Cartoon biden finishing a sentence

Wry & Dry #29 of FY-24. Mercy Rule. By-elections. Military unintelligence.

Ten stories you may have missed

  1. Mercy Rule: time to apply?
  2. By-elections: not a nil-all draw
  3. Military intelligence: no intelligence
  4. Shipping: who owns that ship?
  5. North Korean exports: return to manufacturer
  6. Useful idiots: UK winds back the clock
  7. Idiot department: flood risk
  8. Housing: promises, promises
  9. China: hurt feelings
  10. RDS: Keating’s condition worsens

1. Mercy Rule: time to apply?

The USA gave the world the ‘mercy rule’. This is where in a two-competitor sport, the game will end earlier than the prescribed endpoint because one competitor has a very large and presumably insurmountable lead.

Now, walk with Wry & Dry on this. Firstly, ignore all the fuss about ‘Super Tuesday’ and the Trumpster’s massive win. Sigh, he was always going to win. Nothing to see here.

Secondly, and much more importantly, last weekend the authoritative New York Times/Siena College Poll had the Trumpster leading Sleepy Joe by 48% to 43%.

But it gets worse: 47% of voters “strongly disapprove” of Sleepy Joe’s leadership. Another 73% think he is “too old to be an effective president,” as compared with 42% who feel that way about the Trumpster.

But it gets worse. Readers know that US presidential elections are not decided by popular vote, but rather by states ‘electoral college’ votes, where a state’s number of EC votes roughly reflects its population. A president needs 270 EC votes to win. Most states’ results are predictable, leaving the unpredictable: the ‘swing states’.

Consider that the Trumpster is ahead in these swing states that Sleepy Joe won in 2020: Arizona (11 EC votes) by 5.5%, Georgia (16) by 6.5%, Michigan (15) by 3.6%, Wisconsin (10) by 1% and Nevada (6) by 7.7%. Sleepy Joe is just ahead in Pennsylvania (19), by 0.8%.

Assuming the Trumpster doesn’t end up in the slammer, Sleepy Joe will get blown out of the water.

This is entirely on Sleepy Joe. He hubristically insisted on running for re-election when he said he wouldn’t, on the theory that only he could beat Trump. In the absence of a biblical intervention, an unlikely event, he can’t.

But wait, there’s an update. Wry & Dry has just seen Sleepy Joe’s State of the Union Address. Good grief, he was like an energetic but ageing auctioneer, rapidly running through the features of the House For Sale. Some of the features he shouted out. Sitting behind him, Vice President Kamela Harris jumped up and down like a Jill-In-A-Box, theatrically applauding when the cue monitor said so.

Sigh. Words will read well. Gun control, higher taxes for the wealthy, etc. He didn’t stumble or fumble. But he tried to emulate the Trumpster’s energy and vigour, which seemed unnatural. He demeanor and presentation were of a man seeking office, not the one who holds the office.

It’s now time for Sleepy Joe to apply the mercy rule. And give himself the DCM.

2. By-election: not a nil-all draw

Cricket season was over. Football season was yet to commence. So, the media decided that last Saturday’s Dunkley by-election was worthy of massive attention. The Ritchie Benaud directive was given to journalists: “keep it up-vibe and interesting.”

How could anything revolving around the eyesore suburb of Frankson be up-vibe and interesting? It was a big request. But the media tried: the by-election was “critical to both parties.”1 And it would “have consequences for the nation.” Really?

And then there were the banalities following the result (a Labor victory, with a 4% swing against). Both leaders claimed success. But it wasn’t a nil-all draw. Join the following two dots:

  • Psephologists know that the late Labor member was very popular. And hence her successor would lose that benefit: a 2-3% personal vote.
  • Locals know that the Liberal candidate (the successful mayor of Frankston) was popular, articulate and sensible.

Uncle Fester Dutton had two strong winds in his sails. So only a 4% swing is a massive failure. There was no protest vote at Labor and no surge to the Liberals.

By-elections are won by an opposition if there is both a “push” away from a government and a “pull” to the opposition. Last Saturday, there was only a modest feeling to push away from Albo. And a zero pull from Uncle Fester Dutton.

Maybe Victorians just don’t like Queenslanders. Especially those who FIFO – fly in, fly out.

1 Errata: They should have written ‘each’ rather than ‘both’.

3. Military intelligence: no intelligence

“They really used Tik Tok? Seriously?”

Y’see, the Generalleutnant of the German Air Force wanted a conference with some of his senior staff. So, he placed a call on his app. The 38-minute conference discussed top secret military intelligence (e.g. how British and French officials were delivering Storm Shadow missiles to Ukrainian soldiers, that British soldiers were “on the ground”, and curiously that French Scalp missiles to delivered to Ukraine in the back of Audi Q7s).

Sadly, the conference app used was an off-the-shelf app. And had zero security. Technology being what it is, even in Germany, the trustworthiness of German security measures turned to custard. Tsar Vlad heard every word of the conference.

And to his delight, a recording of the call was broadcast on Russian state television. How embarrassing for the efficient German military machine.

Social media lit up with curiosity, but not about Ukraine, the missiles or even Germany. But rather: (a) which conferencing app was used; and (b) what was going to happen to the Audi Q7s after military use.

Just kiddin’ (about the social media bit). The app was actually Webex. The Audi Q7s probably have already been stolen sold on eBay.

4. Shipping: who owns that ship?

In Wry & Dry’s days, a ship that flew the Red Ensign2 was not only British-registered, but also British owned, manned, captained and serving roast beef and Theakston Old Peculiar3. But these days, ensigns are meaningless. In many cases, it is not possible to ascertain from which country a ship comes.

Readers should now consider that Yemen’s Houthi rebels last week sunk what they said was a ‘British ship’. This vengeful act was because the UK is supporting Israel in its battle with Hamas.

Hmm. The ship, the Rubymar, was carrying fertiliser from Saudi Arabia to Bulgaria. It flew the flag of Belize (a country in Central America), was partly managed by a Beirut-based ship management company, was on a voyage organised by another Lebanese operator and had a mostly Syrian crew. The ship had been chartered by a Saudi commodities company and had collected its cargo in the UAE.

The owner of the ship is a company registered in the Marshall Islands (in the Pacific).

So how can the ship be ‘British’? Well, because maritime databases gave the address of the ship’s owner as an apartment in a nondescript residential block in Southampton, UK.

All of this is faintly ridiculous. Wry & Dry guesses that one cannot expect Houthi rebels to look beyond what a database shows.

Most shipping trade is conducted in US dollars and most ships are insured in the London market. So, it’s probably easier to save the research trouble. And fire rockets at any ship.

2 The Red Ensign (being red with a Union Jack in the canton, i.e. top left quarter) is the ensign of ships of the British Merchant Navy and of all civilian vessels that have not been granted a special ensign. An ensign is a flag on a ship that denotes the country to which the ship belongs.

3 A delightful and muscular English ale, much favoured in the north of England.

5. North Korean exports: return to manufacturer

When North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met Tsar Vlad last year, the Rocket Man offered Tsar Vlad over 1.5 million artillery shells. The Rocket Man said the “goods were ready to go.”

Russia has a border with North Korea and trains were available, so shipments could not be interrupted. What could possibly go wrong?

Err, plenty. Y’see the artillery kit is over 40 years old. And over 50% do not work and “the rest need to be either repaired or checked before being used.”

It is not clear if Tsar Vlad has asked for his money back. Or will make a claim with the local Small Claims Tribunal.

6. Useful idiots: UK winds back the clock

The election of one George Galloway to a vacant seat in the north of England has given excitement to legions of ‘useful idiots’. These violent dinosaurs still inhabit that part of the political spectrum that used to be the home of the likes of the Red Brigade4 and the PFLP-EO5.

Galloway is fiercely antisemitic, from the very far-left and is comfortable advocating for those who advocate violence. He supported the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein6 and once told him: “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.” He supports Hamas and Hezbollah and has been ‘cheerleader’ for Tsar Vlad.

He got the gig as the Labour candidate, Azhar Ali, was forced to stand-down for claiming that Israel allowed the 7 October massacre to take place so that Israel could do as it wished in Gaza.

The problem with Galloway is, of course, that he is a preacher of hate. He delights in being termed a ‘firebrand’. His election marks a watershed in British politics. If there is a vacuum left by the mainstream parties, come the general election UK politics may well find itself under the bloody boot of swelling antisemitism.

4 The Red Brigade was a Marxist-Leninist armed terrorist organisation that operated as a far-left guerilla group based in Italy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was responsible for the murder of Aldo Moro, a former PM of Italy.

5 The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations (PFLP-EO were organisational names used by Palestinian radical Wadie Haddad when engaging in international terrorist attacks that were not sanctioned by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

6 Saddam Hussein was the murderous dictator of Iraq from 1979 to 2003. His rule was marked by over 250,000 arbitrary deaths and disappearances.

7. Idiot department: flood risk

A resident of an apartment has been denied contents’ insurance renewal because the building concerned is located in what was not previously considered a high flood risk location, but is now.

The building is over a quarter of a kilometre from the Yarra River.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the apartment is on the 32nd floor of the apartment block.

The insurance company is quite correctly not taking any chances with the wild Yarra River.

8. Housing: promises, promises

The news that new house approvals in Australia have fallen to their lowest level in 12 years should cause some discombobulation.

The situation in Victoria is most dire. In the past 12 months approvals were given for the building of just 51,000 new dwellings. To keep up with population growth, the rate needs to be 57,000. But that doesn’t deal with the backlog. So, the number has to be much higher.

This is why last year Premier Allen promised 80,000 new homes each year.

Simple maths tells Readers that unless there is an amazing turnaround, an annual shortfall of 30,000 new homes will accumulate each year. Premier Allen is only now beginning to understand the mess that she inherited from Chairman Dan.

Readers knew some time ago.

9. China: hurt feelings?

China has set a somewhat ambitious target of GDP growth of 5% this year. This follows 5.2% in 2023, a figure that economists believe is twice the reality.

Emperor Eleven’s problem is how to inject confidence into a country with a massive property crisis, worsening deflation, high youth employment, rising local government debt and, worst of all, a stock market rout. But, China being China, it is a crime to speak negatively about the Chinese economy.

Consider that recently, the Ministry of State Security7 released a statement: “Various cliches intended to denigrate China’s economy continue to appear…. We will crack down on and punish illegal and criminal activities that endanger national security in the economic security field…”

The Ministry is getting even more paranoid. Amendments to the state secrets law, which go into effect in May, include a fiendish new legal concept called “work secrets.” It is defined as information that is not an official state secret, but “will cause certain adverse effects if leaked,” according to the law’s text.

“Certain adverse effects” reads somewhat subjectively and is so broad that it could include anything that Emperor Eleven decides it should. Which is probably its intention.

So, it’s best not to write anything about China that might have an “adverse effect”.

What a great leader is Xi Jinping! He’s a top fella!

7 The Ministry of State Security is the principal civilian intelligence, security and secret police agency in China. It is also responsible for foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence and the political security of the Chinese Communist Party. It is one of the largest and most secretive intelligence organisations in the world.

10. RDS: Keating’s condition worsens

The politeness of the ASEAN conference being held in Melbourne was shattered by former PM Keating.

Mr. Keating’s RDS8 condition has worsened significantly since his last outburst. His method of attracting attention was, as usual, by outrageous personal insults.

“It doesn’t take much to encourage Penny Wong, sporting her ‘deeply concerned’ frown, to rattle the China can – a can she gave a good shake to yesterday [Monday].”

“But before she did the rattling, the resident conjuror, Mike Burgess, who runs ASIO, gave us a week’s worth of spy mysteries – only for us to find out via a leak to the Herald and the Age that the mysterious state running the spying was, you guessed it, China.”

Mr. Keating’s rant continued, suggesting that Albo should have dismissed Mr. Burgess, along with Office of National Intelligence head Andrew Shearer, accusing the ASIO head of running a “goon show.”

Wry & Dry can’t help but wonder at Mr. Keating’s love for Emperor Eleven and his Empire. Why the passion? Is there something else going on?

8 Relevance Deprivation Syndrome.

Snippets from all over

1. Moldova loves Macron

France and Moldova have signed defence and economic co-operation agreements as part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s push for western countries to support Ukraine and its most vulnerable neighbours against Russian aggression. (Financial Times)

Wry & Dry comments: Moldova is a land-locked country wedged between Ukraine and Romania. But it has a separatist province, Transnistria, that has asked for ‘help’ from Tsar Vlad. Donbas all over again?

2. China’s GDP forecast

China announced an economic growth target of around 5% for the year, unchanged from the previous year, a goal that economists say will require more policy support as challenges mount. (Wall Street Journal)

Wry & Dry comments: Good luck with your projects, Emperor Eleven.

3. Hamas members raped Israeli women

There are “reasonable grounds” to believe that members of Hamas raped women during the attack on 7 October, according to a special envoy for the United Nations. Pramila Patten said she also found evidence that some hostages endured sexual violence, including “sexualised torture”. (The Economist)

Wry & Dry comments: If the report of this vile outrage isn’t enough, the denialism from the far left is astounding. The chant moved from “believe women” to “believe Hamas.” The first ignores a basic principle of justice, the second is that Hamas is a serial purveyor of lies as sickening as its predatory sadism.

4. Trumpster allowed on ballot

The [US] Supreme Court ruled on Monday that states may not bar former President Donald J. Trump from running for another term, rejecting a challenge from Colorado to his eligibility that threatened to upend the presidential race by taking him off ballots around the nation. (New York Times)

Wry & Dry comments: All the opinions focused on legal issues, and none took a position on whether the Trumpster had engaged in insurrection.

5. Rotten Apple

The European Commission fined Apple €1.8bn ($2bn) for breaching competition law. The bloc accused the American tech giant of limiting information about other firms’ music-streaming services on its app store and other platforms. (The Economist)

Wry & Dry comments: At 31 December, Apple had US$73 billion in cash at bank. Hardly a deterrent.


  1. Australia: GDP for 2023 was an anaemic 1.5%.

And, to soothe your troubled mind…

“A swing of 3-4% would nett us 11 seats. That is enough in the next election to form government.”

  • Sussan Ley, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and of the Liberal Party, speaking after the Dunkley by-election result was known.

Err, no. A party needs 76 seats to form government. The Coalition hold 58 seats. Maths: 76-58=18. Ms. Ley has always had a problem with numbers. She famously changed the spelling of her first name to Sussan, after discovering a numerology theory claiming it would bring her an exciting and interesting life.


The comments in Wry & Dry do not necessarily reflect those of First Samuel, its Directors or Associates.


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