Saturday salon 27/2

1. Trump trumps the rest

Trump looks unstoppable. In South Carolina he scored 32.5% to Rubio’s 22.5 and Cruz’s 22.3. The rest were in single figures and Jeb Busch dropped out. Never has anyone spent so much to achieve so little in preselection politics as Jeb did.

In Nevada Trump aced them with 45.9% ahead of Rubio with 23.9 and Cruz with 21.4.

It looks as though the Republicans are going to serve up the dipstick outsider for the election.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is looking better. Strictly the verdict is still wait and see, but by Tuesday Sanders could be in a pile of trouble.

In late news, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has endorsed Trump, the first establishment figure to do so. The hostile takeover of the Republican Party continues, though Rubio is cutting up rough. This could be spectacularly nasty!

2. Baby Asha: Balancing the law with civil disobedience

Michael Bradley’s opinion piece, linked above, is worth a read. Civil disobedience by the doctors is justified if they consider a law is bad, and if they have a conflicting professional duty, he says.

Also they have an ethical duty not to release her into an environment which is unsafe:

    they reached the conclusion that allowing Asha to be returned to Nauru would place her in an unsafe and unhealthy environment, and that therefore they could not discharge her.

Bradley says they had a right to reach that conclusion and act upon it.

After the protracted 10-day protest activists at first counted it as a success that Asha was moved to community detention. It became clear early on that she would be returned to Nauru.

Police have dismissed claims that her mother deliberately hurt her.

A day later her lawyers had no idea where she was. Not sure whether that has now been resolved.

3. Subs, to fight a war with China?

The defence white paper proposes acquiring a dozen more submarines at horrendous cost over many years. An extra $30 billion has been allocated. Turnbull is linking the decision to his agenda for advanced manufacturing, innovation etc.

The idea, they say, is to build as much locally as possible, but the design will certainly be foreign. Probably much of the build too. A decision will be made by mid-year.

Do we need submarines for anything other than a possible war with China?

We’ll certainly upset China if the contract goes to Japan.

Ben Eltham looks at the issues contained in the White paper. It’s big money, nixing the possibility of a budget surplus for at least 10 years. It’s part of a build up of conventional force in our region, and as such may not be enough.

And look at what we are not doing, on diplomacy, foreign aid and climate change, which are important too for our security.

4. Murdoch unhappy with media law changes

Cabinet has agreed to abolish the “reach rule” and the “two out of three rule” giving the possibility that, for example, News Corp could buy Channel 10 and Nine could merge with Fairfax.

The “reach rule” prohibits any one media company from broadcasting to more than 75 per cent of the country. This could bring changes to regional media. Now Seven, Nine and Ten could merge with or acquire their regional affiliates Prime Media, WIN Corporation and Southern Cross Media.

The so-called “two out of three rule” allows media companies to own only two of three of radio, TV and newspapers in a single media market.

Labor says it’s cool with the “reach rule” changes, but wants to think about the “two out of three rule”.

Murdoch wants more. He wants an end to anti-siphoning laws which mean major sporting events must be shown on free-to-air.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

    The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

7 thoughts on “Saturday salon 27/2”

  1. Regarding defense spending, Prof Quiggin makes the excellent point that our thinking seems to be stuck in the mid twentieth century.
    But hey, how good are the LNP – without instituting any of the measures they said (cross their hearts and hope to die) were absolutely essential to tackle it, they have completely eliminated the BUDGET EMERGENCY!!! (™)

  2. Government will doubtless spend a massive amount of money on defense to protect us. Just how they spend it is another matter.
    In the case of subs the obvious question might be “why buy a diesel/electric sub that is so inferior to the nuclear sub?” I would have said speed and endurance tip the choice towards nuclear even though they are horrendously more expensive than diesel.
    Nuclear can spend many months underwater compared to a few weeks for diesel. Nukes can travel at 60+ knots (I got this from a trustworthy fellow who spent 45 years in submarines) underwater for weeks on end. At those speeds they are very noisy but their capacity to change locations leaves surface chasing ships in their wake.
    So why even think about diesel? Turns out there are still good reasons. See

    Finally here is a helpful overview:

    The other questions raised still remain of course.

  3. Thanks for the links, Geoff. I’m not a defence buff and haven’t been following the issues closely.

    Zoot, Quiggin makes the major point that the whole strategy is based on yesterday’s reality, but other countries in our region are tooling up, so apparently we need to also in the minds of those with actual input to policy.

    Two further points I could have made.

    First, Labor largely supports the Defence White Paper, so discussion in the meeja is likely to be limited.

    Secondly, we face a choice of where we stand in the unsettling possibility of a conflict between our most important ally, and our most important trading partner, as Ben Eltham says.

  4. In the presidential preselection race, it looks all over for Bernie Sanders. He’ll carry on, because he can, and will pull Hillary to the left.

    Trump looks unstoppable, but Cruz and Rubio did well enough for them to continue on.

    I think it’s important that Trump be held to less than 50%. I heard twice tonight that if Trump has less than a majority the Republican convention can do whatever they choose, even select someone that has not run in the primaries. Mitt Romney has been mentioned.

  5. Geoff: The real question is why do we really needs submarines at all? Or for that matter some of the other toys on the wish list?
    My take is that we are moving into a defense world where unmanned is replacing manned and some of the fighting will be done by robots.
    Problem is that the navy still dreams of having an aircraft carrier and pollies just love supporting big ticket items instead of getting on with doing smarter, but less visible, things.

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