Wry & Dry

Is Barnaby smarter than he seems? Lockdown ended? Really? Prime time news.

In Queensland: Nationals MPs are putting their finishing touches on their Net Zero bribes wish lists. But is Barnaby smarter than we all think?

In Victoria: Chairman Dan says the lockdown has ended. Three cheers for himself. Err, no. Don't be fooled: the lockdown hasn't really ended. But that's no longer important.

In the US: the sky is falling; prime time ratings for cable news have fallen more than 50%. Wry & Dry has the scoop. 

In Strasbourg: Polexit? The president of the EU said that the EU would not survive if Poland didn't follow EU laws. But Poland wants to make its own arrangements.

In the UK: the implications of Borisconi's Net Zero policies for householders are beginning to emerge. Just consider gas-driven home heating.   

In Glasgow: the host city of the upcoming climate change conference, the garbos and train drivers will be on strike, the rats are bigger than cats and protesters for climate protection are already protesting.  

Is Barnaby really smarter than he seems?

Politics is the art of the possible.

Certainly, the view from the grandstand of the intersection of a weak PM without a vision and a noisy deputy PM without a brain is unedifying.

But Readers should zoom back to what really matters to politicians: getting re-elected.

Yes, yes, Barnaby's bushy tail is wagging the PM's dog. But his aim is for the government to retain and possibly win seats in Queensland. Preference flows from the lunatics that inhabit the dark side of the moon (Hanson, Katter, Palmer) will be critical. The surest way to harvest these and direct votes from locals is to be parochial, extract cash for regional Australia (in Barnaby's eyes that is Queensland) and boost (primarily) coal and nuclear energy.

Cartoon barnaby suicide note

PM Jimmy Morrison has no choice but to go along with this. Firstly, because he is a weak leader. Secondly, he must have the Gnats' support for Net Zero. Thirdly, he too knows the importance of the Queensland seats. 

A pre-election refresher: PM Jimmy is defending 76 seats (after the abolition of Stirling in Western Australia). Labor holds a notional 69 seats. Labor needs a net four seats to hold more seats than the Coalition and a net seven for majority government.

That's swings of 3.1% and 3.3% respectively. But Readers know that there is no such thing as a uniform swing. And Labor is defending an amazing 13 seats with a margin of less than 3%.

Barnaby's tactics, albeit divisive, do have a whiff of merit. But this psephological merit is smudged by (a) Barnaby's inability to clearly state what the Gnats want; and (b) PM Jimmy Morrison's rapid advancement to the title of the most dithering Prime Minister since Billy McMahon.

The lockdown hasn't really ended, but that's not the point

When is a lockdown ended not a lockdown ended? When residents cannot go shopping. So why the crowing from Chairman Dan? Perhaps to distract from other more, err, factional matters.

Cartoon Dan dog

Actually, what the heck. That is not the real issue.

The real issue is will Victoria's State of Emergency end on 15 December 2021, as legislated? This most draconian instrument is being used to an extraordinary degree to give Chairman Dan almost plenipotentiary powers. Which were used with relish to, inter alia, allow police to police children's playgrounds to prevent children from playing.

Chairman Dan is required to 'review' the State of Emergency every four weeks after 15 December, for up to another 12 months.

Wry & Dry makes the bold prediction that Chairman Dan will not relinquish one element of the unprecedented (in Victoria) power that he currently has. Autocrats do not readily surrender power: he will keep the emergency powers until the next election. For the abundance of caution.    

Prime time news no longer prime 

The Trumpster will say it is because of him. Prime time cable television news ratings in the US have fallen by over 50% compared with 12 months ago.

The ratings at the moderately-left CNN fell 52%; centre-left MSNBC fell 51% and moderately right wing Fox News fell 37%.

Cartoon us cable news

The reality is a little different to that viewed through the prism of The Trumpster. Although, it must be said, the round-the-clock drama of a megalomaniacal narcissist in the White House made for more compelling and continuous reality television than The Bachelor.

A more complete diagnosis adds a blend of the covid pandemic, the eternal presidential election campaign and the Black Lives Matter protests.

Wry & Dry also points his withering finger at the sheer boredom of Sleepy Joe. Sleepy Joe's daily struggles to appear energetic actually make him appear less so. And Americans just don't like to see their President asleep in front of the cameras. So they have switched to reruns of Happy Days.

Polexit? Round 1

Poland is in a unique position within Europe. Its location between, more-or-less, Russia and the rest of Europe has meant that for centuries armies strolled across it; either on the way to, or from, Russia. And as they strolled through, those armies inflicted some serious damage to the country and its peoples. Not to mention the Soviet Union (aka Russia) running it as a client state from 1947 to 1989.

So, there is something cosy for the Poles in now being part of the EU (and of NATO). 

But Poland's government now doesn't agree to those of the EU's legal arrangements that guarantee some basic freedoms. It's a bit complex, but in short, Poland's Constitutional Tribunal, stacked with government operatives, ruled that parts of EU law do not apply to Poland. Poland has given the EU the, well, bird.

And, unlike the UK, Poland wants to stay in the EU.  The benefits are massive. So what will the EU do with this problem child? Other than cut off funds - up to $66 billion in covid aid, for example, which would cause even more belligerence, there is little to be done.

The recalcitrant UK did the EU a favour by withdrawing from the game. Its post-Brexit spats with France are a mere kick in the shins. Poland's wants to stay in the game; but play by rules that suit itself. EU President Ursula von der Leyen is beginning to lose sleep.  Watch this space.

No gas for Borisconi

It is now beginning to dawn on the Brits that Borisconi's noble objective of Net Zero by 2050 is going to cost them plenty. And it's not just costs buried in government debt that will never be repaid. It is direct costs to the householder.

Consider that most British homes are heated by 'gas boilers'. These devices heat up water that is then pumped to radiators around the home. Borisconi has banned gas boilers for new homes by 2025. And new boilers are banned for all homes by 2035. Low carbon emitting substitutes must be used.

Cartoon uk heaters

Borisconi has offered a government grant of £5,000 to the first 90,000 homes to switch from the gas heater to a Net Zero heater. There are two non trivial problems with this. 

1. There are 25 million UK homes with a gas boiler.

2. The most likely sort-of-Net Zero heater is a device called a heat pump, which costs between £7,000 and £15,000.     

Where is Borisconi's mind? Wry & Dry just cannot join the dots on this.

Nicola's world

If 120 world leaders were coming to your city, Readers would spruce up the place. And make sure that all was in order.

Och, no. Glasgow will welcome these important climate changelings with rubbish-strewn streets, gridlocked roads, cancelled trains, glued-down protesters and a plague of rats.  Y'see, garbage workers and train divers have announced they will go on strike during the COP26 conference.

A local Labour MP said, “It's going to be an absolute embarrassment when we will shortly have world leaders stepping over bin bags and rats bigger than cats.”

And bizarrely, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens and an environment minister in Scotland's coalition government, has said he supports the use of direct action by climate change protesters and urged them to find “creative” ways to protest.

Hang on, isn't the conference all about supporting climate change believers 

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's Wannabe First Prime Minister, is staring at a PR disaster.

And remember that the leaders of the first, third and fourth most polluting countries (Emperor Xi, Maharaja Modi and Tsar Vlad) will not be attending.   But it's okay, PM Jimmy Morrison will be there.   

Cartoon morrison glasgow

Predictably failing

An Anglican man of the cloth, The Venerable Rod Bower, Rector of the Gosford Anglican Church, last week tweeted (proclaimed?) "LetRip Dom will kill us all."  This was just as premier Dominic Perrottet lifted almost all covid restrictions in New South Wales. 

The Venerable rector must have been disappointed that his end of days forecast failed to materialise.  He withdrew his tweet three days later.

He has form for his failing predictions.  He thought that he would win a Senate seat in the 2019 election.  And so headed the ticket for the Independents For Climate Action Now Party.  His party picked up 0.56% of the vote.  He was not elected.  And so returned to his less remunerative position as parish priest.   

Voter suspicion increases the closer the losing result

The Trumpster's yelling from the White House rooftop that the 2020 election was a fraud has generated the predictable responses:

1.  An immediate and binary social media response from the aggrieved (Republicans: "it's a fraud") and the happy (Democrats: "winners are grinners".)

2.  The aggrieved engage its biggest megaphone (The Trumpster) to do the work

3.  Lawyers start lawyering up

4.  Judges dismissing the cases

5.  Academics commence research papers, PhDs, journal articles, etc. on what actually happened.

So, the first of the last item has emerged. A working paper has been published that analyses how much confidence voters have in the election result. [1]

Essentially, in 2020 only 62% of Republicans were confident that the election result had been correctly counted. This compares with 95% of Democrat voters.  Sore losers?

Maybe.  But wait!  There's more.  The closer the losing election result in a voter's state, the less confidence in the legitimacy of the vote.  This was excessively more so in 2020 by Republican voters the closer a Republican candidate (red dots and line in the charts) got to 50% of the vote. Especially if the Republican candidate lost.

The comparison to 2016 (left hand chart) is stark.  Then, the Democrats were not such sore losers as were the Republicans in 2020. 

US voter confidence 2

The Trumpster's peevishness has riven US voters. 

[1] This article is based on an article and chart in the Economist magazine.

Habits

For reasons that Wry & Dry fails to understand, Squid Game, Netflix' latest series, has smashed its viewership records.  Apparently some 124 million people with nothing better to do have watched more than two minutes of the show [1]. In so doing, it passed Bridgerton, the previous record holder with 82 million two minute + viewers. 

cartoon netflix

Squid Game is a survival-horror-thriller with lashings of brutality.  Bridgerton is a Regency romance/bonking soap opera.  The curiosity is what do they have in common?  Wry & Dry can only suggest extreme unreality, overlaid with deep character portraits.

Which has led Wry & Dry to quill an email to Netflix with an idea for a new series: Danerton Game.  This will be set in the future, where the Chairman of a mythical country, in which the people wear Regency period clothes, locks down all of its inhabitants.  Each will only be released upon...  Oh, never mind.

[1] The choice of two minutes as a viewing metric is a mystery to Wry & Dry.

Snippets from all over 

1. Modern Goebbels

Donald Trump is launching a social media platform called Truth Social, as the former US president seeks to capitalise on his popularity among a large chunk of Republicans.

Wry & Dry comments: Amercians will eventually find out that the threat is not China or Russia. The enemy is within.  

2. China coal

Chinese thermal coal price has reached a high of CNY2359.8 (USD337.31) per tonne, or USD93.14 a barrel of oil equivalent.

Wry & Dry comments: If the price rise is structural rather than temporary, China has a big problem.

3. Bond rates up

The yield on two-year UK government bonds rose to a 29-month high.

Wry & Dry comments: The governor of the Bank of England raised expectations of an interest rate rise, as early as November. 

4. LinkedIn leaving China 

Microsoft is shutting down the Chinese version of LinkedIn, effectively turning out the lights on the last major American social media provider operating in the country.

Wry & Dry comments: Microsoft didn't like China's desire to control it.  China didn't like Microsoft trying to control itself.

5. Max fraud 

Mark Forkner, chief technical pilot of the Boeing 737 MAX program, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Texas for allegedly deceiving safety regulators which had been evaluating the plane before its approval.

Wry & Dry comments Mr Forkner decide to pass the blame upwards i.e. he was under significant management pressure to get the plane approved.  Two MAX crashes occurred in late 2018 in Indonesia and early 2019 in Ethiopia that claimed 346 lives.

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American president has been silenced. This is unacceptable.” 

 - Former President Donald Trump, on the launch of his new media platform.  

He's baaaack.

PS A reminder that the opinions in Wry & Dry do not necessarily represent those of First Samuel, its employees or directors.

 

Cheers

Anthony