1. Malcolm in a muddle
There’s a new book called The Turnbull Gamble, co-authored by political commentator, journalist and academic Peter van Onselen and politics professor Wayne Errington, who ask whether it was all worth it. There are interviews on Lateline and Late Night Live with Andrew West.
They think his main achievements were first getting the job, and then winning the election by the narrowest of margins. He got the job because he wasn’t Tony Abbott – no-one had any enthusiasm for him personally.
Now Michelle Grattan reckons, a year in and we still don’t know what he wants to do with the job. He’s appointed senior staffer David Bold to oversee a group that will liaise with the crossbench and the backbench and Mathias Cormann’s former chief-of-staff, Simon Atkinson, as policy tsar to co-ordinate and advise across the board. However, we just don’t know whether he’s up to it.
He struggles in adversity, anger on display, firing bullets of blame. His graceless election night address was appalling.
Van Onselen told Andrew West that, with much of the media, Turnbull really thought he would win comfortably. When he didn’t, he had to be persuaded to show up at all on election night. Then he discarded the diplomatic speech prepared for him and let fly with a dummy spit.
2. Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Mother Teresa has been made a saint less than 20 years after she died in 1997, which is fast-tracking, as I understand it. The process of canonisation requires two miracles. Pope John Paul II recognized the first in 2003, now subject to considerable criticism. When Pope Francis recognised the second in December 2015, canonisation became inevitable.
Of course she did more than that, founding the Missionaries of Charity in 1950, which in 2012:
- was active in 133 countries. They run homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s and family counselling programmes; orphanages; and schools.
She has had plenty of critics but receives grudging recognition as a shrewd operator with unpalatable views who knew how to build up a brand.
If you see opinion polls in the US showing Donald Trump close or even surpassing Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, don’t panic. The election doesn’t work on the basis of popular vote as such.
The popular vote in each state elects electoral college representatives, on a basis of winner takes all, with the number of electoral college votes varying according to population. In all the winner has to amass 270 of the 538 electoral college votes available in the 50 stated and Washington DC.
It’s a stupid system, designed as a safety check in case the voters got it wrong. However, convention now is that the electoral college votes follow the popular vote in each state.
The Washington Post has sorted out the current state of play.
Clinton has a lead of four points or more in 21 states, adding up to 244 electoral college votes.
Trump leads by at least four points in 20 states, but they are generally smaller and less populated areas that tally up to just 126 electoral votes.
The 10 remaining tightly-contested ‘battleground states’ have 168 electoral college votes on offer, of which Clinton needs 26.
The best case for Trump is a narrow win, while Clinton might still prevail in a landslide.
- If [Clinton] wins the 19 states and Washington DC that every Democratic nominee has won from 1992 to 2012, she only needs to win the large state of Florida to be president or a couple of other swing states she is currently winning.
Trump on the other hand must flip a host of Democratic blue and swinging purple states to turn them into red Republican states.
Betting markets are giving Trump a 30% chance, which is more than I’m comfortable with.
- Sssh. Don’t tell the angry white men, but it’s finally official.
Aussie-born blokes are twice as likely as their wives or girlfriends to reject the cultures and customs brought to the country by new migrants. And tradies are the most strongly negative of all.
- Australian-born people are almost six times more likely than people born overseas to complain that “there are too many immigrants”.
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.