Missing Link Daily

A digest of the best of the blogosphere published each weekday and compiled by Ken Parish, James Farrell, Gilmae, Darlene Taylor and Saint.

Politics

Australian

David Tiley brings grossness into sharp focus with a post titled anyone seen Fido lately?

Ken Lovell and Bridget Gread have both noticed a certain irony in the payrise awarded to the Fair Pay guy, Ian Harper.

Jeremy Sear contemplates switching to the national daily now that it’s not the Government Gazette any more.

Tim Blair looks at the bizarre, over-the-top and (you would think) counterproductive rhetoric of Remi Van der Weil QC, defence councel for one of the accused terrorists currently being tried in Melbourne.

It’s hard to disagree with Fleeced’s sentiments about those Rudd-coddled working families after the PM promised to protect them from any fallout from ABC childcare centres:

The way this trend is going I would like to suggest a simpler poll would be What do Working Families actually believe they SHOULD pay for themselves ?

a) widescreen plasma TVs
b) holidays
c) movie tickets
d) all of the above, or
e) none – The Govmnt should pay for everything – theyve got piles of money and we are just Working Families.

Dr Faustus cuts to the chase and provides some practical hints on how to evade ISP-level porn filtering that the left-reactionary Rudd government seems determined to introduce.

Guy Beres argues that the Coalition’s dumping of its uranium policy was both gutless and illogical.

International

Jonathan Pearce argues that Clinton, Obama and McCain are all populist protectionists and wishes there was a way all three could lose!

Jason Soon joins the long list of libertarian bloggers posting vaguely laudatory obituaries for arch-conservative American pundit William F Buckley, apparently because he professed to “share about 90 percent of the views of most libertarians”. However, the 10% he didn’t share might be quite significant:

The central question that emerges… is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. –William F. Buckley, National Review, August 24, 1957

There’s your “refined, perspicacious mind” for you. The one that, we’re told by [the New York Times], “elevated conservatism to the center of American political discourse.” Racism and power-worship–and, from first to last, uncompromising defense of the idea that society should be structured into orders and classes.


Economics

Joshua Gans is apparently unsympathetic to a paper recommending more progressive tax as a remedy for workaholism.

Harry Clarke has some criticisms of estimates by Joseph Stiglitz et al. of the budgetary cost of the Iraq War.

Should we go ahead with the tax cuts? Andrew Bartlett surveys the arguments and options, including the Gregory Warning, the Gruen Plan and the Martin Critique.


Issues analysis

Brian Bahnisch supplies a well researched summary of the state of play in international greenhouse gas negotiations. He concludes, among other things, that

It does seem to me that the Americans are unlikely to go for short-term targets, sticking with their approach that every country needs to work out its own path according to their own circumstances. The Americans do seem to be engaged, however. Perhaps they just like doing things their way.

Jack Lacton wonders about the root causes of the U.K.’s brain drain.

Dale muses about the psychological origins of fire and brimstone fanatical religiosity, while also arguing that the shallow, complacent kind of religious belief is almost as bad. Meanwhile, philosopher Norman Geras ponders Gods and human rights, and Australian-born natural law theorist John Finnis argues that natural law (and natural rights) “is no more dependent on affirming God’s existence than any other theory is, in any of the four orders of theory, but equally that is not safe for atheists.”


Arts

Tony T. is underwhelmed by Underbelly.

Jonathan Pearce points out that a novel by Joss Whedon (Buffy etc) based on the Firefly sci-fi series is now available free on the Internet.

Alison Croggon reviews a production of a new work by Kit Lazaroo called Asylum at La Mama in Carlton.


Sport

Norman Geras cooks up a formidable edible International XI cricket team.


Snark, strangeness and charm

Tim Blair has finally again succumbed to seething religious fervour (complete with obligatory head covering).

Legal academic Ethan Leib has honoured what he claims is a long American law school tradition of dressing up as a chicken to teach his contract law class.

Jeremy Sear hates Monopoly while Legal Eagle (a bit late this one) hates big white weddings.

Tim T wants to be the next Chiko Roll Girl (as long as he doesn’t have to eat one).

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic at Charles Darwin University, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law) and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 12 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in he early 1990s.
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22 Responses to Missing Link Daily

  1. Gummo Trotsky says:

    Its hard to disagree with Fleeceds sentiments about those Rudd-coddled working families

    Maybe this transcript from Lateline will make it a little easier.

  2. Jacques Chester says:

    Sorry about the name thing, Browncoats. It’s fixed.

  3. saint says:

    Question for all the avocados at Club Troppo. Like many I was a bit floored by the bizarre rhetoric of Remi Van der Weil. I blogged about it based on two reports and found it to be stereotypical, loony left (yes I will use that term in certain contexts) and even found it somewhat anti Semitic.

    I don’t know how defence lawyers work or determine their strategies. My question is this: do they have to follow their clients instructions? Is it possible that Van der Weil was just spouting the line given to him by Benbrika, who, knowing how much attention this case would get, hopes to use der Weil as a defacto megaphone (I mean the prosecution insisted that jurors not think all Muslims are terrorists,etc before describing these dudes jihadist theology etc., but the opening statement by the defence -with analogies to Peter Costello, Howard hating unionists, Haneef, dumb male heterosexual men, Old Testament fanatical god etc just didn’t sound like a reasoned much less vaguely plausible argument of a QC (mind you, how do you defend a dingbat like Benbrika, even against a parking fine, is beyond me, but fair trial etc etc.)

    So is this a QC speaking or more likely Benbrika speaking throug Van der Weil. How does it work?

  4. Ken Parish says:

    Gummo

    I frankly don’t see why the Lateline transcript you linked should provide any basis whatever to think that it would be a good idea for the government to prop up ABC Learning with taxpayers’ money in any way, shape or form.

    ABC achieved its rapid expansion largely by buying existing child care centres from “mum and dad” operators at premium prices. If it goes broke and a liquidator/receiver puts them back on the market, why would you begrudge someone else (especially the previous mum and dad operator who may well be in the best position to capitalise) doing a Kerry Packer and reacquiring it at a bargain basement price? Only ABC’s shareholder and financiers would suffer, and is it really the Rudd government’s job to protect them?

    How would propping up ABC be assisting “working families” anyway? If there’s a market demand in a particular locality for a child care centre, then the ABC centre will find a willing buyer without any problem, and the buyer would be likely to provide at least as good a service as ABC has done. And if there’s any doubt about that, it’s surely an issue for improved regulatory oversight rather than middle class welfare. With respect, I think your comment involves some woolly thinking.

  5. Ken Parish says:

    Saint

    Barristers operate on a “taxi rank” basis i.e. if they’re available and a brief comes their way in their area of practice, they’re supposedly meant to accept it (although it’s a rule often honoured in the breach).

    Having accepted it, counsel is certainly expected to follow the client’s instructions. However, counsel is also not permitted to mislead the court, and if a client instructs him to put something to the court that he positively knows to be false then he must not follow that instruction. Short of that, if a client instructs counsel to advance arguments that counsel regards as extremely unwise, then at the very least counsel would normally make it clear to the court that he is “instructed to submit that …”, thereby signalling that the argument wasn’t his idea. Moreover, if counsel forms the view that the extent of unwise arguments the client is requiring him to advance will result in his being unable to defend the client in a competent professional manner, then counsel would be entitled to withdraw from the case. The fact that Van der Weil hasn’t done either of the above things rather suggests either that the arguments are his own or that he doesn’t have any significant reservations about presenting them.

    I should declare an element of bias here. Van der Weil was the defence counsel in the murder trial of the man charged with (and ultimately convicted of) the murder of my daughter Rebecca’s grandmother in Bec’s presence. Fortunately (from our viewpoint), I was unimpressed with his efforts then just as I am with his conduct of Benbrika’s defence now (at least as they’re reported in the media). However, he’s senior counsel nowadays and you don’t reach those professional heights without displaying a fair measure of professional competence. So perhaps there’s more to it than meets the eye.

  6. PeterC says:

    That Willam F. Buckley quote is from some seven years before current US President pro tempore of the Senate, Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia, filibustered and voted against Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Bill. Unless there is something on the record quite a bit more recent than 50 years ago indicating that he still held those racial views, I’d assume that, as with Byrd, the passage of time and events made Buckley change his mind.

  7. Gummo Trotsky says:

    Ken,

    First up, propping up at least the child care arm of ABC would do no more than continue the status quo established under the Howard government – ABC became the world’s largest provider of childcare services on the back of the Howard Government’s Child Care rebate.

    ABC also worked very aggressively to establish and maintain itself as a monopoly provider. Stephen Mayne describing Eddy Grove on Lateline:

    He’s well known to lodge objections when community centres, or other centres, council run centres put up proposals to create a new centre. He’s been known to lodge many dozens of objections to try and stop competitors opening up near him.

    Now, that’s the sort of tactic you see in the shopping centre business or in the hotel business, but it’s a bit unusual to see that in something like child care.

    Then there’s this:

    And even things like Larry Anthony joining the board. He was the children’s minister if the Howard government. The government was giving Eddy Groves’ company $1 million a day in subsidies for it’s child care operations, creating an unprecedented company market share in the world. And five months after he stops being the children’s minister, Larry Anthony jumps on to the board of ABC Learning, taking all that knowledge with him.

    There are a lot of serious issues here that deserve the sort of informed analysis that bloggers continually complain isn’t being provided by the MSM – all we get on any issue is the usual ranters. Libertarian snark about Rudd’s obsession with “working families” isn’t informed analysis, however entertaining and initially appealing it might at first appear.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back over the hill – if people are going to be wrong on the Internet, it’s not my job to put them right. I’d rather spend the rest of today drawing.

  8. Tony T. says:

    I just wish Rudd would stop saying “working families”. This morning on Neil Mitchell he said it exactly 467 times in 8 minutes. Exactly.

  9. Ken Parish says:

    PeterC

    Perhaps you’re right, certainly according to this blogger anyway:

    Despite this dismal stance, Buckley did in fact change and renounce racism by the mid-1960s, in part because his horror at the terrorist tactics used by white supremacists to fight the civil rights movement, in part because of the moral witness of friends like Garry Wills who confronted Buckley with the immorality of his politics. Buckleys change was by no means pre-ordained. Some of his friends from the 1950s, notably Revilo Oliver remained adamant racialists (Oliver moved from National Review to the John Birch Society to the fringes of neo-Nazism). There are a host of other issues on which Buckley moderated his politics. In the 1980s, he said that if he were a black South African he would probably support the ANC, a statement that shocked fellow conservatives. This independence of mind continued to the end of his life. Not too long ago, he admitted that the Iraq war was a ghastly mistake, again annoying his intellectual fellow travelers. He was learning until his last days.

  10. hc says:

    Ken, Thanks for the plug on the Stiglitz work.

    I noted a couple of comments on this work and compared the estimates Stiglitz-Bilmes made of the cost of the Iraq war with those of others. I wasn’t however primarily interested in criticising it – I think it is useful work.

    My main point was to point out that Stiglitz was linking problems in the world economy – the current credit crunch – with problems of financing the Iraq war. In the 1970s the same sorts of comments were made linking Lyndon Johnson’s funding of the Vietnam war with the emergence of global inflation.

    Stiglitz is proposing a bold and interesting linkage.

  11. saint says:

    Ken, thanks for the explanation at #5.

    I’m not sure if that is good or bad for our legal system.

    Now I am thinking I’d really like to see a transcript.

    Bizarre (even if funny in a perverse sort of way)

  12. Jason Soon says:

    Buckley has indeed revised his views on segregation (forgot the link but someone can supply it). It was one of his biggest mistakes but that was over 50 years ago. As I said in comments on that blogpost, he was a bit of a blowhard but there is no evidence that he was personally racist. In fact he helped purge the American right of racists and nutballs. Also unlike that piece of verbose lard Robert Byrd he didn’t actually dress up in a white tablecloth and burn crosses.

  13. Patrick says:

    That Buckley quote is a perverse misrepresentation of the guy. I hope that when any major Australian politician of his era dies they are remembered solely by their endorsement of White Australia.

    That said, my favourite (if equally unrepresentative) memory of him is his threatening to punch Gore Vidal, who was at least at that time an absolutely slimely caricature of a toffy pretentious lefty twat, after Vidal called him (what sounded like) a ‘crypto-Nazi’.

  14. Niall says:

    How is it possible to ‘perversely’ misrepresent a statement from the man’s own gob? I guess it’s okay to reneg on an opinion and be forgiven if you’re a conservative in an increasingly progressively liberal world.

  15. Niall says:

    On the Blair post, nowhere does he acknowledge the simple fact that the defence lawyer he denigrates is there doing his job. Defending his clients. That doesn’t mean he agrees with what he’s postulating. Typical Blair.

  16. TimT says:

    On the Blair post, nowhere does he acknowledge the simple fact that the defence lawyer he denigrates is there doing his job. Defending his clients. That doesnt mean he agrees with what hes postulating. Typical Blair.

    Well, Niall… *clears throat* …

    I guess its okay to reneg on an opinion and be forgiven if youre a conservative lawyer in an increasingly progressively liberal jihadist world.

  17. Legal Eagle says:

    It’s one thing to say, “Don’t get carried away by prejudice, and don’t let world events make up your mind, you need to concentrate only on the facts”. I think that is an entirely reasonable thing for a defence lawyer to say.

    But in order to defend someone from a terrorism trial, it is not necessary to come out with the sort of things Van der Weil is saying. He is not “just doing his job”.

    In fact, such comments are irrelevant to the question of whether the jury believes as a matter of fact, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the prosecution has been able to prove the men were prepared to use explosives or weapons for an undisclosed terrorist act, with the intention of coercing a government or intimidating the public.

    Alleging as a matter of fact that Bin Laden was not responsible for the September 11 attacks is irrelevant and inappropriate, in my opinion, because this is not a question of fact which can properly be resolved in that context.

    To be fair, perhaps some understanding of Benbrika’s view of the world is necessary to understanding the actions and words of the man. But in my opinion, it would be more appropriate if Van der Weil had prefaced his comments with, “My client’s view is that…” “I am instructed that his frustration stems from his belief that…” That way, it’s just simply Benbrika’s belief, not something which is alleged as a matter of fact.

    From a more pragmatic point of view, an unpleasant subtext to Van der Weil’s address could be, “Well if my client did talk about wanting to plan a terrorist operation, that’s understandable, because America and Australia are evil.” I agree, Ken: it seems counterproductive to me. It infers that Benbrika was the sort of man who might feel aggrieved enough to want to plan a terrorist action!

  18. Niall says:

    clever, Tim. what are you trying to say, exactly?

  19. Niall says:

    17

    Depends entirely on your perspective, doesn’t it.

  20. TimT says:

    What am I trying to say? Nothing you haven’t said already. You do a fairly effective job of arguing against yourself in posts 14 and 15. I didn’t see anything particularly wrong with Blair’s post; he was taking issue with the arguments of the lawyers, which is fair enough.

  21. Legal Eagle says:

    My perspective is that of a lawyer, and what a barrister’s proper job is. I’d say that’s a pretty good perspective.

  22. saint says:

    I think you nailed the subtext perfectly in #17 Legal Eagle.

    And I think Blair was just taking the piss of that very subtext in statements like “this guy’s a riot”

    Although it does make you think of what his assessment of the jury’s mentality is (and I note the judge has an interesting track record)

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