Agree Or Else Part II – The Silencing Of Dissent

Our God-Emperor beat me to it.

The Australian Government’s Finkelstein Report, released last Friday, is the stuff of all freedom-loving people’s nightmares. It proposes the establishment of a new bureaucracy, the News Media Council, to “regulate” all forms of print media, including online blogs like this one, with as little as 15,000 hits per year. They can force retractions, edits, dissenting opinions and rights of reply at whim. Strewth, I’ll have to put Izen on a retainer! The new statutory authority will not be required to give reasons for its rulings, to which there will be no right of appeal. Orwellian madness.

But they have not thought this through, and their plan over-reaches their aims. As I wrote earlier today on James’ blog here,

Some time ago I decided to get active on this one, as these buffoons want to shut down all dissenting voices, even backwater blogs like LibertyGibbert. They claim to want to establish jurisdiction over every site with “even a tenuous connection with Australia”, although how they propose to do that, and how many international agreements they would have to sign (including somehow convincing the United States to abrogate its own Constitution’s First Amendment) is beyond me. Actually, they haven’t thought it through.

James is spot on when he writes, “If Australia is to get the government it needs (and deserves) it must first experience the full horror of the government it doesn’t deserve”. But it runs deeper than that. As I keep telling political progressives, this move may appear to serve your purposes today, but it will come back to bite you tomorrow. I don’t trust conservative politicians much more than you do, and when they come to power in Australia this year or next, they will find this little bit of totalitarianism you’ve so thoughtfully left for them far too tempting to resist. Today’s Climate Change Act will be tomorrow’s Patriot Act, or something similar, and it will be your voices that are silenced. As a Libertarian, I don’t want that either.

I’m too worn out to write much more today. Unless to add that I’m active behind the scenes in efforts to stop this madness. Meantime, you can read the thoughts of Australians Gerard Henderson (Executive Director of conservative think-tank The Sydney Institute), Melbourne Herald-Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, and Simon at Australian Climate Madness.

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60 Responses to Agree Or Else Part II – The Silencing Of Dissent

  1. Andrew Richards says:

    I’m not surprised at all with this. They tried and failed here with the “child access to pornography” argument. They tried and failed in the US with the “stop online piracy” argument (for the time being anyway).

    To be honest, I’m glad this is happening but not for the reasons those pushing it are. Rather than a smokescreen approach, they’re outright going for their real target as it has been all along. That only happens when people are desperate, and when people are desperate, they make mistakes.

    Also I suspect small scale blogs aren’t their real target here. I find it interesting that this move is happening just as the CEC is launching a massive grass-roots awareness campaign about the genocidal agenda of the MDBA and other oligarchical agendas.

    When it was proposed over a decade ago, the referendum to whether we should become a Republlic was defeated. Back then Australians were naive and had no idea that through sections 58-60 we are still very much a British colony where totalitarian powers still completely lie with the Crown as they always have (right down to overturning laws and ejecting democratically elected representatives on a mere whim if desired), contrary to the illusion created by Federation.

    People are becoming aware that the reason there was never any historic evidence to suggest that British Imperialism never “grew a heart” is because it didn’t ever actually change its ideology; only its approach to propaganda.

    An end game is approaching, especially with the looming agenda of WW3 which they’re trying to start with Russia and China by lighting up Syria as a flashpoint. A mass strike, with an informed public who can no longer be lied to, no longer be conned, and no longer imprisoned in the psychological “Matrix” they have constructed to trap our thinking in, is their death knell from which there is no recovery.

    They know it, they’re terrified and they’re doing the tyrannical equivalent of “running scared”. Be prepared for things to get worse before they get better, but as the old saying goes; before the dawn must come the dark.

  2. Izen says:

    Australia has form with this problem. One of the first big expose’s made by wiki leaks was the infamous Australian Internet blacklist –

    A blacklists that wiki leaks was soon included on. After all there is no point in censorship if people know you are doing it, and to whom.

    But the enthusiasm that politicians from both sides have in eliminating the messenger of information or opinion that does not conform to their own sectarian POV is not the only danger. Crony capitalism is only too eager to utilise the same censorship regulations to eliminate commercial competition and exclude any consumer or citizen criticism of their operations. This blends into the political side of the repressive measures all to easily when the corporations can lobby and draft the laws as has been the case in the US. Regulation of ‘copyright’ is just as much of a political threat as it is a business tactic. Already a anti gay marriage organisation has blocked a pro gay marriage group from advertising by using a copyright claim. And industry is using the provisions to combat citizen opposition.

    I hesitate to mention it but….  One of the first targets of any such legislation and regulation, as it was with the original Australian blacklist is any site that provides abortion advice.
    Have probably got this site banned by mentioning pennywort tea….

  3. fenbeagleblog says:

    I would like to say and, in addition

    but mainly

  4. Amanda says:

    This is why every country should have a First Amendment!

  5. Andrew Richards says:

    That only works when you’re genuinely a democracy to begin with, which Australia isn’t.

  6. izen says:

    I note that the purported trigger for this report is supposed to be the actions of the tabloid press in the UK. News International, the Murdoch group has been caught bribing police, government workers, the legal proffession and others for information. They had some police on a monthly retainer…

    When it comes to the cosy relationship between the press the police and politicians it turns out they are all riding the same horse…

    I have no idea if the Australian media, police and polticians are as matey with each other as in the UK, but I doubt that the major media companies are going to change their behavior as the result of all this.
    In science its follow the energy, thermodynamics shapes the process… in politics – and media its follow the money. The people with the most money to lose, gain or use to avoid retribution will shape and mould the moral outrage and any regulatory consequence for their own benefit.

  7. benfrommo says:

    “That only works when you’re genuinely a democracy to begin with, which Australia isn’t.”

    However, from my understanding of Australia, it was supposed to be based upon the US system with states and everything. Of course, there are fundamental differences, but the entire system of checks and balances and freedom of speach were “supposed” to be instilled into the constitution. I don’t know what went wrong, but that is for Australians to figure out I guess.

    In the end maybe Thomas Jefferson know more about our system then we all do.

    “God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
    The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
    wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
    they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
    it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …
    And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
    warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
    resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
    to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
    in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
    It is its natural manure.”

  8. Kitler says:

    Well Amanda my first amendment would be Free cookie Tuesday’s.

  9. Kitler says:

    Followed by second amendment Free beer Friday’s.

  10. Dr. Dave says:


    As an American it is difficult for me to understand that relatively few countries have a defined right to free speech. Hell, even Canada does not have such a right. It makes it much easier to shut down dissent. One devastating tool used against free speech is Political Correctness.

    But there are several left-wing radicals in the Obama administration who truly believe that Americans have “too many” rights to free speech. The commissioner of the FCC is one but more notable is Cass Sunstein (the regulatory Czar). They advocate giving the federal government the ability to shut down debate, dissent or conjecture if “they” determine it is harmful. The enthusiasm for these measures only bubbles up when Democrats are in power. The Progressives have had most of the MSM in their back pocket since 1968. But over the last 20 years a lot “bad stuff” started happening to the MSM. These include syndicated, and immensely popular conservative talk radio programs, the emergence of FOX news which actually offered a perspective other than the “in the tank for the Progressives” that had become the agenda for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. Finally, the “new media” came into being. They can’t control the internet…but you damn well they WANT to.

    What’s being proposed in OZ is truly scary. What can ordinary Australians do to prevent it?

    Working on it Dave – Oz

  11. Ozboy says:

    Anyone after another talking point today, I’m currently following the CNN live blog of Super Tuesday. Early days yet, but so far exit polling is showing results all over the place. Gingrich projected to win Georgia.

  12. Kitler says:

    Romney won Massachusetts and Vermont no surprise.

  13. Kitler says:

    Newt won Georgia again no surprise.

    Andrew Bolt agrees with me. According to CNN, a brokered Republican conference could conceivably deliver a Sarah Palin candidacy. Or if financial apocalypse strikes between now and the convention (instead of 2015), even a Ron Paul candidacy. I’m growing increasingly despondent, and suspecting the ultimate candidate will be irrelevant – Oz

  14. Amanda says:

    Sarah Palin: God I hope not. Nice gal but we can do better than that.

    I think her heart’s in the right place but I find her insularity rather disturbing, and hardly becoming in a modern American president. How’d she become Governor of Alaska?

  15. Kitler says:

    Ozboy Sarah Palin became Governor because everyone got sick of the endemic corruption in Alaskan politics at the time, she came in and cleaned house so they hounded her out with law suit after frivolous law suit which under Alaskan law she would have had to pay for personally and she would have been ruined for life and spent all her time fighting the stupid suits.
    The reason she pulled out of the race this time was because her families life had been threatened if she did not.

  16. Luton Ian says:

    Did I see a “First Amendment to the US Constittytution”?

    I’ll raise you a “1798 Aliens and Sedition Act”

  17. Dr. Dave says:


    Kitler is absolutely right. Sarah Palin went to school to be a journalist. She even worked as a sports reporter for a while and then got married. She was just a huntin’ and fishin’ hockey mom whne she ran for a seat on the Wasilla city council. Eventually she became mayor and her popularity rose. She was a very popular Governor in Alaska for all the reasons Kitler outlined although she remained a little-known and rather obscure figure outside of Alaska. That is, until McCain tapped her to be his VP running mate. Then the whole country was suddenly aware of this rather attractive woman and her plainspoken message dotted with quaint colloquialisms.

    She scared the living dogshit out of Democrats because of her charisma and ability to absolutely electrify large crowds. After all, the cult of personality was THEIR gimmick with the unknown and unqualified Obama. McCain didn’t pose much of a threat, but this Palin character unhinged them. Palin invigorated McCain’s campaign. Leading up to the election of 2008 McCain was actually leading Obama. Then the financial crisis hit. Senator McCain suspended his campaign and returned to Washington DC. Senator Obama just kept campaigning. All the while the complicit liberal MSM was carrying the water for Obama by burying anything even remotely damaging. In the end Obama won and McCain lost. I had predicted it nearly a year earlier when many were certain it would be a match up between Romney and Hillary Clinton.

    But the ordeal was not over for Palin following the election. The MSM kept after her, hounded her, libeled her, slandered her, fabricated stories and initiated a coordinated smear campaign that continues to this day. She’s not even Governor of Alaska anymore, she’s a private citizen. The Left always telegraphs who they are afraid of by who they attack. They recognize the reality that they themselves created. That is, attractive and charismatic candidates have a huge advantage over great debaters or those with impressive records in government of the private sector. Yet they still rail on Palin and she’s not even a candidate.

  18. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave and you can tell the difference between morality of the Obama’s and the Palin’s, the Palin’s decided that they would keep their Downs syndrome son the Obama’s would never countenance such an option.
    I’m a fan of her down to Earth and grounded message it connects with the people on the street, Obama is currently governing like an African tribal chief where his whim is law for the day and you can bet he will have a royal ass wiper employed..

    Don’t misunderstand me, I’d sooner have someone like Palin than an erudite slimeball like Bubba Bill. Any gaps in her own knowledge can be filled by advisers, I get that. It’s just that I’ve seen her in interviews, and the MSM can turn this to their advantage – Oz

  19. Izen says:

    Romney gets as the only candidate who won’t scare the horses, or at least the politically apathetic who won’t vote for anyone that can be portrayed as a partisan. Party loyalty and conformity to the pure doctrine may play with the faithful, but the business concerns financing politics know that it needs someone … Inclusive, at least in the view of the floating voter.
    Just political figureheads anyway, now back to the sausage machine of how governance gets done with the Australian version of inventing and solving the problem with ‘The Media’…

    The Finklstein report seems to be primarily concerned with the print news media. Internet and broadcast are examined in passing as a result of the crossover with print. As is often the style with this sort of report it is comprehensive, long, prolix rebarbative exhaustive and gives the distinct impression that those compiling and writing it were getting paid by the word so were using as many as possible. Actually it is much more clearly written than many UK reports I have encountered. While vast tracts are concerned with minutiae and detail of little interest, it is interesting reading in parts because some attempt has been made to cover all aspects of the news media business and a lot of basic information and definitions of the terms used is included.
    All copiously footnoted. For Australians it is probably worth keeping as a good reference source of the structure, ownership and practices of the Ozzie press.

    You have my deepest sympathy with well over half of it dominated by the shallow personality-driven right-wing nonsense that comes out of any Murdoch enterprise!

    One useful aspect of the report is it provides the mainstream definitions of the terms used by civic authority. No informed person would take these at face value. But neither should they be dismissed as just the political spin of the oligarchs behind the curtain. As the footnotes show a lot of this is well grounded in the basic concepts of civics from classical times onward. It represents a legitimate strand of human thought on governance.

    here’s what it has to say about regulation about 280 pages in – 

    10. Theories of regulation 

    Regulation is usually understood to refer to the imposition of rules or principles designed to influence behaviour

    This Inquiry is required to consider whether the current systems of self-regulation of the media should be replaced with something new. 

    It is not possible to carry out that task adequately without some understanding of the principles that lie behind regulation. 

    Why regulate? 
    Broadly speaking, there are two main rationales for regulation: to prevent or respond to market failure and to pursue social and equity objectives. Each of these has various sub-rationales or aspects. 
    Classic forms of market failure include:  
    · Existence of a monopoly. 
    · Public goods. A public good is defined by  Ogus –
    A commodity the benefit of which is shared by the public as a whole or by some group within it. More specifically, it combines two characteristics: first, consumption by one person does not leave less for others to consume; and, secondly, it is impossible or too costly for the supplier to exclude those who do not pay for the benefit. 
    Because of these characteristics, public goods will be under-produced without government intervention4
    · Externalities: these arise when individuals or firms do not bear the cost of the 
    consequences of their actions on others (negative externality), or do not gain a reward when their actions generate a benefit to others (positive externality). By not bearing the full cost of their actions individuals will tend to over-allocate resources to activities that produce negative externalities and under-allocate resources to activities producing positive externalities. 
    · Information failure: this occurs when all participants in a market do not have access to all the available information or where one party to an exchange has more information than the other (asymmetric information).  

    Social and equity objectives include seeking to reduce or manage the risk of harm to the health, safety or welfare of individuals or the community. 

    So that is where the regulators are coming from.
    They go on to prove, to themselves, or is it himself (Frankenstein?) that there has been a market failure and it’s causing harm to the community(!) which justifies a new regulatory system to solve the “PROBLEM”.

    This is getting almost as prolix as the report, there is a point to this ramble! The report also examines the challenge the print media faces from the Internet. It actually has some cogent analysis of the problems the old media faces with zero cost distribution/duplication. That touches on the real route that government and business interests can use – copyright. 

    But that better wait for part two….

  20. Amanda says:

    Oz: I don’t know enough about Palin even to comment on ‘insularity’ — which may be the case, I’m not sure. I have not, to be frank, listened to her in an interview, but only read what other people whom I trust and respect have said about her on those occasions when she has had to give account of herself and answer questions. Perhaps unfairly, I think that she is a bit too easy for the Left to caricature, in a way that they could not do with McCain in the past and couldn’t do with Romney (or with my favourite, Giuliani, or Fred Thompson, if they were running this time). She is very ‘broad’. She is intelligent, but not (as far as I can tell) learned — which is no bar to a Democrat, but does put her behind others in the GOP field (particularly Gingrich). I have never been very interested in her or enthusiastic about her as a candidate for national office. But of course, I would personally welcome her over any Democrat. But I think that goes without saying!

  21. Izen says:

    For anyone still reading -grin- 

    What the print media have to sell, their product, is information that people want to access, and possibly pay for. They also sell that audience to advertisers.  Both sources of imcome are required for the current big media industries. 
    Free news has existed since the radio, but with the advent of digital print it becomes increasing difficult for print media to charge for its product. Copy turns out to be the operative word for written new and opinion.

    At the same time people are increasingly accessing that information via digital devices, the Internet allows them to choose which parts of the product they will access, they don’t have to buy the whole paper. At the same time they may access the media via a service that imposes its own advertising around the product. When the world comes to people through an APP on their smartphone… The media maker no longer has control over the product and so the second source of income is shrinking.

    What the present business model needs is some way to regulate the dissemination of its product. Copyright is the obvious way. Look at ACTA which most nations are in the process of ratifying. And people complain that Koyoto was some Trojan horse of the ‘New World Order’! 

    This is the likely route that all those who produce a product that is capable of digital distribution and duplication will follow to protect their present market system. It will require the collusion, or possible the partnership of the new digital industries that provide the portals that people use to access news. As well as all the other digital products, music film games, that are amenable to the same approach.

    Of course this will not be entirely effective, however many hackers and Megaupload sites they take down. The Cloud type of digital management which is emerging facilitates the very type of sharing the industry wants to block. The need for government involvement to enforce this control over digital data gives the opportunity for a symbiosis of the business interests and the political interest in monitoring and censoring dissent. Or just any range of diversity they can classify as a ‘community harm’.

    All of this costs. The threat to the freedom of the press if given the ‘problem’ of over intrusion and unaccountability – negative externalities, government takes a role in regulation is minimal. But the economic cost of doing this reduces the return on a more open media. Both monetary and cultural.
    Not to mention the constraints on individual autonomy implicit in the degree of control over the digital media that will emerge from business control, and government regulation of the portals to digital exchange.

    I don’t know where this lot are coming from. They could be extreme socialist!!! I doubt they believe that reptards rule us from inside the hollow earth, but I have found them to be a good source of interesting background information at times. –

    Kudos to Ozboy form involvement in this issue, although he may have a different take on it than this! Apologies if it’s a diversion Ozboy. -grin-

    I think you’re pretty close to the mark Izen. The problem is that for a long time (way, way too long) the media owners were the gatekeepers to a wide public audience. This kept the market value of the content artificially high. If you were a writer of opinions, you had to be lucky enough to get a gig with a major newspaper or magazine. If you were a musician, you had to get a record contract with a major label. And so on.

    Today, you can set up a site like this, for free, in under five minutes, and with appropriate search terms you can be as visible as any famous journalist (try googling terms like “libertarianism and immigration” or “libertarianism and the welfare state”). Any musician can use a home studio running Pro Tools through a desktop for a few hundred bucks – which just 20 years ago would have needed a mortgage for the same functionality – and publish their content, even sell it, on their own website. And so on. The gatekeepers have been cut out of the loop. And they’re mad as hell – Oz 😆

  22. Amanda says:

    Oz: To say nothing of self-publishing on-demand books through

    Ah yes. I believe you may have a book or two in you, Amanda. All you need is a printing house – Oz

  23. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    “Any musician can use a home studio running Pro Tools through a desktop for a few hundred bucks – which just 20 years ago would have needed a mortgage for the same functionality – and publish their content, even sell it, on their own website. ”

    The corollary is that they aren’t going to make the mortgage level bucks that was required to sell a million 20 years ago.

    New tech will/has increased cultural span and value, but collapsed the economic market in existing media.
    Happened with printing.

    I won’t drop names, but a mate of mine living down in the village was a well-known British recording engineer/producer in the 70s and 80s before emigrating out of the rat race. He’s got just such a setup in his own home, plays just a handful of gigs a year and sells his stuff over the net. A better lifestyle there ain’t.

    It’s true, the market value of content has fallen to its genuine level. Five years ago, Radiohead tested this out by letting listeners download their album In Rainbows and pay whatever they thought it was worth. I think they ended up with £4 being the average price they got. Talk about subversive! I’m surprised the record companies didn’t send a hit man out after them – Oz

  24. Kitler says:

    Andrew Rchards….”That only works when you’re genuinely a democracy to begin with, which Australia isn’t.”
    Well the UK isn’t nor Australia both are constitutional monarchies as is Canada and New Zealand the flavours may vary but that’s what they are. Neither is the USA it’s a Republic it’s not a democracy. So where is your ideal democracy? If Australia becomes a Republic it’s still not going to be a true democracy.

  25. Ozboy says:

    As Fenbeagle has shown us so many times, one of the greatest weapons against these totalitarians is to shine the cold, hard light of ribaldry on them. The great Pickering gives us his views on Judge Finkelstein:

  26. Dr. Dave says:


    This thread has gone as cold as a corpse. I’m sorely tempted to start banging on about US politics just to blow on the embers a bit.

    Go for your life mate. I’m sort of in and out of the house today, but I’m over at the DT as well – Oz

  27. Amanda says:

    Go on, Dave. What’s on your mind?

  28. Kitler says:

    Gloria Allred tries to stifle free speech in Florida….

  29. Kitler says:

    She’s playing with fire trying to use an old statute especially that one, as the young lady in questions sex life is now going to be dragged out in front of the public and Mr Limbaugh is rich enough to afford the detectives to dig up all the dirt. Then just possibly they may have to file some statutory rape charges of some old boyfriends and the girl in question.

  30. Dr. Dave says:

    Well, OK…my latest rant is about the Keystone XL pipeline and Obama’s energy policy (or rather,lack thereof). The Keystone project has been in the works since before Obama took office. The plan was to pipe Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf coast in Texas to be refined. Years and years of work went into this project and who knows how many man-hours of “environmental impact” studies. The State Department gave it provisional approval last summer. But last summer wasn’t an election year. Anyway, as a sop to his his extreme enviro-left supporters Obama pulled the plug on the project. Here was a project that would create literally tens of thousands of jobs (well paying jobs) and would provide us with oil from one our neighbors and closest allies during a time of escalating fuel prices. But Obama insisted on pandering to his far left eco-geek base and shut it down irrespective of the benefit it would be to our country. The enviro-left left bleats that it’s necessary to prevent global warming but this is bullshit. If Canada doesn’t sell their oil to us they’ll sell it to the Chinese and it will be burned all the same (and probably not as cleanly). Obama and environmentalist enablers whine that the pipeline would cross the Ogalalla aquifer. So what? There are something like 25,000 miles of pipelines in the region and LOTS of them pass over the Ogalalla. There’s all kinds of speculation as to why Obama nixed this project which would have certainly have given him a campaign boost. The one I favor is the money and political clout of the environmentalist Left as described in this article:

    But there are also the potential for more nefarious ambitions described in this article:

    Either way our normally feckless Congress tried to overturn Obama’s decision. The Republicans in the Senate even had 11 Democrats to cross over and support them. But Obama got busy and worked the phones and twisted the arms of other likely Democrats who would have voted for the GOP effort. Mind you the pipeline enjoys wide popular appeal. The initiative failed to garner a 60 vote supermajority by just 4 votes. I’d love to know what they were promised!

    So now Obama is on the campaign trail vilifying “Big Oil” and the $4 billion in tax subsidies they receive. Actually he’s vilifying the coal, gas and petroleum industries (i.e. the fossil fuel industry). Together they actually garner substantially less than $4 billion in subsidies. An excellent breakdown of how US energy subsidies are distributed is presented here in a brief article by Randall Hoven. Hoven is a retired aerospace engineer and is meticulous with his numbers:

    What I find amazing is that the ethanol industry is subsidized to the tune of a little over $6 billion a year and it provides absolutely NOTHING to the benefit of the American people. There’s no diminution in CO2 emissions, there’s decreased fuel mileage, it actually pollutes more, it does not affect the amount of oil we import, it increases food prices…but it makes a few special interests and crony capitalists a lot of money and buys politicians votes. Still, a totally worthless and mandated product like ethanol gets more in subsidy than the industries that make our nation run (e.g. coal, gas and oil).

    Obama is nattering endlessly about “renewable/sustainable/green” energy and it’s a crock of hooey. The whole CO2 will cause CAGW notion is crap. It may have political utility but scientifically it’s crap (sorry, izen). What irritates me the most is that many politicians and, of course, the media fail to recognize that oil is a unique energy source. It is transportation fuel. We can (theoretically) run damn near everything else on electricity. This is good because we can make electricity by nuclear fission, burning hydrocarbons, hydroelectric or even stupid, remarkable inefficient means like wind and solar. Transportation requires high energy density liquid fuels. Cars, trucks, freight trains, tankers and freighters, boats, planes, jets, heavy earth moving equipment, etc. all run on petroleum products and there are, at this time, NO viable substitutes.

    I have more to say but we’ll see if anybody else is interested first.

    Actually, petrol combustion engines can be converted relatively cheaply to run on hydrogen, which is produced by running an electrical current through water (or more precisely, a weak sulphuric acid solution). So you can use electricity as transportation fuel as well. Stuff electric cars (look what a spectacular failure the Chevy Volt was).

    But big deal. The business about the pipeline running over the Ogalalla aquifer is a mere pretext, and everyone knows it. You’re right, Brucker Bummer is in election mode, and that’s all this is about. Can’t blame the Canadians for wanting to make a buck.

    Or can you? Oz

  31. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave there is nothing I can say that would not run to 6 pages of expletive deleted about the Dems.

  32. Dr. Dave says:


    Although hydrogen may appear to be an ideal motor fuel…it ain’t. It might be simple to produce but it is not inexpensive to produce. It has relatively low energy density and is damn difficult to contain (those darn slippery H2 molecules squeeze right out of metal tanks). It may show promise in future hydrogen fuel cells but at present it costs more in energy to produce than it provides as a fuel.

    One of the more interesting innovations I’ve read about recently is using methanol (not ethanol) in a 60:40 mixture with gasoline. With minimal modifications to existing cars and engines it’s possible to achieve fuel mileage comparable to using unadulterated gasoline and with about the the cleanest emissions profile of any mixture. We can make methanol out of damn near anything (e.g. wood, coal, methane) and we have a lot of these substrates available.

    Dave, I’ve seen it done. The expense of producing hydrogen lies wholly in the cost of electricity; if we had a sufficiently cheap source of it – problem solved. The practical difficulty is in containing the gas in cylinders which can survive a crash (or ka-boom). Other than that it’s pretty straightforward. There are a few guys in Australia who have done this in their back yard and are driving around in hydrogen-powered cars today. Per-joule hydrogen costs are all that’s keeping them from scaling up to a commercial operation.

    I remember back in about 1980, an episode of the American TV show “That’s Incredible!” featured a guy who was talking about this, and saying he could convert the whole of America to running hydrogen in just 90 days. The normally credulous host (some ex quarterback called Tarkenton), for the only time in the show’s history brought on a nay-sayer – an oil company executive – straight afterwards to say, no, this guy just has a crackpot theory, don’t believe him. I’m sure this had nothing at all to do with the identity of the show’s sponsors – Oz 😉

  33. izen says:

    The Keystone controversy is a classic example of the symbolic displacing the real in political discourse.

    Rather minor issues get adopted as a ‘touchstone’ for deeper and wider ideological conflicts. The actual issue is often not even an appropriate ground for the underlying fundamental disagreements. It gets distorted and forced into the Procrustean bed of the partisan politics.

    The dangers and benefits get wildly exaggerated, it will either poison the Earth or save the economy – no lesser blend of outcomes is accepted by either side, and to suggest it may have a minor effect on both is regarded as heresy by both sides.

    The Keystone XL pipeline project with all its extensions would add around 2% to the imported oil into the US. The reason it stretches from Canada to Texas is that what is getting imported isn’t crude oil, it needs complex refinement. The pipeline enables a US legacy industry, the refining plants built to deal with the output of the American Oil peak in the 70s to be utilised for this new external source. Perhaps it is because these refineries were originally linked to the infrastructure of export when the US was a net oil exporter, that a proportion of the oil refined in Texas/Illinois from Canadian tar sands will get exported rather than being incorporated into any internal reserve.
    But then oil is a fungible commodity, any increase in imports has a benefit if the cost of transport is low. Even if the source is high cost to refine.

    So the argument is over a pipeline to transport dilute bitumen from Canada to Texas for processing because for a variety of reasons that is economically preferable to building new refinery infrastructure locally.
    The various oil industry interests and political interest seem to line up with pumping half a million gallons a day of a low-grade oil source from Canada to US refineries on the southern coast. Operating at full capacity this pipeline system could provide enough oil for about 30mins a day.

    At a rough calculation, (any corrections welcome!) this about the same amount of hydrocarbon consumption that would be SAVED by a ~5% improvement in vehicle mpg.

    But market incentives for getting the same benefit with reduced consumption are marginal…-grin-

    I can’t see that the cost/benefits of keystone XL pipeline in any way justify the apocalyptic claims from the enviro-left, or the cornucopian fantasies of the corporate-right. Or their respective conspiracy theories apparently rooted in a past of monolithic communism -Vs- industrial totalitarianism.

    Keystone XL is a rather inane bit of industrial development, which makes no sense except in the light of historical contingency and the field of interest and influence of the businesses involved. In any logical approach unencumbered with the political interests and industrial legacy refining of the tar sands would be local. The savings in transport costs, and added value of the product are obvious.
    Perhaps it is this incongruity of the proposal that has caused its selection as a symbol for the enviro-left. Damage to the environment or aquifers is far greater at the site of resource extraction than any risk from a pipeline. The magnitude of carbon released from this is negligible, it would be used anyway, but is a tiny percentage iof the US total usage.
    Both side are confabulating a mountain out of a molehill (or tunnel?!) as political point-scorring or as a test of tribal loyalty.
    Meanwhile in the background the market responds to the remorseless influence of the supply/demand curve -GRIN- …..

  34. Dr. Dave says:


    You’re right about at least one thing. It would make a LOT more sense to build a refinery up near the Canadian border. North Dakota has been trying to build a refinery to handle all the oil they’re currently producing. The problem is the environmental left vehemently opposes (and fights tooth and nail to prevent) the building of ANY new refineries. Their weapon of choice is the lawsuit or rather LOTS of lawsuits. Even if their claims are baseless and unsubstantiated, at some point it becomes too expensive for the private concern to proceed and they cancel the project. It will take more than just a change of administration at the executive level to correct this situation. We will have to rid ourselves of Congressmen who can be bought with NGO money, then a profound shrinkage of the EPA and a thorough review and rewrite of a lot of regulations and perhaps a few laws. A refinery hasn’t been built in the US since the 70s although we desperately need more refinery capacity now and most certainly will in the near future as our existing refinery infrastructure ages. We also do a lot of refining for many other countries that have little or no capacity.

    When fully operational the Keystone XL pipeline is expected to deliver a million barrels of oil per day (not a half million). Still, no one is laboring under the delusion that the Keystone project will fix the economy or lead to energy independence (a meaningless term used by politicians). Most of the oil the US imports is from Canada and Mexico. Saudi Arabia comes in at #3. If the Keystone XL pipeline could reduce the total amount of oil we import from the Middle East it would have a significant impact and shore up some of the domestic volatility. In the end this is a situation where private industry has made a business decision. The private sector doesn’t squander their capital with reckless abandon like governments do. One can be sure that they carefully calculated the feasibility and profitability of the pipeline. There’s no “corporate ideology” at play here other than free market economics. In the long run it’s far more cost-effective to transfer the oil via pipeline to the refineries via Warren Buffett’s railway (Warren Buffett – third wealthiest man in the world and huge supported of Obama).

    Oh, BTW…a two year old piece from a left-wing Calgary rag is hardly compelling or convincing.

  35. Ozboy says:

    And I see Rick Santorum has blitzed the Kansas GOP primary with 53% of the vote, ahead of Romney’s 17%, Gingrich 16% and Paul 13%. Rounding error? Apparently a not unexpected result, as Kansas is the most conservative-voting state, and Santorum is the candidate most focussed on bread-and-butter “morals” issues. I keep thinking of Judy Garland and a bunch of hard-partying dwarves sucking helium. Follow the yellow brick road…

  36. Dr. Dave says:


    I’m well aware it can be done. There are hydrogen powered cars tooling around Detroit and at least two places in California. There are even commercial refueling facilities for them. But the hydrogen is very expensive. Sure, it’s CO2 and emission free…providing that you don’t count the CO2 and emissions produced by the power station which generated the electricity to make the hydrogen nor the energy required to compress it. Even using a dedicated nuke plant you couldn’t get the incremental costs down enough to be competitive with petroleum based fuels.

    Then you still have the problems with the leakage and the KA-BOOM factor previously mentioned. Compressed H2 is very difficult to contain. The larger the fuel load the bigger and beefier the tank must be. Finland makes a lot of hydrogen gas due their abundant hydroelectric resources. I think they export most of it, but it still ain’t cheap. Other important considerations are the weight and capacity of the fuel tank (i.e. lotsa weight and comparatively small volume), the much smaller energy yield from reacting a molecule of H2 with a molecule of O2 vs. the energy released by reacting a molecule of, say, an 8-carbon hydrocarbon with O2 and the resulting diminished range between refueling.. Yeah, it can be done…but that’s no reason why it SHOULD be done. How willing would you be to hop into a hydrogen powered airplane?

    Not very, to be honest. You’re right, there’s no comparison with hydrocarbons – Oz

  37. izen says:

    Powering an petrol type engine with hydrogen is in the same category as upright walking in dogs and women in the pulpit.
    Hydrogen is about half the energy density as a fuel source compared with petrol/diesel. And thats if you use liquid hydrogen – with all the costs of refrigeration.
    The petrol engine is about half as efficient at converting hydrogen to energy as a fuel cell. The petrol engine is around half as efficient at providing rotational power as an electric motor.

    Its another example of the ‘QWERTYUIOP’ problem. The way a historical choice about technology, that made sense at the time, is now a legacy system that inhibits the adoption of more efficient technology.
    The reason we use the petrol engine in cars is its the easiest to make if you have a high density, easy to store and distribute fuel like petrol.

    The most efficient way to convert hydrogen to rotary drive power is via fuel cells and electric motors. The most efficient way to convert liquid hydrocarbon fuel to rotary drive power is probably a turbine driving a generator, driving electric motors on the axles. Simpler and nearly as efficient is a diesel engine driving a generator and electric motors. Which is why its the method of choice in trains. Scaling it up has been done for ship use. Scaling it down for large road vehicle and car use is underway.

    The existing road vehicle technology will still be in use in a decade. I drive a 10 year old car…-grin-. That presents a large inertial obstacle to significant innovation because of what might be called ‘backward compatibility’ with existing road technology. Thats why people try the farcically inefficient options like hydrogen powered piston engines. And only slowly will vehicles employing the best combination of power/weight and efficiency methods replace the present post-steam technology.

    We could really, REALLY use a means of storing electrical power with a comparable energy density to hydrocarbon fuels…

    Or a means of storing rotational energy, angular momentum, directly! -grin-

    Powering an petrol type engine with hydrogen is in the same category as women in the pulpit???

    You’re on your own, mate – Oz 😮

  38. izen says:

    Dr Dave
    Opposition to new refineries from the eco-left(?) exploiting the enviro-regulation bureaucracy is not the only reason for the stasis in refinery development.
    Neither are the objections entirely spurious, as the history of contamination, fire and explosion would indicate. Regulation may be regarded as a problem, but it was invariably enacted as a solution to a previous problem associated with negative externalities of industrial enterprise.

    But refinery capacity is unlikely to increase when peak, or at least plateau oil has been reached. There has been less than a 5% variation in oil production for several years. Alternative hydrocarbon sources to crude oil have provided any growth in hydrocarbon use, the rise in the price of hydrocarbon fuels has not resulted in an increase in the production of crude oil, but in the development of alternatives like tar sands and shale rock. Both are far less productive in terms of energy expended for energy extracted, and it is only the rising price that makes them economically viable sources.

    There are plenty of nations around the world that would deregulate if it attracted a major oil international to finance refinery building, or an appropriate bribe to the right official. But no amount of deregulation will change the evident stasis in the amount of crude oil that is being produced for refining.

    New infrastructure to refine the new non-oil sources of hydrocarbon is costly, and has to be integrated with existing storage and distribution systems. It is clear that the energy industry is trying to make efficiency savings by using and adapting historical infrastructure.

    Its the QWERTYUIOP effect again….

  39. Dr. Dave says:


    The QWERTY example was quite clever. I never would have thought of it. The QWERTY convention was adopted to prevent typists on old manual typewriters from typing so fast that the mechanical character arms snagged. It was designed to deliberately slow them down and it was adopted as the standard keyboard convention which is used to this day because everyone has learned to use it. By contrast, Morse Code was developed for optimum efficiency. The most frequently employed characters are assigned the shortest character elements (i.e. an “e” is a single dit whereas a “z” is dah, dah, dit dit). The code is actually quite elegant in that all the characters of the alphabet are defined by 4 or fewer characters and all numerals 1 through 0 are defined in five character elements. It too, was an adopted convention. But these are conventions much like driving on the right side of the road (or in the case of the UK and OZ, on the wrong side of the road). I’ve read several articles about “smarter, more efficient” data entry devices. Some are fascinating. I especially liked the one where four fingers of each hand are inserted into little pockets and each finger can actuate a character or keyboard command by simply moving up, down, right or left. It was much faster than a traditional keyboard. Trouble is it was damn near impossible to teach it to anybody. Still, I liked the QWERTY example even though it is a convention rather than a technological limitation. My GF is a legal assistant. She probably can type between 80-100 wpm with her favorite keyboard and a word processor (faster if you factor in autotext). I’m sure this is faster than even the fastest of typists in the age of mechanical typewriters. So this cumbersome convention didn’t really slow down technological innovation. In terms of technology sometimes we get it right the first time or at least we had it right 100 years ago.

    Look at the claw hammer. Kinda hard to improve on that design. I fenced in 5 acres with “barbless” barbed wire one summer and gained a profound appreciation for the simple claw hammer which hasn’t really changed in over 100 years. Allow me to provide you with some firearms examples. John Browning developed the Browning 1911 pistol in…well, 1911. It was adopted by the US military (and other countries) and was the standard military sidearm up until just a couple decades ago when they opted for the 9mm parabellum (we’ll come back to this).

    The 1911 was a specific purpose designed weapon. It’s a semiautomatic pistol that fires a .45 caliber lead projectile at about 800 fps (i.e. heavy and slow). We’re talking about a half ounce of lead exiting the muzzle at 800 fps. If you’re a “bad guy” it pretty much doesn’t matter where it hits you. If it hits you’re going down. Browning designed it mostly as a defensive weapon for contacts within about 30 yards range. It was (and still is) a remarkably effective weapon. Today, just over 100 years years later it is still popular and it’s still in widespread use. They have made minor improvements but the basic design remains unchanged. Browning nailed it the first time. It’s very difficult to improve on a perfectly functional design.

    The same can be said for the venerable .30-06 rifle cartridge developed in 1906 which was used extensively in WWII and is still in use in the military today. It is also one of the most popular hunting rounds. It’s a very old design, but it’s hard to improve upon. The same can be said for the German 9mm parabellum cartridge. I never really appreciated this until I started doing my own reloading. Before you reload any round you read up and study its history and characteristics. In terms of efficiency it is very difficult to beat the old 9mm which was developed over a hundred years ago.

    That brings us back to the internal combusion engine. Though I think your argument about backwards compatibility has merit, it’s not the reason we’re not all driving jet turbine driven cars or even many cars with rotary engines which were great for WWII era airplanes. They just don’t offer the same advantages as the piston driven engine that was developed over a hundred years ago. I’ll comment more shortly.

    I could at this point deliver my standard lecture about why the left side is the right side, and the right side is the wrong side… but I won’t.

    You’ve just reminded me of something else – I’ll e-mail you shortly – Oz

  40. Kitler says:

    Ozboy about driving on the correct side of the road has to do with the fact that in ancient times as most people wielded weapons on the right side they used the left hand to steer the horse/chariot.
    It changed to the opposite side because Napoleon was left handed and people love tyrants so the USA adopted it.

    That and much, much more – Oz

  41. Dr. Dave says:


    Let’s explore this statement you made a little further:

    “…The most efficient way to convert liquid hydrocarbon fuel to rotary drive power is probably a turbine driving a generator, driving electric motors on the axles. Simpler and nearly as efficient is a diesel engine driving a generator and electric motors. Which is why its the method of choice in trains. Scaling it up has been done for ship use. Scaling it down for large road vehicle and car use is underway.”

    You’re right about freight trains but for the wrong reason. They employ diesel electric because it’s much easier to control. Trains have a lot of weight, a lot of inertia and when moving, a lot of momentum. Direct diesel engine drive is not practical. Generators and electric motors introduce loss into the energy transfer system. On a freight train they can keep their diesel engines and generators spinning and selectively engage or disengage the electric motors much more easily than if they had geared output to the diesel engines. If generators and electric motors were such a great idea they would use them on semi trucks. But the losses are too great. The same is true for ordinary passenger vehicles. It’s far more efficient to use direct energy transfer via a transmission than to power a generator and then electric motors. Once again it’s a matter of losses in the system. Let’s look at an extreme example. I used to admire the medievac helicopters that frequented one of the clinics I used to visit. They were magnificent aircraft and probably cost well over $3 million each. They were jet turbine driven via a transmission system. So why not outfit these craft with jet turbine driven generators and electric motors to turn the rotors? I’m sure a lot of it has to do with weight but even more critical are the energy losses. Also, the more systems introduced between the primary energy source and rotary drive the more opportunities there are for system failure. True, if either the rotors or the transmission, or the engine fails you’re going to drop like a rock. But with an electric system you have multiple opportunities for failure – failure of the engine, failure of the generator, failure of the electric motors and failure of the transmission or rotors. You still fall out of sky but you have more opportunities to do so.

    If you’re going to spin up a turbine engine the only smart thing to do is to utilize that energy directly rather than filtering it through lossy systems. The reasons they use diesel electric locomotion in freight trains does not scale down to the small vehicle level simply because of the laws of physics.

  42. meltemian says:

    Morning All, What a mine of assorted information you all are this morning. I never realised why QWERTY keyboards were set up although I did my secretarial training on those old machines you had to ‘bash’ the keys to connect, and still had to separate the arms frequently. Operator error obviously. I still remember my first encounter with an electric typewriter – thought the damn thing was running away with me. I only had to twitch a finger and it connected!! I did know about the driving on the left origin but hadn’t realised Napoleon was left-handed. Typical French response, change the rules to suit them.
    No intention of responding to Izen’s Dr. Johnson quote (actually it’s one of my favourites) ……I’ll leave that to Amanda.

  43. Amanda says:

    Meltemian: Let’s just say that I agree about dogs not leg-raising in pulpits and women not being walked out by dogs. Lovely isn’t it, when we can all agree? : )

    Ahh, so that’s what Izen was talking about. You learn something new every day – Oz

  44. Izen says:

    Engine technology has a number of subtleties. Turbines win for power to weight ratio and efficiency of fuel use. But they have a problem, that power and efficiency depends on running continuously near maximum revs. That’s where torque, power and efficiency peak. The Otto cycle petrol or diesel engine has a similar problem, the peak power, torque and efficiency band is at high rpm. Electric motors can exceed piston engines for power/weight ratios, and have the advantage that power and efficiency are between half and 75% of maximum rpm. Torque is maximum at zero rpm, just when it is most needed in an application requiring frequent start-stop cycles. 

    You are right about the helicopter. Only a gas turbine has the power to weight ratio to give enough lift. Even though this then requires a VERY complex transmission system to reduce the rpm to rotor speeds. 

    @-” If generators and electric motors were such a great idea they would use them on semi trucks. But the losses are too great. The same is true for ordinary passenger vehicles. It’s far more efficient to use direct energy transfer via a transmission than to power a generator and then electric motors.”

    Actually with regenerative braking systems and battery or super capacitor storage trucks and buses are significantly more fuel efficient than the standard diesel engine. Hybrid busses an coaches are now the norm rather than the exception. Fuel savings average around 30%.
    The problem is that at present the initial capital cost of the vehicle is higher. But it is more fuel efficient to run a smaller diesel motor to generate electricity which charges a short-term storage system and that drives electric motors. The power advantage of electric motors makes that more efficient than running a larger diesel through a gearbox and clutch with the variations in speed away from the efficiency power band of the motor.

    Turbines and piston motors are all most efficient if run at a fixed high rpm. That is not the most appropriate power source for a road vehicle which is running at variable speeds and star-stopping. The result is the kludge of gearbox and clutch to try and run the motor at its ideal speed while providing the very variable levels of power and torque required

  45. Izen says:

    I have no wish to defend Dr Johnson, although by contemporary standards he was no mysoginist. 
    I would tentatively suggest there is something … Rather  ‘Alpha Male’ about standing in front of a congregation and telling them how to behave at great length.
    And women preaching is the major cause of schism in the Protestant church. In the Catholic, Orthodox and Fundamentalist branches of the Christian church and the Islamic orthodoxy women preachers are absolutely unacceptable.

  46. Amanda says:

    Izen: My husband has read Boswell’s biography and says that Johnson was a fascinating and wonderful if peculiar man who was also, at times, rather gross and off-putting in his person. I’m sure that in many ways I would have adored him. I love unconventional people. As long as they are generous-hearted, we always get on like a house on fire.

  47. Luton Ian says:

    Factual inaccuracies in there Izen!

    Turbines do have the weight advantage over piston engines on normal length flights, they are also more easily scaleable to large sizes and especially for high outputs. In industrial form, they will also run reliably and continuously for months between overhauls.

    There is a reason why big civil ships like bulk carriers and big container ships have piston engines though, and it isn’t just down to the ability to use heavy fuel “oils” and emulsions as fuel. Diesels are actually cheaper, both to make and to run.

    At sizes under around 200HP for aircraft main engines (APUs only run for short periods, so weight saving is at a premium, and their abysmal fuel consumption and noise can be tolerated), a diesel is actually lighter package (starters reduction boxes and extra fuel all add to the weight of a turbine). There are arguments (see “Zoche”, if they are still in business) that diesels have an all up weight advantage up to higher powers.

    Once you are extracting rotational energy, then a diesel engine is the most efficient prime mover, at around 40% thermal efficiency.

    A fuel cell may be more efficient if you leave producing its fuel and oxidizer out of the calculation, which isn’t very honest.

    There is also the same problem which attended diesel engines for many years, cleanliness!

    It doesn’t take much contamination to kill a fuel cell

  48. Luton Ian says:

    “In the Catholic, Orthodox and Fundamentalist branches of the Christian church and the Islamic orthodoxy women preachers are absolutely unacceptable.”

    Officially, yes.

    But, there is an underground network of female Catholic priests. There was also a pope called Joan, and she was English.

    The legend has her as dying in childbirth during a papal procession.

    In more modern times, although hardly mainstream, a woman can perform a Roman Catholic marriage service, so long as a male priest is overseeing it. Mrs Ian is one woman who has done it.

  49. Izen says:

    @- Luton Ian

    Yes, thanks for the correction!
    Diesel engines are a mature technology with cost advantages in manufacture and maintenece.
    They can also reach near the theoretical limit of efficiency, for a heat engine.

    The BIG problem we have is that while a tank full of diesel contains around a Giga-Joule of available thermal energy accessible on demand we have no way of storing a Gia-Joule of electrical energy in anything like as small a volume and weight.

    I have never been sure whether the Pope Joan legend is a true story that the catholic church has tried to suppress, or a smear invented by anti-papists……

  50. farmerbraun says:

    JOCKO BESNE Certainly left his mark: I have some of his great granddaughters in my herd. There are hundreds of thousands of progeny dispersed all over the world.
    Now that’s a breeding career.

  51. Kitler says:

    Just a new blog to be aware of that JD posts on….

  52. Izen says:

    In what is probably a futile attempt to drag the thread back to something vaguely resembling the original topic…
    The Australian report suggests a government-industry panel to adjudicate on print and broadcast news and opinion that transgresses some rather ill-defined set of rules of acceptability. 

    In the US where the ‘Right of free speech’ holds sway there is currently a case that would seem to be just the sort of thing that such a regulatory panel such as is suggested for Australia, would be applied.

    Rush Limbaugh has made some remarks about a contribution by a witness to Congress on the issue of religious organisations avoiding providing health insurance that covers oral contraceptives. The general view seems to be that the comments he made are not only inane, but insulting and mysoginist.
    The issue of the provision of the OCP in health cover has come up before, and the marginality of it has been established. It’s another political symbol, not a real issue. However the vast majority of American married women use OCPs at some point, including Catholics. Condoms would be the method of choice for sluts and prostitutes. It also has well established clinical reasons for its prescription.
    And whatever other criticisms might be made of the woman testifying on this issue it pretty clear that she is neither prostitute or slut.

    So what, if anything, should be done about RLs comments?
    Is a careful and measured oversight by stakeholders who can impose sanctions a more acceptable way of avoiding social conflict?
     Is it better for society to have NO recourse to sanctions for anything that a media entity may say?  Other than the free market withdrawing his advertising sponsorship.
    Would it make a difference if Rush, instead of being the ‘All American Redneck’ was a Islamic conservative railing against the decadent liberal society and the freedom of women and funded by the Saudis?

    Reading the Wiki article on U.S. defamation law, I was pleased to note the precedent was set that truth is an absolute defence against libel. Would that it were in this country.

    New thread is maybe 2-3 days away; like a lot of my articles, and Topsy, it “just growed”. Something you possibly might not expect to read over here – Oz

  53. Dr. Dave says:

    This might make for an interesting topic for discussion provided we start with factual information.

    The woman providing “Congressional testimony” is named Sandra Fluke. She’s a 30 y.o. third year law student at Georgetown University.. She did NOT give Congressional testimony. There was a Congressional committee scheduled to discuss various issues regarding ObamaCare and included on the agenda was Obama’s unconstitutional dictate to force insurance companies to provide contraceptives free of cost (i.e. a President, by fiat, demanding that a private industry provide a good or service for free). I’ll come back to this. So at the last minute Nancy Pelosi wanted this Fluke woman to testify before the committee. The committee chair, Rep. Issa, refused because the woman had no particular expertise and the committee did not have 72 hours to vet her. Undeterred, Princess Nancy called in a few of her fellow Democrat hacks and staged “testimony” designed to appear as “Congressional testimony”. They stood some Democrats behind her and around her while she spoke to a camera. She was not under oath and the whole charade was meaningless. But the Democrats trotted out this phony “testimony” to the MSM to advance their fabricated narrative.

    Two months ago nobody was talking about contraception…not even the Catholic Church. It was nowhere on the radar. Nobody cared. Contraception is ubiquitously available. It is even available for anywhere from cheap to free. So the Democrats decided to fabricate a campaign issue for Obama. Neither Republicans or Democrats have any qualms about contraception, but Republicans, quite predictably, bristled at the prospect of the federal government (via unconstitutional Presidential decree) demanding that private businesses provide a good or service at no cost. Democrats knew the Republicans would take the bait (and they did) and it provided them with a campaign narrative. “Republicans are at “war” with women and want to deny you access to contraceptives.” Nothing could be further from the truth. So Princess Nancy needed to trot out Ms. Fluke and let her “tell the world” why it is absolutely necessary that everybody else pay for her contraception because as a law student (at a very expensive private university) the expense was too burdensome.

    Before I get into to Rush Limbaugh’s remarks (which I listened to live), let’s take a look at who this Sandra Fluke is. Ms. Fluke is not some dewy-eyed innocent coed. She’s 30 years old. She obtained a B.S. in Policy and Women’s studies and sexuality from Cornell in 2002, prior to her acceptance in Georgetown law school. In the intervening years she was a hard core women’s rights activist. She is from a family of significant means. She certainly didn’t make enough money from the time she graduated from Cornell until she enrolled at Georgetown to pay for tuition. Georgetown law school costs over $40K per year. Fluke is certainly not some anonymous private citizen providing testimony to Congress. She’s a well known activist that Pelosi kept in her hip pocket to use when the time was right. That’s exactly what happened and sadly, Limbaugh walked right into it. But this little tidbit is interesting. Ms. Fluke admitted she had read the Georgetown University student health policy before she accepted admittance. She attended Georgetown with the expressed interest in changing the institution’s policies.

    If Limbaugh had ignored the story nobody would know about it today. To his credit, Limbaugh preceded his comments with the audio clip of Fluke’s statements. They were bullshit. And not just ordinary bullshit but akin to finely refined drug company rep bullshit. Believe me, I’ve listened to hours of this during my career. One of her lines was, “…as you know, contraception can cost up to $3000 for a student during law school.” This is the old, “Doctor, as you know….” line. Everyone will nod their heads lest they be perceived as uninformed. The claim was nonsense. NOBODY pays $1,000 a year for contraception…maybe for cable TV, but NOT for contraception. Ms. Fluke didn’t mention if she had cable or satellite TV or cell phone or smart phone service. But for some reason everyone else should pay for her contraception.

    This set Limbaugh off. I heard his comments in real time and cringed. He went on a (perhaps justified) rant and said this woman wants to have sex and wants to have someone else pay for it. “What does that make her…a slut…a prostitute?” A very poor choice of words. He was merely trying to illustrate the absurdity. Unfortunately his ego couldn’t let it go at that. He banged on about for the next two days before he finally apologized on Saturday and again live on his show on Monday. I believe he was wrong…but not by much. It’s quite apparent that Ms. Fluke is a whore for the Democrat party..

    Were Limbaugh’s remarks out of line? I would say say so. But how about liberal stalwarts like Bill Maher, Louis C.K., David Letterman, John Stewart and many others? These guys have blurted out far fouler and more offensive epithets which have been largely ignored by the liberal media. When THEY do it it’s OK, I guess. They can lie and slander with relative impunity.

    So let’s get back to Rush. Rush actually OWNS the EIB network. He has over 20 million listeners every day…like the entire population of of OZ or a third of the population of the UK. The left wants nothing more than to shut him up. Ain’t gonna happen. The Left is whining that Rush is hiding behind the First Amendment. What they’re really bemoaning is that they’re not getting a free pass on free speech. It’s a “for me, but not for thee” proposition.

  54. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave…”In the intervening years she was a hard core women’s rights activist.”
    That fact alone tells us that should not be in any need of any contraception ever.

  55. Izen says:

    I am quite aware that this issue of OCPs covered by health insurance premiums is a marginal bit of political theatre. Testimony to Congress has a long ignoble tradition of being selective,  partisan and manipulated. The Sarah Fluke episode was clearly the Dems attempting to reframe the issue as one of justice for women rather than the minutiae of regulatory procedure. They laid a minefield and Limbaugh jumped on the mine with both feet!

    Judging from what I can learn of the way in which the obligatory provisions are defined and the preferential treatment some companies get in some states it’s clear that regulatory capture happened some time ago. The provision of OCPs is obviously in the interest of the health insurers, as long as it is obligatory because it reduces medical cost. It is much cheaper to provide the pill than an abortion of prenatal, birth and post natal care.

    In the UK the present concern with the actions of the press, or at least the Murdoch branch of it is based round it’s cavalier attitude to the personal dignity of the people it reports on along with its use of phone hacking and the corruption of public officials, police and lawyers, as sources of information.
    Despite the evasions of News International and the Establishment eventually public disquiet over the actions of the media forced a regulatory response. I would not claim that Limbaugh is a similar case of media hubris and corruption, just a topical example of media excess in its attitude towards the people it reports on.

    I am glad you don’t favor regulation of either Limbaugh or the ‘Liberal’ side of the media, but there clearly is a ‘Problem’ that has prompted governments to investigate regulation. Market forces, the present campaign to dissuade advertisers from funding media sources that are controversial is another problem. A rather more sinister example of this has just come to light in the UK orchestrated by the animal rights crowd.

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