dollars in foreign aid funding being used for domestic political activism, and lobbying for the carbon tax by ‘non-government' groups such as the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Worldwide Wildlife Fund…

Click here to read the whole piece!

Tim Andrews 

The Environmental Movement’s Attack On Food Production


Tim Andrews writes in Online Opinion on the modern environmental movements' attack on food production and science: 

Today marks the 31st International Food Day, dedicated to raising awareness of the problems facing global food supply. The importance of food security cannot be overestimated: it is predicted that by 2050, the global demand for food will increase by a staggering 70%. But amidst the usual calls for more investment and innovation, the most serious threat to food production has been ignored: environmental groups and their political supporters.

The challenge to agricultural productivity in Australia from green groups is ubiquitous. Green tape has succeeded in removing entire productive fishing zones from use, despite the fact that no marine species in Australian waters is threatened with extinction from overfishing. Legislation to protect "native vegetation" has allowed governments to appropriate land without compensation, and, as a result, vast tracts of highly fertile farmland are now an effective wasteland.

, The most extreme – and senseless – case of the anti-production mindset of the Australian "environmental" movement is the baseless and unscientific attack on enriched food by Greenpeace, which culminated in the criminal destruction of a CSIRO trial wheat crop in 2011.

This campaign against scientifically enriched food truly is bizarre. According to experts like World Food Prize winner Rajesh Kumar, we are currently on the verge of another international agricultural revolutionthat could be as momentous as the "Green Revolution" of the mid 20th century. Spearheaded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug, the Green Revolution saved over a billion people from starvation through scientific advancements, including the enhancement of crop yields, the creation of disease-resistant strains, and improved cultivation methods. It enabled higher production at lower costs with less land and fewer pesticides used. These are precisely the sorts of advances which we are on the cusp of today – yet are under attack by organizations like Greenpeace.

Despite their opposition to life-saving scientific advances, these green special interest groups continue to be granted "deductible gift recipient" status as "charities" in Australia, even though Canada and New Zealand recently stripped Greenpeace of this status.

Click here to keep reading at Online Opinion

Tim Andrews is the Executive Director of the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, which recently launched a campaign website on the environmental movement, www.activistethics.com.au/

Are we living in Bizzaro World?


Tim Andrews looks at yesterday's events and despairs: 

I had a strange dream last night.

I dreamt that I was in bizzaro-world watching a tragi-comedy soap opera. An absolute farce where we had a government clinging to power with the vote of a man Thompson who was so brazen in his misuse of union funds, he didn’t just use them to  pay for his re-election campaign - his union credit card was used to pay for brothels! Where the government installed a speaker (with full press gallery support) who is before the courts for sexually harassing a young staffer, who is  under police investigation for fraud against the commonwealth,  and who repeatedly sentabusive, sexist, and grossly offensive misogynist texts

In this dream, the Prime Minister, who in the past secretly aided her former-boyfriend to set up what she admitted was a “slush fund” and to then buy property with stolen union funds,  defended the disgraced Speaker, and her defence was simply to say that everyone opposed to her was a misogynist: a government that with a straight face defended misogyny by accusing misogyny. 

Phillipa Martyr summed up this bizzaro-world:

"- The twice-married Peter Slipper repeatedly sexts a young and good-looking gay man who works for him
– Peter Slipper expresses in these sexts a marked dislike for lady bits
– Peter Slipper tells the court that he loves his wife (despite her having the same unpleasant lady bits)
– Peter Slipper is therefore Husband of the Year and an innocent victim of Liberal Party machinations.

– Tony Abbott shows no signs of being fazed by strong women, having been married to one for years (Tim: I should also note having one as his Chief of Staff)
– Tony Abbott turns his back on Nicola Roxon in parliament
– Tony Abbott calls for the resignation of lady-bits-insulter and office masher Peter Slipper as Speaker of the House of Representatives
– Tony Abbott is a misogynist sexist pig."

In my dream, the government complained of the "Americanisation" of Australian politics, while itself basing it's attack template on US Marxist activist Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" (eg: Rule 12:  "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

So bizzare is this world that everyone in the media simply lapped this cognative madness up and reported the government line verbatim praising the Prime Minister's speech.

To say this dream described a total farce is an understatement. It is a comedy which puts Yes Minister to shame. It is absolutely totally unbelievable that such a thing could ever occur in reality. Our political and media class would NEVER stoop so low.

Except this was not a dream. This insanity is exactly what is occurring.

How can anyone possibly justify this excuse of a government? Anyone observing from the outside can only conclude that it is a total, absolute, and utter joke. Yet so insulated is our media, so removed from reality is our Canberra Press Gallery, that they blindly regurgitate the government line.

Julia Gillard’s rambling defence of the indefensible yesterday – her gall in baselessly attacking her opponents while she supported the utter disgrace of Peter Slipper (who since resigned as speaker), her shameless audacity is mind-boggling.  And yet our fawning media faithfully reprinted the government line. And praised her speech.

I would laugh at these antics, if it were not for the fact that they have real consequences, in the real world. 

As this farce continues, our budget deficit skyrockets, waste and overspending is occurring left right and centre, the “Infrastructure Government” hasn’t built a single thing,  the carbon tax is hitting every Australian family, our defence force becomes dilapidated  and our borders unsecure.

Families are hurting, and all the government can do is obsess about name-calling Tony Abbott.

This is beyond a joke.

We need an election now.

Tim Andrews is the Managing Editor of Menzies House.