Wry & Dry

Texas madness. Smoking or reading the tea leaves. Trudeau trails.

Texan madness

There is no doubt that Victoria is a mess. But Wry & Dry invites Readers to take a squiz at its political antipodes: Texas, USA. Readers might know that the government of Texas is far-right-wing Republican.

At midnight on Wednesday, a most dramatic law took effect in Texas. It bans abortions after 6 weeks, regardless of the cause of the pregnancy. Now, Wry & Dry knows that Readers may have strong views either way on this matter. But asks Readers to consider not the substance of the law, but how the new law is to be enforced: by private citizens. 

Readers will be familiar with the 1973 US' landmark abortion case: Roe v Wade.  That case protected the right to abortion before foetal viability at about 22 to 24 weeks. The Texan law avoids that case by leaving the enforcement of the law not up to the state, but rather up to private citizens. 

Anyone, at all, can sue any individual who “aids or abets,” or even intends to abet, an abortion in Texas after six weeks. Women seeking abortion themselves are exempt, but anyone who advises them (including a spouse), gives them a ride (including Uber drivers), provides counselling (neighbour), staffs a clinic, and so on, can be sued by any random stranger.

If the plaintiff wins, they pocket $10,000 plus court costs, and the clinic that provided the procedure is closed down. If the defendant doesn’t defend themselves, the court must find them guilty. And if the defendant wins, they get…nothing. Not even costs. 

This is vigilante-ism at its worst. And if allowed to stand, regardless of the subject of the law (i.e. abortion), it is a most egregious breach of the rule of law. 

Cartoon texas

It looks to Wry & Dry that there is no daylight between the Taliban and Texan Republicans.

Smoking or reading the tea leaves

For most of the past 18 months, it seems that Chairman Dan has been smoking tea leaves. But earlier this week astute Readers might consider that he had instead read the tea leaves [1].

The reading of the tea leaves shows that Victoria's Nth lockdown, where N is a large number, is causing havoc in the state. Aside from increasing mental health issues, suicides, business failures and schooling issues, it is clear that covid zero is not possible. Chairman Dan said as much on Tuesday (the day after some polling came out).  

So it was announced that Chairman Dan would announce a timetable/roadmap to a 'soft re-opening'. [Cue drum roll]. With an early announcement of an easing of restrictions.  [Cue louder drum roll]. And then on Wednesday, the Spencer Street Soviet Melbourne Age, a long-time supporter of Chairman Dan, published an editorial stating that the lockdown had to end. [Cue even louder drum roll]

In the biggest let down since the Beatles split, Chairman Dan then graciously announced that... children's playgrounds in Victoria would re-open. And wait for another three weeks for the next announcement.

cartoon the hole

And in a fit of bureaucratic obsessiveness, he announced that only children aged 12 or under could use a playground, and only then in the company of a just one carer (who cannot remove his/her mask to eat or drink).  But the lunacy doesn't end there.  The children must sign in with a QR code.

There are thousands of playgrounds in Victoria. So now local council bureaucrats must erect QR code signs on each of them. Of course, the QR code signs would need to meet local council regulations as to size, visibility, safety, weatherproofing, etc.  And who is going to police the playgrounds?

Will the local constabulary be diverted from crime fighting to busting children who haven't registered their QR code? You betcha!

Looks like there is no daylight between the Soviet government of the 1950s and the Victorian government.

[1] Also called tasseography.  It is a divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves, coffee grounds, or wine sediments.  Tasseography is not possible with tea bags.

Trudeau trails

Readers will be aware that Canada's little-left and lots-woke PM Justin Trudeau has called an early election for 20 September. The aim was to secure a majority government. He had been leading in the polls for 12 months.

His reason for calling an early election was that he needed a stronger mandate to "take Canada through the corona-virus pandemic." Well, that fooled nobody. His polling has slipped since then.  Wry & Dry has read the Canadian tea leaves.  And it doesn't look good for Trudeau. 

Cartoon Canada

Economically, June quarter GDP fell 1.1% against expectations of 2.5% growth. Canada was the only G7 country the economy of which shrunk in that quarter. Preliminary data showed July GDP to have fallen 0.4%, taking the economy about 2% below pre-pandemic levels.

Politically, he's not been helped by his 'Gender Equality' Minister, who in a television interview, called the Taliban 'brothers'.  

Trudeau's Liberal government now has just a 14% chance of winning a majority, compared to a 34% chance for the Conservatives to form a minority government with independents.

Angela - the reign is soon to be over

Readers will be aware that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany's boss since 2005, is giving herself the DCM, effective October.

She has done a remarkable job in keeping everybody happy with her.  She is enormously popular. However, the veneer of success is nothing more than that. Allow Wry & Dry to present some thoughts.

Her mishandling of the 2015 refugee crisis (a) fuelled the populist Right and (b) created a permanent fissure with Eastern Europe which, in time, may destroy the EU.

Germany’s tax take has shot up from 34% of GDP in 2004 to 39% in 2019 (Australia's, including GST, is 28%). 

Germany has the highest energy prices in the developed world, at US$0.37 per KWH (Australia's is $0.23). 

 Chart electricity  

Select countries in 2020.  Source: www.statista.com

She was an environmentalist, when it suited. She ditched nuclear after the Fukushima catastrophe in 2011, which meant that Germany had to rely even more on fossil fuels.

Her intransigence and miscalculations led to Brexit (aided by M Macron), marking the beginning of the end of the 'European dream' and thus the abject failure of German foreign policy since 1945.

Germany's economy has survived only because the euro is so much cheaper than the Deutschemark would have been.

Germany now seeks succour with China, as it seems that is the only way for economic success. She has turned her country into a kind of oversized Switzerland, a state that favours cheque-book diplomacy over military conflict but remains politically neutral less out of principle than to protect its trade links.

cartoon merkel

Wry & Dry senses that history will eventually not treat Angela with kindness.

To the victor...

...goes the spoils.  And so when the Taliban decided to have a victory parade on Wednesday in Kandahar, its spiritual home, it decided to toss even more egg on Sleepy Joe's face.

In a modern-day equivalent of a Roman triumph, dozens of Humvees, MRAPs and armoured fighting vehicles were driven in single file along the main road. And overhead a captured Black Hawk helicopter flew, replete with a Taliban banner. All that were missing was the leader of the defeated enemy in cage.

cartoon warranty

But, no mistake, Sleepy Joe is in a metaphorical cage. In a country where popularity not spine determines outcomes, he has a problem. He now has a lower approval rating for the last 80 years apart from Trump, Clinton and Ford, after the same time in office.

Line chart of RCP poll average showing President Biden's job approval rating

The key to Sleepy Joe's release from his metaphorical cage is the unparalleled ignorance of most Americans of the world outside their state, not to mention their country: "Afghanistan? That's in Africa, right?"

It seems as though they have forgotten that it were the Trumpster who set up this disaster. The roots of the disaster were planted in February 2020, when the Trump administration cut a deal with the Taliban.

How was this for an example of The Art of the Deal? [2]

"We will release 5,000 imprisoned Taliban fighters and promise to leave the country by May 1, 2021, so long as you promise to not kill any more Americans. And, by the way. we will not include the American-backed Afghan government in these negotiations."

Anyway, back in Afghanistan, at the end of the Taliban victory parade, thousands gathered to listen to victory speeches. The photos show a male-only audience. And the venue? The Kandahar cricket ground.


[2]  Trump: The Art of the Deal is a 1987 book credited to Donald J. Trump but effectively written by journalist Tony Schwartz.  It is part memoir and part business-advice book. 

Unclear on the concept

Scotland’s wannabe first Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday claimed an “undeniable” mandate for another independence referendum as the parliament in Edinburgh approved the appointment of two Green party ministers to her government.

Wry & Dry has written to Ms Sturgeon pointing out that the referendum is not hers to call. That call belongs to the lad who lives at 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA.

China slashes children's gaming times

Don't worry about Emperor Xi's crackdown on wealthy businessmen, trolling of Australia or threats to Taiwan. He has just imposed the harshest regime possible on Chinese minors (children under the age of 18).

They will only be allowed to play video games for one hour on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, between 8pm and 9pm.

Cartoon one country

Cruel and unusual punishment? 

F1 got it right

Readers will have seen that the Belgian Grand Prix [3] was called off after just eight minutes. The car in the lead at the time was declared the winner.

This is a great result. Eight minutes is just about the maximum time that any sane person can watch cars going round and round the same course, again and again. Fifty times, in fact.

Think of the petrol that would be saved by racing for just 15 kilometres instead of 300. The Greens should be out there campaigning.  

[3] Grand Prix racing has many roots, which came together in 1906 at an event run by the Automobile Club de France at Le Mans. It has morphed into Formula One racing, the championship of which is 22 Grands Prix, each of approximately 305 kilometres.

Pot calling kettle

Wry & Dry notices that the states shouting the loudest about the invidious and apocalyptic dangers of covid are those doing least to prevent it.

Chart jabs by state 

Where are all of the men?

It looks as though Sweden's newest Prime Minister is to be female. Wry & Dry's man person in Stockholm says that Magdalena Andersson, a Harvard educated economist and current Finance Minister, has loads of competence, if not charisma. 

She lacks the main qualification for the job, which is to simply "look happy'. In an earlier role she was a heavy-footed union fixer, so smiles were not needed.  

Sweden is the only Nordic country without a female PM. 

Snippets from all over 

1. GDP up, just

Australia's GDP grew at 0.7% in the June quarter. 

Wry & Dry comments: The September quarter's number will be examined more closely than the entrails of a rat.

2. Amazon Air

Amazon’s presence in the skies continues to grow rapidly, according to a new report, with an average of 164 flights a day now dedicated to moving the ecommerce giant’s stock across the US.

Wry & Dry comments: Move over FedEx and UPS.

3. Terms of trade boom

Australia’s terms of trade improved by 7% in the quarter and 24% for the year and are now at a record high, beating both the 2008 and the 2011/12 level. 

Wry & Dry comments: It's all about iron ore prices.

4. Stamped

Stanley Gibbons, the stamp and coin dealer, wants collectors to buy shares in the world’s rarest postage stamp. The company paid $8.3 million for the One Cent Magenta at Sotheby’s in New York in June.

Wry & Dry comments: Either great marketing or it bid too much.  The One-Cent Magenta was printed in the former colony of British Guiana in South America in 1856.

5. Look out, Tesla

Rivian, an electric motor vehicle manufacturer has filed with the SEC for an IPO, valuing the company at US$80 billion.  The company is yet to sell a vehicle.   

Wry & Dry comments: Don't laugh, yet. This is an interesting company, that is focussing on SUV's and trucks. Amazon has ordered 100,000 of its trucks. 

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

"No more lectures about compliance."

 - Editorial, Melbourne Age, writing to Chairman Dan.

Chairman Dan ignored the plea.


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