Weekly salon 11/8

1. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, PM

Martin Fletcher in the New Statesman says that Brits have given a con man the keys to the kingdom:

    Boris Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street as prime minister signals the end of the UK as a serious country.

Johnson is “a liar, an adulterer and a pedlar of fantasies who is so utterly lacking in principle and integrity that he is willing to sacrifice the nation’s future on the altar of his own ambition.”

    His row with his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, exposed the nastiness, aggression and sense of entitlement that lurk behind his clownish facade.

Fletcher says that 99.75 per cent of the electorate did not vote for Johnson, but were forced to watch impotently from the sidelines as:

    the tiny, anonymous cabal of 160,000 predominantly older, southern, white, wealthy, male right-wing Conservative Party members … chose the country’s new leader. And many of those 160,000 were recent Ukip infiltrators.

According to a YouGov survey:

    63 per cent of them would apparently prefer to lose Scotland from the Union than forego Brexit, and 59 per cent would prefer to jettison Northern Ireland than stay in the EU.

Plus his fellow Conservative pollies, who:

    detest the man. They know perfectly well what a serially disloyal, untrustworthy, indolent, disorganised and egotistical charlatan he is.

They voted for him:

    as the best chance of saving their seats by out-Faraging Nigel Farage in demagoguery, or because they craved ministerial jobs in his government, or both.

That image came from my friend in Erlangen, with scans of an article pay-walled and auf Deutsch. I’ve struggled with it with the help of my 30 year-old dictionary. For example, the dictionary did not help with the title Die Fesselungskünstler. I think it means ‘escape artist’.

I didn’t need to look up the “Profanisierung und Infantilisierung von Politik” which it attributes to Johnson and Trump. Trump with a thesaurus, is one way of summing him up.

The German “großmäulig, raufsüchtig, eitel und zaudernd” translates as “big-mouthed, conceited, spoiling for a fight and vacillating”. Jörg Schindler, the author, says Johnson has no plan, never had one for anything except self-aggrandisement. Cleverly, he effectively describes himself as “the emperor with no clothes” which passes for disarming honesty which allows people to vote for him.

Schindler says Johnson ran for London Mayor because his Eton and Oxford buddy David Cameron became leader, which Johnson found humiliating. As mayor he had some achievements, but all were initiatives begun by his predecessor Ken Livingstone.

So anything can happen.

Only 13% of Brits would buy a used car from Johnson.

After all that, the article is there now, in English translation.

The Irish Times has an article ‘The clown who wanted to be king’: What the papers say about Boris around Europe. Not flattering.

2. Australian Coalsheviks stand firm

In recent days we’ve had record ice melting in Greenland, the Arctic on fire, including Greenland with more fires this year than in the last 10 combined, and in July we have had the hottest month ever recorded by humans.

Now in Bhutan they are under existential threat from the melting of the “third pole” the Hindu Kush with implications “for nearly two billion people downstream from catastrophic flooding that would destroy land and livelihoods.”

Hot off the press we have a 1000-page report Climate Change and Land: An IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. See story at the ABC and Damien Carrington’s Climate crisis reducing land’s ability to sustain humanity, says IPCC, and how to fix the crisis, including a meat tax.

However, our red-blooded Coalshevik government won’t have a bar of it as the Australian Government Brushes Off UN’s Urgent Climate Warning.

Some Australian farmers who live with the consequences of climate change every day are committed to pursuing carbon neutrality for Australian agriculture by 2030.

Guy Debelle, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, knows we need to act on the economic impact of climate change and said as much in a speech earlier this year.

David Attenborough is going to give us another rocket on TV tonight in Climate Change: the facts, including how to prevent it.

3. A delicate balance

That’s David Rowe, of course, illustrating an AFR article Lost in translation: Morrison’s high-stakes China play.

The point made is that Washington and Canberra were speaking different languages on China policy.

Elsewhere Warwick McKibbin worries that Trump is tweeting the way to a world recession. There were genuine grievances around intellectual property, and the use of tariffs and currency manipulation. However, Trump doesn’t understand that the Chinese can’t and won’t lose face.

Enter Andrew Hastie.

Mathias Cormann has criticised as “clumsy and inappropriate” Andrew Hastie’s comments that compared the west’s response to China to inadequate defences against Nazi Germany.

Peter Dutton supported Hastie. Scott Morrison PM said he’s only a backbencher, meaning Hastie.

Problem is that Hastie heads Federal Parliament’s powerful security and intelligence committee.

Mark Dreyfus was quick to say that Hastie does not speak for the committee.

The Chinese Embassy in Australia, in a statement:

    described the remarks as “Cold War mentality” that was “detrimental” to the relationship between the countries.

    It called on politicians to view China’s growth as an opportunity, not a threat.

    “We strongly deplore the Australian federal MP Andrew Hastie’s rhetoric on ‘China threat’ which lays bare his Cold War mentality and ideological bias,” the statement reads.

I’m with Hugh White in broad terms. We need to take a long term view, when China will be stronger, and the Americans may decide to stay at home. It needs a whole new defence strategy, which will cost more, but we need to show seriously that we can sink ships.

    we will need to raise defence spending to at least 3.5% of GDP, quadruple the size of the submarine fleet, double the size of our fighter-aircraft force, sell three air warfare destroyers which we have only just built, cancel the $35 billion contract for nine new frigates, and turn the army into a light constabulary force. Also, we should study the acquisition of a fleet of submarines armed with long-range nuclear-tipped missiles, similar to those operated by France and the UK.

There’s about zero chance of that happening, but it may be the price of independence.

31 thoughts on “Weekly salon 11/8”

  1. I’ll be very interested in what Attenborough has to say about fixing climate change.

    In particular, whether he subscribes to the myth that we can avoid 1.5 degrees, and whether, like Hansen, he’ll see the need for drawing down atmospheric CO2.

  2. A technical point: in the Westminster system a person can become PM without winning an election as Party leader.

    I instance S. Morrison, M. Turnbull, K. Rudd 2.0, J. Gillard,
    P. Keating, W. McMahon, J. Gorton (after H. Holt drowned), etc.

    B. Johnson, T. May, J. Major, G. Brown, etc.

    It’s less common in the UK, it seems, yet legitimate.

  3. I saw an article, and then couldn’t find it again that suggested people in other countries were thinking differently of the Brits because of their situation and the election of Boris.

    The Irish said “We always thought they were dangerous”, the Dutch thought they were nuts, and for the French, I think it was a renewed distrust. Some business people apparently have been finding the going tougher now in France. Rules pop up that didn’t seem to be a problem before.

    They say the Germans will just look at a Brit with caution and want to know what they think about Brexit before they engage.

  4. On balance, Brian, leave it be.

    Just make sure the voters understand that when they support person C as their local MP in a general election, she may become PM even though she is not currently Opposition Leader.

    Which makes selection of good candidates just that bit more important for Parties: to have a breadth of e peri eence and talent in the House.

  5. You know, I was OK for the idea of being a republic until they start the dance of who would be president. It seemed like a rugby maul, so I gave my vote to the kids, telling them to work it out and I will vote as they direct. They all said “yes” so I voted for a republic. Still, there is enough bickering over who is PM, and I can’t see an adult debate coming over who should be the first president.

    I thought Attenborough was quite good – or really the doco was good – because it featured some of the leading climate scientists delivering first hand the causes and consequences of warming.

    Canavan was in Cairns last week – no idea why. Maybe something to do with power to the Daintree, or maybe he was trying to avoid the icy blast from the antarctic… He’s one of those who want to build a new coal-fired power station in NQ at whatever cost and consequence.

  6. New coal-fired power in Qld would be an atrocity. Apparently CS Energy looked at it years ago, and the numbers didn’t add up. That was what Jim Soorley (ex Bne lord mayor) who is on the board, said two years ago. Moreover, there is actually no need for it.

    The doco part of Attenborough was brilliant in showing the climate change is already dangerous. He wasn’t so good on how to fix it. I should do a post.

  7. I’m going to have to watch Q&A in a few minutes. Terri Butler is on . She is in Rudd’s old seat and now shadow for the environment. I’m a big fan of hers.

    Along with philosopher AC Grayling.

  8. I always get this irrational desire to grab arms and invade Sassanache land when ever I hear bagpipes.
    Looks like Brexit will result in Scotland and Nortern Ireland splitting from the English if they go ahead with Brexit.
    All I can say is “Go BREXIT>” while trying to hum like a bagpipe.

  9. John, I heard someone on the radio the other day opining that smaller states were easier to govern. From memory I think he said 3 to 7 million. It made me think of Denmark, Singapore and New Zealand.

    It could be best for all of them.

    The EU was originally a project mainly between Germany and France to make sure they didn’t go to war with each other again. It got too big and included too many countries with different standards of living.

    I remember my history teacher in school said the Brits interest in Europe was to always balance the power, so they kept fighting each other and no-one really won.

    Maybe it will all be for the best 50 years down the track.

  10. This bloke’s skilled too:

    As for yourself,” continued the king, “who have spent the greatest part of your life in travelling, I am well disposed to hope you may hitherto have escaped many vices of your country. But by what I have gathered from your own relation, and the answers I have with much pains wrung and extorted from you, I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”

    – Jonathan Swift, A Voyage to Brobdingnag, 1726.

  11. Lest I be accused of quoting His Majesty out of context, this is what Gulliver reports just before the above….

    His majesty, in another audience, was at the pains to recapitulate the sum of all I had spoken; compared the questions he made with the answers I had given; then taking me into his hands, and stroking me gently, delivered himself in these words, which I shall never forget, nor the manner he spoke them in: “My little friend Grildrig, you have made a most admirable panegyric upon your country; you have clearly proved, that ignorance, idleness, and vice, are the proper ingredients for qualifying a legislator; that laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied, by those whose interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them. I observe among you some lines of an institution, which, in its original, might have been tolerable, but these half erased, and the rest wholly blurred and blotted by corruptions. It does not appear, from all you have said, how any one perfection is required toward the procurement of any one station among you; much less, that men are ennobled on account of their virtue; that priests are advanced for their piety or learning; soldiers, for their conduct or valour; judges, for their integrity; senators, for the love of their country; or counsellors for their wisdom.

    – Jonathan Swift, A Voyage to Brobdingnag

    Dean Swift is a dead white male; all strength to his quill!

  12. One of the more shocking pieces ever published in English, Brian.

    These days people might call it “confronting”.
    The last section makes clear Swift’s white hot anger.

  13. A note on terminology.

    If it becomes necessary for units of the People’s Liberation Army to take firm and resolute action in Hong Kong against hooligans and terrorists, it should be understood that the role of the Army will be to liberate the people as is clear to anyone who can understand the English language.

    In some instances, it has been necessary to liberate the People from themselves.

    The Army is certainly up to that task and will put in the hard yards if need be.

    As you were.

  14. Yesterday I heard a HK lawyer and former MP, who helped negotiate the “one nation, two systems” agreement between China and the U.K., claim that Deng Hsiao Peng (sp?) actually wanted China, over the long term, (50 years or so) to slowly change and become as free and open as HK was in 1997.

    Remarkable if true.

    (BTW, the HK lawyer thinks the agreement has been abrogated by the PRC because the HK leader is not independent of Beijing.)

    Old Deng was certainly known as a pragmatist (apologies: a capitalist-roader enemy of the people, running dog of US imperialism, etc.)

  15. In further governance news, the Canadian Ethics Commissioner has released a report saying inter alia that PM Trudeau broke ethics laws (conflict of interest) by meeting with a large Canadian corporation and later pressuring his Attorney General over a prosecution of that company.

  16. Jumpy, according to the article converting to electric costs spend somewhere around $16,000-$25,000. I haven’t got that kind of money.

    Ambi, it looks as though Trudeau has been naughty. We’ll wait and see whether this costs him.

    Canada has had some seriously strange people in lower levels of government.

  17. Brian

    Jumpy, according to the article converting to electric costs spend somewhere around $16,000-$25,000. I haven’t got that kind of money.

    Well, let’s think about this logically.
    You have a very nice big home with a brand new kitchen. I’m sure you could sell it for a pretty penny and downsize for the sake of the Planet and future generations. Bit of a sacrifice perhaps but hey, what’s more important to you ?

    You do a bit of lawn care ( on the books declared I trust ), battery powered whipper shippers and mowers are available at Bunnings fairly cheap, Ryobi from memory.

    Must be a hell of a guilt trip going to the Servo constantly.

  18. Jumpy I think you are lowering the bar too much in your last post directed at Brian.
    And the jibe about how he treats his income tax-wise is a bit off. As a small business l expect that you would certainly do a little cash job from time to time. Feel free to deny that on the basis that it’s not my business – just like how Brian handles his tax arrangement. Or did I just misunderstand you?

  19. Geoff, I go on the philosophy that the first time I dodge the Law I’ll be made a harsh example of, no matter how much I disagree with that Law..
    I said explicitly that I trust Brian is acting legit.
    So yes, you are misunderstanding.

    Reconciling folks individual actions with their rhetoric is fundamental in my search for trustworthiness.

    Or put simply, do they ask others to do what they do not.

    I can’t think of another product, other than fossil fuels that some folk, with a hatred in their bones for, still buy and consume regularly with no apparent regret, remorse or pledge to boycott themselves.

    It’s almost as if some are waiting for Nanny Government to threaten them with jail before action.

  20. Troll alert!

    Thanks for the heads up you’re here, but we know that.

    Now, what’s zoots carbon footprint and what is zoot doing to reduce it ?

  21. Come to think of it, what’s the carbon footprint of a single blog comment ( as useless as zoots was ) ?

    That’s worth thinking about.

  22. Jumpy, you were needling a bit.

    I just want to make it clear that I’m not in the business of telling people what they should do.

    The general aim is to give people information so they can make the best decisions for themselves.

    I’d advise people, though, not to cheat the taxation office. I saw auditors at work when I worked for government. Sole traders often get targeted for a desk audit. There would be no chance of pulling the wool over their eyes.

    Whether we sell the house or not is off limits, Jumpy.

    Happens I do have a Stihl electric trimmer, and a Stihl electric brushcutter. They now have an electric mower, which the reckon can do a quarter of an acre on one charge. Happens I have two mowers and don’t need a new one.

    I’m trying to write a post on whether we should stop mining and selling gas and coal. Rationally and morally, we should stop tomorrow, but the real world doesn’t work like that.

  23. For the record, I lived off-grid for 13 years, and still used 1.3 “earths”, meaning I was just short of sustainable. But I had a hefty generator, electric bore and two cars.
    Around 2010 I was tasked with a hypothetical exercise to reduce energy by 40%, then 60% and then 80%. The first targets were fairly easy, but I was uneasy about getting to 80%. Turned out I gave up at 92% and I think I could have made 95%. Main elements were shedding a car, working from home, more solar panels and letting the grass grow, home food garden etc.

  24. Brian

    Whether we sell the house or not is off limits, Jumpy.

    Well to me it is, I’m not going to advocate the Government force you to downsize ( although some on the left are pushing hard for that ), it’s your individual choice.
    I’m for you living your best life according to your values.

    BilBs boat life is extremely attractive, and kudos to him for living his values. Hope he’s not using Copper based anti-fouling though, that’s very toxic to corals I’m told.

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