Extraordinary Political Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

John Kerry is relying on as yet uninvented technologies to achieve the mirage of net-zero emissions by 2050. Risible but better than relying on wind turbines. Scott Morrison is also relying on technology yet to be invented. He gets away with it by describing it in terms of green hydrogen and carbon capture.

John Kerry is enlisting the Pope. The dope with the Pope is the way Andrew Bolt put it. Not too bad. Morrison is just a little less dopey than Kerry. His only point of difference is in not committing to net-zero emissions for fear of losing support in mining electorates. He wants to, he’s said so; his fear is being asked how.

Morrison has Groucho’s principles. If voters don’t like them, he has others. That’s why he brought a lump of coal into parliament when it suited. Don’t think for a moment that he thinks independently of his electoral ambitions. Take some recent books: False Alarm by Bjorn Lomborg, Apocalypse Never by Michael Shellenberger and Unsettled by Steven Koonin. All undercut the received wisdom.

Has our leader read them? Any of them? What does he think of them? We are in stage of societal evolution which has produced delinquent political leaders of little learning and little merit.

After months of zero cases, just five people here, where I live, in Sydney, in early May, all connected to hotel quarantine, tested positive for COVID. Not one was sick. However, Kerry Chant, the terribly earnest New South Wales chief health officer, could not find the source of the infection; the missing link, as she called it. Indeed. What is the missing link between leaders of yore and the current crop?

Gladys Berejiklian reacted by reimposing numbers of restrictions. For example, masks on public transport and in some indoor settings were brought back. Singing in church was re-banned. Asked about the need for her actions she defended them by saying that other state premiers would have gone much further; been more insane in other words.

She is right of course. The record speaks for itself. She basks in the glow of being less hysterically panic prone than her peers.

Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka made a perfectly reasonable and sensible call for international borders to be reopened as soon as practicable. She conceded the possibility that this could lead to some infections and deaths. “Some people may die but it will be way smaller than the flu,” she reportedly said.

Imagine a time of political leaders of character. Best not to, we are not in that time. This is Morrison, responding.

“You know 910 Australians lost their lives, and every one of those lives was a terrible tragedy … and no, I find it very difficult to have any truck with what was said there.”

It is hard, is it not, to get your mind around the sheer vote-harvesting unctuousness of this response. Since the so-called pandemic began in January 2020 more than 200,000 Australians have died of old age and various illnesses and accidents. Some have been tragic. Children killed in road accidents for example. Most not. No child has been killed by COVID. Ninety-four percent of Covid-related deaths have been among those over seventy years of age.

Why doesn’t Morrison give an adult perspective, instead of pandering to juvenile fancies of being “kept safe”? He thinks it might lose him votes. End of analysis. (My fancy, Morrison’s alter ego talking: “Your all gonna die, get used to it!”)

Don’t think that mediocrity doesn’t go right down the line, from national to state to local government. The North Sydney Sun was in my letterbox. Reportedly, councillor Kathy Brodie, obviously with time on her hands, wants to change the name of my street (Ben Boyd Road). Apparently, according to some historian or other, Ben Boyd was a rotter who used Pacific Islanders to work on his sheep stations.

Now you can’t imagine how little I care about the character and activities of Mr Boyd. I don’t want my address changed by council fiat. It will be inconvenient and, unless Ms Brodie envisages reparations to the Islanders’ descendants, will redress none of the supposed wrongs of Mr Boyd. I want the council to concentrate its efforts on maintaining parks, filling pot holes, collecting garbage and the like. Is this terribly insensitive of me?

What did we all do out here in voter land to deserve this, I ask myself? Was it ever thus? I don’t recall that it was.

15 thoughts on “Extraordinary Political Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

  • Harry Lee says:

    Answers to question in final par:
    We deserve it because:
    -we did nothing to prevent it.
    -we assume that voting in elections from time to time is sufficient to deter nominally non-marxist politicians from complying with the desires of the ignorant, the weak, the parasitic -and the evil.
    -we prefer spectating, complaining, and consuming to engaging, fighting, and creating.
    That line of country.

  • rod.stuart says:

    Not to mention councilors at the municipal level. Stephen Jolly in Yarra is a case in point.
    And then of course there are teh mental midgets at the Hobart City Council that decalreda “climate emergency”.
    But Harry, as usual, is correct. The idiots we elect reflect our own completence.

  • DougD says:

    The appointment of Peter Dutton as defence minister is a welcome break from tradition for the Morrison government which until now has stood quietly by as the tides of wokeness drown the ADF. Dutton’s recent ban on military celebrations of LGBTIQHOBIT events has produced Kristina Keneally’s description of him as a warmonger – not really much of a put-down for a defence minister. But Dutton has a long way still to go to make the ADF a fighting force.

    A recent example of how far the rot has gone:

    “RAAF’s director of general strategy and planning, Air Commodore Stephen Edgeley, said embracing the “gender perspective” would enhance operational capability.

    “If the military target is a bridge in a community that is being used as a main route by the enemy to transport weapons, this same bridge may also provide the only route for the local population to gather supplies such as water and firewood,” the doctrine says.

    “Although destroying this target may provide a military advantage against the enemy, the second-order effect may mean that, due to the gendered social roles, women need to travel further afield, on unfamiliar and less secure, well-known or well-lit routes to gather water and firewood”, which could leave them at “an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence”.

    So terrorists who want to retain the military advantage of a bridge and make it immune from destruction by the RAAF now only need to patrol it in hijabs and carry water jugs. [If the SAS were to check under the hijabs, they would of course face a war crimes trial].

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    DougD, I’m not sure that anecdote is a sign that the rot has set in. Depending on the nature of the conflict, and the aim of an operation, those matters would almost certainly have been taken into targetting considerations, or ought to have been. Destroying the village “to save it” didn’t work well in Vietnam. Same applies to local infrastructure essential to the lives of noncombatant civilians. Shades of grey everywhere, but the principle is basically sound.

  • Harry Lee says:

    Doubting Thomas, to which principle do you refer?
    To defeat an enemy which would enslave/destroy you, the key principle is that that enemy, in all its parts, must be denuded of its power and its will to fight. This will include the extreme reduction of enemy “civilian” support for the enemy’s fighting forces. In the two big C20 wars to defeat German power-lusting, German civilians had to be starved and otherwise made to see that Germany was defeated. Ditto to defeat Japanese power-lusting.
    Vietnam was a different matter. The West generally, including the USA, lacked support from its own citizens to defeat the communist-inspired forces. (But all up, the cost of the fight against communism in Vietnam was actually well worth it, and a relative success -if the bigger picture is considered).
    Main point now: the West lacks the will to defeat Islamism. In fact, many nominal Westerners are quite happy to welcome Islamism, deludedly believing that that that Islamic influence in the West will be wonderfully wonderful for non-Muslims.

  • DougD says:

    Doubting Thomas I’m afraid your argument that a pilot’s decision whether to bomb a target of military advantage to the enemy should take into account whether bombing might expose local women to the need to travel further afield, on unfamiliar and less secure, well-known or well-lit routes to gather water and firewood which could leave them at “an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence” in a misogynistic Muslim culture doesn’t cause me to pause before remaining convinced that the Air Commodore’s direction is wokeness on stilts.

  • Harry Lee says:

    Edgeley’s utterance might be a smokescreen? You know, make our enemies think we are useless weaklings, in mind, body and spirit? Chuckle. As if our enemies need more evidence of that.

  • Stephen Due says:

    Well of course our political leaders are people of little learning and little merit. We elected them, and we are people of little learning and little merit. We are not going to elect anyone of learning and merit – even supposing such a person existed and was available – except by accident.
    Throughout the pandemic politicians and public servants have adopted strategies crafted purely to strengthen their own power base. The response to the pandemic has only superficially been derived from ‘the science’ – itself a mythical entity that does not exist in the real world.
    Actual scientists addressing the pandemic have produced a vast mass of publications, formal and informal, most of which are utter rubbish. It is a big mistake to imagine that people who are called ‘scientists’ are therefore particularly clever. Just subscribe to ‘New Scientist’ for a few weeks if you have any illusions on that score.
    To make matters worse, science in the age of the pandemic has gone Woke. This means that it has started to subscribe to all the popular myths about itself. It has started to see itself as an elite enterprise, far superior even to fact or logic. Medical journals like the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine have decided that the conclusion is more important than the process.
    Part of science going Woke has been the unleashing of a long-suppressed urge among the self-styled scientific elites to denigrate every opponent privately, and in public seek to have them censured, censored, and silenced. To me, the disgusting behavior in this regard that has been almost universal in the elite scientific institutions of the West has been the bitterest pill of the pandemic.
    I’ve watched the Editor-in-Chief of JAMA struggling through what was clearly to him a very distasteful interview with a prominent opponent of lockdowns whose credentials could no longer be ignored (not long after this he was himself brought down by a scandal over a JAMA podcast that dared to question the religion of structural racism). I’ve seen Scott Atlas vilified in the media, and even openly denigrated by colleagues at Stanford, for committing the twin crimes of being an adviser to Donald Trump and suggesting that children should be at school. I’ve seen Michael Levitt reduced to berating a meeting of Nobel laureates for their disgraceful failure to pursue a rigorous scientific response to the pandemic. And the list goes on. What a fiasco it’s been.
    Undoubtedly the history of science shows that much progress can be made by people of little learning and little merit provided they work together to pursue the truth. When this simple objective is abandoned, you get the Western response to the pandemic.
    John Ioannidis, a consistent opponent of lockdowns, and probably the most-cited physician alive, receiving over 4500 citations of his publications per month says this about himself:
    “I make a lot of errors, I need to revisit my writings multiple times before publishing, and I see no reason to make a fool of myself more frequently than it is sadly unavoidable. I consider myself privileged to have learned and to continue to learn from interactions with students and young scientists (of all ages) from all over the world and I love to be constantly reminded that I know next to nothing”.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Harry and Doug, you both seem to be in favour of unlimited warfare, eg Dresden and My Lai, regardless of the circumstances. Kill ‘em all and let God sort them out? I don’t think many in the RAAF would agree with you. RAAF pilots don’t have licences to kill indiscriminately, nor should they.

  • DG says:

    Arguing hypotheticals is, of course, a fools mission, but I’ll join in anyway. If the net effect of removing a bridge that the enemy uses to bring force to bear on our troops and frustrate our objectives (to eliminate the enemy’s ability to fight) is protecting our mission. Bridge goes. People walk further for water. No problemo.

  • ianl says:

    Stephen Due

    I fear you are cherry-picking again. Your dislike of hubris, from whomever, is no stronger than mine, but the New Scientist is to actual science as the Daily Telegraph is to Shakespeare, or as the dregs of rap music is to Beethoven.
    There is no doubt that medical politicians have done great damage in their enthusiastic discovery of the power of fear-mongering. The smug and mendacious Fauci is a torch-bearer for this. He has helped fund “gain of function” viral experimentation in Wuhan (as it is banned in the US and other western countries) and now flip-flops his way along the thorns knowing that Biden will not touch him. Scientists who actually attempt scientific method and say so publicly are subjected to the most heinous political harrassment – deliberately so.
    [I did suggest here about 12 months ago that a lab-produced coronavirus, with a core RNA covered with a spike protein able to unlock human ACE2 receptors, was carelessly leaked from Wuhan. As I remember, I was soundly traduced for that and I’m only a minor geoscientist … ho hum].
    Woke is embraced with enthusiasm by medical politicians because it has the most desirable attribute (to such people) of cancelling opposition. Such people value that – they have no interest in the rubbish of Woke, just the power.
    Morrison is double-crossing his voter base, step by step, but in cautious slow motion in case, as Peter Smith notes, he loses some votes. There is no way around this.

  • exuberan says:

    Peter, would you feel the same way if one of the deaths that Jayne mentioned was one of your loved ones?

  • Peter Smith says:

    exuberan – Mel Gibson played a pastor in the sci-fi movie Signs. Having, no doubt, consoled numbers of people who’d lost loved ones he, regrettably, lost his faith when his own wife died in a car accident. (Though, as an aside, he didn’t try to ban cars.) We all react differently when our loved ones are involved but I suggest that we also, as a general rule, apply an adult perspective; certainly once the dust has settled. Mel regained his faith.

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    When Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” he was not speaking lightly. And while he only mentioned himself, he was a man with a large family. When Britain continued to fight Hitler after the fall of France, it was with the full knowledge that “some people will die” in England. Resistance fighters against the Nazis and Communists knew that their families could be not just murdered,, but tortured because of what they were doing.
    None of us can say how we would react if we did lose a loved one. But we can know that right, and our country’s freedom, are worth whatever sacrifice it takes to defend them. As Richard Hannay says in John Buchan’s World War I novel “Mr. Standfast,” “I understood what a precious thing this little England [or large Australia] was, how old and kindly and comforting, how wholly worth striving for. The freedom of an acre of her soil was cheaply bought by the blood of the best of us.”

  • Harry Lee says:

    Start with the key lessons from history:
    No institution, public or private sector, is staffed by a critical mass of people -in admin, managerial, and technical roles- to deal with the kinds of external challenges, problems, and threats and the internal limitations, weaknesses, and enemies that the dominant power faction controlling the host society insists on pretending do not exist.
    And in Australia’s case, that dominant power faction consists of a broad and deep alliance of anti-Westernist, greenist neo-marxists, who’d prefer to surrender to the CCP, and/or the UN, and/or Islam, and/or Aboriginal fantasy, than say boo to a goose.

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